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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Maine Senator Angus King; Domestic Terror Plots Foiled; Iran Nuclear Deal Reached. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired April 2, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:03] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Terror in the United States. An American allegedly linked to al Qaeda facing charges tonight, while ISIS apparently inspired a separate bomb plot, leading to the arrest of two women in New York City.
And crash discoveries. The missing black box has been found. It was buried and burnt. Plus, investigators now say they found shocking new evidence suggesting the co-pilot had been planning the crash for some time.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following several major breaking stories tonight.
President Obama declaring a new nuclear agreement with Iran is a good deal that will make the United States and the world safer if it's finalized.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.
If Iran cheats, the world will know it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Just hours after negotiators announced the breakthrough, a top Israeli official is warning against any celebrations, arguing Iran has refused to make concessions and is still a threat to the Middle East.
Also breaking tonight, terror around the globe, from the deadly attack at a university in Kenya to an al Qaeda prison break in Yemen and terror charges against Americans in two new cases here in the United States.
Senator Angus King, he is here. He's a leading member of the Armed Services and Intelligence committees. Our correspondents and analysts are standing by. They're covering all the breaking news.
First, let's go to our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott.
She's at the site of the Iran nuclear talks in Switzerland.
Elise, you just sat down with Secretary of State John Kerry for an interview. Tell us how it went.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he talked to me about the negotiations and the deal he got after 18 months of talks. But the hard work starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: This is a lot more than you thought you would get.
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, no, it's what we knew we wanted to get and had to get. But you never know in a negotiation if you will get it.
But we knew we were going after something important. I have said continually we can't -- we have got to have a good deal. And we have to close off those pathways. And that's what we have been working to do.
LABOTT: What's to say that Iran is not going to come back when you're doing the final negotiating and try to reopen all this?
KERRY: Then they don't get an agreement. Look, we're very clear about where we are. I'm quite confident about the parameters as they have been articulated. They will have a narrative that is different from ours, obviously. We will have what we have.
LABOTT: Several members of Congress are already coming out against this agreement. They seem to have a veto-proof majority for a vote, for a stay. They could kill this.
KERRY: No, I don't believe so. I think, on close inspection, I don't believe that will happen. That would be very irresponsible to make politics trump facts and science and the realities of what is possible here.
And it would be particularly irresponsible to do it when you have six nations, the P5-plus-one, permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, China and Russia, which don't have always every day common interests with us in everything, but they are absolutely dedicated to the enforcement of this.
So I think that really some of our senators and congressmen need to step back, take a deep breath.
LABOTT: But you have spent more time with the Iranian foreign minister than most foreign ministers you have been meeting with and certainly more than any U.S. official has spent with an Iranian official in 30 years. What was the most surprising thing about these negotiations? Take us inside there.
KERRY: Well, I think there was a seriousness of purpose. People negotiated hard. It was tough, very intense at times, sometimes emotional and confrontational.
It was a very intensive process, but because the stakes are very high and because there is a long history of not talking to each other. For 35 years, we haven't talked with the Iranians directly like this. So we're not basing this on a naivete or trust or some element of good faith. This is based on real steps, real accountability, real measures that have to be implemented and on accountability if they are not.
LABOTT: Does this help you with Iran with other areas?
KERRY: I have no idea, because we didn't talk about it.
LABOTT: Do you want it to?
KERRY: We didn't talk -- Iran has a lot of challenges right now with the rest of the community in that region. And we have made it clear that an Iran without a nuclear weapon is better than, given some of what's happening in the region and Iran with a weapon.
[18:05:00] We have been focused on trying to deal with the nuclear issue, and we will continue, as I made very clear tonight, as the president has made clear, to be focused on the other issues of what Iran is doing within the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: And, Wolf, now the work, hard work begins, as I said. The negotiators will have to go back to the drawing board and fill in all the blanks. This was just the backbone of the agreement. Now they have to fill in all the technical details of those broad strokes.
This deal that's due at the end of June is still far from certain. Members of Congress already coming out disparaging the agreement, saying that they have close to a veto-proof majority, Wolf, to have a congressional say on this deal, so far from certain, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, all right, they have got three months to finish all the details. Let's see what happens. Elise, good work. Thank you.
Let's bring in our chief national correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He has more on the Iran nuclear agreement.
How much of a turnaround does this represent in fact from the earlier talks?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's an enormous turnaround. Just in the last few days, if you believed the public pronouncements of disagreements just this week, up until the final moment, you had disagreements on the pace of sanctions relief. You had disagreement on the disposition of Iran's huge stockpile of enriched uranium. They have come to agreement on that. At the same time, it's also
a turnaround as you look forward. Here, the West is going to give up, assuming Iran complies with this deal, with a sanctions infrastructure that's taken years to create, involves an incredible collection of allies in this, the West, but also countries like China squeezing Iran.
That's an enormous stick to take away in terms of leverage. But I suppose the bigger picture too -- and Secretary of State Kerry referred to that there -- you have four decades of division where you were barely even talking to each other. It was only two years ago they first had those secret meetings in Oman, that phone call at the U.N. General Assembly in September 2013. And now, less than two years after that, after months and months of face-to-face negotiations, you come to what appears to be, if you sign all those, if you dot all the I's and cross all the T's, a fairly remarkable agreement.
BLITZER: They are celebrating in the streets in Iran; is that right?
SCIUTTO: They are.
This is the thing. We have some pictures as well. Honking their horns, waving flags. We saw earlier today there was a big Twitter trend of people taking selfies with President Obama, because Iranian state television played his statement in the Rose Garden live on Iranian state TV. That's certainly unprecedented.
But to the Iranian people, this is more than about the nuclear program. This is about ending international pariah status. it's about opening their economy. It's about being able to go to the schools they want to out the country, buy the cars they want to buy, get the medicine they want to get. This is a country that has been under that kind of regime for so long.
I have been going there for years. People are desperate for this kind of change. It's why they elected President Rouhani.
BLITZER: I'm sure that's why they made the concessions they made. Billions and billions of dollars will flow into the Iranian economy if in fact all those sanctions are removed, and presumably it will be if the Iranians live up to their part of the bargain.
Let me shift gears. There's a very disturbing development in Yemen. Al Qaeda, what, the forces there, they went into a prison. They freed almost 300 prisoners, many of them al Qaeda terrorists. Tell us about that.
SCIUTTO: A U.S. counter official tells me the situation in Yemen now is dire, in his words. We saw that in harsh detail today.
AQAP seen by the U.S. as one of two terror groups most capable of attacking U.S. soil, attacking a prison in the city of al Mukalla in the south freeing an estimated 270 inmates, one-third of them believe linked to AQAP. And a senior al Qaeda figure, Khaled Batarfi, believed to be one of them. The U.S. counterterror official also added this warning -- quote
-- "Long-term, the instability has reduced counterterror pressure on AQAP, potentially giving them greater freedom of action to carry out attacks."
Remember, this is a group with plans to smuggle explosives onto airplanes hidden in electronic devices. They are the reason airport security checks your and my mobile devices as we go on board. They nearly had success with another kind of bomb, the underwear bomber on Christmas in 2009. A senior U.S. military official tells our Barbara Starr the fighting in Yemen may at least in the short-term actually cause overseas plotting to be in the words of this official sidetracked.
But, Wolf, you have to think that medium- and long-term, without U.S. special forces on the ground, they have been evacuated, with the U.S. Embassy closed and its intelligence gathering presence taken away, with U.S. intelligence officers no longer on the ground, you don't have nearly as many vision on this group as you had in the past. That's a real handicap. U.S. officials admit it and it's something they will have to watch very closely.
BLITZER: Yes, no Yemeni military personnel assisting the United States in any of that. It's a real dire situation.
SCIUTTO: That was a key relationship that President Obama has often highlighted as a success in countering terrorism with a small footprint.
[18:10:03] BLITZER: Yes, it hasn't exactly worked out that well.
All right, thanks very much, Jim Sciutto, reporting for us.
Now to the terrorist slaughter on a university campus that apparently targeted Christians.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is following this breaking story for us.
Barbara, tell us what you know.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf.
Well, at this point, Kenyan authorities are saying at least four gunmen have been killed and, thankfully, at least nearly 600 students accounted for. But it was a very difficult situation most of the day as this assault went on.
STARR (voice-over): It is a bloodbath at a college in Kenya, 147 people killed and dozens injured when heavily armed gunmen from al Shabaab, an Islamist militant group, stormed Garissa University in southern Kenya. An eyewitness reported the attackers burst into early morning Christian prayers and then began separating Muslim and Christian students, killing the Christians. Not a surprise that terrorists went after a large student
population, nearly impossible to fully protect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kenya is such an important target for al Shabaab because Kenya has been the primary driving force behind operations against al Shabaab in the region. They are the biggest, biggest enemy for al Shabaab.
STARR: Kenyan troops have taken the lead in attempting to push al Shabaab out of its traditional strongholds in Somalia.
Kenya's president trying to reassure his country, calling up more police recruits.
UHURU KENYATTA, PRESIDENT OF KENYA: I also take this opportunity to urge Kenyans to stay calm as we resolve this matter.
STARR: The siege ongoing for hours as Kenyan security forces fired back and rescue forces tried to move in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have been hearing the gunfire. Military tanks have also moved into the university compound. And the men are using the tanks as cover.
STARR: The U.S. has targeted several top Al-Shabaab leaders, finally killing Ahmed Godane, the group's leader, after several failed attempts.
He was allegedly behind 2013's deadly four-day siege of the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which killed at least 67 people, something U.S. officials fear could happen here. In February, an Al-Shabaab video threatened to attack the Mall of America and other U.S. targets.
JEH JOHNSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they have got to be particularly careful.
STARR: Now, that in February. Thankfully, since then, no attack at the Mall of America or any American shopping malls.
But, look, this is a group that has U.S. intelligence and law enforcement deeply concerned, concerned that they are able to potentially recruit young Somali-Americans to their cause and potentially inspire them to future lone wolf attacks -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr reporting for us, thank you.
Joining us now, Senator Angus King. He's an independent senator from Maine, a leading member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committee.
Senator, thanks very much for joining us. How vulnerable are these so-called soft targets like universities
here in the United States, especially since Al-Shabaab, as you well know, Al-Shabaab has actually threatened U.S. malls in the past?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: I think that's an issue, Wolf, for sure.
And combine it with other news today of the two women that were arrested in New York for plotting a bombing attack somewhere in the U.S., the so-called lone wolf, the people who have been radicalized over the Internet or through friends, something like that, and these women were connected apparently to AQAP, which is one of the most dangerous groups.
They are the ones that seem to be working on the most advanced bomb technology. You know, we have an open society, Wolf. We can't have a policeman by our side at every stop and every place we go. But I think the good news is that this plot in New York was in fact thwarted by our counterterrorism efforts. The bad news is, we don't know who else is headed in that direction.
BLITZER: But Al-Shabaab, do you believe they actually are interested in and actually capable of launching an attack here in the United States?
KING: Well, I think that would be a stretch for them.
It's hard to say whether they can do it indirectly through radicalization of people who are here or through connections they already have in the country. I think AQAP is frankly a greater danger in this country.
But what kind of people are these that divide people by their religion and just arbitrarily murder people? We haven't seen anything like that in the West for 500 years. It's shocking. And to do it in the name of some kind of God, there's no God I know of that would countenance anything like that.
[18:15:02] BLITZER: Yes. Don't forget, though, as I'm sure you won't, during the Holocaust, the Nazis took the Jews and slaughtered the Jews. They separated the Jews out from the Christians.
KING: That's right.
BLITZER: And that was, what, only 70 years or so ago. That is part of history as well.
KING: Sure. Absolutely.
We are -- civilization isn't easy, Wolf. It takes a lot of work. And it has to go from generation to generation. And it can slip away mighty fast. So, we have just got to keep our guard up. It's a combination of intelligence, military and all the efforts. But we can't -- we can never breathe entirely freely, I don't think. But that's -- again, that's part of who we are as a free people.
BLITZER: Senator, I'm going to have you stand by. I want to talk about this framework for an Iran nuclear deal. We're getting lots of reactions, some positive, some negative. I want to get your reaction, what you are learning about it.
Much more with Senator Angus King right after this.
[18:20:31] BLITZER: We're back with Senator Angus King of Maine. He's a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence committees.
Senator, President Obama says the Iran deal isn't based on trust; it's based on verification. He says, if Iran cheats, the world will know it.
You are on the Intelligence Committee. Will the world know it if Iran cheats?
KING: Well, it certainly looks that way from the agreement.
I think it went right to the heart of the agreement, Wolf. It's all about verification and inspections and international inspections and accessibility that goes on for quite some period of time. I frankly think the deal looks better to me than I expected.
There's some caveats there. Right -- one of the first principles is nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. And there's a lot of detail to be worked out in the next three months. But the limitations on getting rid of their enriched uranium, the limitations centrifuges, but, as you say, the heart of it really is the inspections.
And it's not a matter of anybody trusting or being naive. That's what's going to make it happen and that's what really is the heart of blocking Iran's path to a bomb. But it looks to me like they have taken these negotiations seriously. You have already seen the reaction there. They want to get rid of those sanctions.
But, also, Wolf, the sanctions don't go away until Iran performs. And the way I read it, the sanctions will snap back if Iran violates any part of the agreement. So, so far, what I see is, as I say, somewhat better than I expected. The duration, parts of it are 10 years, parts of it are 15. I think one part is actually 25 years.
And it's the framework for a deal. The other thing you have to ask is, OK, what's the alternative? If this isn't done, what happens then? And I think that makes this -- that focuses on what the real terms are here.
BLITZER: All right, you are clearly impressed by what you saw today. Here is a question. The role of Congress, the Senate, the House of Representatives, as you know, the president says he is going to go for a vote before the United Nations Security Council.
But White House officials say the only role that Congress will have -- you will be briefed obviously on it -- will be when you have to go ahead and ease the congressionally mandated sanctions.
Then you will have to vote on that. But he doesn't want to see this as a treaty, no two-thirds majorities, no real resolution, voting for it. What's your reaction to the really restricted, limited role that the Congress will have?
KING: Well, interestingly enough, the way you just stated it is essentially what the Corker bill is.
Bob Corker, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has been working on a bill. I'm a co-sponsor. I think it has got 18 or 19 bipartisan co-sponsors. And what it focuses on is the congressionally mandated sanctions.
And you have got to remember, Wolf, we -- all this discussion acts like it's just us and Iran. The truth is, there are five other major countries involved in this. And it is their sanctions of places like India and China and Japan and Europe that have really bitten, as far as Iran is concerned, into their economy. And they are part of this deal, too.
And they have to be -- they have to go along as well. But the Corker bill talks about the congressional sanctions, not the entire deal. And I think that's important to remember. He is going to be having hearings on that bill in a week-and-a-half. And I think there's going to be a lot of discussion and debate.
My position, as I said, I'm a co-sponsor of the bill. But if I see this slipping toward pure partisanship and we're going to try to embarrass the president, I'm off the bill. And I have told Bob Corker that. If we can -- I think Congress should have a role, but it's a role that should be played responsibly and soberly, not based on politics and trying to make trouble for the administration. This is just too important for that nonsense.
BLITZER: All right, Senator Angus King, he's the independent senator from Maine. He caucuses with the Democrats.
Always good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Senator, thanks very much.
KING: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just ahead, Americans arrested on terrorism charges. We're getting new details. Stand by for that.
And one official now says the co-pilot of Flight 9525 committed premeditated murder. We are learning about a lot of new evidence that's coming in as part of this investigation.
[18:29:27] BLITZER: Another breaking story right now involving terrorism charges against Americans.
We are learning about two New York City women accused of plotting to unleash attacks on American soil. Federal authorities now say at least one of them had a direct link to al Qaeda and both may have been inspired by ISIS propaganda.
Our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is joining us from New York with details.
Jason, what have you learned?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, both suspects made their first court appearance earlier this afternoon. They stood before the judge.
When the judge asked them if they understood the charges they were facing, they both answered yes, the most serious charge, conspiring to build a weapon of mass destruction.
CARROLL (voice-over): They are U.S. citizens who live in Queens, New York. The two women, identified in a federal criminal complaint as 28-year-old Noelle Velentzas and 31-year-old Asia Siddiqui. Authorities say they are homegrown would-be terrorists, planning to detonate a bomb in the United States.
In the 29-page complaint, the U.S. attorney details how the women allegedly expressed their support for, quote, "violent jihad." Prosecutors say the women researched and acquired materials needed to make various types of bombs, including fertilizer, a pressure cooker device, and multiple propane tanks, which authorities say Siddiqui kept in her apartment building.
THOMAS DUNN, ATTORNEY FOR ASIA SIDDIQUI: My client will enter a plea of not guilty, even when there is an indictment. And she and I will address everything in the courtroom where it belongs.
CARROLL: Authorities say the suspects were not after civilians but instead, the police and military, even taking inspiration from the funeral of slain Police Officer Ramos, believing a crowded police funeral would be an easy target.
They say Valentzas considered Osama bin Laden her mentor and praised the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. And she was obsessed with pressure cookers since the Boston Marathon attack, according to an undercover officer.
Prosecutors say Siddiqui's ambitions were just as strong, that she had repeated contact with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and that she even wrote a poem which appeared in a jihadi magazine. In it, lines such as, "No excuse to sit back and wait for the skies rain martyrdom" and "taste the truth through fists and slit throats."
The pair had been on the radar of investigators since at least May 2013. And according to a law enforcement official close to the case, the women came to the attention of investigators through another terrorism investigation. People in Velentzas's neighborhood tell us she is married with a
young daughter. They say she sometimes argued with her husband, but there was nothing to indicate she had jihadist leanings.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's a very friendly woman, and I would never even expect that at all. They're very lovely people. I saw the FBI this this morning, but I didn't know exactly what that was regards to. That is so crazy.
CARROLL: At one point, Noelle Velentzas, between 2008 and 2009, was homeless, this according to an Islamic -- local Islamic transitional center for women. They released a statement from the Islamic Circle of North America, saying, "Noelle Velentzas was a homeless woman who sought shelter -- who sought refuge in our shelter. During this time, she successfully completed studies to become a home healthcare provider."
The next court appearance is scheduled for May 4 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jason Carroll, thanks very much.
We're also getting more information now about a Texas native with alleged ties to al Qaeda. He appeared in a New York City courtroom today after being deported from Pakistan.
Let's go to our justice reporter, Evan Perez, joining us from New York. Tell us about this case, Evan.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Mohammad al-Farak (ph) is 29 years old. He was born in Texas like you just mentioned, and then grew up in Jordan.
Now, what makes him interesting, according to U.S. officials, is that he was studying at the University of Manitoba in Canada and then disappeared with a couple of other guys into Pakistan to join al Qaeda.
Now, he's been the subject of some debate in the U.S. government, because there was some in the U.S. intelligence community who believed that he was high-level official inside al Qaeda and deserved to be put on the U.S. kill list.
Now, because he's an American citizen, there was some debate as to whether or not there was enough evidence to warrant that, Wolf. And in the end, they decided not to kill him. Now he was arrested by the Pakistani government just a few months ago. And when they realized he was an American, they turned him over to the FBI. He was brought to Brooklyn. He appeared here in federal court today. He is due back after more questioning from the FBI. They want to know more about exactly who he was hanging out with in al Qaeda and whether there's more -- there's more information he can provide about that.
BLITZER: Evan Perez, thanks very much for that. Let's bring in our military analyst, retired Lieutenant General
Mark Hertling; our national security analyst, Peter Bergen; our counterterrorism analyst, Philip Mudd; and our CNN intelligence and security analyst, Robert Baer.
Philip, I take it you're familiar with this case, this Texas native who became, supposedly, a top al Qaeda operative. What's your reaction when you hear what's going on? And specifically, will the U.S. be able to get good information from this guy?
[18:35:02] PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I remember this case. I sat at the table at the FBI when this fellow disappeared. And we all sat back and said, "What do we have on our hands? Is he going to come back to U.S. soil and commit an attack?"
Instead, he became what we call a facilitator in Pakistan. That is, the intermediary between the Pakistani al Qaeda leadership and also operatives from places like the United States or Canada.
You asked will he provide intelligence? I will say he already has. He's been in custody for a while. As soon as people like this get out of that protective bubble among their friends in al Qaeda, they're going to get nervous.
We don't need to know only immediate information like where is the next attack. You want to know, who have you communicated with in the United States? How do you communicate? How do you facilitate travel? This guy is a lottery ticket for the intelligence services, because there are very few people like him.
BLITZER: We know he's got a lawyer, though. Who's to say this guy is going to cooperate? He could remain silent. Right?
MUDD: Sure. He could in the future. He's been in custody for a while, though. And if you read the reports, he's talked to a relatively new group of people that is combined interrogation teams that include the CIA and the FBI, a program we tried to set up when I was at the bureau. My guess is he's already talking, because he's nervous.
BLITZER: What about that, General Hertling? Is this an indication that the U.S. is doing a little bit better in terms of finding these guys out there in Pakistan, specifically?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's not only that, Wolf, but it's also the passing between governments. And it's strange enough that it's the Pakistani government.
I'll jump on what Phil said, though. I remember this guy, as well. He came across our radar in intelligence circles, too. This is a hardened operative who's doing some very interesting things.
When you compare somebody like this, though, that the government has been watching in the intel channels, with the two -- the two women who were arrested for probably an immature approach to terrorism, it just kind of shows you that these terrorists are among us. And we have to -- there's no category that you can put all of them in and say, this is where we've got to look. It's everywhere. And that's the importance of having the precise intelligence network that Phil was just talking about.
BLITZER: Peter, these two New York City women who have now been arrested, supposedly had sympathy for al Qaeda but were reading ISIS material. ISIS and al Qaeda supposedly are on two different pages. What do you make of this?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, al Qaeda and ISIS right now, at the top levels, are having a dispute. But the women admired Osama bin Laden, according to the complaint. And ISIS continues to regard bin Laden as a heroic figure in their propaganda.
But picking up on what General Hertling said, you know, it's not that unusual that we're seeing women who are sort of drawn to ISIS. We've seen females from, you know, Colorado, from Chicago, you know, being drawn to ISIS's propaganda, which is kind of a slightly new development. But it goes to the point that there is no particular profile.
BLITZER: Bob Baer, let's talk about that al Shabaab attack on that university campus in Kenya. They separated the Christians from the Muslims in today's attack, killed, what, almost 200 people over there, young people. They slaughtered the Christians, I should point out. What does this tell you about al Shabaab and their -- and their goals?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Wolf, we've been conducting drone attacks against them for years now. We've successfully decapitated the organization on several occasions. But it regrows leadership.
These drone attacks are only so useful. It disrupts planning for a while, slows them down. But at the end of the day, this virus that is going through Somalia, just like Syria and Iraq, it's hard to stop. And when you have vulnerable targets like this university, that are easy to get to, four guys who have been trained in weapons, in combat, can take over a school like this, just as we're vulnerable in this country, the same sort of attack.
By no means is this war going to get over quickly, you know, just because we -- the Baghdadi government took Tikrit, and there are certain gains across the Middle East. But at the end of the day, it seems to metastasize and move, you know, wherever there's a power vacuum.
BLITZER: Yes, it's a horrible situation. They ask if you're Christian or Muslim. If you're Christian, they kill you. If you're Muslim, they put you to the side. Awful, awful situation.
All right, guys. Stand by. Just ahead, the second black box from Flight 9525, it's now been found, but it's badly damaged. Will investigators get any useful information?
Plus, the incriminating new evidence found on the co-pilot's computer. And his desperate shuffle from doctor to doctor.
[18:44:17] BLITZER: Tonight we're getting a lot more information about the Flight 9525 investigation. There's now new evidence suggesting the co-pilot had been planning to crash a plane for some time, fearing he would lose his license to fly because of medical problems.
The second black box also has now been recovered from the crash site.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is working her sources. She's joining us live from Dusseldorf, Germany, with the very latest -- Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, sources I've been speaking to who are part of this investigation say it is becoming increasingly clear to investigators that Lubitz was very afraid, as you point out, to lose his pilot license because of all the medical issues he had been having in recent months. And they believed that he seized the moment as soon as the captain left the cockpit.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight, new evidence reveals Andreas Lubitz prepared to crash the plane in the Alps, allegedly searching the Internet in the days leading up to the crash for ways to commit suicide and the security of cockpit doors.
Today, a prosecutor said investigators found a tablet in Lubitz's apartment, including his browsing history from the week right before the crash. A European official tells CNN the new evidence shows Lubitz's actions were premeditated.
A French prosecutor today said Lubitz voluntarily brought the plane down.
BRICE ROBIN, FRANCE PROSECUTOR (through translator): To prevent the overspeed alarm, he would have had to have acted twice if the final minutes of the flight, not only the loss of altitude but also adjusting the speed of the plane. So, he was alive and conscious until impact, we are almost certain.
BROWN: Investigators today finally recovered the charred flight data recorder. It was found in the ground. The data will include information about whether the plane was on autopilot or whether Lubitz manned the controls all the way.
ROBIN (through translator): The speed of the plane, the altitude, the power of the engine, these elements are absolutely vital in order to ascertain the truth.
BROWN: A law enforcement source says after a severe depressive episode in 2009, Lubitz relapsed in late 2014. Just before the crash, Lubitz was shopping around for doctors, seeing at least five, including a sleep specialist, an eye doctor and a neuropsychologist. Lubitz apparently told some doctors he was fearful of losing his pilot license because of his medical issues. Investigators say that remains a leading motive for the deadly crash.
BROWN: And we have learned from a source in this investigation that he had had a lot of medications found in his apartment, including a very heavy depression medicine. But, Wolf, investigators talked to a pilot who flew with Lubitz the day before the crash. That pilot told investigators he acted totally normal. They had a regular conversation. There's still that big question mark as to why -- why he did what he did, Wolf.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown with some good reporting for us in Germany. Appreciate it very, very much.
Pamela, thank you.
Let's bring in our CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, our aviation analyst Peter Goelz, and the clinical neuropsychologist Gary Kay.
Tom, so, Lubitz was apparently researching cockpit doors, researching suicide, how to commit suicide, if you will. It all seems so premeditated, doesn't it?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it does. It also seems pretty unnecessary. He should have known that the cockpit door would be virtually impenetrable. It's common knowledge even without being a pilot. And then ways to commit suicide, well, given the way he did, how much research did that take?
BLITZER: He clearly didn't only want to kill himself, he wanted to kill everybody else on the plane, Gary, right?
GARY KAY, CLINICAL NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST: He knew there were people behind him. He was organized, alert, oriented. I mean, he was able to communicate with the captain, go through security, everything showed that he was with it that day.
BLITZER: Now, he didn't know -- it was a two-hour flight that they were on. But he didn't know the pilot, the lead pilot would have to go to the bathroom midway through an hour into that flight. What would have happened if he wouldn't have gone to the bathroom? Would he have just waited for another flight? What's your analysis?
KAY: I don't think we know. I mean, obviously, he had been studying what to do. This was a method that he had come up with that seemed to work. I mean, that cockpit door, we have to remember, in the case of the JetBlue plane, actually kept out of the cockpit a captain who was having a psychotic episode. So, it worked in favor of those passengers. This time, it worked very much against them.
BLITZER: Yes, he clearly was planning all of this. Peter Goelz, the investigators, they say they have found the
flight data recorder. The cockpit voice recorder they found pretty quickly. What will that the cockpit voice -- the flight data recorder show us that the voice recorder may not have shown us?
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, it's going to give us precisely the steps he took to drive that plane into the ground. When it is synced up with the voice recorder, you will have a second by second picture, including the sounds and the manipulation of the flight controls that will show us exactly what he did.
BLITZER: The data recorder, as you know, was badly burned in the crash. Is it possible investigators won't be able to retrieve the data from it?
GOELZ: No, the data recorder is very robust. It was scorched. The type of fire that damages or could damage a data recorder is a long, intense, high heat flame. That was not the case here. I think they'll be able to recover the data accurately and they'll be able to do it in a timely manner.
BLITZER: Let's wrap up this whole issue, Tom Fuentes, of the cell phone video that supposedly was taken over the last few seconds, if you will, of that flight. The publications, the German publication, the French publication, they're standing by it.
[18:50:02] I spoke to the editor of "Paris Match". He says he must have watched it a hundred times. He says it was maybe 20 to 30 seconds. They're not going to release it. They're not going to show it.
And he also said they didn't pay for it either, but they're not going to make it available to investigators because that could compromise potentially the source, how they got that information as journalists, they don't want to compromise that source.
Who do you believe in this case, the publications that say they have actually seen it or the investigators who say they're not sure, they don't believe it?
FUENTES: Wolf, I don't know how the investigators can prove a negative in this situation. How can they say it doesn't exist, because it might exist? You know, other SIM cards have been recovered in earlier crashes, have been recovered intact, in spite how horrific the crash might have been.
So, they can't say categorically that there is no existing SIM card. And whether these guys are lying or they're not, I don't think we're going to know for a while. But I think we will eventually.
BLITZER: It's a very, very disturbing development.
Tom Fuentes, Peter Goelz, Gary Kay -- guys, thank you very much.
Just ahead, will Congress ignore President Obama's warning about the dangers of killing a tentative nuclear deal with Iran? We'll have more on the breaking news in a moment.
[18:55:36] BLITZER: We're getting more reaction to the new tentative nuclear deal with Iran and what happens next.
Let's bring in our chief political analyst Gloria Borger, and our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny.
Gloria, is there going to be a problem the president might have with Congress --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
BLITZER: -- going along with this?
BORGER: Yes, there is.
Look, you've already got a lot of response from people like Senator John McCain raising questions about it, predictably. You've got Jeb Bush, a member of the 2016 field obviously raising questions about it, calling it a flawed agreement, saying nothing that he heard today would justify lifting sanctions.
But on the congressional level, what you've got is people saying, look, we just don't want to have oversight on this. We want to actually be able to review this and to vote on this and to approve of this.
Now, the president says he's got the authority to do this on his own and they say, "No, you don't." The president says, "This isn't a treaty, I can do this on my own." Who knows, it could end up in the courts, Wolf, for all we know.
But you've got Democrats saying you've got to go slow. And also unanswered questions, for example, when will sanctions be eased? There's no direct answer.
BLITZER: At some point the president will have to go to Congress, because congressionally mandated sanctions can only be eased by Congress. He can't do it by himself.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Of course, he talked in the Rose Garden today for 20 minutes beginning to make his case. But that's not enough. He'll probably have to do some type of an arrest to the American people.
But the first thing to watch for is on April 14th. That's when the Senate is going to vote on a bill that would require this 60-day review of this.
So, Democrats that I have spoken with as well as Republicans are also raising questions. So, it's not just Republicans on this. That's the White House's potential problem. But it's still -- it's very fragile but I think it would be hard pressed for me to see this Congress blocking something like this. BLITZER: Do you have any reaction yet, Gloria, from many of the
Republican presidential candidates?
BORGER: Yes. Jeb Bush has said it's a flawed agreement. Most of the -- those who have spoken today call it flawed. And so, you know, that's quite predictable.
In Congress, though, on the Democratic side, you have seven Democrats who have signed onto this legislation that Jeff was just talking about.
There's one another thing we have to consider here, which is the American public. Sixty percent of the American public believes that Congress ought to actually approve any kind of deal. They don't trust the president to do it on his own. They don't trust the Iranians to do it.
And, by the way, it's not that they love Congress, but this is kind of their balance of power argument here. And so, if Congress is asking to approve it, they right now have the American public on their side.
BLITZER: As you know, Jeff, a lot of Republicans are not happy with this deal, but there's a bunch of Democrats as well who have been very skeptical of what the president is trying to achieve.
ZELENY: No question. You said seven Democrats in the Senate.
But I think it is important to take stock of this moment for the president. This is one thing he campaigned on back in '07. He said he would open up a relationship with the -- specifically on Iran. He was mocked on this at the time.
So, this is part of legacy building. It's far too early to know if this deal is going to hold, of course. This is -- a lot has to happen between now and June. But I think this is a moment for this White House. This is a -- he has made his case on other things. I don't expect many more Democrats to raise questions. They know he wants this and they've got a lot more expected than any of us thought.
BLITZER: For the president and for Secretary Kerry, this potentially they see a legacy for them.
BORGER: Well, this is a total legacy issue. This could be the biggest diplomatic achievement of their administration as they see it.
And the irony here is that it rests on domestic politics with those same people that the president has been charged with not engaging enough over his presidency. Now, this legacy issue lands with them in the Congress.
BLITZER: Let's see if the Iranians now live up to their part of the deal.
BORGER: That's right. BLITZER: They've got to cross the T's, dot the I's over the next
three months. There's still a lot of work that has to be done but a major historic moment at least on this day. We'll see how it plays out.
Guys, thanks very much.
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