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THE SITUATION ROOM
Oscar Pistorius Granted Bail; Expect Long Lines, Canceled Flights; Interview with TSA Administrator John Pistole; Recent Flu Vaccine Ineffective for Elderly; Unnecessary Drama Over Budget Cuts?; Time to End Cold War with Cuba?; FDA Approves New Breast Cancer Drug; Terrorists' Guide to Avoiding Drones; White House to Share Info on Benghazi
Aired February 22, 2013 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: The Blade Runner gets out of jail, as a South African magistrate rips the prosecution's case against him.
Fasten your seat belts for longer lines, big delays at the airports, all because of Washington's gridlock.
Plus, a fascinating discovery in the war on terror. Get this. Terrorists have put together a list of ways to avoid becoming the target of a U.S. drone attack.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. .
We begin with yet another sensational turn of events in the Oscar Pistorius murder case. After a week of shocking and sometimes heartbreaking testimony, Pistorius is now out of jail. The one-time Olympic athlete who is known worldwide as the Blade Runner still faces charges of murdering his girlfriend on Valentine's Day.
CNN's Robyn Curnow is joining us now more on Pistorius and what set him free.
Update our viewers, Robyn.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there. Thanks for having me.
And can you believe it, it's only eight days ago that Oscar Pistorius admitted to shooting dead his girlfriend on Valentine's Day. But it's been such a roller-coaster ride, hasn't it, for all of us watching this tragedy, slowly learning about all of these new details, and one part of the story which is certainly not over did come to some conclusion today, as Oscar Pistorius walked out of court and is spending the night at a family home. Take a look at this.
CURNOW (voice-over): A media frenzy on a Pretoria road at rush hour. Cameras trying to see what's behind the tinted window of the silver Land Rover, a glimpse of Oscar Pistorius sitting quietly in the back seat.
(on camera): That over there is Oscar Pistorius driving to freedom. He's just got bail and he's driving off down this Pretoria street.
(voice-over): In court this morning, the gold medal winner accused of killing his girlfriend was gaunt, motionless, with no idea whether or not he would be granted bail. Following final arguments, Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair allowed live audio transmission of his ruling, a ruling that meticulously detailed the evidence of the case and the history of the laws relating to it.
Through the almost two-hour presentation, the magistrate criticized the media and alternatively chastised the prosecution and picked at the case for the defense for not presenting definitive evidence, not giving any clue which way he would rule until he finally presented enough evidence to grant bail.
DESMOND NAIR, CHIEF MAGISTRATE: The accused has made a case to be released on bail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
CURNOW: A short burst of joy from the courtroom, but Pistorius was still silent, no reaction, just drained. Outside, a court that was hanging on each development were generally mixed about Pistorius' freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An innocent woman was prematurely murdered. And if we justice for her, we don't believe that bail was sufficient at this point in time. I believe that Oscar should have been kept behind bars to serve time for the hideous murder that he committed, whether or not it was premeditated.
CURNOW: Others are sympathetic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm quite happy that he's been given bail. The nation is already divided, and I think that more of the younger generation feel a bit of sympathy towards Oscar and it's more the older generation that feel that, no, he should go to jail, he should be put to the sword.
CURNOW: Pistorius is out on bail of one million rand, about $112,000. There are other conditions, including he must give up his passport, so he cannot leave the country. He must report to police twice a week, and he can't drink alcohol, which didn't bother his attorney much after the hearing.
QUESTION: How concerned are you about the issue of alcohol? How concerned are you about...
BARRY ROUX, ATTORNEY FOR OSCAR PISTORIUS: No, he doesn't drink, so that's fine.
CURNOW: But Pistorius is also barred from going to the scene of the crime. So, as he was driven off this afternoon, he knew he could not go home and would be staying with his family, the family telling CNN they will be watching him closely during this time. Now, this was just a bail hearing filled with emotion, conflict, and overwhelming public interest here, setting the scene for the trial of a revered home country athlete who is charged with the premeditated murder of a young, beautiful model, both with a promising life in front of them. No trial date has been set.
CURNOW: We do know, though, that Oscar Pistorius' legal team will be going back to that magistrate arguing some points of the bail conditions and particularly that issue -- and particularly that issue around alcohol.
It's highly unusual here in South Africa. Nobody is quite sure why that caveat was put in there. That's one issue they will be discussing and they are also looking to bring the amount down. But, beyond that, we will probably see Oscar Pistorius back for a court appearance in June. Then in terms of when an actual trial date will be set, no idea yet.
BLITZER: His coach has suggested, Robyn, that maybe he would even start training once again maybe even as early as Monday. Is that realistic?
CURNOW: You know, I hate to give sort of blatant opinion here, but I don't think so. I mean, we really have watched Oscar Pistorius physically sort of shrink in the last seven, eight days. The journalists in the courtroom have been sort of observing how it seems like his hair is going gray and he's obviously lost a lot of weight.
He's aged -- it looks like he's aged 10 years. He looks physically weak. He looks physically very fragile and I think this also indicates that he's quite emotionally and psychologically fragile. We get a sense from his family in local media reports that they are concerned about his mental state and they are going to keep a very close eye on him. So whether or not he's physically strong enough to go and have a run, that's one thing.
But then just remember the sort of press interest. He's going to feel very caged because his every move is going to be followed by, you know, a gang of photographers chasing him. I think this is a man who is going to want to -- and his family is going to want to have to protect him and keep him quiet at least for the next short time.
We talk about Oscar and how he is and, you know, we have got to be so careful that we don't get wrapped up in the drama of Oscar's story that we don't forget Reeva Steenkamp and her family are still struggling, Reeva Steenkamp's family struggling, of course, with the fact that this is the eighth day that they are going to sleep tonight knowing that she's never, ever going to come back.
BLITZER: Robyn Curnow on the scene for us in Johannesburg. Thank you, Robyn.
We're going to have more on the story coming up later here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Let's move on today to some other news, including new legal troubles for disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong. The Justice Department has decided to join a whistle-blower lawsuit, alleging the government has been the victim of a multimillion-dollar fraud because of Armstrong's doping.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is following the case for us. He's joining us with the latest.
What's going on, Ed?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a serious case against Lance Armstrong that could, in the end, cost him tens of millions of dollars.
But you will remember it was about a year ago that the Justice Department gave up on the criminal charges that it was pursing, had spent two years investigating Lance Armstrong for. But after his confession to Oprah Winfrey back in January that in fact he had used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his cycling career and winning those seven Tour de France titles, the Justice Department is now joining a whistle-blower lawsuit that has been brought forth by one of his former teammates, Lance -- Floyd Landis, a fraud lawsuit essentially saying that he defrauded the U.S. Postal Service while the Postal Service was sponsoring Armstrong's cycling team and winning those Tour de France titles.
The U.S. Postal Service reportedly paid Armstrong and the team $30 million over the course of those sponsorships. So apparently Armstrong's lawyers had been negotiating with federal lawyers to come to some sort of settlement, but according to a statement that we got a few hours ago from Lance's attorney, saying that "Lance and his representatives have worked constructively over these last weeks with federal lawyers to resolve this case fairly, but those talks failed because we disagree about whether the Postal Service was damaged. The Postal Service's own study showed that the service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship, benefits totalling more than $100 million."
This case will go forward now with the federal government joining in with Floyd Landis. And this is a big, monumental moment for Lance Armstrong's legal troubles. And, as I mentioned, Wolf, this could cost him tens of millions of dollars.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.
But one quick question before I let you go. Is this a lawsuit that the Justice Department is doing only against Lance Armstrong or are other people involved?
LAVANDERA: Well, you know, the actual whistle-blower lawsuit is sealed, but in the statement that we received from the Justice Department today saying that they are joining alongside not only against Lance Armstrong, but against Tailwind Sports, the company that owned Armstrong's cycling team, as well as one of the managers. So, I thought it was kind of interesting today. This isn't just essentially turning the screws on Lance Armstrong, but it's also going after people around him, which actually puts a great deal of pressure not only just on Lance Armstrong, but on lower-profile people that have been around him for years.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera reporting, thank you.
Today's lead story in 20 of the 50 states is as close as the nearest sidewalk, highway, or airport. Everything is covered in snow and ice. In some places, it isn't very deep, but it didn't take much to cause a plane landing at Cleveland's International Airport to slid off the slippery runway.
Nobody was hurt. Buses took the passengers to the terminal.
BLITZER: Still ahead: details of a potential breakthrough in the fight against breast cancer.
But up next, a dire warning to anyone planning air travel after next Friday. You can blame the political gridlock right here in Washington.
BLITZER: Today, we got a dire warning to expert nightmares at the nation's airports. It's all because of forced spending cuts scheduled to hit every level of the federal government a week from today.
CNN's Rene Marsh is coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. She has got a closer look at what's going on.
It could be ugly.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could be ugly.
And today, we got more details than ever before about the impact it could have on consumers, $600 million slashed from the FAA budget and the head of the Department of Transportation paints a doom and gloom picture for flyers.
MARSH (voice-over): A gummed up transportation system could be just weeks away.
RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Flights to major cities, like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and others could experience delays up to 90 minutes.
MARSH: It's all part of how the Transportation Department says they will have to deal with the looming budget cuts.
LAHOOD: To likely close more than 100 air traffic control towers at airports with fewer than 150,000 flight operations per year.
MARSH: That means smaller airports across the nation, places like Boca Raton, Florida, Joplin, Missouri, will see their air traffic control towers shut down.
(on camera): So what does this mean for you? Well, if they have fewer people in these towers, they can't keep up the same pace of takeoffs or landings and that could mean delays or fewer flights. A fewer flights could mean higher ticket prices.
(voice-over): And that's not all. A representative for those air traffic controllers worries about the impact.
SPENCER DICKERSON, U.S. CONTRACT TOWER ASSOCIATION: It's hard to see how it's not going impact safety in terms of the efficiency and safety of the system. So we're very concerned how that's going to play out.
MARSH: But the Transportation Department insists these cuts will not impact safety, after the furloughs kick in around April 1st.
MARSH: Well, the government also says they would have to eliminate midnight shifts at towers, too. So lots of goods we depend on like pharmaceuticals, electronics, car parts, those deliveries could be delayed.
And as for security lines, they will be substantially longer. But I asked if there are any upsides to these worst budget cuts, and that one representative for the air traffic controllers, they did say, look, there does need to be some sort of trimming. We do need to streamline, but what we're going to see possibly on March 1st is not the way to do it.
BLITZER: Yes. There is a smarter way to cut than this way across the board.
Thanks, Rene, very much.
Just this week, the Transportation Security Administration, the TSA, apologized after an agent incorrectly threatened to do a pat-down search of a 3-year-old girl in the wheelchair. And if the forced spending cuts kick in, checkpoint delays could get even longer.
BLITZER: And joining us now from Austin, Texas, the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, John Pistole.
Mr. Pistole, thanks very much for coming in.
JOHN PISTOLE, ADMINISTRATOR, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: Sure. Glad to be here.
BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about these forced spending cuts that go into effect one week from today, unless there's -- unless there's some last-minute decision by Congress and the president to avert that. How will it directly impact TSA authorities and airports across the country?
PISTOLE: Well, obviously we're watching all the discussions about sequestration very closely. We're assessing how the impact -- how it would impact us in TSA and we are also doing a lot of planning in case that does happen. And then with the issue being how do we implement those cuts at what point, so we're hopeful that sequestration does not happen but if it does, obviously, the longer it goes on, the greater likelihood that there will be impacts at security lines and airports around the country.
BLITZER: And explain why that will be the case. So, will you have to furlough some of your security personnel?
PISTOLE: Yes. So as part of the plan, what we've had to do is assess how we will deal with those budget cuts and one of the obvious areas is at some point we would need to furlough individuals who work at security checkpoints and checked baggage. And so, the question becomes, at what point does that impact the traveling public? So, that's something we're watching very closely.
BLITZER: Because right now, people get to the airport an hour, maybe an hour and a half before their flights. What could happen if these forced spending cuts go into effect as far as TSA security personnel are concerned?
PISTOLE: Well, so obviously the longer the sequestration goes on, the greater impact it will have in. In the very short term, we have obviously diverted resources and will divert resources from other areas to make sure that the checkpoints and checked baggage areas are staffed fully. But the question then becomes, the longer it goes on, at what point do we then have to start cutting back in terms of furloughs? And, again, we're hopeful that that is resolved without having to happen.
BLITZER: How much discretion do you have within the TSA, for example, to avoid furloughing personnel at airports but cut some other places so that the traveling public doesn't feel the pain?
PISTOLE: Well, there's obviously some discretion there. The bottom line is that we have a certain budget that we have to deal with and, as I said, the longer sequestration would go on, the greater likelihood would be that we have to do just that which will affect security late times.
BLITZER: What about on security? How at risk would we be?
PISTOLE: Well, the security would be the same. It would just take longer for people to get through the security lines because there would be fewer people and obviously the greater impact would be at the largest, busiest airports.
BLITZER: I want to get your reaction to this widely publicized incident this week. A 3-year-old girl in a wheelchair with spina bifida, she was stopped with her mother going through security and it's been seen widely on YouTube. I think there's been hundreds and thousands of hits. You see this little girl crying.
You've looked into this, I'm sure. What happened? Because it causes so much bad publicity for TSA administrators and officials.
PISTOLE: Well, let me start by saying that as a father of two daughters, I am empathize with this family and regret and am sorry for the inaccurate information that we provided to that family as they went through the airport security.
So given that, we have actually made a number of changes, particularly over the last year, year and a half, to move away from that one-size- fits-all security and actually change the policies for children 12 and under and the elderly 75 and older, so situations like this would not occur. And so, in this instance, after several minutes of having a supervisor come in and what we call a passenger support specialist, a PSS, obviously, the child was not given a pat-down. Went through the alternate screening that we had set up for situations like this and then they were able to go on their vacation and then return in a timely manner.
BLITZER: I guess the question is, you know, why every few weeks we see an incident like this? I know it must be very frustrating to you as well.
PISTOLE: Yes. So since we've changed the policy, again, for children 12 and under and also the 75 and older, we've at least anecdotally I've heard fewer and fewer complaints. You know, we do screen, as folks know, a number of people, between 1.7 million, 1.9 million (ph) people every day, nearly 450 airports. We strive obviously to provide the most effective security, but also to do that in the most professional way. And usually we hit the mark on that but sometimes we don't and when we make mistakes, we apologize. The federal security director of St. Louis spoke with a father, apologized, and then we tried to make sure that if we need to do retraining, if approximate we need to refocus our efforts in that regard, then that's exactly what we do.
BLITZER: As somebody who travels a lot around the world -- I'm talking about me -- you know, I notice that whenever I travel in the United States I obviously have to take off my shoes when you go through the TSA lines. But when you go to London, or Amsterdam, or Paris, or Rome, you go through Europe, you don't have to take of your shoes.
Why the discrepancy?
PISTOLE: Well, of course, it all dates back to 2001 with Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber. So, it's a policy here in the U.S. But as we expand the known and trusted travel population, we actually expect approximately 45 million to 50 million people this year to be able to keep their shoes on as they go through security screening.
We're working with the European Union to have consistency and harmonization with many regards. We're also working with technology manufacturers to ensure the best possible detection capabilities for shoes. So, there are a number of efforts that are ongoing to try to facilitate that.
But the best way people can have the highest assurance to be able to keep their shoes on is to sign up for a trusted travel programs such as a Customs Borders Protection Global Entry Program. You submit an application online. You go in for an interview. It's $100 for five years or $20 a year. It's a good bargain that the U.S. government still offers.
So it's something that we encourage anybody who flies with any frequency, whether domestically or clearly internationally, to sign up for Customs Border Protections Global Entry Program.
BLITZER: It's a very good program and prescreen is a very good program. But let's acknowledge that it's by no means perfect. There could be mistakes made. For example, someone like Major Nidal Hasan at the Ft. Hood shooting incident, he probably would have been cleared but we saw what happened over at Ft. Hood.
PISTOLE: Well, the whole notion between risk-based security is to try to manage and mitigate risk, to buy down risk, if you will. You know, just in life, there's no guarantees about what we do. But as we can obtain information about people who voluntarily share that with us, then we can make better informed judgments at the checkpoint because of that prescreening.
BLITZER: Mr. Pistole, thanks very much for joining us.
PISTOLE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: After a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, police are now hunting for the gunman and they're warning the public to keep an eye out, but to be careful at the same time. That's ahead, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Mourning the victims of the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip while police hunt for the killers.
Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
What's the latest first of all on the Las Vegas shooting?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Las Vegas police say their top priority is finding whoever was in the black Range Rover that fled the scene of the shooting yesterday. Officers warn that the folks in that car that they should be considered armed and dangerous. Three people were killed in the shooting and the car crash that followed it. One was a rapper Kenny Clutch. His attorney describes as a good father trying to become a success. And we will have a live report on this story in the next hour.
And the Vatican is retiring the Pope's Twitter account when Benedict XVI steps down. The Catholic leader has well over 2 million followers on Twitter and they'll have to wait to see if the new pontiff chooses to tweet. But it's still not clear when the cardinals will meet to elect Pope Benedict's successor.
And the CDC says this year's flu vaccine -- well, it didn't work for most people over 65 years old. For that age group, it was effective in just 9 percent of the cases. Researchers say rates of hospitalization and death for the most common strain of the flu this year were some of the highest ever seen. Doctors still aren't sure why. The vaccine did help more than half of those under 65, which is sort of curious that it helped some people but not all people.
BLITZER: Yes, but it also -- even if you get the flu, if you have the vaccine, you've got a milder condition than if you don't have the vaccine, supposedly.
SYLVESTER: Yes, and you know, one thing that they say is it's not an exact science. I mean, they try to predict what they think is going to be the predominant strains in the next season. So maybe they missed a couple. That's my best guess is that they missed a couple of the more serious ones.
BLITZER: All of the doctors recommend if you're over 6 months old, get the flu shot.
SYLVESTER: I get the flu shot.
BLITZER: Thanks. Me, too.
So want to avoid being killed in a drone strike, militants think they have the answer but who has the advantage?
Also, longer lineless at the airport is one more thing we may all have to potentially will have to live with if those forced budget cuts take effect. Will it come to that or can Congress make a deal with the president?
BLITZER: So is there unnecessary drama over the looming forced spending cuts? Let's discuss it in our "Strategy Session" with two CNN contributors, the Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and from West Palm Beach, the Florida Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.
Guys, thanks very much, guys, for coming in. Alex, I know you think there's a lot of hypocrisy going on in the talk of all of these automatic spending cuts. Why do you feel like there's so much hypocrisy?
ALEX CASTELLANOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, Washington is throwing a tantrum. Washington is not threatening to hold its breath and turn blue if it doesn't get what it wants and what it wants is money without restrictions or limits. We're being black mailed by our own public servants with our own tax dollars and it's the most outrageous thing I've ever seen. You know, Ronald Reagan fired the air traffic controllers and we didn't miss a beat. What a real leader would do now is the president should step up and say, look, all Americans have to tighten this belt these past few years, let's set an example.
If we're going to have to cut this budget, let's find the most effective and least painful ways to do it and instead Washington is throwing a tantrum and threatening us that if you don't let us keep all the money we have, there isn't a penny we could save, why, the country is going to end.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Donna.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, let's get the facts right. We have known for many, many months that this was going to occur. President Obama has submitted proposals on three different occasions, a balanced approach. When the "Super Committee" was meeting back in the fall of 2011 and his own budget submission and of course, last fall as part of the fiscal debate challenges.
He's put office on the table to the congressional Republicans who simply refuse to close corporate loopholes and to force the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. We've had over $2.5 trillion in savings and cuts. We cannot cut our way to prosperity. We need a balanced approach and that's what the president has told the Republicans.
BLITZER: When she says balanced approach, Alex, she means more taxes, higher taxes for wealthy Americans and for big corporations. What's wrong with that?
BRAZILE: Close loopholes.
CASTELLANOS: What's wrong with that is that Washington is telling us that if we cut a single penny, then the National Parks are going to close, as if the Grand Canyon was going to stop being a hole in the ground without federal funding. This is outrageous.
The people who are supposed to serve us are telling us they can't do with a penny less, while America has had to do without jobs, pay higher gas, pay higher payroll taxes already and higher income taxes already and Washington is saying, no, give us more.
BRAZILE: Why should we subsidize corporations, Alex? Get the facts right. Why should --
CASTELLANOS: That's not the issue.
BRAZILE: Why should we subsidize corporations that take their jobs overseas? Why should we continue to pay foreign subsidies? All the president is saying is that we need a balanced approach. The president has proposed numerous cuts.
And this is a choice that the Republicans are making. They want to protect the wealthy subsidies to companies that move jobs overseas, but they would rather see 300,000 Americans who are getting mental services and assistance --
CASTELLANOS: Come on, Donna.
BRAZILE: That's the choice we face. So, Alex, the president has put through legislation to cut --
BLITZER: Go ahead, Alex.
CASTELLANOS: Well, look, both parties did I think something contemptible and that is they put a gun to the American people's head and they are debating who pulled the trigger if they don't get what they want. That certainly is not the way to do business.
But the idea that there's nothing to cut in Washington is crazy. Do you know what President Obama counted as one of his budget cuts in 2011? In 2010, we did the U.S. Census. Washington counted the fact that we didn't do the census again in 2011 as a $6 billion budget cut.
All the president's budget cuts are wars we're not going to fight so we're not going to have to pay for them. There's a lot of illusory smoke and mirrors in the president's cuts. These are real cuts but right now --
BRAZILE: These are real cuts that will inflict wounds on ordinary Americans and especially the middle class.
BLITZER: Hold on.
CASTELLANOS: Donna, it's the most painful way to teach us a lesson.
BRAZILE: Alex, because all you're talking about is cuts. The president has been dealing with cuts. He is talking about a balance approach, cuts. He said put it all on the table and the Republicans are saying we cannot take about raising revenues. We have a revenue problem as well as a spending problem and until we address both of them we are not going to find our way out of this.
BLITZER: Quick reaction to a congressional delegation has come back from a visit to Cuba. Donna, I know you've been to Cuba. Alex, you're a Cuban-American. You're interested in this subject. Listen to Senator Patrick Leahy. They met with Raul Castro. He just got back. He is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I think everybody realizes this is not the 1960s. It's a different century, a different world. We have to adapt to it. Not to change their government or they to change ours, but there are things we should do. I'll discuss those with President Obama when I get back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is it time to open the door to Cuba, Alex?
CASTELLANOS: You know, right now, Wolf. It may be time to have a dialogue, but not the time to open the door. Cuba is not floating in a Caribbean Sea. It's floating on a sea of Venezuelan oil. Hugo Chavez is in health trouble, big trouble politically.
If he passes away and Venezuela stops supporting Cuba then Cuba could change. That could bring real change. We shouldn't interfere with that process and see if more pressure actually helps move Cuba our way.
BRAZILE: We need a change of policy, Wolf. It's time for us relations with Cuba. It's time for us to embrace the people of Cuba who are now even speaking out about their own government. It's time that we lift the economic embargo at the time when the Cuban government is moving people off the state payroll and trying to find jobs in the private sector.
This is a great opening for us to now improve relations with Cuba. And also let me once again mention that Alan Gross is still in jail, still in prison. He's been in there for a number of years. I hope the Cuban government will free Alan Gross.
BLITZER: That would be a good start if they would let him come back to the United States. All right, thanks guys very much.
Every month is precious for patients battling breast cancer. Coming up, a new drug could offer hope to some people, but at a price that not everyone may be able to pay.
BLITZER: Some very good news potentially for some people battling breast cancer. The FDA has approved a new drug and it's showing promise for a high price, though. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now with more. Elizabeth, tell us about the drug.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this drug, the doctors that I've been talking to, they are very excited about it. They say that women that are at the end stage breast cancer have nothing else to try. The doctors are throwing up their hands, now there is something that they can try.
Now, this drug is not a cure. And I want to be very, very clear about that. Let me show you what it does do. In the studies that they did, they found that women who were taking this drug, they lived for 9.6 months and it was good quality of life.
They weren't very sick, for example. Without this drug they lived for about 6.4 months. So they're getting an extra couple of months there and some of the women did even better than this and got even more months, in some cases up to 10 months so that's wonderful.
As you said, it does come with a high price tag and the other thing is that not all -- it doesn't work for all women. Only one out of four women have the type of breast cancer where it does work and even for those women sometimes it doesn't work.
BLITZER: What about the side effects?
COHEN: You know, there aren't really all that many side effects compared to conventional chemotherapy. Conventional chemotherapy as we all know can make you very sick. This drug, it doesn't attack healthy and cancer cells the way traditional chemo does. Instead it's like a heat seeking missile and it attacks the cancerous cells. It does have some side defects, but really miniscule compared to a conventional chemo.
BLITZER: Well, I take it's very expensive this drug, is that right?
COHEN: Yes. When you hear sort of heat seeking missile or a high tech drug, you know it's going to cost a lot of money. It costs nearly $100,000 a year for this drug. That is a lot of money. Women who have good insurance, I'm quite confident it would cover it. But of course, women who don't have great insurance or who aren't insured, it's going to be an issue.
BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much.
When we come back, we're getting new information about what the White House is willing to share with Congress when it comes to the killings that took place in Benghazi, Libya. Stand by.
BLITZER: It seems as if you look hard enough you can find a how-to list for just about everything. Apparently that includes a list for terrorists who want to avoid being killed by U.S. drones. CNN's Brian Todd has been looking at this list and how it came to light. What are you finding out, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one tip is to use smoke as cover by burning tires. Al Qaeda fighters in Africa may need to do some of that soon. Today, President Obama informed Congress that a small U.S. deployment of troops to Niger was complete.
CNN has reported that Niger's government has agreed to let U.S. drones operate from its territory so those drones could put a lot of pressure on al Qaeda militants in nearby Mali who are battling French forces. To counter them, this tip sheet has suggested ranging from the clever to the obvious.
TODD (voice-over): Don't use your wireless device, hide under thick trees, for al Qaeda fighters on the battlefield, words literally to live by. Those are among 22 tips from militants on how to avoid drone strikes.
The Associated Press recently discovered a document with those suggestions in a building in Mali were Islamist militants are battling French forces. The document had also been posted on Jihadist web sites.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: We have evidence to suggest that the drone strikes have been psychologically traumatic to al Qaeda, a high degree of paranoia in their ranks. They are fearful that they've been infiltrated by spy.
TODD: Osama Bin Laden shortly before his death had written letters to other al Qaeda leaders with similar suggestions, saying their fighters shouldn't meet on road highways and move to much in their cars because many of them got targeted while they were meeting on the road.
Bin Laden also suggested, quote, "He should move only when the clouds are heavy." As for this other list of suggestions --
(on camera): One of the tips, if you're in a car and you learn there's a drone after you, leave the vehicle immediately and all of the passengers should scatter in different directions. Another one, set up fake gatherings of people using dummies to throw the drones off the trail.
(voice-over): Similar tactics have already been deployed in war time. The allies used inflatable tank and truck decoys to fool German aircraft in World War II. Other suggestions from Al Qaeda, use whatever technology you can to jam the drone's electronics.
Could these tactics really work against drones? We ask Colonel Cedric Leighton, a former top official at the National Security Agency who helped develop American drones.
COLONEL CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RETIRED), FORMER NSA DEPUTY TRAINING DIRECTOR: In general terms, I mean, they are good for people who are in a desert environment trying to avoid drones, but there are a lot of limitations to them.
TODD: The advantage, Leighton says, is still with the drone operators.
LEIGHTON: If they can differentiate between what's in a shadow, what's supposed to be in a shadow or not, natural light conditions, then they have a good chance of being able to flush out the guerrillas.
TODD: Despite al Qaeda's evasive tactics, drones are still as deadly as ever. The figures are closely held, but experts have put the number of people killed in drone strikes during the war on terror at between about 2,000 and 4,700. Of those, at least 250 have been civilians -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Separate from this list, Brian, the al Qaeda fighters in Mali specifically have already used some other creative tactics to hide from French war planes, isn't that right?
TODD: That's right. They have placed grass mats and other mats on top of their cars. Sometimes the warplanes can't detect that there's a car under those mats. They have also covered their cars with mud and some of those tactics could be used to hide from drones as well.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting. Thank you.
All right, we're just getting word the White House is apparently ready to share some more information with Congress about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Our national political correspondent Jim Acosta is over at the White House today. What are you learning, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we have heard from a senior administration official over here at the White House that the administration is now going to have some conversations with members of Congress about the issue -- two issues, really.
One being the issue of materials that members of Congress would like to see about those attacks in Benghazi that occurred in September of last year and then also there have been some questions raised about the targeted drone strikes.
And there are members of Congress who would also like to see some materials, memos, really, that are offering legal guidance to the White House as to the legality of the targeted drone strikes. I have a comment from a senior administration official who says we are having conversations with members of Congress about their requests.
And we are going to continue to have those conversations, but we can report that CNN did learn from a congressional source earlier today that the White House has agreed to turn over to the Senate Intelligence Committee, e-mails and intelligence reports related to that attack on Benghazi.
Now all of this is important, Wolf, because next week we have -- we're expecting votes on two big confirmations that are very important to this White House. One is the defense secretary that the president would like to see over at the Pentagon, Chuck Hagel, and then John Brennan, his pick for the CIA.
Obviously, the Benghazi matter is an obstacle for Chuck Hagel's confirmation and vote there in Congress and then this John Brennan matter is very important to the issue of these targeted drone strikes, Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky has said that he is willing to hold up that vote on John Brennan.
If he doesn't receive assurances from the White House that the United States will not target any drone strikes on Americans on American soil. So some of this information I think the administration is hoping will at least for now satisfy some of those members with these concerns -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It's going to be a tough battle, I take it. Both of these confirmations likely to go through next week, but it's by no means a done deal, is it?
ACOSTA: It's not a -- especially when you have senators saying they may hold up nominees and so we're going to have to wait and see whether or not Senator Paul is satisfied with the information that he's getting from the White House.
But this is perhaps, you know, a break in an impasse that we've seen for many, many months, especially over this issue of Benghazi. We heard Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina almost basically stomp his feet up on Capitol Hill saying he is just not getting enough on this issue of Benghazi.
And according to this congressional source, e-mails and intelligence reports are being turned over related to that matter -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And John McCain has insisted that the White House was engaged in a cover up when it comes to Benghazi. Jim Acosta is over at the White House, thanks very much.
By the way, coming up in our next hour, I'm going to speak live with the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. We'll speak about this and other issues including the forced budget cuts.