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Too Much Salt?; Interview With Jimmy Kimmel; Jimmy Kimmel Ready for Late-Night Battle; Interview with Ben Carson; Conservatives Swoon Over Carson; No Signs of Chemical Attack in Syria; "Two States, Two Peoples"; Twitter's Jack Dorsey: Hip to Be Square

Aired March 21, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Famous chef James Beard once asked, where would we be without salt? Well, it turns out, for some of us, alive.

I'm Jake Tapper and this is THE LEAD.

The national lead, breaking this hour, experts now say we're hooking our kids on sodium before they can talk. The author of the hot new book "Salt, Sugar, Fat" will try to convince us to drop the Doritos.

The politics lead. The brain surgeon whose next lifesaving operation may be on the Republican Party. New conservative political superstar Dr. Ben Carson will join us.

And the pop culture lead. Jimmy Fallon is reportedly on the move as the late-night wars heat up. We sit down with ABC's commanding general on the front lines, Jimmy Kimmel.


TAPPER: Do you it's a direct -- it has to be a direct response to you coming and...

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": God, I hope so. I really hope...


TAPPER: The high-stakes, big-bucks battle for late night gets a lot more interesting.

Our national lead breaking right now. The American Heart Association presenting a slew of new studies this hour revealing that many of us are every day ingesting an overdose of sodium. Salt is practically a food group here unto itself here in America, but how does this taste? A full three-quarters of the world population eats twice the recommended daily allowance of salt. The food in Kazakstan must be really bland, because they eat three times the daily allowance, the highest in the world.

But don't feel superior, Americans. Here in the States, eating too much salt played a role in 2.3 million deaths from heart attack, strokes and other diseases in 2010 alone. We're passing these bad habits on to our kids. In a different study also being released this hour, researchers found that three-quarters of prepackaged meals and snacks for toddlers had way too much salt.

There is a great new book sitting at number two on "The New York Times" nonfiction bestseller list. It's called "Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us."

And the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Moss joins us now.

Michael, thanks for joining us.

One of the things in this study says that three of four prepackaged meals for toddlers have too much sodium. What does this do to kids as they get older?

MICHAEL MOSS, "SALT, SUGAR, FAT: HOW THE FOOD GIANTS HOOKED US": One of the fascinating things about salt is we're not born liking salt.

We develop a liking for it at about six months of age. Other recent research has shown that the processed food industry is usually influential in shaping our liking for salt. Kids that are exposed more to processed foods, including the foods you just talked about, are more apt to be licking the saltshaker by the time they're in preschool.

TAPPER: Now, I know that potato chips, Doritos, pretzels, they're bad. But what is something that I eat commonly that is salt-filled that I don't even know?

MOSS: It is sort of shocking how many foods in the supermarket are so salty. Canned soup is just amazing. But the single largest contributor of salt to the diet is actually bread, not because it is so salty, but because we eat so much of it. It's an example of how salt is so essential to the industry.

They're hooked on salt more than we are because salt acts as a preservative. It covers up off-notes and bad flavors in highly processed foods. And it is so cheap that when they use it they can avoid adding more costly ingredients like fresh herbs and spices.

TAPPER: What's interesting is you talking -- when you were researching your book, you were talking to executives of a food company and they wanted to show you what foods tasted like without all of this salt. Tell us about that.

MOSS: They have known for years they need to cut back down on salt. So I went to them and said, look, what is the problem? Why can't you just take out all the salt?

And Kellogg made for me some of their biggest icons without any salt in them special for me so I could taste. We sat down. I tell you, it was the most god-awful experience you ever imagined. I can normally eat cheese. It's all day long. And without the salt, we couldn't even swallow cheese-its because the salt adds texture and solubility.

The frozen waffles when into the toaster and they came out looking and tasting like straw. And I tell you the clincher was the Corn Flakes without salt. I looked at the spokeswoman for the company and she got this expression of horror on her face and said, metal. I taste metal.

And the chief scientist was there going, oh, yes, well, that's one of the functions of salt. It helps balance out these flavors that get in from the minerals and vitamins and other things we add. So salt acts as a masking agent as well, besides being what the industry calls a flavor burst, something that really adds allure to processed foods.

TAPPER: I suppose one of the thing that we could do in our own lives is put away the saltshaker. Restaurants like Boston Market have taken saltshakers off the table. Does that help? Does that do anything?

MOSS: The saltshaker contributes only about 6 percent or 7 percent of the salt in our diet.

The majority is coming from processed foods and the typical mainline restaurants that rely so heavily on salt. That's where the problem is and that's where the accountability has to come in for things to be changing meaningfully.

TAPPER: Michael Moss, thank you so much for joining us. We wish you continued success with your great book.

MOSS: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: Also leading nationally, a possible change in who is allowed to deliver death from thousands of miles away. I'm referring, of course, to drones. U.S. officials tell CNN the White House is thinking about moving the drone program away from the CIA and into the hands of the Pentagon.

That could lead to more transparency in the controversial program, which has been shrouded in shadows at Langley.


TAPPER (voice-over): For years, unmanned killing machines in the sky have been the weapon of choice for the Central Intelligence Agency as a method of combating terrorism.

The drone kill count is formally classified, but the New America Foundation, which has tracked drone strikes since they began, estimates nearly 4,000 people have been killed. Among that number are the deaths of high-profile targets such as American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but also in that number, several hundred innocent civilians in Pakistan and Yemen.

International rights groups say there is no recourse for the victims' families since the U.S. does not acknowledge CIA drone attacks even occur. The White House has argued drones are effective in protecting the U.S. and its interests. Defenders argue they are preferable to sending troops into yet more foreign countries.

But human rights groups argue that there are serious constitutional questions about the program, specifically the extrajudicial targeted killing of enemy combatants and, most notably, American citizens such as Awlaki or his apparently innocent 16-year-old son. JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives.

TAPPER: John Brennan was battered in his nomination hearings to head the CIA by both Republicans and Democrats over the use of drones. Brennan expressed a desire to start moving out of the killing business and resume collecting and analyzing intelligence.

BRENNAN: The CIA should not be doing traditional military activities and operations.

TAPPER: The program has also divided Republicans. Hawks such as Senator John McCain of Arizona are all for it, but the drone strikes kept more libertarian Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky talking all night on the Senate floor earlier this month railing against possible targeted killings on U.S. soil.


TAPPER: No final decision has been made on whether the military will take over the drone program. If the change is made, we're told it would happen gradually.

The latest developments in the U.S. drone policy brings us to a larger question, are we safer here at home because of the strikes overseas and is it right?

Joining me now to discuss this, Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for "The Nation," and here in Washington, Christine Fair, senior fellow at Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and assistant professor at Georgetown University.

Jeremy, I want to start with you.

With the military taking over drone strikes assuming this does go through, would that alleviate any of your concerns when it comes to transparency or accountability?

JEREMY SCAHILL, "THE NATION": Well, first of all, Jake, I think we're having the wrong discussion here. The reality is that the military and the CIA have both been directing drone strikes for many years now.

The military's Joint Special Operations Command has done drone strikes inside of Yemen, inside of Pakistan, so in a way this sort of misses the bigger point. But to directly answer your question, no, it doesn't because the Obama administration has relied on a policy known as signature strikes where people are targeted in certain regions of Pakistan or Yemen based on where they live and if they're military-age males.

It's sort of a form of pre-crime. So what we have seen and these are really escalating is that people are being killed by the U.S. government, whether it's CIA or JSOC, and they don't even know their identities. What I have seen in my reporting on the ground in Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere is that we will have tremendous blowback from this if we don't take a serious step back and look at the impact on the ground of these drone strikes.

TAPPER: Christine, how about that? You have actually written about whether or not in Pakistan these drone strikes create more terrorists than they kill, as Jeremy has argued.

CHRISTINE FAIR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, our data don't actually say that.

What we actually look at is public opinion. And what is interesting, everyone knows Pakistanis tend to dislike the drones in the major cities. What we don't actually know is what Pakistanis think about the drones in the tribal areas. In my own travels in Pakistan, I find that people, the closer they are to the drones, the less willing they are to blanket say that they hate them, in part because they understand the options are the Pakistan military or living under the regime that the terrorists would prefer.

But I will say I very much agree with Jeremy. I am not a supporter of the so-called signature strikes. Even if we were to have transparency on what we were trying to do, we really wouldn't know anything about the signature strikes. On this, he and I are in absolute agreement.

TAPPER: Jeremy, you have called drone strikes murder.

If you were responsible for the national security of the United States and you saw Anwar al-Awlaki, you were sure it was him, it is not a signature strike, you're sure it's him, what would you do? What do you think the government of the United States should be doing?

SCAHILL: Well, first of all, there hasn't been any concrete evidence presented against Anwar al-Awlaki other than he said things that are deeply offensive to me and to probably most Americans.

I think the United States has made a big mistake in doing away with due process particularly for American citizens, but also for non-U.S. citizens. And I think if you have a man like Anwar al-Awlaki that you believe represents a concrete threat to the United States why not charge him with a crime, demand his extradition, go in and attempt to arrest him?

The United States did that recently with one of bin Laden's relatives. We have seen that in the case of Somalis accused of being members of Al Shabab in al Qaeda in East Africa. The idea that the president would authorize what I think is the assassination of a U.S. citizen who had not been charged with a crime really is a disturbing trend. And to kill his 16-year-old son two weeks later and then provide no explanation -- we have gotten no public explanation from the administration of why they killed 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.

To me, it would have been a moment to say we're going to put a moratorium on drone strikes, step back, and look at how it was we killed three U.S. citizens in three weeks, two of whom were not even supposedly on the kill list, one of whom was a 16-year-old citizen who was 6 years old when 9/11 happened.

TAPPER: Christine, I will let you have the last word. Does the potential move of putting drone strikes out of the CIA and into the Pentagon entirely, although as Jeremy notes, the Pentagon was already doing some of them, is that a good move?

FAIR: The only way it'll be a good move is if they're not under the command of Special Operations Command, in other words, that they are completely subject to transparency.

Speaking with respect to Pakistan, it could potentially be a good move because right now Pakistan is kind of a free rider. Right? It allows us to do the drone strikes. We're flying them from their territory. We're even building a new drone base in Pakistan, and yet it is able to disassociate itself from the attacks.

If we were to go forward with complete transparency, it would mean the ISI would have to come out of the closet. And my views about the drone problem in Pakistan, we don't have the option to arrest people like we do elsewhere. Having this sort of transparency and understanding who is targeted and with what consequences is actually good for Pakistanis.

What Pakistanis need to do is own their own struggle against their own terrorism. I think bringing the ISI out into the open and making it accept responsibility for what it is doing is probably a good step in that direction and can only happen if it's taken out of the purview of the CIA and put into the purview of the DOD.

TAPPER: Jeremy Scahill, Christine Fair, thank you.

FAIR: Thank you.

SCAHILL: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Vindicated after more than two decades behind bars for a crime he almost certainly did not commit, David Ranta went just free moments ago after Brooklyn prosecutors recommended throwing out his 1991 conviction for the shooting death of a rabbi during a botched diamond heist.

A witness from back then now said he was coached into identifying Ranta in a police lineup.

One by one, witnesses are sharing horror stories in the trial of a Philadelphia abortion provider. The evidence in the case is so gruesome some jurors have been seen covering their mouths. Former Dr. Kermit Gosnell is charged with killing seven late-term babies that were born alive and he's also accused of performing a botched abortion that killed a patient. Gosnell has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer insists none of the babies were born alive.

Just days after Senate Democrats decided to shelve a new assault weapons ban, Vice President Biden was in New York to meet with Newtown families and with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a strong voice in favor of more regulation of firearms.

Biden said what he is proposing common sense, not a Second Amendment grab.


JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tell me, tell me how it violates anyone's constitutional right to be limited to a clip that holds 10 rounds, instead of 30 or in Aurora 100?


TAPPER: Biden also suggested the Newtown shooter might have been killed sooner if he had to spend more time reloading.

It was an accident that could have been a few feet away from kicking off an international incident. We're just learning this juicy nuggets from a new book, "Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry," by Marc Ambinder and D.B. Grady excerpted in "The Atlantic" today.

Apparently back in 2006 during the U.N. General Assembly, an American Secret Service agent accidentally discharged a shotgun in the direction of the Iranian leader as he was getting into his motorcade in New York. The close call reportedly "scared the hell out of U.S. officials" who were worried Ahmadinejad might use it against them. But he never mentioned it again. Mysterious.

Ahead in our money lead, without tweets, hashtags and my dedicated Twitter followers, what would I do with my day? Maybe accomplish something. It's Twitter's birthday, my tweets. And to celebrate, I sit down with the hacker-turned-CEO behind it all.

Plus, our pop lead. Word on the street is that the suits at NBC are showing Jay Leno the exit. What does ABC's Jimmy Kimmel think about the soon-to-be-out-of-work comedian?


JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN: I do think he's capable. I've seen him. I mean, listen, you know, the guy is one of the great comedians.

TAPPER: But you think he's dumbed down his material? Is that -- is that --

KIMMEL: Yes, I think so. Yes, I mean, I think that's fair to say.



TAPPER: In the "Pop Culture Lead", if there's one place where success and job security don't always go hand in hand it is late night television.

Take the reported decision to kick Jay Leno to the curb and make Jimmy Fallon the new host of "The Tonight Show" in 2014. That's not because Leno is taking a beating in the ratings. His show is actually number one. But NBC execs seem to be focused on the long game. They want a host who could bring the younger, tweeting, YouTube-loving crowd to the table and the millions of dollars that come with them.

And you can thank ABC and Jimmy Kimmel for that. Kimmel's show just made the switch to the 11:30 time slot competing directly with Leno and David letterman's "Late Show". And while the TV host and comedian does his best to rise above the late night drama, don't think for a second Kimmel isn't ready for battle.


TAPPER (voice-over): Kimmel, Letterman, Leno, Fallon. Late night ratings roulette is upon us, with more than 10 million viewers at stake and tens of millions of dollars in network advertising on the line.

JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: Things once thought to be extinct could be now brought back from the dead. So, there's hope for NBC. It could turn around. It could turn around.


TAPPER: But as the peacock network apparently makes moves to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel, fresh from his New Year's move from 11:35 on ABC remains unfazed.

KIMMEL: Well, obviously, NBC is looking to move on because they did it once already. This would be the second time this has happened. So, I mean, it makes perfect sense and Jimmy Fallon is doing a great job.

TAPPER: And Jay Leno? Well, let's just say Kimmel's respect for Jay Leno knows bounds.

(on camera): You've had some tough things to say about Jay Leno.

KIMMEL: Yes, yes. My mother told me to stop.

TAPPER: Is that right?


You know, it's one of those things. I have diarrhea of the mouth and when I'm asked about it, I tend to go on and on.

TAPPER: You said he is like a master chef who now works at Burger King. Do you think he is capable of being a brilliant comic and --

KIMMEL: I do think he is capable. I've seen him. I mean, listen, you know, the guy is one of the great comedians.

TAPPER: But you think he's dumbed down his material? Is that -- is that --

KIMMEL: Yes, I think so. Yes, I mean, I think that's fair to say.

He is a rock, isn't he?

TAPPER: Yes. He's an immovable force.

KIMMEL: He is.

You've never been funnier, my friend.

TAPPER: I mean, obviously, you're younger. Obviously you've got a hipper, more modern sensibility.

KIMMEL: I have to be honest with you. I hate that younger thing.


KIMMEL: Because I imagine myself in -- hopefully doing this job when I get older and I just think it's like -- it's unfair. People age. It's just how it works.

Have you ever taken a lie detector test before? You have?

TAPPER (voice-over): Quicker than he expected Kimmel proved himself competitive with the coveted demographic of younger viewers.

KIMMEL: Do you ever pick your nose?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: No. Ah, yes, I did.

KIMMEL: You did.

TAPPER (on camera): You have a real viral video thing that other competitors, even Jimmy Fallon have not been able to match. Your YouTube channel is huge.

KIMMEL: It educates you because it's very democratic. People really are like voting for what they think is funny by watching it and passing it around to their friends.

I would like the people who are at home watching the Emmys right now to help me pull a big prank on the people who are not watching.

TAPPER (voice-over): It's been a big year for Kimmel. In addition to hosting the Emmys and providing comedy for the White House Correspondents Association dinner, he got engaged.

(on camera): So you're marrying one of your writers?

KIMMEL: I am, yes. She got hired as a writer's assistant and she started writing jokes. After a while it became obvious that we had to hire her as a writer. Her material was so strong.

And for me, weirdly, that's like a -- that just -- that's really like what attracted me to her, is that she's funny.

TAPPER: Why is that weird? That's nice.

KIMMEL: Yes, I guess it's good but it's weird to be -- you know, to have a work assignment be what attracted you to somebody. But that is kind of, I thought, well, that's -- TAPPER: That's not weird. You're in love with her mind. I mean --

KIMMEL: There you go.

TAPPER: I mean, she's very beautiful but -- I mean, that's nice.

KIMMEL: What a coincidence.


TAPPER (voice-over): Closing out his winning year, Kimmel was given a better earlier time slot where he is pitted directly against his idol.

DAVID LETTERMAN, COMEDIAN: Good heavens and hello!

KIMMEL: My favorite host of all time is David Letterman. That's who I choose to watch if I'm choosing to watch somebody. I mean, that, for me, would be my choice. I think I'd choose watching him -- I know I would, over watching myself. I never watch myself. I often times watch his show.

TAPPER (on camera): So you're in a weird position because you are now competing.

KIMMEL: You mean this?

TAPPER: That's just an odd position.

KIMMEL: Excited to have you. I'm a little bit overwhelmed.

The margins between us are so slim, it's not like a prize fight where you go in and are actually knocking somebody out. The truth is three shows can be successful simultaneously and all do perfectly well and everybody wins.

TAPPER (voice-over): Years ago, the late night wars got so heated there was a bestselling book and subsequent HBO movie about it.

(on camera): There was an actor playing Letterman and actor playing Leno. So, if they did a sequel, who would play you?

KIMMEL: Oh, well. I would love to see an African-American have that part. J.B. Smoove I think would be a good choice.


KIMMEL: I'd like to be thin too.

TAPPER: So, that 8-year-old girl --

KIMMEL: I want to be black and thin. Oh, Quvenzhane Wallis, excellent idea.

TAPPER: That young.

KIMMEL: She would be great. TAPPER: She is America's sweetheart.

KIMMEL: She is. And so am I.

TAPPER: So are you. So, there is a certain type casting.

KIMMEL: Perfect.


TAPPER: Adding to his Gen Y appeal, Kimmel's show recently launched its very own music show on YouTube.

On to our "Political Lead", Hillary Clinton just might want to watch her back for a guy nobody knew about a month ago. Ben Carson is a soft spoken doctor that's got Rush Limbaugh smiling and he'll join me live, next.


TAPPER: "The Politics Lead: Saving the Republican Party, it's not brain surgery. But you might think it is with all the infighting we've seen since they lost the election. Now, a new conservative superstar is on the rise and he just happens to be a neurosurgeon.

Check out the splash he made at the conservative CPAC conference last week.


DR. BEN CARSON, PEDIATRIC NEUROSURGEON: If you just, let's say you've magically put me, you know, into the White House. And --



TAPPER: Dr. Ben Carson joins me now.

Dr. Carson, thanks for joining us.

You get asked a lot lately if you're going to run for office. You've gotten pretty good at dodging the question which is the first sign of somebody entering politics. They get good at that.

Do you have any intention of at least exploring seriously the possibility of running for office?

CARSON: It's not my intention to do that. But what I've said is if a year and a half goes by and people are still clamoring for me to do that and there's no other very good candidate, I would certainly have to seriously consider it. The likelihood of that is incredibly small. So, I'm not really planning on that.

TAPPER: Well, there is some clamoring. Rush Limbaugh says you've got Democrats terrified. Listen to him. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think Dr. Benjamin Carson probably got everybody in the Democrat Party scared to death. It's going to be really hard to demonize this guy -- really, really hard -- partially because of his race, but not just because he's African- American. It's because you can call this guy all kinds of demonic names. He just doesn't fit the bill.


TAPPER: He says it's not because of your race, sir -- and I take him at his word -- but I do wonder, as a conservative or a libertarian or an independent conservative, wherever you are on the spectrum, why do you think there are so few African-American conservatives?

CARSON: I actually know quite a few of them. But I think, you know, there is -- there has developed a culture where one party in particular tends to be seen as the one that is protecting you, that is protecting your rights.

That happens to be the Democratic Party for many people in the African-American community. Whether that's true or not I don't know but in fact that is the perception. But, you know, the deeper issue is why they feel they would like to be protected.

You know, what I would like to aim toward is a situation where we get people to rise and to utilize the tremendous potential that God has given them and to work with each other so that we can all rise together.

Rather than pretty much having a class of people and we kind of pat them on the head because we say, there, there, you poor thing, we'll take care of you.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Dr. Carson, you told "The Daily Caller" that you opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. What do your conservative friends think about that?

CARSON: Really doesn't matter what they think about it. You know, I don't formulate my opinions base on what other people think, but the fact of the matter is, you know, with both of those wars, with the Iraqi war, what we needed to do was get rid of Saddam Hussein and there are many good ways to get rid of him without committing ourselves to a horrible war.

And the best way, you have to take a long-term view, is to become petroleum independent. If we become petroleum independent we almost win that war on the terrorists immediately because their funding disappears. We have to begin to think that way rather than bombs and missiles.

That is sort of archaic to be honest with you and as far as Afghanistan is concerned, you know, with all those tribal factions that have been there for centuries, not adhering to any uniform policy, who are you going to negotiate with? How are you going to have a peace treaty?

It doesn't work. It hadn't worked for anybody else and won't for us. There are other ways to take care of things. The way that we took care of Osama Bin Laden, I approve of that. I approve of using lots of techniques to accomplish our goals, but they don't necessarily involve putting our troops in harm's way.

TAPPER: Dr. Ben Carson, we hope to have you back again. You're only up the road in Baltimore. Thank you so much.

Dear YouTube, you've brought me so much joy in my life, Gangnam style, and now you're celebrating a pretty amazing milestone. Our "Money Lead" is coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper, the world lead, breaking news. For years the world has feared that Syrian forces used chemical weapons on their own people, but it turns out the red line may not have been crossed after all.

Also in world news think North Korea doesn't have the fire power to attack Americans? Don't forget about our military bases in the region, about 38,000 military personnel in Japan and 28,000 in South Korea, Kim Jong-Un certainly hasn't forgotten.

The "Money Lead," once upon a time tweeting was something the birds did. Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey changed that all seven years ago, today, he joins us on Twitter's birthday.

In the "World Lead," we begin with breaking news. CNN's Barbara Starr has just learned U.S. intelligence officials are backing off reports of a chemical weapons attack in Syria. The investigation, however, is still ongoing. Both the Syrian government and rebel groups have pointed fingers in recent days claiming the other side was behind the chemical weapons strike.

Yesterday, President Obama said the use of chemical weapons in Syria would be a game changer and the international community would have no other choice but to act. I want to bring in our panel to talk about it.

Robert Wexler, the president of the Center for Middle East Peace, Michelle Dunn director of Middle East programs at the Atlantic Council and Hussein Ibish, senior fellow at the American Task Force on the Palestine Chemical Weapons.

Chemical weapons, that was the red line President Obama drew in the sand as far as getting involved in Syria civil war. I want you to listen to what Congressman Mike Rogers, Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said about this on "THE SITUATION ROOM" just two days ago.


REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS (R), CHAIRMAN OF INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I have a high probability to believe chemical weapons were used. We need the final verification. Given everything we know over the last year and a half, I, Mike Rogers, would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use and ready to do that or in fact have been used.


TAPPER: Congressman Wexler, how did we get it so wrong?

ROBERT WEXLER, S. DANIEL ABRAHAM CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE: Well, Congressman Rogers is a responsible man and I'm sure what he was reciting at that time was the information --

TAPPER: Right.

WEXLER: -- that he knew at the moment. What we appear to know now is in this instance chemical weapons were probably not used and the president was wise to reserve judgment and also wise to say as you reported that it would be a game changer.

But I think while we should be happy that it appears that they were not used in this instance we should not conclude there won't be grave danger to come particularly as President Assad becomes more vulnerable.

TAPPER: Hussein.

HUSSEIN IBISH, AMERICAN TASK FORCE ON PALESTINE: Yes, I mean, I agree with that. I think there really is a danger that they could be used and they pose a continuing threat. But making the red line chemical weapons entirely and just focusing on that.

I think sends a very bad message, which is it is perfectly fine for him to butcher his people with anything other than chemical weapons, scud attacks, airplane attacks, etcetera. I think there needs to be a stronger line on other weapons as well.

TAPPER: That is an interesting point. On Twitter, I hate to invoke Twitter but it is the seventh anniversary. Somebody said, so it is OK for Assad to kill 70,000 men, women, and children, but just don't use these weapons to do so.

IBISH: Right.

TAPPER: Why is this red line even existing?

MICHELE DUNNE, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Well, it's a red line because clearly of the humanitarian consequences and also because of Israel as a neighbor and so forth, the possible fallout. I agree with Hussein. I think the casualties are maybe approaching a hundred thousand, a million people made refugees, you know, it's clear I think that American leadership is needed in trying to bring this conflict to a close in Syria.

TAPPER: All right, let's bring in President Obama who, today, said this about a possible two-state solution speaking of course on his trip in Israel. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let me say this as a politician. I can promise you this. Political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks. You must create the change that you want to see.


TAPPER: I remember that guy. That's hope and change Obama. I know hope and change Obama. I covered him in 2008. So are these just words as Hillary Clinton once said about candidate Obama or is there something concrete that is going to happen here?

WEXLER: There is something concrete. Sometimes I think as Americans we may not fully appreciate the impact of when an American president goes to another nation. In this case a small nation, a nation that has fears at times, isn't always so confident.

And when that president looks in the eye of 8 million Israelis and he says, be proud, Israel, you are the strongest country in the Middle East, and also be very confident because the strongest nation on earth, we have an unbreakable bond with you.

And you need to figure out, what he essentially said to Israel's young people, how can you be democratic, how can you be a Jewish state, which you must be, but, also, how do you deal with the issue of the Palestinian right of self-determination, I mean challenge the Israeli young people to take action relative to politics in a very effective way.

TAPPER: We're running out of time. So quickly, Hussein, you think this is important.

IBISH: I think it is an extraordinary moment. It was public diplomacy and he is really saying to Israelis and Palestinians I'm reassuring you, but I'm challenging you and I need your help. You have to pressure your own leaders.

I tried doing it just working with the leaders in my first term and I need your help. There has to be diplomacy as well as public diplomacy, but this is a very powerful piece and the Palestinians have never heard the kind of sympathy and understanding.

He used the word "just" and "justice" several times which implies there is an injustice to the way the Palestinians live under Israeli occupation. It was really very strong.

TAPPER: Michelle, very quickly because we're out of time. Carter, Clinton, they had skin in the game. Do you think Obama is now going to have skin in the game when it comes to mid east peace?

DUNNE: What is really important is what happens when he comes back. What President Obama said is he and Secretary Kerry would put their heads together and he suggested Secretary Kerry would pursue this. The real question is, is president Obama willing to expend any political capital at home in the interests of Middle East peace? I think we still don't know the answer to that.

TAPPER: Thank you so much. Much appreciated.

Also in world news North Korea does not need the range to attack U.S. soil in order to attack Americans. About 28,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed in neighboring South Korea, 38,000 are in Japan.

And now Kim Jong-Un's forces are threatening to wipe those bases off the map. Our own Tom Foreman is standing by in our virtual studio. Tom, just how serious is this threat?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I tell you, Jake, a lot more serious than what he said a couple weeks ago the idea he'd lob a missile over to the United States some 5,000 miles away. All the analysts say they don't have the technology to make that happen right now.

But this idea of hitting Americans in the Pacific area, much more plausible, look at this, from Pyongyang to Japan, about 800 miles. As you mentioned, thousands and thousands of troops there, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, all of them represented in Japan.

It's about 2,000 miles down to Guam down here, only about 5700 troops down there. But, boy, is this an attractive target, one of the most important bomber bases on the planet for the United States -- Jake.

TAPPER: What would the North Koreans use to deliver such attacks?

FOREMAN: In all likelihood we're talking about a missile attack. Remember the big launch sometime back where they managed to put a multi stage missile into space? That was a very big deal for them.

It is still kind of experimental and doesn't suggest they could do those really long launches but they have lower grade missiles, the Taepodong series, which possibly could carry a small nuke, certainly conventional warheads for the distance we're talking about with some accuracy.

TAPPER: Tom, aren't the bases protected by some sort of missile defense system?

FOREMAN: Yes, they are. They do have a missile defense around them. It is important to bear in mind the limits of that technology. The idea of shooting down a missile as it is traveling toward something works best when that missile flies a long enough time for you to have several shots added.

These are relatively short range shots, intermediate range shots. It gets harder under those circumstances. And as you know, Jake, our intelligence about North Korea is extremely limited. We would likely have no warning whatsoever when this was actually going to happen if they wanted it that way.

The one caveat to all of this and the real deterrent, though, is if North Korea did this, the response from the U.S. and its allies would likely be absolutely overwhelming against them -- Jake.

TAPPER: Tom Foreman.

Ahead in our "Money Lead," for better or worse Twitter is part of our lives now. I'll talk with the guy that's ultimately to blame for words like hash tag and tweets. That's next.


TAPPER: In the "Money Lead," here is something that should be easy enough to sum up in 140 characters or less, happy birthday, Twitter. Hash tag, seven years already? It's hard to believe the social network that gave us celebrity over shares and scandalous selfies, looking at you congressman.

It's hard to believe that started as a simple idea on a legal pad. The company released this highlight reel which includes the first ever tweet sent by founder Jack Dorsey. Dorsey is now one of the richest and most powerful men in the world. No denying his brilliance after all reinventing the way we communicate was only his first act.


TAPPER (voice-over): You might say it started a revolution and at least fuelled one. The revolution that is Twitter began seven years ago today. When creator Jack Dorsey wrote the first ever tweet. Having concurred the new media universe Dorsey is ready for an encore. His latest creation, a gizmo called "Square." It's already worth billions of dollars.

(on camera): So "Square" is a big success. Most Americans still don't know what it is. What is it?

JACK DORSEY, FOUNDER, TWITTER: Square is a very simple little device that plugs into your iPhone or Android device or iPad and allows you to accept credit cards for wherever you are. So you just swipe the card, you hand over your phone, they sign with the finger and the money goes into the bank account.

TAPPER (voice-over): Dorsey got big business to sign on. Starbucks now accepts his latest technology, "Square Wallet."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're just a slide and a scan away from your double tall latte.

TAPPER: It's also accepted at more neighborhood spots like Cafe Grumpy in New York City where we met for coffee.

(on camera): So now you're going to pay generously for the two coffees we have.


TAPPER: You don't even need to take your phone out of your pocket?

DORSEY: My phone is in my back pocket. I walked up and my name is on the register so all I have to say is espresso latte and just put it on Jack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, put it on Jack.

TAPPER: There you go. There it is. Jack Dorsey.

DORSEY: A picture of my face.

TAPPER: It just pops up because your phone is right here.

DORSEY: Just because I'm right here and it's next to the register. Then he verified that I am who I am.

TAPPER: That money is already transferred from your bank to their bank?


TAPPER: Just like that.

DORSEY: They'll get their money the next business morning.

TAPPER (voice-over): His goal he says is to add a little magic to every day experiences. Sound familiar?

STEVE JOBS: And we are calling it iPhone.

TAPPER (on camera): So you've been compared to Steve Jobs and I know humility dictates that you will not accept that nomination. But you must understand that you have now brought two, you're a young man, too.

DORSEY: Not that young.

TAPPER: How old are you?

DORSEY: Thirty six.

TAPPER: You're pretty young. The mantle of somebody who is bringing things that change our lives in major ways that combine technology and design and that is what Steve Jobs did. I know you never met him, but do you not understand why people make the comparison?

DORSEY: I do. It is definitely humbling but first and foremost the biggest thing I learned from him is you don't follow in someone else's footsteps. You go your own path. You even question your own path and go a different path right? That is really important.

TAPPER: You live in San Francisco, but you're here in new York about once a month. You've said that being mayor of New York City would be your dream job.

DORSEY: Yes. I mean that desire to be mayor is more of an aspirational kind of raising the bar of how I should be --

TAPPER: Because you haven't done enough right now. You need to raise the bar a little higher. DORSEY: I haven't. We have to always strive.

TAPPER: Why not throw in a Nobel Peace Prize while you're at it?

(voice-over): For now Dorsey says he is focused on "Square." So focused he claims the man who is the world's most eligible billionaire doesn't have much time to date.

(on camera): I don't want to pry into your personal life but --

DORSEY: But I will.

TAPPER: -- I can imagine if I were a 36-year-old single billionaire tech genius that I might be living a slightly different life than the one I'm living right now. Are you having fun out there?

DORSEY: I'm enjoying my life. I work really hard. You know, I spend a lot of my hours at the office and work with people and that's just what I like doing. You know, that is -- I work for a very deep relationship and very discerning and it takes me time to enter into a relationship and find the right person.

When I do it is deep and meaningful and I tend to give myself a hundred percent to the things I love and believe in. So I don't go out and just like play around a lot if that's your question.


TAPPER: If you weren't already impressed here is another little known fact about Jack Dorsey resume. He is a certified massage therapist.

Whether you're logging on to listen to music, learn a silly dance, or watch a panda sneeze you've helped YouTube reach a major milestone, 1 billion visitors a month. Not bad for a website whose first upload was this 18-second video of a guy's visit to the zoo.

YouTube now reaches one in seven people on this planet. Wolf Blitzer has left the quiet comforts of "THE SITUATION ROOM" to join us for a preview of the show. Wolf, when I searched on YouTube for you I found an interview with Mitt Romney and also I found you doing the "Dougie," very diverse.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": You saw me do the "Dougie?"

TAPPER: I have heard that you're --

BLITZER: You never saw the BET Soul Train Awards when I did the "Dougie?"

TAPPER: I must have gotten up to get a refreshment at that moment.

BLITZER: Everybody saw that.

TAPPER: It is legendary.

BLITZER: Of course, it is. I did it really badly.

TAPPER: No, I heard you were actually --

BLITZER: Can you teach me how to "Dougie."

TAPPER: No, you apparently need to teach me. I don't even know what the "Dougie" is.

BLITZER: Do you know "Dougie Precious?"

TAPPER: I know, of course.

BLITZER: He invented the "Dougie."

TAPPER: So who is on your show today?

BLITZER: We have a lot. We're going in depth on the president in Israel. He was in the west bank. We have a lot of analysts, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations is joining us and I invited Ari Fleischer, the former Bush White House press secretary.

He is very active in the Republican Jewish coalition and I am curious to see what he thought of the president's speech, what he thought of the president's visit to Israel. We have a lot coming up.

TAPPER: All coming up in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Dennis Rodman, a little advice if you want to stay BFF with the leader of a rogue state you might want to keep your mouth shut. A little secret North Korea's leader didn't want anyone to know. That's our buried lead next.


TAPPER: Now it's time for the "Buried Lead," stories we think are not getting enough play. Soon we'll get our first look at just how big after case the government was building against the late internet activist Aaron Schwartz, a student at MIT accused of hacking into the school's computer network.

The university has now agreed to release whatever documents were handed over to federal prosecutors. Schwartz's family hopes doing so will prove the case against their son was bogus. We never got to hear Schwartz's full side of the story. He hanged himself in federal prison before the trial.

Dennis Rodman is that friend who can't keep a secret. The North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un just learned that the hard way. Rodman told the British tabloid "The Sun" that Kim Jong-Un's wife kept talking about her beautiful daughter during his trip there when he and Kim became BFFs. Rumors of Kim's secret daughter have swirled for a couple years but North Korea never confirmed she existed.

Now our sports lead. March Madness is as much about big money as hoops. Politicians here in D.C. are seeing dollar signs whether they filled out a bracket or not. The East Regionals of the NCAAs will happen in Washington blocks from the capitol. Many politicians are using that as an angle to hold fundraisers. The Sun Light Foundation has gotten its hand on a few invites and says it costs from a grand to $5,000 to get into these events.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, think about the money that could be made off the munchies alone talking about the big business of marijuana. I leave you now in the able hands of Wolf Blitzer next door to me in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

BLITZER: Jake, thanks very much.