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Interview with Senator Ron Wyden; Bin Laden Relative Captured; Lion Kills 24-Year-Old Intern; President Obama on Brennan Confirmation; Obama Lunches with Rep. Paul Ryan' Interview with Chris Van Hollen; Nuclear Strike on the U.S.; Controversial Take on Women and Work; Text Message Scam

Aired March 7, 2013 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Osama bin Laden's son-in- law, a former al Qaeda spokesman, captured and he's now being held near the site of the World Trade Center attacks in New York.

Senator Rand Paul's filibuster fight over drone policy ends with a three-sentence letter from the attorney. I will talk with a key Democrat who joined the Republican's protest. Senator Ron Wyden is standing by live.

Plus, a text message scam on a massive scale. More than 180 million messages sent. Now a crackdown.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

He was behind the worst terror attack in U.S. history. Now the son- in-law of Osama bin Laden is in the very city where al Qaeda struck its deadliest blow, sources telling CNN Suleiman Abu Ghaith is now being held in New York City by federal authorities after being captured in Jordan last week.

CNN crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns has been working the story. He's coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Joe, tell us what we know.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you said, Suleiman Abu Ghaith is his name.

He's said to be a member of the al Qaeda inner circle, 47 years old. He's married to one of Osama bin Laden's daughter named Fatima. He was born in Kuwait, but was stripped from of his citizenship after the 9/11 attacks, though it's not clear at all how much, if anything, he may have had to do with the 9/11 attacks.

He was taken into custody and held in Jordan and apparently turned over to U.S. authorities only last week and that is how he made his way to New York.


PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: This is a guy who was a high school teacher in Kuwait who shortly before 9/11 popped up in Afghanistan and started, you know, speaking in videotapes alongside the imam, made a number of threatening of statements about attacks on the United States in the post-9/11 time period and disappeared from sight.

And he's had, as far as I'm aware, absolutely no operational role in al Qaeda or in the decade since. Obviously, there are sealed charges against him. Maybe there will be something in there, but my expectation is there won't be.


JOHNS: Abu Ghaith is expected to appear in court tomorrow, which suggests the intention of the Department of Justice to try the suspect in the United States. This has been a long-running debate and many conservatives have suggested that the military tribunals are well- suited for this type of defendant.

The argument on the other side has been that federal prosecutors have a very high conviction rate on terrorism suspects tried in the U.S.

BLITZER: It's very interesting, Joe, that they decided to bring him to New York, instead of Guantanamo Bay, Gitmo, where the U.S. has that prison facility.

JOHNS: Absolutely.

One of the things we do know is that the law on this type of issue, especially as it relates to material support of terrorism, actually changed in 2006, and so it may be that they won't be able to reach back because of the Constitution and try him before that time.

Let's listen to one constitutional law expert I spoke with.


KAREN GREENBERG, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT: Until now, we thought that we could try them under these charges in the military commission system and it looks like it's not going to turn out that way, which means that material support charges can be tried in the federal court system as they always have and they are highly successful in terms of bringing indictments and in terms of bringing convictions.


JOHNS: So, Wolf, we expect to hear a lot more about this suspect tomorrow with that presentment in federal court in New York City.

BLITZER: We will see who represents him as well in that in federal court. Thanks very much, Joe Johns.

Let's dig a little bit deeper with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. He's a member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee.

Your immediate reaction to this news that we learned today. You may have learned about it longer than we did. But what do you think about this decision to bring him to New York? SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Wolf, first of all, you can't as a member of the Intelligence Committee get into any details with respect to a particular case.

But I think you know I am for taking the fight to al Qaeda and I think what we need to do is look at ways to it as effectively as possible and do it in line with our values. And particularly with respect to the role of federal prosecutors, there are an awful lot of these terrorists and very dangerous individuals that are spending time in a maximum security facility now because the federal prosecutors have done good work placing them behind bars.

BLITZER: Very quickly, you think this is a big deal, a little big, middle kind of deal? How big of a deal is he?

WYDEN: Again, Wolf, I just can't get into details.

But I think -- and you see this particularly in this whole debate about drones -- we continue to face very real threats today. And the challenge is to make sure, particularly given the fact that the president right fully has extensive powers as commander in chief.

We recognize that there are checks and balances and that's why you're going to continue to have questions, for example, about military tribunals or federal prosecutors, some of the questions I know you want to get into the details on.

BLITZER: I do want to get into the details. Hold on for one moment.

All right, this just coming in from Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate now has confirmed John Brennan to be the next CIA director. The final vote is 63 in favor, 34 opposed. Brennan is a former White House counterterrorism adviser, a former CIA deputy director, certainly a top architect of the Obama administration's drone program as well. He will replace the retired U.S. General David Petraeus who resigned in November amid revelations of an extramarital affair.

The Brennan vote follows an almost 13-hour filibuster by Senator Rand Paul. The Tea Party-backed Kentucky Republican blocked the vote while demanding an answer about those drone strikes, potential drone strikes on American citizens on U.S. soil. That answer came in a letter from the attorney general just a little while ago. Eric Holder writing to Senator Paul.

And while Senator Paul was talking to our own chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, he got to read the letter.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is literally three sentences long. And he says that the answer to your question about can Americans be killed on U.S. soil, and the answer is no. Are you satisfied?

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I'm quite happy with the answer and I'm disappointed it took a month-and-a-half and a root canal to get it, but we did get the answer. And that's what I have been asking all along.

And it really is what the Senate should be about, advise and consent and find out what policies are. I have a feeling since this was so difficult that I never would have gotten this with routine letters to the White House.


BLITZER: Let's bring back Senator Wyden. He was the only Democrat to join Senator Paul's filibuster of John Brennan.

Quick question, Senator. Are you satisfied with the letter, the explanation from the attorney general, these three sentences?

WYDEN: I think it's helpful, Wolf.

And what he said is really consistent with what I went into on the floor of the Senate yesterday. In effect, the Holder letter now makes it clear, if you're talking about a noncombatant in the United States, you cannot use lethal force. You cannot strike with a drone.

What the earlier letter said -- and it was what I went in to yesterday -- is that if you're talking about our country having to repel a foreign power, such as in the instance of 9/11 or something of that nature, you have to use military force. So we're continuing to root out more of the details about our policies.

And I can tell you, Wolf, that this debate about drones, both in Washington, D.C., and in our country, is just beginning. There is a lot more work yet to be done. And I think you're going to see Democrats and Republicans here in the United States Senate -- we kind of call ourselves the checks and balances caucus -- spending a lot of time trying to bring to light consistent with national security more details about the drone program.

BLITZER: What do you think about killing American citizens engaged in terrorism on foreign soil, let's say like in Yemen, where the U.S. had a targeted assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki?

WYDEN: I can certainly conceive of plenty of instances, Wolf, if you're talking about an American who is taking up arms against the United States. I can think of plenty of instances where our country needs to use lethal force to deal with that kind of particular situation.

What we're going to have to flesh out is, for example, what happens if our country has the wrong person or somebody thinks that they don't belong to one of these groups and the government does? Those are some of the issues we need to address.

I have continued to say my bottom line is I believe that every American wants to know when their government believes it's allowed to kill them. And until we make that very clear and address some of the additional details and the questions I, Senator Paul, Senator Udall, Senator Lee, a large group of senators are talking about, we have got more work to do. BLITZER: Not necessarily Senator John McCain, who was out on the Senate floor today really going after Senator Rand Paul, some of the remarks he made during his filibuster yesterday. Listen to McCain.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I don't think that what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people. But somehow to allege that the United States of America, our government, would drop drone Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda, that is -- that brings the conversation from a serious discussion about U.S. policy to the realm of the ridiculous.


BLITZER: All right, you want to respond to Senator McCain?

WYDEN: Well, Wolf, I'm an admirer of John McCain.

He's a special friend to Nancy and I. I can tell you that this debate is not essentially about Jane Fonda. It's about the fact that the very nature of warfare is changing and it's changing so dramatically. And we are now going to have to think through a new set of rules and a new set of approaches.

For example, I have very strong beliefs that operations conducted by the intelligence community need to be kept secret, but the law itself should never be secret. We shouldn't be practicing secret law. And until we won just here in the last few days our two-year campaign -- it's a two-year campaign, Wolf. I made seven requests of the Obama administration to get the legal analyses behind these drone strikes.

We were essentially in the dark. So there are a lot of issues still to be dealt with.

BLITZER: Senator Wyden, thanks, as usual, for joining us.

WYDEN: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Up next, dinner with senators -- now President Obama is having lunch with two key congressmen as part of what is seen as a new charm offensive. One of them is here to talk about it. How was lunch today? Representative Chris Van Hollen standing by live this hour.

Up next, mauled to death by a lion. We have new details coming into THE SITUATION ROOM of the young woman killed while working her dream job.


BLITZER: He was raised by humans, had appeared on TV, never showed any signs of aggression, a 350-pound lion named Cous Cous.

But behind these gates at a Central California sanctuary, the animal mauled a young intern to death, and now everyone involved is trying to figure out how and why. CNN Ted Rowlands is in Dunlap, California, that's near Fresno.

Ted, what's the latest? What are you hearing?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we're expecting an update within the next hour here. One of the big questions from animal experts isn't necessarily what -- why Cous Cous reacted the way he did. It's why this young woman was inside his enclosure.


REPORTER: What are you doing?

DALE ANDERSON, ANIMAL SANCTUARY OWNER: What do you think we're doing? It's awful?

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Sanctuary owner Dale Anderson kept the gates at Cat Haven locked Thursday, a day after his 24-year-old intern was mauled to death by a lion. Diana Hanson had been working here for six months.

Her smile in these photographs seems to show what her father said was an absolute love for the job.

One of those cats was Cous Cous, a 350-pound, 5 1/2-year-old African lion who lived at Cat Haven since he was a few months old. This is iPhone video of Cous Cous taken by a CNN iReporter in December. Investigators say Diana was with another intern but was the only one in the enclosure with Cous Cous when he attacked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently, the other intern was outside of the cage and was not in the cage. She was in the cage and I don't know why in the world she'd ever be inside of the lion's cage. I can't think of why she would do that.

ROWLANDS: Those that knew Cous Cous say he had no history of aggression.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He eats about five pounds of food a day.

ROWLANDS: He'd been featured in different television shows.

JEFF CORWIN, ANIMAL EXPERT: This is baby (ph) lion.

ROWLANDS: This is Cous Cous when he was a cub being held by Jeff Corwin on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

CORWIN: We can't forget how powerful these animals are and it does strike me as potentially dangerous for someone to be alone with a cat like this. And you can see a tragic outcome when one potentially loses sight on the predatory ability of this incredible cat.

ROWLANDS: Why Dianna was in the enclosure is still unclear. Her father says he does take some comfort knowing she died doing she loved. PAUL HANSON, DAUGHTER DIANNA KILLED BY LION (via telephone): I always got a premonition that I would get a call like this some day but she was so happy and it was her dream. So I've always encouraged her and never tried to discourage, her but I always had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that some day I'd get a call like this.


ROWLANDS: And, Wolf, again, we are expecting some more details within the hour and hopefully an answer to what was this young woman doing inside that lion's enclosure -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, we'll monitor that news conference together with you and we'll update our viewers on the new information, obviously. Thanks very much, Ted, for that report.

Later tonight, by the way, on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT", the father of the victim Dianna Hanson will join Erin to talk about this tragedy at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right after THE SITUATION ROOM.

North Korea is threatening a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States. How legitimate is that threat? I'll speak with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. That's coming up.


BLITZER: Another historic day on Wall Street. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

What happened?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we always like to report the good news. The Dow has set a closing record for the third straight day, adding more than 30 points to close at 14,329. The NASDAQ and S&P also had gains.

One analyst says the recent rally has been driven by a series of strong economic reports indicating that Wall Street appears to be largely unaffected by Washington's forced spending cuts.

And Facebook is unveiling dramatic changes to its popular newsfeed feature. The picture-friendly upgrade are designed to keep the social networking sites users active and to appeal to advertisers. This is the newsfeed's first major makeover since being launched.

And this, well, it sounds a little bit like a real life case similar to the movie "Black Swan". A judge has ordered three men, allegedly tied to the acid attack on this man, the director of the world renowned Russia ballet group held in custody until the investigation is complete. Police say the Bolshoi's lead dancer confessed to organizing the attack, but two alleged co-conspirators have also been detained. If convicted, they could face up to eight years in jail.

And a flood warning is in effect for the East Coast of Massachusetts through tomorrow morning as that powerful storm that already blanketed parts of the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states with heavy, wet snow heads north.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 people are still without power in Virginia where one iReporter sent us this picture. It's a picture of her postman delivering the mail on skis.

What do they say? Rain -- neither rain, snow, sleet --

BLITZER: Something like that.

SYLVESTER: Something like that. Basically, they'll get the mail to you. And there you see it, as promised, even on skis, Wolf.

BLITZER: It isn't snowing very hard here. We got the mail delivered yesterday. I'm sure you did as well.

SYLVESTER: It was a bunch of slush. It was a bunch of, you know, wet stuff, but not exactly what they had called for.

BLITZER: Not exactly. All right. Thank you, Lisa.

Just months ago they were rivals out there on the campaign trail. Now, President Obama is having lunch with Paul Ryan over at the White House. The ranking member of the Budget Committee, his colleague, Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat, he was also at the luncheon.

And Chris Van Hollen is standing by to join us live. He'll take up -- hopefully he'll take us inside that meeting.

Plus, the scam targeting anyone who uses a cell phone. How tens of thousands of people already have been duped. You need to know this information. We have details.


BLITZER: We just got a statement from the president praising the United States Senate for approving, confirming the nomination of John Brennan to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The president says, "With the bipartisan confirmation of John Brennan as director of the CIA, the Senate has recognized in John the qualities I value so much -- his determination to keep America safe, his commitment to working with Congress, his ability to build relationships with foreign partners and his fidelity to the values that define us as a nation." That statement in part coming in from the president.

The president also once again insisted it was critically important for the United States to disrupt the terrorist attacks, dismantle al Qaeda, its affiliate, and meet the broad array of security challenges that the United States faces right now.

That statement just coming in from the president.

Meanwhile, President Obama's also reaching out once again today to Republicans. He seems to think the way to win concessions is through their stomachs. A day after he had dinner with Republican senators, he had lunch today with a former campaign rival.

Let's bring in our national political correspondent Jim Acosta. He's over at the White House.

How did it go, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they had a lot to chew over but after it was over, both President Obama and Paul Ryan released only statements about their lunch today. And the fact that the White House and the congressman are rather tight lipped about this meeting is not the only indication that the president's charm offensive might take a while.


ACOSTA (voice-over): When an old rival pays a visit, better to start with the safe lunch. And that was President Obama's plan as he invited former GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan over to the White House. Also at the table, Ryan's Democratic counterpart on the House Budget Committee, Chris Van Hollen.

But the White House cautions bipartisanship is not exactly in full bloom just yet.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are not unrealistic in our expectations. We are not naive about the fact that there are real disagreements.

ACOSTA: Not because of the tough talk from the election --

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Remember this time when he was caught on videotape saying people like to cling to their guns and their religion. Hey, I'm a Catholic deer hunter. I am happy to be clinging to my guns and my religion.

ACOSTA: But because the Republicans and Democrats remain far apart on the issues, like Ryan's past proposals for Medicare.

CARNEY: If you're saying, do we support voucherization of Medicare, the answer is no.

REPORTER: How did the meeting go?


ACOSTA: Still, both sides are trying. The night before, nearly a dozen GOP senators left their dinner with the president toasting Mr. Obama's outreach, in search of a grand bargain on the deficit.

SEN. JOHN HOEVEN (R), NORTH DAKOTA: I think we have a shot to get this done on a bipartisan basis.

ACOSTA: According to the menu, they dined on sea bass, lamb, filet of beef and lobster. Judging by the reactions from Senator John McCain and his fellow invitee Lindsey Graham, a little wining and dining just might help the wheeling and dealing. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'd like to congratulate my friend from South Carolina for his really best behavior last night at dinner. He was on his best manners and everyone was very impressed. I yield the floor.

ACOSTA: But another dinner guest, Senator Pat Toomey told a Pennsylvania radio station, the president's plans may be hard to swallow.

SENATOR PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): The president still wants to raise taxes a lot and I don't. I think it's a really bad idea. He thinks that's a good idea. So that creates a serious challenge.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: This week we've gone 180.

ACOSTA: A sentiment echoed by House Speaker John Boehner who welcomes the president to the capitol next week.

BOEHNER: I'm hopeful that something will come out of it. But if the president continues to insist on tax hikes, I don't think we're going to get very far.


ACOSTA: Now, the president did pay for dinner out of his own pocket so the taxpayers did not pick up the tab, but it is how to pay down the deficit that is the real issue and, Wolf, both sides are nowhere@ near an agreement on how to cover that check -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Any more dinner engagements, lunch engagements, anything else planned, as far as we know?

ACOSTA: Not as much as we know right now, but the president did say in his statement that he looks forward to more of these discussions, more of these encounters with Congressman Ryan. So we'll have to wait and see. We'll see if they can move beyond the safe lunch -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect there will be some smoozing as they say going on. Thanks very much. Let's get some more on the luncheon at the White House today, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen, he was there together with Paul Ryan. He's ranking member of the House Budget Committee. He is here in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: How did that luncheon go?

VAN HOLLEN: It was a good lunch. It was a good meal and it was a very good conversation.

BLITZER: How long did it last?

VAN HOLLEN: It lasted I believe over an hour. It went a little bit overtime, but it was a very constructive exchange. Look, the president is trying to open every avenue of conversation and dialogue to try and get something done.

BLITZER: Was it just the three of you or other aides?

VAN HOLLEN: It was just the three of us.

BLITZER: So the three of you had lunch and you had an opportunity to talk. So how was that relationship that developed during that luncheon between -- I know you have a good relationship with the president. You're a Democrat, but what about with Paul Ryan?

VAN HOLLEN: I think the relationship was developing very well. Look, this is the first time they've had a chance to really sit down since the campaign and really sit down I think in a more intimate conversation for a very long time. So that's the kind of thing that I think is important to build trust.

BLITZER: It's significant, I think, that these initial get-togethers in the beginning of the second term are taking place. Did Paul Ryan have a chance to spell out, for example, his views on Medicare, how do deal with entitlement spending?

VAN HOLLEN: Wolf, I don't want to get into the details of the private conversation, but we did talk about the big picture as well as some of the more specific proposals. Look, obviously Paul Ryan set forth his budget structure. We're going to be debating that in the House soon. We will have a Democratic alternative, but then we need to begin to bridge some differences and try and find a solution here.

BLITZER: So do you think, based on what you heard, based what you know, forget about the luncheon, but based on what you know where Paul Ryan stands, he is a very influential Republican. They have the majority in the House of Representatives.

Is there a grand bargain deal that you could see emerging in the coming months, which would be significant entitlement spending cuts, significant tax reform, and the Democrats want that tax reform to include increased tax revenue, the Republicans say it should be neutral, there shouldn't be increased revenue coming in.

They should cut rates in order to eliminate some of those loopholes and those exemptions. That seems to be the big issue right now. Is there a deal that you can see?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think it's too soon to know what the end of the story is, Wolf. But what we do know is that there is not a resolution here. There's not a good ending for the country. We're going to face July and August, the debt ceiling, Republicans in the past have threatened to allow the United States to default on the debt ceiling.

The president says that's nonnegotiable. But what he has said is that he wants to find a way forward on jobs, the economy and a smart way to deficit reduction which requires balance. The president says he's prepared to make additional cuts on top of the 1.5 trillion we have already made. But as he said, he wants to make a balanced approach. That means closing tax breaks that disproportionately benefit very wealthy people. After all, the last presidential campaign both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan talked about, all those tax loopholes. Well, they are still out there. So let's close them as part of a solution to deficit --

BLITZER: The Republicans say they are ready to close those loopholes. A lot of them eliminate some of those subsidies for big oil companies or whatever. But they want to make sure that at the same time you reduce tax rates. Is that at all doable from your perspective?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, their position in the past is that penny for penny, every time you eliminate a tax break it has to go entirely into --

BLITZER: No new taxes.

VAN HOLLEN: That's right.

VAN HOLLEN: Which they abandoned at the end of December, early January when they did raise taxes on wealthy people making more than $400,000 a year.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, some of them did. Remember, a majority of House Republicans actually voted no.

BLITZER: The speaker voted yes.

VAN HOLLEN: It did pass and that's the beginning. Of course, the plans put forward by bipartisan fiscal commission like Simpson/Bowles contain a lot more revenue. They also contain some additional cuts on top of the cuts that we've already made.

So look, I think the road map is pretty clear to people who have been following this budget debate going forward. If you want to get to an additional responsible deficit reduction, without hurting the economy so that you're growing jobs then you have to take this balance approach.

Otherwise, you end up overburdening seniors, violating commitment to seniors. It means we don't invest enough in what happens our economy grow and so you need that balanced approach and that's what the president's argued for.

And I think, Wolf, as you know, you've followed this a long time. That is the way to move forward on this debate.

BLITZER: There's still a significant gap on that significant issue. But I want to ask you about that story over the weekend in "The Washington Post," which suggested that the president's number one goal right now, number one goal was getting a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives in 2014 next year. That would require a net gain of 17 seats by the Democrats. Do you believe that that's the president's number one goal?

VAN HOLLEN: The president's number one goal is indisputably following through on the commitments that the president made during the last campaign, adopting an agenda that strengthens the middle class then makes sure we get the economy in full gear and deal with the deficit in a smart, responsible way. That's his agenda.

His preferred approach would be to have Republicans join him in that effort and that's why he's reaching out on all fronts. But you always have to have a plan A and a plan B. The bottom line is, the president wants people who are willing to work with him get that agenda done. After you all, he ran on it, he won the election and there's good reason for him to deliver.

BLITZER: If Chris Van Hollen and Paul Ryan, the chairman and the ranking member of the Budget Committee can work out a good compromise, if you will, I think everybody would be pretty much on track.

VAN HOLLEN: That's right.

BLITZER: So you're going to work with Paul Ryan? Would you try to do that?

VAN HOLLEN: We get along very well personally. We obviously have big differences on the budget, but we're looking for ways to bridge those differences.

BLITZER: Good luck. What did you have?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, we had lentils and then sea bass.

BLITZER: Sea bass?


BLITZER: A Mediterranean diet.

VAN HOLLEN: Yes. We want to be in good shape for the efforts ahead.

BLITZER: Chris Van Hollen, the Democratic congressman from Maryland. Appreciate it very much.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: In the next hour, I'll speak with Republican Senator Bob Corker. He was among those Republicans who had dinner with the president last night at the Jefferson Hotel. His take on the food, the diplomacy, the negotiations, that's coming up in our 5:00 p.m. Eastern hour.

Other news we're following, including a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States. How concerned should the United States be about the latest sabre rattling coming from North Korea? We're going to talk about that and more with our own Fareed Zakaria.


BLITZER: A new threat from North Korea followed by new sanctions against the country. Today North Korean officials said the United States is, quote, "set to light a fuse for a nuclear war" and threatens to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against South Korea and the United States.

Hours later, the United Nations Security Council passed tougher sanctions against North Korea whose ally China joined in this unanimous vote. Let's get a little analysis from our own Fareed Zakaria.

He is the host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS" that airs on CNN. So Fareed, how real is this threat from North Korea? Do they really have a capability of launching a pre-emptive nuclear strike?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN'S "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": No. The threat is not serious and they don't have that capability, certainly not on intercontinental level. The puzzle is, just when you thought the country couldn't get any weirder, it does.

Here's Kim Jong-Un palling around with Dennis Rodman one week and then threatening pre-emptive nuclear war the next. We're trying to figure out what this means. He's a young untested leader. Is part of an attempted test, the strength of the new president of South Korea? Is it, you know, some kind of an internal power move?

Does he need to show that he's a tough guy to his generals who at the end of the day are the military backbone of the regime? That's part of the puzzle. But at the end of the day, it won't mean anything more than this. For the first time, China has really from the start been on board with sanctions against North Korea.

They helped draft this resolution, which tells you just how annoyed they are at North Korea. They have, to a certain extend supported it in providing it with fuel and food and this seems to be the straw that broke China's back.

BLITZER: Yes, because that is pretty significant that China together with the United States, all the other members of the U.N. Security Council, they are on board because in the past the Chinese were basically the protectors of that North Korean regime. So what happens next? What should the U.S. be doing in the face of this untested young new leader of North Korea?

ZAKARIA: My own guess, Wolf, is that the best strategy would be to ignore him in a sense because this is all provocation and as we know, in life whenever you face these kinds of things, if you're calm and you don't get provoked, it loses its sting. Work methodically with the Chinese to try to figure out what is the way to put the right kind of pressure on them?

I actually think these sanctions may or may not strike. North Korea is one of the most isolated countries in the world. A further round of economic sanctions is not going to have much effect. What we need to do is change the Chinese regime's understanding -- their strategic interest there because China has to go to North Korea.

China provides it with the fuel and food to keep it alive, that keep this regime alive. They've got to go to these guys and say, you know, the game's over. We need a different kind of North Korea. And it may not work. It's a crazy regime.

But China is the only country that has any influence with North Korea. We should channel all our effort in a kind of strategic dialogue with China to say let's figure out what is the right answer. The Chinese have their own fears and we need to address them.

BLITZER: Good point, very significant that China is now on board. We'll see how they follow up and whether they really implement all of these sanctions. Fareed, thanks for coming in.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: A quick footnote, tonight in our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour right in THE SITUATION ROOM, I'm going to speak about North Korea with the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. Is the U.S. ready for whatever happens? That interview coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM during our 6:00 p.m. Eastern hour.

But coming up this hour, we're waiting to hear the latest on that deadly lion attack in California. We're going to get an update only moments from now from officials on the scene. We'll take it live when we come back.


BLITZER: We're standing by for an update, a news conference at the Cat Haven Sanctuary in Dunlap, California, that's near Fresno. We expect to hear from the founder, Dale Anderson, expected to speak about the horrible tragic mauling of the young, 24-year-old Seattle woman, an intern killed by a lion, a 350-pound African lion inside a cage. We'll get an update. We'll go there as soon as he shows up.

In the meantime, there's other news we're following, including important news involving women. She is certainly the most powerful woman in business, we're talking about the chief operating officer of Facebook and Sheryl Sandberg has a new book about women in the workplace that's generating a lot of controversy, a lot of buzz even though it's not officially out yet.

It's the cover story for the new edition of our sister publication, "Time" magazine. In this article, Sandberg writes -- she says this. Women are not making it to the top of any profession in the world, but when I say the blunt truth is that men run the world and people say, really? That, to me, is the problem.

All right, let's go in depth with "Time" magazine's deputy managing editor, Nancy Gibbs. She is joining us from New York. Nancy, you have some personal experience in this area. You're a woman. You're in the media. You're a mother. So do you agree with Sandberg?

NANCY GIBBS, DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME": Well, she make as very compelling case. She points to the fact that 30 years after women basically started surpassing men in education, graduating from college more, business school, law school, they are still vastly underrepresented in the top positions, whether in government or in the private sector. And the numbers sort of make her case for her about what she refers to as the leadership gap so the debate is over her suggestions of what needs to happen for that to close.

BLITZER: In the article in the new issue of "Time" magazine, Sheryl Sandberg also writes this. When a woman excels at her job, both men and women will comment that she's accomplishing a lot, but is not as well liked by her peers. She is probably too aggressive, not a team player, a bit political.

She can't be trusted or is difficult. Those are all things that have been said about me and almost every senior woman I know. That's the perception out there that she has. What do you think?

GIBBS: Well, she makes a fascinating case and has the data to back it up that success correlates positively for men. The more successful men are the more well like they are, but negatively for women. So that's very tricky. If behaving a certain way helps you get to the top, but that behavior is a good thing for men and a bad thing for women then that's one more barrier that women have to overcome.

And Sheryl's very eloquent about the kinds of things that women need to be aware of, how they are perceived, their behavior is perceived, not only external stereotypes that they are dealing with, but actually internal barriers that women face about their own feelings about pushing to get into that corner office job.

BLITZER: Not everyone is welcoming her views. Maureen Dowd writing in "The New York Times," you probably saw the column among other things saying, people come to a social movement from the bottom up, not the top down. Sandberg has co-opted the vocabulary of a social movement not to sell a cause but herself, pretty sharp words.

GIBBS: I have to say, I've been amazed at -- the book isn't even out yet and so a great number of everyone commenting on it in many cases admit they haven't read it. That doesn't keep them from having a strong opinion about it, but the one what strikes me more is how often people say she's too rich and too successful to have a right to be speaking out about issues that affect women that she's so removed from.

And I'm sort of struck by the double standard that I don't recall that kind of response when Jack Welch writes about leadership, but somehow when Sheryl Sandberg does, she doesn't even have a right to her own opinion. I don't know at what income level you sacrifice your first amendment right.

But I am struck by the hostility that she's getting just for speaking out on a topic that, you know, she's hired thousands of men and women in her career and she's seen patterns in behavior that she's speaking to as someone with a lot of experience. So I think the hostility has been striking.

BLITZER: It's a cover story in the new issue of "Time" magazine. The cover saying, don't hate her because she's successful. We certainly don't hate her because she's successful. Nancy Gibbs, we certainly don't hate you because you are successful at the same time. Thanks very much for coming in.

GIBBS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Dining with Republicans. What do top Democrats think about President Obama's new charm offensive? We're going to hear from the House Leader, Democratic leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi. That's in our next hour, the former speaker.

And straight ahead, criminals reaching you through your cell phones, thousands of people already have been scammed. You're going to find out how information you need to know.


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots." Check them out, North Carolina, look at this, troops parachute in a training exercise. In Romania, hundred gather to light sky lanterns in a spring festival. In Florida, the sun sets on a beautiful evening. Send in your photos to or through Instagram using the hashtag cnnireport.

It's been just over 20 years since the first text message was sent and now Americans send more than $184 billion a month worth of text messages. That's a difficult number for scam artists to ignore and how they are sending all of these tens of millions of texts designed to get personal information out of you is a subject we want to explore right now.

CNN's Lisa Sylvester is looking into all of this. Lisa, there's a lot of scams out there.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, you know, the FTC says they have received 50,000 complaints on spam text messaging and that is a seven-fold increase since 2011 and one of the biggest source of complaints while it looks like an enticing offer that comes via text.


SYLVESTER (voice-over): This is what the message looks like, you, you can get a $1,000 gift card from Wal-Mart.

CHARLES A. HARWOOD, BUREAU OF CONSUMER PROTECTION: It's intriguing. It's puzzling. It's tempting and they end up wanting to click on it.

SYLVESTER: How come and are these text messages? My producer, David Gracey, has received several of these.

DAVID GRACEY, CNN PRODUCER: It said congratulations, you won a free gift card, but after the third text I got in under a week thing, I won a free gift card. I knew I couldn't be that lucky.

SYLVESTER: The FTC is cracking down, charging 29 individuals and companies from around the U.S. with sending more than 180 million unwanted text messages. First, spam text messages are illegal and the FTC says the so-called free gift cards are anything but free. If you actually click on the link, you have to keep putting in more and more personal information. HARWOOD: As many as 13 different offers to complete -- supposedly just to receive this free gift card. They presented with include offers to apply for credit, include offers to sign up for a free trial offers of various products.

At the end of the day, after they complete all of those steps, they are often times presented with something that says find three more people who will fill out this information.

SYLVESTER: According to a study by Cloud Mark, 60 percent of consumers said they had received a spam text message in the last year. Blocking the text message is not so easy.

STEVE WERNIKOFF, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION INVESTIGATOR: The telephone companies have some methods in an attempt to block spam text messages, but you need to know the number that you want to block and the problem with these scams is that the numbers change so regularly.

SYLVESTER (on camera): So what should you do if you receive one of these text messages? Well, the FTC says to forward it to your carrier by typing in 7726 or spam.

(voice-over): And what about that promise of a free gift card?

(on camera): When you had your people go through the process, did they end up with a gift card?

HARWOOD: None of any investigators who did go through the process received a free gift card.


SYLVESTER: So these spammers they are offering gift cards from major retailers like Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target. The FTC emphasizes these retail companies they have nothing to do with these scams.

The folks behind this are individuals and marketing companies trying to gather your personal information. The FTC is now asking the courts to put a stop to it and they want the companies to reimburse consumers who might have lost money on these spam and scam offers -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester, thank you.