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Syrian Officials Killed; Attack on Israeli Tourists

Aired July 18, 2012 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Israel points the finger at Iran for a deadly attack on Israeli tourists.

Syrian rebels celebrate after an explosion that killed top officials in the Bashar al-Assad regime.

And shocking security risks at U.S. flight schools more than a decade after 9/11.

I'm Wolf Blitzer and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It didn't take very long for the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to blame Iran directly for the bus attack in Bulgaria today, an attack that killed at least seven Israelis and wounded many more. The bus taking Israelis to a beach resort was in a parking lot outside an airport when it exploded.

This was clearly a sophisticated operation. In a statement, Netanyahu warned that Israel would respond with force to what he called, and I'm quoting him now, "Iranian terror."

Here is what the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, told me in THE SITUATION ROOM just a little while ago.


MICHAEL OREN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, I'm not -- I'm certainly not going to go into details about how and when we will react, but Israel knows how to defend itself. We've been fighting terror for many, many years. We're the world's experts in fighting terror in our region. And -- and I assure you that the government and people of Israel...


OREN: -- will respond at the right time and respond firmly to this attack.

BLITZER: And -- and -- but -- but you're not ruling out military action against Iran in retaliation for what you allege is this Iranian attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria?

OREN: Israel will respond firmly and unequivocally to this attack, Wolf.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Based on past experience, the Iranians should brace for a swift and forceful Israeli response.

We are told President Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the bombing. And he issued a statement condemning what he calls barbaric terrorist attacks on innocent civilians. He says -- and I'm quoting the president now -- "The United States will stand with our allies and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack. As Israel has tragically once more been a target of terrorism, the United States reaffirms our unshakable commitment to Israel's security and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people" -- that statement from President Obama.

It is worth noting, by the way, President Obama did not follow the Israelis' lead and point a direct finger at Iran, not in that statement. By the way, neither did Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate. In a statement, Romney said: "The terrorist attack today in Bulgaria is a sobering reminder that the scourge of terrorism continues to threaten all free people. My heart goes out to the victims and their families and to all Israelis who have the targets of such brutal and cowardly violence for so long."

There is no word yet from the Iranians about the attack in Bulgaria, but in the past, they have accused Israel of assassinating several of their nuclear scientists on the streets of Tehran and they have vowed revenge.

In the situation in the Persian Gulf, it is already at a fever pitch right now over Iran's nuclear program. This latest attack in Bulgaria makes the situation clearly much worse. It is anyone's guess what happens next. but we will be watching it.

Now to today's deadly attack on top Syrian officials. The White House says it is proof that President Bashar al-Assad is "losing control." Three members of Bashar al-Assad's inner circle were killed in an explosion at a national security building in Damascus.

They include the defense minister and his deputy, who happens to be President Assad's brother-in-law. Some Syrian rebels celebrated the attack. Opposition leaders say it was coordinated by several rebel brigades. Pro-government fighters took to the streets with knives and guns seeking revenge.

More than 100 people have been killed in violence across Syria on this day alone.

CNN's Arwa Damon is in neighboring Lebanon watching all of this unfold.

Arwa, a lot of folks heard about the killings today of these top Syrian officials and they immediately came to the conclusion, potentially, this is a game-changer. Here is the question. Is it?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are going to have to wait and see. This most certainly is a blow to the very inner core of the Assad regime. The most significant of the casualties, not the highest ranking official to have been killed, but rather the deputy minister of defense, because not only is Assef Shawkat the brother-in-law of the Syrian president. He is one of his closest friends, allies, a man who President Assad has relied on behind the scenes to be his strongman, his henchman.

You can just imagine the paranoia right now with everybody looking around wondering who is possibly going to betray them next because this type of an attack, given that it was in a very heavily secured building in a very heavily secured neighborhood must have had some sort of inside help. Someone with access to the room, to these individuals, was siding with the opposition.

This most certainly is an indication that the opposition is growing more sophisticated and is able to strike at the very heart of the Assad government, Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly is. Here is the second question. Arwa, what sort of retaliation from Bashar al-Assad's regime can we expect?

DAMON: Well, they are promising it is going to be swift and decisive. And, in fact, we are already starting to see the start of it.

According to opposition activists, residents -- ever since the news of this attack broke out, especially in the later hours, there has been a fierce and intense shelling of a number of Baghdad neighborhoods. Fighting has also broken out. Smoke has billowed throughout the day and the night over the entire capital.

And the more recent, disturbing reports are those of pro- government thugs, the Shabiha, as they are called, arming themselves with swords and knives and carrying out revenge-style attacks, all of this painting an incredibly chaotic picture. If we look back at how the Assad government has retaliated in the past, it has been ruthless and merciless, Wolf, numerous massacres said to have taken place in areas that the Assad regime has really wanted to bring back under its control.

So, a lot of fear in the capital right now, but most certainly, this chaotic image that is emerging right now is not one of a government that has control.

BLITZER: Arwa Damon watching the situation unfold, Arwa, thank you very much.


BLITZER: By the way, Senator John McCain is rushing to the defense of Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, against what he calls an unfounded attack by Sarah Palin. We are going to tell you what this is all about.

And stand -- excuse me -- Michele Bachmann. I didn't mean Sarah Palin. Michele Bachmann, not Sarah Palin.

Stand by also to see how Mitt Romney reacts when someone asking him a question calls President Obama a -- quote -- "monster."


BLITZER: Mitt Romney got a very powerful taste today of a voter's anger at President Obama.

Listen to what happened at a town hall in Ohio when a supporter asked the Republican presidential candidate a question.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now he has had to lay off people. And he may have to close some stores. And it's all because of what this monster has done to this country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to have you as president.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's not a term I would use, but I...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can. I'm an angry mom.

ROMNEY: You are an angry mom. Good.



BLITZER: Let's talk about that exchange and the presidential race with our chief national correspondent, John King, and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.

"That's not a term I would use."

A woman calls the president of the United States a monster. What's your analysis of this, Gloria? What's going on here?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think Romney didn't like the term as it was being used.

He tried to kind of disregard it with a little bit of shrug it off with a little bit of good nature. But I think Mitt Romney understands that, in fact, the president has a high favorability rating in this country, has a 55 percent favorability. That's seven points ahead of where Mitt Romney is.

And that I think he wants to try and say, you know what, and you hear him in his speeches say this, President Obama may be a good man, but I disagree with him. So, even as the ads go in the gutter, I think that Mitt Romney wisely, as a candidate, is trying to keep himself elevated, just as John McCain did four years ago, when somebody called Barack Obama, you know, he's a Muslim, and he shouldn't be running for president.

BLITZER: Yes. I remember that incident as well.

John, this is the second time I think something like this has come up. Back in May, Romney was at a similar event and a woman also asked a question. Let me play that clip.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a president right now that is operating outside the structure of our Constitution. Yes, I do agree he should be tried for treason.


BLITZER: He should be tried for treason. As you remember, and a lot of our viewers will remember, at that point, Romney didn't say anything. But, later, under a lot of criticism, he did come out and say something.

This is a problem these candidates have from time to time in these town hall meetings.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You put yourself in this setting. Most of the people that show up for Republican -- or a candidate is meeting are going to be what? They're going to be very eager and active Republicans.

And guess what? A lot of them have some passionate things to say about the president. Governor Romney didn't answer directly when the woman said the treason comment a couple months back. Reporters kept pressing him about that.

I have been in a lot of these events. Sometimes the candidates say they can't hear and sometimes it's clear they do hear and they just choose not to respond. Some candidates are quicker on their feet than other candidates.

But to Gloria's point, Governor Romney understands the race here and he understands that some members of his base are going to say some things he finds unacceptable. Today, clearly, maybe call this a lesson learned, he decided to quickly respond, saying I wouldn't use that term and then move on to his argument against the president.

He has two challenges. He has to shore up his conservative base. But if he wants to win the middle, it might be a small middle of the electoral, but if he wants to win independent voters, being personal about the president, suggesting that he is a monster, that kind of language isn't going to work. And Governor Romney seems to know that.


BLITZER: Gloria, let me play just that clip, because you mentioned it earlier, the exchange that John McCain had four years ago and how he handled that kind of a situation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is an Arab. He is not...

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: No, ma'am. No, ma'am. He is a decent family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.


BLITZER: Now, that's the way you should handle a situation like that. McCain was perfect.

BORGER: Yes. I think there was a sense -- if you go back to the campaign at that time, there was a sense that things were getting a little out of control at some of these meetings, where, as John says, people get a little heated. You are preaching to the converted already. They are fans of viewers. Clearly, people that come to Romney rallies are not Barack Obama fans.

John McCain just decided to put a lid on it and say that's not true. This is a decent man. This isn't the way we should conduct politics. I guarantee you that that appealed to independent voters, which John King was just talking about. And that's exactly what Mitt Romney has to do as well.

He kind of shrugged off this woman today. He didn't sort of get as serious about it as McCain did. But if these things keep popping up at his rallies, I guarantee you, he is going to take a page from John McCain's book because it did not hurt John McCain. It helped him because -- as a candidate, even though your ads may be in the gutter, you always try to seem like you are above it all. That's the place where a candidate should be.

BLITZER: As you know better than anyone, John, those suburban, those counties outside of Philadelphia and outside of Cleveland or Cincinnati, folks look at that and they make a judgment on how these candidates deal with ugly words like that.

KING: Governor Romney, remember, he ran for the Republican nomination last time. But he is not as well-known as the incumbent president of the United States.

Some people are still filling in the blank, if you will, filling in the biography of Governor Romney. Part will be to how he handles these things, how does he conduct himself in the campaign. They know this inside the Romney campaign. The governor knows this. His staff knows this.

If they are going to win this election, it is going to be on presenting himself as a reasonable alternative to the president on the economic challenges facing the United States of America, not as somebody who will go in and question where the president was born or trash him or to be part of a discussion in which foul language is being used not only about Barack Obama, but about the president of the United States.

There's two challenges there. Some of this stuff came up about President Obama in the last campaign when he was a senator. He is now the president of the United States. Governor Romney clearly understood it today. But as Gloria notes, you can't control who comes to your meetings. I suspect this won't be the last time he has to deal with it.

BLITZER: I suspect both of you are right. Guys, thanks very much for that.

Let's go back to Kate.

We got issues out there on the campaign trail every single day.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the risk of the town hall format.

BLITZER: I don't know if you noticed, but Romney is getting a little bit more aggressive in his stump speech and he certainly was today.

BOLDUAN: Yes, he absolutely was. And it also shows them on their toes and how well they can handle it. It's a good format.

I always like the town hall format.

I want to give you a look at what is now trending here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Number four on our trending list, a woman in a motorized scooter takes on an escalator. We have the video of that. The escalator wins. Unsurprisingly, the scooter flips. She tumbles out. But do not worry. She is OK. But Boston transportation officials, they released the video to try to make the point don't try it and be safe on escalators.

Number three in our trending list, an ice island twice as big as Manhattan breaks loose from a Greenland glacier. In this NASA picture we show you, you can see the new 46-mile iceberg near the top of the screen, the second time in three years that big chunks have fallen from the Petermann Glacier.

Stay with us. The top two trending items are coming up next.


BOLDUAN: here is something wrong with this picture we're about to show you. That car is speeding down the wrong side of the highway. Watch how it ends at 6:55 Eastern.


BOLDUAN: Back now to our list of what is trending now in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Number four in our trending list, a woman in a scooter takes on an escalator. And it probably won't surprise you. She does not win. But don't worry. She is OK.

Number three on our trending list, an ice island twice as big as Manhattan breaks through from a Greenland glacier.

Number two trending tonight, five days of searching, but still no sign of two young cousins missing from Iowa. A lake is being drained in Evansdale, but the mother of one of the girls says she thinks the girls were taken.

And number one trending tonight, one of the most wanted suspected Nazi war criminals is now finally under arrest in Hungary -- 97-year- old Laszlo Csatary allegedly sent more than 15,000 Jews to concentration camps. He denies the allegations, saying he thought he was sending the Jews to labor cams -- more than 60 years after his alleged crimes.

BLITZER: Ninety-seven years old.

BOLDUAN: The fact that he even lived this long is amazing.

BLITZER: All right, thank you.

The man charged in the shooting of Trayvon Martin is speaking out publicly. George Zimmerman appeared emotional as he talked about the death of the unarmed black teenager in an interview with Sean Hannity on FOX News.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT: I would tell them that, again, I'm sorry. I don't have -- my wife and I don't have any children. I have nephews that I love more than life. I love them more than myself.

And I know when they were born, it was a different, unique bond of love that I had with them. And I love my children even though they aren't born yet. And I am sorry that they buried their child. I can't imagine what it must feel like.


BLITZER: George Zimmerman, by the way, as you probably know, is out on bail awaiting his trial.

The lessons of 9/11 may not have been learned at flight schools across the United States.

We are getting new information about shocking gaps in security. And Senator John McCain's public and passionate defense of a Democrat accused by fellow Republicans of being part of a Muslim conspiracy.


BLITZER: Jordan's King Abdullah certainly knows the Middle East, and he also has a keen grasp on American presidential politics.

Listen to this exchange I had with him today in an exclusive interview.


BLITZER: Do you see any significant difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama as far as the peace process is concerned?

KING ABDULLAH II, JORDAN: Well, obviously, there's always going to be a difference between a second-term president and a first-term president in dealing with this core issue. A second-term president is going to be in a much more comfortable position in dealing with the Middle East peace process.

Obviously, a first-term president will tend to be less willing to take on such a difficult issue, at least in the first two years of his presidency. That's something that we have been used to for so many decades.


BLITZER: King Abdullah told me he believes Mitt Romney fully understands what's happening in the Middle East. They had a conversation about a year or so ago.

But the king is right: a second-term American president usually can do things that a first-term president might be reluctant to do. That's because second-term presidents no longer have to worry about getting reelected. President Obama, himself, hinted at the sensitive point on the issue of missile defense in Europe in a conversation with then-Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev. It was picked up by an open microphone.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is my last election. And after my election, I have more flexibility.


BLITZER: Mitt Romney came out swinging in response to the president's remark in an interview with me right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage. And for this president to be looking for greater flexibility where he doesn't have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia is very, very troubling, very alarming.


BLITZER: Republicans who didn't like the president's first-term foreign policy bristle at the notion of four more years. King Abdullah was right about second-term presidents. They do have more flexibility. Still, I suspect his comments are about to revive this entire debate about the president's foreign policy in a second term.

Let's discuss this a little bit more with former U.S. senator, Byron Dorgan. He's a Democrat from North Dakota. That would be you. Also joining us Republican strategist, Bay Buchanan, who's a senior advisor to the Romney campaign. Kate Bolduan is, of course, here, as well.

So Senator Dorgan, do you think King Abdullah has a valid point in his analysis of a second-term president?

BYRON DORGAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN: Well, I think probably so. But I noticed you gave him an invitation to jump right in the middle of the presidential campaign. He decided not to do that.

But sure, there is more flexibility. I think Republicans and Democrats that exercise a second term -- receive a second term in office do have more flexibility.

Let me just say, I visited with the king in his office in Oman. He is an amazing, remarkable leader. I have great respect for him. And he's an important part of the peace process in the Middle East.

BLITZER: Yes, I agree with you on that.

BOLDUAN: Bay, what do you make of this? I mean, some were watching this interview with Wolf and thinking that the king may have just been kind of, in effect, been endorsing President Obama for re- election?

BAY BUCHANAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't know that -- first of all, I think he's wrong. If you look back at Jimmy Carter, could we have had anybody more aggressive and more bold about...?

BLITZER: He was a one-termer.

BUCHANAN: He didn't have to wait until the second one.

And I think the second point is our foreign policy should be based on what's in the best interests of America. And that should be the same before November this year and after November.

When you see the president of the United States whispering of a foreign leader, "I'll have more flexibility later on our defense missile system in Europe," you wonder, "What is it you are not telling the American people? What are you hiding from us? What are you going to do that you know we don't want done? And that's why you're not doing it before the election." I think it's -- you know, you really throw some question on the kind of leadership Barack Obama is proposing.

BOLDUAN: You don't think the king was stepping into the presidential election, choosing one side or another? BUCHANAN: No. I think he was making an observation that he thought was accurate. I disagree with the observation.

BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House -- did you want to make another point?

DORGAN: Well, it's an observation of the obvious. I mean, listen, when someone wins a re-election, a second term as president, they're not going to be able to serve again beyond a second term. They do have more capability and more flexibility. They're not necessarily going to look to the next election, because they're done.

So I think much was made of the president's remark at the mike. And you know, my sense is that the king is right about that. I don't think he was endorsing anybody.

But we need to get about the business of getting peace in the Middle East. This president has worked very hard on that. And as you know, he had George Mitchell working on it for a long while, who is -- in my judgment, nobody better than George Mitchell to work on all that.

BLITZER: ... didn't work out all that well.

DORGAN: It did not, but he sure did try and...

BLITZER: He did a great job in Northern Ireland.

DORGAN: He's got a terrific record in these areas.

BLITZER: Nancy Pelosi, she gave an interview to "Politico." And she was asked about a bunch of Democrats deciding, "You know what? They don't want to show up at the Democratic convention in Charlotte in September. Listen to this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: We nominated a president last time; we shave an incumbent president of the United States. We're very proud of him. There certainly will be enough people there to express that pride. But I'm not encouraging members to go to the convention, no matter what the situation was, because they can be home. It's campaign time. It's the first week in September.

BOLDUAN: Senator, I mean, Nancy Pelosi right there was really trying to make the point that they need to campaign. Labor Day is an important time for them to be campaigning.

But isn't that a difficult show of kind of flying in the face of party unity that -- that she's saying, you don't need to show up to the convention?

DORGAN: This is not the first convention in which party leaders will suggest to those out there in tight races, you know, it would be a lot smarter to be home campaigning. BLITZER: Did you ever skip a convention?

DORGAN: Sure. You know, but...

BLITZER: Because you were afraid you wouldn't be reelected?

DORGAN: No, but I've gone to conventions. There are conventions I haven't attended. If I were in a tight race right now, would I decide to go to one of the national conventions? I think Republican and Democratic candidates by and large decide, you know what? My role is at home, town to town, voter to voter. And I think that's what...

BOLDUAN: Do you think they're trying to maybe distance themselves in some of states that maybe it's not advantageous to be running on a pro-Obama ticket?

DORGAN: There are perhaps a few. There are a few Republicans that will probably not be excited about their ticket. But most of them, I think are going to be home because that's where they want to be during a tight race.

BUCHANAN: They want to be home, because they want to be as far away from this president and his left-wing policies as possible. If you look at the states, look at that, it's over a dozen. You talk about conservative or close races out there, some moderate districts, as well. And they're saying, "Look, we don't need this. We already have his rotten, this awful job record to be burdening us. We have the Obama tax and the latest tax."

BLITZER: Sarah Palin, do you think she should or will get a prime-time speaking engagement at the Republican convention, end of August, Tampa?

BUCHANAN: I don't know whether she will.

BLITZER: Should she?

BUCHANAN: I think they have to look to see who are the ones that they want best to make the...

BLITZER: She was the vice-presidential nominee four years ago.

BUCHANAN: This is for the Romney campaign. And they decide who they want out front. And they've got a lot of people that have been out there campaigning for the governor really hard, some great governors and senators. And I think that's who they'll probably be looking at. But I don't know myself.

DORGAN: Let me respond just for a moment to that rotten -- rotten jobs issue. When this president took over, 675,000 people lost their job the month before he showed up under the Republican plan. Now, we're adding jobs, not as much as we'd like, but every month we're adding jobs.

BUCHANAN: He just proposed a plan that will cost us 750,000 more jobs. That's Ernst & Young. BLITZER: We're not debating jobs right now. Plenty of time down the road. Congressman, thanks for coming in. Bay Buchanan, as usual, thanks to you as well.

By the way, Senator John McCain is condemning what he calls a sinister attack by some fellow Republicans against a very popular top aide to the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.


BOLDUAN: There's something wrong with this picture. That car we're watching is speeding down the wrong side of the highway. Watch how it ends at 6:55 Eastern.


BLITZER: We told you earlier about former Democratic congressman Anthony Wiener and his wife, Huma, talking to "People" magazine about their life since he resigned in disgrace.

Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, is a Muslim-American who has been the target recently of some sensational allegations herself. Now one of the most powerful Republicans in the Senate, John McCain, is coming to her defense.

Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.

These accusations against Huma, as all of us know, are outrageous. But tell our viewers what's going on.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What's going on, Wolf, is five Republican Congress people, including Michele Bachmann, have written a series of letters to the administration, asking for information about whether or not members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Muslim organizations have, in their words, infiltrated the Obama administration.

And one was to the State Department and specifically asking about Huma Abedin, who as you noted has been a long-time aide, really right- hand woman to Hillary Clinton. And it suggests that Huma Abedin's late father, mother, and brother were connected to Muslim organizations and operatives, and raises concern that she has such access to Hillary Clinton.

Well, Huma Abedin is somebody who is well-known here on Capitol Hill. She worked for the -- for Hillary Clinton when she was in the Senate. She's well-known in the State Department. And one of the people who knows her well is John McCain. And he, unsolicited, went to the floor of the Senate to defend her.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: These sinister accusations rest solely on a few unspecified and unsubstantiated associations of members of Huma's family, none of which have been shown to harm or threaten the United States in any way. These attacks have no logic, no basis, and no merit. And they need to stop. They need to stop now.


BASH: And Senator McCain mentioned, as has been reported on our own network by Anderson Cooper, that the reports that they cite, that they're really hanging this on, have been discredited and really have some loose facts to say the least.

BLITZER: What's been Michele Bachmann's response, Dana?

BASH: She's really defiant. I'll put up some of her statement. She says that she -- her letters have been distorted. And she said, "The intention of the letters was to outline the serious national security concerns I had and asked for answers to questions regarding the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical groups' access to top Obama administration officials."

And she went on to say, Wolf, that she's not going to be silent as the administration appeases the enemies of the truth, people who threatened the country.

But I can tell you that she is kind of out there. She has four colleagues on these letters. But other than that, she really is out there alone. Privately, Republican leaders are scratching their heads saying, "What is going on here? Why is she doing this?" And you heard the public comments from John McCain. He's not alone.

BLITZER: John McCain is absolutely right. All right. Thanks so much for that.

Anderson Cooper has been following this story extensively. You're going to hear from Congresswoman Michele Bachmann later tonight on "AC 360." That's at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Some Americans considered to be a possible terror threat are still being allowed to train at U.S. flight schools. What's going on? We have new details and outrage.

And has the Supreme Court justice, Anthony Scalia, has he been feuding with the chief justice, John Roberts? Scalia is speaking out in an interview with our own Piers Morgan.


BLITZER: Learning some shocking details about security gaps at flight schools here in the United States more than a decade after the 9/11 hijackers took flying lessons in this country.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence.

What are you learning, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there are well over 150 flight schools in the U.S. right now that are giving student visas to foreigners, and they aren't even accredited by the FAA. That's just one of the findings that led one congressmen to call this entire report extremely disturbing. And you may be shocked to hear about some things that you probably thought this country solved ten years ago.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): The mistakes were supposed to be fixed a decade ago, but a new government report reveals security loopholes so large even illegal immigrants have been able to attend flight schools in the United States.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), ALABAMA: Isn't it true that based on your report, the Transportation Security Administration cannot assure the American people that foreign terrorists are not in this country learning how to fly airplanes? Yes or no?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, no.

LAWRENCE: No guarantee, 11 years after Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers learned to fly in the U.S. and then crashed a jet into the World Trade Center.

Non-U.S. citizens and visa holders are supposed to undergo a security threat assessment before the TSA clears them to take flight lessons. But some of the 26,000 who completed flight training in the last six years were never vetted.

ROGERS: Let me say, this is extremely disturbing.

LAWRENCE: In 2010, immigration officials busted a flight school in Boston that was primarily training illegal immigrants, who are not allowed to take classes. Three of them had already earned their pilot's license.

U.S. citizens do not have to go through the threat screening. That means it's possible for an American citizen to take flight lessons while he, himself, is on the no-fly list.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That person couldn't set foot on that plane as a passenger, yet they can begin to receive training to fly that plane, no matter how long it takes, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does that make sense?

KERWIN WILSON, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: What you're posing is that we're looking -- we should be looking at anyone and everyone that wants to take training, regardless of their status, whether it's a U.S. citizen or if it's an alien.


LAWRENCE: Well, the TSA says that, you know, doing that, making all those U.S. citizens go through such an extensive background check, would incur some very significant costs.

Now, senators have proposed some legislation to try to fix some of these loopholes, such as barring some schools that are under federal investigation from issuing student visas and making sure that schools are already certified by the FAA before they're allowed to issue student visas.

And Wolf, I can tell you, there's a lot of people sitting at home right now probably wondering, we didn't do that already?

BLITZER: Pretty shocking, I must say indeed, ten years after 9/11. Chris, thanks for that report.

BOLDUAN: Scary. Scary, scary, scary. Oh, my goodness.

You want to know what else is scary? This is something you hope you never see when you are behind the wheel. Someone speeding down the road going the wrong way. We'll tell you how it all turned out.


BOLDUAN: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia addresses rumors of feuds on the bench. Hear what it's really like in the high court in less than two minutes. That is very interesting. Can't wait to see that.


BOLDUAN: There's been a lot of speculation about inner turmoil within the Supreme Court since Chief Justice John Roberts surprising -- surprisingly sided with liberals in upholding the president's health-care reform law.

Well, now Justice Antonin Scalia is speaking out about the court and how the justices get along. It's an exclusive interview with CNN's Piers Morgan.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: You must all be all highly intelligent, very opinionated. Are there clashes there?

JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, SUPREME COURT: There are clashes on legal questions but not personally. The press likes to paint us as, you know, nine scorpions in a bottle. That's just not the case at all.

MORGAN: Well, the big buzz at the moment is that you and Justice Roberts have had a bit of a parting of the ways. You've got to be best buddies to roaring enemies.

SCALIA: Who taught you that?

MORGAN: I think I read it in some of the papers.

SCALIA: You shouldn't believe... MORGAN: Credible sources.

SCALIA: You should not believe what you read about the court in the newspapers, because the information has either been made up or given to the newspapers by somebody who is violating a confidence, which means that person is not reliable.

MORGAN: You've had no falling out with Justice Roberts?

SCALIA: None. No, I haven't had a falling out with Justice Roberts.

MORGAN: Loud words exchanged?


MORGAN: Slamming of doors?


MORGAN: Nothing like that?

SCALIA: Nothing like that.


BOLDUAN: You can hear all of that interview with Piers Morgan on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" at 9 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN. Justice Scalia is always a fabulously interesting person to watch.

BLITZER: I'm going to watch it. Sounds great.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks so much. Good for Piers.

One road-tripping family watches a wreck in the making, tracking a car as it speeds down the wrong side of a highway. Jeanne Moos has this heart-stopping video.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There is something very wrong with this picture, a wrong-way driver. You can hear a passenger in the car from which this video was shot calling 911.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's going every bit of 70.

MOOS: They had watched the car swerve onto the wrong side of divided Highway 49 in Collins, Mississippi.


AL FANNING, WITNESS: This is going to be bad. He's going to hurt somebody severely bad.

MOOS: That's the voice of a Louisiana restaurant owner.

(on camera) Al Fanning, his wife and two kids were driving home from the beach when they first saw the car driving in front of them, weaving all over the place.

You pulled up alongside him and looked over at him?

FANNING (via phone): Yes. He had both hands on the steering wheel. And his head was just dropped like he was unconscious. I was blowing the horn at him trying to get him to wake up.

MOOS (voice-over): At a traffic light, the car crossed over to the wrong side of the highway. And that's when the Fannings started recording.

FANNING: There it is. Oh! Good God.

MOOS: We've seen plenty of wrong-way car video.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've just been hit by an individual.

MOOS: From this dash cam view of a Utah trooper who saw a vehicle going the wrong way, turned around and got in front of it. To this scary cell phone video...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no, no!

MOOS: ... of a car in Oregon weaving into the opposite lane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, no, no, no!

MOOS: And eventually going off the road.


MOOS: What they have in common is you wait for the worst to happen.

FANNING: Close your eyes. Molly, do not look. This is going to hurt somebody severely bad.

MOOS: The good news is, severely bad was not the outcome.


FANNING: Oh, my gosh. There it went. There it went.

MOOS: The wrong-way car hit a Ford Expedition.


FANNING: Stay in the car.

MOOS: Al Fanning opened the door of the Expedition, and two female occupants walked out basically unhurt.

FANNING (via phone): We sat there in the ditch together.

MOOS: The driver of the wrong-way car, 58-year-old Edward Fairly, suffered a broken shoulder and other non-life-threatening injuries. Fanning says police believe a medical condition may have caused his wild driving.

Fanning himself has been cheered for helping and not just recording. The recording while driving got Fanning scolded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he's not focused on the roadway himself.

FANNING (via phone): I knew that was coming.

MOOS: But no one knew this was coming.

FANNING: Oh, my gosh!

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Those people were lucky that the injuries were serious but not critical.

BOLDUAN: I mean, they said he was going up to 70 miles an hour. I can't believe he stayed on the road that long. So thankful that they weren't seriously injured. That was hard to watch.

BLITZER: The guy who took the video, he actually went out and helped.

BOLDUAN: There are a few of them left, good people.

BLITZER: Good people out there. We like to showcase those good people...

BOLDUAN: We do. We do.

BLITZER: ... here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks so much.

Remember, you can follow us, what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM on Twitter. You can always tweet me, @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet Kate, @KateBolduan.

Lots happening here every day. Remember, I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.