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Insurance Claims Likely To Top $2 Billion; IRS Official Takes the Fifth; Joplin's Message of Hope for Oklahoma

Aired May 22, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, after heartbreaking losses and catastrophic damage, Oklahoma beginning right now to move toward recovery. We have extraordinary new stories of survival in the wake of a killer storm.

Also, a man is hacked to death in broad daylight on a London street. Britain's government calls the crime sickening and barbaric and is treating it as a terrorist attack especially after a chilling video of one of the suspects.

And a dramatic encounter on Capitol Hill in Washington. The IRS official who led the division involved in targeting conservative groups refuses to answer questions from lawmakers.

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



BLITZER: We're live here in Moore, Oklahoma, right outside Oklahoma City where an extraordinarily difficult recovery lies ahead, this, in the wake of a killer tornado. Here are the latest developments we're following. Moments ago, authorities here told CNNs Jake Tapper six missing people are now accounted for. Five of them are safe. One was already listed among the dead.

The death toll stands at 24, including ten children. 2,400 homes were damaged in Moore and Oklahoma City, and officials say about 10,000 people have been directly, powerfully affected by this tornado. A state insurance official says claims related to Monday's massive storm are likely to top $2 billion. About 4,000 claims, so far, have been filed.

Seven children died when the Plaza Towers Elementary School took a direct hit from the tornado. Our chief national correspondent, John King, got a look at what's left of that school. John, I know it was very painful for you, for our crews, everybody going anywhere near that school to see what you had to see.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As a journalist, as a parent, as a human being, you show up at this site, Wolf, and you see what's left of the school. And then you have the structure described for you. It was shaped like a U and essentially part of the cross bars are still there. The two legs are gone. And you see the swath of destruction in the neighborhood and at the school, then you take a walk through and you're humbled and saddened.

You look at the destruction. Seven of the ten children who died here in Moore perished right at that school. But when you walk through and when our viewers get a look at the devastation at that site, it is a miracle. It is a miracle that so many more children and the teachers survived.


KING: Where did everybody go?

SGT. JEREMY LEWIS, MOORE, OKLAHOMA POLICE: We basically just surrounded the school and started running into different areas. Some of this has been cleaned out due to the search and rescue efforts. They're literally just climbing over debris. People were yelling for help. So, just pulling people out as quickly as possible. And that went on literally for hours.

KING: This was a hall of classrooms that led to --

LEWIS: Classrooms on each side.

KING: That was connected, though?

LEWIS: There was a wall there. That was a classroom straight ahead. There were classrooms out here. You can see they're still tiled.

KING: Right. This is gone.

LEWIS: This classroom is gone. These classrooms are all gone.

KING: There were more on the front side here, too. Anywhere we see the tile, classrooms?

LEWIS: Well, you can see the door leading into what was the classroom.

KING: How's the back wall of the classroom -- that's the front wall of the school there?

LEWIS: The front wall would have been right there. Yes.

KING: Is there a place in the school where people fared better for lack of a better way to put it?

LEWIS: Well, you can just kind of see where there are still walls standing up. Obviously, that corner, the main part of the tornado came through this way. So, this is the area that took the most. As it went through this part here. So, that's -- you just kind of see where the walls are standing and where they're not. A lot of 460 something students. Unfortunately, we did lose seven, but by looking at the damage, it's a miracle that we didn't lose a lot more.

And none of this has been touched. This is what it looked like. There hasn't been tractors moving anything. This is how it landed.

KING: The people have been through and are reasonably certain there's nobody left.

LEWIS: Yes. This has all been searched. This is what has taken so long. We had to go through all of this. And this goes for 15 miles the other way, just like this.

KING: Fifteen miles?

LEWIS: Of just like this.

KING: Fifteen miles of just like this?

LEWIS: Fifteen miles, yes.


KING: Again, when you walk through that school and imagine, there were some 400, they're not sure of the exact number, Wolf. They don't know how many parents came and got their kids early, but on a full day, 460 students in that school. When you walk through, you do thank God and not minimizing the loss of the seven children who died there, but when you look at it, it is impossible to believe that more people didn't parish.

That school did not have an underground shelter. That will be one of the debates after this storm. It's an older school. The newer schools have them. Without a doubt, that will be one of the debates should any new construction have an underground storm shelter? And then, we drove with the officer through the community. That's the hardest hit. That's ground zero of where this tornado came through Moore.

You heard him say for 15 miles it looks just like that. Some residents are still not allowed back in there, because just today, they're going to try to turn the electricity and the gas back in there. They think they've gotten all the downed power lines, shut off all the gas, but they're worried about the risk of fire because they say often after an event like this, when you turn the power back on, they've missed one or two spots and there could be a fire.

So, we did see some frustrated residents trying to get back to their stuff and the police saying just please give us one more day. But when, again, as a parent, as a journalist, just as a human being, when you walk through that school site, and imagine what it must have been like and most of it is just gone.

BLITZER: Even a journalist of a long time, was that one of the most difficult assignments you had?

KING: The issue you get there is at a parent. You think of your own kids. I remember in D.C. on 9/11, trying to figure out where are my children, you know, and never something like this. When Newtown happens, you think of your own children. And so, when you walk through this school, thinking, you know, your children go to a building like this, you know, I live in the D.C. area. We don't get tornadoes but just to think, all parents are alike.

The thing they care about most, the thing they would die for is to protect their children. What it must have been like to be at work 10 or 15 or 20 miles away not knowing, was your kid safe. And to walk through that building, it's tough.

BLITZER: All right. John, thanks very much. I'm glad our viewers saw that.

The tornado also slammed another school in the area, not very far away from the one that John was at earlier today. We're talking about the Briarwood Elementary School. Everyone survived. We have some amazing recordings taken as teachers and children huddled together. Brian Todd spent some time over there today as well. Brian, you want to share what you discovered.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We were just at Briarwood Elementary School not far from here. It is completely leveled. We spoke to two teachers who were there at the time the storm hit, two teachers who gave us some dramatic audio recordings. These are teachers who got 25 students into a bathroom, got them under sinks, got them huddled up, and just held on.



TODD (voice-over): That's the sound of the terrifying moments when the tornado hit. Lynne Breton and Jessica Orr are still shaken. Their voices still quiver when they talk about it. Monday afternoon, when this massive tornado struck, they huddled with 25 kids inside a bathroom at Briarwood Elementary School. Breton says she covered two kids with her body and kept thinking --

LYNNE BRETON, TEACHER, BRIARWOOD ELEM. SCHOOL: Don't let me die. Just let me get these babies out of here.

TODD: As the roof was torn off and the ceiling caved in on the bathroom, listen to the audio recording on Breton's cell phone of horrified kids. Breton trying to reassure them.


BRETON: You're OK! You're OK! You're OK. We're OK. We're OK.

I didn't know what to tell them. I just kept telling them, we're OK. My mind, I was praying.

JESSICA ORR, TEACHER, BRIARWOOD ELEM. SCHOOL: Just, Father, just protect us. For angels (ph) in between us and the tornado, I know you're stronger than this tornado. And some of the kids were praying. The teachers were praying. And I looked Ms. Breton in the eye and we could hear a roar.

TODD: Breton teaches sixth grade at Briarwood. Orr teaches fifth grade. The kids they were protecting, ten or 11 years old. (on-camera) Lynne Bretton says the most intense part of the experience when the tornado was at its strongest and grinding their school apart played out over the course of only about ten minutes. Afterward, this is what was left of Briarwood Elementary School.

(voice-over) At one point, one of the kids shouted at Breton, "I love you."


BRETON: Oh, I love you, too! We're OK. We're OK!


TODD: Everyone survived. The teachers say no one was hurt.

ORR: In the sound, you could hear it just start to go away and I thought, we made it. We made it. Thank you, God.


TODD (on-camera): Breton says the advice that she would give to teachers who are ever in that situation, count your kids, know who you have, and stay calm. Although, she says that's next to impossible, Wolf.

BLITZER: And these parents, I can only imagine what they must have been going through. You spoke to some of them.

TODD: Well, yes. I spoke to the two teachers, in particular, but what the parents did when they came up to them after that when the storm had passed, and every child at that school survived as far as we know. She said that, you know, the parents were just rushing up to her grabbing her saying, where is my baby, where is my child? Do you know where they are?

She said they were all around, but nobody knew that at the time. It was just kind of -- that's what was most heart wrenching to her, she says.

BLITZER: All right. Brian, thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting.

The White House said the president, President Obama will be coming here to Oklahoma to get a look at the devastation. That word from the press secretary, Jay Carney.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I wanted to mention something that I think is breaking now as Wolf Blitzer would say and that is that on Sunday, May 26th, the president will travel to the Oklahoma City area to see firsthand the response to the devastating tornadoes and severe weather that have impacted the area on Sunday night and Monday.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Good to see the White House press secretary watches CNN. We'll, of course, have extensive coverage of the president here Sunday, Memorial Day weekend, once he comes here to Oklahoma. I'm sure there'll be not only a tour, an inspection of what's going on, but a memorial service of sorts as well.

We're about to hear how 22 people survived the tornado by squeezing into a bank vault. This is an amazing story. The vault withstood the storm as the building, itself, totally collapsed around it. Stand by. You're going to want to see and hear this.

And an apparent terror attack that the British government is now calling, quote, "sickening and barbaric." A man is hacked to death on a London street and a suspect boasts about it on video.

Plus, much more coverage from here in Oklahoma as we remember those who lost their lives.


BLITZER: We're hearing so, so many stories all compelling of people who survived this monstrous storm. Today, I spoke with Maylene Sorrells, mother of ten, who was volunteering, yes, volunteering at the Plaza Tower Elementary school when the twister hit. We talked as we drove back to her neighborhood. She was trying to return to her home for the first time. I asked her to describe what happened as the tornado bore down directly on that elementary school.


MAYLENE SORRELLS, VOLUNTEERED AT PLAZA TOWERS SCHOOL: We were trying to keep our students calm. We were trying to make sure that we stayed calm for them. You know, they, being as little as they are, you know, we knew that they didn't know what was coming. And, we just sat with them and we talked to them. And, we had them in their tornado precaution procedures the whole time. And, we sang to them. We sang to them and the sirens would go off.

BLITZER: What songs were you singing?

SORRELLS: We were singing the ABC music, because it was first grade, kindergarten, and pre-K. And then, some of our other students in that hallway and parents had come in. And so, we were all sitting right there and we were singing to them, and, you know, "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and we have a Plaza Towers song that we sing every morning, and rise and shine.

We sang, you know, what we could of that. And the lights started flickering and they got even more scared. And, we just told them the electricity was going off. We huddled down close to them and just talked to them and just told them it would be OK. And, we told them how much we that cared about them and how much we loved them. And, that we were going to be with them the whole time.

BLITZER: And how did the kids do?

SORRELLS: They did excellent. They were so strong. They were so brave.

BLITZER: How many kids were you protecting?

SORRELLS: I was protecting five and then the teacher that I work with, she had four or five down by her as well. We just leaned over them, and we just hugged them. We just put them in a bear hug and we kind of, you know, grabbed hands and just held them as we leaned over them to protect them.

BLITZER: And they came out OK?

SORRELLS: Every one of them.

BLITZER: What grades?

SORRELLS: They were kindergarten. Every one of them -- the ones that we were with were kindergarten.

BLITZER: And did you see what was happening to some of the other kids?

SORRELLS: No, I didn't. I was in the front building, and we were handing our students to other adults that had come in there and parents and teachers and volunteers that had shown up to help, and we were handing our children. You know, our students, I call them my children because they were mine.


SORRELLS: They were ours that day. And, we were handing them off and we were getting them out of the building as quick as we could and helping them remove the rubbles. The teachers and other staff from under the car that was behind us, and we were moving the debris and just trying to get the kids out. That's all we were focused on is making sure that everybody, we could get everybody out.

BLITZER: So, then you left the school. The tornado had passed. What happened then?

SORRELLS: I went to find my children and three of them came running up to me. And I wasn't sure where my youngest son was. I hadn't seen him. Nobody had seen him yet. So, I just stayed there and I just silently prayed that all of the children would get out OK and that I would be able to see their faces. And as they turned around, I saw him and his other friend kind of dazed and walking and I hollered and he came running, both of them came running and I just wrapped my arms around both of them and I told them that I loved them both and I told them that I was so proud of them.


BLITZER: What a wonderful woman. When we got to Maylene's neighborhood, which was destroyed, police said no one was allowed in because they were working on gas and electric lines. They said it was dangerous to go in. But she was able to go back later this afternoon. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SORRELLS: Oh, my gosh! Oh, my gosh!


BLITZER: It's unbelievable the destruction. One house from a distance, I looked at that neighborhood earlier in the day and just house after house after house destroyed just like Maylene's. She's now walking into that house for the first time this afternoon to see what she can find. Our heart goes out to Maylene, goes out to everyone, everyone in that neighborhood.

Maylene tells us, by the way, that this is a destruction that she will, of course, always, always remember, but she has her ten children. They are all OK and those kids that she helped rescue in the elementary school, they're OK as well.

There's so much damage here in Oklahoma City and in Moore one of the major suburbs where I am right now. So many survival stories. Just ahead, we're going to hear voices calling from the rubble.

Also, a major, major development in the Boston marathon bombing involving a man in Florida and a shooting overnight by FBI agents. We have details. New ones coming in in just a minute.


BLITZER: Fourteen credit union employees and eight other people survived this horrible tornado by squeezing together in one of the bank vaults. The vault remained intact even as the tornado turned the entire building itself into rubble. Joining us now is the manager and local hero, Jan Davis, also another local hero, Teresa Price. You worked at this credit union as well.

Jan, tell us what happened. You got what, 10 minutes, 15 minutes' warning the tornado was on the way?

JAN DAVIS, TINKER FEDERAL CREDIT UNION: We knew there was bad weather coming, and we were monitoring before the tornado actually touched ground. So, we were monitoring the weather prior to actual sirens or anything happening.

BLITZER: All right. So, then, all of a sudden, it gets worse and worse and you got all these people at the credit union where you work?

DAVIS: Yes. We told everyone, staff and people involved, that once the sirens started going off, we would proceed into our procedures, which meant we had to all go to the vault and secure ourselves.

BLITZER: So, you all, Jen, you went into the vault, then what?

TERESA PRICE, TINKER FEDERAL CREDIT UNION: We -- actually, we went in and we went and let everybody know that the sirens were about to go off. We needed to get in there. Of course, we heard the sirens, but we knew that it was a good distance away. So, our police officer and Jan stayed aware of exactly where the tornado was going, where it was, while the teller supervisor and I got everybody into the vault.

We had everybody in place so that at the last minute, we could shut the door. Since it is a small place, we didn't want to be in there any longer than we had to. And we shut the door as soon as I ran in there. And it hit not long after.

BLITZER: So, this is a relatively small vault, right? It was pretty crowded in there.

DAVIS: It was crowded, but I will tell you, if there were more people, we would have crowded them right in.

BLITZER: You would have?

DAVIS: Yes, sir.

BLITZER: Is there enough oxygen and air? Can you breathe in those vaults for a long time?

DAVIS: They have a fan built into them so that if you get locked into them, you can turn on the fan and as soon as we pulled the door closed, I did turn on the fan.

BLITZER: All right. So, what did you hear when the tornado is ripping apart this building?

PRICE: It was very loud. We could hear things crashing into the wall. We could hear the wall -- we could feel the wall for sure. The whole vault was just rocking. It felt like cracking to me. I'm sure, I don't know. But, it did feel like cracking. It was just loud and, of course, we had a lot of people praying out loud and everybody was pretty intact.

BLITZER: Did you ever think, Jan, this was it, it's over?

DAVIS: No, I did not.

BLITZER: Did you?


BLITZER: Did anybody in there?

DAVIS: Maybe. We tried to calm as best we could. We were -- we had constant conversation inside the vault. And, you know, constant good feelings and good words and, you know, tried to stay very positive.

BLITZER: We're going to show our viewers the before pictures of the credit union.


BLITZER: And the after pictures of the credit union. And our viewers will get a sense. There you see what it used to look like and what it looks like now.


BLITZER: You opened the door, it's over, and what do you see?

DAVIS: Devastation. That we were prepared. I want you to know that we knew that when we opened that door, there's no way the building could be standing.

BLITZER: Did you expect to see what you saw?

PRICE: You never really expect that. It was leveled around us. Yes and no. I mean, we've been through tornadoes, so we know. We've seen -- we've all seen footage. But it was probably a little worse than we thought.

BLITZER: Well, that vault saved your lives.

DAVIS: It did. We're very fortunate.

BLITZER: Grateful to the vault.


BLITZER: Thank you very much, Teresa and Jan.

DAVIS: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Appreciate it.

DAVIS: Appreciate it.

BLITZER: We're about to hear from a CNN i-Reporter. His amazing video shows the exact moment rescuers heard the voice of a tornado survivor who was buried in the rubble and calling out for help. Stand by for that.

We're also watching a terror attack in London. This is an awful story. Men with blood on their hands actually bragged about what they had just done. We're going to London live. All that and a lot more coming up when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anybody here? Watch out. Is anybody here? All right. Take him over there.


BLITZER: An amazing video uploaded by a CNN iReporter shows the moment, yes, the moment rescuers heard the voice of a tornado victim trapped in the rubble. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over here. Over here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over here!



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you at?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get you. We're going to get you. Hey! Hey! Hey!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going for help. We got you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help is on the way!


BLITZER: Our iReporter who shot that video is Juan Olivo, and is here with me now. Juan, that is amazing video.


BLITZER: You're in your house. Your house is okay. The tornado passes. You go outside. Pick up the story.

OLIVO: My sister lives at Plaza Towers -- the neighborhood. She lives about block away in the neighborhood. As soon as I seen it was (INAUDIBLE) right in front of it, I knew she lived right there. So as soon as it passed I took off. No words. I just went straight to her house and she was okay. But then she told me everything behind her was gone and my initial response was, go help.

BLITZER: And that's what you did. All of a sudden you heard a voice come out of that rubble?

OLIVO: Yes. Two of my buddies lived back there and one was lying in the path of it so I went looking for him and I seen him. As soon as I seen him, we went east. We took probably about 20 steps and we heard a man, we started calling out and heard the man and just sprinted toward where he was. I just heard him, and I was like, wow. I can't believe he survived.

BLITZER: People came in and tried to help.

OLIVO: Yes. Without second guessing. They just took off. Everybody came to where we were.

BLITZER: So, how long did it take to get him out there?

OLIVO: Five to ten minutes.

BLITZER: What kind of shape was he in?

OLIVO: He had bad ribs. There was a 2-by-4 hard laying on him. I mean, you could tell it was going to be fractured or broken.

BLITZER: But he is okay now?

OLIVO: Yeah, he's fine.

BLITZER: Have you been in touch with him since then?


BLITZER: No, but you will be at some point.

OLIVO: Hopefully.

BLITZER: You did an amazing thing.


BLITZER: What are the chances - I mean, you've thought a lot about this - that you're there and you have your camera - what did you have, a smart phone?

OLIVO: Smart phone.

BLITZER: That's it. You shot it and posted it at CNN iReport. Pretty good work.

OLIVO: Thank you.

BLITZER: You okay now? Your family is okay?

OLIVO: Yes, we're all okay and fine.

BLITZER: You live here in Moore.

OLIVO: I live in Moore. I live on 12th Street and Santa Fe.

BLITZER: By the way, this is the person you pulled out.


BLITZER: You helped save his life.

OLIVO: Not just me, but a lot of people.

BLITZER: You were there. You heard that. You were the first one to hear him screaming out, right?


BLITZER: Yes. Wow. Thanks very much.

OLIVO: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Good work. Juan Olivo, just one story.

But there areso many stories here. To find out how you can help the victims of the devastating Oklahoma storms, this is what you should do: go to You can Impact Your World. Lots of good opportunities to make a contribution. I think you should. Just ahead, there is other news we're following, including a major story. Terror in London. A man is hacked to death in broad daylight on a London street as a suspect with a meat cleaver appears in a video and makes a chilling statement.

And exactly two years ago today, a massive tornado devastated the city of Joplin, Missouri. Now people there, they are offering a message of hope to Oklahoma residents.


BLITZER: We'll have more coverage from Moore, Oklahoma coming up in a few minutes as we remember the victims here. But there is other news we're watching right now.

A man the British government is calling sickening and barbaric. A man thought to be a British soldier was first hit by a car on a London street today. Then two attackers brutally hacked him to death. Two armed suspects were shot and wounded by police, but before that, one of them had plenty of time to speak to a camera, leaving behind a chilling video. We should caution all of you. This is quite graphic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We swear we'll never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologize that women have to witness this today, but in our land, our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Your government, they don't care about you. You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting (ph) our guns? Do you think the politicians will die? No. It is going to be the average guy like you.


BLITZER: Britain's leaders are vowing that the country will never, never give in to terrorists. CNN's Atika Shubert is joining us now from the crime scene in Woolwich - the Woolwich area of London. Atika, tell us what happened based on all of the reports we're getting.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Basically I'll give you a breakdown. Sorry for the noise. There is still a heavy police presence and helicopter ahead.

But what we understand from both eyewitnesses and police, it happened a little after 2:00 in the afternoon. As you say, they first used a car but then took out meat cleavers and what looked like a machete, according to one witness, and just literally hacked him to death. In the words of one eyewitness, they butchered him like a piece of meat and dragged him out to the middle of the street.

Even more incredible, they then hung around and actually told horrified onlookers they wanted to be filmed. This is where that statement, that video you saw just came from.

It really was a gruesome and grisly scene. What we know is that it took police about 20 minutes to get an armed -- to get armed police officers here at the scene. They were able to shoot down the two attackers. They were seriously injured and brought to hospital.

But the political statement that you saw was being made by the suspect on the video. That's clearly one of the reasons the government says these are strong indications they are considering this a terrorist attack. Wolf?

BLITZER: What do we know about the victim?

SHUBERT: What we know is a local M.P. says he is an off-duty British soldier. We do not know his identity. We do know that he was wearing a t-shirt that said "Help for Heroes." And this is a British charity that helps wounded veterans.

Now, it is not clear if the two attackers had been tracking the man for a while and then they targeted him or if they simply targeted him because he was wearing a shirt that clearly supported, you know, a British military charity. It's not clear at this point. All we know is that he was an off-duty soldier, and at this point, it appears that that is the reason he was targeted.

BLITZER: Atika Shubert, what an awful story. In London for us, thank you. The killing stands out, as we've been pointing out, for its sheer brutality and the utterly brazen nature of the suspect's video statements.

Let's dig a little deeper now with our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, the host of AMANPOUR on CNN International. Christiane, I don't know what to make of this development. The British government insists this was a brutal act of terror designed to score political points. What is your assessment?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I've been doing some interviews and talking to former top security officials. And just like you, people are scratching their head trying to figure out what this is. Is it something as one always has to consider has been organized from elsewhere that is part of a bigger movement, that is ideologically motivated? Or is it the kind of lone wolf, homegrown sort of instant terror on the street as we have seen here in London?

So, we're not quite sure at all. But certainly people are struck by the incredibly bizarre nature, not just of what happened, but then the aftermath with at least one of the attackers just standing there almost asking to be caught and wanting to put about as much publicity as possible.

I spoke to the former head of counterterrorism at MI-6. He is Richard Barrett and he also played a key role in the U.N.'s Taliban al Qaeda mission trying to combat that. This is what he told me about what's going on.


RICHARD BARRETT, FORMER HEAD OF COUNTERTERRORISM AT MI-6: Most of the things that have been uncovered by the security services in England have been pretty Mickey Mouse, not really terribly serious. And this one, too. Okay. A couple crazies who are committing murder in a London street killing a soldier in the name of some sort of cause which is very indistinct and really doesn't resonate with, I wouldn't have thought, any of the Muslims in Britain or elsewhere in the world.


AMANPOUR: So you see, Wolf, he is very clearly sort of playing down the fact that this might have been some part of a bigger sort of terrorist plot. He specifically called it committing murder. One person was killed. It didn't have the kind of fallout that we saw even in Boston, and even that is considered to have been homegrown terrorism and sort of a lone wolf kind of a mission there.

So, you know, there are going to be a lot of questions, and we'll have to wait and see what comes out of interrogating and questioning these people. They are alive, the attackers. They rushed police. They were shot. But they were taken alive and taken to hospital.

BLITZER: I'm sure the next few days we'll be learning a lot more about these two individuals. Christiane, thanks very much.

In our next hour, by the way, we're taking a closer look at something that was a lifesaver for people here in Oklahoma in the tornado's path. Officials say more homeowners should build one. Stand by for that.

Up nex,t though, the head of the IRS division that targeted conservative groups in the United States goes to Capitol Hill but refuses to answer lawmakers' questions.


BLITZER: In our next hour, the mother of one of the children who died at the Plaza Towers Elementary School here in Moore, Oklahoma, Kyle Davis, she speaks exclusively to CNN. And she's raising concerns about something that may have saved her son's life. Stand by. That's coming up in our next hour.

Back in Washington today, a new eruption of bipartisan anger at officials who were in charge of the Internal Revenue Service during the time it was targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny. Fueling the anger, one official's repeated claims of ignorance about what was going on and another's complete refusal to answer any questions at all.

Let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash. She watched all of this unfold.

It was rather dramatic, those exchanges at that hearing today, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's no question about it. But, you know, when it comes to that one IRS official you mentioned who didn't answer questions, it led to some bipartisan frustration because she could have some key unanswered questions that she could inform the committee about.

But, you know, traditionally when someone comes up and takes the Fifth, that's just about all they say. But in this case, that woman, Lois Lerner, said a lot more and it led to some unexpected drama.


BASH (voice-over): The head of the IRS's division that targeted Tea Party groups defended herself with two short made-for-headlines sentences.

LOIS LERNER, IRS EXEMPT ORGANIZATION DIRECTOR: I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws.

BASH: But when it came time for Q&A, Lois Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment rights.

LERNER: I will not answer any questions or testify about the subject matter of this committee's meeting.

BASH: When Chairman Darrell Issa began to dismiss Lerner, his GOP colleague interrupted in protest.

REP. TREY GOWDY (R), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: She just waived her Fifth Amendment right to privilege. You don't get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross- examination.

BASH: But Lerner still refused to answer questions and was dismissed. Later Issa said he may recall her.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: Come on, Mr. Shulman. I mean, we -- help us help the taxpayers.

BASH: Lawmakers unleashed their frustration on Lerner's former boss and IRS chief, Douglas Shulman.

CUMMINGS: I said two words. Just two. Two, two, two. Truth and trust.

BASH: Democrats ripped Shulman for testifying one year ago there was no targeting and never told Congress when he learned he was wrong.

CUMMINGS: Even if it was a phone call or a letter, or something, I mean, commonsense --

BASH: Shulman insisted he was waiting for the inspector general report.

DOUGLAS SHULMAN, FORMER IRS COMMISSIONER: I didn't have anything concrete. I didn't have a full set of facts to come back to Congress or the committee with.

BASH: This Democrat even raised the possibility of a special prosecutor, which could lengthen and expand the investigation. REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: Because there will be hell to pay, if that's the route that we chose to go down.

BASH: Republicans set their sights on an unexpected target, the IRS inspector general, who publicized IRS wrongdoing. Why didn't he update Congress before the election about his explosive findings?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever communicate with anyone in the Oversight committee or any member of Congress about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman may answer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course you didn't.

BASH: And they questioned the credibility of the IG audit. Investigators learned this week a senior IRS official sat in on most IG interviews of her own subordinates.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just find it highly inappropriate. She was in 36 of 41 interviews.

GEORGE: I'm aware -- this is the first of (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: Meanwhile, this top Obama official at the Treasury Department was told about the potentially explosive investigation before the election. He testified he never told the White House.

REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: And you don't pick up the phone and say to the -- your contacts at the White House, which, you know, and say, just as a heads up, this could actually hit the fan in a presidential year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not, Congressman.


BASH: Now this IRS probe is far from over, Wolf. GOP committee source told me that they actually plan to fly four lower-level employees from the IRS office in Cincinnati, the tax-exempt office, that is really at the heart of this, here to Washington to talk to them, do a private interview and they hope to at least get to the bottom of one thing that we really don't know, who started this targeting and why --Wolf.

BLITZER: And one quick note. Shulman, the former acting director, the former acting head of the IRS, he was a holdover from the Bush administration, right?

BASH: He was a holdover from the Bush administration. And, you know, one thing that was kind of an interesting subplot was to hear the way Democrats and Republicans questioned him about that, asking him whether or not he gave any political donations to any party. The irony here is that the donations that he apparently did give were to Democrats before he was appointed by the president. So I think that maybe seems to negate any question about political -- his political persuasion or influence here.


BLITZER: The utter destruction here in Moore, Oklahoma, is -- it is awful. It brings back memories of what a tornado did to Joplin, Missouri. That storm hit exactly two years ago today.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Joplin for us.

People are offering a lot of messages of hope there, aren't they, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the one thing they can offer you guys just 224 miles down I-44 there. This is the remembrance of the 161 who died here in Joplin. And today hundreds of its citizens have come out to remember what happened here two years ago.


MARQUEZ (on camera): All of this was destroyed that we're looking at here.

SALLY SMITH, JOPLIN RESIDENT: The whole thing. They took it down -- I mean, they took the driveway, took everything out.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): This is now, two years ago to the day, Sally Smith's mother's house wiped away. Anderson Cooper got a tour.

ANDERSON COOPER, ANCHOR, CNN'S AC 360: This was sort of a fire --

SMITH: Fireplace.

COOPER: Fireplace? And -- wow.

SMITH: And it's out -- the piano. We had of course -- had windows. The couch is here. I don't know where the couch is.

MARQUEZ (on camera): This is the spot you stood in two years ago.

SMITH: Yes, it was.


MARQUEZ: Fireplace --

SMITH: Fireplace was here. The kitchen was over here.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The house, once again, a home for Smith's mom, 82-year-old Margarie Sheurich.

(On camera): What is it like to be home?

MARGARIE SCHEURICH, JOPLIN RESIDENT: It's wonderful, after you've lived in a place for nearly 50 years. It's hard to live anywhere else.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Scheurich's neighborhood, devastated. That was then. This is now. New homes, new lawns, new life.

SCHEURICH: I'm just down this little old hill for too long. It's all different. All different. But every day is different.

MARQUEZ: The view from that little old hill two years ago, that same view today. A city getting firmly on its feet.

About 8,000 homes and businesses destroyed or damaged today, more than 80 percent rebuilt or recovering. St. John's Mercy Hospital was wiped out. Today, a new state-of-the-art facility is rising. A new high school, too, under construction. For now, classes in a converted big box store. Still, signs of the tragedy everywhere.

Here's Sally Smith from two years ago.

SMITH: Saying good-bye to things is hard, you know. But that's life, we go on.

MARQUEZ: Going on, with a new sense of reality.

SMITH: This is our twister safe.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Wow. Oh, my goodness.


MARQUEZ: That thing is solid.

SMITH: It is.

MARQUEZ: Can I lock myself in?

SMITH: You can. We can lock you in. And this -- that --


MARQUEZ: Wow. This thing is --

SMITH: That's the trick, is that you have to get the door locked.

MARQUEZ: This is one ton?


MARQUEZ: Amazing.

(On camera): The price of the shelter, about $4,000, a small price for peace of mind here in Tornado Alley.


MARQUEZ: And now, what people say here, the Smiths and the folks that we have talked to our here, is that the worst part for the people of Moore is right now. They say, from here on out, it will only get better, incrementally, day by day -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I think it will get better. But it's going to be difficult, especially in the short term.


BLITZER: I know what the folks in Joplin must have gone through. You walk around this neighborhood here in Moore. It is simply awful right now. But eventually there will be some light at the end of that tunnel. Miguel Marquez, thanks very much.