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Bin Laden Relative Captured; Interview With U.S. Ambassador to United Nations Susan Rice; North Korea Threatens Nuclear Attack

Aired March 7, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now: a new blow to al Qaeda, a member of the bin Laden family captured and now charged.

North Korea threatens a nuclear attack. The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, responds. Senator Rand Paul calls off a dramatic two-day filibuster. Did he get what he wanted from the White House? And New York's ban on big sugary drinks only days away and coffee servers and drinkers are confused. And why thousands of sharks are now on the move, scaring people away from the Florida beaches.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, along with Kate Bolduan. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Today, Senator Rand Paul called off the old-fashioned filibuster he began yesterday morning. That cleared the way for John Brennan to be confirmed as the CIA director a couple of hours ago. Senator Paul had been demanding answers about the administration's policy on drones.

Our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, was watching the action all day.


DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN was there when Rand Paul first saw Attorney General Eric Holder's short three-line letter answering Paul's question. "Does the president have authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American, not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that question is no," said Holder.

Minutes later, Paul came on CNN, declared victory and filibuster over.

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.

BASH (on camera): So, just to be clear, you are announcing right here on CNN that you are going to let John Brennan's nomination now go through; maybe they could even hold a vote today?

PAUL: Yes. We will hold it as soon as people want to.

BASH (voice-over): Voting began within the hour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The nomination is confirmed.

BASH: And John Brennan was confirmed as CIA director, a remarkably fast ending to a dramatic 28 hours in the Senate.

PAUL: I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan's nomination for the CIA.

BASH: Rand Paul's filibuster surprised even his own GOP leaders.

(on camera): Did they know you were going to do this?

PAUL: No. And, in fact, we didn't know we were going to do it for that day.

BASH: For nearly 13 hours Wednesday, Paul stood on the Senate floor, demanding to know whether the president thinks he can use drones to kill Americans on American soil, even musing about whether Jane Fonda would have been targeted for mounting a North Vietnamese tank.

BASH: I'm not a great fan of Jane Fonda. I'm really not so interested in putting her on a drone list either.

PAUL: My feet were hurting by the end of the day. You can't leave the floor and you can't sit down. I was sneaking candy bars from the -- there's a candy drawer. And if you go to the candy drawer, you can sneak around and get a candy bar.

But I see you all caught me with half the candy bar in and half out of my mouth. My wife said, can't you chew with your mouth closed when you're on the floor?

BASH: I did notice that you had water there and I don't know if it was intentional. You were trying not to drink it. That was intentional?


PAUL: Yes. I decided to drink very little water and have no caffeine.

BASH (voice-over): He stopped talking after midnight, only because nature was calling.

PAUL: And 12 hours is a long time not to go to the restroom.

BASH: But as the evening wore on, Paul did start getting help from colleagues. Ironically, an old-fashioned filibuster was fueled by modern technology, Twitter blowing up with conservatives demanding other senators come to his assistance. SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Let me thank him for his courage and conviction.

BASH: Even the GOP leader, Paul's senior home state senator, who is up for reelection next year, showed up after 11:00 p.m. But the issue exposed a divide among Republicans. John McCain lashed out at Paul.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: To allege that the United States of America, our government, would drop a drone Hellfire missile on Jane Fonda, that -- that is -- that brings the conversation from a serious discussion about U.S. policy to the realm of the ridiculous.

BASH: "The Wall Street Journal" said the same.

(on camera): "The Wall Street Journal," which is known as a very prominent conservative editorial page, really took after you this morning.

PAUL: "The Wall Street Journal" is right on a lot of issues and they're wrong on this issue. To just say you're an enemy combatant and a Hellfire missile drops on your house, that's what they're saying. And I with every fiber of my body believe that that is unjust and unconstitutional.


BLITZER: Our report from our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, speaking with Senator Rand Paul.

President Obama, meanwhile, followed up today on his dinner last night with a dozen Republican senators by having lunch with another Republican, the former vice presidential nominee, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan. Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen, he was at the luncheon as well. He told me a little while ago that it was a good meal and a good conversation.

Congressman Ryan issued a statement thanking the president for hosting what he called a frank discussion about Washington's budget challenges.

Good to see these guys having a few meals together. Let's hope it works.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: As we have said yesterday, one meal is not going to make the grand bargain, but there's enough time to be cynical. One step at a time. It's just a start. That's absolutely right.

It was a big blow to al Qaeda reported today. He was a member of Osama bin Laden's inner circle, a spokesman for his campaign of terror against the U.S. and his son-in-law. But now Suleiman Abu Ghaith is in U.S. economy and there's a federal indictment with his name on it?

Our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, has been following the story and has more details on this.

Joe, so what is the latest on this, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Here it is, Kate, it's just out this afternoon, late this afternoon, in fact.

This indictment was unsealed today, and federal prosecutors charged Suleiman Abu Ghaith with conspiracy to kill Americans on 9/11 and before 9/11 and for his propaganda efforts on behalf of al Qaeda afterwards. The indictment says he warned the U.S. that a great army is gathering against you, called upon the Navy of Islam to do battle against the Jews, the Christians, and Americans, and warned, for example, that the storm shall not stop, especially the airplane storm, and told Muslims and children not to board any aircraft and not to live in high-rises.


JOHNS (voice-over): Suleiman Abu Ghaith is charged in an indictment unsealed on Thursday with conspiracy to kill Americans from at least May 2001 to 2002, including the September 11 attacks.

He was a face of al Qaeda terror, a known propagandist for the organization, and son-in-law of Osama bin Laden. He appeared in scary video recordings in 2001 and 2002.

SULEIMAN ABU GHAITH, AL QAEDA (through translator): Oh, man of the nation, woman of the nation, this is a call for jihad.

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.

JOHNS: Turkish media reports say that Abu Ghaith left Iran, where he was hold in what was believed to be house arrest, and then to Turkey, where he was arrested, but released by the courts, because he had committed no crime there.

The trail ended in Jordan, where he was taken to custody for good and handed over to U.S. officials last week. The fact that this suspect has been brought to New York sends a message that the Department of Justice has not abandoned its sometimes controversial attempts to try certain international terror suspects, especially those associated with the 9/11 attacks, in civilian court, as opposed to military tribunals.


JOHNS: Abu Ghaith is expected to appear in court tomorrow. Hopefully we will hear a little bit more about the case against him. Of course, if he is convicted, he could get life in prison, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's interesting that they sent him to New York as opposed to Guantanamo Bay, to the prison camp there. What was their theory?

JOHNS: Well, this is a civilian charge, as opposed to a military charge. That's where the military tribunals are at Gitmo. So it's also important to say that the Justice Department has been pushing for a long time to try these suspects in New York, because they think civilian courts can do a very good job.

They have a great track record of actually getting convictions on almost 100 percent of the terror suspects who come through the federal civilian courts.

BLITZER: Interesting story.



BOLDUAN: More news tomorrow on that. Joe Johns, thanks so much.

BLITZER: Now to that deadly lion attack in California. A wildcat sanctuary in Fresno is closed, this the day after the 24-year- old intern, Dianna Hanson, was mauled. There are a lot of unanswered questions about why she got into a cage with her favorite lion, a 350- pound cat named Cous Cous.

The founder of the Cat Haven Sanctuary Spoke out just a little while ago.


DALE ANDERSON, FOUNDER, CAT HAVEN SANCTUARY: We want to caution the public about the information they're hearing. I would ask everyone to refrain from conclusions until the investigation is complete. And that's, that's all we have to say right now. Again, our whole staff is -- it's just -- it's devastating. And...


BLITZER: The father of the mauled intern says he's taking comfort in the fact that she loved working with those wild cats.

BOLDUAN: Such a sad story.

Flood warnings are in effect as a powerful winter storm moves up the East Coast. Some New Jersey residents have been urged to evacuate flood-prone areas. Just look at some of these pictures. Some of them are in communities still trying to recover from superstorm Sandy.

This is the same storm that dumped snow on the Midwest. And check out this video from Indiana. You can see a falling tree and taking -- you see the falling tree, and it takes out a power line. A police car happened to be there with its dash-cam camera rolling at that very moment.

BLITZER: Wow. That's scary stuff.

BOLDUAN: Sure is.

BLITZER: A ban on big sugary drinks about to go into effect in New York. And if you thought sodas were only affected, guess again.

Also ahead, a new tactic to try to get one of the most valuable sports teams in the world to change its politically incorrect name.


BLITZER: So if you live in New York or you're just visiting, guess what, your coffee order may soon get a little bit more complicated.

BOLDUAN: Coffee is not supposed to be complicated. It's all part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on big sugary drinks. The ban takes effect Tuesday.

But complying with the new rule isn't as easy as you might think.

CNN's Mary Snow is in New York and has been tasked with trying to figure this all out.

Mary, "The New York Times" called it the coffee conundrum. What's going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People want their coffee orders simple, Kate. We're talking about coffees this size.

Lattes won't change, because they have milk. Large coffees though with sugar is another story. At least one coffee chain is bracing its customers and we found many were surprised to find out the breadth of this city ban.


SNOW (voice-over): Along with that cup of coffee, a side order of new rule. Dunkin' Donuts is handing out these flyers to its New York City customers on how new regulation spills over into its coffee business. It's part of the ban on supersized sugary drinks that goes into effect Tuesday, as part of the city effort to fight obesity.

To comply, Dunkin' Donuts will no longer put sugar in coffee over 16 ounces. You will have to do it yourself.

KAILA GANTT, COFFEE DRINKER: I'm surprised. I thought it was just like soda and like iced teas. I didn't even know it was coffee until just now.

STEPHANIE FORD, COFFEE DRINKER: It's annoying. I believe it's unnecessary. Like, there's so many other things to worry about in this city.

SNOW: The city isn't banning restaurants from putting sugar in coffee. The Department of Health says the limit for a barista is four packets of sugar for 20 ounces and customers themselves can add as much sugar as they want. But Dunkin' Donuts says it wants to cut down on any confusion. McDonald's also says it will tell customers to add their own sugar in coffee over 16 ounces. Both places say they have been prepping workers to be ready.

(on camera): At restaurants, sodas this size is what the city doesn't want served. This is 20 ounces. Now, this one is still OK. It's 12 ounces and customers can order as many as they want. But at restaurants like this one that prides itself on Texas-sized servings, it makes a difference.

ERIC LEVINE, DALLAS BBQ: Oh, everything's big.

SNOW (voice-over): Eric Levine is the director of Dallas BBQ, which has 10 restaurants.

(on camera): Are you going to stop using those 20-ounce glasses?

LEVINE: We will when the law says we have to. Right now we're sort of in limbo and we're allowed by the city law to hold off until I think about June.

SNOW: The city says it will not enforce violations for about three months as restaurants adjust. Levine is waiting to see the result of a lawsuit filed by restaurants, beverage companies, and others to try and stop the city from its ban on supersized drinks.

He estimates all the changes will cost his businesses tens of thousands of dollars and plenty of headaches.

LEVINE: A lot of aggravation, menu changes, sign changes, digital boards, Facebook, Web sites, information, training, POSitouch computers, everything.


SNOW: Now, another big company that's holding of making changes right now is Starbucks. It says there are a few gray areas it's sorting through and it's using the city's three-month evaluation period to see what changes it needs to make to be in compliance. So, Kate, the ventis are safe for now.

BLITZER: Let me ask you a question. Should I get a venti skim latte and ask them to put sugar in it, they will put sugar in it, or I have to do it myself, even though it's a latte, which is milk?

SNOW: It's very confusing, right? But if you're at Starbucks, they will put it in there for you, for now.

BLITZER: I will take a venti skim latte with a Splenda.

All right, thanks very much for that.

A heartbreaking loss for the justice of the United States Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor. She's revisiting the past. Our own Anderson Cooper went along with her. Stand by. Anderson will show us some of that emotional interview.



BLITZER: Meanwhile, new taunts and defiance by North Korea after its provocative nuclear tests. Now the United Nations Security Council is pushing back. I will speak about that and more with the United States' ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice. She's here.


BLITZER: North Korea now threatening a nuclear attack and accusing the United States of lighting the fuse for war.

BOLDUAN: Defiant words as the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tougher sanctions against the communist nation today. Even North Korea's key ally China was on board.

CNN's Anna Coren in Seoul, South Korea, has more on the sanctions and the threats.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're used to fiery rhetoric out of North Korea, but nothing quite like this. Facing tough U.N. sanctions, Pyongyang for the first time is threatening to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on the United States and South Korea.

It comes just days after the belligerent state said it would scrap the 1953 armistice agreement that effectively ended the Korean War.

CHUNG-IN MOON, YONSEI UNIVERSITY: There have to be some kinds of new thinking on how to deal with North Korea. Otherwise, you cannot get out of this vicious circle of crime and punishment and crime and punishment.

SNOW: North Korean expert Professor Chung-in Moon believes the U.N. sanctions, some of the toughest it's ever imposed, will do nothing to deter North Korea's determination to become a nuclear state.

The only time sanctions worked was back in 2003, when Pyongyang agreed to enter into six-party talks. But after four years and only six rounds of meetings, North Korea walked out, and there has been no further dialogue to this day.


BOLDUAN: That was CNN's Anna Coren.

Joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea will get under way next week, and that's when North Korea claims it will walk away from the armistice. BLITZER: And Ambassador Susan Rice is joining us from the United Nations right now.

Ambassador, thanks very much for coming.


BLITZER: What do you make of North Korea's threat now to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against South Korea and the United States if these latest U.N. sanctions just approved go into effect?

RICE: Well, they will go into effect, Wolf, because today, we unanimously passed another round of very strong sanctions against North Korea because of its February 12th nuclear test.

And these sanctions will make it very much more difficult for North Korea to finance and procure materials for and technology for its nuclear ballistic missile programs. We have heard these sorts of threats from North Korea before. And, frankly, they are not going to achieve anything.

The better course for North Korea would be to recognize that it is isolated internationally, the entire international community is united in its opposition to the nuclear program and behind these sanctions, and North Korea ought to, instead, heed President Obama's call to return to the path of peace and to uphold its international obligations.

But the past record suggests that we may see more provocation.

BLITZER: Well, provocation is one thing, but do they actually have a capability of striking the United States right now?

RICE: Well, Wolf, I'm not going to get into sensitive discussion of their technical capabilities, but the United States has the ability to defend itself against any North Korean ballistic missile attack.

I think North Korea really ought to think carefully about continued threats and provocations, refrain from those, and recognize that the path it's on is leading to the impoverishment, the greater impoverishment of its people and the isolation of its leadership. Even China, Wolf, has had a belly full of North Korea and is more frustrated than I've seen it in many years.

BLITZER: Because the Chinese decision to co-sponsor this resolution, that's a huge deal, given the fact that China is the main sponsor, if you will, the main supporter of the North Korean regime.

RICE: Well, China and the United States negotiated this resolution intensively over the last few weeks. And it contains some very strong provisions that previously China had been reluctant to contemplate.

And now, given the latest in the series of provocations, and the fact that North Korea is pursuing a course of action that threatens China's interests -- its economic interests, its interests in regional peace and stability, as well as that of the larger international community -- they, too, agreed it was time for much tougher action.

BLITZER: As you know, there are nearly 30,000 U.S. troops along the demilitarized zone in South Korea, facing potentially a million North Korean troops on the other side, with heavy artillery. Are they going on a higher state of alert as a result of these threats coming from North Korea right now?

RICE: Well, I can't comment on the alert status of our forces, but I can tell you that we are always vigilant and prepared for the sort of threats that we've heard from North Korea in recent days. We'll be in the process of an annual military exercise with South Korea, which is something that we do regularly, and that, obviously, also is the reason for our particular vigilance about what may be going on in the north.

BLITZER: In recent days, Dennis Rodman, the NBA star, he visited North Korea and he actually spent two days with Kim Jong-un, as far as we know, the first American to actually meet the new young Korean leader. And he came back, and he told George Stephanopoulos this.


DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: One thing he asked me, give Obama something to say and do one thing. He want Obama to do one thing. Call him.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: He wants a call from President Obama?

RODMAN: That's right. He told me that. He said, "If you can, Dennis, I don't want to do war. I don't want to do war." He said that to me.


BLITZER: As you remember, going back to the campaign in 2007/2008, you were a key adviser to the then-candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. He left open the possibility, he said he's ready to talk without preconditions, with any of these leaders around the world, including these totalitarian regimes.

Do you think that this Dennis Rodman proposal is something the president should pick -- pick up on and call Kim Jong-un?

RICE: Wolf, I don't see President Obama picking up the phone and calling Kim Jong-un anytime. But the United States has been and remains open to a negotiated settlement, open to the resumption of the six-party talks, which the resolution today reaffirmed, which is, our preferred means of ensuring that the Korean Peninsula is, in fact, de- nuclearized.

BLITZER: On Syria, while I have you. A year or so ago, you were here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I asked you to look into the camera and speak directly to Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader, and you did. And you said this. I'll play the clip.


RICE: I'd say the United States stands with the people of Syria, fully and unequivocally, in their aspirations for peace, for democracy, and for a brighter future. Your days are numbered, and it is time and past time for you to transfer power, responsibly, and peacefully. The longer you hang on, the more damage you do yourself, your family, your interests, and indeed, your country.


BLITZER: All right. We're seen on CNN International, as well. They're probably watching in Damascus. Do you want to -- do you want to speak to the Syrian leader once again right now?

RICE: Well, Wolf, I think the message that the United States has been conveying and that I delivered last year applies this year. The fact is that, unfortunately, tragically, this war has intensified. Bashar al-Assad has used an ever-more deadly attacks and tactics against his own people, including SCUD missiles of all things. And the country is becoming increasingly fragmented. And the rebels are gaining territory and holding territory. The region is at greater risk.

And Assad can't last. And there's no question about that. The only question is how much destruction he will reap before he goes.

BLITZER: Are you still confident his days are numbered?

RICE: Yes.

BLITZER: Ambassador Rice, thanks very much for joining us.

RICE: Good to be with you, as always, Wolf.


BOLDUAN: A great interview.

BLITZER: She's tough.

BOLDUAN: She's got a big job, that's for sure.

So here's a question. Do you like football?

BLITZER: Of course.

BOLDUAN: I love football. Well, it is one of the most profitable sports teams in the world, but critics say it has one of the most offensive names, and they're trying a new way to force the Redskins to change.

Plus, thousands and thousands of sharks spotted off the Florida coast. We'll take -- we'll talk to Philippe Cousteau about this amazing sight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Calls to change the Washington Redskins name now reaching a fever pitch. A group of Native Americans asking the federal government to step in, arguing that the name violates trademark rules, because it's offensive. So why wouldn't the team just make the change?

This has been a discussion that's been going on for years. The answer, in part, tradition. But also, money.

Brian Todd is joining us now. He's outside the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia.

Brian, we're hearing about a name change a lot recently, aren't we?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are, Wolf. Because Native American groups are now renewing their fight to go after the Redskins' trademark. They are trying to force a name change by going after the team financially.


TODD (voice-over): They've had the nickname for about 80 years and for about 50 of them, Native Americans have tried to get the Washington Redskins to drop their name and logo. They've always failed.

Now, Native Americans are arguing before a federal trademark board that the team should lose its trademark protection given by the government. But they're still targeting the nickname.

SUZAN SHOWN HARJO, MORNING STAR INSTITUTE: It comes from a time when bounties were issued against us and our people were skinned. That's the history that we want to just bury at long last. And this revives it. This keeps it going and makes it possible for all sorts of other racial slurs to be used against us.

TODD: Native American leader Suzan Shown Harjo has tried for more than 20 years to get the Redskins trademark protection stripped.

The Redskins' owner, Dan Snyder, has always vowed not to change the name. But team officials say they've never intended to offend anyone. They say the name honors Native Americans.

BRUCE ALLEN, GENERAL MANAGER, WASHINGTON REDSKINS: I suggest that the people really closely look at what we do as an organization to represent the -- good values in business and sports.

TODD (on camera): For Native Americans who say that this really is an offensive name, how do you respond?

ALLEN: Well, I'm not going to respond to that, because I don't -- I don't know if that's been proven. TODD (voice-over): Since they've not been able to directly legally force the Redskins to change their name, Native American groups feel the trademark route could work indirectly. What happens if trademark protection is stripped?

RICK BRAND, SPORTS ATTORNEY: It's fair game for everybody to use the name Redskins and to use the logos. And I put that, if you started a business and you had a very successful name and trademark and were doing quite well and all of a sudden everybody you knew could use that name, could use that trademark, that would adversely affect your business.

TODD (on camera): And business for the Washington Redskins is very good, indeed. The team brought in $373 million in revenue last year, much of it from merchandise sales. Last year, the Redskins were the fifth most valuable franchise in any pro sport.

(voice-over): Under pressure and new rules from the NCAA, several colleges have dropped Native American nicknames in recent years. St. John's University went from being the Redmen to the Red Storm. Miami University in Ohio used to be the Redskins, too. Now they're the RedHawks.

But no pro sports franchises have dropped Native American nicknames in recent memory, and it's seen as unlikely that the Washington Redskins will anytime soon.


TODD: That federal board may not rule on the effort to strip the team's trademark for at least a couple of months. Now, with all the talk of morals and money here, there is some irony to this story.

The Redskins got their nickname in the early 1930s when their owner at the time, George Preston Marshall, became enamored with the Indian garb worn by the team's head coach, William "Lone Star" Dietz. But the irony is, Dietz's own claim that he was Native American were always in dispute -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What was their name before the Redskins, Brian?

TODD: Some irony there, too, Wolf. Their nickname was the Boston Braves. So the irony seems to be endless.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. Brian, thank you.

BOLDUAN: And heartbreak for justice -- Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The Catholic school she went to when she was growing up in the projects is closing because of financial troubles.

Justice Sotomayor went back to Blessed Sacrament School in New York, and CNN's Anderson Cooper went along. Listen.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is your being here, is it a protest in any way? Or is it a statement?

SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I can't protest anymore, don't you know that?

COOPER: Yes, I do.

SOTOMAYOR: No, but it's a return to a place of importance to me and a moment to share with kids who I know are suffering.


BOLDUAN: And Anderson is joining me now.

Anderson, it's so interesting. I've watched her in the Supreme Court in action so many times, but this is really a very different side of her, a very personal side. I mean, she's so accomplished. Why is this one school so important to her?

COOPER: It is very much a personal journey for her to go back. I mean, this is blocks away from the apartment that she grew up in. She grew up, as you know, very poor, living in the projects. Projects which are now named after her.

And she really credits this school with kind of forming her, in those very early years; of learning discipline, learning the difference between right and wrong. And she really puts a lot of credit in this school and the other schools that she attended in the parochial school system.

And you know, she really is heartbroken, as she said, to see this school close. And she wanted to go and kind of share in the sadness with some of the kids. And she actually sat down with a couple classrooms of kids and the kids were crying. I mean, it was very emotional. Here's some of what she said to the kids.


SOTOMAYOR: You know something, sweetie? I'm so glad that all of you took part in trying to save your school, because you can't really sit back and let people do things to you. You have to get up and tell people what's important.


COOPER: The kids didn't really understand why the -- why the school was closing down. They made YouTube videos. They tried to raise money, as the parents did, but it wasn't enough to cover the shortfall that the archdiocese says they're experiencing. They're closing some 24 parochial schools in the New York City area in this year.

BOLDUAN: So she says she's heartbroken, so was she critical in any way of the Catholic Church and the fact that it is closing so many schools?

COOPER: She wasn't. I mean, look, she -- you know, she says she understands the financial situation that they are facing. Her concern, though, is by closing these schools that, you know, the next generations of doctors and lawyers, which these schools have been able to churn out for generations, and lift people out of poverty through education, she's concerned of what impact that's going to have, and it's going to have a negative impact.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And did I read this correctly? She was valedictorian of her class, right?

COOPER: I believe so, yes.

BOLDUAN: I guess that shouldn't surprise us.

COOPER: I mean, she's certainly without a doubt -- without a doubt the most promising. She's one of three Catholic -- Catholic school students who is now on the Supreme Court. Justice Roberts and Scalia, as well.

BOLDUAN: Pretty impressive. Well, we'll definitely be looking forward to it.

You can see the full interview with Justice Sonia Sotomayor on "AC 360," 8 p.m. this evening.

Thanks, Anderson.

COOPER: Thanks.

BLITZER: I think Anderson was valedictorian of his class, too. I believe he was.

BOLDUAN: I did not mean to diminish Anderson Cooper. He's a very accomplished man, as well.



BLITZER: Thousands of sharks swarming off the Florida coast. There's no wonder the beaches are closed. Well, what's behind these scary images? That's next.


BOLDUAN: Quite a sight off of Florida's Atlantic coast. A huge swarm of sharks -- just look at that -- thousands and thousands of them, on the move, heading back north, as spring approaches. Beaches were closed, and people were told to stay out of the water. All of this coming during the busy spring break season. But it's such an amazing sight.

I wanted to talk more about it with environmentalist and CNN special correspondent, Philippe Cousteau.

Philippe, I see -- I can't take my eyes off of it when I see these pictures. But you know, when our viewers, they see these images and they see this video, they're either going to be in awe or they're going to be terrified. I mean, that's just -- there really are two camps, of course.

The beaches were closed, as I mentioned, but people are going to wonder, are they in danger when this massive kind of migration happens? There really isn't too much danger, is there?

PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: There's not too much danger, Kate. And you know, I agree with you. It is such a beautiful sight.

And there was a lot of bad news about sharks and how sharks are declining around the world, but this is the kind of thing that you love to see. Thousands of spinner sharks migrating north along the coast of Florida.

Usually happens a little bit earlier in the year. This year, it's happening a little bit later. So some of the swimmers, because we're getting into the beach season, are a little nervous, but there's nothing to be afraid of. There are certainly no recorded fatalities from spinner sharks. Very -- very rarely does anyone get bitten by a spinner shark, and that's usually if they're spear fishing or if there are dead fish around or anything like that. No one on the beach has anything to be afraid of.

They have put up red flags, just in case, but this is certainly a sight to enjoy as opposed to be afraid of.

BOLDUAN: And you've had the lucky chance to see this type of annual migration yourself. Tell me more about it. I mean, I'm fascinated by all this. Where are the sharks going and how far are they actually traveling?

COUSTEAU: Well, they spend their winters a little further south in southern Florida around the Keys and further south into the Gulf and the Caribbean. And then they head up north, towards the Carolinas for the summertime. So that's basically what they're doing. They're taking advantage of changing, shifting currents to ride those currents up north to spend their summer a little further up, up along the coast.

And, you know, the great thing is, again, that when you're out there -- and I've seen these from a helicopter myself; you can see a shadow there of a helicopter filming -- filming those sharks. I've seen it myself. It's just an absolutely awe-inspiring sight.

And the funny or the irony -- the irony of it is that you have a lot of swimmers in the water and just, you know, maybe a hundred yards away you have sharks. And people are so often afraid of sharks. I think this is a great reminder that they really are not these deadly monsters of the deep that are trying to target and attack people all the time. They have a very important role to play in the environment, and they should be treasured for the majestic animals that they are.

And seeing these types of large migrations of sharks, which is increasingly rare around the world, is just a remarkable and awe- inspiring sight.

BOLDUAN: And I did want to ask you about that. You look at these pictures, but this also comes at a time of great concern for shark populations. I mean, the estimations are in the tens of millions, 70 million. I saw one estimate of 100 million sharks are killed every year.

And it's important when you see this, and we talk about that, to remind viewers why it's so important to preserve these populations and to save this animal.

COUSTEAU: Well, you still, you bring up a great point, right? You still hear that the only good shark is a dead shark. But, in fact, sharks are really important to keeping the health of the environment, to help maintain the health of fish stocks, commercial fisheries, and fish that people rely on for protein.

So they help maintain the balance of the oceans, and we need healthy oceans to have healthy humans around the world. And sharks are -- should be treasured and protected, not feared.

BOLDUAN: Next time you head up in a helicopter and you get to see this -- this shark migration, I expect an invitation.

COUSTEAU: Absolutely. You got it.

BOLDUAN: Philippe Cousteau, great to see you, thanks so much.

BLITZER: Interesting story. We'll continue to watch those sharks.

Meanwhile, Rand Paul declaring victory in the standoff over the drones. But is he causing a split within his own party? Erin Burnett is going "OUTFRONT" on that -- on this in the next hour. Erin's joining us with a little preview -- Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Wolf. The Rand-page heard around the world, trending on Twitter and around the world. Well, Rand Paul joined us to talk about whether he regrets what he did and what he thinks he got out of it.

And let me tell you: he is not afraid of John McCain, Lindsey Graham, or "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page, all of whom have pilloried him today for what he had to do. So we -- we get into detail, Wolf, on what exactly is OK when it comes to drone strikes or not to Rand Paul.

Also, our interview with Paul Hanson, the father of Dianna Hanson, who -- the 24-year-old intern who died at cat haven, that horrible story. Our interview -- he is an incredible father. He talks about his daughter's love of cats. From when she was a little girl, when they would go to school, they would say, "Your daughter is very artistically talented, but she only wants to draw big cats." She had this love from when she was a child, and he talks about that and has no regrets about what she did. So we have that interview coming up at the top of the hour, too. BLITZER: We'll see you then. Erin, thanks very much.

We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.


BOLDUAN: To see this next story is a cliff-hanger would be an understatement. It's the breathtaking push that went viral. Here's our Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When push came to shove, was it just a love nudge?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know I love you, right?

JESSICA POWELL, RELUCTANT JUMPER: Please don't push me off. Please don't.


MOOS: Or did her then-boyfriend not take no for an answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to push you. I'm not going to push you.

POWELL: Honey, honey! Ahhh!

(via phone): I felt like all of my insides had moved up into my chest.

MOOS: By now, millions have seen the infamous push, but this is the first time you'll hear her side of it. Jessica Powell and Creighton Baird, part of an extreme rope swing video, being put together by Devin Graham, but when it was Jessica's turn to jump...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one, zero!

MOOS: ... even a countdown couldn't jump-start her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one, zero!

POWELL (on camera): I don't want to do it.

MOOS: For 45 minutes, she tried, and then kiss turned to shove.

POWELL: Ahhh! I'm breaking up with you!

BAIRD: I just got dumped!

MOOS: But before you say, "You jerk," consider what Jessica told Creighton 45 minutes earlier.

POWELL (via phone): You know, I'm really nervous about this. I don't know if I'll be able to jump. If I can't jump, you need to push me.

MOOS: But when he did, his reputation took a dive, as he told "Inside Edition."

BAIRD: I feel I have taken Chris Brown's spot as the worst boyfriend in America.

MOOS: Make that worst ex-boyfriend. Her at-the-end-of-her-rope line...

POWELL (on camera): I'm breaking up with you!

MOOS: -- had them in stitches on "Kimmel." But it turns out...

POWELL (via phone): I've since broken up, not anything to do with the video. I have zero hard feelings for Creighton.

MOOS (on camera): The breakup happened about a month after the show for reasons Jessica prefers to keep private.

(voice-over): But when she climbed a rope back up the cliff to Creighton, right after he pushed her...

POWELL: I think I punched him first, but then I -- I gave him a big hug and told him thanks for -- for making it easy for me.

MOOS: She says the reason for giving this interview, her first, was to clear his name. And though her one liner is already being parodied by Boy Scouts...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm breaking up with you!

MOOS: ... Creighton is no cretin.

POWELL: He's not a monster, he's not mean, he's nothing like Chris Brown. No offense, Chris Brown.

MOOS (on camera): At least it was the relationship that ended up on the rocks...

(voice-over): ... and not Jessica.

POWELL (on camera): Ahhh!

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...

POWELL: I'm breaking up with you!

MOOS: ... New York.


BLITZER: That's scary stuff.

BOLDUAN: Every time I see it, oh, my God.

BLITZER: That's it for us. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.