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THE SITUATION ROOM
Texas Gunman Communicated Online with ISIS; Pentagon: ISIS Now Inside Key Iraqi Refinery; Investigators: Co-Pilot Rehearsed Crashing Airliner; Feds Asked to Investigate Baltimore Police; North Korean Insider Speaks Out. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 6, 2015 - 17:00 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: ISIS threatens America. An ISIS recruiter who may have been in touch with one of the Texas gunmen is warning -- and I'm quoting him now -- "you ain't seen nothing yet." Is another attack planned?
Murder reversal. The pilot who crashed an airliner into the Alps made a test run before the fatal flight. Could he have been stopped?
Federal investigation. Baltimore's mayor asks the Justice Department to probe the city's police department and promises to bring in body cameras. But what do the feds have to say about mysterious surveillance fights over the city?
And unapologetic. In a CNN exclusive, we'll take you inside North Korea, where a key insider has disturbing things to say about political executions, nuclear weapons and missiles that may be aimed at the United States.
I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A chilling threat of more attacks on America from a notorious British computer expert turned ISIS recruit. He's suspected of inspiring this week's attack on an event in Texas in which two American gunmen, jihadist sympathizers, were shot dead. And he may have been in on the plot.
Baltimore's mayor asked the feds to investigate if that city's police department has engaged in a pattern of violating residents' civil rights. Body cameras will be issued to help keep an eye on things, and the feds break their silence about the eye in the sky. Aerial surveillance carried out during the disturbances.
We're following another breaking story right now, as well. Tornadoes touched down in Kansas and Oklahoma. We're following the latest developments in the CNN weather center. And there are storm chasers out in the field. I'll speak live with Senator Tom Cotton of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
And our correspondents, analysts and guests are standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with ISIS, the threat to America. Brian Todd has the latest -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight we have learned that Texas gunman Elton Simpson tweeted in the hours before the attack that, quote, "The knives have been sharpened." He warned of death and slaughter.
Now officials are investigating other social media connections that Simpson might have had, including some with ISIS's best-known hacker.
TODD (voice-over): An ominous warning on social media referring to the Texas attack. A tweet saying, "You ain't seen nothing yet." It comes from a Twitter account thought to belong to a man named Junaid Hussain, a British hacker now believed to be with ISIS in Syria. Tonight, U.S. investigators believe he might have played a key role in inspiring Texas gunman Elton Simpson.
RITA KATZ, SITE INTELLIGENCE GROUP: I don't know if he directed him. But he was in communication with him, because the two followed each other. Elton Simpson was also promoting the account of Hussain.
TODD: That communication is leading officials to investigate if Junaid Hussain had any hand in planning or ordering the attack. Tonight, terrorism analysts tell CNN they believe Hussain may at least have had some prior knowledge of the assault. One U.S. official says Junaid Hussain in his early 20s is, quote, "a real problem" because of his ability to recruit online and inspire attacks.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Somebody who has a sort of attack savviness, somebody who understands the vulnerabilities of the west and is considered potentially dangerous by U.S. counterterrorism officials, because all these radicals in the west know, where to reach him.
TODD: Hussain is from Birmingham, England, and have been on the radar of British law enforcement for years. Before making his way to Syria in 2013, he was convicted of stealing former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's online address book and posting it on the Internet.
Using the name "Trick," he was also cited for making crank phone calls to Britain's anti-terrorism hotline, preventing legitimate callers from getting through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you're being phone-bombed right now, mate.
TODD: Tonight analysts worry that, because of his radical beliefs and Internet savvy, Hussain might claim a social victory with the Texas attack and run with it.
DAVEED GARTENSTEIN-ROSS, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: We know Hussain is encouraging other people to carry out other attacks like this one. Even though this one wasn't successful, it certainly has captured media attention. It's something that they want to replicate. And given how successful they've been in using social media to radicalize and to exhort people to action, it certainly is a concern.
TODD: And law enforcement officials tell us they're concerned about keeping track of other Americans, people like Elton Simpson who are following Junaid Hussain and might be in touch with him -- Wolf .
BLITZER: Brian, there's also a jihadist from Minnesota, we're told, who could have -- could also have been involved in this. What have you learned?
TODD: Well, that's right, Wolf. Rita Katz of the SITE intelligence group that monitors all the social media traffic online among jihadists, she says a man named Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, also known as Miski, he's a pro-ISIS fighter from Minnesota believed to be fighting in Somalia. He has a large social media following, as well. She says that he tweeted a message on April 23 calling attention to that Texas cartoon event and calling for an attack on it.
She says that Elton Simpson, the gunman, followed this man Miski online; also followed him on Twitter and might have retweeted his message. Again, no indication that this man from Somalia, from Minnesota had any direct role in the attack. But certainly, Elton Simpson is following him on Twitter and retweeted that message.
BLITZER: He did actually retweet it. All right. Thanks very much, Brian, for that.
Let's go live to our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. She's joining us from Phoenix where the gunmen, the two dead gunmen now, they shared an apartment. You just spoke to a close friend of the Simpson family, Pamela. What did they tell you?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. We spoke to a neighbor, a close friend who was just with the Simpson family today. We learned that the FBI interviewed members of the Simpson family yesterday.
We're told that Elton Simpson several years ago was studying several different religions. He was particularly interested in Christianity. And then eventually, ultimately we're told the Koran spoke to him the most, and that's when he converted to Islam.
But the family apparently had no indication of his extremist leanings, had no idea that he was talking online to terrorists overseas. I asked how that's possible, considering Simpson was at the center of an FBI terrorism investigation several years ago and charged for lying to the FBI about wanting to go to Somalia to commit jihad.
But I'm told the family didn't think there was any validity to that charge. They didn't take it seriously. They thought he was just mouthing off and influenced by others. And they felt like the judge who dismissed that charge backed up and validated their feeling that it wasn't anything to worry about.
Here's what else the family member, named Kevin Hamilton, had to say to us today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN HAMILTON, KNOWS ELTON SIMPSON: They had no clue that he was involved in this deep. And they were really surprised at the movement of it.
BROWN: Do you know the last time they talked to him?
HAMILTON: No, I don't. I think it was two or three weeks ago.
BROWN: And there was no indication then that there was any issue?
HAMILTON: Not the slightest at all. That's why it came as a surprise to everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: I spoke to the brother of Elton Simpson today. His name is Dunston, and he was visibly shaken up, Wolf. He told me it's tragic what happened. He said the statement the family released says it all. In that statement, the family says it was shocked and had no idea Elton was planning to do this.
BLITZER: The FBI also, I'm told, is questioning members of the shooters' mosque there in Phoenix where you are. What are you hearing about that, Pamela?
BROWN: That's right. So we've learned that FBI agents have been reaching out to members of the Islamic community center, interviewing people. We're told they're friendly interviews.
The FBI basically wants to piece together what happened here, how one of its investigative subjects, Elton Simpson, who was being monitored, fell through the cracks after he was tweeting about this event in Texas and was able to drive from his home here in Phoenix to Texas to launch this attack.
So the FBI is trying to piece it all together by talking to members at the mosque, by talking to friends and family of the gunmen. They want to also know if there are any associates of the gunmen who may be like-minded, who also may want to act out. That is a big concern right now, Wolf. They're just trying to piece it all together. I will tell you, though: the FBI is staying tight-lipped. They are not officially commenting today on the investigation -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Pamela, thank you. Pamela Brown, reporting from Phoenix.
In recent months, the FBI had opened an investigation into the Texas gunman named Elton Simpson who was increasingly active on social media. Should the agency have seen all of this coming? Let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim
Sciutto, who's been looking into this for us. Some are suggesting this potentially was an intelligence failure. What do we know, Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, in retrospect, it was an intelligence failure. The question is, was it an avoidable one? And this is a judgment that the intelligence community, FBI, law enforcement have to really, you know, 1,000 times a year, really, particularly right now, where they're looking harder for people just like this. People might be active online. The question is, will they then act out with violence? That's a difficult judgment to make.
You'll remember in the "Charlie Hebdo" attacks, the Kouachi brothers who carried that out had been under even more severe surveillance, because they'd traveled overseas to train. They were then taken off the surveillance. And the issue they have there is, as it is here, it's finite resources. You can't keep everybody under constant surveillance. He was under monitoring, not constant surveillance. This is why, as Pam said, they're going to go back and look as to why they made this judgment here.
Because one thing we know, Wolf,: They've been going back and looking at a whole host of suspects now as the threat from ISIS and other groups has risen to see who they should be watching. Here's a case where they should have been watching, and they weren't.
BLITZER: Let's check in on what's going on in Iraq right now, Jim. Because you know there's news now that ISIS, we're told, actually breached what's being described as the perimeter of that major Iraqi oil refinery in Baiji.
[17:10:09] Tell us about that. That could be really significant. We only heard a few weeks ago the chairman of the joint chiefs, General Dempsey, said that would be a strategic disaster for the Iraqis, for the U.S. if the ISIS forces took over that oil refinery.
SCIUTTO: No question. It is key infrastructure. This is strategically important. This is not just bricks and mortar, for instance, as General Dempsey said at a town like Ramadi is. This is key to the Iraqi government, to the economy of this country. It's located up here.
And this Baiji, like we've seen in Ramadi, is another one of these places in Iraq where you have a constant clash between Iraqi forces and ISIS. ISIS was beaten back here just a couple of weeks ago only to return now. That is a difficult fire to put out.
You see the same thing going on in Ramadi. For two or three weeks, you've had a pitched battle under way there. And we're told that there's still intense fighting there tonight. Iraqi forces not able to exercise control over these areas.
And the trouble is when you look at the map of Iraq and Syria, ISIS-controlled areas, it hasn't changed much in the last couple of months. Even with the U.S.-led air campaign, even with more forceful efforts by Iraqi forces. That shows just how difficult it's going to be not just to keep them from maintaining forward momentum but to push them back.
And, remember, when you look at Mosul up here, which is really their key holding, that battle has been pushed back, most possibly, as far as next year.
BLITZER: Very disturbing development. All right. Thanks very much, Jim Sciutto, for that.
Joining us now is the Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton. He served combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He now serves in the Senate on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.
Senator, thanks very much for joining us. Baiji, that huge oil refinery. General Dempsey said that a couple weeks ago, it would be a disaster -- it's a strategically critical moment. You served in Iraq. How important is holding onto Baiji, that oil refinery, and preventing ISIS from capturing it?
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: General Dempsey is correct. Holding onto the oil refinery in Baiji is critical. This fighting has been going on and on for weeks, because it is a critical, decisive point in Iraq. If that were to fall, it would be a blow to the Iraqi government and their economy as well as a boon to the Islamic state and the way they fund their operations.
But more generally, as the map just showed, we just haven't rolled back the Islamic state at all over the last six or seven months, which would begin our air campaign. They've continued to hold the ground they've always had. They haven't advanced. But we're not holding back either. And that's not going to be enough to defeat them.
BLITZER: Where is the Iraqi military in all of this? The U.S. trained them over a decade, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops, police, security forces. Left a ton of weapons over there. And they seem to be in places like Mosul, Baiji, and other places, M.I.A.
COTTON: They didn't perform well last year. Men laid down their arms and ran. That's in part, though, because the United States retreated from Iraq in 2011 when the war was won. And it let the former prime minister of Iraq return to his sectarian ways, which helped create -- recreate divisions inside the Iraqi army and security forces between Sunnis on one hand and Shiites on the other hand.
If we still had that American presence there in 2011, we would have been able to continue to mentor not only the security forces but also the government and avoid the Islamic state from rising in the first place.
BLITZER: A lot of us have lost a lot of confidence in that Iraqi military. I know some Pentagon officials are trying to downplay this whole Baiji development today, but it sounds very potentially serious, that they could get that oil. That's a financial bonanza for these ISIS forces. They already control, as we know, and they have for probably a year now, Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. That's a city of nearly 2 million people.
COTTON: Well, what they already control is alarming enough. The fact they might obtain control of this oil refinery is even more alarming. Though, I've have lost confidence in President Obama and his administration, the way they're executing their strategy.
BLITZER: The Iraqi military or the Iraqi government?
COTTON: You said that some people lost confidence in the Iraqi army and military. I've lost confidence in President Obama.
BLITZER: What do you want the president to do?
COTTON: Well, we need to be more aggressively executing our air campaign. And we need to be working more aggressively on the ground with our allies. Not putting tens of thousands of troops in but providing the kind of comeback enablers: the Ford air controllers, the logistics experts or the intelligence experts, that are going to help the Iraqis win this fight.
BLITZER: I think the U.S. does have two or three, 4,000 troops on the ground there as advisers, trainers. What else do you want?
COTTON: Well, like forward air controllers, for instance, that would make our air campaign much more effective. Because it would make our munitions much more precise. We've had great leaps forward since just 2001, when the American people were amazed by what they saw in Afghanistan. Ford air controllers provide an even greater combat multiplier.
BLITZER: But you'll agree -- you served in combat in Iraq. Mosul is not going to be retaken by airpower alone. You've got to send troops in to Mosul. That's house to house, building to building fighting, and it's going to require boots on the ground...
COTTON: This is a large, complicated urban operation.
BLITZER: The question is, will U.S. boots on the ground be necessary, or can the Iraqis do it?
COTTON: Not -- not U.S. boots in the way we saw in the last decade, 150,000 troops in mechanized vehicles. But some combat enablers like forward air controllers, like the logistics experts, like the intelligence experts who are there now, are going to have to stay there. We may have to have some more.
[17:15:10] BLITZER: So if there are 4,000 U.S. troops there now, how many more troops do you think the U.S. needs to send there?
COTTON: That's a question for our commanders. That's a question of professional military judgment. Civilian leaders set the goals. They recommend specific strategies.
Bu there's the sad fact, Wolf. In 2011, our commanders asked for about 10,000 to 15,000 troops to stay on the ground. The president denied that request. We took all the troops out. We now have 4,000. We may be at the end of this administration in a situation where we have more troops on the ground than we would have had if he'd just stayed the course in 2011.
BLITZER: I've got to take a quick commercial break. We have more to discuss. But you remember, Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister at the time, he didn't want to give the U.S. the assurances that those American troops would be immune from Iraqi procedures and laws. That's why the U.S. pulled out. But we can discuss that on another occasion.
Senator, stand by. Much more coming up, including ISIS. They say we ain't seen nothing yet in terms of their efforts to attack the United States. Much more when we come back.
BLITZER: We're back with Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton. He's a member of the intelligence and Armed Services Committee. Also served as a U.S. Army officer in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Senator, you heard that report earlier, one of these jihadists tweeting that, "You ain't seen nothing yet" as far as ISIS attacks in the United States. You're on the intelligence committee. Is this serious, not so serious?
The threat the Islamic State poses to our homeland is very serious, as we saw a few days ago in Texas. There's investigation ongoing. But there's no doubt if you just look on social media, that this was an Islamic-State-inspired attack regardless whether Islamic State resourced or planned it. That's in part because the Islamic state seems to be winning right now. They're appealing to disaffected, alienated youth around the country who want to be with what they see as the winning horse.
BLITZER: Because we were told by a U.S. official, the attack in garland, Texas, outside of Dallas, was certainly more than inspiration. What exactly, based on the information you have, does that mean?
COTTON: I've been briefed on this. We'll have an in-person brief with administration officials tomorrow. I don't want to speak about specific intelligence matters but I think there's no doubt the Islamic state inspired this attack and they are actively trying to inspire attacks. They are telling westerners in western Europe or North America, stay home, attack your homeland. Don't come to Iraq and Syria.
That's one reason why it's important that we reauthorize the expired provisions of the Patriot Act to help stop that kind of attack.
BLITZER: You've been passionate in opposing the president's ideas to strike a deal with Iran. Today we have the former president, the former president Bill Clinton spoke to our Christiane Amanpour. And he came out in favor of what the president was trying to achieve. Listen to what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Based on what I know of the deal, if they get the deal they're trying to get, I think it would be far better than not having it.
Because even Israel, you can see from its conduct in the last couple of years, has grave reservations about having a military strike to try to take out these facilities.
The prevailing expert opinion is that if a successful set of military strikes would only delay the onset of a weapon capability for a couple of years, if you can put it off ten years, the world could turn upside down 15 times in ten years. And Iran could be a different place, the Middle East could be a different place. You might conceivably have a reconciliation between the great Shia and Sunni powers in the Middle East in a way that would, for example, help Yemen to find a peaceful path.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Your reaction to what the former president said?
COTTON: Well, President Clinton is wrong on this point. It's not surprising me to me that he would defend President Obama's very dangerous Iran deal. First, it's modeled on President Clintons agreed framework with North Korea in 1994, which led to North Korea getting a nuclear weapon years later. They're on the path now with missiles that could strike the United States.
Second, his wife as secretary of state helped set these negotiations in progress.
Now, what he specifically said about the world could change in ten years, that sounds to me like making hope a strategy. Whether Iran gets a nuclear tomorrow or ten years from now, it's a grave threat to the region and to the United States. And in the meantime, they'll get tens of billions of dollars of sanctions relief. They're not going to use that on schools or hospitals or roads. They're going to use it to continue to be the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.
BLITZER: You want military action to destroy those Iranian nuclear facilities?
COTTON: What President Obama has said all along is the military option is on the table. We need Iran to take him seriously. Unfortunately, because of his actions and because of his words, I don't think they do take him seriously. That's one reason why our diplomacy with Iran has not be as strong.
BLITZER: You heard Bill Clinton say that, if there were military action, it would only set back the program for a year or two?
COTTON: Well, first off, Bill Clinton took action in December of 1998 against Iraq, against their weapons of mass destruction facility and their command-and-control facility. That's the exact kind of air and naval bombing campaign that military action against Iran would look like.
And yes, while it may only sit back a few years, that's better than giving Iran tens of billions of dollars to use to support terrorism against Israel and the United States in the interim and putting them on the path to a nuclear weapon, if that's what it takes.
What I would rather see, though, is a better deal that supports America and it supports our allies in the region who are crying out for our administration to drive a better deal.
[17:25:09] BLITZER: We'll continue this conversation down the road. But I want to leave on this very, very happy note. Congratulations, we've got the picture. We're going to show our viewers. There he is. That's baby Gabriel right there. Your tweet. How old is he now?
COTTON: Gabriel is now nine days old.
BLITZER: How are you doing as a new dad?
COTTON: I'm doing well. I'm learning how to change the diaper but I'm not learning how to change the diaper before he decides to use the bathroom again while I'm changing it.
BLITZER: Good luck. Senator, congratulations. Thanks very much for joining us.
COTTON: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, investigators finding startling new evidence an airliner co-pilot rehearsed how he would fly his plane into a mountainside.
We're also following a new report that spy planes were in the skies over Baltimore during the city's recent troubles. Who were they spying on? And who has the information right now?
[17:30:25] BLITZER: We're following a stunning new revelation about the co-pilot who intentionally crashed his airliner, killing himself and 149 other people aboard. Investigators now say the co- pilot rehearsed what he intended to do during a previous flight. Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is joining us now. She's got new information.
What are you learning, Rene?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this dry run for practice happened apparently without anyone noticing. Tonight, new details in a preliminary report from French investigators suggest not only was the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 intentional, but it was premeditated.
MARSH (voice-over): French investigators say 27-year-old Andreas Lubitz practiced his deadly descent of a jetliner the same day he steered Germanwings Flight 9525 into the French Alps.
Just before that deadly crash, Lubitz and the same captain piloted the plane on a different flight from Dusseldorf to Barcelona. With the captain out of the cockpit, the flight data recorder shows Lubitz briefly set the plane's autopilot to 100 feet before leveling off again.
JIM SHILLING, COMMERCIAL AIRBUS 320 PILOT: He certainly was exploring the aircraft and its ability to go up or down and not stop him from descending it into the ground, making sure that nobody would see him.
MARSH: According to the new report, the selected altitude decreased to 100 feet for three seconds, then increased to the maximum value of 49,000 feet. Less than two minutes later, the selected altitude was 100 feet until it stabilized at 25,000 feet. The flight never left its scheduled path, so air-traffic control didn't notice the altitude changes.
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Unless the plane is equipped to stream the data, and they decide to stream the data of the aircraft performance from the flight, and someone's monitoring it, they wouldn't have noticed. And it was clear that the pilot didn't notice for another reason. The front lav was inoperative, and he apparently went clear to the back. So he was gone for four minutes.
MARSH: It appears it was a dry run for what he would do later that same morning on board the very same plane during Flight 9525. Lubitz waited until the captain left the cockpit, locked the door and set the plane's altitude to 100 feet. He directed the jetliner into the mountains, killing all 150 people on board.
MARSH: This is just a preliminary report. The investigation is still very much ongoing. Germanwings refused to comment on the report, Wolf.
BLITZER: Rene, thanks very much.
All right. Let's get some insight from our experts. Joining us, our aviation correspondent, Richard Quest; our aviation analyst, Miles O'Brien, who's also a private pilot; and the former NTSB managing director, CNN aviation analyst Peter Goelz.
Richard, now that we know that Lubitz essentially practiced this so-called controlled descent during the flight before crashing Germanwings Flight 9525, this shows, presumably, he had a specific plan in mind.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It shows he certainly intended to do it. But what we don't really know -- and I asked the head of the BEA what he made of that, the French investigative authority. I said, what did he make of this rehearsal, of this tryout?
And he said, "We don't really know what it was about."
You know, was he -- I think I'll give you a possible scenario, Wolf. Was he actually attempting to commit the suicide run when he did that on the previous flight, and then he just decided against it? Or was he trying to work out what the parameters of the aircraft is?
So, yes, it certainly looks like it was a rehearsal. It certainly looks like he was practicing. But we certainly don't know for sure that that's what he was doing. He may actually have had a failed attempt.
BLITZER: Miles, why weren't air-traffic controllers alerted to the selected altitude being decreased to 100 -- 100 feet several times? Isn't there some way this can be flagged?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Generally speaking, not, Wolf. There are some air-traffic control facilities that have the capability of actually reading through the transponder exactly the knob turn to get some indication that the crew received the instructions correctly. It's actually kind of rare. But it is possible.
And it does occur in Europe on some occasions. And it is possible that he might have been checking to see if that particular sector of air-traffic control had that capability, in which case it would have been able to see it.
This goes back to a point that Mary Schiavo and I have been making a lot. If you had streaming capability from these aircraft, any weird deviation like that would immediately be reported to the ground, to the dispatch center, or potentially to air traffic control. And you might have averted a tragedy here.
[17:35:19] BLITZER: Peter, why don't we have that right now, that streaming data information going to air traffic controllers? The technology is certainly there.
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, the carriers are very reluctant to spend what they consider to be big money on technology that only could be used once in a while.
But the reality is, the streaming data is coming. We need it, because we have more and more flights traveling over, you know, the transoceanic flights. It's more and more difficult to recover boxes. And if we had the immediate access to it, if it were being monitored, as Mary indicated, flight controllers could intervene.
BLITZER: Richard, as you know, Andreas Lubitz, he had bouts of mental depression, based on everything we've heard over these many months. What do we need to do now to prevent pilots, potentially pilots endangering themselves and passengers down the road, especially those who do have some bouts of mental depression, if you will? QUEST: Excellent question, Wolf, because that is now going to
become the focus of this investigation, as the BEA director said to me.
They pretty much know what happened. There's not much more information to be mined about how he did it, what he did, when he did it. But the big area that will have to be looked at, is going to be looked at, is what do you do with pilots who have psychological problems?
There are issues of privacy. There are issues of medical -- medication. There are issues of stigmatization with those with mental illnesses. All of these questions are both political. They are societal, and yes, they are safety-related. So it is not as simple as just simply saying one thing or the other.
And that's the significance of this case. It's going to raise it on the agenda, and there will have to be a consensus on the best way forward.
BLITZER: Because the experts, Miles, they're going to have to learn lessons from what happened here; 150 people are dead. The pilots' unions, they're pretty reluctant to put video cameras in the cockpits, for example. But a lot of people want those video cameras in there, don't they?
O'BRIEN: Yes. I mean, we all have video cameras wherever we work these days, whether you're working at a convenience store or in your typical office cubicle. The pilots have allowed themselves to remain exempt from this. Of course, there should be cameras in there.
They complained several generations ago when the audio cockpit voice recorders were installed that they would not be useful. Of course, they're useful. And of course, video would be used.
I want to add one more point, though. In order to weed out people who have mental problems in aviation, it is a money issue. If you increase the bar, raise the bar for experience; if you increase the training; you have more opportunities to catch somebody early on before they're flying passengers. And this is a bottom-line issue for the aviation industry. These low-cost carriers are truly cutting corners on safety.
BLITZER: Very quickly, Peter, what's the most important lesson you've learned from what happened with this Germanwings fatal flight?
GOELZ: I think there's two issues. One is this whole issue of privacy and how do you -- how do you monitor that? What rights the pilots have to give up?
And then the second issue is they've got to review the process of how you protect the cockpit, how you gain access to it. What is the role of the flight attendant or the second person in the cockpit? These are tough issues. And this -- this accident is going to raise a number of important ones that I hope the industry addresses.
BLITZER: I hope so, too. Peter Goelz, Miles O'Brien, Richard Quest, guys, thanks very much.
Coming up, a new report says spy planes were in the skies over Baltimore during the city's recent disturbances. Who and what did they see?
And later, a CNN correspondent's exclusive talk with a North Korean inside, in Pyongyang. That insider making ominous threats against the United States.
[17:44:02] BLITZER: Breaking news. A tornado on the ground near Oklahoma City. Let's go live to our meteorologist, Jennifer Gray. She's at the CNN weather center. What do we know, Jennifer?
JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Wolf. We do have a tornado warning in effect right now for Grady as well as McClain counties in Oklahoma. This does include cities of Blanchard and Bridge Creek.
They're about to issue a tornado warning that will include more, possibly Norman, maybe even the south side of Oklahoma City. This is just on the outskirts. This is until 5:30 Central Time.
And you can see the proximity to Oklahoma City, just on the southwest side. This is moving about 25 miles per hour, to the northeast. We know that Moore is no stranger to tornadoes. So do get in your safe spot. Get into your storm shelter if you have one. Get into a small interior room.
Of course, this has shown signs of tornadic activities. We have seen tornadoes touch down and lift over the past couple of hours, Wolf. So we're going to continue to monitor it. Very fluid over the next couple of hours.
BLITZER: We'll stay in very close touch with you. Thank you, Jennifer Gray at the CNN weather center.
Also breaking now, Baltimore's mayor asking the Justice Department here in Washington to investigate the Baltimore police. The request comes amid new questions about whether a prosecutor was right to charge several officers with illegally arresting Freddie Gray because of the knife he had in his pocket. Gray was fatally injured while in police custody.
Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is in Baltimore for us. Evan, what's the latest?
EVEN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The Justice Department says it is reviewing the request by the mayor of Baltimore to investigate the police department. I should add that the governor of Maryland has also said that he supports that call. It just goes to show you how much work this police department has to do to regain trust in this community.
BLITZER: You've also been following these reports that police flew surveillance planes above that West Baltimore neighborhood where the protesters clashed with police last week. What are you learning about that?
PEREZ: That's right, Wolf. The FBI now acknowledges that it flew these surveillance -- that it provided these surveillance planes to the city of Baltimore's police department. Here's a statement from the FBI saying, that "During the recent unrest, the FBI provided aircraft to Baltimore Police for the purpose of providing aerial imagery of possible criminal activity."
They added, Wolf, that they were not monitoring any First Amendment activity. The ACLU had asked the FBI to provide an explanation for these planes, and that's why the FBI responded, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Evan, thank you.
Coming up, a member of North Korea's inner circle speaking exclusively with CNN. He says his country has a long-range missile that can hit the United States' mainland.
Also, the latest threat from a top ISIS terrorist, telling the United States, and I'm quoting him now, "You ain't seen nothing yet."
[17:51:21] BLITZER: Now to a CNN exclusive. CNN's Will Ripley, he's inside North Korea where he's met with a key player closely connected to the hardline communist regime. That makes some of the things you're about to hear all the more chilling. Will is joining us now live from the capital of Pyongyang with more.
Will, what have you learned?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, with each day that we have spent here on the ground in Pyongyang, Wolf, the motive of the North Korean government for inviting us back seems to be becoming more clear.
And that is that they are trying, in their own way, to communicate with the outside world through the media. And that is why we were granted this extraordinary interview with somebody who has connections right at the top.
RIPLEY (voice-over): North Korea's propaganda machine turns out plenty of fiery rhetoric. And high-level officials fiercely distrust the international media, rarely giving interviews.
But a member of North Korea's inner circle was speaking exclusively to CNN. Park Young-Cho is deputy director of a North Korean think tank with close ties to the highest levels of government. No topic was off limits.
(on camera): South Korea's national intelligence service alleged that Marshall Kim Jong-un ordered 15 executions of officials this year.
PARK YOUNG-CHO (through translator): The report itself is malicious slander.
RIPLEY: He calls allegations the supreme leader is killing off his opponents baseless and groundless but does not deny executions do take place here.
YOUNG-CHO (through translator): It is very normal for any country to go after criminals and punish them and execute them.
RIPLEY: We also asked about North Korea's growing nuclear program. Much of the international community considers Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal a threat to the region's stability.
YOUNG-CHO (through translator): We are a threat with nuclear weapons. We'll continue to improve our nuclear arsenal as long as we are under threat from the United States.
RIPLEY (on camera): Does North Korea have a long-range missile capable of striking the mainland of the United States?
YOUNG-CHO (through translator): Yes, of course.
RIPLEY: Would North Korea ever consider using that weapon?
YOUNG-CHO (translator): We may use them if we are forced by the U.S. to do so.
RIPLEY: The North clearly undeterred by U.N. economic sanctions. Pyongyang is also at odds with the international community. On a recent U.N. report alleging human rights abuses based on the testimony of hundreds of defectors, who claim the north has a network of brutal prison camps.
YOUNG-CHO (through translator): We don't have political prison camps, because my society is a society where we have no political strife, factions or political division. As a result, we don't have the term "political prisoner."
RIPLEY (voice-over): In North Korea, you do not hear dissenting views in interviews with everyday people, or on the state-run media. In fact, most North Koreans have no access to the Internet.
Yet, Park says the country is making strides in technology, science and education. Students are now required to finish 12th grade. College is free to those who pass rigorous entrance exams. The focus now: improving North Korea's struggling economy.
YOUNG-CHO (through translator): The DPRK has now advanced in many different areas. We're a major power politically, ideologically and militarily. The last remaining objective is to make DPRK a strong economic power.
(END VIDEOTAPE) RIPLEY: But improving the living standard for the nearly 25
million North Koreans who live here would require this country to reconnect with the international community, to improve ties that have really been nonexistent, in many ways, for so many years.
But with mutual distrust and North Korea's refusal to disarm its nuclear arsenal, there seems to be no clear path, at least right now, to this reconnecting and moving forward, Wolf.
[17:55:07] BLITZER: Will Ripley, doing exclusive reporting for us from North Korea. We'll check back with you tomorrow, Will. Thank you very much.
Coming up, ISIS threatens America after a terror attack in Texas. An ISIS recruiter is warning -- and I'm quoting him now -- "You ain't seen nothing yet." So how big a role did he play in that plot, and is another attack in the works?
Plus, one of the Texas gunmen was under surveillance. Was this an intelligence failure?
[18:00:02] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Tracking tornados. The severe storm system is tearing across the plains. Twisters are touching down. We're getting new video and monitoring the dangers.