Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Texas Congressman Ron Paul; Revenge for Bin Laden Death?
Aired May 13, 2011 - 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: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: the most shocking revelation to date about what was found in bin Laden's house, pornography described by a U.S. official as a large stash.
Also, Taliban revenge for bin Laden's killing: twin suicide bombings that have left dozens of people dead.
And, as Congressman Ron Paul launches another presidential campaign, he's very critical of the mission that took out bin Laden. I will ask him why.
Breaking news and political headlines all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It is not all what military planners thought they might find in bin Laden's Pakistan compound. We are now talking about pornography. Sources tell CNN a stash of explicit material was found by the U.S. Navy SEALs who took out the world's most wanted terrorist.
Let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence, who is working the story for us.
Chris, what are you learning?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a senior U.S. official is now confirming to us that this was a large stash. He said flat out there was a lot of it. And he said it was sexually explicit.
He wouldn't get into the details, but he said it was varying things in the realm of pornography, although it is believed to contain at least some videos. He wouldn't get into exactly where it was found or whether they could even confirm that it belonged to bin Laden or one of the other men that also lived at that compound.
But we spoke with a former Navy SEAL who says, despite al Qaeda's promotion of a very strict form of Islam, he's not surprised by the discovery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HEBEN, FORMER U.S. NAVY SEAL: I'm not too terribly surprised. I mean, what we need to remember here is that we are all human. We are all a part of the human race. And, as such, you know, even -- even hard-core Muslims and Muslim extremists are human as well. There is a saying in the Muslim circles, in Muslim communities, that when you are away from Mecca, Allah is blind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE: And , again, not only Osama bin Laden lived there, but also his son and two couriers. So, they will have to try to figure out exactly whose pornography this belonged to -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They also discovered an audiotape, we reported in the last hour, that bin Laden apparently made. Tell us what we know about that.
LAWRENCE: Yes, Wolf. He made this audiotape late April, days before he was killed. And it basically speaks to this Arab spring that's going on now in the Middle East.
It talks specifically about some of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. But the -- what -- what is sort of perplexing to some U.S. officials who have seen this is the fact that he does not mention some of the other revolutions taking place in places like Syria, uprisings in Yemen and most especially the one in Libya.
It is well-known that Osama bin Laden detested Moammar Gadhafi. So, the officials are saying they would have thought he would have spoken to that, trying to, you know, give his support to some of those who are participating in the uprising against Gadhafi.
But these specifically address only Tunisia and Egypt. They also -- also recovered some written material that suggests that Osama bin Laden wanted to target President Obama for assassination.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence working the story and the sources for us, thank you.
The Pakistani Taliban say twin suicide attacks were revenge for the death of bin Laden. The bombings killed at least 80 people at a military training facility in Northwest Pakistan.
CNN's Stan Grant has more.
STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, ever since the killing of Osama bin Laden, this is a day that people here have feared would come. Just when would the militants strike in revenge? What would be the target?
Those questions were answered today in a spectacular and a violent way.
(on camera): Taliban did this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taliban. GRANT (voice-over): That one word enough to strike terror into people here, the militants claiming responsibility for this carnage, revenge for the killing of Osama bin Laden, they say, and warning of what is to come.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shooting.
GRANT (on camera): Shooting?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shooting.
GRANT (voice-over): Both men were Taliban. One came on a motorcycle. The other was walking, this man says. "We shot him. Then he ran and exploded the bomb."
All around, debris, a testament to the ferocity of the attack, shattered buildings, blown-out cars, here blood visible on the ground.
(on camera): And these are parts of a motorcycle here. You have the mechanism that is used to kick-start the bike, the strewn wreckage. And this is the badge off the bike itself, the CR-70.
(voice-over): The scores of wounded rush to nearby Peshawar Hospital, a scene of grief and chaos. The number of dead counted in the dozens in the hours after the attack rising throughout the day.
Witnesses tell of the moments when dual suicide bombers shattered the morning peace.
"I heard an explosion and I rushed to the road. Four minutes later, there was another one," this man says. "I saw people dead and injured."
(on camera): Even hours after this attack, you can see the military is still very edgy. There is a line of them here. They have been pushing back any of the onlookers who are trying to come down to this scene and especially keeping a very close eye on these buildings along here.
(voice-over): The attackers targeted this military training center. Members of the Frontier military police had just finished a nine-month program. These vehicles lined up to collect them, this car carrying a prayer that God will make their journey safe.
But it was a journey many would never take, almost all of the dead young recruits, victims of what some say is Pakistan's double game, killed by the Taliban to avenge Osama bin Laden just at the very time the military here is denying claims it was hiding him.
(on camera): You know, Pakistan is often described as a puzzle. And much of the puzzle is this. On the one hand, there have been allegations for decades that the military, the intelligence service here harbors militants. It deals with the insurgency. It fosters the insurgents, often as a line of defense against potential threat from India. At the same time, its alliance with the United States has meant that it has had to go after other militant groups and go after them hard. The reality is, though, that ordinary people, in fact, members of the military even, as we have seen today, they are caught in the crossfire -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Stan Grant on the scene for us, thank you.
Let's dig deeper right now with our national security contributor Fran Townsend. She was homeland security adviser to President Bush. She is a member of the external advisory boards for both the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the CIA.
It is ironic, Fran, that the these terrorists go after Pakistani soldiers, young recruits, if you will. The Pakistanis didn't know anything about this U.S. Navy SEAL mission on the bin Laden compound.
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: That's right, Wolf.
And, you know, it is -- this is not a new target for the Pakistani Taliban. They have targeted intelligence offices. They have targeted military office -- stations. And so it is not a new target. It is just a new excuse for them.
It really is extraordinary to me that, at this time, given this sort of pressure internal to Pakistan, they actually did give access to bin Laden's three wives. That's a very controversial...
BLITZER: To the U.S.
TOWNSEND: To the U.S. -- because that's a very controversial thing...
BLITZER: but they didn't do it the way the U.S. would have liked. They made them all sit there together, instead of individual interviews.
TOWNSEND: That's right.
BLITZER: And it was sort of seen as a waste. They were pretty hostile in this first round of questioning.
TOWNSEND: That's right. And the Pakistani service was in the room, which is also not something we would have -- we would have preferred. But that they did it at all, in -- given the pressure they are under internally, is at least a step in the right direction.
BLITZER: It's an incredibly tense time, dangerous time for Pakistan right now. I'm very worried about what's going on. And let's never forget there is about 100 nuclear warheads in that country as well. TOWNSEND: That's right. That's exactly right, Wolf. And so we have got to be -- we have to press them very hard. Pakistan wants to cooperate, I think, with the United States, but has to do so mindful of their own domestic political situation.
BLITZER: All right, were you surprised they found pornography in bin Laden's compound?
TOWNSEND: Not at all, Wolf. And, you know, I think that one of the prior interviews said you find this in raids, al Qaeda raids in Afghanistan. It is not unusual. They profess to be -- have this jihad in the name of religion, but they are not -- they are frauds. And they are not -- they are not true Muslims.
Even in the Muslim world, they're considered takfiri. And this is just another example of the hypocrites, the frauds that they really are, including bin Laden.
BLITZER: And you will remember, because you were there in the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, that Mohamed Atta and some of the other hijackers, they were going to strip clubs, even professing that they were devout Muslims.
TOWNSEND: That's right, Wolf. And so this is not -- I'm not surprised because of that whole history of this sort of conduct that we have seen with al Qaeda members.
BLITZER: All right, I want to change gears dramatically today. You are here in our SITUATION ROOM right now.
But, earlier in the day, you were at the White House Situation Room. Tell us what the president wanted to do there, why he invited you into his Situation Room.
Well, this is the 50th anniversary. The Situation Room was established in 1961 under President Kennedy. And the president was dedicating the large conference room, the one we have seen in all the pictures while they watched the bin Laden raid, the John F. Kennedy conference room, and Caroline Kennedy and her son Jack were there.
The president made some remarks. And you got a mention, Wolf. I tweeted that the president said, "It is not quite as breathless in his Situation Room as it is in Wolf Blitzer's."
BLITZER: Yes, he mentioned that I have a SITUATION ROOM. He has a Situation Room.
We are not celebrating our 50th anniversary, but will be in August celebrating our sixth anniversary of our SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: I read your tweet. I will read it. And I want our viewers to follow you @FranTownsend. "President Obama at White House Situation Room: 'Thankfully, this Situation Room is not at breathless as Wolf Blitzer's SITUATION ROOM." And then you wrote: "Yeah, Wolf. Got a mention."
BLITZER: Always good to get a mention from the president of the United States.
TOWNSEND: Absolutely. You deserve it.
BLITZER: He could have invited me to come over to his Situation Room.
TOWNSEND: He could have. It was only the former homeland security advisers and national security advisers. But it was quite a -- it was quite a group.
BLITZER: None of them have promoted the Situation Room like I have promoted the Situation Room.
TOWNSEND: That's right.
BLITZER: Could have shown a little gratitude.
TOWNSEND: You have to have a cake, Wolf. He had a cake at his anniversary.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, we sent him one of our -- to celebrate the fifth, we sent him our SITUATION ROOM cake over to the White House as well. It would be the right thing to do.
TOWNSEND: It would.
BLITZER: Thank you.
BLITZER: We are also learning today that there's video of the raid captured by Navy SEALs who wore helmet cams. We are going back to the Pentagon for details of what the video shows.
Also, growing concern about the safety of the men who took out bin Laden. There is fear that all the leaks about their mission may be putting them and their families in danger.
Plus, more of my interview with the newly minted Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. As he announces his third White House run, he's very critical of the bin Laden killings.
Stand by. I will ask him why and you will hear his answer.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Today, it is as simple as a tweet. But not long ago, announcing a run for the White House was a major event. President Obama declared himself a candidate with a formal speech at the old Illinois Statehouse in Springfield back in 2007.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 10, 2007)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Although government will play a crucial role in bringing about the changes that we need, more money and programs alone will not get us to where we need to go.
Each of us in our own lives will have to accept responsibility for instilling an ethic of achievement in our children, for adapting to a more competitive economy, for strengthening our communities and sharing some measure of sacrifice.
So, let us begin. Let us begin this hard work together. Let us transform this nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger. She is joining us now.
That was a very formal, traditional announcement that he is running for president.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BLITZER: Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, this week sends out a tweet, 140 characters or less.
BORGER: Yes. It says, I'm announcing for president. And then you click on it and it -- you go to sort of a canned Webcast about Newt Gingrich, why he wants to be president.
It is interesting, Wolf. Every election cycle, presidential candidates seem to believe they are finding a new way to connect with those young voters, those important voters. Used to be they went on the Sunday talk shows. They still do that. I think Joe Biden did that. Or they go on late-night television or morning television, as Ron Paul actually did.
But now everybody seems to think, OK, suddenly, we have got to do it through Twitter, we have got to do it through Facebook. Tim Pawlenty announced his exploratory committee with this, which said, "Be sure to visit my Facebook page today at 3:00 p.m. for a special message exclusive to Facebook."
And, you know, there really is a question here which I ask, is, does this diminish the people who are really seeking the presidency by kind of -- by kind of saying, OK, just I'm going to tweet the fact that I'm running for president? BLITZER: And you write a column about this at CNN.com, in which you say it is sort of like putting the cart before the horse.
BORGER: Yes. It is. It is, particularly now in this Republican field. When you look at all the polling we have done on all these candidates, the people -- the Republican voters actually say, you know, I don't really know much about these people.
So, how about connecting with the voters first, letting them know why you want to run for president, letting them know exactly who you are, and then tweet to your heart's delight?
BLITZER: Look, I tweet. You -- I don't know about you, but I tweet.
BORGER: No, no, no.
BLITZER: But I don't tweet I'm announcing a run for the White House.
BORGER: Right. You tweet, tune in to SITUATION ROOM today because...
BLITZER: What was that -- in that column, what was that last line you wrote, because it was a very, very clever last line?
BORGER: Thank you, Wolf.
Well, I was pointing out that the Gettysburg Address was actually short. It was 272 words. But, as I said, it was short, but no tweet.
BLITZER: But no tweet, because that's 140 characters or less.
BLITZER: So, how does all this work for politicians?
BORGER: Well, it works -- it really works well for them. And that's what people have to realize.
When have these so-called spontaneous tweets out there, Wolf, they are really half the time not spontaneous. There's some staffer tweeting on behalf of any politician, any president, what -- you know, whatever it is. So they are not spontaneous. They have a message to get out.
Sarah Palin, I would have to give her credit for perfecting the art of the tweet. You get it out there in 140 characters. You don't have reporters like us asking you pesky questions. You get to make your point and then you get to move on to something else.
So, understand that politicians are using this media as a way to get it out there without the follow-up.
BLITZER: Yes. It certainly is, all right, a whole new world out there.
BORGER: It is.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Gloria.
BLITZER: New information about the fate of the Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, after a NATO airstrike on his compound in Tripoli. Stand by.
Also, please stand by for part two of my interview with the newly minted Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, including an unusual position on the raid that resulted in the killing of bin Laden.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Helmet camera videos of the raid on bin Laden's compound, what exactly do they show? We are getting new information from our sources.
And the Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden, are their lives now in any danger? Details of growing concern about their safety, even the safety of their families.
Plus, he has just announced his third presidential campaign, and one of his first stops, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. My interview with Ron Paul, that's coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Principle of nonintervention, minding our own business, no entangling alliance, don't get involved in these civil wars, that's what George Bush won on in the year 2000. How quickly we forget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He ran a surprisingly strong campaign in 2008. Now supporters of Congressman Ron Paul are hoping 2012 will be his year. The 75-year-old congressman from Texas announced today he is making another run for the White House.
But just as they were four years ago, some of his views put him at odds even with his own party. He's even critical of the mission that took out bin Laden.
BLITZER: And joining us now from New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.
Congressman, thanks very much for coming in. Congratulations.
PAUL: Thank you. Good to be with you...
BLITZER: All right, you made the announcement today.
Let's get through some of the substantive issues that our viewers are really interested in.
Osama bin Laden, did President Obama do the right thing in ordering his death?
PAUL: Oh, you know, I actually endorsed that when I voted for this authority in 19 -- or 2001 to go over and deal with the people that, you know, orchestrated 9/11. So, I actually am on record for that.
And, you know, overall, nobody can defend it and say, well, you know, it is terrible that he's dead. So -- but I think the process is what I'm so annoyed about, the fact that we didn't do the job in 2001. I really think we had an opportunity. We got distracted. We did not keep the eye on the ball. We went into Iraq and fought a useless, unnecessary war, compounding our problems.
Then we went in the nation-building. And, finally, we are getting caught up with him. And I think the process could have been much improved. And, you know, I keep thinking about, you know, that, in the past, we have dealt with sovereign nations a little bit differently.
When we -- when we caught Mohammed, Sheikh Mohammed, it was done with the cooperation of the Pakistanis. That's what they resent. So, we -- we have stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest there. And, yet, in the past, they have delivered to us many of these criminals.
And we have brought them here, convicted them, executed some of them. And I just think that we should make an effort. But, you know, to be a strong...
BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt -- let me interrupt you for a second, Congressman. The White House, the Pentagon, they make the point that bin Laden, even though he wasn't armed, he was resisting when those Navy SEALs killed him.
PAUL: Yes, you know, and that's where the problem comes, because, at the beginning, you know, there was the great resistance and a firefight, and then you can say little.
But, yes, that -- that is the case. But I -- I keep thinking about how we -- we got hold of the real ringleader in that. And that was Sheikh Mohammed. And... BLITZER: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
PAUL: Yes. He was -- he was the real ringleader. And we have him in prison. And we've gotten some information from him. But you know, why should it be automatic that we shouldn't even talk to people? Just think of what happened after World War II? I remember that, and I remember the Nuremberg trials. You know, we got the really bad guys that brought on the Holocaust and put them on trial. And they were executed. And -- we know they're dead.
But -- there's going to be -- I think they've set the stage for the conspiracy people to go forever. You know, when was he killed? And what happened? And the story keeps changing. I don't think there's anything extremely wrong with suggesting that there could have been another way of doing this and maybe would have settled a little bit better.
But my big beef is really the wasted ten years, 5,000 American lives, a trillion dollars, tens of thousands of American casualties, hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and we have created a lot of enemies. Because that's what the -- that's what the Taliban is all about. They're -- they're organized and they're motivated by the fact that we're occupying their land. So if we don't understand that, we just keep, you know, like in Pakistan, we -- we both are -- want to be their allies and we want to help them, we send them money. At the same time we're bombing them.
Even today, a bomb went off from a drone and killing civilians over there. It doesn't always just kill somebody that we determine ...
BLITZER: Well, let me ask you this, Congressman. If you're president of the United States and your military or your intelligence leadership, they come to you and say, "Mr. President, we know where Anwar Awlaki, the American-born cleric in Yemen, is located," the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader. Or we know where Ayman al- Zawahiri, the No. 2 al Qaeda leader, is. And they say, "We can get these guys, kill them." What would you say?
PAUL: Well, I would say where and when and how? If he's in Yemen, I don't think we should violate the sovereignty of Yemen. We should deal with it and come up with it.
I mean, to talk about an American citizen and establish a precedent where we -- just say, well, he's an American citizen so we'll assassinate him. That is so dangerous as far as I'm concerned. And there are three Americans on the list and -- now that is policy now. But -- we need to wake up to this. You don't casually drift in that, because we know there's a very, very bad guy out there.
But you know, if you work with the rule of law, an American citizen is supposed to at least have a little bit of his day in court. I realize that they're bad. I don't care about protecting the bad people. I care about protecting American citizens so that they're never treated this way in court. And we are drifting in that way when you think about the enforcement of some of our drug laws, how our -- our police barge in houses and shoot people that were totally innocent. So I don't -- I don't like that idea. I think we should protect the rule of law, because we want to protect all Americans. Not because we have sympathy for these very bad people.
BLITZER: If you were president, what would you do about Moammar Gadhafi and Libya?
PAUL: I'd let them fight it out themselves and stay out of there. Why should we go in there and protect the oil interests? We're not in Syria. We're in Iraq, because there's oil. And there's interest there. So yes, we're over in Libya. No. That's a -- that's an internal fight. It's a civil strife going on. And now it looks like we'll be helping the rebels and there may be al Qaeda there. There have been pretty good hands; al Qaeda's involved.
I just think the principle of nonintervention, minding our own business, no entangling lives, don't get involved in these civil wars. That's what George Bush won on in the year 2000. How quickly we forget. The American people like that message. Of course, when they are riled up and they can have a target, you know, they get careless on -- on how things are done because, you know, we can get up so -- built up so -- much emotion.
But no, we shouldn't be over there. We -- and this is one of the reasons why this country is bankrupt. We spend over a trillion dollars a year maintaining our empire. We're too many places. And I just think -- and you know, Obama was elected with the idea that he would, you know, end some of these wars, and he's expanding these wars.
And I really dread the fact what what's going to come out of Pakistan now. We're going to -- work it to the day that there's going to be a justification for us to invade and occupy Pakistan, because they're going to say, "Oh, you know, today, there's some breakdown and more people killed and we'll have to go in and they'll say well, it's in our best interests. It's national security interest. We have to go in and I -- I don't like that. We don't need to be occupying another country. We're flat-out broke, and we ought to start taking care of our own business here at home.
BLITZER: He escalated U.S. involvement, the president, in Afghanistan, although he is dramatically curtailing it in Iraq, down to less than 50,000 troops right now.
BLITZER: My interview with Ron Paul. He's now officially in the Republican race for the White House. This just coming in to our SITUATION ROOM from the White House. A statement from the press secretary on the meeting that the president's national security adviser, Tom Donilon, had with the Libyan opposition leader, Dr. Mahmoud Jibril. You might remember, here was here in our SITUATION ROOM yesterday.
The statement basically praises the meeting. The interesting phrase, though, is during the meeting -- I'll read it specifically: "Mr. Donilon stated that the United States views the TNC, the Transitional National Council, the opposition, as a legitimate and credible interlocutor of the Libyan people." That clearly stops short of formally recognizing the opposition as the legitimate government of Libya. That's what Mr. Gibril told us he wanted to get from the United States, from the Obama administration: formal recognition of the opposition, as France, Italy, Qatar and other countries have done. He says Jordan is about to do it, as well.
Didn't get that but apparently got enough that they issued this statement saying it was a good meeting. We'll see what follows from it, as well.
Also, just revealed, helmet cam video of the raid on bin Laden. We're getting new information from our sources. We'll share it with you.
Plus, all the leaks about the raid. There's concern they may be putting lives of Navy SEALs and their families at risk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN ROBINSON, FORMER SPECIAL FORCES OFFICER: The executive branch, the legislative branch, friends, relatives and acquaintances, they need to shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We've learned that there is, in fact, video of the raid on bin Laden's compound. A U.S. military official tells CNN members of the Navy SEAL team wore cameras mounted on their helmets. Let's bring back our Pentagon correspondent Chris -- Chris Lawrence, who's working this story for us. What are you picking up there, Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know from the U.S. military source that the video is hazy, it was very dark. But just think about it. This video means that there is actual footage from multiple angles of the moment that Osama bin Laden was killed.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Take a look at this Army training video and the view from a helmet cam. Now imagine it's pitch black in a confined space. And you've got some idea what the Navy SEALs cameras were recording.
As this animation of the assault on on bin Laden's compound shows, the SEALs are in constant motion. A U.S. military official says the digital video is fast and violent. The SEALs are moving their heads constantly, so any glimpses of bin Laden would be quick. The source said it's not like the SEALs would be staring at any one thing for long. It's likely no one in the compound even knew they were being recorded.
CHRIS HEBEN, FORMER NAVY SEAL: If that housing wasn't there, you wouldn't even see that camera. It would look like a pin dot on a piece of paper.
LAWRENCE: Chris Heben was a Navy SEAL for ten years. He's worn a version of a helmet cam and says it started out as a training tool.
HEBEN: The feedback that we got, that we could give to each other was -- was immensely valuable. So we said we're going to look into putting these on in real situations. And, of course, an operation like this being as -- huge as it is, certainly warrants these types of systems to be on the operator's bodies.
LAWRENCE: Whether the public will ever see actual video from helmets like this is up in the air, especially considering the need to protect how the SEALs operate and their identities.
ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: When I met with the team last Thursday, they expressed a concern about that. And particularly with respect to their families.
LAWRENCE: And Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that there are efforts under way even now to increase that layer of security around both the SEALs' identities and their families.
As for the footage, the -- the defense on military officials says what it does is it helps the SEALs remember what it was like and what they saw in the heat of the moment. And right now the military is currently reviewing some of this footage as part of the post-mission analysis -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon for us. Thanks very much.
Let's dig deeper on this subject. The concern that Chris noted, that all these new raid details that keep leaking out and they could compromise the security of the men who carried out the mission. Brian Todd is here with us. Part of the story for us. What else are you learning about this, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the chief of naval operations says he is absolutely confident that the SEALs who took part in the bin Laden raid and their families will be protected. But the nation's top defense official has put the word out there that all the information leaked out on the raid has raised serious security concerns.
TODD (voice-over): Members of the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden have told their boss they're worried about their own security and that of their families. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the SEALs told him that in recent days. He says the Pentagon is looking at ways to step up security for the team, and he's frustrated at leaks about the raid.
Frankly, a week ago Sunday in the Situation Room, we all agreed that we would not release any operational details from the effort to take out bin Laden. That all fell apart on Monday, the next day.
TODD: We've learned about the SEALs' secret stealth helicopters, about how they moved around the compound, their head cameras, and about an intelligence safe house nearby.
ROBINSON: The executive branch, the legislative branch, friends, relatives and acquaintances, they need to shut the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) up.
TODD: Former U.S. Special Forces officer Ken Robinson says future SEALs' operations could be compromised by those details. But security at home is also a big worry.
(on camera) Has there been information put out in the public that would compromise the security of the SEALs now, the identities, et cetera?
ROBINSON: I don't think so, but I think what the concern is is there very well could be as people continue to dig. Where the Achilles' heel lies is really with friends, relatives, and acquaintances, someone who's proud of them and who may know and knows they're back, and then that gets into a public domain where it then gets picked up by a report and then gets broadcast.
TODD (voice-over): The SEALs' identities are classified, but the base where that team is stationed is known.
(on camera) SEAL Teams 6 is widely reported to operate out of this facility near Virginia Beach. We couldn't get on base. The unit is covered with such a degree of secrecy, the military doesn't acknowledge that it even exists, and that code goes beyond operational security at the base.
(voice-over) The SEALs' community protects them, too. We went to several places in the Virginia Beach area where the SEALs are known to frequent. Several restaurant and bar owners wouldn't talk to us and didn't want us filming their establishments.
TODD: The SEALs appreciate their discretion, and they live by it themselves. One bar owner told us off camera that, if the SEALs are at his establishment and a fight breaks out, the SEALs slip out -- Wolf.
BLITZER: There's a strategic motivation that some have speculated about releasing some of this information.
TODD: That's right. Robert Gates, you know, could have released this or could have made that comment about the SEALs' security for purely strategic reasons. Ken Robinson and other observers say this could be Gates' way of telling everyone in the administration that "your leaking of this information of the raid has gotten out of hand and it has to stop.
Robinson points out, as you know, Wolf, Gates is one of the most sophisticated defense secretaries we've had. He's very savvy. This could be a way of kind of slapping people down, putting them on the spot in the public by raising the specter of the SEALs' security.
BLITZER: He's being a very, very blunt. He's leaving office fairly soon. And remember, he's a former CIA director himself.
BLITZER: So he knows this business.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
The former president, George W. Bush, is breaking his silence about the death of bin Laden. ABC News reporting that Mr. Bush talked about it during a private speech in Las Vegas, calling it a great victory in the war on terror.
He says he was not overjoyed at the news of the killing, emphasizing it was, quote, "not out of hatred but to exact judgment." The former president also revealed where he was when he heard the news, saying -- and I'm quoting -- "I was eating souffle at a restaurant with Laura and two buddies. I excused myself and went home to take the call. Obama simply said, 'Osama bin Laden is dead'."
Mr. Bush says President Obama went on to describe the planning and the mission that took out bin Laden. The former president also says he told the current president, quote, "Good call."
More news coming up, including federal officials. They're considering opening spillways to alleviate flooding in some communities at the expense of others. We're going to tell you who makes that decision and how.
And airport screeners have long used dogs to sniff for explosives and luggage and cargo. But guess what? Now those dogs may be used to sniff you. We'll tell you what's going on.
Stand by. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal says the Mississippi River Commission has given the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the authority to operate the spillway, the Morganza Spillway, within the next 24 hours. And the governor says it's extremely likely floodgates will be open tomorrow night or Sunday morning.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve takes us behind the scenes for a closer look at how these tough decisions are made -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the historic flooding on the Mississippi isn't just being fought on the river banks. It's being fought here in this Army Corps of Engineers operation center. One key part of the battle, a daily teleconference in this situation room.
COL. THOMAS SMITH, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: When we start to get down to Vicksburg and Natchez and Baton Rouge, you'll see that we again go up against the record crests.
MESERVE: This is a war room. The enemy is the water. The weapons are reservoirs and levees and floodways. Armed with maps and graphs and weather forecasts, the Army Corps of Engineers is plotting its strategy via teleconference.
MAJ. PAUL PATTERSON, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: We have three locks currently closed.
MAJ. GEN. MERDITH "BO" TEMPLE, U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS: What this allows all of us in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do is to gain good situational awareness over what is happening with the system currently and in the near future.
MESERVE: And the system is huge.
TEMPLE: It's the third largest watershed on the earth. And that is true. It drains 34 states and has many, many tributaries that feed into it.
MESERVE: The floodwaters are relentlessly pushing southward into cities and cropland.
(on camera) For you, does an emergency get any bigger than this?
TEMPLE: This is the biggest one we've had to deal with since 2005. So there's no question about it.
MESERVE (voice-over): That was Katrina, when levees breached and cities drowned. Fourteen point seven billion dollars have been spent rebuilding the levee system, but the work isn't done yet, and a surge of muddy Mississippi water is on its way.
TEMPLE: This is a huge flood fight, an historic flood fight.
MESERVE: Numbers are being crunched 24/7 at this operation center to calculate the best course of action. Open a flood gate, evacuate a town? Stop navigation? General Temple says if he wins this war against the water, it will be by the thinnest of margins, by inches. And everyone here is well aware that hurricane season is right around the corner.
TEMPLE: Well, you can have quite a barrel of monkeys here at the end of May, beginning of June, if something like that happens.
MESERVE (on camera): This command center is 1,000 miles away from the flooding, but it allows the Army Corps to interact with all the other agencies also involved in this life and death battle on the Mississippi.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Thank you. Jeanne Meserve reporting.
Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM. What else is going on, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, retired Justice John Paul Stevens says the killing of Osama bin Laden was legally justified. During remarks at a Northwestern University speech last night, Stevens said he was pleased President Obama ordered the raid and called it, quote, "entirely appropriate" That's according to two people who were there.
And New York City has a new way to remind drivers to slow down. New digital warning signs equipped with radar speed monitors will flash an image of a skeleton next to the words "slow down" when a driver approaches a crosswalk at more than 30 miles per hour.
And Wolf, I wanted to wish you luck tomorrow. I know you're giving the commencement address at Penn State. Congratulations.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. I'm excited to go to Penn State. It's a great, great university. Looking forward to meeting the students. Congratulations to the class of 2011.
Mary, thank you.
BLITZER: Dogs are now -- now are being used to sniff in new ways for explosives in crowds. Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANICE HAHN, LOS ANGELES CITY COUNCIL: ... can sense explosives at a greater range for as long as 15 minutes and track down where that scent is coming from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're going to tell you about how else the role of dogs at airports may be expanding.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Authorities are beefing up security in the wake of the bin Laden attack and using dogs in new ways as part of all of that. Kara Finnstrom is joining us now with details. Kara, what are you learning?
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, these are highly trained dogs with superb noses, and now for the first time in the U.S., they are on-duty at a busy international airport.
FINNSTROM (voice-over): Now patrolling at Los Angeles International, the latest generation of explosive-sniffing dogs. And they're unlike any K-9s used in airports before. They can detect a whiff of hidden explosive coming off a person moving through a crowd.
HAHN: These dogs can sense explosives at a greater range for as long as 15 minutes and track down where that scent is coming from.
FINNSTROM: They're joining LAX just as security is being heightened because of the killing of Osama bin Laden.
CHIEF CHARLIE BECK, LOS ANGELES POLICE: We've always known, we've always said that we are one of the top four targets in the United States.
FINNSTROM: But authorities say adding the dogs was spurred by another event, the failed 2009 Christmas day terrorist attack, when a man with explosives hidden in his underwear boarded an international flight headed for the U.S. They realized that dogs trained to check out luggage and cargo were not being trained to detect concealed explosives on people.
CHIEF GEORGE CENTEND, LOS ANGELES AIRPORT POLICE: We did not have a layer of security in place to detect organic or nonmetallic explosive devices on persons prior to the TSA screening checkpoints.
FINNSTROM: The question now: will America's airports begin doing what some other countries have already done, take the next step and begin using dogs at checkpoints to screen individual passengers. To some eyes, that would be an invasion of privacy with cultural implications.
PROF. ALISON DUNDES-RENTELN, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Well, it's important to keep America safe, but we should be aware that there's sensitivity among some Muslims that dogs are considered dirty, particularly the saliva.
FINNSTROM: So for now, people-sniffing dogs will remain noses in the crowd. They won't be getting too personal.
FINNSTROM: L.A. leaders say while this is a first-of-its-kind program for a U.S. airport, they do believe that we'll soon see these dogs used in other airports, too. And by the way, similarly trained dogs have already been used by Amtrak and U.S. Capitol Police -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Got to love all those dogs. God bless the dogs. They're doing a lot of good work. No matter -- no wonder they're man and woman's best friend. Thanks, Kara. Kara Finnstrom reporting for us from Los Angeles.
That does it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.