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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  December 19, 2013 2:00pm-3:31pm PST

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that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i'll be back in two hours on "outfront" 7:00 p.m. eastern. i now turn you over to wolf blitzer. he is right next door in "the situation room." mr. blitzer? we're following the breaking news, a ceiling collapses during a performance at an historic london theater. there are casualties. we are going live to the scene. also, target shoppers targeted. up to 40 million credit and debit cards may have been compromised by hackers who somehow broke into the retailer's checkout system. we will tell you information you need to know, what you need to do about it. and cocaine clemency. president obama commutes the sentences of convicted convicts and hands out pardons to other prisoners. what's behind the move? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
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we do have breaking news this hour. a ceiling has collapsed at an historic london theater right in the middle of a performance. authorities say there are many casualties. our senior international correspondent nic robertson is on the scene for us. nic, tell our viewers what we know. >> reporter: well, wolf, we know so far that the ceiling collapsed inside the apollo theater about 40 minutes into a performance this evening. it was a crowded theater. over 700 people in there. 30 to 40 people injured, five of them seriously. precisely why the roof collapsed is unclear at this time. the police have cordoned off this very busy west end district in the center of london. i'm joined by two people here, michelle and henry, who were both inside the theater watching this performance. michelle, can you describe what happened? what you saw? >> we were about a third through the show and all of a sudden,
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people started moving and i couldn't understand why, then there was a cloud of smoke and it just became like a black mist and people climbing over me. i don't understand why and i said to henry we've got to go, we've got to go, i don't know why, but we've got to go. pick up your things, we're going. >> reporter: henry, what did you see? did you get any indication the ceiling was about to collapse? >> no indication whatsoever. it collapsed and people were climbing over us so we decided it was time to leave. michelle grabbed hold of me and we tried to get out as quick as we could. it was pandemonium. there was panic everywhere. >> reporter: could you see people who were injured around you? >> you couldn't see a thing. as soon as the roof caved in there was smoke everywhere, it was very dark. there was nothing we could see. >> outside there were a lot of people, they just looked black. they were just covered in soot. and i didn't see any seriously injured people, but they were just covered in soot. i was lucky, we were lucky because we were just higher above the ceiling that actually had collapsed. >> reporter: the ceiling
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collapsed toward the back of the theater. can you describe that moment when it happened? >> i thought it was part of the show, you know when you have smoke, as part of the show. then it just became obvious because people were panicking and it became -- i wanted to lock myself in the toilet and then i thought no, we've got to get out of here. >> reporter: so henry, you have people clambering over you. what happened then? >> it's incredibly surreal. you don't know what you're doing. we were looking for the exits, as simple as that. we didn't know where we were. like michelle says, we were covered in i guess soot. >> which exit do you choose, the right one, the left one. >> reporter: people described the emergency services getting on the scene very quickly. what was your experience? >> by the time we were out, it was about, what, two minutes, three minutes, and they were there. it was incredible. >> reporter: police, ambulance? >> very impressed that they were there. by the time we were out on the
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street. >> it was very impressive, to be fair. it's never a situation you want to find yourself in but it was very impressive the way they dealt with it. >> reporter: as far as you know the theater was very full this evening? >> packed, i would say. i didn't see an empty seat the whole time we were there. >> that's right. >> reporter: thank you both very much indeed. glad you're okay. thank you for joining us. thank you. thank you very much. wolf, we are really only just beginning to get to grips with what has happened here. we are seeing some of the fire service workers move away from the area, an indication that perhaps their job is done. we do understand from the fire service that they have able to get all the people out of the theater now. we've seen people being taken away by paramedics, but again, the extent of some of these serious injuries, those details we are not aware of. >> we are told 700 people, as you say, were inside and maybe 20 to 40 were injured, some of them seriously, right? >> reporter: five seriously, we understand. that was the most recent count we had.
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30 or 40 injured all together. eyewitnesses we talked to described seeing people with cuts, with lacerations, people covered in dust. again, the paramedics that we've seen going in, arriving very, very quickly and this is a recurring theme that we're hearing from the eyewitnesses here. people inside the theater. there's a fire station just a couple of blocks away from the theater, very quickly on the scene. police quickly on the scene. we're now hearing that seven serious casualties is what we understand at the moment. so those figures changing, which is what we would expect in a developing situation like this. you can probably still hear the sirens going off. this is a very busy district in the center of london. the theaters around here, very busy at this time of year. i was in a theater myself this weekend just a block from here. very, very busy. this area now cordoned off by the police. seeing some more of the paramedics moving away from the scene, empty stretchers so
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perhaps an indication now that the emergency services have at least done most of their work here. perhaps a chance for the other services to get in and try to discover what actually happened. we're watching somebody being wheeled away, just to my side here, somebody wheeled away, wrapped in an emergency aluminum blanket. four paramedics with them, helping that person away on a stretcher. we witnessed somebody else being taken away. i see the doors to the ambulance open down there where they're being taken away, loaded into the ambulance. although the emergency services very quickly on the scene, it seems that they are still treating people, we understood they were being taken to the theater next door to the apollo theater for treatment, and now seeing some of them taken away. so clearly some level of treatment going on on the scene here. very likely stabilizing some of those injuries. >> we are told about 720 people were in the theater at the time
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of this collapse. we're also now told about 80 walking wounded outside, many of whom have had head injuries. about seven people, as you point out now, much more seriously injured, gone to local hospitals. this apollo theater, piccadilly circus right in the heart of london, it actually opened its doors in february of 1901. this is more than 100 years old. i assume they have renovated over the years, but is this extraordinary in london that an old theater like this has a problem, or has this occurred in the past, nic? you live in london. we may have lost or connection with nic robertson, unfortunately. we will get back to him. he's on the scene outside the apollo theater, piccadilly circus in london. here's another gripping description of the ceiling collapse from someone who was inside the theater at the time. listen to this. >> it was a very, very loud series of bangs and cracks, and
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then the whole view of the theater in front of us was obscured by a cloud of dust and debris, which would have fallen on to the audience in front of us. initially, i think the thought was it had to do with the performance because it has side effects and it's a little unexpected in places but immediately it appeared that wasn't the case. everybody got up and dashed for an exit. there were people outside completely dumbfounded by what happened and slowly people started coming out covered in dust from head to toe. i was there, i saw about 20 or 30 people bloodied. >> you can only imagine being inside that theater, more than 700 people inside the apollo theater in london watching "the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime." that's the play up on the stage
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and all of a sudden, a ceiling or balcony starts collapsing, and people start screaming in terror. jim sciutto used to be based in london, has been to the apollo theater there. he's joining us. jim, give us your impressions what this old theater is like. it opened its doors back in february of 1901. >> yeah, picture yourself in a famous broadway theater, it's big, historical, and it's just a few blocks from piccadilly circus which is like times square, right in the center. inside, it's one of these classic old school theaters. it's got three balconies above the ground floor level, lit with all this gold decoration, that kind of thing. a real antique piece. so picture yourself inside, imagining one of those collapsing and just how confusing and how much panic there must have been there. but this is right in the middle of it, the best comparison i can think of is one of those theaters around times square in new york. >> these are old buildings, but i assume in london, they go ahead and inspect these buildings all the time.
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you have more than 700 people crammed into a theater, they want to make sure it's safe. as you point out, three levels above the ground level, four levels all together. >> that's right. when you think about it, 100 years old is not a very old building. you have buildings in london from the 15th century, 600 years old going back to tudor times, some of those in downtown london. they have a history of protecting these buildings. in fact, prince charles has the prince's trust which goes around the country to protect old buildings. they also have a history of keeping them in good shape. this kind of thing, very good history of protection and inspection so this would be a surprise. it's not like in london, they're not used to having old buildings like that that they have to maintain and inspect. >> they certainly do. stand by. cnn's erin mcloughlin is in london for us right now. what are you hearing from officials there? >> reporter: hi, wolf. the london fire brigade now saying that seven people were seriously injured in this incident, 80 walking wounded,
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all trapped -- all that were trapped now free. that according to the london fire brigade, metropolitan police tweeting that they do not believe there have been any fatalities as a result of this incident. also saying that even a london bus at one point was used to transport wounded to the hospital in an incident that happened about an hour and 45, an hour and 50 minutes ago at that very historic theater right in the heart of london. >> it's obviously now, what time is it approaching, 11:00, almost approaching 10:00 or 11:00 at night, right? >> reporter: it's around 10:00 at night. still authorities on the scene have developed a cordon around the apollo theater. they are still treating people who have been injured and assessing the damage, no doubt in the coming days they will be taking a very close look at the condition of the ceiling inside this theater to figure out what went wrong. >> we will stay on top of this story, give you more information to our viewers as it becomes available. erin, don't go too far away. once again, the apollo theater
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right in the heart of london near piccadilly circus, the apollo theater having a major, major collapse. 700 people inside, at least seven injured critically, 80 injured all together, we're told. we are also awaiting a possible news conference in london. we will bring you that and the updates as they become available. there is other important news, though, we're following, including a major story developing right here in the united states. up to 40 million credit and debit cards used at a national retailer, target, may have been compromised by hackers. we have a security expert standing by to tell you what you need to know, what you need to do about it if you were impacted. also, president obama commutes the sentences of a group of crack cocaine convicts so what's behind this move to free these drug offenders? stand by. that way with health care. with unitedhealthcare, i get information on quality rated doctors, treatment options and cost estimates,
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attention, target shoppers. the department store chain says up to 40 million credit and debit cards may have been compromised in a three-week period beginning on black friday. the hackers targeted purchases made inside the stores, not online. we have a top security expert standing by to tell you what you need to know and what you can do but let's begin our coverage with our crime and justice correspondent, joe johns. how bad was it? >> wolf, it could be one of the biggest known credit and debit card security breaches ever. it apparently started right around black friday and continued until this past sunday, and easy to remember because the target was target. the timing couldn't be worse. the holiday shopping season. but now an international manhunt
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is on to find out who is behind the massive breach of target stores. the team led by the u.s. secret service working with the retailer and credit card companies, trying to catch whoever grabbed potentially tens of millions of personal credit card information files before the hackers could maximize their illegal profits. >> it's a race against the clock both for the bad guys and for the merchants and for target, of course. >> reporter: the bad news? the guy who discovered the data grab says there is evidence the stolen information is already being used. >> you start to see a huge number of stolen cards flood the underground market. you know something is up. >> reporter: the perpetrators likely came from abroad and got the goods at customers who shopped at some or all of target's 1800 u.s. bricks and mortar stores, not online purchases. they took point of sale information on the magnetic strip of debit and credit cards, including payment data, name, the three or four digit security number on the card, account
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numbers or expiration dates. most likely the hackers came from eastern europe, says one of the world's top cybersecurity experts. >> all the big crimes come from offshore because there is almost no penalty of being caught. there is no penalty of going to jail. so if you live in some parts of russia or some other countries, the fbi or the secret service is never going to be able to get their hands on you. you can make a lot of money with very little risk. >> reporter: the good news is that target says it has identified and resolved the issue that allowed the breach, and calls this a sophisticated crime, but for those people whose information was compromised, the question is what to do about it. check your bank statements for sure, but don't just look for a bogus charge at target. someone that has your information can try to use it anywhere. target would not comment on speculation that cash register information had somehow been compromised or that this was an attack on their servers. wolf? >> what a story. joe, thanks very much. let's bring in a top
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cybersecurity expert right now, kevin mandia, founder and ceo of mandia which helps detect and contain computer intrusions. thanks very much for coming in. what should folks do? 40 million people potentially at risk. do they immediately just change their credit card number? because that can be a pain to follow up and tell all your creditors you got a new credit card. >> i don't think the bad guys are going to be able to use all 40 million credit cards. i don't think the answer is to run out and change your credit card. you will be notified. but you got to do the battle against fraud like everybody else, meaning check your online credit purchases. could be from anywhere, but if it's not you, there's a number on your card, call. help out the companies, because target is not going to be alone. there will be other retailers with similar issues. >> how extraordinary is this, 40 million? you work in this business. 40 million credit and debit cards potentially compromised. >> well, i only have the outside numbers. when you hear 40 million, the first thing i thought is are they all current. have some of them expired. may not be that big.
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they may be exercising caution, saying hey, it could be up to 40 million. i don't know. the fact that this happened is not that unusual. especially during the holiday season. >> not that unusual. because it sounds like everybody who went into a target during those few weeks could be at risk. >> throughout my 20 years of responding to these incidents, every year around this time, all the retailers, the tier one retailers are massively targeted. they are under siege basically on a daily basis from these attacks. >> you agree they are targeted from foreign sources? offshore? >> absolutely. >> because it's easy to do it? don't they have security procedures to prevent this kind of stuff? >> there's no such thing as prevention. that's the real challenge. we are getting sucker punched in cyberspace. there are no risks or repercussions for attackers coming out of russia or the ukraine. for the first time ever, you can steal people's money or their credit card numbers from thousands of miles away. it's really a challenge. >> i don't understand, don't the companies have walls that would prevent this kind of theft? >> you can do all the right
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things and it's still like trying to throw a perfect game in baseball. when you have people waking up every day saying i'm going to break into this company and they're smart, right now just the unfortunate state of cybersecurity, there are holes in virtually every company's networks. >> bottom line, if you think you have a problem, check to make sure that every one of those purchases is legitimate. if not, you immediately call the credit card company and dispute those charges. >> absolutely right. that's the best you can do. >> thanks very much for helping us better assess what's going on. what a story that is. we will go back to london and get an update on what's going on, that theater collapse. we are waiting for authorities to brief all of us. more than 700 people were inside the apollo theater in london. there are serious injuries, many so-called walking wounded. an update when we come back. also, a new and bipartisan move to authorize new sanctions against iran. why the white house is so deeply worried that will hurt the nuclear agreement with the islamic republic. and powerful republican
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quick update on the breaking news we're following right now. massive collapse at london's apollo theater which has left roughly 80 people injured, seven of them seriously. officials say more than 700 people were inside the theater at the time of the collapse which apparently took down parts of the balconies with it. we are getting more reaction from people who were inside
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during the performance. listen to this. >> it was a sold-out show as far as i know. i actually bought the last two tickets. as far as i know the show was sold out. but by the time we were out, emergency services had already arrived. the staff ushered us out very well, certainly from where we were. they say the worst hit area was actually down in the stalls. back in the balcony, we were kind of okay. it was hard to see anything down stairs, really. there were a lot of people coming out with cuts and bruises. there were a couple people, not sure if -- there were people taking quite serious medical attention. >> we will update you with the latest news as soon as we get it. a pretty serious collapse there at the apollo theater in london. as the white house tries to nurture a new deal with iran aimed at slowing its nuclear program, have lawmakers just thrown a wrench into the works? senators from both parties today
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moved to authorize new sanctions on iran if, if it breaches that agreement. joining us now, republican congressman peter king of new york, who has already indicated he's running for president potentially in 2016. we'll talk about politics in a little while but let's talk about sanctions first, congressman. what do you think, these senators, democrats and republicans, they say that if there's no deal, if it doesn't work out, they are going to give the president in effect a year to reach an agreement, but if iran cheats, doesn't do the deal, then they are going to tighten the sanctions. i assume you would vote for this, right? >> wolf, absolutely i would definitely support these sanctions. the fact is that if iran is serious about the agreement, they should have no problem with the sanctions, because the sanctions only kick in if they don't comply with the agreement. secondly, the president should want these sanctions as a weapon to hold over the iranians so i don't see why the president is so opposed to these sanctions. i don't understand why the iranians, i can understand why
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they say they're opposed but if they're serious about this agreement they should be able to accept the sanctions. >> i assume it will pass. i think they have the votes in the senate. they almost certainly have the votes in the house of representatives. the president, though, white house today said if it does pass, the president will veto that legislation, actually veto it, which would require a two-thirds override in the house and the senate. do you think you have those kinds of votes? >> i think we certainly would in the house. i think the president is making a serious mistake by threatening to veto this bill, because to me, for this to go forward, there has to be strong bipartisan support. if he wants to engage with iran, if he is right now saying he's going to veto a bill that the overwhelming majority of both houses want, to me that is really a breach of faith and the president is really getting off on the wrong foot here and hurting himself and hurting whatever chance he has to go forward with this agreement he wants with iran. >> but apparently, the agreement with iran was that there would be no additional sanctions imposed during the course of
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this interim six-month agreement. they would presumably view this, these additional sanctions, which would only kick in after a year, if there's no deal and if iran cheats. they would see that as a breach of the agreement, they would immediately end their cooperation and then what? >> well, wolf, if they're serious about the agreement, they wouldn't breach it. they would realize that these sanctions are in keeping with the spirit of the agreement. so if iran is opposed to the sanctions bill, then to me it shows that iran is not serious about going forward with compliance. i don't think the president should allow them to say that this is a breach of the agreement. otherwise he is basically taking the side of iran against the united states congress. >> i guess the question the white house would ask you, and i will ask it to you, what's wrong with giving this a chance? hold off on passing additional sanctions, give this opportunity, this diplomatic opportunity, you will always be able to pass additional sanctions if there's a collapse. that would zip through the house and the senate. why not do what the president of the united states, the secretary
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of state, are asking you to do? just hold off, be patient and give these negotiations a chance? >> the fact is, we have been strung along by the iranians before. they have strung us out and the fact is i think it's important to have this in place now so that after six months, there could be a question are they in compliance or not and then it could be harder to get it through. the president, it would put the iranians in stronger position. i think right now, we should deal from strength. our position of strength right now is to put these sanctions in and saying if iran does not comply, the sanctions come into effect. the president should show strength and say he's standing with congress and not allow iran to distort the meaning of the agreement. >> you're chairman of the house homeland security subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence. what do you think of those 46 recommendations made to the president yesterday to reform the nsa surveillance programs? >> wolf, i am really opposed to them. first of all, there is no nsa scandal. to me, this is -- this
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commission or this group is caving in to political correctness. the fact is there are no americans that have had their rights violated, no one's calls -- no american citizens' calls are being listened to unless they're in contact with terrorists. no one's name or address is on file. this is a phony issue and when i say someone like rand paul, a member of my party, somehow comparing snowden and general clapper, what is happening to our country when the united states senator compares a traitor with an american hero like general clapper? >> he said that on this program yesterday. i'm going to play that clip for you. here's senator rand paul talking about james clapper, the director of national intelligence. the accusation he makes that he deliberately lied to congress about the nsa surveillance programs and the comparison to snowden. listen to this. >> clapper's lying to congress is probably more injurious to our intelligence capabilities than anything snowden did
quote quote quote
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because clapper has damaged the credibility of the entire intelligence apparatus and i'm not sure what to believe anymore when they come to congress. >> he's a fellow republican. what do you say to him? >> that is absolutely disgraceful to compare general clapper with a traitor. the fact is general clapper was put in an impossible position because the senator who asked the question had already gotten the information in a classified setting. he knew general clapper could not give the full answer because it would let our enemies know what we were doing. the question was wrong. general clapper gave the best answer he could, and for senator paul to compare that patriot, general clapper, with someone like snowden, who is a traitor, who has put american lives at risk, senator paul should be ashamed of himself. it's an absolute disgrace. he disgraced his office and he owes general clapper an apology immediately. >> spokesman for general clapper issued a statement among other things just a little while ago, responding to other republican lawmakers who have sent a letter calling on him to resign. this is part of the statement. let me put it on the screen.
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dee and i, director of national intelligence clapper, had been testifying before members of congress for more than two decades and enjoys a well-earned reputationand honorable public . 'positively jiezed for the confusion caused by his response and is focused on working with the intelligence committees to increase transparency. a lot of republicans want him -- apparently there's a letter out there as you well know, including members of the house republicans who want clapper to resign. you totally are opposed to all of that. >> absolutely. that comes from the isolationist wing of the party. that goes back to the days of charles lindbergh. these are people apologizing for america. that is not the republican tradition, not the tradition of ronald reagan. it's the tradition of the radical left wing democrats of the 1960s. >> we are out of time. yes or no, you running for the republican presidential nomination? >> i wouldn't decide that for another year, year and a half. right now i'm just meeting with local republicans around the
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country to find out what's on their minds. >> i'll take that as a yes. all right? >> no, wolf, come on. >> all right. congressman, thanks very much. see you out on the campaign trail. >> happy holiday. >> merry christmas, happy new year to you as well. thank you. up next, inmates will soon walk free thanks to a presidential pardon. we have details coming up. also, the legendary lawyer alan dershowitz is standing by with his analysis of what this means.
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republican representative frank wolf of virginia has
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announced his retirement in 2014. he's joining a growing slice of congress who are calling it quits. so who are these congressional retirees and what will their retirement mean for the next congress? we have the story. what's going on? >> all the retirements this week have been moderates. it's a group that's disappearing quickly in congress, leaving many to wonder if the hard left and hard right are squeezing out the middle and setting up, if you can believe, an even more polarized congress next year. the three congressmen announcing retirements this week, one democrat and two republicans, are notable not because of their parties or ideologies but because all are part of what many see as an important moderate middle. >> the extreme wings of the two party are clearly in control. >> reporter: among the casualties, republican congressman frank wolf of virginia and tom lampim of iowa. when elected, both were considered squarely republican. now the conservative herrage
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foundation rates them both as less conservative than almost every other house republican. al, fiscally conservative republican jim mathison of utah who opposed obama care and max baucus of montana, who supported the bill but blasted its implementation. >> i just tell you, i just see huge train wreck. >> reporter: when former moderate congressman republican retired last year, he said the partisanship drove his decision. today, he's working for a centrist political action committee. >> there is no willingness on either side of the aisle to sort of reach out that hand and find common ground. it just doesn't exist anymore, the middle. it's a pretty lonely place in the congress. >> reporter: political analyst stu rothenberg says the growing rift between parties is making it impossible to get anything done. >> when you don't have a middle, you don't have people who are go-to guys to put together the deal. >> reporter: take, for example, this congress. it has passed just 57 bills,
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compared to the last three years, when each congress passed well over 200 bills each year. analysts say don't expect it to get better any time soon. with midterm elections, which tend to be partisan, coming next year, centrists will have even less incentive to find common ground. >> i think the two years after the midterms are going to be just as difficult as we're seeing now, maybe even tougher. >> there likely will be more retirements in the house to come. the key question, will we see more chipping away at this important middle that at least this week took a big hit, and wolf, the president will have -- will the president even have a harder time getting anything done. >> he might, if it moves in that direction. good to have you here in "the situation room." welcome. let's get some more with our chief national correspondent, john king, our senior white house correspondent brianna keilar and our cnn political commentator, ryan lizza, the washington correspondent for "the new yorker." what do you think? will it be even more difficult, more partisan, if all of this
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falls out like that? >> i think so. the history, the recent history of these retirements is even in a district that may be a 50/50 district who are moderate, after they have been around for a long time and retire, they may be able to keep that district for a long time and keep a moderate record. but as soon as they retire, what happens in the last 20 years is a far right or far left person takes over the seat. that's more likely than not what's going to happen with these seats. i think the biggest mistake barack obama made when running for president in 2008 is he described this country as not red america, not blue america, and the history of his presidency is this deepening polarization and a middle carving out. >> he has three years in office. he has his legacy. i know officials at the white house are thinking about all of this. >> i think when he lays out his agenda, you see just how difficult it's going to make it. he talks about his agenda, not his legislative agenda. what is he talking about doing next year, climate change and he's talking about doing, of
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course, the economy, continuing with the recovery. those are things he has to circumvent congress to do. the third thing he's putting all of his i sort legislative gravitas if he has any at this point, he's putting all of his eggs in one basket on immigration. it will be an extremely heavy lift but obviously something he feels worth doing. and republicans do want to do it but may not be -- >> gun control, they basically have almost given up hope on. >> here's the key question in 2014. there's no question you get a more polarized congress because the national parties are increasingly irrelevant. they used to try to pick the candidates, would pick more centrist, who can win in a general election candidates. they are almost irrelevant. all the south side money, whether conservative or liberal, tends to favor people who can win the primaries on the extreme. here's the big question. do we have a divided congress still. or do we have a democratic president and two republican chambers. if republicans take the senate, i think you actually might see more get done, not exactly what the president wants, but then the republicans will have more of a stake in governing and the president will have fewer
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choices about compromise. if you get the republicans keeping the house majority, the democrats keep a narrow senate majority and a lot of new members are more to the extreme, then you get more of the same, if not worse. >> ryan, you saw it in the interview i did with peter king, the republican congressman from new york, almost two parts of the republican party right now are merging very different, not only on domestic issues but on national security issues. >> yeah, that's sort of interesting. on the right and the left, there's this sort of populist anti-government movement gathering around civil liberties issues and what pete king, what king would call isolationist. i don't think rand paul considers himself an isolationist. but that divide, look, rand paul is still a bit of an outlyer. he's the only one worked up on the nsa spying. in the house, there's a little more of a paul wing. i think that's where the tea party energy is and where the energy is in the republican party. >> let me play a clip. this is the former montana governor, brian schweitzer.
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he's thinking about running for the democratic presidential nomination and had this allusion to hillary clinton, who is also thinking about it. >> george bush got a bunch of democrats to vote to go to that war. i was just shaking my head in montana. i'm asking you to pick the leaders that are going to say we're not going to make those mistakes. >> hillary clinton when she was a senator voted to go to war in iraq. >> and this young guy who had no chance of being the democratic nominee was a senator from illinois, barack obama, i think, used that in 2008. he happens to be president. so what is schweitzer out there doing, trying to test. can you recreate the 2008 dynamic in 2016 against hillary clinton. if you're hillary clinton, you are probably thinking huh? i'm not even sure he runs in the end but if not, it's not smart, if you will, i don't want to call it not stupid, but is there any traction against this woman, why not try what worked last time. >> sometimes the best record is no record, right? >> let's leave it there.
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we have three years to talk about this. guys, thanks very much. up next, eight inmates will soon walk free thanks to a presidential pardon. we'll have details. along with the legendary lawyer and professor alan dershowitz standing by with his analysis. ngie's list before i do any projects on my home. i love my contractor, and i am so thankful to angie's list for bringing us together. find out why more than two million members count on angie's list. angie's list -- reviews you can trust.
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president obama, who was rather stingy with acts of clemenc in his first time made dramatic moves today to free prisoners, commuting the crack cocaine sentences of eight federal inmates, most of them serving life terms. one of the eight is a cousin of the massachusetts governor,
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duval patrick. president obama also issued outright pardons to 13 other people convicted of a variety of offenses. our senior white house correspondent brianna keilar is here with more details of what happened. >> yeah, so this obviously highlights a larger problem, or a problem i think as the white house would see it. you have eight people whose sentences president obama commuted today, most of them had served 15 plus years and the point that they're at now, let's say they had been convicted today. let's say they had been convicted today, they likely would have served far less time in prison and that's really the point here. in 2010, president obama signed into law what was called the fair sentencing act. it was to narrow the disparity between the sentencing time for people who were serving sentences for crack cocaine related offenses and powder cocaine related offenses. so president obama here sort of making the point here and he's trying to do it right now for a
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reason and that is because the senate judiciary committee next month will be taking up the issue of wider reform for drug related sentencing and he's trying to elevate this. >> basically a symbolic political decision right now. sending a message to congress and the american public. brianna, thanks very much. let's dig a little deeper right now with the harvard law professor, alan dershowitz, whose thanks very much for coming in. what do you think of the president's decision? >> well, it's a starred, but it's really just the tip of a very, very disturbing iceberg. so many lives have been ruined by these draconian drug sentences, particularly people who haven't been involved in any kind of violence, who get caught up because of a girlfriend or boyfriend and end up spending 15, 20, 30, sometimes life in prison. so many ruined lives. the disparity between white people and black people.
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sometimes the sentences were ten times greater for the crack cocaine than the pouter cocaine. >> there is so much to do to create -- we're 5% of the world's population and 125% of the world's inmates. many of them are in for nonviolent drug related crimes. it's time to dig deep into this problem. >> you live in cambridge. as i reported, the massachusetts governor deval patrick, one of the eight commuted today is a cousin of the massachusetts governor. does that raise flags? is that okay as far as your analysis is concerned? >> oh, sure. he was one of eight, and obviously one who suffered a massive discrimination, you know, talk about massachusetts, we've legalized marijuana now. nobody notices the difference. you know, crime is going down in
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the united states, in fact, all over the world, in fact inmate prison population is not going down proportionate to the reduction in crime. crime is costing us a fortune in terms of imprisonment. we're not getting bang for our buck, we're not getting justice, and i think it's a good beginning by the president. there's a lot more to go. i think he should be pardoning and commuting more people. the pardon power is one of the most important powers given a president by the framers of our constitution. it was intended to be used broadly to bring about justice, and bring about equal treatment. it hasn't been used. we've seen some. commutation -- i hope that jonathan pollard will have his sentence commuted. he's been in for 28 years after
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the government recommended, so i think the -- >> alan dershowitz, stand by a point. brianna, one more point you wanted to make? >> yes, when it comes to the commutation of the sentence of the cussing of governor patrick. i asked a white house official and they said they don't think the governor pushed the white house or the department of justice on behalf of his cussing. they don't believe this impacted the decision, but certainly when you know there are thousands of people that you have these eight in s. deval patrick is such a good friend of president obama, the cousin of a governor. >> brianna keilar, thanks very much. alan dershowitz, as usual thanks very much. if you have a quick point, make it in ten seconds. >> i think we'll see a lot of applications for commutation based on the principle of these
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eight cases. >> you did it in ten seconds. coming up, he's the only american ever to meet the north korean dictator kim jong-un, now dennis rodman is back in pyongyang for his third visit. details are coming up. just 1. start with soup, salad and cheddar bay biscuits then choose one of eight entrees plus dessert! four perfect courses, just 15.99. come in to red lobster today and sea food differently. four perfect courses, just 15.99. life with crohn's disease ois a daily game of "what if's". what if my abdominal pain and cramps come back? what if the plane gets delayed? what if i can't hide my symptoms? what if? but what if the most important question is the one you're not asking? what if the underlying cause of your symptoms is damaging inflammation? for help getting the answers you need, talk to your doctor and visit to get your complimentary q&a book, with information from experts on your condition.
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heeheehee. jimmy: ronny, how happy are folks who save hundreds of dollars switching to geico? ronny: i'd say happier than the pillsbury doughboy on his way to a baking convention. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. the capitol dome has been at the center of the d.c. skyline since 1866. pretty soon you won't be able to see it anymore. dana bash is joining us with more. it looks pretty good to me. what's going on? >> reporter: that's right it's going to be restored. when you get up close like we did today, you can see it needs
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some repair. the capitol dome, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. we got a rare tour inside the dome, more than 200 feet up in the air, where you can really see some of the damage. a long crack in a window. rust eroding the dome's ornaments and underlying structure. architects counseled more than 1300 cracks caused by wind, rain and sun threatening the historic frescos inside. >> when the rust develops between the flanks, it binds the place from moving. that creates enormous pressures within the ironwork. >> reporter: this spring a massive two-year renovation will start. no easy task. the dome is made of 9 million pounds of iron. >> i'm going to lift this copper. >> with an incredibly thin exterior shell. when the capitol was first built in the late 1700s, this dome didn't exist.
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it was added 150 years ago, taking us through narrow teem staircases behind its walls, the architect was eager to show off the dome's beauty, why it is so important to restore. >> reporter: to get up here we had to walk hundreds of stairs, very narrow treacherous staircase, but boy, was it worth it, look at the view. up and all the way down. >> from fame tows frescos, including washington ascending to heaven, to dramatic acoustics high inside the rotunda. >> you have to be careful what you're saying up here. everyone, because anyone can hear you. police be careful. >> then to the breathtaking view. 260 feet in the air this is what you getting to. >> reporter: it's really clear from up here, the capitol is the focal point of the city's design. >> the axis of the maul, maryland avenue, all radiating from the center point.
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>> starting from this spring, the dome will be wrapped in scaffolding. congress already approved $59 million for the restoration. still, these costs tend to explode. so can you guarantee that you're not going to go over budget? >> guarantee, that's a big word. we're pretty confident, i'll give you that. >> reporter: it has been meticulously planned, in the works for four years. >> it's just something that hag to happen. there is no more recognizable symbol of the country than the capitol dome or our national flag. >> reporter: the last time the dome was restored was 50 years ago, but architects say because of how technology has advanced, the way they'll do this rest rawlings, it will be longer before the next one is needed. >> good luck with the restoration. dana, thanks very much. happening now, breaking news, theater disaster. huge portions of the ceiling come crashing down on a nearly packed house inside a historic london building, injuring many
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people in the audience. how did it happen? >> bask bought diplomacy, dennis rodman returns to north korea just days after the execution of the leader kim jong-un's uncle. rodman is speaking out. what does he plan to do inside. and obama's brother, he talks about his famous half-sibling and abusive father. he loves the president, because why did she call him, and i'm quoting him now, a lousy brother? welcome to our viewers around the united states and the world. you're in "the situation room." more than 700 people were watching the play when parts of the ceiling came crashing down. according to the london fire brigade. dozens of people are injured, some of them seriously. officials updated us just a few
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moments ago. >> there has been a collapse of heavy plaster from what appears to be the roof of the auditorium. that's fall undown to the upper circle, the dress circle, and consequently we have a large number of casualty, many of whom are walking wounded, and are currently being treated. what are you see there, nic? what's the latest? >> reporter: wolf, let me try to get you the latest details. i'm talking with nick harding, the press officer for the london fire service here. you're on the scene here, mr. harding, what can you tell you what happened here tonight? >> good evening, nick. what appears to have happened tonight is an area of ornate plaster ceiling has collapsed. it's landed on the balconies down there onto the main floor
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itself. it was a chaotic scene in there. >> we had about 50 firefighters on the scene, fire engines, and a number of specialist understand, so now the understand are making sure that the building is safe before we hand it back to the occupiers. >> what is the situation? are they safe now? >> i can confirm that everybody is out of the building, a number of people are being treated and triaged, and they'll have to give more details about themselves in due course. >> reporter: from what you've seen, can you sigh why the roof collapsed? >> nods from what i've seen so far. it's an ornate plaster ceiling and some timber frame behinds it, but to the cause of that, that's being investigated as we speak. that investigation will go on through the night into tomorrow, i imagine. >> reporter: we've been talking about the roof collapsing, can you describe the roof. you talk about ornate
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plastering. is it the whole roof or just parts of it? >> probably about 10 meters by 10 meters, above the main part of the auditorium. so part of it landed in the balcony layers, the rest of it went down from the height of about five stories. >> reporter: what does it require of the fire services. >> we're making an assessment to make sure there's no danger of further collapse. once we've establish that, we've give it back to the purveyors and theater managers. >> reporter: thank you very much. >> thank you. that's the latest details. they have more than 50 firefighters now securing, making sure that roof is safe. 10 meters by 10 meters scale above the ceiling, collapsing on the very packed auditorium there, wolf. >> this is a theater that's more than 100 years old. nic, thanks very much for that
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update. we'll stay in close contact. dozens of recommendations for sweeping changes to the nsa, but how many if any will the obama administration heed? the uproar over the agency's most controversial surveillance program is heating up with some lawmakers calling for a high-level resignation. jim scuitto is joining us with the latest. jim? >> reporter: the white house says it's open to all 46 of these recommendation, but we have an early sense of the ones they are going to accept and not accept. we know they're open to white house approval being necessary for any monitoring of the communication. on the other size, the white house has already dismissed a couple, including placing a civilian leader at the top of the nsa. now, at the same time the president's own director of national intelligence who oversees all of these intelligence programs, james clapper, under new pressure, long before a man nailed edward snowden revealed this surveyians
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for the world which clapper denied that any of this was taking place. today house republicans demanded an immediate investigation, a director of national intelligence james clapper for, quote, lying to congress. in march, when asked if -- >> the nsa collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of americans? >> he respond -- >> no, sir. >> reporter: after edward snowden revealed mass surveyian clapper retracted the response, saying my response was clearly erroneous. rand paul told cnn's wolf blitzer that clapper should pay. >> i think in order to restore confidence in our intelligence community, i think james clapper should resign. >> the growing calls for the director of national intelligence to resign come as the white house begins pushing back on some of the recommendations to reform, on independent panel reviewing the
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fallout from the snowden scandal. the administration says it will not place the nsa seen here in rare images filmed by cbs under civilian krobs form the after already refusing to split it from the cyber-xlnd, number 24 on the list. >> over the next several weeks we will stud,the review group's report and determine which recommendations we should implement. as we do this we'll make sure we are focused on threats to the american people. >> reporter: they gained an unlikely supporter from former president putin. he added he envies how obama gets away with spying on his own allies. there is still bitter debate in the u.s., however, on whether mass surveillance prevents terror attacks at all. >> the authors make it very clear that metadata, the collection of all these phone records on law-abiding americans is clearly not indispensable to
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preventing attacks and the reality of that information can be gathered in other ways. >> inspector general joel brenner sharply disagrees. >> if these recommendations were accepted in bulk, we would be back to a pre-9/11 situation. >> reporter: now, the spokesman for the director of national intelligence gave us a statement in response to the renewed pressure on clapper. he said that james clapper has been it was for more than 20 years and a well-earned reputation as an honorable public servant he goes on to say that clapper misspoke, thinking the question was about section 702 of the fisa, and not section 215 of the p.a.t.r.i.o.t. act which applying to u.s. persons. that was his explanation for the why he answered the question the way he did. >> legislation introduced in the
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senate that would authorize new sanctions against iran. so where does all of this stand? i know the obama administration strongly opposes this administration. >> they do. i spoke to a senior administration official who had the impression they had successfully headed this off, but now 13 democrats, 13 republicans, bipartisan, a real show the support for these sanctions, and they're tough. they would apply in effect a global oil embargo on iran. oil is the only way iran has to make money, in effect. i've been told that the iranian government is under severe pressure now to lose more of that revenue would be destabilizing for that government. what's interesting about this, wolf, is that it has a 12-year timeline on it. in effect it gives the president 12 years to negotiate. six months to -- six months for the interim deal and another six months, but at any point during that deal, they believe or the president believes that the iranians are cheating.
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that's when the new sanctions would come in. if i can add it, also in this sanctions bill is an opportunity for congress, even if the president comes to an agreement to vote to negate that agreement. >> 12 months to do it, not 12 years. just wanted to make sure that we were precise on that. jim scuitto, thanks very much. still ahead, squirt moving in just as millions of americans are getting ready to embark on their christmas travel. snow, ice, thunderstorm, even -- get this -- tornadoes possible this weekend. plus president obama's half-brother has written a tell-all book about his family with shocking revelations. he talks about it with our own brian todd. farmer: hello, i'm an idaho potato farmer.
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and our giant idaho potato truck is still missing. so my dog and i we're going to go find it. it's out there somewhere spreading the good word about idaho potatoes and raising money for meals on wheels. but we'd really like our truck back, so if you see it, let us know, would you? thanks. what?
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so when my moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis them. was also on display, i'd had it. i finally had a serious talk with my dermatologist. this time, he prescribed humira-adalimumab. humira helps to clear the surface of my skin by actually working inside my body. in clinical trials, most adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis saw 75% skin clearance. and the majority of people were clear or almost clear in just 4 months. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal events, such as infections, lymphoma, or other types of cancer have happened. blood, liver and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure have occurred. before starting humira, your doctor should test you for tb.
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no and ice, snowstorms and tornadoes, all of that and a lot more possible, threatening to create a travel nightmare for the millions of americans who will be traveling ahead of christmas. our meteorologist jennifer grey is at the weather center. what do our viewers need to know? >> we've already seen six storms and winter doesn't officially begin until saturday. this storm will track to the north and east. because of this warm air, it will mainly be a rain event. temperatures will almost hit 70 by the end of the weekend in new york. as it sets up saturday morning, we'll see a line of showers and storms through the arklatex through the minneapolis minneapolis river valley. then as we get into 8:00 saturday afternoon we could see
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a severe threat, then a possible snow component by sunday. you can see the snow, mainly for northern areas, even into upstate new york. so the -- here is your severe threat for saturday, there is the severe threat on sunday. we could see gusty winds, even isolated tornadoes with this event. you can see widespread flooding. the areas shaded in recent could see anywhere from 3 to 5 inches of rain as we go through the weekend, as the storm continues to track to the north. there's your winter storm threat. we already have winter storm watches in effect for kansas city, places like st. louis, indianapolis, little rock, all these areas will have to watch out for that flooding threat. >> we'll prepare for the worst, hope for the best. thank you very much, jennifer grey. there is certainly a lot history of presidential siblings
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embarrassing the white house. he's written a new book. cnn's brian tot spoke with the president's half-brother today. what did he have to say? >> he spoke of the distance between him and the president and some of the strains between them. mr. obama's half brother has come out with gritty details from inside their extended family, including the mental and physical abuse allegedly handed out by their father. they're chloroin appearance. that may be about it. barack obama's younger half-brother, mark obama desanjo, in a new book has less than flattering things to say about the president, their past and current relationship. >> i love my brother, he's a great president, sometimes he's a lousy brother. >> why? he feels there's distance, a lack of acknowledgement. in the book which comes out in february, he details abuses at the hands of their father barack
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obama sr., abuses he believes the president hasn't fully recognized. >> barack i don't think accepts or at least is not one to know the details of the beatings that occurred in our family. >> he's not talking about the president's immediate family. he's speaking about his own. the president, by all accounts, had very little contact with their father, only one visit when the president was a boy. the alleged abuse mark speaks of was toward his mother ruth. he was barack obama senior's third wife after the president's mother. he remembers one day in particular when he was 6 or 7 in kenya. >> my father actually broke -- came in the door against a restraining order, and he held a knife to my mother's throat. i'll never forget the fact that i could not protect her. >> reporter: barack obama senior died in 1972. he previously said this about his father. >> he had as alcoholism problem,
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he didn't treat his families very well and -- you know, so obviously it's a sad part of my history and background, but it's not nothing i spend a lot of time brewing over. >> dave maraniss wrote a biography. >> in some ways he's lucky he didn't live with his father, who was abuse i have been toward women and mentally abusive toward his children. it was definitely a more difficult upbritaining than he endured. >> the president has written and often spoken about the search for his father and how that's influenced hits own experience as a president. as for mark's latest assertions, we could get no response from the white house. wolf? >> what's the president's reliship now with his half-brother. >> he said it's, quote, a little cold. he believes his own writings have alienated the president. he recalled his first meeting with his half-brother in kenya
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in 1988. they were both in their 20s. he said they did not hit it off. he said barack obama came on very strong, asked him strong, aggressive questions, and kind of brushed off the music and literature that mark said he liked. again, we tried to run all this by the white house today, and there's nothing on any of it. >> that physical similarity, though, is amazing, illustrates extraordinary. thank for the report. just ahead dennis rodman is speaking out about the controversial return to north korea. we're digging deeper into the relationship with kim jung u.n., the long so-called longtime friend. kim jong-un and rodman. we'll discuss all of this one who knows dennis rodman, the former nba players kenney smith. [ male announcer ] for every late night,
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it's a birthday gift to the head of a brutal rejim, an exhibition basketball game for kim jong-un. it's being arranged by a self-described friend, former nba star dennis rodman. he arrived today from china, where he spoke about his trip and the controversy over visiting just days after the execution of kim jong-un's uncle for treason. >> it has nothing to do with me. that has nothing to do with me. i mean i had no control over that. these things have been going on for years and years and years and, you know, reply insider for
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america or the world and try to get ahold of it -- i'm just going to do a basketball game and have some fun. >> rodman says he also won't bring up the case of kenneth bay, who is served hard labor in north korea after being convicted of hostile acts. he said that would give the bronc impression to kim jong-un. >> i don't want him to think i'm over here trying to be an ambassador and use him as many of his friends and all of a sudden start talking about politics. it's not going to be that way. >> i'm joined by one of the host tnt's "inside the nba" kenny smith. he played against him in the nba, but let's get an update from elise lavid. how significant do u.s. officials see this trip? >> the u.s. officials in the state department, wolf, don't
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see it as significant as all, because he's not representing the u.s. government. he's shone no interest in talking to officials before the trip or raising the issue of kennest bay. what they say is this is a distraction from the real concerns of north korea, which is its destabilizing behavior, the nuclear program and the issue of kenneth bay, but it's kind of significant, because absolutely no americans, wolf, are talking to kim jong-un right now. you know, it's really a mystery. he's the only one with insights into this leader. >> we'll see what if anything he accomplishes. all right, elise, thank you. let's bring kenny into this conversation. take us inside dennis rodman's head a bit. you know this guy. was going on? >> if i knew what was going on in dennis rodman's head, i wouldn't be sitting here. i would be the greatest psychologist in the world. overall, the thing we've seen is that sports can merge people
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together, can break down barriers, break down different things, but the problem i think is dennis doesn't recognize that and how he could use his influence not just for his financial gain and being over there for a basketball game. the way things have gone in north korea and with the secretive human rights issues that go on, he could think about it as a bigger plan and then just as a check. for me, not recognizing that, even at all is to me a bit disturbing. they love the nba basketball in north korea. i was an eyewitness to that. i was there three years ago exactly, and the north korean leader -- they had a basketball signed by michael jordan. it was revered. they would have loved michael jordan to come. i think think settled for dennis rodman. can you understand what is going on right now? >> u.s. diplomating are totally
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perplexed. >> sports has always been a vehicle to break down barriers. it's been used in the olympics in terms of political issues, but people love sports. when people are inside the field or the court or is the match. they feel and gender and everything else. but there is a recognition that you have a responsibility to have, as an athlete, to realize that power. not saying that dennis rodman can be an ambassador and do all the things and change, but a recognition of it, knowing there is something else going on, bigger than him going there, not that he's just going to have fun with his friend. >> a lot of us do remember and you're right in pointing out sports as a part of diplomacy potential. ping-pong diplomacy was practiced when the u.s. had no relations with china, but it
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started with a little ping-pong diplomacy. do you think dennis rodman appreciate the potential he has? >> i think he appreciates that people around the world revere him, but it's obvious he doesn't recognize what that power brings. i think he does have an obligation to recognize it. he doesn't have an obligation to possibly do anything about it, but his lack of recognition, like i said, is more disturbing than anything else. >> kenny smith, former nba player himself, kenny, thanks very much for coming into "the situation room." >> thank you. >> remember, you can always follow what's going on here in "the situation room" on twitter. go ahead and tweet m me @wolfblitzer. that's it for me. thanks for watching. "crossfire" starts right now. tonight on "crossfire", is political correctness out of the control? a star of "duck dynasty" talks
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about race, gays and what he reads in the bible and gets suspended. it started a reply call brawl. on the left van jones. on the right, newt gingrich. in the crossfire, l.z. grand enson and penny young-nance who's against it. where do we draw the line between bigotry and belief, tonight on "crossfire." welcome to "crossfire." i'm van jones on the left. >> i'm newt gingrich on the right. on the crossfire tonight guests with opposite views on mr. the a & e should have suspended phil robertson for paraphrasing a passage in the bible. suspending robertson, frankly, is a stupid decision. it is truly ironic that the week before christmas, the head of a christian family has been suspended for talking about his christian faith. a & e was content to make
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millions as long as viewers were tuning in to watch tamed reality television, but this is true reality. robertson is who he is. my first advice here in the country is -- take a deep breath. it's christmas. be charitable. try to break out of this cycle of running around trying out who's going to offend us next. >> well, you know, newt, i think we're probably going to disagree with us on this. it is christmas. to me, this guy looks like santa claus, but he was leaving a lot of coal for a lot of people in our country. in the crossfire tonight, l.z. granderson. and penny nance. penny, this has blown up, become a huge story here, all around the world. before we go further, i want to make sure that people know the kinds of comments we are talking about here. if we can put them up. he says --