Skip to main content

tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  April 17, 2012 1:00pm-3:00pm PDT

1:00 pm
>> very nice. >> reporter: everyone loves nascar. some people do, but democrats and republicans here in washington, do. >> ten seconds. will you get to say hey to the smoke? >> reporter: i hope so. i think it will work out with my live shot schedule. i always miss things normally, but i think i'm going to make it this time. >> good to see you. good to have you on. >> good to see you. >> that is it for me. i'm brooke bolduan. now we go to the special "situation room" with wolf blitzer live from brussels, belgium tonight. hey, wolf. >> brooke, thanks very much. happening now, mitt romney rebounds and resets for november. we're watching all this unfold. a new poll shows voters like him better now, but they still like president barack obama more. the president blames wall street for the high price of keeping your car on the street. he goes after gas prices by targeting speculators in the oil markets. and the nation's capital transfixed, transfixed by a
1:01 pm
farewell fly b-by as discovery hitches a ride on the jet and heads for a museum. i'm wolf blitzer, and you're in i'm wolf blitzer, and you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com this just coming in to "the situation room." we are live here in brussels, belgium. i'll have the exclusive joint interview tomorrow with the secretary of state hillary clinton and the defense secretary leon panetta tomorrow from nato headquarters right outside brussels. lots to discuss including the situation in afghanistan. certainly a crisis right now and what's going on with iran and its nuclear program north korea
1:02 pm
and a lot to discuss with the secretary of state and secretary of defense. i just got in to brussels and flew in with the secretary of defense just a little while ago, but right now we want to get to politics. we have a brand new cnn poll that's just coming out and it sheds new light on the presidential race. look at this. 56% have a favorable opinion of president obama. that's what they think of him as a person and not necessarily his performance as president of the united states. 42% have an unfavorable view. 44% view mitt romney favorably. 43% have an unfavorable view of the presumptive republican presidential nominee. 13%, by the way, still aren't sure. so is mitt romney already rebounding to a certain degree from the low point of the very nafky republican primaries as he prepares for november? let's go live to our national political correspondent, jim acosta. he's watching all of this unfold. what's the latest, jim? >> cnn/orc polling is
1:03 pm
significant because polling suggested mitt romney was in a much weaker position heading into this general election season and you know, everything mitt romney is doing this week suggests he is attempting something of a reset for the general election campaign. the question is just how often his campaign will have to hit the reset button. mitt romney is hard at work on his general election checklist, like firing up tea party activists who were divided during the gop primaries, check. >> this campaign is just getting going. >> or getting up close and personal with voters who may have doubts he can relate to them. >> i think this election will come down to jobs and kids who has the capacity to create good jobs. >> or picking up one of those last high-profile endorsements still out there. check. >> it is clear now that mitt romney is going to be our nominee. i think mitt romney has a set of economic policies that can put
1:04 pm
americans back to work and, frankly, contrast sharply with the failed economic policies of president obama. >> reporter: and even explain shame for the dog riding atop the family car for the last time. >> the car loved it. >> but the dog got sick, right? >> once. we traveled all of the time and he ate the turkey on the counter. i mean, he had the runs. >> reporter: romney is tighe up these loose ends for good reason. the latest cnn/orc poll shows his favorability numbers which took a nosedive during the primaries are only now starting to recover. so romney is doing some campaign house keeping and he's beefing up his staff, more 20-somethings staffing the camp company's war roomas we saw inside romney headquarters, monitoring gop content about the contender. >> if you can't go home and get
1:05 pm
everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, america-hating administration, i don't even know what you're made out of. >> there are plenty of distractions to keep the campaign busy like rock 'n' roller ted neugent who went on an incendiary rant at a rifle association event last week. >> if barack obama becomes president in november again, i will either be dead or in jail by this time next year. why are you laughing? do you think that's funny? that's not funny at all. i'm serious as a heart attack. >> it's been fun getting to know nugent. >> reporter: the dnc welcomed nugent's endorsement including the nra comments. >> we need to ride into the battlefield and chop their heads off in november. >> after an hour of silence on the controversy the romney
1:06 pm
campaign put out a statement. mitt romney believes everyone needs to be civil. >> reporter: and mitt romney will have another chance to reset the campaign narrative tomorrow in charlotte and that is where he will be giving what he is calling a pre-buttal to the president's convention speech that the president will be delivers later this summer in north carolina. the trick, as of late, is staying in control of the narrative and not strong reset it every day. wolf? >> what are they saying, the romney folks about the new york times story today saying he's likely to raise about $800 million to try to beat president obama between his own campaign, his pro-romney super pac, and other republican super pacs and the republican national committee and the $800 million number. what are they saying about that? >> reporter: wolf, we have tried all day to get the romney campaign to respond to that report. as of right now they have not.
1:07 pm
as you have seen, there is a lot of reporting on that figure. it's an eye-popping number and the romney campaign will have to raise that kind of money if they'll have to take on the president. it's been reported that the president's re-election campaign may raise along with the dnc $1 billion although there are democrats who push back on that number also, wolf. >> yea. whoever -- there will be a ton, a ton of money that will be going toward advertising in those key battleground states. hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars and maybe $1 billion when the dust settles in november. jim acosta, thanks very much. let's dig deeper with our chief political analyst gloria borger and she's watching these situations unfold. gloria, the president's favorable rating, 56% and romney's 44%, but that's an improvement for romney and still very early, is it? can we make hard and fast conclusions as to this snapshot right now? >> no, we really can't, wolf.
1:08 pm
look, they just finished a really bruising republican primary process and what we can say about mitt romney, i was talking to some of his people today is that they're pleased that the numbers seem to be moving in the right direction. take a look at this. favorable opinion of mitt romney, now 44%, but back in february when we were in the middle of those primaries it was ten points less, and there's one more thing that could also be working for mitt romney. while the public really likes barack obama as you pointed out earlier, they're less approving of the job president obama is doing. take a look at this. his approval rate is 49%. that's the president's. his disapproval rate is 48%, wolf. so a lot less than his favorability, and by the way, about 3 three to five points behind where bill clinton was,
1:09 pm
ronald reagan was and george w. bush was as they embarked upon their re-election. >> yea. the people like him a lot more than they approve of the job they're doing and they like him as a person more than the performance so far. i think it's clear, though, that six and a half months and there's still plenty of time for people to change their minds and make up their minds and get their enthusiasm level stronger on both sides. >> in fact, our poll shore, wolf, that people have not made up their minds about mitt romney. we asked voters whether they had enough information right now to vote and they said about mitt romney that 45% said they know enough, but look at that number. plan to give him a second look. 53%, and this is just what jim acosta was talking about. because the romney campaign wants to start now to
1:10 pm
re-introduce mitt romney to the american public. now, when you talk to the people rung barack obama's campaign, they want to remind voters about what this primary was like and particularly hispanic voters where they believe he moved far to the right on immigration issues. so as the romney campaign wants to push the reset button as jim acosta puts it, the barack obama campaign wants to say, not so fast, we'll keep reminding you what happened during the divisive primaries, wolf? we certainly are. gloria, thank you. taking heat from republicans for the high prices. president obama calls for a crackdown on oil speculators. let's turn to our chief white house correspondent jessica yellin. she's working the story. jessica, what's going on here? >> reporter: wolf, you remember when president obama campaigned for office he attacked then
1:11 pm
president bush for letting gas prices stay high. well, when president bush found that all else failed, guess what he blamed for high gas prices -- illegal market manipulation. gas moving up to an average of $3.90 on tax day the president blamed wall street. >> we can't afford a situation where speculators artificially manipulate markets by buying up oil, creating the per session of a shortage and driving prices higher only to flip the oil for a quick profit. >> reporter: he called on congress to pass a package of reforms that includes higher penalties, stepped up enforcements and more data collection to help crack down on illegal market manipulation. spooker boehner says not so fast. >> where is his federal trade commission? where is the sec? he's got agencies there. instead of just another political gimmick, why didn't he put the administration to work to get to the bottom of it.
1:12 pm
>> reporter: with republicans to get control of the house don't expect this to become law any time soon. the white house must have proof that the illegal activity is driving up oil prices, right? or do they? attorney general holder heads a task force dedicated to finding fraud in the nation's energy markets. he said if illegal conduct is responsible for increasing gas prices, state and federal authorities should take swift action. that was a year ago. the department of justice tells cnn to date they have not charged a single firm or individual. according to the white house, two other agencies have opened cases against firms for a potential manipulation and notice the president's argument keeps changing. recall two months ago the president blames the high price of gas on the middle east. >> the single biggest thing that's causing the price of oil to spike right now is instability in the middle east. >> he said in the future, the problem is elsewhere. >> over the long term the
1:13 pm
biggest reason oil prices will probably keep going up is going to countries like china, india and brazil. >> reporter: an independent analyst says the focus speculators isn't all bad. >> what you have is a political response to a political problem pt the proposals say we're looking something to look out for the consumer. the problem is fundamentals. we're energy importers and we'll be kapt testify global energy prices. >> reporter: and move on the political front by blaming wall street for the high price of gas that allows going forward, that would allow the president to draw an alliance between, say, for example, wall street speculators and his opponent mitt romney who the campaign, the obama campaign likes to tie to wall street. for his part, mr. romney says that this is just another example of president obama's, quote, government by gimmick and he dismissis this proposal to crack down on oil speculator, and out of hand. he, like the republicans in congress believe that the
1:14 pm
current rules and the current agencies could crack down on illegal speculation if it's there to be cracked down on, wolf? >> yea. price of a gallon of gasoline will be a huge issue going forward between now and november. jessica yellin reporting for us. thank you. meanwhile, a growing prostitution scandal is swirling around the u.s. secret service. we have new details of what the white house is saying about the agency's director. also, the extraordinary sight that had thousands of people from florida to washington, d.c. staring into the sky. why hasn't rick santorum endorsed mitt romney yet? i'll ask his former spokeswoman alice stewart. she and james carville, they are both standing by live for our "strategy session." [ pilot ] flying teaches me to prepare for turbulence. the key is to have a good strategy.
1:15 pm
the same goes for my retirement. with the plan my financial advisor and i put together, a quick check and i know my retirement is on course. [ male announcer ] with wells fargo advisor's envision plan, you always know where you stand. in fact, 93 percent of envision plan holders say they will retire on their own terms. get started on the plan you need today -- wells fargo advisors. together we'll go far. wells fargo advisors. are you still sleeping? just wanted to check and make sure that we were on schedule. the first technology of its kind... mom and dad, i have great news. is now providing answers families need. siemens. answers. guys. come here, come here. [ telephone ringing ] i'm calling my old dealership.
1:16 pm
[ man ] may ford. hi, yeah. do you guys have any crossovers that offer better highway fuel economy than the chevy equinox? no, sorry, sir. we don't. oh, well, that's too bad. [ man ] kyle, is that you? [ laughs ] [ man ] still here, kyle. [ male announcer ] visit your local chevy dealer today. right now, very well qualified lessees can get a 2012 equinox ls for around $229 a month.
1:17 pm
home protector plus, from liberty mutual insurance, where the costs to both repair your home and replace your possessions are covered. and we don't just cut a check for the depreciated value -- we can actually replace your stuff with an exact or near match. plus, if your home is unfit to live in after an incident, we pay for you to stay somewhere else while it's being repaired. home protector plus, from liberty mutual insurance. because you never know what lies around the corner. to get a free quote, call... visit a local office, or go to libertymutual.com today. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy?
1:18 pm
jack cafferty is here with "the cafferty file." >> wolf, call it your government gone wild as details of the secret service and gsa scandals emerge, there's growing sense that washington isn't always working for the people who pay their salaries. that would be you and me, the taxpayers. the secret service has now do you thinked the security clearances of 11 member accused of bringing hookers to a colombian hotel. the investigation also includes at least five, maybe as many as ten members of the u.s. military who were working there as part of an advanced team ahead of president obama's trip. reuters reports there were as many as 21 prostitutes involved. if it's true, this is more than disgraceful, more than a moral lapse. it's a threat to national security. reports are some of the secret service agents who brought prostitutes to their hotel room his copies of the president's schedule lying around and were apparently bragging that they were there to protect president obama. it's not the first time the
1:19 pm
secret service has lapsed, either. the most glaring example, remember in 2009, an uninvited couple managed to crash a white house state dinner? there were inside the white house ing inneling with the president and his guests. meanwhile, the gsa official at the center of the $823,000 lavish conference is refusing to answer any questions. jeff neely, do we have the picture? there he is, sitting in the hot tub in vegas with his wine. that's a lovely shot. he organized the conference in las vegas, and then reportedly took the fifth amendment yesterday when questioned in front of congressman issa's committee and neely might face a criminal investigation. while the gsa was spending thousands of your dollars on m commemorative coins, a team building xer -- this is the kind of stuff that makes americans
1:20 pm
increasingly disgusted with their government. so far president obama hasn't said a whole lot about any of this, maybe it's time he did. here's the question. in light of the secret service and gsa scandals, who is minding the store? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. post a comment on my blog or go to my post on the situation room's facebook page. wolf? >> good question, jack. thanks very, very much. >> it was an extraordinary morning in washington, d.c., starting at 10:00 a.m. offices emptied out. traffic snarled as drivers simply ump jed out of their cars and people by the thousands looked to the sky as space shuttle discovery riding piggybacked circled the city for about 45 minutes parking its arrival in its new hometown. cnn aviation correspondent, lizzie o leary is there for us in chantilly, virginia. that's the new hometown for discovery. when will people get a chance to
1:21 pm
see discovery up close? >> reporter: they'll be able to see it on friday, wolf. behind me, you can see enterprise which is a sister shuttle that never flew into space. so by friday discovery will be in here and people will get in and have a chance to see it. it takes about two days to get discovery off of the roof of that 747, but this shuttle which flew 148 million miles in its life time got to take a very special trip today. >> here we go! >> reporter: after almost 28 years of service and 39 trips into space -- >> and the final liftoff of "discovery." >> reporter: it was one heck of a good-bye party. [ cheering and applause ] >> reporter: unlike many americans "discovery" left florida flying on the back of a special 747. it played tourist in washington,
1:22 pm
d.c., buzzing the airport and taking in the town, the monument, the national mall and the u.s. capitol, playing to adoring crowds all around the city. >> here it comes. >> oh, wow! >> i remember being a kid coming down from new york with my parents and seeing it launch going out of cape canaveral. >> it was fantastic to see it. it's a wonderful, spiritual thing for the united states. yes, even our washington staff took a peek. discovery's trip was a victory lap of sorts, but it's a final lap for the u.s. shuttle program. after 30 years of flights, would-be astronauts will have to look elsewhere for inspiration. >> that's the plane and that's the rocket. >> reporter: so will former kids who grew up to be nasa legends like "discovery" astronaut joe allen. >> it's a very emotional experience, and i'm sorry that this nation is out of the space travel business for a while, but hopefully we'll get back in. >> reporter: but for now, anyone
1:23 pm
who wants to discover "discovery" will have to do it here in a museum. now the future of this space flight program, wolf, as you know, in many ways is a commercial one. we are starting to see much more activity on the commercial side. one important thing to remember about discover, i spoke to one of its former astronauts who first joined the program in 1986. this was the shuttle that really got nasa back to the skies after the challenger disaster, so it has a special resonance for the astronauts who watched it today and for the thousands of people who watched it take that final lap and land here in virginia, wolf. >> and they'll have a chance to see it up close very, very soon. thanks very much, lizzie, for that report. michelle obama is speak out about candidates' families and the controversial or rather controversial remarks about mitt romney's wife. we'll hear what the first lady of the united states is saying
1:24 pm
and we'll talk about that and more with james carville and alice stewart. they're both standing by live in our "strategy session." [ male announcer ] when a major hospital
1:25 pm
wanted to provide better employee benefits while balancing the company's bottom line, their very first word was... [ to the tune of "lullaby and good night" ] ♪ af-lac ♪ aflac [ male announcer ] find out more at... [ duck ] aflac! [ male announcer ] ...forbusiness.com. [ yawning sound ] the chevy cruze eco also offers 42 mpg on the highway. actually, it's cruze e-co, not ec-o. just like e-ither. or ei-ther. or e-conomical. [ chuckling ] or ec-onomical. pa-tato, po-tato, huh? actually, it's to-mato, ta-mato. oh, that's right. [ laughs ] [ car door shuts ] [ male announcer ] visit your local chevy dealer today. now very well qualified lessees can get a 2012 chevy cruze ls
1:26 pm
for around $159 per month. e.p.a. estimated 36 miles per gallon highway.
1:27 pm
1:28 pm
our "strategy session," our political contributor james carville along with strategist alice stewart. most of the republican leadership are coalescing around mitt romney, but rick santorum still has not publicly, formally endorsed mitt romney. why? >> well, they spoke last week prior to rick suspending the campaign and he's going do exactly what he's been saying all along that he'll do. once the nominee is announced he'll do everything he can to coalesce conservatives and unite behind that person and that's exactly what he'll do with governor romney. they had a short conversation last week and they agreed to talk later and they'll work out the best way to move forward and what we need more than anything else is to coalesce conservatives and the fiscal and social conservatives together for the romney campaign and do job number one which is to defeat barack obama and the romney campaign is moving full
1:29 pm
speed ahead and along the great start with that in days and weeks to come, but they will all work together and as i said, defeat barack obama. >> i'm sure, james, rick santorum will have some sort of event and formally endorse mitt romney, but do you see anything unusual that's taking this long? >> yea, it is -- it is -- it is a little unusual, but i think there's bad blood there and if you list some of the things that santorum said and gingrich, romney's run tens and millions of dollars of negative ads on these guys. rick santorum was a man and a dream. he thought he would be the republican nominee and the super pac came in and crushed him and they were getting ready to do that in pennsylvania. my guess is he's not particularly enthusiastic about having the negative ads run against him, but he'll come around and i'm sure he'll endorse him and i suspect gingrich will, too. >> i will say this.
1:30 pm
there is no bad blood. it was a difficult campaign and negative ads on both sides, but certainly no bad blood and they have a mutual respect for each sxurth in due time they'll work together to coalesce the conservatives in this cause, but rick, he was taking time off with his family and looking ahead to what he'll do himself moving forward. he had a call last night with supporters and donors and talking about his plan to giva voice to conservatives as he did throughout the campaign and in due time he'll work to coalesce and work to help mitt romney. >> i believe that you believe there's no bad blood. i don't believe that. defy anything that i've ever known, there's always bad blood after primaries and there's particular bad blood when you run the primary that romney ran. rick santorum would not be human if he didn't feel animosity toward mitt romney, and i suspect he'll put on a good game face, but i can assure you that from my experience is, and i know, we went through it in '92 and every time you go through a
1:31 pm
primary there's bad blood. that church is still split from the '76 primary. he is a classy human being i have not encountered in politics. >> he's not one to start a fight, but he will certainly fight when a fight comes, at the end of the day he realizes the people have spokent and popular vote has gone toward mitt rom no and his job number one is to put those personal feelings aside and do what's best for the country and right you no politics is front and center and he'll do whatever he can to help mitt romney. >> i'd love both of you to weigh in on the first lady michelle obama's comments. she was asked about the criticism leveled against ann romney by hilary rosen, our cnn contributor and democratic strategist. listen to this exchange on mpr. >> was it a fair point even if you don't agree with it to say that ann romney is not best positioned to advise her husband on economic issues.
1:32 pm
>> let me tell you, the one thing i believe is that families are off limits and my husband said it and he was clear on that, and i totally agree with h him. i also, my comment that i tweeted which was we need respect all women in whatever positions and roles they play in this society. >> james, first to you. what do you think about this whole issue and the latest comments from the first lady? >> well, look, i agree with the comments. during the clinton administration when the right viciously attacked hillary clinton every day from god knows what to what, so i would leave anybody's spouse or children are off limits. i suspect what hillary was was -- rosen was trying to say was the fact that romney said his wife advised him on women's issues. i wouldn't say anything bad about mrs. romney or anybody else's wife in politics.
1:33 pm
i've seen that with hillary clinton and i've seen how vicious people can be and i have no desire to emulate them. >> i agree with what james said. >> should the right stay away from michelle obama, alice? >> the way the left should stay away from ann romney. this is ridiculous. president obamaed in '08 that wives are off limits and families are off limits and that's the way it is, and i agree with michelle obama and wives, spouses and families should be off limits, but the truth is hilary rosen didn't get that memo attacking ann romney for claiming that being a stay-at-home mom doesn't give you insight or input on the economic issues of the day. but the reality is we all know what she was doing and she was trying to distract from the real issues of the campaign which is bad economy, a 17 trillion dollar debt and she wants to wage a war on women and that's what we have here, but it's not about attacking the first lady. that's not going to help. what we need to do is focus on what this is going to be. this will be a referendum on the
1:34 pm
barack obama policies and it's not going to be good for him. hilary rosen certainly did not want to wage a war on well. she misspoke and she apologized for that and she explained what she meant, but she certainly wasn't waging a war on women. we have to leave it, unfortunately, guy, right there. james carville, alice stewart, thanks very much. secret service agents caught up in a huge and growing controversy. there's new information coming into "the situation room." could they have left themselves vulnerable to blackmail and put the president of the united states at risk, and a quake caught on camera and you will see how it rattled folks in our sister network in chile. plus could twinkies and wonder bread -- yes, twifrnges and wonder bread be gone forever. we'll tell you what could threaten the future of hostess brands.
1:35 pm
man: 1939 -- my parents ran across an ad for a hot dog cart. my mother said, "well, maybe we ought to buy this hot dog cart and set it up someplace." so my parents went to bank of america. they met with the branch manager and they said, "look, we've got this little hot dog cart, and it's on a really good corner. let's see if we can buy the property." and the branch manager said, "all right, i will take a chance with the two of you." and we've been loyal to bank of america for the last 71 years.
1:36 pm
[ male announcer ] for our families... our neighbors... and our communities... america's beverage companies have created a wide range of new choices. developing smaller portion sizes and more low- & no-calorie beverages... adding clear calorie labels so you know exactly what you're choosing... and in schools, replacing full-calorie soft drinks with lower-calorie options. with more choices and fewer calories, america's beverage companies are delivering.
1:37 pm
1:38 pm
lisa sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right you in. lisa, what's going on? >> crews in chile are assessing damage of an earthquake strong enough to cause mud slides. you are seeing as an earthquake rattles the newscast on the sister network in chile. the 6.7 earthquake knocked out power lines and it could be felt in the capital about 70 miles away. in 2010, hundreds died from an earthquake in the same region of chile. the company that makes the popular treat twinkies, hostess brands is taking legal action to throw out union contracts which may lead to a strike that management and the unions agree will end the company. hostess employees over 1800 people, three-quarters of whom are union members. some hostess treats have been around since 1888. and stocks rallied today for the biggest gains in over a month. the dow jones industrial average added 190 points pushing above the key 13,000 milestone for the
1:39 pm
first time in over a week. the s&p gained 21 points and the nasdaq, 54. apple's stock rebounded, too, jumping more than 5% after five straight down days. and alec baldwin could soon have more power than the executive he plays on "30 rock." the actor said he would love to run for mayor of new york, but he's just not sure he can put together a campaign in time for the 2013 race. baldwin, a democrat, says new york needs a mayor that is more inspiring, taking a jab at longtime mayor michael bloomberg. wolf? >> i suspect he's not going to run for mayor of new york, but we'll see. it could always happen. lisa, thank you. we are live in brussel, belgium. i'll have an exclusive interview here at nato headquarters, a joint interview with the secretary of state hillary clinton and secretary of defense leon panetta and we'll be at nato headquarters for the summit meetings tomorrow. stay tuned for that.
1:40 pm
it will air tomorrow here on "the situation room". it's one of the most outrageous government spending on pet projects and it's detailed in the so-called "pig book." who makes the cut? did the secret service members involved in the prostitution scandal open themselves up to blackmail? we're digging deeper. for convertibles, press star one. i didn't catch that. to speak to a representative, please say representative now. representative. goodbye! you don't like automated customer service, and neither do we. that's why, unlike other cards, no matter when you call chase sapphire preferred, you immediately get a person not a prompt. chase sapphire preferred. a card of a different color. (phone ringing) chase sapphire preferred, this is julie in springfield.
1:41 pm
and now it powers our latest innovation in more efficient cooling and heating. introducing the world's only solar-powered home energy system, which can cut your heating and cooling bills in half. call now to get up to 1,375 dollars in rebates. or zero percent financing for 18 months. plus download our free lennox mobile app with an energy-savings calculator to show how much you'll save... with lennox. innovation never felt so good.
1:42 pm
1:43 pm
it's called "the pig book." "the pig book" is an annual report from a watchdog group highlighting some of the most wasteful government spending. cnn's erin burnett is going "out front" on this story tonight. erin, give us the bad news, and i'm sure it is very ugly. >> yea. there is ugliness. technically you're not supposed to have earmarks, but it's all how you can write the words however you want, an earmark to one person is not to another. the citizens against waste has come out with this "pig book." the fiscal year 2012 which is pretty interesting. you have the chairman of appropriations committee and senator i newy has come out with
1:44 pm
an east-west center in hawaii. he's gotten 104 million earmarks for this particular center since the year 1997. the state department comes out every year and purposely asks for no money for this center and they don't want it. he comes in and gets it. he gets it because he's the chairman and it's his home state. there are other examples, as well. the m1 abrams tank. the dod said they don't need any more of those, that they have plenty and they know the dod are frustrated with the cuts they're facing and they don't needer mo of these and we don't need appropriation for that in michigan. there are plenty of quote, unquote, earmarks and we'll dig into that tonight. >> we'll be watching at 7:00 p.m. eastern, erin burnett" out front". they're weighing in on the scandal that has rocked the secret service. could agents have put themselves
1:45 pm
or even the president at risk. how a school is trying to keep a very special player on the court. l play. good. you like trees. well, i like climbing them, but i've never been one. good point. ( captain ) this is your captain speaking. annie gets to be the princess. oh... but she has to kiss a boy. and he's dressed up like a big green frog ! ewww. ( announcer ) fly without putting your life on pause. be yourself nonstop. american airlines. four walls and a roof is a structure. what's inside is a home. home protector plus, from liberty mutual insurance, where the costs to both repair your house and replace what's inside are covered.
1:46 pm
and we don't just cut a check for the depreciated value -- we can actually replace your stuff with an exact or near match. and with the liberty mutual home gallery app, you can use a mobile device to easily catalog your belongings in advance, so you're always well prepared. home protector plus, from liberty mutual insurance, so your life can settle right back into place. to get a free quote, call... visit a local office, or go to libertymutual.com today. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy?
1:47 pm
1:48 pm
turning now to the scandal that's rocked the united states secret service. a number -- a number of members of the secret service have had their security clearances pulled amid allegations that the agents hired prft toots while in colombia to prepare for the president's visit. the white house says administrators are on top of the situation. >> the president has confidence in the director of the secret service. director sullivan acted quickly in response to this incident and is overseeing an investigation as we speak into the matter. >> our brian todd says a key concern is that agents could have left themselves vulnerable to blackmail. brian, what's going on here? rebels like the farc and other rebels operating in colombia, members of congress and experts are worried about what could have happened in cartagena, the
1:49 pm
women involved could have compromised security. >> reporter: they arrived in colombia 48 hours before the president and the secret service went out for drinks in several groups according with those knowledge of the investigation and some brought prostitutes back to their hotel. according to susan collins, as many as 21 women could have been involved and some could have been with military personnel. peter king says a dispute over money later broke out. he told wolf blitzer it's what happened in the interim that worries him. >> what these alleged agents did potentially puts any president at risk, put themselves at risk, and leaves themselves open to blackmail and threats. >> reporter: or to being compromised for sensitive information. experts are concerned that with the secret service agents there was potential for a so-called honey trap. >> you use someone who is very attractive and it might be a she
1:50 pm
and it is sometimes a he. y you need to know your target. eric knows how an intelligence official can be compromised, he took down robert hanson who was spying for the russians. o'neal was portrayed by ryan phillippe in "breach." >> when they get them in those compromising situations, how do they get the information? >> some guys have a problem when they're in an int in the situation with a beautiful women they engage in pillow talk. they want to sound impressive and you might get innocuous questions from the prostitute or the spy and you might receive pretty good answers in response. more than you expected. the other thing is when the guy's not looking, look around the room. take a quick scan and grab. >> there's no evidence yet that the agents were blackmailed or compromised. u.s. government sources say the agents under investigation were not part of the president's protective detail. one former secret service agent says they didn't think they were targeted for intelligence. >> they simply don't have the
1:51 pm
information that would be valuable to one of those services to go to this extent. >> a federal law enforcement official with knowledge of operations tells us secret service agents used secure facilities while traveling to store sensitive documents, even weapons, but o'neal says any secret service officer has basic information u.s. adversaries can use. they know schedules, routes, routines and even the president's favorite color. >> reporter: a secret service spokesman tells us the possibility of a breach is part of what he calls a comprehensive investigation with no limits. wolf? >> brian, aren't some secret service agents, maybe all of them trained to be on guard against this sort of thing? aren't they alerted that there could be what you described as a so-called honey trap? >> yes, current and former secret service officials say they are trained on what to look out for in a foreign country and even in the u.s. they discussed the possibility of being compromised.
1:52 pm
one former official says the need to act professionally in these situations is embedded with them from the first day, clearly something slipped here, something major and they're looking into it. it could take a while. >> we'll have more on the story in the next hour as well, brian, thank you. let's go back to jack. he's got "the cafferty file." jack? >> the question this hour is in light of that secret service and gsa scandals. whoay minding the store? jim in dallas writes the people responsible for the secret service and gsa need to explain the internal controls and if they were violated. a public explanation and what actions were taken appear to be in order now. this is not a political issue. this is an accountability issue. joshua wrights, the obamas have set a high standard for high living from the taxpayers, why would the gsa and secret service think otherwise? maybe now the mainstream press and political hacks will understand why many of us will
1:53 pm
vote for ron paul or nobody at ought? why punish the entire agency for the action of a few screw-ups? just fire them and move on. it's still one of the great oekz says in the country, talking about the secret service and those guys aren't going to hurt anybody, but themselves. whoever is minding the agency is behind closed doors and deep in the basement. the who, what and wheres of these agencies have an air of omnipotence about them, the door must be cracked and light must be let in. too utsch in of washington is behind closed doors. george in pennsylvania says does anybody think this is the first time this has happened? this incident is another example of how our tax dollars are being spent. i'm not sure this is the transparency in government that we were promised. and kimmy writes from north carolina, no one is minding the store, that's who. someone left the cookie jar open and it was raided because government workers feel they are entitled. the secret service agent, let's just call them boys gone wild. the administration has gone for
1:54 pm
change and this is what we got. if you want to read more about this, go to the blog cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our post on the situation room's facebook page. wolf? >> thanks very much, jack, for that. coming up in our next hour, fresh outrage over the spending scandal at an embedded government agency. >> 44 bucks for breakfast. i'm a big fan, and i can't spend 44 bucks for breakfast. somebody had to say that. are you kidding me? >> there's more coming to light besides that $44 breakfast. we're learning about details about more lavish trips including one for interns. also, controversial remarks by the rocker ted nugent put romney's campaign on the defensive. up next, his whole school is cheering him on, but a 100-year-old rule might keep this teen from playing. [ banker ] mike and brenda found a house that they really wanted.
1:55 pm
it was in my sister's neighborhood. i told you it was perfect for you guys. literally across the street from her sister. [ banker ] but someone else bought it before they could get their offer together. we really missed a great opportunity -- dodged a bullet there. [ banker ] so we talked to them about the wells fargo priority buyer preapproval. it lets people know that you are a serious buyer because you've been credit-approved. we got everything in order so that we can move on the next place we found. which was clear on the other side of town. [ male announcer ] wells fargo. with you when you're ready to move. handle more than 165 billion letters and packages a year. that's about 34 million pounds of mail every day. ever wonder what this costs you as a taxpayer? millions? tens of millions? hundreds of millions? not a single cent. the united states postal service doesn't run on your tax dollars. it's funded solely by stamps and postage.
1:56 pm
brought to you by the men and women of the american postal workers union. ♪
1:57 pm
i tell you what i can spend. i do my best to make it work. i'm back on the road safely. and i saved you money on brakes. that's personal pricing. a michigan high school is fighting to keep one of its most prized basketball and football players on the -- in the game, but if it fails a 19-year-old with down syndrome will no longer get to do one of the
1:58 pm
things he loves most. play sports. here's cnn's ted rowlands. >> reporter: spend a few minutes with eric and you'll see why his teammates love him. >> reporter: do you practice a lot? >> i practice a lot so i can go to playoffs when i'm on the field. >> reporter: eric is on the high school basketball and football team in a small mining town on michigan's upper pen ins well. eric's coaches put him in near the end if a game's been decided. last year he brought the house down when he made this three-point shot against the rival. >> then i shot it and it made it, and i heard fans and my mom crying. >> i videotaped the crowd on the other side, and it was made up mostly of migoni fans including their student section and they were all on their feet cheering
1:59 pm
for eric. the same thing happened when eric made his first extra point kicking for the football team. >> watching the kids react and they carried him off the field and it was just one of the best moments. >> reporter: eric will be a senior in the fall, but unless something changes, he won't be able to play sports because, with down syndrome, he was held back in elementary school so he turned 19 in january. he's too old. >> eric's high school is trying to get the rules changed so that he can keep playing, but a committee with the athletic association has denied two of the school's petitions. >> members have to change the constituti constitution. at this point in time, they've told us not to. >> reporter: eric's cause is getting a lot of attention and support, a change.org online petition has more than 80,000 signatures. a local t-shirt shop is selling this shirt that says let him play. >> it's one of the things that
2:00 pm
you don't see of too much in our society anymore. >> as a last attempt eric's school has submitted a third petition to the athletic association. >> what is the harm in letting him play? what is your fear about allowing this to happen? because i don't understand it. >> the rule is 100 years old. we've come a long way in those hundred years here in this country, as to how we involve and include people with disability, and i think it's time that the rule catches up with that. >> reporter: eric says he'll continue to practice to get ready for next season even though he knows he may not be able to play. >> reporter: in order for the rule to change two-thirds of the high schools in michigan have to agree with it. up to this point the problem has been the committee. he will meet his fate after the committee meets next month. wolf? >> you'll keep us informed, ted, thanks very, very much.
2:01 pm
and to our viewers, you're in "the situation room." happening now, sickening new revelations about wasteful spending of your taxpayer dollars, far beyond one costly conference in las vegas. we are learning about numerous lavish trips even by interns by an agency that's supposed to keep costs down. will someone from the gsa wind up in jail? also the secret service prostitution scandal keeps on growing and growing. we have new details just coming in about what u.s. personnel did behind closed doors in a colombian hotel. and the stunning reason why passengers were thrown from their seats during a transatlantic flight. turns out the pilot mistook the planet venus for an oncoming plane. i'm wolf blitzer in brussels. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
2:02 pm
i'm here in brussels, belgium, for an exclusive joint interview tomorrow with the secretary of state hillary clinton and secretary of defense leon panetta. they're here on a ministerial summit on afghanistan. tomorrow in "the situation room" the interview will air. right now millions of americans are struggling to make ends meet and as they are we are learning more about how one federal agency has been wasting your taxpayer dollars. officials, even intern, with the general services administration enjoyed quite a few extravagant junkets to places like las vegas, hawaii, palm springs and even the south pacific and that's apparently just the tip of the iceberg. let's go straight to our senior congressional correspondent dana bash. she's getting new information. what's the latest now? >> reporter: the latest as our
2:03 pm
viewers probably know right now, t the gsa is supposed to be saving money by make the govern the more, efficient. for the better part of the day today, wolf, people when used to run the gsa struggled to answer questions about why they allowed what the chairman of this house committee called a culture of fraud, waste, corruption and cover-ups. not only did this 2010 over the top las vegas gsa conference cost taxpayers more than $800,000, it turns out the lead conference organizer regional administrator jeff neely took eight trips to vegas to advance it for $147,000. >> my anger and frustration has finally got tonight boiling point. >> reporter: as tales of extravagant spending unfolded during this five and a half hour hearing, here's why. >> we turned over every stone and every time we turned over a stone we found more. 44 bucks for breakfast.
2:04 pm
i'm a big man and i don't spend $44 for breakfast. are you kidding me? >> reporter: this is where robert peck stayed in las vegas. >> i question the organizers as to the cost. they told me the rooms were within the government rate. >> reporter: it is unclear what the cost really was. the officer jeff neely invoked his fifth amendment rights for the second day in a row and didn't testify, but he was very much the focus, story after story of allegedly skirting and break the rules and maybe even the law to have a good time on the taxpayer dime. >> and you all clearly -- >> reporter: he spent money on meals, here in las vegas so they regularly made some up. >> it was a running joke in region 9 that in order to get food you had to give out awards. one offer witnesses characterized them as i guess, fake awards and jack ass awards and things of that nature. >> reporter: gsa culture gave neely remarkable autonomy.
2:05 pm
the chief financial officer didn't even know what he spent. >> i -- i don't know. >> reporter: jeff dunnham spent seven straight minutes yelling at peck for ignoring the budget. >> why are you hiding the information from this committee and from the american public? >> reporter: it went far beyond las vegas. at least a week in hawaii for a one-hour ribbon cutting. >> would a one-hour ribbon cutting justify a one-week? >> i can't see how anyone can condone that. >> reporter: a 2010 conference for interns in palm springs cost $150,000. two months ago, after the gsa inspector general warned the administrator about neely's extravagant spending, neely brought his wife along on a 17-day junket to the south pacific paid for by taxpayers and just last month, a conference in napa valley wine country cost him $40,000.
2:06 pm
one gsa official said she raised the red flag to no avail. >> you notified the regional administrator ruth cox about the upcoming junket and expressed concern, right? >> i did. >> yea. and what happened? >> i expressed concern and asked her to review the plans and make sure the -- >> and not called it off, didn't it? no. >> reporter: that is -- that is what made these angry lawmakers even more furious that even after they got the inspector general's report which explicitly detailed neely's waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars, these leaders of the gsa failed to stop him from spending even more, hundreds of dollars more dollars -- of your dollars and my dollars, wolf, and the chairman put at the end you wonder why there is so much distrust of the government. wolf? >> it's waste and abuse.
2:07 pm
fraud, that will be proven, dana, but there is a picture and a picture is worth a thousand words and that picture of neely, the guy who took the fisk in testimony before congress in a hot tub and it looks like he's got some wine there. give us the context of this hot tub picture that's causing heartburn out there. >> it sure is. this actually came according to a source on one of the house committees that came from the google plus website of jeff neely's wife. part of the narrative here is that jeff neely didn't just go on these trips. he brought his wife on some of them. one for her birthday and brought his children on them. so this picture really does, as you say, illustrate the excess, the extravagance and it was something that his wife thought it was important to put up on the internet for their friends to see. >> dana bash watching all of this unfold on the hill. thanks very much. obviously, most people would agree that all of that lavish, extravagant spending by the gsa
2:08 pm
is simply outrageous. here's the question, is it criminal? let's bring in our legal analyst jeffrey toobin. this kind of misconduct, jeff, could it actually lead to criminal charges? >> well, wolf, depending on based on when i've seen so far i think it's extremely unlikely that there will be criminal charges. this is government waste. these are conferences that took too long, that were in inappropriate places that cost too much, but there does not appear to be the element of fraud, as you mentioned that would turn a firing offense into a criminal offense. nobody was putting money in their pockets. nobody was stealing government equipment. if it's disclosed that that's what was going on, then, i think, you could seriously consider this as a criminal prosecution point. . >> if there were kickbacks or bribes or anything along those lines, obviously, that becomes a
2:09 pm
criminal investigation, but we did hear suggestions that the gsa has referred some of this to the justice department and neely himself, jeff neely took the fifth in his testimony. why would he take the fifth in a situation like this? >> well, given the swirl of accusations and given the anger in congress and given the possibility of criminal charges, even if not the likelihood, any lawyer would be well-advised to advise a client under this kind of scrutiny to take the fifth. certainly, he was within his rights to do it and most lawyers with experience in washington, would give that advice even though criminal prosecution in these circumstances, as it appears now seems very unlikely. >> yea. they would really have to be a smoke gun as far as fraud, as we say. if there's any evidence that there have been some suggestions and maybe there were kickbacks or bribes, but i haven't seen
2:10 pm
hard evidence along those lierngs have you? >> no, i haven't and that's what would put this into the criminal category. money into the pocket of government employees or potentially government equipment, computers or something like that that goes home with the employees. if they're simply bad at their job and they're simply wasteful in how they spend the government's money, that is good reason to fire them, but it is unlikely and probably impossible that that would lead to criminal charges. >> jeff toobin, thanks very, very much. let's get to the presidential race and the rock star -- yes, a rock star that's amping up the rhetoric. we're talking about ted nugent who is under fire by democrats and others for calling president obama and his administration in his word, evil. that's a problem for mitt romney right now because nugent is one of his supporters. our senior correspondent joe johns is covering the romney campaign. tell our viewers, joe, what's
2:11 pm
going on. >> reporter: wolf, mitt romney comes here to lancaster, pennsylvania, tonight, facing essentially what a lot of people believe is a real challenge in this state that will be absolutely crucial by the time we get to november. stumping for votes in battleground pennsylvania, mitt romney picked up the endorsement of the state's republican governor as well as the two top republicans in the congress. house speaker john baner and senate republican leader mitch mcconnell. romney is honing his message to the middle class and ceding no ground to the incumbent president he is all, but certain to take on in the fall. >> as we reshape our tax plans we have to make sure that we're not giving a special break to people who might be at the highest -- highest income level, and i know that democrats will day in and day out say oh, they're for tax cuts for the rich. it's, like, no. i'm going keep the burden on high-income people. the same share of the burden it
2:12 pm
is today. if they pay x percent of the tax burden today they'll pay the same percent tomorrow, but my focus is not on punishing people. my focus is on getting jobs. >> reporter: the romney campaign was learning something new about how to sidestep distractions like ted nugent's mouth. the rock star and romney's latest verbal eruption was over the weekend at the national rifle association convention, attacking the entire obama administration as un-american. >> if you can't go home and get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil america-hating administration, i don't even know what you're made out of and if you're taking offense at that -- tough. >> reporter: democrats quickly took the bait putting up a web video featuring nugent and demanding romney denounce him. the romney campaign played it off, basically dismissing nugent with his rudeness in a written statement. >> divisive language is
2:13 pm
offensive no matter what side of the political aisle it comes from. mitt romney believes everyone needs to be civil. distractions aside, romney's bigger problem is bringing the republican party together. take, for example, former senator and presidential candidate rick santorum who even at this late date remains a headache, seemingly waiting to happen. it is not clear at all that he's planning to endorse romney at least from what he said in a conference call monday. >> as far as, you know, involvement with a particular presidential candidate right now, i've had a chance to talk to newt, and i haven't yet had a chance to talk to governor romney, but we'll be talking to both of them. >> reporter: santorum also canceled an appearance here in pennsylvania with both newt gingrich and mitt romney. santorum spokeswoman alice stewart has told cnn there is no bad blood between romney and santorum and that santorum simply canceled that appearance
2:14 pm
here because he expected to spend more time with his family, wolf? >> joe johns, thanks very much for that. we are learning right now about the services -- so-called services that were received in connection with u.s. secret service prostitution scandal. stand by, new details coming in of what happened in that colombian hotel. plus, dozens of school girls are rushed to the hospital. officials say they were poisoned. we'll tell you what's going on. and payback time for a lottery winner who was still asking for welfare checks. [ male announcer ] aggressive styling. a more fuel-efficient turbocharged engine. and a completely redesigned interior. ♪ the 2012 c-class with over 2,000 refinements. it's amazing...inside and out. see your authorized mercedes-benz dealer for exceptional offers
2:15 pm
through mercedes-benz financial services.
2:16 pm
sadly, no. oh. but i did pick up your dry cleaning and had your shoes shined. well, i made you a reservation at the sushi place around the corner. well, in that case, i better get back to these invoices...
2:17 pm
which i'll do right after making your favorite pancakes. you know what? i'm going to tidy up your side of the office. i can't hear you because i'm also making you a smoothie. [ male announcer ] marriott hotels & resorts knows it's better for xerox to automate their global invoice process so they can focus on serving their customers. with xerox, you're ready for real business. >> jack cafferty is here with "the cafferty file." now that mitt romney is likely the republican nominee he may begin talking about his mormon faith. politico reports a lot of republicans think he should embrace his mormonism publicly so people can better understand
2:18 pm
imhad. romney got pushback from evangelicals who questioned whether mormons believe in jesus christ. one texas baptist supporter called it a cult. mormonism is a big part of who mitt romney is. he traveled to france on a two-year mission for the church as a young adult and who raised his five sons as mormons and has held several church leadership positions, nevertheless, romney doesn't really like to talk about it. in the 2007 presidential campaign romney addressed his religion in his "60 minutes" interview and in a speech called "faith in america." his aides say he has no immediate plans to make another formal speech at least for now, but maybe he should. it would help clear up lingering questions about mormonism, a religion that still seems odd and insular to many.
2:19 pm
mormonism has a tainted past that includes racism and mrig me. a cnn/orc poll taken last october shows 17% of americans would be less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who is a mormon. that's not a small number. of course, religion and politics have always been a difficult equation. a lot of americans thought jfk would never get elected president in 1960 because he was a roman catholic and we've never had a catholic president. here's the question. mitt romney is a mormon. how much will it matter? go to cnn.com/cafferty file or go to my post on the situation room's facebook page. wolf? >> jack cafferty, thanks very, very much. lisa sylvester is standing by. she's monitoring some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now including the arrest of an accused terrorist who may have inspired one of the 9/11 hijackers. lisa, what do you have? >> wolf, british authorities say cat atta is a radical cleric
2:20 pm
linked to al qaeda. jordan says he'll be tried before civilian judges, but the european court of human rights fears he may be tortured. he came to the uk claiming grounds he was tortured by jordanian authorities. we are learning that billionaire warren buffett has been diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer. the ceo of berkshire hathaway says it is not life threatening and he'll undergo radiation treatment. a volcano near mexico city may be ready to erupt. scientists are seeing eruptions at the volcano nicknamed popo. a visible glow inside the crater and falling ash has been reported and people are advised to stay indoors and officials say there's an intermediate to high threat of of a lava eruption. michigan is sending a message to lottery winners. you can't receive welfare once you win. amanda clayton will be charged
2:21 pm
with fraud after collecting thousands of dollars even after winning $1 million. now she says she thought it might be okay because she's not working, but michigan law says people on welfare must report changes in assets within ten days. and say good-bye to the classic shaken, not stirred martini for james bond, at least in one scene. the studio behind the british spy's latest film has cut a deal with heineken to show bond drinking a beer, but actor daniel craig defends the decision saying it had to be done because the film, quote, costs a lot of money to make. clearly moving in the direction of product placement to raise some funds for that, wolf. >> love those james bond movies all of the time. thanks very much, lisa, for that. at least 140 female teachers and school girls allegedly poisoned. up next, we'll tell you why authorities say they were targeted. plus, sounds almost too bizarre
2:22 pm
to be true, but it is. a handful of airline passengers injured after the pilot nosedives to avoid the planet venus or at least what he thought was planet venus. what's going on? we'll tell you. everything that i've gained in life has been because of the teachers and the education that i had. they're just part of who i am. she convinced me that there was no limit to what we could learn. i don't think i'd be here today had i not had a wonderful science teacher. a teacher can make a huge difference in a child's life. he would never give up on any of us. thank you dr. newfield. you had a big impact on me. standard keyless access, and standard leather-trimmed seats, then your choice is obvious. the lexus es. it's complete luxury in a class full of compromises. see your lexus dealer.
2:23 pm
a little bird told me about a band... ♪ an old man shared some fish stories... ♪ oooh, my turn. ♪ she was in paris, but we talked for hours... everyone else buzzed about the band. there's a wireless mind inside all of us. so, where to next? ♪
2:24 pm
2:25 pm
let's go to afghanistan right now where at least, at least 140 school girls and female teachers have been hospitalized after drinking what health officials are calling poisoned water. the attacks are being blamed on extremists who oppose women's education and any rights for women and all in afghanistan. pretty shocking ten years after this liberation of afghanistan began.
2:26 pm
let's go to muhammad jabjoon. how are these young girls and teachers doing? >> reporter: well, wolf, we are told by health officials that the victims ranged in age from 14 to 30. thankfully, no deaths have been reported. half of them suffered partial loss of consciousness, some dizziness and some vomiting and they've been taken to a hospital up there. the health official told us that a water tank in that school, they believe, was contaminated and they think that the people who contaminated this were extremists and insurgents against female education and we must remember that although it is shocking that this would happen in tahar province in 2010 in different parts of afghanistan over 100 women and girls were poise ond under similar circumstances and water being poisoned at girls' schools even though it's ten years after the launch of the war here, after the taliban was -- after the taliban was taken out of
2:27 pm
power here in afghanistan, girls' schools started to reopen and still in remote parts of afghanistan abuse of women and girls still happens quite frequently. wolf? >> yea. if the taliban had their way they'd like to see that expanded. muhammad, you are also getting new information on the -- in the past couple of days these strings of pretty sophisticated attacks in kabul and elsewhere in afghanistan. what are you learning? >> reporter: yea, wolf. over 18 hours just here in kabul, there were attacks going on, very close to where we are in the center of the city. we heard those the other day. today new details, merging. we spoke with the spokesperson for the taliban. he said that the fighters who carried out these attacks were very, very well prepared and he went on to say we wanted to demonstrate our power to the enemy that even the safest and security places could come under
2:28 pm
our attack and we could target headquarters under those positions and that's very important because it is one of the most important military base of our element. we learned later and later into the evening that insurgents in this very safe and secure part of kabul called the ring of steel and a heavily fortified part of kabul was overlooking several embassies and close to the nato headquarters and now the taliban saying a very deliberate strategy that their fighters were very well trained and they very deliberately targeted these installations so that they could send a message to the west, wolf? >> and a huge, huge embarrassment for afghan intelligence, for nato intelligence, for the u.s. as the major contributor to nato in afghanistan right now that these terrorists could launch such a sophisticated series of attacks without anyone knowing about it. we'll have a lot more on this coming up tomorrow, muhammad, here in "the situation room."
2:29 pm
it will be one of the major issues i'll be discussing in an exclusive joint interview with the secretary of state hillary clinton and the secretary of defense leon panetta. they are here at nato headquarters outside brussel and my interview with hillary clinton and leon panetta airs tomorrow in "the situation room". the white house is standing by the director of the secret service despite the prostitution scandal that exploded over the weekend during the president's trip to colombia. let's go to our white house correspondent, brianna keilar who is getting new information. what else is going on? >> reporter: for the moment the director of the secret service is faring well. president obama is standing behind him. jay carney repeated what we heard president obama say in colombia that he is reserving some judgment until the investigation is completed by the secret service, but that president obama will be very angry if these accusations and these allegations prove to be
2:30 pm
true, but he did defend sullivan. here he is. >> the president has confidence in the director of the secret service. director sullivan acted quickly in response to this incident and is overseeing an investigation as we speak into the matter. >> reporter: the other thing to take note of, wolf is up on capitol hill there is no chorus calling for sullivan to step aside. in fact, the republican chairman of the house homeland security committee as you know, peter king, is defending sullivan as well. they have a very good relationship, and he right now is also standing behind him. so an important republican voice supporting sullivan as well, wolf. >> brianna, in washington, second chances are rare, thirdness chances even rarer. >> reporter: remember in 2009 mark sullivan was at the center over the salahis getting into the state dinner that they
2:31 pm
shouldn't have been allowed in, it was sullivan who was on the hill testifying, issuing very much a mea culpa. i think the thing is as you watch this investigation progress and as we get details on the findings it would depend on just how much -- perhaps, how wide spread this is among the secret service if this is something that perhaps people determined that sullivan should have known about or should have been aware of and if security could have been compromised perhaps in other situations as well. that will determine whether he continues to have the president's confidence, wolf. >> brianna keilar is our white house correspondent. thank you. we also have new information about the role u.s. military personnel played in the secret service prostitution scandal. let's go to our pentagon correspondent, chris lawrence is working this part of the story. what do you know? >> we now know that the military personnel who are being investigated for misconduct are
2:32 pm
back in the united states and that military investigators are questioning people from all four branches of service. army, navy, air force and marines. they are believed to be at least two of the marines were believed to be handling military working dogs and also u.s. navy and air force personnel who are involved in explosive disposal. they are also being questioned for misconduct. the misconduct involves what may have happened behind closed doors, drinking, allegations of prostitution. all of that is being investigated. the investigator from the military arrived down in colombia on monday night. he is still conducting that investigation. some of the charges or some of the possible punishment that these military troops could face include almost a year in conf e confinement and dishonorable discharge although at this point it seems more likely that it
2:33 pm
would be an administrative punishment unless there was more information that came out during this investigation that perhaps some of the women were underaged. there was no indication of that at all right now. so more administrative punishment is more likely at this point, wolf? >> is it the suspicion, chris, that these military personnel had sex with these prostitutes at that hotel in colombia? >> reporter: all of that is part of the investigation, wolf. in fact, senator susan collins of maine recently talked to the head of the secret service. she says that there were at least 20 women, foreign nationals, who were brought back to this hotel. part of the investigation is to fiend out exactly who these women were and what occurred at the hotel. one thing to keep in mind that the number, the total number under investigation, these 11
2:34 pm
agents and ten or 11, perhaps military personnel, that number may change because as they question some of the military personnel, some are cleared of wrongdoing and taken off the list. perhaps others are brought on to that list. so it could be a fluid number at this point as the investigators work through what happened. >> chris lawrence at the pentagon for us. thank you. huge, huge crowds in awe up and down the east coast on this day as the shuttle discovery makes an amazing final journey on the back of a 747. and we'll tell you what caused a fireball in the sky that was captured by nasa cameras and why did a commercial pilot take passengers on a dangerous nosedive? investigators reveal he mistook a planet for a plane.
2:35 pm
2:36 pm
durn'it, this thing's runnin' slow. bet you think you're pretty quick? yeah, i guess it is pretty quick. jesse?!? jesse? jesse?! much obliged. suddenly, everything else seems old-fashioned. ultrabook. inspired by intel. arrival. with hertz gold plus rewards, you skip the counters, the lines, and the paperwork. zap. it's our fastest and easiest way to get you into your car.
2:37 pm
it's just another way you'll be traveling at the speed of hertz. is engineered for comfort. like parts that create the perfect temperature and humidity or parts that purify the air. together these parts can cut your heating and cooling bills in half. that's comforting. call now to get up to 1,375 dollars in rebates. or zero percent financing for 18 months. plus download our free lennox mobile app with an energy-savings calculator to show how much you'll save... with lennox. innovation never felt so good.
2:38 pm
>> at first glance it looks like a giant ball of fire, but what you're taking a look at and you're seeing here is an eruption from the sun called a solar flare. explain why this happens. what's going on? >> we are in an 11-year cycle and we're going to the peak of the 11-year cycle, wolf, which means we'll see more active sun spots and more active solar flares and the cmes or the coronal mass ejection. what we had of the atmosphere of the sun exploding away from the sun sending gasses and protons and plasma out into the sky. the good news is this was not aimed at the earth. this was aimed to the left. if anything comes at us this could actually affect some of our communications. it being affect some of the satellites and it could affect some of the power outages and some of the power grids and there's a lot of energy and there's a lot of power coming out of that explosion coming at
2:39 pm
the earth or coming to the left or to the right. i just want to give you an idea because i have a different colored image behind me just to give you a sense of scale. the sun right here. that would be the size of the earth. you could put 20 earths or so inside just that circle where the explosion occurred. the size and an enormous size of the sun is something to imagine, but when you put the earth into context you realize how big that explosion really was, wolf. >> all right, chad, thank you. an amazing scene all of the way from the beaches of florida to washington, d.c. crowds and crowds of people in complete awe over this. that's the space shuttle "discovery" making its journey on the back of a boeing 747 to the smithsonian air and space museum just outside washington. look at these unbelievable pictures sent into us from our
2:40 pm
i-reporters. this one against the horizon just after leaving florida's kennedy space center. this one captured right above the capitol building in washington, and check out this one. a jaw-dropping view from directly overhead. and this official photo from nasa on twitter. the shuttle landed amid roaring cheers and applause. it will now star as the guest of honor in a four-day celebration officially welcoming it to the smithsonian collection in chantilly, virginia. only a few hours left to file your taxes before it's too late. just ahead, last-minute tips for those of you scrambling to get in under the wire. plus, police stand by the controversial decision to handcuff and arrest a 6-year-old -- 6-year-old. we have details just ahead. actually, the milk from my farm makes it so creamy, right dad. ah, but my carrots have that crunch. it's my milk in the rich sauce coating the chicken and the pasta.
2:41 pm
boys! don't you think stouffer's steam perfect bag should get some credit? my carrots. my milk. my carrots. my milk. [ female announcer ] new from stouffer's. farmers' harvest steam meals for one in the steam perfect bag seal in all the goodness. they taste so good, we'll bet the farm on it. nestle. good food, good life. carrots! creamy! to provide a better benefits package... oahhh! [ male announcer ] it made a big splash with the employees. [ duck yelling ] [ male announcer ] find out more at... [ duck ] aflac! [ male announcer ] ...forbusiness.com. ♪ ha ha! that could adapt to changing road conditions. one that continually monitors and corrects for wheel slip. we imagined a vehicle
2:42 pm
that can increase emergency braking power when you need it most. and we imagined it looking like nothing else on the road today. then...we built it. the 2012 glk. see your authorized mercedes-benz dealer for exceptional offers through mercedes-benz financial services.
2:43 pm
some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now including one of our own news studios rocked by an earthquake. lisa, what happened? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. crews in chile are assessing damage of an earthquake strong
2:44 pm
enough to cause mud slides. what you are seeing is video as the quake rattles a newscast on our sister network in chile. the 6.7 quake could be felt in the capital 70 miles away. in 2010 hundreds died from an earthquake in the same region of chile. and apparently global warming isn't melting ice everywhere. a new study shows half the glaciers in a specific region of the himalayas are staying the same size or in some cases actually growing. the author of the study says explanations for the increase are still not clear, warning peculiar atmospheric behavior isn't surprising. >> the company that makes the popular treat twinkies may go under. hostess brands is taking legal action to throw out union contracts that may lead to a strike that management and the unions agree will end the company. hostess employs over 1800 people, three-quarters of whom are union members. hostess treats have been around
2:45 pm
since 1888. police in georgia are defending their decision to handcuff and arrest a 6-year-old. the school called police because the girl was allegedly throwing furniture, and an officer says she was actively fighting him when he arrived at the scene, but her parents are questioning how school officials handled it is aing saying they shouldn't have called the police. you have only a few more hours to file taxes before you are penalized. we have a couple of tips. if you have a low-paying job you can save a lot from the earned income tax credit and if you're unemployed make sure you claim your jobs and search-related expenses including the cost of a headhunter. all good tips there, wolf. >> and if you still haven't done it you can still file for a six-month extension. that's relatively easy to do if you really don't think you can get it done by midnight tonight. isn't that right, lisa? >> that's right. you don't get a free pass on what you pay and essentially if
2:46 pm
you owe the irs. you still have to pay that on time by today, but you can file an extension if you are not anticipating if you have to pay the irs, wolf. thanks very much. passengers thought they were thrown from their seats because of turbulence. the pilot thought he saw the planet venus. and the search for the missing potato chip. [ man ] ring ring... progresso this reduced sodium soup says it may help lower cholesterol, how does it work? you just have to eat it as part of your heart healthy diet. step 1. eat the soup. all those veggies and beans, that's what may help lower your cholesterol and -- well that's easy [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
2:47 pm
has been because of the teachers and the education that i had. they're just part of who i am. she convinced me that there was no limit to what we could learn. i don't think i'd be here today had i not had a wonderful science teacher. a teacher can make a huge difference in a child's life. he would never give up on any of us. thank you dr. newfield. you had a big impact on me. hey, it's sandra -- from accounting. peter. i can see that you're busy... but you were gonna help us crunch the numbers for accounts receivable today. i mean i know that this is important. well, both are important. let's be clear. they are but this is important too. [ man ] the receivables. [ male announcer ] michelin knows it's better for xerox to help manage their finance processing. so they can focus on keeping the world moving. with xerox, you're ready for real business.
2:48 pm
2:49 pm
it sounds almost too bizarre to be true, but it is, the pilot suddenly, suddenly finds out that he's throwing a plane into a nosedive to avoid the planet venus. our lisa sylvester is joining us now with more on these alarming details. what happened? >> this could have been a major disaster. the airline originally blamed severe turbulence, but now we know it was actually pilot error. the air canada flight was en route to toronto, it was half way across the atlantic when this happened. the first officer requested what is called a controlled rest in the cockpit. that's a short nap during the
2:50 pm
flight which is allowed. it's only supposed to last a maximum of 40 minutes, but the officer slept for about 75 minute, clearly in a deep slumber. when he woke up the captain mentioned there was a u.s. military plane in the vicinity. the first officer, disoriented, looks out and sees the planet venus. he claims it is looks out and sees the planet venus. he thinks it's the other plane headed straight for them. the captain realizing what has happened pulls the plane back up. passengers in the back who were sleeping at the time are suddenly woken by the shaking and being tossed around. >> i was literally violently thrown out of my seat and slammed into the ceiling. i was in a window seat. and so i hit the top of the ceiling and fell back to the ground and after that it was just kind of chaos. we had felt that we might have hit something. it was that violent of a push, i
2:51 pm
guess. it felt like we had had a mountain or another object. it wasn't turbulence. it didn't feel like turbulence. it didn't feel like free falling. it felt like we hit something. >> youtube video shot afterwards. >> his laptop went flying that way. i hit the roof. everyone is safe but this is part of the damage. >> ceiling panels knocked down. in all 14 passengers and two flight attendants had minor injuries. the airline initially blamed turbulence for the january 2011 flight. it was only after the release of the report by the transportation safety board of canada this week that we found out what really happened. aviation expert and pilot jim tillman says it's clear policies were not followed but he sympathizes with the pilot. >> if you've never seen venus lit up like that in a dark sky, you don't know, no frame of reference to realize that it
2:52 pm
looks just like the lights, the light on a front end of another airplane. >> trans atlantic flights are among the most difficult for pilots because flights are overnight and they go against a person's natural body clock. on air canada, there are only two pilots on board unlike american where there are two pilots but also a relieve pilot. >> it's not the length of the flight. where you only have two pilots and that time of day consideration comes into play that really makes them, you know, a risk for fatigue. >> and air canada responded to this incident saying, quote, we sincerely regret that some of our customers were injured and we have taken measures to prevent a reoccurrence of that type of event and improve safety overall. so pretty frightening, wolf, for
2:53 pm
the passengers involved. but everyone was safe in the end, wolf. >> that's good. at least everyone was fine when all was said and done. thank you, lisa, for that report. let's go back to jack for the cafferty file. >> the question is mitt romney is a mormon. how much will it matter? mitt is a strange guy. he's wish she wash she on his political views. he's concrete on his religion, though, and yet he won't openly discuss it. it makes no sense. is he afraid of what america will think? it shouldn't matter but we'd still like to see him address it or at least not dodge every question about what he believes. and potential matchup between black man and mormon poses dilemma for bigots. >> for someone swimming in our
2:54 pm
political shark tank, i've always found mormons to be highly honest, highly skilled and hardworking and operate tea yot particular and committed to service and family values. paul writes, lots. religion is the only thing that romney hasn't flip-flopped on. the only thing we americans love more than our individual beliefs is showing how inclusive we can be. this is going to be interesting. tom writes, romney's faith doesn't matter to thinking people but it does matter that his own party seems to have so little faith in him. and rick in virginia writes, i'm sorry. when i first read the question i thought it said mitt romney is a moron. if you'd like to read more of this silliness, find it on my blog, cnn.com/caffertyfile or through the facebook page.
2:55 pm
wolf? >> silliness is a good word. thanks very, very much. ever opened a bag of potato chips only to find out there's more air than snack? >> one, two, three, four -- all energy development comes with some risk,
2:56 pm
but proven technologies allow natural gas producers to supply affordable, cleaner energy, while protecting our environment. across america, these technologies protect air - by monitoring air quality and reducing emissions... ...protect water - through conservation and self-contained recycling systems... ... and protect land - by reducing our footprint and respecting wildlife. america's natural gas... domestic, abundant, clean energy to power our lives... that's smarter power today.
2:57 pm
and now it powers our latest innovation in more efficient cooling and heating. introducing the world's only solar-powered home energy system, which can cut your heating and cooling bills in half. call now to get up to 1,375 dollars in rebates. or zero percent financing for 18 months. plus download our free lennox mobile app with an energy-savings calculator to show how much you'll save... with lennox. innovation never felt so good.
2:58 pm
the next tichl time you open up a bag of chips, you may not get what you're bargaining for. here is jeanne moos. >> reporter: is your potato chip bag half empty or half full? how about almost completely empty? >> let's count the chips. three, four, five, and then some crumbs. >> reporter: no wonder this guy has a chip on his shoulders. >> come on, lay's. >> reporter: and although his complaint is the most recent to go viral, he's not alone. this guy found only two chips. poor lay's. some are laying it on thick. i love it when i buy a bag of
2:59 pm
air and the company is nice enough to put some chips in it. where's the chips? but if you're feeling cheated over your half empty bag of chips, listen to the consumer report's researcher who wrote an article called air to spare. empty air is protective. >> it absolutely is on so many levels. >> reporter: he warns of too much head space in lots of packaging but when it comes to fragile, breakable chips, he's convinced that the empty space is needed, especially on the assembly line. >> those rollers can actually damage the chips and turn them into crumbs. >> reporter: they may be called lay's, to lay them on top of each other for shipping. >> if there's not enough air to cushion the chips, guess what, you'll have more mashed chips. >> reporter: but there's no excuse for this. we bought five packages of chips from our newsroom vending machine and investigated the contents of each. can't complain about that