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THE SITUATION ROOM
TSA Officers Union: Give Them Guns; Interview With Sen. Dianne Feinstein Of California; Obama: "It's Offensive, It's Wrong"; Christie Way Ahead On Election Eve; Christie Way Ahead on Election Eve; Polls Shows Democrat Has Runaway Lead in New York City; Eric Holder's "I Told You So"?; "SNL" Pokes Fun at Itself; Marathon Jesus
Aired November 4, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, Jake, thank you. Happening now, we have new details on the deadly rampage at the Los Angeles International Airport. Police may have been just minutes away from preventing the shooting. Should TSA officers now be armed? I will ask California Senator Dianne Feinstein.
Also, are the 2016 battle lines being drawn? Chris Christie may be heading for a big win that could boost his White House chances as an influential senator, calls on Hillary Clinton to launch her own run.
And four years after political opposition filled his plans to try the alleged 9/11 plotters in New York City, Attorney General Eric Holder says they would be on death row by now.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Right now, we're learning much more about the bloody shooting rampage at Los Angeles Airport that sent panicked passengers fleeing for their lives, left a TSA officer dead and three more victims wounded.
And now there's a brand new push by the union that represents TSA officers to give them law enforcement status -- in other words, guns and arrest powers, to protect themselves and the public.
Meantime, the suspect, who allegedly targeted the TSA, remains in critical condition.
CNN's Stephanie Elam has been piecing together the details of what happened, an incident that might have potentially been prevented.
What are you learning -- Stephanie.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the idea of arming some TSA officers is just one idea that's being suggested in light of the shooting here.
In the meantime, investigators continue to look for reasons why this 23-year-old shooter was allegedly so angry with the TSA.
SCOTT GREENE, WITNESSED SHOOTING: We were up in security at the time of the shooting. And we heard the initial gunshots.
ELAM (voice-over): Police say alleged gunman, Paul Ciancia, entered Los Angeles International Airport's Terminal Three Friday morning armed with an assault rifle and five magazines of ammunition. The FBI says it recovered a handwritten note on Ciancia that made it clear he was out to kill multiple TSA officers. Authorities say he shot TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez at point blank range, sending passengers in the security screening area running for cover. Investigators say then Ciancia went up an escalator, but after apparently spotting Hernandez still moving on the floor, he doubled back to shoot him again, killing Hernandez.
GREENE: There was a pause. And so I looked down the escalator and I saw the gunman. He had his gun trained on the guy on the wall there. And he shot him twice.
ELAM: In the end, two more TSA officers and a traveler were hit. LAX police shot Ciancia several times in the face and neck. He's alive, but in his condition, he remains unresponsive.
Earlier Friday morning, Ciancia sent his family in New Jersey rambling text messages. A woman who says she knows him says Ciancia said he was going to commit suicide.
The family alerted authorities, who then asked LAPD to do a welfare check. If only police had gotten to his place just 45 minutes earlier, they might have stopped the rampage, but Ciancia was already gone. He demanded a ride to the airport from one of his roommates.
CNN's Miguel Marquez spoke exclusively to the woman who knows Ciancia and his roommates. She says the roommates were handcuffed and questioned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At that moment that they're seeing this on the TV, their third roommate comes back said, oh, I just dropped off Paul at LAX. He had to go home. And then they just knew. I think that you just dropped off Paul to a shooting.
ELAM: Describing Ciancia as socially awkward, the woman also said he expressed strong feelings about the government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the NSA findings that came out, you know, this year, that he was very upset about it. And he also thought that TSA abused their power.
ELAM: In light of the shooting, some are asking whether TSA officers should be armed.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The function of the TSA is to ensure that people can board planes safely, take flights safely. The responsibility for protecting airport security is not a TSA function, but something that I think we need to certainly examine given what happened in Los Angeles.
ELAM: With beefed up security, officials are focused on how to avoid scenes like this from Friday -- passengers running for their lives. (END VIDEO TAPE)
ELAM: And, Wolf, an update on one of those passengers. There was one passenger who was shot in the leg. We understand that his condition was upgraded to good from fair today. The other two TSA agents who were wounded, who were shot, they have been treated and released from the hospital -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Stephanie Elam with the latest from LAX.
So could the LAX shooting have been prevented if -- if TSA officers at the airports had guns themselves?
Let's discuss with Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.
She's the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Senator, thanks very much for coming in.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Wolf.
Good to talk to you.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Do you believe these TSA officers should be armed?
FEINSTEIN: No, not per se. But I think there's a problem there. I can understand how an armed police officer would not want to stand at a checkpoint for a full eight hours. Maybe they should be rotated in every two hours.
But to have a two to three minute delay to getting an armed police officer to a checkpoint, I think, is too long. And I think what this does, in addition to the tragedy it has caused families and those people wounded, is also another thing that was pointed out, and that is that this shooter could have gotten onto that plane in the process of loading with an open cockpit door. And that presents a whole host of other problems.
So I think you've got to take a look at the checkpoint. You've got to have the checkpoint protected with armed officers virtually at all times, maybe not TSA, because TSA is up close and personal. They're doing body searches, you don't want someone snatching a weapon from a TSA officer -- but with other forms of armed police. I really think it's going to do -- it's -- what this has done is expose a big loophole in sec -- in plane security.
BLITZER: Yes, I'm sure everybody is taking a close look to learn some lessons from this and move on.
BLITZER: One of the things that jumped out at me and a lot of other folks, if you take a look at this incident, so many recent incidences of these lone individuals going some place and starting to shoot and kill people. And we've got a list over here, going to the Navy Yard recently here in Washington, Sandy Hook Elementary, the Aurora theater, Tucson, Virginia Tech. There's a history of mental illness in all of these shooters.
What, if anything, can Congress do, should Congress be doing to deal with these mental health issues, these -- these individuals supposedly hearing voices in their head forcing them to go out and kill people?
FEINSTEIN: Well, Congress or the United States government doesn't run mental health facilities. What we do is provide funding to local jurisdictions who do. So this is very difficult.
There have been a lot of speeches made on we've got to increase mental health protection, uh, diagnosis.
But how, exactly, do you do that?
And how do you know that when somebody goes in to buy a gun that they are mentally ill if they don't appear to be so at the moment?
This is, I think, a real dilemma. It is not easy to do.
I think -- and -- and my view has been, after a long time of watching this, since the first mass shooting in 1968 at the Texas bell tower, is that we have to care about the kinds of weapons that are available to people.
And here you have a .223 MP-15, MP standing for military and police. That was the supposed use of this weapon. It's a -- it's an AR-15 type weapon. It's made by Smith & Wesson. Whether it has a bullet button in it that would make it legal to use in California or to sell in California, I don't know.
BLITZER: Well, supposedly --
FEINSTEIN: But --
BLITZER: -- Senator, he went to a gun store in Van Nuys, bought this assault rifle legally, without any problems, with magazines and -- and all of that. A --
FEINSTEIN: That's my understanding.
BLITZER: And so --
FEINSTEIN: And I --
BLITZER: -- is there are problem there in Van Nuys --
FEINSTEIN: -- the --
BLITZER: -- (INAUDIBLE) California, where someone can just go in and buy this -- this gun, even if -- even if he may have some sort of history of mental illness? FEINSTEIN: Well, I don't know whether this was a federal firearms dealer or not. So that has to be shown. I've heard that it was, but I don't know for sure.
But I think there's got to be a way to prevent people who have unstable mental illnesses from obtaining firearms. Now, in Aurora, this young man was clearly unstable. His mother should have known it from a lot of the -- of his attitude and behavior and his room. She took him out shooting. Now, that's a strange thing.
So how you do this, I wish I knew. How you categorize somebody as mentally not able to buy a firearm, I wish I knew. I don't happen to know that right now.
BLITZER: Let's talk about the NSA for a moment. You're the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Eric Schmidt, the Google executive chairman, telling "The Wall Street Journal" this. "The NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be a risk. It's just bad public policy and perhaps illegal."
Do you agree with him?
FEINSTEIN: No. And I'll tell you this much. You take down that phone records program and you will increase the risk of an attack in this country. I very much believe that. These phone record programs were part of at least 12 potential arrests in the country in the past.
And I think because we have been saved from a major attack, I think there's a belief around, well, terrorism is down.
Terrorism is not down. Worldwide, it is up. It is up 69 percent in the year '12 over '11. And fatalities are up 89 percent.
So you've had 8,500 attacks worldwide with some 15,500 people killed.
Now, we're lucky it isn't the United States. It's Africa. It's Asia. It's the Middle East.
But you begin to cut back on the ability of our systems to protect this country and you make it more likely that there will be an attack, that you will make it easier for these people to attack.
Additionally, we now know there's a bomb that gets through airport magnetometers. We now know that there have been three instances to penetrate the United States with this bomb, actually, with four bombs, one on Christmas Day with Abdulmutallab in '09, one in Dubai with two printer cartridges of computers having this bomb in the cartridge, reportedly headed to Chicago. And then in 2000 -- about a year and two months ago by an asset who developed a -- who had access to one of these bombs from AQAP in Yemen.
Now, the -- the bomb maker is still alive. We know that they want to attack the United States with one of these weapons.
Do we want to make it easier or harder?
That's what I would say to the American public. I want to make it harder.
BLITZER: Senator Feinstein, thanks so much for joining us.
FEINSTEIN: You're very welcome, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Up next, the U.S. Senate is about to vote on a bill to end workplace bias against gays.
But will such a bill ever make it to the president's desk?
And Chris Christie has a huge lead.
So is his marathon campaign aimed at 2016?
That's coming up.
Plus, get this -- an alligator captured in Terminal Three.
So how did it get into Chicago's O'Hare Airport in the first place?
BLITZER: Just minutes from now, the Senate is expected to take up a key vote on a bill to end discrimination against gays in the workplace. It's an effort President Obama has been going at great lengths to to get both Houses of Congress to deliver on this issue, but there's a real chance that will not happen.
Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is over at the White House with new details. What's the latest, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, got a lot of people's attention today with an op-ed in the "Wall Street Journal" where he basically called for a law that bans workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians. And now, Presidents Obama is doing very much the same, calling on Congress to make that sort of protection the law of the land.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Once an opponent of same sex marriage, President Obama has evolved into a fierce advocate for gay rights. The latest example, a subject he touched on last June.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got to end LGBT discrimination in the places where we work.
ACOSTA: Now, with the Senate taking up legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans from job discrimination, the president is calling on Republicans in Congress to help send the bill known as ENDA to his desk. In a "Huffington Post" op-ed, the president said such unfair treatment is offensive, it's wrong, and it needs to stop. Who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.
(on-camera) Is the president challenging the speaker to call for a vote?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president is calling on the House to take up the legislation and to pass it.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The nation's only openly gay senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin, urged her colleagues to show courage.
SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN, (D) WISCONSIN: It's about opportunity, about whether every American gets to dream the same dreams, chase the same ambitions, and have the same shot at success.
ACOSTA: But a spokesman for House speaker, John Boehner, sounded cool to the idea, saying in a statement the speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs. Prominent social conservatives are also opposed as Tony Perkins with the Family Research Council wrote on a blog, "can you imagine walking into your child's classroom and meeting a teacher dressed in drag? That's just one of the many consequences of adopting a law as dangerous as this one."
REP. JARED POLIS, (D) COLORADO: This is just the ravings of a fringe figure that have nothing to do with the reality that Americans are living in today.
ACOSTA: Democrat Jared Polis, an openly gay congressman, said he's seeing more GOP lawmakers coming on board and the hopes of ending discrimination in the roughly 30 states that allow employers to fire workers based on their sexual orientation.
POLIS: We have five republican co-sponsors, many other Republicans have told me privately they will vote for it.
ACOSTA (on-camera): And just to give you a sense of the bipartisan support for this bill, I want to show you something that just happened in the last few moments on the floor of the Senate. United States senator, Mark Kirk, Republican from Illinois who suffered a stroke back in January of 2012, he just gave his first speech on the floor of the Senate since that stroke.
He was seated during the speech, but Wolf, he said in his remarks, "I would say that I have been silent for the last two years due to a stroke. I have risen to speak because I believe so passionately in the ENDA statute. Wolf, the prospects are pretty good are pretty good that this will get out of the Senate. The real question is where things stand in the House and whether House speaker, John Boehner, allows it to come up for a vote -- Wolf. BLITZER: Yes. A lot more problematic in the House than it is in the senate. All right. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta. Our best to Senator Kirk as well.
Let's take a closer look at some of the other top stories we're following in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER (voice-over): A remarkable discovery reported inside this Munich apartment building. Get this, a collection of some 1,500 artworks, including special works by Picasso, Matisse confiscated by the Nazis more than 70 years ago and worth more than $1 billion. The German magazine, "Focus," says they were found in the home of an elderly man whose father collected art for the Nazis.
A remarkable rescue at New York University where a missing student was discovered trapped in a narrow space between two buildings. Take a look at where he was wedged for almost two days. Rescuers had to break through three layers of cinderblock to reach him. He's now in fair condition. It's not clear how he wound up trapped.
And look at what surprised passengers and workers at Chicago's O'Hare Airport found. This foot and a half long alligator was found inside terminal three. Officials suspect someone abandoned it before passing through security and are investigating a picture posted on Twitter of a man holding the same alligator.
BLITZER (on-camera): They're two formidable potential White House hopefuls. Up next, we catch up with New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, on the eve of what's expected to be a re-election landslide in New Jersey.
Plus, Hillary Clinton, we have details of an influential U.S. senator now publicly officially calling on her to run for president.
BLITZER: The day before New Jersey voters cast their ballots, polls show that Governor Chris Christie holds a massive lead over his Democratic challenger. It's an election that could put Christie in very solid position for a White House run and it's an election that may have a big impact on the future of the Republican Party.
CNN's Erin McPike is live in New Jersey. She's joining us now. Erin, what does it look like there?
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Chris Christie was campaigningthis morning in Freehold, New Jersey, which of course is the home of Bruce Springsteen, but in the past four years, Chris Christie has become very much a rock star in his own right in this state, and I've got to tell you, he was getting that kind of treatment everywhere he went today. Well, four years after he won in what was just a squeaker, this race which he's expected to win by 20 to 30 points, is expected to catapult him to the top of the Republican presidential field in 2016.
MCPIKE (voice-over): New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, is on an eight-day, 90-stop bus tour across his state despite impending victory, but his real message to New Jersey voters might as well be to Republicans across the country.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: Imagine that on one night in our history, the whole country is looking to New Jersey for leadership.
MCPIKE: The latest poll shows him doubling up on his opponent, a state senator the National Democratic Party gave up on months ago.
CHRISTIE: The whole country is watching. They're dispirited about the way government works and look at the mess in Washington, D.C. and that will send a loud and clear message to those knuckleheads in Washington, D.C.
MCPIKE: Christie's fans on the right are building up this year's election as a preview of the 2016 presidential campaign. Something the brash former prosecutor is openly considering.
CHRISTIE: I can do this job and also deal with my future and that's exactly what I will do.
MCPIKE: Next year, Christie will run the Republican Governors Association, a fundraising organization other prominent Republican governors have used to develop a national base as they gear up for a presidential bid, like Mitt Romney did.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Chris could easily become our nominee and save our party and help get this nation on the right track again. They don't come better than Chris Christie.
MCPIKE: Some conservatives criticize Christie for embracing President Obama a year ago for the superstorm Sandy recovery, but christie dismisses that, urges Republicans to work with Democrats and is going out of his way to build support among women and Hispanics. He brought just two out of state Republicans to campaign with him this fall, Rudy Giuliani and New Mexico governor, Susana Martinez.
CHRISTIE: She's a Republican governor of a blue state just like me working with Democrats on the other side of the aisle to get things done and sticking to our principles.
MCPIKE (on-camera): This election, of course, is a stark contrast to the Virginia governor's race, where Republicans are already starting to talk about what went wrong with their candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, who's more of a Tea Party candidate and he's expected to lose tomorrow to Democrat, Terry McAuliffe -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Erin, thank you. Erin McPike in New Jersey. By the way, CNNs Jake Tapper will be on the campaign trail with Chris Christie for his final day of campaigning tomorrow. We'll have an exclusive behind the scenes sit-down interview with the governor. That will air on "The Lead" 4:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow right here on CNN.
So, is Chris Christie setting the stage for a White House run? Let's discuss with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, our chief national correspondent, John King. I think everybody agrees the answer is yes.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. He is.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
BORGER: Now move on.
BLITZER: And he's blunt about that. He makes no issue, he's not pretending. He's clear that he's very interested in seeking the Republican nomination.
BORGER: Yes, and he's clearly pushing his own brand which is much more personal than ideological. He's making a point of appealing to Hispanic voters, to women voters, and he's sort of saying you can't just appeal to the base of your party if you want to win a presidential campaign.
KING: And to get things done voters. You heard him there with the New Mexico governor, Susana Martinez. You have to work with Democrats. People are disgusted with this town and Chris Christie knows it, disgusted with Washington. He's trying to say I can be a Republican candidate but I can also get things done.
And Wolf, as Erin noted, he gets a huge platform next year, head of the Republican Governors Association. Look at the governors' races up in 2014. They're going to take into, oh, some pretty important states in presidential politics places, like Iowa, Ohio, South Carolina. He's on a track.
BORGER: You know, President Obama won his state by 17 points. There are 700,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state of New Jersey, and he could win by what? Thirty points?
BLITZER: But here's the question, John, because you understand this and Gloria does as well. He's a moderate Republican. If he were to get the Republican nomination, he would have a decent chance.
But could he win in Iowa the Iowa Caucus, could he win in South Carolina, those early contests --
BLITZER: -- for whoever needs to win the Republican nomination?
KING: The interesting part about Chris Christie is we describe him as a moderate. And it's because it's what he decides to lead with. He's anti-abortion rights. He is anti-same-sex marriage. (CROSSTALK)
BLITZER: But he allowed it to go forward --
BLITZER: -- in New Jersey.
KING: He changed his mind --
BLITZER: -- he could have blocked it.
KING: He saw the see -- he saw it was inevitable in the state supreme court and instead of fighting it which social conservatives --
KING: -- social conservatives wanted him to fight anyway, even if you're going to lose. So they question whether they can trust him like a Mitt Romney.
Will he --
BORGER: He wanted to cut taxes.
KING: -- will he fight for us?
He wanted to cut taxes. He hasn't been able to get that through the legislature.
But the interesting part about it is he's perceived as very moderate, where you could describe him as moderate, because he's a more -- he's not an ideologue. He's a get things done, cut the best deal conservative. And he's had to do that in a blue state.
I think this is the fascinating test.
When he's out in Iowa, what do the Rand Pauls and the Ted Cruzes and the Rick Santorums say of Chris Christie?
Does Mitt Romney's blessing help or hurt?
Does it matter?
BORGER: It's a --
BLITZER: He's perceived as a --
BORGER: -- it's a --
BLITZER: -- moderate, Gloria, because he embraced --
BLITZER: -- the president of the United States on the eve --
BORGER: Right. The man who, by the way --
BLITZER: -- of the 2012 election, after Super Storm Sandy.
BORGER: -- the man who, by the way, made sure that his state got funneled millions of dollars and stood by him when his state was in need.
BLITZER: And other Republicans hated him for that.
BORGER: Right. They did.
But did his embrace, did the embrace mean anything to Mitt Romney, in the end?
BLITZER: Well, if you speak to some Romney folks, they were irritated by it.
BORGER: Well, they were irritated by it --
BLITZER: Because it took away a lot of --
BORGER: -- they were irritated by it, but did it --
BLITZER: -- attention.
BORGER: -- but did it cost him the election?
It didn't cost him the election. Look, this is a personal brand this man has -- I am not a phony, I am not ideological, I'm conservative, but I'm not ideological. There's a difference there. I'm not a phony, I'm blunt. I am who I am, is what he always likes to say. People like that precisely because of what John is saying, which is that they hate Washington and they believe nobody here is who they say they are.
BLITZER: It's a very different picture in Virginia tomorrow.
BLITZER: You have a Tea Party favorite, Ken Cuccinelli, who is in deep trouble right now. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor, he's ahead in all of the polls. He's got some flaws out there, but he looks like he's poised to win.
KING: And if Terry McAuliffe wins, watch Chris Christie to use that election as much as his own big margin in New Jersey, to say that the Republicans finally won Virginia back. Bob McDonnell, the governor now, even though he's had issues at the end of his term.
But you have Governor Mark Warner, a Democrat; Governor Tim Keane, Democrat. The Republicans finally win it back. You've got an improving economy. There's no reason a Republican candidate can't win -- the right Republican candidate can't win this year in Virginia. And yet I mean he should be popular with conservatives because he sued to block the president's health care law.
And yet it looks like he's losing.
So Chris Christie will say, I can win a blue state. The Tea Party guy can't win a competitive conservative state. Republicans, you should learn a message.
BORGER: Well, and, of course, one of the things that affects Virginia was the shutdown.
BORGER: Because you have all the government employees in Northern Virginia. The shutdown was not exactly popular. And, you know, now, of course, the fact that ObamaCare is not functioning well should help Cuccinelli, to a certain degree.
But this was also a race about social issues an awful lot.
BORGER: So it wasn't just a Tea Party -- when you think of Tea Party, you think more of fiscal issues --
BORGER: -- than you do of the social issues. And this became a race, really, for women voters in the State of Virginia.
BLITZER: Were you surprised that Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator from New York, went to Iowa to a Democratic fundraising dinner over the weekend --
BLITZER: And said this.
KING: It's the --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: But 2016 is Hillary's time. Run, Hillary, run. If you run, you'll win. And we'll all win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, what's the answer? KING: It's the safest line in Democratic politics right now. And here's what's fascinating about it. Smart Democrats -- and Schumer is a smart Democrat when it comes to elections. He studies the numbers. They know history. Yes, the Republican Party looks like it's in a mess right now.
However, you've had a two-term Democratic president. History tells you the Republicans will win next time. A lot of Democrats say she's best candidate, let's avoid a bloody primary, let's essentially anoint somebody into a general election while the Republicans are still having this civil war. That will allow us to keep the White House.
BORGER: And, you know, he also knows that there's a coming civil war in the Democratic Party. They're going to start fighting over entitlement reform -- how much can you cut?
Will the president try and cut a deal with Republicans?
Will he lose his base?
Could Hillary Clinton be challenged from the left, for example?
So get her in there early, get a nominee early and let the Republicans, as John says, have their fight.
KING: And she lived inevitably once. I bet she's --
BORGER: Oh, yes.
KING: -- very skeptical of it again.
BLITZER: I'm sure she is.
All right, guys, thanks very much.
This important note to our viewers. Please be sure to stay with CNN for special Election Night coverage tomorrow night. I'll be updating you throughout the evening, as results come in on all of the key races. Tomorrow night, special coverage.
Up next, the Senate is about to vote on a bill to end workplace bias against gays and lesbians.
But will such a bill ever make it to the president's desk?
And coming up, the actress Kerry Washington helped "Saturday Night Live" poke some fun at itself and the recent debate about diversity on the show.
BLITZER: The attorney general of the United States says effectively I told you so but what exactly is Eric Holder boasting about? You're going to find out next. More news right away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: A strong I told you so today from the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, to all those who opposed his plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other alleged 9/11 plotters in a New York City court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Not to be egocentric about this, but that I was right. I think that had we gone along the path that I announced at that time, we would not have had to close down half of Manhattan. It wouldn't have cost $200 million a year, and the defendants would be on death row as we speak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Holder's plans quickly collapsed in a sea of concern from Republicans in Congress and others that such a move potentially could endanger the United States.
Joining us now to talk about this, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
So you agree with Holder? Does he have a point that -- you know, that the U.S. should have closed Guantanamo, moved Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others to a courtroom in New York City for trial?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he has at least half a point, I think, because it is certainly true that over four years -- I mean, this was 2009 when he put that plan into -- or he tried to put that plan into effect, he would have -- his office, the Justice Department, would have gotten a conviction and would have gotten a death sentence. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan has a perfect record on terrorism cases that the evidence against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is overwhelming. So I think he's right that they -- he would be on death row today.
The question of whether Lower Manhattan would have been shut down because of antiterrorist precautions, whether it would have cost $200 million, whether there would have been a terrorist attack, you know, no one can know, but he certainly I think was right about the case itself.
BLITZER: The $200 million comes from what the White House says it cost U.S. taxpayers to maintain that prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. In fact the president just issued a statement through his press secretary saying he remains fully committed to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Made clear that the Special Envoys have his full support as they work to facilitate the transfer of Guantanamo detainees.
The press secretary adds, "To the greatest extent possible the administration will continue transferring detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries. And we call again on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers, which have significantly limited our ability to responsibly reduce the detainee population and ultimately close the facility."
I guess the question is, is Guantanamo ever going to be closed?
TOOBIN: That's a hard question because at the moment, President Obama does not have the legal authority to close it. As a result of this political debacle of trying to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the United States, Congress passed a law which President Obama reluctantly signed, saying the facility had to remain open.
Now it is true that the administration one by one is trying to place those deemed ready for release around the world, but that's a slow and laborious process. Some of the people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed himself will probably get military commissions and will probably be sentenced to death, but there is this other category of people for whom there is not enough evidence to try them, but our view is they're too dangerous to release. Their status remains very uncertain and they appear to be in a legal netherworld that will not end anytime in the foreseeable future at all.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin, with that, thank you as usual.
Straight ahead a very different story. CNN's Jeanne Moos finds Jesus in a most unlikely place.
BLITZER: "Saturday Night Live" was poking some fun at itself with the lack of diversity on the show. Check out host Kerry Washington as Michelle Obama played among others this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am so sorry to interrupt, but Oprah Winfrey has arrived for the dinner and she would love to pop in and say hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's wonderful.
KERRY WASHINGTON, ACTRESS: What a nice surprise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't it? So don't you think you should go and get changed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that Oprah can come in?
WASHINGTON: Oh, because of the whole --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, exactly.
WASHINGTON: And Keenan won't --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nope.
WASHINGTON: Well, in that case, I will leave, and in a few minutes Oprah will be here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mrs. Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The producers at "Saturday Night Live" would like to apologize to Kerry Washington for the number of black women she's being asked to portray. We made these requests both because Miss Washington is an actress of considerable range and talent, and also because "SNL" does not currently have a black woman in the cast. As for the latter, we agree this is not an ideal situation and look forward to rectifying it."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Kerry Washington, as you know, stars in the TV drama "Scandal."
A most unusual sight at the New York City marathon. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Somewhere in that mass of humanity, a single runner stood out. Soon the news started to spread via Twitter. "I found Jesus, New York City marathon."
In no time he had a nickname. "Marathon Jesus had me tighten his cross straps," as he ran barefoot in a loincloth, he lugged a foam or cardboard cross.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at this.
MOOS: Now the marathon often attracts runners in costume from Elmo to Oscar the Grouch, and even a juggler, but juggling a cross is new for New York. For someone who sure looks like the same guy was spotted at the Tokyo marathon last year.
While some call this the craziest costume, it seemed more religious message than masquerade. On the back of the cross were the words, "Pray for Boston," referring to the bombing.
As he approached the 10-mile mark, marathon Jesus ran into police asked by race organizers to enforce the no props rule.
(On camera): The officers confiscated his cross, told him they'd hold on to it for him, and a short while later he showed up at the precinct to retrieve it.
(Voice-over): Apparently no cross meant no point in crossing the finish line. The tracker embedded in the bib each runner wears, in this case attached to the cross, shows Marathon Jesus ending his run at the 10-mile, ma after an hour and 49 minutes.
The bib was registered to Makoto Takeuchi from Japan.
(On camera): Unlike the real one, Marathon Jesus doesn't seem to want to spread the word. (Voice-over): The only Makoto Takeuchi, to return our query, told us, "I am not the Jesus guy." Even former "Baywatch" star Pamela Anderson, no, not Matt Lauer dressed like her, the real Pamela Anderson, beat out Marathon Jesus. Pamela at least managed to finish the 26.2 mile marathon in five hours and 41 minutes, then tweeted out this photo captioned, "Ouch."
You want ouch? Try walking 10 miles on New York concrete in bare feet.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.