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Three Shot Near Oregon High School; U.S. May Have Helped Create ISIS; Interview with Josh Earnest; Hollywood Secrets Leaked in Hacking Incident; Rare Storm Pounds California

Aired December 12, 2014 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, we're following the breaking news.

School shooting -- three people shot near a high school in Portland, Oregon. Nearby schools, they're put on a lockdown as police search for the suspect. New details coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

Jihadi breeding ground -- details of the ISIS leader, once an inmate at a U.S. prison camp in Iraq, where he was allowed to roam freely.

Did American forces inadvertently allow the creation of ISIS?

Mudslide disaster -- walls of rock and dirt engulf homes, as one of the most powerful storms in California in years barrels across the state.

And is more rain now on the way?

Week of outrage -- nationwide protests about excessive police force culminate this weekend with massive marches planned in New York and right here in the nation's capital.

Will President Obama join the thousands of people coming to Washington?

I'll ask his press secretary, Josh Earnest, who joins me live this hour.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: But let's follow the breaking news right now, including the frightening situation in Portland, Oregon -- a school shooting, three victims. It prompted a lockdown, as police looked for the suspect or suspects.

We're covering the breaking news, much more this hour with our correspondents and our guests.

Let's begin with our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown.

She's got the very latest on the breaking news on this shooting near the school in Portland -- Pamela, what are you finding out?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know it is a very active scene there. And the investigation is just beginning here, Wolf, in this shooting situation at this Portland, Oregon high school, Rosemary Anderson High School.

Earlier today, right outside of school campus, there was a shooting. Three students were shot. We've learned that right after that, they ran into the school and they were immediately transported to the hospital.

What is so unnerving right now is that there is no indication from authorities there that the gunman or men have been found. So it is still active.

There is a manhunt underway. We know ATF agents, FBI on the scene assisting local authorities there. But it's very concerning in the wake of all these other school shootings that we've seen in recent years and around the two year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Wolf, you can imagine this is very concerning, causing a lot of panic there in Portland this afternoon, as parents go to pick up their children at the high school.

But again, I want to emphasize this shooting happened right outside of the school campus, not on the actual school property, like we've seen in other school shootings in recent past -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Hold on for a moment, Pamela, because our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is with us, as well -- Evan, you're getting more information?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Wolf. We know that the FBI and the ATF are on the scene. And they're there to assist the local authorities. We still don't know exactly what happened here. We don't know whether this was something that was related to a beef outside of this school or whether it was actually school-related.

We know that these three teenagers ran to the school after they were shot and they were picked up by the fire department there. And so tat's one reason why, initially, they thought it was an active shooting incident. And, obviously, the local cops know -- have got a lot of training on these issues. We know that the FBI and the ATF typically go to the scene of these shootings, Wolf, because they have so much experience, sadly, with many of these. A hundred and sixty of these incidents have happened between 2000 and 2013. Typically, they're over in minutes.

And in this case, we know that the suspect made his getaway. And now they're looking for the suspect -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, I want you to hold on, too.

Pamela, hold on.

Evan Perez, hold on.

Joining us on the phone right now is Sergeant Pete Simpson of the Portland, Oregon, Police Department.

Sergeant, give us the information.

What do we know right now about what happened?

SGT. PETE SIMPSON, PORTLAND OREGON POLICE: Well, preliminarily, we have information that a shooter may have been with a group of people and left the area after the shooting occurred outside the school. The victims ran into the school to receive help and officers responded.

Initially, it was sounding like an active shooter. But when officers got here and started talking with witnesses, they went into the school immediately, learned that the shooting was outside, was not an active shooter in the school and the shooter had left the area.

Right now, we've got investigative resources focusing on just the suspect information that we do have, which is limited. We have detectives here at the scene processing the crime scene. We have officers at the hospital with the victims. And we're working with school staff and parents to make sure everyone gets reunited.

BLITZER: What do you -- what do we know about the suspect, the shooter, in this particular case?

Is there a description?

SIMPSON: There's very limited information at this point. The investigators have relayed to me that based on what they're being told, they believe the shooter may be a gang affiliate. It is not clear that the shooting was motivated by gang activity or if it was a personal beef. But they are working to shore that up with investigative resources, including the FBI and ATF, which have responded here to assist us. They do work very closely with our gun task force and our gang units.

BLITZER: So just to be precise, the shooter in this particular case remains at large, presumably with a weapon and ammunition, right?

SIMPSON: He is at large, presumably with his gun, unknown, you know, at this point what type of gun that was or what, you know, what his resources are. But based on our best assessment, he is no longer in this area. We have made the scene safe. And it's a multi-school complex, so we're working with all the schools to make sure students get home safely.

BLITZER: Did you have a chance to question the three students who were hit -- shot by this guy?

SIMPSON: Well, all three were talking and conscious at the scene. I don't know to what extent they were able to provide any information. Officers went with them to the hospital, which is within a mile or two of the shooting scene. And they're all being treated there for gunshot wounds. So at this point, I don't know that they've been able to provide much information to the officers.

BLITZER: And what are their conditions, do we know, the three students who are now in the hospital?

SIMPSON: I don't have any updates other than they're both -- that all three of them are being treated for gunshot wounds, all traumatic injuries. They were conscious and alert at the scene, which is always a good sign. Certainly with gunshot wounds, we -- we get concerned about how that, you know, takes a turn at the hospital. But Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center is our main trauma hospital, one of the main trauma hospitals in Portland, and it is very close by.

BLITZER: Evan Perez, Sergeant, our justice reporter, he has a question for you?


PEREZ: Sergeant, we're told by sources that the gang task force has now been brought into this investigation, which suggests that they believe, perhaps, this might be gang-related.

Can you tell us anything about that?

SIMPSON: Yes. The gang enforcement team and the gun task force are here. They were some of the first responders to the area. Their offices are actually not far away. And so they are working with detectives on this case.

As I said, the preliminary information indicates the shooter and/or group of people he may have been with are gang affiliated. It's unclear whether or not that has something to do with the shooting or if this was over a personal issue that's not gang affiliated.

BLITZER: The school, Sergeant, the Rosemary -- Anderson High School, it serves what are described as "at risk students who have been unsuccessful in traditional high schools."

So tell us a little bit about the kids who are in this school.

SIMPSON: Yes, Rosemary Anderson is an alternative school in Portland. I don't know a lot about it, but a lot of the kids that are there struggled in a more traditional setting in public school and have gone to Rosemary Anderson. Right next to it is another school called PLIC. And then Jefferson High School, which is a Portland public school, is a block away. And all of it is sort of surrounded by Portland Community College. So there's a lot of kids and students in this area.

BLITZER: I know the investigation is only just beginning, but is the initial suspicion that the three students who were shot and are now being treated at local hospitals, that those three students were specifically targeted, or just happened to be there in the wrong place?

SIMPSON: At this point, we don't know that. That's what we're trying to get to the bottom of. You know, our primary focus here was to make sure everyone was safe, look for a shooter. And in one step, those two missions were accomplished and we shift to the investigative model.

BLITZER: So there's obviously a lot of information that's only just beginning. But clearly, if there's a shooter, an active shooter at large right now, what are you doing about that?

Are people being told stay indoors?

Are they being told be on the lookout?

What kind of advice are you giving people in Portland?

SIMPSON: Well, our information at this point, although it's limited, is that the shooter left the area. And so we have investigative resources focusing just on that information alone. You know, this was pretty much contained to a street outside the school. We have no additional reports of anything after that. And we do have a lot of resources dedicated to the entire investigation.

BLITZER: So there's a major manhunt underway right now. But it's going to be getting dark pretty soon out there.

That could complicate the search for this suspect, right?

SIMPSON: Probably not for what we're doing right now. It's -- we can operate after dark if we need that. You know, we're not going a block to block search. Our information indicates that that would not be productive at this point. But we do have the ability to do that if need be.

The weather here is clear and quite warm, so it won't be an issue after dark. And, you know, we have -- we have our best folks on this from all three precincts -- detectives, gang task force, gun enforcement and our federal partners.

BLITZER: And but do you have a description -- a good description of the shooter?

SIMPSON: I don't have that right now. I'm working to get some more information for investigators that they can share publicly. Obviously, we have a lot of information coming in. We need to clarify before we give out, you know, information that may not be correct.

BLITZER: Sergeant, I don't know if you can hold on with us. I want to quickly just listen in. A friend of one of the victims is speaking to a reporter from our affiliate, KOIN.

Let's listen in for a moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have multiple children who are focused on getting an education and feeling safe. This is also a disruption to that. So the concern is it's not just the shooting itself. The shooting is traumatic, traumatic to the residents, traumatic to the children, even the young adults who attend PCC. But I don't have any personal opinion other than the fact that being a resident, it's heartbreaking that we will have to look on and continue to see our youth in jeopardy of such an event.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us about the student.

How's he doing?

What are you hearing and what's (INAUDIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, all I've heard so far is that everyone is going to be OK. And that's physically. In these events, I'm not quite sure. I've never had to experience of being shot myself. But I would venture to say that it's going to be very emotionally traumatic in recovery, as well as to live with it for the rest of their lives, that it could have been possibly their life that could have been taken.

So I believe that's probably the most impactful thing right at this time, considering that everyone is all right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, and what does the community need to do?

Because we've had a lot of kids out here that witnessed something horrible.

I mean what do we need to do to support them now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what we're doing right now is what we need to do, is band together for factual information that is not too alarming -- or alarming enough to make people move, to get involved with educating their kids, educating even adults who have kids about how to avoid these certain types of activities that are not helpful to the furtherance -- the positive furtherance of the community.

And so I believe the community is responsible for the good and the bad, because it takes a community -- those that live in the community to do bad and it takes those who live in the community to do good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us about this kid.

What -- can you give us his name and tell me what's he like?

Was he a good student, he goes to church?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the young man that I know, his name is Ray. And he is a young man who is, according to my relationship with him and conversations, he's a good kid, have good and positive opportunities for his life. He has aspirations and dreams. He is -- he is with purpose. He is spiritually and mentally sound-minded. He's, like I said, my pastor is B.E. Johnson from Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ. And under his tutelage, I'm sure he also feels that he has a safe haven to find refuge with this church and the people who are there, his family, basically.


BLITZER: All right, so there you have -- you had a little description of what's going on from a friend of one of the victims. Sergeant Pete Simpson of the Portland Police Department is still on the phone with us.

Sergeant, I don't know if you want to -- if you got any insight from what's going on from what we just heard from that friend of one of the victims.

But if you want to weigh in, go ahead.

SIMPSON: Well, I think what he -- what he hit on was very important, that, you know, the community here is affected (INAUDIBLE) community and all of our community partners are here. The Portland Police Bureau has a very strong connection to some community groups in this area and folks are here. We're working with them. We're sharing what information we do have, because this will -- it does and it will impact the community as a whole. This is a tight-knit neighborhood, you know, a lot of folks who are upset right now.

BLITZER: Totally understandably, as well.

Sergeant Pete Simpson of the Portland, Oregon Police Department.

Thanks very much.

We'll, of course, stay on top of this story and stay in close touch with you and your colleagues.

Once again, a shooting near a school -- the high school, the Rosemary Anderson High School in North Portland, Oregon.

Three students now in hospital. Hopefully, they're going to be OK. The suspect, though, armed, dangerous, clearly on the loose, a massive manhunt underway in Portland right now.

And we'll get back to this story.

But there's other important news we're following in THE SITUATION ROOM, including this -- did American forces inadvertently allow the creation of ISIS?

We have new information on how the ISIS movement was allowed to actually roam freely at a U.S. prison camp.

Mud slides, flooding and tens of thousands of people now without power. We're going live to California for the latest on one of the most powerful storms to hit that state in years.



BLITZER: Now to the U.S.-led war against ISIS. We're learning new information about how the U.S. may have actually played a surprising and accidental role in the terror group's formation inside Iraq.

CNN's Brian Todd is here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM, he's got details.

What are you finding out, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we knew that Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi had been in a U.S.-run prison camp in Iraq. But tonight jarring new information indicating that America may have been inadvertently cultivating the creation of ISIS by letting Baghdadi and others have a free hand in that camp.


TODD (voice-over): He may be the most vicious terrorist leader in recent years, possibly more brutal than bin Laden. Tonight, a former inmate at a U.S.-run prison camp in Iraq says ISIS leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, the man behind scores of ISIS beheadings, was once a trusted inmate by his American captors, allowed to roam freely around the camp.

MARTIN CHULOV, CORRESPONDENT, THE GUARDIAN: The Americans seemed to see Abu Bakr is somebody who could keep the prison quiet. There are 24 camps within the Sunni side of Camp Bucca. He was allowed open access to all of them.

TODD: "Guardian" Reporter Martin Chulov interviewed a senior ISIS commander. He calls Abu Ahmed, not his real name. Abu Ahmed says he spent time at Camp Bucca with Baghdadi, starting in 2004. He told Chulov, Baghdadi was a fixer at the camp who could settle disputes between competing factions. Quote, "He was respected very much by the U.S. Army."

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, he said, was seen by other detainees as clever, scheming, quote, "using a policy of conquer and divide to get what he wanted." A U.S. intelligence official tells us Baghdadi built street cred inside Bucca. Abu Ahmed said Baghdadi and other Jihadists at this American prison were not always segregated, essentially allowed to meet freely to plot and they had an ingenious way of communicating.

CHULOV: Him and others were able to write their contact details on the wide elastic of their boxer shorts, that prison issued boxer shorts. And that was a way they networked. And when they got out of prison, they had phone numbers. They had details of fathers, villages, uncles, whatever.

TODD: Abu Ahmed depicted Camp Bucca as the incubator of ISIS, saying, it was a management school for ISIS leaders. Quote, "If there was no American prison in Iraq, there would be no Islamic State now."

PATRICK SKINNER, THE SOUFAN GROUP DIRECTOR: Most of the senior leadership and probably a good portion of the mid-level management and foot soldiers came from Bucca. Because, you know, tens of thousands of people were held in Bucca over the years. And so just -- when they got out, they had little to do and they had these established networks. And it's clear that they had done their homework in the prison.

TODD: And as he left, according to a former camp commander, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had a chilling parting shot.

KENNETH KING, FORMER COMMANDER OF CAMP BUCCA: He looked over to us and as he left, he said, "See you guys in New York."


TODD: Responding to the accounts that Camp Bucca was a breeding ground for ISIS where Jihadists could strategize, a Pentagon official told CNN, quote, "These type of detentions are common practice during armed conflict."

Analyst Patrick Skinner said at Camp Bucca, U.S. commanders tried to separate the most violent and hardcore inmates but he said Bucca was packed with detainees. The army was short-staffed and no one at the time thought Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would go on to do what he's doing now. A U.S. intelligence official tells us Camp Bucca was not a turning point for Baghdadi.

Wolf, a very disturbing information.

BLITZER: The militant who did speak to "The Guardian" newspaper --

TODD: Yes.

BLITZER: -- suggested that there was, what, a chilling comparison between Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other terrorists out there?

TODD: It's incredible really. You know there were two leaders of this broader terrorist group before Baghdadi. There was Abu Musab al- Zarqawi who you remember, the brutal terrorist leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. After he was killed, there was one other one named Abu Omar al- Baghdadi, who his jihadists described as ruthless.

But he said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, this current leader of ISIS was, quote, "The most bloodthirsty of them all." When you're comparing him that way to those two guys, that says something.

BLITZER: All right, Brian. Thanks very much.

Let's talk about all of this and more. The former CIA operations officer, Glenn Carle, is joining us.

Glenn, what do you make of this? You had a top position in the intelligence community for many years. You oversaw terrorism analysis.

This notion that a guy like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, roaming around freely at Camp Bucca before he was eventually released by U.S. military personnel, it's pretty stunning.

GLENN CARLE, FORMER CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: Well, we looked, of course, really hard at trying to develop a profile, who would become a terrorist, a jihadist. And I think we have a pretty good handle on the dynamic. And the dynamic is it's less -- ideology is almost secondary. It's finding a charismatic individual who can act almost like a father figure, frequently would be the captain of a soccer team, and that's not a joke, who could inspire others to say, hey, you have to think about this, you can't just play games.

So in a prison context, which is quite constrained and yet allowing social interaction, it doesn't surprise me that that would happen. I don't think that one could have foreseen at the time -- I don't hold the officers who are in charge of the camp -- the kind of the description that you're calling me, that the resources were thin and the numbers of prisoners were huge, would pose daunting problems to be on top of things.

BLITZER: And there's notion that he was actually trusted inside this prison by the U.S. prison guards. What do you make of that?

CARLE: Well, that doesn't surprise me because he's probably a charismatic figure who had authority within the people that -- that were troublemakers or problems, or people we wish to watch over. So it sort of fits the description that we -- chilling description that we just heard that he'd be more bloodthirsty than Zarqawi, almost hard to imagine since Zarqawi was a murderous psychopath. I think he's substantially more intelligent than Zarqawi, which would make him a lot more dangerous, certainly.

BLITZER: And those final words he said to that U.S. prison guard as he was leaving Camp Bucca, he says, I'll see you in New York. And that sounds pretty chilling knowing what happened on 9/11 in New York.

CARLE: Yes, well, I mean that's a bit of bravado. I'd sure he would be happy to strike against the United States but that's a little bit of chest-beating not to be discounted. We need to do more than pay attention to this fellow now. But he's a -- I'm more concerned by his organizational skills and his actions with the people in Syria for now than about plotting against the U.S. homeland.

BLITZER: Yes. And a lot of U.S. analysts are. They worry about what he can do in Syria and Iraq not necessarily at least in the short term what he could do against the United States.

Glenn Carle, we'll continue our conversations.

CARLE: Right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

Coming up, after weeks of protests, thousands of demonstrators, they'll be here on the streets of Washington, D.C. tomorrow for an awesome to be part of a nationwide march to protest police tactics.

Here's a question, will President Obama join the march there in Washington? We'll ask his press secretary. That's coming up.


BLITZER: There's some nail-biting drama still under way up on Capitol Hill. We're still waiting to see if the Senate will pass the spending bill approved by the House of Representatives, narrowly averting a government shutdown.

Let's go to our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, on Capitol Hill.

Where does it stand, Dana, right now?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We still have no idea how or when this movie ends, Wolf. What is going on is you still have in the Senate the Democratic leadership, the Republican leadership, of course, and the White House wanting to get this so- called Cromnibus, this very large $1.1 trillion bill passed so that they can all go home. But you're having still problems with both wings of both parties.

You have Elizabeth Warren on the left, you have Ted Cruz and others on the right. Both trying to slow down this train because of their concerns, in some ways they have similar concerns. In other ways, they have different concerns.

Now we've seen this dynamic over the past several years from Republicans. But it is a relatively new thing for Democrats. And right now, what Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, is trying to do is give Elizabeth Warren a little bit of space, hoping that she comes around and allows them to vote. The assumption is that when they take that vote, it will pass. But they're still not sure -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Do they need 51 or do they need 60?

BASH: Probably 60. But that is one of the things that they have to work out but usually these days it's 60 to pass.

BLITZER: All right. Dana, thanks very much.

Let's go to the White House right now. The press secretary, Josh Earnest, is standing by. How does it look from your perspective? Will the president get what he wants, namely legislation, to avert a government shutdown despite what some of his close allies up on Capitol Hill, Democrats, are trying to do?

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Wolf, we feel confident this bill is going to pass with bipartisan support in the same way it passed the house. It may be -- it may be a little close. But we certainly believe that Democrats and Republicans can get together around some core ideas. I think the most important one is that we've got to keep the government open. We shouldn't be shutting down the government.

Our economy over the last few months has shown some real resiliency. And the last thing we need to is add some headwinds to our economy that emanate from Capitol Hill. So we need Congress to fulfill their responsibility and pass a full-year budget for the government. And that's what the House did that last night. We're hopeful that the Senate will do it in the next couple of days here.

The measure also includes important funding for -- as the president talked about our earlier today, about our efforts to take on the fight against ISIL, that if we want to degrade and destroy ISIL we need funding for our men and women in uniform. This includes important funding for Ebola, that if we're going to stop this outbreak in its tracks in West Africa and eliminate the risks to the American people from the Ebola virus, that we need to make sure that we're making those investments up front and ensuring that we have our readiness in place here at home to deal with an outbreak as well.

BURNETT: So what do you say to Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren who hates this because she says it provides a windfall to Wall Street, to the big banks out there, that if there's another financial disaster, the American taxpayers are going to be stuck with bailing them out. And she's leading the fight among the Democrats to block it.

EARNEST: Well, Wolf, she's concerned about one specific provision in the bill that would water down one regulation related to Wall Street reform.

I'll be honest with you. Wolf. The president doesn't support that provision at all. He thinks it's a bad idea and opposed that bill when it tried to move in the (INAUDIBLE) and proposal in the House. But the fact of the matter is this is a compromised proposal. And the element of -- the essence of a compromise is essentially that we're going to have to support a piece of legislation in which some Republicans get some things that they want and Democrats get some things that they want.

And that means we're not going to like every single measure in the bill. The bill would look a lot different if the president himself had written it. But the fact that we're going to have to compromise here means we're going to have to be accepting of legislation that includes some elements that we don't like.

But as I was talking about earlier in terms of funding for Ebola and ISIL, funding for education and the climate, there's -- you know, Republicans have targeted this bill as an opportunity to try to gut the president's ability to implement the Affordable Care Act and to implement his executive actions on immigration reform. They weren't able to get any of those things in the bill. So there's a lot in here for Democrats to like even if we don't like every single thing.

BLITZER: While I have you, will the president participate in what's called that Justice for All march scheduled to take place here in Washington tomorrow?

EARNEST: No, Wolf, the president doesn't have any events on his public schedule tomorrow. I don't anticipate that he will.

BLITZER: All right. And what -- and quickly, they passed also in the Senate this Death in Custody Act, this bipartisan piece of legislation that requires states to report to the federal government the total number of people who die during arrests -- people who die while in custody. I know the NAACP happen to be speaking with the president, Cornell Brooks, in the next hour. They want the president to sign this. Will he?

EARNEST: Well, Wolf, we're going to still take a look at this piece of legislation. One of the things that the president has talked about in terms of steps that we can take and reforms that we can implement to improve trust between local law enforcement and some of the -- some of the local communities that they're sworn to serve and protect is to increase transparency. And there are a variety of ways to do that.

It sounds like this piece of legislation would be one way to do that. But we're going to reserve judgment on this legislation until we've had a chance to study it more carefully.

BLITZER: All right. Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, thanks very much for joining us.

EARNEST: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Up next, devastating landslides and evacuations. We'll have the latest on the California storms.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news out in California. Ferocious storms triggering mud slides and flooding, sparking some dramatic rescues.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is joining us now. He's on the scene in Camarillo Springs.

It looks pretty awful, Paul. Tell us what's going on.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Wolf, I'm standing on what I estimate to be about 12 feet high worth of debris and rock. And these residents here in Camarillo Springs are going to need months just to dig out from the aftermath of this massive rock slide.


VERCAMMEN (voice-over): Tonight millions of Americans are still being slammed by this powerful storm. The rare California rainmaker triggering evacuations and flooding.

In Camarillo Springs, houses swallowed by mud and rock, at least 10 homes have been red-tagged, meaning they're now uninhabitable. Some homeowners heard rumbling. But it wasn't thunder. It was tons of rock cascading down the hill onto their homes.

MIKE LINDBERY, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: They have a lot of rock to move here. It's almost like a quarry. It's just amazing to look at.

VERCAMMEN: And in downtown L.A., firefighters rescue a man from the raging Los Angeles river.

It has been a week of devastation. The storm starting in the northwest and barreling down the coast. In Washington state, residents raced to save their belongings as their homes fell into the ocean. STAN SABRE, LOST HOME: This was wind-driven waves over the top of my

deck. Wiped everything out.

VERCAMMEN: And in Oregon, record-breaking winds destroyed houses while falling trees killed at least two people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like being in a tornado. It was such a big piece of metal, and it was going so fast, I thought, you know, this may be the last moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like this before. It's pretty unbelievable.

VERCAMMEN: From the San Francisco Bay to nearby wine country, even more flooding.

In the Sierra Nevada, snow and hurricane-strength gusts in excess of 130 miles per hour. Tonight the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning with up to three feet of snow predicted.


VERCAMMEN: And back here live in Camarillo Springs, there were 125 houses evacuated. The mandatory evacuations have been lifted. But it's hard to imagine that anybody would voluntarily come back to some of the homes such as this one buried up to their roofs.

Back to you now, Wolf.

BLITZER: What an awful, awful picture, Paul Vercammen. Thank you very much for that report.

Up next, is North Korea behind the computer attack that leaked a movie studio's secrets onto the Internet, including a studio executive's e- mail calling a superstar actress, and I'm quoting now, a spoiled brat?


BLITZER: Scandalous e-mail from some of Hollywood's top moviemakers, going viral on the Internet but embarrassing e-mail only part of what's been stolen in a devastating computer attack that may, repeat may be connected to North Korea.

Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown has details.


SETH ROGEN, ACTOR, "THE INTERVIEW": You want us to kill the leader of North Korea?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: With Sony's movie about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un just days from opening --

JAMES FRANCO, ACTOR, "THE INTERVIEW": President Kim Jong-Un. BROWN: Sony exec Amy Pascal was talking publicly for the first time

since the hackers, suspected of being North Korean, broke into the studio's computer system and published millions of confidential and embarrassing e-mails. Some of which bash A-listers like Angeline Jolie for being a, quote, "minimally talented spoiled brat." Just days after that e-mail exchange surfaces between Sony exec Amy Pascal and Hollywood producers Scott Rudin, Pascal is seen here at an L.A. event receiving a seemingly frosty reception from Jolie.

Pascal told, "I am mostly disappointed in myself. That is the element of this that has been most painful for me. I don't want to be defined by these e-mails after a 30-year career." And one e-mail to mega producer Scott Rudin, Pascal, a big fundraiser for President Obama insinuates Obama only likes films with African- American actors like "Django Unchained." Pascal told, "I'm embarrassed, deeply." Today, the White House confirmed Pascal and Rudin have apologized.

EARNEST: I think that a lot of people who read those e-mails, maybe not everybody, but I think a lot of people, cringed a little bit when they're reading them.

BROWN: But much more damaging that the juicy Tinseltown e-mails, the hackers have also published the medical records of Sony employees and their spouses, even their children.

KEVIN MITNICK, MITNICKSECURITY.COM: Twenty years ago, I was the world's most wanted hacker. I was an FBI fugitive for a number of years.

BROWN: Kevin Mitnick is still hacking but now he's doing it to help companies test their security.

MITNICK: It's like Pablo Escobar become a pharmacist.

BROWN: Mitnick said this was no snatch and grab job by the Sony hackers.

MITNICK: They spent a lot of time doing what they call information reconnaissance to attack Sony. So it's really not that difficult for hackers to break in, but what's interesting about Sony is the amount of information they were able to steal right from under their nose.


BROWN: The FBI is still investigating the extent of the damage in the hack. Meantime, Wolf, I'm told by a Sony spokesperson that this has been a gross invasion of privacy to the employees there from entry level on up.

BLITZER: Pamela Brown, thanks very much.

Let's get some more now on this investigation here in THE SITUATION ROOM. With me is John Carlin, he's the assistant attorney general for national security.

John, thanks very much for coming in. I assume North Korea is the main suspicion. Is that true?

JOHN CARLIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Well, Wolf, thank you for having me here tonight. This is an ongoing investigation and a fast-moving one, so I'm limited on what I can say about the investigation itself. But one thing I would like to say is that from the beginning, Sony has been a great partner in the investigation. They reported this incident within hours. They worked as a partner with the FBI.

As we seek day in and day out agents across the country and prosecutors looking to find who's responsible for this.

BLITZER: How close are you to finding the person or persons or the country or whoever is responsible?

CARLIN: It's like putting a puzzle together. We have a lot of pieces of the puzzle now. And people are working day in and day out so that we can find and say who did this act and find the bad actor.

BLITZER: Is there a problem that the Sony computer system had that made them so vulnerable?

CARLIN: This is a sophisticated attack. And as we heard from the FBI just yesterday in the investigation of this is an attack, this is an attack that over 90 percent of U.S. companies, they estimate, would be -- would fall prey to.

BLITZER: So in other words, if they can do this to Sony, they can -- you're saying they could do this to 90 percent of American businesses, corporations, release all their most sensitive information, put it out there on the Internet?

CARLIN: It's this type of vulnerability and threat which is why the U.S. government, working with the private sector, needs to do more and do more faster to make sure that those that do us harm, bad guys out there, whether they're organized criminal groups or nation states, one, find it harder to penetrate our defenses. And two, know that if they do, we're going to find out who did it and hold them responsible.

BLITZER: Well, at this point, without saying who's responsible, does it look like the work of a nation state, does it look like the work of some criminals, does it look like the -- like an inside job, a disgruntled employees? Are those all three areas you're looking at right now?

CARLIN: That's right. You've got to look at every possible scenario and motive on who did this. We do know it's a sophisticated attack and make sure that when and do -- when we do make the decision about who's responsible, we're 100 percent sure.

BLITZER: Well, if it's a nation state, whether it's North Korea or any other nation state, that can do this to 90 percent of the American -- that's like cyber warfare. That could grind this country to a halt.

CARLIN: And that's -- you've seen a series of incidence over the course of this year, different companies, large and small, being hacked and causing enormous harm. But there's things we can do to make it better.

BLITZER: Like what?

CARLIN: One, we need to make sure that we're working closely with companies to share information about the bad activity that they're seeing. That they're sharing information with us and we're sharing information with them. Number two, we need to make it clear that we can find who's responsible for this and when we do we're going to hold them to account. And you saw that this year in our division when for the first time, we brought criminal charges against five members of the People's Liberation Army in China.

No matter who you are, whether you're a criminal group or a guy in the basement, or if you're wearing the uniform of a nation state, we're going to find you and we're going to hold you to account.

BLITZER: So if it's North Korea, what are going to do to North Korea?

CARLIN: Well, we need to look across all the different tools in the government. Without talking about this specifically, but you've got to look at the particular facts and then be willing, whether it's diplomatic, intelligence, military or law enforcement, and sometimes it will be law enforcement or prosecution tool, you need to look across the range of what the U.S. government can do and pick the tool that's -- will most hold them to account.

BLITZER: All right. John Carlin, good luck. It's pretty chilling when you think about it very, very scary stuff.

CARLIN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: John Carlin is the assistant attorney general of the United States for national security.

Coming up, a weekend of major protests across the country is now getting under way. I'm going to speak about all of this with Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for Michael Brown's family and Trayvon Martin's family.

Ben Crump is standing by live.


BLITZER: Happening now. New legal moves in the NYPD chokehold death case. Will all the details from the grand jury be revealed?

CNN exclusive. Stand by for an interview with the mothers of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and other young African-American men who have become symbols of the protest movement.

And buried in rocks and mud. Torrential rains triggering landslides and flooding in Southern California. We'll have the very latest on the weather emergency including evacuations and dramatic rescue.