Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; Senator Jim DeMint to Leave Senate; Latest Jobs Report is 7.7. Unemployment Rate

Aired December 8, 2012 - 18:00   ET



The two men who have the power to avoid the fiscal cliff, point fingers but get nowhere. Will the week ahead be any better?

Growing chaos and danger throughout the Middle East. The former British prime minister, Tony Blair, he's here. Is the peace process due?

And why the aspirin you take to protect your heart may not be doing its job.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with the looming tax hikes. All of us are facing a little over three weeks. Those increases coupled with drastic across the board spending cuts in vital programs including defense, health care, education and housing assistance are being called the fiscal cliff. The only way to avoid it is for President Obama and Congress to make a deal, cutting spending and raising revenue. Adding to the sense of urgency, news that 350,000 people simply gave up looking for work in the month of November. And while that drove the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent, the fiscal cuts and tax hikes are expected to dramatically slow job creation and increase unemployment possibly, possibly plunging the economy back into a recession. The stakes right now, enormous.

Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She is joining us from Capitol Hill.

Dana, the latest negotiations don't seem to be going anywhere.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They sure don't. You know, the house speaker ended the week by calling it a wasted week. In fact, he only had one phone call with the president of the United States and I asked him about that. Ad he said it was just quote "more of the same." No counter offer by weekend to what the Republicans put out during earlier in the week which was $800 billion in new tax revenue. So there's certainly a lot of frustration particularly right now on the side of Republicans who understand that Democrats have the leverage right now.

But on Friday, the speaker did do something that seemed to indicate a little bit of day light. And that is he declined to put a line in the sand on that big issue that divides the two parties, which is raising tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. He was asked a number of times whether he's still sticking to that. He didn't say yes. Instead, here's what he said.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There are a lot of things that are possible to put the revenue the president seeks on the table. But none of it is going to be possible. The president insists on his position. Insists on my way or the highway.


BASH: Now, with regard to that major sticking point, the tax rates for the wealthy, two potential compromises that we're hearing about. One is possible, instead of raising it from where it is right now, 35 percent back up to the pre-Bush era, Clinton era, which is 39.6 percent maybe do it someplace in between. Have a little give there.

Another potential compromise that we're actually hearing from some Republicans, moderate Republicans like Susan Collin (ph) and is Olympia Snow of Maine is to have a carve out for what Republicans are worried most about. And that is the effect of small businesses of raising those tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. That is a little bit tricky, but it is something that is being talked about at least in some quarters here. By the end of the week, Wolf, you're absolutely right. Still very much nowhere on both sides. And it is not too far away that national fiscal cliff is coming.

BLITZER: Next week will be critical. We will see if they do any better next week than they did this week. They can't do much worse, I suppose.

All right. Thanks very much, Dana for that.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, the editorial director of "the National Journal."

The latest jobs number that came out Friday, Gloria, 7.7 percent unemployment going down, 146,000 jobs created. Pretty good. Not that it is the lowest since December, 2008. A year ago, the unemployment rate in December was 8.8 percent, now it is 7.7 percent. How does this play into the fiscal cliff negotiations?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the president can and will, I'm sure, make the case that the economy is now clearly headed in the right direction. That the lowering of the unemployment number is not an aberration nor was it a political trick that occurred during the campaign that some had charged.

BLITZER: Jack Welch.

BORGER: That's right. Jack Welch in particular. So the president can say, OK, we need to resolve this fiscal cliff issue or else we're going to start heading in the wrong direction. Don't interrupt the recovery that we're having. And if you do, Congress, it will be your fault.

BLITZER: You know, and then as far as the job approval numbers for the president, and this is going to play into this leverage negotiation, as well. How is the president handling his job as president. Right now, our CNN poll oppose. This is an average of the major polls. Fifty three percent approve of the job he's doing, 43 percent disapproved. That's a three-year high for the president.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And our monitor poll out this week saying 54 percent approval. And also, the widest gap we've had since 2009 on whether people prefer him or congressional Republicans to take lead on resolving economic issues.

Look. He has a stronger hand in this debate, partially because his approval rate was up, largely because he just want an election in which he was very explicit. But mostly, because events bend in his favor. You know, when John Boehner, again, when the speaker, with all due respected, he is talking about what is acceptable for them I terms of higher rates, he doesn't have a choice anymore. The only issue, if the president was unwilling to sign something that does not have the rates go up, they're going up at the end of the year.

BORGER: Can I just say this? The president has a political advantage right now, obviously. But he has to figure out a way to turn that into a substantive accomplishment because it think that was what the American people want. And this kind of advantage which you see could in his approval rating could shift the longer this continues and the closer we get to a cliff. So, at a certain point, he's going to have to pivot.

BROWNSTEIN: I think, you know, right now, the less Republicans blink, on the top rate, the administration signaled this week, they are absolutely ready to go over the cliff on the tax side. In some ways, that might make a deal easier because at that point as you know, no Republican would ever have to vote to raise taxes. You can come back next year, reduce taxes for the vast majority of Americans who only voted to cut taxes if you are a Republican and you can couple that with some spending restraints. So, it may be easier in this kind of convoluted way. A lot of people scratching their heads about it. They ultimately get it done if you go over the cliff on the tax side.

BORGER: I still think that that is not the optimum result for the president. And you heard what Dana was talking about, which is do some compromise on the rights, 37 percent. But in order to do that, you have to show John Boehner and those Republicans that you're serious about entitlement reform. You have to put something on the table.

BLITZER: It's a little bit of a civil war going on within the GOP.

BORGER: A little bit.

BLITZER: -- right now. Jim DeMint, all of the sudden, announcing. My interview with him coming up later this hour. He is leaving the senate to run the Heritage foundation. He makes it clear, he doesn't like what the concessions on taxes that John Boehner has already offered.

BORGER: Right. And you see the Republican caucus in the house says it's firmly behind John Boehner who put those taxes on the table and they re closing loopholes.


BORGER: It is a large figure. So, it goes back to the grand bargain, which John Boehner was almost a part of. And then you see the outside conservatives now, Jim DeMint, Rush Limbaugh, conservative organizations saying we can't do it. So what is the Republican Party going to stand for? Is it going to stand for raising taxes on the rich? You see a lot of Republicans saying --

BLITZER: Can he deliver his Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, assuming he makes a deal with the president.

BROWNSTEIN: That's a big if. And as I said, in some ways, it might be easy to deliver the caucus if you do go over -- the one thing I disagree, I think that top rate is going up to 39.6 at the end of the year. And then maybe in 2013, you negotiate it down. I think the president is going to be very firm on that.

Look. There are more Republicans, few more Republicans kind of fracking saying, let's extend them for most voters - most families, not those at the top. They really have no leverage in this negotiation on the tax side. And in the end, I think those rates are going up.

BLITZER: I know you write about it, the new issue of "the National Journal, Lighting the way."


BLITZER: We'll take a closer look when we get through it. A lot have you did heavy duty (INAUDIBLE).

BORGER: So, they will go off with the promise, maybe they'll go down when we reform the tax code.

BROWNSTEIN: Somewhere in the middle.


BLITZER: Next week, we'll critical. Guys, thanks very much.

In the struggle to avoid the fiscal cliff, senior citizens are fighting to protect their Medicare, their Social Security benefits. We have a full report.

And the Syrian dodging attacks in the country's civil war compares it to living life in a grave. CNN and Arwa Damon are on the scene for us.


BLITZER: The U.S. military has now updated its plan for a potential strike against Syria, after intelligence showed that the regime has filled aerial bombs with deadly Syrian gas. The threat of the chemical weapons attack by a desperate regime adds another layer of fear to a population already terrified by almost two years of civil war. For some living on the front lines, life has been turned upside down.

CNN's senior international correspondent Arwa Damon reporting from northern Syria.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Down a steep, stone stairway into the darkness, this is where the Cordea (ph) family has been hiding for four months.

The strikes were all around us. We just ran out with nothing, 20- year-old Fakma (ph) recalls. We just ran and ran down here. And the shrapnel was falling all over.

Since then, they've dared occasionally to go back home to collect belongings.

There would be bombing like that and we'd come running back here, Fakma (ph) says. Their home is just five doors away. But it's right on one of Aleppo's front lines. It's been hit by artillery fire since they fled.

We go home every two weeks to shower. Fearful and terrorized, Fakma's(ph) mother tells us. We have a weak home. It could crumble any moment.

Their makeshift bunker was a workshop. The carpenters intricately furniture still lines the walls. The last time the family ventured out was three weeks ago. Fakma (ph) and her younger sister want to leave. Anywhere but here. Anywhere they can feel the sun and smell fresh air. But their father refuses.

Poor but proud, he says. He doesn't want to be at the mercy of others. Here, he can send his son to scrape money and buy a little food. It's humbling how amidst all they have lost and suffered, they insist on offering us tea. The girl's dream of wounded neighbors. Their mother has night mares her children are dead and says she feels her heart is going to burst with each explosion.

I just tell her it's far away. And not to be cared, Fakma (ph) says. But sometimes the bombings are so close, the family says they choke on the dust.

What can we say? We're living in a prison. Prisoners in a prison, Fakma (ph) says. It's more like a grave, Sahira (ph) adds.

To give you an idea of just how dark it really is and terrifying with all of the sounds of the gunfire outside, we're going to switch our camera light off. This tiny flame is all the family has. As they listen to the sounds of war above.


BLITZER: And Arwa is joining us now from northern Syria. What a powerful report, Arwa.

On top of all of this now, there must be deep fear that the Assad regime might use chemical warfare against its own people, serine gas, which is so deadly. How concerned? How fearful are the rebels, the civilian population, in northern Syria where you are.

DAMON: As fearful as one could possibly manage them to be because, Wolf, since this all began, this is a population that has absolutely no way to protect itself against bullets and bombs, never mind trying to put into place any sort of measured to protect themselves should the Assad regime choose to avoid these types of chemical weapons. One rebel commander we were talking to has no doubt in his mind that he would, in fact, use this type of weaponry. He said if you look at the history of this uprising, the Assad regime moved onto rockets, then it moved onto air strikes. The next step, as this rebel force is really strengthening its strangle hold on this Syrian government is going to be to employ chemical weapons to deliver that final and deadly blow.

BLITZER: Arwa Damon, in northern Syria for us on the scene. Arwa, be careful. Thanks so much.

Here in Washington, a massive show of force on Capitol Hill. Up next, the message some senior citizens are sending lawmakers looming the fiscal cliff. Stay with us.

You're in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: One group of Americans not taking looming fiscal cliff deadlines sitting down. Seniors. They're turning out in droves right here in Washington with a very strong warning for Congress.

Lisa Sylvester has details.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the AARP is a powerful group in Washington. They have spent about $7.5 million this year on lobbying. But, its real strength maybe, its grassroots ever with a large number of senior volunteers. And right now, their aim is to keep Social Security and Medicare intact.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): Jean Nofles has offer traveled from Washington to her Colorado home. This time, the 70-year-old retiree is here as a volunteer with the AARP. Nofles and other seniors are blanketing Capitol Hill with a single message for lawmakers. Hands off.

JEAN NOFLES, RETIREE: We're very concerned. We don't want Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to be used as part of a deficit-reducing bill in such a short period of time.

SYLVESTER: The clock is winding down toward the fiscal cliff. Once considered an untouchable third rail, changes for Social Security and other so called entitlements are now being seriously discussed.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: We really have not begun to talk about real entitlement reforms. And the only way to have a true avoidance where you have a solution is to mix an appropriate amount of revenues with true retirement reform. And until the debate moves to that point, there's really no serious debate taking place.

SYLVESTER: House Republican have offered the framework that includes raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, squeezing out savings from Social Security by changing the way inflation is calculated and possible means testing that could disqualify wealthier, older Americans from the Medicare program.

Lawmakers insist any changes will be done gradually and will not impact current retirees. But that's not soothing the fears of senior who is say inflation adjustments will have an immediate impact.

DAVID CERTNER, AARP: To tell someone who's living on Social Security, and we have something in the order, one out of every three retirees relies on just Social Security for 90 percent in more their income, to tell them I'm sorry, we're going to have to cut back your benefits because we have problems in the rest of the federal budget, that doesn't make sense to us.

SYLVESTER: Just to be clear, the senior lobby is a powerful and sophisticated organization with offices in every state and volunteers ready to fly to Washington in a moment's notice. But Democrats and Republicans aren't going to reach a compromise before the end of the month unless something gives.

ANDY ROTH, CLUB FOR GROWTH: We are racking up levels of debt that's unprecedented in our history. We've got to do something. And if we don't, it's been very clear that the presidency will downgrade us again.

SYLVESTER: Conservative say, it is time to touch the third rail.


SYLVESTER: Democrats on the hill are also pushing back more than a hundred house members signed a letter that they sent to speaker John Boehner saying take Social Security off the table -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.

A tea party movement shocks Washington and Nazi. He is about to leave the Unites States senate. We'll talk to him. That's next.


BLITZER: A bomb shell announcement in the United States Senate. The Republican senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina caught everyone by surprise, even his own staff when he announced he's resigning at the end of the year.


DeMint will stay here in Washington in a new role as head of the conservative Heritage Foundation, a think tank. And DeMint says he believes he can make more of a difference outside the Senate than inside.

I'm joined now by senator DeMint along with Edwin Feulner, Heritage Foundation founding trustee, the current president -- we see the outgoing president Edwin.

And thanks very much for coming in as well.

We are going to talk a little bit about the state of the Heritage Foundation, the state of the Republican Party. But, the senator is here, the news maker. You shocked all of us. Why did you do this?

SEN. JIM DEMINT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Wolf, after this last election, it's apparent that we need to be more as conservatives to convince Americans in our ideas and our policies that are going to make their lives better. The Heritage Foundation is the premier think tank, research organization, the premier idea group for the conservative movement. This will give me the opportunity to help take our case to the American people and to translate our policies into real ideas.

BLITZER: So, you think you could be more influential within the conservative movement as the leader of the Heritage Foundation as opposed to a United States senator?

DEMINT: There's no question about it!

BLITZER: What does that say about the Senate, though? I mean, I thought being a senator, one of only a hundred, you had a real, you know, you had enormous power.

DEMINT: Well, we do. And I think I've had a lot to do with changing the Senate and bringing in some folks who better reflect America to the Republican Party. But, for me, particularly since I spent most of my life doing research, working with ideas in marketing and trying to sell those to people all over the country, this is like coming home to be able to work with people who are like-minded at heritage and all over the country.

BLITZER: If Romney would have won, do you think you would have also made the same decision?

DEMINT: I would have thought differently about it. But this, I told Ed four years ago, half-jokingly, that when people asked me to run for president, I said the only president I want to be is president of the Heritage Foundation because they are bout ideas and their ideas are backed up by solid research. And Wolf, the thing that breaks my heart is, as Republicans, we're not doing a good job of convincing American that is we care about every one of them. And that our policies are going to make their lives better.

BLITZER: That the impression is you only care about the rich?

DEMINT: That's the impression. I'm a conservative first. And I believe if we do a better job of helping Americans understand what we're trying to do, to showcase every place in the country that our ideas are working at the state level. That that will help those who want to carry at the federal levels. And frankly, if independents and Democrats want to work with us on conservative ideas, I can do that better at Heritage than as a partisan --

BLITZER: You've been at Heritage forever, right? You know the organization.


BLITZER: I didn't realize that based on how powerful he says he's going to be within the conservative group. You feel that you've been that powerful in galvanizing everyone else.

Unquestionably. I mean, we co-sponsored a presidential debate with you.

BLITZER: I remember. It was a great debate.

FEULNER: Look, we are an idea factory. And ideas are the raw materials of what goes on in Washington. And if we can pull together a stronger coalition, Republican, Democrat, conservative, even some liberal sometimes on the broad issues that face us, man, and Jim DeMint knows how to do it. He knows the marketing side as well as the issue side. It is going to be an exciting time at Heritage.

BLITZER: It's a big job. It's not just thinking. You've got to raise money. You've got to go out there and speak. You've got a big staff. You got a lot of work to do.

FEULNER: He does. He's got to administer 250 people. We've got 600,000 members around the country who are going to be really ecstatic when they hear the news of Jim's coming in. It's an exciting time at heritage.

BLITZER: Should there be a compromise in order to avoid going over the fiscal cliff? John Boehner is already ready for $80 billion in increased tax revenue, not necessarily raising the marginal tax rate on the wealthy. But cupping deduction eliminating loopholes, are you with the speaker of the house on that?

DEMINT: Unfortunately, Wolf, the policies of President Obama have already taken us over the cliff. If you meet with businesses, like I do all the time, they have already paired back their plans and they're hiring for next year anticipating what's going to happen. So we can fix this Christmas Eve, if we want. But we've already hurt the economy and hurt --

BLITZER: Are you with Boehner?

DEMINT: I'm not with Boehner because this government doesn't need any more money. This country needs less government. We are going to have historic levels of revenue to the government this year. But we doubled spending in the last 10 years.


BLITZER: -- are going to go up at the end of the year if there is no deal.

DEMINT: Well, we have already offered to extend current tax rates. That's what we should have done six months ago until we could come to some agreement, some compromise on tax reform.

BLITZER: When you say compromise, where are you ready to compromise, as far as taxes are concerned.

DEMINT: Well, how we go about tax reform, there's a lot of room to work together.

BLITZER: Give me examples.

DEMINT: Lower the rats.

BLITZER: Give me examples.

DEMINT: I'm not sure where the Democrats are because they have not offered the plan.

BLITZER: They say, well their plan is keep the tax rates, the Bush tax rates from 2001, 2003 forever, make them permanent. The top two percent let them go from 35 percent to 39.6 percent which is what it was during the cliff (INAUDIBLE).

DEMINT: It's incredible to me we're already talking about it because that doesn't solve the problem.

BLITZER: But at the beginning.

DEMINT: It runs the government for five or six days.

BLITZER: But it is the beginning, every billion here, billion there winds up being real money.

DEMINT: But the president has known about this so-called cliff for over a year. And it's yet to present a plan that is comprehensive that actually reduces our deficit. So, I'm willing to work with anyone who's willing to put a plan on the table. But our party, or anyone, should not sit down and negotiate with someone who would not put a plan on the table. And the president has not a serious plan on.

BLITZER: And I want you to weigh in because we're running out of time, but as far as a compromise on a marginal tax rate, let's say 36 or 37 percent. Is that acceptable?

FEULNER: No, no. Because marginal tax rate increases, if there is any increase in revenue, it just gives them more to play with over on Capitol Hill and more to spent. And when we talk about fairness, when the top two percent, $250,000 above, are already paying 45 percent of total income tax, that's a big question of fairness there.


BLITZER: Interesting stuff from the outgoing and the incoming head of the Heritage Foundation, senator DeMint, leaving the Senate causing some shock waves here in Washington.

Other important news we're following. International suspicions that Syria's regime may be preparing to use chemical weapons against its own people. We're going to talk about that and more with the special Middle East envoy.

The former British prime minister, Tony Blare is here on the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Joining us from New York is the former British prime minister, Tony Blair. He is now the special envoy to the Middle East where the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the United Nations group collectively known as the quartet.

Prime minister, thanks, as usual, for joining us.


BLITZER: It's good to see you the other day in Jerusalem.

But, let's talk a little bit about what's happening in the Middle East right now.

With the U.S., the Obama administration, NATO now, obviously very concerned about the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad potentially using chemical weapons, poison gas, against its own people.

Here's the question. What's the difference killing civilians in Syria with bombs from mid jet fighters or attack helicopters as opposed to using, let's say poison gas or chemical warfare?

TONY BLAIR, MIDDLE EAST QUARTET REPRESENTATIVE: Well, that's a good question. In one sense, in moral terms, there is no difference. Almost 40,000 people have died in Syria already. But, I think the use of chemical weapons and poison gas, I mean, I think the fatalities would be very much greater. And it does kind of cross a line.

So, you know, these aren't judgments that you can make in any particularly scientific way. But I think what your administration, part of the international community is signaling to the president Assad is if you cross that line, it will be a sharp and strong reaction. And it should be, by the way.

BLITZER: And those were tough words coming from President Obama yesterday from Secretary Hillary Clinton from the NATO, secretary general today in Brussels. But, is that enough to prevent Bashar Al- Assad from using poison gas or chemical warfare or just threats, shall we say? Is there something else tangibly the international community should be doing?

BLAIR: Well, it's important that I'm sure this is being conveyed in many different ways, too. It's important that he understands that that response is going to be emphatic. So it won't be, in other words, that we issue a strong statement. There will be some action that will follow.

Look, I think he will appreciate that. But the real question is how did we bring this appalling disaster, which is unfolding in Syria, to an end, trying to get to a situation where you move to a different type of constitution in which people can have a say in electing that government and where, you know, the countries have put in a more stable footing because one of the issue, obviously, is once that (INAUDIBLE).

So this is fantastically difficult. Again, what we've seen in the Middle East, we saw it in Iraq and now in Syria. Once you lift the lid off of these very repressive regimes, out comes this religious, ethnic, tribal tensions. Somehow, we got to find a way to bring the bloodshed to an end and stabilizing the situation.

BLITZER: How worried are you about the situation in Egypt?

BLAIR: I think Egypt is absolutely key to the region. So, the answer is you have got to be extremely worried when you see instability affecting Egypt. And look. This is, again, these are the birth pains of proper democracy in some ways. But this struggle is immensely important because obviously, what is important in these countries, where they've moved to a Democratic system, is that there is a clear understanding, if you like. Democracy is not just a way of voting, it is a way of thinking. And part of that way of thinking is that you've got to protect minorities. You've got to - I mean, democracy doesn't function unless it is accompanied by an open mind.

And so, you know, you can understand there is a lot of anxiety in Egypt about the constitutional changes proposals. You know, even as the international community obviously applauded Egypt's efforts in bringing about the cease fire in Gaza, there is concern and anxiety about what is happening then. I hope it can be resolved in a way that gives Egypt the balance Democratic constitutions that I'm sure most Egyptians want to see.

BLITZER: I know you're watching, as all of us are, what is going on with these so-called fiscal cliff negotiations here in the United States. And, as concerned as we are here in the United States, your concern, also, is there could be very serious international ramifications if the U.S. does, in fact, go over the cliff. Explain your concern?

BLAIR: Well, the concern people have -- the world economy is in a very fragile state right now. I don't have to say what the problems are in the Euro zone, not that they very manifest. But, actually, in the global economy as a whole, there's a lack of confidence, there is a worry about where it's going.

So, if you're in America disturb by the way, people with a lot of confidence (INAUDIBLE). If you can sort out this issue, then, even though that doesn't sort out all of the problems of the American economy or the global economy, it would be a big boost, I think. It would give people a big sense of confidence. That there was, you know, you guys have done it. You act together. The decisions were being taken and I think it would be good for you and good for us.

So, I hope you do it. I believe you will. I believe right now, there's very tough negotiations and everyone will be laying out positions that seems quite far apart. But, you know, the president is being reelected. And I think that gives the situation its own special momentum. And I hope you resolve it and then we're going to have to take some tough decisions over our way, too.

BLITZER: I hope we resolve it, as well.

Very quickly, there was a cute video of Hillary Clinton at the Savant forum here in Washington over the weekend. And it had a clip from you in there. Play that little clip.


BLAIR: I just have an instinct that the best is yet to come.


BLITZER: All right. You said you have an instinct that the best is yet to come. What did you mean by that?

BLAIR: Well, I think, Wolf, sometimes when you make an enigmatic comment, you're best to leave the enigma floating there.

BLITZER: I understand completely what you're saying.

Prime minister, thanks, as usual, for joining us. We got though a lot of different issues that are in this week interview. Appreciate it very much.

BLAIR: Thanks, Wolf. All the best.

BLITZER: All right.

So if you take aspirin every day to prevent heart trouble, a baby aspirin, a regular aspirin, you might want to check the label.

Up next, our own doctor, Sanjay Gupta with details on what a new study says about the effects of coated tablets.


BLITZER: When police are investigating a crime, they can certainly follow a trail of phone calls and e-mails, but texts are much harder to track down. That could change if law enforcement agencies can persuade Congress to act.

Brian Todd has been looking forward to this story.

Brian, what is going on?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, law enforcement now wants to be able to retrieve our text message messages, not just the so- called meta data. That's when and to whom you sent texts. They want the content and they want our carriers to store it for at least three months. As one prosecutor pointed out to us, these days, your text is where if evidence is.


TODD (voice-over): Michelle Medoff says she started getting the harassing texts in early November. An anonymous person threatened to send news pictures of her to her mother then to a wide circulation.

One text said, I'm so close to f'ing sending them to everyone. You are so sexy. You will be an online star in no time unless you answer me.

The threats came from different cell phone numbers. Medoff, a model and college student, was terrified.

MICHELLE MEDOFF, TEXT THREAT VICTIM: I was very, very afraid. I mean, that week, I didn't go to a night class because I didn't feel safe to walk by myself.

TODD: It's those kinds of texts that U.S. law enforcement authorities want more power to investigate. Several law enforcement groups, including chiefs of police, sheriff's associations, are pushing Congress to pass a law saying your carrier has to record and store your text messages. It's not clear how long they want them stored.

Scott Burns, of the National District Attorneys Association, one of the groups pushing the new law, says his group favors a period of three or four months, maybe longer an investigation is urgent.

SCOTT BURNS, NATIONAL DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION: If you're in the middle of an investigation and bad guys are communicating back and forth, whether it's a homicide, whether it's evidence of a crime, it is crucial. I mean, 20 years ago, we weren't talking about this. Today, everybody has a cell phone. Everybody texts and e-mails and is on social media. That's where the evidence is today.

TODD: Or not. As of 2010, major carriers like AT&T, Sprint or T mobile didn't retain any content of customer's text messages. They get rid of them immediately. Verizon keeps them for up to five days.

Why can't law enforcement get the text from individual's cell phones, Scott Burns says it's faster and more efficient to get from the carriers. And he points out that, of course, the bad guys often erase their incriminating texts.

But many believe the law enforcement benefit of mining texts doesn't outweigh privacy concerns.

Chris Calabrese of the ACLU says with some 60 billion text messages sent every day, it's just too much private information that would be store.

CHRISTOPHER CALABRESE ACLU: And that is not just something law enforcement can get. It is divorce attorneys, it is other investigators, it is the press. Even if you feel like you have nothing to hide, there's a lot of embarrassing and personal information there.


TODD: Experts point out this does become a security issue if the carriers store your texts for any length of time, they could be hacked in to. We contacted the major wireless carriers to see what they think of this proposed law to store texts. We reached out to Verizon, Sprint, At&t, and T Mobile, none of them would comment. The wireless association, the main lobbying arm for those carriers, also would not comment, Wolf.

BLITZER: Has law enforcement caught that individual who was harassing that model?

TODD: They have not so far. Michelle says that the person had also called her from a couple of different cell phones and when she traced -- tried to trace them back, she found out those numbers were no longer in service. So this is another thing those people can get away with. They can disable their phones or throw them out somehow. But, she also says that because the person did not threaten to kill her, this was not a huge priority for the police.

BLITZER: All right, I guess they got other things they got to do.

TODD: They do.

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, a new concerns about a coating used on aspirin. It is designed to protect the stomach. But a study finds it could reduce or eliminate aspirin's effectiveness in reducing heart attacks and strokes.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here.


BLITZER: Sanjay what is going on here? There is a lot of folks take the baby aspirin, a regular aspirin, with the coating and now should they be worried?

DOCTOR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the story goes typically they take this and over the last several years what doctors have sort of been concerned about is that that in some patients it doesn't seem to work. What they -- what the doctors thought and a lot of people have thought is that was due to something known as aspirin resistance.

What this study -- this new study today, Wolf, sort of was looking at is what exactly is aspirin resistance, something that is real at all, or could it be caused by the aspirin itself? Wolf, you just saw some images there. But you know, if you take a look, you have -- this is the uncoated aspirin. And over here is the coated aspirin. And what this study basically says, it says, look, it is that coating that has been the problem. It is that coating that prevents the aspirin from being absorbed in a way that actually allows it to do its job.

They studied 400 healthy people over a period of time. On some days they found the aspirin worked pretty well. On other days it didn't. And that's why they sort of have come to this conclusion, at least in this one study, that maybe aspirin resistance isn't the problem. It is that coating, Wolf.

GUPTA: So I take it a lot of people take the coated aspirin, Sanjay, because it helps protect against stomach problems, right?

GUPTA: Yes. That's why doctors recommend it, you worry that the uncoated stuff can cause GI upset or even some bleeding. It is interesting, Wolf, even as part of the study, they looked at that issue and I think this is going to surprise a lot of people, they found in this one study, again, that it didn't seem to make a difference. If you had the coating, it didn't seem to give you any benefit in terms of protecting your stomach either.

Now, Bayer was the company that funded the study. And Bayer is the company that makes aspirin. A lot of it being the coated aspirin. They had a statement specifically about this. We asked them about this. And they say that they dispute some of the findings saying that when it is used as directed, both the enteric and non-enteric coated aspirin provides meaningful benefits, is safe and effective and infrequently associated with significant side effects.

There, I think, they say, Wolf, and it is interesting is what the company again, Bayer saying it just takes longer for the coated aspirin to work. And they say in the study, they didn't wait long enough to measure its effectiveness. They waited too short a time. If they waited a longer period of time they would find the coated aspirin actually did a better job. But, again, this is sort of new information and as you point out, a lot of people use this medication, Wolf.

BLITZER: Bottom line, very quickly, Sanjay, should we take those baby aspirins or not?

GUPTA: I think that it can -- the baby aspirin can provide a lot of benefit in terms of preventing heart disease. You got to make sure you're taking it. A lot of people say taking it, but may skip days. Sometimes it can interact with other drugs. You got to talk to your doctor about that.

And as far as coated or uncoated this is an important issue. If it is not providing any stomach protection, and taking longer to work, maybe you're better off sticking with the uncoated type of aspirin, but, again, talk to your doctor about that.


BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta with always good advice.

Robbing a bank is bad enough, but what the suspect did next gives new meaning to the phrase self-incrimination. Jeanne Moos just ahead.


BLITZER: Here is a look at this hour's hotshots.

In the Philippines, a woman clings to a Zip line as she's pulled across floodwaters from a recent typhoon.

In India, men are pictured in traditional dress at a celebration of tribal cultures.

In Belarus, a diver tries to capture a sick swan on a frozen lake.

And in Germany, check it out, around 400 Santas gathered to surprise travelers in a train station.

Hot shots, pictures coming in from around the world.

Authorities in Nebraska didn't have much trouble tracking down an alleged bank robber. And thanks to the suspect, prosecutors shouldn't have a hard time making their case.

Jeanne Moos shows us why.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Note to accused bank robbers, doesn't help your case to post your self-on you tube waving around cash and holding a sign saying, I robbed a bank, while the band green day blares appropriate lyrics. And you might want to reconsider titling your video, chick bank robber. 19-year-old Hannah Sabata was arrested one day after the cornerstone bank in Waco, Nebraska, was robbed. According to Sheriff Dale Radcliffe who had to keep a grip on Sabata as she jerked away --

DALE RADCLIFFE, SHERIFF, WACO, NEBRASKA: No gun was ever shown inside the bank. She just said she had a gun with her, the note said she had a gun.

MOOS: The suspect seems to like writing notes. Like the one that said, then I stole a car. And indeed a stolen car was used in the bank heist.

We're not exactly sure why, but all of the signs and the video are backwards. Not to worry, she helpfully supplied subtitles. So why you need a mirror to read then I robbed a bank, there's the subtitle in case you don't happen to have a mirror handy. And she wrote not only she stole a Pontiac, but that it was a shiny one. She dangled the keys. As green day played on.

She displayed the green, even supplying an exact count, $6,256, money the sheriff says was recovered from her home. Along with the sunglasses and backpack, police say she wore in the bank surveillance photo. Her defense attorney wouldn't comment.

Sabata wrote, I told my mom today was the best day of my life. She just thinks I met a new boy. And instead she met these boys.

HANNAH SABATA, 19-YEAR-OLD: They didn't read me my Miranda rights.

MOOS: What led to her arrest wasn't the You Tube video, but rather tips from people like her ex-husband who recognized her in the bank photo. And the video, Sabata brandishes a pipe she said is full of weed and complains that the government stole my baby. She makes a cradling gesture. Records confirm she did lose custody of a child.

The sheriff says she wore the same outfit in the bank, at her arrest and in her You Tube video. A You Tube that is now evidence that could send her down the tubes.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Can't make this kind of stuff up.

Remember, you can always follow what's going on in the SITUATION ROOM on twitter. Tweet me @Wolfblitzer.

And I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.