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Official: Suspect Killed in Boston Radicalized by ISIS; Threats Made to at Least Four Commercial Flights; Pentagon May Have Received Live Anthrax Shipment; More than 400 Missing After Cruise Ship Capsized. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 2, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:05] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now. Radicalized by ISIS, a suspect who is under surveillance by a terrorism task force is shot by police in Boston after allegedly waving a knife. Officials say he was part of a wider terror probe believed to be influenced by ISIS.
Bomb threats. Air traffic is disrupted after a new series of threats aimed at airliners as authorities scramble to trace the source, the TSA now under fire for a new series of failures at security check points.
Anthrax in the Pentagon. The Army's accident that has sent shock waves around the world now strikes home. A shipment of the potentially deadly bacteria sent to the Pentagon for testing purposes may have contained live material.
And cruise ship rescue. Hundreds of people are missing or trapped after a luxury ship is flipped upside down in a river, apparently hit by a tornado. An urgent rescue operation new under way.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: The breaking news. A suspect under surveillance by an FBI- led terrorism task force is shot dead in Boston after allegedly waving a large military knife at officers.
Officials say he'd been watched for years, and along with two associates, was believed to have been radicalized by ISIS.
This comes as the Senate has just voted overwhelmingly, 67-32, to back a measure reforming a controversial National Security Agency surveillance method trying to track terrorists by sifting through Americans' phone records.
I'll speak live with Congressman Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee; and our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with our CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. She's in Boston. She's on the scene. Elise, what's the latest on this man and his links to terror?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Boston Police Department and FBI just wrapped up a press conference a short time ago. They tell us that they were watching 26-year-old Usaama Rahim for some time. And we understand it's as long as two years as part of this joint terrorism task force.
Law enforcement sources are telling CNN's Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz that he was being watched because they thought he was being radicalized online by ISIS. And there was a growing concern that there could be a danger to law enforcement, an imminent danger. He was making new threats to police officers online. And so they thought it was a good time to question him, Wolf.
But the FBI and police officers that approached him today did not know that he was armed. They had no intention of arresting him. And then he pulled out about an eight-inch knife, started brandishing it at officers. The officers retreated. But when he started moving forward, they ended up shooting him in the abdomen and torso. Definitely didn't think it was going to end this way, Wolf.
BLITZER: The FBI, as you know, Elise, have been monitoring this man and other associates. What's known about his broader connections?
LABOTT: Well, they're saying that he could be part of some informal or ad hoc -- ad hoc terror network, not necessarily a full-fledged terror group working with an organization like ISIS or so. But a collection of like-minded individuals that could have been radicalized, could have been working together. Police said there have been no arrests, but we understand they are questioning two of his associates as part of the possible network, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to stay on top of this story, Elise. Thank you.
Meanwhile, new bomb threats were made to airliners today, and four flights were met upon arrival by U.S. law enforcement authorities. It's all the more troubling, because it came as the TSA is under a lot of fire right now for massive security lapses at airport checkpoints.
Let's bring in our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Rene, what are you learning?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a taxing situation for law enforcement in multiple states. This morning alone, we saw bomb threats to at least four commercial planes with passengers on board.
We had a United flight that was headed to Chicago, a Delta plane headed to Atlanta, a U.S. Airways flight headed to Philadelphia, and a fourth plane which had just left Portland, Oregon. and was headed for Mexico, all of them received bomb threats. Not just one airline, as you can see, targeted. In all cases, law enforcement arrived on the scene. There were bomb-
sniffing dogs. Passengers were deplaned. They found nothing in all of these occasions.
Of course, this comes on the heels of this Memorial Day we saw multiple bomb threats called in against other airliners, including an Air France flight. Again, none of these have been found to be credible. But in this day and age law enforcement officials say they're not taking anything for granted. So they have to check all of these out.
But really taxes the situation there as far as law enforcement in these local municipalities, Wolf.
BLITZER: And I remember yesterday another TSA-related story you broke, you reported here in THE SITUATION ROOM, this test that the Department of Homeland Security inspector general had 70 times they went to various screeners at U.S. airports. They had -- they had stuff that looked like explosive devices, pistols, ammunition or whatever. Of those 70 times, 67 they got through without a problem. And there's been dramatic action since that initial report.
MARSH: Absolutely. We're seeing a shakeup at the very top. We know the acting TSA administrator, Melvin Carraway, he is out. He has been reassigned. That word came late last night, and it was effective immediately.
Of course, all of this is in the same sort of timing that we talked about this undercover operation in which testers were essentially able to get weapons and fake explosives through the checkpoints.
CNN has learned today, though, that these testers were not even weapons experts. They were not law enforcement. They were not security. These were regular employers with the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general's office who were able to pull this off. So they didn't even have a certain level of expertise.
The changes that are coming into place, where that homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, has called for a couple of things. He wants the screening machines to be re-evaluated. He wants more training for TSA officers, and he also wants screening procedures revised.
BLITZER: Yes. I'm sure there's a lot of work they need to do. They need to do it right away. Thanks, Rene, very much.
After a furious debate, the U.S. Senate has just endorsed the bill reforming the National Security's Agency's most controversial surveillance programs. The measure already passed over -- overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives, will now go to the president for his signature.
The issue of bulk collection of phone data has bitterly divided Senate Republicans. Has made for some strange alliances back across party lines.
Let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She's up on Capitol Hill. So what's the latest there, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, after so much drama here. There was a rare Sunday session, a missed deadline that allowed these programs to go dark for two days.
The bipartisan bill that both the White House, House Republican leaders and Democrats supported passed without any problem. But it happened over the objections of the Senate majority leader, who said that this hurts national security.
BASH (voice-over): Mitch McConnell is rarely this animated.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: No content, no names, no listening to phone calls of law-abiding phone calls, none of that is going on.
BASH: But the Senate majority leader can't contain his exasperation, which started when his junior colleague from Kentucky McConnell endorsed for president launched a filibuster that derailed his plans on the Patriot Act.
MCCONNELL: Just today a CNN poll -- that's not exactly part of the right-wing conspiracy -- states that 61 percent of Americans, 61 percent of Americans think that the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act including, my colleagues, including data collection should be renewed. So if there's widespread concern out across America about privacy, we're not picking it up.
BASH: The Senate intelligence chairman warned about threats he says spy powers could stop.
SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: The terrorists aren't going away. America is still their target. No matter what we say on this floor, we're still in the crosshairs.
BASH: And this member of the Intelligence Committee was so perplexed, he was almost speaking in riddles.
SEN. DAN COATS (R), INDIANA: It's a devil's choice. Is something better than nothing, or is something really nothing and you end up with nothing and nothing?
BASH: As for Rand Paul, today he was silent, a no-show on the Senate floor after leading the charge against any surveillance programs, even those with reforms. He used it to energize his presidential campaign, and Democrats were quick to gloat about how much disarray it has caused the GOP.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL), MINORITY WHIP: We as senators are not here to serve as extras in a presidential campaign commercial.
BASH: Now, despite the fact that this bill is now going to go to the White House, because there were no changes that happened when the Senate passed it today, Wolf. It's still, we're told, going to take probably about three or four days for this data dragnet program to get back up and running because of technical and legal reasons.
BLITZER: Dana Bash up on the Hill. Thanks very much.
Let's circle back to our top story, the death in Boston of a suspect who was under surveillance by a Joint Terrorism Task Force. An official says the man who's been tracked for years was radicalized by ISIS. And the incident comes just as Congress moves to reform NSA surveillance methods.
Let's bring in the ranking Democrat, the top Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Adam Schiff of California is joining us life from Capitol Hill.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us. What can you tell us about this latest incident of another suspect allegedly influenced by ISIS one way or another, now shot and killed by police in Boston after allegedly brandishing a huge military knife?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, we don't know much about it yet. But I can tell you that, in the wake of these attacks that we've seen in France and in the United States, Canada and elsewhere, FBI is going back to look over with law enforcement anyone that was essentially a suspect, anyone that they thought was at risk of radicalization or had taken steps to done things to alert themselves to law enforcement.
This may have been a case of someone who had been of concern earlier, that they went back to interview and then brought out a knife. But I just don't know yet what brought law enforcement's attention to him.
BLITZER: We're also told, Congressman, that the Joint Terrorism Task Force had been watching not only this suspect but two other associates. Do you know anything about these other two associates, who they are? Are they still at large?
SCHIFF: I don't. We've been waiting to get briefed by the intelligence community, so we don't have much on it yet.
You know, this is, I think, at least in terms of what the law enforcement has said publicly, it appears to be this increasing phenomena of people who are radicalized, often through social media at a distance. They're not necessarily people under command and control of ISIS, who are al Qaeda, but nonetheless are inspired by the broader claims of these terrorist organizations to attack law enforcement or attack military targets. So that may be very well what is at stake here.
BLITZER: Because obviously, what would be of great concern if these individuals were part of a bigger cell. Based on what you know right now, you have no indication that there is a bigger cell still at large connected to this one individual who was shot and killed by police in Boston today? SCHIFF: Wolf, I just don't know. So I'm not sure I could tell you in
either direction. But obviously, that's the first concern that law enforcement has, and that is this person part of a broader group? What links do we have to others? So I'm sure that law enforcement and the intelligence community is chasing that down right now.
BLITZER: I want to continue our conversation, Congressman. I want to take a quick break. We'll talk about what the U.S. Senate has just done as far as NSA surveillance. We'll talk about ISIS, what's going on, much more with the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, when we come back.
[17:17:08] BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news up on Capitol Hill. The Senate just voted 67-32 to reform National Security Agency domestic surveillance programs.
And in a tweet just now, President Obama promised to sign it into law as soon as he gets the bill. It was passed overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives earlier.
We're back with the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California.
I know you strongly support this compromise version that the House passed, now the Senate passed. Now the president says he will sign it into law.
But the collection of all this bulk data, it's now -- it's now going to be retained by telecommunications firms, whether AT&T or Verizon or whatever. But there's no -- there's no limit how long they have to keep this information, is there? They could get rid of it in six weeks or six months, whatever they want.
SCHIFF: Well, there's an FCC requirement that they hold on to their data for 18 months. And I think the practice has been, for many of them, to hold it considerably longer than that.
But you're right, Wolf. Apart from that FCC requirement, which may not cover the full range of what we're talking about, there is no legal requirement. That was something that was debated in the Senate and earlier in the House. But a retention mandate was something that the technology companies strongly opposed, and it was not a part of this legislation.
BLITZER: There were multiple threats made against airlines today, over the weekend, these bomb threats, if you will. None of them have proven to be credible. But it's just a continuation of what we've seen in recent weeks.
Congressman Peter King, one of your Republican colleagues, told us recently that there has been some ISIS chatter about carrying out these types of hoax bomb threats in order to disrupt U.S. airlines, maybe even as a way to test the response if they're planning something much more sinister, deadly. What do you know about these hoaxes, these threats?
SCHIFF: Well, I would say a couple of things. I think Peter is right that ISIS, al Qaeda, they know how much they can disrupt our lives, how much they can distract the law enforcement intelligence community resources by posting things just urging people to attack or posting lists of military personnel or taking other steps that maybe they have no intention of following through on. But nonetheless occupy a lot of our time, energy and resources.
At the same time, you have other people, frankly, quite sick people who get some kind of a perverse kick out of these hoaxes. And you might remember, Wolf, long before these recent threats of bombing aircraft, how many of the anthrax phony hoaxes there were. In fact, we took up legislation to try to raise the penalties for those who commit these hoaxes.
So they've been with us for a long time. We're seeing a new iteration, but we're also, as you mentioned, seeing, I think, terror groups recognize they can disrupt us and distract us by these hoaxes.
BLITZER: And if it's just a bunch of jerks out there or a jerk thinking he's having or she's having some fun, they may not realize this is a serious crime, Congressman. This is a felony. They could go to a jail for a long time, right?
SCHIFF: Absolutely. Because the degree to which it disrupts law enforcement, the costs of even these idle threats over the phone, and some of them, I think, have been traced domestically in the past, they put law enforcement to great cost and obviously are quite nerve- wracking for the personnel involved.
BLITZER: Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is reporting that the Pentagon is now investigating whether live anthrax was actually brought into the Pentagon building itself. There's been a huge, huge uproar in recent days over the fact that live anthrax apparently was sent to various U.S. military bases, including a military base in Korea, maybe in Australia. What can you tell us about this? It's very disturbing.
SCHIFF: Well, it is very disturbing. And I think that investigation is still going on. So there's not a lot I can add at this point.
But you're absolutely right. I guess these samples were widely dispersed. It was felt that they were inert, and I guess there are indications that not all of them were. So I'm not sure how this happened. But you can imagine the consternation on the receiving end, as well as on the sending end when it was learned that some of these samples may have been live anthrax.
BLITZER: Very disturbing.
Let's talk a little bit about ISIS right now. As you know, there's a coalition of countries, including the United States, of course, meeting in Paris today to talk about how to fight ISIS, especially in Iraq and Syria. The central Iraqi government is there. Haider al-Abadi, the prime
minister, is attending. But it's pretty shocking, at least to me, and I want to get your reaction, that no representatives, Kurdish representatives from Kurdistan, who are obviously the Peshmerga fighters -- they're fighting ISIS in Northern Iraq. They were simply not even invited. They were not brought along by the government of Iraq, the government of Haider al-Abadi. Should they have been included in this meeting of the coalition partners determining ways to fight ISIS?
SCHIFF: I certainly think should have been included. They've been playing a vital role in Iraq, as well as in Syria. As you might imagine, there may have been Iraqi sensitivities they were worried about in giving them a seat at the table, as if they were an independent country.
Similarly, the Turks may have been concerned about having a presence there. But nonetheless, these groups like the Kurds that are doing the fighting, doing the dying out there, I think deserve to be represented.
And this is something that I think we have to push very hard on more generally, Wolf. And that is the Iraqi government in particular needs to make efforts to fully bring in the Kurds and the Sunnis, to make sure that both are armed well and have the capacity to fight ISIS. And in particular with respect to the Sunnis, until we can persuade those Sunni tribes to peel away from ISIS, this war against ISIS is never going to be finished.
BLITZER: Yes. I think a lot of people are quickly losing a whole lot of confidence in this new Iraqi government if today's example of preventing the Kurds from attending this coalition meeting is an example. They've got a lot of work to do to reassure the world that they're part of the problem -- part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, the U.S. Army's anthrax accident now striking very close to home. A shipment of the potentially deadly bacteria, as we just noted, actually sent to the Pentagon. It may have contained live material. This is very worrisome.
And a cruise ship, apparently hit by a tornado, flips over in a river. Hundreds of people are missing or trapped, and a desperate rescue operation is under way right now.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:28:20] BLITZER: Some more now on the breaking news we're following with the death in Boston of a suspect who was under surveillance by a terrorism task force. An official says the man, who had been tracked for years, was radicalized by ISIS. This incident comes just as Congress moves to reform NSA surveillance methods.
Let's bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez, our CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's a former FBI assistant director; and former CIA operative Bob Baer, our CNN intelligence and security analyst. Evan, what can you tell us? What are you hearing from your sources about this suspect shot today in Boston?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Wolf, they -- the FBI and the Boston police who are part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Boston, had noticed changes in his behavior recently, I'm told.
We're told that they had seen some of his postings, some of the social media postings and, frankly, some of people he was associating with. And they had increasing concerns that perhaps he was moving from just being radicalized by ISIS, perhaps consuming some of the propaganda that we hear so much about and moving towards perhaps carrying out or planning an attack.
So that's the reason why the officers today and the FBI went to try to talk to him. They certainly didn't expect him to have that reaction that he had, taking out a knife and prompting the officers to shoots him.
Now, Wolf, he's just one of hundreds of people like this that the FBI said they are now keeping an eye on, especially in light of the attack last month in Garland, Texas.
BLITZER: What do we know about the two associates, Evan, the two associates of this suspect that were also apparently under surveillance by the Joint Terrorism Task Force?
[17:30:05] PEREZ: That's right. They were also just being watched by the FBI. There was no plan, really, to go after them today. Certainly, if the interaction with Usaama Rahim had gone differently, then perhaps they would not have been picked up today. But now they're being questioned. We know that there have been searches done by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force there.
We expect, Wolf -- right now there's no charges against them, but we expect to hear more about them in the coming day or so.
BLITZER: Let me bring Tom Fuentes in, former FBI assistant director. Usaama Rahim, he is now dead, this suspect. Two associates, they were being under surveillance, as well. Could this hurt, basically hurt the FBI's surveillance program if they were on to something potentially even bigger?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it could be. But they have to make a hard decision, Wolf. At what point do you approach somebody? You know, if he's carrying around a six- or eight- inch military knife, he could plunge that into anybody, a bus driver, a police officer, a passenger on a bus, and that would take about a tenth of a second for him to act with nobody there to prevent it.
So there comes a time when you make a decision that you have to check this person out. You have to at least talk to them. And then he pulls the knife, sure enough; pulls the knife out, starts the attack, and they gun him down.
So even if it's not the best outcome you want, you'd want to be able to talk to him. You'd want to be able to follow him and see if you the whole conspiracy identified. You don't have much choice in some of these. You have to make a hard call.
BLITZER: That's a good point.
And Bob, as you know, three possible suspects under surveillance, one now dead. The fear is they could have been part of a bigger plot, right?
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, exactly, Wolf. You know, we have to keep in mind when the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force puts somebody under surveillance, it's an enormous amount of resources, probably 20 people per guy, you know, if you're following him on the street. If there's three of them, you just count them up; it's hundreds of people.
So they had to have some good evidence against him that they were going to go operational. They were more than just on Twitter, you know, following the war in Iraq and Syria. They had a good reason to approach these guys. And let's don't forget, in spite of all of the police shootings, that FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force are not trigger happy. They -- I have no doubt felt under threat at this point, and that's why they shot the guy.
BLITZER: What do we know about this guy, Usaama Rahim? What kind of background does he have? What was he doing? What do we know about him?
PEREZ: We don't know much about his background as yet. We know CNN spoke to his brother, who says that he's an imam here on the West Coast, Wolf. And he says that they were -- they had some concern. I guess he was expecting to be talked to by the FBI. He called his father while waiting before he went into this parking lot where he was finally approached by the officers.
You know, I want to just add to what Bob just talked about. You know, I keep talking to law enforcement officials, Wolf, who keep telling me that they've not had a certain -- at this level of a height of threat that they've noticed, as we have right now. The heightened threat, especially after Garland, it's leading the FBI to do different things.
They're shaking the trees more, so to speak. They're trying to talk to people, because they don't know when people are going from just consuming some of this propaganda in the media by the ISIS and actually trying to carry out an attack. That's what happened in Garland. And they don't want that to happen again.
BLITZER: Well, you worked at the FBI, Tom. You agree?
FUENTES: Absolutely. This is a case where they would be looking at the metadata phone records. Who have these guys been in contact with by telephone, texting and phone calls, e-mails going back two, three years? Who are the greater number of people involved in this conspiracy? That's why they're collecting that data, so they can go back and expand the investigation and see if there are more people involved.
BLITZER: That's going to be a little bit more complicated now. Because a compromised version passed the Senate today, already passed the House.
FUENTE: It may become out and out impossible. With two or 3,000 phone companies in this country, they're not going to be able to issue the subpoenas; they're not going to be able to issue those requests on weekends like they can do now with NSA. So all of this rhetoric about that program, it is not going to be the same if the legislation goes through that's proposed now.
BLITZER: Well, it's going to go through. It passed the House, now passed the Senate. The president of the United States has already tweeted that he's anxious to sign it into law in the next few days. So it's a done deal.
FUENTES: Well, a couple years from now, don't call it an intelligence failure when the authorities can't go back and identify a greater conspiracy. It's just one or the other. You know, and it's true. If people want the privacy, OK, but then just accept this is what goes with that.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by for a moment.
Bob, I want to talk a little bit about this other story we're watching right now. Very disturbing: multiple bomb threats made against airliners today, over the weekend. None of them so far have proven to be credible, but it's certainly disrupting air traffic.
[17:35:00] Congressman Peter King told us last week that there has been some ISIS chatter about carrying these types of hoaxes out. What's the appeal for ISIS in essentially making prank phone calls, threatening -- threatening bombs on these planes?
BAER: Wolf, it's a propaganda war. They want to scare us; they want to make us anxious. We already are, but they want to heighten that.
And their message is basic. If you come after us in the Middle East, we'll come after your airplanes; we'll come after your cities. They are trying to scare us into not getting involved in the Middle East.
And I think some of these threats they can carry out. I don't know about airplanes. But the more we stay on edge, the more they win.
BLITZER: What if it's just some jerky kid, Tom Fuentes, who thinks this is fun to disrupt airline traffic, planes coming in, an Air France plane coming into JFK, having to be escorted by F-15s or F-16 fighter jets coming in? It's obviously not only disruptive; it's worrisome; it's expensive. Somebody who does that, even if that person is doing it as a hoax, for the fun of it, supposedly, that person could wind up in jail for a long time.
FUENTES: Well, they could if you could identified them. BLITZER: How difficult is it to find them?
FUENTES: Very difficult.
BLITZER: Why is that difficult?
FUENTES: Because there's so many ways to send an anonymous message. Somebody can go to a pay phone and phone one in. You're going to land the airplane. Somebody can go, you know, using an Internet cafe or something where they can't be identified as the Internet owner or the Internet holder of the account. There's all kinds of ways to phone these things in, send these threats in, bring the aircraft to the ground, cause the searches, cause the disruption.
Don't forget: After 9/11, it wasn't just the crashing of the aircraft and the killing of the people that did damage to our economy. U.S. aviation came to a screeching halt for weeks. No airplanes in the sky. That disrupted business, tourism, you name it, students getting to school, restaurant business, hotels. Here in Washington, the area around Reagan National Airport was like a deserted zone for a month. So they can disrupt our economy without having to actually kill people.
BLITZER: I remember those days vividly. All right. Tom Fuentes, thanks very much. Bob Baer, Evan Perez, thanks to you, as well.
This important note to our viewers. Please be sure to watch our SITUATION ROOM special report "ISIS: What Should the U.S. Do Now?" That airs tonight. Tonight, 9 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
And just ahead, breaking news in the anthrax scandal. Live anthrax may have been shipped to the Pentagon. We have details.
And we're also following the search for more than 400 people missing after a tornado hit a cruise ship.
BLITZER: CNN's learned the Pentagon may have received one of the shipments of live anthrax from a lab in Utah. Let's get the very latest on the investigation. Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is standing by.
What are you learning about these shipments, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a growing story we first reported last week. The Army sent shipments of anthrax around the country to various facilities, supposed to be for research and testing. All of the anthrax was supposed to be irradiated, killed off and essentially dead. But several samples may have actually been live anthrax.
Now today CNN has broken the news that one of the questionable samples came to the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, the Pentagon police force that protects the building. They got the sample. They were supposed to be using it to calibrate their chem-bio detection gear. Now the Pentagon investigating, trying to figure out, we are told,
whether the sample they got, No. 1, was it actually dead or was it live anthrax like other samples? And did that anthrax ever come into the Pentagon? Did it remain outside or did someone bring it in to work on calibrating that equipment?
This is just part of the story, Wolf. Let's go to a map very quickly. There are a dozen states across the country now where questionable shipments have been made. Three countries: Australia, Canada and South Korea. And Maryland is already the state that has reported one of its labs confirmed to have gotten these live anthrax samples.
Just to underscore where we are, it was three hours ago that CNN broke the news that a sample had come to the Pentagon police agency, the Pentagon police that protect this building. And so far, three hours later, no official word from the Pentagon about any of this -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Are they making major changes to deal with this at the Pentagon, Barbara?
STARR: Well, what we are hearing from our sources is the question now being asked by the Pentagon, by the Centers for Disease Control: why are so many samples of anthrax, so many shipments around the country being made? They are already trying to review more than 30 samples. Thirty people are already on protective medical treatment. They have to figure out what happened here, what went wrong -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They certainly do. All right, Barbara. Thank you.
Coming up, we'll get an update on the room-to-room search for survivors aboard a cruise ship that capsized when it was hit by a tornado. More than 400 people are now missing.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news, the ongoing search for survivors on a capsized cruise ship. More than 400 passengers were aboard when a ship apparently was hit by a tornado, went down in China's Yangtze River.
Let's bring in Brian Todd. He's taking a closer look.
What are you learning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, hundreds, maybe thousands of Americans take cruises along this stretch of the Yangtze River every year. We've been speaking with veteran rescuers, diving experts who are telling us tonight just what those divers are up against. One expert says the positive factors are that the water is shallow and warm. But he says everything else is working against them.
TODD (voice-over): A desperate search for any signs of life inside the Eastern Star. Divers battled the swirling currents of China's Yangtze River. This diver found someone alive.
[17:50:05] GWAN DONG, RESCUE DIVER (Through Translator): I swam back and forth three times. And by the third time I felt somebody was there above me. As soon as I got out of the water, I noticed the trapped victim. It was pitch dark with just him inside the cabin and nobody else.
TODD: The hull of the capsized passenger ship is exposed. Rescuers tapped on the hull with hammers, and a local newspaper reports they heard responses from inside. But veteran divers say these teams have a difficult and very dangerous task.
CAPT. GREGG BAUMANN, DIRECTOR OF DIVING, U.S. NAVY: Just trying to get into the vessel is going to be difficult and let alone trying to explore the ship. And for divers who have probably never been in this ship before, going into the ship for the first time when you can't see, you're going by hand over hand.
TODD: Captain Gregg Baumann is director of diving for the U.S. Navy. He says the divers in this operation have almost no visibility given the sediment and pollution of the Yangtze. Another danger here, where a ferry might have bigger, more open spaces, this is a passenger ship with small cabins.
BAUMANN: There's just a lot of those spaces that you have to go and inspect. And trying to inspect an entire space takes time.
TODD: In those tight spaces with little visibility, the disorientation of darkness and everything being upside down.
(On camera): Much more likely for a diver to get caught on something or maybe trapped in there, right?
BAUMANN: Absolutely. And the diver, as much as the harness and the umbilical is there to save the diver and provide the diver an unlimited amount of air, it is easy to get entangled on things.
TODD (voice-over): Other options are limited. Could holes be drilled into the hole to try to get oxygen or lifelines to potential survivors? One expert says that's a dangerous proposition.
TIM TAYLOR, MARINE OPERATIONS EXPERT: All it will do is vent the air off and the water will rush in and the people will die. So if there's air pocket in there you want to maintain those air pockets.
TODD: But pumping air in through hoses Tim Taylor says could work.
TAYLOR: It will get air into pockets where people could potentially survive, and it will give lift to the ship. So it helps bring it up out of the water a little bit.
TODD: Experts say another factor working against these teams, the majority of the passengers on that ship are between 50 and 80 years old. At those ages, prolonged exposure to the water, to the other elements reduces chances for survival, Wolf, and they're up against it with time now. It's been several hours.
BLITZER: So we understand the captain actually did get off alive. Is there any suggested dereliction of duty or anything along that nature?
TODD: It's one thing you look at because of what happened with that Korean ferry, the Sewol, last year. Experts say that the captain is supposed to tend to the passengers on the ship. It's his duty to make that they -- try to make sure that they get off safely. But one rescue specialist told us tonight you've got to hold off on that judgment for now because there was a storm.
The captain may have been on the deck trying to solve some of the problems. He may have gotten knocked overboard by this tornado or whatever else hit that ship. So you've got to hold off judgment tonight. But it is something they've got to look at.
BLITZER: All right. Brian Todd, thanks very much. I actually want to go over to the rescue efforts under way right now.
CNN's David McKenzie is right near the scene of the disaster. It's just daybreak over there. What's the latest over there, David? How does it look?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if you can hear me, I lost you there but here on the scene at the Yangtze River, there is scores of soldiers coming in to try and help with the situation. It has been more than 24 hours since the ship went down. And certainly the prospects are looking very dim indeed whether any survivors can be pulled out.
We've been kept back from the main search staging area by the Chinese military. In fact, there's a heavy military presence in this region. They say that they've confirmed there was a tornado that hit this vessel, which pushed it over extremely quickly. And that's contributing to potentially the lack of survivors and the grim news.
Several hundred are still missing, most of them elderly, on board this vessel. And as the hours tick by, the prospect of pulling anyone out of this murky water in dangerous diving conditions is worrisome indeed -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly looks grim indeed.
David McKenzie on the scene for us. Thank you.
I want to bring in the former managing director of the NTSB, our CNN analyst, Peter Goelz.
Peter, it looks grim right now. What is your analysis?
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I think it's going to be a very tough accident. I think if we haven't recovered people already, there is very high probability we're only going to recover perhaps a few miraculous survivors.
BLITZER: Could a tornado like this actually tip that boat over? GOELZ: Well, it depends on the design of the boat. You know, we saw
in the Korean ferry accident that there were design changes to the boat that made it unstable. They had not correctly lashed down their vehicles. But in this case, they're going to look very carefully at the stability of the boat. And the Chinese authorities are going to be very tough on this investigation.
BLITZER: Certainly will be. We're going have more on this in the next hour.
Peter, stand by for that.
Also coming up, a suspect who is under surveillance by a terrorism task force is shot by authorities in Boston. Officials now say he was part of a wider terror probe believed to be influenced by ISIS.
[17:55:03] And air traffic disrupted. A new series of bomb threats aimed at airliners here in the United States. Who is behind the threats?
BLITZER: Happening now, terror suspect killed. Boston police and the FBI open fire on man believed to be radicalized by ISIS. We're learning more about his threatening moves with a large knife and why he was being tracked by the FBI.
Flights targeted. New bomb threats are revealed and air traffic is disrupted as the TSA reels from a huge shakeup. Tonight grave concerns about the ability of airport screeners to detect hidden explosives or weapons.
[18:00:08] Deadly cruise disaster. Hundreds are missing after a tornado hits and flips a passenger ship.