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Muslim Radicalization Hearings Continue on Capitol Hill
Aired March 10, 2011 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So I think we're trying to get you back to the hearing right now. I believe, if I'm correct, that we might be hearing from Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: -- trying to rescue fellow Americans on 9/11. I'd like to make three points today, Mr. Chairman. First, violent extremism is a serious concern to all Americans and is the legitimate business of this committee. Second, this committee's approach to this particular subject I believe is contrary to the best of American values and threatens our security, or could potentially. Finally, we need increased understanding and engagement with the Muslim community in order to keep America safe.
Let me elaborate on my first point. Understanding the roots of domestic terrorism is the legitimate business of the House Homeland Security Committee. I share the chairman's concern about violent extremism, I voted for the violent radicalization and home grown prevention act of 2007, authored by Representative Jane Harman. This bill was a commonsense approach to studying violent extremism in the United States. After gathering more feedback from the community, I expect to introduce a similar bill in the future.
I recently made a presentation sponsored by the Center for American Progress called strengthening American security, identifying, preventing, and responding to domestic terrorism. My presentation there addressed causes of violent extremism and solutions for prevention and intervention. The safety of our families and communities is at stake in our discussion today. We should apply the utmost professionalism to this issue, which leads me to my second point.
We need to conduct a thorough, fair analysis and to do no harm. The approach of today's hearing, I fear, does not meet these standards. Today's hearing is entitled the extent of radicalization of the American Muslim community, and that "community's" response. It's true that specific individuals, including some who are Muslims, are violent extremists.
However, these are individuals, not entire communities, individuals like Al Awlaki, Faisal Shahzad, Nidal Hasan, do not represent the Muslim community. When you assign their violent actions to the entire community, you assign collective blame to a whole group. This is the very heart of stereotyping and scapegoating. This is the heart of my testimony today.
Ascribing evil acts of a few individuals to an entire community is wrong. It is ineffective, and it risks making our country less safe. Solutions to the scourge of domestic terrorism emerge from individuals within the Muslim community, a point I'll address later in my testimony. However, demanding a community response as the title of the hearing suggests asserts that the entire community bears responsibility for the violent acts of individuals. Targeting of the Muslim-American community for the actions of a few is unjust. Actually all of us - all communities - are responsible for combating violent extremism, singling out one community focuses our analysis in the wrong direction.
Throughout human history individuals from all communities and faiths have used religion and political ideology to justify violence. Let's just think about the KKK, America's oldest terrorist organization. The Oklahoma City bombing, the shooting at the Holocaust Museum by James Von Braun and bombings at Planned Parenthood clinics. Do Congress focus on the ethnic group or religion of these (INAUDIBLE) of violence as a matter of public policy? The answer is no.
Stoking fears about an entire group for political agenda is not new in American history. During World War II, the United States government interned the Japanese-Americans and spied on German- Americans during John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign his opponents portrayed a dire future for an America with a Catholic president. We now view these events of our past as a breach of our treasured American values.
Let's talk about facts rather than stereotypes. In fact, the Muslim-American community rejects violent ideology. The Rand Corporation -
BOLDUAN: All right. Well, we've been having a little trouble with the signal off and on. We'll work on getting that back to you.
But let's get you up to speed so far on these controversial hearings. You were hearing right there from Congressman Keith Ellison testifying. These are hearings on radical Islam in America. They're happening now on Capitol Hill. Peter King of the Homeland Security Committee, the chairman, he wants to know more about how Muslims in the U.S. are being turned into radical - into dangerous radicals. Listen here -
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), HOMELAND SECURITY CMTE. CHAIR: As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, we cannot allow the memory of that tragic day to fade away. We must remember that in the days following the attack, we were all united in our dedication to fight back against Al Qaeda and its ideology.
Today, we must be fully aware that homegrown radicalization is part of Al Qaeda's strategy to continue attacking the United States. Al Qaeda is actively targeting the American-Muslim community for recruitment. Today's hearing will address this dangerous trend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: We are covering this with chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. Candy, thanks for getting back with me. You've been watching this, just as I. I think one of the questions that not a lot of people are asking at this moment I think because there's been a lot of lead-up, is to what comes next, where do we go from here. It's my sense that it doesn't seem this hearing, albeit fiery, can really break new ground, what do you think?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's funny, because several people, Dana, I know did, did, people who have talked to Congressman King, have said, what is the - what is the point here? Where are we going? Where is this headed? And basically his response has been, I want to see the extent to what's going on, to help law enforcement. I want to see the extent of what Al Qaeda will do to try to infiltrate the Muslim-American community. That kind of thing.
Now, he talked about - he said, you know, this is the first in a series of hearings, so I think in the end we don't really know where we're going, because the congressman has said he wants to hold more such hearings. But I think we find out what comes out of this. But what appears to be coming out of this is we will hear those saying, as Congressman Ellison is, listen, there's lots of - terrorism takes lots of forms. Timothy McVeigh and Jared Loughner in Tucson, so you are still hearing kind of the same arguments about whether we'll hold the hearing or not. We're not yet at the spot where we say, OK, here's why we're holding these hearings and let's begin these questions.
Most of the questions and most of the witnesses so far that I've seen, or at least one law enforcement official I know, but it is largely the parents or relatives of young men who have been radicalized. So, it will be interesting, compelling testimony. Where it goes, what we do with that knowledge, I think is up to Congressman King at this point.
BOLDUAN: Very good point. Let's take a moment to dip back into to continue listening to Congressman Keith Ellison, and we'll continue this conversation odd of that.
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ELLISON: ... is to undermine this argument. It requires active engagement with the Muslim community at home and through the world. As President Obama said in his Cairo speech, "Islam is not part of the problem in combating violence extremism. It is an important part of promoting peace.
This brings me to my last point, and I will try to hurry, Mr. Chairman, because I see the time. OK. The best defense against extreme ideologies is social inclusion and civic engagement. FBI agent Ralph Bolter, head of the Minneapolis FBI, illustrates my point. He led a large-scale probe into counter terrorism involving local Somali-Americans heading overseas to fight with terrorist organizations. He's now coming to D.C. to become the agency's deputy assistant director in charge of counter terrorism.
Bolter's strategy? To fight extremism the agency needs to establish sincere relationships within the community. "We had to be able to show people that they could trust me, trust us," Bolter said of the local community. FBI agent bolter, "showed a side to the FBI that people don't see," said Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan. They needed that. They needed a little more to make their case, and it paid off because of the connections he made. People came forward. He became somebody that they were willing to go to."
Unfortunately, I fear that this hearing may undermine our efforts in this direction. Recently on a news program it was stated, "How about the number of young Somali men who went to Somalia and the imams and leaders in Minneapolis, Muslim community who refused to cooperate at all. They were denied for a long time they had even left. This sweeping statement regarding the community I represent is inaccurate.
Unfortunately, why weren't law enforcement from Minneapolis invited to testify before this committee about the effective counter terrorism work that is going on in Minneapolis today? I invite that - I invite and would welcome such an invitation. In January, the Department of Homeland Security of the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties convened a youth summit with Somali-American youth and law enforcement agencies in Minneapolis.
The event attracted over 100 people, including U.S. attorney, three Somali-American police officers, myself, several law enforcement security agencies. The meeting provided an opportunity for Somali youth groups to learn more about the various roles and responsibilities of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and to discuss community issues and concerns with the government representatives. Meeting participant discussed ways in which Somali youths and government entities can improve communication.
Muslim-Americans have been part of the American scene since the nation's founding. A little-known fact is Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is home to one of the oldest mosques in America. The Muslim community is just like the rest of us. Muslims serve our nation as doctors, lawyers, teachers, business owners, cabdrivers and even members of Congress. Muslim-Americans live in every community in America. They are our neighbors. In short, they are us.
Every American including Muslim-Americans suffered on 9/11, 29 Muslims died at the World Trade Center, three Muslims died in the hijacked airplane United flight 175 and American Flight 11. Muslims stood with the rest of America united with grief and in our resolve to protect America. Along with Americans of all faith, Muslim Americans rushed in to save and rescue victims of Al Qaeda's terrorism. Let me close with a true story, but, remember, that it's only one of many American stories that can be hold.
Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a 23-year-old paramedic, a New York City police cadet and Muslim-American. He was one of those brave first responders who tragically lost his life in 9/11 terrorist attacks almost a decade ago. As "The New York Times" eulogized he want to be seen as an all-American kid. He wore number 79 on the high school football team in Bayside Queens where he lived. He was called Sal by his friends. He became a research assistant at the Rockefeller University and drove an ambulance part time.
One Christmas he sang Handel's "Messiah" in Queens. He saw all of the "Star War" movies, and it's well known that his new Honda was the one that read with the young Jedi license plates. Mr. Hamdani bravely sacrificed his life to try to help others on 9/11. After the tragedy, some people tried to smear his character. Solely because of his Islamic faith.
Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers because he was a Muslim. But if the only way his remains were identified that his (INAUDIBLE) was exposed. Mohammed Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans. His life should not be identified as just a member of an ethnic group or just a member of a religion, but as an American who gave everything for his fellow Americans. I yield back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Chairman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thank the gentleman for his testimony.
BOLDUAN: Wow, very emotional testimony right there from Congressman Keith Ellison. I want to bring in Dana Bash to talk about this just a little bit, our chief congressional correspondent on Capitol Hill. Dana, we don't often see this kind of emotion come out in these hearings. It seems really clear that while there's a lot of fiery politics behind this, it's also deeply personal and deeply emotional on both sides of this debate.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That was quite a moment obviously. This is something that is very to the core of people's lives, Keith Ellison, who we should remind our viewers is the first Muslim-American to serve in the United States Congress. He is a Democrat. And you heard the point he was making there, telling the story of the Muslim American who died on 9/11, the way he led into that, talking about the Americana and the American kind of things that he loved like "Star Wars." Certainly, very, very powerful. Very emotional from him there.
And before he got to that point, he was also very strong. Very to the point and blunt to the chairman in particular about the fact that he thinks that the idea and the tenor of these hearings, the way that Peter King, the chairman, is going specifically just focusing on the Muslim-American community, specifically calling it the radicalization is simply not the way to go. He said that this is exactly what happens when you get to scapegoating.
And he mentioned the fact that there have been plenty of other problems, violence, in this country. The Holocaust Museum shooter, for example, and nobody went after his religion. So, those are some of the things that we have heard from the congressman, but also he is definitely speaking for a very large community of people who are very concerned about these hearings.
BOLDUAN: Very well put. At the same time, Congressman King, the chairman of the committee, said he's trying to start a dialogue. We're definitely talking now at least.
We'll have much more on this hearing right after this break.
BOLDUAN: More news we're watching. The Dow is plunging this morning. Let's bring in Alison Kosik joining me from the New York Stock Exchange. Alison, what's going on here?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we've got a lot of negative news all at once, that's weighing down the markets right now. You know what, pick your poison at this point, we got unemployment claims. They rose more than expected, much more than expected, double what was expected. That's after all the optimism that was created from the previous week's numbers. We're inching back towards the 400,000 mark we've so much been trying to get away from. It really just shows that people still need a lot of help from the government because people are still being laid off.
Also, what's also weighing on the market today, we found out that the U.S. trade gap expanded in January. It shows we're buying more from overseas than we're selling, and we are watching oil prices drop quite a bit today. Still, it's the high level of rising oil prices and imports from China that are driving our trade deficit. And what's happening is there are major barriers to creating enough jobs to pull unemployment down and that's really what's spooking the markets as well, because what this winds up doing is eats into overall U.S. economic growth, and we're talking about GDP, employment and so that's what's worrying stocks at this point. Also we're watching manufacturing stocks drop because that is involved with our economic growth. Right now the Dow down 196 points. The Nasdaq off 50. European markets are also tanking about one percent. Kate?
BOLDUAN: All right. You keep an eye on it for us. We'll check back in you.
We're following a lot of news here today. Stay with us. Keeping an eye on that hearing on Capitol Hill. Very emotional and very intense. Be right back after this.
BOLDUAN: Welcome back. We're continuing to monitor that hearing on radicalization of American Muslims happening on Capitol Hill. And truly incredible, really unbelievable testimony just a short time ago from Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. You got to listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLISON: And it's well known that his new Honda was the one that read with the young Jedi license plates. Mr. Hamdani bravely sacrificed his life to try to help others on 9/11. After the tragedy, some people tried to smear his character solely because of his Islamic faith. Some people spread false rumors and speculated that he was in league with the attackers because he was a Muslim, but if the only way his remains were identified after these lives were exposed. Mohammed Salman Hamdani was a fellow American who gave his life for other Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Truly amazing. Congressman Ellison talking there about a young Muslim American who died on 9/11. We're covering this with our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley. Candy's been watching this with me. Candy, I haven't seen this actually ever really happen on Capitol Hill. What are your thoughts on what we've seen so far in this hearing?
CROWLEY: It's - I've been to a lot of hearings, and a lot of them are pretty bland. And you go through a lot of policy. And what's interesting to me is what we have seen, and you and I talked earlier, that what you see is a mixture of fear - that we see in poll - and politics which is obviously a committee room hearing always has a political element, but then we just saw the pain. And so to me, we talked earlier about tonally this hearing is so important.
I think we have had all three of those emotions that we've seen, and it makes it - to me, at least it shows you the problem with even trying to deal with the issue that at the beginning of his testimony Congressman Ellison said, I think, you know, looking in to, you know, how some of these young men came to be radicalized is certainly something we should look at, but not an entire community. And so looking at that pain and then seeing some of the fear that kind of drives some of the rhetoric behind the run-up to this has been really interesting. I think it just shows you why these problems remain such problems. It's really difficult to get past the huge emotions here.
BOLDUAN: And why it's often difficult to talk about, which is a lot of what we've been talking about this week leading up to this. This is talking about some very uncomfortable topics.
Well, Candy, let's bring in our Homeland Security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve. Jeanne, you've also been listening in to the hearings as well. A couple of things I want to touch with you on, one, I want to get your thoughts on Congressman Keith Ellison, because he said this hearing is really all about emotion, that's clearly true. I mean, in terms of his thoughts on this. But he also said the problem is this isn't going to get to the heart of the problem because there aren't really any high-ranking law enforcement officials being called here to testify to make their case. What are you hearing - what are your thoughts on that?
CROWLEY: Well, Sheriff Baca is going to be testifying a little bit later, being called by the Democrats here to talk about cooperation with the Muslim community, so we'll have some law enforcement perspective represented here in this room. I tell you, I talked to a lot of people in the counterterrorism community about what might come out of this in a positive way, and it's difficult to tell if the tone and the substance is going to match their hopes and expectations.
But they said what we really need in this country is much more careful examination of radicalization, what contributes to this, who is susceptible to this, what gets to the point where they're doing more than talking about extreme ideas, but indeed acting upon those ideas. Where are the points where you can do some kind of intervention or some kind of detection.
I was talking to Frank Salufo yesterday, he's at George Washington University, somebody who has really studied this subject very intensely for a long period of time. He said currently the governmental approach is very scattershot. There's some stuff happening in academia. There's some stuff happening in government. But there really has to be an overarching plan to do a really serious analysis here and figure out a better way to detect this stuff. There almost seems to be, on the part of some people testifying today, an assumption that somebody who is Muslim can look around their community, and they, themselves, will be able to detect someone who is radicalized. That isn't always the case.
Sometimes people isolate themselves when they adopt a more extreme ideology. Sometimes they don't articulate it openly or take any actions openly. It's a very complex situation here, which is not yet fully understood. And Salufo's hope and the hope of some others in the counterterrorism community is that this hearing will lead to us do that very, very serious academic analysis which gets to some of the root causes and manifestations.
BOLDUAN: It's an absolutely good point. You know, makes you wonder how much you know about your neighbor, which is really kind of one of the questions here and one of the things that we're talking about. Got a lot more to cover on this. We're taking a live picture look at the hearing. That is the chairman, congressman peter king. We'll be hearing more testimony as we follow this. So, keep it here. Keep it tuned here to CNN and CNN.com. We'll bring you extensive coverage of this Muslim extremism hearing all day today. Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: Here are some of the other stories we are watching this hour. It's a rough start on Wall Street, unfortunately, this morning. Just after the opening bell, the Dow plunged 150 points, and the view hasn't gotten much better from there. Investors are reacting to disappointing reports on jobless claims and the U.S. trade deficit.
And the number of homeowners filing for foreclosure has hit its lowest point in three years. Good news, right? But some of last month's falloff may be due to a new banking rule that's slowing the flow of paperwork, of all things.
And in Tucson, the man accused of gunning down Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has entered a not guilty plea to dozens of new charges. Witnesses say Jared Lee Loughner was smiling as he entered the packed courtroom. He's accused of killing six people and wounding 13 others.
Of course, we are keeping a close eye on the developments on Capitol Hill today. The House Homeland Security Committee is holding the first in a series of hearings looking in to alleged radicalization in the Muslim community.
We'll be back with more of that in just a minute.
BOLDUAN: Time now for a quick trip "Cross Country" for a check of the stories that our affiliates are covering.
In Vermont, a high school girl a breaking gender barriers as a member of the boy's basketball team. Hanna McNulty petitioned state officials to play with the boy's team after the girls' team disbanded because it didn't have enough players.
And a bungling criminal is caught on tape in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The suspect is struggling to put on his ski mask -- you see him trying to put it on, several times. But do you know what? He can't do that because of the 9-millimeter pistol in his hand. Never thought to put it down. The so-called robber left with nothing.
And surveillance cameras were also rolling in Lauder Lakes, Florida, when an angry customer jumped across a Burger King counter to confront workers. Police say the woman was upset because she thought someone had spit in her sandwich. Ooh!
Topping our "Daily Dose" this morning, some long overdue news for lupus patients. Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first new drug treatment for the disease in more than 50 years. It's an intravenous drug that could help the 1.5 million who suffer from lupus.
And doctors treating Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords plan to update her condition. Our political ticker is also ahead.
BOLDUAN: We're continuing to keep an eye on the developments on Capitol Hill today. You see some live pictures right there. The House Homeland Security Committee is holding the first in a series of hearings taking a look at the issue of radicalization in the Muslim community.
And radical Islam isn't just an issue on the Hill, it's an issue at the ballot box as well. And it could play a role in 2012. Joe Johns is live in Washington. So, Joe, is this issue resonating with voters?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, this issue and the hearing, frankly, has gotten the kind of attention normally reserved for national events on Capitol Hill. The Iran contra hearings come to mind.
So, what we did this week, Kate, we took a look at whether the issue is resonating with those Republicans who might be running for president, and what we found was interest is very high. They're paying a lot of attention to it.
JOHNS (voice-over): Islamic radicalization has been an issue in American politics ever since September 11, 2001. And now going on ten years later, Homeland Security Committee chairman Pete King stirred up a hornets' nest when he announced hearings on it.
Such hype on the Hill seldom lives up to expectations. But there's a lesson here. Whether it's dangers of Sharia law, the recruitment of the alleged Fort Hood shooter or letting the detainees go at Guantanamo, the lesson is that right and wrong, fear and scariness still grabs people's attention. Not only at the Capitol but also for some of the presidential contenders. Even if only a tiny amount of Muslims are radicalizing and looking to attack America.
RICK SANTORUM, FORMER SENATOR: Well, here's the key. It doesn't need to be a big problem to be a huge problem because you don't need a whole lot. You just need, you know, a small group of folks who can band together into cells, and as we see the small group of people with asymmetric warfare, terrorism, can be a huge problem for America.
JOHNS: Perhaps the most vocal on the subject of radicalization has been former House speaker Newt Gingrich.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have to have the courage to tell the truth about radical Islamists, and we have to have the courage to act on that truth.
JOHNS: Gingrich and his wife Calista have a whole video documentary on it called "America at Risk." The trailer is riveting.
VOICE OF NEWT GINGRICH: Our enemies are clear in their desire to defeat America. They've told us so repeatedly, yet many of our elites are afraid to even identify our adversaries by name.
JOHNS: Mike Huckabee has weighed in, too, using big words like Islamofascism and jihadism, words that really weren't part of the lexicon a decade ago.
(on camera): But here's the problem. Though we know more than ever on the radicalization of Islam, there are those in the Islamic community who share the fears of it, by the way, but say our politicians are still talking about them and not to them about how to fix it.
DAISY KAHN, AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MUSLIM ADVANCEMENT: Nobody has invited us to work with them. And this is what the complaint that we have -- the complaint is not that extremism doesn't exist. It's that the Muslim community is not being engaged directly to create a solution for it.
JOHNS (voice-over): There's always hope. Perhaps we'll find a way in the next ten years.
JOHNS: Now, Congressman Pete King, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, has said he wants to open up a dialogue on this issue. And perhaps he's doing that. Nonetheless, there is a real controversy here, because some Muslims believe King has suggested they're not doing enough on the issue of radicalization. So, that is one of the controversy points.
Kate, back to you.
BOLDUAN: Very interesting. Great piece, Joe. Thanks so much. We'll watch that. No, we're not going to stop talking about it anytime soon.
So, later this month CNN's Soledad O'Brien looks at the question does freedom of religion mean freedom from suspicion? She lays out the dramatic fight over the plans to build a mosque in the heart of the Bible Belt. It's called "UNWELCOME: THE MUSLIMS NEXT DOOR." Airs Sunday night, 8:00 Eastern, March 27th.
Want to get you caught up on developments in Libya. It appears that Moammar Gadhafi's troops are beating back rebel forces, and the leader of the opposition is calling on the international community to establish a no-fly zone to prevent a slaughter from Gadhafi's warplanes. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MUSTAFA ABDUL JALIL, OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): Has to be immediate action. The longer the situation carries on, the more blood is shed. That's the message that we want to send to the international community. They have to live up to their responsibility with regards to this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Meanwhile, French president Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly plans to propose air strikes to the European Union. That's according to the French Press Agency. Sarkozy's office refused to confirm the claim to the news agency. CNN is now working its sources, of course, to confirm.
Today, government warplanes are pounding Ras Lanuf in eastern Libya. It's a vital hub of the nation's oil industry. We've been talking about it quite a bit, and both sides desperately want to control it. Witnesses say the Libyan navy is bombarding a residential area there and that the government troops have fired mortars into a hospital parking lot.
And the intensifying violence in Libya have made communications pretty spotty. CNN's Ben Wedeman is near Ras Lanuf and filed this report just moments ago.
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BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): We've a couple of kilometers to the east of Ras Lanuf. We've been hearing fairly steady bombardment coming from the area. It's the second sort of mass bombardment of the town this morning. There was another one about an hour and a half ago -- we believe mortar rounds were landing inside the town itself. One of those rounds hit a hospital. Another hit a mosque where people were praying inside. The hospital staff has fled, and basically all the civilians are now out of the town.
It appears that opposition -- that government forces are moving on to the city. I spoke to one witness who said he saw Libyan government tanks heading toward Ras Lanuf. There seems to be an intense gun battle going on there at the moment. Many of the opposition forces have pulled out to a checkpoint to the east of the city. But what is clear is that their control of Ras Lanuf is tenuous at best.
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BOLDUAN: Now, Ben says this could be a turning point in the civil war. The government's superior firepower has seemed to completely stop the rebels' march toward the capital and now threatens to reclaim the cities under opposition control.
Now -- this just in. We're getting this in just now. Miami-Dade County police are telling CNN that there's a report of a person inside the Miami-Dade County Court office with a gun. The building has been evacuated, we're told. And we're also told that police are searching the building, but good to note at this moment that we're told that no one is hurt and no shots have been fired, to the best of our knowledge. Obviously we're going to be monitoring that. I think you're seeing some video of it there, and we'll bring you any updates as we get them.
We are also continuing to keep an eye on the developments on Capitol Hill today. The House Homeland Security Committee is holding the first in a series of hearings looking in to the issue of radicalization in the Muslim community. It's been a very emotional, very intense hearing.
We'll be back in a moment.
BOLDUAN: Here's some other headlines making news today.
Pro-union demonstrators are heading back to the Wisconsin capital this morning after the state Senate passed a bill restricting collective bargaining for most public workers. The real point of contention there, a GOP maneuver ended a weeks-long impasse over the bill, and its passage ignited outrage outside the state capital.
Doctors treating Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords says she's still improving two months after being shot in the head. They plan a news conference tomorrow to provide an update on her progress.
And the number of homeowners filing for foreclosure has hit its lowest point in three years. But some of last month's falloff may be due to a new banking rule slowing the flow of paperwork. Always paperwork, isn't it?
So, we are covering the -- excuse me, the hearing on Capitol Hill with our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, as well as our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash and homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve. Thank you all for joining us.
Candy, one thing I was thinking we should listen to the sound bite. This is a bit from just a few days after 9/11, , and we'll talk about it afterwards. Listen here to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The face of terror is not the true face of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That was President Bush just -- I believe it was just six days after the 9/11 attack speaking from a mosque. I believe it was even in Washington, D.C.
It really is an amazing thing to look at now ten years later and to ask the question, what has changed in the political kind of -- landscape here when we're also now in the middle of a very emotional hearing talking about the issue of radicalization of the Muslim community in America?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know what has changed exactly. And whether that particular question -- I think when we've seen people ask in the past, do you believe that Islam is a religion of peace, they say yes.
There's several questions here. We talked earlier about the Pew poll where 40 percent of people said they thought that Muslims were more likely -- that Islam was a religion more likely to incite violence than other religions. So, there are lots of different ways to ask a question. In the end, you still come out with some underlying fear by some Americans that, in fact, the Muslim religion has something to do with violence.
Now, you see this, what's interesting in the polls, is where's the breakdown. The breakdown tends to be the older you are, particularly 65 and older, tend to believe that Islam is a religion that preaches violence. The younger you are, the less likely you are to believe that. So, there's a generational thing going on.
There's also some political thing, because we saw in the Pew poll that more Republicans thought that Islam was more likely to incite violence than other religions than did Democrats or even independents. So, there's a political break, but I don't think anything's happened except for one thing. And that's the rise of this, quote, "homegrown terror." The idea that someone who is, you know, even if is not born here, is raised here, a naturalized citizen, or a permanent resident that would then turn on America. I think that is the -- the randomness of that, the difficulty in running that down. Because these tend to be individuals or a few individuals that can easily slip below the radar. I think in some ways that has added to the anxiety, because it's so difficult to track. And it's become something that I think -- when President Bush made the speech, no one thought that, oh, well, maybe an American would do such a thing.
BOLDUAN: Excellent point. That wasn't even on the radar at that moment.
Let's continue the conversation, Candy. Let's bring in our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. Dana, much of the early portion of the hearing was kind of a debate, as Candy well pointed out, a debate as to why or why not even be holding the hearing, maybe not moving forward quite to the point talking to the point about the issue at hand of looking for solutions or looking how to work more toward the solution of rooting out homegrown terror.
What are your thoughts? What are you hearing as this hearing has continued?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's moved forward into hearing from the witnesses that the chairman, Peter King, has called. We just got finished hearing from somebody who has not testified, I don't think before Congress before. He is not a Muslim, but his son was a Muslim convert. And his son was the man, American, who attacked a recruiting station in Arkansas.
So, Candy talked about the idea of homegrown terrorism. This is, from the perspective of Peter King, the committee chairman, and certainly many in law enforcement, this is a prime example of what they are talking about. So, he talked about what happened to his son. Talked about the fact that he felt he was brainwashed.
Now, we're listening to the uncle of another American, a Somali- American, who -- he is telling the story about how he also from his perspective got brainwashed. Actually went to Somalia, was training there and was actually killed while training. But the point of his testimony that we're hearing from as we speak is to talk about some -- from his perspective, how the leaders in the mosque that he goes to were not doing anything to actually help him find out what was going on. And even protecting the radicalization that was going on with his nephew.
So, those are some of the things that we're hearing from the witnesses. When we get the question and answer, which will happen probably in a short while, that I think is probably when we're really going to get to the heart of whether or not the goal that Peter King has here, to illuminate and to try to figure out how to deal with what he calls this radicalization, whether or not that will really -- will be fulfilled, that goal.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Talking about -- continuing the conversation about the witnesses that are testifying. I want to bring in homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve. One of the other key witnesses, if you'll call them, Jeanne, is the L.A. County sheriff. One of the only law enforcement officials that's represented in today's hearing.
From your view and from what you're hearing, what, if anything, could possibly change, if anything, after today for law enforcement?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, the sheriff, Sheriff Baca, is going to be talking about cooperation in Los Angeles. How they have reached out, made a very concerted effort there, to develop a good, positive relationship of the Muslim community, which they feel has really yielded some good results. Built some trust. Made it more likely that if there are signs of radicalization, that the community will come to law enforcement and talk about it.
Of course, this is something that is being done across the nation. It's being done by local police departments. It's being done by the FBI. A real effort at outreach here. It's had varying success. Community to community, mosque to mosque, they could be more or less receptive to these overtures by law enforcement. In some cases, they will be totally rejected.
There is hope among those who work in the field that what is said here will only be a positive influence on those relationships, but there is concern that it could have precisely the opposite effect, that the Muslim community or individuals within that community will listen to what's being said at this hearing. They will feel put upon. They will feel isolated. They will feel alienated. And they may back away from law enforcement and the efforts at cooperation.
As has been said before, this is a key intersection, where you might be able to pick up signs of radicalization. They need to get the cooperation of this community. Whether or not this hearing will contribute to that, we don't know yet. Back to you, Kate.
BOLDUAN: Excellent point. Jeanne, Dana, Candy, thank you so much for your excellent analysis. Far better than I can provide by myself.
We will have much more on this hearing and much more of the news of the day, coming up after the break.
BOLDUAN: That's it for me today. Thanks for joining me these last couple hours. I'm going to hand it off. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Suzanne Malveaux.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.