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THE SITUATION ROOM
Mad Cow Disease in U.S.; Interview with Representative Darrell Issa; Five States Hold Primaries; Romney Pivots Toward November; Prostitution Plentiful in Cartagena; A History Of Hiring Prostitutes; Ties to Drug Cartels or Spies?; Police: Deadly Bombing Is "Terrorist Act"; First Criminal Charges after BP Spill; Bishops Call for Repeal of Mandate
Aired April 24, 2012 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: a case of mad cow disease confirmed in the United States. We have new information just coming in from U.S. agriculture officials.
Also, a turning point for Mitt Romney, as five states hold Republican presidential primaries today -- details of some critical changes to his upcoming campaign. That information coming in as well.
Plus, shocking discoveries as our Special Investigations Unit travels to Colombia and the center of that Secret Service prostitution scandal.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Let's get right to the breaking news right now. It's a disease as frightening as it is deadly. And the U.S. Agriculture Department has just announced that a case of mad cow disease has been confirmed -- confirmed in a dairy cow out in central California.
Let's bring in Lisa Sylvester. She's working this story for us.
Lisa, first of all, what is the Department of Agriculture saying; what's going on?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the USDA just released information within the last hour and what we know right now is that it is a dairy cow from central California that has tested positive for BSE or commonly known or referred to as mad cow disease, and Wolf, this is only the fourth case ever detected in the United States.
Normally, an animal contracts BSE from consuming contaminated feed, but this cow tested positive for atypical BSE. It's a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.
And the USDA states -- quote -- "The cow was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health. Additionally, milk does not transmit BSE."
So you can see there the USDA essentially trying to say that the food supply is not in jeopardy here. We also have received just a few moments ago a video press release from the USDA that they released on to YouTube explaining a little more.
I think we're having some audio issues there, but additional lab testing and information sharing is being done now with animal health labs in Canada and England.
A little bit of background. The first case of BSE in the United States was detected back in 2003. That was a classical case and it was detected in an animal that was imported from Canada in 2001. There were two other later cases, one in 2005 and 2006, where the animals in those cases, and those two animals, really interesting, Wolf, they were over 10 years of age and they also had this atypical BSE.
This fourth case, we don't know the origins and we're still getting information and it's still coming in. And I did get information from the R-CALF USA. That's the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal. And they're very concerned about all of this.
We also now have the sound bite that we were going to play for you al the earlier from the USDA. Again this was a sound bite and this was a video news release that they had posted on YouTube. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JOHN CLIFFORD, USDA: The animal was a dairy cow from the state of California. Our laboratory confirmed the findings, and also indicated it was an atypical form of BSE which is a rare form of the disease. It is not likely to be attributable to infected feed, which is the method in which normally BSE would be spread from cow to cow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SYLVESTER: That was Dr. John Clifford from the USDA.
Now all of this is coming at a time when the USDA has recently proposed rule-making that according to R-CALF, one of the industry -- one of the cattlemen's growers association, they're very concerned because they're saying that the USDA at this point is looking at relaxing protections and relaxing some of the testing at this time, Wolf.
BLITZER: We don't know, Lisa, how this cow got this mad cow disease?
SYLVESTER: We don't.
We don't know how the cow got the mad cow disease and also very interesting, Wolf, we don't know yet if this is a domestic cow or if this is a cow that was imported from someplace else. More of those details, we have a lot of calls out to the USDA. So hopefully within the next hour or so we will have more information on this, Wolf, coming in.
BLITZER: All right, Lisa. Stand by.
I want to bring in our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and she's also working this story.
First of all, Elizabeth, what are you picking up?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What I'm picking up is the government agencies that regulate the -- that regulate the animals and the CDC and whatever, they take this very seriously and I will tell you why, Wolf.
I saw first hand how dangerous it is if a human being consumes meat from an animal that has mad cow disease. I did a story many years ago with a woman named Charlene, who was the first person in the United States to get so-called mad cow disease.
Now, it's important to point out she caught it when she lived in England and then moved here without knowing that she was sick. She died a few months after I did a story with her. This is a devastating neurological condition. If even one person ate U.S. meat and got sick from mad cow disease, it would just be devastating.
That has not happened in this country. No one has gotten mad cow disease or what we sort of just call mad cow disease. That's not the technical name. No human being has gotten mad cow disease from eating tainted U.S. meat.
BLITZER: But there have been cases outside of the United States where that has occurred, right?
COHEN: Right. There have been cases outside of the United States, for example, some 170 cases in the United Kingdom and there have been three people in the United States who contracted the disease outside of the U.S. either in the U.K. or in Saudi Arabia.
And then they moved here without knowing they were sick. And so they experienced the illness in the United States, but they didn't actually contract the illness in the United States.
One of the scary things about this disease, Wolf, is that it takes about 15 years for a human being to show signs of this. So if a cow were to be tainted and someone were to eat that meat, they wouldn't really know it for 15 years. And of course, by then it's to late to stop that meat from circulating in the food supply.
BLITZER: It's a scary, scary subject.
The USDA says they can safeguard to make sure cows don't get mad cow disease. What happened here?
COHEN: Right. The USDA does its best to safeguard mad cow disease from getting into cows in this country and what they do is they look at the feed and they make sure the feed isn't infected.
The problem here as Lisa Sylvester discussed is that there's this new varying form of the disease that doesn't come from the feed. The cow just gets mad cow disease. They call it a sporadic disease. They don't know how it happens. It's a real puzzle and they're still trying to figure it out and it's much harder, of course, to keep those animals healthy because we don't know how they got sick in the first place.
BLITZER: The bottom line, it's safe to eat meat, it's safe to drink milk, is that right?
COHEN: Right. That is the bottom line, according to the USDA.
This cow that's sick, it's one cow and it is not a cow that was ever going to be consumed. It's a dairy cow and I'm told by experts that it appears you cannot get mad cow disease from drinking the milk of an infected cow. The studies have shown that the milk is not infectious, just the meat, and no one ever ate the meat of this one cow.
BLITZER: I know you will be working the story, as well as Lisa Sylvester. Thanks to both of you and we will have more on the breaking news coming up later.
Meanwhile, let's go to the Supreme Court here in Washington. The justices will decide if Arizona is overstepping its authority with the tough and very controversial immigration law.
CNN's Kate Bolduan is at the Arizona-Mexico border with some background -- Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, states' rights vs. federal authority, it's an election-year fight that started here on the Arizona border, but has turned into a huge constitutional battle left for the justices to decide.
(on camera): Is there a lot of crossing through the mountains?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. A lot.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): Two men on the front line, both fighting illegal immigration, but they couldn't be farther apart.
David Salgado is a 20-year Phoenix police veteran. He's supposed to enforce Arizona's immigration law. Instead, he's trying to stop it and his lawsuit helped trigger a Supreme Court battle.
DAVID SALGADO, POLICE VETERAN: I think it's a racist law because that law was -- basically picks and chooses certain people. When I took an oath 20 years ago that said I'm going to enforce all laws and treat everyone equal, I can't treat the Hispanics equally because I'm going to profile them.
BOLDUAN: Glenn Spencer heads a private group that patrols the border along his 104-acre ranch with high-tech equipment, planes, cameras, even testing a sonic barrier.
GLENN SPENCER, AMERICAN BORDER PATROL: So this flashing here would indicate, OK, here we go.
BOLDUAN: Spencer says he and the state are stepping in where Washington has failed.
SPENCER: This is a wholesale invasion of Arizona and our federal government is not protecting the state. And we are going to make sure that they get all of the help and the federal government gets all of the help it needs to do the job.
BOLDUAN (on camera): It's an old fight, but a new battleground and it all comes down to this, the U.S.-Mexico border and the Arizona law known as SB-1070 meant to crack down on illegal border crossings. But the question dividing this state is, who should be enforcing illegal immigration laws?
(voice-over): SB-1070 requires local police like Officer Salgado to check people's immigration status while enforcing other laws if the police have "reasonable suspicion they're in the country illegally," all in an effort the state's government says to help federal authorities deal with illegal immigration.
GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: They're coming across the borders in huge numbers. The drug cartels have taken control of the immigration, illegal trespassing.
BOLDUAN: But the Obama administration and the law's opponents argue the federal government alone has power over immigration enforcement. For Officer Salgado, it's personal.
(on camera): Do you think it's going to hurt your job?
BOLDUAN: Make it harder to do your job?
SALGADO: Absolutely. Absolutely. It brought division. The rapport that we built with the Hispanic community, it took us years. One day destroyed it, one day.
BOLDUAN: But Glenn Spencer says if nothing's done, lives and livelihoods are at risk.
SPENCER: I have nothing against Mexico or Mexicans, but when you import poverty on a massive scale you can only expect that your tax base is going to erode and you are going to run into serious problems.
BOLDUAN (on camera): What happens here is being closely watched by states across the country. A wild card, though, Justice Elena Kagan has pulled herself out of hearing this case raising the possibility of a 4-4 split, meaning this election-year fight could be pushed to another day -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Kate Bolduan, thanks very much. If the Arizona law is upheld, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer says he will propose a bill that bars states from implementing their own immigration policies.
Republicans actually boycotted today's hearing, which Arizona Senator Jon Kyl called -- and I'm quoting him now -- "political theater."
Mitt Romney is pivoting from the primaries to the general election. Details of some critical changes to his campaign.
And President Obama calls his Secret Service agents embroiled in the prostitution scandal -- and I'm quoting him now -- "knuckleheads." CNN is in Colombia right now investigating how the scandal went down.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, unemployment is hitting home in a big, big way. Nearly seven in 10 Americans say they know someone who has either been laid off or lost their job in the last six months, according to the new Gallup poll, and that's the highest in Gallup's history in asking this particular question. Numbers like these could obviously have huge political implications for President Obama come Election Day in November.
More bad news, only 21 percent of those surveyed, roughly one in five, say that now is a good time to find a quality job, 77 percent say it's a bad time. That's actually an improvement from last year when 90 percent of Americans said it was a bad time to find a quality job.
This is interesting, though. Even though most Americans know someone who has lost a job, only 15 percent say it's very, or fairly likely that they personally will lose their job or get laid off in the next year.
The national unemployment rate stands at 8.2 percent. Hiring slowed dramatically in March, employers added only 120,000 jobs, down sharply from the 240,000 jobs in February. And while the unemployment rate declined last month, it's mostly because people just dropped out of the labor force.
Economists predict, those surveyed by CNN Money, that the unemployment rate will decline by 8 percent by the end of the year, 8 percent. That's still a huge challenge for President Obama. Eight percent is a far cry from the 4.4 percent unemployment rate before the recession started.
And President Obama might want to take note of this: since 1948 only one incumbent president has won re-election with unemployment over 7 percent, not 8 percent -- 7 percent. That was Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Here's the question: how likely is it that you will be laid off or lose your job in the next six months?
Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog, or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I hope our viewers won't be laid off of their jobs.
CAFFERTY: No, I hope so.
BLITZER: And we love them since they watch our show.
So good luck to all of them, right?
BLITZER: All right. I'm with you.
It's the biggest day of the Republican primary voting season. Since Super Tuesday, seven weeks ago, five stays are weighing in tonight on the race for the White House with 204 delegates at stake. For Mitt Romney, it also marks a turning point -- with no more credible challenges for the nomination left, his focus is now 100 percent on President Obama.
Our national political correspondent Jim Acosta is in Manchester, New Hampshire, where Romney is planning a victory celebration tonight.
What's the latest with his campaign, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you can see, they have the campaign bus behind me. They have tried to make this pivot before, as you know, Wolf. But this time, they hope it's six. Tonight, you'll hear Romney deliver victory. He will turn his attention to the president for a fight and Mr. Obama seems to be eagerly anticipating.
ACOSTA (voice-over): As voters trickled into the polls for primaries from Delaware to New York, Mitt Romney was fine-tuning a speech that's got November written all over it. Entitled "A better America begins tonight", Romney's speech is expected to lay out a vision for a more prosperous country, and hammer President Obama's record.
That's no easy task. As Romney noted just this week, there have been signs of improvement.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And the president is going to stand up and say he deserves credit for that. No, if it gets better, it's not because of him. It's in spite of him.
ACOSTA: The campaign is also going all out to shore up the GOP contender's biggest weaknesses. In presenting Ann Romney to attract women voters and Marco Rubio to appeal to Hispanics, team Romney is now targeting younger Americans.
The campaign blasted out this recent Pew Research Center study showing the share of young adults that's currently employed is at its lowest rate since 1948.
REP. AARON SCHOCK (R), ILLINOIS: This is not the America that they dreamed of living in.
ROMNEY: I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans.
ACOSTA: That explains why Romney now backs efforts to maintain discounts on college student loan.
But Democrats were ready for that. A pro-Obama super PAC released this web video showing how Romney has answered past questions from young voters who are worried about their student loan debts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to do for people like me?
ROMNEY: You know, I wish I could tell you that there's a place to find really cheap money or free money where we could pay for everyone's education and that's just not going happen.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's up, Tar Heels?
ACOSTA: President Obama, who easily carried the youth vote four years ago, suggested to students at the University of North Carolina, Romney is shifting his position on financial aid.
OBAMA: I didn't just get some talking points about this. I didn't just get a policy briefing on this.
ACOSTA: Now, there is one other bit of drama to look out for tonight. Newt Gingrich is holding an event down in North Carolina. He says that if he wins the primary that is happening today in Delaware, he could stay in this race and he views that kind of victory as a potential turning point in this race for the GOP nomination.
Now, Mitt Romney, he is only looking forward, not back. He is going to be doing fund-raising over the next couple of days and the hopes of erasing what is a 10-1 advantage for the Obama re-election campaign when it comes to cash on hand. It is a big advantage, but we know that Mitt Romney has the ability to raise a lot of money as well, Wolf.
BLITZER: With all due respect, Jim, to Delaware, it's a small state. Why is Newt Gingrich saying if he wins Delaware, that's going to be such a big deal?
ACOSTA: You know, he thinks it could be some kind of game changer, you know. They're calling it sort of the break in the Romney dam if it happens. But, Wolf, that campaign is $4 million in debt as we know and Newt Gingrich winning Delaware is not likely to change Mitt Romney's posture one bit. He's focused on President Obama no matter what happens in Delaware tonight.
BLITZER: Yes. Romney is going to win Pennsylvania and New York, a lot of big states. He's got a lot, lot more delegates, obviously.
All right. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta, on the scene for us in New Hampshire.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
Gloria, it wasn't that long ago and we thought tonight would be important, Pennsylvania, Santorum's last stand, and his home state. Obviously, he dropped out. But you know what? I could be wrong. I don't see him out there on the campaign trail with Mitt Romney yet.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: No, you haven't seen him out there yet. In fact, they haven't had the real sit-down. They've run into each other along the trail and they haven't had the reality is down together. And I just got off the phone with John Brabender, who is a senior strategist for Rick Santorum, and he told me that they are likely to get together in early May.
But he also told me a few other things, which were interesting. Of course, he points out that Rick Santorum did win 11 states, so he ought to have some leverage and he's got some importance here. First of all, he said, Rick Santorum's agenda, when he meets with Mitt Romney is going to be about finding out Mitt Romney's comfort level with social conservatives, with Tea Party voters, and with blue collar Republicans.
Here's what Brabender said to me. He said, quote, "We're not walking out here with a litmus test. This is meant to be a candid conversation." He said there isn't going to be an automatic rush to endorse, i.e., they meet together and then they rush out holding hands. He said this is about policy.
We want to know if we repeal Obamacare what comes next. Can't have mandates. We want to know about the balanced budget and on and on, listing Santorum's policy objectives and thirdly, he side there will be no quid pro quo. No discussion of Romney helping with Santorum's debt or Santorum's role at the convention or, by the way, whether Santorum will be on the short list for vice president.
BLITZER: I suspect that's not going to happen. That's just me, though.
Five states voting tonight.
BLITZER: Tonight, we'll get the results, what, if anything, are you looking for?
BORGER: Well, of course, Romney is going to do very well as you and Jim were just talking about.
What I want to look at are those hard carry anti-Romney people. Does Romney get a super majority in all of these states? And after that, I want to look at the kind of coordination that we're going to see between the Republican National Committee and the Romney campaign. You're going to be seeing them working together a lot more closely now to raise money for the Republican Party for Republican congressional candidates and, of course, for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
BLITZER: And Gingrich goes after tonight?
BORGER: Well, I think so. I mean, if he loses big time in Delaware. You know, I remember, it wasn't too long ago we were wondering where Newt Gingrich's votes were going to go, should he withdraw. Now, I wonder does he have any support at all. The answer, I don't think so.
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Thanks very much, Gloria, for that.
The scandal involving Colombian prostitutes is nowhere near over. A leading member of Congress has been briefed on the investigation, he tells me what he knows about the two dozen men linked to the incident. And I'll ask what he thinks about a CNN report that shows how things really go down in that Colombian city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, this is what he gave me. We get this a lot here. It's just advertisement for, basically, what looks like a strip club and it's probably a whorehouse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now to the widening scandal involving President Obama's protection detail and Colombian prostitutes. At least 24 Americans are being investigated for their involvement, 12 of them from the U.S. Secret Service, 12 from the U.S. military.
CNN's Drew Griffin is on the scene in Colombia. He's investigating how it all went down.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Prostitution is so open here, so much part of the tourist trade, it's hard to imagine what crimes the Cartagena police could possibly find to investigate. What's easy to imagine is just how the members of the U.S. security advance team got in trouble.
A night out on the town, a disco filled with scantily-dressed women, and hustlers seemingly at every corner, willing to connect single American men with available Colombian women.
(on camera): Where is it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, let's go.
GRIFFIN: Well, just tell me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I want to show you.
GRIFFIN: No, let me see. Let me see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to show you. I want to show you, OK?
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Show you to a back alley, a corner, a private door. When a food vendor saw I wasn't interested in eating, he asked if I was interested in a girl. A chica.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
GRIFFIN (on camera): A chica?
So, this is what he gave me. We've got this a lot here. It's just advertisement for basically what looks like a strip club and it's probably a whorehouse.
(voice-over): It was in this environment that a dozen or so members of the Secret Service left Tu Candela with a dozen or so working women making their way to Hotel Caribe where the agents were staying and that's where the trouble began.
(on camera): The agent either didn't understand the price or was trying to rip off his female escort leading to that now-infamous scene in this hotel hallway where the woman was trying to get her money, Colombian police were trying to negotiate a settlement and the agent refused to open his door.
(voice-over): The woman involved, Dania Suarez has now hired an attorney and through statements credited through that attorney demands she was an escort, not a prostitute. Her attorney isn't talking.
Neighbors confirm Dania Suarez lives here down this dirt alleyway in a middle class section of Cartagena. Through the wall they say they were stunned to see this picture in the paper was the single mother now credited with discrediting the U.S. Secret Service.
(on camera): And her neighbors say she has not been back since the news broke. They don't know where she went. Somebody came and removed suitcases from her apartment where she lived with her school- aged son.
They say this woman was a model neighbor. They never really knew what she did for a living other than the fact that she worked hard and she took care of her child.
(voice-over): A person who answered the phone at her attorney's number would not confirm the rumors Suarez is now trying to sell her story. Though Colombian police are not actually sure about actual crimes, they too, have been investigating.
(on camera): Police here in Colombia have spent the last several days trying to track down every single woman that came out of that bar with a U.S. soldier or a Secret Service member, trying to find out how old they are, what their story was, but the other half of the story is gone. All of the Americans involved pulled out before police had a chance to talk to them.
(voice-over): Colombian police admit their investigation is pretty much over because no one can seem to find any crime, with one glaring exception. Colombians, like Americans, are struggling to understand why the Secret Service sent here to protect the president acted so irresponsibly. Drew Griffin, CNN, Cartagena, Colombia.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's dig a little bit deeper on this story. Republican Congressman Darryl Issa of California is the chairman of the House Government Oversight Committee.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us. Lots of unanswered questions, I know your committee is investigating other committees in Congress as well. First of all, do you believe there were White House officials beyond the Secret Service, beyond the military involved in this prostitution scandal?
REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (R), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM CHAIRMAN: Wolf, I share with Senator Grassley the legitimate question that the senator asked, which were there any and a denial by this administration is not good enough.
They want an actual accounting of individuals and I think that's only fair, particularly when you consider that the lack of judgment and Drew did it very well, it's not about a crime. This was not a crime in Colombia.
It is about the poor judgment and can we continue to have anybody this close to the president who has such poor judgment?
BLITZER: Do you have any evidence yet you or Senator Grassley or anyone else that White House officials may have been involved?
ISSA: I think what Senator Grassley is seeing is this pattern of some of the most responsible doing irresponsible things. We know that White House advance people were down there. They were going to clubs, too, and they were drinking.
We don't know whether or not they made such poor judgments as to have an unknown foreign national back in their hotel room or anything of the sort. The important thing, though, Wolf, is this is about the Secret Service and other professionals cleaning up what was clearly a gap in -- a loss of judgment.
But a gap in security that today didn't affect the president, but could affect a president, a vice president or cabinet member in the future and it also embarrassed the American people by Americans doing something overseas where even if it was legal was viewed as irresponsible.
BLITZER: Senator Joe Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee, he says that his committee's been getting calls from whistle blowers saying this had been a problem even before this incident, prostitutes and U.S. officials in Colombia. Do you have any evidence to back that up?
ISSA: Well, we, too. We're the counterpart to Senator Lieberman's committee and we, too, have been hearing that everything from the wheels up rings off attitude to some of the reports that go back a number of years about behavior.
I think the important thing again though, Wolf, is this is clearly out there, both the House and the Senate not with a lot of open hearings to ridicule those who have already been disgraced, but with those still in responsible positions.
We need to know that they apply a fix and in this case the fix is going to be more widespread obviously because of the numbers we're seeing than anyone would have guessed.
BLITZER: Any evidence that any of the women, the 20 or 22 women who were apparently involved in this, the escorts or the prostitutes had any connections with drug cartels or foreign intelligence organizations, anything along those lines?
ISSA: Not at this time, Wolf. These were the questions that we asked the Secret Service director in addition to verifying that all of these women were over 18 and thus no U.S. law would have been broken.
So we went -- we asked those questions and they're getting us the answers. But let's understand if somebody is an agent of a foreign government that could be the hardest thing to find because if we go back to Matahari.
You know, you can in fact have people in this profession or in this sort of activity also be agents in the foreign government. It's not our number one suspicion, but it was the number one risk these people took by this reckless behavior.
BLITZER: Congressman, you're also investigating a very separate General Services Administration scandal involving a bunch of officials who were partying, shall we say, in Las Vegas to the expense of nearly $1 million in taxpayer money.
It's one thing to be stupid and irresponsible. It's another thing to be criminally charged, potentially with misconduct. Is there any evidence you're collecting that GSA officials were criminally responsible for any activity?
ISSA: Yes, Wolf. The inspector general, Brian Miller has a referral under way and a number of the areas include misuse of GSA credit cards and allegations of bribery.
This related to the contractors that they had a relationship with and used them on a no-bid basis, and no bid is an important word in government because the GSA is the agency most responsible to make sure that we do have competitive bids.
That you simply don't give your wife's cousin a big contract without it being a low bid and that's exactly what we believe happened in this case, but at GSA we believe it is more widespread and the tip of the iceberg, if you will.
BLITZER: That sounds like almost like bribery, if you will, that would be a crime.
ISSA: We believe the charges could include bribery and there could be a referral coming very shortly.
BLITZER: Define very shortly.
ISSA: In a matter of days if it hasn't already happened. The actual indictment process is one that we don't directly participate in, but the inspector general does refer criminal charges at the conclusion of the investigation. We believe he's made the case for a number of crimes that can be included.
BLITZER: Is that why that GSA official took the fifth and refused to testify before Congress?
ISSA: It certainly could include. The questions we had for him would not have caused to take the fifth, but the questions he might have been afraid of being asked as to his own criminal misconduct certainly would be justification for protecting his Fifth Amendment rights, which is what we think he did.
But he's not the only one and we believe it will be much more widespread and as we continue looking over the shoulder and working with the inspector generals throughout government. We think we're going to find a lot of conferences just like this and a lot of poor use of taxpayer's money and in some cases criminal activities.
BLITZER: Congressman Darrell Issa is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight. Appreciate it very much, Congressman. Good luck.
ISSA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: For the first time someone is facing criminal charges related to the BP oil spill three years ago. We have details on who it is and the charges he's facing. That's coming up.
And Deion Sanders takes to Twitter and accuses his estranged wife of attacking him. It's a bizarre series of tweets, photos included.
BLITZER: Lisa investigating a deadly attack in Pakistan. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what happened?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the police chief in Lahore, Pakistan is calling this attack a terrorist act. Two people were killed when a bomb detonated at a train station there. Twenty seven people were wounded. A police official says the bomb was planted in a bag placed on a train platform.
And the first criminal charges have been filed in connection with the BP Gulf oil spill. A former BP engineer was arrested on charges that he intentionally destroyed evidence that authorities requested.
It's estimated more than 200 million gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico two years ago after an explosion sank a drill rig called the deepwater horizon.
And the estranged wife of football star Deion Sanders has been arrested on domestic violence-related charges. In a bizarre series of tweets last night, he claimed she and a friend assaulted him.
He later posted this photo on his Twitter account saying he and two of his children were filling out police reports. The couple is in the midst of a bitter divorce.
I know a lot of people were talking about those pretty odd, strange tweets last night -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very odd, indeed. All right, thanks, Lisa.
Here's a question, is Bill Clinton the secret Obama campaign whisperer? We'll talk about that and more. Donna Brazile and Erick Erickson are standing by live. Our "Strategy Session" is next.
BLITZER: Let's get right to our "Strategy Session." Joining us right now our Democratic strategist, CNN contributor Donna Brazile and our CNN contributor Erick Erickson, he is the editor in chief of redstate.com.
I've got some stuff I want to talk to you about. A quick reaction to what we just heard from Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee saying he expects within the next few days, if it hasn't happened yet that the inspector general of the GSA will ask for potential criminal charges, bribery, against GSA officials. If that's true, that's a huge deal, Erick.
ERICK ERICKSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a huge deal, Wolf. Government bureaucrats going out of control I think is a story not told enough. Once you empower the bureaucracy things like this tend to happen and congress and the president both on both sides for a long time have abdicated a lot of responsibility to bureaucrats they shouldn't have abdicated.
BLITZER: You know, because, Donna and I'm sure you agree. It's one thing for bureaucrats to behave irresponsibly, stupidly. It's another thing to engage potentially in criminal behavior for example bribery. If that goes down, that's a big deal. DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm sure they're conducting a very thorough investigation, and Wolf, wherever it leads, the president has said repeatedly that he is committed to firing officials.
So whether it's criminal behavior or reckless behavior, as taxpayers we should get to the bottom of it and resolve this issue so those good government employees and those who are public servants who are out there keeping us safe and protecting our food supply, our water supply.
Let's talk about the good that many of these government employees are doing and not just focus on those bad apples.
BLITZER: All right, let's move on and talk about religion and politics, specifically Catholics and what's going on. Donna, first to you.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, they just put out another statement very critical of the Obama administration and the whole issue of contraceptives and let me put it up on the screen.
It is a matter of whether religious people of institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization even if that violates their religious beliefs.
Is this issue going to resonate with voters, Catholic voters specifically in the coming months, Donna?
BRAZILE: I think it will, in large part because some Catholic voters will adhere to the doctrine of the church while others will likely look at this as an issue for women and women's reproductive health and women's own livelihoods.
Look, this is the eighth year of Pope Benedict and he is pushing for the most conservative interpretation of Catholic doctrine. He's going after the dissenters including most recently the religious nuns and leadership conference on women religions.
And so he's going after those who take issue with traditional Catholic teachings. Let's see how it plays out in the Catholic Church before we look at how it plays out in the political world.
BLITZER: How do you think it will play out in the political world, Erick?
ERICKSON: You know, I think it becomes a large issue particularly for independent voters who lean toward the right and who may be leaning on the fence against Mitt Romney. Look, this is also the administration that argued before the Supreme Court this year to the left of the American civil liberties union saying there are no such things as a ministerial exemption in the First Amendment.
Even the ACLU won't go that far. Even the liberals on the Supreme Court Elena Kagan and Justice Sotomayor took issue with the administration's radical interpretation of religious liberties in the country. BLITZER: Let me quickly ask both of you to react to the story that's out there in "Politico" that Bill Clinton is emerging as sort of a secret whisperer to the Obama campaign saying, you know what? Continue to paint Mitt Romney as a severe conservative. Don't let them pivot to the center, if you will.
Donna, I know you read the story. What do you think of Bill Clinton giving this kind of advice to the Obama-Biden re-election campaign?
BRAZILE: Well, as you know, he carried 31 states in the District of Columbia in his own re-election campaign in 1996. He understands the politics and he understands how, you know, you frame a message and strategy.
I think Bill Clinton is giving the Obama campaign good advice and hopefully, they'll listen to it, but you know, on the large issue of this religious freedom, I just got to say that I know the conservatives want to make this about religious liberty.
But women once again, you see it in all of the polls. This is about access to a full range of reproductive health care and I'm sure that Bill Clinton would advise the Obama administration to continue to focus protecting women's rights and others in this country.
BLITZER: What do you think of Bill Clinton's advice, Erick?
ERICKSON: You know, if he's a campaign whisperer, I think the Obama administration should listen. Arguably, he's the most successful politician in the last half century in the country.
At the same time, they really want to beat Mitt Romney as a severe conservative. I realized that was his poor word choice in a debate, but I know severe conservatives, they're friends of mine. Mitt Romney is not a severe conservative.
BLITZER: I'll leave on that note, guys. Thanks very much.
BRAZILE: Not even a reliable one, either, Erick.
ERICKSON: Not at all.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is asking that you'll be laid off or lose your job in the next six months. Your answers that's coming up next.
BLITZER: Jack's back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Indeed, the question this hour, how likely is it that you'll be laid off or lose your job in the next six months?
Lisa writes from Denver, "I'm worried for my husband losing his job because he's been sick off and on since January. I'm so glad he has health insurance. I don't. I hope and pray he'll be able to keep his job. So far, so good, but I think most of us worry. We worry on Sunday, we dread Monday. Will today be the day we get canned?"
Lauren writes, "I'm whistling in the dark here. The recovery has proven to be imaginary and my employer is doing everything it can to survive this next year. My biggest fear is that Obama is re- elected and gives that as a mandate to do things he wasn't crazy enough to try these past three and a half years. Chicago politics is the worst thing that ever happened in this country."
Steve in Virginia writes, "Jack, I have twins who graduated from a Virginia State College last May and they still haven't found a job. Their mother and I will be happy if they even had jobs they were worried about losing."
Tom in New York writes, "My job seems secure. My company shipped lot of jobs to Asia in recent years and now they're starting to ship them back. They found that it may be cheaper, but it definitely isn't better. The quality drops so much that our customers are complaining."
Steve in Illinois writes, "Totally impossible. I don't have a job now, but I did have a pretty good interview today." And Ed in Texas writes, "The best job security I know is being a soldier in Afghanistan. Of course, there are some occupational hazards."
If you'd like to read more on this, you'll find it on my blog, cnn.com/caffertyfile or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you. President Obama is all fired up as he courts young voters around the country. Details of what he's doing to get their votes in November.
Plus, my special interview with pastor and author, Joel Osteen. Does he believe Mitt Romney is a Christian? I'll ask him.
BLITZER: There are new developments in the case of an armored car driver accused of taking millions in cash. Lisa Sylvester is back and monitoring top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what's the latest?
SYLVESTER: Wolf, after eight weeks on the run, Florida sheriff's deputies arrested a 22-year-old driver. Authorities say Ken Coniac shot and killed his partner and then ditched their armored car during a shift in Pittsburgh.
They say he fled with more than $2 million in cash. Last month police discovered $24,000 at his grandmother's grave site and more than $200,000 at his parents' home.
Police in Baltimore arrested this 20-year-old woman for her role in a violent attack that left a man beaten and stripped of his clothes all while people nearby laughed and didn't help him.
She is the second person arrested. A video posted online shows the March attack and helps authorities identify the suspects and police are still looking for two more people.
And is outer space the next frontier in mining? Well, two Google executives as well as filmmaker, James Cameron, are part of one company that thinks so. Within the next four years, they hope to begin mining asteroids for precious metals as they fly in outer space. The co-founder of the company says a single 100-foot-long asteroid could be carrying as much as $50 billion dollars worth of platinum.
Very fascinating story, so we'll have to see what happens with that, Wolf.