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Interview With California Congressman Ed Royce; Attack in Israel; Saving ISIS Hostages; Jordan in Contact with ISIS Over Prisoner Swap; CNN Talks to Man Who Crashed Drone at White House; Romney's Real Estate Empire Revealed

Aired January 28, 2015 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now: dead or alive. We're tracking urgent efforts to save two ISIS hostages. We have new information about negotiations under way with a terrorist group.

New war fears -- the Israeli prime minister promises payback for what he calls a heinous act of terror. Will a deadly conflict with some of Israel's most dangerous enemies explode?

And the drone crasher. CNN talks to the spy agency worker responsible for a disturbing security breach over at the White House.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Breaking now, the lives of two ISIS hostages are on the line hours after a deadline set by the terror group passed. Jordan's foreign minister tells CNN that messages have been going back and forth between his country and ISIS about a possible deal to free the captives in exchange for the release of a convicted terrorist.

Also tonight, Israel holds emergency talks on a missile attack by Hezbollah terrorists that killed two of its soldiers. There are growing concerns about an all-out border war that could involve Iran and Syria and pour fuel on a region that is already on fire.

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, there he is. He is standing by live, along with our correspondents and analysts. They are getting new information on the stories that are breaking tonight.

But, first, let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, for more on the very latest -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at this hour, the Jordanians are making it clear they will do what they must to get their man back.


STARR (voice-over): Round-the-clock efforts to secure the release of the Jordanian fighter pilot and the Japanese journalist from the grip of ISIS. A voice believed to be journalist Kenji Goto saying he and pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh will be killed if Jordan does not release Sajida al-Rishawi, held since being convicted of a series of hotel bombings in Jordan in 2005.

Jordan said it would release the woman on one specific condition. Jordan's King Abdullah adamant from the start it all depends on getting the pilot back.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I'm not sure that Jordan can go ahead without an assurance that they are going to get their pilot back. The war effort is controversial in Jordan. And this puts the king of Jordan in a very difficult position.

STARR: The pilot's father made a desperate plea for his son.

SAFI AL KASEASBEH, FATHER OF HOSTAGE (through translator): Muath's blood is precious. It is precious and represents the blood of all Jordanians.

STARR: But the Jordanians contend the U.S. made a similar move last year, trading five Taliban detainees for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. Israel repeatedly engaged in prisoner exchanges. But negotiating with ISIS?

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: Every country has the ability and the right to make decisions.

STARR: Whatever happens, there are concerns ISIS will use it as propaganda in its social media campaign and claim victory.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It puts them on a new tier. Instead of just being a criminal organization, a terrorist group, they are now making arrangements with a sovereign government. That in and of itself shows them -- or shows their followers that they have power.

STARR: Though some of that power may be waning. Intelligence officials have noticed the latest ISIS video was shot indoors and are wondering if that change may be a result of the coalition successfully targeting places seen in prior ISIS videos.


STARR: Now, a source close to all of this tells CNN that one of the reasons the Jordanian government decided it could release the woman is that she was not directly involved in killing anyone during those 2005 hotel attacks back in Amman, Jordan. Her suicide vest failed to detonate.

The government there came to the conclusion they could agree to let her go. But they want the pilot back, and tonight, so far, no proof of life on that Jordanian pilot -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, in 2005, what, about 60 people were killed in that suicide bombing at that hotel in Amman, Jordan. And hundreds of others were injured. She would have killed even more if her suicide vest had gone off. But, as you say, it malfunctioned. She's serving a long jail term, obviously life in prison right now in Jordan. Let's see if she's freed. Barbara, thanks very much.

ISIS is spreading its terror into another volatile part of the Middle East. The group's Libyan branch is claiming responsibility for a deadly attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli. Five foreigners were killed, including an American security contractor.

Let's talk more about ISIS and its power.

Our chief security national correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is getting new information.

What are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: What you see in Libya is concrete evidence of ISIS expanding not just its appeal, but its operational capability beyond Iraq and Syria.

There has been knowledge of an ISIS presence there, ISIS loyalists for some time. You see in this attack their ability to carry out an attack. There are a lot of places that ISIS claims to have support. Here is one where U.S. intelligence has been aware of the capability for some time and you saw in that attack yesterday ISIS acting on the capability.

BLITZER: So, Libya, for all practical purposes now, is a totally failed state.

SCIUTTO: It is, and a state that -- a failed state that the U.S. and the West had a hand in creating, right, with the removal of Moammar Gadhafi and the air campaign, one of the classic examples of unintended consequences. The U.S. and West are still struggling with how they respond to it.

BLITZER: Tripoli, the U.S. Embassy evacuated. We saw pictures recently of terrorists swimming in the pool that the ambassador used to have at that embassy. You're familiar with that.

SCIUTTO: Exactly.

And It creates this other issue now, because you have a judgment about what U.S. presence do you leave on the ground and what you lose by not having the U.S. presence, exactly the same issue you have going on in Yemen. Certainly a great threat to Americans there, but you also have value having eyes and ears on the ground in terms of intelligence gathering, counterterror, et cetera.

That's a real challenge making that judgment.

BLITZER: But ISIS has suffered a serious setback in the Syrian city of Kobani.

SCIUTTO: That's exactly right. But it was a long time coming. Right? Four months, some 705 or more airstrikes and a few in the last 24 hours. This was a real effort. It took time. But it did remove ISIS from a town that they clearly considered

important, although, as you will remember, when we were first talking about Kobani some months ago, U.S. officials were telling us, this is not strategically important. They have made a change in judgment that if ISIS considers this important, they want to take it away from them. And you see a success here.

BLITZER: Yes, we saw pictures of what's left of Kobani, we should say, because so much of that town has been shelled and destroyed. It's an awful situation.

SCIUTTO: No question.

BLITZER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.

Let's go to the escalating tensions right now near Israel's northern border and serious concerns about an all-out war. Israel says Hezbollah terrorists will pay the full price for a missile attack that killed two Israeli soldiers. This conflict involves some of the most dangerous adversaries of Israel and the United States. We are talking about Iran and Syria.

Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, is joining us now. She's right near the Israeli-Lebanese border.

What's the latest up there, Elise?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a tense calm over the area, Wolf. It has been relatively quiet since this afternoon, the last 11 hours or so.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an emergency meeting of his top national security aides to decide how to move forward. The hope is that both sides have kind of made their point in this retaliatory fire that we have seen over the last couple of days and now there could be a de-escalation.

But, as you know, one wrong move on either side of the border, a miscalculation and things could spiral out of control, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a serious situation. But we did hear the Israelis have tried to calm things down. I suspect Hezbollah is trying to calm things down. I don't think either side right now would like to see an all-out war.

LABOTT: I don't think either side would like to see an all-out war, Wolf, but this has been brewing for some time.

I was here a couple of years ago, and I had some briefings by military officials who said that they thought that Hezbollah was looking for -- quote -- "real estate" on the Golan Heights. They think that Hezbollah wants to kind of keep their options open. Obviously, they are preoccupied in Syria right now.

And Israel is sending a message to Hezbollah right now. Don't even think about changing the rules of the game. There's a lot of tension in the region, but the Golan has been an area that has been relatively quiet for some time. That's why there was an immediate response yesterday and today from Israel to Hezbollah to say, listen, don't even think about opening this new front, because there will be a punishing response.

Today, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said if you are thinking about attacking us, just remember what happened to Hamas in Gaza this past summer with Operation Protective Edge. The Israelis feel that they lived to regret that, because that was a very punishing campaign, Wolf.

BLITZER: The Israelis have moved the Iron Dome anti-missile system up towards the Golan Heights. You were not very far away from it today, were you?

LABOTT: We were just a couple of hundred yards. We got as close as the Israelis would let us. They tried to keep pushing us back.

They deployed several batteries around the area. It's a very sophisticated radar system. They can shoot down a rocket, lock on to it and shoot it down within 15 seconds. That allows Israelis to have relative normality in a very volatile time.

The problem is, it's never been tested against a large barrage of rockets. Certainly, Gaza and Hamas had a lot of rocket,s but Hezbollah is known to have maybe up to 100,000 rockets. If they start shooting hundreds of rockets at a time, that Iron Dome doesn't have enough interceptor missiles to catch all of those missiles. The fear is, it won't be as successful if there was a full-out escalation with Hezbollah, Wolf.

BLITZER: Elise Labott on the border there in Northern Israel with Lebanon, thanks very much.

Joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for coming in.

I assume you are watching this very tense situation along Israel's northern border. One miscalculation could trigger all-out war.

REP. ED ROYCE (R), CALIFORNIA: And if we recall, in 2006, that was triggered by an anti-tank missile being fired into a vehicle and killing several IDF soldiers. Two were taken captive at the time.

And this recently happened again. The one difference is, then, there was maybe 20,000 rockets and missiles. Now there's 100,000, as Elise referenced. And, increasingly, those rockets and missiles are no longer just along the Lebanon border. Now the Quds Forces, Iran is moving rockets and missiles up along the Syrian border as well, working with Hezbollah there.

So, I'm sure it's a very tense situation on the ground.

BLITZER: What's their game plan right now? What do they want? Because, as you know, since 2006, that northern Israeli border has been relatively quiet.

ROYCE: I suspect -- two weeks ago, Nasrallah, the leader for Hezbollah, said that they were looking at invading Israel, Galilee, the northern part.

I expect that's an exaggeration. But, certainly, the provocations and the attacks indicate that they feel they have got a weaponry now with a lot more delivery capability. I mean, these things can take out a city block, some of the big missiles. And they have got so many of them that maybe they want to test and see, you know, can the Iron Dome stop these salvos if they come through 100 at a time, as referenced? This is a big question.

BLITZER: Because the Hezbollah says the Israelis started this most recent incident by going after a convoy of Hezbollah fighters and Iranian Revolutionary Guard, all of whom were killed by Israel with an airstrike.

ROYCE: But there's a red line that Israel attempts to impose. That red line is not allowing Iran to bring in larger missiles over that border, for the very reason that they are worried that the Iranians will urge Hezbollah again to unleash those on Israel.

So, every time you see officers, in this case an Iranian general, up at the border, and they have this transfer of weaponry, Israel seemingly comes in and interdicts and tries to take out these convoys. So, a convoy was hit. And you are right. This is an escalation.

BLITZER: But the Iranians, who backed the Syrian regime of Bashar al- Assad, the Syrian president, and Hezbollah does as well, they have got their hands full in Syria right now, right? Why do they need to start up something with Israel?

ROYCE: You know, you would think that. But I actually think Hezbollah is not as cavalier in all of this as Iran.

I mean, Iran just helped overthrow a government in Yemen with the Quds Forces active there. They continue with this provocation up on the border with Israel. And at the same time, they continue obviously their operations in -- that are destabilizing other regimes in the whole area across the Middle East.

So, I don't have a good answer for why Iran continues to transfer these heavy weapons into the hands of Hezbollah. I assume at some point they intend to use them.

BLITZER: Stand by, Mr. Chairman, because we have more to discuss, including these latest efforts to free two ISIS hostages. We are going to talk about that and more.

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is standing by. Much more when we come back.


BLITZER: We're back with the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce.

And there's a story that's breaking now, negotiations to try to save two captives held by ISIS.

Mr. Chairman, you are familiar with what's going on. We don't know precisely what's going on, but the Jordanian government, the regime there, the monarchy in Jordan now says they would be willing to give up this woman who is a convicted terrorist, suicide bomber whose suicide vest didn't blow up, in exchange for that captured Jordanian F-16 fighter pilot and presumably that Japanese journalist who is being held by ISIS.

What are you hearing? What is going on?

ROYCE: Well, we know that ISIS is also asking for some cash on the barrelhead.

And part of the problem every time ISIS gets its hand on another $20 million, that buys thousands of these MANPADs or other equipment that they are trying to use in terms of offensive weapons. So, it's long been the position of the United States and the U.K. not to deal with terrorists, because it encourages the taking of additional hostages and it encourages, frankly, transfer of wealth into the hands of terrorist organizations.

This is the conundrum.

BLITZER: But the U.S. did release five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. This was done through negotiations of the government of Qatar. And so there is that precedent, where the U.S. did make a swap like that.

ROYCE: An unfortunate precedent, because at the time, I argued against that because it does violate the principle of not negotiating with terrorists.

I think it was a mistake. And in retrospect, now the Jordanians are pointing to that, saying, if you are willing to do it, then why can't we negotiate with terrorists as well? It's a slippery slope.

BLITZER: And the Israelis have made those kinds of lopsided swaps as well over the years to get their soldiers back from Hamas in Gaza. They have released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

ROYCE: They have gotten to the point where they will release 1,000 terrorists, some with blood on their hands, for one soldier. And I would just argue, I'm not sure this strategy is working in terms of negotiating with terrorists, except for the terrorists.

BLITZER: So, if you are the government of Japan right now -- and you have spoken to Japanese officials -- if you are the government of Japan and there's pain there, they believe one of their Japanese hostages has already been beheaded by ISIS.

ROYCE: Yes. BLITZER: There's another one there. They would like to get out. And

the government of Jordan, they would like to get their fighter pilot out of there as well. What do you do?

ROYCE: Well, it's a tough Hobson's choice for Jordan in particular here.

They have got a brave pilot. But, on the other hand, they have someone who killed -- who was part of a team that killed 60 people and injured 115. And the bottom line is that if you give in and do the negotiation, it's basically sending a message that the next time you take a hostage, you know, you can gain ground with Western governments.

I stand with the U.K. and our U.S. position. I do not think you should negotiate with terrorists. And I would hope that other countries around the world would begin -- Boko Haram, for example, is now in this line of work. The terrorist organizations in North Africa are taking hostages left and right, in the hopes that the French or the Italians will pay them more.

As I said, it's a road to a cul-de-sac in which you are actually having the terrorist organizations strengthened in their ability to get their hands on more hard currency.

BLITZER: President Obama has promised to degrade and destroy, ultimately destroy ISIS. How is that going?

ROYCE: Well, it's kind of mixed results. You can see that the recruitments into ISIS still manage to find their way at such a pace that they are recruiting at a faster rate than the casualties on the battlefield.

And certainly other al Qaeda franchises such as Boko Haram are also gaining traction at the same time. It's a close-run battle here right now with these al Qaeda affiliates.

BLITZER: Ed Royce is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for coming in.

ROYCE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, we're going to dig deeper into all of this with our terrorism experts.

Plus, CNN talks to the man whose drone crashed at the White House. What is he saying about that incident that has sparked some major security concerns?


BLITZER: The breaking news tonight, Jordan working frantically right now to try to arrange a prisoner swap with ISIS that would free a Jordanian fighter pilot and a Japanese man, both facing beheading after a deadline set by the terror group passed.

Let's get some more.

Joining us, our global affairs analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Retired James Reese, our CNN national security commentator Mike Rogers, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, CNN intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer, and our terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

Thanks to all of you for joining us.

Colonel Reese, Jordanian officials, they are feverishly trying to get this deal done. They are demanding, for example, right now proof of life that this F-16 pilot is still alive. Are you hopeful that these negotiations, the release of the pilot and the Japanese journalist, that will happen?

JAMES REESE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Wolf, I am. I think the Jordanians are very savvy. And they will work this negotiation hard, all the way to the last moment.

One thing we have to keep in mind here, we keep talking about not negotiating with terrorists. The bottom line is, ISIS right now is like an army. All right? We are seeing them in Syria, in areas of Iraq. Yes, we can call them terrorists. At the end of the day, there's precedents against us around the world to do prisoner exchanges.

And it's difficult sometimes for us to sit here and go it's easy do this, but these are different policies we have got to take a look at. And quit calling everyone a terrorist when we're at war with these people.

BLITZER: Well, he makes a fair point, Mike Rogers, because the U.S. did negotiate through Qatar with the Taliban to get Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl out of captivity -- he was being held by the Taliban for years -- in exchange for five Taliban prisoners who were held at Guantanamo Bay.


And one of the things we saw immediately after that was intel chatter about using Western hostages for leverage. We knew that they took that example and decided they were going to be more aggressive at more hostage-taking.

And here is the problem. We need to be disrupting ISIS' advance in Syria. They are still advancing in Syria. So, they are gaining logistics, gaining money. When you start putting all of your effort on hostage negotiations, it puts things on hold that probably shouldn't be put on hold. That's my concern.

If that becomes the precedent and the most important precedent, I think we're headed for some trouble here, because now they know they have us. Now they have engaged Japan. They have engaged Jordan. It is sucking in the United States in these conversations. This is exactly where they want to be and we don't want to be.

BLITZER: Because Bob Baer, as you know, let's say this deal goes through. This woman who is being held as a terrorist in Jordan is released in exchange for the Jordanian pilot and, let's say, the Japanese journalist is thrown in, as well, these three.

Does that encourage ISIS or other terror groups to go ahead and find other westerners to go ahead and kidnap, take hostage, knowing that that's a good opportunity for them to maybe get some of their people released?

BAER: Well, let me go back to Colonel Reese's comments. I agree with him. We have to stop calling everybody terrorists. He's just absolutely right. The Islamic State is a state right now. It is -- in taking a hostage and exchanging him for a prisoner, it's acting like a state. How far this will go, I don't know.

But I think the real question here, Wolf, as we were talking about earlier, is the Jordanians. Their decision, their rush to get this pilot back tells a huge story. And that is the tribes in Jordan, a tribal society, are not fully supporting this war against the Islamic State. A lot of them have relatives living in Anbar Province in Iraq. They don't like this. They say that the Jordanian Army is to defend the country and not join in their offensive alliances.

How much trouble the king is in, I don't know. But the tribes generally do not like this war, and they want that pilot back. We have to support King Abdullah in this. He understands his country better than we do.

BLITZER: But it's hard, Bob Baer and Colonel Reese, not to call someone a terrorist who simply beheads innocent people. Isn't that an act of terror?

BAER: Yes, it's an act of terror. But there's something -- they're a hybrid. They're a hybrid. This is something entirely different, you know? Hezbollah is a terrorist group, as well, too. It acts as a state. At certain times we've got to make the rules flexible. And I'm not a lawyer, but you know, this isn't a simple deal like against bin Laden, who was clearly a terrorist without a state and was killing civilians and didn't own any territory. This conflict is evolving so quickly that it's time for us to catch up with these changes.

BLITZER: You think, Mr. Chairman, there's going to be a deal that these hostages will be released in exchange for this Jordanian prisoner?

ROGERS: Well, I think, certainly, negotiations are happening. I'm just not sure. We haven't seen any proof of life. I know the Jordanians have said they haven't seen any proof of life. If you recall, the first...

BLITZER: The Jordanian pilot?

ROGERS: The Jordanian pilot. The first ask wasn't even including the pilot. It was about the Japanese hostage, which tells folks like me who used to look at these cases, they may have -- he may not be alive. And that's troublesome for them. If they can do it, I think they'll do it.

BLITZER: It's an interesting point, Paul Cruickshank, because that picture that we saw of the surviving Japanese hostage holding a picture, not only of the executed -- the beheaded Japanese hostage but also of the Jordanian fighter pilot, that's a still photograph. It was taken in a studio, maybe inside. And there are a not -- a lot of suspicion they're doing these videos, these propaganda videos inside, because they were giving too many clues of their whereabouts when they did it outside. Is that your understanding?

CRUICKSHANK: I mean, that's right. They're worried about the coalition warplanes overhead. Also, when the first beheading videos came out with Foley, there were mapping companies that did terrain analysis and were able to try and pinpoint where this took place. And in the videos that took place after that, the terrain got increasingly featureless. And there have been some allegations from some experts that some of the more recent Jihadi John videos actually took place inside in front of a green screen.

So ISIS does appear to have moved some of the production of this indoors for security reasons.

BLITZER: Colonel Reese, they are really good, though, in social media, these ISIS propagandists, aren't they?

CRUICKSHANK: They are. I mean, you can go on Twitter right now and see several of their Twitter feeds, what they're putting out, the pictures of what they're doing. They're good at this. The young folks like it. It's how they communicate. And they'll continue it. It helps their -- helps their propaganda and definitely helps their recruiting.

BLITZER: Mr. Chairman, what's your analysis right now of what's going on along Israel's northern border with Lebanon and Syria?

ROGERS: We've seen in the past, Wolf, that there has been skirmishes on that -- that northern border. We've even seen al Qaeda elements lobbing shells into the Golan Heights. It didn't get a lot of attention that was probably six to eight months ago. Now you see Hezbollah, this is concerning. That they have elements. Because Hezbollah is a much more regulated almost militia-type environment.

This wasn't probably a rogue unit. There probably was some command and control of that particular act. That's where I find it concerning. I think Israel will make a very measured response. They can't afford to widen their troubles. I think Hezbollah can't afford to widen their troubles either. So it's going to be very interesting to see. I do think you will see a very measured response.

BLITZER: What do you think, Colonel Reese?

REESE: Yes, I agree. With Hezbollah right there, right now you're on the brink. And you've got all the way to the med (ph) into Syria, into Iraq. I'll tell you, we can be at the sign of almost a World War III here with everything in the Middle East as hot as it is.

BLITZER: Yes. And you had Iran involved, obviously supporting the Syrian regime. Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah. Hezbollah supporting Syria. This is a whole region right now from North Africa through the Middle East to South Asia on fire right now.

Guys, thanks very much.

Just ahead, more on the breaking news that we're following as we await to learn the fate of those two ISIS hostages.

Plus, CNN talks to the man who crashed that drone on the White House grounds. We're going to have details on what he's saying about the incident and the security fears it sparked.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're getting some more breaking news right now coming into THE SITUATION ROOM on the demands for some sort of a swap, prisoner swap between ISIS, Japan and Jordan.

Jim Sciutto has got some new information that you've been working on. What are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. This is a new audio recording purporting to be the voice of the Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto. No confirmation of that. But purporting to be him speaking in English. And I've listened to the recording, where he says that, if Sajida al-Rishawi -- this is the failed suicide bomber that ISIS has requested, demanded her release -- if she is not ready for exchange at the Turkish border by Thursday, sunset -- so that's tomorrow, sunset time -- that's 5:30 p.m. local time, which is about 9:30 our time -- 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time, that the Jordanian pilot, Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, will be killed immediately.

So yet another recording making an ultimatum, in effect, demanding the exchange that we've been talking about for -- for most of this day be completed at the border by sunset tomorrow local time.

BLITZER: The border between Syria and Turkey?

SCIUTTO: That's right.

BLITZER: So in other words, the Jordanians would have to bring this woman up through Syria to the Turkish border? Is that what they're saying?

SCIUTTO: From the Jordanian border -- well, from the Jordanian side to the Turkish side of the border. They would have to bring them there. And you know, this is -- this still presents all the difficulties we've been talking about all day.

The first one being, there has been no proof of life submitted, the Jordanians say, that the pilot is still alive. And of course, they have said they will not present this failed suicide bomber, Ms. Al- Rishawi, until they have that proof of life.

So this is again already -- Jordanian officials already in a very difficult position negotiating, in effect, with ISIS terror organization under difficult circumstances without the proof of life. And now they have a new ultimatum for 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time tomorrow.

BLITZER: This sounds very, very complicated and dangerous. What do you think?

ROGERS: I've seen this movie before. They really weren't interested in negotiating for the American journalist Foley. They put the price tag too high. They had no direct lines of communication; issued the threats. Then did the execution.

When they first did this with the Japanese, we -- I believed at the time they weren't serious about negotiations. Apparently, they were not. If you're in negotiations today, do you really all of a sudden come out and say, "Here's the ultimatum"? That tells me they're not in good faith negotiation, and I fear for the life.

BLITZER: Colonel Reese, what do you think?

REESE: I agree with the chairman. But one thing is good here, though. Is the Jordans can move this lady very quickly. Put her in a helicopter, bird. There's got to be some coordination with the Turks to make this happen.

However, if ISIS doesn't come through on this, and they do kill that Jordanian pilot, then you've got the Jordanian tribes are going, like, "Hey, our country tried to coordinate and negotiate in good faith. You failed us," and that really ticks them off.

BLITZER: Bob Baer, what's your reaction?

BAER: I don't understand why you would deliver this woman to Turkey. I mean, you know, it just doesn't make any sense when you could just drive up to the Syrian border and turn her over to the Islamic State at some point along that border. Or even directly with Iraq. So, you know, this is very odd.

And these negotiators, the Islamic State hostage takers are psychotics. And they're not predictable. You know, there's no way for the Jordanians or, certainly, for us to predict which way this is going to go. But I agree with Colonel Reese, you know, if they annoy the Jordanian tribes, this is just another nail in their coffin.

BLITZER: Paul Cruickshank, what do you think?

CRUICKSHANK: Wolf, one crucial thing here is that, in this new demand, that they're making no mention of the fact that they're willing to actually swap the Jordanian pilot, which of course, will be absolutely crucial. All they're saying is that they won't kill him immediately. And that's a very important point. So this deal may fall apart.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Stand by. We're going to continue to follow the breaking news. Appreciate it very much.

Other news we're following tonight. CNN has now spoken to the man who crashed a drone on the White House grounds, setting U.S. Secret Service scrambling, raised some serious concerns about presidential security. Let's go straight to our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.

What are you learning over there, Jim?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we were able to reach the drone operator over the phone today. He isn't saying much right now. Still, his crash landing at the White House has served as a wake-up call to the rest of Washington.


ACOSTA (voice-over): CNN has learned the man who crashed a small drone at the White House earlier this week lives just blocks away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That means the tiny quad copter only had to fly less than 10 blocks, a straight shot (ph) from the man's apartment to reach the White House.

One possible explanation experts say is that the drone's signal lost contact with the operator and ran into trees while trying to return home. The operator identified as a man who works for the top secret National Geospatial Intelligence Agency declined to comment on reports that he was intoxicated while flying the drone. In a brief phone call with CNN he said, "I can't really speak right now. I hope you understand."

U.S. Secret Service officials have said it appears the man was using the drone for recreational purposes and that there was never any threat to the president or first lady who were traveling overseas at the time. Asked about the incident, aides to the president insisted the White House is safe from drone.

ERIC SCHULTZ, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: This technology is not new. This is something they have been working through for some time.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: This drone that landed in the White House --

ACOSTA: But in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, President Obama argued the expansion of civilian drone use warrants new regulations.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've actually asked the FAA and a number of agencies to examine how are we managing this new technology, because the drone that landed at the White House you buy at RadioShack.

ACOSTA: The builder of DJI Phantom Quad Copter says it is requiring customers to update their drone software to prevent this aircraft from flying over Washington. JON RESNICK, DJI: We're more than willing to collaborate with

government agencies and regulators to work on technology that will assure that quad-copters and our products don't make it into restricted areas.

ACOSTA: It's already against the law to fly drones in the district. Charges could lead to fines and up to a year in jail. But the question in prosecuting rests on whether the operator knowingly or willfully violated those restrictions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My kids got them for Christmas.

ACOSTA: The rules were clear up on Capitol Hill last week where lawmakers had to give authorities a heads up before flying a drone at a congressional hearing. It also crashed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's your worst case scenario. Oh my gosh. Drone crash.


ACOSTA: As for man under investigation on the White House drone case, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency says he does not work on unmanned aircraft at his job. But a source familiar with the case said he is likely to face disciplinary action. We should point out, though, the man has not been charged in this case. The investigation is continuing, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta, at the White House, thanks very much.

It's looking increasingly likely that Mitt Romney will make a third bid for the White House. But one of the issues that plague his last two efforts could potentially be even more problematic.

Let's discuss with our chief political analyst Gloria Borger and our chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

It's the issue of he is buying a lot of houses apparently, according to "The Boston Globe" right now, right?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Remember John McCain couldn't remember how many houses he owns.

Mitt Romney in his own family is known as personally cheap, somebody who put together his own treadmill to save money. OK? But he loves real estate. He's got a lot of money. He bought that house in La Jolla. There are rumors that he might sell that house. He bought a couple new houses in Park City, Utah.

It's clear that they understand that this could cause him some problems. But they have had a good response to it, which is you can't look at me and say, I own too many homes. Look at Hillary Clinton, she's got a mansion in Georgetown. She's got a big house in Chappaqua. So, they kind of feel like that neutralizes, they hope --

BLITZER: Real estate is a good investment for rich people.

BORGER: Exactly.

BLITZER: They can make more money. It's good to have that kind of asset.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And he loves it. If we know anything about Mitt Romney is that his job was knowing how to make a good investment, at Bain Capital. I mean, that's what he did. So, you know, I guess you can't fault him for that.

You made the point about Hillary Clinton which is interesting in that Romney is giving a speech that was planned before he got serious about potentially running again in Mississippi. He is giving it as we speak. It's closed to the press. He is taking some direct shots at Hillary Clinton, talking about the fact that she was clueless on relations with Russia. And on your point, more broadly, saying that she doesn't know where jobs come from in the United States.

So, another indication not just that maybe that he feels that he is on level playing field with her on that issue but bigger picture, that they are potential rivals.

BORGER: You know, it's interesting because in the last campaign and, Dana, and you both know this, he had a very difficult time talking about his personal wealth. Whereas Kennedy used to make a joke about his wealth, Romney had a hard time with it, then he got in trouble just on the 47 percent, of course, which was a huge disaster for him.

Now, if he runs, and we think he is going to, he's going to start talking about poverty, his personal faith and all the rest of it. So, he can sort of get away from that huge hangover, the 47 percent leaves.

BLITZER: Dana, you make a good point. All of these potential Republican presidential candidates, they are all talking about Hillary Clinton.

BASH: Oh, of course. Who else are they going to talk about? Sorry, I apologize to Jim Webb, the former senator from Virginia, who is the only other potential candidate out there. Yes, they're all talking about Hillary Clinton. And the more that Hillary Clinton's people engage with that candidate, like you saw sort of in the press today with Mitt Romney, the happier those Republicans are.

BLITZER: All right. Dana, Gloria, thanks very, very much.

Much more coming up. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: The world this week is marking 70 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp where more than one million Jews were slaughtered. CNN is capturing the "Voices of Auschwitz" survivors in a special report that will air later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, and it includes my personal journey to the death camp and my special interview with the director, Steven Spielberg, who's recording the testimonials of Holocaust survivors.


STEVEN SPIELBERG, FILM DIRECTOR: I didn't know it was my calling until "Schindler's List" came into my life. I even shot outside of the gates of Auschwitz.

It is a place that will stay with you. Literally all you have to do is visit it once and it will stay on you for the rest of your life. It's unimaginable. So, therefore, I don't try to imagine it. I have quite a vivid imagination, but I won't take my imagination to Auschwitz.

It was one of the most efficient killing machines that anyone has ever experienced throughout history. (INAUDIBLE) work begs free.

I smelled the hopelessness. When I went into the barracks and I imagined -- and I watched the scribbling and I saw the carving and I saw some of the artwork, I felt the hopelessness. And then I'd suddenly see a flower that someone painted on a wall and I realized that through all these years of hopelessness, there was in fact hope.

There were little -- there was evidence of maybe there is going to be a future for me and my family, maybe. And in most cases that wasn't to happen. The first time I visited, we were absolutely appalled at one thing.

The tour guide who took us through Auschwitz was organized. Never mentioned the word "Jew" and never mentioned the numbers. Just said many innocent people were killed here, and did not mention that the Jews had been murdered at Auschwitz.

That kind of upstaged -- I was angry about that for a long time. But when I walked down the rail line to the end, where the tracks end, and I went over to where the crematory were, I just felt the ghosts. I just felt the ghosts.

I didn't feel that I was destined to tell the story until I visited Poland for the first time. And went to Auschwitz and Birkenau, and spent time on the actual locations. It suddenly occurred to me that this was something more than a movie. That the movie was going to be a foot in the door, but the door that I needed to open was these testimonies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People were taken away.

SPIELBERG: And disseminate them all over the world, founding the survivors of the show of visual history foundation in 1994. This was my second bar mitzvah.

I had been adopted by thousands of survivors. I feel like their grandson.

My wife and I wanted to go back to Auschwitz and pay our respects. A rabbi took us and we said a prayer. He asked me to come over where the remains of the crematory laid and put your hand in that water, in this sort of like mud hole. And I did. It was very soggy, it had been raining.

I put my hand in there and I brought my hand out and there was white sort of bone meal all over my hands, because the remains of everyone over those years of mass murder rained back down onto the earth and they're still there. And the remains of everyone murdered at Auschwitz, they're still there in the ground. And that's something I'll take to my grave.


BLITZER: Our "Voices of Auschwitz" special report, the one-hour documentary, will air later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

We're really proud of this documentary. We hope, hope you will watch it.

Thanks very much for watching. Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Go ahead, tweet me @wolfblitzer. Tweet the show @CNNSitroom.

Please be sure to join us again tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM and always watch us live or DVR the show, so you won't miss a moment.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.