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THE SITUATION ROOM

Hiding Edwards' Pregnant Mistress; Al Qaeda Attack Plans Hidden in Porn Video; Inside Decision to Order a Drone Strike; Split Opinions on Iran in Israel; Heated Debate over Whether Women Make Less than Men

Aired April 30, 2012 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, anger and pain at the trial of one time presidential hopeful, John Edwards. New details on how a former aide and his wife were asked to hide Edwards' pregnant mistress.

Also, chilling new details of secret al Qaeda attack plans. The coded files hidden inside a digitized porn video seized from a suspect in Europe.

And they're camping out to apply for jobs. But at least there are some jobs to be had.

Is it a sign that the economy is getting better?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Dramatic testimony today in the trial of a man who might have become president, the former White House hopeful, John Edwards, who is accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to conceal his affair with a campaign videographer.

Now, new details on how Edwards allegedly tried to get others to hide his pregnant mistress.

Our senior correspondent, Joe Johns, is joining us now from North Carolina -- Joe, there are new details emerging today on the infamous sex tape of Rielle Hunter and John Edwards.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The whole court trying to get a handle on that infamous sex tape that's already been a subject of civil litigation. It's pretty clear that tape is not going to be shown in open court. However, the defense asserting that it might actually call the star witness in the case, Andrew Young, back to ask him a number of questions about it -- how he got it, whether he stole the tape, whether he was trying to sell the tape for money and so on. All of this as the wife of Andrew Young was actually on the stand today asserting that John Edwards, from the very beginning, was trying to save his presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): It's been years, but you can still see the anger and pain in Cheri Young, whose husband Andrew was once John Edwards' right-hand man, fundraiser and fixer. At one point, she was sobbing so much, the judge had to send the jury out, after Mrs. Young explained publicly how she reacted when she was told that Edwards allegedly wanted her husband to make a false claim that he was the father of a child with Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter.

"The first thing in my mind was how in the world Mr. Edwards could ask one more thing of us," she said. At first she said absolutely not. But right before the Iowa caucuses, she said, she sat in on a conference call, mid-December 2007, between Edwards, the pregnant Rielle Hunter, and Cheri Young's husband.

"Mr. Edwards was trying to get everyone on board. He started in with the campaign: 'This is it. This is our time,' over and over about the campaign."

But she said Edwards also mentioned he didn't want his wife Elizabeth, who had been re-diagnosed with cancer, to find out.

Cheri Young said she decided to go along with the cover-up story because if she didn't, the Edwards presidential campaign would explode.

Cheri Young also described how she felt when asked to endorse and deposit checks into her account from the wealthy Edwards' benefactor, Bunny Mellon, which were supposed to be used to pay Rielle Hunter's expenses. "I can't tell you how disgusted I was."

But she demanded that Edwards himself tell her it was legal. She said Edwards told her he talked to campaign lawyers, who said it was legal, and to, quote, "Get the money in. He was very short and angry," she said.

She also described whirlwind travel around the holidays between 2007 and 2008 and private planes with Rielle Hunter to escape the media -- from Raleigh, North Carolina to Fort Lauderdale to Illinois to Aspen, Colorado, to San Diego and then back to Aspen. Cheri Young also described bizarre moments with Rielle Hunter.

When Edwards' pregnant mistress arrived at her house in North Carolina, Mrs. Young said, "Ms. Hunter took a spin in the entryway and announced, 'I'm here.'"

At another point, she said, Hunter ordered a Ruben sandwich in a restaurant in Colorado. And when the dressing on the sandwich wasn't right, Young said Hunter picked up her cell phone and called her spiritual adviser in California to ask him to fix it. Young said she actually wrote thousands of dollars in checks for Rielle Hunter's expenses, including to pay the spiritual adviser for his services.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

JOHNS: The trial ended early today with Cheri Young saying she'd gotten a migraine and would not be able to continue.

The defense clearly looking forward to the cross-examination because they want to attack her testimony as unreliable because so much of it came secondhand, for example, from her husband -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Joe Johns coverage the trial in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Joe, we'll check back with you tomorrow.

Meanwhile, let's turn now to some stunning new revelations about secret al Qaeda attack plans hidden inside a porn video. The digitized coded files give us some details of past plots and chilling hints at future threats. They're all tied to a pair of al Qaeda suspects on trial for allegedly plotting more bloody attacks.

Here's CNN's senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As U.S. Navy SEALs were preparing to storm bin Laden's now infamous compound in Pakistan a year ago, two of his recently trained European recruits were sneaking out of the country on a mission to cause carnage. They were headed for Vienna and Berlin.

(on camera): But not long after they returned to Europe, one of them was being questioned at this police station. He was arrested and searched. And hidden in his underwear, police found memory recording devices like these. Buried deep in the devices was a pornographic video. And hidden in files inside that were what police believe were more than 100 secret al Qaeda documents.

(voice-over): Documents that included detailed accounts of the planning for some of al Qaeda's biggest attacks and ideas for future operations, apparently drawn up by some of the terror group's most senior operatives three years ago.

YASSIN MUSHARBASH, "DIE ZEIT" NEWSPAPER: According to the German federal criminal police, it must have been written up by the inner core of al Qaeda.

ROBERTSON: Investigative journalist, Yassin Musharbash, works Germany's "Der Zeit" newspaper and was the first to report on the documents. Among al Qaeda's plans, attacks like the one in Mumbai, India in 2008, when 10 Pakistani militants armed with automatic weapons on a suicide mission stormed three hotels, killing more than 160 people. (VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: And another plan, the most chilling yet.

MUSHARBASH: He says that we could hijack a passenger ship on the sea and then use it to pressure -- to pressurize the public. What he most likely means is that, you know, then they -- that they would then start executing passengers on those ships and demand the release of particular prisoners.

ROBERTSON: They would dress passengers in orange jumpsuits, mimicking al Qaeda prisoners in GITMO. Executions would be quickly uploaded to an al Qaeda Web site.

Also in the plans, a document titled "Future Works," to flood Europe with trained terrorists and overwhelm counterterrorism agencies.

MUSHARBASH: The author seems to be convinced that al Qaeda should be pursuing a two track strategy of low cost, low damage attacks and large scale attacks.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Like 911?

MUSHARBASH: Yes. The reason being that if al Qaeda were to pursue only large scale attacks and those are foiled, then they have nothing.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): And that's where these two men sent back to Europe fit into al Qaeda's planning. Yusuf Ocak, seen here in a militant video threatening Germany...

(VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: -- and 22-year-old Maqsood Lodin, the man found with the memory sticks. German prosecutors allege their job was to recruit a network of suicide attackers.

MUSHARBASH: We do not know what these two young man were actually up to. But there are certain information in those files that would make it plausible to assume that they probably were thinking of a Mumbai-style attack.

ROBERTSON: They are currently on trial in Berlin and have denied being members of a terrorist organization.

Other files hidden deep in that porn video show not only al Qaeda's thinking about the future, but also shed light on the planning of past attacks and elaborate efforts to foil intelligence services.

(on camera): U.S. intelligence sources tell CNN this information is pure gold. But it contains details of some of al Qaeda's most dangerous attacks, including the attack on the London subway seven years ago.

(voice-over): Fifty-two were killed, several hundred injured. The mastermind of that attack, Rasheed Ralph, a British member of al Qaeda. In one of the documents found in Berlin, he spells out his role in that attack, as this bomber recorded his martyrdom statement...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you have witnessed now is only the beginning.

ROBERTSON: -- Ralph writes: "He was in the room, off camera. He set up a computer with a scripted statement."

Ralph also reveals there was a short list of three targets -- the Bank of England, the G8 Summit that would be taking place in Scotland and the London subway. They picked the subway because it required less explosives.

(on camera): Ralph's big takeaway from the success of this team was the time he spent with them helping them memorize codes so they could communicate securely, teaching them counter surveillance techniques to switch their phones, how to use e-mail accounts and Internet chats. He also reveals that two of the bombers were sure they were being watched by British intelligence because some of their associates had been arrested in connection with another plot. They acted up that life was normal, going to the movies, joking out loud a lot.

(voice-over): A subsequent inquiry in Britain found that the intelligence service, MI5, were aware of the two men and their connections, but didn't think they posed a threat.

Even as London was recovering from that terrible day, Ralph was planning a devastating follow-up.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: And Nic Robertson is joining us now from London -- Nic, these al Qaeda plans included a ship hijacking with executions.

Here's the question -- are plots like this still possible, even though bin Laden is dead?

ROBERTSON: They seem to be. And certainly one of the things that al Qaeda was laying out there, in that document, was the Mumbai- style attack. And if you look at what happened in Europe over the past couple of years, the arrests in Germany in late 2010 seem to be a Mumbai-style plot. The people who were arrested last year in Germany, they seem to have come to recruit suicide attackers. And they were involved in a Mumbai-style plot.

So what has -- al Qaeda has laid out in that document is its plans. They still appear to be sticking to those plans.

Now, al Qaeda's difficulty is its capability, the quality of recruits it gets and the quality of the handlers. Rasheed Ralph, one of their best ever handlers, according to U.S. intelligence, he is dead. And that's compromised al Qaeda operations. But if they have the capability, they will push through. And the -- and the -- and the -- the issue here is, is do they have the capability?

Maybe they don't have it today, Wolf, but in Yemen and in Libya, they're setting up more training camps. So you cannot rule it out.

BLITZER: No.

All right, Nic, thanks very much.

Nic doing wonderful reporting for us, especially on this, the first anniversary of bin Laden's death.

Tonight, by the way, on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," those al Qaeda documents reveal new details on the terror group's future plans. We'll reveal them -- 8:00 p.m. Eastern for our North American viewers, only here on CNN.

A first for the Obama administration -- publicly admitting it uses drones to target terrorists. And that's not all we're learning today about the controversial program.

Plus, two Israeli prime ministers, the current one and the former one, two very different opinions on what to do as far as Iran is concerned.

Who's right?

I'll discuss with a top American expert.

And Occupy Wall Street making a comeback, which could impact your life tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, the commander in chief is starting to sound a little bit like the hypocrite in chief. Contrary to statements that he's made in the past, President Obama is using the one-year anniversary of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in his re-election campaign.

A web video narrated by former president, Bill Clinton, praises Mr. Obama's decision to order the killing of the al Qaeda leader. Vice President Joe Biden in a speech used a bumper sticker slogan that thanks President Obama, quote, "Bin Laden's dead and General Motors is alive." Biden suggests it might have been the other way around were Mitt Romney the president.

So much for what the Obama White House was saying when Bin Laden was killed. In the days following the Bin Laden raid, President Obama said he decided not to release photos of the terrorist corpse, quote, "We don't trot this stuff out as trophies," and quote, "We don't need to spike the football." What's more, four years ago, then Candidate Obama slammed his opponent, Hillary Clinton, for using Bin Laden in a political ad. He accused Clinton of playing the politics of fear like George W. Bush. Well, of course, none of this is lost on the president's critics. Republicans are blasting him for turning a unifying event into another way to divide the country.

Likely, GOP nomine, Mitt Romney, calls it a cheap political ploy. The real tragedy here is probably that President Obama, by politicizing the raid that got Bin Laden, is managing to upstage the navy SEALs who are the real heroes who conducted the mission.

Here's the question, should President Obama use Osama Bin Laden's death in his campaign? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM'S Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Causing a lot, a lot of political discussion out there.

CAFFERTY: Huge. Big stir.

BLITZER: Yes. OK. Jack, thank you.

Meanwhile, a top White House official is defending the use of drones to target suspected terrorists and kill them. In a speech in Washington today, the counterterrorism advisor to the president, John Brennan, says the strikes are legal and designed to save American lives.

I'm joined now by CNNs Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, such as we're getting new insight into how the decision is made to carry out these drone strikes designed to kill suspected terrorists out there. Tell us all about it.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, this is probably the most in depth description of the review process that we've ever heard publicly. Brennan says President Obama has instructed his team to be more open about how and when the U.S. dispatches these drones.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): It's a program often shrouded in secrecy, but the Obama administration is going public with its justification for using drones to kill specific terrorists.

JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: There is no more consequential decision than deciding whether to use lethal force against another human being even a terrorist dedicated to killing American citizens.

LAWRENCE: Counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, reveals there is a threat threshold which the U.S. uses to gauge whether someone can be targeted, such as an operational leader of al Qaeda.

BRENNAN: Or perhaps, the individual possess unique operational skills that are being leveraged in a planned attack.

RAHA WALA, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: What does it mean to have a unique set of skills? These terms are very vague.

LAWRENCE: Human rights activist, Raha Wala, wonders if anyone raising money for al Qaeda or transporting goods could be killed. He says Brennan's criteria comes up short.

WALA: They certainly don't provide assurances to the American people that this program is being conducted in compliance with international and domestic law.

LAWRENCE: Brennan says the national security team asked several questions before authorizing a strike. Is this person a significant threat to American interests? Is capture not feasible? And, have we thought through the unintended consequences?

BRENNAN: When considering lethal force, we are, of course, mindful that there are important checks on our ability to act unilaterally and foreign territories.

LAWRENCE: But just weeks after Pakistani lawmakers demanded an end to American drone strikes, another militant hideout was hit Sunday. Pakistan is condemning the strike in North Waziristan that killed three people.

BRENNAN: We discussed, we debate, we disagree.

LAWRENCE: Brennan says the decision to target someone doesn't have to be unanimous. And some officials morally struggle with their decisions.

BRENNAN: I know I have and I will continue to struggle with it as long as I remain in counterterrorism.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (on-camera): Brennan also says that he's very mindful the U.S. is the first nation to deploy these drones on an extensive basis, but every year, more and more countries are gaining that capability and some of them will use how the U.S. is conducting its drone attacks as a precedent -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, he's basically saying that if the U.S. can engage in what they call these targeted assassinations from the sky using these drones, other countries will follow suit and say, look, if the United States of America can go out and kill some people they suspect of being terrorists, we can do it as well. He got into that, right?

LAWRENCE: You're exactly right, Wolf. That's exactly his point, that other nations will use the U.S.'s use of force as a precedent, and he made the point of saying not every nation that gains the drone capability will have the same regard for loss of civilian life and other things that have to be considered.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon, thank you. It was some of the worst flooding in U.S. history. Now, it's a reason for a lawsuit against the U.S. army corps of engineers. We'll explain what's going on.

New Jersey's governor, Chris Christie, possibly sending a new tune about a potential vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket. We'll update you on that as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Israel's prime minister has been doing a lot of saber rattling over Iran's nuclear program, but there appears to be a growing very serious chorus within Israel sounding a very serious note of caution. Here's CNNs Brian Todd with details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's been warning about Iran's nuclear ambitions for years, hinting that he might order a pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. But now, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu is getting more brush back than ever before from inside Israel over those warnings. Listen to what his predecessor, former prime minister, Ehud Olmert said to CNN.

EHUD OLMERT FORMER PRIME MINISTER: Also, not to rush for certain military actions which are not essential at this point.

TODD (on-camera): But it goes beyond Olmert. Israel's top general, Gen. Benny Gantz, recently said Iran has not yet decided to go the extra mile in making a nuclear bomb. Netanyahu's former domestic security chief, Yuval Diskin, called Netanyahu messianic said he doesn't trust Netanyahu to lead Israel in any kind of a conflict with Iran.

And listen to what Meir Dagan, former director of the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, told CBS' "60 Minutes" recently.

MEIR DAGAN, FORMER MOSSAD DIRECTOR: An attack on Iran, before you're exploring all other approaches, is not the right way how to do.

TODD (voice-over): Dagan also called Iran's regime rational. I spoke about this with Aaron David Miller who advised six secretaries of states, Democrat and Republican, on the Middle East.

It seems like there's more internal brush back than ever to this idea of attacking Iran. Why do you think that is?

AARON DAVID MILLER, WOODROW WILSON INTL. CENTER: Because I think you've got an Israeli political community that is deeply divided. I think people understand exactly how risky this is, exactly how consequential it might be, if there's no success. And in fact, I think a lot of people are unsure about what success actually means.

TODD: Netanyahu's not (ph) on an island. His defense minister, Ahud Barack, is with him every step in hitting home the Iranian threats and implying a possible Israeli strike, but why are they talking about it?

When a Syrian nuclear facility was bombed in 2007 by Israel, and in 1981 when Israel bombed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in Iraq, no one said anything before hand. What's Netanyahu's motive now in beating the drum?

MILLER: I think this is part of a carefully orchestrated campaign, to threaten war, to get the international community to focus, primarily get the United States to assume a certain measure of responsibility. Israelis would love to see us take care of this problem for them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (on-camera): Miller says the Israelis have calculated this to get the U.S. to shift from a strategy of containing Iran to preventing it from getting a nuclear weapon. And he says it's worked. President Obama and his cabinet have gotten tougher over the issue of sanctions against Iran, gotten tougher in their public language against Iran's nuclear program.

When I asked an Israeli official whether this was all part of a calculation from Benjamin Netanyahu, he would only say, quote, "It would be a mistake to read that into it" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Certainly, not the first time there's been an internal disagreement within Israel over a potential moves like this, Brian?

TODD: That's right. One analyst pointed out to me that in 1981, the head of the Mossad and the chief of Israel's military intelligence arm were against striking Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor, but he says Prime Minister (INAUDIBLE) went ahead with it. So, there has been precedent for this, and even if there is internal discord, it could be that Netanyahu could order the strike, Wolf.

BLITZER: Oh, it seems to be some internal discord in Israel. Thanks very much, Brian.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now one with someone with two decades of experience in helping to shape U.S. policy in the Middle East. We're talking about an ambassador and assistant to the president and appoint man for peace negotiations, Dennis Ross. He's now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy here in Washington.

Dennis, thanks very much for coming in. You recently left the Obama administration, where you dealt with Iran and Israel all these matters. Explain, because I'm sure you understand what's going on with these conflicting messages we're getting from high-ranking Israeli political leaders and defense and intelligence leaders.

DENNIS ROSS, FORMER SPECIAL ASST. PRES. OBAMA: Well, first of all, this is a consequential decision. Most Israelis including those who may be debating the issue right now don't question whether or not Iran's nuclear weapon would be an existential threat to Israel. The issue for many of them is who is the best one equipped to deal with that threat? Is it best for Israel to do it or is it best for the United States to do it?

BLITZER: It is pretty extraordinary though when you hear the prime minister and the defense minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barack (ph) say one thing and the leaders of the intelligence community and the top general in Israel say something very different.

ROSS: Well what you are seeing though is the following. This has been a discussion that's been going on for some time internally at the highest levels of the Israeli government. By the way, the very same people who are talking internally are always talking to us. We have had -- the United States has had under the Obama administration a systematic, very high level dialogue, with all the people in the military establishment, the intelligence establishment, the defense minister and the prime minister.

Many of the areas of agreement and disagreement that we see in public right now, we certainly were hearing before in private. This discussion is not a new discussion, but as the reality of possibly taking military action becomes something that looks more real and is closer, it's not surprising to me that we're seeing more of this aired in public.

BLITZER: More of this disagreement within Israel itself. Do you believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama right now, as far as Iran is concerned, tactical dealings with Iran are on the same page?

ROSS: Yes I do. I think that when it comes to the objective, the objective is prevention --

BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) the long-term objective is preventing Iran from having a nuclear bomb --

ROSS: Right.

BLITZER: -- and not getting into containment or anything like that. But how to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb, are Netanyahu and Obama on the same page.

ROSS: For now. What I mean that is look when Bebe (ph) went back to Israel he said the time for action is not measured in days or weeks or in years. Now between days and weeks and years there's a space. The president following the meeting with Netanyahu said the diplomatic window still exists but it's closing. Time is running out, so there's a space for diplomacy to work. Now there's a difference between the two only in one respect. From the Israeli standpoint if diplomacy goes on for too long, they could lose their military option, and still face a potential threat not yet knowing when someone else including specifically the United States might act.

BLITZER: But do you really believe Israel has a credible military option? We know the United States has that military capability of getting the job done, but does Israel have the ability to really destroy any hope of Iran developing a nuclear bomb?

ROSS: First of all, neither we nor the Israelis have the ability to destroy any hope of the Iranians developing a nuclear bomb. In 2007 they crossed the point where they didn't -- they crossed the point where they could do this entirely on their own without anybody's help. So nobody has the ability to destroy and set back their program in a way that can't be reconstituted. We and the Israelis separately have the ability to delay it, to set it back. We have more capability than the Israelis. We can wait longer to do it, but do the Israelis have a credible capability to set back the program? Yes.

BLITZER: They could do it and credibly set back for how long?

ROSS: Well probably up to two years.

BLITZER: And the U.S., if the U.S. launched an air strike, how long would that set back the Iranians?

ROSS: Probably three years.

BLITZER: That's all just two years versus three years.

ROSS: Right. Now that's speaking technically. The fact is there's a whole context, you have to make a decision. You have to establish priorities. You have to find the resources. This is an enormous effort on the part of the Iranians. They couldn't turn around overnight and suddenly resume and make sure they could reconstitute. One key point here, context matters. If in fact diplomacy has been tried and failed, negotiations have been tried and failed and then forces used, the ability of the international community to maintain the isolation and the kinds of sanctions that would make it even harder for the Iranians to reconstitute would be there, so if you wait to strike having adopted and exhausted all other options, then in fact the ability to set it back longer is probably there.

BLITZER: There's one option a military strike, which we've discussed and other option continue the economic diplomatic, the sanctions, the pressure, the third option, covert operations, kill Iranian nuclear scientists, use cyber warfare (INAUDIBLE), if you will, to stop them from doing this. Covert operations, how significant would that be? Is that the most realistic?

ROSS: Well I don't want to get into details. I would simply say you can obviously assume there are a variety of different kinds of steps and options that have been pursued. Someone like (INAUDIBLE) has been very vocal --

BLITZER: The former head of the Massad (ph) Israeli intelligence --

ROSS: Right. He's been very vocal in terms of his position and belief that in fact there are other means to continue to delay the Iranians from going ahead and succeeding. I think there's a debate on that issue as well. I think the fact of the matter is if you're going to ultimately succeed in preventing the Iranians from doing this the best outcome is a diplomatic outcome where in fact not only do they agree, but you have the kind of transparency that ensures they can't cheat and they can't break out. If that fails, then you're looking at a military option, which is then backed by a diplomatic operation after the fact. Again, there's no such thing as destroying their capability to produce their nuclear program. There is an ability to set it back.

BLITZER: Dennis Ross thanks very much for coming in.

ROSS: Sure.

BLITZER: I suspect we'll be continuing these conversations. Hundreds of people desperate for work and they're going to extreme measures right now for a small chance at getting a job.

Also Delta Airlines trying to buy its way out of high gas prices. Stand by. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A new lawsuit alleges flooding in Nashville, Tennessee two years ago was caused by negligence on the part of the federal government. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that, also some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. A hotel chain is leading a lawsuit over a decision to open a spillway that it says caused the flooding. According to "The Tennessean" (ph) newspaper, the company that owns the Gaylord Opryland (ph) hotel is demanding $250 million. It alleges the Army Corps of Engineers should not have opened this spillway and the National Weather Service should have informed the public of how high the water would rise.

And a subsidiary company of Delta Airlines is paying $150 million to buy a fuel refinery complex south of Philadelphia. The company says the facility will eventually provide about 80 percent of Delta's jet fuel needs in the United States. Delta's CEO says it will reduce the airlines fuel costs by $300 million per year.

And Ohio is ordering five exotic animals be returned to the widow of a man who set them loose before killing himself last year. Fifty- six animals were released, but most were killed by authorities. The five surviving animals include two leopards, two monkeys and a brown bear. They could be back at the farm they were released from as early as tomorrow.

And an Australian billionaire is commissioning a Chinese shipyard to build a replica of the Titanic. The ship will reportedly be modeled after the original, but equipped with modern navigation technology and safety systems. According to a spokesman it will make its maiden voyage from London to New York in 2016 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You want to go on a ship called the Titanic --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: He thinks a lot of people want to do that, is that what this billionaire is suggesting?

SYLVESTER: Well there might be a market for it. I know that there are a lot of people who have Titanic fever, so we'll see, Wolf.

BLITZER: Maybe there are, OK. He's a billionaire, I'm not. What do I know? Thanks very much Lisa.

Desperate for a paycheck, you'll meet someone who flew across the country to camp out for a job.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Occupy movement is urging Americans to stay home from work, refrain from shopping or banking tomorrow. It's to mark "May Day", the traditional holiday to honor workers around the world. The Occupy movement was founded last year to protest what they described as corporate greed and economic inequality. But Occupy supporters are not the only ones disappointed in the economy. Let's bring in CNN's Mary Snow. She's working this story as well. Mary, what are you finding out?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a union here in New York City earlier today handed out hundreds of applications for only a few dozen positions in a pay training program. Now just to get a chance, some people camped out for nearly a week and that includes one man we found who flew in from Arizona last Tuesday. It's a small snapshot of a highly anticipated read on the jobs' picture coming out later this week.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): No sign of an improving economy here in Queens, New York. More than 500 people applying for a shot at 50 slots at a local ironworkers union. Many of these people have been camped out for days, hoping for the promise of a steady job with health care and it's not just men.

IMANI CLARK, BRONX RESIDENT: I have two degrees in business and I'm here. You know, so I graduated from Monroe in 2010, Monroe College and I haven't been able to find a job in my field.

ANDY LYNAM, JOB SEEKER: I have a company in Arizona and I'm shutting it down because I can't afford the insurance on it anymore.

WARRNE COMBS, JOB SEEKER: Economy is rough, times are hard, you know so you know people are just taking their chance.

SNOW: Despite the long wait, some see a silver lining in the jobs picture. Rich Milgram is one of them. He is the CEO of the Career Network site Beyond.com. He says while the economy still has a long way to go to recover, the fact that it's slow and steady is a good thing.

RICH MILGRAM, CEO, BEYOND.COM: We're seeing a lot of job growth, and in construction we're seeing it normally higher in other areas, which is good news from a construction front.

SNOW: Electricians, plumbers and roofers according to Milgram have been in demand as the housing market improves, but there's still a big divide when it comes to education. The unemployment rate for college graduates is 4.2 percent. That rate nearly doubles for those without a college degree and it's close to 13 percent for high school dropouts. The pace of job growth sputtered in March and the economy grew slower than expected in the first quarter. It's raised questions about whether the recovery is for real or whether it's backsliding. And that's why economists will be closely watching April's jobs' report out Friday.

ADOLFO LAURENTI, ECONOMIST: This is going to be critical, both for the health of our economy and for political reason, so all the eyes will be on the job report on Friday.

SNOW: Whether that report shows strong growth or not, only 50 out of the hundreds here will get a job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And when the April jobs' report does come out on Friday, economists are expecting roughly 162,000 jobs to be added. The economists we spoke with today said for very strong growth that number should be closer to 300,000. But at this point many are just looking for jobs' numbers that won't fall below what's expected -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, for so many people out there just getting a job is like winning the lottery, if you will. Mary, thank you.

Here's a question. Should President Obama use Osama bin Laden's death in his political campaign? That's Jack Cafferty's question, your answers coming up next.

And New Jersey's governor, Chris Christie possibly singing a little bit of a different tune about a potential vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket.

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BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now including an update to a story we brought you in the last hour. Lisa, what's going on?

SYLVESTER: Hi there, Wolf. Well the question of whether women make less money than men for doing the same work sparked a very heated debate on NBC's "Meet the Press". Republican consultant and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos said it is not true, which Rachel Maddow passionately disagreed with.

Well Alex is now doubling down on his argument writing this in the "Daily Caller", quote, "Maddow restated an old and discredited liberal myth that women are paid less than men, only 77 percent for the same labor. The fact is women are paid less than men in America but not for the same work. They are paid less for other reasons. First, they take different jobs than men and secondly, as Kay Hymowitz sub-header her recent 'Wall Street Journal' article 'women earn less because they work fewer hours'". Now Castellanos makes the point that women are earning less because women are opting to spend less time at work because in a word because of children. And the head of the EPA's office in Dallas is resigning over comments he made about how he deals with oil and gas companies that don't comply with regulations. A video from 2010 shows the official comparing his methods to Roman soldiers who he said would quote "crucify enemies to make an example of them". The EPA is calling the comments deeply unfortunate.

And New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may be interested in running for vice president after all. Christie previously said he has no interest in joining the Republican ticket but now he is leaving some wiggle room. Speaking at a school event today Christie said he would be willing to talk with Republican presidential-candidate Mitt Romney about the job adding, quote, "he mate be able to convince me" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suspect that's not going to happen, but that's just me. We'll see what happens on the VP front. We'll have a lot of time to think about that and discuss it over these next several months. Thank you. Let's get back to Jack right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Christie could arguably be the most interesting thing that could happen in this entire campaign. He is a fascinating fellow. And if he agreed to get on the ticket with Romney, it would be a giant. I mean the vice presidential debates would be Biden versus Christie, come on, it would be terrific.

BLITZER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: He has got to lose some weight, though. The question this hour should President Obama use Osama bin Laden's death in his campaign? David writes "some but only as a single accomplishment. He pulled the trigger. It was on his watch, but the folks that actually got bin Laden were a long line of analysts and operatives predating Obama's involvement and ending with a small group of life on the line SEALs who were in training when Obama was still teaching law school. He needs to guard against allowing a notation to morph into a swagger. We'll never know the names of the people who we should really appreciate for this."

Bob in Florida writes "he has to. He has nothing else to run on. He has no credible foreign policy, no energy policy, no economic policy."

U. writes "President Obama gave the order and the SEALs got it done. Telling the truth is never a cheap shot."

Ted writes "now that Bill Clinton is in charge of the president's reelection Bill will tell him to say whatever the people want to hear. Take all the credit yourself. Never mention the military, FBI, CIA and all the work that President Bush started right after 9/11. Just let people think you did it all by yourself. And as far as the other problems facing the country, blame those on someone else."

Paul writes, "of course he should, conservatives don't like him mentioning it because it is something they can't attack him on. You can't attack him on a lack of leadership and then cry foul when he holds up an example of it in response."

M.O. writes "he can use it but that does not automatically mean he's going to be re-elected. It's a very superficial way to try to get to us vote for him."

And Mark in New York writes "while you're correct in labeling the president a hypocrite, given what he said in the days following bin Laden's death, I think it is absolutely fair game politically. It is one of his great accomplishments." If you want to read more about this, go to the blog CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. I mean he did say, Romney, it is not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person -- tough business --

CAFFERTY: Well Obama also said we don't spike the football on this stuff --

BLITZER: That's right --

CAFFERTY: And now he's spiking the football --

BLITZER: He said that as well. You're right.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack. Jeanie Moos with some memorable mug shots, that's coming up.

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BLITZER: Tattoos are making mug shots even more memorable. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a mug shot with a message. With God on her forehead Jamie Calloway (ph) joins the ranks of men in mug shots with tattoos proclaiming them genius or reject.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I like about it. It looks like an actual stamp. It doesn't look like he just went with the word reject.

MOOS: Made himself look like a rejected mortgage application says the website "The Smoking Gun". Editors there are mug shot connoisseurs. They even appreciate the "f" word.

ANDREW GOLDBERG, MANAGING EDITOR, THE SMOKING GUN: It is simple. It says what it needs to say and guarantees you probably limited employment if you ever get out of jail.

MOOS: They've compiled tattoos ranging from a toe tag to a gun in the waistband. Jesse Thornhill's (ph) mug shot even showed off implanted horns along with piercings and tattoos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a bit of an odd ball, I'll give you that.

MOOS: But "The Smoking Gun" guys are looking for more in a mug shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want a message. I want somebody to be saying something.

MOOS: For instance this father and son duo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Father went with "get-r-dun" and the son went with "psycho".

MOOS: But the son can blink a not so subtle code.

(on camera): Too bad his eyes are open in the mug shot because if they were closed --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has the word (EXPLETIVE DELETED) tattooed on his eyelids.

MOOS (voice-over): This Oregon man was begging for a licking when he turned himself in to serve 60 days for assault.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Lick me" is actually not a tattoo. It was written on his forehead with marker but it's not exactly what you want to go into jail written on your forehead either way.

MOOS: Robert Norton Kennedy (ph) was booked for assault sporting this Bible verse, "with God all things are possible. God loves you. Please forgive me if I say or do anything stupid." Two months later he was arrested again and had added a few more Bible verse citations which brings us back to God. Ohio officials say Jamie Callaway (ph) had taken a liking to someone she encountered while previously serving time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a female corrections officer she was stalking.

MOOS: For more than a decade in YouTube postings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Milky white galaxy (ph).

MOOS: She called herself the Godologist (ph) of Godology (ph). One poster noted that when she looked in the mirror God would read dog. Well, genius, not quite.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for joining us. I am Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.

END