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THE SITUATION ROOM
Quake Hits Along U.S.-Mexico Border; Airline Hazards Revealed
Aired April 5, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Also, surveying the damage and bracing for more aftershocks from that powerful 7.2 earthquake along the U.S./Mexico border. We're on the ground with new information from the quake zone.
And new rules result in thousands of new reports to the FAA about airline problems on the ground and in the air. We have a first look at the information, information anyone who flies needs to know about.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Twin terror attacks in the city at the crossroads of the fight against the Taliban, Peshawar in Pakistan's turbulent Northwest Frontier Province, first, a suicide bombing that killed at least 45 people at a political rally, and hours later, an all-out assault on the U.S. Consulate that left at least eight people dead.
BLITZER: And joining us now, our correspondent in Islamabad, Paula Newton.
Paula, were these isolate incidents? What's going on right now?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: You know, we really had a quiet period for a few weeks here, Wolf.
But it's clear that the Taliban is holding fire until they can attempt these kind of spectacular attacks. And you can see, just from the video, the one car bomb which then enabled the firefight to ensue, that was incredibly strong. I'm sure people in the U.S. Consulate heard the rattle and heard all the gunfire.
What they were trying to do was penetrate that outer perimeter, so they could get into that inner cocoon where those U.S. Consulate employees were. You know, they were so well-armed, Wolf. You're talking about suicide vests, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, and those powerful explosives which we're told left huge craters on the U.S. Consulate compound.
What is going on is that the Taliban is taking the opportunities that it does have to take these high-value targets and have these kind of spectacular attacks. The Pakistani military, Wolf, repeated to me again today that they believe they are making significant progress against the Taliban, but they still do have the capability to launch these kinds of attacks -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Because the U.S. has clearly over the last several months stepped up its drone attacks in these tribal areas, as they're called. But, clearly, the Taliban, al Qaeda, still have an ability to strike.
NEWTON: And they continue to warn us about that. They're saying that in terms of their communications, it's been hampered. The spaces that they can actually operate in, they have narrowed quite a bit.
But when you're dealing -- and the Taliban tells us themselves that any U.S. target or any target of its allies, high-value targets, they will continue to try and hit. And Wolf, just from looking at, you know, the images of this from the air, to launch this kind of an attack, you can look up the U.S. Consulate on Google. They would have been able to do some reconnaissance.
There are some questions as to how they got this close to that perimeter and that checkpoint in the first place, clearly, the Taliban showing they're still capable and have this kind of attack in them.
BLITZER: Haven't been destroyed yet in Pakistan.
Paula, thanks very much. Be careful over there -- Paula Newton in Islamabad reporting for us.
BLITZER: Next door in Afghanistan, new controversy over remarks by the president, Hamid Karzai, remarks the White House calls genuinely troubling. He told tribal leaders in Kandahar they will determine the timing of a major anti-Taliban offensive, not the United States military commanders.
CNN's Atia Abawi caught up with Karzai in Kandahar -- Atia.
ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wolf, days after President Karzai made some very harsh remarks, pointing the finger at the international community, accusing them of being involved in fraud during the 2009 presidential elections here in Afghanistan, he went down to Kandahar to talk to tribal elders and leaders, and, this time, he pointed the finger at himself, and went there to gauge their perspective on the situation in Afghanistan.
(voice-over): President Karzai prays at the grave of King Durrani, the father of modern Afghanistan, who united the country's tribes and people in the 18th century.
Karzai himself faces a similar challenge today. He has come to Kandahar to a conference of tribal leaders. Kandahar has been announced as the site of the next big coalition push against the Taliban. What was intended as a visit to enlist tribal elders to the NATO strategy turned into a series of exchanges between Karzai and his countrymen eager to take advantage of an opportunity to voice their grievances to their president face-to-face.
Aji Lulla (ph) was the first to get up and tell the president he and his villagers are under pressure by the foreign forces and the Taliban, and corruption among the Afghan forces just makes things worse. The tribal leaders are respectful, but insistent. Others tell Karzai they don't want operations in Kandahar to start because attacks give the Taliban an excuse to plant more mines, which end up killing more Afghan civilians than coalition forces.
President Karzai promised that no operation would take place in Kandahar until they say so. But, still, the proud men in this room say they feel powerless, pressured by the Taliban, their own government, and its NATO allies.
Relations between the Afghan government and the international community faltered last week, after Karzai admitted there had been corruption in the recent presidential election, but blamed it on outsiders, especially the United States. Today, he explains in an interview with CNN that his relations with the international community are good, but there must be boundaries.
HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN: It's not a reduction in alliance or a reduction in partnership or a reduction in relationships. It's just to make sure that we all understand as to where each one of us stands. Afghanistan is the home of Afghans, and we own this place. And our partners are here to help in a cause. That's all of us. And we run this country, the Afghans.
ABAWI: The top NATO general here who accompanied Karzai to Kandahar said he talked to the president and still supports him. And on the streets of Kandahar, President Karzai meets and greets, but doesn't linger.
(on camera): Although President Karzai is able to walk the streets of Kandahar city at the moment, you have to look at the security around him. This took days of planning and preparation. And, obviously, he cannot do this without his security detail.
(voice-over): And as he leaves for the capital, Kabul, Kandahar's people remain uneasy about their future.
(on camera): And although President Karzai did tell those tribal leaders that no operation will take place in Kandahar until they give the approval for it, NATO officials saying that in the coming months to expect small operations to take place in different districts and villages throughout the province of Kandahar, and the Taliban already in preparation, planting IEDs throughout the province -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Atia Abawi reporting for us from Kandahar.
We're just getting some new information now on it looks like a serious, serious disaster at a coal mine in West Virginia.
And Lisa Sylvester working the story. What are we learning, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are getting word, this according to the Associated Press, a state mining official tells the AP that there are six people dead, 21 people unaccounted for at the Massey Energy mine in West Virginia. This is about 30 miles from Charleston, West Virginia, at the Upper Big Branch mine, the Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County.
We are continuing to monitor the story, Wolf, and we will continue to bring the latest developments. But it does sound like this is a pretty serious explosion, at this point, Wolf.
BLITZER: Six confirmed dead, 21 accounted for.
SYLVESTER: Six confirmed dead.
BLITZER: So I assume they would begin a search-and-rescue operation for those 21 unaccounted for.
SYLVESTER: They have. In fact, there are crews that are on the scene right now. We know that the West Virginia State Police, that they are taking a role, as well as search-and-rescue crews. We expect to see some pictures shortly. And, of course, we will bring them to our viewers, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Lisa, stay on top of this, and we will update our viewers. Thank you.
We also have some dramatic and disturbing new video just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. It shows an attack by a U.S. Apache helicopter in Iraq, and there's now some controversy over the targets and the soldiers' reaction. We're going to show it for you.
Also, crude oil bound for the United States is now in the hands of pirates. They have hijacked a supertanker, and they're holding the crew hostage. We're getting the new information.
And a supreme announcement anticipated from the U.S. Supreme Court's oldest justice. Is John Paul Stevens about to retire? Our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, spoke with Justice Stevens. Jeffrey is standing by. We will talk with him about that and more.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Under the headline, Wolf, it's about time, the American people may have finally had it with both the Democrats and the Republicans -- What took you so long? -- and might just start seriously considering another option.
A new "USA Today"/Gallup poll shows the first time the two major political parties are viewed unfavorably by most Americans. What's more, the Tea Party's movement's favorable rating of 37 percent is almost as high as the 41 percent for Democrats, 42 percent for Republicans. Figure that.
This means the anti-tax, anti-big-government movement that's only about a year old is ranking almost as high when it comes to approval as these political machines that have been around for a couple of hundred years.
The same poll shows 28 percent of all adults call themselves supporters of the Tea Party, more than a quarter of Americans. That ain't chopped liver. When it comes to their politics, Tea Party supporters mostly lean Republican and conservative. They're also more likely to be male, less likely to be poor, and, in many other areas, Tea Partiers are representative of the general public, including their age, education, employment status.
One place where they differ, though, rather radically is when it comes to the composition. The Tea Party is overwhelmingly white. And whether it ultimately comes from the Tea Party or not, it could finally mean some real competition for the two major parties, which is long overdue. They have long since ceased to give much of a damn about any of us.
They care about corporations, or they care about us when it's time to raise funds for their election campaign, but that's all. Meanwhile, an article in the British newspaper "The Telegraph" suggests that, with Americans so disgusted with their politicians, a real outsider is needed in the White House.
Nobody more outside, probably, at the beginning than Barack Obama, but they -- this article says nobody stands out like General David Petraeus, who is head of the U.S. Central Command. Petraeus emphatically denies any interest in being president, but, if you will remember, so have a lot of other future candidates in the past.
Anyway, here is the question. What does it mean when the Tea Party movement has a favorable rating almost as high as the Democrats and the Republicans? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog.
It's pretty weird.
BLITZER: Yes, very, Jack. Thank you. Stand by.
Want to get back to that disaster that's occurring in West Virginia right now at a coal mine. We're told by the Associated Press that six miners are dead, 21 are missing.
On the phone right now is Jama Jarrett. She's the state Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training in West Virginia.
Thanks very much for joining us. So, what can you tell us?
JAMA JARRETT, WEST VIRGINIA OFFICE OF MINERS' HEALTH SAFETY AND TRAINING: Hello?
BLITZER: Yes, go ahead. Tell us what we know about this incident.
JARRETT: The only thing that I really know at this point is that there has been an explosion, there are injuries, and there are people unaccounted for.
We have our state guys that are en route, actually probably should be there right now. And, you know, hopefully we can get an update on what's going on and with more accurate information soon.
BLITZER: But, right now, you can't confirm any numbers, because the Associated Press is reporting six miners are dead, 21 missing following this coal mine explosion. You don't have those numbers?
JARRETT: I don't have -- I mean, I have heard about those numbers, but I don't have clarification or confirmation on my end.
BLITZER: So walk us through what's going on right now, if you can.
JARRETT: To be honest with you, I'm still not I'm not at -- I'm not at the scene. I don't know exactly what is taking place. I know that, you know, assessment of what has happened and getting an idea of what needs to be done from this point on. But, right now, as a -- I really couldn't tell you.
BLITZER: All right. Well, we're going to check back with you and your colleagues. And we will get some more information on this, Jama Jarrett with the state Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training in West Virginia.
And, once again, the Associated Press is reporting this coal mine explosion, six miners dead, 21 missing. We will stay on top of this story.
Let's move on to other news we're following right now, including the United States Supreme Court. He's the oldest justice on the court, the leader of the liberal wing. And now there is growing buzz about Justice John Paul Stevens possibly announcing his retirement soon, opening the door for President Obama to make his second appointment to the highest court in the nation.
Let's bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeff, you got a chance to speak not that long ago with Justice Stevens. What did he say to you?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, in my interview for "The New Yorker," I said -- I -- I asked him, is he going to resign? And he didn't say definitively one way or the other, but he did say on March 8 that he would make up his mind in a month.
And that probably means this week or next. So, I think all the signs are leading to the fact that he will, in fact, retire, shortly before he turns 90 years old on April 20.
BLITZER: And that sets the stage for the president of the United States to nominate someone to replace him. What direction do you think the president will go?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, one thing that almost all presidents have in common -- it certainly was true of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- is that they don't want to reinvent the wheel. When they come up with a short list for a first vacancy, they tend to use that list for the second vacancy.
And so I think, in looking at this second vacancy, if it happens, the people who didn't get the nod the first time, but were interviewed, are certainly likely to be the choices.
BLITZER: And he will want somebody late 40s, early 50s, someone that can serve 30 and maybe even 40 years. That's an enormous legacy for any president.
TOOBIN: And that certainly argues in favor of the solicitor general, Elena Kagan, who is 49 years old. I really like the idea of people 49 years old as being thought of as really, really young.
She is the former dean of Harvard Law School, never been a judge before. Obama has said he thinks non-judges should be on the court. She has had a reputation as a consensus-builder. I think she is probably the favorite at this point.
BLITZER: So, she would be -- and she's -- well, you said 49 years old.
BLITZER: What are the prospects of a filibuster getting her nomination confirmed?
TOOBIN: You know, I think it's unlikely. For all that we have talked about filibusters for Supreme Court justices, there has never been a successful one. Yes, Abe Fortas, there was sort of a filibuster in 1968, but, in fact, the political campaign is what ended that nomination.
It's very hard to filibuster a Supreme Court nomination, because the Democrats will actually make the Republicans stand there and talk. And Elena Kagan is not such a controversial figure that I think you could get all the Republicans not only to vote against her, but to not even allow her to come up for a vote.
BLITZER: And there would then be three women out of nine on the U.S. Supreme Court. That has never happened before.
TOOBIN: Never happened before.
TOOBIN: It would also be -- just out of curiosity, if Elena Kagan is the nominee, it would be six Catholics and three Jews on the Supreme Court, and no Protestants. Stevens is the only Protestant left on the Supreme Court.
BLITZER: That's interesting. I didn't realize that.
Jeffrey giving us good factual information, as he always does. Thank you.
BLITZER: We're also following a developing story, that explosion at a mine in West Virginia. We're getting new information about deaths. Almost two dozen people are missing. We will update you on that.
And an oil spill, it's threatening one of the world's greatest natural wonders. There's growing fear of an environmental disaster.
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM.
What else is going on, Lisa?
SYLVESTER: Well, Wolf, this is a story that we have been following.
The Associated Press is now reporting state mining officials in West Virginia say six people are dead, 21 others are missing after a mine explosion there. Massey Energy owns the mine, which is located in Raleigh County. That's about 30 miles south of Charleston, West Virginia. The blast occurred just a short time ago, and we will update you with the latest details as soon as we hear them.
U.S. and Iraqi troops are assessing damage from back-to-back blasts yesterday near four embassies in Baghdad. The explosions killed at least 42 people and injured hundreds after suicide bombers detonated three car bombs. But authorities say they foiled other attacks aimed at diplomatic targets. The blasts went off near the Iranian Embassy and an area that houses other foreign embassies, including the Egyptian Consulate and German Embassy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very worrisome developments.
Let's assess, Lisa, with our Fran Townsend. She's our national security contributor, former homeland security adviser to President Bush, worked in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration as well.
These are very disturbing developments at a fragile moment in Iraq right now. Who is responsible for these attacks?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Wolf, it has all the earmarks of al Qaeda and Iraq. It requires substantial experience to pull off this many bombings that close together in a condensed area. And, so, one suspects it has all the sort of tradecraft of al Qaeda and Iraq. Let's remember, al Qaeda in Iraq, a very extremist Sunni group, very much fearful and suspicious of Shia. The Iranian...
BLITZER: Is that why they went after the -- apparently went after -- the Iranian embassy was included in this assault?
TOWNSEND: Reasonable to think that, Wolf.
The interesting thing here is, we have got to remember, too, on the other side of that is the fact that, remember, al Qaeda had an uneasy alliance for many years with the Iranians. There were senior al Qaeda leaders held under house arrest inside Iran for years. The United States had implored Iran to turn them over to us or to turn them over to other Sunni countries. They wouldn't do that.
And so there has been this long, uneasy alliance. Interesting, as you point out, that this comes at a fragile time. Of course, we're awaiting final election results and a transfer of power. The Allawi government is seen to be less sympathetic to Iran and more pro-Sunni.
BLITZER: If there is an Ayad Allawi government.
TOWNSEND: That's exactly right.
BLITZER: He's a former interim prime minister, may be the next prime minister. He's really worried about his own security. I interviewed him here last week. He was in Baghdad. There is fear that he is being targeted for assassination, maybe even by those associated with Iran. How worried should he be?
TOWNSEND: Oh, I think he should be very worried.
Wolf, this is a region where, as we have seen over the last several years, there are shifting alliances by the day. What is convenient today may be inconvenient tomorrow. And, as we know, you know, terrorists -- it doesn't really matter. Al Qaeda has said they target the U.S. because of our support to Saudi Arabia.
We withdraw troops, they still target us. And so whether or not terrorists are targeting Allawi or other Iraqi leaders, you can't be sure that they won't change their -- change what their objectives are day to day depending on what suits them.
BLITZER: And he told me last week, he said he's not bringing his wife or kids to Baghdad from London, because he is so scared, so worried about their security and his own security.
TOWNSEND: Oh, I think that's smart.
BLITZER: I hope he has good protection.
All right, thanks very much, Fran, for that. Dramatic new videos just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now, it involves an attack by a U.S. Apache helicopter in Iraq three years ago, and it resulted in the death of a journalist and his driver. We have the details. Stand by for that.
And a deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocks the Mexico/California border. We're going to the scene for the very latest.
BLITZER: We're following a story, a coal mine explosion, a disaster, the Associated Press reporting six miners are dead, 21 missing.
On the phone with us right now is a reporter from "The Charleston Gazette" in West Virginia, Ken Ward.
Ken, I know you're reporting on this story. What are you hearing?
KEN WARD, "THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE": Well, we're hearing what you just mentioned, Wolf. The reports from the state mine safety agency are that there may be as many as six dead and as many as 21 missing in this explosion at a Massey Energy mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, which is south of Charleston here in the state capital.
BLITZER: When they say explosion, usually, what does that mean?
WARD: It could be a methane explosion, an explosion from gas, or it could be an explosion of coal dust, or it could have been an explosion of a combination of the two.
BLITZER: Well, and so what happens? They have a search-and- rescue operation that begins immediately to try to find those who are missing?
WARD: There are rescue -- mine rescue teams, specially trained and equipped folks that are on site now, and more of them are headed to the site, that are trying to assess the situation and -- and find the individuals that are missing, and -- and bring them back out of the mine safely, they hope.
BLITZER: And so they -- they actually send guys and gals in there to see?
Are they wearing gas masks?
Describe what would be a routine -- well, not so routine, but a normal procedure in saving lives?
WARD: Well, I don't know that there really is a -- any normal procedure for something like this. The environment inside a mine after an explosion can be very, very dangerous, as your viewers who watched the Sago disaster unfold four years ago.
They -- they have to ensure that the environment there is safe for rescuers to try to get in there. They do wear -- have special apparatus that they wear to -- to allow them to breathe and certain sorts of atmospheres. But, you know, these -- these rescues are always a race against time. And we do not -- we in the media, at least, do not know at this point what sort of -- of circumstance they find themselves in underground, what sort of situation the missing miners are in and what sort of environment those rescuers are going to have to contend with. It really is a -- is a very scary situation. And it's a -- it's a race against time there now.
BLITZER: Well, we know, according to the Associated Press, the explosion occurred around 3:00 p.m. Eastern. That would be three-and- half hours ago. So I assume that things happen, relatively, very quickly in a situation like this.
WARD: Certainly, that's -- that's the hope. Though, this -- you know, West Virginia being West Virginia, it's the terrain here. And the roads are very difficult. And getting from one place to another is -- is not as easy as it is if you just hop on a four lane highway.
So it's, you know, we're really fairly early into this situation now. We still don't have very firm word from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Mine and Safety and Health Administration. We don't have much from them about -- about what they know about this situation. So we're -- we're waiting to -- to hear more from them.
BLITZER: Have you ever been at this coal mine -- this specific coal mine...
WARD: I have not been...
BLITZER: Massey Energy, before (INAUDIBLE)?
WARD: I have not been underground at this particular mine, no, sir.
BLITZER: This is in Raleigh County, about 30 miles south of Charleston. Ken, hold on for a moment because Brian Todd is here -- Brian, you've been making some calls on this.
What are you picking up?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we've been making a lot of calls, Wolf. No added information. But we do have the perspective from when we covered those mine disasters at Sago in West Virginia four years ago and at Crandall Canyon Mine three years ago in Utah.
Mr. Ward, what he was saying is exactly right. Right now, those rescuers really are in a race against time. They might have to drill down into the mountain. They might have to try to get into the shaft from the -- you know, in another way.
Another consideration that they have is the oxygen situation in there. When these mine explosions occur, it takes a lot of the oxygen out of the mine. And they're -- they're in a really dicey situation to try to find people alive in there.
BLITZER: Do they normally go in with extra tanks of oxygen?
TODD: They do. But it's very, very dangerous. And, you know, just getting to these mines sometimes is very, very dangerous.
I remember in the Sago mine explosion, that was a natural element that caused that. They thought it might have been a lightning strike or something, if my memory serves. Twelve miners died in that situation. This looks to be somewhat similar. And, again, to try to find the 21 or so that A.P. is reporting are unaccounted for is really going to take them some time.
We're digging into this right now. We're trying to find some more information as to how many dead, how many missing right now.
BLITZER: Now, Brian Todd is going to report for us.
Ken Ward, we'll check back with you.
Ken Ward is a reporter from "The Charleston Gazette" in West Virginia.
Once again, an explosion at a coal mine in West Virginia. Six confirmed dead by the Associated Press and 21 missing -- coal miners missing right now.
We'll update you when we get some more information.
Other news we're following, some startling and disturbing new video has just come into THE SITUATION ROOM. It's come to show a military assault in Iraq three years ago that resulted in the death of a journalist and his driver.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger. I estimate there's about 20 of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hotel 2-6, Crazy Horse, 1-8.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Copy on 1-6. Bushmaster 6-(INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hotel 2-6, this is Crazy Horse 1-8.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an individual with a weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hotel 2-6, this is Crazy Horse 1-8. We have individuals with weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have individuals with weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's got a weapon, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Motel 2-6 to Crazy Horse 1-8. We have five to six individuals with AK-47s. Request permission to engage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger that. We have no personnel east of our position so you are free to engage. Over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. We'll be engaging.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
Roger. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to -- I can't get them now because they're behind that building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Um, hey Bushmaster (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got an RPG.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, we've got a guy with an RPG.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to fire?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. No, hold it. Let's come around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Hold on. Let's come around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behind buildings right now, from our point of view.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Earlier going to come around.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent -- Barbara, this video, what do we see from it?
Because it looks like they were asking for permission to engage. That means to fire. But we don't actually see the shots being fired.
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: We do not, Wolf. Out of respect for the families of the two Iraqi employees of the Reuters News Organization that were killed in this, we are not showing. After the video that you just saw here, it gets very brutal. Apache gunship helicopters flying overhead did attack this group of men on the ground and kill them. There was an investigation of this incident. The Army found no one at fault, that the units in the air -- the helicopters in the air had no reason to believe that there were journalists there on the ground with the insurgents. They say that nearby U.S. troops had come under attack and that this shooting, which we are not showing the specifics of, was justified.
Nonetheless, it is a grim reminder of the nastiness -- of the terrible things that do happen in a war. Let's remind people, 117 Iraqi journalists have been killed by hostile action in Iraq, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Some 139 journalists overall have been killed in the Iraq War.
This video was released by an organization called WikiLeaks, a sort of Internet-based watchdog that looks for government documents and video to try and get its hand on to release. The Pentagon has validated -- has said, yes, this is the video of that attack back in 2007. They reminded everybody, they did investigate. No one was found at fault.
Even Reuters today put out a statement reminding everybody, war, very sad, very dangerous business, especially for the journalists who try and cover it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: This is U.S. military video that was released under the Freedom of Information Act, is that right?
STARR: Well, WikiLeak is not entirely clear exactly how they came into possession of some of it. Some of this material was released back in 2007 to Reuters. But today, this other Internet- based organization put the video out and said it had it. And the Pentagon verified that it was true. There's no indication the Pentagon officially ever released the video -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Barbara.
Thanks very much.
Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon.
A massive 7.2 earthquake strikes the border between Mexico and California. We're going to the scene for the very latest.
BLITZER: The governor of Baja, California says he's asking for a disaster recognition in the wake of Sunday's magnitude 7.2 earthquake. Two people in the border city of Mexicali were killed. More than 200 others were injured. There have been dozens of aftershocks.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is now on the U.S. side of the border in California.
What are you seeing there -- Ted?
What's going on? TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of clean-up, Wolf. Millions of people felt this earthquake. It also caused a lot of damage on both sides of the border.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): This is what it looked like inside the 99-cent store in El Centro, California when the Easter earthquake hit 40 miles to the south across the Mexican border. Closer to ground zero, people say the Earth not only shook, but split wide open.
JESSE CASTENEDAS: Earth opened in about, I would say, 80 ways. Like, I -- I'm still shaking. I can't explain this. It just opened completely and the water just coming -- started coming out of the Earth. And so I thought we were going to drowned or we were going to be eaten by the Earth. I don't know, it was just amazing.
ROWLANDS: We met Jesse Castenedas Sunday night after he drove his pregnant fiance, Melissa (ph), to Mexicali for treatment.
He says they were almost swallowed up at an Easter picnic near the epicenter.
CASTENEDAS: I'm still shaking. I mean if you're not religious, you'll turn religious after this.
ROWLANDS: In Mexicali, the destruction is significant. The quake turned this vacant parking structure that was still under construction into rubble. Businesses across the city suffered severe damage. Employees of this furniture store spent the night outside to prevent looting while the city was without power. Hospitals and clinics were forced to treat people in the parking lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're helping the people on the outside. There's no electricity and there's no water in the inside. So we're doing it on the outside.
ROWLANDS: Back in El Centro, the 99-cent store is open for business. But for others, it will take a long time to recover.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
ROWLANDS: And a case in point, Wolf, is this business here. It is so badly damaged, they can't begin to clean it up because it's been red-tagged. They have to shore up the structure here before they can go in and even retrieve what is left and start anew -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We wish all the folks there only the best of luck.
Thanks very much, Ted Rowlands, on the scene.
We're going to continue to monitor the deadly mine accident in West Virginia. We'll bring you the very latest as we get it.
Also, five months after his personal life was rocked by scandal, Tiger Woods returns to golf. In Augusta, he faces his colleagues, his fans and an army of reporters.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Tiger Woods is playing again. The scandalized golfing star played a practice run for The Masters at the Augusta National in Georgia today.
He fielded questions from reporters, as well, for about 35 minutes. He says he has emerged from rehab a better man, if not a better golfer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY AUGUSTA NATIONAL GOLF CLUB)
TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: It's not about the championships. It's about how you live your life. And I hadn't done that the right way for a while. And I need to change that. And going forward, I need to be a better man going forward than I was before. And just because I have gone through treatment doesn't mean it stops.
I'm -- I'm trying as hard as I possibly can each and every day to get my life better and better and stronger. And -- and if I win championships along the way, so be it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
What else is going on -- Lisa?
SYLVESTER: Hi, Wolf.
Well, CNN has learned that the Republican National Committee's chief of staff has resigned. Ken McKay resigning his post is the latest fallout following a $2,000 committee expense at a racy Los Angeles nightclub. The RNC says that money is being repaid.
Still, this controversy drew sharp criticism for Chairman Michael Steele's leadership. The RNC says McKay will be replaced by their deputy chief of staff for external communications, Mike Leavitt.
And what they knew and when is behind the government's $16 million penalty against Toyota. Even though the Japanese automaker recalled millions of vehicles starting in January, the Transportation secretary says they knew about a sticking brake pedal problem as early as September. The braking issue affected more than two million vehicles. $60 million is the maximum penalty possible, but Toyota could face more fines for other problems.
A South Korean Navy ship is rushing to the aid of a hijacked super tanker carrying about $160 million worth of crude oil. The South Korean-operated ship, with a crew of 24, was sailing from Iraq to the United States when Somali pirates attacked. But even if the U.S. Navy catches up with the bandits, it's unlikely that they would be able to launch an assault. The highly volatile cargo prevents crew members from carrying guns or even lighting cigarettes on deck.
And workers are racing to clean up the oil spill from a ship grounded on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The Chinese-registered vessel was traveling through restricted waters at full speed when it rammed into the protected Douglas Shoals late Saturday. About two tons of oil is creating a two mile slick. Australian authorities say they want to know what the ship was doing there and they hope that investigators react firmly.
BLITZER: That's ugly -- ugly, indeed.
Let's hope they fix that.
Thanks very much, Lisa, for that report.
We're following that deadly mine explosion in West Virginia. There are deaths, missing. We're going to bring you the latest details, when we come back.
BLITZER: We're getting some new information on that mine explosion in West Virginia.
Dave Alsap (ph) is joining us right now from our National Desk.
What are you picking up -- Dave?
DAVE ALSAP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is what we're hearing. We just got off the phone with Boone County, West Virginia dispatch. A guy named Michael Mayhorn (ph), one of the two dispatchers in the office. Roughly at about 4:30, they received an all-call from a neighboring county, Raleigh County, asking for assistance on a mine collapse.
So their county, Logan, Boone and Kanawha all joined in and have sent units. They were confirming six dead on the scene, 21 unaccounted for. They say that 21 people have been pulled from the mine injured. They are being triaged on the scene. Their understanding is at least one of those individuals has been MedEvaced to a local hospital. We believe he is en route to Charleston General. That's the closest level one triage center in the area.
BLITZER: All right, so just to confirm, six dead. We have now confirmed here at CNN, Dave, 21 unaccounted for. That means a search and rescue operation is underway in the mine for 21 miners, I assume, and 21 injured being treated on the scene. At least one was transported by via air medical ambulance.
Is that right, Dave?
ALSAP: That is correct Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by.
We're going to get some more information.
We're watching this breaking story out of West Virginia -- a coal mine disaster unfolding right now.
We'll take a quick break.
Jack Cafferty is standing by with The Cafferty File, when we come back.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for The Cafferty File Jack.
CAFFERTY: What does it mean that the Tea Party movement has a favorable rating almost as high as Democrats and Republicans in a recent poll?
Driscoll writes: "The electorate smells the rotting stench emanating from the cesspool called Washington. The ruling class has not listened to what's important to the people. They're disgusted with the methods used to ram this health care reform down our throats."
Sam writes: "It means that the U.S. is in trouble and its citizens support a novelty of simpletons rather than substance."
Chris in Philadelphia, until they find a mouthpiece other than Caribou Barbie, very little. They need electable candidates. If they find a couple of those, it could be trouble for the Republicans and Democrats."
Ryan writes: "The Tea Party doesn't have any real solutions. All they have is anger. We need a lot more than sound bites and fury to fix things. Show me some substance."
Jim in Chicago: "Sad when a one-dimensional political party achieves popular parity with the more established parties. But that doesn't equate to success. The Tea Party is not so much rising in the polls as the Democrats and Republicans are falling."
Tom in Texas writes: "Hopefully, the Tea Party will split the GOP down the middle. You may think they are mad as hell, not going to take it any more populist movement of the future. But I look at these crowds and see ignorant rednecks who don't like the fact that the president's a black man, period."
And D. in Atlanta writes: "It means that when somebody said don't worry, things could be worse, they were right again."
If you want to read more, find it on CNN.com/caffertyfile -- Mr. Blitzer, back to you.
BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack. Thanks very much.
They are the real time images -- the real time images that happen during earthquakes.
Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When there's an earthquake, but you're far enough away that the Earth merely shakes...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stuff be jiggling.
MOOS: -- it's the jiggling that everybody with a camera shoots, from a swinging planter to swaying model airplanes, to cars caught rocking on a surveillance camera at a beachside parking lot.
But this was the most popular thing for homeowners to record for posterity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earthquake, earthquake. Look at my pool.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like an ocean.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, we've got a tsunami.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE) crazy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow!
MOOS: It was as if we were getting a tour of swimming pools and light fixtures.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I came home and my lamp's swinging.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like still going. Look at this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This clock does not run. The earthquake kicked it into start.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Earthquake. Earthquake.
MOOS: Far enough away from real danger, some would-be cinematographers were more excited than shaken up.
(on camera): What's the one expression an earthquake tends to shake out of you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On video. Holy crap.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Holy (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE).
MOOS (voice-over): Their language is not the thing folks watch during a quake. This young guy was talking to his dad on Skype when the shaking started.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my goodness. (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now there's (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE) falling off the walls. Don't look. It's not very funny. It's not very funny.
MOOS: Payton seemed unamused.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Payton's first earthquake.
MOOS: Pets seemed more freaked than their owners.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Buddy. It's OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you feel the earthquake?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys OK, puppies?
MOOS: Surveillance cameras caught scary sounds.
MOOS (on camera): And if your camera wasn't rolling during the quake, well, you could always re-create the moment.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Whoa, what's that?
MOOS: Since the quake coincided with Easter, some played up the holiday angle. One group huddled around the fridge...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your hand on the refrigerator.
MOOS: -- catching the vibrations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that's weird.
MOOS: But the weirdest moment caught on camera was Mike Turber doing a coin trick. He stacks quarters on his elbow and tries to catch them. This time he was going for flinging a stack of 70.
MIKE TURBER: I think we're having a -- OK, we're having an earthquake right now.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my goodness.
MOOS: -- New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: This year's White House Easter egg roll was busier than in past years. Basketball, football and tennis were added to today's activities. In a nod to the first lady, Michelle Obama's initiative against childhood obesity. It's called, Let's Move. The president himself was on the court for a while. But the highlight was the traditional Easter egg roll. The White House says it prepared more than 14,000 eggs and that 30,000 people from all 50 states took part throughout the day. They had a great time -- a very -- that was obvious on the South Lawn of the White House.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Thanks very much for joining us.
"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.