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THE SITUATION ROOM
Crime in Baltimore; Government Agency Hacked; Interview With State Department Senior Adviser Marie Harf; Rick Perry Launches Comeback GOP Presidential Bid. Aired 18-19:00p ET
Aired June 4, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Massive cyber-attack. A U.S. government agency is hacked. Four million people could be affected, their personal information now at risk. Is China to blame?
Desperate for drugs. Baltimore police say stolen narcotics are fueling the surge in violent crime. Why is the city reeling from one crisis to another?
And sweating it out. Republican Rick Perry appears to feel the heat as he launches his second presidential bid. Can the former Texas governor make a comeback after crushing mistake four years ago?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We're getting two breaking stories tonight. We're getting new information about a massive cyber-attack on the U.S. government. The personal data of four million federal employees has been compromised. Tonight, "The Wall Street Journal" and "The Washington Post" are both reporting the cyber-attack originated in China.
Also breaking, the influence on the terror plots in Boston, sources now telling CNN ISIS members overseas were encouraging the attack, communicating with at least one man who was linked to the plot to kill police officers and behead a critic of Islam.
State Department senior adviser Marie Harf, she's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We will talk about the ISIS threat and more.
And our correspondents, analysts, they are also standing by as we cover all the breaking news.
First, let's go to our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. She's covering the terror plot. She's on the scene in Boston -- Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, learning tonight from U.S. officials I have speaking with that known ISIS terrorists were communicating online from overseas with at least one of the men involved in this alleged terrorism conspiracy here in Boston, encouraging him, driving him to launch an attack here in the U.S., this as we're learning about an ominous phone call by one of the men that put law enforcement on heightened alert Tuesday morning.
BROWN (through translator): CNN has learned, shortly before Usaama Rahim allegedly pulled a knife on police officers Tuesday morning, he made a phone call to his father to say his goodbyes, the call overheard by investigators who had been monitoring his e-mail and phone activity, putting Rahim, seen here in a high school photo, under round-the-clock surveillance about 10 days ago.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans:
(on camera): So, what made you go from, OK, this guy could be aspirational to operational?
WILLIAM EVANS, BOSTON POLICE COMMISSIONER: The language we were picking up. You know, let's get a boy in blue. And we couldn't let him out of our sight. When it looked like he was going operational, that we stepped into action.
BROWN (voice-over): Law enforcement was fearful he was about to board a bus with military knives they knew he'd ordered from Amazon just last week, and that's why officials say they approached him outside of this CVS in Boston.
EVANS: We didn't want to get him on the MBTA bus, because he very well could have acted out on the bus. But we knew the urgency was there that we had to get to him.
BROWN: Rahim was heard on wiretap Tuesday morning allegedly planning to attack law enforcement after abandoning plans to go to New York to behead controversial activist Pamela Geller.
Court documents say Rahim met on a Rhode Island beach this past Sunday with a relative, David Wright, to discuss the beheading plot. Wright was arrested and appeared in court Wednesday. And today law enforcement was still outside the Rhode Island home of a third person who was part of that beach discussion. Authorities have questioned that person already, but have not said who it is.
(on camera): You have him saying on these wiretaps allegedly what he wanted to go after the boys in blue, that he wanted to go to New York and behead Pamela Geller. Why wasn't he arrested before this?
EVANS: It might be hearsay. It might be just small talk. Urgency of it really came to light on Tuesday morning that this is real. When the knives got delivered, the whole talk of a vacation, and which was code for violent jihad.
BROWN (voice-over): The FBI says the men were radicalized by ISIS. Tonight, we're learning the terrorist group encouraged the men to carry out an attack.
Now, for the first time, Rahim's mother and other family members through their attorney are saying that's news to them. RONALD SULLIVAN, ATTORNEY FOR RAHIM FAMILY: That comes as an
absolute surprise to the family. They had not perceived any conduct or change in demeanor with Usaama consistent with those reports.
BROWN: The police commissioner said today that he believes that this conspiracy is contained to these three individuals. But, as far as we know, Wolf, that third individual in Rhode Island has not been arrested. We know that it is still a very active investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Pamela, thank you, Pamela Brown in Boston.
Now, tonight, law enforcement officials are also scrambling to identify other ISIS sympathizers here in the United States. They fear their numbers are growing rapidly, along with the danger of yet more attacks.
Brian Todd is looking into this part of the story.
What are you finding out, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, new information tonight, very disturbing from U.S. officials. They're telling us of a surge in the number of ISIS sympathizers inside the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul just told us that, in the past year, they have, without a doubt, he says, seen what he calls a precipitous rise in ISIS sympathizers at home, he says numbering in the thousands.
U.S. officials are scrambling to track them. And they have got to comb through massive volumes of social media postings to do it, everything from people considered passive followers, those who post pro-ISIS messages, the image you're seeing here on social media, photos of themselves wearing ISIS logos.
There was one sympathizer who displayed an ISIS logo on a phone just a few feet from the White House, with a tweet saying -- quote -- "We are here, America, near our target." But they, of course, have to track those sympathizers who are operational, like this Boston terror suspect, Usaama Rahim.
He was raised, schooled in the United States. Officials said he had been radicalized by ISIS prior to being confronted by police. You also have Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, both also raised in the United States. They were shot and killed by law enforcement in Garland, Texas, last month as they tried to attack a Prophet Mohammed contest.
Analysts Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, who tracks the Americans who have been radicalized, says those men are examples of a trend in America that goes beyond the passive following of ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: There's definitely an increase in ISIS activity. This goes back to last year.
You have had, though, in recent weeks and months, an increase in people who are taking action specifically for ISIS. You had a few last year, and lately you have seen much more of a spike.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Evidence of that spike, the Justice Department tells us there have been at least 32 court cases over the past two years of people in the United States accused of trying to provide material support to ISIS -- Wolf.
BLITZER: There could be a dangerous next step here as well, right, Brian?
TODD: That's right. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross worries that ISIS operatives overseas who are communicating with their followers here in the U.S. are going to go beyond just encouraging them to actually selecting targets. There are suspicions that that's already happened. But of course ISIS often uses encrypted communication with its followers in the U.S., so that's harder for law enforcement to intercept.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very much.
I want to get to some breaking news now on a huge cyber-attack against the United States government, an attack that could affect four million federal employees.
Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is digging into this story for us and the information that's coming out is very, very worrisome.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's very worrisome, Wolf.
But the initial suspicion is always with these types of hacks is that it comes from China, simply because, according to intelligence and law enforcement officials we have been talking to, it appears the Chinese government, the Chinese military is building some kind of database of prominent Americans.
Particularly of interest here is the fact that we're talking about four million current and former American government workers, people who are in this database system for the Office of Personnel Management. According to OPM, they now are in the process of notifying four million people that their personal information may have been compromised as part of this hack.
We don't know how far along this hack was when it was discovered. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there's a system that was developed with OPM to try to detect when massive flows of data are coming out of their system. And they say that system called EINSTEIN is what helped detect this hack had taken place, that this breach had taken place.
What now happens, Wolf, is the FBI's investigating and the OPM is going to help pay for credit monitoring to make sure that these people's information is not stolen and used in a malicious way.
BLITZER: And let's be precise. These four million federal employees, they're spread out all over the federal government. They don't just work in the Office of Personnel Management.
BLITZER: They could work in the Pentagon. They could work in the State Department. They could work in the Department of Commerce, Homeland Security, the intelligence community.
PEREZ: Right. Exactly.
BLITZER: Because a lot of that personal information about these federal employees, that has to be shared with the Office of Personnel Management, OPM, in order to make the government work.
PEREZ: That's right. And that's the ingenious nature of the hack is that you're going through the central nervous system really of the federal government employee system.
And so with this, you can get access to a lot of people, some people in sensitive government positions, for instance, who you might have an interest in if you're a foreign intelligence service. And that's one thing that may be at work here, Wolf.
In the past, in the old days, Russians and other intelligence systems simply went to universities and tried to figure out who was of interest for them to spy on. Here, what they're doing is simply just vacuuming large amounts of information from government agencies.
We saw the hack of the State Department, the White House. Those were for national security secrets. This appears to be more of the nature of economic espionage and perhaps building a database.
BLITZER: Yes. So, even if you're a federal employee in the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Housing or Health or whatever, your information potentially could have been hacked by these hackers.
PEREZ: Right. Absolutely.
BLITZER: All right, this is a very disturbing development.
Evan, thanks very much, Evan Perez reporting for us.
Tonight, there's other information we're getting on ISIS terrorists and they're using a powerful weapon against their enemies in the scorching desert. They have actually closed off a critical dam in Iraq, cutting off water to towns loyal to the government in Baghdad.
Let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He's working this very disturbing story for us.
What is going on, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, basically what you have here is ISIS using these dams as a weapon or as a potential weapon.
Let's talk about the Ramadi dam here and why it's important. It's key, one, simply for water. It's the water supply downstream. This is the Euphrates River. And these are two towns downstream from Ramadi, which ISIS now controls, that are controlled by Iraqi security forces. So the idea of cutting off the water there would, of course, put them under stress.
It's also this. If you block this dam, it drains these marshes here, which allow them to advance across what would normally be impassable areas to attack those towns. The problem is that downstream further, you have Fallujah. That is also under ISIS control. So, the problem is, you couldn't cut off water to these guys without affecting these guys, but it is something that they could use if they were able to assault Fallujah down the road.
I just want to bring up one other dam, because this is one that we talked about earlier in the year. You will remember the fight for the Mosul dam up here. Why is that so important? Because behind the Mosul dam is an enormous reservoir. And this is why U.S. forces, as well as Iraqi forces, were so intent on getting this back, because if you were to breach that dam, it would put all these cities downstream, not just Mosul, but further downstream.
That gets you into Baghdad, which is just downriver as well. That is now -- the Mosul dam is now under control of Iraqi forces. But it's the kind of infrastructure that is extremely important in this country. And now one of those is now again in ISIS hands -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Sciutto reporting for us, thanks very much.
I want to get some more on what's going on.
Joining us now is the State Department senior adviser for strategic communications, Marie Harf.
Marie, thanks very much for coming in.
Is this going to change U.S. strategy, the fact that ISIS now controlling this area in Anbar province, Ramadi, this huge dam? They potentially could cut off water to elements in Iraq friendly to the United States. What's the impact?
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISER: Well, it's not going to change the strategy. And, as Jim Sciutto just mentioned, we have seen before Iraqi
forces take action at the Mosul dam, but also at the Haditha dam, to make sure they remained in Iraqi hands, in Iraqi government hands. Look, ISIL has said and they have shown in the past that they're willing to use water as a weapon, which really, as we know, hurts these civilian populations.
They have no regard for that. So, the Iraqis have been very focused on this for some time.
BLITZER: And do you think the Iraqi military has the capability to deal with this, because they have been pretty inept so far?
HARF: Well, I would remind people that they retook Mosul dam. They retook the Haditha dam.
They have capabilities that they have used when it comes to this kind of resource. But you're right. This is a tough challenge and this could take some time.
BLITZER: All right, so, one of your bosses, the deputy secretary of state, Tony Blinken, he caused a bit of a stir by suggesting, throwing out a number that the U.S. airstrikes over the past nearly one year have killed 10,000 ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
What was his point? What was he trying to show? Because people say that this is reminiscent of the body counts during the Vietnam War, which proved to be so unreliable, discredited.
HARF: Right. Well, not at all.
And, look, for months, we have been saying that we have taken out thousands of ISIL fighters. So, we have really been saying this for months. This is an estimate based on the best information we have. But what he was saying was really putting it into a broader context.
This is only one metric you look at when you're fighting this kind of conflict that we're engaged in. But it's certainly not the most important one. There's a whole range of ways we look at this, whether it's territory taken, whether it's finances cut off, whether it's the fact that over 30 countries have now criminalized fighting with a foreign terrorist organization.
It's just one piece of how we look at this fight against ISIL certainly. And it's not the most important one. It's just an interesting one, I think.
BLITZER: I want you to listen to this from the House speaker, John Boehner, extremely critical of the Obama administration strategy right now. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think we're losing ground to ISIL in Iraq and frankly in Syria as well. And I don't think that's any surprise to -- shouldn't be any surprise to anyone. We have been operating without an overarching strategy to deal with this terrorist threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is ISIS winning right now?
HARF: Well, I don't think you will find it surprising that I disagree with the comments that Speaker Boehner just made.
Overall, if you look at the territory in Iraq, the coalition has helped Iraqi forces actually take back quite a bit of territory from ISIL, pushed them out of those areas. There have been gains. There have also been setbacks, as we saw in Ramadi.
But we're only nine months into what is really a multiyear strategy. And these things, as we have always said, are going to take time. So, we have a strategy in place. We have five lines of effort. Only one of them is military. And we feel like we're going to keep pushing on all of them. There will be setbacks, but we have had some gains. But I think when it comes to just territory in Iraq, we have seen some progress there.
BLITZER: We have got a lot more to discuss, Marie. I'm going to take a quick break.
When we come back, we will talk about Iran, its nuclear program, some comments, some tweets actually that you have made that have caused a bit of a stir as well.
Much more with Marie Harf when we come back.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news, a massive cyber-attack on the United States government, the Office of Personnel now saying that the personal data of four million federal employees here in the United States may have been compromised.
Tonight, "The Wall Street Journal" and "The Washington Post," they are reporting this cyber-attack originated in China.
We're back with the State Department senior adviser Marie Harf.
You're a federal employee. First of all, do you know, did the cyber-attack that the Office of Personnel Management is now reporting, did it originate in China?
HARF: Well, I know the FBI and DHS and others are still looking into the exact origins and really trying to get a handle on exactly what's going on. And we just don't have more to share publicly at this time.
BLITZER: But you know, without sharing it publicly, that it did or didn't originate in China?
HARF: I think they're still trying to get all the details here, really dig into what happened. And as we have more to say publicly, I think we will.
BLITZER: Were these just Chinese hackers or were they working with the Chinese government, if you know?
HARF: Well, again, FBI is still looking into all the details of this.
There are a number of actors around the world who have these kinds of capabilities. Unfortunately, that number continues to grow. And I think as we determine who is responsible and have more to say, we will do so.
BLITZER: So, you're a federal employee. Are you worried that your own Social Security information, personal information, your information could have been compromised? And you're a senior adviser on strategic affairs at the State Department. May now a lot of that personal information be in the hands of these hackers?
HARF: Well, I certainly hope that no one's is, obviously.
OPM has sent out a notice to federal employees outlining all the steps they can take if they feel they have been compromised, if they're worried about it. So, I think they have really been proactive here in reaching out to my colleagues and to all of us to make sure we feel like there's a way to address this.
BLITZER: And remind us when the State Department, what, late last year, the State Department itself, and you work there, it was hacked as well. Right?
HARF: It was. We talked about that at the time. We had suffered an intrusion, we detected it, and we have been taking steps to mitigate against it.
And I would say that the federal government, all the time, when we notice intrusions, or possible intrusions, we have taken steps to mitigate them. We continue to update our security. But it's a pretty significant challenge.
BLITZER: That was a Russian hack, the State Department hack; is that right?
HARF: Well, at that time, I think we also said we don't always name publicly who is responsible. There are a number of actors around the world who can do this, but we don't always say who for a variety of reasons.
BLITZER: What -- well, we will talk about that later.
BLITZER: Let me get to these tweets, this war that you have had, this Twitter war with David Sanger of "The New York Times." He's a highly respected national security journalist.
HARF: He is.
BLITZER: He wrote a piece in "The New York Times," co-authored a piece in "The New York Times" citing a recent IAEA report, an International Atomic Energy Agency report, saying that the Iranians have actually increased their stockpile of enriched uranium at a time when they're supposed to freeze that stockpile.
Then you went on Twitter. In a series of tweets, you started saying, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. I'm paraphrasing right now.
BLITZER: What did you decide to do that?
HARF: Well, I'm not sure a handful of tweets constitutes a Twitter war. I will leave that to others to use the terminology.
But it was exactly what I said in the press briefing when I was asked about it too. Look, I think we're a month away from the deadline, and these are very complicated issues. And we need to be very precise when we talk about them.
It is true that under the joint plan of action, Iran can fluctuate in terms of this low-enriched uranium stockpile. They're not enriching up to 20 percent. They're enriching this very low amount, as long as at the end of the duration, so June 30 here, they're back down to where they need to be. That's 78, 50 kilograms.
They have always gone up and down throughout this period, and they have always gotten to where they needed to be. If they don't, that will be a problem. But, quite frankly, inside the negotiations, this isn't one of the big issues. There's a number of issues we have to resolve, including eventually how they get all the way down to 300 kilograms.
They have already agreed to do that. So, those are really the big issues inside the room, and I think we just wanted to have a little more context out there for people following the issue.
BLITZER: So, just to be precise, was the IAEA report wrong, from your perspective?
BLITZER: Or the reporting by "The New York Times" and David Sanger wrong?
HARF: The IAEA report is accurate, that at a snapshot in time...
BLITZER: Because that's what he was reporting.
HARF: He was. But they went on then to insinuate either that Iran was doing something it shouldn't be doing or I think, more importantly, that this was a big problem in the negotiations. And I'll tell you, I have talked to our team about this inside
the room. There are some major obstacles in these talks, quite frankly, and this issue is important, but it isn't one of the biggest obstacles. And I think insinuating otherwise or that we didn't know why the stockpile was fluctuating, that was always one of the assertions, just isn't accurate.
I can assure you U.S. officials know what's going on here.
BLITZER: Because the criticism of you -- and you have heard this -- was that the tweets were suggesting you were in effect apologizing and becoming an apologist for the Iranians.
HARF: And I -- I think I also tweeted in response to that.
And nothing could be further from the truth here. What I'm defending is this joint plan of action framework that we negotiated with Iran and all of the P5-plus-one that has frozen Iran's nuclear program. The fact that at the end of June, they have to get down to a frozen level of low-enriched uranium technically means that that part and others are frozen.
So, I was defending the notion that we got an agreement. We have upheld our end of the bargain, as has Iran. If they don't, we have ways of dealing with that. And that will be the same in a comprehensive agreement as well.
BLITZER: Any progress in getting these four Americans being held by the Iranians freed as part of this deal?
HARF: Well, these are separate issues, and we keep them separate for one very good reason, that we don't want the fate of these four Americans tied to a nuclear agreement that, quite frankly, we may not be able to conclude.
We think the three Americans being detained should be released on their own for their own reasons because they are being held and they should not be. And we have asked Iran to help us locate Robert Levinson as well, the fourth American. We raise this at every round with the Iranians.
But we don't want them tied to a nuclear agreement that may or may not be successful.
BLITZER: The secretary of state, you were with him when he fell off his bike, broke his femur, went through surgery in Boston this week. How is he doing?
HARF: He's doing much better. He was up today walking around on his hospital floor on crutches. His doctors are happy with his progress. He's going to stay in Boston, come back to Washington.
And he talked to Undersecretary Wendy Sherman on the phone today from Vienna to get an update on the Iran talks. So, he's making calls. He's fully engaged in the business of the State Department and back up on his feet today.
BLITZER: Is there going to be a deal with Iran?
HARF: We don't know. We're working very hard to see if there can be. We know diplomacy is the best and most durable way to resolve this issue. And we're going to do everything we can, including John Kerry, despite what happened with this accident, to see if we can get that done.
BLITZER: Please wish -- wish him our best for a speedy recovery when you speak with him.
HARF: I will. Thank you.
BLITZER: All right, Marie Harf, thanks very much for coming in.
HARF: Happy to be here.
BLITZER: Just ahead, a flood of looted drugs on Baltimore's streets fueling a growing crime wave.
Plus, why the prosecutor wants to block the release of Freddie Gray's autopsy -- we're getting new information. Stick around.
BLITZER: Baltimore police and federal officials, they're now trying to identify as many as 70 people suspected of looting drug stores and clinics and stealing massive amounts of prescription drugs.
[17:32:08] It happened during the riots follow the police custody death of Freddie Gray. And police now say those looted drugs are flooding Baltimore streets, contributing to a deadly surge in violence.
CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is working the story for us. She's joining us from Baltimore now with much more. Suzanne, what are you learning?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Baltimore police just two hours ago tweeted there was another shooting that happened in the city, an adult male shot in the leg. This is just a couple blocks from where Freddie Gray had been arrested. And throughout the day I've been talking to people in the neighborhood, asking you know, essentially, what will calm the city down in the face of violence here.
I talked to a mother, talked to politicians, activists, even gang members. They're all saying one thing: there has to be a truce between the Baltimore community and the Baltimore police.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): A flood of more than 175,000 doses of drugs on the market, stolen from 27 pharmacies and clinics during the riots. A number that is expected to rise, as pharmacies have still not accounted for all the missing drugs, according to a law enforcement official.
DR. PETER OKOJE (PH), OWNER, CARE ONE PHARMACY: Oxycodone, OxyContin, they took everything.
MALVEAUX: Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts says the surge in drugs and a fight over customers is helping fuel the violence. Violence that's gotten so bad he's asking for federal help to fight it.
COMMISSIONER ANTHONY BATTS, BALTIMORE POLICE: Criminals are selling those stolen drugs. There are turf wars happening which are leading to violence and shootings in our city.
MALVEAUX: But Bloods gang members Wolfe and Bones say there is no turf war, and they're being unfairly blamed by police.
WOLFE, BLOODS GANG LEADER: The Bloods, we're not fighting. Not no drugs, not no nothing. That's not us.
BONES, BLOODS GANG MEMBER: What they're trying to do is take the fire and the heat off of them. That's what they're trying to do. They need to do their jobs.
MALVEAUX: Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes says the criminal element is taking advantage of the lack of leadership within the police department and the deliberate slowdown of policing.
CARL STOKES, BALTIMORE CITY COUNCILMAN: The commissioner has lost respect and the confidence of the men and women on the streets, the police officers. What they need is a commander who has the confidence of the troops.
MALVEAUX: The city is experiencing the deadliest crime surge in decades. In May alone, 43 homicides, the deadliest month since 1972, pushing Baltimore's homicides to 119 so far this year.
MALACKA REED, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Everything is just going crazy this month.
MALVEAUX: Baltimore resident and community activist Malacka Reed says until trust can be reestablished, the violence will continue.
REED: We have to bridge the gap. In order for us to come together collectively as a unit, the gap has to be bridged with the citizens and the police department.
MALVEAUX: And Wolf, Baltimore police just revised the number of homicides in May. They downgraded it from 43 to 42. They say that one of those deaths appears to be a self-inflected death. So they have downgraded that number.
We should also let you know, as well, attorneys are now fighting over just how much the community will learn about Freddie Gray's autopsy report. The state's attorney wants to keep it closed, wants to keep it sealed. But the defense is pushing to have it publicly released -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Suzanne, thanks very much. Suzanne
Malveaux reporting from Baltimore.
Let's get some more on this story. Joining us, our CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez. Also joining us, the president of the National Urban League, Marc Morial; and the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, our CNN law enforcement analyst.
Evan, what are you learning from federal officials about how they will actually go in and support Baltimore?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the beginning of that, Wolf, are happening today. The DEA just released pictures of five people, persons of interest, they say, along with the Baltimore Police Department that they are looking for. These are people that they believe are among the 70 that were involved in the looting of some of these prescription drugs hauls from clinics and from drug stores in the Baltimore area.
Now, the one -- a couple of things that we know have worked before in Baltimore. We know that the U.S. attorney there, Rob Rosenstsein, did exactly this kind of strategy back in 2005, 2006. They bought in the ATF, the marshal service, FBI, DEA, and they went after some of the gangs; and they locked up people.
What's happening now is the result of, frankly, just the police pulling back, some of the lack of trust that's going on between the police department and the state's attorney's office. And so what we -- what we expect to happen now, Wolf, is that we're going to have again another infusion of federal help from those federal agencies to pick off some of the really bad people who are carrying out this violence, who are behind this violence.
BLITZER: There has been a serious morale issue in the Baltimore Police because six of the Baltimore police officers were charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.
Stand by for a moment. I want to bring Marc Morial into this conversation.
Marc, Baltimore, as you now, wasn't the best of places even before this latest rioting. The Baltimore police commissioner, Anthony Batts, said yesterday, in his words -- and I'm quoting him now -- there's enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year. So how does this city fix this problem?
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Well, I mean, I think the city, by asking for the ATF and the DEA and the U.S. attorney and the FBI to come in, is the best move and the right thing for them to do at this time.
Because no doubt you have to get to the root of who is orchestrating the sales of these stolen narcotics on the streets of Baltimore. And with that amount of illegal narcotics flowing in the streets, combined with what residents seem to be reporting, and that is an unofficial police slowdown, it stands to reason that you have this unfortunate surge in violence.
But I do believe that across the board we've got to understand that local police always need the ATF, the DEA and the FBI to be really fully engaged. Because the resources needed, not just to arrest those who are involved in street corner transactions or the sale of these narcotics, but those who are behind the organized illegal criminal enterprises that organize and orchestrate these sales requires the resources of the federal government. So I think that's the right thing.
But you know, Wolf, the residents are saying the right thing. We've got to find a way in Baltimore to build a bridge between law enforcement and the community. That's hard work. That's difficult work. But really that's the task at hand, because the community needs the police to do its job in the correct way. And I think that the police want to have the trust of the community. That's the work the commissioner, the mayor, the elected officials, the ministers all have to be on board to build that type of trust.
BLITZER: You've heard, Tom Fuentes, so much lack of trust. There seems to be a lack of confidence that some police officers, Suzanne Malveaux, reporting from Baltimore, have now in the police commissioner.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That's true. But what the commissioner is asking for is nothing new that other major cities have done for decades, actually. And I mean for even pre-9/11 almost every major city in the U.S. had a safe streets task force run at the federal level, treating these gangs as criminal enterprises like they were the mafia, using the RICO statute, using wire taps, using the federal tools available. And they consisted of the FBI, ATF, DEA, marshals, state police, county police, city police all on these task forces. That's what he's asking for, and we've had that for years.
PEREZ: I just think, though, one thing that's really important to sort of underscore here is, you know, Commissioner Batts I think didn't really mean to suggest that, just because 175,000 dozes of prescription drugs are on the streets, that's what's driving the murder rate here.
We're talking about a much deeper problem. You go in there, there's poverty, entrenched poverty. You have gang members now fighting each other, killing each other selling these. So this is really not just about that. It's something that something bigger. That is a bigger problem in Baltimore.
MORIAL: And you know, Wolf, I want to add this to the conversation. I was struck by the fact that the city of Baltimore spends 21 percent less on recreation today than it did in 1998, 10 percent less on schools that it did in 1998. And many schools in Baltimore have no extracurricular activities, no bands, no choirs, no student assemblies, no student newspapers. This, in evidence of making this point, is a larger question.
And I've said this before: lack of economic opportunity. But these markers point to the fact that the investments just to have a basic recreation system, a basic school system in Baltimore have declined since the 1990s.
BLITZER: Marc Morial, thanks very much for joining us.
Tom Fuentes, Evan Perez, guys thanks very much. We'll stay on top of this story. It is unfortunately not going away.
Up next, the former Texas governor, Rick Perry, feeling the heat as he jumps into the Republican presidential race. Will voters give him a second chance after the dramatic collapse of his last campaign?
[18:45:50] BLITZER: Tonight, the former Texas Governor Rick Perry is the tenth Republican to officially jump into the presidential race. He launched a second run for the White House hoping to avoid the mistakes that crushed his campaign four years ago. But his announcement today wasn't without an oops free moment either.
Chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash is working the story.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He gave a pretty strong speech, a rousing speech trying to shows on the fence voters and donors that he's got it under control this time. But you know the saying, "Don't ever let them see you sweat"? Well, whoever made that up never gave a speech in Texas heat.
RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am running for the presidency of the United States of America.
BASH (voice-over): Rick Perry's reason for running, his leadership experience as the longest serving governor in Texas history.
PERRY: I have dealt with crises after crises, from the disintegration of the space shuttle to hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, to the crisis at the border and the first diagnoses of Ebola in America.
BASH: On the economy, he struck a populist note.
PERRY: There's something wrong with the Dow is near record highs and businesses on Main Street can't even get a loan.
BASH: On national security, criticism of the president.
PERRY: No decision has done more harm than the president's withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
BASH: Perry's a true test of America's capacity for second chances. His 2012 campaign went quickly from great hope to punch line.
PERRY: Education, the -- Commerce. And let's see. I can't. The third one I can't. Sorry. Oops.
BASH: He blames that and other embarrassing moment on medication for back pain and being unprepared. Since then, he's been studying hard both on policy and performance. Even working with the former head of the Royal Shakespeare Theater.
(on camera): Why did you choose that?
PERRY: I guess so my hamlet would come out right when I decide to quote Hamlet on the stage.
BASH: And I'm guessing also to avoid an oops moment?
PERRY: That would be preferable.
BASH: Today Perry's oops moment wasn't what he forgot to say but what his staff forgot to bring, air conditioning. Perry was sweating profusely inside this sweltering airplane hangar, which stole the show on social media.
ANITA PERRY, RICK PERRY'S WIFE: Welcome and thank you to a hot hangar on June 4th.
BASH: Perry, a former captain in the U.S. Air Force, tried to emphasize his own military service. Joining him on stage were Texas military heroes, like lone survivor Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and his twin brother, and Taya Kyle, the widow of Chris Kyle, whose life was depicted in the movie "American Sniper".
PERRY: When I think of Taya Kyle, I think of a brave woman who carries not just the lofty burden of Chris's legacy.
BASH: Now, Perry brings something unusual to the presidential field. He's now a candidate with a pending indictment against him for abuse of power. It's one his aides and even some Democrats call purely political. But it is unresolved. It's sitting in a Texas court of appeals. And wolf, his aides and lawyers are hoping that it's going to be thrown out. Which they insist, I talked to some today, could happen in a matter of days. But it is still out there.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens on that front. Dana, stand by for a moment. I want to bring in chief political analyst Gloria Borger and our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar.
Gloria, are voters going to give Governor Perry a second chance?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, voters always like to give people a second chance, particularly when it comes to presidential politics. And I think Hillary Clinton would like to think that voters give people a second chance. And, look, Rick Perry is in a very different place from last
time. This is a guy who skyrocketed out of the box last time, but he didn't really have a set of beliefs or ideas or a campaign. He just had sort of an ideal. Oh, he's a governor of the state of Texas and maybe he ought to run.
This time, he spent years kind of honing what he wants to run on and going abroad, honing up foreign policy skills. But he's nowhere in the polls. He's, what, at 2 percent or 3 percent in Iowa.
BLITZER: Got a lot of work.
BORGER: He really has nowhere to go but up. He's an underdog. People in Iowa like that.
[18:50:00] BLITZER: Brianna, Hillary Clinton, she was in Texas today and she started calling out some of her Republican challengers by name.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She did. We saw Hillary Clinton who I think -- she's already being docked in the polls because she's reentering the political fray and she just went right into it today. Any Republican candidate or potential candidate who has either passed a voter ID law or restricted early voting, she went after. Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, naming them by name.
And this is so big. This is the fist time she's done it. But this also speaks to something that could be a weakness of hers as she runs for president. President Obama was able to secure almost 100 percent of the African-American vote in both elections that he won. She needs to do the same thing. And I think there's a lot of concern among some of her supporters that she won't be able to do that.
So, what did you see her doing? She was at a historically black college talking about voting rights and honoring Barbara Jordan, who was the first African-American female elected to the House from post- reconstruction.
BLITZER: I want to shift gears dramatically, Gloria, because today there was Beau Biden who passed away unfortunately of brain cancer over the weekend. The son of the Vice President Joe Biden. There you see an emotional, emotional day for the entire Biden family. His body was lying in honor at the state capital in Delaware.
So sad when you think about it, so young, so impressive. What a loss.
BORGER: I don't think there's anything that we can add to these pictures. It's heartbreaking. The vice president's agony is self evident, as is the agony of their entire family. I think all of us who have covered Joe Biden understand how close he was to Beau Biden who introduced him at the last convention, if you'll recall. I think we can't even imagine what he's feeling.
BASH: And just to remind people this is obviously a horrible loss to lose one child. But so many years ago, he lost another child and a wife -- his wife in a car accident. It's more than any human being should have to endure.
BLITZER: And our thoughts and prayers to the family.
BLITZER: Right now, we want to see how an unusual issue in the 2016 presidential race measures up. Democratic candidate Lincoln Chafee, he said it right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, he believes the United States should convert to the metric system.
CNN's Tom Foreman has a closer look.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If Eminem was a fan of the metric plan, his eight-mile road might have been 12.9 kilometers.
And some people would love that because they think making America metric is a great idea.
LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Earlier I said let's be bold, here's a bold embrace of internationalism. Let's join the rest of the world and go metric.
FOREMAN: To be sure only the United States, Liberia and Myanmar have not officially adopted the metric standard. And U.S. Metric Association, yes, there is such a thing, says being among the outliers costs real money. We have to convert, repackage and relabel products for trade, research and technology are constantly straddling the metric American fence and -- well, it's just confusing.
In 1999, NASA literally lost a $125 million Mars orbiter in space because of a mismatch of the American units of measurement and more commonly used metric standard.
Of course, we've tried to change. In the '70s, the White House starting with President Ford pushed for a makeover under the Metric Conversion Act. President Carter also championed the system. It didn't hurt that he was a runner since road races are routinely measured in kilometers.
REPORTER: Are you running to win this morning?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, I'm running to finish.
FOREMAN: And soon, soda, gasoline and more was being sold by the liter. Federal contracts went metric, too. But commerce was trumped by culture.
Some people were clearly not ready to watch football on a 91- meter field or measure American babies in centimeters. Although President Reagan signed an act designating the metric system as the preferred system of measurement, we later shut the program down unwilling to touch it with a ten-foot pole. (END VIDEOTAPE)
FOREMAN: People who think we should change this can't believe we're still tag about it and people who think it should never change can't believe we're still talking about it. But we are, Wolf. We're still standing apart. And I have a possible solution. If Europe will agree to two-prong plugs, we'll go metric with them. Then can have a standard on everything.
BLITZER: I think Lincoln Chafee is at least happy we're even discussing it.
FOREMAN: And the metric people are thrilled over it. It's hard to get this issue on the front burner. Now, it is. They're very happy.
BLITZER: A lot of people over the past 24 hours starting talking about it. Thanks to Lincoln Chafee, a Democratic presidential candidate.
BLITZER: All right. Tom Foreman, thanks very much.
Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Please go ahead, tweet me @wolfblitzer, tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Please be sure to join us again tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always watch us live or DVR the show so you won't miss a moment.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.