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Snow Emergency: Six Feet and More on the Way; ISIS Behind Bomb Attack in Erbil; Obama to Unveil Executive Action on Immigration; Feds Urge Recall of Airbags in Millions of Cars; Missing UVA Student's Death Ruled a Homicide

Aired November 19, 2014 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, snow emergency -- a deadly snow buries parts of New York under six feet of snow, with more on the way, as record low temperatures leaves most of the country shivering.

Wave of terror -- from Jerusalem to the Kurdish capital, new attacks claim innocent victims.

Are Americans being targeted?

Are they safe?

I'll ask the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Congressman Mike Rogers.

Exploding airbags -- a massive recall includes eight million cars. Now federal authorities want to expand it nationwide.

And death by homicide -- that's the ruling in the case of Virginia student Hannah Graham.

But will the suspect in her abduction now face murder charges?

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news.

As winter weather hammers much of the country, the death toll is now six in the Buffalo, New York area and many people are stranded under terrible conditions, as a storm of historic scale buries parts of the region under six feet of snow.

And guess what?

Much more now on the way.

Residents are urged to stay at home, but many couldn't get out even if they wanted to.

Look at this. As a CNN iReporter opens his garage door and sends out an aerial drone over his buried neighborhood.

And it's not just the Buffalo area. Half of the country -- yes, half of the country now has snow on the ground. And there's record- breaking cold all over. Temperatures in the Southeast have fallen into the teens. The Buffalo mayor, Byron Brown, is standing by, along with our meteorologist, Chad Myers, and our correspondents, our analysts, our newsmakers.

Let's begin with CNN's Brian Todd.

He's on the ground for us right outside of Buffalo, in Cheektowaga with the very latest -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT:

Wolf, this is a typical accumulation of snow here in the Buffalo area. It comes up to about my chest here. And you can see, it's starting to snow again this evening.

We're right outside the Bellevue Fire Department. These guys have been manning this 24/7. They've conducted 115 rescues, they say, in the 40 hours since the snow started falling early Tuesday morning. They're getting ready to deploy again right behind me. People are calling in with all sorts of emergency calls.

And right now, Wolf, we're just starting round two, after a devastating round one.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Snow here.

TODD (voice-over): The deadly storm has residents struggling to cope and officials scrambling to protect them.

MAYOR BYRON BROWN (D), BUFFALO: Stay home. If you do have to go out, please exercise caution.

TODD: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for several counties in the Buffalo area. Crews have had to bring in front end loaders and dump trucks to take the snow out of the hardest hit areas.

BROWN: More than 230 truckloads of snow removed from South Buffalo, over 5,000 tons of snow that have been removed.

TODD: Buffalonians are used to snow, but this storm dumped over five feet in some spots, almost an entire season's snowfall in 24 hours. And more is on the way. The National Weather Service says another one to three feet could fall on Western New York in the next 48 hours.

At the Bellevue Fire Department, we climbed into an engine after they received an urgent call.

(on camera): Bob, what call did you just get? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A partial collapse of a building, a trailer

park.

TODD (voice-over): But the snow that caused the problem hindered the rescue, stranded cars blocking the street.

We continue our pursuit on foot, but the homeowners changed their minds and didn't want to be evacuated, frustrating the exhausted fire commissioner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a couple of hours, when the snow starts flying again, she's going to call us back and we're going to have to come back here.

TODD: Also among those stranded, the University of Niagara women's basketball team, en route to a game, trapped on their team bus for over 24 hours.

CORRINE JONES, NIAGARA UNIVERSITY WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: It just kept piling up and piling up. There was just no way for us to get through that in a bus or for any other cars to get through it, as well.

TODD: And Bethany Hojnacki never made it to the hospital and delivered her baby in a firehouse.

BETHANY HOJNACKI, DELIVERED BABY IN FIREHOUSE: You know, it was a crazy time, for sure, but a happy ending. Her name, Lucy Grace. Lucy means illumination. So we thought it would be like grace illuminated the day that it's so sad how many people died. But this baby is such a bright light in such a dark storm.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

TODD: Now, there's still a driving ban in effect throughout the Buffalo area, but a lot of people are not listening to those warnings. And it's forcing these firefighters and first responders to use these vehicles, snowmobiles, to go and rescue a lot of motorists, Wolf.

Again, the snow is just starting. They expect another foot or so between now and Friday morning and could get up to three more feet between now and the weekend here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Another 36 inches, a lot of snow.

You've been moving around with the firefighters, first responders, Brian.

What are they telling you about mistakes that some of the local residents are making, that are getting them into some serious trouble?

TODD: They really are, Wolf. A lot of people who have lived here for a long time, as you know, you're from this area, a lot of them feel like they can handle this snow. And they really haven't seen anything like this in their lifetime. So they misjudge it. They go out when they shouldn't. And one of the fire chiefs here just told me what frustrates him

is that a lot of people come out just to see it. It's, of course, a great phenomenon. You want to kind of see some of this. It's the sightseers who come out that go too far in their cars. They miscalculate. They get stuck. That's a big problem here.

BLITZER: Yes. My fellow Buffalonians, they're all used to snow, but certainly not this. This is historic, indeed, Brian.

Thanks very much.

The storm is dumping five to six feet of snow in some neighborhoods and just five or six inches a few miles away.

Let's go to Martin Savidge.

He's in very hard-hit South Buffalo. It's quite different in South Buffalo than in North Buffalo, isn't it -- Martin?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. Yes, what you measure in inches in North Buffalo you measure in feet in South Buffalo. That's the way that this storm, this system, has been. It's really unprecedented for Buffalo. Many people are accustomed to hearing Buffalo getting hit with snow. This kind of snow is not anything like they've seen in the past couple of decades. And its intensity has surprised many people. In fact, what should be pointed out here, by the time this system is all said and done, they may have had a winter's worth of snow dumped on them in less than a week.

So that's what they're dealing with. We pushed our way into other areas hardest hit in South Buffalo. The landscape has been changed there, Wolf. Many people don't even recognize their neighborhoods because it is so deep.

Imagine everything six feet higher than it is right now at ground level. That changes it. You don't see the cars because the cars are below all of that. We came across a number of people trying to dig their cars out. They start at the roof and dig down to do it.

Snow blowers, all the equipment they have that usually handles this stuff, bogged down, or, in many cases, ineffective. They're back to the shovels because you've got to lift and move it.

It's the same problem the city is facing here. Forty-two square miles makes up Buffalo. Only 10 square miles have really been impacted. It's a very small section. But they've been so inundated, you can't plow it, you can't just push it away. There's no room. It's got to be hauled out, truckload after truckload after truckload. It's now going round the clock, 24 hours a day. They're hauling it from here and putting it into open ground two or three miles away. And it's going to sit there, maybe until June, depending on the snow pack there -- Wolf.

BLITZER: More and more snow in the next few days on the way.

Martin Savidge on the scene for us. Thank you.

This lake effect storm absolutely burying some areas and leaving others almost untouched. More snow, as I said, on the way to the region. The rest of the country is shivering, as well.

Let's bring in our severe weather expert, our meteorologist, Chad Myers.

He's at the CNN Weather Center -- Chad, what's going on?

CHAD MYERS, ATS METEOROLOGIST: You know, one band after another, Wolf. Think about it like a train. We talk about trains sometimes when it comes to flash flooding. We had a flash snowstorm. The storm continued in the same direction for almost 30 hours.

Well, now it's snowing, but it's snowing lightly -- snowing lightly on places -- look at how large the area is. That's 50 inches plus in that entire section.

Cheektowaga, where I grew up, 65 inches of snow. Now, you think about that on your driveway. If you take one square foot of 65 inches of snow, that's about 25 pounds. That's one square foot.

Then you think your driveway is 20 feet wide and it's maybe 50 feet long. That is 20,000 pounds -- 10 tons if you divide it out -- 10 tons of snow that one driveway it takes to get that out. That's why they call it heart attack snow.

Something else that's going to happen this weekend. I'm very disappointed in this because it's going to get warm and it's going to rain. Well, the rain isn't going to wash the snow away, it's just going to make it heavier. That snow will accumulate the rain and make the roofs on those buildings -- we already saw that one run that Brian Todd went on starting to collapse the roofs. When you get rain on that heavy snow, all of that is going to get heavier and heavier and heavier and more of those roofs are going to have to get shoveled off.

I remember as a child getting up on the roof with -- watching my dad do it, shoveling off the roof because we knew that the roof was actually going to collapse.

This is a striking picture. This is the lake effect snow. Here's downtown Buffalo. If you remember, the auditorium would be here, the old Aud would have been right there. And then that snow was just about two miles south of there.

If you take a look at what Cheektowaga, north of there three miles, they got two inches. South of there four miles, 65 inches of snow that quickly. And from the airport back over toward Lancaster, you've got 63 inches of snow compared to just six.

We call it lake enhanced snow, lake effect snow. It's the moisture from the lake enhancing the already snow coming.

So what's coming now? Well, a southwest wind will drive it right back into Buffalo. A

typical lake effect, west-southwest, drives it into Dunkirk, drives it into Cheektowaga, Cattaraugus County, drives it into Peek n' Peak, where you want to go ski in it.

But this is the problem with this storm -- another band of snow could go directly toward Buffalo on top of what they're trying to dig out from right now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What an awful situation.

Chad Myers, thanks for that report.

So how are the emergency services holding up against this historic snowfall?

Let's get an update from the mayor of Buffalo.

Byron Brown is joining us on the phone right now.

Mayor, thanks very much for joining us.

How are you guys over there doing?

BROWN: Good to be with you, Wolf.

Well, as you reported, a lot of snow, but tough, hearty people in Buffalo. It's a city of good neighbors. People are pitching in and helping their neighbors, checking on elderly and disabled residents. And emergency services are responding extremely well.

BLITZER: Are you getting ready for more?

You heard Chad Myers say you could get a whole lot more snow in the next few days.

BROWN: We are ready for it. We have over 90 pieces of snow fighting equipment on the road right now, much of it in South Buffalo, where we've gotten over five feet of snow that has fallen. Buffalo very much is like a tale of two cities. In South Buffalo, one quarter of the city, over five feet of snow. And in the other three quarters of the city of Buffalo, no more than one to six inches of snow.

BLITZER: Look, people in Buffalo -- and I grew up, as you know, in Buffalo. We're used to a lot of snow. But no one is used to this, especially South Buffalo and in the areas south of Buffalo.

North Buffalo is OK. North of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, that area is OK.

But everything near Lake Erie is awful, right?

BROWN: You're absolutely right. We -- back in 1977, we had a very intense blizzard. People in South Buffalo who went through that blizzard are saying that the snowfall that they're seeing now is more than they remember seeing back then. BLITZER: Yes, I remember that snowfall. And that was awful back

in '77.

Are you satisfied, Mayor, with the support you're receiving, the emergency assistance, from the State of New York and maybe even from the federal government?

BROWN: Very satisfied. We've heard from every member of the federal Congressional delegation, Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, Congressman Higgins all called. Governor Cuomo was in today. I met directly with the governor. They've sent high lifts, dump trucks, snow plows. In fact, the governor, a county executive and I toured stranded truckers on the New York State Thruway.

So very satisfied with the response that we're getting from the state and federal government. The governor's office has been in touch with my office and county executive Mark Poloncarz. Pulling cars every single day, multiple times a day, during the storm.

BLITZER: Just update me. I'm curious. I'm a Buffalo Bills fan.

Will the Bills host the New York Jets Sunday in Buffalo?

BROWN: You know, the Bills are still looking at that. There is about four feet of snow in the stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium. But, again, we're hearty. We're looking forward to that game. And everyone is hopeful that the Bills will be able to play that game.

I know that crews are being lined up to shovel out the stadium. In fact, my office has been sending out emails to people throughout the community to join the effort to shovel out the stadium so that that game can be played.

BLITZER: Even if you shovel out the stadium, though, are people be able to get to the stadium from South Buffalo and elsewhere south of Buffalo?

BROWN: You know, that's -- that is a good question. As you know, as you just reported, in a few days, we're going to have a major warming. So the temperatures here are expected to reach into the 60s. There's going to be a lot of the melting of the snow, which is going to create some flooding.

But I would assume, if that happens over the weekend, as is forecasted, that people will be able to get out and will be able to attend the game, even those who are living in the southern part of our region, that has been so hard hit by this storm.

BLITZER: Byron Brown is the mayor of Buffalo.

Mr. Mayor, good luck to you.

And good luck to everyone in the Buffalo area.

Thanks very much for joining us.

BROWN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, ISIS says it's responsible for a rare bombing right in the heart of the Kurdish capital in Iraq, where the United States has a key military operations base. It comes on the heels of the bloody attack in Jerusalem which killed three U.S. citizens.

I'll ask the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers, if Americans are being targeted.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: As Kurdish forces battle ISIS on the front lines in Iraq, the terror group has carried out a rare bombing right in the heart of the Kurdish capital, but was it targeting Americans? The suicide attackers struck outside the governor's office in Erbil. That's a city mostly untouched by Iraq's violence, at least so far. It has a large international presence, including a U.S. military operation center with several, a lot of American diplomats and American military personnel on the scene.

The House Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers, is standing by. We're going to get his thoughts in just a moment. But let's go to our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. He's got more on the very latest.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, frankly, this is a concerning development because Erbil has been, at this point, an oasis of relative security in Iraq. It has a strong security system, cohesive security forces, but today's attack penetrated that security.

A suicide car bomber detonating at the entrance of a government building near the city's ancient citadel, killing at least four, wounding some 29.

Remember, the Kurdish stronghold is one of two main bases for U.S. military advisors. There are about 75 stationed there, some 200 diplomats, many more American businessmen and officials regularly traveling there to a city that has regular international flights. In fact, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey was just there this week.

I am told by U.S. military officials, however, there is no evidence that this attack was intended to target U.S. personnel, U.S. diplomats, soldiers, et cetera. But in essence, how close things are there, Wolf, where this bomb struck is just about two and a half miles from where the U.S. embassy compound is.

BLITZER: And what are the administration's latest plans on potentially seeking additional congressional authorization to engage in this war against ISIS?

SCIUTTO: As you're aware, the president has said -- President Obama said he'd like to right-size a new authority ending the current dependence on the original 9/11 authorization, which was original aimed at al Qaeda.

Questioned today by senators in his confirmation hearing, the president's nominee for deputy secretary of state, Tony Blinken said the White House will introduce legislation if it believes it can pass Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: We would like to have a targeted, focused AUMF that deals with the challenge before us, which is defeating ISIL. And if we can get an AUMF that gets broad support there's no question we will be better off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Some of the newest calls from new authorization are coming from Democrats. In fact, Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia, for instance, and House member and intel committee member Adam Schiff. They're pushing for it, but the trouble is you have many Republicans calling for it, too. But they might have a different vision of what this authorization would have. For instance, should it have an authorization for the use of ground troops, something the administration has said it does not want -- does not want to have.

BLITZER: Lots going on. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.

Joining us now, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

Based on everything you know, are Americans, military, diplomatic, business personnel, are they being specifically targeted in this Kurdish capital of Erbil?

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't think this specific attack, Wolf, was targeted at the Americans. I think it was targeted at Kurdish government officials.

And again, what we've seen in the past is ISIL uses suicide bombers not only in tactical units when it does attacks in western Iraq or eastern Syria, but we've seen this call for more terrorist activity outside of that region. And it only fits -- there are certain areas of recent chatter that they want to have this terrorist activity reach into places where they think they can create problems for the government.

Certainly the Kurds and the Peshmerga have created problems for them. I think that's what you saw here today was specifically targeted at that.

BLITZER: And I guess I know the answer, but I just want your thoughts. And Israel, as you know, three American rabbis were killed yesterday as they were praying in a synagogue.

Last month an American baby was killed in Jerusalem in one of these hit-and-run terror attacks. The question is are Americans being targeted in Jerusalem?

ROGERS: Well, both Israelis are being targeted and, certainly, an American Jew is a big target for any of those targeted attacks, simply because of the press that it gets and the chaos that it creates.

So we think some of it was targeted, certainly, at Israeli citizens with the added benefit in their mind of attacking Jewish Americans. And what's concerning is that we're seeing an ISIS or ISIL tactic adopted by others. We knew that there was a lot of conversations. We know that 21 -- of the 21 al Qaeda affiliates that we track, about half of them are -- have pledged allegiance to ISIS. We know that there's been a lot of communications.

This was a wing, we think, of the Palestinian, the PLO, right? The Palestinian liberation army. We think it was a faction of that that conducted this attack, so it was clearly targeted and clearly political violence and clearly terrorism. And that's what's so concerning.

BLITZER: So you don't think these two guys, these two cousins who went into the synagogue yesterday morning and killed these people. They had these meat cleavers or whatever. They were just acting on their own? They were lone wolves, as they say. They were inspired, but this was actually part of some sort of terror plot. Is that what you're saying?

ROGERS: I think it was certainly an aspiration of the PLO to have that faction and the militant wing have a successful terrorist attack. Now there's -- the link is certainly circumstantial at this point, but I think in the days ahead, you'll find that there was lots of encouragement for this to happen.

And that's again, just as it is when ISIL contacts the people in Australia and says randomly kidnap people and cut their heads off. I believe you're going to find very similar profiles in the Israeli attack and what we saw ISIL trying to promote in Australia and Canada and the United States in France and Germany.

BLITZER: Now you say PLO, you don't mean the Palestine Liberation Organization. You're -- you're referring to some extreme organization, right?

ROGERS: It's a militant faction. It is a militant group associated with the Palestinian Liberation Army. And so it is very clear distinction there, and I may have misspoke earlier.

BLITZER: Yes. I just want to make sure you're not referring to the PLO.

You indicated the U.S. needs to move more quickly when it comes to ISIS. What else can the U.S. be doing? What should the U.S. be doing?

ROGERS: You know, we need an aggressive tempo in order to make the Peshmerga more impactful, the Iraqi military more impactful. They're going to need U.S. soldiers with special capabilities with them.

We have seen this in the past. It makes the fighters far more effective and Syrian rebels, as well. And we're going to have to start targeting in a more robust way their operations in Syria.

And again, we're not talking about the 101st Airborne, or the 4th Infantry Division. We're talking special capability soldiers and intelligence officials, targeted strikes, and allowing the logistics that would go along with supporting those units may be American enabled as well as intelligence packages.

With all of that comes better intelligence, comes more effective fighters. I think we'll short circuit the need for any big military movement if this starts and begins to spill over as you saw today with the attack in Erbil.

You don't -- we don't want this fanning and expanding the borders of where the current conflict is, because it cause more -- it will cause more instability, more problems across the Middle East. Remember, their stated goal is to go into Israel and Jordan, and Lebanon. And that is concerning.

BLITZER: Has the vetting of Syrian rebels opposed to the Bashar al-Assad regime actually begun? Because we did receive some indications from Representative Peter King on the House side that some rebels already are being vetted and presumably getting ready to be shipped off to Saudi Arabia for training.

ROGERS: I don't want to talk about any of the specifics. Obviously, there are Sunni-led nations who are participating, are assisting in vetting processes today. And we know that, certainly, our military intelligence and our civilian intelligence agencies have -- are participating in a vetting process to make sure that we get the right kind, or at least -- nothing's perfect, if we think this is going to be perfect, we should take that out of their heads. It will have some problems.

But I think we can get to a very confident state where you can train these rebels and make them effective, because it also fits their goals and their aims of making sure they're not fighting ISIS. Remember, some of them will fight ISIS today. Al-Nusra, the al Qaeda affiliate there tomorrow. And the Assad regime next week.

And so that presents a pool of individuals we believe can be vetted, I think, accurately and safely and then employed to help us, which would help the United States national security interests push back on al-Nusra and al Qaeda affiliate and ISIS, which used to be an al Qaeda affiliate.

BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more on the other breaking news: the president getting ready to announce a major shift in immigration policy in a primetime televised address tomorrow night.

But what are your thoughts? Is the president legally authorized to go ahead and allow 3 million, maybe 3.5 million people who don't have authorization, who are here without legal status, is the president authorized to go ahead and shift some of these policy decisions on his own?

ROGERS: I don't believe he is, but I will tell you that even if -- let's just say for point of argument he is, this is so divisive. There is -- this is the failure of his presidency, I think, if he does this. And he's had a lot of certain troubles, certainly, in the recent past. But this will absolutely poison the relationship, if he has any left, between Congress and the American people.

There is a way, Wolf, which is so disappointing to me in this administration, to sit down and work through these issues. The House has passed a version of immigration reform. The Senate has a version of immigration reform. There is ways to sit down and actually lead discussions -- I know this is hard -- leave discussions with both parties, both sets of ideas, to come to a conclusion.

Doing this is only serving a very narrow slice of whatever the president's agenda is on this, and I'll let -- viewers can make their own determination. But I will guarantee you this will cause real problems across America and really divide America in a way. And it won't be just Republicans and Democrats. I think that is a misnomer. You're going to see this cut across party lines in a way we haven't seen before. And that divisiveness will poison every other major accomplishment we need to get done on behalf of the American people, certainly in this term and going into next term, as well.

BLITZER: If the Senate-passed immigration legislation had come up for a vote in the House of Representatives in the past, with several Republicans supporting it in addition to the Democrats, would you have voted for it?

ROGERS: Not in its current form. But I think the changes are not -- there are negotiable portions of this bill, meaning there are ways to come to an agreement on immigration reform. But the problem is no one was talking about it. Nobody was sitting in the same room discussing those differences. You know, you can do it if you actually sit in a room and have this discussion about these differences and you get to a place.

What you see now is "I'm going to get everything I want" -- That's what the president is saying -- "or I will take nothing." That's wrong. I mean, it's wrong here in the Congress if we do that, and it's wrong if the president does it.

And I'll guarantee you, Wolf, I talked to a lot of people back home. This is very divisive. And I don't think that's healthy for America that's trying to heal itself in its economy, in its stature, in foreign affairs. I really -- I really am troubled by this.

BLITZER: Mike Rogers is retiring from the United States House of Representatives, leaving. Good luck in the next chapter of your life, Mr. Chairman. Thanks very much for joining us.

ROGERS: Thanks, Wolf. Six more weeks as chairman.

BLITZER: But who's counting? Right?

ROGERS: Yes, exactly.

BLITZER: Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers. Thanks very much.

ROGERS: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, Israel is stepping up its security as it promises to retaliate for a grisly attack in a synagogue. We're going live to Jerusalem, where tensions are rising.

And the suspect Jesse Matthew may now face murder charges after officials rule Hannah Graham's death a homicide. We have details. That's coming up.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Security is stepped up in Jerusalem a day after the horrific terror attack on a synagogue. Four worshippers, all of them rabbis, were killed, along with a police officer, who was buried today. And three of the dead were Americans.

And Israeli -- Israeli authorities today demolished the home of a Palestinian who killed a young woman and a baby in an earlier attack in Jerusalem.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Jerusalem for us with more on the very latest, the aftermath of what's going on. What is going on, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we've seen throughout Jerusalem is stepped-up security on the eastern side, where most of the Palestinians live. There are a lot of checkpoints, a lot of police checking papers, stopping cars.

In Jabel Mukaber (ph), where the homes -- where the homes of the two attackers from yesterday's synagogue attack come from, there are some cement blocks in the road, blocking some of those roads.

On the Israeli side, what we're seeing is a lot less people in the street, a lot less cars going around. We haven't had the sort of angry anti-Arab demonstrations that we saw just below us yesterday, but certainly, there is this residual tension from yesterday.

The Israeli police are, of course, eager to prevent any further attacks, but also to prevent any sort of revenge attacks by Israelis on Palestinians -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem for us. We'll stay in constant touch, obviously, with you and our entire team in Jerusalem.

Coming up, exploding air bags. The U.S. government is urging a recall that would cover millions of American cars. The list of vehicles, that's coming up next.

Plus officials are ruling the death of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham a homicide. So will the suspect, Jesse Matthew, now face murder charges?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The government is urging a recall of exploding air bags found in millions of vehicles across the country, but the company is now pushing back and refusing to comply.

CNN's Rene Marsh is tracking the story for us. So what's going on, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I can tell you that the maker of the potentially dangerous air bags is standing its ground, saying a nationwide recall is unnecessary.

Until now, 8 million vehicles had been flagged, but the recall was limited to hot and humid states. But when a driver outside that region, in North Carolina, was injured, everything changed. Safety regulators are now concerned about tens of millions of cars on the road tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH (voice-over): U.S. safety regulators say millions of additional cars on the road right now could have potentially deadly air bags. The nationwide recall of driver-side air bags made by Japanese company Takata include Ford, Honda, Chrysler, Mazda and BMW vehicles manufactured before 2008. One car safety group estimates that could impact as many as 25 million cars on the road.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The record right now is 21 million vehicles in a single recall, and if we go over 20 million more vehicles, we are going to have an all-time record. And that's not a badge of honor. That's a badge of shame.

MARSH: The problem occurs when the air bag is deployed. Instead of protecting the driver and passengers, the air bag inflator can rupture, sending metal shrapnel flying. That's what 26-year-old Cory Burdick says happened when he crashed his 2001 Honda Civic near Orlando in May. His attorney says Cory now only has vision in one eye.

RICH NEWSOME, ATTORNEY FOR COREY BURDICK: His car stalled. He's in a fender bender and should have walked away. But instead the airbag exploded and sent a 3.5-inch piece of steel into his face taking out one of his eyes and now he's horribly disfigured, unfortunately.

MARSH: Rich Newsome filed a lawsuit against Honda and airbag manufacturer Takata on Burdick's behalf.

NEWSOME: A regular person wouldn't expect that when their airbag goes off, they're going to end up being blinded or killed by a piece of exploding metal.

MARSH: The airbag manufacturer says they're cooperating with federal authorities, but the company is resisting a nationwide recall. In a statement, Takata tells CNN it's concerned a nationwide recall could potentially divert replacement airbags from where they're needed putting lives at risk.

It favors a regional recall focusing on states with high humidity. Takata says humidity triggers the defect. For Cory Burdick who survived his injuries it's about holding manufacturers accountable to prevent another injury or even death.

NEWSOME: What would really be great is for the manufacturers to come together and say, you know, we need to fix this broken system. We need to do a better job about telling people when there is a potentially deadly defect.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: Well, since this expanded recall was just announced yesterday, the agency is still working with manufacturers to determine the exact models affected by this nationwide recall.

In the meantime, safety experts suggest not sitting too close to the steering wheel. If you have passengers in your vehicle, put them in the backseat. No one is going as far as saying not to drive your car. But just a note, you know, it's going to take a couple of days before manufacturers get all of the information out to NHTSA.

What they're suggesting is download the smarter car, the safer car app on your smartphone and you will immediately be alerted if your car is impacted.

BLITZER: Just drive carefully, never text while you're driving.

MARSH: Yes.

BLITZER: And that's a huge problem out there right now. Thanks very much, Rene, for the report.

Just ahead, officials are ruling Hannah Graham's death a homicide. We're awaiting new information from the medical examiner and what the ruling now means for the suspect Jesse Matthew.

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BLITZER: Prosecutors are weighing a murder charge against Jesse Matthew tonight as police rule the death of the University of Virginia student Hannah Graham a homicide.

Let's get the very latest from Charlottesville, Virginia. Joining us, the investigative journalist Coy Barefoot.

Coy, thanks very much for joining us As you know, the medical examiner has officially now confirmed Hannah Graham was the victim of what is officially called homicidal violence.

So explain to our viewers potentially what this means for Matthew, for this whole entire case. COY BAREFOOT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Wolf, this news is I

have to tell you personally when I heard this, it's devastating. It is horrific to think that what we have all suspected, what we've all sort of secretly believed might have happened the night Hannah Graham disappeared, we now know for certain that the worst happened.

That her last moments were at the hands of a sickening monster. And the top forensic scientist in Virginia at the medical examiner's office in Richmond, what they've done is they've looked at the remains of Hannah Graham, which we understand were mostly just skeletal remains and some clothing.

They've looked at these remains and they have concluded that in fact there is evidence of homicide. So from a prosecution standpoint, this is, and I hate to say this, but this is welcome news, but only in the context of a search for justice for the death of Hannah Graham. This can then be used in court and we can absolutely expect capital murder charges in the case of Hannah Graham against Jesse Matthew.

BLITZER: He's already been accused of one abduction. But now it could go one step further, a significant step, if you will.

The medical examiner's report, all of the information they're still holding, right? They're not making a lot of it public.

BAREFOOT: That's a great point, Wolf. And let's take a moment to underscore that. The medical examiner's office has confirmed publicly that they know based on the autopsy and the study of Hannah's remains, they know how Hannah died. But that's all they've said. And they have said that their -- that this is a death of homicide, that she died at someone's hands. And -- but they are not releasing the specific forensic evidence that led them to that conclusion.

And frankly the reason could simply be that that is evidence, that this is evidence that a prosecutor will use in court at some point, and we would just expect that the case in Fairfax to move forward once that has been resolved, you can absolutely expect capital murder charges here in central Virginia in the case of Hannah Graham.

BLITZER: Coy Barefoot, on the scene there. Thanks very much, Coy, for joining us with the latest on the Hannah Graham tragedy.

Coming up, ISIS claims responsibility for a rare attack at the Kurdish capital of -- in Iraq, a city with a large U.S. military diplomatic and commercial presence. Were Americans the target?

And a deadly storm buries parts of New York under six feet of snow with more, guess what, more on the way as record-low temperatures leave most of the country shivering right now.

And the grand jury investigating the Ferguson Missouri shooting could decide as early as this week, whether to charge the officer, Darren Wilson, in the death of Michael Brown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Happening now, suicide attack. Did ISIS hope to kill

Americans in a deadly car bombing in Iraq? I'll ask the State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf.