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THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Sticks with Plan A in Syria; Interview with Susan Rice; New Computer Virus Raises Cyberwar Stakes; Interview with Rep. Jason Chaffetz
Aired May 30, 2012 - 17:00 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, unchecked violence in Syria, bodies, right now, are piling up. If a massacre of children doesn't lead to military intervention from NATO, the allies, what will happen next?
I'll speak to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. We'll talk about the Obama administration's plans of last resort.
Also, the so-called flame -- the flame that could spark the next generation of cyber spying.
So who's behind this very sophisticated new computer virus?
And investigators are trying to figure out right now why pieces of a jet engine fell off in-flight. New information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM about the Air Canada scare and what went wrong.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The United States and its allies are blatantly accusing the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, of having blood on his hands right now. But any talk of military intervention, at least for now, is still just talk. The United Nations' observers report finding 13 corpses in Eastern Syria with their hands tied behind their backs. This only days after the massacre in Houla that unleashed global outrage. Russia and China made it clear once again today they're staunchly opposed to using military force against Syria. And the Obama administration shows no sign that it's ready to change course.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is standing by.
She's just back from Jordan, along the border with Syria -- Barbara, what did you see there that gives you clues on various U.S. options?
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, traveling in Jordan, talking to top Jordanian and U.S. officials in Jordan, what you find is Syria is the topic front and center. There may be no appetite for military action just yet, but there's plenty of planning and plenty of talk.
STARR (voice-over): A new atrocity -- the carnage in Syria only grows. The Obama administration remains focused on diplomacy, monitors and former Secretary-General Kofi Annan's negotiation effort. It's the only game plan for now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY BROOKINGS INSTITUTION)
DENIS MCDONOUGH, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: As it relates to what the Plan B is for Syria, we're still on Plan A. The Annan plan is part of Plan A. But we're not betting the farm on the Annan plan.
STARR: While the Obama administration says using force to get Bashar al-Assad out is not an option at the moment, it is on the table.
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: You know, my job is to provide the commander-in-chief with options. And I think the military option should be considered.
STARR: CNN has learned that U.S., British, Jordanian. And Israeli military officials are discussing what to do if Syria falls apart. The possibilities include sending in troops to protect Syria's chemical and biological weapons, and providing massive humanitarian assistance.
There is a push by some for more immediate action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are certain things and capabilities the United States has that can, in conjunction with our Arab League partners, could provide a tipping point. So it would provide certain -- certain capabilities to units that we know who are trying to overthrow the Assad regime that we can vet, that we can test, that we can understand who completely that they are.
STARR: The starting point, Persian Gulf nations, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have talked of arming the rebels.
JAMES DOBBINS, RAND CORPORATION: The Syrian opposition are not going to be in a position to take and hold ground against the Syrian armed forces.
What they can do is engage in raids, provocations.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: So Wolf, as we discussed, for the U.S. military, there's very little appetite for yet another war. But if it came to that, if they had to, U.S. military officials say they've done a lot of planning and they would be ready to go -- Wolf. BLITZER: I assume most of that planning doesn't involve so- called boots on the ground, sending in U.S. or NATO forces, but presumably doing what the U.S. and the NATO allies did in Libya, sending in some of those Tomahawk cruise missiles, using air power, if you will, to send a message to Bashar al-Assad that this can be resolved the easy way or the hard way, as far as he's concerned.
STARR: Well, not so fast, as they might say. Yes, what you have laid out would be one of the strategies, if you were going to use military force, to force him out of office.
But what folks are looking at out in the Middle East is what they call the worst case scenario, the worry that Syria simply falls apart, that there is massive disorder, those refugee flows, the weapons of mass destruction, are not in control.
And in that case, in fact, Wolf, you might have to send troops into Syria from some country. They hoped it would be troops from the region, not U.S. troops. But the calculation is exactly that, you would have to send U.S. troops in to restore order, a very worst case scenario.
BLITZER: It's a very complicated situation, obviously.
Barbara, thank you.
And the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, is joining us now from New York.
Ambassador, thanks for joining us.
I want to get to that United Nations Security Council statement that passed just the other day, following -- following that massacre in Houla in Syria. Among other things, it said this: "The members of the Security Council demanded that the government of Syria immediately cease the use of heavy weapons in population centers and immediately pull back its troops and its heavy weapons from in and around population centers and return them to their barracks."
Here's the question -- there's no sign the Syrians are doing that.
If they don't do that, is the U.S. ready to consider the military option to stop the slaughter?
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: Well, they -- they haven't done it yet, Wolf, obviously. And -- and this, obviously, comes after a horrific massacre committed by government forces and their allied militias over the weekend in Houla.
We were just in the Security Council this afternoon and this morning discussing these issues. And I said on behalf of the United States that we are really at a point where, as Kofi Annan said yesterday, a tipping point, with three potential scenarios in front of us. The first one is that the Syrian government finally and immediately adheres to its commitments and obligations and stops the use of heavy weapons, stops the violence and adheres to all of the six elements of the Annan plan.
That doesn't look like the most probable scenario, obviously, at this stage.
The second is that the Security Council, in the absence of the Assad regime, assuming -- fulfilling its commitments -- comes together in a unified way and decides to impose pressure, sanctions under Chapter 7, under the Assad regime, such that it -- it is -- it feels compelled to, in fact, fulfill its commitments.
And, indeed, we have signaled that -- that -- that we may be approaching that point.
And in either of those scenarios, obviously, Russia's role is key. They need to put pressure on Assad to fulfill its commitments. It's got a great stake in Assad doing so.
And failing that, they ought to join the international community in putting maximum pressure on Assad.
In either of those scenarios, there's still a potential for there to be a peaceful political resolution to this, which is what we seek.
But if neither of those scenarios are possible, we're really facing the third scenario, which is the worst case, which is that the civil conflict intensifies, it engulfs the neighbors in the region, it takes on sectarian forms; it, effectively, becomes a proxy conflict between Syrian parties, but supported on the outside aggressively by others.
And we are then, at that stage, we're all compelled to look at what options may be necessary outside of the realm of the Security Council.
But that is a hot, regional war in one of the world's most sensitive areas. And we've sought to avoid that, even by supporting what we knew at the outset was not a high probability mission and effort on the part of Kofi Ann...
RICE: -- Annan, but a very important one, because if it can succeed and be done without further violence, that's obviously much preferable than a wider regional war.
BLITZER: So if Assad and his regime don't back down, what I hear you saying, as a final last resort, the United States and potentially its NATO allies, would -- would use military option to stop the slaughter.
RICE: Wolf, I don't think that's what I said. What I said is the next step would be for there to be an effort to put maximum international pressure on Assad, including through the Security Council, where we have been clear that we are prepared to -- to see, at the appropriate time, an effort to impose Security Council enforcement action, including sanctions and potentially other steps.
What I said was should all of that fail, or not be possible because it, perhaps, would be vetoed again, then we're into a situation which is chaotic and in which, you know, the -- the sides are -- are going to continue to be supported by outsiders.
I'm not going to predict, Wolf, what actions we would take in that context. Our aim has been to avoid that worst case scenario, because, clearly, it is in our interests and in the interests of the region for the conflict in Syria not to escalate, not to spiral into a wider regional conflict engulfing our partners and others.
BLITZER: All right. Let me get you to respond to Mitt Romney. He put out a statement, among other things, saying "President Obama's lack of leadership has resulted in a policy of paralysis that has watched Assad slaughter 10,000 individuals."
And he goes on to say: "The president needs to pressure Russia to stop selling weapons to Syria."
Is the United States pressuring Russia to stop selling weapons to Syria?
RICE: Absolutely. And, also, the -- I think the -- if you continue to read the statement, you'll hear an argument that it's -- it's appropriate for the United States to arm the opposition. Our view has been that we should not further militarize this conflict, that there are plenty of weapons in there, it's deadly enough as it is, and that the way forward should be to try to resolve this through -- through less militarization and a -- and a political process.
Wolf, even in Libya, we did not take the very exceptional decision to arm the opposition. And in Syria, we know much, much less about the nature of this opposition. It's not coherent. There's not a -- a unified command and control. It's a series of different groups in different cities. There's, clearly, also an extremist element that is trying to infiltrate elements of the opposition.
So to argue that we ought to be arming the opposition is a very consequential statement. And I don't think that those that are advocating that have fully thought through the consequences.
That would mean that we are conceding that the only option is to see the further militarization, to see an intensified regional war, which is hardly in our interests or in the interests of our allies and partners in that neighborhood.
BLITZER: Ambassador Rice, thanks very much for joining us.
RICE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Also across the Middle East right now, several countries are dealing with a new super computer virus that allows people to spy on you through the Web cams out there.
Is the United States the next target?
What is going on?
We have information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
Plus, it's not just Donald Trump. Now a former Intelligence Committee chairman raising some questions about potential candidates down the road having to show evidence of where they were born.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, the United States, once again, has failed to make the top ten when it comes to the happiest countries in the world. The U.S. just missed the cut. We rank 11th in the Organization for Economic Cooperation's recent report on life satisfaction in the developed world.
The survey measured everything from housing, income, jobs, education, environment, civic engagement, health, and work/life balance. Denmark ranks as the happiest country on earth, followed by Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Israel, Finland, Australia, Canada, and Sweden.
The website, 24/7 Wall Street, has crunched the numbers in this report to determine the strongest factors related to happiness. And it's no surprise that economic prosperity is the top of the list. Researchers say the overall regional economies of these top 10 countries appear to be doing exceptionally well. Government debt as a percentage of GDP is relatively low.
Some of these nations are even running a surplus, imagine that, hard to believe as our country runs trillion dollar plus annual deficits and is almost $16 trillion in debt. Employment, obviously, plays a key role in making people happy. Many of these nations have low unemployment rates.
After economic stability, physical and social well-being factor into happiness. That includes things like good health, longer life expectancy, strong, social support networks and having enough leisure time. And the survey suggests it's not all about money. The U.S. has the highest rate of disposable income in the developed world.
But we have a lower life expectancy, low job security, and relatively high long-term unemployment, so here is the question. Why does the U.S. rank as the 11th happiest country in the world? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog, go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I hope we're in the top ten next year, Jack.
CAFFERTY: We got to work on that. BLITZER: Yes. Let's become happier.
CAFFERTY: That's it.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Let's turn now to a major threat targeting a number of countries in the Middle East, including Iran. A computer virus so sophisticated and powerful it could usher in a whole new age in the cyber espionage battle out there, and it was uncovered by a Russian lab.
Our senior national security producer, Suzanne Kelly, is joining us. She's been working in the story for us. What does it do? What can we compare it to, Suzanne?
SUZANNE KELLY, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY PRODUCER: Wolf, remember the Stuxnet virus that his last summer? That was when the targeted the centrifuges and Iran with their nuclear plans and made them spin out of control, well, that virus actually rewrote code and cause those centrifuges to spin out of control, rendering them ineffective.
This is different, and that it's an intelligent gathering spy tool. Components of this malware has been around for years, but what makes it so sophisticated is that it rolls them all together and goes virtually undetected. Once on your computer, it can record conversations, instant message chats, take screen grabs, essentially putting the spy in the room with you, and you have no idea it's happening.
Now, researcher at internet security group, Semantic, says this program is so good because it literally covers its own tracks. They discovered a kill switch dubbed suicide that erases all traces of the malware from the infected computer. Now, how sophisticated is it? This is how the chief malware expert at the Russian lab that uncovered it described it to us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VITALLY KAMLYUK, CHIEF MALWARE EXPERT, KASPERSKY LAB: The attackers are smart. They are trying to hide this (ph). We tried to fool the command and control servers and infrastructure, but it turned out to be more than dozen of different servers located in many different countries, specifically (ph) far from each other, and it's why there are no traces now pointed to any particular country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: It's interesting, though, wolf, to know that the code was actually written in English.
BLITZER: Is that a clue as to who may be responsible for it. What do we know? What other clues are there?
KELLY: Yes. There are other clues, and no one has taken responsibility, but if you take a look at the targeted countries, you can kind of form your own assessment. Let's take a look, 189 incidents of this detected in Iran, 98 in Israel or the Palestinian territories. Thirty-two incidents detected in Sudan, 30 Syria, 18 Lebanon, ten Saudi Arabia, five in Egypt.
Now, who could do it? An Israeli official said this week his country has the expertise but didn't go as far as taking credit for it. Another Israeli paper come out today citing unnamed sources, pointing the finger at the U.S. Interesting because it's widely believed that Israel and the U.S. were behind Stuxnet. But there are others who could do this as well, Wolf, Germany, for example.
BLITZER: So, is there anything out there indicating the U.S. could be a target of the cyber warfare, if you will?
KELLY: Nothing yet, though, we do know that the Department of Homeland Security has issued a bulletin on this, but they won't say who they've sent it to, and they have classified it as for official use only. The only thing they have for the general public is a statement saying, DHS was notified with the malware and has been working with our federal partners to determine and analyze its potential impact on the U.S.
As for Iran, Wolf, well, they put out a statement this week saying that they have found a fix for this virus.
BLITZER: A fix for it, even as sophisticated as it might be.
KELLY: That's what they say.
BLITZER: All right. We'll see you. I assume we're going to be hearing a lot more about flame in the coming weeks.
KELLY: I think so, and others like it.
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Thanks very much. Cyber warfare, it's a huge, huge issue.
Meanwhile, new developments on two stories involving airplanes, including two planes colliding on the tarmac of one of America's busiest airports today. How could this happen?
And remember the Mt. St. Helen's eruption? Guess what? It could get much worse.
BLITZER: The latest weather advisory of Beryl just in, and Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that, also some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what is it? What's going on?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, some good news for the Carolinas. The storm system has now lost all of its tropical characteristics, but it hasn't stopped hammering the coast with heavy winds and rain. A flash flood watches are in effect and more than 1,000 people lost power today in Charleston, South Carolina which could see several inches of rainfall before it is all over. And a rare public expression of anger from the Vatican blasting a scandal rocking the Roman Catholic Church. A top official is calling the theft of private documents an immoral act of unprecedented gravity. This just days after the pope's butler was arrested for leaking the papers. The pope is also addressing the scandal for the first time calling reports entirely gratuitous.
And the former Rutgers University student who secretly recorded his male roommate's intimate encounter with another man appeared in court today after publicly apologizing for his actions. Dharun Ravi begins a 30-day jail sentence tomorrow for bias intimidation. Prosecutors argue the sentence should be longer, and they are appealing.
Ravi's roommate, Tyler Clementi, killed himself in 2010 shortly after learning of the recording.
And, new concerns among scientists over super volcanoes potentially with the power to destroy human life. According to the Press Association, a new study suggests they could blow sooner than previously thought. One is currently said to be simmering at Yellowstone National Park.
An eruption there would reportedly be 1,000 times more powerful than Mt. St. Helen's in 1980s. A scientist now says it could take thousands of years, rather than hundreds of thousands of years to erupt. Something to be compared about. Super volcano, Wolf.
BLITZER: Super volcano. I haven't heard about that. All right. I'm concerned. You convinced me. Thank you, Lisa.
Donald Trump once again on this day ratcheting up the birther controversy. So, why is Mitt Romney still joining forces with Donald Trump for another fundraiser? I'll ask one of the presumptive Republican nominee's biggest supporters. Stand by for that.
And the last word on the Romney campaign's embarrassing spelling error.
BLITZER: We're told that President Obama and Mitt Romney had a very cordial chat on the telephone today. It was a brief break from their campaign war of words and the renewed fireworks over the so- called birther controversy. Let's go to our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian. He's got the latest. Dan, what happened?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, first of all, there've been hard punches on both sides. President Obama has been going after Mitt Romney on Bain Capital, Mitt Romney going after the president on Solyndra. The main issue remains the economy, but that controversy continues about where the president was born.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LOTHIAN (voice-over): President Obama phoned former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, to congratulate him for clinching the GOP Republican nomination with a win in Texas, Tuesday.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was very collegial and friendly. It was not, of course, particularly long.
LOTHIAN: But that's likely the end of any pleasantries between the two candidates who last spoke when Mr. Obama was a senator. On a Colorado radio station Romney attacked the president's handling of the economy.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you've never spent a day in business you don't understand how government makes business have a difficult time.
LOTHIAN: But as the president signed bipartisan legislation, the authorizing the export/import bank, a move aimed at creating jobs, he used the event to put pressure on Congress to help fix a problem the White House still maintains they inherited.
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are steps that we can take right now to speed up this recovery, to help create jobs and to restore some of the financial security that families have lost.
LOTHIAN: While both sides promise a campaign focused on the issues, the president's birthplace is still a lingering part of this political season. Former Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra recently told a Tea Party candidate that Senator John McCain dropped the ball on pursuing this when he had the chance.
PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN SENATE CANDIDATE: We lost that debate -- we lost that debate in 2008 when our presidential nominee said I ain't talking about it (INAUDIBLE) I'm sorry.
LOTHIAN: And on the day he was helping Romney raise campaign cash, Donald Trump picked up where he left off when he was considering a run for president.
DONALD TRUMP, CNN'S THE SITUATION ROOM TUESDAY (via phone): There are many people that don't agree with that birth certificate. They don't think it's authentic.
LOTHIAN: White House spokesman for Jay Carney took a shot at Romney for associating with Trump then dismissed the so-called birther attack.
CARNEY: I think one man's attempt to draw attention to himself by engaging in, you know this kind of ridiculousness doesn't really change what most Americans care about.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So it's still (INAUDIBLE) distraction.
CARNEY: Well I think so. Do you not?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) I'm asking you.
CARNEY: Well, I think it is.
LOTHIAN: Mitt Romney says that he doesn't agree with everyone who is helpful in his campaign, but he was a bit more direct today in knocking down this issue than he was a few days ago, saying, quote, "I believe the president was born in the United States." Now White House aides and campaign aides say that this is not an issue that most Americans care about. They're instead focused on jobs, the economy and national security -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Thanks very much for that, Dan Lothian. Let's dig a little bit deeper right now on this race for the White House, the so-called birther controversy and other issues. We're joined now by a leading Romney supporter, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah. Congressman thanks very much for joining us.
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Thanks Wolf.
BLITZER: You know for some reason Donald Trump is not backing down. Those of us who have known him for a long time not all that surprised. Today he tweeted among other things, these words. I'll put it up on the screen.
In his own words, "Barack Obama was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. This statement was made in writing in the 1990s. Why does the press protect him? Is this another Watergate?" What do you make of what's going on here?
CHAFFETZ: Donald Trump is going to be Donald Trump. I was with Governor Romney all day yesterday in Colorado and then in Nevada. This issue never came up, didn't get a single question. I sat for hours when he met with local residents in both of those states, talking about jobs and the economy. Nobody asked any questions about this.
I was there with Governor Romney and Donald Trump for a good hour and a half. This isn't what they talked about. The heart of what they talked about is how to get jobs and the economy moving again, so I understand it's somewhat sensational when you're doing boring fund- raisers this is something more exciting to talk about, but really, truly Governor Romney is focused on jobs and the economy.
BLITZER: I totally understand that. I know he is. But here's the question, I assume you're totally with Governor Romney on this issue of where the president was born and you distanced yourself, you totally agree with Donald Trump.
CHAFFETZ: Well I'm going to go way out on the limb, Wolf, and I'm going to suggest that Barack Obama is probably going to be on the ballot, so my suggestion to Republicans as much as we want to defeat the president and get jobs and the economy moving forward, let's focus on distinguishing the differences about Obama's record and what Mitt Romney wants to do with jobs and the economy. That's where we need to focus our effort. I tend to think a week from now people will kind of forget about this. They're still going to be looking at their 401(ks) and they're going to be looking at their jobs. They're going to be looking at their mortgage payments and they're going to think how can we make this country better. That's the case that Mitt Romney is trying to make and I think that case is breaking through.
BLITZER: But do you think Donald Trump is dead wrong on this issue?
CHAFFETZ: I think the president is -- was born in the United States of America. I think when the state of Hawaii issued that statement when you can go back and look at newspaper accounts there from Hawaii, yes, I'm convinced. I think we moved on from that years ago. That issue came up years ago. I've moved on since then and I think Mitt Romney was crystal clear in saying that's not what he believes.
BLITZER: He certainly was and all the other earlier Republican candidates are on the same page as you and Mitt Romney. The Obama campaign though is saying this does raise questions about Mitt Romney when he continues to do these kinds of fund-raising events with Donald Trump because of the whole so-called birther issue. Donald Trump also tweeted today.
He said "what could be better than dinner with Mitt Romney and me?" You know there's another fund-raising dinner that people can do a sort of a lottery for. They can be invited to New York and have dinner with both Donald Trump and Mitt Romney. Do you have any problem at all, as the Obama campaign says you should, continuing to be on the same platform Mitt Romney and Donald Trump?
CHAFFETZ: This Donald Trump asking hard questions. Nobody has ever accused Donald Trump of -- in this particular case and this -- doing something illegal or unethical or anything like that. And I believe it was Jay Carney a couple of weeks ago when the president was asked something similar to that (INAUDIBLE) and the president's own spokesperson said that is not a standard by which we should be judging people, so I think Jay Carney was right a few weeks ago.
And look you can't hold the presidential candidate who's going to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from literally hundreds of thousands of people on both sides of the aisle -- not just Mitt Romney but Barack Obama, too. It's a little bit of a silly standard, but in these 24 you know hour news cycles, I can understand where maybe some of the silliness has to break through at least to fill some of the airways.
BLITZER: Unfortunately, my opinion, it got overshadowed -- it overshadowed yesterday what was truly an historic moment in our country --
BLITZER: -- because he went over the top more than 1,144 delegates for the Republican Convention. The first time in our history, a Mormon will be the nominee of a major presidential party. A lot of us remember when John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic to be the candidate of a major party, the Democrats, became president in 1961, four years ago, the first African-American. You're a Mormon. Tell us how you saw -- you know when you felt tangibly and you were with Mitt Romney yesterday that a Mormon would be the presidential nominee --
BLITZER: -- and maybe -- and maybe the next president of the United States.
CHAFFETZ: Well that's the thing. I hope to call Mr. Romney Mr. President some time soon. Look I'm proud of this country. We've broken a lot of barriers. I remember when Geraldine Ferraro became the vice presidential candidate. That was a historic moment. Joe Lieberman broke through some barrier and certainly Barack Obama. As much I disagree with him -- everything I was proud of the country that really maybe some of his background or where he came from wasn't the central focus. And look I don't want anybody to vote for Mitt Romney because he's Mormon. I don't want anybody to vote against Mitt Romney because he's Mormon.
I think we need to elect good honest decent people, good solid family, the Romney family is jus tone of the -- I admire them at every level, just good, quality people and as Article 6 in our Constitution says this should not be a litmus test based on a religious background. There's a good honest decent person in Mitt Romney and that's why I think so many people are going to be attracted to him, so yes a sense of pride I guess in many ways, but I think our country has grown up in many ways.
BLITZER: Yes, I think it's a source of pride for all of us that the country is able to move on in these directions and not pay attention to someone's religion or whatever they want to have a good person in the White House. Four years ago first African-American, first Catholic and now maybe, maybe a Mormon will be in the White House, and I know you're proud about that as everyone should be especially if you're Mormon. Thanks very much for that.
CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: We have new developments on two scary stories involving planes -- planes colliding on a tarmac. We're asking how could this happen, also investigators zeroing in on which parts fell off an Air Canada jet in flight and why.
BLITZER: Scary scene today at one of the country's busiest airports. Two airports colliding over Chicago's O'Hare tarmac. Our aviation and regulation correspondent Lizzie O'Leary has got the details. I guess the question is how could this happen?
LIZZIE O'LEARY, CNN AVIATION & REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: And that is the question that they're going to be looking into. What we know is that two planes, a smaller commuter jet from American Eagle and a large 747, an EVA (ph) cargo plane -- you see it there -- the EVA (ph) 747's wing clipped the tail of that smaller American Eagle plane as the American Eagle plane was coming into the gate. There were 18 passengers onboard and three crew members. Nobody was hurt, but those are two planes that were in very close proximity and not in places where they should have been --
BLITZER: EVA (ph) cargo, what is that?
O'LEARY: It's a cargo airline. They were moving freight from Chicago to Anchorage and now the question is whose error this was, whether it was pilot error, controller error, you have a number of different controllers on the ground and in towers directing a lot of traffic at O'Hare, the world's sixth busiest airport.
BLITZER: Yes. That's ugly, but fortunately nobody was hurt.
O'LEARY: No one was hurt.
BLITZER: It could have been obviously a lot worse. You're also getting new information on that Air Canada incident where, what, an engine had some problems and junk was dropping on cars and parking lots?
O'LEARY: Parts of the engine were falling off and now we know that that engine is being sent to Europe to be analyzed to figure out exactly what went wrong.
O'LEARY (voice-over): Here are the first pictures of the damage to the plane's engine with charred metal visible from the back. Turbine blades appear ragged and burned. Investigators believe this is where the debris came from.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The debris has been identified as coming out of the turbine section of the engine. Basically, what it's indicating to us is we did have a failure in the back end of that engine.
O'LEARY: The General Electric engine's pristine front makes it clear that nothing was sucked into it.
DON ENNS, CANADA'S TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: Something happened inside the engine and we'll have to dismantle and have a look to figure out what that is.
O'LEARY: Shortly after takeoff from Toronto's Pearson Airport (ph), the falling debris shattered car windshields. Witnesses told police they saw smoke coming from the right engine on this plane seen here in a photo from last year.
TOWER: And apparently Peel police just found a part of an engine cowling at 410 and Courtney Park, just so you're aware of that.
PILOT: OK. Thank you.
O'LEARY: Passengers say they heard a noise. ANDREW BURNSTEIN, PASSENGER: It was almost like a bump, a loud thump to the one side of the plane. The captain came on and said what you heard was a problem with the engine. We had to turn off the engine and we were able to fly on only one engine.
MARTIN HOLMAN, PASSENGER: I was amazed that looking around when it powered down no one seemed to bat an eye. No one seemed to think anything was odd.
O'LEARY: The plane looped back around flying over Lake Ontario to dump fuel before landing safely back in Toronto. Andrew Burnstein shot this video of the damaged engine as the plane landed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This looks to me like a fan blade.
O'LEARY: We asked Robert Francis who investigated the TWA 800 and ValuJet crashes what could have gone wrong here.
(on camera): A fan blade coming loose or something overhearing in that engine, how serious is that?
ROBERT FRANCIS, FORMER NTSB VICE CHAIRMAN: I guess it depends on what you mean by serious. It's serious and it's very expensive to replace an engine, but in terms of safety of passengers or even people on the ground it is pretty remote in terms of something really happening.
O'LEARY: Now there was a similar incident with a similar plane, a different model of a 777 that happened in 2010, the same kind of engine dropped debris on cars in Portugal. The same time they were able to turn this plane around, make the same kind of landing. Now it's important to note, Wolf, there were a lot of these planes flying. It is a workhorse (ph) plane and a workhorse (ph) engine. About 1,400 of these engines are in use. Bob Francis making the point that this happens all the time, this is a very small chance that this happened, but we found six incident reports of something similar.
BLITZER: All right. I hope they fix it and it doesn't happen again. I suspect it will at some point. Lizzie, thank you.
Mitt Romney getting some grief for an embarrassing misspelling involving the very country he wants to be president of.
BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is why does the United States rank as the 11th happiest country in the world? Denmark is the happiest of all.
C. writes "it probably has something to do with the fact that we are seeing the signs of America's decline everywhere. And there is something fundamentally depressing about seeing the great enterprise collapsing slowly under its own weight."
Mark in Oklahoma writes "simple, Jack. We have lots of money in this country and nothing we can buy will bring us real happiness. Many of us lead very empty lives. Our lives are fast-paced. Our children are spoiled and disrespectful. We have jobs that for the most part are very unsatisfying and we are eating ourselves into triple X large clothing every day. Maybe I am missing something but what is it we have to be so happy about?"
Neil writes "Jack all the countries in the top 10 are minuscule economies in comparison with the United States. They have far less social diversity, longer history and are rarely directly involved in modern conflicts. The U.S. is simply too large and diverse to make the top 10, so consequently number 11 is a great achievement."
Chris in Florida writes "I'm surprised the U.S. is not 111th. Americanism is like a social disease these days. We have spineless politicians, crushing debt, social decay, moral narcosis, waning educational systems and no plans to provide for the younger generation who is working toward a future which is indeed very bleak."
Pete in Florida writes "it means many of us aren't appreciative, thankful or grateful for all that we have. That we have bought into the idea that too much is never enough and that the politicians and their media lap dogs have succeeded in dividing us."
And Stephen writes from Canada on Facebook "11th place isn't bad. Maybe if you had proper health care and education you would be in the top 10 like us." If you want to read more about this go to the blog CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: -- in the top 10. I am happy. I'm happy.
CAFFERTY: OK. I know you are.
BLITZER: Thanks Jack. Thank you.
Queen Elizabeth is happy. She has enjoyed quite a ride during her six decades on the throne. And she will enjoy quite a ride in Britain this weekend during the Diamond Jubilee celebration of her reign. Here is CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster.
MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The queen's state limousine is one of two made for her by Bentley and this is how she is getting to St. Paul's Cathedral for her Thanksgiving service.
ALEXANDER GARTY, ROYAL MEWS TRANSPORT MANAGER: The cloth seats obviously don't get hot, don't get cold. They are non-slip. It is a reasonably neutral color. It doesn't clash with anything (INAUDIBLE) inside is wearing.
FOSTER: On her return to Buckingham Palace, the queen will take a more traditional form of transport.
FOSTER (on camera): And this is the carriage that's going to head up the procession. It's the 1902 state Landoor (ph). It's the queen's favorite carriage. And you may recognize it from a certain royal wedding last year.
MARK HARGREAVES, HEAD COACHMAN: The 1902 doesn't come out very often. We use a lot of the other carriages have a regular role in most events. So it is very nice to have a unique occasion where we can bring the 1902 out.
FOSTER: What's the plan if the horse bolts?
HARGREAVES: The plan is that the horse doesn't bolt.
FOSTER (voice-over): As nice as the 1902 is, it is not much use in the rain. So there is a backup plan for bad weather. This is the Australian state coach that will be brought in if there is a need to keep the queen dry.
Max Foster, CNN, Buckingham Palace, London.
BLITZER: Nice carriage. Stay with CNN by the way to experience the celebrations marking 60 years of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Join Piers Morgan and Brooke Baldwin, they will be live from London Sunday beginning 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Mitt Romney's campaign misspells the word America. Stuff happens. Jeanne Moos up next with the embarrassing gaffe going viral.
BLITZER: Mitt Romney wants to be president of the United States of America but today the word America is causing him a little bit of grief. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The candidate may love singing about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America --
MOOS: But that didn't stop his campaign from misspelling it.
(on camera): How would you pronounce this word?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amercia?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amercia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amercia. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amercia?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. Who is the genius?
MOOS (voice-over): It was whoever did this campaign app. Supporters are supposed to download a better America and put photos of themselves in the frame but instead there was the apparent typo that no one caught, which, of course, spawned t-shirts and then smart alecs (ph) began putting all kinds of things in the background from an etch- a-sketch to a dictionary to a photo of school misspelled at a school crossing. One guy reviewed the campaign app as being hours of fun.
(on camera): A do-it-yourself political satire kit he called it.
(voice-over): Another critic juxtaposed the mistake with a "respect our country speak English" photo. Not since vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle encouraged a kid to put an "e" at the end of potato --
MOOS: -- has a political spelling mistake been so much f-u-n. And though many pronounced the typo --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amercia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amercia.
MOOS: -- we prefer Amercia.
(on camera): Amercia, it's a sound you can immerse yourself in.
(voice-over): It probably sounds like a beautiful country to the person who tweeted "if Mitt Romney wins, I'm moving to Amercia." As for Romney himself --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) probably see his birth certificate to make sure he is not from Amercia.
MOOS: Or maybe it sounds more like a disease to the person who tweeted "if you or somebody you love is suffering from Amercia" leading perhaps to inertia. We can almost understand how someone could spell yield wrong or put an extra "e" in a tattoo that's supposed to include the word "else".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look it up in the dictionary there ain't even a word such as elese (ph).
MOOS: And no wonder kids have trouble spelling words like --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melatologist (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Melatologist (ph).
MOOS: But come on, this is the word America.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: America the beautiful --
MOOS: Also known as "Amercia teh buetiflu".
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe he should run for president there.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
ROMNEY: America --
MOOS: New York.
BLITZER: Spell check, we all need spell check. That was very funny.
So far, by the way, the Romney campaign hasn't commented beyond saying the mistake has been fixed.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.