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THE SITUATION ROOM

Authorities Arrest Attempted Bombing Suspect; Nashville Flooded

Aired May 4, 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: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, breaking news: a Pakistani-American in custody, charged and talking about his alleged role in the Times Square bomb plot. There are more arrests, several arrests back in Pakistan, where the suspect claims he trained at a terrorist camp. I will have an exclusive interview with Pakistan's ambassador to the United States. Stand by for that.

How they got him, the clues left behind -- the no-fly list and a last-minute arrest on a plane about to leave for the Middle East.

And digging deeper on the bomb suspect -- the roots he put down in Connecticut, where he earned university degrees and lived with his family. We will take you to his neighborhood.

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

It began with an explosives-packed SUV parked in Times Square and led to a last-minute arrest on a flight ready to depart for the Middle East. Now there's breaking news out of New York, where a Pakistani- American man has been charged with an attempted terror bombing that could have ripped through the crowds in the heart of the city. And authorities say he is talking.

And that's led them to postpone today's planned court appearance.

Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, has been working this story nonstop for us.

Jeanne, what is the very latest?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, according to court documents, the suspect has admitted driving that SUV to Times Square and getting bomb-making training in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. And, in Pakistan today, several arrests in connection with the case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE (voice-over): Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani sworn in as a U.S. citizen just one year ago, faces charges, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. The explosives-laden SUV left in the heart of Manhattan. MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: If you looked at the components, the timer, the gasoline cans, the M-88s, the propane tank, the gun box, put all of that together, that lethal assembly really made a very big hurt locker.

MESERVE: Shahzad was identified as a suspect Sunday night after investigators determined he had recently bought the SUV in which they found keys to his residence and second car.

Monday night, he bought a ticket for Dubai. Officials say his name had just been added to the no-fly list, but Emirates Airline hadn't updated its database and failed to catch him. Customs and Border Protection at the last minute realized he was on the plane, but when they got to the gate, the doors had already closed. They were reopened, Shahzad was arrested, and the flight pushed off, only to be turned around by controllers so authorities could question two other men on board.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Emirates 202 heavy, Kennedy Tower, runway 22 right position.

Actually, I have a message for you to go back to the gate immediately. So, make the left turn when able.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two-zero-two turning left here.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MESERVE: Those men were later cleared. Some in law enforcement called it a close call, but not the attorney general.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I was never in any fear that we were in danger of losing him.

MESERVE: Sources say a .9-millimeter gun and ammunition were found in the car he drove to JFK, and court documents reveal investigators searching his garage in Connecticut found fireworks and fertilizer, two of the components of the bomb left in Times Square. And the investigation isn't over yet.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As Americans and as a nation, we will not be terrorized. We will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated. We will be vigilant. We will work together, and we will protect and defend the country we love to ensure a safe and prosperous future for our people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MESERVE: Officials say Shahzad is cooperating and providing valuable and useful information, but, as of now, no hints at why this man might want to detonate a bomb in the heart of New York City -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Explain the situation as far as the Miranda rights are concerned. What kind of reviews are law enforcement authorities getting for wrapping this case up and getting this guy to cooperate apparently?

MESERVE: Well, two things here, first on the Miranda rights.

He was talking to investigators because they didn't immediately read him his rights under the public safety exception. So, he was talking for a while. They won't tell us how long. They read his rights, and they say that he was still talking afterwards and giving them valuable information.

And as for the reviews of law enforcement, they got rave reviews from everybody in government at this press conference. Ray Kelly pointed out that they have solved this. Maybe it took more time than Jack Bauer, but it didn't take very long at all for them to at least make one arrest. Of course, there's a lot a lot of territory yet to cover in this investigation, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we're going to try to start covering it right now. All right, Jeanne, good work. Thank you.

Let's discuss what's going on with Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman of California. She chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence. Also joining us, our national security contributor Fran Townsend. She was the homeland security adviser to President Bush, also worked in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.

Can we assume, Congresswoman, that this guy acted alone or was part of a more robust conspiracy?

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, it's an ongoing investigation, so we are learning things every minute. I certainly am. Some from the public press and some from briefings that I have been getting. My operating assumption is he did not act alone.

It has been reported that he told the -- the interrogation process that he had training from Pakistan. And clearly his apartment and other things show that he had been working on this for a period of time. We're going to find out who else was involved. The so-called facilitators have been arrested in Pakistan, some of his family members are in Pakistan.

That is his home -- his hometown is near Peshawar, which I visited just a few months ago. It's a very dangerous part of Pakistan, right next to the tribal areas. So I think the operating assumption has to be that he was engaged with others in a terror plot to harm a lot of tourists and New York City residents.

BLITZER: Does it look, Fran, like this is the start of a new round of terror plots, if you will, against the United States?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: You know, we've seen a number of disruptions in just this year, nearly 10, Wolf. And there's an interesting consistency about them. We're not seeing the attempts at the multiple, simultaneous, mass casualty attacks. Again and again now we see the underwear bomber on the Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day. We see the Arkansas, the one guy who was in to the Army recruiting post and shoots it up. Nidal Hasan.

You see these, and then this, an individual who has a crudely made weapon. Could do tremendous harm, but we're seeing them shift to this sort of these -- these lower -- higher probability but lower consequence events. Still very serious. But it's a dangerous shift in tactics because these things are much more difficult to detect and disrupt before they harm people.

BLITZER: I want to play two clips for both of you and for our viewers in the United States and around the world. The homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, what she said Sunday, early on, because this thing was very fluid, and what she just said moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: At this point I have no information that it's anything other than a one-off, but, again, the situation is -- is -- it happened. The forensics are being done. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, along with New York City Police, working together to identify whether there are any other acts going on. We don't have any information that there are right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. That's what she said on Sunday. Now, here's what she said just a few moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAPOLITANO: When I said on Sunday that this was a one-off, I think it was in the context of did we know and have specific evidence of other -- other plots that were under way or currently under way, and the answer is, no, we didn't have any evidence that he was other than operating by himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. So, when she meant a one-off, it looked like an individual, lone wolf, if you will, but now apparently he's part of a much broader conspiracy.

HARMAN: He appears to be. This is an ongoing investigation. So-called facilitators seemed to have been arrested in Pakistan. We have a close working relationship with Pakistani intelligence. That has taken a few years to evolve...

BLITZER: Because I want to press you...

HARMAN: ... but it is working.

BLITZER: ... on that. We're going to speaking with the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, later this hour.

Is that relationship, that intelligence cooperation, security cooperation with Pakistan where it should be right now?

HARMAN: It's not perfect, but it is better and better. And the Pakistanis have come to the realization that the enormous number of terror groups in their country have them in their target sights, not just us and not just our troops and others in Afghanistan. And that has been a sea change.

And the arrests of some senior -- in fact, one of the interesting things is that one of the people we thought we had eliminated in the tribal areas, we reported -- or we -- our intelligence reported had been killed by a predator strike, is alive, and one of the things he threatened recently is that there would be further attacks on U.S. cities.

So one possibility is that he was behind this. There also is a -- I'm sure Fran would know this, something on YouTube claiming responsibility, a Pakistani Taliban terror cell claiming responsibility.

So, we will learn this, but the Pakistanis are working with us, and that is a very welcome thing.

BLITZER: This guy, you know, was living in the United States, went to the University of Bridgeport, got an MBA from the University of Bridgeport. A year ago became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Based on what we're hearing, Fran, it doesn't look like there were any red flags as far as he was concerned until the last few days.

TOWNSEND: No. That's right, Wolf. And you can rest assured the intelligence and law enforcement communities will go back to make sure, did they miss something that should have thrown a red flag.

You know, it's interesting, we heard late today that the airlines said when this guy came and bought his ticket at the last minute, that was a red flag that did trigger their interest. And it's a good thing that we had the National Targeting Center, the CBP caught the fact that the airlines missed the fact that this was a no-fly.

BLITZER: Well, I'm actually told, and maybe Jane Harman has more information, by a source, a UAE source, somewhere from the United Arab Emirates, that he was boarding this Emirates Airline flight, that once he paid cash for a one-way ticket to Dubai with a continuing flight to Islamabad, they, the authorities from the United Arab Emirates and from Emirates Airlines, immediately contacted U.S. law enforcement and said, we may have a problem here.

HARMAN: Well, I haven't heard that, but I would applaud that. CBP, our own customs folks, were all over this. And there may have been a glitch, meaning that he was no-flied. He was put on the list, once his name and identity were known...

BLITZER: But that was the past 24-48 hours. HARMAN: That's -- all of this is in the past 10 minutes, really. But that the fact that he was no-flied hadn't been downloaded yet on the Emirates Airlines's Web site. I'm not sure what time elapsed, but the way he was found was that our customs officials and part of the Homeland Security Department checked the manifest list and he came up on that.

And they contacted the gate, and they got the airplane turned around. And Eric Holder said today that even if it had taken off, we had authority to turn it around, and it would have landed back at JFK, and he would have been taken off that flight.

BLITZER: Is there good cooperation with authorities in the United Arab Emirates?

TOWNSEND: There is, Wolf. And, look, no relationship is perfect, you have your ups and downs, but by and large this has been a very consistent relationship. During my time in the prior administration, I stopped many times in the UAE, met with Sheikh Mohammed, the leader there. They are very committed, very good counter-terrorism partners, and very consistent counter-terrorism partners.

BLITZER: I suspect even if he had made his way to Dubai, the authorities there would have held onto him and made him available to the U.S.

HARMAN: I agree.

BLITZER: But I'm just -- I'm just guessing.

HARMAN: But let's -- you know, this was a really good story so far. And we've had some other arrests of -- of foreign nationals who were trying to attack both inside the American homeland and abroad -- "Jihad Jane" comes to mind, but there also were two others, Zazi, who was going to attack in New York...

BLITZER: Najibullah Zazi.

HARMAN: Yes. And David Headley, who was casing targets abroad.

BLITZER: Another Pakistani-American.

HARMAN: Right. And let me say one other thing about Miranda rights, because now the charge is, he shouldn't have been Mirandized. This is an American citizen and it's clear that there's a public safety exception, and it was applied. And he was questioned by, I am told, an excellent interrogation team. And he was cooperative. And at some point, we don't know precisely when, he was read his Miranda rights and he is still cooperating.

So I would view that as another success of applying the rule of law.

BLITZER: We've got to leave it there, guys. Thanks very much.

Fran Townsend, our homeland security analyst and contributor, as we should say, and Jane Harman, guys, thanks very much.

HARMAN: Thank you.

BLITZER: From Pakistan to Connecticut to Times Square, Mary Snow is in the terror suspect's neighborhood right now. She's digging into his background. She's going to tell all of us what she has learned.

And a CNN exclusive: I will ask Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, about the arrest made in Pakistan and about the suspect's claim that he trained at a terror camp in Pakistan.

Plus: Nashville submerged. Deadly flooding devastates the home of country music, and now authorities are deeply worried about what they may find as the waters recedes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty's here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You may be old enough to remember this. What was that TV show where they asked, will the real Wolf Blitzer please stand up? Was it "What's My Line..."

BLITZER: Was it...

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: ... or "To Tell the Truth"?

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: "To Tell the Truth," it was -- yes, I'm old enough to remember.

CAFFERTY: One -- it was one of those, right?

BLITZER: Right.

CAFFERTY: All right, well, we're going to borrow a line from the show.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: "To Tell the Truth," "To Tell the Truth."

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: "To Tell the Truth."

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: Will the real John McCain please stand up?

The longtime Arizona senator who is now in the toughest reelection battle of his career is hardly recognizable these days. We should have known something was wrong when the then-Republican presidential nominee decided that Sarah Palin was a good idea to be vice president.

McCain's a war hero. He endured years of torture, rather than compromise with the enemy. He was a moderate lawmaker. He was willing to compromise with the other side, known for reaching across the aisle. But, suddenly, when it looks like he might lose his cushy Senate seat, John McCain is willing to slither out of his principles, much like a snake sheds its skin.

Take, for example, McCain's flip-flop on illegal immigration. It was only a few years ago that the senator supported a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal aliens in this country. A lot of people called that amnesty, because that's what it was.

But now he's -- now that he's in danger of losing the Republican primary to a candidate who says McCain isn't conservative enough, the senator has changed his tune, big-time. He's calling now for a crackdown on illegal immigrants and is supporting Arizona's tough new immigration law.

Plus, he's taken to making incomprehensible statements in defense of that new law in Arizona, things like this -- quote -- "It's the drivers of cars with illegals in it that are intentionally causing accidents on the freeway" -- unquote.

What? McCain has also backed off several other issues, gays in the military, climate change, creating a national death panel. And to top it all off, McCain, who was known for years simply as a maverick, now denies he ever was, and, in fact, takes umbrage if you refer to him as a maverick.

So, here's the question: Whatever happened to John McCain? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog.

CAFFERTY: Was that one of our crack staff that came up with that "To Tell the Truth" answer?

BLITZER: No, it was just me.

CAFFERTY: It was just you? Well, you're one of our crack staff.

BLITZER: Yes. It was...

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: I remember that show.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.

Jack is going to be back.

The suspect in the Times Square bomb plot put down rooks in Connecticut. Faisal Shahzad earned university degrees there, lived with his family there, and allegedly left important clues behind there.

Mary Snow's been digging in to this for us.

Mary, tell our viewers what you're finding.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we know about Faisal Shahzad, Wolf, is that he's been living in Connecticut for -- since at least back to the year 2000.

As you mentioned, he attended school here at the University of Bridgeport, getting a college degree, and then his MBA. The home that is right behind me is the last known residence for him. And that is the House where FBI agents and police have been searching throughout the night and today.

But, before he lived here, he lived in a town not far from here, where he owned a home with his wife and neighbors say two children, and neighbors say they last saw the family there in the spring of last year. The home had been in the process of being foreclosed.

What we also know about him in terms of his work history, he holds a number of jobs. The last job that we know about, he worked as a junior financial analyst for about three years, leaving that company in 2009, on his own terms.

And in terms of people who knew him, we caught up with one of his advisers at the business school at the University of Bridgeport, who remembered him from the time he attended there about five years ago.

Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARD THRASHER, UNIVERSITY OF BRIDGEPORT: Pleasant. He was, you know, personable, certainly nothing that would indicate that, you know, five years after leaving us, he would do what he's been accused of doing, just a standard student, unremarkable in many respects.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: And that sentiment was echoed by a number of people in the area that we spoke to.

One thing, though, Wolf, we don't know at this point is where his wife and children are. Again, his neighbors had said that they last saw the wife and children in July of last year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What else are you hearing from some of those neighbors and other folks who knew him in Connecticut?

SNOW: You know, you really are getting kind of a sense of two different pictures here. In Bridgeport, where he last lived, you know, a number of people we spoke to say they did not know him at all, that some saw him walking around the streets. One woman described him as being sad.

The next-door neighbor said she didn't even know him, saw a car coming in, and at nighttime, and that was pretty much about it. But in terms of that house in Shelton, where he lived with his family, you know, some of the neighbors say that they saw him with his children. One neighbor's daughter played with their -- their children.

You know, one of the neighbors described him as being somewhat odd, saying that he didn't like sunlight, he would walk at night, but nothing that really stood out, no alarms that -- that went off for them.

BLITZER: Mary Snow's in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he last lived. Thanks, Mary, very much.

I want to show our viewers this picture we're just getting in from the White House, the president meeting with his top advisers in the Situation Room over at the White House in the West Wing. They're talking about what's happening involving the Times Square alleged bomber, Faisal Shahzad.

That picture, you see Rahm Emanuel sitting to the president's right, at the conference table, in the Situation Room over at the White House.

Coming up: a CNN exclusive. Did the Times Square terror suspect train at a camp in his native Pakistan? The Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, he's here live. We will talk about that and a lot more. That's coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: Trained for terror in Pakistan, the Times Square suspect allegedly tells interrogators he learned bomb-making at a terror camp in his homeland. I will speak about that, and a lot more, with Pakistan's ambassador to the United States. That's a CNN exclusive. It's coming up.

And the bomb plot suspect was read his Miranda rights. I will ask CNN's John King why some Republicans are upset about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story, the breaking news: The attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, says Pakistani native and U.S. citizen Faisal Shahzad has admitted trying to set off a car bomb in New York's Times Square. The suspect also is said to have claimed that he attended a terror training camp in Pakistan.

Hours after he was picked up at JFK International Airport in New York, security forces in Pakistan made arrests in the city of Karachi -- the city of residency on Faisal Shahzad's I.D. card.

CNN's Reza Sayah is joining us now live from Islamabad -- Reza, what can you tell us about Faisal Shahzad?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, obviously, a crucial portion of this investigation now taking place in Pakistan, that investigation moving ahead rapidly. We have confirmed at least two arrests here in Pakistan, taking place in the Nazimabat District in the southern port city of Karachi. According to an intelligence source, these two individuals arrested in Karachi during a raid of a house where Faisal Shahzad spent some time during the past year. We're not quite sure the identity of these two individuals, but we anticipated fully that Karachi was going to be a focal point of this investigation here in Pakistan.

Another focal point, his hometown -- the family's hometown of Pabbi. This is where Faisal Shahzad was born, in the Peshawar area of Northwest Pakistan. This is where he spent a lot of time, went to high school. We tracked down his house in Peshawar. His father, a vice marshal -- a retired vice marshal of the airport. He was not home when CNN crews arrived. Some locals and neighbors believed that he left, obviously, some damning statements, according to investigators, that he trained in South Waziristan.

We did speak to a cousin of Faisal Shahzad, who defended the family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Certainly that these people, they never indulged in any criminal activities. Not a family member, not the -- the village from which both of these people belongs -- none of the village members involved in any criminal activities or in any jihad activities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAYAH: Once again, Faisal Shahzad's cousin defending his family, this area where he grew up of Peshawar, just a few hours away from South Waziristan where, according to Faisal Shahzad, according to investigators, he trained. And if that's, indeed the case, South Waziristan, one of seven districts in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border, is the nerve center of the Pakistani Taliban. That suggests links with the Pakistani Taliban -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Reza Sayah, our man in Islamabad.

Thanks very much.

Let's get to a CNN exclusive right now for reaction to the arrest of this bomb plot suspect, Faisal Shahzad.

We're joined by Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani.

Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for coming in.

HUSAIN HAQQANI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO US: Thank you for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect you never heard of this guy 48 hours ago, but now you know a great deal about him, is that right?

HAQQANI: Absolutely, but not as much as we'd like to know. The American authorities have informed us about his arrest. He is an American citizen, born in 1979 in Pakistan. He just celebrated his 31st birthday probably -- maybe he didn't celebrate it in -- in March. And he's responsible for this action.

We will offer all cooperation. There are, as we speak, there are teams working in Pakistan to try and piece together all kinds of evidence -- intelligence, as well as law enforcement.

BLITZER: Can you confirm, based on what you know, that he did train with terrorists in Waziristan in Pakistan?

HAQQANI: I am in no position to confirm that. All we know is that that is what he has told American law enforcement personnel. We will trace back all his steps. There is a major effort underfoot right now. The thing to understand, Wolf, is that Pakistan and the United States are working together not only in this case, but in many other matters, to make sure that Pakistan is not used by anyone to train or to conduct any act of terrorism anywhere in the world.

BLITZER: How many individuals have you, the government of Pakistan, arrested as a result of what happened at Times Square?

Because we heard there were multiple arrests today.

HAQQANI: Well, there are people who are being questioned in Pakistan. And, of course, arrest implies that they are being charged with something. So there are many people who have some kind of an association with either the individual or people associated with the individual. And that is what we are trying to do. We are trying to piece together everything.

Now, you must remember that the head of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, came out with a statement only hours after this incident in Times Square in which he took responsibility. The Tehreek-e-Taliban has attacked many Pakistani targets, including -- and -- and killed many Pakistani soldiers. We have waged war against them and we are very successfully waging war against the extremists in Pakistan.

So it is in our interests to make sure that we can trace all elements and also not only deal with this particular case, but also make sure there are no future people going back to Pakistan and trying to train or associate with extremists against whom we are fighting.

BLITZER: Peter Bergen, our CNN terrorism analyst, said that claim of responsibility has some credibility to it.

Do you believe that specific group had a connection to Faisal Shahzad? HAQQANI: I -- as you know, I am an official of the government of Pakistan. So, first of all, all the dots have to be connected before I can say it with any certainty.

But let me just say that if he did, indeed, train and South Waziristan, the TTP, the Tehreek-e-Taliban in Pakistan is based in South Waziristan and the Pakistani military has successfully defeated them. There may be remnants there and he may have trained there before the Pakistani military flushed them out. But those are all pieces of speculation right now. We still need to piece together the evidence, which is what our intelligence services and law enforcement personnel are doing.

BLITZER: His wife and children, are they in Pakistan?

Have you been in touch, your government, with them?

HAQQANI: I'm not going to comment on the wife and children for the simple reason is that we want to protect their privacy. Look, most Pakistanis -- in fact, there are several hundred thousand of them -- they come to America essentially to pursue the American dream. This man wanted to shatter it. So we want to understand what happened, who was he connected to. And we do not want to embarrass his wife and children if they were not part of anything that he did.

BLITZER: You heard Reza Sayah, our correspondent in Islamabad, say his father is a retired ranking officer -- high ranking officer of the Pakistani Air Force.

Were you aware of that?

HAQQANI: That is something that we have heard on the media, but we are inquiring and investigating that. Faisal Shahzad is as common a name in Pakistan as John Smith in the United States. So it is perfectly possible that reporters could actually be pursuing a different Faisal Shahzad. All I'm saying is it's an investigation in which Pakistan still stand by the side of the United States. Pakistanis want to defeat terrorism as much as Americans do. This whole -- we are very lucky that this bomb didn't go off and that people were able to be vigilant about it. We want a similar level of vigilance on the side of Pakistan and we will show that vigilance, make sure that we defeat these people and do not let them succeed.

BLITZER: I -- I read today -- I don't know if you read it -- a very tough piece by Arnaud de Borchgrave, who is a well known foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large of "The Washington Times." I'll read a sentence to you, because I want your reaction: "Pakistan is still producing an estimated 10,000 potential jihadis a year out of 500,000 graduates from Pakistan's 11,000 madrassas."

HAQQANI: Mr. De Borchgrave is a very prescient and -- sort of person with a lot of understanding of Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation of 180 million people, Wolf. And we have had a problem since the 1980s. In the last two years, the government and the people of Pakistan have started addressing the problem. It will take us some time to root it out. But the good news is that the United States and Pakistan are working together and doing this. We have defeated the terrorists in Swat. We fought them in Waziristan. We will fight them in other place and we will make sure that whatever the number and whatever the people who are infected by the virus of extremist ideology, that we can actually marginalize them to the point where they do not pose a threat either to ourselves, our society or to the rest of the world.

BLITZER: Well, good luck.

Everyone says the cooperation between the U.S. And Pakistan on the security intelligence level has improved dramatically, but they also say there's still a ways -- a ways to go to make sure it is complete.

HAQQANI: It's just the magnitude of the problem, Wolf. It's not a lack of intent or will on the part of Pakistan.

BLITZER: It's a great problem, indeed.

Thanks, Mr. Ambassador, for coming in.

HAQQANI: Always a pleasure being here.

BLITZER: Husain Haqqani is the Pakistan ambassador to the United States.

Just hours after the arrest -- the attempted bombing -- involving the attempted bombing in New York City, there is some criticism and it's starting to fly. You're going to find out why some Republicans are now upset about how the investigation is being handled.

Stay with us.

We'll explain.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's continue our coverage of the breaking news. The suspect in the failed Times Square bombing plot was read his Miranda rights. But some Republicans are questioning that decision.

CNN's John King is here, the host of CNN's "JOHN KING USA".

What's going on here -- Marco Rubio and John McCain, Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan -- they're saying that Miranda decision was a mistake?

JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING USA": It is part of a narrative, Wolf, that has -- goes back to the beginning of this administration and intensified dramatically. Remember the Christmas Day attempted bombing. That suspect was also read his Miranda rights.

There are many conservatives and Republicans, John McCain among them; John Cornyn; you mentioned the Senate candidate, Marco Rubio, in Florida; who say that this administration has what they would call a softer approach -- treats this more as a law enforcement matter, as opposed to the Bush administration, in a more proactive intelligence matter.

So what they are saying is treat this man, even though he's an American citizen, as an enemy combatant; turn him over to a military tribunal and do not read him his Miranda rights.

Now, not all Republicans are saying that. There are a number of Republicans who are saying he is an American citizen and because of that, it makes it a little bit different for them.

But this debate has continued for some time. When most of those Republicans were speaking earlier this morning, they probably didn't know most of the details yet. It is true the suspect was given his Miranda rights. But as you heard the attorney general say, he was questioned first for an extended period of time. He was cooperating. Then they read him his Miranda rights and the attorney general and a number of other sources have confirmed this to us, that he continued to talk and, in fact, is continuing to talk to investigators, which is why he was not brought into court today.

But there is this investigation ongoing. And then immediately, just as the sun came up this morning, probably the inevitable political debate about how this administration treats terrorists.

BLITZER: Yes. Because the underwear bomber, Abdulmutallab, he was a foreign -- a foreign national who was trying to blow up a plane, allegedly, over Detroit, whereas Shahzad is a U.S. citizen -- a naturalized U.S. citizen, but by the law -- by law, he's still a U.S. citizen.

KING: He is a U.S. citizen. And, again, that's why you see more of a split here than you did about the Christmas Day attack, in the sense that some Republicans say well, since he's a citizen, they perhaps understand this. Perhaps he should be given more rights, treated somewhat differently. Others say, no. If he tried to attack the United States, that's it, he should be done.

And a -- not a Republican, the Independent senator, Joe Lieberman, who sides with Republicans generally on these terrorism issues, he has said today that he wants to introduce legislation that if a U.S. citizen, naturalized or not, is involved in any terrorist attack, he would strip them of their citizenship.

So the political debate -- we're in an election year, this is a sensitive issue anyway. One might think it could wait two or three days in the middle of a sensitive investigation, but it's the times we live in.

BLITZER: And John is going to have a lot more at the top of the hour...

KING: You bet.

BLITZER: On "JOHN KING USA".

Thanks.

A major metropolis devastated by deadly floodwaters. You're going to find out how Nashville is working around the clock to try to recover.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Lisa, what do you have?

SYLVESTER: Hi, Wolf.

Well, a former CBS News producer began serving jail time for trying to blackmail comedian David Letterman. Robert Joe Halderman pled guilty to attempted grand larceny in exchange for a six month jail sentence, five years probation and 1,000 hours of community service. Halderman admits he tried to extort $2 million from Letterman by threatening to reveal that the late night host had said -- had sexual affairs with women on his staff.

And this looked like a major disaster scene in Paris' West Bank, but really it was all just a test. Emergency crews simulated three coordinated bomb attacks. Volunteers with fake injuries waited to be helped by emergency workers. The exercise shut down parts of the city, which, as you can imagine, frustrated tourists, who couldn't take tours on The Seine.

And a 200 pound black bear is back on solid ground, although possibly just a little bit sluggish. Police in Oxnard, California sprayed the bear with tranquilizer darts after it scampered up a tree and got wedged in branches and then needed a little help. Firefighters -- you saw the pictures there -- they lowered the bear with a harness. The animal is set to be released now in a national forest.

You hear about cats needing to be rescued, but, Wolf, I think that's the first time I've heard about a bear needing a little rescue.

BLITZER: Me, too. But then again, I'm not necessarily an authority on that subject.

Lisa, thank you.

The Cafferty File coming in just a moment.

And at the top of the hour, "JOHN KING USA." He'll have the latest developments on the terror investigation in New York, including how the suspect was caught.

Just ahead, though, the historic flooding putting Nashville underwater -- we're going to hear from rescue workers who are on the scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: It's time now to check back with Jack Cafferty for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf is: Whatever happened to John McCain?

D. in Arizona, writes: "The old naval aviator is trying to fly through heavy flak from the left and the right, while trying to make one last carrier landing. Too many issues are clouding his vision. The landing could be rough. He needs to recall what got him down safely so many times before."

David in Virginia writes: "All I can think to say is that it saddens me to see what's become of this man. It's one thing to lose an election, it's another to lose it along with your remaining dignity."

Doms in New York writes: "Are you kidding? He's in a tough election because those years of so-called great moderation have alienated him from the people who sent him to Washington in the first place. He's making a calculated decision to move his views closer to those of his constituents. Democracy at work -- hallelujah."

Phyllis writes: "What happened to John McCain? Sarah Palin."

Ralph in Texas says: "Which one, the maverick or the I never proclaimed to be a maverick?"

Will in California: "The "country first" McCain seems to have been replaced by the "win the primary first" McCain. At this point, he's tacked so far to the right, he makes Mussolini look like a communist."

Michael writes: "How's that flippy-floppy thing going for you there, Mr. Straight Talk?"

And George in Austerlitz, New York: "Life has caught up with John McCain. I didn't always agree with him, but I always respected him. I still do. He's a guiding light showing what happens to all of us, even those who live fiercely and with honor -- we get old."

If you want to read more on the subject, go to my blog at CNN.com/caffertyfile.

Do you want me to arrange any sort of a reception for your arrival in New York tomorrow?

BLITZER: No. Just be Jack.

CAFFERTY: Good.

BLITZER: Just be...

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: See you tomorrow in New York, Jack. CAFFERTY: (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Thank you.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Music City underwater -- we're going to have the latest details on the historic flooding in Nashville and the painful recovery ahead.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Some relief is in sight for Tennessee, where at least 18 people have died in flooding brought on by torrential rains. The Cumberland River, which submerged much of Nashville, is receding, but authorities are deeply worried about what they may find as the water pulls back.

Martin Savidge is joining us now live from Nashville with more -- what's it like in Nashville, Marty, right now?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good evening, Wolf.

You can see, actually, that the situation has improved somewhat. There's still a lot of water you can see in the immediate downtown area. But where we're standing right now, if you were here this morning, well, it would be up to your knees. So it has receded. It's moving down quickly.

They believe, here in the city of Nashville, that the Cumberland River will be back within its banks, they hope, within the next 12 to 24 hours. That's here.

But as you point out, as the waters recede, they also reveal. And what they are revealing is extremely troubling to state officials, because now they're estimating the damage. And they believe that there are at least hundreds, if not thousands, of homes and businesses that have suffered from severe damage.

On top of that, there is a growing human toll. You mentioned the toll of 18. It's actually now to 19 here in the state of Tennessee. And the reason that the death toll is expected to go up is because search crews can now get into areas that they were not able to get into before because of the high water levels.

We were with such a shirt -- search crew, that is, in Ashland City. And scenes very reminiscent of what you saw post-Katrina, as the searchers went back into neighborhoods there when the waters receded. They were wading into the areas. They're going up to the doors. They're checking on the welfare. In some cases, it's the second check and they're putting the marks on the buildings. That was very much a trademark of New Orleans. And then they move on. Tony Clark is a captain with the fire department there. He spoke about what they expect to find.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY CLARK, ASHLAND CITY FIRE CAPTAIN: We'll go inside and we'll search for anybody that may not have gotten out before the water came up. We're pretty sure that most of the houses that we're going to search through, that, you know, the people have gotten out beforehand. But it's just a precautionary measure that we're going to go in and ensure that they did get out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIDGE: There's still a lot of places that they can't get in except by boat. And we went with the second team that was doing that. They were on the Cumberland River. But the Cumberland River now covers a massive area. They're navigating in areas that, well, the guys operating boats never thought they'd be driving a boat before. And the houses they were looking at, that is not the first floor, that is not the second floor, in many cases, that is the third floor barely peeking above the surface of the water.

Still, a very serious situation. And, in fact, the Army Corps of Engineers down there is classifying it as a 500 year flood -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What about the Grand Ole Opry, places that a lot of our viewers are familiar with?

SAVIDGE: Right. Two places you have to think of when you think of Nashville. One is the Grand Ole Opry House and the other is the Country Music Country Music Hall Fame. Both of them have water inside of them. The Country Music Country Music Hall Fame, we're told that the water got into the basement. There are some public areas down there. We did not hear of water getting into the exhibit areas. However, anybody will tell you that once moisture gets in a building, that's a bad thing. That damage is still being estimated.

As for the Grand Ole Opry House, we do not know -- they have been carefully guarding as to any access to that property. So we don't know the extent of damage there. Of course, the real concern is the damage to that six foot area that belonged to the Ryman Auditorium. That is considered ground zero for country music. Hopefully, it's OK -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Marty Savidge on the scene for us.

Good luck to all the folks in Tennessee.

Thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, "JOHN KING USA".