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Through The Eyes of a Police Officer; Interview with James Cameron

Aired April 24, 2010 - 18:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: The president's pitch for financial reform in terms that everybody can understand, as the Senate moves towards a showdown vote, top White House economic adviser explains what tacos have to do with it.

Plus what a police officer sees and hears as a crime is going down. High-tech head cams could dramatically change law enforcement.

And a volcanic cloud over the airline industry. Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson talks about the struggle to recover from that paralyzing eruption in Iceland.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

President Obama is asking corporate big shots to join him in reforming the financial system. During his big speech in New York this week, he toned down the Wall Street bashing that's been a large part of this debate. But did he clear up confusion about the bill? And how it would change complicated investment practices. A lot of questions for White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee.


MALVEAUX: Austan, thanks for joining us here. I want to start off talking about President Obama identified the main part of the problem, the big part of the problem, he says, is this trading of derivatives. Here's how he explained in his speech on Wall Street.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They weren't fully aware of the massive bets that were being placed. That's what led Warren Buffett to describe derivatives, that were bought and sold with little oversight, as financial weapons of mass destruction.


MALVEAUX: OK, so Austan, you have your own analogy for describing derivatives, which I think is related tacos. I want you to tell us, to describe for us what this is, because this really is at the heart of the debate.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISOR: Well, a derivative is just something whose value is based on some other thing. And as I said it at the basketball game when I was a kid, they used to-Taco Bell would give you a free coupon for a taco if the team scored more than 100 points. So the coupon itself is a derivative because its value-it has a value-but it's based on how the basketball team does. These things get a lot more complicated than that.

What this provision in the bill-and it is one important provision, but it is probably the most complicated of all, basically there are $600 trillion of derivatives that are trading what they call over-the-counter, which means we basically don't know anything about them. We don't know who's buying them or selling them, and they're essentially outside the regulatory umbrella.

And the president said it can't happen. They've got to get out in the sunlight and they have to be under oversight. Nobody would care except for the fact that when AIG had hundreds of billions of these things, and they blew up, they threatened to destroy the entire financial system. And so you just can't let those sit there. This is one of many examples where the president says we've got to be on the side of the American people and get this under control.

MALVEAUX: So these derivatives are basically risky bets when it comes to businesses and businesses behavior. "The New York Times" today says the derivatives measure that the president is pushing, however, they don't think it goes far enough. At least with the Senate committee, what they're voting on. And it says, "it doesn't ban the sort of excessive speculation that characterizes the Goldman deal" Goldman Sachs, as we know. "The taxpayers are gaining, but the banks, which make a lot of money on derivatives, are still way ahead."

How do you respond to that? Because there are people who are very concerned that all these loopholes really makes this so watered down that it doesn't really help the taxpayer?

GOOLSBEE: I can't say that I agree with that analysis from "The New York Times." If what they were are doing was going to a format like we have seen in some other places where the banks were lobbying and just getting themselves loopholes written into the rules so it wouldn't apply to them. I would be extremely nervous about that. The president has made clear, he will not sign a bill that does not end and move these $600 trillion of derivatives out into the open.

MALVEAUX: Are you saying there will be no loopholes? Are you saying that the president will sign no legislation that has loopholes?

GOOLSBEE: I'm saying the president is going to get these dark pools of derivatives out in the open and regulated, period. He's made that clear over and over again. And he's not going to allow-what you are seeing is a few members of Congress and a few big financial institutions are paying an unbelievable amount of money, and they're up to five lobbyists per member of Congress trying to get loopholes written back in, so these things don't have to be out in the open and the president will not tolerate that.

MALVEAUX: There are some Republicans, however, who are complaining that the president today in his speech did not mention the mortgage giants Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, involved in the historic bailout of 2008. We actually heard from House Minority Leader John Boehner who said this today. Take a listen to this.


JOHN BOEHNER, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Incredibly in the president's prepared remarks, he doesn't intend to even mention the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in the overhaul of the financial regulatory system.

Now, while the president and the Democrats in Congress purport to have a bill to fix the problems in our regulatory system, how you can attempt to fix it without going to the root of the problem, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is really beyond me.


MALVEAUX: Austan, real quick here, does he have a point are we talking apples and oranges?

GOOLSBEE: No, no, he's totally confused. Look, the president has never been a fan of the old Fannie and Freddie business model. He said throughout the campaign, and while he's been in office, that we can never go back to the privatizing profits and socializing losses business model that they had. Secretary Geithner has outlined a process by which we're going to revive and change completely the mortgage financing business.

But that's a complete red herring to say that ought to be in this bank reform bill. The president has spoken about that many, many times. To say that's not in this and therefore it's a failure, I think, is almost willfully trying to change the subject.

MALVEAUX: All right, Austan Goolsbee, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

GOOLSBEE: Great to see you again, Suzanne.


MALVEAUX: The airline industry is struggling to bounce back. After the volcano erupted that grounded flights around the world, Virgin Atlantic airline founder Richard Branson tells us government governments may need to step in.

For many people, mind altering drugs like LSD and Ecstasy can be harmful, but what if they can help you recover from psychological trauma?

It's like looking through the eyes of a police officer in action. Cops are trying out new cameras they wear on their heads, and we're tagging along.


MALVEAUX: Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur and adventurer, is chairman of Virgin Group and wants to take you into space, but he's also working hard to protect this planet as well. He spoke with CNN's Jessica Yellin.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Sir Richard, thank you for joining us today. First, let's start. Why are you here in D.C.?

RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, CHMN., VIRGIN AIRLINES: Well, it's graduation day. I've never been to university, but graduation day for the Carbon War Room, which is a new venture we've launched to take on carbon, and to help companies work our ways that they can make money, but at the same time save the environment.

So we've got a lot of entrepreneurs together. And we're working together to try to work out how best to set about doing it.

YELLIN: Climate change is a big concern of yours, clearly. At the same time, you're a jet setter. You know, I imagine you sometimes fly private and you travel the world, do you ever feel guilty about lifestyle versus ideals.

BRANSON: Yes, to an extent. But I think realistically, the world has got to go on forward, planes have got to carry on flying, ships have got to carry on plying their goods. So it's up to us to come up with scientific ways of addressing the problems. So let's come up with alternative fuels that don't eat into the food supply. They are clean fuels. Let's think of ways of conserving. And, you know, let's just try to get on top of the problem. I think that we can have fun making money, and getting on top of the problem.

YELLIN: And enjoying the money.

BRANSON: And why not enjoy it as well?


YELLIN: You also own one of the largest airlines. And we know- we've been covering how the airlines have been grounded in Europe for almost a week because the volcanic ash. How much of an impact did that have on your business? How much did you guys lose?

BRANSON: It's had a horrendous impact on the airline business. It has had an even worse impact on our passengers. You know, we've got passengers still stranded all over the world. We're not going to necessarily have enough planes to gets them back for a few more days. We're hoping that governments may be able to help us by finding more planes help repatriate.

YELLIN: Government planes?

BRANSON: Well, whatever it takes. I mean, they are doing it with ships. And I think that we need to get as many of the passengers back home as soon as possible.

YELLIN: I'm curious, how long do you think it will take to get back up to speed?

BRANSON: It's really-I'm not absolutely sure, but I would say that some passengers may still be stranded for another week or two, because you've got all the current passengers that want to fly, plus you've got the enormous backlog of nearly a week's worth of passengers. And all the planes were full anyways. So I think in order to make sure that all passengers have got back, it would be helpful if governments could actually help the industry get them back. And otherwise, I think people are going to have to suffer longer than necessary.

YELLIN: Spirit Airlines here in the U.S. has decides they're going to charge $45 for every passenger who brings a carry on bag. $45 per carry on bag; it sparked outrage across the country. Will you vow here and now that Virgin Airlines will never do that?

BRANSON: I don't think it's a very-spiritual thing to do. I don't think it's a very wise thing to do. There was an airline in Europe called RyanAir that went even further, they were talking about charging about going to the lavatory.


BRANSON: So I don't think it makes -- I don't think it would make you very popular, no.

YELLIN: So, that's a no, you'll never do it.

BRANSON: Look, if everybody else is doing it and suddenly our ticket price looks horribly expensive-I'll never say never, but I think it's extremely unlikely.

YELLIN: President Obama talked about a subject close to your heart, space travel. He says that the U.S. doesn't need to be spending scientists' money, NASA's money going to the moon, but private industry could do it. Will you be the man who takes us to the moon next?

BRANSON: I would love to be the person to take you to the moon. Generally, I agree with President Obama. I think that private enterprise that can do things at half the price governments can do it. I think they still need to keep NASA as the body to monitor and oversee the private industry, but the more private industry does it, the further I think that man will go into space. And you know, Virgin Galactic is nearly ready to take you --

YELLIN: Or you?

BRANSON: Or me, into space. And you know the spaceship is finished, the mother ship is finished, the test flights are starting. And hopefully next year we'll be up, up and away.

YELLIN: So could we see Sir Richard Branson landing and walking on the moon?

BRANSON: I would love to in my lifetime. I think what NASA are thinking about doing is giving grants to private companies to do these things and we'll certainly be putting our hand up for some of those grants. And you know, whether it's moon landing or mars landing, we're certainly keen to be involved.

YELLIN: We look forward to getting the first interview of you on the moon.

BRANSON: I look forward to talking to you.

YELLIN: Thanks so much, Richard.

BRANSON: You'll have to be on the moon, of course, with me.

YELLIN: I'll consider it.

BRANSON: Thank you.


MALVEAUX: This winter's blockbuster film "Avatar" broke records at the box office. Now could there be a sequel in the works? Wolf Blitzer asked that question in his interview with the film's creator.

And psychedelic drugs, could they be good for something more than just turning on, tuning in, and dropping out. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM."


MALVEAUX: In the 1960s LSD advocate Timothy Leary argued that psychedelic drugs could help people change behavior in positive ways, and overcome psychological problems. It's a theory dismissed as delusional by most psychiatrists. But what if rather than just on something, Leary was actually onto something? CNN's Dan Simon reports.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They're the drugs once associated with hippies in the 1960s, LSD, hallucinogenic mushroom, once feared as a one-way ticket to insanity, now being discussed as real medicine to treat real problems.

RICK DOBLIN, PSYCHEDELIC DRUG EXPERT: I am a firm believer. I've seen it work in many people.

Rick Doblin imagines a day when patients will be able to go to their doctors' offices for their doses of LSD or Ecstasy pills.

DOBLIN: I think eventually there will be psychedelic clinics, regulated by FDA, with people who are specially trained to administer the psychedelics. And people will come to them for medical purposes or for rites of passage in their life, or personal growth.

SIMON: Doblin comes with credentials. He's got a Ph.D. from Harvard in public policy and has spent years studying psychedelics. (On camera): Proving there is a convention for practically everything, researchers from around the world have come to San Jose, California, to talk about psychedelic drugs. Here at the Holiday Inn they're sharing stories about those drugs and their hope that one day they will become a regular part of medicine.

(voice over): Here at the conference we found Sara Huntley, who said she was abused emotionally and physically as a child.

SARA HUNTLEY, USED MDMA: It made me worthless most of the time and that I was a burden to that member of my family. And that I wasn't worth that burden.

SIMON: She says the abuse stripped of her self-confidence, then, and as a 17-year-old high school student, she started taking the drug Ecstasy, scientifically known as MDMA.

(On camera): MDMA, or Ecstasy, you see right here, was developed in the early 20th century as a possible appetite suppressant. Of course, today people use it for hallucinogenic effects, users say it could heighten their senses and lower their inhibitions.

(Voice over): Now, 23, Sara says MDMA helped get her life back.

HUNTLEY: Using the MDMA helped ease my sense of fear and defensiveness.

DR. MICHAEL MITHOEFER, ADMINISTERS MDMA: They talk about being happy.

SIMON: Psychiatrist Michael Mithoefer has never examined Sara, but believes psychedelics hold tremendous promise. Through a study approved by the Food and Drug Administration, he's been administering MDMA to patients with post traumatic stress disorder.

(On camera): As a doctor, what made you think that psychedelics could be helpful?

MITHOEFER: We know that the treatment of PTSD involves revisiting the trauma in a therapeutic session. So what we-our idea is that MDMA may bring people into a kind of an optimal zone of arousal, where they can connect with their feelings, but aren't going to be overwhelmed by fear.

SIMON (voice over): For advocate, the key is matching the drug with the problem. Psilocybin found in certain mushrooms, might be used to treat anxiety related to terminal illness, the same for LSD.

DOBLIN: It could vary according to what issues they're working with, how much denial they have. But we would like to have psychiatrists and psychotherapists to have access to a whole tool chest, of psychedelics, that they can use at appropriate times.

SIMON: But some doctors question if psychedelics are ever appropriate. Stanford psychiatrist David Spiegel says there's no scientific literature yet to back up any positive claims.

DAVID SPIEGEL, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: The key issue in the treatment of this disorder is teaching people how to access their memories and feelings about the trauma in a controlled way. And psychedelics are anything but a controlled experience.

SIMON: For now, that's the mainstream medical consensus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe if you get pure MDMA.

SIMON: But supporters here hope that over time, psychedelics will be seen less as a bad trip and more as legitimate medicine. Dan Simon, CNN, San Jose, California.


MALVEAUX: President Obama is trying to push forward with financial reform, but will Republicans stand in his way? I'll ask former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani about the possible fallout for his party and for Wall Street.

And 15 years after the Oklahoma City bombing, is America at risk for a new explosion of homegrown terror. I'll ask Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.


MALVEAUX: They oppose President Obama on the stimulus package, on health care reform, and so far, on financial reform. But will Republicans eventually jump on board? And what are the consequences if they don't?


MALVEAUX: Thank you so much, Mr. Giuliani, for joining us here.


MALVEAUX: I want to start off, we listened to the president today, on Wall Street, and he was defending his economic policy. As we had mentioned, GOP did not get on board when it came to the economic stimulus package, health care reform, they could be left behind when it comes to financial reform. And the president says look, things are looking better. Take a listen to what he said.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One year ago, the economy was shrinking rapidly. Today the economy is growing. In fact, we've seen the fastest turnaround in growth in nearly three decades.


MALVEAUX: Is it time for Republicans, your fellow Republicans to give this president his just due? GIULIANI: Well, they have, I think. I think Republicans have agreed on things that made sense, where they could agree. It's the president, and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who have shut the Republicans out.

I mean the reality is the two things that you mention, the stimulus program, Republicans couldn't possibly agree to that. It was massive spending on behalf of mostly Democratic causes. To me, as a person involved in politic, it was a political payoff to the Democratic constituencies. The only jobs really helped? Government jobs. Not private jobs. Even on CNN, you counted jobs. I watched that very carefully-that were preserved-which is a strange way to analyze this, it's usually jobs created. The jobs preserved were mostly government jobs.


GIULIANI: There's a reason for that, government unions supported the Obama administration, the money was flowing back through the stimulus program. So, Republicans couldn't have possibly supported that.

MALVEAUX: So, what about financial reform here? Are you guys missing the boat here?

GIULIANI: Financial reform would be terrific if it was really financial reform. They're doing nothing as far as I'm concerned to really deal with the core problem here. Core problem here was inadequacy of capital in the banks. Now the government was just as responsible for this as the private sector. For the president to go to Wall Street an lecture Wall Street on what went wrong, the president should have gone there with a big mea culpa as to what the government did wrong, as well. You forget the subprime, you forget Fannie and Freddie, you forget all the entreaties by members of Congress and House to let out subprime mortgage, let out subprime mortgages, there couldn't be any of these derivatives if that didn't happen in the first place.

MALVEAUX: Well, the president acknowledged that the White House, that Washington needed to be reformed. But I want you to take-

GIULIANI: But he hasn't.

MALVEAUX: He did today. He did today.

GIULIANI: He isn't reforming Washington.

MALVEAUX: Senator Chuck Grassley, a fellow Republican, he also acknowledged what he thought when it comes to trading derivatives and the idea of making them more transparent that the president had a good idea. Here's what he said, Mr. Giuliani, he said, "I voted for the chairman's derivatives bill today because I think transparency is the right policy, the draft isn't perfect. I want to fix the way a provision is written so that whistleblower protections are not weakened, as a result, for example but the Lincoln bill is an important step in the right direction for transparency and accountability in the derivatives market."

Does he not have a point here?



GIULIANI: He has a point there. Derivatives should be more transparent. The capital requirements should be increased. The government should not take a bigger role in bailing out companies, even if they say they are not, they are. They're creating a whole agency, a whole new government agency. The way to look at this is the bad part of this is, this is another step in the Obama administration having the federal government taking over vast larger portions of our economy. They took over car companies, they took over financial institutions, they took over banks, they took over healthcare. And now they are trying to get themselves involved in some of these esoteric areas of-

MALVEAUX: But what's-do you have a better idea? Do you have a better idea?

GIULIANI: Yes. A better idea is what wrong here is the government was involved too much. Government should stay out of telling private institutions how to operate like giving out sub-prime mortgages. They should put some restrictions on themselves. Go straighten out Barney Frank's role with Fannie and Freddie.

As we're straightening out Wall Street, we should have much tighter capital requirements. Lehman Brothers never should have gone under. Lehman Brothers should have had sufficient capital. That was not regulated properly. That should be straightened out. These would be the substantive things to do. But this, Suzanne, is a political assault.

Do you really think the suit against Goldman Sachs wasn't timed to fit all this? You would have to be on Mars to think that. And the White House and everybody else was ready to send out all kinds of communication as soon as that happened.

MALVEAUX: Let's talk about the perception here because there a lot of people who are looking at this and saying the Republicans jumped in too late when they came to health care reform. When it came to health care reform, they were basically out of the debate here.

And you have in the "Washington Post" today, the editorial that makes the point that "Democrats clearly see financial reform as a winner either way. With Republican cooperation, they have a bill. With Republican obstruction they have an election issue. For once, Democrats are negotiating from strength."

Is there a concern here that Republicans, your party is going to appear as if you're the guys for Wall Street and not for the little ones who the Obama administration says they're sticking up for?

GIULIANI: Suzanne, I think the appearance may be as we say, it may not be. Let me tell you what the reality is. The reality is that lawsuit against Goldman Sachs was broad, I believe, in order to effect this. You shouldn't be using the SEC that way, a 3-2 vote. The whole issue there is whether people knew that Paulson was on the other side. We now find out there's testimony that they were told. So you wonder what's the lawsuit all about? So I think President Obama has a problem. I think President Obama's problem is he is inserting in the minds of Americans and become becoming more and more solid that this president is on an inexorable mission to take over more and more parts of the private sector.

MALVEAUX: I got to leave it there.

GIULIANI: Even parts that are justified, he's really got to watch out just how far he's going because it's getting to be pretty extreme now.

MALVEAUX: All right, Mr. Giuliani, we're going to leave that for another day, another debate. Thank you very much for your time.

GIULIANI: Thanks, Suzanne, nice to be with you.

MALVEAUX: Well we've seen plenty of police action from a point of view of dash cameras on cruisers. Well now there's a new generation in police technology. The head cam brings viewers into the moment from the officers' perspective, but there's controversy over potential over abuse.

The Oklahoma City bombing stunned the world 15 years ago, the product of government resentment run amuck. Could similar U.S. extremism be festering again?

And "Avatar" director James Cameron's latest passion. Wolf Blitzer talks with him about his fight to save the Amazon and his plans for "Avatar 2."


MALVEAUX: Confrontations between police officers and suspects are often charged with adrenaline and investigating what really happened in those moments can be hard to piece together. But a new device could change policing and criminal trials forever. It is a futuristic device that police wear on their heads. Now, there's a warning here, this report contains some disturbing images. Our own Brian Todd went to Cincinnati for a ride along.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're still running towards --

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You're looking almost literally through the eyes of a Cincinnati police officer as she chases down a suspect.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get on the ground!

TODD: The suspect grabs the officer's taser. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's got my taser.

TODD: Goes after her with it. Then charges her backup. Seconds later, he's subdued, no one's hurt. He's arrested and charged with assaulting two police officers. The entire sequence of this incident in late February was videotaped by Cincinnati police officer Mandy Curfiss, who was wearing a head camera.

OFFICER MANDY CURFISS, CINCINNATI POLICE: The camera, had it turned into a dead force encounter, it would have been harder for me to articulate exactly what happened. The video shows exactly what happened. It shows exactly why we did what we did.

TODD: Curfiss is one of 10 Cincinnati police officers who patrol the street with the camera strapped to their ears. Manufactured by Taser International, the same company that makes the stun guns, it's been trial tested by the Cincinnati police for a couple of months and has captured several harrowing incidents.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to get tased.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you got on you, boss?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got two pistols.

TODD: Officers who have worn the device tell us it's a crucial tool for gathering evidence, capable of moving with them where dash cams can't go and pre-empting he said/she said disputes in court.

(on camera): I've got the unit on me now. Here's how it works. The camera is right here on the left side. Strap it over your ear like this. Communications hub is right here. And a technical computer that stores the video and the data right here. I've got to hit this button twice for it to record. Should be doing it now. You can see the images that I'm seeing as I look up and down the street. Very important to know though, if you don't hit this button twice, it is not going to record anything.

(voice-over): So the beat cop has sole discretion over what gets recorded and what doesn't. We spoke about that with veteran Cincinnati criminal defense attorney Steve Adams.

STEVE ADAMS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's a problem. It puts too much bias and prejudice against the person that's suspected of a crime or the person that's being interviewed or the person that's being interrogated.

TODD: I challenged Cincinnati police Chief Tom Streicher with a scenario.

(on camera): Maybe a bunch of police are beating on a suspect and none of it gets recorded and they kind of talk amongst themselves and say OK, nobody records this, right? People wonder is this being used for the purpose for which it's intended?

CHIEF TOM STREICHER, CINCINNATI POLICE: In the scenario that you're talking about, right there, number one, I hope that something like that never does happen. And if it does happen, I can tell you there's some real serious questions that need to be answered, some very serious questions. I have to tell you also that people's jobs would be in jeopardy here in Cincinnati.

TODD (voice-over): Streicher's instructed his officers to record every incident that happens. The camera was pivotal in this incident last November in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Police Corporal Brandon Davis responds to a domestic violence call. Davis confronts the suspect from the front door, tells him repeatedly to drop his gun and the man refuses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put the gun down.

TODD: As the video's rolling, Corporal Davis shoots and kills the suspect. Because his 10 warnings were recorded, Davis was cleared of any wrong doing in an internal investigation. We test out the camera on a ride-along with Cincinnati police officer Melissa Cummins. At one intersection, she tries to talk to a man about his public drinking. He takes off. Cummins, with us in tow, takes off after him.

OFFICER MELISSA CUMMINS, CINCINNATI POLICE: You better stop or I'm going to tase you.

TODD: The man ignores her repeated warnings to stop.

CUMMINS: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!

TODD: She tases him and books him for obstructing official business. Later we review the video.

(on camera): What's your evaluation of how you handled it?

CUMMINS: Good, I think so. I gave him every chance to stop running.

TODD: Cummins and other officers tell us the cameras are constantly used as a teaching tool. Five police departments across the U.S. have tested out this system. One of them, in Aberdeen, South Dakota, has bought a set of these ear cams. And the police chief here in Cincinnati says he wants to buy a permanent set for this department. Brian Todd, CNN, Cincinnati.


MALVEAUX: Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, there is a new wave of anti-government hatred. Could this kind of domestic terror happen again? I'll talk about it with the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.


MALVEAUX: Fifteen years ago today, the U.S. was stunned by the Oklahoma City bombing carried out by a young Army veteran with a seething hatred for the federal government.

We are now seeing a new wave of anti-government resentment rising, compounded in some cases by the historic election of Barack Obama.

I talked about that with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.


MALVEAUX: Madam Secretary, thank you so much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

One of the major differences between 1995 and now is that you have an African-American president.

And this was what former President Bill Clinton said to our own Wolf Blitzer. I want you to listen.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Obama is different, and symbolizes the increasing diversity of America. And both of them -- and, for him, it's like a symbol of, he symbolizes the loss of control, of predictability, of certainty, of clarity that a lot of people need for their psychic well-being.


MALVEAUX: To what degree do you think having an African-American president factors into the philosophy or even the motivation behind some of these anti-government groups that we see today?

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, we certainly, in some, hear it mentioned. So, it's not about speculation. It's what they're actually saying.

But, you know, the Secret Service is constantly monitoring the safety of the president and his family, and devoting the resources to make sure that the president, the vice president and their families remain safe.

And that is something that, you know, there's just no -- no quarter left unspent in order to make that happen.

MALVEAUX: To what extent, when you take a look at these vast groups, these extremist groups, does race play a part of that? Is that a small percentage, or is that a lot of folks out there who take exception to the fact that this is an African-American president?

NAPOLITANO: Well, as I said, it is mentioned by some. But lots of things are -- are now being mentioned. And so it's really hard to extrapolate from what a few are saying to what all are saying or would all believe. There's, obviously, a great deal of -- of political anger out there and angry rhetoric out there.

But as I said earlier, you know, that's something that we -- that we've had constantly in our country's history. We may not like it and don't appreciate it, but it is -- it is protected under our Constitution -- under our sense of values.

Where it's not protected was where you start moving into preparation for and carrying out of violent acts. And that's where law enforcement -- local, state and federal -- have to be synced up and leaning forward, sharing information, sharing threat information, specifically, so that the -- the risk of something violent occurring, something like an Oklahoma City, something like a 9/11 or some other horrific crime, that those risks are minimized.

MALVEAUX: What is the biggest threat now facing Americans?

Is it from a domestic attack, is it from local groups or is it from foreign groups like Al Qaeda?

NAPOLITANO: You know, I don't have the luxury of ranking those things. We have to lean forward and be prepared for both, that it could be an international terrorist or a domestic terrorist. It could be someone who is a -- a U.S. citizen who now has been trained in an international camp and come back.

All of those things are phenomena that are currently happening in the United States. All of them are things that we are constantly working, as I said, to -- to minimize the risk that they could actually go from those kind of extremist and violent extremist beliefs into violent action.

MALVEAUX: But certainly, Madam Secretary, there's a way of measuring which -- which organization, which group, which individual is -- is most prepared and perhaps the most potentially threatening to the United States?

NAPOLITANO: Well, I -- I'm not sure. I think that's a -- you know, I think that's a question the media might ask.

I'm not sure that's quite the way that law enforcement would respond. Because if we are attacked internationally, it doesn't give any comfort if I say, yes, well, internationally, it was ranked number two or -- or the reverse. We know that there are continued attempts, for example, by Al Qaeda and its affiliates to take down commercial airliners. We saw an attempt on that on Christmas Day. We know that there are domestic militias that are organizing in the United States. We saw that with the arrest of the Michigan militia. We know that there are persons who reside in the United States who adhere to violent extremism that connects them internationally, but they wish to carry out their crimes right here in the United States. And we saw that with Zazi. And we saw that with Headley. So we need to constantly prepare for, be thinking about and be thinking ahead of all of those sorts of scenarios.

MALVEAUX: I have to ask you this. We hear you're perhaps on the short list for the Supreme Court nominee.

Have -- have you been vetted or are you considering at all a change in position?

NAPOLITANO: Look, it's -- it's flattering to be mentioned by the great mentioner. But as you can tell from this interview, I've got a pretty -- a pretty big job and I'm really focused on this job.

MALVEAUX: Would you accept it if you were nominated?

NAPOLITANO: Oh, I think that is speculation that really is not required. Like I said, I'm flattered to be mentioned, but, indeed, focused on -- on the big job that I have right now.

MALVEAUX: OK. Madam Secretary, thank you so much for joining us here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

NAPOLITANO: Thank you.


MALVEAUX: Movie director James Cameron on "Avatar 2" and his meeting with President Obama. He goes one-on-one with Wolf Blitzer, next.


MALVEAUX: James Cameron's film "Avatar" is the largest grossing film in history. The environmental message in the ground-breaking movie is unvarnished. Two days after the 40th annual Earth Day, it is fitting that we wrap things up with Wolf Blitzer's interview with the blockbuster directly to talk about "Avatar" and his fight to save the Amazon.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Joining us now, James Cameron, the filmmaker. You've got a little successful movie called "Avatar." How did that film do?


BLITZER: It worked out OK. Are you going to do "Avatar 2?"

CAMERON: Like you said, a billion here, a billion there, after awhile it adds up to real money.

BLITZER: That's real money. What was it, a billion in gross?

CAMERON: It was 2.7.

BLITZER: $2.7 million, U.S. dollars?


BLITZER: Not Canadian, U.S. dollars? So when you start shooting, filming, "Avatar 2?"

CAMERON: Well, I think we've all decided we want to make it. I just have to come up with the right story. The story is getting informed by some of the things I'm doing right now.

BLITZER: Because the sequel, it's not that easy. Some sequels, they work out great, some don't work out so great.

CAMERON: I've actually had good success with sequels. I did the sequel to the "Terminator" and that worked out. And my film, first film with Sigourney Weaver was "Aliens" which was the sequel to Ridley Scott's classic, and that worked out OK.

BLITZER: Not too bad. All right, let's talk a little bit about your meeting with the president of the United States. What happened? How did that come about?

CAMERON: It was very brief, and I think he just wanted to congratulate me on the success of the film and I drew his attention to some of the things that I was involved in now.

BLITZER: On the environment?

CAMERON: Energy, conservation, the Amazon stuff. And he was very interested. He didn't expect that, I think to be the topic of conversation. But we engaged on that.

BLITZER: What did you think of him?

CAMERON: I think he's very impressive. But I've thought that for some time.

BLITZER: Had you met him before? This was the first time? So it was just the two of you and a little chat?

CAMERON: And my wife and she wound up speaking to him about the first lady's work with organic gardening and education, because my wife's an educator and she's very into an organic lifestyle.

BLITZER: That's pretty cool.

CAMERON: Yes, it was great.

BLITZER: Despite all the other stuff. Let's talk about the Amazon. You were just there recently. We've got some video. Tell us why has this become a passion of yours?

CAMERON: It's not really all of a sudden. It really goes back many years and "Avatar" is really resulting from my concern about the environment and where the kind of world is heading and the sort of the way that civilization is just steamrolling everything in its path, North America, South America, everywhere around the world, as economic growth sort of supersedes our sort of moral conscience about destroying the natural world and so I wanted to go where the action was and the action is in the Amazon.

BLITZER: So what can we do here in the United States as far as the Amazon is concerned?

CAMERON: Well, I think that we have to see it as a globally connected issue. The environmentalists tell us that the amount of carbon coming out of the Amazon as they destroy it is about the size of Belgium a year is actually helping raise the temperature around the world. And so it is an international issue and I think Brazil would welcome international help in conserving -- by help, I mean money -- in conserving their forests and creating disincentives for people to chop down the trees to graze cattle, which is what they're doing.

BLITZER: I mean "Avatar" really did have that message, that pro- environment message coming through it, sort of like "An Inconvenient Truth," the Al Gore movie.

CAMERON: Yes, a more emotional version of it. I mean, Al's movie had a lot of facts and figures and the hockey stick graph and all that which is all good foundational information for people to have. "Avatar" doesn't teach. All it does, is I think, if it does anything correctly, it sort of makes you mad, makes you think, give you an emotional reaction and hopefully that becomes a call to action.

BLITZER: You heard about this Brazilian judge, the decision he just made on this dam.

CAMERON: It's sort of goes both ways, I mean we had a little quite brief moment of jubilation as they decided to suspend the bidding on the dam, at which point it would have gone forward inexorably, and then suspension has been overturned by another judge so they've obviously -- justice has been overruled by economic political pressure in Brazil.

BLITZER: So maybe, correct me if I'm wrong, you love dealing with the environment, but you also love dealing with energy.

CAMERON: Yes, it's all about energy.

BLITZER: So maybe -- and they're related obviously.

CAMERON: Yes, clearly.

BLITZER: "Avatar 2," something related to energy more?

CAMERON: Yes, I'll probably explain more clearly that the little mineral that they're mining is the key to energy survival on Earth in a future century, so it all relates to energy. And of course the global issue with warming is related to, you know, how quickly we can shift to renewable energy sources and get off of fossil fuel.

BLITZER: How long would it take? Let's say tomorrow you come up with a plot, you've got an idea, how long would it take between tomorrow and when I could go to the Regal Cinema or whatever and watch the film?

CAMERON: Well, the first film took 4.5 years, but a lot of that was R&D to develop the technology and so on. We're thinking probably three years from now.

BLITZER: Three years from now maybe or three years from next week?

CAMERON: Three years from when I get the story done.

BLITZER: Whenever that happens.

CAMERON: Exactly.

BLITZER: Three years, that's a long-term projects.

CAMERON: Yes, well these are big projects.

BLITZER: And you make a lot of money on them.

CAMERON: Well actually, I was thinking about this today, it's really interesting, these are projects that are good for the environment and they make a lot of money and this is really the paradigm for how we're going to turn this thing around.

We've got to have projects that help the environment and are economically sound. We've got to make jobs for people while doing renewable energy, that sort of thing. That's the paradigm.

People are sort of thinking that there's a conflict between the environment and the economy, that they're opposed to each other. They really need to be thought of as the same thing.

BLITZER: When you were a little boy growing up in Niagara Falls, Canada -- I grew up not far away from you.

CAMERON: Right, just across the dig.

BLITZER: Did you every think you would be making these kinds of films? Was that your idea then?

CAMERON: Absolutely not.

BLITZER: What did you want to be center fielder for the New York Yankees?

CAMERON: Not really. I thought I was going to be a scientist, believe it or not.

BLITZER: Really?

CAMERON: Yes, I was endlessly curious about the natural world and my curiosity just sort of takes me into all these different places and it took me into film making.

BLITZER: My curiosity took me into interviewing you. Worked out pretty nicely for both of us. James, thanks very much.

CAMERON: Wolf, pleasure, thank you.


MALVEAUX: I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Join us weekdays in "The Situation Room" from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern and every Saturday at 6:00 p.m. on CNN, at this time every weekend on CNN International. The news continues next on CNN.