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JOHN KING, USA

Interview With Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell; Who Is Spilling U.S. intelligence Secrets?

Aired June 7, 2012 - 18:00   ET

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


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us. I'm Jessica Yellin. John King is off.

Tonight: the urgent search to find and stop whoever is leaking classified information about U.S. drone attacks and more. One lawmaker says it is getting to the point where other nations won't trust the U.S. to keep a secret.

YELLIN: Also, an apology from of all people former President Bill Clinton. Hear his explanation about why he regrets calling for extending all of the Bush era tax cuts temporarily.

And a former head of the Democratic Party says, we are a nation of wusses. We will get Ed Rendell to explain.

We begin with a developing story into leaked intelligence that congressional officials say is putting American lives at risk. The top Republicans and Democrats on the House Senate Intelligence Committee -- House and Senate Intelligence Committees say they will find and plug what one calls a cascade of national security leaks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: This is not finger- pointing at anybody. What we're trying to do is say we have a problem and we want to stop that problem.

When people say they don't want to work with the United States because they can't trust us to keep a secret, that's serious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Senator John McCain accuses members of the Obama administration of leaking secrets to make the president look good in an election year. Well, the White House flatly denies it.

Our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, asked the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee whether he thinks those leaks were politically motivated.

Here is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: We have been through this before in the Bush administration. Wherever the responsibility falls out, that's where it's going to be, and if it's in the administration, fine. If it's not in the administration, fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Dana Bash joins us now.

Hi, Dana.

You have been all over this story today. In your view, so, what does this big show of bipartisanship by members of the Intelligence Committees on the Hill really tell us about the severity of the leaks?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It tells me that they clearly seem to be pretty severe.

These four members, it's not just that they're coming together in a bipartisan way. It is the -- it's of like the old E.F. Hutton. Maybe I am dating myself. When they talk, especially all together, people listen, or at least they should, because these are the members who have the most access, Jessica, on Capitol Hill to intelligence information.

So, they are the people who would know if the leaks really have done damage to our national security. And as you heard from just a couple of them there, they do believe that they have done damage to national security in general, to the relationship the U.S. has with allies and being able to share information.

And also, on a human level, it has threatened people's lives. The cascade of leaks just quickly that we are talking about here are the fact that the Associated Press reported that there was a thwarted bomb attack. The media knew about that before people on Capitol Hill, a couple of "New York Times" reports about the president's hit list when it comes to his drone attacks and others.

Now, they say that they are working on legislation to try to stop leaks like this in the future. But, really, the issue is the here and the now and whether and how the leaks are going to be investigated.

YELLIN: Three big leaks in all in recent weeks. Now, I know these members agree that it is a problem. But do they agree how the problem should be investigated?

BASH: Not really.

On the Republican side, particularly in the House, the House Intelligence chairman, Mike Rogers, he believes that there should be an independent counsel or an independent investigator to sort of look at all of this globally.

The Senate Democratic chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, she said she is not sure because she thinks that it would simply take too long. She said that could take years. We don't have years. But the FBI is clearly investigating now. There was a flurry of activity here on Capitol Hill about this, not just the press conference, but there was a briefing from the director of national intelligence and the FBI director.

Dianne Feinstein came out and told our Ted Barrett that the U.S. attorney in D.C. is investigating at least one of these cases. So, it is going on. But there is a debate about whether or not it needs to be done in a more aggressive way outside the -- and in a more independent way outside the FBI.

YELLIN: I have a feeling we are going to hear a lot more about this one. Thanks so much, Dana.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Thanks, Jess.

YELLIN: And to continue along these lines, we are joined now for more perspective by CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend. As you probably know by now, she is a member of the external advisory committees for the CIA and Homeland Security Department. She also served as President George W. Bush's homeland security adviser.

Hi, Fran.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Jessica.

YELLIN: So, I am going to ask you something a little out of the box. I know this is unusual. But, first, I want to ask you about the content of some of these stories. On the drone story and the president's so-called kill list, should the president of the United States actually have -- should he have the power to authorize drone kills with only a small number of congressional leaders getting briefed after the fact? Is that a dangerous step?

TOWNSEND: Well, look, it is understandable -- and the administration -- that people are concerned.

And the administration waited a very long time. John Brennan went in the Woodrow Wilson Center and then talked about the drone program. But it was years after they had been asked again and again about the criteria was and what the process was. And so people are understandably concerned about the president having that authority.

What I find odd is that you would have the president of the United States personally, at least according to this "New York Times" article, actually approving the targets. After all, this is the sort of thing that normally happens at the head of agency who has the operational authority to make those decisions.

So I think this is one where, yes, he has got -- he technically has the legal authority, but what the process is and how we explain this to the American people is actually quite important, given that this technique has been used against American citizens.

YELLIN: And I would point out we wouldn't even be able to have this conversation if there had not been a leak, if there had not been a story on this. So... TOWNSEND: Right.

YELLIN: OK.

Now, yesterday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said he didn't think it was necessary to appoint a special prosecutor to find out who is leaking. What do you think? Is a special prosecutor appropriate in this case?

TOWNSEND: You know, Jessica, I served in both the Clinton and the Bush administrations. And every time I served in the executive branch, I can't remember a time when the executive branch thought a special prosecutor was a good idea.

Look, that means the executive branch cedes authority to an independent person who then has subpoena power, the ability to take facts and cases before the grand jury, and very little oversight, none from the executive branch and only some from Congress.

And so executive branches of both parties don't like special prosecutors when they are in power. Look, what you need a special prosecutor for is if you believe that the leak came from inside the executive branch, then it is difficult to ask them to investigate themselves.

And so I don't think we have enough facts right now to know whether or not a special prosecutor is warranted here. But I will tell you, it is true what Senator Dianne Feinstein said. They tend to have too broad mandates that take them too long and they cost a lot of money before you get to any result. And so if urgency is the order of the day, then this may not be the best way to proceed.

YELLIN: All right. Fran Townsend with invaluable perspective as always, thanks so much.

TOWNSEND: Thanks, Jessica.

YELLIN: And in a few minutes, we will talk to one of the lawmakers who attended today's closed-door meetings, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers.

Well, today, former President Bill Clinton explained why he said the Bush era tax cuts should be temporarily extended.

Listen carefully to what he told Wolf Blitzer earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I'm very sorry about what happened yesterday. It was what -- I thought something had to be done on the fiscal cliff before the election.

Apparently, nothing has to be done until the 1st of the year. So, I think he should just stick with his position.

(END VIDEO CLIP) YELLIN: Hmm. OK.

So, for some perspective, let's talk to somebody who knows President Clinton, really, really well, Democratic strategist and former counselor to the president Paul Begala.

Hi, Paul. OK.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Jessica, how are you?

YELLIN: I am well. Good to see you.

I think you're in Chicago there, where CGI, the president's charity event is happening, yes?

BEGALA: At the Clinton Global Initiative. I will probably be seeing him pretty soon, so I bet you I am not going to say anything mean about him.

(CROSSTALK)

YELLIN: OK.

So, Paul, how is it that President Clinton, who obsessively follows the economy, has a steel trap memory, is confused about when the tax breaks are going to expire?

BEGALA: Because he is no longer the president. He is actually busy, for example, with his foundation here at the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago helping to save millions of people's lives in Africa, helping to work with development, helping to fight childhood obesity.

And so he doesn't follow the deadline in the latest law for the latest expiration or the latest tax changes. And so he just got it wrong by a couple of weeks. I thought he cleaned it up very well. I just don't think -- I didn't think it was a big deal when he said it the other day. I don't think it is a big deal today.

YELLIN: OK.

It also sounded maybe like he was falling on his sword. This is a man who says he spends two hours every day dedicated to studying the economy. Should we expect the former president to issue an apology every time he goes off-message this year?

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: Look, I think he is as transparent as any politician I have ever known, right?

When he thinks something, he says it. And this time, he said he got the facts wrong. So he came forward and talked to Wolf and, said, look, I got the facts wrong.

The big thing is this. President Clinton strongly believes that we have got to get our fiscal house in order, and part of that has to be new revenue and that new revenue should come from the people who have benefited the most from those tax breaks. In other words, he wants to repeal those tax breaks for the upper-income Americans, those who make more than a quarter of a million dollars a year.

The rest of us, he doesn't want to repeal the tax cuts for. That the same position as President Obama. He is strongly supporting President Obama. And so I think they're very much on the same team here.

YELLIN: OK. Politico -- this is the final question -- Politico and Wall Street Journal both had pieces out today about frustrations that some Clinton aides are having with the former president going off-message. And that piece implied that his age could be a factor. Do you buy that?

BEGALA: No, no.

I talked to one of the writers for that thing and kind of -- I guess I can't use the language that I used. But, no, that's not the case at all. That's just -- it is simply a situation where he got this date wrong, instead of that date.

But the fundamental fiscal policy that he believes in is very much where President Obama is. I am not at all worried about President Clinton that way.

YELLIN: OK. I just think we are not going to see the president cleaning up every single time he speaks his mind. But we will see, a bunch of months between now and November.

Paul, thanks so much for coming on.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: But here is the deal. They do want him out there, believe me. Ask any politician in America or the world, do you want Bill Clinton to come campaign for you, they will say, yes. They will say, is that a trick question, Jessica? Of course I do.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: And the Obama people are wise to use him.

And perhaps if some other Democrats in previous elections had used him, maybe they would have become president too.

YELLIN: That's because he is good on the stump, huh? Yes.

BEGALA: He is the best.

YELLIN: All right, Paul Begala, thanks so much for your time, as always.

BEGALA: Thanks, Jess.

YELLIN: And still to come: the always colorful former head of the Democratic Party who thinks we are a nation of wusses.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Ed Rendell has a resume any Democrat would covet: former two-term governor of Pennsylvania, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Clinton confidant.

He's now the author of "A Nation of Wusses." And it's an opportunity for Governor Rendell to share some of his political advice, or, as one of his friends put it, Ed Rendell unplugged.

He joins me here in Washington.

Governor, good to see you.

(LAUGHTER)

ED RENDELL (D), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: Jess, you forgot two terms as mayor, my favorite job.

YELLIN: Oh, that's true. We can't...

RENDELL: And...

YELLIN: Yes?

RENDELL: And unplugged? I thought I was always unplugged.

YELLIN: You are pretty much unplugged all the time.

(LAUGHTER)

YELLIN: It's a pleasure to have you here.

Let's start by playing something you said this morning that made some news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THIS MORNING":)

RENDELL: I think she would have come in with a lot more executive experience.

I think the president was hurt by being a legislator only. For example, health care and the stimulus, two bills that I think did good things for the American people, too much of it was left up to the Congress.

He sort of said, here is my concept. You guys flesh it out.

I think Hillary Clinton would have sent them a bill and said, here's what I want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: Now, you were talking obviously about Hillary Clinton vs. Obama. It's not just experience. It's also something that you have said Bill Clinton had a lot of, and that's the personal touch. He remembers people's birthdays. He knows how to be a real politician. It's something you do.

Is that something that President Obama sort of lacks? And has that been a fatal flaw for him in the presidency?

RENDELL: No, I don't think he lacks it.

If you have spent any time with Barack Obama, you know he's a funny guy. He's a good guy. He knows sports. He's a good guy to B.S. with. He's all of those things.

I don't think the people who set his schedule use him wisely enough. He has an incredible amount of charm. He tells funny stories. I wish we had time to tell you some of the funny stories I have heard him tell. He's a very human, good guy. But they don't use that asset.

YELLIN: Then why do they complain on Capitol Hill that he doesn't reach out to them enough?

RENDELL: Because I don't think the staff lets him interact enough.

You know, he is a good guy in terms of, he knows sports. He knows a good lot of stuff about -- he knows movies. He knows all that stuff. He's a good guy to have fun with.

YELLIN: Your book is called "A Nation of Wusses." Do you think the president made a mistake coming into Washington promising to create bipartisanship, and he should have come to town expecting to fight with the Republicans?

RENDELL: No, I think bipartisanship is an extraordinarily important goal, Jessica.

You see the results of not having it. We're going to hell in a handbasket. We're paralyzed in Washington. And we're not addressing any of our nation's problems. So I think the president was right to strive for it, and I don't think the Republicans responded. I think -- when was it that Mitch McConnell said, our first priority is to make him a one-term president? Wasn't that in the first year?

YELLIN: The end of 2010, right after health care, in the middle of health care.

RENDELL: Right in the middle -- in the first year.

Well, that's ridiculous. That was one of the most ludicrous statements I have ever heard.

Your first priority, Senator McConnell, is to try to make government work. YELLIN: Do you -- you said today that Obama, the president, was going to be competitive. But you wouldn't say that he was going to win. Why?

RENDELL: Because we don't know he's going to win.

And I have this strange habit of trying to tell the truth when you ask me a question. I'm not sure he's going to win. He should win. He has got the best plans for turning the economy around. And I think he's done a good job. He inherited the worst set of problems of any president in my lifetime, and he's done a good job advancing the ball, not as far as any of us would like, including himself.

He's done a good job, and his plans to invest in our infrastructure to create jobs, to invest in research and development, to improve education, those are the things this country needs for our children's children.

YELLIN: Do you think he's running the right campaign for the moment?

RENDELL: I would shift to stressing the future.

He's got great plans for the future. His opponent, in my judgment, doesn't. That's what I would concentrate on, because I think the public...

YELLIN: You think it's too negative or...

RENDELL: Well, I think the public is not interested...

YELLIN: It's too...

(CROSSTALK)

RENDELL: ... in Romney's past or -- they're not even interested -- two-thirds of the people in one of the recent polls said Obama inherited those problems.

I think they're interested in, how do we get out of the morass we're in? And that's what I would concentrate -- if I was Barack Obama's campaign manager, I would say, let's talk about the future. Let's talk about what we're going to do, how we get out of this, what are the best plans to create jobs, to bring back some fundamental fairness, to end -- not end, but to reduce income quality?

YELLIN: I want to read you something you were quoted as saying back in 2005 at a basketball game you were attending with then Governor Mitt Romney.

You said -- quote -- "This will be the kiss of death, but if I had to choose the next Republican president, if there's going to be one, it would be Governor Romney."

What about Governor Romney made you think that he had the potential to be president? RENDELL: Well, I'm talking about as compared to the Republican field.

Well, let's start off with the fact that he's sane.

(LAUGHTER)

YELLIN: This was 2005.

RENDELL: Oh, but I knew who the Republican field was going to be.

Let's start off with the fact that he's sane. Let's start off with the fact that health care in Massachusetts -- he runs away from it, he is shy, doesn't talk about it, but that was a significant achievement.

Jessica, 98 percent of Massachusettsans are covered by health care. It's the only place in the union where we're the same as most of the developed nations of the world. There's nobody else that doesn't cover their citizens with health care.

YELLIN: Why do you think the Democratic super PACs have not been able to -- the Democrat -- Obama's super PAC has not been able to raise the money that the Republicans have?

RENDELL: Because we don't have as many rich people. We don't have corporations. We don't have people who are willing to -- who have the ability -- I mean, we have some. But we have about -- my guess is -- a fourth of the rich people and the rich corporations that the Republicans have.

YELLIN: Nothing they could do to change that?

RENDELL: Nothing they can do to change it.

But, remember, we fix -- fixate -- I am now part of we in my role for NBC. But we fixate on money. The rule in money is, you don't have to spend the most. You have to have enough to get your message across. Rick Santorum spent $28 million on his reelection for Senate in 2006. Bob Casey spent $17 million. Bob Casey won by 17 points.

YELLIN: OK.

I have one last question for you. You wrote in your book that the Obama campaign in 2008 never got a sense of humor. Do you think this White House takes itself too seriously?

RENDELL: Yes, I do.

(LAUGHTER)

RENDELL: I do. I have got to say that.

And I love David Axelrod and I love Valerie, but they're too serious all the time. Like, if you have the time, a real quick story. I'm on TV to -- I'm on CNN. The newscaster says to me, have the Obama folks looked at you for vice president? I said, no, they haven't, but they shouldn't. I'm too much of a free spirit.

And then, of course, I couldn't resist. I -- this was at the time when the president -- Senator Obama wasn't wearing a flag pin. I said, we would be a balanced ticket. I wear a flag pin, and he doesn't.

I got a call from David Axelrod a minute after the show ended, saying, in a stentorian voice, no one in Chicago thinks that was a bit funny.

(LAUGHTER)

RENDELL: So I said to him, I said, David -- I tell this story in the book -- I said, David, you guys got to get a sense of humor, or you won't make it until November.

YELLIN: They did, though.

RENDELL: Well, I said in the book, they never got a sense of humor, but they made it to November just fine.

YELLIN: But let's -- you think maybe that's -- well, if it matters this year?

RENDELL: Yes. But you...

(CROSSTALK)

YELLIN: Great.

RENDELL: You got to laugh at yourself.

YELLIN: You got to laugh. You got to laugh.

RENDELL: You got to laugh at yourself.

YELLIN: The only politician who uses the word stentorian on air.

(LAUGHTER)

RENDELL: There you go.

YELLIN: Governor, thanks for being with us.

RENDELL: No wuss.

YELLIN: No wusses. And here's the book. Do we do this here?

RENDELL: Yes.

YELLIN: Thanks for being with us. All right.

And the presidential campaign has just wrapped up an important milestone. Mitt Romney and the Republicans beat President Obama and Democrats at fund-raising last month. It wasn't even close.

But next: a new way to get your hands on an iPhone without making a long-term commitment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

YELLIN: And in a minute, we will be joined by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers. We will ask if he thinks we're in imminent danger as a result of these intelligence leaks.

We will also get an update on the U.S. defense secretary's visit to a war zone and his stern warning to a country that is supposed to be a U.S. ally.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: This half hour, someone is spilling our top intelligence secrets. I'll ask the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee what's being done to plug the leak.

A rally for the victims of Syria's latest massacre. We'll see the faces of the youngest victims.

Plus, Mitt Romney supporters are shelling out big money for their man. For the first time this election season, he pulled in more donations than President Obama. We'll hash out what it means for the race.

Let's get back to tonight's top story. Today leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees questioned the head of the FBI and the director of national intelligence about what lawmaker calls a "cascade of leaks" about national security.

We've seen three glaring examples in just the past month. On May 7, word leaked that a U.S. double agent helped foil an airline bomb plot that originated in Yemen and was similar to 2009's underwear bomb.

On May 29, "The New York Times" revealed President Obama personally oversees a "kill list" for expanded drone attacks.

And last Friday, "The Times" published a detailed account of cyber-attacks on Iran's nuclear program.

Michigan Republican Mike Rogers is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and joins us now. Mr. Chairman, thanks for being with us. First, are we in imminent danger as a result of these leaks?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I wouldn't say imminent danger, Jessica, but it does do some very serious harm to the way we conduct business in the intelligence community, No. 1. Our allies are now nervous about -- about cooperating with the United States in matters overseas, in sensitive intelligence matters overseas.

And people that we asked to help us overseas and put their own lives in danger, we do know that this already had an impact on those people. Some have said thanks but no thanks. And some just won't come forward.

So we have got to put a stop to what is incredibly dangerous for our national security postures going forward.

YELLIN: Now, I know you're just investigating, but the White House flatly denies they leaked anything for political purposes. Your Republican colleague, John McCain, has already said he believes these leaks are from the White House and are politically motivated. Is Senator McCain wrong?

ROGERS: Well, listen, I think those -- those political jabs back and forth are what they're going to be. My job, I believe, is to look at what's the next step? So I did a preliminary review and said is there enough information here to go to an investigation? And it's very clear to me that there are some, at least red flags that we need to pay attention to.

Now the real question is I think it needs to be fair. This shouldn't be a partisan investigation. It has to be complete, meaning that whoever is doing this investigation has to have full access, and that would be Department of Defense, the CIA, to the National Security Council, to the attorney general's office. And so it takes a unique set of circumstances for that to happen, and then we need to let this investigation go where it goes. And it should be done in a nonpartisan way.

So that's where I think the best -- we're going to best serve solving this problem, if we make it nonpartisan and we go after what is a criminal activity that has put at risk the lives of individuals and our ability to get information to protect the United States.

YELLIN: Now you just said the National Security Council would be among the areas you would investigate. David Axelrod, the president's chief campaign strategist, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer -- Blitzer just moments ago, quote, "We would welcome anybody to look at anything."

So just to underscore what you said, you do expect your investigation to reach into the White House?

ROGERS: I was just giving a series of all of the folks who've had access to the information. I think we need to be careful about making any accusations at this point about any of the departments. I'm just talking about it has to go where people had access to the information and may have been in a position to push that information to the press along the way.

YELLIN: Do -- do you...

ROGERS: It could be any one of those organizations.

YELLIN: Do you expect your investigation to reach into the White House?

ROGERS: You know, I just don't think it's probably right for me to speculate on that at this point. I think the investigation should go where it goes.

YELLIN: How can you be certain that these leaks did not come from where you are on Capitol Hill?

ROGERS: Well, our investigation originally started with an -- a program that wasn't even briefed, in contract to the -- in contrast to the U.S. law, on this particular issue. So that's one good clue for us.

But if there are other aspects of this on other programs, then absolutely. That investigation should go there, as well. We're fairly confident folks in the House and the Senate, including the intelligence folks that we talked to in the preliminary review, that's not the case. But if it is, and they find something that takes it this way, so be it. That's where it should go.

This is so sensitive and so damaging to our relationships overseas, international (UNINTELLIGIBLE), first of all, it raises to the level of a serious crime. And it is really harming the United States national security. We all ought to be outraged at this.

And that's why I -- I hope we can put this in a place where we can have that kind of access with no influence on that particular investigation so that you don't have people pushing back or pulling it forward for any political reason.

YELLIN: All right. Chairman Rogers, thank you for your time.

ROGERS: Thanks, Jessica.

YELLIN: And we will continue to follow your work on this.

ROGERS: Thank you.

YELLIN: All right.

The day after a brutal massacre in Syria, the man who came up with the peace plan admits it's not working. United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan says his six-point plan has not been implemented, and if something doesn't change, an all-out civil war could be next.

Senator John McCain thinks the White House should do more about it. He wants to give military support to the Syrian rebels.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: How many more have to die? How many more young women have to be raped? How many young -- more young Syrians are going to be tortured and killed? How many more? How many more before we will act?

(END VIDEO CLIP) YELLIN: One in three Americans think we do have a responsibility to act. That's according to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll. But that support is growing, up eight points since February. And stories like this could be the reason why. U.N. monitors were shot at as they tried to get to the scene of a massacre where 78 people died, half of them women and children.

We have video of those victims. We need to warn you that what you're about to see is very difficult to watch. Here's CNN's Arwa Damon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jessica, the images that have emerged on YouTube are incredibly difficult to watch, and I know we say that time and time again when it comes to Syria, but these most certainly are not things that one would want children to see.

It is the bodies of children that have been killed in this alleged massacre. Some of them are wrapped in blankets, others in shrouds, shrouded with the white burial cloth. Some of their tiny bodies are marked with their names. There is one brother lying next to his sister, and then their two brothers are next to them. There are four children from one family. Their mother and their uncle allegedly killed in the massacre, as well, according to the voice on this video.

And then there are the images that we are not showing our viewers, and they are of charred bodies. One of them appears to be a mother cradling her two children.

Opposition activists say that U.N. monitors were struggling all morning to try to reach the scene of this attack. And then we've heard from the head of the U.N. monitoring mission, who said that teams were either turned away or stopped at checkpoints and then, of course, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon briefly the General Assembly, saying that one of the teams had even been shot at on the road.

Now, the Syrian government is saying that this massacre was, in fact, carried out by terrorist gangs. It says that it sent government forces in, the military in, launching a raid to target this terrorist (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They're saying that it was, in fact, a successful operation.

But activists are increasingly saying that Syria is barreling on this course towards a civil war, and that is the warning that we also heard echoed by Kofi Annan as he was briefing the General Assembly, as well.

But what is of grave concern at this point in time, Jessica, is that there is no viable alternative plan for peace for Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: CNN's Arwa Damon. And the U.S. is losing patience now with Pakistan, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who made an unannounced trip to the region. He's pressuring the country to do more to root out terrorists to attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan and head across the border to find a safe haven.

Here's CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When an already rocky relationship goes bad, it degenerates into ultimatums.

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are reaching the limits of our patience.

LAWRENCE: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Pakistan to crack down on militants hiding in its tribal areas.

PANETTA: It is extremely important that Pakistan take action to prevent this kind of safe haven.

LAWRENCE: And he ridiculed them for being in the dark on the bin Laden raid.

PANETTA: They didn't know about our operation. That was the whole idea.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No one wants to be laughed at, especially if you're in a bad relationship.

LAWRENCE: CNN's Reza Sayah spoke with a Pakistani military source about Panetta's comments.

SAYAH: He told me this is Washington's way of piling on pressure on Pakistan. Pakistan's position has long been the U.S. likes to blame Pakistan to shift focus away from the failures in Afghanistan.

LAWRENCE: Violence is rising in Eastern Afghanistan, for which the U.S. blames the Haqqani network, based just over the border in Pakistan. U.S. officials are under pressure to show results before American troops start leaving.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, U.S. ARMY: We've got to get RC East and the Haqqani influence reduced in order to meet our timelines for the transition that we're moving toward in -- at the end of '14.

LAWRENCE: Cooperation took a hit in November when NATO troops unintentionally killed more than 20 Pakistani soldiers near the border. Pakistan retaliated. It closed its border crossing to NATO trucks bringing supplies to Afghanistan.

The U.S. used to pay Pakistan $250 per truck, but the Pakistanis have been asking for $5,000, which American officials call price gouging.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: A Pentagon source tells me basically that there have been negotiations with the Pakistanis over that crisis recently as this week. He says the Pentagon sort of resigned to the fact that they will have to pay more than that original 250 bucks, but they're not going anywhere near the five grand that the Pakistanis have asked -- Jessica.

YELLIN: All right, Chris. Thanks so much. Chris Lawrence from the Pentagon.

And coming up, former president, Bill Clinton, said he's sorry for his off-message remarks on extending the Bush tax cuts. But is it enough to help President Obama recover from his very bad week?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Some surprising numbers out today. For the first time this election season, the fundraiser in chief did not pull in as much money as his opponent.

Mitt Romney and the RNC raised a cool $77 million in May, almost $17 million more than President Obama and the DNC. That has to be a disturbing figure for candidate Obama, who dominated the fight for funds in the 2008 election. He outraised Senator McCain back then by more than $500 million.

All right. Joining me now to talk about the state of the race, "The New Yorker's" Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza; Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor Maria Cardona; and former Bush speech writer and CNN contributor, David Frum.

Hi, guys.

DAVID FRUM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: How are you doing?

YELLIN: So this has been a pretty bad week for President Obama, not only the bad fundraising numbers. There is also the bad jobs numbers at the end of last week, the loss of the Wisconsin recall. Bill Clinton went off message. What else can I think of?

Is this just media hysteria? We like to create these story lines, or does this actually matter, Ryan?

RYAN LIZZA, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORKER": The worst thing -- worst thing that happened this week are the jobs numbers. There's no doubt about that. All the rest is just an excuse to sort of glom on to what the real -- you know, the real bad news is for the president. If the recovery does not accelerate in the next few months, he's in danger of losing re-election. So I think that's the most important thing.

On the plus side, he killed the No. 2 in al Qaeda, which is sort of like...

YELLIN: You are the only one talking about it. (CROSSTALK)

LIZZA: Yes. Wisconsin, the Wisconsin recall, that's bad for Democrats. The fundraising numbers, I think you have to see a few months' worth of fundraising numbers. Because this is the first month where Romney could go back to the well on some of those folks that wrote him checks during the primaries.

YELLIN: Maria, one of the points that was -- that came up is that Romney was able to raise money from some small donors. Only 15 percent of his donations are from small donors. But that's something. Is that worrisome to Democrats?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think what is worrisome is certainly -- and I'll go back to what Ryan said. I think that the jobs numbers is more worrisome. And that's why you're going to see this president continue to focus on the economy. He's not going to get sidetracked by all these things that you talked about in terms of this being a bad week for the president.

He's focused on creating jobs. He's focused -- he's talking about student loans. He's talking about helping people stay in their homes. He's talking about trying to push Congress to pass legislation.

YELLIN: But it's not really moving.

CARDONA: But, well, that's why he's pushing Republicans to make sure to try to work with him to create jobs. They're not pushing anything. They're not helping him.

Mitch McConnell's No. 1 issue for Republicans, as he stated very clearly, is to make this president a one-term president. But going back to the fundraising numbers, look, it's not a surprise that he is now raising more money, because he's consolidating. And all of the -- all of his rich friends are helping him.

YELLIN: ... a lot of people are saying he's consolidating. David, let me ask you this quickly. We had Governor Rendell on, who was head of the Democratic Party at one point. I asked, why haven't you said that you think President Obama will win this election? Here is what Governor Rendell said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: You -- you said today that Obama -- the president was going to be competitive, but -- but you wouldn't say that he was going to win. Why?

ED RENDELL, FORMER HEAD OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Because I don't know he's going to win. And I have this strange habit of trying to tell the truth when you ask me a question. I'm not sure he's going to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP) YELLIN: I mean, why can't Democrats get on the same page? Shouldn't he be predicting a victory? Is this great news for your party?

FRUM: Why should he do that? TV can be like real life and people can talk on TV what Democrats know in their hearts, which is that this is going to be a very difficult election for the president.

The fund-raising numbers and the job numbers are the same story. President Obama raised -- or candidate Obama in 2008 raised so much money because he was able to raise lots and lots of checks, and people were giving $200. They weren't always ultra-small donations. A lot of these people were giving $200 one month and another $200 another month.

But the shape of this recovery has been one where the people with a lot of money have recovered smartly. The people with less money, the kind of people who think "I might give 200 bucks, I can spare 200 bucks," suddenly they don't have -- they don't feel they have the $200 to spare.

The economic pressure on the bottom three-quarters or bottom 80 percent of America that has tightened over the past four years, not relaxed, that's the economic story. It's also the donation story. The president's small donors don't have the money to give the way they did in 2007.

CARDONA: And I actually think the president can use that, because to David's point, it has been the people with wealth that have not really been affected by this recession. He can use that. And by the way, his fund-raising efforts...

FRUM: How does he use the fact "my people don't have as much money"?

CARDONA: Because -- because what he's saying is that -- and this goes to another -- another topic that you pointed to, which is by asking rich people, people who have done well, to pay a little bit more, that's something that most Americans agree with.

YELLIN: The president is also raising plenty of money from big- dollar bundlers. I mean, it's not like he's not...

CARDONA: Ninety-eight percent of the funds that he has raised has been from...

FRUM: And that's what he's getting it from. He's getting it from George Clooney and his friends.

YELLIN: Well, he also is getting the small...

(CROSSTALK)

FRUM: He had so much in 2008. In addition to the big dollar base, he has a small... YELLIN: We didn't even get to talk about Bill Clinton. I guess the fund-raising numbers -- all right, we're done. No, no, we're out of time. Ding, ding, ding, ding. It's always fun to have you guys on. Thank you.

LIZZA: Thanks, Jessica.

YELLIN: Thank you guys, again.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is coming up at the top of the hour.

Erin, hi. Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke testified before Congress today, but pretty tight-lipped on taking any steps to help the economy. What's that about?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Really tight-lipped. I think, Jessica, trying to say, "Look, it's not my job, I've done a lot." There are serious risks to what the Fed does short term to help the economy that could cause a lot of pain in the long term. He doesn't want to do more unless he has to. He wants Congress to do it.

And we're going to be joined by Chris Van Hollen to talk about whether there's a real compromise. We got some real compromise from the Tea Party. Will we get it from the left?

And a shocking video that we found, Jessica, coming out of Egypt, which includes the line "banish the sleep from the eyes of the Jews." We're going to talk about that with the vice prime minister of Israel.

Back to you.

YELLIN: Wow, all right. Thanks, Erin.

Still ahead, 2,000 former NFL players file one massive lawsuit. Why they say the league didn't do enough to warn them about head injuries.

And a word of advice: if you're speaking on the House floor, silence your cell. How one senator handled his ringing phone, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

YELLIN: Welcome back. Here's Lisa Sylvester with the latest news you need to know right now.

Hey, Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Jessica.

Well, New York City detectives finished their search this morning of the home of Pedro Hernandez, the alleged killer of 6-year-old Etan Patz. Authorities removed a computer drive and two satchels as possible evidence in the 1979 murder.

Hernandez's wife says her husband is mentally ill, and his confession to strangling the boy is unreliable. Patz was among the first missing children to have their faces on the side of a milk carton.

And more than 2,000 former pro football players are banding together in a mega lawsuit against the NFL, alleging the league deliberately hid the risks of head injuries. Lawyers for the players say the NFL engaged in a campaign of deceit and deception instead of protecting the health of its players. The league says the suit has no merit.

A $400 million fire on board a nuclear submarine may have started with a vacuum cleaner. The Navy says the vacuum was in an unoccupied area when the fire broke out at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine last month. Officials also say that the USS Miami's nuclear plant wasn't operating at the time.

And a terrifying scene in China. This toddler was rescued today after slipping through the bars of a fourth-floor balcony. Take a look at these pictures. The child's parents weren't in the apartment when the baby wandered away, fell through an opening in the railing and became stuck.

You see there a neighbor scaled the side of the building and kept the toddler in place until rescue crews arrived. Pretty amazing stuff. You can't -- looking at that video, I've got to tell you...

YELLIN: Oh, my gosh.

SYLVESTER: And that guy is a hero.

YELLIN: Thank goodness for that neighbor.

SYLVESTER: And he went out on a ledge, and he clearly put his own life at risk, but he saved that toddler's life.

YELLIN: Oh, my gosh. And we have the video to prove it.

SYLVESTER: Yes, we do.

YELLIN: That is amazing.

All right. Stick around for tonight's "Moment You May Have Missed." It starts with a reminder, Lisa. Silence your cell phone if you're at the movies, watching a play or speaking on the floor of the United States Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: When I apply the standard that I mentioned and the standards which then-Senator Obama laid out or the standards in express...

(PHONE RINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP) YELLIN: That's the, I must say, usually very proper and traditional Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. He was speaking about judicial appointments before his ringer interrupted. He muttered, pushed mute, and then continued like a pro. It's pretty funny.

Have you ever had a terrible cell moment?

SYLVESTER: I haven't. But then again, I usually leave my phone on mute. I mean, people can never reach me because it's always on vibrate. And people are like, "Why don't you have your phone on?" Because I'm afraid of that.

YELLIN: Mine once went off when I was live on air.

SYLVESTER: It did?

YELLIN: And I just said, "Oh, I'm always getting source calls," you know, went right on.

SYLVESTER: That's right.

YELLIN: That's all from us tonight. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.