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South Korean President Visits U.S., Rupert Murdoch Empire Faces Another Scandal

Aired October 13, 2011 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: President Obama speaks out at length for the first time about the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States -- what he's saying about links to the Iranian government. Stand by.

Also, "The Wall Street Journal"'s European edition is hit by ethics allegations -- details of the latest scandal to rock Rupert Murdoch's media empire.

Plus, a U.S. senator accused of plagiarism on his Web site, now he's offering an explanation, but will it be enough to quell the controversy?

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

A visit by the South Korean president to the White House today overshadowed by the unfolding international drama surrounding an alleged Iranian terror plot. For the first time, President Obama spoke out at length about what the United States maintains was a plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States right here in Washington, D.C.

Let's go straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

Jessica, the president was asked about the links to the Iranian government. What did he say today?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he declined to say that it was -- that the highest levels of the Iranian government had knowledge of it. He would not say that the nation's supreme leader or the president were personally aware of it. Here's what the president did say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think the problem here, Jessica, is that I have not been unwilling to negate with Republicans. I have shown repeatedly my willingness to work overtime to try to get them to do something.

He had direct links, was paid by, and directed by individuals in the Iranian government.

Now those facts are there for all to see and we would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations that are contained in the indictment.

We believe that even if at the highest levels there was not detailed operational knowledge, there has to be accountability with respect to anybody in the Iranian government engaging in this kind of activity.


YELLIN: Wolf, he went on to say that the U.S. government is using the evidence it's gathered to talk to international partners, pressure them to ratchet up pressure on and isolate Iran -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We will have more on what the U.S. is doing towards Iran right now, but you did have a chance and you played that clip right at the beginning inadvertently -- we did, at least.

You asked the president about the jobs bill that he got defeated in the United States Senate this week. What did he say?

YELLIN: Wolf, he's been saying that he's going to ask them to break -- Congress to break up the bill and vote on individual pieces of it. He declined to say which piece he would have them vote on first, but I did ask and press him on whether he would invite Republicans over to the White House or sit down with them to negotiate on a bill that they could agree on, on something that they could get done to get jobs started now. Here's what the president said.


OBAMA: I don't think the problem here, Jessica, is that I have not been unwilling to negate with Republicans. I have shown repeatedly my willingness to work overtime to try to get them to do something to deal with this high unemployment rate. What we haven't seen is a similar willingness on their part to try to get something done.


YELLIN: Now, senior administration officials have said that they expect the likeliest pieces of this package to pass through Congress are the extension of unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jessica, thanks very much.

Let's get back to the alleged Iranian plot to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador here in Washington, Adel Al-Jubeir.

Let's go to our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty. She is over at the State Department.

Jill, the Obama administration at least seems to be partially on the defensive in explaining this plot, especially making the case internationally. What do we know?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the secretary and other top officials here at the State Department are on the phones. They have been talking with officials, high-up officials from other countries, making that case.

Also, up at the United Nations, Susan Rice, the ambassador for the United States, has been meeting with members of the U.N. Security Council. We understand those meetings are over and she has been doing the same thing, essentially, explaining how seriously the U.S. views this.

And then the most interesting thing, Wolf, today that we learned about are these specialized briefings. These are for countries that want more information. We're told that the State Department offered to do it right from the beginning. And several countries have taken them up on it.

And, specifically, we have China has wanted more information on that, you can imagine, because China after all has a lot of trade and economic interests with Iran. Russia is the next one. Ditto on that. They have a lot of economic interests. And then, finally, the last one would be Turkey, which has become a major player in the world.

And these teams, we're told, are made up of senior officials. They're very well-versed on the allegations in this plot, how it was supposed to have gone down and also how the case was made by the government -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jill, you know, here's what I don't understand. The target of this alleged plot was Saudi Arabia's ambassador here in Washington. And the reaction at least so far from the Saudis, they have condemned what's going on. They seem to believe everything that the Obama administration is saying, but they have not yet recalled their ambassador from Tehran. They still have full normal diplomatic relations.

Is that about to change?

DOUGHERTY: You know, they are I think preparing to do something. The indications are that they will, but specifically, what is not clear, they are studying it very carefully, and they're looking at the evidence, and you can imagine that they would want to do something, but they have to be very careful.

After all, this is the biggest relationship in that region, between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and they have to do it correctly, Wolf.

BLITZER: But do they believe, the Saudis, that the Iranian government tried to kill Ambassador Al-Jubeir?

DOUGHERTY: Well, they have been very careful about what they're saying. They were thankful to the United States. There's been a lot of diplomatic speak on that. But at this point, publicly, at least, they're not saying exactly what they think. They're saying we're going to look at the evidence.

BLITZER: So, as far as the U.S., Jill, what's the next step?

DOUGHERTY: OK. Well, the next one would be what do you do? And that is sanctions. And the United States already has taken sanctions. The next thing -- and we heard this from the administration today at the Senate Banking Committee.

They're making the case that the sanctions that were put in place a year ago actually are working. So let's listen to David Cohen, who is the treasury undersecretary who deals with terrorism and these issues.


DAVID COHEN, TREASURY UNDERSECRETARY: Iran's shrinking access to financial services and trade finance has made it extremely difficult for Iran to pay for imports and receive payment for exports.

Iran's central bank has been unable to halt the steady erosion in the value of its currency. And Iran has been increasingly unable to attract foreign investments, especially in its oil fields, leading to a projected loss of $14 billion a year in oil revenues through 2016.


DOUGHERTY: OK. So next targets could be the central bank of Iran. There are number of senators up on Capitol Hill who would like to do that. They want to have crippling sanctions to really cut them off and in some cases, they are saying collapse the Iranian currency.

And then the next step is oil. Oil is 50 to 75 percent of the income Iran gets and if you target that, pushing other countries to simply do not deal with Iran. What specifically they will do, Wolf, they are still planning that you can expect that there would be more and Wendy Sherman, who is the new undersecretary of state, was up on the Hill as well and she was saying nothing should be off the table.

BLITZER: Jill Dougherty is over at the State Department. Jill, thanks very much.

It will be fascinating to see how far the Saudis go in underscoring their anger at Iran. We will see if the Saudis even recall their ambassador from Tehran and sever all commercial ties in the aftermath of these allegations. We will see how seriously the Saudis take the U.S. allegations against Iran.

Meanwhile, $707 billion is the Pentagon's budget this year, considered by some to be a black hole of federal spending. Today, the defense secretary, Leon Panetta, promised lawmakers to show in detail how those billions are spent. He faces mandatory cuts to his budget if Congress can't agree on other cuts before Thanksgiving.


LEON PANETTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I truly believe that we do not have to make a choice between fiscal security and national security. But to do that, to do that will require that we have to make some very tough choices.


BLITZER: Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, found the U.S. Army already making some tough budget choices. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everything for war is for sale here, military assault weapons, the latest ammunition rounds, missiles, drones, the newest off-road vehicle for special forces, complete with weapons on board. Hundreds of frantic defense contractors are scrambling knowing Congress is about to slash military spending in the coming weeks.

(on camera): But right now, your tech book is a little thinner than it used to be.


STARR (voice-over): We spoke to Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno.

ODIERNO: Will you be able to deter those who will want to do things knowing that we wouldn't be able to deploy a large enough army forward to challenge that?

STARR: He worries the military faces $600 billion in mandatory across-the-board budget cuts that could make the U.S. vulnerable.

ODIERNO: I think it will fundamentally have an impact on all the services, and specifically the Army, and our ability to provide any level of security.

STARR: Business wants to military to keep buying.

(on camera): Competition is so tough these days amongst military contractors. This company, Oshkosh Defense, is keeping some of their best gear behind closed doors. This is their proposed new vehicle to replace the Humvee.

(voice-over): Nothing may be more crucial for saving troops' lives than finding a new Humvee, the workhorse of 10 years of war. Replacement vehicles would protect troops better, but it's big money -- 50,000 new ones would cost as much as $50 billion.

BAE Systems let us sit in their proposed new vehicle for this contract competition.

(on camera): This is already mired in controversy because of the spending issue right now and the budget crunch.

BOB MURPHY, BAE SYSTEMS: This is a big program. And because of the perceived cost of the program, the question is really just one of affordability.

STARR (voice-over): So, in the case of the Humvee, the Army may just upgrade the current Humvee one more time for about half the cost.

Kevin Cosgriff of Textron Systems, which is hoping to win the upgrade contract, says saving money is something everyone relates to. KEVIN COSGRIFF, TEXTRON SYSTEMS: Rather than buy a complete new utility vehicle, light utility vehicle, we want to refurbish and improve the ones that are already in the industry. That is remodeling the house by buying a new house.


STARR: And the Army has borne the brunt of 10 years of war. Commanders agree, it's time to downsize. It's time to trim. They just don't want to trim too much. There's an awful lot on that show floor they'd still like to buy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: They're going to have to start cutting as everyone knows all throughout the federal budget and the U.S. Army is about 20, 21 percent of the DOD overall $700 billion. So the Navy, the air Force, the Marine Corps, the Army, the civilians all of them are going to be cutting assuming that the budget constraints continue.

Barbara, thanks very much.

STARR: Sure.

BLITZER: Meanwhile, a top executive over at "The Wall Street Journal"'s European edition is stepping down as an epic scandal heats up. We will have details.

And my interview this hour with the Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. I will ask him about the alleged Iranian plot to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. We will also talk about the Republican race for the White House and much more.


BLIZTER: Looking at live pictures of Lee Myung Bak the president of South Korea. He's here on official state visit to the United States. The president of South Korea formally invited by the President of the United States. There will be a estate dinner later tonight. Now he's addressing a joint meeting of the United States Congress, the house and the senate underscoring the U.S. South Korean relationship. Also, praising the U.S. congress decision yesterday to approve a new free trade area agreement between the United States and South Korea. We're monitoring the president's address before a joint meeting Of the U.S congress. We'll bring you some highlights later.

Meanwhile, there's a new scandal rocking Rupert Murdoch's media empire. Coming on the heels of a hacking revelations that shut down his flagship British tabloid. This time, the allegations are Against "The Wall Street Journal's European edition. CNN's Richard Quest is joining us now from London. He's got details. Richard this scandal seems to have two parts doesn't it?

RICHARD QUEST,CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does. And they are connected. The first part Wolf, concerns "The Wall Street Journal" Europe's circulation. And the allegation that the Journal paid a third party, a company called executive learning partnership, to take the paper and then sell it at a deeply discounted price of a couple of cents a copy. In other words, the Journal was literally paying somebody to buy the paper thus to boost its circulation numbers. Now, related to that allegation is the suggestion that the Journal promised ELP favorable coverage in a couple of articles, for doing this deal, this back scratching deal to boost circulation. As a result of that latter ethical breach, Andrew Langhoff "The Wall Street Journal" Europe publisher has resigned.

So you definitely have the stench that something was odd in the circulation department and that's why the ABC, which is the British version of the auditing authority, is going back to look at the numbers from a couple of years ago.

BLITZER: Richard what is "The Wall Street Journal" saying about all of this?

QUEST: Well first of all, of course Langhoff is gone and he admits- and there seems to be an admission that there were some ethical breaches, but on the circulation question, were they ramping up the numbers basically Wolf. The journal says the story from the "Guardian" Newspaper which broke it is full of untruths. And here's the (inaudible) "It's full of malign interpretations". That's a posh way, I think of saying one newspaper beating up on another.

BLIZTER: What are the chances Richard, that Rupert Murdoch himself may have known anything at all about this?

QUEST: very slim. "The Wall Street Journal" Europe, the "Wall Street Journal" is of course the jewel in the NewsCorp crowd, but the European edition sells less than 100,000cCopies a day, 70, 80 thousand. It's prestigious. It's very much part of what they want to be about in Europe. But nobody is really frankly suggesting that Mr. Murdoch himself had any news of any of this particular allegation, which it must be admitted and must be said. So far, the journal is saying, they did nothing wrong.

BLIZTER: Richard Quest in London for us, thank you Richard.

It's the deadliest shooting rampage that ever happened in Orange county, California. And we're now, learning more about what may have driven a man to open fire inside a very busy hair salon. And protesters occupying Wall Street, they are saying no. No to the New York city mayor, Michael Bloomberg. What did he ask them to do? We'll have details. That's coming up


BLIZTER: Wall Street protesters say they're not going anywhere. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that. Some of the other stories in "The Situation Room" right now. What's going Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Wolf. Well the "Occupy Wall Street" movement says it won't leave so that the park where they are protesting, can be cleaned up. New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg has asked protesters to leave the area by tomorrow morning. Bloomberg says there is a concern about unsanitary conditions. But the protesters say that this is an effort to force them out and they would be willing to clean up the park themselves. The park's owners say protesters can return once it's cleaned if they follow the rules.

A custody battle may have led to that deadly shooting in a southern California hair salon yesterday. At least eight people were killed. The suspect's ex-wife, a stylist at the salon, is reportedly among the dead. CNN affiliate KTIA reports the suspect and his ex-wife were involved in a custody battle over their son.

And French prosecutors have dropped an attempted rape complaint against Dominique Strauss-Kahn. They say there's a lack of sufficient evidence. A French journalist said the former head of the International Monetary Fund tried to rape her back in 2003. Strauss- Kahn had admitted to sexual aggression at the time. He recently returned to France after sexual assault charges were dropped against him in New York. Wolf-


SYLVESTER: KTLA thank you.

BLIZTER: That's the affiliate. 0Don't want to get our affiliates upset.

SYLVESTER: They like that stuff. They want a credit, where credit is due.

BLIZTER: Thanks very much Lisa. The tough new law that has some families preparing to flee the state of Alabama. Why the Obama administration is trying to block it.

Also, he's come from behind, now leading in some of the polls. The surge of Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain. James Carville and David Frum. They'll talk about that and more in our strategy session


BLIZTER: At least according to one brand new poll, Herman Cain is now the front-runner among the Republican presidential candidates. Let's talk about that and more in our strategy session. Joining us, are CNN political contributor, the Democratic Strategist, long time friend of the Clinton's James Carville. Our CNN contributor David Frum is joining us as well. Not necessarily a long time friend of the Clintons. He does write for He was a former speech writer for President George W Bush.

Let me play a little clip. Our own Erin Burnett had a chance to speak with Herman Cain today. She had this exchange. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You talk and money that you haven't raised as much money as your rivals. Mitt Romney has said he's raised 11-13 Million, Rick Perry, 17 million in the most recent quarter, before he plunged in the polls. Your numbers, can you tell us what they're going to come to for the quarter?

HERMAN CAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For the quarter, we will report first of all, no debt. You see, I run this very tight like a start-up business because that's my nature as a business man. And we are going to have-- we will report at the end of the quarter, several hundred thousands dollars in cash on hand. Within the last weeks or so, our fund raising has really picked up a lot, because of the response of the public.


BLIZTER: Erin's interview with Herman Cain later tonight, on "Out Front" 7:00 p.m. Eastern. James, how important or maybe not so important is money in a Republican contest or a Democratic contest even?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well it certainly doesn't matter between now and Iowa. And look, Herman Cain is not going to be the Republican nominee. This is not about Herman Cain. It's about Mitt Romney. And it's about him, then it was about Rick Perry, it was about Michele Bachmann. This is all about a lot of these Republicans don't like Romney, and Cain is a beneficiary of this. Plus he's getting a lot of exposure in these debates. He doesn't have Any intention of running like a traditional campaign, and hiring field people and headquarters and that kind of stuff. And I respect him for that. By the way, so far, to that extent that it's worked, it's working pretty good for him.

BLIZTER: It is pretty amazing, David, when you think about it, look how well he's doing in this new "Wall Street Journal"-NBC News poll. He's just ahead of Mitt Romney, although within the margin of error.

DAVID FRUM, AUTHOR, "COMEBACK": He's occupying right now the Donald Trump memorial chair.


But the real story of this race has been, as James said, there are a lot of Republicans who want somebody more radically conservative than Mitt Romney. And the great, amazing fact of this race is they have not been able to coalesce, that part of the party, around incredible, plausible --


BLITZER: -- is going to announce his economic plan. I think he's going to be in Pittsburgh. His numbers have gone down just as Herman Cain's numbers have gone way up. Here's the question to you. Can Rick Perry make a comeback and be a serious challenger to Mitt Romney? FRUM: Well, he could if all the people who don't like Romney would make their piece that Rick Perry is really the only plausible alternative, in the same way that they could have made their peace that Tim Pawlenty was the possible alternative then.

And I think it says something about the Tea Party movement and those who support the movement are going to have to do some self- examination. Why couldn't they translate this into a presidential campaign? So the irony is that in order to defeat President Obama, Republicans are going to rally around the man who is the author of a similar kind of health care reform. My joke is it's as if the Democrats in 1968 responded to the anti-war movement by nominating Robert McNamara for president. And yet they have not produced and alternative. And as a result, the Republican Party is going to offer them a much better president than it would have gone if the Tea Party had coalesced.

BLITZER: Seems to me, James, that the Democrats, the Obama campaign, they are working under the assumption that the president will face Mitt Romney in 2012.

CARVILLE: Of course they are. I guess to be fair is Perry could be credible, but hasn't shown any sort of sense that he can either debate or give a speech or do anything other than raise money. I think he's found wanting.

And again, these reporters, they're watching this. That's why you go from Trump to Bachmann to Perry. Now it's Cain. They're watching this closely and just not a credible alternative to Mitt Romney and it's, that's what it is. And maybe Romney's lucky or whatever, but this is the state of play over there and I think the correct assumption for them to operate on now.

BLITZER: Earlier in the week, Romney and Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, very popular among Republicans. He is certainly giving Mitt Romney a lot of credibility among conservatives. Is this potentially the ticket?

FRUM: I think it's a ticket. I think the usual talk is that it will be Marco Rubio. But there's a lot to be said perhaps for having someone popular with the conservatives. I think having two northeasterners, neither of whom is popular with the evangelical base. Chris Christie's popularity was more popular with northeastern money Republicans than southern conservative religious Republicans. You know, there was a time when you might have said Rick Perry would have made the ideal running mate for Mitt Romney. I think he's taken himself out of that contention.

BLITZER: I think you're probably right. Guys, thank you very much. Remember the Republican race, it's certainly very, very exciting, certainly in time for our next CNN debate. Join CNN for the western Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas. It airs live next Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. eastern only here on CNN.

Alabama's moving forward with a tough new immigration law. The law is already having an impact despite the federal government's attempt to block it. And Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has breakfast with an important business leader. We'll tell you who and why. Stand by.


BLITZER: Blackberry users can breathe a sigh of relief. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that with some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What is the latest, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Hi, Wolf. Good news. Blackberry service is up and running again after the worst outage in company history. The device's maker Research in Motion says it suffered a hardware error and the back-up system didn't work as planned. The outage affected millions of users around the globe including here in the United States. The company has had a rough year. Sales and the stock price are down as they face tough competition from iPhone and android phones.

Japanese officials blocked off one Tokyo neighborhood after detecting a spike in radiation. Officials say the source may be glass bottles found in the basement of a house. They insist there are no immediate health hazards.

And Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann paid a third visit to real estate mogul Donald Trump today. Bachmann said they had a wonderful breakfast and agreed to keep a close relationship. The Minnesota congresswoman is polling at only five percent in a new CNN poll of polls. She insists her campaign is strong and the poll numbers only show volatility in the race.

And an accused celebrity hacker says he deeply apologizes for what he calls one of the worst innovations of privacy. Christopher Chaney says he was addicted to the intrusion. Authorities say the Florida man hacked the online accounts of more than 50 people, including Scarlett Johansson and Christina Aguilera. They say he accessed nude photos of the celebrities that wound up online. Chaney faces a maximum of 121 years in federal prison.

BLITZER: That's a long, long time. Thanks very much for that, Lisa.

The Obama administration is trying to block a tough new immigration law in Alabama, saying it invites discrimination. Already, it's making the state anything but a sweet home for illegal immigrants. CNN's David Mattingly is joining us now with more. David, you got a firsthand look at the laws impact. What did you find out?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. I spoke to some immigrant families living in Alabama who now say they are living in fear and are faced with making some very tough decisions.



MATTINGLY: He was just two months away from graduate, but now, Alabama high school student Roman Lovera is afraid to go to school.

(on camera) As we drive down this road, what are you thinking?

LOVERA: How I was so close. One little piece of paper kept me from graduating.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): That piece of paper is the new Alabama immigration law that supporters and opponents alike call the toughest in the country. For the undocumented, a simple traffic stop could lead to deportation. Roman Lovera's family immigrated to Alabama illegally 10 years ago. Today he likes hunting, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Alabama football.

(on camera) If I didn't know better, I'd say you were a good ole boy.

LOVERA: I've grown up with southerners my whole life. Some call me a Mexican redneck.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And yet Lovera and hundreds of others Hispanic students are fleeing Alabama schools, their families making plans to flee the state. Others feel trapped.

(on camera) If you could speak to the people who passed this law, what would you say to them?

"ARELI," UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT IN AMERICA, (via translator): Don't be selfish. We all have and want an opportunity.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And 27-year-old "Areli" immigrated to Alabama illegally from Mexico 11 years ago. She and her husband say they can't move because she's almost seven months into a high risk pregnancy. And every day they stay they risk deportation. They ask that their full names and faces not be revealed.


"ARELI" (via translator): We are not stealing anything from them, simply asking them to let us work.

MATTINGLY (on camera): Families living in fear, children being pulled out of schools. Was this the intent of this law?

SCOTT BEASON, (R) ALABAMA STATE SENATE: There's no intent for families to live in fear.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): State Senator Scott Beason led passage of the Alabama law in the state legislature. He tells me the focus is on jobs.

BEASON: Our responsibility is to the people that elect us, to the people of Alabama. If there are other states out there who want to welcome an illegal workforce and displace their own workers, they should invite them there.

MATTINGLY: In the meantime, Roman Lovera says his dreams of graduation and college are fading. In his family's two bedroom apartment, the blinds are drawn and bags packed, ready to run if needed at a moment's notice. LOVERA: My parents gave me the option to stay, and I told them we came as a family and we'll leave as a family.


MATTINGLY: And all eyes are now on the federal courts again, Wolf, as they continue to work this law out to see if what provisions in it will hold up. Meanwhile, the families you just saw, life for them in Alabama, they say it's strictly day by day.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, David.

And skepticism about the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Here's a question -- does Rick Santorum believe President Obama? The Republican presidential candidate is standing by live. We'll discuss with him.

And Senator Scott Brown's staff tries to explain what looks like plagiarism on his website.


BLITZER: Let's get some more on our top story. President Obama with strong words today for Iran saying it will pay the price for its alleged plot to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. The president spoke at length about the plot saying it was directed in his words by individuals in the Iranian government.

Let's discuss what's going on, on this subject and more with Republican presidential candidate, former senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Do you believe the president of the United States when he say at high element in the Iranian government were plotting to kill Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Washington?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, obviously, the president sees things I don't see and if I'm hopeful that the president's telling the truth. I mean, this is a pretty strong assertion to make that senior levels of the government are plotting to kill somebody in the United States.

So I'm hopeful that the information is good and I have no reason to believe it's not. If that is the case, the president's response is an appropriate one. I wish that he would have had a stronger response two years ago when there was a revolution in Iran that could have been successful and we wouldn't be dealing with this situation.

BLITZER: But what would you have wanted him to do two years ago?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, there was a green revolution taking place as a result of fraudulent elections that declared Ahminedjad the winner before the votes were counted and he unfortunately did not side with the protesters. Contrary to what he did with the situation in Egypt and in other countries in the Middle East, he sided with the ruling mullahs and Ahminedjad and to the consternation of those true democracy lovers in Iran. This was a contemptuous, is a contemptuous of (inaudible), a theocracy that has been at war with the United States since 1979.

And unfortunately, the president, you know, coddled them to through this whole process and allowed them to crush these protesters instead of doing the -- starting the Arab Spring in Persia two years ago.

BLITZER: I think it's fair to say that he didn't necessarily speak out as loudly as many would like especially many of those Iranian protesters, but to go as far as to say he was coddling or supporting the mullahs and the Ayatollah in Iran. Isn't that going way too far?

SANTORUM: I don't think it's going way too far at all. I mean, you compare that, compare what President Obama did at the beginning of the green revolution legitimizing the revolution, which he did, and not doing anything concretely to support the protesters in any kind of strength like he did later on in Egypt and as I've mentioned, subsequent protests.

There is a whole difference in kind to the reaction of the president, let's take each for example and the reaction of the president when it came to Iran. And the odd thing was that the person in Egypt that the president was dealing with was an ally of the United States.

As opposed to the people in Tehran, who had been at war with us and have been killing American troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq by supplying them IEDs and training and equipment to those who want to kill us.

BLITZER: So if you're president of the United States, let's say you were president of the United States right now and your attorney general, your FBI director said the United States has just thwarted a plot by high elements of the Iranian government to kill Saudi Arabia's ambassador in Washington, maybe even blow up the Saudi and Israeli embassies here in Washington, D.C. What would you do?

SANTORUM: Well, I would sit down and look at options that we have available to us. Everything from economic options, which I have supported the fact. In fact, most recent round of legislation that passed was my bill called the Iran Freedom Support Act.

And I would -- I have encouraged this administration to take action against the Iranian nuclear program and there are lots of things we can do to stop that program from moving forward. Both from the standpoint of covert operations as well as and I'm talking about actual operations within the country, to make sure that program does not continue.

And those would be some of the things that I would look at to pinpoint what is the next problem, which is if Iran get as nuclear weapon, that what happened just a couple of days ago that was thwarted, will be a regular occurrence not just in the united states, but around the world. If Iran has a nuclear shield to protect them, there will be (inaudible) terrorism with impunity and that cannot happen and the president of the United States, as president, I would make sure that they do not have that nuclear capability and I would use whatever means necessary to make sure that happens.

BLITZER: I just want to be precise, then I'm going to move on. You would go to war, launch military action against Iran to stop its nuclear program?

SANTORUM: No, what I said was that I would use what means that were appropriate and I would I go to war to stop them from getting a nuclear weapon? If that ultimately what's necessary, but I think there are a lot of things we can do before you know any kind of direct military strikes.

BLITZER: You and Ron Paul, your Republican presidential rival, you had a major exchange at one of the earlier debates on this very specific issue of Iran.

Ron Paul saying Iran does not have an air force to come here. They can't even make enough gasoline for themselves. And here we are building up a case just like Iraq. Build up the war propaganda. Can you still hear me, senator?

Unfortunately, I think we've lost our line, our connection with Senator Santorum. Senator, are you there? Unfortunately, I think we've lost Senator Santorum. We're going to try to fix that and get back to him. I apologize to you and the senator as well. Stand by.

Meanwhile, we'll take a quick break. When we come back, a serious accusation against the sitting United States senator, did Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown plagiarized from a former senator on his web site? We're separating fact from fiction.

Plus, one of Washington's most influential conservatives has a problem with Herman Cain's so-called 999 plan. We'll explain what's going on.


BLITZER: We've re-established communications with Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum. He's in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Let's just wrap up this --

SANTORUM: Lots of things not working in Harrisburg right now.

BLITZER: I know that as well. Let's just wrap up, Ron Paul, your Republican rival says Iran really represents no major threat to the United States and yet we rare e hear you suggest that if necessary, if president, you would go to war against Iran to stop it from building a nuclear bomb. What do you say to Ron Paul?

SANTORUM: I would say to Ron Paul that Iran is an existential threat to the state of Israel. If you ask the Israelis, they will tell you that the greatest concern they have is not over the Palestinians or the Syrians or the Lebanese or the Egyptians, they're concerned about Iran.

They're concerned about them getting a nuclear weapon and having the ability to then really sponsor terrorism that will drive Israel -- that will drive Israel as Ahminedjad has said, off the face of the map.

In addition to that, they have made it very, very clear they want to dominate that region of the world and when they have that nuclear weapon and they have this theology about their destiny to be in control of that.

Not just that region of the world, but then to use that as a platform to spread around the rest of the world, this is a serious, serious threat to the region and ultimately to American national security. It has to be thwarted before it becomes nuclear.

BLITZER: Senator Santorum, thanks very much. We're going to continue this conversation in the days ahead with Congressman Ron Paul. We'll get his perspective as well. Appreciate it very much.

Other news we're following, Republican Senator Scott Brown is responding to charges of plagiarism. Our Lisa Sylvester has been looking into this part of the story for us. What's going on here, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Hi, Wolf. Well, Senator Brown's office says that this was all just a technical glitch and it was not in any way intentional. But there is a democratic group that says it was a deliberate swiping of Dole's material.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have decided to run for the United States Senate.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): It was in 2002, Elizabeth Dole kicking off her senatorial campaign when she spoke of her upbringing saying quote, "I was raised to believe that there are no limits to individual achievement and no excuses to justify indifference. From an early age, I was thought that success is measured not in material accumulations, but in service to others. I was encouraged to join causes larger than myself to pursuit positive change through a sense mission and to stand up for what I believe."

Those same words she used in her book "Elizabeth Hanford Dole Speaking from the Heart," and was also posted on her senatorial web site, but that very same language, word for word, also appeared on Republican Senator Scott Brown's web site on his student resources page. A Democratic Political Action Committee combing through Republican records discovered the duplication.

RODELL MOLLINEAU, AMERICAN BRIDGE 21ST CENTURY PAC: This wasn't him trying to explain some of those. This was a personal values statement about who he was trying to explain that to students.

And if you can't as a politician, come up with your own words as to who you are and how you were raised and brought up, then I think you have problems and the voters of Massachusetts are going to see that.

SYLVESTER: Scott Brown's office was quick to push back arguing in no way was this intended plagiarism. They say young staffers were eager to get a web site up and running after Brown took office after a special election.

In their haste, they made a big mistake, quote, "Senator Dole's web site served as one of the models for Senator Brown's web site when he first took office. During construction of the site, the content of this particular page was inadvertently transferred without being re- written. It was a staff level oversight, which we regret and has been corrected."

We confirmed with the spokesperson for Elizabeth Dole that Brown's office had permission to use her web site as a template. Dole's chief of staff calling this much adieu about nothing. The posting has been taken down.


SYLVESTER: Now, at the very least, this is pretty embarrassing for Senator Scott Brown and his staff, but we know there were some changes made to Scott Brown's page. Elizabeth Dole's name, for example, replaced with Scott Brown and there were some other minor tweaks.

But Brown's office says, look, he has written a 400-page plus autobiography and he certainly didn't need to borrow or steal anecdotes from Elizabeth Dole -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Fair enough point. All right, thanks very much, Lisa, for that.