CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

President Obama on Syria; Interview With Israeli Government Spokesman Mark Regev; Deadly Knock at the Door for Head of Colorado Prisons; Speaker Reflects on Massacre; For Some Species, Life After Extinction?; Teen Aims High for the Prom

Aired March 20, 2013 - 17:59   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, outreach to Israel. President Obama teams up with Prime Minister Netanyahu against Syria and Iran. I'll ask the prime minister's spokesman about the distance still between them.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And the hunt for a killer in Colorado. We are learning about a possible lead in the shooting death of the state's prison chief.

BLITZER: And what if, what if dinosaurs came back to life? Scientists work to revive extinct animals. This isn't science fiction. It's real.

KEILAR: Hi there. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Kate Bolduan.

BLITZER: And I'm Wolf Blitzer.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

In the Middle East right now, President Obama is promising to stand with Israel against its most menacing neighbors a very, very dangerous time in the region.

KEILAR: His most urgent warning to Syria, he is vowing that the Assad regime will be held accountable if it has in fact used chemical weapons as the rebels claim.

BLITZER: We have every angle covered with Jessica Yellin in Jerusalem. Barbara Starr is over at the Pentagon. Tom Foreman is in our virtual studio.

Let's go to Jerusalem first with Jessica.

A very powerful meeting today. Very interesting between the president and the prime minister, Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that's right. President Obama is here in Jerusalem for the first overseas trip of his second term, a visit rich in symbolism. Already President Obama is emphasizing the U.S.' commitment to ensuring Israel's security and correcting any past sleights, real or perceived.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN (voice-over): President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu together in Israel, they were acting like long-lost friends, joking,, getting casual, complimenting each other's children while taking a little dig.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They are very good-looking young men who clearly got their looks from their mother.

(LAUGHTER)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, I could say the same of your daughters.

OBAMA: This is true.

(LAUGHTER)

YELLIN: We get it, the frosty days are over. Now Bibi and Obama are ready to link arms on a variety of issues. But there are still differences in their posture.

On Syria, an Israeli official tells CNN, the Israeli government believes chemical weapons were used in Syria.

So far, President Obama is far more cautious.

OBAMA: So, I have instructed my teams to work closely with all of the countries in the region, and international organizations and institutions to find out precisely whether or not this red line was crossed.

YELLIN: He repeated that if he finds chemical weapons were used or transferred, that would be a game changer.

On Iran, a seemingly humbled Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that President Obama is committed to stopping a nuclear Iran, but then he pointed out:

NETANYAHU: We have different vulnerabilities, obviously, and different capabilities. We take that into account.

YELLIN: President Obama offered these words of reassurance to the Israelis.

OBAMA: And I will repeat, all options are on the table. We will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting the world's worst weapons.

YELLIN: Then made clear the U.S. time frame for action may differ from Israel's.

OBAMA: Each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action. And Israel is differently situated than the United States.

YELLIN: At least the two now chummy leaders found a way to bond over all this talk of timing and red lines.

OBAMA: Where do you want to start?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're following the red line.

OBAMA: Following the red line, OK.

(CROSSTALK)

MAN: You hear about red lines all the time, right?

OBAMA: Bibi's always talking about red lines.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: This is all a psychological ploy.

NETANYAHU: This was minutely planned.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

YELLIN: Also carefully planned, tomorrow, the president will visit the West Bank city of Ramallah. While the White House is setting expectations exceedingly low, there is some hope the U.S. and Israel could start down a path to new peace talks with Israel and the Arab states.

The president said this is the first step, listening is the first step, and that's what the president plans to do when he visits the head of the Palestinian Authority tomorrow. He even made a joke saying, his mother taught him, you never start a process without listening to the parties involved first. That's exactly what he plans to do when he visits the West Bank.

KEILAR: Jessica Yellin for us in Jerusalem, thanks, Jessica.

While there's no been no confirmation of a chemical weapons attack in Syria, the chairs of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees say they believe it's a strong possibility. They broke that news right here in THE SITUATION ROOM when Wolf and I interviewed Congressman Mike Rogers and Senator Dianne Feinstein yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Do you believe chemical weapons were used by the Syrian military?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I have a high probability to believe that chemical weapons were used.

We need that final verification.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR: The White House has to make some decisions in this. I think the days are becoming more desperate. The regime is more desperate. I think the probabilities are very high that we're going into some very dark times.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is learning more about the investigation to figure out if chemical weapons were fired in Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As more pictures emerge of hospitalized Syrians, CNN has learned U.S. intelligence agencies are in a massive around-the-clock effort to determine if these people were attacked by chemical weapons. So far, U.S. officials say there is no corroboration.

ROBERT FORD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: So far, we have no evidence to substantiate the reports that chemical weapons were used.

STARR: In a classified briefing to Congress, intelligence officials said it's not clear what happened. But CNN has learned new details about how the CIA is trying to figure out exactly what did happen here. U.S. intelligence operatives are now talking to rebels and defectors to see what they know.

At Fort Detrick, Maryland, these videos are being analyzed by the Pentagon's classified medical intelligence unit. Officials tell CNN military analysts are looking at the patient's symptoms and conditions, along with reports from Syrian doctors, to see if the symptoms of suffocation and convulsions match a potential chemical attack.

Intelligence analysts are also looking at satellite imagery to identify movement of chemical weapons or launches of missiles that could have carried chemical warheads. They're looking at intercepts of cell phones and Internet traffic for chatter about attacks.

If an attack is proven, and if President Obama were to order military action, CNN has learned Turkish and U.S. aircraft in Southern Europe are close enough to launch airstrikes. The U.S. Navy is also maintaining a classified submarine presence in the Mediterranean, along with surface warships that could fire missiles to destroy chemical sites.

ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS, NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, EUROPE: We are looking at a wide range of operations, and we are prepared, if called upon, to be engaged.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Now, intelligence officials say, because there are no U.S. operatives or U.S. military personnel on the ground inside Syria, it may be very difficult to prove what did happen there. They may never really know -- Brianna. KEILAR: Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon, thank you, Barbara.

And President Obama noted today that Israel's security can be measured in near miles and minutes.

BLITZER: And no doubt, no doubt it's a very small region facing really big threats. This is a tough neighborhood.

CNN's Tom Foreman is taking a closer look into this neighborhood.

What are you seeing, Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Brianna, you have to look at the map to understand the import of what he's dealing with and the close quarters.

Look at this. If you took his whole itinerary, every place he's stopping, that would fit inside the area of the state of Ohio. And yet he's got massive issues to deal with there, chief among them, the Palestinian/Israeli issue. He has to reassure the Israelis that America is still a staunch ally firmly in the Israeli corner. At the same time, he cannot seem to be deaf to complaints of the Palestinians about Israel, particularly about things like the Israeli settlers building homes in places like the West Bank, which the Palestinians firmly believe will be their property if there ever is a complete peace deal -- Wolf, Brianna.

BLITZER: Tom, beyond Israel, other issues are pressing pretty much on this visit by the president, because these are issues that are really close by as well. What can you tell us about them?

FOREMAN: Yes, it expands the theme of this being a very small area with a lot of things happening. Let's just drive north up here into Syria. We know that for quite some time now, we have had this struggle going on between rebel forces in Syria and the government where they're fighting for control of the government.

We also know that in the past 48 hours, we have had reports of the government maybe using chemical weapons against the rebel forces. That has really substantially stepped up pressure on the White House to do something, maybe to arm the rebels, maybe to put in warplanes to start bombing some of the government positions.

That's all a very difficult thing to do while not igniting the rest of the region, Wolf, where they won't be too happy to see American warplanes in the skies.

BLITZER: Then there's Iran. That's not all that far away either, with a whole set of other issues.

FOREMAN: Absolutely. You go right over Iraq and you get to Iran.

We know the president said just days ago that he thinks Iran is one year away from having a nuclear weapon. The Israelis think it could happen even sooner. Iran says they don't even have such a program. But we do know this. They have been anti-Israel, they have been anti-American, and we know that they have rockets capable of flying from Tehran down to Tel Aviv in about 12 minutes, and they could carry a small nuke if you made it small enough.

This is the distance from Boston to Chicago. That's how small the area is we're talking about, and yet as you can see, so many, many, many difficult and massive problems in that area.

BLITZER: The region, I must say, North Africa, Middle East, all the way to South Asia, pretty much in turmoil right now. Thanks very much for that, Tom Foreman. Good explanation.

Let's go back to Jerusalem right now. The chief spokesman for the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, is joining us. Mark Regev is in Jerusalem.

Let's talk about Syria for a moment. Does Israel believe the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad has already used chemical weapons?

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON: We're at the moment comparing and talking with the Americans about what we see on the data on the ground.

I can say the following, Wolf, which is clear that there is a danger there. It's clear that there's a danger there. The Syrian regime has huge stockpiles of chemical weapons. And it's not only that the regime that could use those weapons. As Syria fragments, and you have got very dangerous hard-core terrorist groups there on the ground in Syria, whether it's the Islamic Revolutionary Guards -- the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, I'm sorry. You have got Hezbollah. You have got al Qaeda on the ground. We're concerned also that as Syria fragments in the framework of a civil war there, you will see those very dangerous weapons reach very dangerous actors.

BLITZER: You can't say for sure whether or not they have actually crossed that red line and used those weapons?

REGEV: At the moment, we're not commenting publicly on that issue. We're being cautious at this stage.

BLITZER: But do you know? You don't have to tell us what the answer is, but does Israel know? Does Israel intelligence have a firm answer?

REGEV: We have an initial assessment. I can say that it came up tonight in the discussions with President Obama, as did, of course, the peace process in the Middle East, and the need to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

I mean, those three issues, Iran, peace process and Syria, were front and center on our agenda today.

BLITZER: Are Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama on the Syrian issue on the same page? REGEV: I think so, because we have a clear situation where you have a terrible humanitarian crisis, more than 70,000 people killed, many, many more injured, and over a million people refugees, having to leave their homes. And everyone sees the great humanitarian crisis.

But Syria has the potential to be a major strategic crisis as well. And that is, you have in Syria a formidable arsenal of weapons, nonconventional weapons as well, those chemical weapons. And if we see those weapons either used irresponsibly by the regime -- and any use is irresponsible -- or if we see those weapons reaching the hands of other extremist actors who are on the ground in Syria -- and, as you know, both Hezbollah, al Qaeda, as well as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, they're on the ground and they're active in Syria.

And as that society fragments, we're very concerned that those sort of groups will get their hands on chemical weapons or other dangerous weapons that are in the Syrian arsenal.

BLITZER: What would Israel do?

REGEV: Of course, we would reserve of the right to act to prevent that from happening.

I might ask you a question. Imagine al Qaeda, imagine Hezbollah with chemical weapons. What does that mean to all the people who are potential targets for those extremist terrorist groups? We can't allow it to happen.

BLITZER: I want you to clarify, if you can. There seems to be a nuanced difference between the prime minister and the president of the United States when it comes to a red line for Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks of early summer, a red line. The president thinks it's going to be at least a year before Iran has some sort of nuclear weapons capability. Explain what's going on here.

REGEV: I don't think the differences are that large at all, Wolf. If you say to us, and the prime minister addressed it publicly this evening, that the Iranians could have a nuclear weapon in about a year, I'm not sure we disagree with that assessment.

We look at another issue, and that is the issue of nuclear enrichment, because the minute they have enough nuclear-enriched uranium, enough enriched uranium for a bomb, that means that it's impossible to stop them from our perspective. And so we're looking at other factors as well.

And, unfortunately, the clock is ticking and time is running out. In other words, for us, the key is the enrichment of uranium by the Iranians. As that enrichment continues, it's more and more dangerous.

BLITZER: Mark Regev is the spokesman for the prime minister of Israel.

Mark, thanks very much for joining us.

REGEV: My pleasure.

KEILAR: In our last hour, we reported that one of President Obama's limousines in Israel broke down today due to fuel issues. An Israeli government official told CNN and other news organizations that the vehicle broke down because it was filled with the wrong type of fuel.

The U.S. Secret Service told CNN earlier there were mechanical problems with the limousine, but they now tell us that fuel was not the issue. They have not yet told us what the actual issue was. They're still working on that. But we went back to the Israeli official, who still adamantly stands by the story that the limousine was filled with the wrong type of fuel.

We will of course continue to dig on this story and let you know what we learn.

Up next, more reason to worry about the threat from North Korea. Is the communist nation behind a massive cyber-attack?

And Jake Tapper dissects his exclusive interview with House Speaker John Boehner, who talks about gun violence as a dad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A huge cyber-attack cripples the computer systems of several banks and broadcasters.

It happened today in South Korea, where officials say the most likely suspect is their enemy to the north. It's just one more source of serious tension right now, at a time when North Korea seems to be making new threats almost every day.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. He's investigating.

What are you finding out, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the South Korean army wasn't even affected by this hacking. And yet they still raised their defense level. That gives you some idea of just how high tensions are running right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Accusations are flying after a cyber- attack shut down several banks and TV broadcasters in South Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It had a very disruptive impact on our news gathering.

LAWRENCE: Computers crashed, and up popped warnings from a new hacker group, with ominous skulls promising to be back soon.

Some South Koreans are blaming the North, which just last week accused the U.S. and South Korea of launching persistent computer virus attacks and promised revenge.

JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: If this comes from North Korea, it was government-sponsored.

LAWRENCE: Cyber-analyst James Lewis says Pyongyang hasn't been nearly as active in cyber-attacks as Russia, China and Iran.

LEWIS: What it could indicate with the Koreans, if it was them, was, yes, they're moving up the chain. They're figure out how to do things.

LAWRENCE: And U.S. military commanders say bits and bytes can be just as advice could be just as destructive as bullets and bombs.

GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CHAIRMAN: Our homeland is not the sanctuary it once was.

LAWRENCE: High-tech nations like South Korea and the U.S. are especially vulnerable. It's why the Pentagon is trying to coordinate its defenses with private companies.

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, U.S. CYBER COMMAND: Think of this as going up to New York City on the New Jersey Turnpike. The E-ZPass would see a car going by. And what we're telling the Internet service providers, if you see a red car, tell us that you saw the red car, where you saw it, and where it's going.

LAWRENCE: This time, South Korean banks were disrupted. It could have easily been here.

LEWIS: What if somebody woke up one day and said, I want to do this in Peoria? Right now, there's nothing standing between them and you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: And that's one of the reasons the Pentagon is trying to deploy new cyber-warrior teams over the next three years. That includes about 13 so-called defend-the-nation teams, and they would ostensibly go on offense against all kinds of hackers, not just sit back and protect military systems -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Chris Lawrence, thank you for that.

Another head of the International Monetary Fund is facing legal trouble. Police searched the Paris home of IMF Chief Christine Lagarde today. She's under investigation for her role in settling a business dispute while she was France's finance minister. Lagarde denies any wrongdoing. She took charge of the IMF in 2011 after Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned from the job while fighting allegations that he assaulted a maid in a New York hotel, charges that were later dropped.

A crippling and dangerous power outage at a nuclear power plant, the same one that was the scene of a radiation disaster after the 2011 tsunami, the surprising culprit, we have details. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

KEILAR: Up next: a manhunt in Colorado after the state's prison chief is gunned down -- now a potential lead from a surprising source.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now: Deadly gun violence hits Colorado officials very close to home. Could a bystander crack the case?

He's the House speaker and a father. John Boehner talks exclusively to our Jake Tapper about the emotional aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting.

And Anderson Cooper is at it again. I made it into his "RidicuList." Now it's time for me to respond.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, along with Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, a manhunt is under way in Colorado, after a shocking murder. The victim is the head of the state's prison system. And is gunned down in his own home.

KEILAR: And we've just gotten word of a possible new lead. Investigators are looking for a speed walker, a woman who was in the area may have seen a car connected to the killing. CNN Jim Spellman is in Monument, Colorado, for us.

Jim, what's the latest that you're hearing there?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this brutal murder has shocked so many people from here in the neighborhood all the way to the governor's mansion.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SPELLMAN (voice-over): Police scouring for potential leads in the shooting death of the head of Colorado's prison system, Tom Clements, as he answered the door at his home.

LT. JEFF KRAMER, EL PASO COUNTY, COLORADO, SHERIFF'S OFFICE? We're very sensitive to the fact that, because of the position he held, there could be any number of people who may or may not have a motive to perpetrate a crime like this against him.

SPELLMAN: So far, there are few leads. Only a car seen idling nearby around the time of the shooting.

KRAMER: That vehicle is described as a late '90s model boxy- style two-door. Something similar perhaps to a '90s model Lincoln, although we're not definitively saying that it is a Lincoln.

SPELLMAN (on camera): The same witness who say the car idling near the crime scene minutes later saw it driving on this road towards Interstate 25. Near the on-ramp to the interstate, there are numerous cameras. Police are checking them to see if they can spot the car.

(voice-over): As police pursue the killer, Colorado's governor signed controversial gun control legislation that requires universal background checks and bans high-capacity magazines.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADO: As far as we know, two completely unrelated subjects. And Tom Clements is somebody who worked in what is oftentimes a cold, dark world with a remarkably open and generous heart. He would have expected us to sign these bills and go forward today. That's just the kind of man he was.

SPELLMAN: The governor was less composed earlier in the day when he remembered the man who he had to cajole to take the job.

HICKENLOOPER: Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Lisa, their two daughters. Certainly, with all the employees of the Department of Corrections, who Tom worked so hard with.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SPELLMAN: Even though investigators are looking at leads related to the prison system, they've ruled nothing out in this investigation, Brianna.

Jim Spellman for us there in Monument, Colorado. We're going to try and get a little more information. Now, obviously there are some unknown questions here when it comes to motive, and exactly what happened, really trying to determine the facts here.

So let's go now to Lieutenant Jeff Kramer of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. What's the latest in the investigation? Have you been able to identify a suspect yet, Lieutenant?

KRAMER: We have not been able to identify a suspect yet. Obviously, our investigators remain very busy at this hour, sifting through a lot of information, going over information that they received through their analysis of the crime scene. Of course, that analysis began last night and continued through much of today. But again, no suspect has been identified. But again, we're working feverishly to try to obtain some answers to that very question.

KEILAR: So I understand perhaps then you don't necessarily know if there's a motive. But anyone looking at this story would sort of jump to that conclusion that very likely this may be someone who had an issue with Tom Clements. Have you been able to determine that? And I imagine you're really looking at that in earnest?

KRAMER: We are certainly looking at all those possible angles that you mentioned. But of course, we're being open-minded to any number of other possibilities, as well.

We are very sensitive, as we have been, since the onset of this investigation, very sensitive to the position that he held, the fact that any number of people could have a motive to commit a crime such as this against Mr. Clements. And so we're, again, sensitive to that and taking in all of that information. Taking all of that into consideration in the course of this investigation.

KEILAR: Did Mr. Clements ever have security, or there any precautions he took? You can imagine that he might be the target of a crime.

KRAMER: I'm not aware of what level of security he may or may not have had. That -- that was something that perhaps we'll get some more clarity from the Department of Corrections on here, locally here. But I'm not aware of what level of security may have been in place.

KEILAR: And Lieutenant, you may have heard in the story that we just ran by Jim Spellman, there was this boxy car that he was talking about. How important do you think it is to find this car, and have you been able to make any progress there?

KRAMER: Well, it's extremely important for us to find that vehicle. That's why we really sought assistance from the public in this case, to be able to call in additional information that might be helpful for us in identifying that car more specifically. And then of course, identifying hopefully the occupant and driver of that car last evening.

So that is a very viable and important lead for us at this time. Once we did release the initial information, we did have an additional number of local residents, perhaps three or four in this area, who called in to corroborate that they had sighted that car, as well. So that continues to be a very viable piece of information for us. And we hope to gain additional ground on that in the hours to come.

KEILAR: Certainly an area you're looking at. Are you getting a lot of leads in general?

KRAMER: Well, in general, we certainly have a lot of information that -- that has been made available to us. We have a great level of cooperation that's going on with a number of agencies who are assisting in this. Many of those agencies are really operating in the realm of providing us valuable information that might shed some light on who may have perpetrated this crime.

So we do have a lot of information to go through, and we're certainly keeping those phone lines open through our nonemergency line in our dispatch center to receive any calls from the public who has information, as well.

KEILAR: Lieutenant, we certainly do hope that you make some progress on this. Thanks for joining us. Lieutenant Jeff Kramer with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

BLITZER: I hope they find this guy. Thanks very much.

Next, in an exclusive interview with our own Jake Tapper, the House speaker, John Boehner, he's opening up talking about how he felt as a dad after the Sandy Hook massacre. What he thinks should be done right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here in Washington, we've seen the momentum for tough new gun control measures fade since those emotional days immediately after the Sandy Hook school massacre. My colleague, Jake Tapper, spoke exclusively to the House speaker, John Boehner, about the problem of gun violence in the United States and how it touches him personally.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Just tell me, as -- as a speaker of the House, I just know as a dad myself, when Sandy Hook happened, I just wanted to do something. Whether it was changing the laws to make it easier to commit people, or making sure the background checks were better. What was -- what did you feel as a dad?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Oh, I mean, it was awful. Our hearts go out to those who are the victims of Sandy Hook, or these other mass shootings. I would hope the president would have focused on the bigger problem, you know, violence in our society.

TAPPER: Do you think background checks, improving background checks might be part of that?

BOEHNER: They should actually do a real background check on everyone. And maybe the Department of Justice ought to enforce the law.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Jake is here. Jake, he says he wants the Senate to take action first on gun control. Then the House will act. Why?

TAPPER: Well, because the Senate is already having difficulty passing gun control. And I don't think he wants the House to be on the record one way or the other on these issues without even that hurdle having been cleared. Obviously, it would be tougher to get things through a Republican-controlled House than a Democrat-passed -- Democrat-backed Senate.

But just one other point of clarification that's interesting. He said in that interview that he thought all backed -- everyone should be background checked. But when I pressed for clarification, they don't mean -- he did not mean that he thinks there should be new background checks. He just means that the Justice Department should do the background checks that are already required that are not necessarily done.

BLITZER: Good point of clarification. Another sensitive issue, comprehensive immigration reform. And you had this exchange with the speaker.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: It's no secret that your caucus is -- can sometimes be difficult to steer.

BOEHNER: Really?

TAPPER: And I'm wondering if you think that the -- if the Tea Party caucus in particular, which has a reputation in this country for being particularly unruly, shall we say, if they will go along with something like immigration reform.

BOEHNER: We've got one of the members of the Tea Party Caucus who's been part of these discussions. Raul Labrador from Idaho just happened to be an immigration attorney before he came to the Congress. He has some real expertise that he's been able to bring to the table. And he's been able to work with Republicans and Democrats to address this serious issue. So I'm not at all concerned about one faction or the other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Does he think that immigration reform will pass the House anytime soon?

TAPPER: He does. But he's being very, very wary right now. And one of the keys here is, would he bring up legislation that he thought could pass, but wouldn't necessarily get the majority of the Republican Party in the House? That's something he's been reluctant to do in the past. He did do it when it came to the tax cuts that were set to expire at the end of last year.

So I think the question is, can there be a big enough group of Republicans, even if not necessarily a majority that would join with Democrats and pass it in the House?

BLITZER: Good interview. Jake Tapper, thanks very much.

Don't forget, watch Jake every weekday, 4 p.m. Eastern on "THE LEAD," right here on CNN. THE SITUATION ROOM now begins, 5 p.m. Eastern.

KEILAR: Another record-setting day on Wall Street. All three major stock indexes closed higher after the Federal Reserve promised to keep stimulus measures in effect until the job market is back on track. The Dow closed above 14,511. It was about 35 points higher than that earlier in the day. A new all-time high within a trading session.

Up next, what if extinction isn't forever? Researchers are working on bringing back species that haven't been seen on earth for decades.

And Wolf lands on Anderson's "RidicuList." Now it's Blitzer's turn to hit back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: This is a fascinating story, Wolf.

BLITZER: I know it is.

KEILAR: It's really cool. Extinction may not be the end of the line for some species.

BLITZER: Scientists are now trying to bring back some of them decades after they actually disappeared. Lisa Sylvester is working this story for us.

And you're fascinated by this, as well.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've got to say, I'm with Brianna on this one. I'm very fascinated by this. What we're talking about is bringing back animals that were once extinct by using genetic engineering. Some say this is all a natural progression. This is where science is taking us. But others are questioning, are we playing God here?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: We all saw in "Jurassic Park" dinosaurs brought back to life. Now, scientists have caught up with science fiction. And de-extinction, as it is called, isn't that far-fetched.

STEWART BRAND, AUTHOR: Essentially played the devil by causing these species to go extinct. So that sounds like playing God to bring them back might be the right thing to do.

SYLVESTER: Stewart Brand is a scientist who feels so passionately he has founded a nonprofit, Revive and Restore.

(on camera): This is the passenger pigeon. This is Martha. She was the last remaining passenger pigeon. She died in 1914, in the Cincinnati Zoo. But at one point there were literally billions of these birds. So many, in fact, that they would travel in these large flocks that would darken the sky.

(voice-over): Commercial and recreational hunting led to the passenger pigeon's extinction. But now the same science that brought us Dolly, the cloned sheep, have advanced to the point where scientists might be able to bring back Martha. De-extinction is the "National Geographic" magazine's April cover story.

CARL ZIMMER, "NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC": If you have a viable cell from an extinct animal -- maybe it got frozen somehow -- you can use that to create an embryo which you can implant in a living animal and it will develop and become an adult animal from this extinct species.

SYLVESTER: But don't expect the T-Rex to roam the earth again. Says John Cuttington.

JOHN CUTTINGTON: You have to divide it into, you know, stone cold dead, which is what know, stone cold dead which is what dinosaurs are. They're fossils. And then things that went recently extinct that you may have specimens of what amounts to being, you know, the carcass of the animal. SYLVESTER: De-extinction has already happened. In 2003, a team of French and Spanish scientists brought back the bucardo, a type of mountain goat. The last bucardo died in 1990, but scientists preserved cells from the animal and were able to genetically engineer a bucardo that lived for ten minutes before dying.

But while it may be cool to have a passenger pigeon back or a bucardo, there are a number of ethical issues. You're tinkering with Mother Nature. The animal's habitat may no longer exist. And what happens in the new world of genetics where people can pick and choose certain genetic qualities? Who controls the technology?

ROSS MACPHEE, AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: The technology is the same whether you're creating a passenger pigeon or a virus. And what this technology really means is that shortly we will be able to synthesize completely new organisms, organisms that never existed in nature.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: And that is at the crux of this debate. There is also debate among conservationists on whether or not the resources and time would be better spent trying to save animals that are still around and endangered.

But all of the scientists who we spoke to, they say it's all just a matter of time before someone is able to bring back an extinct animal and it lives. So now it's a matter of getting all those rules, figuring out what are the regulations, who controls this technology before we get to that point.

BLITZER: Amazing stuff, Lisa. Thank you.

SYLVESTER: Great to see where science is going with this.

BOLDUAN: It's interesting and also a little scary, I think.

SYLVESTER: It is, and it does raise all these ethical issues. And that's why I think it's just a great area for debate.

BOLDUAN: Lisa, thank you for that.

Well, President Obama's first trip to Israel as commander in chief under way. CNN's Erin Burnett is going "OUTFRONT" on the story at the top of the hour. What's going on, Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Brianna.

We're going to be talking to the man of the moment, as the "Jerusalem Post" has dubbed Naftali Bennett. When it all came down to it in the Israeli government, he ended up one of the top guys. He's going to be our special guest this evening, and we're going to talk about a man that Mayor Bloomberg in New York called ridiculous. And he called him ridiculous because this man has dared to defy him on large sugary drinks. That man is Howard Shultz, the CEO of Starbucks, and he'll be our guest at the top of the hour. Back to you guys. KEILAR: All right, Erin. Thank you.

BURNETT: All right.

KEILAR: Up next, Wolf, it's his turn to respond to "The RidicuList." And a prom date like no other: how one hopeful young man got this top model's attention.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Roaches on a bus, Anderson Cooper and me. We all came together on "AC 360's" "RidicuList" last night. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Here's what happened. According to the passengers, who spoke to our affiliate, WABC, shortly after the trip began, roaches began to show up. Pretty much everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I sat down. Roaches started crawling up on our clothes, going out the ceiling, everything.

COOPER: All right. We're already at the part of the trip where I would pull the emergency brake. I would jump off the bus, and I would call Wolf Blitzer to pick me up. And trust me, he's used to getting sketchy phone calls from Atlantic City.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: I mean, Wolf, I get into -- I get into trouble in Atlantic City once, and you tell Anderson. I thought you weren't going to say anything.

BLITZER: Was that you? You got in trouble in Atlantic -- what were you doing?

KEILAR: No, no. I haven't actually been. But I think you're probably the least likely of anyone I know to be getting sketchy phone calls.

BLITZER: I actually probably did get a sketchy phone call from a friend in Atlantic City once and had to help out.

KEILAR: I bet -- I bet you would. You'd be a good guy to help out.

BLITZER: I think Anderson is just a little jealous.

KEILAR: Jealous of what?

BLITZER: You see these glasses?

KEILAR: Yes.

BLITZER: When I got them, I could tell he wanted them.

KEILAR: He did.

BLITZER: Yes.

KEILAR: He copied.

BLITZER: I was on "The RidicuList" with the glasses. He -- you know, he puts on the -- he has similar glasses.

KEILAR: Yes.

BLITZER: He's a little jealous.

KEILAR: Yes. I think a little bit. Wolf.

BLITZER: The first day of spring when, as a poet wrote, a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love.

KEILAR: And one young man from Los Angeles is aiming high. He's asking a very famous model to his prom. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everyone wants her. Will this California high school senior get her?

JAKE DAVIDSON, SEEKING PROM DATE: It hit me. Why don't I ask Kate Upton to prom? It was a pipe dream. Everyone was like that's crazy. You're going to embarrass yourself.

MOOS: And instead of embarrassing himself, Jake Davidson ended up on "The Today Show," talking to the "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit model on the phone.

DAVIDSON: This just got so much better to have you on the phone.

KATE UPTON, MODEL (via phone): Hi. I absolutely love the video.

MOOS: This video...

DAVIDSON: Inviting you to my senior prom on May 23.

MOOS: From the chaise lounge to the mirror, he wooed her.

DAVIDSON: We can ride around all night long. Until 11. That's my curfew.

MOOS: He recounted their commonalities.

DAVIDSON: You're on the cover of "Sports Illustrated," and I read "Sports Illustrated."

MOOS (on camera): And she's being a good sport about your invitation, Jake.

(voice-over): She even tweeted, "How could I turn down that video? I'll check my schedule." Other mere mortals have asked out celebrities. Mila Kunis was invited to the Marine Corps ball via YouTube video.

SGT. SCOTT MOORE, U.S. MARINES: Hey, Mila. Sergeant Moore, but you can call me Scottie.

MOOS: They ended up going together. And Justin Timberlake got an invite from this Marine corporal.

CPL. KELSEY DESANTIS, U.S. MARINE: And if you can't go, all I have to say is I'll be crying over it.

MOOS: Nobody had to cry, Justin said yes.

But Jake Davidson and a film student friend shooting the video took it to a whole new level. A shower scene?

DAVIDSON: Kate, can I call you Katie? OK, Kate works.

MOOS (on camera): Nice touch bantering from the shower, Jake. But maybe a little too forward.

(voice-over): Just because Kate Upton goes "polar bare" doesn't mean you have to.

DAVIDSON: You like fine dining. I like fine dining.

MOOS: Jake says his friends keep imitating what he calls his nasally voice.

DAVIDSON: You like fine dining. I like fine dining.

MOOS: Stricken by allergies.

Meanwhile, Kate Upton has been stricken by pressure. She told the Web site Mashable.

UPTON: The pressure is on. I feel like it's you guys, it's the news that's putting it.

MOOS: Please don't let us screw it up for him.

DAVIDSON: What time should I pick you up if you're interested?

MOOS: She says she still has to adjust her schedule while he's adjusting his savings to splurge on wheels for prom night.

DAVIDSON: The old vintage Rolls Royce that I could rent out.

MOOS: Jake's got visions of the Rolls Royce of swimsuit models swimming in his head.

Jeanne Moos...

DAVIDSON: You like fine dining.

MOOS: ... CNN...

DAVIDSON: I like fine dining.

MOOS: ... New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Could (UNINTELLIGIBLE) potentially. You know, I took Mila Kunis to the White House.

KEILAR: You sure did.

BLITZER: And Paula Abdul, the same year.

KEILAR: That's right. They said yes to you.

BLITZER: How cool is that?

KEILAR: Guys like girls with a sense of humor.

BLITZER: I'm a very funny guy.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.