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At Least 30 Dead, 230 Hurt in Brussels Terror Attacks; Manhunt Underway After Deadly Terror Attacks; Interview with Congressman Mike McCaul; Interview with Donald Trump; Trump Responding to Deadly Terror Attacks. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired March 22, 2016 - 17:00   ET


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (voice-over): -- where there is an increased incidence of radical Islamic terrorism.

[17:00:06] And that is --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: In the United States, I mean, is there an increased incidence of radical Islamic terrorism that is not already being addressed?

CRUZ: Of course -- look, New York City is a great example. Mayor Bill de Blasio shut down the program that was designed to prevent it. That is indefensible. It is political correctness run amok.

And I'll give you another example, which is the San Bernardino terrorist, the female terrorist posted on social media a public call to jihad. But the Obama administration refused to look at social media because they thought it was politically incorrect. We should not be admitting people calling for jihad and we need a president who's focused on keeping the country safe.

I would note as well on our visa application, she put a made-up address in Pakistan, it doesn't exist. It was fake address.

COOPER: Senator --

CRUZ: And yet, the vetting from the administration, because they don't acknowledge the threat from radical Islamic terrorism, they threat vetting her just the same as vetting anybody else. That doesn't make sense.

COOPER: Senator Cruz --

CRUZ: You need to focus on where the threat is. Yes?

COOPER: We have to leave it there. It's the top of the hour. We appreciate you calling in. Thank you very much.

That's it for me on THE LEAD. I'm in for Jake Tapper. I'll be back at 8:00 p.m. for "AC360".

I'm turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: Breaking news, coordinated attacks. ISIS claims the bloody terror bombings in an airport, a subway station, and a major world capital, and a U.S. ally and home to NATO. Dozens are dead. Hundreds are wounded. Much of the West is now on high alert.

Search for a suspect. Police think they've identified two suicide bombers but say this man may have gotten away. Huge security sweep turns up a nail bomb, chemicals and ISIS flag. How many more terrorists are out there?

America on guard. Security steps up in U.S. cities, at airports and at rail stations, so-called soft targets are once again the major concern as SWAT teams and bomb sniffing dogs are deployed. How great is the threat?

A need for NATO. A day after Donald Trump questioned America's involvement in the alliance, his 2016 rivals are saying today's attack shows how vital NATO is. I'll talk to Donald Trump live this hour.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER; The breaking news, ISIS claiming responsibility for the horrific attacks which killed at least 30 people and wounded 230 others in Belgium, a U.S. ally and home to NATO headquarters.

The terror group says it carried out the bombings at Brussels international airport and metro station, and it's warning of worse to come. Video taken right after the blast shows the carnage and the chaos inside the smoke-filled airport departure hall and inside a major subway tunnel. Belgian authorities released surveillance image. The men seen here in black are presumed to have been the suicide bombers. And police are now hunting for the other man.

Massive security sweeps are under way across Belgium and police say a nail bomb, an ISIS flag were found in a search in one of the homes. The attacks came days after Belgium police captured Salah Abdeslam linked to the massacres in Paris. U.S. officials say it's likely today's attack is tied to the same terror network.

Security is being stepped up in U.S. cities with anti-terror teams deployed in airports and transit hubs. The attacks come on the same day as crucial primary contests in Arizona, Utah, and Idaho.

And the presidential candidates, they have been quick to weigh in. I'll talk with the GOP presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, and the House Homeland Security chairman, Congressman Mike McCaul.

And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.

Let begin with our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She has the very latest -- Barbara. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good evening.

Just a few minutes ago, the Pentagon revealed a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and his family were injured in the airport attacks in Brussels. Tonight, as you say, security sweeps across Brussels all of Europe on edge.


STARR (voice-over): Terror striking at the heart of Europe. Devastating explosions at Brussels airport, police spending hours searching for this man seen in light clothes on surveillance with two others dressed in black who are thought to have committed the suicide attacks. The blast happened outside security checkpoints for ticketed passengers and near the airline checking counters.

JEF VERSELE, WITNESS (via telephone): The second explosion was there which was in my eyes much more powerful than the first one, which blew out the windows and a lot of smoke, caused some panic here.

[17:05:02] STARR: And then about an hour later, Brussels subway attacked near the headquarters of the European Union. Authorities across Europe had been on edge since the Belgian raid that captured Salah Abdeslam suspected of taking part in November 2015 terror attacks in Paris.

CHARLES MICHEL, BELGIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We feared a terrorist attack would happen and this is what happened.

STARR: As Belgian security services moved across Brussels looking for more suspects, a chilling discovery. In a Brussels neighborhood, investigators found a nail bomb, chemical products and an ISIS flag.

FREDERIC VAN LOEUM, BELGIAN FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: In the entire country, there are homes searched, people being interviewed.

STARR: ISIS was quick to claim responsibility. One Twitter posting saying, "What will be coming is worse."

U.S. intelligence believes hundreds of ISIS operatives may now be in Europe, some self-radicalized, others returning from Syria with orders from ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Officials believe he's still underlings in charge of attacking the West.

The attacks in Europe at "Charlie Hebdo," across Paris in November, and now in Brussels, have a common thread, their lack of sophistication. AK-47s, suicide vests and explosives that are not difficult to buy, and some ISIS attackers working so quietly, they're not known to intelligence services.


STARR: And, Wolf, a U.S. official familiar with the latest intelligence tells me most definitely his words, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, is still very much able to be in touch with his deputies and in touch with ISIS' foreign attack facilitators. That's the word that the U.S. is using tonight. Baghdadi is still very much in charge -- Wolf.

WOLF: NATO is headquartered you point out in Belgium. Any word that U.S. military personnel there, and for that matter, diplomats and other U.S. citizens are being told earlier we heard from the State Department shelter in place. But what about the military specifically, a lot of U.S. military personnel there?

STARR: There are a lot in Belgium, Wolf. And that we need to remind everybody, it's NATO headquarters and the military headquarter of SHAPE just outside of Brussels.

And tonight, the U.S. military is telling its personnel to stay away from Brussels. The words we're hearing, stay 15 kilometers away from the U.S. embassy. They don't want military people in the center of the city while all this is going on. That travel advisory in effect until further notice, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thanks very much.

As Belgian authorities sharing what they know about these attacks with their American counterparts.

Let's bring in our justice correspondent Pamela Brown. She's getting more information.

What are you learning, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the key piece of evidence for authorities have been this picture that we've been looking at today, showing three suspects at airport and Brussels, as you see in the picture, two of the men are wearing just one glove on their left hand. Officials believe that is because they were hiding detonators that they had taped to their hands and didn't want to call attention to themselves.

And right now, the hunt is on for the man in white in this picture. Authorities believe he is connected to Salah Abdeslam, who was arrested this past Friday and was behind the Paris attacks. Officials do believe he's part of this bigger network and that this plan, these attacks, have been in the work for some time, Wolf, for weeks, possibly months but then after Abdeslam was arrested last Friday, these attacks were accelerated.

The question now is: how many others are part of this network attached to these three men?

STARR: They think that these guys did -- were working as part of a larger network active in Brussels, active throughout Belgium, for that matter, under the direct orders, is that what they're saying, of ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, Syria?

BROWN: At this point, the belief is that Raqqa, the headquarters, was facilitating this. We know that there's a large network of foreign fighters, people who have gone to Syria, trained there, sent back to Europe to launch an attack. We saw it with Paris and officials believe that we're seeing this playing out. In this case, Belgium in particular is a hotbed for the foreign fighters, for these terrorists, and even people who haven't been to Syria who are providing resources, housing for these terrorists.

And we saw raids over the weekend, Wolf, authorities arresting people. Clearly, there are a lot more people that they need to track down.

BLITZER: All right. Pamela, thanks very much. Pamela Brown reporting.

Joining us now, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican congressman Mike McCaul of Texas. Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: I know you're well-briefed on what's going on based on the information and it's early in the investigation. What can you tell us about these two attacks, maybe three attacks that happened today in Belgium?

MCCAUL: Obviously, it's an attack by ISIS.

[17:10:02] It looks like the indicators, an external operation. These --

BLITZER: What does that mean, an external operation?

MCCAUL: Well, to me, this looks like Paris attackers, although it was suicide bombing. But foreign fighters I guess is what I'm talking about. People that have gone to the region trained and come back.

This is obviously interconnected I think to the Paris attacks. We have the tenth Paris attacker just arrested last Friday. He's been talking to authorities. I think that may have accelerated these attacks in Belgium, which we have seen which is horrific.

BLITZER: In other words, they deliberately timed this to come after the arrest of Salah Abdeslam in Brussels?

MCCAUL: Well, I can't say that -- I think the speculation is perhaps they may have been on to the cells and the cells had to activate sooner rather than later.

BLITZER: Because they were afraid he was talking, is that it?

MCCAUL: Of course. Remember, the leader, the mastermind in the Paris attackers claimed that he took, came with 90 other foreign fighters into Europe and that they're all ticking time bombs waiting to go off.

BLITZER: We saw the picture of those three guys at the airport, two of them they say were the suicide bombers with baggage carts, if you will. One in lighter jacket seems to have gotten away. Any indication where he is? If they're getting closer to finding him?

MCCAUL: Now, there's a BOLO, be on the lookout notice for him. He's obviously associated with the two attackers, suicide bombers. This is a really horrific instance. But, you know, Wolf, I was in last May in Belgium.

BLITZER: In Brussels?

MCCAUL: You know, in Brussels, met with NATO but also met with the minister of security in Belgium, in Brussels. And the anxiety level is very high there, and particularly because of the Muslim community is very segregated from the rest of the culture there. And they have these diasporas that are breathing radicalism. And that with the Paris attack, with the refugees coming up, I think it's a perfect storm.

BLITZER: Because the concern that some U.S. officials have -- I don't know if you do -- is that security, counterterrorism, intelligence in Belgium has been weak.

MCCAUL: They are overwhelmed. And I got the sense when I was over there, there's military in the street back then. Obviously, you can't stop all of this from happening.

Remember, Belgium per capita has more foreign fighters than any other European nation and that's a threat. The 40,000 foreign fighters converged into Iraq and Syria. Now, we have thousands of them in Europe and per capita, the majority are in Brussels, in, you know, Belgium, where we have NATO, and the symbolic capital of the E.U.

BLITZER: The headquarters of, as you say, of NATO as well.

Mr. Chairman, we have more to discuss. Stay with us. We're going to take a quick break.

Lots of concern what happened in Brussels could happen here in the United States. We'll speak with the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and get his thoughts on that when we come back.


[17:17:25] BLITZER: We're covering the breaking news, suicide bombings in a Brussels subway station at city's international airport.

Take a look at this exclusive video. It shows chaos in the airport within seconds of two explosions, amid the smoke and the dust, you see people running for the exits and you hear the screams of victims the Brussels airport remain shut down.

Our senior international correspondent Atika Shubert is there for us.

What's the latest over there, Atika?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is still very much an active crime scene. We saw a convoy of military trucks bringing even more soldiers in to secure the area.

Here's what we know about the investigation and what -- how the explosions happened. At 8:00 a.m., the first explosion went off. A few seconds later, the second explosion went off.

Now, according to eyewitnesses there, there seemed to be a gap, quite a bit of gap, between them. They say one of the men was definitely a suicide bomber. This was confirmed by the prosecutor.

What they're looking to identify is whether in fact there were two suicide bombers at the scene who detonated their explosive vest and if there a third man who may have been either helping them or was intending to be a suicide bomber as well. And they have circulated a photo of this man, a man in a white sweater jack and a black hat. They are appealing to the public. Anyone who might recognize him, know anything about him, to call in to police immediately. They believe that he was involved in the attack.

Now an hour after what happened at the airport, an hour later, a bomb ripped through the metro station Maalbeek and there's where we saw the most casualties in both attacks, at least 30 people have been killed, more than 200 wounded. And it is likely, wolf, that that death toll may rise. Injuries were very severe.

BLITZER: All right. Atika, thanks very much. Atika Shubert at the airport in Brussels.

We're back with the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Republican Congressman Mike McCaul of Texas.

It wasn't that long ago that Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart, he's the director of the DIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, he told Congress that ISIS, quote, "would probably conduct additional attacks in Europe and an attempt direct attacks on the U.S. homeland this year in 2016."

You're the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. What are you bracing for?

MCCAUL: Well, I think Europe has been wide open. This really comes as no surprise unfortunately. I think he's right.

I think Europe, given the security gaps, we have legislation out of my committee to address this.

[17:20:01] ISIS in a video last week called for terrorists, a Paris- style attacks in the United States. And from my perspective, that's one of the greatest fears.

I've talked to the FBI, the homeland security officials, we are ramping up security in the United States but also, looking at visa applicants, looking at visa waiver applicants and looking at travel manifests on the airplanes to try to come into the United States.

BLITZER: We know there are ISIS investigations, ISIS-related investigations in all 50 states right now. Is there any specific terror plot that you know of that the U.S. is working on?

MCCAUL: Well, when I talked to the FBI and homeland, they said there's no specific, credible threat in the United States. But you have to factor in the idea that they can communicate now what's called dark space and encrypted space. As Paris style attacks occurred, they had encrypted apps we couldn't see what they were saying, that's why we couldn't stop it from happening.

That is when I talked to federal law enforcement, that's our greatest concern here in the homeland, is that they could be here. And we know that there are terrorists in Raqqa communicating with individuals in the United States. We just don't -- can't see what they're saying.

BLITZER: Is the fear they will go after what they call like soft targets like they did, for example, today in Brussels, subway station, outside the security perimeter at an airport and you just walk in before you go through security, the baggage department, would you check your bags in?

MCCAUL: And they were soft targets. I mean, the perimeter is hard to manage but we are putting these viper teams they call them.

BLITZER: What are viper teams?

MCCAUL: Viper teams are basically TSA, and local law enforcement working together to provide a greater presence at airports and at metro stations and train stations to provide a deterrence.

BLITZER: With sniffer dogs, stuff like that?

MCCAUL: With K9. The K9s can detect these explosive devices that we saw. Unfortunately, go off successfully --

BLITZER: Is that a visible presence or is it largely blended in?

MCCAUL: That's a very visible presence. It's done intentionally for deterrence.

BLITZER: What else needs to be done at U.S. airports that's not being done?

MCCAUL: Well, I think, again, we are -- it's a foreign travel coming into the United States. So, last points of departure, that is what my legislation's looking at, that's what homeland security is looking at to tighten up those travel documents, look at the manifest and make sure they can't come into the United States. The foreign fighter threat is real. And that's what we saw happened today in Belgium and that's what we don't want to see happened in the United States.

BLITZER: So, the fear is sleeper cells may already be here in the United States? Is that what you're saying?

MCCAUL: The fear of a Paris-style attacker, Brussels attack, occurring here in the United States through the use of encrypted communications.

BLITZER: When you say encrypted communications, the best intelligence, they can't break that encrypted communication?

MCCAUL: Even with the lawful warrant, we can't see it, even intelligence services can't see. This obviously went under the radar screen. I wouldn't be surprised in the sort of diagnosis or autopsy of this case that we find out that encryption was used.

BLITZER: All right. Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us.

MCCAUL: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Appreciate it. Mike McCaul is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Coming up, we'll have an update on shocking discoveries made by police during the raids, in the hours after today's attacks.

We'll be right back.


[17:27:41] BLITZER: This hour, breaking news, hunt for suspects behind today's deadly terror attacks at the airport and at a subway station in Brussels, Belgium.

Our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is at the site of a police raid that took place after today's suicide bombings. Fred is joining us now live.

What's the latest on the investigation, Fred, and the manhunt?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, yes, I'm in the northeastern Brussels district of Schaerbeek and there was a big police operation still ongoing. The latest that we have from authorities is that they say somewhere in this district, they've discovered chemicals, they've discovered nails and they also say they've discovered what appears to be an ISIS flag.

And also, to put this into perspective, Wolf, this district that we're standing in right now was also the site of a bomb making factory that was used for the Paris attacks last November. We saw a chopper that was in the air with door open, with a sniper hanging out in that chopper, taking aim at some sort of building or something else. It also had a search light on as well.

And even right now, we're still seeing a lot of police vehicles go in and out of the area. We just saw a decontamination vehicle go out of the area as well, which seems to explain the fact that they were apparently dealing with chemicals that they found somewhere.

The only thing that they haven't told us, yet, Wolf, is whether or not they arrested anyone at the raids that took place here, and clearly this operation is still going on, Wolf.

BLITZER: Looks like major clampdown on the entire city. You've been there many times, Fred. Is that true, the whole city of Brussels and suburbs pretty much shut down?

PLEITGEN: Yes, pretty much. I would say it's pretty much shut down. You have the almost the entire public transport system that has been shut down. If you look at this particular area right here, you can see behind me, there's that police cordon.

Well, that's not just to keep vehicles out, that's to keep residents out as well. Many of them have been told to leave their houses. There were special buses that were put in place from the public transport company to bus people out of this neighborhood. There's a lot of people who are standing outside here now who for six, seven hours have not been able to get back to their houses.

So, the city is really one that is on lockdown. There is a little bit of traffic on the street, but not very much. But certainly, they are taking the security situation very, very seriously here in Brussels and really being careful to make sure they don't miss anything.

BLITZER: All right. Good luck over there. Fred Pleitgen, be careful yourself. Thanks very much.

[17:30:01] After today's terror attacks, Donald Trump has renewed his call for a temporary ban on entry of Muslims, Syrian refugees into the United States. I'll speak live with the Republican presidential frontrunner right after this.


BLITZER: Today's terror bombings in Belgium are a grim backdrop as voters in Arizona and Utah, plus Democrats in Idaho are casting ballots or caucusing to choose their party's presidential nominees.

Joining us on the phone right now is Republican presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump.

[17:35:03] Mr. Trump, thanks very much for joining us.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): Thank you.

BLITZER: I want to talk about the terror attacks in Brussels today.

If you were president of the United States, what steps would you take right now to prevent these kinds of attacks from happening here in the United States?

TRUMP: Well, I'd immediately strengthen our borders, as I've been talking about for a long period of time, and I would be very, very strong on visas and very, very probably end a lot of them and strong especially coming from certain parts of the world which as you know I've spoken about and I've been criticized in some circles for and praised in other circles for.

But this is a problem, radical Islamic terrorism is a major problem, and we have a president that won't mention the term, won't mention the words, and he's making a terrible mistake. This is radical Islamic terrorism.

BLITZER: Would you continue to support at least a temporary ban on all Muslims coming into the United States?

TRUMP: Well, you have no choice. And you're going to make certain exceptions, and you're going to make exceptions on heads of state. We have a real problem and people don't have any idea what's going on. We have a government that doesn't get it. But we have a real problem, Wolf. And we have a government that doesn't understand what's happening.

BLITZER: You're from New York City, where there are three major airports the most traffic, train station in the country. Should there be added layers? I know security is always high in New York, especially after 9/11. But should there be added levels of security put in place right now? For example, at airport baggage claim centers, train stations, other places?

TRUMP: Yes, there should. You know we have a mayor who is doing a terrible job and everybody talks about. He's doing a terrible job in so many ways, de Blasio. He's a disastrous mayor and probably will be challenged. I can't imagine that he gets away with this.

But he knocked out surveillance and so many other things. We had the finest surveillance of the radical Islam situation, they say in the world, the New York City police department which is an amazing department, and he knocked it out. He took it down and he knocked it out. And that was a terrible mistake.

BLITZER: What -- if you do have the temporary ban, though, on Muslims coming into the United States, don't you understand, at least a lot of the law enforcement authorities say, you need the cooperation of Muslims to find the radical Muslim, jihadists and without their cooperation, it could get a whole lot worse.

TRUMP: Well, let me tell you a little secret. So, the man that was caught the other day, this low-life that was caught the other day, he was guarded by people that knew the community knew he was there, everybody knew he was there. He was seen shopping in grocery stores and they have pictures of him shopping in grocery stores.

His community knew he was there. There are probably many people that knew him, they never turned him in, and that's part of the problem. They turn them in. Maybe they're going by Sharia law, which is what they want to start off with. But we have a real problem, Wolf. And unless we solve the problem, we can't continue to be the stupid people.

You look at what's going on in Germany, you look at what's going on even in part of Sweden, where they're having problems like they never thought possible. Sweden never had problems like this where a group came in, and now all of a sudden, they have a section. So, we can be nice about it and politically correct about it, but we're being fools, OK, being absolute fools.

There's something going on. And unless we get to the bottom of it, we're going to have to be very vigilant, we're going to have very strong or we're not going to have a country left either.

You look at what's going on in Brussels. You know, Brussels was one of the most beautiful places, OK? Everybody talked about it, and nobody talks about Brussels anymore. In fact, on a lot of the news reports, I guess a few months ago I talked about how bad Brussels were, and then in six, seven months ago, I talked about how bad Brussels was and I got heat over it. And now, they're all saying Trump was right.

Brussels is a disaster. They have areas of Brussels the cops won't even -- the police won't even go into the areas, they're so dangerous and so radicalized.

BLITZER: What about --

TRUMP: I'm saying, you have -- we have to be smart and we have to be vigilant.

BLITZER: If you were president, Mr. Trump, what would you do -- how would you question Salah Abdeslam, one of the ring leaders of the Paris attacks, who was arrested the other day in Brussels?

TRUMP: Well, that's the man I'm talking about, arrested in an area that everybody knew he was there but didn't turn him in. The Muslim community did not turn him in. And they should have turned him in. And right now, we have a lot of people, a lot of people think he may have led the attack, he may have been the one that did the attack, or it was done in retribution.

And what I would do, I would -- look we have to change our law on you know on the waterboarding thing, where they can chop off heads and they drawn people in cages and heavy steel cages, and we can't waterboard. So, we have to change our laws and we have to be able to fight at least on almost equal basis.

[17:40:04] We have laws that we have to obey in terms of torture. They have no law whatsoever that they have to obey.

BLITZER: So, would you start torturing him right away? Or would you see if he would cooperate and share information? Because Belgian authorities, Belgian police say he has been talking.

TRUMP: Well, he may be talking but he'll talk a lot faster with the torture. If he would have -- if he would have talked, you might not have had the blow up, all these people dead and all these people horribly wounded because he probably knew about it. I would be willing to bet that he knew about this bombing that took place today.

So, we have to be smart. I mean, it's hard to believe we can't waterboard which is whether -- look, nothing's nice about it, but it's your minimal form of torture. We can't waterboard and they can chop off heads.

BLITZER: Because they argue, the people who passed the laws that waterboarding is torture. And you say you would even go further than waterboarding? Is that why --

TRUMP: Absolutely.

BLITZER: How far would you go?

TRUMP: Well, I'd go further. And I'll listen to the military people, but I'd go further.

BLITZER: The military people say they oppose torture.

TRUMP: I disagree. I don't believe --

BLITZER: It's not part of the U.S. Military Code of Conduct.

TRUMP: I don't believe they do. I don't believe it. I don't believe it. I think they're told to say that politically. I think that they believe in it 100 percent.

You talk to General Patton from years ago. You talk to General Douglas MacArthur. I will guarantee you, these were real generals and I guarantee, they would be laughing. Right now, they're crying, and right now, they're spinning in their graves as they watch the stupidity go on.

We can't --

BLITZER: I just want to interrupt -- Mr. Trump, I just want to point out, it was the CIA engaged in the waterboarding after 9/11. The U.S. military deliberately said they didn't want to have any part of the waterboarding because it wasn't part of their Military Code of Conduct, that's why it was left to civilians working at the CIA with the authorization of the Justice Department, of course, and the Bush administration.

TRUMP: Well, with the authorization, and there's probably a political decision, not a real decision. It wasn't probably, in my opinion, it wasn't a military decision, it was a political decision and it continues to be a political decision.

The problem that we have, Wolf, it's a very big problem. We're fighting by different sets of rules. They're fighting with no rules, no regulations, no anything.

They can blow people up in shopping centers, they have bombs that are so vicious with the nails and the glass and all of the things come spewing out, blinding, destroying people, killing people, and yet we have rules and regulations we can't waterboard because it's a little bit on the tough side. We have to get smart, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, they point out that it's a violation of international law to engage in torture and the U.S. has signed on to these various international treaties banning torture.

TRUMP: Well, I would say the eggheads that came up with this international law should turn on their television and watch CNN right now because I'm looking at scenes on CNN right now as I'm speaking to you that are absolutely atrocious. And I would be willing to bet, when I'm seeing all of the bodies laying all over the floor, including young, beautiful children laying dead on the floor, I would say if they watch that, maybe -- just maybe they'll approve waterboarding and other things.

BLITZER: As you know, Ted Cruz suggested today the U.S. should step up its involvement going into Muslim neighborhoods, as he described it, looking for potential terrorists. Is that something you would support?

TRUMP: Yes, I would. I think that's a good idea.

BLITZER: I'm talking about Muslim neighborhoods in the United States, for example.

TRUMP: Yes, I would support that. Yes, 100 percent.

BLITZER: But how would you do that? How do you find out where Muslim neighborhoods are?

TRUMP: You do it, you do it. Let me tell you, I bet the local police know much more than what, what's going on than they -- than anybody would understand.

I would be willing to bet that the local police, and that -- I know it's true with the gangs. I know that if the gangs, if the police were given their hand, they would stop the gang problems in Chicago and various other places. They know the gang members, they know everything. They know things that are going on, and local police know plenty about the Muslims too.

But the police have been so hurt, and so left out, and so discouraged by what's happening, where they lose their jobs, they lose their pensions, they lose everything that -- we have a very soft country, we have a very -- in many ways, in many ways, not in certain countries, but in many countries, we have a very soft world.

And it's going to get a lot tougher. You watch. Because people can't take this. These acts, these horrible, violent acts.

Now the man that was caught, who I'm sure knew about this, and I'm sure they, they were strong, and strong like I mean strong, I'm sure he would have given them up before this act happened. He knew about this act. This act was an act of retribution because they caught him. A lot of people are saying that, and it probably was. And he probably knew about it. He, maybe he planned it. But, you know, he's probably right now sitting there with lawyers surrounding him, saying you don't have to talk, don't worry about it. The trial will start in 10 years. In 10 years everybody will forget.

[17:45:01] Mr. Trump, what do you say to the millions of Muslim Americans who are very patriotic, local Americans, many of whom have sons and daughters who serve in the U.S. military, who feel they would be discriminated against if these policies went forward?

TRUMP: I say we have a problem. We have radical Islamic terrorism problem. That's what Id' say. I have to say that. We have a problem like we've never had before. This is a problem that has gone on. General Pershing had the problem in 1919 in the Philippines with radical Islamic terrorism. And he handled it a certain way. I think you probably know that story. It's a very gruesome story. But you know what, the problem didn't exist for 48 years after that happened. So we have to be a lot tougher than we are. Right now they look at us

as weak, soft, stupid people. Look at the scene on CNN right now, where all the bodies all over the floor and we're worried about waterboarding.

BLITZER: Mr. Trump, I know you've got to go. But thanks very much for joining us. We'll continue this conversations down the road.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Donald Trump joining us.

Let's bring our experts. We'll get some reaction to what we just heard. Our CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd, he's a former CIA official, our CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank is with us, our national security commentator Mike Rogers, he is the former Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and former Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman is with us as well. She served on the Intelligence Armed Services and Homeland Security Committee. She's now president and CEO of the Wilson Center.

In fact, guys, stand by. I want take a quick break. We have a lot to assess. We'll be right back.


[17:51:00] BLITZER: Let's get some reaction to what we just heard from the Republican presidential frontrunner, Donald Trump.

Phil Mudd, you served in the CIA. You know something about what the CIA did after 9/11 engaging in waterboarding, other alleged torture. What's your reaction to what you heard from Mr. Trump?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, I don't do politics, I do reality. I don't care if it's President Trump, President Clinton, President Sanders, President Cruz, two points, number one, torture is unconstitutional and it violates federal law. You cannot be the president of the United States and ask a federal agency to commit an act of torture. Number two and final --

BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt for a moment, Phil. The Justice Department during the Bush administration authorized the CIA to engage in waterboarding. Is that torture?

MUDD: It did. They said in 2002 it was not, I can tell you from talking to my friends and from being in the chair, if you went back in 2017, if the president asked the question, the Department of Justice will say, waterboarding is torture. People in my business will not do it, Wolf.

BLITZER: Go ahead, what's the -- the second point you were going to make?

MUDD: My second point is it's unconstitutional but the final point was the Department of Justice, if you decide that you think it is constitutional, they have to pass judgment. The Department of Justice in 2016, or under a new president, 2017, is not where they were 15 years ago. They'll say you can't do it.

BLITZER: Mike Rogers, you heard Mr. Trump say he would go a step further than waterboarding and engage in even more torture to get information from these terrorists.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think what, if it were to be President Trump, would realize there are enhanced interrogation techniques that only the president can authorize up to, excluding waterboarding. And that has been maintained in the law, so there are options for a president if they want to go further. I think it's -- if someone's cooperating -- I'm an FBI-trained interrogator -- the last thing you want to do is intercede with anything that will disrupt that trust, confidence and rapport building that you get with somebody that can cooperate.

So, I mean, I think he was looking at the scenes, he reacted emotionally. I think what a lot of Americans are reacting emotionally to these scenes saying, yes, maybe he's right. The law is very clear on this that at a certain point, you can no longer use enhanced interrogation techniques, again, up to and -- but excluding waterboarding.

BLITZER: Jane Harman, what was your reaction to what we heard from Mr. Trump?

JANE HARMAN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, WILSON CENTER: Well, I remember the history, and I don't believe that the waterboarding we did worked but more important, there were -- there was a memo in the Justice Department, it took Congress years to get it, drafted by John Yu, that said anything other than death or imminent organ failure did not constitute torture. Congress was appalled to learn about that memo, and so were some others in the Justice Department and we passed a law basically codifying the Army Field Manual which does not permit waterboarding.

And I believe that building trust, as Senator John McCain who was subject to these procedures, believes that building trust is a much more effective way to get the truth from a detainee than causing that person to say anything just to get you to stop treating him in some fashion.

BLITZER: You've spent a lot of time, Paul, in Brussels. You're from there, you were born there. Is Mr. Trump correct when he says there are certain neighborhoods in Belgium where even the police are afraid to go?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: No, the police can go anywhere in Brussels, it's a Western capital, the capital of Europe. But it's certainly true, there are neighborhoods where there is a lot of extremism, there are neighborhoods where there's some sort of problems with drugs and there are neighborhoods where you have both those problems in the same areas which can make them quite uncomfortable sometimes to spend time --

BLITZER: And police would be afraid to go to those neighborhoods? CRUICKSHANK: Police wouldn't be afraid, but you know, CNN crews,

we've done reporting in places like Molenbeek before and we've had to call the police because we've been encircled by people who don't like Western television --

[17:55:07] BLITZER: Like jihadists you mean?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, people with extremist views, people who don't want a Western television station like CNN to be filming in a neighborhood. So there are certain areas of Brussels, it's a city I was born in, I know well, which can feel uncomfortable, but there are no no-go areas for police.

BLITZER: Guys, everybody, stand by.

Coming up, we have massive security sweeps under way right now after the deadly bombings in Brussels. One search has turned up a nail bomb and ISIS flag. How many terrorists remain at large?


[18:00:05] BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Transit terror attacks. Terrorists strike at the heart of a major European capital with coordinated bombings, targeting an airport, and --