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Times Square Failed Bombing Suspect Won't Appear in Court

Aired May 4, 2010 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Rick, thank you.

Happening now, breaking news. The suspect in that failed Times Square car bombing due in court any moment now -- as new details are emerging about him and his arrest on a plane that was only minutes from takeoff.

Also, there are growing signs right now this was in fact an international terror plot, claims by the suspect that he trained at a terror camp in Pakistan -- and now, multiple arrests in Pakistan.

Plus, deadly flood waters are starting to recede in Nashville. But now, there's fear what authorities might find as the water pulls back.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news this hour.

Heavy security and huge news media presence outside the federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan where the man accused of trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square is due to appear any moment now. Among the latest developments in this case, charges have now been filed against Faisal Shahzad, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Court documents shows Faisal Shahzad claims he trained at a terror camp in Pakistan and there have been multiple arrests in that country today in connection with the Times Square case.

Also, there are new details of Shahzad's arrest. We now know he was pulled from a flight to Dubai before it left the gate at New York's Kennedy airport. But the plane was ordered back where two other passengers were pulled off.

We've just received this audio recording. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) emergency route position. Actually, I have a message for you to go back to the gate immediately. So make the left turn when able.


BLITZER: The two people, by the way, who were pulled off were questioned. They were later released.

President Obama praised the way officials responded in this case and he made this vow.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As Americans, and as a nation, we will not be terrorized. We will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated. We will be vigilant and we will work together, and we will protect and defend the country we love to ensure a safe and prosperous future for our people.


BLITZER: CNN's Mary Snow has been digging deeper into Faisal Shahzad. She's outside his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Mary, you've got some information. I know you've been speaking with neighbors, others in Bridgeport. What are you learning?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, we've just been able to get in front of this house where Faisal Shahzad lived only a few hours ago. Investigators had been here throughout the night. We know from court documents they were able to retrieve fertilizer and fireworks from this residence.

But talking to neighbors, he appeared very elusive. And his next door neighbor said that she didn't even know him and others here in the neighborhood sad that perhaps they had seen him maybe looking sad, walking around. But we are getting a deeper picture of piecing his life together.

We do now know that he worked at Affinion Group, which is international marketing company in Norwalk, Connecticut. He was a junior financial analyst and he worked there between 2006 and 2009. And we're told by the company that he left there voluntarily.

He also attended college here in Connecticut. He went to the University of Bridgeport, getting a degree in 2000 and then came back to get his MBA in 2005. We spoke with an assistant dean at the business school. His name is Ward Thrasher and he was an adviser to Faisal Shahzad.

Take a listen to what he had to say.


WARD THRASHER, ASSISTANT DEAN, UNIV. OF BRIDGEPORT: He was unremarkable. Students, you know, are really bad and they get tossed out or they're exceptional and everybody remembers them. He fell into that broad category in the middle that people remember his name but don't remember a lot about him as a student in the classroom.


SNOW: And Ward Thrasher told us that there was nothing that he could recollect about Faisal Shahzad that would give him any kind of concern or lead to the questions that he has been answering today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What are you learning, Mary, about his family?

SNOW: We do know not far from here in Shelton, Connecticut, he lived with his wife and two children and we're told by neighbors they were last there in July of last year, and that Shahzad had moved out shortly before his wife and two children. We also know the home was in foreclosure.

But CNN has just learned also that Shahzad's father was a senior officer in the Pakistani air force. He is now retired. We also learned that he does have a brother in Canada.

It's unclear at this point, Wolf, where his wife and children are at this time.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Mary, because we're going to get a lot more information about Faisal Shahzad.

But let's get some more information right now on the entire Pakistani connection. For that, we'll bring in our national security analyst, Peter Bergen, and CNN's Tom Foreman is here at the magic map for us, the wall.

First of all, Pakistan. You told us 24 hours ago that you suspected that there was some sort of connections to Pakistan. Today, we learned, Peter, a whole lot more.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I mean, almost, you know, a great number of these plots in the west whether in the United States or in United Kingdom or Germany, you know, they all ways go back to Pakistan. That's where al Qaeda is headquartered. That's where the Pakistani Taliban are headquartered and that's where a variety of these groups which have sent people into the West for these attacks or attempted attacks are based. I mean, it's sort of jihad central essentially.

BLITZER: So, show us, Tom, exactly what we're talking about. He was originally born near Peshawar, up in the northwest part of Pakistan.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right up in this area, Islamabad, the capital here. Peter, you mentioned these different groups. So, let's talk about those a little bit. South Waziristan, you mentioned al Qaeda down here. Tell me about their role these days.

BERGEN: Well, al Qaeda -- they're kind of throughout Waziristan. So, you know, Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-American who was trained by al Qaeda in this area, he tried to do an attack in Manhattan. You know, Osama bin Laden is believed to be living in and around here. He may be up further north.

But then we have the Pakistani Taliban, they're known by their initials TTP.

FOREMAN: It's up in this area. They're the group that wants Shariah law and they're one of the groups that the government of Pakistan takes most seriously in terms of its own stability needed to be overcome.

BERGEN: The Pakistani Taliban, TTP, are an alliance of 14 Taliban groups. They're actually headquartered here, more down in South Waziristan. But they go up throughout this area. They have sent suicide bombers to Barcelona in Spain in January of 2008. So, you know, they've already shown a desire to attack the West.

BLITZER: Should we believe these statements coming out of some of these terrorist groups in Pakistan right now claiming responsibility and credit for this attempt at Times Square?

BERGEN: I wouldn't completely -- I think they might have some credibility. They've shown this ability to operate in the West certainly with desire. They're very angry about the American drone strikes which have been striking particularly in south and North Waziristan in the last year or so. So, you know, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't say that they are not credible.

FOREMAN: And you can't write off Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is the group as we recall that was involved in the Mumbai attacks which obviously targeted, in some ways, westerners and Americans.

BERGEN: And not only that, Lashkar-e-Taiba recruited Americans in the past. David Headley, a Chicago resident, was recruited by Lashkar to kill a Danish cartoonist who done a portrait of the Prophet Muhammad that some people found offensive. Lashkar is a very large group in Pakistan. They have hundreds of thousands show up to their annual gathering. So, you wouldn't want to discount them.

But the fact that, you know, Faisal has already said that he was trained in Waziristan takes you back to al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban.

BLITZER: So, does this mean this was an al Qaeda plot?

BERGEN: It's not clear. But I think these are distinctions and differences to some degree now. These groups ideologically are very similar, tactically very similar. The al Qaeda couldn't exist without the Pakistani Taliban. It's embedded inside it. And al Qaeda has affected all of these groups with its ideology.

So, you know, as we get into this, we'll know more. But to make big distinctions between al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, Lashkar- e-Taiba when they're all located in this Waziristan area. They will have elements here.

BLITZER: Here's what worries me.


BLITZER: I'm anxious to get your reaction. The last several attempts here in the United States were relatively small scale, soft targets. This attempt at Times Square, it's not like blowing up the World Trade Center or hijacking three or four or 10 planes.

The good news is -- it looks like these guys can't do a spectacular attack. The bad news is, they're readjusting and going after smaller targets, which could still be very deadly.

BERGEN: Yes. So, you know, it's a good news-bad news story. They're -- you know, they're trying to do singletons. They don't have the capacity to do anything like a 9/11. But clearly, if this had succeeded in Times Square or Najibullah Zazi, if he succeeded in Wall Street in September, you're talking about several dozen people dead in the middle of Manhattan, you know, that's not insignificant.

FOREMAN: It's been the persistent question on this -- as we put pressure over here in Afghanistan, the question time and again has been, is there a strong backstop here in Pakistan from the Pakistani government? They've put pressure on here, but, you know, intelligence people haven't --


BLITZER: Guys, for a moment, I want to interrupt. Allan Chernoff has got some breaking news. He's at the court house in Lower Manhattan.

What are you learning, Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the entire day we've been anticipating that Faisal Shahzad would be shown here for a presentation before the judge. It's not going to happen today and we're also told it will not happen tomorrow. Now, why is that? The guidance I'm being given is that the bottom line is he's singing. Why stop the tune if that song isn't over?

Authorities have said that he is cooperating. He is providing some valuable information. Once he's presented before the judge, he will be assigned a defense lawyer. And at that point, who knows how much more cooperation there will be?

So, the government has an interest in allowing him to continue to talk. Why push it and that's why we're not seeing him today. And we're told he will not appear tomorrow either -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, in other words, he was cooperating -- we were told earlier by law enforcement authorities here in Washington -- even before he was formally read his Miranda rights, he is a U.S. citizen after all. But what you're saying is he's still cooperating right now as a result, and there's no rush to get him into that courthouse behind you?

CHERNOFF: Exactly. He's cooperating. And it's also mentioned here in the criminal complaint that he has admitted that he tried to detonate a bomb in Times Square. So, he's already given that admission there and as we've said, more information is coming out of him. So, the government feels no rush to get him into court. BLITZER: All right. Allan, we're going to get back to you. I just want to pick Peter Bergen's perspective. If he is singing, in fact, as Allan says, cooperating, I assume he could provide some useful information to U.S. counterterrorism experts.

BERGEN: Well, the fact that he's already said he got bomb-making training in Waziristan is a huge clue. The question is, which group, as we discuss, are sort of a, you know, quite a range of groups there. But, you know, whether it's al Qaeda, where it's the Pakistani Taliban, whether it's Lashkar-e-Taiba, whether it's a mix of these.

And he'll be an intelligence, you know, bonanza. Just there was -- you may recall, Wolf, there was a guy named Bryan Neal Vinas, a Long Island kid who also came to this area about two years ago. He's proven to be an intelligence bonanza for the United States once he was captured by the Pakistanis and handed back to the United States. He's an American citizen.

So, certainly, this guy is also an American citizen. He would have been inside the tribal regions, the most dangerous place in the world. He would have encountered a lot of people. He obviously was trusted if they gave him bomb-making training. So if he's cooperating, as he seems to be, that's a good thing.

BLITZER: So, that's the breaking news that we're following right now. He's not going to appear in court, not today, maybe not even tomorrow, Tom, because he's cooperating apparently. And he's telling authorities what he knows.

All right, guys, stand by. We're going to have a lot more on the breaking news.

We're also going to be speaking. Later, we have an exclusive interview with Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Hussein Haqqani. He will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He'll tell us what he knows, we hope, about this entire Pakistani connection.

Jack Cafferty is coming up with "The Cafferty Files."

And then more of the breaking news, a closer look at how the Obama administration is handling terror in light of this latest attempted attack.





BLITZER: Back to Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty Files" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, Americans need to accept the fact that Social Security is already broke. That's the sobering bottom line in an article on AOL News. The piece suggesting that the Social Security crisis that's been talked about for years and years is here. This year, Social Security will pay out more in benefits than it collects in contributions. Experts have been warning that the annual surpluses for the trust fund would eventually shrink to zero.

A deficit was inevitable, in part because of the growing number of retires and the fact that fewer and fewer workers are now available to support them. But because of the nation's high unemployment rate and people retiring earlier than expected, the system is already in the red. And things could get a lot worse, especially if the economy suffers a double dip recession, like some fear it might. Social Security could never be in the black again.

There's also the whole issue of the trust fund. What an oxymoron that is. It's nothing more than an accounting gimmick really.

Defenders of Social Security say there's no emergency because of this $2.5 trillion trust fund. They say the system will be solvent until 2037.

That's not true. There is no trust fund. The trust fund is nothing more than a bunch of IOUs, bonds that were substituted for the money that was growing in the trust fund from years of surplus. The government just helped itself to the money in the trust fund and spent it for other things. And that means that we, the taxpayers, are once again on the hook for the deficit that they created there.

Of course, at the end of the day, there aren't many options. The crisis calls for our gutless politicians to make some tough decisions. That will never happen. Either raise taxes or cut benefits. Don't hold your breath, remember, we have an election coming in November.

So, here's the question: what should be done to fix Social Security?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

This thing has been coming down the tracks for years. And the government just sits there and watches it come.

BLITZER: Yes. They got a presidential commission supposed to come up with some recommendations in December, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Oh, well, that will take care of it.


CAFFERTY: Yes. Then forget the question. It's all been solved.

BLITZER: Thanks. Stand by.

Let's go back to the breaking news we're following.

A show of force as officials announced the arrest of Faisal Shahzad in connection with the Times Square car bomb plot. The attorney general, Eric Holder, was joined by the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, and other top officials from the FBI and the New York City Police Department.

Despite the quick arrest, Holder warned Americans against any complacency.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: There are organized terrorist networks that are targeting us. There are lone terrorists here at home and abroad who are targeting us. As months, even years go by without a successful terrorist attack, the most dangerous lesson that we can draw is a false impression that this threat no longer exists. It does.

And the Department of Justice and our partners in the national security community have no higher priority than disrupting those attempts and bringing those who plot them to justice.


BLITZER: All right. Let's bring in our senior political analysts, Gloria Borger, and David Gergen.

David, so far they seem to be getting the White House, the administration, some pretty good grade on this specific issue, the terror plot at Times Square. Should they be getting good grades?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: They deserve higher marks on this. You know, John Kennedy once said that victory has many fathers. So, there are others here as well. The local law enforcement officers in New York, the FBI, but particularly the vendors on the ground who stopped this before it blew up.

But among those who should get credit are President Obama and Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano and their teams because this was a very well-coordinated effort. After the attack, they got this guy before he got away to Dubai and they hold them down. They got some arrest going on. I think they can deserve high marks for that based on what we know so far.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, I was -- I was speaking with somebody who has been briefed about what occurred and one thing that this source said to me is that, as David was saying, intelligence, law enforcement, Department of Homeland Security are what he called lashed up together right now. Since the last event, which occurred at Christmas with Abdulmutallab where there was a great degree of criticism, you'll recall, that the agencies were not coordinating, that they were not consulting with each other. And this time, it's very clear that there's been an awful lot of communication between them. And that's why we see such a great deal of success.

The one question, though, Wolf --


BORGER: -- that these folks seem to have is: how did he wind up on the airplane if he was indeed on a no-fly list? And that's something they have to really look at.

GERGEN: I think that's one question. The other question to me, Gloria, would be: how did he get naturalized?

BORGER: Right.

GERGEN: Was there any sense of this, and his waywardness back then and what are the processes here? Who vouched for him? Somebody has to vouch for him.


BLITZER: I've noticed that all day today, and at least most of the day yesterday, David, the top administration officials have not avoided using the word terror and terrorist. They've openly been calling this a terror plot. You heard the news conference with Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano today.

What does that say to you?

GERGEN: Well, I think they finally -- you know, they've been reluctant to use that word because of this outreach to the Islamic community and everything like that. But I think, you know, when you're the president, you got to call it as it is. And I'm glad they're finally using the language. I -- some people think it's cynically political to use "terror," or they want to make sure they're seen as muscular on terror and everything like. You know, forget that, I just think they're doing the right thing.

BORGER: You know, Wolf, here's another thing they're doing is -- the last time with, we recall, with Abdulmutallab, there was a great deal of criticism from some corners about whether they should have mirandized him, read him his rights.

And today, it was clear at this press conference you're showing that they spoke about the fact that they had questioned Shahzad, they've questioned him, they've mirandized him. They continue to get information from him after mirandizing him. They made that clear.

And then, as you point out, they're not holding this hearing today. They're still clearly interviewing him.

BLITZER: They're presumably getting useful information. You heard Allan Chernoff.

BORGER: That's what they're saying.

BLITZER: Tell us the breaking news. He's, quote, "singing." He may not even be formally brought to the courthouse in Manhattan tomorrow if he continues to, quote, "sing." Let's see how much useful information he can provide.

Guys, thank you very much.

GERGEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: We're going to stay on top of the breaking news.

We also have an exclusive interview coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, an interview that may shed new light on the Times Square car bomb plot. The Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Hussein Haqqani, he will be here in THE SITUATION. This will be his only interview. Stand by for that.

And a new twist in a Pentagon decision that could mean thousands of American jobs.

Plus, one lucky high school wins the ultimate commencement speaker. We're talking about the president of the United States. We're going to show you how it did it.


OBAMA: I want to give the American people a quick update --



BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Lisa, what else is going on?


Well, the race for the new Congress is moving full speed ahead. Three state primaries are under way today.

In Indiana, Republicans will select a candidate to battle for the seat being vacated by Democratic Senator Evan Bayh.

In Ohio, voters will select a Democrat who will fight to the Republican Senator George Voinovich's successor.

And in North Carolina, six Democrats are vying for a chance to face off against Republican Senator Richard Burr.

And the Pentagon won't be awarding a controversial contract for its new tanker jet until close to the end of the year. The decision on who gets the $35 billion contract is now delayed until November. Bids are expected from Boeing and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company. The new tanker jet will replace the air force's KC-135 refueling tanker, which dates back to the 1950s.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is stressing that banks, not the taxpayers, should bear the burden of repaying government bailout costs. Geithner testified on Capitol Hill today that a so-called "financial crisis responsibility fee" would target banks that engage in risky behavior and were eligible for emergency assistance programs. But he stressed that the fees wouldn't be a substitute for the comprehensive financial reform proposals being debated in Congress -- Wolf. BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.

We're going to get back to the breaking news. Today's court appearance canceled for the Times Square bomb plot suspect. He won't appear apparently tomorrow either -- details of this new twist in the breaking news.

And we're learning the suspect was questioned before he was read his rights. So what does that mean? Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is standing by.


BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, there are new details potentially linking an attempted terrorist attack in New York's Times Square to Pakistan. I'm going to one on one with the Pakistani ambassador to the United States and ask him about claims that Faisal Shahzad was training in a terror camp in his country. This is a CNN exclusive. Stand by.

And flood waters are finally receding after devastating parts of Tennessee. Authorities are deeply worried, though, that the death toll will rise before it's all over.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are following breaking news this hour. We've just learned the suspect in the Times Square bomb plot will not, repeat, not appear in court today or even tomorrow. Our senior correspondent Allan Chernoff is over at the courthouse in lower Manhattan working the story for us. Tell our viewers why the delay.

CHERNOFF: Well, Wolf, right here in the criminal complaint, it says that Shahzad basically admitted to getting training, as you said, getting training in bomb manufacturing and also to transporting that SUV and trying to detonate it in Times Square. So the feds are saying, hey, he's already told us that he did it. And they also said in a press conference earlier today that he's singing. He's telling more information. He's giving more information. He's telling the story. They want that to continue. They don't want it to stop by him showing up in court, being assigned a defense attorney. So they're going to stretch this out until they get as much information as they can.

BLITZER: And he's cooperating, even though they have formally read him his Miranda rights, saying he doesn't have to without a lawyer but he's still cooperating?

CHERNOFF: Exactly. It's very interesting, Wolf. But that's critical. We are constantly involved in this battle against terrorism and here's somebody who tried to commit an about of terror, according to the U.S. agents and they're saying he's providing more information.

BLITZER: Let's get some legal analyst. Jeffrey Toobin is joining us on the phone right now. Talk a little bit, explain to our viewers about the Miranda rights. He was cooperating, he was answering questions. Then they read him his rights and now he's still cooperating, Jeffrey. It sounds a little strange but explain the legal process.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the Miranda rule says nothing you say can be used against you in court unless you first have been read your Miranda rights. That doesn't mean that the police can't use the information. They can't follow leads. They can't go get search warrants, they can't use the information that they give you before you get your Miranda warnings. It just means if you go to trial, information cannot be used against you. Now, once he did receive his Miranda rights and the statements that he made afterwards, those certainly would be used against him if he goes to trial.

BLITZER: So as far as you can tell, everything is being done according to the books right now. We heard the law enforcement, the acting FBI director, we heard from Eric Holder, the attorney general, that they were authorized to start asking him questions as soon as they picked up him and effectively arrested them. Then they eventually read him his rights and continued to ask questions.

TOOBIN: I think the conventional thinking is when you have a situation involving terrorism, the most important thing is to get the information to stop further events, then you worry about Miranda and whether information can be used in a court case. But in a case like this, where there were explosives involved, you certainly would want to get the information first and then worry about its admissibility. It sounds like the government will have its cake and eat it too, here. It got the information and then it got it again post Miranda warning.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, the fact that he's a naturalized U.S. citizen, became a U.S. citizen about a year ago, what if any impact does that have as far as the law is concerned as opposed to being a native born citizen?

TOOBIN: I think it makes no difference at all. You have no different rights whether you are a natural-born citizen or a naturalized citizen. He has all the rights of an American citizen and will be allowed to -- and will be able to exercise them.

BLITZER: The fact that he's cooperating might help him as far as the sentence is concerned. But based on what we heard Eric Holder say earlier, leveling all those charges it looks like he could get at least life.

TOOBIN: Well, certainly he could get at least life. But I think that's all he could get. The Supreme Court has never said specifically that you need to kill someone in order to get the death penalty, but that's certainly been the implication of a lot of Supreme Court opinions over the years and fortunately there were no deaths resulting from this act. So I think it is very likely that the most he could get is life in prison but certainly given the range of charges against him, life in prison is a real possibility.

BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you very much. Jeff Toobin's our senior legal analyst. Shahzad was born in Pakistan and as we said, he became a U.S. naturalized citizen only a year or so ago. What are the requirements for becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen? We did some checking; five years permanent residence in the United States without leaving for more than six months at a time, a basic grasp of English and U.S. civics, moral character, including criminal record and lying. That is also considered. Applicants are photographed, fingerprinted, interviewed before taking the oath of allegiance to the constitution of the United States.

Is that a failed attack in Times Square a sign of things to come? Why there's growing fear of small-scale relatively speaking terror attacks.

And as flood waters recede in Tennessee, there are fears of rising death tolls.


BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top situations in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what else is going?

SYLVESTER: Hi Wolf. Although Tennessee's Cumberland River finally is beginning to recede, rescuers fear more dead bodies could be discovered in the flood ravaged state. Severe weather has been blamed for at least 27 deaths across the southeast, 18 of them in Tennessee. President Obama is dispatching the FEMA administrator to the state to view the damage firsthand and forecasters expect the water to fall below flood stage by Thursday.

A second bird is being now treated after being pulled from that massive Gulf of Mexico oil slick. The president of the National Wildlife Federation says a brown pelican similar to the one seen here is recovering at a bird rescue center. Another bird was found a few days ago. So far, there's no way to know how many additional birds are in jeopardy.

And go, Giants. President Obama is giving a shout out to the mascot of the Michigan school that won the competition to land him as their commencement speaker. Kalamazoo Central High School was one of three finalists selected by online voters in a competition designed to promote the president's goals of increasing high school and college graduation rates and improving academics.

And despite concerns that it could lead to racial profiling, a majority of Americans support Arizona's controversial new immigration bill. In a new CBS-"New York Times" survey, 51 percent say that the law is about right, 36 percent say it goes too far and nine percent say it doesn't go far enough. The bill, which has sparked national outrage, was signed into law last month. It requires local law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if they're suspected to be in the country illegally. I'm starting to lose my voice there Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll get water and you'll be strong the next time we talk. Lisa, thank you very much. Jack Cafferty is coming up with your e-mails. Also, the fast- changing breaking news in the Times Square bomb plot. The time line of how authorities tracked down Faisal Shahzad overnight and where the investigation is leading them right now.


BLITZER: Jack's joining us with "The Cafferty File" right now -- Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question is: What should be done to fix social security? It will start paying out more in benefits than it takes in this year.

Don writes: "I'm in my 70s and still working because I'm fortunate enough to be healthy and have no reason not to work. Why should I get social security until I do actually retire? Since age 70, I've received a check I never asked for and could easily do without. The social security age limits were determined when people didn't have access to medical care that allows them to be productive much longer. Raise the benefit age to 72, it will go a long way towards solving the problem."

Mike in Pennsylvania says: "Go to your local social security office. It will be crowded with people well below retirement age who are there to sign up for social security disability benefits. They claim to have bad backs or are simply depressed. I work for a social service agency. The caseworkers send these people there and tell them how to qualify for benefits like it's welfare. Fix it? Stop robbing it first."

Allen writes: "We ought to have the choice of opting out. I'm self employed. I have to pay in double and I have to match my employees. I won't get any extra. This is a huge loser for me."

D.K. writes: "Let's face it. We can't afford government health care, Medicare, social security and the other programs Washington provides. With state and federal deficits and proposed increased spending for other programs, there is not enough tax money. We either have to go to a value-added tax, a national sales tax or do surgery with a fiscal scalpel that most Americans will not tolerate and accept."

And Dee writes: "I'm left with less intelligent than before I read one of your articles, Jack. This is because of your people. Why don't you stick to writing about how infatuated you are with Michelle Obama? You are better at that."

If you want to read more on this, you can go to my bog at

BLITZER: A lot of people remember your comments about Michelle Obama.

CAFFERTY: She's hot. What do you want? And I had a crush on her when she first became first lady. BLITZER: No longer?

CAFFERTY: Well, I never heard from her, so we all move on.

BLITZER: I know they're watching at the white house. Jack, thank you.

We're just getting in new comments from the homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano on the Times Square terror incident. We'll play those for you. Stand by.

Also, it's a CNN exclusive, my upcoming interview with Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, and I'll ask him about details linking the thwarted terror attack in Times Square to Pakistan.

And new questions whether one government agency may have neglected to provide the Obama administration with critical information about the potential risks of the oil spill. We'll have details.


BLITZER: BP executives are up on Capitol Hill right now. They're answering questions from very angry U.S. lawmakers about the unfolding oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Our Congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is joining us now with details. Brianna, you had a chance to speak exclusively with one of those BP executives. What did you learn?

BRIANNE KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is the executive vice president, you just saw a picture of him there, Dave Nagel, who is the EVP of BP America. He was before the House energy and commerce committee along with executives from Halliburton and Transocean, and we caught up with him right afterward. This was a closed hearing, Wolf, so we didn't get to sit in and see exactly the q and a between the lawmakers and the execs, but Democrats and Republicans said that they were very unhappy with what they heard, that they didn't hear enough, they didn't get definitive enough answers and that what was so interesting it included Joe Barton the top Republican on the committee who is for offshore oil drilling and he had some very scathing criticism and that's what I asked Nagel about.


KEILAR: The top Republican on the committee said that you guys seemed like deer in the headlights and you didn't have concrete enough answers. What are you doing with that?

DAVID NAGEL, EXEC. VP, BP AMERICA: We're doing everything we can to respond to the incident, that's our complete focus, to stop the leak and to disperse the oil as best we can and protect the beaches and mitigate the impact and that's what we're doing.

KEILAR: Will the containment dome be in place soon?

NAGEL: They're in process of shipping it out and we should have it starting to get on location over the weekend.

KEILAR: Will BP pay the full cost of the cleanup?

NAGEL: We said we'll pay all legitimate claims. Thank you very much.

KEILAR: What does legitimate mean?


KEILAR: The CEO, listen to that, legitimate, what does that really mean? We don't have a definitive answer. That's also the line we're hearing from the CEO of BP who is on the hill as well, Wolf, so we're trying to get to the bottom of that. But the Democratic chairman of this committee, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, he said, because, again, we couldn't hear the q and a that was going on behind closed doors he said it was clear that BP and these other execs never anticipated that this catastrophic -- this catastrophic situation could happen and that they're now trying to invent a solution on the fly to an unprecedented problem. And he said that they don't have guarantees that this can be fixed. We're expecting that some members of Congress will be going to the region at the end of the week, Wolf, and there's going to be at least one hearing next week.

BLITZER: I'm glad you started to press him on the definition of the word "legitimate," Brianna, I suspect that will be a big issue in the weeks and months to come. Thank you.

The fringe of the mass -- the fringe, I should say, of the massive 60-mile-wide oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico right now is lapping at Louisiana's barrier islands. And the company responsible, BP, for the spill is struggling to contain it. All of this amidst new questions about whether one government agency was asleep at the switch before this disaster occurred. Brian Todd is monitoring all of these developments in New Orleans. He's joining us now live. Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that government agency is the minerals management service, part of the department of the interior. It is now under tighter scrutiny over its relationship with the oil industry.


TODD: New concerns about the government agency that oversees the oil business. The minerals management service understated the amount of previous oil spills in the gulf and the potential impact from a spill. That's according to a warning sent late last year from another government agency, NOAA. It says when the Obama team asked for a risk assessment, MMS used outdated information on the frequency of oil spills. And failed to include more recent information from many sources, including a big increase in spills from hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The head of one watchdog group says this --

DANIELLE BRIAN, PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT: What you're seeing here is one of the agencies really doing their job and raising concerns and say, you know, as we're looking at this offshore drilling, shouldn't you be a little more concerned about the implications here if something went wrong and MMS essentially ignoring them.

TODD: The document was posted on P.I.E.R., and we asked MMS for a response. The spokeswoman told us they were not official comments from NOAA and were only meant to start a dialogue, but MMS won't say whether they changed their plan after the criticism.

BRIAN: We've really had problems with MMS for over a decade recognizing this is an agency that really thinks of the oil and gas industry as their partner or client rather than as an industry they should be regulating.

TODD: Despite several calls and e-mails from us, MMS did not respond to that. Records also show that before this accident, BP was confident it could handle this kind of spill. In one document, the company said it has the capability to respond to a worst-case discharge, which it estimated then at 300,000 gallons a day. This well is leaking less than that amount. BP is struggling to contain it has been criticized by the federal government. I asked a BP spokeswoman if they'd overestimated their ability to respond.

MARTI POWERS, BP SPOKESWOMAN: What you're seeing from the response capability, this is huge. This is not just BP. There are federal agencies, state agencies that are here with us. I think it speaks that -- well that we are able to -- to manage to get resources so quickly in these areas and really start a very proactive response effort.

TODD: Robert Thomas is a professor that teaches journalist students how to cover the oil industry. Has BP done a good enough job conveying to the public how difficult it is to clean up the spill?

ROBERT THOMAS, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY: An awful lot of people feel like they're doing nothing, but to me it's a priority thing. I want them down there at 5,000 feet. I want them to stop that flow.


TODD: And -- and BP officials tell us that they're doing everything they can, 24/7 to do just that. Their latest effort? That dome that they're building to clamp onto the leaking wellhead at the bottom of the seafloor and funnel the oil to this waiting tanker ships. BP officials now say they hope to have that in place by this weekend -- Wolf?

BLITZER: What about this notion that the oil is now lapping onto these -- these islands, not far from where you are right now? Explain what that means.

TODD: Those are the islands, the barrier island chain, that is actually part of a wildlife refuge, that has people concerned, birds and other wildlife there and it is lapping ashore there now.

BLITZER: Brian Todd all over the story, Brian. Thanks very much.

Coming up my exclusive interview with Pakistan's ambassador to the United States. We have a lot to discuss on the breaking news.