Return to Transcripts main page


Intercepted Al Qaeda Message Triggers Alert; A-Rod Suspended for 211 Games; Is DEA Using Intel for Criminal Probes?; "I Wanted To Help..." But He Didn't; Chelsea Clinton Back in the Spotlight; GOP Sees More Targeting of Conservatives; Lady Gaga, Madonna Draw Russian's Ire; Test-Tube Burger Meat?

Aired August 5, 2013 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. An intercepted message from the very top of al Qaeda raising deep concerns about a looming terror attack. The world is now on alert. U.S. troops are on heightened readiness and 19 diplomatic posts are now closed for the rest of the week.

Baseball superstar, Alex Rodriguez, is suspended for the rest of the season and all of next year, topping a long list of players caught up in a scandal over performance enhancing drugs.

And she's lived her entire life in the spotlight -- will Chelsea Clinton now follow her parents and run for political office?

We have an exclusive CNN interview with her. That's coming up.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


But we begin with the breaking news. An intercepted from al Qaeda's top leader has intelligence agencies scrambling to pick up details about a possible attack. Nineteen U.S. embassies and consulates across Africa and the Middle East will remain closed all week. The epicenter of the global alert is Yemen, home to al Qaeda's Arabian affiliate.

Adding to the concern, prison breaks that have freed hundreds -- hundreds of terrorists.

U.S. military units are now on a heightened state of readiness.

Let's go straight to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara, what can you tell us about how the U.S. found out about all of this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what set off alarm bells from the White House to the CIA, across Washington, in the last two weeks, they intercepted a message from Ayman Al-Zawahiri. He, of course, is, after bin Laden's death, is the leader of al Qaeda in Pakistan.

An intercepted message between Zawahiri and another man. This man is Nasir al Wuhaysi. He is the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen and Zawahiri just appointed him his deputy, making a first time link at the highest levels between Al Qaeda in Pakistan, Al Qaeda in Yemen.

The message from Zawahiri said, "Do something. Do it big, do it now."

That set off huge alarm bells, because al Qaeda in Yemen, of course, has been successful in past attacks. They are growing in strength and Wahaysi's appointment now as Zawahiri's number two could facilitate fundraising, organization, training. It just couldn't be more serious -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So based on all the reporting you've been doing, Barbara, where does all of this go from here?

STARR: Well, you know, we had this information over the weekend at CNN and we withheld it because of U.S. government concerns about the sensitivity of it. It is that sensitive to them.

"The New York Times" and McClatchy News Service then went ahead and reported it and it was the feeling of CNN that we wanted to be transparent to our viewers and them know what we knew. Now that it's out in the public arena. That's what has happened.

Where it goes from here now is the U.S. is doing everything it can to try and look at every piece of intelligence they have to see if they can pick up clues, more clues, what al Qaeda may have in mind, what al Qaeda in Yemen may be planning, and looking, quite frankly, for any targets.

Is there anything that they can go after -- training camps, convoys, people on the move -- that may be part of a plot?

So far, not any indication that they're seeing any of that. But that's what the scramble is behind-the-scenes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A deep scramble, indeed.

All right, Barbara, thanks very much.

Just last week, a message said to be from the al Qaeda chief, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, was appearing online, urging Muslims to unite and fight against the United States.


AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI (through translator): I call on every Muslim in every spot on earth to seek with all that he can to stop the crimes of America and its allies against the Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Mali and everywhere.


BLITZER: In our next hour, we're going to have a special report on all the latest terror threats out there. A full hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM on this worldwide alert. Other news we're following, saying it's all about maintaining a level playing field, Major League baseball today was like a bulldozer in punishing the superstar, Alex Rodriguez, and a dozen other ball players for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.

A-Rod, who's been a top slugger for two decades, was suspended for 211 games. The others received 50 game suspensions.

Let's go live to our national correspondent, Jason Carroll.

He's in Chicago, where the Yankees are playing -- Jason, tell us how this all went down.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have to tell you, Wolf, it's a sad day for baseball, a sad day for Alex Rodriguez, who we're now hearing is expected to address the press just about an hour tonight -- an hour from now. He is expected to answer some questions about the suspension.

When we caught up with him just a short while ago here at the clubhouse, he wasn't answering any questions. But he did release a statement to CNN. I'm going to read part of it to you now.

He said, quote, "I am disappointed with the penalty and intend to appeal and fight this through the process. I am eager to get back on the field and be with my teammates in Chicago tonight. I want to thank my family, friends and fans who have stood by my side."

All of this again coming after earlier this afternoon, Major League Baseball came out and officially suspended Alex Rodriguez through the 2014 season. They released a statement, as well, in terms of why they decided to do that, saying, in part, "The suspension is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance- enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years."

And they also go on in their statement to allege that Rodriguez attempted to cover up his violations and also that he obstructed their investigation.

Rodriguez, for his part, has always denied that he used performance- enhancing drugs -- and, Wolf, as you know, when I caught up with Alex Rodriguez and spoke to him just a little bit more than a week ago, when this suspension was still looming over his head, he spoke about the suspension and also about what he wanted his legacy to be.


ALEX RODRIGUEZ, NEW YORK YANKEES: There's no hiding it, I'm no longer -- I'm not a spring chicken anymore. I'm not 28. I'm going to be 38 here in July. But I do feel like I can contribute. I think I can be a force in the middle of the lineup, a big way (INAUDIBLE) for our team.

But I'm at a different stage of my career, you know.

Is it realistic to go out and hit 40 or 50 home runs?

I don't think so.

But can I go out and have nights like I did last night and do that, you know, several times a week?

I think so.

CARROLL: So is it too early to talk about legacy at -- nearing 38?

What would you -- what would your -- what would you like your legacy to be?

RODRIGUEZ: You know, first, someone that loved the game and then someone that respected the game and someone that loved his teammates and just loves to compete. The one thing that no one can take away from me is the effort that I put forth and how much I love this game.


CARROLL: Rodriguez made it very clear then and now that he plans to appeal. He is allowed to play while he appeals this suspension. So he'll be on the field tonight for the opener of this three game series. It's going to be very interesting to see how the crowd receives him -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It sure will. Too bad I'm not in Chicago to watch the game.

All right, thanks very much, Jason, for that.

So this could, potentially, be a career ender for one of baseball's biggest stars. We're going to have much more on the A-Rod suspension coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM later this hour and at the top of the next hour, the New York Yankees will hold a news conference. Alex Rodriguez is expected to speak. If he does, we'll bring it to you live.

Turning now to a stunning new allegation about the use of intelligence intercepts against Americans. This time it concerns the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Reuters News Agency reporting the DEA is funneling information from intercepts, including a massive database of phone records, to law enforcement authorities nationwide to help them launch criminal investigations.

Agents have reportedly been directed to conceal the origin of these investigations from defense lawyers, prosecutors and judges.

The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, was asked about this today.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's my understanding, our understanding, that the Department of Justice is looking at some of the issues raised in the story. But for more, I would refer you to the Department of Justice. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's bring in our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns.

So what is the Justice Department looking for?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there are a couple of reasons why this is important.

The first question is whether the DEA is getting information from the National Security Agency, which it uses to make drug cases. We've been told it does happen, but that it's overseen by a judge in a classified program.

But here's a problem. The story by Reuters is asking whether it's OK for an office at the DEA known as the Special Operations Division to quietly pass along sensitive or secret tips to investigators. Reuters released slides from a presentation describing the program that say SOD's involvement cannot be revealed or discussed even. It would be a serious problem if the DEA covered up details that could help a defendant clear himself.

A DEA senior official says, quote, "We don't intentionally withhold or deceive. It's not the DEA playbook. If we don't want something to come out in court, we will construct it legally from other places" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You're a graduate of law school.

Is it ever legal not to tell a defendant how the case against him or her started?

JOHNS: Well, it's complicated. Confidential informants, snitches, in other words, give the government tips all the time and their identities are protected. If investigators say, start a case, and develop all the information they need to get probable cause that a crime was committed, that might be all they need.

On the other hand, we talked to a former judge, Nancy Gertner, at Harvard, who said this would always be a problem because it allows the DEA to decide what information gets into a court record instead of a judge.

Reuters says the DEA uses normal investigative techniques to reconstruct the secret information without disclosing the source. They call it parallel construction. It's actually pretty common in law enforcement.

But the question here really is what the government leaves out of the pretrial process that could help the defendant and basically who gets to decide that -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, good reporting.

Thanks very much. Intriguing material.

Up next, a mudslinging free-for-all. Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, slammed by rivals back home in Kentucky.


ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), KENTUCKY SECRETARY OF STATE: If the doctors told Senator McConnell that he had a kidney stone, he'd refuse to pass it.


BLITZER: Two children who lived above a reptile store strangled to death. Police have a chilling theory about how it happened.


BLITZER: It's called the fancy farm picnic, but there's nothing fancy about this Kentucky free-for-all. The annual political event is famous for its mudslinging. Audience members can shout, they can jeer, they can boo, as long as they keep it clean.

Over the years, GOP Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, has been a master of the political barbs that stir up the crowd. This year, though, he began by going after the father of the Democrat who's going after his seat, Alison Grimes.

But McConnell got a taste of his own medicine from her and from Republican primary challenger, Matt Bevin.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I want to say how nice it is -- how nice it is to see Jerry Lundergan back in the game.


MCCONNELL: Like the loyal Democrat he is, he's taking orders from the Obama campaign on how to run his daughter's campaign.


MCCONNELL: They told him to make a pitch on the Internet for the women's vote and he sent a check to Anthony Weiner.



LUNDERGAN GRIMES: If the doctors told Senator McConnell that he had a kidney stone, he'd refuse to pass it.



MATT BEVIN (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: The people of Kentucky have had enough of you fighting desperately to keep your job while doing nothing to help keep jobs in Kentucky.

BLITZER: Pretty tough stuff. Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger is here. This 30-year- veteran of the Senate, the top Republican leader, is he really in trouble back home in Kentucky?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, the polls right now are neck and neck. You know, it's never been easy for him. He won his last race by just a handful of points. But he's been careful here. He's pretty cagey. So, he's being challenged by a Tea Party person in the Republican primary, but he's gotten the endorsement from Rand Paul who's a favorite of the Tea Party.

He's even hired one of Rand Paul's top political operatives to run his campaign. So, I think he's going to be OK there. But he does have a serious challenge from this woman. And so, he's taking it seriously and I think it's going to be a fight to the finish, Wolf. You know, it's going to be close. And don't forget, he is the leader of the Republican Party.

BLITZER: So, even if he wins the Republican nomination, it's by no means a lock for him to the win the election against this Democrat.

BORGER: No, it isn't. It isn't. And you know, she's got a lot of big Democratic money. Her father was a big Bill Clinton fundraiser. And, what he's trying to do is he's kind of trying to frame this race who's saying, look, she's an easy vote for Harry Reid. This isn't only about the Senate race. This is going to determine who actually controls the Senate.

So, if you want to keep Republicans back in control, if you want to keep Republicans -- get Republicans, sorry, in control of the Senate, you better vote for me, because that's what's at stake here. you know, Republicans have a shot at retaking --

BLITZER: -- he's trying to sell himself to voters out there?

BORGER: Absolutely. This is about control of the Senate. But if you're at the White House, Wolf, and you're look at this, you're saying, you know what, how is Harry Reid going to be in upcoming battles? They've got budget battles. Is he going to cut the deal like he did on the fiscal cliff or is he going to run to his right to get those base voters out there in the state of Kentucky?

So, the White House is looking and saying, gee, he didn't vote for the compromise on immigration reform in the Senate. Where is he going to be on the things that they might need him on? They're not going to expect him to be on their side. So, this a race that has a lot of national implications.

BLITZER: -- August 2013, the election for the Senate isn't until November of next year. (CROSSTALK)

BORGER: But this is going to be a key race that has a lot of national implications.

BLITZER: We'll be covering it.

BORGER: We will.

BLITZER: Gloria, thanks very much.

Coming up, new york police shoot a 14-year-old boy. They say he had a gun.

In Canada, meanwhile, investigators blame something that escaped from a pet store for the mysterious deaths of two young boys. Lots of news happening today right here in the SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A surprise buyer today for one of the country's best known newspapers. Mary Snow is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. So, Mary, tell our viewers what happened.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of is buying "The Washington Post." He's paying $250 million in cash for "The Post" and its affiliated publication. The paper is home to some of the country's most respected columnists and reporters, including Watergate veteran, Bob Woodward. This is huge uphill in the newspaper business right now.

Over the weekend, the "New York Times" company announced it's selling the "Boston Globe" to sports magnate, John W. Henry for $70 million.

In New York over the weekend, police heard, according to the NYPD, a gunshot in high crime area of the Bronx. Now, police say one office saw a man with a gun chasing someone else. They yelled at him to drop the gun, they say he didn't. One office fired. The gunman who turned out to be 14 years old died. The incident is under investigation.

Investigators in Canada have a bizarre theory about what killed two young boys. The five-year-old and seven-year-old were in an apartment above a reptile store in Campbellton which is in the providence of New Brunswick (INAUDIBLE). Now, police think a large, exotic snake got loose, slithered into the ventilation system and strangled the boys in their sleep. The snake has been caught.

And rapper 50 Cent pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges today. A Los Angeles judge ordered him to keep away from his ex- girlfriend who's also the mother of his 10-month-old child. The "New York Daily News" reports he also was ordered to either turn in his firearm to police or sell them. Fifty Cent whose real name is Curtis Jackson faces five years in prison if convicted -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Mary, thank you. Major League Baseball lowers the boom on Alex Rodriguez. Does the punishment, though, fit the crime?

Also, an exclusive interview with Chelsea Clinton. She says she's trying to live a purposely public life.


BLITZER: Now to a Florida incident that has a lot of people across the country asking why a school bus driver didn't do more to break up a fight on the bus when three teenagers attacked the younger boy. All the driver did was call for help on the radio. CNNs Pamela Brown has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get somebody here quick, quick, quick. They about to beat this boy to death over here. please get somebody here quick. They're still doing it. There's nothing I can do.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The school bus driver, John Moody, looks on in horror, pleading with the dispatcher to send someone to stop the vicious attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a fight. I need help in a hurry. I got a fight.

BROWN: Police say three 15-year-olds attacked the 13-year-old after he told school officials that one had tried to sell him drugs.


BROWN: You can hear the 13-year-old's cries for help as he's mercilessly punched and stomped. Police say the attackers broke the victim's arm and stole his money. The three boys were arrested on aggravated battery charges. According to Pinellas County school policy, the driver is not required to intervene, only to call dispatch. Moody says he was too afraid to step in.

JOHN MOODY, SCHOOL BUS DRIVER: The three boys just jumped on him and started pounding on him. And I did all I can. I was looking. It was like I was in shock. I was petrified.

BROWN: Pinellas County leaves it up to the driver, but many counties actually forbid drivers from physically stopping fights. Gulfport Police say Moody won't face charges, but that the 64-year-old could have done more.

CHIEF ROBERT VINCENT, GULFPORT POLICE: There was clearly an opportunity for him to intervene and/or check on the welfare of the children or the child in this case. And, he didn't make any effort to do so.

BROWN: While his attorney says that was not an option, Moody says he's haunted by the attack, wondering if he could have done more.

MOODY: I wanted to help him so bad, I wanted to help him so bad, I wanted to help him. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: What a story that is. Pamela Brown reporting. We'll stay on top of it.

Meanwhile Los Angeles police are holding a man who one witness says intended to, quote, "create mayhem and massacre a lot of people." He allegedly drove on to the Venice Beach boardwalk, swerving back and forth, trying to hit as many people as possible. CNNs Casey Wian is joining us now. He's got some more details about the driver. First of all, Casey, what do we know about it?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. The suspect that the L.A.P.D. has in custody, 38-year-old man by the name of Nathan Campbell, we have confirmed just a little while ago that back in 1995 and 1996 when he was around 20, 21 years old, he spent time in a homeless youth shelter in Hollywood. So, clearly, this is a person that has been having some sort of problems for a long time.

Also, just in the last little while, two media outlets, "Los Angeles Times" and the "Associated Press," reporting that he served some brief jail time and was arrested in Colorado in 2009 for shoplifting and for trespassing. Right now, the district attorney's office here in Los Angeles saying that they have not decided what charges, if any, he is going to face. They're expecting that decision will be reached sometime tomorrow.

Meanwhile, you can see there is a memorial here that has been built and there is going to be a vigil this evening for the one victim of this, the one victim who died in this tragedy, the Italian woman who happened to be in Venice here in California on her honeymoon. She and her husband was planning -- a honeymoon and planning to go to Tahiti after this. And tragically, she and he never made it. Fifteen other people also injured in this incredible tragedy, Wolf.

BLITZER: What a heartbreaking story. Casey, what's the latest on the investigation? Is there a motive? Is there any rationale for why this individual allegedly would do this?

WIAN: Wolf, I'm sorry but my communication with you is being interrupted. I'm having a hard time understanding what you said. But I think you may have asked about any sort of rationale why this may have happened. Police are not talking about any motive.

The one thing I can tell you is looking at the scene here and seeing how he drove his car onto this boardwalk. There are several way does that very easily. He went through a very narrow sidewalk opening. Not sure what that means, what significance that has. But it's one thing that we can observe is he took one of the most difficult routes to get down here possible, Wolf.

BLITZER: Casey Wian with a heartbreaking story indeed. All right, thanks very much. We'll stay on top of this one as well.

Up next, Major League Baseball lowers the boom on Alex Rodriguez. Does the punishment fit the crime? (COMMERICAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Back now to a top story. Major League Baseball brought down the hammer today, handing out suspensions to 13 more players for alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. Twelve of those players have accepted 50-game suspensions. But New York Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez, one of the Yankees' most powerful sluggers for the past two decades, has been banned for 211 games, through this season, the remainder of it as well as next season. But he plans to fight the punishment. Don't forget, former MVP Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension back on July 22.

Joining us now is Ben Reiter of "Sports Illustrated" magazine. Ben, thanks very much for coming in. I guess it's not as bad for A-Rod as it could have been. He could have received a lifetime suspension, right?

BEN REITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": Well, that's what Major League Baseball is threatening. A-Rod today has proved that he is what he always has been, which is one of a kind. Twelve other players got their 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball, accepted them. Baseball tried to hand Alex Rodriguez a penalty that they had never done before. A stronger penalty than any they had ever levied before. A-Rod, unlike the rest of the players, has chosen to fight this penalty. This fight is really just beginning, Wolf.

BLITZER: So, let's talk about this. Because if he would have accepted it, that would have been a punishment - a penalty, a financial penalty of, what, $31 million he would have lost this year and next year. That's -- $31 million, no matter which one you cut it, that's still a lot of money.

REITER: It certainly is. But let's remember Alex Rodriguez is in a different position from any of these other 12 penalized players. He's 38 years old, he's near the end of his career. He's already earned some $350 million in his career. And, yes, he has $100 million more to go. He's always been someone who is very concerned with money and making as much of it as he can.

But at this point in his career, he's also concerned with his dignity and his legacy. And he has shown Major League Baseball in no uncertain terms he is going to go down with a fight, if he's going down at all.

BLITZER: Now, during this appeal, he's already making it clear he's going to appeal this decision. He can still play, is that right?

REITER: He's starting tonight for the New York Yankees at third base and batting clean-up. That's going to be in Chicago this evening.

BLITZER: So how long could the appeals process go on? Could it go on for the rest of the season?

REITER: It could. You know, the players union is saying that this thing could drag on into November, into December. So, you know, A-Rod is set to play many more games before his penalty is upheld or not upheld after tonight.

BLITZER: So what happens if the penalty is upheld after the appeals process and the mediator says, you know what? you're going to be punished, it still will be 211 games. they're not going to change that, even if he plays the rest of the season, is that right?

REITER: That's right. But I think the most likely outcome is that the decision will be that A-Rod should be suspended for less than those 211 games. This is an unprecedented suspension. Major League Baseball will make the case that A-Rod's malfeasance was far worse than that of any of his colleagues. But the sheer magnitude of his suspension is just one we haven't seen before. A-Rod is protected by the collective bargaining agreement. He's protected by the union, and the union has every reason to fight a suspension of this magnitude. And they certainly will.

BLITZER: Why should he be punished more than the others? The others got 50- or 60-game suspensions. Why should he get 211? Why -- in other words, what did he do that was so much more egregious than the other does?

REITER: Well, on a macro level, Alex Rodriguez is kind of the face of the steroids generation. So on one level, it's a public relations issue that Bud Selig, the commissioner of baseball wants to hit him hard, make an example of him.

But on another level, Major League Baseball will contend that Alex Rodriguez's misdeeds were far worse than anyone else who simply went to the Biogenesis Clinic in southern Florida, took performance- enhancing drugs from there. They're going to say that he interfered with their investigation, that he's lied for a long time, that he even recruited other Major League players to this clinic and encouraged them to do what he was doing. That's going to be their argument. We're going to have to wait and see if it's going to hold up before an arbitrator.

BLITZER: He's made the case that even though he acknowledged many years ago taking these drugs, he's never tested positive in any of the tests that Major League Baseball does for these performance-enhancing drugs. And so he's denying the allegation.

REITER: He certainly is. None of these players who were penalized today tested positive. This is really the fruit of an investigation by Major League Baseball that has lasted over one year and has cost them millions upon millions of dollars. Obviously, the fact that the dozen other players have come to a deal with the league shows they have some pretty strong evidence, but perhaps not strong enough to convince Alex Rodriguez that he should accept a suspension all the way through the 2014 season, Wolf.

BLITZER: So it your thought that he will -- the suspension will be upheld?

REITER: I believe that the suspension will be upheld, but I don't think the length will ultimately be what Major League Baseball has stated today. BLITZER: Ben Reiter works for "Sports Illustrated," a sister publication of ours. Thanks very much, Ben, for that.

REITER: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: He's going to be speaking, we're told, Alex Rodriguez live. He's holding a news conference. The Yankees are holding a news conference. There you see a live picture at the chair there. Once he shows up there, we'll go there live. You'll see it here in THE SITUATION ROOM. A-Rod reacting to this decision. Our live coverage of that will be coming up.

Up next, though, she's lived her entire life in the spotlight. So, will Chelsea Clinton follow her parents and run for political office one of these days? We have an exclusive CNN interview with her.

And coming up, also, if you like your burgers rare, how about one straight from the test tube? Jeanne Moos reports on a stem cell tasting.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are 40 billion cells in that little hamburger.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: After years out of the public eye, Chelsea Clinton is now very much in the spotlight and she's not ruling out a run for public office. Upholding the mission of the Clinton Foundation, she's now on a nine-day trip to Africa with her father.

And CNN's Nima Elbagir caught up with her in Rwanda for this exclusive interview.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What has often been perceived about you in the past is that you're a very private person. And it feels like increasingly you're choosing to raise your profile with the work that you're doing with the Clinton Foundation.

Why did you make that decision? What was it about the work that felt so important to you?

CHELSEA CLINTON, CLINTON FOUNDATION: I really felt like I could make a difference and then I should make a difference. And ultimately I hear my grandmother's voice in my head every day that life is not about what happens to you but about what you do what happens to you.

And I had very much led a deliberately private life for a long time and now, you know, I'm attempting to lead a perfectly public life. We think we know how to do a few things. Change market dynamics, for example, around different drugs or different commodities in the health and agriculture space. If we can help someone else learn how to do that we don't want any credit for that.

We're also uniquely positioned because of the work that my parents have done and the work now that I'm joining them in doing to convene different partners from the public sector, from the private sector and from the nonprofit sector and that is partly what we saw in action early today with the clean water initiative that through the Clinton Global Initiative we were able to connect world vision with Procter & Gamble, who have these pure packets that really help almost any water become safe.

I just find it completely unacceptable that in the 21st century more than 2,000 kids a day die of severe dehydration due to diarrhea.

ELBAGIR: You've spoken about leading an increasing public life. Do you see that culminating in a run for office?

CLINTON: Not now. I mean, at the moment I'm so grateful for the work I'm able to do through the Clinton Foundation, the work I'm able to do in places like Rwanda, I know that I'm making a difference. I never want to have a wasted day. I want to be able to wake up every day and kind of think about how I can best be of service and, you know, for now that's this.

I'm also grateful to live in a city and a state and a country where I really believe in my elected officials, in their ethos and their competencies. You know, if someday either of those weren't true, and I thought could I make more of a difference in the public sector, or if I didn't like how my city or my state or my country were being run, you know, I'd have to ask and answer that question.


BLITZER: Clearly not ruling it out.

Chelsea Clinton in Rwanda with her dad. The Clinton Foundation doing very important work there and other parts of Africa as well.

Other news we're following. We're getting new revelations about what many Republicans suspect as international harassment of conservatives by major government agencies. They're already been asking about what the Internal Revenue Service is up to now.

CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash has learned another powerful agency, the Federal Election Commission, may fall under suspicion as well. Intentional harassment, I should say, not international harassment.

What kind of information are you picking up?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I spoke today with the vice chair of the FEC. He's a Republican who told me he has seen e-mails that have not yet been made public between FEC employee, at least one investigating a conservative group and Lois Lerner. The former head of the IRS Tax Exempt Division, the center of the political storm that's engulfing the IRS. Now the significance of this is that it raises questions not just about the IRS but a potential collusion between federal agencies in the alleged targeting of conservative political groups.

Don McCann is the Republican FEC commissioner I spoke with. He said one e-mail he saw was from an investigator in his agency to Lois Lerner at the IRS. And they were discussing the status of a conservative group called the American Future Fund. Now McCann says shortly after Lerner was contacted, the IRS sent a questionnaire to that very same conservative group.

McCann was careful to say this raises serious questions but it is still unclear if it is, in his words, benign or sinister. He also said FEC employees dealing with Lois Lerner probably -- this kind of thing is probably out of the ordinary.

I should tell you that we reached out to the IRS for comment and they said that it -- the IRS takes its obligation to protect confidential taxpayer information very seriously but they also simply can't talk, Wolf, about specific ongoing cases.

BLITZER: Well, these e-mails that began as talking about basically the same e-mails that a lot of Republicans want the FEC and the IRS to hand over to them in Congress.

BASH: It certainly seems that way. Late last week, Republicans in Congress were investigating this, they released a few e-mail exchanges that they obtained between Lerner at the IRS and an FEC attorney about the American future fund and also a second conservative group.

Now those FEC e-mails specifically asked Lerner for public information about conservative groups. Democrats say there's no there-there because passing along public information is neither illegal nor nefarious, but what Republicans say is, why would one agency call another for public information. That's why they wanted to see all the relevant correspondents between these two agencies.

I should also say that we reached out to Democratic chair of the FEC, we have not heard back yet. But Democrats on Capitol Hill, they're saying Republicans are throwing mud against the wall with the hope that something will stick.

BLITZER: This saga will continue.

BASH: Yes.

BLITZER: To be sure. Dana, thank you.

When we come back, we'll have more on today's startling revelations about the source of the new al Qaeda terror threat that comes right from the top. The man you're looking at right there. But up next, Jeanne Moos with a burner that's unlike anything you've ever seen.


HANNI RUTZLER, NUTRITIONAL RESEARCHER But there's quite some intense taste. It's close to meat. It's not that juicy.



BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots."

In Greenland, icebergs from the twin glaciers are seen floating in the water. In California fireworks burst during a closing ceremony of the World Games. In Hong Kong, city lights brighten up the sky. And in northern France, a butterfly searches for food on a flower.

"Hot Shots," pictures coming in from around the world.

Two of the most popular performers in the world, Madonna and Lady Gaga, may be in trouble with the Russians.

CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has the details.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even if you're one of the world's biggest superstars, speaking out on gay rights in Russia is risky. As Lady Gaga is finding out.

LADY GAGA, SINGER: Tonight, this is my house, Russia. You can be gay in my house.

CHANCE: And Russian officials say the pop star staged her concert without proper work visas. It's not officially linked to her remarks but the complaint was filed by Vitaly Milonov, the lawmaker behind Russia's controversial anti-gay laws.

Another icon, Madonna, is also accused of spreading what Russia calls gay propaganda after she spoke out at her concert in St. Petersburg last year.

MADONNA, SINGER/MUSICIAN: Now, I am here to say that the gay community and gay people here and all around the world have the same rights.

CHANCE: But in Russia, activists say gay rights are under increasing pressure, along with anyone who dares to support them.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.


BLITZER: It isn't exactly a mystery meat. CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us the unusual source of a new kind of burger.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you like your burgers rare, you won't find meat rarer than this. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the latest on your creation?

MOOS: Monday morning, there were only two of these on earth and one got eaten.

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The burger has its own security guard and I wouldn't be surprised if it's going to have an agent after this.

MOOS: This being the first public taste test of a test tube burger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An historic event. A world first.

MOOS: If you think golf is slow, wait until you hear the play by play when a test tube burger is cooked in a London press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is it cooking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seems to be holding incredibly well.

DR. MARK POST, PROFESSOR PHYSIOLOGY, MAASTRICHT UNIVERSITY: There are 40 billion cells in that little hamburger.

MOOS: Grown from stem cells taken from the shoulder of a cow.

POST: We actually are producing meat. It's just not in a cow.

MOOS: Professor Mark Post has been developing a burger made in a lab for five years. The $330,000 burger was funded by the co-founder of Google.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can't we see the cells?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A nice sort of pleasant aroma but very, very subtle at this stage.

MOOS: Burger in a test tube may look like Pepto-Bismol. Professor Post says creating beef this way would be great for reducing greenhouse gases and would produce way more meat without slaughtering all the cattle. There's a catch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you overcome the yuck factor?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm always a little weary of anything that is created in a lab.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It doesn't seem natural.

MOSS (on camera): Do you like burgers?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love burgers. But I like it from a cow. Not from a -- MOSS (voice-over): A Petri dish. And then with a sniff a nutrition researcher and a food writer served as independent unpaid testers.

RUTZLER: But there's quite some intense taste. It's close to meat. It's not that juicy.

JOSH SCHONWALD, FOOD WRITER: Like an animal protein cake.

MOSS (on camera): What the test tube burger doesn't have is fat. Fat chance it's going to taste as good.

RUTZLER: I miss salt and pepper.

MOSS (voice-over): They did add bread crumbs, caramel, red beet juice for color, and saffron. And cooked it in butter. The poor test tube burger.

(On camera): No lettuce, tomatoes, onions, no ketchup.

(Voice-over): Reporters in the audience beg for leftover scraps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I please have a small bite?

MOOS: Reports varied widely. "Tastes like meat". "Tastes like crap". Someone quipped, "Can't believe it's not cow."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where's the beef?

MOOS: It's in the test tube. Remember when test tube babies were rare?

Jeanne Moos, CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where's the beef?

MOOS: New York.


BLITZER: If you're thinking, by the way, of taste testing this burger for yourself, not so fast. Dr. Post estimates that the test tube burger probably won't be available commercially for at least 10 to 20 years.

Happening now, U.S. forces are on the move to respond to a potentially terror attack after U.S. officials broke into communications at the highest level of al Qaeda. The terror group's master bomb maker also may be involved. He could pose more danger to Americans than any other terrorist.

And Yankees star Alex Rodriguez about to speak out this hour about his suspension from Major League Baseball and his plan to appeal.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. U.S. officials say an attack could happen anywhere in the world at any time. We can now report that the newest terror threat appears to have been ordered by none other than Osama bin Laden's successor. A shutdown of U.S. embassies and consulates has been extended. Nineteen American diplomatic missions in the Middle East and Africa, they are now closed and will remain closed for the rest of this week.

Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is joining us now. He's got more on the threat, the U.S. response. What's the latest -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, local security teams have closed access roads and even installed extra blast walls outside some American embassies and a newly formed quick reaction team of 500 Marines --