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THE SITUATION ROOM
Boston Terror Plot Raises Concerns; Interview with Sen. Bob Corker; Israel: Two Rockets Fired from Gaza; U.N.: Iran Has Grown Its Nuclear Fuel Stockpile; Prosecutors: Suspect Plotted Cop Killings, Beheading; Lincoln Chaffee Joins 2016 Presidential Race; Pentagon: 51 Labs May Have Received Live Anthrax; Search Continues at Yangtze River; New Kim Jong-Un Photos Show Weight Gain. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 3, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Boston terror plot, killed in Boston plotting with others to kill police officers in Massachusetts and planned a beheading in another state. We're getting stunning new details.
Anthrax accident -- the Pentagon now says 51 labs in 17 states may have received live samples of the potentially deadly bacteria. That number may rise. How could this happen?
Crowded field -- on the day when a CNN poll shows Hillary Clinton support softening, another Democrat is jumping into the 2016 race for the White House. You're going to hear the announcement live.
An Un-healthy is the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un. Is he really ailing or just out of shape? Recent appearances show Kim Jong-Un has become increasingly larger. Experts are trying to figure out why.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news. Prosecutors now say the knife-wielding man shot dead by Boston police plotted with others to kill police officers in Massachusetts this week. And they say there was a separate plan to behead someone in another state.
Another suspect now in custody; that suspect made a court appearance today. Officials have said the dead man was radicalized by ISIS and there's also now a new warning from the FBI about the ability of ISIS to influence lone attackers through encrypted online messages and social media. I'll speak about that and more with the foreign relations committee chairman, Senator Bob Corker -- he's standing by live -- as well as our correspondents, analysts and guests. We're all watching as we stand by for full coverage.
Let's begin with our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown. She's in Boston with the very latest. Pamela?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, disturbing details coming from these court documents detailing the plot that the suspect killed yesterday, Usaama Rahim, had talked about with another person arrested by the FBI, David Wright, who appeared in court today, and a third person in Rhode Island.
According to the FBI, Usaama Rahim, Wright, and another person met on a beach in Rhode Island in late May and talked about plans to behead another victim in a separate state. So there had been talks to behead someone. After that, we learned that, yesterday morning, according to the FBI, in wiretapped conversations, Rahim called Wright and said that he wanted to change plans and move the day up, that he couldn't wait, and that he wanted to go over the boys in blue and attack and kill police officers.
Now, people I've been talking to say that the idea that he wanted to behead someone before indicates that perhaps he wanted to do the same to police officers. So officials that we've been speaking to believe he was an imminent threat. He had recently purchased three knives. Here's what the police commissioner here in Boston had to say about him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMMISSIONER WILLIAM EVANS, BOSTON POLICE: This guy required 24/7 surveillance. So we thought the threat was severe enough that we had to approach him. We never expected what happened, but hopefully it will all come out later so there's a better understanding of the level of threat. But I can't go into anything more than it was a very serious threat and that's why we didn't take it lightly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Federal authorities have been investing Usaama Rahim for at least a couple of years. It's unclear when he was put under 24/7 surveillance. David Wright, his associate, faces a charge of conspiracy to destroy evidence, to impede an investigation. That evidence was Rahim's smartphone after Rahim allegedly told him about his plan to kill officers yesterday or today. Wolf?
BLITZER: And is there a third suspect out there as well or others involved based on what you're hearing?
BROWN: What I'm hearing from law enforcement officials I've been speaking with is that they raided that third suspect's home in Rhode Island. It was in direct connection with this network that we're talking about. But then a third arrest has not been made. Wolf, as we speak, authorities are trying to build a case.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown in Boston, we'll get back to you.
Meanwhile, there's growing concern that ISIS is able to influence and activate lone attackers here in this country through its sophisticated use of social media and its use of encrypted messages, proving especially worrisome to U.S. counterterrorism officials who are asking Congress for help right now.
Let's go to our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto. He's getting new information. What are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, with these cases in Boston, the shooting in Texas last month, you get a real sense of deep, deep concern from counterterror officials. And we heard the FBI in effect pleading for help; they're concerned that potential terrorists are now using encrypted communication and they don't have the legal power to stop it.
Here's the FBI's counterterror chief Michael Steinback.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL STEINBACK, ASSISTANT FBI DRECTOR, COUNTERTERRORISM DIVISION: We're past going dark in certain instances. We are dark. The ability to know what they're saying in these encrypted communication situations is troubling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:05:03] SCIUTTO: And what's key here is that U.S. officials say contact on the web alone may be enough both to recruit, to train, and to activate terrorists here on the homeland. The gunman killed in Garland, Texas, last month, the man shot by law enforcement in Boston on Tuesday, all believed to have been radicalized by ISIS, all highlighting this threat.
And ISIS's tremendous social media prowess gives the group an unprecedented digital force multiplier. 2,000 core ISIS supporters pushing the message out. Approximately 50,000 people retweeting that message, and more than 200,000 receiving and reading that message.
The numbers in the U.S. also concerning. The FBI says hundreds, perhaps thousands. The challenge for law enforcement is distinguishing between lukewarm supporters and potential terrorists. But what you heard, Wolf, from the FBI today is that they're taking no chances. And this case in Boston is an example of that.
Once they have an intercepted phone call saying that they were ready to go, the victim of the shooting saying he couldn't wait, that's when they moved in. And that's the kind of thing they're doing more. Because you saw in Texas, that was a case where they had him on their radar screen. They didn't act and that was potentially a tragedy.
BLITZER: Yes, I keep hearing from top U.S. officials, I'm sure you do as well, how baffled they are and pretty impressed that these ISIS sympathizers have this social media capability.
SCIUTTO No question. And we've seen that in their propaganda. They're great at advertising their atrocities. That's one thing though. But being great at turning Americans to terror purely from a distance and over the web, over the phone, et cetera, that's truly concerning.
BLITZER: Yes, they've got enormous capabilities in that area as well. All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you.
Let's get some more now. Joining us, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us. SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), CHAIRMAN, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Wolf,
always good to be with you. Thank you.
BLITZER: Thank you. You just heard Jim Sciutto's report, the assistant director at the FBI for counterterrorism, Michael Steinback, saying there have been upwards of two hundred Americans who have already traveled or attempted to travel to Syria to join these terror groups. What's going on? What's the plan to try to stop this recruitment of Americans?
CORKER: Wolf, that is obviously huge question. Look, we've been concerned from day one about their ability, as you've been reporting right now, to recruit people through social media. And that's one of the reasons I think you saw this debate that took place on the floor over the last couple of weeks relative to the Patriot Act. I mean, we have tools in place that are not being utilized in their full capacity. We know that technology is changing such we've got to upgrade. But, again, to even lessen our abilities today to deal with some of these things, to me, is not appropriate. Now that's not directly relatable to this social media piece but it is one of the tools that we've been able to utilize to keep terrorist at bay.
So back to the bigger picture, look, this is something we're going to be dealing with for a long, long time. I don't think there's any question to Americans now, as they watch your reporting, as they see what's happening, that ISIS is a national security threat. So we have both the issue of dealing with them on the ground in places like Iraq and Syria and Libya and other places, but also how do we keep people from being influenced? I mean, it's very typical.
And, again, one of the things we have to have is the very best tools at the NSA and other places to try to interdict and to try to make sure that, even when they're encrypted, we scale up and have the ability to intercept and keep bad things from happening here in our country. But this is going to be very complex, very difficult, especially when people don't even have to go to the places that ISIS exists on the ground to be turned in such a way to want to turn on Americans.
BLITZER: This 26-year-old terror suspect who brandished a big knife, Usaama Rahim, in Boston, he was shot by FBI and police. There we're showing a picture of that military-style knife that he had. The plan, according to court papers, for him was to randomly kill, in their words, randomly kill police officers in Massachusetts on June 2nd or June 3rd, today and yesterday. And then to go to another state and behead someone. And supposedly this Usaama Rahim was radicalized by ISIS-inspired social media messages.
Here's the question -- is this just some random incident or is more of this out there potentially?
CORKER: Well, Wolf, I think there's no question that we're concerned that more of it is out there. You have people in this country that obviously feel disassociated from society, they have issues, they're attracted -- I don't know. You've seen some of the publications that have been put out. I read one, looked at one in the cloak room while we were debating the Patriot Act. I mean, these things are done in a very professional way. I mean, these people, I hate to say, have a lot of talent, if you will, in reaching people.
[17:10:04] And so, again, there's multiple ways that people can be radicalized. But I think the one that concerns -- should concern Americans the most is the route you're talking about right now, where just through a social media site, you take someone who's unhappy with their state in life, for whatever reason, and they feel like they're a part of a greater cause, unfortunately, a cause that to me is certainly a terrible cause, and they commit these random acts.
And, you know, we've seen messages going out -- you've read them -- you know, trying to engage lots of people in random acts around our country to disrupt our society. And that's what we're dealing with here.
BLITZER: All right, Senator, I want you to stand by. We have more to discuss involving ISIS, what's going on in Iraq, Iran. A lot more with the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when we come back.
BLITZER: We're back with Senator Bob Corker. He's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
[17:15:53] Senator, I want you to stand by for a moment. We're just learning that Israel's military says two rockets were launched from Gaza into southern Israel. Just a little while ago, sirens sounded in two Israeli cities. No injuries were reported. This is the second instance of rocket fire reported by Israel in a week coming in from Gaza. We'll check that out, what's going on over there.
Meanwhile, there's another controversy that's brewing over Iran's nuclear program as the clock keeps on ticking on a proposed nuclear deal.
Let's bring in our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. She's working the story. There are new developments here, as well.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that June 30 deadline is looming, and new claims that Iran could be reneging on its promises are posing a potential embarrassment for the Obama administration.
But now the State Department is calling these accusations absurd and is fighting back.
LABOTT (voice-over): Less than a month before the deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, new questions about whether Iran could be trusted to abandon its stockpile of nuclear fuel that can be used for a bomb. Even as the president told an Israeli television program Iran is on track to get rid of it. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The very stockpiles
that President Netanyahu had gone before the United Nations with his picture of the bomb and said that was proof of how dangerous this was, all that stockpile is gone.
LABOTT: Under the current interim agreement with world powers, Iran must freeze its nuclear activity. The deal on the table requires Iran to reduce its stockpiled nuclear fuel by 96 percent. But a new report from the IAEA, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, found Iran's stockpile had actually increased by 20 percent in the last 18 months.
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT SENIOR ADVISOR: In the past, the IAEA has reported they've gone up, and then they've gone down. And they've always met their requirements.
LABOTT: The issue has exploded online, after "The New York Times" reported, quote, "Western officials and experts cannot quite figure out why Iran's stockpile continues to grow."
The State Department's Marie Harf shot back on Twitter, "Not true." Neither, Harf said, was the claim the "stockpile poses a major diplomatic and political challenge" to a deal.
HARF: It's not one of the big outstanding issues. It's an outstanding one, but it's not by any means one of the toughest. And it's by no means a major obstacle inside the room.
LABOTT: Whatever the reason for these so-called fluctuations, Iran will still need to get rid of nine tons of fissile material within months.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, PRESIDENT, PLOUGHSHARES FUND: That's well within their technical capabilities. After a final yield, they're going to slash it to almost nothing. That's going to be a heavy lift for them.
LABOTT: And Iran hawks say the IAEA findings are proof that Iran cannot be trusted to live up to any agreement. They said the Obama administration is naive. But many national security experts agree with the State Department. They say the stockpile issue should not hinder an agreement, so this debate is as much political as it is technical, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We'll see what happens. Elise, thanks very much.
I want to get the reaction from the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee is still with us.
I know you've watched this debate unfold. Where do you stand on who's right? Would it be "The New York Times'" report or would you say the State Department and Marie Harf, the strategic affairs advisor? I guess that's your new title over there. CORKER: Well, let me start by saying there's no question that Iran cannot be trusted. And I think that's universally felt. I don't think there are people on either side of the aisle that believe that Iran can be trusted. So this is not a trust but verify type of arrangement. It should be solely verify, verify, verify.
There's no question that their stockpile has increased. That's not debatable. And what I hope is going to happen, they do have to get down to 300 kilograms as part of the agreement. I guess the question is, Wolf, are they doing this to put themselves in a better negotiating position by growing this stockpile while the negotiations are under way? Or are they not going to live by it? We don't know.
I mean, I hope there will be no sanctions alleviated until they get down to that 300 kilogram stockpile.
Now, the problem is when the person said, "Well, this is not an issue, this can be dealt with," well, I would like to know how. I mean, they don't have a conversion facility to down-blend or downgrade or to do what they need to do with the 5 percent. So are they going to ship it out of the country?
[17:20:19] Those are issues that need to be dealt with and, hopefully, will be dealt with and hopefully -- again, we haven't seen the final agreement. It will be in a very black-and-white, explicit way that they have to deal with this. But again, they do have to get down to 300 kilograms per the political agreement that was reached on April 2.
BLITZER: I know that you've suggested that there was some sort of administration document out there that has the outlines of an agreement with Iran and what would happen after year ten. This is supposed to be a ten-year deal. You say the administration is refusing to share that document. What's going on here?
CORKER: So if you read the political agreement that was achieved on April the 2nd, there's reference to something called the Iranian -- the Iranian nuclear development program. It's not capitalized. But there's a document that explains what Iran is able to do per the agreement after the ten-year period.
You also may remember that the president -- probably his staff was not happy with him in doing this. But in an NPR interview shortly thereafter talked about that, really, in year 13, they would be at almost zero breakout time.
And so I'd like to understand what we've agreed to relative to their nuclear development capabilities after year ten. I've asked the State Department for the document. They haven't given it to me. I've asked the Energy Department for the document. They haven't given it to me. I've asked the White House for the document. They haven't given it to me.
And the only thing I can imagine, because they have not shared it with me and I know that it exists, is that they think that it would shed bad light on what they've agreed to. And I think it would cause people to have concerns, again, after year ten what Iran is able to do relative to the number of centrifuges, relative to the other kinds of development activities.
And I think, Wolf, most of us want to make sure that, if we're going to enter into an agreement, it's an agreement that will keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon over a long term. And I don't really understand, unless they're concerned about what this content is or how it might shed light on the deal that's happened, I don't understand why they will not share with us what this document says. Again, it's their view of what they've agreed to relative to the Iranian nuclear development program.
BLITZER: So very quickly, Mr. Chairman, if they don't share that document with you and your colleagues, even behind closed doors in a classified session, you won't be able to support any deal that emerges? Is that what I'm hearing?
CORKER: I can't imagine they're not going to give it to us when they actually consummate this deal. But we're having all kinds of briefings right now, Wolf, to make ourselves as up-to-date as we can on where this is. Last night we met with three scientists, the leaders of our national laboratories around the country that are dealing with this issue, and the energy secretary to walk through the technical aspects.
There's so much of this that is classified that, though it's very technical -- and so we want to make sure that senators that are going to be dealing with this on the committee spend this entire month going through and making sure we're educated and understanding what the important aspects are technically of this deal but also politically.
And again, I think this is a document that would be very helpful to us. I can't imagine, if the administration is proud of their work and proud of this agreement, why they would not go ahead and share that with us now.
BLITZER: Senator Corker, thanks very much for joining us.
CORKER: Thank you.
BLITZER: If you get that document, let us know.
Coming up, we're learning that the man who jumped the White House fence and made it actually inside the residence of the White House had -- and I'm reporting now from official documents -- he had axes, knives and a lot of ammunition in his car. And he's only facing a relatively short prison term. So what message does that send?
And the Pentagon now says 51 labs across the United States actually in 17 states may have received live samples of the potentially deadly anthrax bacteria. And that number may rise.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:29:00] BLITZER: Our breaking news: court documents now say the knife-wielding man shot dead by Boston Police plotted with others to kill police officers in Massachusetts this week. And there was allegedly a separate plan to behead someone in another state.
Joining us now, our justice reporter, Evan Perez; our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes; and our CNN national security analyst, Fran Townsend. She was homeland security adviser to President Bush.
Evan, what's the latest you're hearing on this investigation from your sources?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know that the FBI and the Boston Police, Joint Terrorism Task Force there in Boston, is still interested in finding more information about this third person.
If you recall, yesterday we reported that not only Usaama Rahim and David Wright, who was the person who was presented in court today, there was a third person who was allegedly part of this conspiracy. This is a person who, according to the FBI court documents, met with them on a beach, trying to evade, obviously, the FBI surveillance.
[17:30:05] We know that these men had -- they knew that the FBI was onto them, was -- they were aware that the FBI was -- knew at least what they were up to.
And yet, Wolf, we still see what they -- what Usaama Rahim did yesterday when he was approached by police officers to simply talk in that CVS parking lot.
BLITZER: We saw that military-style knife he had, similar to what Jihadi John had when he was beheading people in Syria.
Fran, should law enforcement across the country right now, local, state, federal, be upping security in response to these plots?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Unfortunately, Wolf, the answer to that has to be yes. Look, there's a convergence of two separate things going on here. We've seen sort of here in this country and in New York in particular, five police officers killed or wounded in the line of duty in the last five months. And so there's a domestic sort of civil issue here targeting police officers.
In addition to that, you see because ISIS is able to sort of inspire these people from overseas and get them to act here, they become -- policemen and those in uniform become targets of opportunity.
And so, given both those things, you can understand law enforcement, police officers around the country very much feel under siege, if you will, so that they've got to spend more time worrying about their own security. And that's just not good for anybody, not good for the police officers and not good for the communities they serve.
BLITZER: Tom, you noticed yesterday, 24 hours ago, some similarities between the knife that Usaama Rahim in Boston had, the knife that Jihadi John had, brandishing that knife as he was about to behead hostages there. What specifically jumped out to you right away? This is long before the court documents actually did spell out there was allegedly a plot to go to another state and start beheading someone.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, the type of knife that he was wielding showed me that he was probably emulating Jihadi John in the first place. And knowing that ISIS more than a year ago issued the order around the world to its followers to behead officials.
Now, you had two soldiers in London last year there were beheaded right on the street in front of people. You had an attempted beheading in Sydney, Australia, last September that was thwarted. You had the hatchet attack on the police officers in New York. You had the shootings of military personnel in Ottawa, Canada.
So it just fit the pattern of trying to be like Jihadi John.
Also yesterday, when they said that the FBI had 24/7 coverage on him, that usually also means wiretap, as well, and that the surveillance is supporting a wiretap -- when they said that those officers and agents deployed at 7 a.m. to intercept him, that told me they picked up on the wire something urgent has come up. This guy's going to go operational right now. Intercept him.
BLITZER: Sounded like something was imminent. That's why they decided to go question him. And that's when he brandished that knife and we know what happened.
All right, guys. Stand by. The Defense Department, we're just learning, has just revealed new and higher numbers in its investigation of labs that may have mistakenly received shipments of live anthrax. We'll go to the Pentagon for an update.
And later, new pictures ignite international speculation about the health of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. Why is he putting on so much weight?
[17:38:05] BLITZER: We have breaking news. A key race alert. Lincoln Chaffee, the one-time Republican U.S. senator, then independent governor of Rhode Island, has just announced he is running for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. He's a George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. I want to listen in.
LINCOLN CHAFFEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... events into which we put our brave fighting men and women. In fact, we had a precious moment in time where a lasting peace was within our grasp. Too many senators forgot too quickly about the tragedy of Vietnam.
The second reason that I've earned -- the second reason I voted against the Iraq War resolution was that I learned in the first nine months of the Bush/Cheney administration, prior to September 11, not to trust them. As a candidate, Governor Bush had said many things that were for the campaign only, governing would be a lot different.
For example, a campaign staple was, "I'm a uniter, not a divider." He said very clearly that his foreign policy would be humble, not arrogant. And he promised to regulate carbon dioxide, a climate change pollutant.
These promises were all broken in the early days of his administration. And sadly, the lies never stopped. This was an administration not to be trusted.
My third reason for voting against the war was based on a similar revulsion to mendacity. Many of the cheerleaders of the Iraq War and the Bush administration had been writing about regime change in Iraq and American unilateralism for years. They wrote about it in the 1992 defense planning guide; in the 1996 report to Prime Minister Netanyahu; in the 1997 Project for a New American Century; and in the 1998 letter to President Clinton.
[17:40:11] A little over a month before the vote on the war back in 2002, I read an article in "The Guardian" by Brian Whitaker. Listen to this. Quote, "In a televised speech last week, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt predicted devastating consequences for the Middle East if Iraq is attacked. 'We fear a state of disorder and chaos may prevail in the region,' he said. Mr. Mubarak is an old-fashioned Arab leader. In the brave new post-September 11 world, he doesn't quite get it.
"What on earth did he expect the Pentagon hawks to do when they heard his words of warning? Throw up their hands in dismay? "Gee, thanks, Hosni. We never thought of that. Better call the whole thing off right away." They're probably still splitting their sides with laughter at the Pentagon.
"But Mr. Mubarak and the hawks do agree on one thing: war with Iraq could spell disaster for several regimes in the Middle East."
BLITZER: All right. So there you hear Lincoln Chafee. He's making his case why he wants to be president of the United States. And he specifically, without mentioning her by name, going after another Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton, when she was a United States senator back at the end of 2002, voted in favor of a resolution authorizing the war against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Lincoln Chafee was then a Republican senator from Rhode Island. The only Republican, actually, in the Senate who voted against that resolution. Clearly, that's a big issue for him, why he voted, he believes the right way; she voted the wrong way.
We're going to be hearing a lot more from the newly-declared Democratic presidential candidate, Lincoln Chafee. Just in a little bit, he's going to be taking our questions live here during our next hour of THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll hear him make his case.
There's other breaking news we're following at the Pentagon right now, where the Defense Department finally is talking about the mistaken shipments that may have contained live anthrax. The number of affected labs in states keep on growing.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's got more. What are you learning, Barbara? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you're absolutely
right. It's been more than a week since this problem came to light. For the first time today, the Pentagon coming out in public, in front of television cameras, talking about it.
Where are we? There are now 400 lots of anthrax. This is the large- scale inventory that have to be tested. Already four of them have come back positive. Apparently, by all accounts, the irradiation procedures didn't work. What are we dealing with? There are now suspect shipments in 51 labs in 17 states plus the District of Columbia, plus three countries overseas.
And the Pentagon openly says the numbers are going to grow as they get those test results back from all 400 lots. Already, some of the samples out in those labs, the smaller pieces -- units of anthrax are testing positive, as well.
So where are we? The Pentagon says there is no threat to public health, because all of this has taken place in contained laboratory facilities. But I want you to listen to the deputy secretary of defense Robert Work, the No. 2 man at the Pentagon, and hear some of the concern in his voice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT WORK, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: Let me just say again, Barbara, I want to re-emphasize this, there is -- as far as we are concerned as of this point, we see absolutely no danger to the broader American public. But for the people who work on these samples, obviously, we want to make sure that there is no problem with the people who are working on these samples in the labs. And the labs that work with them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: The Pentagon still trying to figure out if there are hundreds or thousands of lab workers they need to be concerned about -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very disturbing story indeed, Barbara. Thank you.
Meanwhile, there's growing desperation as rescuers search for survivors aboard a cruise ship that capsized Monday night. At least 450 people were on that boat when it was hit by a tornado. It went down the Yangtze River. Chinese media reporting, they say, only 14 survivors so far. Twenty-six bodies, they say, have been located.
Our senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson, is with a group of the passengers' relatives on the sea. What's the latest over there, Ivan?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm standing in front of the last checkpoint you're allowed to go to if you want to approach the site where this -- this boat overturned and where the salvage operation, rescue -- search and rescue is under way, Wolf. And in the hours that we were with relatives of some of the hundreds
of passengers that have gone missing since the ship capsized on Monday night, and they actually pushed through a wall of police in uniform here, determined to try to get as close as possible to the Yangtze River, to the wreck of the boat, where their hundreds of loved ones were -- are believed to still be trapped. That is the desperation that people had, the anguish.
Many of these relatives were telling us that they don't feel the government is doing enough, they want more, they want answers. It gets to a lack of faith in the government from some of these relatives even though the government has mobilized more than 100 boats, it has mobilized more than 100 divers, who have been working around the clock going into the overturned boat from beneath.
It's very hard work. It's a moving river. They've even slowed the amount of water going through the three gorges dam to try to make the search-and-rescue operation easier. But many of these relatives that I have talked to, dozens of them had paid for their own bus to drive them some 10 hours to get to this place where I am right now.
They are losing hope. They are mostly talking about parents that went on this 11-day cruise up the river. And losing hope. If there's a bright side, it's the show of goodwill coming from ordinary Chinese in this river community, people tying yellow ribbons around their cars, offering free rides to relatives of the missing passengers, distributing water to people in this real time of need -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ivan Watson reporting for us from China with that disturbing story. Thank you.
Ivan, we'll stay in close touch.
Meanwhile, there are also disturbing new details about what authorities now believe were multiple terror plots in Boston including a possible attack on police and talk of a beheading.
Also, new questions about Kim Jong-Un's health. What's behind his dramatic weight gain?
[17:51:36] BLITZER: In the bizarre world of North Korea's secret and brutal inner circle, democratic changes -- dramatic changes, I should say, in anyone's appearance can set off international guessing games. That's certainly the case right now after some brand new pictures of the North Korean leader have just showed up. We're talking about Kim Jong-Un.
Let's go to Brian Todd. He's taking a closer look. Looks like he put on a few pounds, Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. Tonight there are real concerns about Kim Jong-Un's health following the release of new pictures. You get a stark perspective when you see the progression in Kim's appearance since he took power. This is December 2011 when he took power. Then April 2012 looks in
relatively decent shape there. February 2013 a slight weight gain. Then it starts to get worse. July 2014. October 2014. And now the most recent pictures. But analysts say this has more serious implications than Kim's personal health. The stability of the regime and the region are in the balance.
TODD (voice-over): He seems to strain the bounds of his pinstriped suit as he inspects crops at a government farm. At one point he strolls around with his jacket unbuttoned. These new photos of Kim Jong-Un conducting a field inspection and visiting an orphanage have analysts taking a critical look tonight at the physical condition of North Korea's mercurial young leader.
MARCUS NOLAND, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: He does not look healthy.
TODD: The progression is startling, especially comparing pictures from when Kim assumed power in December 2011 through the spring of 2012, through last year to now.
NOLAND: You can see that he's always been overweight, but he appears to be putting on considerable weight. The likelihood is that as the dictator of a country there's nobody there to tell him to say no.
TODD: And analysts say whoever is not telling Kim no is enabling a lifestyle he picked up from his hard-living father, Kim Jong-Il, and his grandfather Kim Il-Sung. Among the younger Kim's notorious habits?
NOLAND: We know he likes to drink. We know he likes cheese. And that's sort of out there. His days in Switzerland. He's been exposed to that for some period of time. So we know he likes food, he likes drink. He smokes.
TODD: But this goes beyond just his dietary habits. Kim Jong-Un's recent purges, executions, his aggressive threats against his rivals South Korea and the U.S. speak to a palace intrigue that analysts say has taken a physical toll.
(On camera): What does it tell you about how things are going inside the inner circle?
NOLAND: He's under immense pressure. He's got seniors around him who have to be very, very concerned right now about their own security.
TODD (voice-over): From the time Kim disappeared for more than a month last year, then reemerged using a cane, his physical health has been seen as a top regional security concern.
NOLAND: Who is at the top in his ability to make decisions and functions matters enormously in North Korea, which as we know is developing nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them further and further afield. (END VIDEOTAPE)
TODD: And if Kim Jong-Un becomes incapacitated or dies prematurely, analysts say the security of North Korea and the entire region would be in danger of becoming much less stable because of so many questions over who would then lead. Kim has already had his very powerful uncle, Jang Song Tek, executed. He's had his defense minister executed. His two older brothers, Kim Jong-Nam and Kim Jong-Chol have already been passed over and are not considered serious contenders.
[17:55:01] Analysts say it may fall to his younger sister Kim Yo-Jong. She is a rising star, she is handling more and more responsibility but she is only 26 or 27 years old -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, I know you'll stay on top of this story for us. A lot of intrigue going on in North Korea.
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