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THE SITUATION ROOM

Serial Killer Suspect Arrested; Federal Workers Vs. Private Sectors; North Korean Soccer Team Punished

Aired August 12, 2010 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Here in THE SITUATION ROOM happening now, a suspect in a series of stabbing attacks arrested at the last possible moment trying to fly to Israel. We are learning new details of the violent spree and the dramatic capture.

Also, similarities among the victims and the search for a possible motive. I'll speak with the former FBI assistant, Director Tom Fuentes and criminal profiler, Pat Brown.

And a melting glacier shed an island of ice four times the size of Manhattan now floating freely, and potentially heading toward shipping lanes possibly even oil platforms.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

Major break in the bizarre and deadly case, a stabbing spree covering three states and most of the victims are African-American men, some with special needs. Now, authorities have their suspect captured in a last-minute airport arrest. Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is working this story for us. Jeanne, what are you finding out?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the suspect is an Israeli citizen, and he was arrested as he was about to board a flight to his home country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MESERVE (voice-over): Authorities believe this man is responsible for 20 stabbings in Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia, five of them fatal. Elias Abuelezam, a 33-year-old Israeli citizen living legally in the U.S. was arrested Wednesday night as he was about to board a Delta flight to Tel Aviv.

DAVID LEYTON, GENESSEE CO., MICHIGAN PROSECUTOR: Suspect was located at the boarding gate of Atlanta's Hartsfield's Airport and was called to the front of the boarding area where he surrendered without incident to customs agents.

MESERVE: The stabbings began in May. The last one was just last weekend. They attracted national publicity because there were so many, and so many of the victims were African-American. 17-year-old Etwan Wilson was one.

ETWAN WILSON, SURVIVED ASSAULT: I pushed off of him and ran. I ran to the first house I seen with the light on.

MESERVE: During the investigation, police released a composite drawing and surveillance tape of a green SUV. A tip eventually connected Abuelezam with the car and the crimes, and when authorities realized he was en route to Israel, they moved in. Though, Abuelezam recently worked in Michigan, he lived for a time in this house in Leesburg, Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seemed to be pretty nice, his whole family did.

MESERVE: Officials in Virginia and Michigan had different responses when asked if the stabbings were race related.

CHIEF JOSEPH PRICE, LEESBURG, VA POLICE: My belief is he selected the victims in Leesburg based upon the color of their skin.

LEYTON: We don't have any other evidence that suggest it's racially motivated. I'm not saying it's not, but what I'm saying is is that without more evidence, I'm not going to make that statement.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE (on-camera): Last Thursday, Abuelezam was arrested in Arlington, Virginia, on an outstanding assault warrant. He was driving a green SUV. Inside, officials say police found a knife and hammer. A hammer was used along with a knife in one of the stabbings, but at that time, the authorities had not connected Abuelezam or the car with the crimes. He was released, and just hours later, there was another stabbing in Virginia.

Abuelezam remains in custody in Atlanta. If he waives extradition, he could be back in Michigan as early as Friday to face charges -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jeanne, thanks very much. Let's get some more now on the Israeli connection. We'll go to Jerusalem. CNNs Paula Hancocks is standing by there. What are you picking up? What do we know about this man?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know he was an Israeli Arab. We know that he lived in a town called Vamni (ph) which is very close to Tel Aviv Airport which is obviously where he was trying to get to. We spoke to a neighbor of his family's just a couple of hours ago and he said that the family is very well respected within the community. A Christian family that is very reputable and said that this man grew up with his mother, his father died when he was very young according to the neighbor and five sisters.

Now, what we're learning from Israeli media from (INAUDIBLE) that telling us that another member of that Israeli family has actually been taken in for questioning by Israeli police as they believe that he may have been one of the people who spent time with this man when he came over to Tel Aviv and came over to Israel. He's believed to have come over for his sister's wedding. So, certainly, the Israeli police are trying to find out some more.

There's one quote from relative who said that they can't believe what has happened, and the mother is in shock. The neighbor said that they don't want to talk to anyone. Unsurprisingly, they are in shock at the moment, but the family all say through one journalist that they're angry that the U.S. embassy at this point hasn't told them too much. So, they're basically watching television to find out what has happened -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Have you heard anything from Israeli authorities about a criminal record for this individual, any background, any indications that he may have been involved in any of these kinds of activities within Israel?

HANCOCKS: You know, the rumors are that he has some kind of a criminal record, but we got nothing from the police. It is 1:00 a.m. in the morning here, and they said nothing earlier on, either. They're not be in drawn on this one, obviously. It's a bigger case in the United States. They want to get that facts straight, and they want to find out exactly what they should say before they talk to us -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Paula. Let's talk about what's going on with CNN contributor and former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, and criminal profiler, Pat Brown. Tom, walk us through what the FBI, U.S. law enforcement is doing right now. I assume they're working with the Israelis and various agencies in Israel to get a lot of information, as much information, about this man as possible.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the FBI will be passing on information, Wolf, to the office in Tel Aviv to get just that kind of assistance.

BLITZER: The FBI as a representative in Tel Aviv?

FUENTES: Yes, a legal attache office in Israel.

BLITZER: At the U.S. embassy?

FUENTES: Yes.

BLITZER: Right. And so, they're talking to Israeli authorities?

FUENTES: They'll pass on leads from the local police here in the three states where the murders took place, where the attacks took place, and request additional background information, what type of criminal record, talk to family members, associates, neighbors, anybody that they can locate there that may shed some light on what he did here. Meantime here, domestic law enforcement, you know, the big problem now is to tie him to each attack forensically to get the evidence that it's going to take to prosecute him for each one of these attacks.

The witness accounts, the DNA evidence if we have it, other forensic material which can be used against him to show that he was involved in those attacks, and then of course, the next step here is going to be to determine if he can stand trial. Does he have a mental problem? What was the motivation behind this?

BLITZER: And the key is motivation right now. He just could be a sick individual or he could have some other motive going around because when you stab someone or take a hammer and beat someone, Pat, you know that underscores a rage that is really intense.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Right. It is extreme rage, but I think we have to be careful not to go too far afield and start saying these are terrorist attacks or racist attacks. What we have here, in my opinion, is a pretty much typical serial killer. One who is we call anger retaliatory, full of at society. This is the way he gets back. It's kind of like a big bully, but instead of picking women, like most serial killers tend to have sexual homicide, he's picked a group of people he feels he has power over.

This is a group he picked. And he may have a lot of excuses for it, but I think we're still looking at a serial killer, and I do think we're going to find out evidence because this guy covering (ph) around the same van, they found him with a knife, so I'm guessing the van is going to give us a lot of stuff. I don't think this guy is going to be walking any time soon.

BLITZER: And as far as I know, we have no evidence of any political motive in Abuelezam' record or anything in statements he had made? Have you heard anything like that?

FUENTES: No, I agree with Pat completely. There's no indication of that at this point. Obviously, the investigation will involve examining phone records, e-mail records to determine who he's been in contact with, and what the nature of that contact was, and again, neighbors and other associates, but it could be that it is going to come back to just a sick person.

BLITZER: A sick person just going ahead. The fact that most of the victims, almost all of the victims, were African-American, you don't think that underscores a certain racist element in this?

BROWN: Not necessarily, because serial killers always justify what they do, but they're looking for power and control. So, that's why they pick somebody smaller that you. That's why men go for women, women will kill their children, usually, if you're going to be a bully, you pick somebody who maybe -- what you consider maybe a lower class or smaller or weaker and that makes it okay for you to do that.

My guess is he just lived in the area. He didn't do that much better than the people he was stabbing. You know, he was supposedly working at a liquor store or party store or something like that. So, he didn't have some great job. He's probably angry that he wasn't doing well. He's decompensating in life, going downhill, and he's so furious that he wants to take it out on everybody else.

BLITZER: Do you agree with that assessment?

FUENTES: Yes, I do. I think the indications are that all the victims were generally physically smaller than him. So, I think Pat is exactly right. In that situation, it could have been their physical size as opposed to the color of the their skin.

BLITZER: I think we're going to learn a lot more about Elias Abuelezam in the coming days. Guys, thanks much.

FUENTES: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is coming up next with the "Cafferty File."

Then an island of ice miles wide floating in the Arctic Ocean. We're going to take you inside of the operation tracking this giant glacier as it moves toward land. >

Also, Congress approves $600 million now to secure the border between the U.S. and Mexico with rare bipartisan support.

Plus, what's President Obama's biggest fear for the war in Afghanistan? I'll ask his National Security Adviser, General James Jones. That and more in my exclusive interview coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, with the economy with nearly 10 percent unemployment still struggling to fight to get on its feet, it seems like it's still a pretty good time to work for the federal government. "USA Today" has a story that on average, federal employees earn double what private sector workers make. In 2009, federal civil servants earned about $123,000. That's the total of pay and benefits compared to $61,000 for private sector workers.

For nine years in a row now, federal workers have been getting bigger pay and benefit increases than private sector employees. And the compensation gap between those two groups has grown from $30,000 ten years ago to almost $62,000 today. Unions for the public employees insist it's because most federal jobs require a high level of skill and education, and because the government contracts out a lot of the lower-paying jobs to the private sector.

But a lot of people don't buy that argument. The critics say federal workers are overpaid. And Republicans in Congress want to cancel the 1.4 percent across the board pay increase for federal workers that President Obama is pushing for. Consider this, federal compensation has grown nearly 37 percent since 2000 compared to less than 9 percent for private sector employees. It's no wonder that the government can't keep a lid on spending with stats like this. The federal budget deficit for the month of July, one month was $165 billion. Meanwhile, millions of Americans are losing or have lost their jobs and millions of others have been forced to take a pay cut.

So, here is the question: In this economy, should federal workers be earning on average twice what private sector workers do? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog. One month deficit in July, $165 billion. That's kind of peripheral to the question we're asking, but what a staggering number that is.

BLITZER: Yes, I remember when it was $100 billion per year, we thought it was the end of the world, but for one month that's amazing.

CAFFERTY: Unbelievable.

BLITZER: All right. Jack, thank you.

BLITZER: It's a massive, massive iceberg that dwarfs the one that sunk the "Titanic," and right now, it's heading in the same direction toward heavily traveled North Atlantic Shipping Lanes. Experts are tracking this island of ice. Let's go to CNNs Brian Todd. He's with that -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this iceberg is about four times the size of Manhattan, it's about half the height of the Empire State Building. One expert says it got enough fresh water inside to keep U.S. public tap water flowing for four months. Right now, we're outside a building affiliated with NOAA, the government's weather arm. You can see the massive satellite dishes on top of this futuristic building where there's one agency inside this building where the main mission is to track icebergs like this. We're going to give you an inside look.

Moving into the operations room now at the National Ice Center, this is the area where the analysts track the ice floes. They got charts up here showing kind of the density and the location of some of the ice floes, some icebergs that are drifting around all over the world. We're going to move over here and talk to Lieutenant Jim Scianna of the U.S. navy.

And we're going to analyze this particular glacier. This is where it was on July 28th. You can see it's attached to the Petermann glacier up near the North Pole. And by August 5th, it had broken off here. You can see the crack there. Jim, how do you think it happened?

LT. JIM SCIANNA, NATIONAL ICE CENTER: Well, there are multiple factors on why it could have happened. It could have been from some of the underlying ocean currents beneath the glacier that contributed to the break up. It could have been some of the katabatic winds that flowed down off of the green and ice cap to the Peterman ice glacier. And it could have just been from the general pressure that's associated with glacial movement over time.

TODD: We're going to go over to some other monitors here and maps. Jim, you lead the way and we're going to talk about this. This is very interesting. This was just a couple of days ago, and you can see how far it's broken away from the main glacier. This is the breakaway glacier, this is the main glacier, how far is that, Jim?

SCIANNA: Well, this image, which was taken on August 10th, on Tuesday, the measured distance from the end of the ice island to the Petermann glacier was about four miles.

TODD: Is that fast? Is that a fast-moving glacier? SCIANNA: It's pretty slow right now, because just of the sheer size, and also, the fewer that it's in right now is relatively shallow.

TODD: This is what we're talking about here?

SCIANNA: Right. So, this little green outline in the northwest corner of Greenland is where the glacier is. It will start to move south to the narrow strait as a pretty fast north-to-south moving current that goes through here and then as it starts to move further south and interact with the different ice floes and the movement of the water as it reaches warmer water, it will start to slowly breakdown into smaller pieces of ice and slowly melt away as it continues to move further south through the Baton (ph) Bay down into the Labrador Sea and then eventually pieces of it will probably make it off of the coast of Newfoundland here.

TODD: Still could be a threat?

SCIANNA: It could be a threat to the shipping lanes here, and it could pose threats to some of the oil fields that are in that area as well.

TODD (voice-over): A threat, but a slow-moving one. Officials say it could take the glacier as long as a year and a half to get to the North Atlantic.

What can be done the mitigate this? Can it be broken up? Can you even bomb the thing to try to get it into smaller pieces?

SCIANNA: Well, any of those, that's so far out right now. By the time that it begins to move further south, just the interactions that it has with melting and breaking up through the straits, it should break up into small enough pieces that it may not even be a threat by the time it gets that far south.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (on-camera): Timing is critical here. Officials here tell us that if the iceberg gets into the knars (ph) straight before the winter freeze that's in late September or early October, if it gets into the knars (ph) straight right in here before that time, it will flow more quickly down through the Baton (ph) Bay area into the North Atlantic.

If it gets there after that winter freeze starts, it will slow it down a little. Either way, they say, they're going to put beacons on the iceberg when it gets further south and then they'll be able to track it more easily and warn vessels anywhere near it to stay away from it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thanks very much. Good comprehensive report.

While ice is certainly posing a serious threat in the North Atlantic, fire is ravaging Portugal right now, but a dozen major blazes are burning in the northern part of the country where temperatures have hit 104 degrees.

In Russia, there is progress against wildfires that have charred huge swathes of the countryside and coated Moscow with a thick blanket of fog, but the underlying drought continues. And the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev says that quarter of the nation's grain crops have already been lost.

In Western China, there's no let up in the rain that's triggered massive mud slide. The death toll now tops 1,100 as the search continues for more victims.

And in Pakistan, monsoon-triggered floods are now being called the worst disaster there in 80 years. More than 1,300 people have been killed. Officials are fearing a second wave of deaths from contaminated water.

Allegations that North Korea's world cup soccer team is now being punished by the government for their poor performance in South Africa at the World Cup. We're going to give you the disturbing details.

And a new ruling that could pave the way for gay marriage to resume in California next Wednesday. Could the case have national implications? Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other stories from around the world. What else is happening, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. International Soccer's Governing Body is investigating reports that players and coaches for North Korea's national team are being punished for their poor showing of the World Cup. North Korea lost all three of its World Cup games including a 7-0 humiliation against Portugal. According to Radio Free Asia, players have been interrogated and the team's coach was sentenced to hard labor.

In Colombia, nine people were wounded when a car bomb tore through the headquarters of a radio station in Bogota. The country's new president was sworn in on Saturday who he is calling it a terrorist act and vowing that quote, "we will not be intimidated." The (INAUDIBLE) guerrilla group known as FARC has been waging a campaign against Colombia's government since the mid 1960s.

Members of an airport employees union in Britain voted in favor of a strike which could shut down London's Heathrow and five other major airports in the country. The union will meet next week to decide when to strike. They must give at least seven days' notice. The company that operates the airport says, so far, no flights have been affected.

To Israel now where the discovery of this 2200-year-old coin. Gold coin is being hailed as one of the rarest finds in the country's history. The nearly one-ounce coin was minted in Alexandria, Egypt, and it dates back to 191 B.C. It was discovered by an American research team embedded in the wall of an ancient stone building. Officials speculate it may have been hidden there by its owner. Imagine that, 191 B.C., wolf.

BLITZER: Did you see the close-up of the face on that one side of the gold coin, not on this side, the other side. It was a dramatic -- I mean, 2200 years. There it is. Yes.

SYLVESTER: Yes, and the detail. You know, that's what's so amazing about this is the detail after all of these years, it is still pretty clear.

BLITZER: Yes. I'm sure it's a valuable piece of gold right there. Thanks very much, Lisa.

Support for the war in Afghanistan here in the United States is plummeting, raising the ghost of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. We'll talk about that and much more in my exclusive interview with President Obama's National Security Adviser, retired U.S. Marine Corps general, James Jones.

And a deeply divided congress manages to come together on one major issue, details of a bill that's just passed and heading for President Obama's desk.

And the images belie a perilous situation, a congressman celebrates even as his decades' long career may be on the line.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Almost nine years in the cost of the war in Afghanistan is climbing both in American lives and dollars while public support for the U.S.-led mission is falling. I talked about that and much more in an exclusive interview with the president's National Security Adviser, retired general, James Jones.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: The U.S. is spending what? $100 billion a year in Afghanistan. And increasingly, critics, and a lot of Democrats in the House as you know and the Senate, but also even some Republicans are wondering is it worth it when there are what, between 50 and 100 al Qaeda fighters remaining in Afghanistan. Is it worth it?

GEN. JAMES JONES (RET.), NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think it's -- we adopted at the president's direction, a regional focus. So, it's Afghanistan, it's Pakistan, it's India, the neighboring countries, and we are embarked on a long-term effort to bring peace and stability and to rid that region once and for all of insurgencies.

BLITZER: This is an enormous financial drain and drain in the lives of the American men and women.

JONES: It is. We have -- we have a strategy that's in place right now. We have a review process that's going to take place in December. We have a NATO summit coming up in November. We have a date next year where the president will make some decisions about, you know, the future troop presence in regards to Afghan capacity to take over some of the responsibilities of their own country.

BLITZER: Because there are some ambiguity as to what that date in the summer of 2011 means. He's going to start withdrawing then. You can withdraw 100, you can withdraw 10,000, you can withdraw 50,000.

JONES: Correct. And it will be conditions based, but at least there's a line in the sand now that focuses not only ourselves and the Afghans, but the whole international community that signed up to this strategy that says, by that time, we expect that we should be able to see given the emphasis on the training of the afghan police force, the Afghan army, the efforts that the government is making towards providing better governance and rule of law, combating corruption to be able to see some of these things starting to take hold so that afghans can see a better future for themselves.

BLITZER: Do you have confidence in President Karzai's government that they can do this?

JONES: I think that they're doing better. I think we will make an assessment in December as to what adjustments if any need to be made. General Petraeus is fully engaged in this, and not only in Afghanistan, but with Pakistan, also, because a lot of what happens in Afghanistan is dependent on that other side of the border.

BLITZER: You served in Vietnam War.

JONES: Yes.

BLITZER: How worried are you if the American public loses its confidence, loses support in this war, in this operation under way in Afghanistan right now that the support will be gone for the men and women on the front lines as occurred of course during the Vietnam War?

JONES: Well, it is very worrisome, but the elements of success are all present, and they are visible. We know what they are. We are working very hard with both sides, on both sides of the border, specifically in Pakistan, we need to see more activity on the part of the Pakistani army to go after the insurgents in the safe havens that allow the transit between Afghanistan and Pakistan to go on. This is fundamentally important.

BLITZER: Is the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, part of the problem or part of the solution?

JONES: Hopefully they're increasingly part of the solution.

BLITZER: When you say hopefully? Is there still some doubt in your mind, because they seemed to have played both sides in years past.

JONES: They have played both sides in years past, because of their uncertainty with regard to our long-term stay and long-term commitment, but over the last two years, we have worked very hard with the Pakistani government, and the Pakistani military.

BLITZER: And the intelligence service, too?

JONES: And the intelligence service to show that there is a better way for Pakistan and the first step that has to be taken is to reject the concept that harboring safe havens inside of the country has anything to do with their future that the Afghan people want, which is a better future.

BLITZER: What is the president's biggest fear when it comes to Afghanistan?

JONES: I would say the biggest fear with regard to Afghanistan would be that the -- that we might get to a point where we decide that we can't turn this violence around. I don't think that is going to happen, but I think that in order to, in order to get the good governance, get the economic engines started, get better rule of law and battle corruption, you have to convince the Afghan people that there is a better way of life, and that starts with basic security in the towns, the villages, and the districts and the governance in the country, and once you get that, once you get that swing, it becomes somewhat irreversible.

BLITZER: General Jones, thank you for coming to my situation room, and thanks for the pin from your situation room, and maybe next time we will come over to your place.

JONES: We would like to see that happen. Thank you, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: In this economy should federal workers be earning twice what private sector workers do? Jack Cafferty and the e-mail coming up.

And a 10-year-old star is born.

We will take a look at the performance that so many people are talking about.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The judge who found California Proposition 8 unconstitutional is lifting the stay on his ruling clearing the way for same sex couples to marry in that state starting next Wednesday unless, and it is a big unless the 9th circuit of appeals or the U.S. supreme court intervenes. We will talk about that and more with CNN's John King who is the host of "JOHN KING USA" which begins at the top of the hour, and also our chief correspondent Candy Crowley who hosts "STATE OF THE UNION" on Sunday mornings. This is a sensitive issue especially for the president of the United States and a lot of politicians I should say.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: It is, and I feel like we have passed this way before. This keeps, and eventually I guess that this will get solved at some point, but we know it is going to go to a different court. I think the president has laid back, I think minimal response to it in written statements, because the fact of the matter is that this president has never much liked the social issues, and you know what, he has a lot on his plate which sort of begins with that 9.5 percent unemployment rate.

BLITZER: Because even now a lot of the Democrats, a lot of his liberal base want same sex marriage to be legal in the United States, as far as the president is concerned, he opposes same-sex marriage.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: He personally opposes same sex marriage. His position is if a state wants to adopt it, the state should feel free, the voters of the state or the legislature in the state should feel free to do it, but he personally opposes same-sex marriage. It is one of the reasons he's so quiet about it, because as you notice there's been a little back and forth between the White House and the left of the Democratic Party in recent days. He does not want to exacerbate this issue that he is not in sync with much of his base.

BLITZER: Well, the American public is divided on the issue right now, but is the pressure mounting on President Obama to change his position?

CROWLEY: No, I don't think. So I think that, look, this is an issue that does motivate a lot of people, but at this point, again, there is so much else not just on the president's mind, but the country's mind. I think eventually, it is like if there are many, many people, and I think the president is among them, certainly, I know some people around him are among them who eventually think that over the course of time, this is probably one of those issues that goes away and people that younger generation is coming, and, you know, things will change, but that it takes some generational change, not just a ballot box or a judge.

KING: This president is probably not going to change his position, Wolf. There is no indication of that, but what could be quite interesting is assume this or a case like it makes its way to the Supreme Court, how do Elena Kagan and Sotomayor will vote? That could be part of the Obama political legacy on this issue but politically it seems to have less volume, if you will. Remember back in 2004, George W. Bush closed just about every speech in the final weeks with I will defend traditional marriage, because it was a turnout, it was a motivator of the conservative base, but you don't see that many Republicans jumping in.

BLITZER: Did you notice today, Candy, the Senate passed legislation, $600 million the strengthen border security with Mexico right now. The president will sign it into law tomorrow. This has wide bipartisan support.

CROWLEY: It should get wide bipartisan support when there are three people on the Senate floor and they are in recess and people say, yes, that is good, we are great. But politically speaking, the Republicans have been pushing for more border control, so they can't very well now say, no, I don't want to do it. It was paid for, which takes away one of the arguments on a number of other things, and the Democrats want it, too, because I have spent more on the border than anybody else for security, and again, it probably helps the bipartisan spirit when they are not there.

KING: Interesting to see watch how this one plays out. If you are in Arizona tonight and you turn on your TV, John McCain has an ad beating up Barack Obama on border security and you would think it is 2008 and not 2010. It is a big issue in Arizona. It's a big issue in Texas. Is it a big issue elsewhere? T hat is an interesting question. The Democrats wanted to pass it, because they wanted to rebut the Republican criticism that they are not doing enough on border security, but most Republican strategists say to Candy's point earlier talk about the unemployment and big spending in Washington and talk about the deficits and the economy and jobs and big spending and liberalism and don't get caught up on side issues and especially immigration is a powerful issue with the base, but it is more important for the independent base, and so unless you are in one of the border state, political strategists say you may not want to go there.

BLITZER: We'll see you at the top of the hour. We'll see you Sunday morning. Guys, thanks very much.

Embattled Congressman Charlie Rangel has one response to critics calling him corrupt and demanding his resignation, and that response involved one particular finger.

Plus, the flight attendant turned folk hero talks about all of the people supporting the dramatic way he left.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: One day after hosting a gala party to celebrate his 80th birthday, the scandal-plagued U.S. Congressman Charlie Rangel is hitting back at critic and vowing to fight hard to win ere-election in November. Mary Snow is covering the story for us in New York. Mary, from the pictures in the birthday party, you would not know he has a lot of problems right now.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You wouldn't, no. But Wolf a lot of that celebrates last night is because Rangel was boosted by the high turnout at the party, and while the tribute was about the past, Rangel now sets the sights on the future and today that celebratory mood turned to defiance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Congressman Charlie Rangel trying to turn the page from the ethics cloud over him eager to greet campaign volunteers, but the press is a different story. He fired back at coverage of the 13 ethics violations he is facing saying that he is no longer talking about it, and he wants a hearing before the House ethics committee.

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: No paper can deny anybody, even a Charlie Rangel the opportunity for a fair and equitable and just hearing.

SNOW: Rangel got a boost Wednesday night when New York politicians showed out enforce for his birthday party and slash fund- raiser. Speculation about cancellations proved false to what became a test of political loyalists and Rangel was showing no signs of his troubles. Still, there were signs of strain. A protester outside of the venue heckled former Mayor David Dinkins who is a friend of Rangel. The protester said that Rangel is a crook, and Dinkins who is known for a gentile style turn and raised the middle finger. Rangel says he it expresses his frustrations.

RANGEL: I think Mayor Dinkins really expressed my view last night in sharing with the people that said resign and corrupt and all of those things, I can't think of a better way to say it.

SNOW: Rangel's defiance comes two days after he took to the House floor for more than 30 minutes apologizing, but explaining why he refuses to resign as he stands accused of tax and financial disclosure violations among other things. The move stole the spotlight from a jobs bill with some colleagues wishing he had not done it. Errol Louis, a CNN contributor and columnist for the "New York Daily News" says that Rangel is taking the cues from himself.

ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK DAILY: This is not a guy who is going to listen to too much direction, too much handling, and in fact, his, from his point of view, he has suggested that he is feeling too reasonable, and been too much in the care of his handlers for the last couple of years.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Wolf, a lot of questions about how Rangel might affect other races, but he insists that his troubles won't affect his Democratic colleagues in other races. He says he refuses to believe he is either that important or infamous that his problems will interfere with others getting elected. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you, Mary Snow.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What is going on, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Hi there Wolf. Well, a lot of people interested in this guy, the JetBlue flight attendant who earlier this week became the hero of anybody who's ever wanted to say "take this job and shove it." He is now thanking his supporters. According to various accounts after an altercation with a passenger, Steven Slater used profanity on the plane's intercom and then said he was quitting before exiting the plane on the emergency chute. Here is what he had to say about his new status as an internet folk hero.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody say one thing?

STEVEN SLATER, FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Thank you all very much. It is amazing the support and the love and the everything that has been brought to me and given to me by my community and my friends and the industry at large. It has been absolutely wonderful. I do thanks, everyone. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thank you all for this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois is recovering from surgery to remove a small cancerous tumor from his stomach. The operation was performed at the University of Chicago Medical Center. A statement from his doctor says that there is no other sign of cancer in his stomach or esophagus.

Delta will become the first major airline to allow customers to book seats through Facebook. The airline says that it is part of an effort to interact with customers directly on the internet. The airlines have been criticized as slow to catch on to the popularity of social media web sites.

New York Mets' pitcher Francisco Rodriguez will lose two days of pay for allegedly punching his father-in-law in the face. The team says that K-rod will be temporarily placed on the restricted list. He faces assault charges in the incident which took place at Citi Field, and that is the Mets' stadium last night. The father-in-law was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Wolf?

BLITZER: Do we know why he punched him in the face?

SYLVESTER: We don't. And in fact, I was looking online to find out more details. Obviously, this is not a good family relations if he is punching the father-in-law in the face, and I should say allegedly punched the father-in-law in the face. We will have to find out more details on that one.

BLITZER: Not a good story. All right. Thanks very much.

There are calls to change the constitution so that children born in the United States are not automatically U.S. citizens, but just how many illegal immigrants would that affect? That answer is coming up on "JOHN KING USA" right at the top of the hour.

Plus, this.

Is this the next Susan Boyle? A look at a new singing sensation right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question, Wolf: In this economy should federal workers be earning twice what private sector workers earn? USA Today's got a piece all about this.

Greg writes: "Every government faces this is question and the answer is always obviously yes. The problem is if you freeze wages or cut back, you'll only see strikes and discontent. You think they do things slowly now? Try messing with their paycheck and see what happens."

Ken in Maryland says: "As a private sector contractor working for the government, I can tell firsthand that you the argument made by unions for public employees is accurate. Averages can be deceiving. Private sector jobs include a lot of typically low paid and minimum wage jobs. Jobs held by government workers tend to be higher level positions. Some government workers are overpaid for what they do and many private sector workers are underpaid, but it's not an across the board thing. A global statement can't be made like that."

Lizzie in from Los Angeles: "I'd love to have a government job. I'd love to have any job. But alas we 60 somethings are looked at with disdain and contempt even by the government. But we will be around to vote come it November."

Buddy in Illinois writes: "I don't know if all federal employees are being overpaid, but I'm pretty sure that there are 535 overpaid federal employees on Capitol Hill."

Jeff says: "I'm a federal employee. I've been working for the past month to have our salaries frozen for 2011 but the powers that be are still going to give us a raise. This is insane."

Joe in Chicago writes: "Self entitlement in the government is out of control. Public service was once honorable, but now it's as corrupt as any other union."

And Sylvia in San Diego: "No, no and no. And if you don't believe me, just visit your local social security office and witness firsthand the incompetence, inefficiencies and lack of customer focus that these government employees exhibit. It will make you weep."

If you want to read more, and we got a lot of mail on both sides of the question, go to my blog CNN.com/CaffertyFile -- Wolf?

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack. Thank you.

A 10-year-old girl dazzles the talent show audience and millions on the internet with her amazing voice.

Also this, what is a JetBlue flight attendant have to do with the midterm elections? The answer at least on the JetBlue question coming up on "JOHN KING USA" right at the top of the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A 10-year-old has created a stir with a most unusual performance on a television talent show. CNN's Jeanne Moos has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You never know what's going to come out of a kid's mouth.

From Britain's got talent, we got Susan Boyle. And now from America's got talent, we've got a pint sized kid singing Puccini. But the minute 10-year-old Jackie finished, the doubters started absolutely positively lip-syncing fake, read a typical post. One conspiracy theorist wrote that after investigating the claims, he concluded Jackie's older brother was the actual vocalist. We're happy to have a voice coach drive a stake into the rumors. Glenn Seven Allen spoke via Skype where he was performing at the summer state festival.

GLENN SEVEN ALLEN, PROFESSIONAL SINGER/ACTOR: I'm positive she's not lip-syncing because I can literally see the vibrations in her face and I also can -- you can hear her breathing. I saw a sort of naturally poised young lady with sort of a freakish talent.

MOOS: Good freakish, he specified. On Wednesday night as Jackie made it into the semifinals, Judge Howie Mandel addressed the lip- syncing rumors and comments he heard.

HOWIE MANDEL: They said was it really her. Is there any way you can just sing a note right now.

MOOS: Jackie mania swept the crowd.

JACKIE: I feel like I'm about to burst in tears.

MOOS: This was before the kid from Pittsburgh heard some doubted her voice. You want bad lip-syncing, this is bad lip-syncing. Do not adjust your set. And do not adjust your set when you hear an adult voice come out of a 10-year-old.

ALLEN: You're looking at Dakota Fanning 8 years ago. It's absolutely strange.

MOOS: Maria Callus is seen here singing the same aria. A star is born, born just ten years ago.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: She's amazing.

Remember you can always follow what's going on behind the scenes here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm on Twitter, you can get my tweets at twitter.com/Wolf BlitzerCNN, WolfBlitzerCNN all one word. And you can follow THE SITUATION ROOM on Facebook. Go to facebook.com/CNNsituationroom to become a fan.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.