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THE SITUATION ROOM

Lone Wolf Terror Threat; American Drone Hits Cargo Plane in Afghanistan

Aired August 17, 2011 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Will a single terrorist be behind the next attack on the United States? Details of a brand-new warning from the FBI and the Homeland Security Department here in Washington.

Also, Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry responds to my interview with President Obama and he ups the ante in a war of words.

And an American drone collides with an Air Force cargo plane over Afghanistan. And it is raising new questions about the safety of one of the U.S. military's fastest growing programs.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Breaking news, political headlines and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

BLITZER: In just over three weeks, the world will mark a decade since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. And there is growing concern that milestone could inspire a new attack.

It's prompting a warning from federal officials to local law enforcement across the United States. But rather than a massive strike like 9/11, the concern is over a smaller, but still deadly attack by a lone individual.

President Obama himself talked about that in my one-on-one interview with him yesterday in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I have covered the Middle East for a long time. I have covered terrorism for a long time. And I have to tell you, I'm worried, that on the 10th anniversary, approaching the 10th anniversary of 9/11, al Qaeda, or what's left of al Qaeda or their supporters, will try to do something to seek revenge for your killing bin Laden.

How worried should we be about that? How worried are you about that?

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, look, we are vigilant and constantly monitoring potential risks of terrorist attacks. And I think that the men and women in our intelligence agencies, as well as the FBI, have done a terrific job, and Department of Homeland Security. But the risk is always there. And, obviously, on a seminal event like the 10th anniversary of 9/11, that makes us more concerned. It means we've got heightened awareness.

The biggest concern we have right now is not the launching of a major terrorist operation, although that risk is always there. The risk that we're especially concerned over right now is the lone wolf terrorist, somebody with a single weapon being able to carry out wide- scale massacres of the sort that we saw in Norway recently.

You know, when you've got one person who is deranged or driven by a hateful ideology, they can do a lot of damage, and it's a lot harder to trace those lone wolf operators. So we're spending a lot of time monitoring and gathering information. I think that we generally have to stay vigilant. There may be a little extra vigilance during 9/11.

On the other hand, keep in mind the extraordinary progress we've made over the last couple years in degrading al Qaeda's capabilities. They are a much weaker organization with much less capability than they had just two or three years ago.

BLITZER: So what I hear you saying is we don't have to worry about a spectacular, 9/11 kind of event, more like a lone wolf can do some damage, kill a lot of people, but not a nuclear, radiological or anything like that?

OBAMA: Well, look, as president of the United States, I worry about all of it.

But I think the most likely scenario that we have to guard against right now ends up being more of a lone wolf operation than a large, well-coordinated terrorist attack. We still have to stay on top of it, though, and we're never letting our guard down. That's part of our job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The president's concerns are echoed in that new warning that is coming out from the FBI and the Homeland Security Department here in Washington.

Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow. She's working this story for us.

What exactly do these latest formal official warnings say, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this bulletin alerts law enforcement to the threat of someone carrying out an attack on their own, as you were just discussing, or in a small group. And it also addresses how difficult it is to prevent these plots.

A law enforcement official tells CNN it was done more out of caution and not because there is intelligence about a possible attack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): A warning is out from U.S. security officials. Watch out for a Norway-style attack here in the United States . It comes just weeks after a lone gunman shot and killed 69 people at a camp outside Oslo and eight others at a bombing downtown.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent local and state police a bulletin stating: "Small-arms operations could be employed through a range of tactics from a lone offender, as illustrated by the recent July 22 lone shooter attack that took place in Norway, to a coordinated small-unit attack involving several operatives."

No specific threat is cited, but underscoring the concern, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reiterated the threat from smaller groups when talking about security enhancements since September 11.

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: So, what we see instead now are smaller plots involving fewer people. So they're much more difficult to intercept, to pick up information about in time to intercept.

SNOW: In November of 2009, Major Nidal Hasan was charged with acting alone and killing 13 people and wounding more than 30 others at Fort Hood. The Army base again became the focus of an alleged lone wolf this summer, but U.S. officials say a plot was thwarted with the arrest of an AWOL soldier in July.

Now the anniversary of September 11 is on the radar screen for law enforcement, particularly in New York. Ray Kelly is the city's police commissioner.

(on camera): How do you protect the city against a lone wolf attack similar to what happened in Norway?

RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: We do a series of things. We have a nexus program where we go and visit thousands of commercial establishments that can be exploited by a terrorist, getting material that may make a bomb, something along those lines.

SNOW (voice-over): While New York is on constant guard against terrorism working with federal agencies, Kelly says law enforcement continues to check the channels it's always checked since September 11 and it has police officers overseas also gathering intelligence.

KELLY: I think we are doing everything we reasonably can to protect New York, but there are no guarantees.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: The big challenge obviously is that if someone is acting on their own, they're not communicating with others, making it harder for law enforcement to detect plots and intercept them. And it's one more reason law enforcement is stressing the importance of getting help from the public to report suspicious activity -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow, thanks for that good report.

Let's get some more on this potential threat from a lone wolf. Joining us, our CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend. She is a member of both the CIA and Homeland Security external advisory committees.

Fran, my own sources are telling me there is deep, deep concern right now that revenge could be a factor for some spectacular, maybe not so spectacular attack on 9/11. What are you hearing?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Wolf, there is real concern.

And when you are talking about the loan wolf, while President Obama made reference in your discussion to the Norway attack, what people are really worried about are the self-radicalized, those inside the United States, like Nidal Hasan, who had been in contact with another American, Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-Yemeni preacher. He's now in Yemen.

And they get radicalized by tapes. They get radicalized by the Internet. These are the people that are very difficult to detect because they act on their own. And so while you make the point, Wolf, that they are not going to be able to pull off the 9/11-size attack, they can do a lot of damage and harm a lot of Americans on a day that is bound to be a serious sort of -- and somber remembrance of those we lost.

BLITZER: And it's not just the assumption or maybe there is some chatter, who knows what's going on behind the scenes, but they did find evidence in bin Laden's house in Abbottabad in Pakistan that he wanted something spectacular to take place on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Isn't that right?

TOWNSEND: That's right, Wolf.

And the interesting thing about that, though, is that officials that I have spoken to were quick to follow up and say, look, it was sort of he was thinking about it and he sort of espoused it, but there was no indication in those materials that -- that had begun sort of planning or in any way to operationalize it.

And so while they're worried about it, we always -- I can remember when I was at the White House you worry about big public gatherings, days of national significance which provide targets. They really seem to have had a real hard time pulling off even a small- scale individual attack.

Faisal Shahzad, the guy in Times Square who couldn't set the bomb off correctly, the Christmas Day underwear attempted bomber on the Northwest Airlines flight -- look, they have got some bomb-making capability but even in small groups, they have a very difficult time. And I think that's why you heard President Obama say he worries about the lone wolf.

A Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood kills a number -- more than a dozen of our soldiers and wounds dozens, can have a devastating effect, especially on that anniversary day. BLITZER: Yes. The president was pretty candid on that issue.

All right, Fran, thanks very much for joining us.

Also coming out of my interview with President Obama, a new round in the verbal sparring between newly minted Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry and the commander in chief. Perry is responding to what the president said about him during my one-on-one interview yesterday with the president in Iowa.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, Republican presidential candidate now, says, the men and women of the United States military want someone who's worn the uniform. He says he served in the Air Force.

Do you see a comment like that that he makes, referring to you, as disrespectful to the commander in chief?

OBAMA: You know, Mr. Perry just got into the presidential race. And I think that everybody who runs for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn't like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress, and you've got to be a little more careful about what you say.

But I will cut him some slack. He's only been at it for a few days now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: And let's go to Nashua, New Hampshire, right now. Our senior political editor Mark Preston is standing by.

Mark, we heard some advice that President Obama gave Governor Perry yesterday in the interview I conducted with him. I take it that the governor is responding today.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: He did. He responded this morning, Wolf, and in fact not surprisingly, he didn't take that advice. He said that he was lectured by the president. He actually had some harsh words for him as well. Let's listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president said I needed to watch what I say.

(LAUGHTER)

PERRY: I just want to respond back, if I may.

Mr. President, actions speak louder than words. My actions as governor are helping create jobs in this country. The president's actions are killing jobs in this country. It's time to get America working again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PRESTON: And there, Wolf, is the governor, Rick Perry, here in Nashua this morning talking about the president giving him some advice saying he needs to be a little bit more careful what he says on the campaign trial. Of course that had to do with Ben Bernanke.

What we saw Perry do right there is to try to tie it to the economy saying that he has the ideas to turn the economy around and that the president has had failed policies -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, not just what he said about Ben Bernanke, but what he said about the president, that the military, the men and women of the military who want a commander in chief they can respect. And he said they could respect him because he wore the uniform as opposed to the current commander in chief.

This whole war of words that is going back and forth, what are the experts saying about this? Is this going to help Rick Perry in his quest for the Republican nomination or turn off voters?

PRESTON: You know, Wolf, it could help him and it could hurt him. Let me just break it down very quickly.

It could help with the conservative base who want to see Rick Perry as an attack dog against President Obama. And we have seen that over the past few days it. However, it could hurt with middle of the road Republicans and independent voters who are just so frustrated by the partisanship in Washington.

I got to tell you I was talking to one of Perry's top advisers last night and he told me that Rick Perry will continue to talk about the economy, jobs, jobs, jobs. We will continue to hear him talking about that. Interestingly enough, Wolf, on the whole issue of social issues, Rick Perry will not be talking a whole lot about that unless he is asked. However if he is asked about them, Rick Perry will be unapologetic about it, Wolf.

So, interestingly enough, Rick Perry who is seen very strongly in social conservative circles is really focusing this campaign on the economy. I guess that's not too surprising -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, one of the things he has got to watch very closely is the Republican caucus goers in Iowa are different than the Republican primary voters in New Hampshire. He's got to appeal to two different types of Republicans. That will be a sensitive issue for him and all the Republican candidates for that matter as well. Mark, thanks very much.

And the president is just wrapping up his Midwest bus tour. He's speaking now in Illinois answering some questions. We're monitoring what's going on. We are along for the ride in his home state. Stand by.

And we will talk about Governor Perry and the president, much, much more this hour live with the Republican Party chairman, Reince Priebus. He is standing by to join us in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Did you know that one out of every eight cell phone users admits to faking it? Talking about cell phones here.

A new Pew poll shows 13 percent of cell phone users say that they have pretended to use their phone so they'd look busy and not have to talk to somebody else.

People under 30 are twice as likely to fake using a cell phone.

The survey shows about 83 percent of Americans have a cell phone. So that's a lot of faking.

People use their cell phones for everything from taking pictures and videos to texting, playing games, listening to music, e-mailing, emergency situations or simply entertaining themselves when they're bored.

Many say they need their phones to live. More than one in four people say that they have come across a situation in the last month that was more difficult because they didn't have their cell phone with them.

Yet despite all these advantages, almost a third of those polled said that they needed to unplug once in a while. These users turn off their phones for a while just to get a break. They are the sane ones among us.

Maybe they need a break because a lot of them are also frustrated with their phones to begin with. They complain that the phone takes too long to download something or they have had difficulty reading something on the phone because the screen was too small.

But we digress. I want to know more about faking it when it comes to cell phones.

So, here's the question: Did you ever fake talking on your cell phone, and if so, why?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on our blog or go to our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Did you ever do that, Jack? Did you ever fake it?

CAFFERTY: I don't have a cell phone.

BLITZER: I know.

CAFFERTY: So I can't fake it.

(LAUGHTER) BLITZER: Good point.

And truth be told, I have, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Have you? Have you faked it?

BLITZER: I have a cell phone and I have faked it sometimes.

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: Can we put Wolf on the screen so I can see who I'm talking to? There he is.

BLITZER: I have faked it from time to time.

CAFFERTY: And why would you do that?

BLITZER: Because somebody wants to bother you, and you pretend...

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: So, when I see you -- when you come up to New York and I see you coming across the newsroom and you reach for the phone, it's just because you don't want to talk to me.

BLITZER: I'm always talking because I don't want to be bothered by you, obviously.

CAFFERTY: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you.

CAFFERTY: See you.

BLITZER: Let's get back to some important news we are following. The president of the United States wrapping up his three-day bus tour, courting rural voters in the U.S. Midwest.

Our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar has been traveling with the president every step of the way. He is in Illinois right now.

The White House making it clear, Brianna, that the president getting ready for what they're describing as a major new plan to deal with the crisis involving jobs. What are you hearing?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that he will be unveiling that plan in a major speech as soon as Congress returns to Washington following Labor Day.

According to a senior administration official, expect this plan to include tax cuts, infrastructure spending, as well as a proposal to deal with the long-term unemployed. This is the headline as the president wraps up his three-day bus tour of the Midwest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): President Obama arrived back in his home state to a warm welcome in his home state.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good to see you.

KEILAR: His first stop of the day, the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison, Illinois.

OBAMA: Good to see you.

I didn't get a chance to (INAUDIBLE) shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I come up here to get away from politicians, but you followed me up.

(LAUGHTER)

KEILAR: A little friendly ribbing, yes, but it also reflects how fed up people are with Washington.

BRENT JOHNSON, ILLINOIS: He is doing an OK job, but I think he can do better.

KEILAR: Including Brent Johnson, an employee at the corn seed production facility where the president held his first town hall meeting of the day.

JOHNSON: Me personally, I would like to see him bring Congress closer together and try to end all this bickering. It seems like we don't get anything done. There's just a lot of people pushing individual agendas. We're not really getting anything done. And I would like him to more unionize that, if you will, and bring that back together.

KEILAR: It's this frustration the president continued to highlight as he wrapped up his bus tour, pointing yet again to House Republicans as the source of the gridlock in Washington.

OBAMA: There is nothing wrong with our country right now. There is something wrong with our politics. You can't bring an attitude that says I would rather see my opponent lose than America win. You can't have that attitude.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Separately from unveiling a jobs plan, Wolf, the president will also be revealing recommendations to that congressional committee, that bipartisan panel that will be working on deficit reduction. And for the first time today in Illinois, he told a crowd that he will be pushing for more than $1.5 trillion in deficit savings, the amount that that committee is mandated to do as a minimum, Wolf.

BLITZER: They haven't released the exact date after Labor Day when he will make this major address, is that right, Brianna?

KEILAR: They haven't released the exact date, but Congress comes back September 7 and we understand it will be pretty close to that date, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brianna Keilar on the scene for us in Illinois, as she has been over these past few days with the president.

Let's get some more with our senior political analyst David Gergen. He's joining us.

David, this emerging plan, if it requires any increased spending let's say for a stimulus to create jobs or requires some new taxes, you know the Republicans in the House who have a decisive majority, they will oppose it. What's the point right now if the president is going to come up with some of these new bold initiatives?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, from the White House's perspective, Wolf, they look at this as a win-win. He comes up with jobs proposals, comes up with a deficit proposal, and if he succeeds at that, he has made gains and he can go to the American people and say, look, I really am working on jobs.

If the Congress blocks it, he has got a campaign issue. And he can go out and argue about the damn Republicans are blocking me yet again. And I think a lot of Democrats will rally to that. Republicans, on the other hand, will say, I beg your pardon. This is the 938th day into your presidency and you are now coming up with a jobs plan and you plan to go on vacation and then come back and give it to us in a few weeks? What kind of a deal is that?

BLITZER: Was this three-day bus trip through the Midwest, looking back now, he is wrapping it up right now, a good idea on the eve of what's going to be this major new initiative that he's got going?

GERGEN: It's hard to say. I think he had to promise something before he went off to the Swiss climbs of a Martha's Vineyard for a vacation. I think he deserves a vacation, but they are going to be people who are going to jump on him.

And I do think -- I don't -- I didn't think he got much out of the bus tour. I'm biased on this. I think the American people were not looking for bus tours and more campaign in (INAUDIBLE). Here we are more than a year before the elections. What in the heck are they doing out there campaigning like crazy?

They would rather see him at home right now sitting down with leaders on both sides and see if they can hash out some sort of agreement, his proposals, plus some of the Republican proposals. The Republicans have got a self-interest in trying to create some jobs here too and looking like at least they have got a plan. Challenge them. What's your plan? Here's my plan. What's your plan? Let's sit down and deal.

BLITZER: Let's see if they can. All right, I think you reflect what a lot of people would like to see. A deal. But that's easier said than done.

GERGEN: Right, easier said than done.

BLITZER: Yes, David, thanks very much.

GERGEN: Thank you.

BLITZER: My one-on-one interview with President Obama is generating lots of reaction from Republicans. I will ask the chairman of the Republican National Committee to weigh in on the president's criticism of Republican lawmakers. My live interview with Reince Priebus is coming up next right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Republican presidential candidates are reacting to my interview with President Obama yesterday in Iowa.

Let's hear right now from the head of the Republican Party. The Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, is joining us from GOP headquarters to talk about that and more.

Reince, thanks very much coming in.

I want to play a little clip of this exchange I had with the president yesterday. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You keep saying that there are some in Congress -- and you don't say who -- some in Congress who are more interested in political gain than really helping the country.

OBAMA: Yes.

BLITZER: Who do you mean by that?

OBAMA: Well, look, I think there is no doubt that the deal that I put forward to Speaker Boehner, which a lot of people in my party attacked me for, because they thought that we were going too far, we were being too generous in terms of trying to compromise, the fact that they couldn't accept a deal in which you had significantly more cuts than revenue, that would have done substantially more to close our deficit than the deal that ultimately we arrived at, the fact that Speaker Boehner and folks in his caucus couldn't say yes to that tells me that they're more interested in the politics of it than they are in solving the problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: All right, Reince, that's a pretty serious charge from the president, that the Republicans who rejected this deal are more interested in politics than in helping the country deal with the deficit, creating jobs.

And I want you to respond.

REINCE PRIEBUS, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, this is all coming from a person who hasn't followed through on a single promise he's made in regard to the debt and the deficit since he's been president.

I don't think anyone knows what he is talking about. And the reason people don't know he is talking about is that he hasn't, Wolf, put a single sentence on a piece of paper and delivered it to anyone, saying, this is my plan.

Instead, Wolf, what we get from this president is one speech after the next, one forensics contest after the next, a taxpayer-paid bus tour, and now -- and now a promise that, lo and behold, in September, after spending a couple weeks in Martha's Vineyard, we're going to now see a jobs plan coming from this president.

You and I have been talking about this for four months. I have been chairman for seven months. It is the same thing over and over again, a promise for a plan, a promise that things are going to be different. And now he is blaming everyone on the face of the Earth, except for the person who is in charge of the free world, which is Barack Obama. And I would say in your interview, I did watch it yesterday the president said that the buck stops with me. Well, He doesn't sound like it. He blamed earthquakes and the Arab spring. I was waiting for him to blame locusts to blame on the situation that we have here in this country. We have an unengaged president. That's the problem.

BLITZER: But he did say, he and Boehner, the speaker they were close to a deal and if they thought they had a deal but some of the tea party activist presumably in the House of Representatives forced the speaker to back away from that. Is that true?

PRIEBUS: Well, with this president so as a game of would a, could a, should a. You know we always have this -- all of us have a relative that comes over in thanks giving and they tell us stories about their plans for the future or a different career path or something else going on and nothing every gets followed through.

If this president was serious, he would present a plan that you, I, and all the viewers could see and say this is President Barack Obama's plan for getting America back on track. Now, he has not delivered that and we are waiting for him to deliver that. Unfortunately, people are out of work and we have an economy that is in the ditch because of this president

BLITZER: Let me pick your brain a little bit on one of the Republican front-runners. I think it's fair to say the governor of Texas Rick Perry is really going after Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the federal reserved. A man a pointed by President Bush to leave the federal reserved. Listen to what Rick Perry said about Ben Bernanke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. I mean, printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treasonous in my opinion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, treason is treason. That's a crime in the United States you can get the death penalty for committing treason. You agree with Rick Perry in those words about Ben Bernanke?

PRIEBUS: Well, I think some people need to lighten up, Wolf. I think the point is that Rick Perry is a fundamental disagree with the idea of printing more, more money to solve our economic problem. I think it's pretty clear. I think there is a lot of passion out there in America and I think we are going to see a lot of rigorous debate among the Republican candidates about how to get our country back on track and what we need to do to save America from a president who just doesn't get it.

So you know I think that this passion and this love for America is something that we embraced and I think that there is going to be a lot of discussion over what types of things that we need to be doing differently. And you know what? I think it's a good thing for us to start the bidding of -

BLITZER: I'm sorry. Let me just press you. Is it just passion when he said he would be treated ugly if you came to Texas or its treasonous? Is that not crossing a line and shouldn't you be careful with the words he uses involving the chairman of the federal reserved?

PRIEBUS: Listen. I'm not going to get in the middle you know of critiquing you know and debating within our own candidates, but it's pretty safe to say that I think people need to lighten up. And that it expresses a general view that someone and many people in the country have and the course and direction that the fed is taking America. And I think that it's a good thing that you and I are now talking about it and that many people around the country are starting to look at what's going on with the fed and they start asking questions. So I think it's good for America.

BLITZER: Well, now you say he is passionate about America, but a lot of people are going back to those controversial comments he made back in 2009, in April 2009.

Even hinting at the possibility of Texas seceding from the union. I will play the clip. Because you know in the course of the campaign is Republican challenger as well as the Democrats will go after him on this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PERRY: Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was we'd be able to leave if we decided to do that.

There is absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know who know what may come out of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, Reince. Is that even patriotic to raise the possibility of seceding from the union?

PRIEBUS: Listen, I think he has been pretty clear. He was expressing his frustration with the direction of the country. And you know I'm sure Mr. Perry is going to talk about that as the campaign continues. I think you are right. He will answer the question. I think he is starting to do that. But generally what you are seeing is someone who is very frustrated with the direction that the country was going and he was flexes his muscle a little bit as the governor of Texas, so it's all that is.

BLITZER: You are really an astute political observer on the Republican Party. A quick question and answer, are more candidates going to jump into the Republican race for the White House?

PRIEBUS: Boy, you know what, Wolf. Seriously, I mean your guess is as good as mine. I think we have a great field right now. I think we are starting a great debate in this country, how to save our country economically. I'm not sure. Certainly there is a lot of noise going on right now. And what I think is true though over the next couple of weeks, this thing will be pretty well set.

BLITZER: Reince Priebus is the chairman of the Republican national committee. Reince, thanks very much for joining us

PRIEBUS: It's an honor to be on. Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Appreciate it.

And in-flight collision is raising, new concerns about the pentagon's growing reliance on drones. So here's the question, how safe are the unmanned planes?

Also, a failed plot to kill dozens of high school students. We are learning new details about the 17-year-old suspect.

And a bride watches in horror as her husband is killed by a shark on their honeymoon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: New concerns about the safety of drawn technology after unmanned aircraft like this one hit a military cargo plane over Afghanistan. No one was hurt in the collision but as drawn technology expands, some are concerned the disaster grown accident is just waiting to happen.

Our pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is here in the SITUATION ROOM with more on this story. I know are a lot people who are deeply worried about it, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, because military aircraft and commercial jets have equipment on board to help them both detect and avoid other aircraft. Drones don't. Now, even if you yourself at home never get anywhere near Afghanistan that is something that could have a very big effect on the safety of the airspace here in the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready?

LAWRENCE (voice-over): The American drone that collided with a huge air force cargo plane was only 12 feet long. But look at the damage it caused. The collision forced the huge air force plane to make an emergency landing in Afghanistan. And it's raising questions about the safety of unmanned vehicles.

TIM OWINGS, ARMY UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM: This is a very, very rare event.

LAWRENCE: Tim Owings works for the unmanned aircraft systems. He says they have flown more than a million hours in dirty, dangerous combat situations without an accident like this.

The U.S. military built a fleet of UAVs and troops are coming home to become cops and firefighters with the expertise to operate them. They want to use the technology here. Unmanned aircraft could show firefighters how fast a blaze is moving and where. They can search for climbers stranded 9,000 feet up on a mountain.

OWINGS: By that you know I'm worried about risk of the guide that hasn't fly in a snowstorm, we used the unmanned system to spot people and save lives.

LAWRENCE: But remember when a small drone did a to a cargo plane? The thought of it is scary.

PAUL MCDUFFEE, INSITU INC.: That are is the heart and soul of the real issue now that faces our industry.

LAWRENCE: Paul Mcduffee works our institute, an unmanned character developer. He says the federal aviation administration has to define the rules and regulations to integrate UAVs into American airspace.

Do you think that the space of the development caught them FAA by surprise?

MCDUFFEE: Yes. I think it was their belief that this was an annoyance. LAWRENCE: But there is an entire convention hall filled with technology from pocket-sized helicopters to aquatic vehicles to that submerges 1,000 meters for nine months at a time.

MCDUFFEE: They now realize this is a bigger, bigger problem and that UASR are here to stay. They are going to have to wrestle with the issue.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: Right now the military is working on various systems to help these drones avoid collision starting with a ground-based radar system that would direct the drones away from other planes. For its part the FAA will start integrating some of the smaller drones first and then go on to the bigger planes and the goal is to get a completely new air traffic network in place well before the year 2025.

BLITZER: We got work to do. All right, Chris thanks very much. Good reporting.

Police in Tampa Florida say they foiled a deadly attack against a local high school.

CNN's David Mattingly has the chilling details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tampa police said 17-year-old Jared Kano has h the tools to kill and the plan to cause more casualties than columbine. A timely tip ended it before anyone could get hurt.

CHIEF JANE CASTOR, POLICE, TAMPA FLORIDA: We were probably able to thwart a potentially catastrophic event the likes of which the city of Tampa has not seen.

MATTINGLY: Police say they searched Kano's room and found fuel sources, shrapnel, plastic tubing, timing and fusing devices. They say they also found a manifesto, detail on how Kano plan to attack his old high school on the first day of classes by setting of bombs and targeting two administrators.

CASTOR: And it goes minute by minute. What he intended to do starting at 5:00 in the morning and going through the day where he intended to put these destructive devices and particular layouts of the school drawn, that type of information.

MATTINGLY: Kano was expelled from Tampa Freedom High School last year, the same time he was arrested away from school for possessing a stolen firearm.

CHRIS FARKAS, PRINCIPAL, FREEDOM HIGH SCHOOL: I think that some of the fear, some of the reaction, emotional reaction came once when we found some of the specifics of what happened and what was found in the department. MATTINGLY: Police did not find the guns in Kano's room or anything to suggest others were involved. Kano's juvenile criminal record dates back years from possession of drug paraphernalia to grand theft auto.

But on his facebook page, Kano comes across as a listless stoner, talking about his love for marijuana and getting high. Shortly after midnight Monday, Kano posted my life stays on repeat. It's getting old.

Then on Tuesday around the time the police come to his door, Kano says "I just did the dumbest thing ever".

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: Tampa police said Kano's family was unaware of what he was allegedly plotting. They now want all parents to be aware that there will be uniformed officers at every single Tampa school on the first day of classes next week. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, David thanks very much. David Mattingly reporting.

Lots more happening right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We will take a quick break, more news when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We just got in this tape. I want to show it to you. Our own Piers Morgan was taping an interview with Christine O'Donnell, you remember her. She was the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from the state of Delaware as she did that famous ad that sort of backfired big time when she said I'm not a witch.

Christine O'Donnell was a guest. She has a new book that she's out with and she was just taping a little while ago with Piers Morgan and they had this exchange. I want you to watch it closely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, FORMER U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm not talking about policies. I'm not running for office. Ask Michele Bachmann and the candidates who are running for office what they think.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, PIERS MORGAN SHOW: Why are you being so weird about this?

O'DONNELL: I'm not being weird about it, Piers. I'm not running for office. I'm not promoting a legislative agenda. I am promoting the policies that I layout in the book that are mostly fiscal and mostly constitutional. That's why I agreed to come on your show. That's what I want to talk about. I'm not being weird. You are being a little rude.

MORGAN: I'm baffled as to why you think that. I think I am being rather charming and respectful. I'm just asking you questions based on (inaudible).

O'DONNELL: I'm not talking about policies. I'm not running for office. Ask Michele Bachmann what she thinks. Ask the candidates who are running for office what they think.

MORGAN: Why are you being so weird about this?

O'DONNELL: I'm not being weird about it, Piers. I'm not running for office. I'm not promoting a legislative agenda. I am promoting the policies that I layout in the book that are mostly fiscal and mostly constitutional. That's why I agreed to come on your show. That's what I want to talk about. I'm not being weird. You are being a little rude.

MORGAN: I'm baffled as to why you think that. I think I am being rather charming and respectful. I'm just asking you questions based on (inaudible).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Obviously, we don't have the right clip. But, needless to say and Piers just tweeted about this, a few moments ago. She takes the microphone off. She walks off the set. He was asking her questions that Piers tweeted about this gay marriage and other sensitive issues that she didn't want to talk about that. And as a result she simply walked off the set.

Piers said in 25 years or so, he's been doing these kinds of things, first time a guest has ever done that. If you want to see the actual exchange, watch Piers Morgan tonight 9pm Eastern right here on CNN.

We will take a quick break, more news right after this.

BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File." Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have a fun question, do you ever fake talking on your cell phone, and if so, why? A study few did said about, I think they said 18 percent of us fake using a cell phone from time to time.

Linda in Kentucky, no, but I see people who do it all the time. It's quite obvious when they're doing it and I really think that they're just trying to look important. Everybody seems like they want to be somebody these days, real or fake. Not me. The more people who don't notice me and the less my phone rings, the happier I am. I could have written that.

Mary in Louisiana, yes, I set an alarm to go on and fake my husband calling in order to get away from an overeager car salesman.

Sam writes, sometimes it's more productive to fake a call for ten seconds than be pulled into a nonsense discussion for ten minutes.

Manny writes, all the time when I take a break at work. I'm a systems engineer and the vast majority of individuals in my company know this. 90 percent of unavoidable interactions end up with problems that the users experience between their desktop, their operating system or their application. I'd like to get away from work when it's time for my break.

Stephanie writes, I fake talk when I'm walking home alone at night. Walking down empty city streets makes me feel anxious and eerie leers from men on the sidewalk unnerve me. Fake talking makes me feel safer.

Carol on facebook says it's the only reason I carry a cell phone.

And Jim in Oregon says only when I see you coming, Jack.

If you want to read more on this go to my blog CNN.com/caffertyfile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM facebook page. Wolf?

BLITZER: We'll do, Jack, thank you.

Jeanne Moos coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Getting paid not to wear a popular clothing line. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was horrible.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take a good look at these lime green sweat pants, because they're what led Abercrombie & Fitch to offer to pay this jersey shore star not to wear their clothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I don't want is for you not to be yourself.

MOOS: And the guy who calls himself the situation only made things worse with these blue pants by Abercrombie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually, I'm pulling off.

MOOS: And Abercrombie & Fitch employee noticed the outfits and told the CEO.

MIKE JEFFRIES, CEO, ABERCROMBIE & FITCH CO (voice-over): And someone came up and said, mike, I have terrible, terrible news for you. Last night on "Jersey Shore," the situation had A & F product.

MOOS: And that's when the company decided -

JEFFRIES: Let's pay them not to wear our product.

MOOS: But outside their fifth avenue store, the one with the half naked doorman.

UNIFENTIFIED MALE: I find it ironic that the "Jersey Shore" promotes going to gyms, tanning salons, and going to clubs. People at the door here are tan, hard bodies and there's a rope out here that looks like a club.

MOOS: Abercrombie has even sold a t-shirt combing Fitch and the situation. The Fitchuation. As for offering to pay the situation for not wearing their clothes the Abercrombie CEO says -

JEFFRIES: We're having a lot of fun with it.

MOOS: What do you call it anyway, non-branding, anti-branding? A un-endorsement? Ho about a big publicity stunt?

The producer of "Jersey Shore" said it's a clever PR stunt and we'd love to work with them on other ways they can leverage "Jersey Shore" to reach the largest youth audience on television.

This reminds us of the story of Snooki's Gucci bag, the one she was carrying when she got arrested for being drunk on the beach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get the (bleep) off. Get off.

MOOS: In the "New York Observer" Simon Doonan wrote that luxury accessory houses are sending "snook-ems" free bags.

But here's the shocker, they're not sending them their own bags. They're sending her each other's bags, competitor's bag in an effort to make their rivals seem tacky. The article calls Snooki the typhoid Mary of luxury branding.

And then there's another situation, one with Abercrombie & Fitch stock. The stock price took a shot in the abs, down more than 8 percent Wednesday. And let's say it has nothing to do with the situation, situation. But you can bet he and his six-pack abs is shaking with laughter.

Jeanne Moos, CNN New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That's it for me. I'm in our SITUATION ROOM for our international viewers, WORLD REPORT is next, and for North America, JOHN KING USA starts now.