Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Susan Rice Won't Be Secretary of State; Obama, Boehner Meeting at White House; American Tech Giant Back in U.S.; Hidden Costs of Genetic Testing; Grisly Plot to Kill Justin Bieber
Aired December 13, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner -- they're getting ready to meet any minute now at the White House. We're going there for the very latest.
Also, with Susan Rice now taking her name out of the mix for secretary of State, will Senator John Kerry be the next secretary of State?
And this -- a Syrian teenager braves a barrage of gunfire in a desperate attempt to save a woman shot by a sniper. You're going to see the chilling exclusive video just ahead.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get first to a meeting that's about to happen any minute now over at the White House, a critically important meeting between the president of the United States and speaker of the House of Representatives. This is the first face-to-face meeting the two men have had since Sunday.
At issue, whether or not the United States will go over that so- called fiscal cliff at the end of this month.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is over at the White House.
Set the scene for us -- Jessica.
There's a lot at stake.
And what's going to happen?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is an enormous amount at stake as we enter the eleventh hour for these negotiations to end and finally reach a deal before the nation goes over the cliff.
Speaker Boehner is on his way over here now, after the president offered him an invitation. I see a -- an SUV pulling into the White House, a series of SUVs pulling into West Exec.
Who knows if that might be Speaker Boehner himself, Wolf?
And he will be meeting with the president in the Oval Office. Both sides looking to see if the two men can find a way to reach a deal on the fiscal cliff.
From the White House's perspective, what they are looking for is if there's any way, no doubt, for the speaker to budge on, from their point of view, rates. They still want to know if the pres -- if the speaker can give at all on rates.
From the speaker's perspective, they're looking for more specificity from the White House on spending cuts.
Today, I should point out, the White House was far more aggressive, from Jay Carney in the briefing, about the speaker, about the GOP position. A little bit of snark in his tone, insisting that the Republicans just haven't been giving enough and that they have been too vague overall.
This was Jay Carney in the briefing earlier today, Wolf.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let me just say that while I personally am very fond of John Boehner, his record of predicting what would happen if certain policies, economic policies, were instituted is a -- is abysmal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YELLIN: Wolf, a different kind of attitude from the White House, suggesting that as both sides are facing stalemate, they're positioning for a P.R. battle if the nation should go over the cliff -- Wolf.
BLITZER: The meeting is, potentially, if it ends positively, do we assume that Boehner will stay in Washington over the weekend and continue these negotiations directly with the president?
Because earlier in the day, as you know, there was some speculation he was ready to pack his bags and get out of town.
YELLIN: Well, they have said that they have cell phones and communications...
BLITZER: Oh, here he is, by the way...
YELLIN: -- devices...
BLITZER: Here's John Boehner right now. He's -- as you said, those SUVs were -- Executive Boulevard over there, right next door to the White House, between the old Executive Office Building and the West Wing. And we just saw him walking in. So we do -- we do now know, Jessica -- and sorry to interrupt you... YELLIN: Yes.
BLITZER: -- that he is, in fact -- your speculation was accurate. He is now in the West Wing.
YELLIN: And, you know, I'd point out that at -- I believe it was their last meeting. It was a one-on-one meeting, the president and the speaker, no staff in the room. So perhaps they'll be doing a repeat of that kind of man to man, face, sit-down, so just the two of them. I won't know until later.
But the president and the speaker, you know, have a history. There's been tension after the debt talks. But they also have a rapport. So they're facing a lot of pressure. Both men know they have to make a deal, some have said by tomorrow, if they are going to get this done with enough time to get through both of Houses of Congress before year's end.
So maybe that pressure at the very last minute will force them to get this deal done tonight -- Wolf, or...
BLITZER: You know...
YELLIN: -- or take steps in that direction.
BLITZER: Let's -- let's hope they do.
And one -- one specific issue at stake, how much additional tax revenue do they need over the next 10 years?
The president originally was -- wanted about $1.6 trillion. He's now down to $1.4 trillion. Boehner says $800 billion. In the olden days, they would just split the difference at one -- let's say, $1 billion...
YELLIN: $1.2 trillion.
BLITZER: -- one -- one trillion, $1.2 trillion, come up with some number in between.
Is that likely this time?
YELLIN: Well, that's the number that has been bandied around. We have heard $1.2 trillion as a sort of obvious compromise point, a number the president hasn't put out there yet, because he could possibly throw it out at the end. So that does seem like an obvious ending point for the president on revenue.
But the speaker is looking, don't forget, for a different number on spend -- on cuts, what will the president do on spending cuts. And today, Senator Durbin said that the president would not be willing to go and increase the retirement age from Medicare. And that was something of a blow for the GOP. They were surprised to hear that.
The White House, in the briefing, said that's not true, that's not a position the White House has adopted. So two different sides on that position. Probably Speaker Boehner will want to hear what the president has to say on that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good point.
All right, thanks very much.
You'll stay on top of it.
And let us know what you hear over there when Boehner leaves, how long they're inside. All those are clues as to what's going on right now.
The other top story we're following right now, the bombshell announcement a little while ago that Susan Rice is withdrawing her name from consideration to become the next secretary of State.
Does this now mean Senator John Kerry will be Hillary Clinton's successor?
Our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is up on Capitol Hill with this part of the story -- Dana, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wrote to the president saying it's not worth the political hassle right now, I'm withdrawing my name. The president accepted that decision.
So does this mean John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be the president's nominee?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to imagine that that is not what this means, Wolf. He has not been very shy about making clear -- not recently, but before that, that this is the job that he wants. He want to be secretary of State. He worked very hard for the president during the campaign. He actually played his -- his opponent, Mitt Romney, in debate prep. He has sort of been lobbying for this job in various ways for a long time.
Also, he is a senator. He is a member of the club that is supposed to confirm -- has to confirm this position, has to vote on it. And already, the top Republican -- remember, he's a Democrat -- the top Republican, Mitch McConnell, just told our Ted Barrett moments ago that Kerry would be a, quote, "popular choice" with the Senate.
You know, as the controversy has brewed over the past couple of weeks over Susan Rice, her chief opponents, John McCain, Lindsey Graham and others, have also been publicly saying that they want John Kerry for the job, that they -- he thinks -- that they think he is the most qualified.
So if he is nominated, I think it is very safe to say that he will sail through the Senate unless something unbelievable comes up that we just don't know about. But it's hard to imagine that that's the case. He's been pretty vetted since he ran for the president -- the presidency of the United States.
One last thing I just want to give you a little bit of color about what's been going on here. As you mentioned, he is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It has been really awkward, frankly, the kind of atmospherics about Susan Rice, as John Kerry has been walking through the halls here, because everybody has been talking about Susan Rice, will she or won't she, could she get the votes and what happened with Benghazi and what happened in the meetings?
Meanwhile, he is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. And so we've had to ask him a couple of times what he thinks. And it's very awkward for him. And so that is over and perhaps he is going to get some good news soon.
BLITZER: If John Kerry does get the president's nod to be nominated, it opens up his seat in the state of Massachusetts. There's going to have to be a new election there. And there are some politics that are involved.
Explain to our viewers, Dana, what's going on here, because some Democrats are concerned.
BASH: That's right. You know, the fact that I just reported that Ted Barrett said Mitch McConnell is -- would be happy to vote for John Kerry for secretary of State -- I'm sure that he believes he's qualified, but there is definitely a number two reason that that would be the case. And that is, it would open up his seat. And Scott Brown, the current Republican senator, was just defeated by Elizabeth Warren. And that would put him in place to have a pretty good run against whatever Democrat would want to run for the seat, as well.
On the Democratic side, I -- I understand that Ed Markey, who is currently the congressman from Massachusetts, he has been there for decades, he is seriously considering taking a run. The question that he's weighing is whether or not it's worth it for him to give up his seniority, which matters a lot in the House, to go for the Senate, where if he -- even if he won, he would be kind of the low man on the totem pole.
So that is certainly at play.
And the picture for Republicans, it puts another Senate seat in play. And every single Senate seat matters, particularly in the Senate, where Republicans actually lost seats this year.
BLITZER: Scott Brown versus Ed Markey, that would be a lively race for the United States Senate in the state of Massachusetts.
BASH: Yes, it would.
BLITZER: All right, Dana.
You'll let us know what's going on on that front.
Thanks very much.
So what does all this mean for President Obama's next cabinet?
Our own Gloria Borger and Ron Bernstein, they are both standing by live. We'll assess with them in just a moment. Also in Syria's deadly civil war, sometimes there are dramatic moments captured on video that are hard to believe. We're going to go to one of the country's sniper allies. Arwa Damon has an exclusive report.
BLITZER: All right, let's discuss the breaking news right now with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, the editorial director of "The National Journal."
The breaking news, obviously, that we've been following, Susan Rice no longer being considered as a possible secretary of State. But John Kerry, the senator for Massachusetts, by all accounts, he is being considered for that job. We know he wants it. We'll see if the president nominates him.
He issued a statement just a few minutes ago.
Let me read it for you and our viewers. "I've known and worked closely with Susan Rice, not just at the U.N., but in my own campaign for president. I've defended her publicly and wouldn't hesitate to do so again, because I know her character and I know her commitment. She's an extraordinarily capable and dedicated public servant. Today's announcement doesn't change any of that. We should all be grateful that she will continue to serve and contribute at the highest level. As someone who has weathered my share of political attacks and understands on a personal level just how difficult politics can be, I felt for her throughout these last difficult weeks, but I also know she will continue to serve with great passion and distinction."
A nice statement from John Kerry. But it's clear, I assume, by all accounts, unless there's something we don't know, he's going to be nominated to be secretary of State.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I -- I -- I think he will. And what's interesting about John Kerry is that he has been out there publicly defending Susan Rice, saying she would be a terrific secretary of State, even as everyone knew that it was a job he's coveted forever. But being a statesman and being someone who's a team player and someone who knows, likes, respects Susan Rice, he went out of his way up on Capitol Hill to defend her should she be nominated for that job.
BLITZER: Do you have any doubt about what's going to happen as far as the nomination for secretary of state is concerned?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there really hasn't been another name in the mix. There really has not been anyone else discussed. And I thought was fascinating was Susan Rice was obviously the main opposition was from the right, but there was a little bit of a drumbeat on the left about her record in Africa that I think was kind of an interesting development toward the end of this.
That all of the signs from the Senate, of course, are that Senator Kerry could sale through the one concern has been, can you hold his seat in a special election without that boost you get on the presidential year in Massachusetts.
BLITZER: A political sidebar. If the president goes ahead and has a new national security team which consists -- and I'm just throwing out some names, and we don't know who they are. Let's John Kerry, secretary of state, Chuck Hagel, secretary of defense, Jack Lew, the new secretary of the treasury, CIA director, John Brennan, the counterterrorism, a bunch of guys.
BORGER: And Eric Holder. Eric Holder.
BLITZER: Eric Holder stays on as the attorney general.
BORGER: As the attorney general.
BLITZER: Does it make any difference that we don't have a woman in that mix?
BORGER: I think it does internally at the White House, and I think that it's an issue that they are clearly considering somebody else who's been recommended. We've all been told that Chuck Hagel is the front-runner. Whether that changes that calculation or not, there is Michelle Flournoy who was a high-ranking official in the defense department who has been on this list.
BLITZER: She was a foreign policy adviser to the campaign.
BORGER: Exactly. And she wasn't the defense department before then. So, her name could potentially rise again, although, I have been told that, you know, Hagel has met with the president, the vice president. He's a favorite of the vice president for that job. So, they could have --
BROWNSTEIN: Also, a solid guy.
BORGER: And a solid guy. They could have a diversity problem --
BLITZER: You think that's a problem?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, yes. I do think. One thing I think is going to come out of this, and it sends me a very long sot (ph), but there, again, has been kind of a drumbeat, more liberal into the Democratic coalition about Sheila Bair as secretary treasury. And I could imagine that conversation is difficult as it is getting longer, louder.
Look, this is not an entirely comfortable situation for the administration. It is ultimately dependent on the votes of women and minorities. The House Democratic caucus for the first time ever is going to be a majority of women and minorities in 2013 and to have a cabinet that's completely kind of immune to that, I think it's difficult or not completely immune in these big choices.
BORGER: Well, there are other cabinet positions aside from the top cabinet positions, and names that have been mentioned to me are Christine Gregoire, the outgoing governor of Washington State, possibly for transportation, maybe Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan --
BLITZER: National security, international economics and world trade, that's a big deal.
BORGER: Yes, and that's -- you know, that's a real problem for them. I mean, some of the present's top advisers are woman, Valerie Jarrett, of course.
BLITZER: Did you see how angry Donna Brazile was when we spoke to her in the last hour that she felt -- that the president really let her and so many other people down by not fighting for Susan Rice coming out of this re-election -
BROWNSTEIN: And certainly, look, I mean, you know, his initial instinct was to fight. I mean, that was a very combative press conference that he did. And again, I mean, the optics of a kind of a Republican Party that was having trouble with minorities, in particular, to some extent, with woman in 2012, mobilizing to stop an African-American woman appointed as secretary of state might not have been easiest fight for republicans to pursue, but ultimately, I think (INAUDIBLE) --
BLITZER: -- as far as the president is concerned in alienating a lot of his base right now who are disappointed? You heard Donna Brazile make the case.
BLITZER: They are disappointed. In effect, they're suggesting he threw her under the bus.
BORGER: It's hard to say, unless, when we start reporting this and peeling the layers of the onion, whether we discover that, in fact, it Was Susan rice who said, you know what, Mr. President, I want to withdraw because I don't want to go through this with my family and I don't want you to have to go through this.
Whether she, in fact, did that, the president clearly accepted it. But we have to sort of report that story out about what part of it was a push from the White House or not. We don't know.
BLITZER: We'd be go out and report. BORGER: We will. We're busy on --
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
So, would you test your children's genes to learn the risks they face as it becomes less expensive? It's a question a lot of parents are about to face.
BLITZER: The video is wrenching and something you will see only here on CNN. A daring attempt to save a woman taken down in a relentless round of sniper fire. The tape was given to our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, while she was inside Aleppo.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A fighter slithers across the street. His body hugging the cold pavement. Yards away, a woman lies motionless. She's been shot by a sniper. Her rescuer is not a relative nor a neighbor. He's never met her. Abdullah Haded Fehan (ph) is just 17. He knew he had to save the woman or die trying.
When we met him later, he tells us, "We had a feeling that she was still alive. We wanted to save her to get her to a hospital." As he crawled closer, he can see her hand, her fingers shaking. "Cover him. Cover him," someone shouts.
DAMON: Other fighters lay down cover fire. Abdullah quickly ties the hose to her legs, but he's unable to retreat. "I said to myself, if I die, it's God's will that I die next to this woman," he tells us. Finally, he makes a run for it and the rebels drag the woman back.
DAMON (on-camera): The woman and her son were walking right down the street there. Rebel fighters shouted at them to stay away, but it was too late. Aleppo is crisscrossed with similar sniper alleys. Some are known, but others do not reveal themselves until the first shot has been fired.
(voice-over) Despite Abdullah's effort, the woman dies. Her son utterly distraught.
DAMON: "Don't die now, don't die today," he pleads. "Answer me, mom, answer me. She's not dead. She's not dead," he says, as he collapses. Abdullah Haded (ph) is left wondering whether her life could have been saved if he'd reached her sooner. Until recently, he worked at a bakery. Now, like thousands of young Syrians, he puts his life on the line. "I am not a hero. I am just like anyone else," Abdullah Haded (ph) tells us. And we're left to wonder how many similar acts of courage go unrecorded every day in Syria and how many innocence are lost.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Aleppo.
BLITZER: Arwa, by the way, has been one of the few western journalists to get inside the Syrian war zone. She has brought us these extraordinary reports. She is now out of Syria. She's safe. She got out just over the past day or so, but her reporting has been amazing.
Up next, more on today's breaking news. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice won't be the next secretary of state after all. We're going to breakdown what happens. Next, the former Senate majority leader, George Mitchell, joins me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Such two years piano lesson today (ph). My mom forced me to take it because she never had a piano growing up. She wanted me to be able to play and I hated it because the teacher wouldn't let me play anything interesting. I got bored, I got sick of it, and I quit as soon as mom would let me and didn't touch it for 20 years.
And then, I heard this piece on the radio and I thought it was impossible for a human to play that. I couldn't imagine being able to move my hands that fast. And I got obsessed with it. It's the third movement of the moonlight sonata.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And joining us now, the former Senate majority leader, the former special Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, joining us from Miami.
The news that's just coming out, you heard -- you heard it already, Senator, that Susan Rice has written to the president to withdraw her name for consideration as the next secretary of state succeeding Hillary Clinton. The president has accepted that request from her, accepted that decision.
What do you make of this?
GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL MIDDLE EAST ENVOY: Well, I think under the circumstances, it's the right decision for her and for the president. She's an outstanding public servant and I think she would have done a good job as she's done as the United States ambassador at the United Nations. But in view of all of the controversy that's erupted in the past few weeks, I think she concluded that it has become a distraction. Not just to her personally but to the president, to his administration.
So I respect her. I think she's served her nation well and I think she will do so again in the future. She's a relatively young woman but extremely smart and able and I'm sure the president has accepted it with deep regret but under the circumstances it appears to be the right decision.
BLITZER: Certainly it seems to pave the way for Senator John Kerry to be the next secretary of state. What do you think about that?
MITCHELL: Well, I have a high regard for John. I served with him for many years in the Senate. If nominated and confirmed, he would be an outstanding secretary of state. He's served the country a great distinction in the Senate. And as you know of course, he was the Democratic nominee for president in a prior election. So I think John has contacts all around the world. He's well known and will, I think, do an effective job if nominated and confirmed.
BLITZER: And finally, Chuck Hagel, he's widely reported now to be the frontrunner to be the next secretary of defense, succeeding Leon Panetta. You served with Chuck Hagel. You know him. He's a Republican. What do you think about that possibility?
MITCHELL: Well, I think it's a good choice if the president in fact decides upon it. I did serve with Chuck. I know Leon Panetta extremely well, having served many, many years with him. And Leon has done a good job in every task he's undertaken including most recently as secretary of defense and head of the CIA.
Chuck has vast foreign policy experience. He also knows all of the issues. I think it would be useful as President Clinton did to have a Republican in the Cabinet and particularly one in such a very important and prominent position.
Now I don't know if a decision has been made on that and obviously there are many other able potential officials and candidates so I don't try to prejudge that issue but if the president did decide on Chuck, I think it would be a good choice.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Syria. I know you visited there. You met with the President Bashar al-Assad when you were the president's special Middle East envoy. You know him to a certain degree. Do you think he's going to the bitter end, potentially wind up like Gadhafi or do you think at some point he sees the handwriting on the wall and gets out of Syria?
MITCHELL: Well, I don't know what he will do but I hope he will see the handwriting on the wall. There's no possibility, in my judgment, that he can remain and his government can remain in that position. It's been brutal the way they're dealt with their own citizen, now over 40,000 Syrians killed in this terrible conflict. And he faces a very tough future, whatever he does. But the longer he stays on, the longer the killing goes on and the greater the hostility and animosity among all of the people of Syria. This is going to be a tremendously difficult transition, Wolf. You know the area very well. People think that the fighting may stop the day he leaves but I think there's some reason to believe that fighting will continue as the struggle for control will just move from one scenario to another.
So for his sake he would be best off to leave while he can because if he doesn't I think he will face the same kind of fate than others in similar situations have faced. Not just him but his family, members of his clan, members of the Alawite sect. It's a very difficult and complicated situation and the best thing for him and for everyone would be to leave as soon as possible.
BLITZER: We've got to wrap it up. But a quick question. Do you think he's desperate enough that he would actually use chemical warfare against his own people?
MITCHELL: I doubt that. I think he knows what that would produce. It would produce an instantaneous international reaction led by the United States as President Obama had made clear. That would be really ceiling his doom in a very clear way and it would be a horrific act. The notion of poisoning your own people, I think, is something that is repulsive to everyone. My hope is that he'll see the light and leave as soon as possible.
BLITZER: Senator Mitchell, as usual, thanks so much for joining us.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
BLITZER: And we're also getting more reaction right now to Ambassador Susan Rice's withdrawal as a possible secretary of state. One of her critics, Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, just issued a statement. Let me read part of it to you.
"I respect Susan Rice's decision and appreciate her commitment to public service. However, my concerns regarding the terrorist attack in Benghazi go beyond any one individual. I remain deeply troubled by the continued lack of information from the White House and the State Department."
That coming in from Kelly Ayotte.
Up next, did American software giant John McAfee really suffer a heart attack on his bizarre escapade to evade police? The surprising admission he has now made to CNN's cameras. That's next.
BLITZER: American tech giant John McAfee is back here in the United States after a bizarre international escapade that started in Belize and continued in Guatemala all in an attempt to avoid police who want him for questioning about a neighbor's murder in Belize.
CNN's John Zarrella is in Miami. He spoke with McAfee earlier today. Some pretty outrageous claims on what's going on.
Update our viewers because this seems to be coming a little bit more bizarre each day.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really does. And, Wolf, he's staying in the hotel here behind me, the Beacon Hotel. And what he told us today was that this really has nothing to do with the murder of the American businessman, Gregory Faull, that this all has to do with the Belize government trying to get him, to pin the murder on him, basically frame him because, he says, for seven month he has been speaking out against corruption in Belize and because of his speaking out and because they were trying to get him, he says, that's why he fled Belize, illegally entered Guatemala, applied for political asylum there.
He was turned down. And because, he says, he feared that they would try to get him back to -- back to Belize, that is when he admitted to me -- during an interview this morning that he faked his heart attack that landed him in a hospital in Guatemala. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: With the heart issue, was that a ruse?
JOHN MCAFEE, MCAFEE INC. FOUNDER: I'm sorry?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The issues of your heart?
MCAFEE: Of course it was a ruse. Get real.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why did you --
MCAFEE: OK, what happened? OK, because as soon as I got to Belize the prime minister of Belize called the president of Guatemala and said, we want (EXPLETIVE DELETED) back here. If nothing happened, I would have been returned to Belize at that moment. So, unfortunately, I guess the pressure gave me a heart attack and so I had one. Immediately after I got well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZARRELLA: Now he told me that what happened was that that three- hour by faking his heart attack -- gave his attorney in Guatemala enough time to file enough appeals that the Guatemalan government basically said look, we're going to be stuck with this guy for years going through these appeals, and this is according to McAfee, and then at that point the Guatemalan government said enough, we're sending you back to the United States. And that's when they deported him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Now you had a chance to sit down with him, what, for about an hour. There were no cameras, I take it, inside the room. But give us your sense, give us your impression, John. What is this man like? ZARRELLA: Well, you know, a lot of what he says is absolutely true. In fact, he told us this one story about how back in April the military authorities in Belize raided his place, killed his dog, and they tried to accuse him of having a meth lab in his house. They put him in handcuffs and then they released him and nothing was -- no charges were filed. But he said this was intimidation tactics in order to -- because he would not pay a $2 million bribe to an official there.
Now, the fact is, that they did raid his house. I talked to authorities in Belize today. And they said, yes, that raid was carried out because we had information, they said, that he had weapons and drugs. They did not find any, they admitted, and that he was -- he was then let go.
Of course, they also denied anything about any of this bribe that was allegedly that someone wanted to get a bribe out of him down there. But I believe, Wolf, that he firmly believes pretty much everything that he tells you. How much real truth there is to some of this, now that's another story.
But he is absolutely vehement in his belief that they are out to get him down there and that he will not go back there unless he's forced to go back there -- Wolf.
BLITZER: John Zarrella reporting for us from Miami beach. John, good work as usual. Thank you.
It's one of the most frustrating parts of watching your favorite shows on television. But guess what? It has now been banned as of midnight ahead. The new law about commercials. You're going to want to know what's going on.
BLITZER: If you had the means to take a closer look at your genetic makeup, would you want to know the risks you or your children face even if there were no cure? That's the question tackled by this week's "TIME" magazine cover story. The author, Bonnie Rochman, writes, and I'm quoting now, "The mapping of the human genome completed in 2003 cost $2.7 billion. Now the cost for an individual's whole genome sequencing is $7500 and falling fast. One day whole genome sequencing could be as easy to get as a pregnant tests at the drugstore."
Bonnie Rochman is joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Bonnie, a brilliant article you wrote in the cover story of "TIME" magazine, thanks for joining us. But first of all walk us through, what would this test show?
BONNIE ROCHMAN, WRITER, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, this test can pretty much shows anything that researchers and scientists currently know about our genetic makeup. So it could show everything from risks for Alzheimer's, risks for various cancers, risks for Parkinson's, kind of throwing the whole -- the whole Web wide open so that it can be really helpful if it's something that could be treated and it can be really scary and unnerving if it's something that can't be.
BLITZER: Yes. Because if it's something that there's no cure for, do you want to know that within 10 years or 20 years or 30 years you're going to come down with this incurable disease and that's going to affect your lifestyle over these years, obviously if there's something in there that you should deal with, that you could change your lifestyle, exercise, eat better that could affect the outcome, you'd want to know that. But there's a dilemma here, isn't there?
ROCHMAN: There's a real little dilemma. Well, part of that dilemma happens to be that what we know today is not what we know tomorrow. Practically every day researchers are coming out with new gene discoveries. So we're learning more constantly. So for example, if there's no treatment today, there may be one in one year, in five years, in 10 years. And so what you know today could actually end up being really helpful. It's just a matter of how much information there is and who is going to be able to tell you what to do do with it.
BLITZER: Here's a line that jumped out of me from the article of "The DNA Dilemma." In the case of genetic testing, there is little doubt that greater knowledge will bring many blessings but it comes with costs. Literal and emotional. Describe some of the literal and emotional costs that if you had one of these tests you potentially could -- would have to endure.
ROCHMAN: Well, the woman who is featured in the story, her name is Lori Hunter, and she is a mom and a high school English teacher in New Jersey. So her daughter had some developmental problems and in trying to figure out what was going on with her daughter, she had very sophisticated DNA tests that did not end up showing an answer for what was wrong with her daughter, but did end up showing that the daughter is missing seven genes, one of which makes this rare tumors much more likely.
And then as a result of that, the mom found out that she carries the same -- the same genetic mutation. So, on one hand, it's great that they learned this. They can now screen. On the other hand, the mom is really ambivalent. She doesn't know -- she doesn't know if it's a good thing. Ultimately, she thinks it is, but it has just made her -- it has taken her anxiety to a whole new level.
BLITZER: Can they do these tests on fetuses?
ROCHMAN: They can. Over the summer, there were two announcements, one from the University of Washington and one from Stanford, that they have performed fetal genome sequencing with a very high degree of success. And that is not something that is about to be rolled out, clinically, system wide. But it's definitely something that is coming down the pike, and parents will really have to consider if this is something -- do they want to know all this information about their children while also taking into consideration that a lot of the information they learn is not fully understood and only indicates risk. Does not necessarily indicate that their child will get a disease.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a powerful, powerful article. Information our viewers need to know. The new cover story in "TIME" magazine.
Bonnie, thanks very much for writing it. Thanks very much for coming in.
ROCHMAN: Thanks so much, Wolf.
BLITZER: Other stories we're following. Unless you mute them, you should hear today's commercials at the same volume you hear me. That's because of a new rule that went into effect at midnight. No more excessively loud commercials allowed.
CNN's Sandra Endo is here in THE SITUATION ROOM, taking a closer look at this new move.
So what's going on here? Is it working?
SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a good question. And hopefully a lot of viewers at home are hoping that this will work, because it is a new law and it should be much less irritating when you watch TV. Now that volume levels of commercials should match the programming. And everyone we spoke with knew exactly the problem we're talking about.
ENDO (voice-over): Watching your favorite TV show and it's bound to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A low price.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know.
ENDO: Now there should be no more need to adjust the volume. Overly blaring commercials are against the law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole getting louder thing doesn't fly well with me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like somebody knocking on your door and just yelling at you, in between the shows, and then leaving.
ENDO: Excessively loud TV ads have been one of the top consumer complaints to the FCC for decades. With the switch to digital TVs, the audio problems only became more prominent and more annoying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes me crazy, because I'm scrambling for which remote is going to turn the volume down.
ENDO: Broadcast, cable, and satellite providers must now make sure TV commercials are aired at the same average volume as regular programming. California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo wrote the bill after a loud commercial interrupted a family get-together.
REP. ANNA ESHOO (D), CALIFORNIA: I wrote a one-page bill and set out to get bipartisan cosponsors and before I could finish my sentence about doing something about these loud TV commercials, I didn't have anyone turn me down.
ENDO (on camera): Using this sound meter, you can see the program and commercials are generally hitting the same level. In the past, some blaring commercials were twice as loud as the programs themselves.
(Voice-over): Consumers can now complain to a TV station or an FCC hotline and the agency will be in charge of monitoring compliance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now if they could just get rid of all the erectile dysfunction commercials, that would be ideal.
ENDO: Now there are no specifics when it comes to how the FCC will enforce the new law, but regulators are trusting this will be a cooperative effort with the TV industry -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I'm sure it will be. Thank you very much, Sandy Endo reporting.
Police say they've uncovered a shocking murder-for-hire plot targeting pop star Justin Bieber. You're going to find out how they tracked the suspects down.
BLITZER: Police are revealing details of an obsessed fan and his gruesome alleged plot to kill Justin Bieber.
Mary Snow reports.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Known around the world as a teen idol, Justin Bieber is referred to as "Victim Three" in a police affidavit, detailing a bizarre foiled plot, involving castration, kidnap, and murder, and four victims outlook. Authorities say the man behind the plot is Dana Martin. Currently serving two life sentences in a New Mexico prison for the rape and murder of a 15- year-old girl back in 2000.
Police alleged he directed two accomplices to target Bieber and his bodyguard. The timing was to coincide with the Bieber concert at New York City's Madison Square Garden in late November. Mr. Martin indicated that their ultimate target was J.B., reads the affidavit. It says Martin became infatuated with the pop singer, even getting a tattoo of him on his leg. Mr. Martin stated that he had attempted to solicit correspondents on numerous occasions between victim three and him, and victim three never returned in kind. Martin, according to the document, was seeking notoriety.
CNN legal contributor, Paul Callan.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Pretty much vague talk about hurting somebody is not actionable. It's only a crime when you do something concrete in furtherance of the killing or the conspiracy. And law enforcement says that's what happened here.
SNOW: And what happened is that two men allegedly traveled from New Mexico to Vermont to carry out two murders. But according to police, the plot was foiled because of a missed highway exit, and the men wound up at the U.S./Canada border crossing.
Officers discovered a warrant for 41-year-old Mark Stake and turned him over to state police for a probation violation. His 23- year-old nephew, Tanner Ruan, was later arrested in upstate New York. Police say they recovered pruning shears and documents linked to the conspiracy in his car and information about the intended victims.
Just how much Justin Bieber knew about this is unclear. His representative would only say in a statement, "We take every precaution to protect and ensure the safety of Justin and his fans.
SNOW: Now the two suspects who were arrested in this conspiracy plot are both awaiting extradition to New Mexico. Both were assigned public defenders. We reached out to them for comment, but haven't got -- yet gotten a response -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story. All right, Mary, thank you.