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CNN Larry King Live

Times Square Bomb Scare Investigation Continues; Massive Oil Spill out of Gulf Coast

Aired May 02, 2010 - 20:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And we'll be back here. I'm Don Lemon at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. A special two-hour edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


JOHN KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Tonight bomb scare in New York City. They've got the car, the explosives, the timer and maybe even pictures of a possible suspect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're currently examining video that shows a white male in his 40s.

KING: Is the law closing in on the person or people who could have blown up Times Square.

The very latest on what witnesses saw, what dozens of cameras recorded, and the investigation into the Times Square bomb case. Next on a special two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening and thanks for spending some time with us. I'm John King, sitting in for Larry tonight on a very busy day of breaking news. We're tracking the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We'll show you what President Obama said a bit earlier in Louisiana today.

But first, Time Square is bustling tonight after a bomb square cleared the place out just last night. The top forensic experts in the country if not the world gathering clues right now trying to answer these questions.

Who rigged an SUV to explode and why? Mayor Michael Bloomberg is having dinner at this hour with the NYPD police officer who likely prevented a tragedy.



MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK MAYOR: We know we live in a dangerous world. New York has been a target since 1993 when we had the bombing at the World Trade Center. Hopefully we've learned our lesson, if not from then, but certainly from 9/11 in 2001. There are some people around the world that find our freedom so threatening that they're willing to kill themselves and others to prevent us from enjoying it. But we're not going to let them win.


KING: We have reporters from CNN covering the story all over, including right on the scene, Susan Candiotti is in Times Square.

And, Susan, help us understand the latest on the investigation tonight starting with what we know, the latest details on that Nissan Pathfinder, the car in question.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, good evening. Specifically, what we're knowing now from law enforcement sources is that that Nissan Pathfinder SUV is believed to be in the tri-state area. That means New York, New Jersey, Connecticut area.

They have been tracking the registration on that vehicle. And that's what they've been able to find out thus far -- John.

KING: And earlier today, Susan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg used the term amateurish. What's been learned about the make-up of this device? We've seen pictures of it but what do they know? You can take some sometimes pretty basic elements and come up with a pretty powerful explosive device. What do they think here?

CANDIOTTI: That's for sure. And as -- I'm talking to bomb experts. They are steering clear of the word amateurish because they're looking at this.

Look, they say, if this thing could have worked and it could have killed people then let's not necessarily use the word amateurish. But it was comprised of a number of different things. It has gas cans, it has some propane cylinders. The same kind that you would use in a propane tank barbecue, those things. As well as some alarm clocks.

And they're pretty commonly. They even showed pictures of these common alarm clocks that were supposed to be -- they're believed to be a triggering advice.

There was also a huge metal gun locker you could say that was in the back -- the cargo area of this SUV pathfinder. And inside of that were eight bags and they were believed -- suspected to contain fertilizer.

The question is, how did the person who put this all together expect to ignite these things? Because you would have needed something to ignite a fertilizer. Just a mere match couldn't do it.

So they're talking about a number of wires that were going from one thing to the next thing to the next thing as well as various pots and clusters and nests of wires. They believe that when people describe -- witnesses describe seeing smoke coming out of the back of that SUV, it is possible that the alarm clock somehow sparked some of those M-88 fireworks that were next to one of the propane tanks and that's -- that could have been the thing -- the reason why people saw smoke coming out of that vehicle.

KING: And Susan, a little more than 24 hours later, what do we know about possible suspect or suspects?

CANDIOTTI: That's very important. Of course they're trying to track down who put this together or who -- at the very least -- left the car where they did. And what we can tell you now is that police say that they have identified the person who -- who that car belongs to and they're trying to talk to him right now.

Now, at a news conference earlier tonight, New York police commissioner, Ray Kelly, said that they found some videotape they think that might be of the suspect. Listen.


COMM. RAYMOND W. KELLY, NYPD: We're currently examining video that shows a white male in his 40s in Shubert Alley looking back in the direction of West 45th Street.

He also was seen shedding a dark colored shirt, revealing a red one under it. He put the darker one into a bag that he was carrying. This happened about a half block from where the vehicle was parked.


CANDIOTTI: And there could be more images of this person because police have also said they are on their way to a town in Pennsylvania right now to talk to a tourist who was here who believes that he captured an image of that man while he was in that area so they want to go look at it, determine whether they believe that is the individual and that's what they're doing at this hour.

They also plan to release some videotape of this man in the alley at some point tonight. We hope to get that. And when we do, of course, John, we'll pass it on.

KING: We'll keep in touch with Susan Candiotti and our other reporters throughout the evening. A quick break now. When we come back, we'll get the president's reaction to this and also we'll talk to the former Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff.

Stay with us. A special two hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


KING: Welcome back to a special two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE. As we try to determine just what happened in Times Square last night, who put that bomb there, the vehicle there, we have the former Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff. He's traveling in the Middle East and he joins us by telephone.

Mr. Secretary, thanks for being with us. Take me through, if you were in that job today, what are the things you look for in the first day, the first hour as you try to figure out, is this just one guy, is it a domestic terrorism operation? Could it have possibly any connections to anything overseas?

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, FMR. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY (via phone): Well, there are a number of things that you have to do. And I think frankly there -- they're doing it now.

First you secure the area where the bomber -- the potential bomb was. You do everything you can to gather the surveillance, whether it's video cameras, whether it's tourists. You lift the fingerprints, DNA, anything that would give you any identifying mark or sign, similar to what we did, by the way, after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing where we identified forensics off the truck.

At the same time, you look to see if there's signals intelligence, anything that's coming internationally or globally that's been intercepted that might key into the event that is happened in the last 24 hours.

If you have informants, you go out and you talk to the informants. And you do this continuously. But the most important thing is, you pass the word in real-time to other police chiefs around the country so they can be on alert for the possibility of a similar attack coming on afterwards.

KING: And Mayor Bloomberg a short time ago before he was heading -- to have dinner with one of the first responders, a police officer, said he saw no indication of any al Qaeda ties. Seems to be trying to play that down.

Mayor Bloomberg of course is no novice in this business, his city having been hit before and having been a target so many times. If the mayor is saying things like that, what does it tell you?

CHERTOFF: I think the answer is we really don't know. I mean this doesn't look like a very sophisticated widespread plot. So in that sense, it doesn't bear the hallmarks of what we saw, for example, in August, 2006 or of course on 9/11.

On the other hand, we have learned over time that some of the things that began as -- appearing to be homegrown plot did wind up having some kind of a contact back to what we call core al Qaeda.

Right now I would say this looks to be on the less sophisticated end of the scale. And therefore I understand where the mayor is coming from. But I'd caution that it is too soon to make a definitive conclusion. KING: And Mr. Secretary, last night, when you were in your job and you're thinking about this threat, whether it's domestic terrorism, whether it's a large scale or a small scale attempted attack whether it's international terrorism -- when you have a list of potential targets and you take away the big marquise government institutions like Washington D.C., like the former World Trade Center site or something like that, how high up would Times Square be on a list of, say, if somebody wants to make an impact, to make a statement that that's where they'll go?

CHERTOFF: Well, I think it's high up for a number of reasons. First of all because New York is a target city as it has been over the last 20 years. Second, it's a place where there a lot of people who are going to be out on the street, particularly on a day with nice weather in the springtime.

What you're doing is, you're picking a location where potential casualties would be high. So I think places like Times Square or Piccadilly Circus in London are always going to be major concerns from the standpoint of urban vulnerability.

KING: The former secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. Mr. Secretary, thank you for taking a little bit of time during your travels in the Middle East to help us. We'll talk to you when you get back home.

Another person of course closely tracking this investigation today is the president of the United States. He was in Washington last night when he first heard about it. Spent much of this day down in Louisiana looking at the impact of the big oil spill down there.

More on that story a bit later, but first listen to the president earlier today offering his assessment of the investigation in New York City so far.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to commend the work of the NYPD, the New York Fire Department and the FBI which responded swiftly and aggressively to a dangerous situation.

And I also want to commend the vigilant citizens who noticed this suspicious activity and reported it to the authorities.

I just got off the phone on the way down here with Mayor Bloomberg to make sure that state and federal officials are coordinating effectively. Since last night, my national security team has been taking every step necessary to ensure that our state and local partners have the full support and cooperation of the federal government.

We're going to do what's necessary to protect the American people to determine who's behind this potentially deadly act and to see that justice is done.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) KING: The president of the United States there a bit earlier when he was traveling in Louisiana. Our Dan Lothian is at the White House.

And Dan, the president back in town now. Mayor Bloomberg said a bit earlier tonight that he's downplaying any international terrorism aspect to this. Is that what you're hearing at the White House?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in fact, John, you know, the president just arrived here a few minutes ago from his day trip to Louisiana. And several administration officials as well saying that they don't want to speculate at all about who might be behind this and what the motive might be.

In fact, one administration official telling me that it'd be, quote, "premature and unwarranted." They want to wait until they get more details from this investigation. And as you just pointed out there with the sound from the president, he has reached out to Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, and has promised that the federal government will work with the state government there to make sure that they have all the resources to get to the bottom of this.

There obviously is a lot of concern here at the White House about this. And now the president finds himself, you know, juggling two critical issues -- one there in Louisiana and then the other one in New York.

The president getting updates from John Brennan, his counterterrorism adviser, who is in touch with Homeland Security, FBI, all the other agencies who are involved in this investigation. And they're giving the president or he's giving the president all the information on what's going on on the ground there in New York -- John.

KING: Dan Lothian for us at the White House. Dan, we'll check in with you as the hour unfolds.

To a quick break now. When we come back, again, the latest on the investigation of this attempted bombing in Times Square last night in the heart of New York City. Also an update as well on the oil spill in the gulf and the recovery efforts there. Stay with us.


KING: When you think of New York City you might think of Times Square. If you look up at the skyline, you might think of Donald Trump. The real estate mogul, the investor, the TV star as well. He joins us now on the phone.

Donald Trump, why is it when these things happen -- now we don't know much about the who or the why, but we know the what. Someone tried to blow up a car in Times Square on a Saturday night when it is packed with theater goers and tourists. Why New York City?

DONALD TRUMP, REAL ESTATE INVESTOR (via phone): Well, it's the capital of the world when you get right down to it, John, whether we like that or not and I happen to like it. I'm very proud of New York.

I built a big chunk of New York. And we are proud of the fact that it is such an important place. And unfortunately, the important places are the high-profile places. And that's what people go after.

KING: And one of the things now, as we await the investigation, that there are so many cameras now in Times Square. How much of that is a post 9/11 legacy, how much of that is just the work of the NYPD in that since 9/11 we have all watched as our -- the new normal, Dick Cheney used to call it, our lives have changed and there's a greater police and some would say even a big brother presence in our lives. But they think it's very necessary there.

TRUMP: Well, we're lucky in New York. We have a great police commissioner in Ray Kelly. And I think he'll get to the bottom of this. And I'm a believer with terrorism and what's going on with the death penalty. But death penalty with a faster trial.

You know some of these guys, they wait 25 years, they have 20- year trials, meaning it never even gets started for 15 years. It's a joke. And we're a laughingstock throughout the world. So I think they have to immediately bring back the death penalty for acts such as this.

KING: Take us down on the street. For someone who might not understand the character and the characters of Times Square. You have T-shirt vendors. Both Vietnam veterans who were there who noticed something strange going out with this car. They run and they track down a mounted New York City police officer who finds a couple other police officers and then within minutes they clear thousands from a big number of blocks in that area.

Take us down on those streets and explain what that must have been like.

TRUMP: Well, the streets were total bedlam. But we have a number of heroes in this case and you know fortunately nothing happened catastrophically. But we have a number of heroes and we have some people that thought very quickly.

And, you know, these are people that went through September 11th. And you know, when you think of it, September 11th was the most horrific act ever in this country that's ever taken place.

And within a short period of time, John, the city was back, and within a year, it was thriving. It's an amazing -- I mean the people of New York are really amazing. They get -- they get the point. They understand what they're doing. And they get it back together quickly. They really are amazing. Great energy.

KING: And that square is bustling tonight. Does that surprise you in the least?

TRUMP: It doesn't surprise me. I have lived in New York all my life. The people are really fantastic.

KING: Donald Trump, we appreciate your time and your perspective tonight.

And we want to take you to someone who was right there on the ground in Times Square when this unfolded.

Rallis Gialboukis is a vendor. He was in Times Square and he noticed something strange happening.

Rallis, take us back to the moment.

RALLIS GIALBOUKIS, WITNESS, SAW SMOKING SUV IN TIMES SQUARE: Well, basically, what happened was -- it was a perfect day. Started off beautiful. There was people were in the street. Everything was great.

And just about 6:30, we noticed a vehicle was abandoned there and it started smoking. Police were on the scene. And as they were about to start the evacuation, the Pathfinder exploded and then just all chaos and panic set in.

KING: Explain what you mean by exploded. And how close were you when that happened?

GIALBOUKIS: I was about maybe 15 feet when the explosion occurred. And then after that, we had no choice but to back up and everybody started running and those people yelling and screaming. And it was just -- all the police were just backing everybody up and just yelling at them. And it was just -- it was just, you know, pretty chaotic.

KING: Small pops like fire crackers? Louder pops like gunfire?

GIALBOUKIS: Louder. Louder pops. I -- I heard actually a loud bang, basically. And you could see the fire and the flames in the car. And then there's a lot of smoke right after that.

KING: And you know so well how busy that Times Square area is on a Saturday night. Talk to us about how the crowd dispersed and the police role and citizens' role in trying to get people a safe -- to a safe distance as quickly as possible.

GIALBOUKIS: Well, the police were on it right away. And they were very quick to act. And the people, you know, were running and police did a great job there just to get everybody out of there.

But, you know, it definitely could have been a lot worse. Because, you know, you didn't expect the vehicle, the car to go up in flames, explode there. So I think they definitely, you know, got us out there in time before any real damage could be done there.

KING: And you say you saw the vehicle as it was exploding and the smoke and all that. Did you ever see anyone around the vehicle? Anyone getting out of the vehicle? Anyone lurking around the vehicle at all?

GIALBOUKIS: I did not actually. No. You know, when I turned around, we noticed the car there. And the hazards were on. The key was in the ignition. Then we couldn't see what was inside.

But it started smoking. The smoke started intensifying. And then as the police -- the officer on the mount smelled the powder. He told the other officers to get everybody out of there. And then as they were about to do that, then the car just -- and you just heard the big bang and so everything right there.

KING: Sounds like a pretty scary moment to be just a few feet away.

GIALBOUKIS: It was definitely scary, especially being there for 20 years. It was definitely scary.

KING: You say 20 years. Have you ever seem anything like this in Times Square?

GIALBOUKIS: Not this. So, you know, we've seen -- you know, minor, you know -- you know, bomb scares, you know, threats and everything. But nothing like this. Definitely not.

KING: Mr. Gialboukis will stay with us. We'll continue the conversation, have other guests as well as we continue track the investigation of just what happened in Times Square a little more than 24 hours ago, almost 26 hours ago now when the car was first noticed.

You're watching a special two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay right there.


KING: Live picture there of Times Square on a Sunday evening. A little more than 24 hours ago, a heavy police presence there as police were trying to evacuate thousands of tourists, theater goers, others passing through one of the iconic spots in the city and in our country.

Twenty-four hours later, what do we know about the person who tried to blow up a Nissan Pathfinder at the height of Saturday night in Times city.

Well, some heroes love the limelight, others shy away from it. One of the vendors in Times Square who tracked down a mounted New York City police officer and told him there was a suspicious vehicle with smoke coming out of it was Lance Orton.

Would he relish the role of hero or would he try to avoid questions? Take a look.




UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes. I know you don't want to give up the good about what you saw last night. ORTON: (INAUDIBLE) to that. Come on, man.


ORTON: Do I look stupid?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: No, not at all. What do you think about this whole experience that you end up in the middle of something that's international? That's being seen all over the world this morning. I mean what do you feel about being a part of something like that?

ORTON: I'm on YouTube, too. That's all over the world, too.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This thing happened right next to your cart.

ORTON: I don't want to have trouble.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You got to be feeling good, Lance.

ORTON: Let's get out of the sidewalk.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What time did you get to work yesterday?

ORTON: 6:00?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: 6:00? Did you say 6:00?



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. We're going to catch up with you later, Lance.



ORTON: I'll get some sleep, man.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I mean do you feel good that you pointed this out? Do you feel good? Do you feel like this --

ORTON: Of course, man. I'm a veteran, what do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So this was important for you?

ORTON: Of course.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: To the people of New York, what do you want to tell them? What do you want to know from Lance? Your message, Lance, to the people of New York? ORTON: If you see something, say something.


KING: Lance Orton there, obviously didn't want to talk to the media. He was a hero last night, a vendor who tracked the police officers. He was a hero before that. He's a disabled Vietnam veteran, who is Times Square selling his wares when he noticed the suspicious vehicle, ran to get police attention.

Another vendor who is on the ground is still with us. Rallis Gialboukis was there.

The vendors -- some of them know each other. Do you know Lance Orton by any chance?

GIALBOUKIS: I -- I know Lance really well, yes.

KING: Why is he so shy about his moment?


GIALBOUKIS: Well, that's Lance, you know -- I don't know, if you could get him in here and ask, I'd like to hear his answer there, you know? Who knows? That's just how he is, you know.

KING: Take us inside that -- take us inside that culture of the vendors down there. I've been in Times Square many, many times when I'm in New York City. And you're the eyes and ears. You are obviously trying to sell your wares, trying to get tourists to stop and talk to you and buy from you.

And yet you're the best set of eyes on the ground to suspicious behavior that probably even know more about what's happening on any given corner than the police department.

GIALBOUKIS: Well, you know what, I mean, you know, we -- I wouldn't say we -- you know, that's, you know, 100 percent accurate. But you know, we're definitely out there to help the police officers.

We have a good relationship with the police officers. And if we could be, you know, of help to the police officers, you know, we are out there every day and you know pretty much, you know, all through the night and, you know, gladly, you know, help. I mean, you know, why not? You know?

KING: How much has the street changed, the area changed since 9/11 in the sense that, as you heard Commissioner Kelly earlier in the program, they're looking at all these hours and hours of videotape they have now because of these cameras that all over New York City?

But especially in the Times Square area to try to piece together when that car pulled up, when it stopped, when the flashes went on, when allegedly this one gentleman of interest they're looking at, was it him who got out and walked away.

How different is it on the street there now than it was, say, on September 10th?

GIALBOUKIS: Well, you know what? There's a lot more people there now and it's just -- it's very busy and it's -- you know, I think it's very safe. You know it's definitely very safe right now in Times Square. So --

KING: Rallis Gialboukis, we appreciate your perspective. One of the vendors on the ground who was so close to the Nissan Pathfinder when the smoke started coming out. We appreciate you helping us understand this incident tonight.

Quick break for us. We'll continue with our coverage of the investigation in New York City a bit later in the program. Also an update on the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Stay with us.


KING: Continue our investigation about the investigation into the attempted bombing in Times Square last night.

Congressman Peter King is a Republican of New York. He's a ranking Republican member on the House Homeland Security committee and also serves on a permanent select committee on intelligence.

Congressman, a simple question off the top, what is the latest on this investigation as you know it?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: From what I know, it's being heavily investigated. Obviously, the fertilizer is being examined very carefully. You know they do believe it's a person in the tri- state area. But other than that, this is going to be it's an NYPD joint terrorism task force investigation.

Obviously a lot of leads as far as fingerprints, as far as the identification number of the vehicle. So there's any number of leads they have. At least bits of evidence they have. From my understanding is they've not zeroed in on anyone in particular even though they may have one person in mind, but there's nothing definite yet.

KING: You're hearing that by most police and law enforcement authorities think at the moment this is a homegrown incident, though, not international incident of any kind?

P. KING: My understanding is, from talking to people at the international level that there was no international chatter. There was no -- there was no indication at all from overseas that something was going to happen. So whether or not this is al Qaeda linked tonight, it will be homegrown. Even if it is al Qaeda, it appears to be a homegrown incident. If it is al Qaeda.

KING: Earlier today you raised some eyebrows when you were trying to figure out who might be responsible for this and you're being careful in saying might. But you did say one possibility -- and again this is one possibility -- close to the Viacom Building, you were saying that the outrage at one of the South Park incidence not that long ago. Was that perhaps getting a little ahead of yourself?

P. KING: No, not really. I -- because I know that it is being looked at by investigators as one of the possibilities. I was going down the list of possibilities and that is one of them, to show how many that the police and the joint terrorism task force have to look at. And, you know, and that one of them.

That basically is -- all I know is that they themselves -- the police thought it was something that should be looked into and is being looked into along with -- you know, with any number of other scenarios.

KING: What's your sense from everything you've heard here? You know every city but especially in New York City reconfigured just about everything it does after 9/11. Times Square one of the biggest targets, if you're trying to make a statement whether it's homegrown, whether it's a solo act or whether it's an international organization.

P. KING: Right.

KING: What's your sense of what you've seen in the last 24 hours about, A, how this was handled and B, is the city -- does it have everything it needs, is it doing everything it needs to do, or does something need to be tweaked?

P. KING: Well, the NYPD handled it perfectly. They could not have done it better starting with the tip they got, going right through as far as evacuating, as far as disabling the bomb. All that was absolutely perfectly.

What we do know, though, is that New York is the number one target in the world. And we do definitely need more homeland security funding to get the job done. In particular, the president has zeroed out all the money this year for radiation detection in New York.

And we believe that the next attack on Manhattan will come from the out-of-boroughs or from the suburbs by a vehicle. That is the most likely and the real concern it'd be a dirty bomb.

So last night, we saw part of that. We saw a vehicle which seems to have been brought from the outside of Manhattan into Manhattan. And it didn't contain a bomb. It was not a radioactive device, but it could have been.

So I would say that the main thing we need right now is to make sure that New York City, Long Island region, gets their fair share of homeland security funding and specifically that the -- secure the cities, which is the radiation protection program be continued by the president and not zeroed out the way he's done it this year's budget.

KING: Congressman Peter King, Republican of New York, we appreciate your time tonight. And we will keep in touch in the hours and days ahead. Thank you, Sir.

But among our many reporters covering the story is our Mary Snow who is right there on the ground in Times Square. Let's check in with Mary for the latest.

Hi, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, John. I want to set the scene for you.

What you see behind me is a pedestrian wall in Times Square, what Mayor Bloomberg calls the crossroads of the world. As you walk into that crowd, you'll find people from all over the world.

And we're just about two blocks away from where that vehicle was found last night. And as you could see, it has been business as usual. There are about 35 theaters in this district.

Many of them do not have Sunday night programs -- shows, that is. But they have matinees. And all those matinees went on as scheduled. Last night among theaters, there were some had delayed openings. But all did go on.

You might here there were some sirens in the background, crowds in the background. A lot of tourists here, I talked to people from all over, Australia, Germany, Canada, today. They say, unfortunately, this is the new norm. Yes, they were concerned about what happened last night, but they would not be deterred. And they wanted to go on as normal.

And one New Yorker I ran into said she was surprised to see so many tourists out here and was so relieved by -- for that T-shirt vendor who first alerted police when he saw smoke coming out of that car.

KING: It is a remarkable night in a remarkable place. Mary Snow, with the latest for us. We will keep in touch with Mary, as well. We'll be back in just a minute. You're watching a two-hour special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go anywhere. Among our guests when we return, Susan Candiotti with new information on the investigation.


KING: Let's go straight back to our Susan Candiotti. She is in Times Square. She has new information on the investigation into last night's attempted bombing. Susan?

CANDIOTTI: And this we're getting from a police official from the New York Police Department. They're saying the preliminary tests are determining that the fertilizer that was used inside this vehicle, they're describing as non-explosive grade fertilizer that they say would have been incapable of blowing up.

However, they add this. That the combination of the gasoline and the propane alone could have exploded with enough force to certainly split the vehicle in two, produce a huge fire ball and at the very least break out some windows and certainly could have killed any bystanders that were nearby. However, they are saying it would not likely to have had enough force to blow up a huge structure. And that's in the opinion of New York Police Department bomb experts, as well as other bomb experts that I have spoken with from other federal agencies.

So that's the update about how much damage preliminary tests indicate this device could have done -- John.

KING: So, Susan, just help our viewers and you're very brave with all the noise there in Times Square. Help our viewers in the sense that if it's non-explosive fertilizer, so we're talking about the potential of a giant fire ball, but not a giant explosive destructive bomb.

Where do they take the next step then if you're trying to narrow their focus on who was this guy? Is he connected to anybody? What was his -- what was his mission?

CANDIOTTI: Well, that's what they've got to find out because again, whether you want to describe it as amateurish or not, it could have done some serious damage in their view. So the next step is trying to determine who did it. And of course, there have been, as I'm sure you have heard, we have been reporting on some people who have been trying to take credit for this.

But the FBI jumps in to say -- remember early on you're always going to have some people who are going to claim credit. They have already discredited some of those claims. So they're trying to trace down, OK, fine, through the vehicle, for example, who was driving the vehicle. To whom did the vehicle belong?

Do they think that the person to whom the vehicle was registered is the same person who driving that Pathfinder. And is he the person who actually created the bomb? Is it the same person that was walking away seen on some video, a person in an alley near one of the theaters nearby shortly after smoke was discovered inside the Pathfinder?

So again, a lot of questions to work out. And you're right, John. That's what they have to figure out. Who does it? Was it someone working by himself, a lone operator as has been suggested? Or someone who is connected with some other group?

KING: Susan Candiotti on top of the investigation for us. We will keep in touch with Susan.

When we come back much more on this story and also we'll check in right when we come back. The president made a trip down to the Gulf of Mexico today to get a firsthand look at the tragic oil spill. We'll bring you the latest when we come back.


KING: More on the investigation into the attempted bombing last night in Times Square in just a minute. But first let's get an assessment of the impact of that tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico more than 10 days now -- 12 days now since the spill. President Obama went down earlier today for a firsthand look. He was in Venice, Louisiana after landing first in the state. Drove down there with the governor and other officials to get a peek. Here is some of what the president had to say.


OBAMA: I think the American people are now aware -- certainly the folks down in the gulf are aware that we're dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.

The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our gulf states. And it could extend for a long time. It could jeopardize the livelihoods of thousands of Americans who call this place home.


KING: Our Reynolds Wolf is in Venice tonight.

And Reynolds, when you hear the president say it could continue for a long time, it is quite stunning to realize that the oil is still spewing out. The fisheries being affected, the marine life being affected, the coastal area is being affected. Give us a firsthand look there.

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. Well, I'll tell you, Venice is a really one of the key staging areas. One of the amazing things about Venice is that just, say, a week or so ago it was a place that many Americans had never heard of before. But I can tell you right now it is really the nucleus of that effort to keep the shoreline safe.

The first bit of information I have for you as they came out a short while ago. They -- just a while ago, they recovered some sea turtles actually on parts of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and dead sea turtles that washed up on the shore.

First idea that these -- these may have been affected by, of course, some of the oil from the slick. At first appearance they were not covered with oil, but there is still a possibility that they had been eating fish that had been swimming through that oil. So they're going to examine these turtles and give us a better idea of what to expect in days to come.

You know, John, one of the issues with the oil is the question is, we've had -- people have been asking where exactly is it. Well, there have been trace amounts of it that have been popping up, a short distance from where we are now standing.

In fact, the southern end of the Mississippi delta, some of the barrier islands, islands that in some cases are just a few yards wide, some of them a bit bigger, some again stretching. Just a great stretch that reached towards the Gulf of Mexico.

They've had trace amounts of what we referred to as sheen, very light oil that has been coming up. But the heavier crude, we've heard varied reports. Some reports said it's about nine miles off the coast, some place says it's a little bit closer to three. But still it all bears watching and it also bears protecting.

I can tell you that there have been about 275,000 feet of that protective boom as what they referred to it. And they have been stretching out across the region not just here in Louisiana but also in places like Mississippi, back into Florida, Alabama also.

They have another 3,000 bit of that protective boom. They plan on putting out in the coming days. They also have on back order another 5,000 feet of the protective barrier. So when all was said and done, about a million will be put along the coastline to protect, again, the wildlife, at the same time, the economy.

The economic impact, John, this is going to have on the region in terms of the seafood, the shrimpers, the people who collect the oysters, is going to be unbelievable. Also the detrimental impact it'll have on tourism. The Alabama coastline, parts of the Florida coastline -- you have these pristine beaches that people refer to as the Emerald Coast.

Well, with the oil washing up on that coastline, again, you can only imagine what that's going to do keeping people away from the beaches.

Now what they're going to do again is trying to put some of that out. Some of the -- more of that protective boom to keep this place safe. But the weather is not cooperating. We've had a steady wind right at our back for a good part of the day.

Conditions out at sea have been just horrific. They've had reports of 12-foot swells in some place, waves up to 15 feet. Once these water craft make their way down the mouth of the Mississippi River, move down through the delta and then try to get out into open sea, it is just pandemonium on the water. So response out there has been very, very limited.

The bigger ships, the U.S. Coast Guard cutters have had a tough time. But they've been able to maintain their paths out there and maintain their work. However, the smaller ships trying to deliver those much needed supplies in places on the gulf, it's been severely limited today.

There have been some ships that have actually left this port going back towards some of the bayou to protect some of those -- again some of the places like the National Wildlife Refuge towards south, the Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

They have been able to do some work which is great. Many of those places, John, home for some 300 species -- rather 400 species of endangered or protected birds, mammals and of course those grasses. It's going be around the clock effort. And again, it may be something -- it could take up to, say, 90 days.

That was one of the latest estimates of the United States Coast Guard. We'll look into the possibility of three months before they get a good handle on it. But hopefully better news will come soon.

Let's send it back to you, John.

KING: Reynolds Wolf on the scene for us. We'll check back in a little bit later, Reynolds. Thanks so much.

I want to introduce our panel, though, and take a quick break and bring them back to you.

Fran Townsend is a CNN national security adviser, obviously has worked in previous administrations and the homeland security airport. She's with us from Orlando, Florida tonight.

Here in Washington with me, Peter Bergen, CNN national security analyst, journalist and best-selling author.

And in New York, Harvey Kushner who's the professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Long Island University and expert on terrorism. Also a best-selling author of books include "Holy War on the Home Front."

A great panel to discuss the investigation into the Times Square attempted bombing. We'll be right back.


KING: We have with us now Fran Townsend, Peter Bergen and Harvey Kushner.

Let me just ask simply and I'll start with you, Fran. The question always is, what do we know and is it a solo act or is it domestic, is it international? What are you hearing tonight?

FRAN TOWNSEND, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Well, you know, John, it's interesting. The first thing I heard from a senior federal counterterrorism official was that this is not -- what they saw in Times Square was not related, as far as they were aware, to an ongoing threat stream or current investigation.

Now that t may change, you know, as they understand more about the bomb. We heard from Susan Candiotti. Not explosive grade fertilizer. As they look at the surveillance tape, as they understand who the car owner was and where the car came from, that may change.

But as it exists now, they don't think that this relates to an ongoing threat stream like Zazi Najibullah who we saw in the New York subway attempted bombing case or the Christmas day bomber with Yemen al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

They think that this is -- it seems to me that as they're looking at this right now, it seems to be either a lone wolf or an individual inspired perhaps by al Qaeda, but not directly linked.

KING: And yet, Peter, there are these claims of responsibility including a video reportedly from the Pakistani Taliban. How do you sort through what is just noise and what is true? PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, often there are claims of responsibility, you may recall, John, when the blackout happened on the East Coast. A group calling itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigade said they were responsible. So that was nonsense.

So it's very unlikely the Pakistani Taliban would have put together an operation like this in 13 days as they claimed. However, the fact that this guy might have been inspired by al Qaeda's ideas or this conspiracy, John, I think it's more than one person. Typically when we see a sort of car bomb operation like this, it's not usually a solo operator who's put it together.

KING: Professor Kushner, what jumps out at you in the early hours as you hear more details about the investigation?

HARVEY KUSHNER, TERRORISM EXPERT: Well, John, I think this reflects the times we live in and the location. You know being in the business for over 40 years, it was very easy years ago to look at the target and look at the groups out there.

But today, with the Internet, with TV, with every group having a grudge against the United States, whether it's the Taliban, whether it's al Qaeda, or it could be a lone wolf, there are just so many different players out there that it's very difficult to pinpoint it.

I think both Fran and Peter hit the nail on the head. I think we can take a look at what information we have forensically. We have to let the days go by and I think things will play out. But quite frankly it doesn't seem from what we've been piecing together so far, that it's linked to al Qaeda.

Again, that could change. It seems more like it would be an individual or a group of individuals who put this plot together.

KING: In this age where we see sophisticated attempts in the past, both here in the United States and around the world, and when you see television dramas, movies about terrorist organizations, "24" and like that.

When you see something like this and you see a -- it's a vehicle, it's a crude alarm clock they showed in the vehicle, canisters of gasoline that you could buy at a hardware store. Fran, many people automatically think well, that's amateur, therefore it could not be a large scale event or a large scale attempt. Not necessarily true, right?

TOWNSEND: Not necessarily true, John. Remember the Glasgow incendiary car bomb, the guy was killed by the burns on his body. And this was inspired by al Qaeda. There was a car bomb in London outside a discotheque, a nightclub that was dismantled before it could be ignited.

We've seen al Qaeda use propane, use fertilizer bombs. Remember in the 2004 in the pre-election threat to the financial center in New York, they were talking about cars and limousines with propane tanks in them as part of the incendiary device. And so -- they also, by the way, used propane tanks in east Africa and the sea bombings. And so -- look, al Qaeda knows how to use these sorts of techniques.

The other thing I'd mention, John, is that when you have people like Adam Gadahn and Anwar al-Awlaki -- Awlaki is the cleric in Yemen, the American born. Adam Gadahn was born in California, also a member of al Qaeda. You've got these Americans now who are able to explain to al Qaeda and their leadership and their operational planners it doesn't take a big spectacular.

Those big spectaculars great for fundraising and recruiting. But you can instill fear and panic even by an unsuccessful attack. And I think al Qaeda is beginning to understand that when they see, you know, the political reaction, the public reaction, to something like the attempted Christmas Day bombing.

These things do have reverberations even if they are not hugely spectacular or lots of casualties.

KING: And to that point, Peter, when so many people are looking, including the authorities, looking for the spectacular, sort of taking an SUV and loading it up, the simple, if you will, the crude is in some ways almost the preferable, isn't it?

BERGEN: Well, certainly in Times Square and, you know, Fran mentioned Najibullah Zazi who is the Afghan-American -- he and two others who were, you know, living in the United States where have both -- they've all pledged to charge us, that they were planning to attack not only in Wall Street but also Times Square itself.

So I think adding to this idea, you know, right-wing terrorists don't tend to do mass casualty attacks in public places. They want to attack abortion clinics or government buildings or synagogues. And so the location of this attack takes you a little back to jihadists. We don't know who it is, but that seems like a plausible theory right now.

KING: And we'll continue our coverage of this. We have a great panel with us. We have reporters covering this all over as we track the Times Square investigation. A Nissan Pathfinder packed with explosives on fire last night. Luckily not a tragic explosion as the investigation continues.

A second hour of LARRY KING LIVE, special coverage begins right now.

Welcome back to the second hour of a special two-hour LARRY KING LIVE. I'm John King sitting in for Larry tonight.

We have continuing coverage of the thwarted car bomb attack in Times Square. We'll bring you the latest developments as we get them.

We'll also be checking in on the situation in the Gulf Coast. Can that tragic oil slick be stopped? But as we continue our coverage of the investigation we are going to get the very latest now. Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti has been on top of things all night long and she joins us now from Times Square -- Susan.


Of course what a difference a night makes. Last night, last evening at this hour, much of Times Square was blocked off. But now, things have gotten back to normal. The investigation however is going on with a lot of intensity as they try to number one try to find out where that vehicle is and who the registered owner was.

Now, police do tell us they know the name of the person to whom the car was registered, this Nissan Pathfinder, but they are not revealing it at this time. They do tell us however that that car is in the Tri-State area. That means anywhere within New York or New Jersey or Connecticut. They haven't pinned it down just yet -- John.

KING: And Susan, hours and hours I would assume of video tapes from all the surveillance cameras all around Times Square. What have they released about the information they've gleaned so far and what are the big questions we are waiting to have answered?

CANDIOTTI: One of the things they are talking about is of course they have some images that they were able to capture from surveillance cameras. And as you know there are thousands of them around New York City. And these images show that Nissan Pathfinder just as it was coming down the strip near Times Square and turned off on the West 45th street.

They did not get it parking, but they did see it making that turn. Also those video shows how crowded it was at the time. People were going to the theater and people were going to dinner at that time. It was about 6:30 in the evening.

Also police tell us they have isolated another surveillance camera image that shows a man they describe as white and in his 40s who shortly after that car would have pulled over, this individual was seen in an alley and they see him, they describe him as looking furtively aside in either direction half way down the alley, taking off one shirt, putting on another shirt and sticking the original shirt in some sort of a bag and then walking away. So they are trying to determine whether that is the person who is connected to the Pathfinder.

In addition to that, they are also in Pennsylvania at this hour because a tourist who was in the area thinks he might have taken a picture of that individual. And they are going to Pennsylvania to track that down in an area north, about a half hour north of Philadelphia -- John.

KING: And Susan lastly, based on your reporting that the fertilizer was found in the car was non-explosive. What is their sense and thank God this car did not fully explode? It was not a firebomb by any chance -- CANDIOTTI: Right.

KING: -- but what is their worst case scenario had it -- had it gone to a different level?

CANDIOTTI: All right, well just to recap what people remember. This car was said to contain a few cans of gasoline, a few propane tanks as well as some alarm clocks and a big metal gun locker. Inside that were several bags of fertilizer. However, now we are hearing from authorities that preliminary tests are indicating that that was a non-explosive grade fertilizer. And that it was really incapable of blowing up.

However they do add this. That the combination of the gasoline that was inside that car as well as the propane, if they had exploded could have created a huge fire ball that certainly at the very least could have broken some windows and if people were standing by certainly could have produced some -- some casualties as well. But they say it would not have been capable of bringing down a building.

Now, in addition to that, John, I also talked to other bomb experts who tell me that that fertilizer would have had to have had a few things in addition to make it dangerous. It would have had to have a blasting cap. It also would have had to have a detonator in addition to that, another booster. And it would have had to have been combined with some fuel oil, that is to say, to mix it up with that fertilizer as we've seen in previous bombings.

Now, simply putting gasoline in cans next to that fertilizer would not have been enough. You would have to mix it all together. And that combination just did not exist in this case -- John.

KING: Susan Candiotti with the latest on the investigation.

For us a little more than 24 hours ago, Wayne Rhatigan, was at work. Earlier today, he coached his daughter's lacrosse game. Tonight, he's having dinner with the New York City Mayor because he is one of the heroes of this drama.

Wayne Rhatigan is a mounted New York City Police Department officer. Vendors ran and tracked him down when they saw that car Susan was just speaking about. They saw a smoke coming out, they heard some pop. They ran and found this officer on his horse. He started the effort to clear thousands of tourists, theater goers and others in the Time Square. Wayne Rhatigan tonight is one of the many heroes. Listen.


WAYNE RHATIGAN, NYPD HERO OFFICER, CLEARED TIMES SQUARE: I was just walking down with my horse Miggs (ph) down Broadway and Dwayne Robinson (ph), the vendor alerted me to a car that was smoking. I went over there and we smelled gun powder, with my partner, Pam Duffy.

And -- now we knew something was up as soon as we smelled the gun powder. We go to rookie impact officers on the scene, with their help -- I don't know their names -- with their help, we just kind of started a perimeter.

It was just a combined effort of everybody. That's what we do. Everybody is out there, I mean, there were two guys in bomb suits last night. You know those guys are incredible heroes, it's amazing what those guys did. ESU, canine, you know, I mean, searching some secondary device. It's a combined effort by the fire department. It's what we do. This is our job.


KING: Wayne Rhatigan is 46 years old, a humble hero having dinner with the Mayor of New York City tonight.

Much more on the investigation as we continue the second hour of our special two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


KING: The President of the United States is at the Annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner last night when he received word that something was up in Times Square. The President has been updated, of course, in the 24 hours since. He made a trip to Louisiana today to assess the impact of the Gulf spill but also has been in close touch with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his national security team about the New York City event.

Let's go to the White House and our Dan Lothian with the latest on how the White House is tracking all this -- Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly the President in touch with the mayor -- Mayor Bloomberg. In fact, the President pointing out that he did call him. He wanted to make sure that the federal resources and the state resources there in New York were working together to move forward with this investigation.

The President also promising to provide whatever assistance would be needed in the investigation. Now, he's been getting his updates, his briefings from John Brennan, his top counter terrorism adviser. We are told by the White House that he did receive a briefing earlier today just about the latest information about what the government knows up to this point.

Now, on the way back here to the White House after spending the day in Louisiana, going and checking over the oil spill situation there, Robert Gibbs spoke with reporters who were asking questions about what the administration's reactions was to these reports that the Pakistan Taliban was claiming responsibility for this bomb attempt.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs saying that he views these reports with skepticism. He went on to say that the administration is working very hard to prevent these kinds of attacks from happening in the future. And in terms of these continued reports about claims or other possibilities who might be behind it, another administration official telling me that quote, "They're simply premature and unwarranted" -- John. KING: Dan Lothian tracking things to us tonight at the White House. Thank you, Dan.

When something like this happens, especially in today's age, cell phone cameras, PDA cameras and the like often, we get our first images from people who were close to the scene, people who are not journalists. Among them is Matthew Derby, who was in Times Square last night. He's witnessed the evacuation and the police activities.

And Matthew, as you join us, I want to take a look at some of the behind the scenes and on the scenes video you shot as this unfolded last night. Let's take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got to go. Everyone. Wrap your food up. Let's go. Head northbound. Go that way. You can only go this way.



KING: Great work with the camera there. Matthew just take us -- why were you there on the scene last night? Why in the city?

MATTHEW DERBY, TOURIST, WITNESSED TIMES SQUARE EVACUATION: Well, I'm on vacation from Hawaii in New York and enjoying the city. And just walking around Times Square, shopping, enjoying the city and then all of a sudden this takes place.

KING: How did you hear? You say this, how did you hear, were the people telling you to get away? Did you hear any of the popping from the car?

DERBY: Well, initially yes, I wasn't around for that initial 6:30 incident that occurred, but I walked into it probably around 6:45, 6:50. And then that's when, you know, the police were already out with their barricades. And everybody was asking what's going on here. You know a million questions from everybody.

And then, it finally hit us that something is wrong with that car over there. And somebody said a fire. Other people were saying a bomb scare, a bomb threat. So the police acted accordingly and they started pushing everybody back from 45th to 46th to 47th avenues. And between 46th and 47th that's when I went into the McDonald's and got a soft drink. Because I was thinking ok, how long is this going to go be going on for?

And I went to the second story, started shooting some more video from my iPhone. And then, that's when the police came in they were telling everybody to please evacuate, please wrap up your food and to get out of the building because it was being evacuated.

Then we were outside of the McDonalds. And that's when we were by the tickets booth on -- near 47th with that big red seating area. KING: Right.

DERBY: And people were being evacuated from there. And we really heeded the warning when the New York police detective said that this is an emergency and everybody needs to wake up and get out of here.

KING: What kind of language did they use? You say the police say this is an emergency.


KING: What kind of language were the police using and the people using? We're words like terrorism being used words --

DERBY: Oh no. Actually, you know nobody knew what was going on. I mean the police weren't really telling the crowd. Because the crowd was asking, what's going on? And they were saying this is an emergency we just need to clear the area.

So what was really interesting about it is that it was kind of like controlled chaos. The New York Police Department, the first responders they did an excellent job. Because they were -- they were in control and they were -- they are very like commanding and telling everybody we need to get -- get you to safety.

And the people in Times Square, the visitors and the residents, they listened. And they weren't running around, screaming and yelling and everything like that. It was controlled chaos. People were listening, people wanted to see what was going on.

And you know, people like me with my iPhone with social media, Twitter, MySpace and Facebook and stuff like that recording what was going on in Times Square, not knowing necessarily what was exactly happening.

But the rumor out there, I think when we were pushed all the way back to 47th was that finally that they were saying it was a bomb in an SUV. That's when we saw the remote robot out on the street going towards the SUV.

KING: And what did that look like? You were close enough to watch as the bomb -- as part of the bomb squad, the robot they sent right up the SUV. Describe that.

DERBY: Yes, well, you know, everybody was doing their own urban legend on what was actually taking place. But when we saw that -- that -- the mechanical robot come out, and we knew it was a bomb -- so, in a car or something. And we saw the remote robot drive across the street and it headed towards the SUV. And at that point, I think people really understood what was happening.

Again, you know, not much was being shared with the general public, probably the best for their interest because it controlled the chaos a bit. You know, the police were very commanding. They did a great job, they got everybody back in an orderly fashion. I could say 99 percent of the people were listening. A lot of people are out with their Twitter and their Facebook trying to record this event.

KING: Not the New York vacation you expected. But are you going to stay in the city? You're going to come back some day?

DERBY: Oh, you know what -- I love this city. I have been coming here for years. And honestly, as a visitor, nothing can keep me away.

As New York moves on, you know, from this incident, it's a great place to visit. As Mayor Bloomberg says he has one of the best police forces in the world here in the city. I feel safe and I feel safe coming back to the city.

KING: Matthew Derby, we appreciate your time tonight and we appreciate also your sharing your pictures with us so we have a better understanding of this. It is one of the remarkable things in today's age with everyone can be a contributor to our journalism here.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll come back; much more in the investigation of the Times Square attempted bombing when this special 2-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE returns in just a second.



STEVEN RAMIREZ, WITNESS: We were walking (INAUDIBLE) at 44th right down Broadway and we heard an explosion sound. And we honestly stopped. We didn't know what to do. We saw everybody else running and we started running, too.

VICTORIA RODRIGUEZ, WITNESS: Everybody just started being backed up and everybody was being pushed back. The barrier started going up.

RAMIREZ: We knew something was wrong when we saw the ambulances and the cop cars. Everybody was racing towards the way we were.

ALEX VON DE BREGGAN, WITNESS: I was standing there. And suddenly, I saw a big flash light in the car.

The explosion was not too big. It was like a small -- a small hand grenade in the car. The windows stayed in --


BREGGAN: -- but it smoked.


KING: Live pictures now of times square tonight after listening to the eyewitness accounts of what happened a little more than 24 hours ago. A Nissan Pathfinder parked right in the thick of the theater district. You heard the eye witnesses there; smoke, some explosion, a lot of chaos as police tried to clear the area but in a relatively, orderly way.

As we continue to try to track what happened and who did this Peter Bergen, our national security analyst is with me here in studio.

Let's start with this one. Often, what we think we know 24 hours later is not what we know 72 or 100 hours later, is it?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Christmas Day is a very good example. I mean immediately White House officials were saying that this was a lone actor. Well, that didn't make any sense. Because when somebody says that when they get off a plane, I got a bomb in Yemen, that makes him part of a large conspiracy.

So stuff that comes out of the White House about this generally tends to be wrong and very cautious in the first several days. Here, we have a 40-year-old white male. Could that be a right-wing terrorist or could it be jihadist?

We have had plenty of Caucasians who join -- who are voluntarily part of jihadist militant groups. And obviously most right wing terrorists are Caucasian males. But the location of this attack suggests to me more likely on the jihadist side simply because right wing terrorists don't try to do mass casualty attacks in places like Times Square where as al Qaeda and groups like it have had a long history of that.

KING: So define (ph) for someone watching out there that says Peter Bergen says jihadist type. The mayor tonight saying he doesn't see any evidence of an al Qaeda connection.

At these early hours, 24 hours after the attack, you say jihadist people out there might think international terrorist organization; not necessarily. Maybe inspired by.

BERGEN: Well, it's interesting, they're looking in Pennsylvania. We had a case of a female Caucasian by the (INAUDIBLE) the handle, Jihad Jane. She was in her late 40s. She went -- traveled to Europe is the allegation to try to kill a Swedish cartoonist who painted an offensive cartoon.

So, you know, is there a connection? I don't know. But the fact that there are Caucasian people in this country who are inspired by these ideas, you've got -- they're converts to Islam. That's fairly routine.

KING: And when you hear the eyewitness accounts there about they heard explosions, but obviously it did not fully explode. It was not a fire bomb. It was not a very highly explosive device. Maybe had the potential to be so.

Is there anything from -- does that tell you anything about, we know certain groups? We know certain things. We know certainly technologies that are available if you look on the Internet to try to find. Does that tell you anything or is this device almost predictable?

BERGEN: Well, the first thing is when people say it's amateurish. It's only amateurish when it doesn't go off successfully. But had it gone off successfully, it wouldn't be amateurish. It's very hard to build a fuel-air (ph) explosive which is what this guy was trying to do.

On the other hand, we have seen this in al Qaeda attacks. It's sort of a homage to the Iraqi insurgency, what the U.S. Military calls VEBIs (ph) or vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. Fancy word for saying a car bomb.

We saw this in 2007 in London and Glasgow. As Fran Townsend pointed out earlier, those weren't successful. But it's a very similar modus operandi. It's not something that we have seen typically from other terrorist groups.

KING: So connect the dots from out there. We know the NYPD is taking the lead. The FBI is involved, the joint terrorism task force. But a whole lot of people whose names we will never hear in the public discussion of this investigation are now looking at every little bit that they can, help people understand how after something like this, when you want to rule out is it international, is it just domestic home grown. Who is involved in those conversations and how does that business go about?

BERGEN: Well, I guess, you know, you have the National Counter Terrorism Center which brings together everybody on brief to the National Security Agency. The Central Intelligence Agency, they are linked (INAUDIBLE) all the joint terrorism task forces around the country.

And I think, you know what thing that Press Secretary Chertoff said to you earlier in the program John, I think is very important is the message going out to other police departments saying look out for this kind -- in the London case, there was another attack just two days later in Glasgow. So you'd be wanting to look for other kinds of attacks similar to this over the next 48 hours.

KING: And I want to come back to the point just so people understand this. When people say they are looking for a, white male who, in the surveillance video they believe was looking furtively. He was in the vicinity of the vehicle obviously acting somewhat suspiciously.

Hard to imagine if you have a car where some of the VIN, the Vehicle Identification Numbers have been stripped. You have plates taken from another vehicle. You have all these explosives in the car; crude explosives, but still significant explosive. One person or is the suspicion always that someone had to be helping?

BERGEN: Oklahoma City which this has some potential parallels, too. That was at least two, arguably three people involved. This doesn't seem to me like a lone wolf. And by the way, stripping the VIN number -- the Vehicle Identification Number -- suggests a high degree of premeditation and isn't an entirely amateur thing to do.

KING: Peter Bergen, our national security analyst with us tonight. Peter thanks for your thoughts tonight.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with much more on this investigation to the attempted car bombing right in the heart of Times Square.

I'm John King, filling in for Larry King. Don't go anywhere.


KING: Our investigative correspondent Drew Griffin among those trying to find out exactly what happened in Times Square last night. That attempted car bombing. Drew, tell us what you know, the latest about tracking this license plate that was on this vehicle but apparently didn't belong to this vehicle?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's one of the first leads that we got this morning. And as Susan Candiotti has been since telling us that the VIN number has been found and apparently they do know the VIN number and the registration. But the license plate did not match the vehicle assigned to that VIN number.

We now know, according to law enforcement sources, that the license plate was taken from this -- I would call it a junk yard. We're told was an auto body shop as well. And that an F-150 pick up truck had a license plate taken off of it -- one of its plates John -- and placed on that Nissan Pathfinder before it drove into Manhattan.

Ray Kelly today said that the tag wasn't stolen because it wasn't reported stolen. But certainly, it was missing from that vehicle.

So we know that this person at least took the care to take off a license plate of his or the car he used and put on this license plate perhaps in an attempt to evade detection by those cameras that all over Manhattan and at least get a jump start on trying to get away.

KING: And are they anywhere, Drew, in trying to track out exactly, you know -- what about this vehicle, where it came from, to whom it belongs?

GRIFFIN: Well, you know, my gut reaction tonight John, is they probably know all of that. They probably have the VIN number. You can't really scrub a VIN number from a car. There's like 12 different or more VIN numbers on cars. It's what has gotten many terrorists caught in the past; Ramzi Yousef caught, Timothy McVeigh quite frankly caught.

This vehicle would have VIN numbers in other locations other than the one we're used to on the dash board. So my guess is the fact that they now say they know the VIN number, they know that this car came from the tri-state area, that they probably know to whom the car was registered to. The question is, was that person involved? Raymond Kelly said today that the car was not stolen. So you would have to at least assume the potential that the person who owns that car knew the person who drove it into Manhattan.

KING: Drew Griffin, our investigative correspondent with us tonight as we continue to try track the investigation into that attempted car bombing.

And when we come back, we go straight to the scene in Times Square. We'll also have more panel discussions as the police try to put together just what Drew was talking about.

You have a license plate from Connecticut. A car they're trying to track, we are told, investigators in the state of Pennsylvania tonight. The latest when this special two hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE returns in just a moment.


KING: We want to go quickly now to Times Square to get the latest from Mary Snow. She's been on the ground all day.

Mary, still a bustling night tonight, a pretty remarkable scene considering that 24 hours ago, the police were telling everyone to get away.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, John. And it's in stark contrast as team of some eyewitnesses on your program have been describing last night, those scenes of panic.

Take a look behind -- as you can see, Times Square is business as usual. Streets that have been frozen off to traffic and pedestrians were reopened early this morning. And tourists from all over the world have been swirling around. It's a beautiful night here in New York City.

And many of them have the same sentiment. They say, you know, people are very resilient here. They were concerned about what happened. But they are determined to go and say they cannot live in fear.

And there are more officers on the streets. The NYPD says they put more patrol officers on the street and in the subways.

You can't really see a dramatic difference though here in Times Square. And, of course, it's home to dozens of theaters. So, many don't have shows on Sunday night. But they did this afternoon. The matinees all went on as planned, and last night, the theaters were saying that some shows started late, but all went on -- John.

KING: A unique place and a remarkable city. Mary Snow on the scene for us -- Mary, thanks so much.

And so, how do police and other law enforcement organization try to piece together what happened and follow the leads of whoever takes them? A great panel to help us understand that.

Fran Townsend is, of course, the CNN national security contributor, served as homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush.

Jack Rice is a former CIA officer, criminal defense attorney and investigative journalist.

And Larry Johnson, served as deputy director of the State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism and is a former CIA officer.

Larry, let me start with you in the sense that 24, 27 hours in, the police say they don't think it's an al Qaeda connection. How do you put the pieces together to be sure?

LARRY JOHNSON, FMR. DEPUTY DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF COUNTER TERRORISM: That strikes as the incompetence, whoever assembled this, to go through the effort of getting the vehicle -- OK, they had some money there. They tried to erase the VIN number, the identification number. Sure, they are show planning, premeditation.

And then to put this Rouge Goldberg (ph) contraception together, because, candidly, it would have exploded. I don't want to really consider it a bomb.

But if they would have turned on the propane and filled the car with the gas and then managed to somehow ignite that, you would have had a fire ball inside the car, it might have broken the windows out. But you're not looking at something that was not going to be devastating.

So, what captures me is the fact that this was really so incompetent. And I'm glad they are incompetent. But it was also sort of odd that the Taliban would want to take credit for it.

Then somebody -- you know, it was a failure, guys. You are taking credit for a failure. It just sort of goes to -- you know, if that's what we are up against, thank God. It's showing that we're having some success in killing off the leadership of these Islamic jihadist groups overseas and they're competence level is going down.

KING: But does incompetent tell you anything about lone operator, angry guy, coordination, group involvement? Does it tell you anything just because it was incompetent?

JACK RICE, FMR. CIA OFFICER: Well, it might. I mean, what it can do is to show how thin they have become if they don't have a direct connection. Again, we haven't seen anything directly to Pakistan. Although this -- again, I agree with Larry, it's shocking when somebody says, oh, yes, we were responsible for something that was that incompetent.

But if you don't have good planning and good capability and good competency and good intelligence, then you get an operation like this. I mean, this was frankly pretty pitiful. I know we've been kind of building this up, but from my perspective, this was little and not much more.

KING: But, we -- I don't know if building it up is the right term -- but we've covered it aggressively because of what has happened in the past and because of the threat still out there.

But, Fran, when you hear the gentlemen talking about this, using the term "they," that is a -- even that is a bit presumptuous but it is the normal reflex in a situation like this to say "they" not he or she, for that matter.

TOWNSEND: That's right, John. And interesting enough -- I mean, I don't disagree with what Jack and Larry have said. But I will tell you, I think that's true if you judge it against an al Qaeda central leadership type of an operation about how incompetent it is, you don't want to take credit for it.

On the other hand, the most difficult kind of thing to disrupt, to detect are these lone wolves. Those who were inspired perhaps not directly commanded, but inspired by al Qaeda. And I think that's where this probably more will end up. It's not clear yet. Lots of investigating to be done.

But the only way to really get to the bottom of those sorts of lone wolves, who are inspired by al Qaeda's ideology, by their tactics, is by community-based policing. And, you know, that's a tremendous lesson learned. It's a tremendous credit to Commissioner Ray Kelly. He had this whole "see it, say it" program. The vendor who first identified the problem mentioned it. You showed that early.

This whole campaign of community policing, citizens taking responsibility, notifying police officers so that they can respond quickly and effectively, that's the success here and that's the lesson we ought to take from this disruption.

Bomber incompetent? Absolutely. But the only way you identify and thwart, disrupt successfully these sorts of attacks is by these community-based efforts.

KING: And bomber incompetent, to stick on that term, means bomber who left a lot more evidence.

JOHNSON: Sure. And, you know, it would be one thing if, you know, let's say that the fertilizer had been properly treated with fuel oil, and even then, you still need a detonator to set it off. So -- an M-88 is not significant detonator.

If they had used the traditional, you know, al Qaeda sort of -- its explosive of choice is triacetate triperoxide, TATP. And that has been found in traces even on the underwear bomber in December and the shoe bomber, Richard Reid's shoes back in 2001. So, you know, that is -- that's a highly volatile explosive. That could actually detonate even by dropping.

So, you know, there are signatures. And it just -- it strikes me as odd. You know, we could find out that what this was, some disgruntled employee at Marriott wanting to create an incident. There's really that possibility.

I don't really think we should jump to this as necessarily terrorism. It doesn't become terrorism until you got a definite political connection and you can show what it is that they were really trying to say that they are achieving other than just, you know, trying to crank off a bomb in Times Square.

RICE: But, John, I want to follow up with the point that you're making. This does make it easier because, all of a sudden, now, there may be latent prints, there maybe DNA, if there are hair samples. I mean, there are all sorts of things that you can follow up with.

If you get a massive explosion that essentially melts everything to the asphalt, all of a sudden, it makes it far more complicated to get what it is that you want. You actually have access to material. I'm a former prosecutor, so I'm thinking of it like that, too.

KING: We'll take a quick break here. We'll keep our panel with us.

And when we come back, our Susan Candiotti has new information on the investigation. We will get that and then we'll talk it over with our fabulous group.

Don't go anywhere.


KING: We have a lot of people at CNN working their sources, trying to figure out just what happened last night in Times Square. None working is harder than our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, who has more information on the investigation tonight -- Susan.

CANDIOTTI: John, here's the latest. A federal law enforcement source tells CNN that that Nissan Pathfinder that was involved in this incident was originally thought to be in Texas. That's where leads first thought of. As they looked into it further, those investigative leads indicated that the vehicle was slated to be destroyed there. It was a surplus vehicle.

However, as the investigation went on, additional leads took investigators to right here in the New York tri-state area. And that is where the investigation, of course, is continuing. So, as you can see, this investigation is reaching points far and wide.

KING: Susan Candiotti for us in Times Square -- Susan, thank you for that.

Let's get back to our panel and discuss this -- Fran Townsend, Jack Rice and Larry Johnson.

Fran, let's start with you. Does where the vehicle is from or where it was and where it is now tell you anything or just that some guy had the time to premeditate this and maybe find a car that will be a little bit more difficult to trace?

TOWNSEND: Well, it will be more interesting, John. That fact that it was scheduled to go there but didn't go is interesting. The question will be: Where, physically, did it start? Where did it -- and what's the path that was on?

They'll look at all sorts of records here in the United States. Having been a former prosecutor, they're going to look for credit card receipts, for gasoline. They'll look for tolls. They'll look for GPS, the sort of things that, you know, we use all the time. You know, it used to be paper maps, now, we have GPS, we have cell phones, we have BlackBerrys. All these things hit towers. It will tell you your location at specific times.

They will try to get all this information, John, in order to paint the picture, if you will, a chronology of where this car was in the minutes, hours and days before it ended up at 45th and Broadway.

KING: And the New York City police commissioner, Ray Kelly, says they're looking, based on the video, the first person of interest is a 40-something white man, in his 40s, seen leaving the scene, changing his clothes and looking over his shoulders, that he was worried about something. That's when the police commissioner, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, says it's an apparent one-off.

What you really make from those clues and hints?



TOWNSEND: Well, I -- you know, I actually think -- I think it's too soon for us to really tell. I mean, does it sound like it could be a one-off? Sure. You know, Larry was talking earlier about -- you know, we can't jump to the conclusion of terrorism. That's quite right.

But, of course, we can't also deny our experience. We understand al Qaeda and those who are inspired by it like iconic targets, like Times Square.

We know that in the past -- the Glasgow bombing, for example, this was al Qaeda-inspired. They use propane tanks. They've used profane tanks and things like the East Africa embassy bombings. They came up again in the 2004 financial district threats in New York.

And so, look, I don't think we know enough yet and it's too early on. The little pieces like we get from Susan Candiotti are very, very important because, ultimately, those facts will be the things that paint the picture so we understand who this was and what caused this incident to occur.

KING: Fran Townsend, Jack Rice, Larry Johnson will stay with us. We need to take a quick break here.

When we come back, we'll get a quick update on the situation down in Louisiana, the tragic oil spill. We'll get the latest from there. And then we'll continue our conversation about the investigation into last night's attempted bombing in the heart of Times Square.

Stay with us.


KING: Back to the investigation to the Times Square incident in just a minute.

But, first, another big story, of course, is breaking today. The president of the United States went down to Louisiana to view firsthand the tragic impact of the oil spill. That oil is still spewing from the well offshore.

Our Reynolds Wolf is in Venice, Louisiana, tonight to bring us the latest -- Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, when the president came here, one of the first things they greeted him with some very bad weather. Weather which is still is pretty increment for the time being, not just as the rain falls the skies above, but the conditions with the wind and its effect on the ocean. Out on the Gulf of Mexico, a very choppy conditions, which is continuing to push that oil a little bit closer to shore.

There have been reports of waves anywhere from six to 12 feet. It is really -- it's very, very rough out there to say the least.

Now, and speaking of the oil, the question is: where exactly is it? Well, there have been some reports the heavier crude is anywhere from, say, three to nine miles away from the mainland. But there have been just traces of that sheen, that thin coating of oil, reports of it, just traces making its way to some of the barrier islands.

Now, one of the newest bits of information I have for you is that the federal government has placed a 10-day, not exactly a delay, but rather restriction on fishing in the northern gulf that goes from the Mississippi River clear over to Pensacola.

Keep in mind, John, and for our viewers across America, that that is a $2.4 billion industry for this region. It's crucial for the people who work on the ocean. Certainly, a very rough condition is the last thing they needed -- John.

KING: And, Reynolds, what's the latest -- I know you were talking earlier about some of the marine life coming ashore, some of the impact already we're seeing on birds and you mentioned some sea turtles. What is the sense -- you just talked about the economic impact, the closing of those fisheries has a huge economy impact.

What about the environmental and the sea life impact?

WOLF: Well, the sea life impact is something that we've already seen. In fact, they had a Northern Gannet, that's a type of bird that actually migrates from Newfoundland into the Gulf of Mexico each year. It's a diving bird, one that drops below the surface, picks up fish. There was one that was actually rescued a few days ago. It's actually at a rescue center here in the area, expected to be rehabilitated within seven to 10 days and released farther west into the Gulf.

Recently, what happened today, there have been reports of some 20 different instances of turtles -- 20 turtles altogether along the Gulf Coast, mainly into Mississippi, that were actually found dead right along the surf. Some of them were actually Kemp's ridley turtles. Those are endangered turtles.

I'm not exactly sure if their death is a direct cause or link to the oil, but it's a possibility that they ate fish that had been swimming through the oil. We'll find out with an investigation in a couple of days.

Right now, at my absolute back or to our back, a few miles southward, we have the Delta National Wildlife Refuge. It's home to some 400 species of endangered or protective animals and they're really going to be susceptible to that oil when it comes closer -- so, too, a lot of those grasses. A long term exposure can kill the roots of some of the grasses. And when that happens, these islands can virtually fall apart -- John.

KING: I flew over that area -- just a few months back, I flew over that area in a helicopter. It's beautiful. It's critical both from an environmental standpoint and also to protect that coast from hurricanes and the like. It's a tragedy.

Reynolds Wolf on the scene for us. We'll continue to follow this in the days ahead.

And I go back to break. When we come back, we'll have the latest on the Times Square investigation.

And we should remind you, tomorrow on "JOHN KING, USA," we'll also have the latest on both stories, the investigation into the Times Square attempted bombing and the continuing coverage and the continuing spilling of oil into the Persian Gulf. We'll be back in just a second.

Gulf of Mexico, excuse me.


KING: Among the many heroes tonight, a little more than 24 hours after, someone attempted to blow up a car in the heart of Times Square, a 19-year veteran of the New York City Police Department. He's a mountie.

Wayne Rhatigan was there last night when a vendor, a Vietnam veteran ran up to him and said he heard an explosion, saw some smoke and some popping from a car. Wayne Rhatigan dismounted his horse, and with the help of other officers, quickly got the crowds to move, emptied the theaters, got everybody pushed back to a safe distance.

But if you listen to Wayne Rhatigan right here, he's a humble hero.


WAYNE RHATIGAN, NYPD HERO OFFICER, CLEARED TIMES SQUARE: When I saw the car running, you know, that was and I interview -- as I was by the car, I asked a couple of vendors, "Is this your guy's car?" And they were like, "No, we don't know whose this is." And I looked back and I saw, you know, the ignition running and the hazard lights on, and it was kind of parked haphazardly. I thought, uh-oh, this is, you know, this is a little bit more than just, you know, a parked car, like, you know, a cigarette in the ashtray.

And like I said, it was emitting smoke from the rear quarter panels and it just reeked of gun powder.


KING: Long night in Times Square. Still, he made his daughter's La Crosse game today. He's the coach and gets dinner with the New York City mayor tonight, Wayne Rhatigan.

Let's get back to our panel, Fran Townsend, Jack Rice and Larry Johnson.

You see a cop like that that's just a hero. And he notices right away details -- the ignition's running, it's parked sort of haphazardly.

How do you start in the first 24 hours -- Larry, we'll start with you -- to take, here's what we know so far, and I assume you put up a map, you connect your dots, you try to go from there. What are you looking for now?

JOHNSON: They're going to look for the unexpected. I mean, they don't start -- they start with some assumptions in terms of how people think and act, but they push beyond that. You know, the thing -- the nice thing about New York City, probably more so than any other city in the United States, is they've had a long record of doing terrorism drills and exercises, and they've integrated it down to both the police and the fire department.

And, in fact, I was involved with one back in 1996. So, you know, they've worked at it for a while and it becomes second nature. This is not -- they don't have to learn this. They don't start assuming this is terrorism or not terrorism. It's just -- we're going to go with the facts and let the facts take us where they will.

KING: And, Fran, they most likely know a whole lot more than they're telling us they know right now.

TOWNSEND: That's right. And as Larry and Jack both know, what they'll be doing is focusing to make sure, was there any foreign intelligence that is overseas, information, surveillance, CIA information?

But right now, they're focused on what they do know as well. They're really focusing on the car, as Susan Candiotti mentioned. They're looking at surveillance tapes. They're looking at physical evidence.

They're going over that car with a fine-toothed comb for DNA, fingerprints -- anything that will lead them to that driver. That's -- the real -- the critical issue right now is identifying and locating the driver of that vehicle.

KING: And we live in a world where many people, sadly, to some extent, but understandably, to another extent, when they hear an attempted bombing in New York City, your reflex is to worry about terrorism and your reflex might also be to do something that is dangerous, and sometimes irresponsible. And that's profiling -- thinking it might be something. You might think, are you looking for an Islamic terrorist, are you looking for this.

The police tonight are saying that they're looking first, at least, for a white male, roughly 40s.

RICE: Well, that's logical. I mean, based upon the information that we have before us. What I really like here is there are two tracks going at the same time. You have the police who are doing what police do and they're reaching out nationally, so they're grabbing everything they can, including potentially video. They're reaching out past Philly, trying to grab more there. If there are eyewitnesses, let's go down that path.

And then on the international side, they're trying to reach out to see -- is there anybody else reaching back? Is there somebody from here reaching out? So, you can grab both directions at the same time. And both are key, because if you can grab both, you may be able to make this not just a lone wolf, there may be two, three, five, 10 -- think Abdulmutallab, all of a sudden we're looking at Yemen, we're looking at other parts of Africa, too.

So, it's not necessarily that, but at least you go down the path quickly and as fast as you can.

KING: And, Fran, one of the question's that's always asked is the coordination. In the past, some investigations go very well. Others you have questions about whether the left hand is talking to the right hand, whether the state is talking to the federal.

Do you have any questions tonight? Or have you seen anything in the last 24 hours that would make you say, maybe there's a problem here?

TOWNSEND: You know, interestingly, John, normally you begin to hear this almost immediately that there is criticism back and forth. I will tell you -- I spoke both to a very senior federal counterterrorism official, who's directly involved in the investigation, and to a very senior New York City Police Department official, also directly involved, and both said, unprompted, how well they were working together, sharing information.

It's clear the NYPD's got the lead here and the feds are in support. The president set that tone from the top and it's clear that it's working really well. I mean, this may be -- this may turn out to be a good example of how they should be working together on these sorts of cases.

KING: And, Larry, you've worked in counterterrorism. You're a CIA officer. Play big cop for me.

Based on all the information you've heard from our reporters about what they know from the investigation and from the police so far, sort of what would you be looking at if you had your notes spread out on your desk right now -- what's your question?

JOHNSON: I would say, which tollbooth did he get into New York City from, you know? Did he come from New Jersey? Or did he come from Connecticut? Where'd he come from?

It is -- it's fascinating that you've now got -- an eyewitness wants the fire department and police department on a raging battle over who is in charge in their counterterrorism exercise and an FBI guy walked through the door, they stopped, and they both began attacking him. So, that's when you know that New York's back to normal.


KING: I want to thank Fran Townsend, Jack Rice and Larry Johnston. We'll end on a positive note with the coordination. I thank you all for joining us and helping us understand because we have a lot more questions than answers, as you always do 24 hours after one of these things. And we'll continue to track it.

And Larry will be right back tomorrow night with the very latest on this story and on the oil spill in the Gulf and we'll be staying with it all day long and join us at "JOHN KING, USA" at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, of course. And we'll continue to update this on both of these stories and all other developing stories.

I'm John King, filling in for Larry tonight. Stay tuned for more news on CNN right now.