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Super Bowl Blackout Revelations; Hostage Rescued in Alabama; Gov. Christie's "Big" Problem; Interview with Mayor Julian Castro; The High Cost Of Fixing Immigration; Goldman Sachs' CEO Talks With CNN; Clinton Website Stirs Speculation; Boy Scouts Reconsider Gay Ban; Diet Mixers Equals Drunker Faster; Bizarre North Korean Video Released; Memo Justified Killing Of Americans

Aired February 5, 2013 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: new revelations about the Super Bowl blackout. It turns out engineers predicted a critical piece of equipment had a chance of failure.

Also, we are going to give you the most detailed look yet at how authorities pulled off the incredible rescue of a little boy held hostage in Alabama.

And a brand-new study shows why it's a brad idea to mix alcohol and diet soda.

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

But we begin this hour with President Obama's very public attempt to pressure Congress into putting off billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts, cuts he fears will wreck the U.S. economic recovery. Basically, he wants lawmakers to kick the can down the road one more time.

Let's go to our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian. Dan is joining us.

Dan, the president made a little bit of a surprise appearance over in the White House Briefing Room.


And it's very surprising because the president in the past has criticized these short-term deals, saying that this is not what the American people sent their elected officials here to Washington to do. But you have this March 1 deadline quickly approaching. And while Congress is trying to work on a bigger budget here, part of this $1.2 trillion package, the president says lawmakers need more time in order to continue chipping away at the problem.

The big concern is that everyone believes that the economy is moving in the right direction. The president is pointing to auto sales, the housing, to manufacturing. And so there's this worry that if this sequester happens, if these deep cuts happen then it could be a major setback for the U.S. economy. The president is saying that just the threat already is causing a lot of certainty -- uncertainty, rather, to the marketplace.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have also seen the effects that political dysfunction can have on our economic progress. The drawn-out process for resolving the fiscal cliff hurt consumer confidence. The threat of massive automatic cuts have already started to affect business decisions.

And so we have been reminded that while it's critical for us to cut wasteful spending, we can't just cut our way to prosperity. Deep, indiscriminate cuts to things like education and training, energy and national security will cost us jobs and it will slow down our recovery. It's not the right thing to do for the economy.


LOTHIAN: The president, of course, still wants a bigger deal here.

But in the meantime, he wants a short-term fix of spending cuts and tax revenue. Republicans, of course, are not happy with this strategy, one senator saying that the president needs to get serious about this, pointing out that Americans don't want anymore tax increases.

BLITZER: It's a huge issue. Dan Lothian at the White House, thank you.

Also at the White House today, the president has been meeting with labor and business leaders to push his plans for comprehensive immigration reform. Later this hour, I will speak with one of the people who is inside that meeting with the president, the Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein. He will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We will also hear from a rising star in the Democratic Party, the San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro, who came to testify at a congressional hearing on fixing immigration. All that coming up.

At the same time the president was speaking to reporters this afternoon over at the White House, the Republicans' number two man in the House of Representatives was in the middle of a speech debuting the Republican Party's new message to voters.

The House majority leader, Eric Cantor, gave our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash a preview. Listen to this.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: There's a lot of lessons to be learned from the last election and, you know, frankly there are a lot of moms and dads out there that are hurting right now. A lot of working people are having a real struggle trying to get through the month and too many millions of Americans out of work.

And I think what we all need to do is to focus on how we're going to make life work for those people again.


BLITZER: Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Gloria, what is Eric Cantor trying to accomplish now?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He's trying to reshape the Republican Party. They have got to rethink their strategy, and that bite that you just showed really illustrates it, Wolf.

I was talking to one Republican strategist today about Eric Cantor's speech and the entire process that's going on in the Republican Party, and he said -- quote -- "We need to finish the sentence." The Republican Party spent over a billion dollars trying to sell Mitt Romney and itself to the American people, and they still haven't finished the sentence about what their message is in personal terms.

What we see Eric Cantor going back to is that real kind of growth and opportunity message personalized beyond we need to cut government, we need to cut the deficit.

BLITZER: Because there seemed to be some serious divisions within the Republican Party right now, the Tea Party faction, for example. How much influence does it have?

BORGER: Well, I think you have to say that the Tea Party has receded a bit. I'm not saying that the Tea Party has disappeared, it has not, but it's receded a little bit into the background, as lots of decentralized grassroot movements often do.

What I think that has done, Wolf, is it's given the House speaker and Eric Cantor a little bit more breathing room to do things they may have wanted to do from early on, particularly the speaker, which is cut a deal on the fiscal cliff, push back the debt ceiling issue, so that they can breathe a little bit and try and move away from just these fiscal issues.

Now, on the horizon, there are lots of House Republicans, particularly younger ones, who say let's cut the defense budget, let those automatic spending cuts take place, and there are lots of senior Republicans who say, not so fast. So that's going to be a problem within the Republican Party as we look ahead.

BLITZER: Where does Karl Rove and his new super PAC fit into all of that?

BORGER: OK. Did you ever think that Republicans would be calling Karl Rove a RINO, Republican in name only?

Well, here you are. I have always thought of Karl Rove as a conservative. But what's going on in the Republican Party right now is that his PAC has said, you know what, we are tired -- as someone associated with his PAC said to me -- quote -- "The novelty of losing elections has worn off," and what they have decided to do is to start putting their money in primaries.

They want to vet Republican primary candidates so that by the time they get to the general election they believe they have qualified vetted candidates who can actually win. Conservatives are saying, this is not what you should do. You need to let the process work itself out. And American Crossroads is saying, don't sacrifice ideological purity here. You can't worship at that. What you really need to do is win elections and that's what they say their political action committee is about.

So there is a fight brewing on that front as well.

BLITZER: They're trying to learn some lessons from what happened in Missouri and Indiana in the last cycle, for example.

BORGER: Absolutely.

BLITZER: When you had candidates who won the primary, but couldn't win a general election.


BORGER: Yes. They say it could have been avoided in both of those races. They also say, look, we have contributed to lots of conservative candidates, for example, Rand Paul. They gave more money to Rand Paul than anybody else, but it is a fight that will continue.

BLITZER: Happened in Nevada, and Colorado and Delaware in 2010. So Karl Rove trying to learn a lesson of that.

All right, thanks very much, Gloria, for that.


BLITZER: Let's go to New Orleans right now, where it turns out there were plenty, yes, plenty of warning signs that the Superdome wasn't necessarily completely ready for Sunday's Super Bowl.

As we learn more about the blackout that delayed the game for almost 35 minutes, we found one memo actually predicting a critical piece of electrical equipment had, and I'm quoting now, "a chance of failure."

CNN's Brian Todd is in New Orleans. He's following the investigation for us.

What's the latest, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, one city official calls this the most analyzed 34 minutes in the history of electricity.

City leaders vowing to get to the bottom of this power outage. And as you mentioned, we do have new information on concerns about the power supply in the months leading up to the Super Bowl. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): In the months leading up to Super Bowl XLVII, there were worries and warnings among engineers and Superdome officials about the stadium's power situation.

That's according to memos and letters obtained by CNN from the attorney for the Superdome's management group. October 14, 2012, a memo from Pat Tobler, construction consultant for the Superdome, refers to transient spikes and loads in the system that had previously occurred.

(on camera): The concern, whether the connection point from the grid from the power supplier, Entergy, to the Superdome was reliable. This memo said a test determined that the power feeder line had some decay and had a chance of failure.

(voice-over): A letter five days before that from an outside engineer hired by the Superdome said based on test results, the Superdome's main and only electrical feed are not sufficiently reliable to support the high-profile event schedule. That letter warned of the loss of events and financial liability to the Dome's managers.

CYNTHIA HEDGE-MORRELL, NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL: And in response to that, Entergy and Superdome services constructed a whole new vault so that the concerns that were brought out in those memos were addressed. We will have the analysis and the data on Friday hopefully.

TODD (on camera): Do you know if the vault functioned properly?

HEDGE-MORRELL: I don't have that information right now. That's why the company that that equipment belongs to, they're coming in to analyze their -- their equipment.

TODD (voice-over): A vault is the structure that houses switching gear for power feed lines. City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge- Morrell has called an emergency meeting for the key players for this Friday.

According to minutes of Superdome managers meetings obtained by CNN, hundreds of thousands of dollars were allocated to upgrade the feeder lines into the Dome. And one memo says the work was completed around December 18.

So, what's the culprit? It could be a switch gear, which is like a circuit breaker. Entergy says one switch gear tripped due to an abnormality. They don't yet know what. As intended, the breaker shut power on one of the lines, killing power to half the Superdome.

Power was rerouted to the Superdome through an auxiliary line, but all the systems needed to be rebooted before the power came online and the game could resume. Entergy tells CNN it's bringing the switch gear maker back on site to determine if that was the cause. HEDGE-MORRELL: All parties involved, not only the owners of the equipment, the people that developed the equipment, we have all of them coming in. Everybody's going to analyze their equipment. We have the real-time data from Entergy because that's done on an hour -- I mean, a minute-to-minute basis.


TODD: And we're told this afternoon that the power company, Entergy, along with the Superdome's management group, are planning to hire an independent third-party expert to come in and assess the root cause of that power outage -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, what about these accounts that suggest that Beyonce's rehearsals actually tripped the power during the week preceding the Super Bowl?

TODD: Those are anecdotal accounts, Wolf, that we got here on the ground yesterday and today and that we also heard from a CBS analyst, Boomer Esiason, out of New York, that he had heard the same thing.

We have been pestering officials both here in and New York. The NFL, along with Beyonce's representatives, nobody has said anything about this. But when you're hearing it from different places, you have to check it out. We're checking it out now. The NFL does promise us an answer on this soon. Maybe they're investigating that as well.

BLITZER: Brian Todd investigating himself in New Orleans for all of us, doing excellent work as he always does. Brian, thank you.

We're also learning new details about yesterday's dramatic rescue of a boy who had been kidnapped and held in an underground bunker for nearly a week. Sources tell us the rescue involved a secret camera as well as a special FBI special rescue team.

CNN's Martin Savidge is joining us now with the very latest.

Martin, what have you learned?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, authorities still are not allowing the media any access to where that rescue took place or the bunker where the little boy was held for a week.

They cite that that's still considered a crime scene. An investigation is under way. They also say there could be other explosive devices and they indicate there could be some sort of safety hazard. They're not saying much about the rescue either, only that it worked. But we have been able through a number of sources to piece together what happened and take a look.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): For days, as the command center in a nearby church continued to grow, authorities remained in constant communication with Jimmy Lee Dykes, reportedly speaking through a pipe that ran into his bunker and also through a hatch in the bunker's roof.

Dykes even allowed authorities to deliver what were called comfort items through that hatch.

WALLY OLSON, DALE COUNTY SHERIFF: He allowed us to provide color books, medication, toys.

SAVIDGE: Dykes was said to be caring for the boy, providing even an electric heater and blankets to keep him warm, leaving the authorities to take the unusual step of thanking the boy's kidnapper.

OLSON: I want to thank him for taking care of our child.

SAVIDGE: All seemed well until Sunday afternoon, when negotiators noticed a change in Dykes's demeanor.

STEVE RICHARDSON, FBI: Within the past 24 hours, negotiations deteriorated.

SAVIDGE: According to law enforcement sources on the scene, a special camera was used to monitor what was going on inside the bunker.

Meanwhile, highly trained FBI hostage rescue teams like this one in an FBI training video took turns on standby around the clock. Sources say those rescue teams practiced their assault on a mockup of Dykes' bunker. Monday, authorities continue to monitor the change in Dykes' demeanor. Publicly, officials gave no indication, but for the first time hinted he had a motive.

OLSON: He has a story that is important to him, although it is very complex.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, a team from the (INAUDIBLE) fire department trained in collapsed building rescues was quietly put on alert and brought in. Then came the critical moment.

RICHARDSON: Mr. Dykes was observed -- was observed holding a gun.

SAVIDGE: That's when the HRT team struck.

Byron Martin is a neighbor.

BYRON MARTIN, NEIGHBOR: I heard a big boom and then I heard -- I believe I heard rifle shots.

RICHARDSON: FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child.

SAVIDGE: Sources tell CNN federal agents tossed flash bang grenades into the bunker to disorient Dykes. Then two or more agents dropped into the 6-by-8-foot underground space, shooting the gunman multiple times, killing him. Five-year-old Ethan was unharmed.

It was all over in seconds. For a clearly exhausted Dale County sheriff, Wally Olson, it was a relief.

OLSON: We appreciate everybody in law enforcement pulling together to get this job done. Thank you.


SAVIDGE: In a lot of ways, Wolf, that was the culmination of hundreds of law enforcement officers working to rescue that little boy, not to mention probably thousands of prayers from people within this community -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, people not only in the community, indeed, all over the country, dare I say, maybe even all over the world. People were watching this case very, very closely.

So, let's look a little bit ahead. Where do we all go from here now that it has been resolved?

SAVIDGE: Well, of course, the biggest concern is for Ethan himself. Tomorrow, by the way, he will turn 6. There's a big celebration.

In fact, this park is going to be part of a candlelight vigil. They were having candlelight vigils, of course, during every night while the boy was being held in captivity. This is another vigil but it's to celebrate, to wish him happy birthday and, of course, to just embrace the fact that he's now free, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, we'd like to wish him happy birthday not only from me and you but from all of our viewers here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Martin, thanks very much for that report. We'll have more on it later.

And stay with CNN for more on what may be ahead for this little Alabama boy and his family. Later tonight, John Walsh will join Anderson Cooper live to share his experience coping with trauma. Tonight, "A.C. 360" 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

One of former President Bill Clinton's former doctors has a significant warning for the New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The governor keeps treating his weight as if it's something to laugh about, but his doctors are not very happy about that.


BLITZER: New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie is trying to laugh off what potentially could be a problem as he seeks re-election this year, and possibly runs for the White House in 2016.

Let's bring in our national political correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's walking into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

It's a sensitive subject, I admit. What's the latest?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a serious situation, Wolf. He is taking it lightly. But it's serious.

Chris Christie may be able to take the punch lines about his waistline, but with the New Jersey governor up for re-election and a potential candidate for 2016, the question is, how long can he laugh it off?

I talked to one White House, former White House doctor, earlier today who warns that his health is like a ticking time bomb.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Sitting down with late night talk show host David Letterman, Chris Christie tried to make light of a heavy subject.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST/COMEDIAN: I've made jokes about you, not just one or two, not just ongoing here or there, intermittent. But --


ACOSTA: In a sign the popular New Jersey Governor may be weighing a bid in 2016, Christie also attempted to give himself a clean bill of health.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen in your life.

ACOSTA: But it's no laughing matter to Dr. Connie Mariano.

DR. CONNIE MARIANO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: I worry that he may have a heart attack, he may have a stroke. It's almost like a time bomb waiting to happen, unless he addresses those issues before he went to office.

ACOSTA: Mariano, a former White House physician who helped then- President Bill Clinton with his own battle of the bulge, wants Christie to run, preferably on a treadmill.

MARIANO: I'm a Republican. So, I like Chris Christie a lot. I want him to run. I just want him to lose weight. I'm a physician more than a Democrat or Republican. And I worry about this man dying in office.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I want to see you all moving, all right?

ACOSTA: Dr. Mariano says Michelle Obama's anti-obesity program is a better example of a winning campaign, despite conservative critics who point to the president downing the occasional burgers or beer in his spare time.

OBAMA: We have the ideas and we have the desire to start solving America's childhood obesity problem.

ACOSTA: But the nation is already getting a preview of a corpulent commander-in-chief later this spring when the Washington National's unveils its latest running president, William Howard Taft, who weighed in at more than 300 pounds. Taft was so huge he once famously got stuck in the presidential bathtub.

AD NARRATOR: Christie threw his weight around as U.S. attorney.

ACOSTA: As for Christie whose size became an issue in the last campaign and is up for reelection, he indicated to reporters, he has a plan to lose those extra pounds.

CHRISTIE: I'm making the best effort I can. And sometimes I'm successful, and other times I'm not.


ACOSTA: Christie is still being coy about whether he would run for the White House in 2016. He recently said he would be more ready next time around. But that may depend on whether he weighs more or less in the coming years.

And, Wolf, we should note that Chris Christie said at this news conference in New Jersey just a little while ago that his own doctor has said his luck is going to run out if he doesn't start losing some weight. So, this is becoming a serious issue for him.

BLITZER: He got to lose some weight, that's clear. But he's incredibly popular in New Jersey.

ACOSTA: That's right.

And you could tell last night on David Letterman, he knows how to have a good time, he knows how to have fun with himself. And as we all know, that is a very good asset for a presidential candidate. But at the same time, as his doctor warned we talked to earlier today, you can't run for president and have these kinds of health issues looming down the road.

BLITZER: I agree.


BLITZER: Got to lose a few pounds.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BLITZER: Thank you.

ACOSTA: Maybe more than a few. Yes.

BLITZER: Thank you.

ACOSTA: OK. BLITZER: Immigration is getting more attention in Washington. So is a new rising star in the Democratic Party. We're talking about the San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. He's here in Washington in THE SITUATION ROOM. Get ready to talk about a hot button issue when we come back.


BLITZER: Democrats are putting on a full-court press when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform. President Obama called labor and business leaders to discuss a comprehensive deal. They're meeting at the White House right now.

But up on Capitol Hill, some House Republicans are exploring a piecemeal approach. Among those testifying against that, a rising star in the Democratic Party.


BLITZER: And Julian Castro is joining us now, the mayor of San Antonio.

Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Based on the hours of testimony, what you heard today, will there be comprehensive immigration reform here in the United States any time soon?

CASTRO: I sure hope so. I was encouraged at some of the comments by I think some of the more moderate representatives there on the committee who are willing to consider comprehensive immigration reform. It's hard work. And I told them, you know, that it's not going to be easy. It was also clear that you have some who clearly are not going to support comprehensive immigration reform.

But I do believe that this is the best shot that we've had in quite a while to get comprehensive immigration reform done.

BLITZER: Listen to Representative Spencer Bachus. He says you're not going to get comprehensive immigration reform. You got to get a piecemeal deal. Listen to this.


REP. SPENCER BACHUS (R), ALABAMA: Let's not let the more comprehensive ideas prevent us from this year, this month, in the next two or three months passing something to address what is a horrible situation in this country, unless we're training people to go back to their countries and compete against us.


BLITZER: He wants a piece of this. He doesn't want the whole package.

Are you ready to pass what is acceptable instead of going for the whole nine yards?

CASTRO: Unfortunately, the entire system is broken and the best way to ensure that the fix is effective is to do the entire thing right now, from enhancing border security, to ensuring that employers know when they're hiring somebody that that person is here legally, to dealing with the very real issue of the 11 million people who are already here, who aren't going anywhere.

So I believe that the best path is comprehensive immigration reform.

BLITZER: Some are worried, some of the critics, some of the conservatives, Republicans by and large, that it's going to be way too expensive for the American taxpayers. I'll play another clip. This is Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: People in business, the chamber wants to look the other way sometimes on people coming in illegally if they're working providing cheap labor is, that the rest of Americans are paying for the health care of those who come in if they're coming in illegally.


BLITZER: What do you say to that argument?

CASTRO: It's not a great argument because the best way to ensure that folks pay for health care is to ensure that they actually are legal so that you know who they are, so that they don't just end up using the emergency room as their primary care physician, but they're more likely to avoid that kind of huge cost.

So in Texas, for instance, a few years ago the state controller did an analysis that said that undocumented immigrants actually put in more to the system than they take away.

BLITZER: The other argument that they're making on the financial said is they'll come in let's say 11 million undocumented immigrants right now, but eventually and they'll pay some taxes.

But they're going to be draining a lot more from the U.S. economy and the benefits of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid down the road, that will be a horrendous financial burden overall on the American taxpayer.

CASTRO: The analyses that have been done of this bipartisan across the spectrum analyses have demonstrated that putting these folks on a path to citizenship would be a net benefit to our economy, not a drag on it.

For instance, many of them already paying Social Security taxes, they worked and money is taken out of their paycheck, but they're never able to actually take advantage of that.

We want them to pay more in taxes. We also want them like anyone who is a citizen to, you know, at some point avail themselves of those benefits.

BLITZER: Down the road?


BLITZER: Is there a significant difference between you a rising star in the Democratic Party and Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party, when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform?

CASTRO: My hope is that Senator Rubio will continue work along with other Republicans and as well as other Democrats and President Obama to forge this compromise and prevail upon the House of Representatives to pass something that is similar.

BLITZER: You studied his plan, I assume?

CASTRO: Yes, and I know there's a little bit of difference, but hopefully the framework is the same and it includes dealing with these three big issues, including a pathway to citizenship.

BLITZER: Mayor Castro, thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We hope you'll come back.

CASTRO: Thanks a lot.

BLITZER: Appreciate it.

So as they say, one picture equals a thousand words. What might this web site be saying?


BLITZER: The president has just wrapped up a meeting on comprehensive immigration reform over at the White House with top business leaders, labor leaders, others. Joining us from the north lawn of the White House is the Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO, Lloyd Blankfein.

He's just emerged from that meeting. Lloyd, thanks for coming in. What was accomplished?

LLOYD BLANKFEIN, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, GOLDMAN SACHS: I think the president gave his views on immigration and the specific plan and the CEOs responded very positively. I think this has been a core interest of the business community for a long time and I think the CEOs are getting what they wanted.

BLITZER: Are you on board with what the president describes as comprehensive immigration reform? In other words, is there any daylight between what you support and what he supports -- what he wants Congress to do?

BLANKFEIN: I think there are general principles that are being espoused at this point. I haven't seen any details where people can diverge. I would say what we hear coming out of the Senate, also the bipartisan group coming out of the Senate, is pretty much in line with a comprehensive plan to allow businesses in this country to attract people.

The kind of talent that will help drive their businesses and create other businesses and in turn create jobs for people who already live in this country and also provide a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens.

BLITZER: If 11 million or so of these undocumented immigrants here in the United States have an opportunity to go over some hurdles, pay back taxes, make sure they haven't committed any crimes, learn English, do all those things that the president is recommending, how will bringing them openly publicly legally into the American economy benefit the American economy?

BLANKFEIN: Well, on that side of it, you know, clearly on the side of the specific skill set where you're trying to get a specific person to fulfill a specific skill, that's quite clear. On the rest of it, the people who are already here and those who would seek immigration to the United States, again, down the road are productive people who by definition are coming here to work so they're generally motivated to work.

They come here. They generate income. They buy things and they take very little resources out and I think the most -- every study that looked at this says those people right now are contributing more to the American economy than they're taking away from it in goods and services, but the bottom line, Wolf, is they're already here.

It's just a fact on the ground and we have to deal with that fact. So getting that -- getting them done, getting them to pay back taxes, getting them to stand in line, legalizing the position that they're already occupying is a good thing for them, but it's a good thing for the country and the economy.

BLITZER: It's a big business on Wall Street, you're obviously one of the top players on Wall Street, are they pretty much in line with your position based on what you've heard?

BLANKFEIN: Based on what I heard, I can't speak for others, but I think those that have interests similar to ours, and I expect them to have similar views. Look, at the end of the day we're a service business. Our big input into the product that we produce is people and talent.

The idea that we could get talented people and we don't accept them is a big -- is very hard to -- very hard to explain. Let me tell you, I was in China recently and I was talking to the head of the big Chinese company, it was also a minister in the government.

And I said, you Chinese are so lucky because in your businesses you could draw on 1.3 billion people. And he said to me, you Americans are luckier still because you get to draw on 7 billion people. That is all the people in the world would gladly come to this country to work if you'd let them, by the way, including many of the Chinese.

So at the end of the day we have to have a process for accepting them. People have to wait in line. It has to be done legally, but we're crazy if we don't take advantage of this great asset, which is the draw of the American dream.

BLITZER: Let me get your quick reaction on an unrelated story. The Justice Department filing a civil lawsuit now against Standard & Poor's for supposedly cooking the books, if you will, helping to create that climate, which resulted in the economic collapse in 2007, it you 2008. A bunch of state attorneys generals are filing suits. Do you want to talk about what's going on?

BLANKFEIN: Wolf, I wish I could. I really am not versed on that. I'll go back and I'll read the papers on that. I'm not in a position to do that now.

BLITZER: All right, fair enough. Lloyd Blankfein, thanks very much for coming in. Always appreciate having you here on THE SITUATION ROOM.

BLANKFEIN: My pleasure, Wolf. Thank you very much.

BLITZER: The former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton's new web site, is generating a bit of buzz. Joining us now is our congressional correspondent Kate Bolduan who's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Kate, is this a precursor? What's going on? There's a lot of us political pundits out there are talking about this.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More than political pundits. I mean, there are so many people interested in what is next for Hillary Clinton. I mean, she's been off the job for all of a few days now and the 2016 intrigue is moving full speed ahead.

The latest example, as you mentioned, a new web site, Just take a look at it. It is a very simple layout. A dark blue background with a large, very flattering photo, some might even argue a presidential like photo of Hillary Clinton.

But it gives no clues as to what it means. To call it bare bones is really almost a stretch. All you can do, we all looked at it today. All you can do is click on an expandable contact form, which then allows you to submit a scheduling request, a media inquiry or offer a comment or a question.

But just as interesting, and what really has this town buzzing, if you go to Clinton's old 2008 campaign web site, it redirects you now to this new site. The purchaser of the domain name for the new web site is anonymous, but no one is obviously questioning the authenticity of the new site.

It's linked off of her official 2008 campaign web site. On another note, the new site was registered on January 31st just as Clinton was leaving office. She, of course, is offering no clue as to her future White House aspirations. She spoke with CNN as she was heading out of office. Listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, I am out of politics right now and I don't know everything I'll be doing. I'll be working on behalf of, you know, women and girls. I'll be hopefully writing and speaking. Those are the things that I'm planning to do right now.


BOLDUAN: So as for the web site, some see it as a place holder for things to come. Some see it as a smart way to build on the contact database she developed during her presidential run. Maybe it's nothing more than a way for people to reach out to the former secretary of state.

Either way, this simple web site is doing nothing, zippo, nada to quiet the 2016 speculation and maybe the buzz is exactly what she is looking for. Wolf, I'll tell you, I submitted a question to the web site. I have not heard back yet.

BLITZER: I did too. I submitted a question. I invited her to come join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. So I'm waiting for a response. It's That's the web site.

BOLDUAN: It's If you go to her former -- her old web site and you can click right on that page and it will go to her new web site.

BLITZER: Nice picture of the former secretary of state.

BOLDUAN: I would say so too.

BLITZER: All right, there she is, right there. Hillary Clinton. She is going to be resting. Let her rest for a while.

BOLDUAN: For at least a couple of more days.

BLITZER: She'll recharge her batteries hopefully and then we'll see what she does.

BOLDUAN: Then we'll continue to wait and watch and watch for that announcement.

BLITZER: She'll accept my request to come here into THE SITUATION ROOM.

BOLDUAN: First thing.

BLITZER: I went to that web site, I hit submit.

BOLDUAN: You did. You did exactly what they asked. BLITZER: We'll see if we get a response. Thanks very much.

The Boy Scouts are beginning talks on a controversial proposal that could mean huge change in the organization's ban on gays.


BLITZER: The Boy Scouts of America today began talks that could lead to a landmark change in the organization's long standing ban on gays. The executive board is meeting near Dallas. CNN's Casey Wian is on the scene for us. So what's the latest, Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's a potentially historic vote happening tomorrow morning on the future of the boy scouts on the issue of gays in scouting. The Boy Scouts of America is proposing a compromise.


WIAN (voice-over): Leaders of religious organizations that sponsor about a million boy scouts and activists pressuring the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on openly gay scouts and scoutmasters can agree on one thing, they're not satisfied with the boy scouts proposal to leave the issue up to local troops.

RICHARD LAND, SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION: We believe that this is going to be -- if they make this decision, it's going to be a catastrophe for the boy scouts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to see the scouting gerrymandered into blue and red districts so the best solution would be to end discrimination outright.

WIAN: The boy scouts won't discuss their policy proposal, but the organization has told leaders of religious groups that the change is motivated by pressure from corporate donors. More than a dozen, including IBM, Merck, and American Airlines have pulled funding from the boy scouts according to "Scouting for All," a group pushing for an end to the scouts' gay ban.

LAND: What they've said to us and other religious leaders is we're doing this under pressure and we're going to give people basically what amounts to a local option. You can't have a local option of a core conviction.

In 2000, the Supreme Court said that the boy scouts did not have to have homosexual scout masters because their belief about sexual morality was a core value. If you make it a local option, it's no longer a core value and the courts will revisit this.

WIAN: Jennifer Tyrell was a scout den mother who was ousted for being gay.

JENNIFER TYRELL, OUSTED DEN MOTHER: If the policy passes and individual troops and councils can decide, it's of course a great first step and we would be appreciative of that step and acknowledgment. However, it will mean that there is more work to be done.

WIAN: Even before the controversy over admitting gays, the boy scouts were seeing a decline in membership, which dropped by about a third since 1999.


WIAN: Now the scoutmaster of a Dallas troop, he didn't want to appear on camera, but he told us that some of the parents of his troop members say that they will actually leave scouting if the boy scouts do approve gay members, but those who oppose this policy of exclusion say allowing gays to be both scouts and scout masters is the only way this organization can survive -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Casey Wian watching the story, we'll see what happens tomorrow. Thank you.

In our next hour, by the way, we're going to have a debate on whether or not the boy scouts should shift its policy. Two passionate people on both sides of the argument will join us.

A new study suggests alcohol and diet sodas are a bad mix. We have details.


BLITZER: A new study shows a big down side to mixing alcohol and diet soda. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now to explain. What's going on, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, alcohol and diet soda may taste just fine, but it may not be so good for your brain.


COHEN (voice-over): It's no secret soda can add to your waistline.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a Malibu and diet Coke.

COHEN: That's why many drinkers choose to mix their alcohol with a diet soda instead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It cuts down the sweetness and you know, calories too.

ASHLEY MILLS, BARTENDER: They usually tell me that they're watching their weight. That's the number one reason.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Watching my middle.

COHEN: Alcohol with regular soda and alcohol with diet soda may look the same. But according to a new small study, the way they impact your brain is very different. CECILE MARCZINSKI, RESEARCHER, NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY: What we found was that when you mix alcohol with a diet soft drink you achieve a higher blood alcohol concentration than you would with a regular soft drink mixer.

COHEN (on camera): This is how the researchers did the study. They had college students drink about four vodka drinks with regular soda. They waited 40 minutes, gave them a breathalyzer test, and they passed it. But then on a different day they had those students drink about the same drinks but this time with diet soda.

So they saved 132 calories but they failed the breathalyzer test. Because they were drinking diet soda, it was as if they were getting an extra shot glass of alcohol.

(voice-over): The diet drinkers didn't realize they were more drunk, but tests showed their responses were, indeed, more impaired. They would be more likely, for example, to get into a car accident. Why would alcohol with diet soda get you drunker faster?

MARCZINSKI: There's no sugar in it so it goes through the stomach a lot faster. The diet mixer kind of fast forwards the digestion process of sending the alcohol into the bloodstream.

COHEN: So, in other words, without the sugar, the alcohol goes to your head faster.

MARCZINSKI: Yes. You should probably mix your alcohol with a sugar sweetened mixer as opposed to a diet one.

COHEN: Sure, it's extra calories, but you'll also be drinking safer.


BLITZER: What about just drinking liquor straight, Elizabeth? What do the studies show?

COHEN: Wolf, the researcher told us that would be the same as drinking alcohol with a diet soda. Your body is really basically only metabolizing the alcohol. It's better to drink it with a sugary soda or even better to drink it with some food so that way the alcohol doesn't hit your bloodstream so quickly and strongly.

BLITZER: So you're better off, in other words, having rum and Coke as opposed to rum and diet Coke, is that what the study is showing?

COHEN: Right. That's what the study is showing, that as far as inebriation goes, you're better off with having some of that sugar. You won't be quite as drunk quite as fast.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, a fascinating study indeed. Thank you very much.

COHEN: Thanks. BLITZER: A new video from North Korea raising some eyebrows here in the United States. It shows the United States city in ruins.

Also an update on a popular Olympic skier who was severely injured in a fall today.


BLITZER: A video just came out of North Korea. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, North Korea has come out with a pretty bizarre and ominous new video and it is obviously propaganda. OK, that's going to be disturbing for some to see, but this video shows a U.S. city in flames in a scene similar to 9/11. It has had tens of thousands of views since its release on YouTube Saturday after South Korea warned that a nuclear test by the north appeared imminent.

In other news, officials in Washington are confirming the existence of a Justice Department document justifying assassination of U.S. citizens overseas if they pose a quote, "imminent threat" to the United State.

The memo was written months before September 2011 drone strike in Yemen that killed a U.S. born Muslim cleric accused of plotting attacks against the U.S. We will have a full report on this story in the 6:00 Eastern hour.

Doctors in Austria say Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn does not need immediate surgery on the knee injury she suffered during today's Super G at the Alpine Ski World Championships. The 28-year-old was airlifted from the race course after her crash. The U.S. team's Web site says Vaughn is going to be out for the rest of the season, but we are certainly glad that that injury was not more serious. She sounds like she's going to be just fine, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope that. Indeed, Lisa. Thank you.