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Texas Campus Evacuated after Shootout; Will House GOP Leaders Take Gloves Off?; Did Canadian Lead Algeria Attack?

Aired January 22, 2013 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, we're standing by for the speaker of the House, John Boehner, and House Republican leaders, as they react to what they see as the president's liberal second term agenda. We'll talk about the fiscal fight -- fights ahead and the GOP's future. Stand by for that.

Hillary Clinton gets ready for a grilling from Congress about the security failures in Libya and the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate.

Plus, fake ingredients in the food we eat -- fish, fruit juice, even infant formula.

Can we trust the labels?

We're going to tell you what the food investigators are saying.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: And we're following the breaking news, this time out of Texas, where three people, at least two of them students, have been wounded in a shootout at a community college. The North Harris campus of the Lone Star Community College has been evacuated. Authorities say the situation has been resolved.

Police say two people began shooting at each other near the school library. One of the wounded is a suspect, the other apparently now in custody. The other suspect has reportedly been taken into custody, as I said.

Ten thousand students were on the Houston-area campus when the violence broke out. Witnesses report hearing screams and shots, and they say they saw someone wounded in the leg.

We're watching all of this closely. The Harris County Sheriff expected to speak any minute now. He's getting ready for a news conference. We're going to go there live. You see the microphones being set up. We'll get the latest information from North Harris campus of Lone Star College. We'll hear from the Harris County sheriff. He's getting ready to speak to reporters momentarily.

In the meantime, we're joined by CNN contributor, Tom Fuentes.

He's a former assistant director of the FBI -- Tom, thanks for coming in.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Hi, Wolf.

BLITZER: This is so worrisome. Obviously, a lot of shootings going on all the time. But when you hear about it on a college campus where there are 10,000 students, once again, it brings back all sorts of bad memories.

FUENTES: That's right. It brings back the memories that, at least in this situation, it doesn't sound like the shooter that goes to the campus hunting innocent people, you know, just at random.

BLITZER: What does it sound like to you?

FUENTES: It sounds more like something that might have been settled by fists ordinarily, but somebody had guns, so they used a gun, and that the others that are wounded may have been just caught in the crossfire or -- or kind of like a drive-by shooting on foot. So that's what it appears.

You know, we'll be waiting to hear what the sheriff says during the press conference. And maybe, you know, the shooter has given up the motive or why the argument started or how it was. But so far, it appears to be that maybe it was some type of personally motivated altercation between one or two people and they were resolving it with guns instead of fists.

BLITZER: Because the local sheriff, they're saying there are two suspects now in custody. So maybe these are what you're suggesting, maybe two individuals, both of them just took out guns instead of fighting it out?

FUENTES: It could be. That sounds like a strong possibility.

BLITZER: What kind of gun laws are there?

It's a pretty liberal state as far as guns are concerned.

FUENTES: Well, I think if they had concealed gun permits and no restrictions to bringing them on campus, that's what you have. They could have that. And, you know, these types of guns, it sounds like they were small arms, if he took it out of a backpack. So we're probably looking at pistols or some type of small arms that aren't even up for discussion now, in terms of assault rifles and -- and all of the discussions that are ongoing. So if the individuals with guns weren't insane, weren't convicted felons and they were using small arms, it's almost not controversial, other than the fact that this is how they chose to settle an argument.

BLITZER: Yes, hearing gunshots, though, on a college campus.

FUENTES: Yes.

BLITZER: I want to play for you this clip. Amanda Vasquez, a student at the Lone -- at Lone Star Community College.

She spoke earlier with affiliate, KPRC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA VASQUEZ, STUDENT: I heard about six shots. And kids started rushing down the hallway. And a few even came into our class. And it just, it really happened so fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were people shouting?

VASQUEZ: They were just shouting. But I -- I couldn't hear anything. For me, I was just trying to get under a table, get into the back corner of the room. And immediately, I just wanted to find some sort of shelter inside the room.

And so we closed the door and we turned off the lights. And there was a lady in the room who was training to be an EMT. And she put a table by the door.

And I called my mom, just because I needed her to know that I was OK and that, you know, that I loved her just in case anything was going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh.

VASQUEZ: And then I went to Twitter, because I didn't have any real room service, I just had the wi-fi. So while I could, I was trying to give updates, to let people know not to come in here, because there's someone in here, because I know that -- the status of the building at the time when we were still locked in the room. I just -- I just didn't want anyone else hurt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: It's pretty heartbreaking when you hear a story like that, the shock, you know...

FUENTES: Yes.

BLITZER: -- when people just hear gunshots on a -- you're not supposed to hear gunshots on a college campus.

FUENTES: No. You can only imagine the terror of these other students who hear gunshots and the first thing they're going to think is that the shooter is hunting down innocent people, which could be them. So...

BLITZER: You think of Virginia Tech University.

FUENTES: You think of Virginia Tech. You think of the -- the Sandy Hook, where someone is going to shoot as many people as they can and they're in close proximity, so they're likely to be hunted down in a classroom or in a closet or in a bathroom and killed. So they're not aware, at that time, that this may be just a personal altercation and when the two people get done shooting at each other, it's going to be resolved. They have to think, there may be close to death.

BLITZER: It's a sad story.

All right, we're standing by for the news conference, when the sheriff will give us the latest.

Tom, we'll come back with you.

FUENTES: OK.

BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, thank you.

Other news we're following right here in Washington, the ceremonies and the festivities are now over. The president of the United States, President Obama, is getting ready to work on his second term agenda.

But many Republicans are making it clear they see that as a liberal agenda. The speaker, John Boehner, other House Republican leaders, they're about to hold a news conference. You're looking at live pictures from up there.

Our chief national correspondent, John King, is joining us right now -- John, are the gloves off right now in the aftermath of the president's inaugural address?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You could certainly say yes. Or you might even say the gloves are still on, in the sense that Republicans were looking to see what signals the president would send as he began the second term.

If you ask John Boehner, if you ask Mitch McConnell, who today said the era of liberalism is back, they believe spending, the size of government, debt and deficits, are the biggest issues. And, Wolf, if you listened to the president's speech yesterday, 18 minutes and 22 seconds, he made only passing references to those challenges.

Instead, ground-breaking language on gay rights. That stresses the conservative coalition that John Boehner has to manage in the House.

Talk of immigration reform, many Republicans, including the speaker, want to work with the president on that. But if he talks about it a lot publicly, again, it puts pressure on the conservative base, which says any legal status is amnesty for those who came into the country illegally. The president also talking about gun control and gun rights. You were just talking to Tom Fuentes. You had another example today that the president will likely use to make his case. Again, it stresses the conservative coalition.

So the things the president highlighted and spent more time at -- more time on his inauguration address are things that cause stress and strain with the Republicans, with whom he already has a tough relationship.

So what the Republicans are saying is, now you see the real Obama. Now that he doesn't have to face the voters again in four years, he's going to move not only to the left, but in their view, decidedly to the left.

And gay rights, gun control, you're talking about social issues, grassroots issues that stress the Republican coalition and are likely to strain an already difficult relationship between the president and both Republican leaders. You would argue, the relationship with the man we're about to hear from, John Boehner, is most important, because he runs the House.

BLITZER: Yes. And, you know, I heard from a few Republicans today. They said they thought after cooperated with the president to avert the fiscal cliff and get beyond that, after the speaker made it clear they were going to extend the debt ceiling, at least for another three months right now, without a -- a big fight, they thought they were making gestures that the president would respond to. They were surprised that he gave this kind of rather liberal speech with his agenda for a second term yesterday.

KING: And the big question is what happens next?

It is a big speech. It laid down some big markers. The president's base, the left, whether it's a Democrat in Congress or a grassroots movement in the country, they were thrilled with the speech. The progressive movement, which has long doubted the president on some regards, was very happy.

The Republicans are disappointed.

The question is now, what happens next?

You're going to see that sign behind John Boehner -- no budget, no pay. Fiscal issues will come right back up. And the president is going to get back into dealing with Republicans.

So there's a chance -- there's a chance to still do some business here. But the signals and the optics of the inaugural have Republicans thinking, wait a minute.

And remember, you remember how hard it has been for John Boehner to maneuver within his conservative caucus, pressure from the Tea Party, pressure from fiscal conservatives on revenue and tax increases. It's hard enough to begin with. If they think the president is trying to snooker them, if they think the president is going to -- for everything they give him, then ask for more on the other side, if he's not going to push for more cuts in entitlements but he's going to demand Republicans do more, that's the mistrust that has been magnified because of that speech.

BLITZER: I think the news conference outside of Houston, the Harris County sheriff's office, giving us the latest.

CHRISTINA GARZA, HARRIES COUNTY, TEXAS, MEDIA RELATIONS: -- is not in town. And then followed by Dr.

Richard Carpenter, common spelling of both names, with Lone Star College system.

So let's -- I'll give the Lone Star College folks a few seconds to walk over here and Major Tello will start it off.

BLITZER: We're waiting for the start of this news conference. This is the North Harris campus of Lone Star Community College.

We're going to get an update on what exactly is going on.

We believe that three individuals were wounded in this shooting. Two suspects are now in custody.

We're watching the -- we just heard from Christina Garza, from the Harris County sheriff's office, tell us that there will be a bunch of people who will be making statements, providing information.

Joe Johns is watching what's going on -- Joe, we pointed out earlier that federal authorities are standing by, getting ready to help, as well.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. And I think the main thing we want to hear from these folks is what they know about how this whole thing got started. We know there was some type of a confrontation, an altercation, it's been called, apparently two individuals shooting at each other. There's some question as to whether it happened in the library or perhaps in the courtyard that was just outside the library.

This was...

BLITZER: All right, hold on a second.

MAJ. ARMANDO TELLO, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS SHERRIFF'S OFFICE: -- that we found. We just cleared that the Lone Star College was cleared as safe.

This is what I can tell you so far. At 12:51 p.m., units received a call to a shooting. Deputies arrived at 12:53 p.m.. We found that the incident was not an active shooter incident, but was an altercation between two individuals. One of the individuals did have a student identification. During the altercation, one of -- there was a maintenance man that was injured and shot due to friendly crossfire. Also, there was another individual at the scene who was transported to the hospital, that we found, for medical reasons. She had a medical condition.

We had a tremendous response from various law enforcement agencies, including the Harris County High Risk Operations Unit and various other agencies throughout the city and the county. We had a very good response.

I do want to elaborate that the response time from the Harris County Sheriff's Office to the incident was approximately two minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you, sir?

TELLO: My name is Major Armando Tello.

I am the Harris -- I am the acting sheriff at this time. Sheriff Garcia is out of town at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major do you know what happened, why the altercation occurred?

Did the two suspects have guns or did one person have a gun?

TELLO: We do know that there was a handgun involved. At this time, it is under investigation and I don't have all of that information at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you don't know...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- what a possible motive would have been?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) who was injured (INAUDIBLE) fired and who shot him?

I think it's (INAUDIBLE).

TELLO: What it appears is one of the individuals that was involved in the altercation shot one of the maintenance men from Lone Star College.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Major, there have been reports about gang- related.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not friendly fire. (INAUDIBLE).

TELLO: No, sir, accidental. I'm sorry, accidental fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because that maintenance person was trying to break up the fight or do we know?

TELLO: I don't have that information, but it appears that he was in the area during the altercation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now there have been reports about gang activity.

TELLO: I don't have that information at this time. This is still under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this gang-related at all, sir?

(CROSSTALK)

TELLO: I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)?

TELLO: Yes, ma'am, he was -- it appears that he was an innocent bystander.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right, so there you have it from Armando Tello, the acting sheriff of the Harris County Sheriff's Office, saying this incident is now over. Two individuals in custody. Three people have been injured.

Tom Fuentes, who is listening carefully.

It was what you suspected and what a lot of people suspected, an altercation between two individuals. Shots were fired...

FUENTES: Right.

BLITZER: -- and -- and there was this maintenance worker from the college campus that was shot in the process. Three individuals have been taken to the hospital.

FUENTES: Right. This is what we have on city streets all the time, like the streets of Chicago every weekend, people decide to shoot at each other, gang members or otherwise, and then innocent people nearby, even sometimes in their own homes or on their front porch, get shot in the spray of bullets that are going out there.

So, he didn't make it clear during the press conference whether each individual that was armed when they arrived and began the altercation and then pulled out their own guns in the shooting or whether one individual was armed and when he pulled the gun out, maybe they wrestled over it, and in the process, bullets were fired and people were wounded.

So, that part we still don't know the details of how many guns and if both arrived there to duel it out with each other.

BLITZER: At least, suspects have been arrested. College campus has now been cleared. The incident is over. Now, the investigation to what exactly happened will continue.

FUENTES: Right.

BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, thanks very much. Joe Johns, thanks to you, as well.

Other news we're following, at least 37 hostages died after Islamic militants took over an Algerian gas facility. Now, there's word the attackers were led by a Canadian.

And Britain's Prince Harry, he's back from duty in Afghanistan speaking up for the first time about becoming an uncle.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Looking at live pictures. The speaker of the House, John Boehner, and other Republican leaders, they're getting ready to walk into that room over there and make a statement. They're going to be reacting to the president's inaugural address yesterday with so many Republicans say it was so liberal that they are disappointed in this president.

This is the first real day, working day in the second term of President Obama. Very interesting to hear how the speaker, Eric Cantor, the majority, and other Republicans officially publicly react to the president's inaugural agenda that he laid out yesterday in advance of the state of the union address coming up in early February. We'll have live coverage of the speaker momentarily.

In the meantime, let's check some other news we're following. A stunning new twist to the bloody takeover of an Algerian gas facility by Islamic militants and its link to al Qaeda. Three Americans were among at least 37 hostages who were killed. And we're learning now the militants may have had a Canadian connection. Brian Todd is looking into the story for us. What are you hearing, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Algerian prime minister is the one putting this out there. A surprising assertion of a Western connection to this attack, but the Algerians aren't giving much more information and some are cautioning that the Algerian government is eager to pain this as a largely foreign operation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Still sorting through what happened in the deadly chaos at a gas plant, Algerian officials say most of the hostage takers were killed in the fighting, and Algeria's prime minister says he knows who one of their leaders was.

ABDELMALEK SELLAL, ALGERIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The terrorist person was named Shidud (ph) and Shidud (ph) was a Canadian citizen, and he spoke with clear English.

TODD: Specifically, the name was (INAUDIBLE) said the prime minister.

(on-camera) Canadian intelligence and law enforcement officials tell CNN they're trying to confirm whether the attack leader was Canadian. They're looking for legitimate documents showing them that tell us, but they say Canadian investigators have not been led into Algeria to look further into it.

(voice-over) Canadian officials have said recently they are concerned with what one called a consistent volume of young Canadians becoming radicalized looking to travel abroad to join terrorist in operations. CNN executive producer, Tim Lister, does extensive research on jihadist groups.

TIM LISTER, CNN EXECUTIVE EDITOR: There has been a significant number of Canadians who have left the country to go away to jihad everywhere from Yemen to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and most notably, Somalia.

TODD: Many who left Canada for Somalia, he says, were of Somali origin like those who left in Minneapolis area in recent years to join the Somalia-based terrorist group, al Shabaab. But Lister stresses the information from the Algerians is sketchy and points out terrorists often carry false travel documents.

He says the Algerian government has been eager to paint this attack which left nearly 40 hostages dead as being an international operation, not a local one. But the man believed to be the mastermind is an Algerian, Mokhtar Belmokhtar (ph). Analysts believe he sent others to do his bidding in this operation.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: It would appear that what he's done is he sent an experience commander unit, really, the A- team of his group to go and launch this attack that he outsourced it to them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (on-camera): A commando unit that according to the Algerian prime minister also included militants from Egypt, Tunisia, Mali, and other African nations, but he did also include Algeria in that, Wolf. But, information on who did what here is very sketchy coming from the Algerians at this point. We hope to learn more in the coming days.

BLITZER: Yes. And once you do, you let us know.

TODD: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Brian, thanks very, very much.

Once again, we're standing by to hear from the speaker of the House, John Boehner. He'll be reacting to the president's inaugural address yesterday. We'll have live coverage. Standby for that.

Other news we're following as well. Here's a question, what's really in some of the food you're buying and eating? Why you may not necessarily be able to trust what's on the label.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All day today, the Republicans have been slamming what they now say is the president's clearly liberal second-term agenda. Let's discuss what's going on with Democratic strategist, Paul Begala, and former Bush White House press secretary, Ari Fleischer. They're both CNN contributors.

Ari, I'll start with you. You see this as a clearly liberal agenda, different from what he was seeking in the first term?

ARI FLEISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, Wolf. And it reminds me a bit of the Obama of 2010 after he named this Bowles/Simpson commission. Then, he did everything in his power to ignore everything that they recommended. When they came out with a reporter, he didn't embrace it. He ignored it. He gave a state of union, he didn't talk about it.

And that's exactly what he did in the inaugural yesterday. The biggest issue of our times for Republicans is the fact that our nation is going broke, and we won't be able to honor the commitments and promises we've made to next generations, unless, we do something about it.

The president didn't even talk about it yesterday outside of one sentence, and the one sentence basically said, we have to defend the status quo. No changes are coming. That's, I think, what's upset Republicans so much.

BLITZER: And we're standing by to hear from speaker of the House, John Boehner. He's getting ready to make an opening statement, answer reporters' questions at a news conference here in Washington. We'll have live coverage. Paul, so many Republicans are now saying we told you so.

The president was trying to conceal that real liberal agenda in the first four years, but now, he's open about it because he doesn't have to worry about getting re-elected.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he wasn't concealing anything. He's a Democrat. He's a progressive Democrat. I loved the speech yesterday, because of what he didn't say. He very often goes into this kind of airy, fairy dreaming about how we'll just transcend partisanship. Well, we won't. Politics is partisan. Washington is partisan.

It was for President Clinton who very much wanted to heal the bridge. It was for President Bush who campaigned. Ari was there. Campaign and saying, I want to be a uniter, not a divider. Guess what, it's a partisan time. And our president stood up there yesterday. He offered a powerful communitarian vision much of which Republicans could and should sign on to.

And yet, the Republicans, they used to be tough when I was a kid. Now, they're just whiny. Oh, the president didn't reach out to me. He reached out to them plenty in his first term and all they did was spit in his eye. I'm glad he's standing up to them now. That's how you handle a bully.

BLITZER: I think there are going to be some cooperation, Ari, when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform. I think the president can work with Senator Marco Rubio. But what about on climate change, what about same-sex marriage? Is there going to be any cooperation in those two areas?

FLEISCHER: Well, number one, on same-sex marriage, the president hasn't asked for anything or said he'll do anything. He's just said his position evolved, but you know that he hasn't thrown his weight behind any legislation or for repealing the legislation that Paul's boss, Bill Clinton signed the defense of marriage act. He's just rhetorically shifted his position -

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: The justice department is no longer defending the defense of marriage act.

FLEISCHER: Well, and it's going to go to a Supreme Court case as well and that's probably where we're going to find out what the future of that issue is. But the president, when that came out, didn't say anything about the North Carolina initiative which was the initiative in play at the time that prompted many of the questions.

But, you know, Wolf, I think the real key thing here and we'll hear probably about this today with Speaker Boehner, one of the changes now is it's time for the Senate to lead. You know, on climate change, let Harry Reid see if he can get the votes on the Senate to do something. It's their turn. On the budget, let the Senate try to pass a budget.

On guns, I'd be very interested to see if the Senate can put together a coalition that's an Obama-style coalition to do the things the president is asking for. That's a big change. I think the House, one of the things they need to do smarter is not try to see a plank and dive over every plank they see and swim with sharks.

Let Harry Reid lead and see what the Senate is capable of doing. I suspect the president will see he has a lot fewer followers than he thinks.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Paul.

BEGALA: First of, Harry Reid is as able Senate leader I've ever seen in my lifetime. I love seeing Harry Reid lead, but it's interesting that Ari is now counseling, apparently, on TV at least, counseling the Republicans not to lead. Look, that's easy for the Republicans. You know, they used to say -- Ari and I are both baseball fans. I know you are, Wolf.

They used to say that Willie Mesa's glove is where triples go to die (ph). Well, the House controlled by the Republicans is where good ideas go to die, and apparently, that's what Mr. Speaker Boehner is being advised to do now. I think it's a terrible mistake. He could come and make deals and meet the president halfway, but it looks like I think they just go right back to their obstructionism. That's not a good strategy for them. BLITZER: Paul Begala and Ari Fleischer, we're both -- we'll all stand by to hear what the speaker actually has to say. We're looking at live pictures from where that news conference will start momentarily. Thanks to both of you.

We'll also get a different perspective when we come back. I'm going to speak with the former speaker of the House, the former Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich. There he is. He's standing by live.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Live picture. We're standing by to hear from the speaker of the House, John Boehner. We'll get his reaction to what the president had to say in his inaugural address yesterday. We'll have live coverage.

In the meantime, let's get the reaction of a former speaker of the House, the former Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich.

Mr. Speaker, thanks very much for coming in.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: It's good to be with you and I enjoyed watching yesterday. I saw you up there covering the inaugural and it was a great event. It was a remarkable moment.

BLITZER: We love these historic events, whether you're Democratic or Republican. This is history unfolding. It's great to be able to watch it unfold in person.

Well, let's get your react to what you -- I saw you and Callista walking in there. You got the distinguished seat of honor as a former speaker of the House. What did you think of the 18 1/2 minutes that the president used to deliver that address?

GINGRICH: Well, you know, I think I was apparently different than a lot of Republicans because I thought it was a pretty good speech by Barack Obama. I like the part where he talked about the "Declaration of Independence." I thought that was helpful. I like his commitment to the work ethic. I thought that was helpful.

The parts that he got into that were liberal, you know, I keep telling my fellow Republicans, that is legitimately who he is. That doesn't mean we have to vote for it, doesn't mean we have to help pass it. But let's be honest, this guy is the most liberal president in American history and for a guy from that background who had just won re-election, I thought it was a very powerful speech.

Now I would approach some of these issues very different from him and I think he is offering us enormous opportunities. For example, on guns, I've been advocating for the Congress to go out to Chicago, look at a city that has gun control, and is the murder capital of the United States. I mean, let's have the debate on how to solve that problem but let's do it in a way that's factual. I think he made -- if he had any one place -- and you know I agree with Bill Kristol, that we should worry about, it was his statement about war and peace. It was both historically wrong and dangerously misleading for the American people.

BLITZER: All right. Let me -- let me play this clip because it really jumped out at me and I know it jumped at some other folks as well. I'll play the clip and then we'll discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The commitments we make to each other, through Medicare and Medicaid, and Social Security, these things, these things do not zap our initiative, they strengthen us.

(APPLAUSE)

They do not make us a nation of takers. They free us to take the risks that make this country great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, the word takers, as you well know, a lot of conservatives have accused so many Americans of being takers, just taking stuff from the federal government and -- including Paul Ryan. He used that word during the campaign. And not alone. I think it was clear, the president was directly responding to those conservatives who have used the word takers.

GINGRICH: Well, let me give the president a simple test. He talked a lot about the work ethic. I have been advocating that we add a provision to unemployment that says if you sign up for unemployment compensation, you have to take a course offered by a business in order to improve your job skills so at the end of your unemployment compensation you have a greater workforce capability, and frankly 99 weeks of compensation is a two-year associate college degree. Paying people 99 weeks.

So I said to the president, is there a common ground here? I agree with him, Medicare is an earned benefit. Social Security is an earned benefit. Medicaid is not an earned benefit. He shouldn't lump them together. They are fundamentally different systems.

But it's not about taking. How do we liberate poor Americans, give them the capability to be prosperous, so that we don't have to worry about it because they're rising, they're working, they're doing the right things.

And by the way, I did a great session with Tavis Smiley, which will be four nights on PBS, trying to wrestle with this very question on how do you empower and create entrepreneurship among the very poor.

I saw nothing in the president's speech.

BLITZER: So -- GINGRICH: Responsive to the worst economy and responsive to the worst poverty rate in modern times.

BLITZER: You were speaker when there was another Democratic president, Bill Clinton. You worked with him on welfare reform, other issues as well. What advice do you have for the current speaker right now? We're about -- we're about to hear his reaction to the president's inaugural address at this news conference here in Washington.

GINGRICH: My advice is, first of all, don't ask him to lead. If he leads, he's going to lead as a liberal. Ask him to compromise. Second, find the parts of the speech such as the work ethic you can agree with, the parts of the Declaration of Independence, we're endowed by our creator, with certain inalienable rights we can agree with. We agree with him that we want to protect children.

Now let's have a conversation about the most effective way to protect children. But don't let Obama sucker you into him getting to say positive things and you yelling no. I think it's very important for us to be the party that has dramatically better solutions for the future, not a party that simply wastes its energy fighting Barack Obama.

BLITZER: Listen to this clip about climate change from the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that the failure to do so would betray or children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, crippling drought and more powerful storms.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Are you among those deniers --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Mr. Speaker -- can you hear me, Mr. Speaker?

GINGRICH: The control room needs to (INAUDIBLE) so I can hear Wolf.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, I think we've lost our connection with the speaker. Let me apologize to him. Let's me apologize to our viewers. We'll try to reconnect with Newt Gingrich.

GINGRICH: I can't hear, Wolf.

BLITZER: We've unfortunately lost our connection. We'll have him stand by.

We're also -- once again we're waiting to hear from the current speaker the House. There's the room where the Speaker John Boehner will go in with some of his Republican leadership, make a statement and answer reporters' questions. We'll have live coverage of that. We'll try to reconnect with Newt Gingrich as well.

The Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, she is about to face a grilling about the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. We'll take a look ahead to that.

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BLITZER: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is finally getting ready to testify to Congress about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead.

Our foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than four months after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in Benghazi, Hillary Clinton herself must face the tough questions.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: What did the secretary of state knows before, during, and after? Because the American people were clearly deceived.

DOUGHERTY: Aides say she's likely to repeat what she told CNN in October.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I take responsibility. I'm in charge of the State Department, 60,000 plus people all over the world, 275 posts.

DOUGHERTY: Nine days after the attack, she was the first top official to brief the full Senate in closed session. Since then, there have been more than 30 hearings and closed-door briefings with State Department officials present. But Clinton's testimony was delayed by travel and then by illness.

Clinton is likely to tell Congress how she already ordered implementation of recommendations from an independent review, tightened security at diplomatic posts worldwide, send threat analysts to over a dozen high-risk posts and ordered a senior official to focus exclusively on such missions.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: She needs to be asked what she knew about the deteriorating circumstances in Benghazi. Did she see the August 16th cable? Was she informed about the rise of al Qaeda militia?

DOUGHERTY: That secret cable from the State Department's regional security officer warned the U.S. mission in Benghazi had limited security and manpower, and might not be able to defend itself in case of a coordinated attack.

SEN. JIM RISCH (R), IDAHO: The texting, the instant messaging, we really need to have a look at that, which we haven't seen yet.

DOUGHERTY: Some senators claimed Clinton's State Department has not handed over all communications on Benghazi. Others want to know what Clinton knows about those misleading talking points that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used in those September 16th Sunday talk shows, and why Clinton herself didn't appear instead. And they're asking why only one suspect has been detained so far in Tunisia and then released.

Will Congress give the outgoing secretary of state a hard time?

RISCH: I'm sure she's not going to be beaten up. She is highly respected by everyone on the committee.

DOUGHERTY: How Hillary Clinton handles herself could affect her legacy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOUGHERTY: And then, of course, Wolf, there's this late-breaking information coming from CNN's Jake Tapper. He told you just a short while ago that sources are saying that there are new cables that suggested Ambassador Chris Stevens who, of course, died in that attack at one point suggested moving that mission to a more secure location and that would be closer to the CIA annex. So that is likely to come up and, of course, a lot more.

BLITZER: Jill Dougherty is over the State Department for us with that. Thank very much.

Results just coming in from the Israeli elections. What's going on? Did the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, win the election? We'll go live to Tel Aviv for the results.

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BLITZER: Exit polls are now in from Israel's election. The Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's faction apparently came out on top but a very strong showing by the center and left parties could make it much tougher for Prime Minister Netanyahu to form a new right-wing coalition government.

Let's go to Tel Aviv right now, our senior international correspondent Sara Sidner is standing by.

Sara, this was apparently a lot closer than so many folks expected. What happened? What's going on?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's interesting here is there was an expectation that the Likud- Beiteinu partnership with including Benjamin Netanyahu, who is the prime minister, would get far more seats than they actually got. And so what it has said is that they are going to have to form a coalition with -- and I'm quoting Netanyahu here because he just spoke a few seconds ago -- has to be wider. Now when you say wider, that means that they are likely going to reach out to the center or to the left. The center-left. What has happened in the past is all of the polls were saying that this party was going to win and that it was going to skew right, but some of the far-right parties would take over and that they would be in charge of the policies which would certainly rub the international community perhaps the wrong way.

Now we're seeing a prime minister who says, I see that the voters want changes. I want to lead those changes and I'm going to reach out to the widest possible coalition. So that's the situation here. A bit of a disappointment in the number of seats that Likud-Beiteinu got but they are so clearly the winners and likely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will serve another four years.

BLITZER: If he can form that coalition with some of these other smaller parties. He's had a somewhat frosty relationship with the president of the United States. What are they saying in Israel if that relationship was a factor in the -- in the apparent setback for Netanyahu? He didn't obviously do as well as so many folks including members of his own party thought he would do.

SIDNER: Yes. Now, look, I think one of the factors may have been the concern that the international community was starting to look at Israel, and say, hold on a second, we're going to pull back from this. We're not going to be able to support the policies, such as more settlements and the peace process has been stalled for such a long time.

And they also let the Palestinian Authority go ahead and get non- member state status in the U.N., by a very large vote. And so what you're seeing here is a situation where that frosty relationship between the prime minister and the president probably didn't have a lot of an effect on people, but they certainly were worried about that.

They did not want to further isolate Israel. And so I think what you're seeing, it's a small reaction to that, but I think the biggest thing that voters were trying to say is that they're very concerned about the high cost of living here. They're concerned about a lot of these things that are happening inside the country, as well as the security threat outside of the country -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Sara Sidner, watching the Israeli elections unfold in Israel. Thanks, Sara.

All right. This just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM A U.S. Defense Department official saying that the Department of Defense inspector general has cleared U.S. General John Allen of allegations he wrote potentially inappropriate e-mails to Jill Kelly, the woman who claims she was being threatened by Paula Broadwell, in that whole General David Petraeus scandal.

The IG, the inspector general, has found the allegations against General Allen to be unsubstantiated, an official tells CNN. At the same time, the official says, no decisions have been made on whether to go forward with General Allen's nomination to become the NATO Supreme Allied commander.

His nomination was put on hold by the White House, following some of these allegations and the outcome of the inspector general review. It will be up to the White House now to decide whether or not they're going to support him to be the NATO commander.

But once again, the inspector general clearing General Allen of allegations he wrote potentially inappropriate e-mails to Jill Kelly. That just coming in.

We'll take a quick break. Much more news right after this.

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BLITZER: So if you think you know what's actually in the food you're buying, you could be wrong and you may not be able to rely on that label.

CNN's Sandra Endo has been investigating this story for us.

What's going on, Sandra?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well, if you think you're buying foods that are good for you, in reality, they could be filled with other ingredients you may not even know about. And you could also be getting ripped off at the same time.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENDO (voice-over): Fish, olive oil, honey, and wine. Items on your grocery list, but you may be buying something else. Experts call it economically motivated adulteration, or simply, food fraud.

SHAUN KENNEDY, NATIONAL CENTER FOR FOOD PROTECTION AND DEFENSE: About 10 percent of the foods you buy on the grocery shelf is probably adulterated.

ENDO: Meaning it's mislabeled, diluted, or misrepresented. Some of the biggest culprits, fish products.

KENNEDY: You think you're getting crab, you're getting fake crab.

ENDO (on camera): Some fish are more expensive than others. This was labeled grouper. Could you tell it's catfish?

(Voice-over): Fruit juices.

KENNEDY: In some cases, pomegranate juice has been found to be nothing more than water, citric acid, and red food coloring.

ENDO (on camera): Sometimes juice is labeled as fresh squeezed when it's really made from concentrate.

(Voice-over): Olive oil.

(On camera): Experts say 65 percent of extra virgin olive oil tested at grocery stores is actually diluted with lower grade oil.

DAN FLYNN, UC DAVIS OLIVE CENTER: Consumers have almost gotten used to this flavor, these off-flavors that reflect the defects that you find in bad olive oil, off-flavor such as rancidity, there's some called musty, which has kind of a damp basement flavor.

ENDO (voice-over): And honey.

KENNEDY: We now have the problem of honey laundering.

ENDO: That's right. Honey laundering, where honey from countries with trade embargoes is shipped through approved countries then sent to the United States. Expired infant formula and wine are also on the list of fake or mislabeled products.

DERRICK CHAO, SHOPPER: They've got to right the wrong. They're lying to us. You know, that's -- that's not right.

EMILY GAINER, SHOPPER: I think they should make it more explicit on the label, so a consumer can come in and look and quickly know what they're buying.

ENDO: Researchers say food fraud costs the U.S. $10 billion to $15 billion a year and counterfeiters rake in the cash.

FLYNN: I think the question comes down to enforcement and clear standards and the U.S., right now, has neither.

KENNEDY: In the end, just as in any problem with food, if there's a problem, it's the consumer who pays, either a higher price or through illness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ENDO: Now the FDA requires all food labels to accurately indicate what's contained in the food and the agency issues a warning to manufacturers if it finds mislabeled or misrepresented products. And the products that do not fall into compliance can ultimately be pulled from the shelves.

So the key is for consumers, Wolf, is that you buy trusted brand and if the price on some items seem too good to be true, it probably is.

BLITZER: Some good advice. Sandy, thanks so much for that report.

It's Prince Harry as you've probably never seen him before. The third in line to the throne, giving reporters, including CNN, a rare inside look at his tour of duty in Afghanistan. And he doesn't hold back when it comes to talking about the importance of his privacy.

Here's CNN's royal correspondent, Max Foster.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They call this VHR, very high readiness. It might look like downtime but the call to fly can come at any time. It happened once in the middle of an interview.

PRINCE HARRY, UNITED KINGDOM: It wasn't done in the wrong way but it was just --

FOSTER: It wasn't just being able to do his job that made Harry value his deployment to Afghanistan so highly. It was the simplicity of his life out here.

(On camera): Prince Harry stayed in these simple containers when he was here in Camp Bastian. It's a far cry from the palaces he grew up in.

(Voice-over): And when he was working overnights, things were even more basic.

PRINCE HARRY: This is my bed, I don't really make it when I'm down here which is a joy. That's it, made. Paradigm phone so this is as much privacy as one would get.

FOSTER: It was while he was out here that Harry received news that his sister-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, was expecting a baby.

PRINCE HARRY: Can't wait to be an uncle. Seems very unfair they were forced to publicize it when they were, but that's just the media for you. Well, I just only hope that she gets the necessary protection to allow her, as a mother, mother-to-be, to enjoy the privacy that that comes with. Too much light there, that's the thing.

FOSTER: Harry's own privacy is clearly a concern for the prince as well, and he made little attempts to hide it.

PRINCE HARRY: I never wanted you guys to be out here, but there was an agreement made to invite you out on a deal that you -- that the media didn't speculate before my deployment. That's the only reason you guys are out here.

FOSTER: Back home, the media glare will inevitably be brighter and the pressure back on to find a partner.

PRINCE HARRY: You feel like you find the right person and everything feels right then it takes time especially for myself and my brother. You're never going to find someone who's going to jump into the position it would -- that it would hold, as simple as that.

FOSTER: Perhaps Harry's main interests himself will be getting back out to the front line as soon as he can.