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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  May 20, 2015 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT

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not a good idea and puts yourself at risk. >> kelly wallace,, you can go to find her article there. thank you so much. that's all the time i have for you. i'm brooke baldwin here in new york. "the lead" with jake tapper starts now. how close is north korea - today to hitting northern california with a nuclear weapon? i'm jake tapper, this is "the lead." the world lead kim jong-un says his war machine has figured out how to put mini "a" bombs on track for some u.s. cities. the politics lead senator rand paul sounding the alarm, the republican presidential candidate marshaling a protest on the floor of the senate. over three hours now. he's taking a stand little rock and figuratively railing against something most every republican contender supports. and the national lead four people held hostage possibly tortured before they were murdered in one of d.c.'s most
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privileged zip codes. new reports that make this grisly case even more perplexing. someone apparently dropped off $40,000 in cash at the doorstep before the house and the people inside went up in flames. good afternoon, everyone. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. alarming news out of north korea. the rogue nation says its scientists have shrinked down nuclear war he'ds small enough to fit on the top of rockets, rockets that could potentially reach the united states. the white house says they have no evidence that kim jong-un has that capacity. but those denials run counter to warnings issued by u.s. military officials and north korea experts in recent months pointing to the frightening possibility that kim jong-un may be capable of anchoring the deadliest payload in the world to a missile that could reach los angeles. let's get to cnn's will ripley live in tokyo.
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you just got back from pyongyang. how credible do experts on north korea take this claim? >> reporter: when we run the ground in pyongyang, north korea announced they conducted an underwater ballistic missile launch. this is a regime that has a tendency to lie. but from talking to officials on the ground there, they are spending a tremendous amount of their limited resources on developing and growing their nuclear arsenal. so etch if they don't have widespread miniaturization technology yet, they are certainly working towards that goal and have no plans of backing down. >> is it possible that this claim has more to do with kim jong-un trying to solidify his power base and less to do with north korea's actual nuclear capabilities? >> reporter: yeah i get the sense there are two different factions in north korea.
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there's the militaristic side which kim jong-un is the leader of that army. he has to deal with those senior party members that continue to push for north korea to be a military power. but there's also a side where they're trying to be in some way more transparent. they care about what the world thinks. for example, allowing journalist a little bit more access to the country than they have before. but then you have them canceling ban ki-moon's visit to north korea. so it's hard to tell which course they're trying to steer right now for kim jong-un. >> will ripley in tokyo, thanks so much. let's bring in former ambassador christopher hill former ambassador to south korea who has associated with north korea. he's author atof "outpost." thanks for joining me. how seriously do you take this threat from north korea? >> i take it pretty seriously.
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they are clearly developing, they've been consistently developing these nuclear weapons. the question would be when would they miniaturize. when they'll do it is immaterial. that's the direction they're headed in. >> what should we do about it? diplomatic first and then military next? what would be those options, in your view? >> well the options are never good. but i think certainly we need to keep the negotiating door open not that they've been particularly interested in that. secondly i think we need to thicken up missile defense in that area. i know the chinese don't like that. but the chinese need to look at where we are with north korea. thirdly, we should be looking at direct methods, whether there's a way to slow down their nuclear development, the sorts of things
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that have been reported about iran. i think the negotiating track is especially important not necessarily because we can get the north koreas to slap their heads and say, okay we'll stop this. but rather to keep china engaged, work closely with china and make sure there's no daylight between us and the south koreas. >> you talked about missile defense. does the u.s. have interceptability to shoot down should north korea take such attack? >> we have the capability. but the technology is developing fast in that area. the technology on missile defense is developing more quickly than the north korean technology on missile offense. so we should really be continuing to develop that. but, yes, we have some capabilities now. >> north korea conducted a ballistic missile test on may 8th. that violated a u.n. resolution. kim jong-un does not seem to care.
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is china doing anything here? seems like we depend upon china to take the lead when it comes to getting north korea to not act so crazy. and they don't seem to be succeeding very well. >> yeah, it's tough. it's not about us outsourcing the problem to china. the issue is we need to work very closely with china and make sure china sees it in the way we do so that the chinese can use the leverage they have which is considerably more than the leverage we have to pressure the north koreans. i think at the end of the day, the chinese need to understand that north korea may go away and at that point china needs to get used to a new neighbor namely south korea. >> what do you mean go away? >> if we really put pressure on north korea, that somehow north korea will collapse. and you'll have a successor state taking over. this will be perceived in some
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chinese circles as somehow a victory for america and a defeat for china. so i think china needs to understand that it's not that. it's not a zero sum game. and by the way, i think the republic of korea, if this all comes to pass and it becomes a successor state i think would be a very stable element in the region. >> how seriously do you think the pentagon should be taking right now and the obama administration should be taking right now potential military strikes against north korean nuclear sites? >> i'm not sure military strikes are on the table. i don't think anyone's quite up for that. but certainly with the north korean s claim that they've miniaturized the weapons and if they start standing up these weapons and intending to fire them off, you have the potential of nuclear tip weapons in a position to fire at kroot country. so i think we need to be ready for that we need to have very strong anti-missile defense.
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and i think we need to reaffirm our commitment to our friends and allies and our allies there are japan and south korea. this could worry them considerably if they perceive the united states won't be there for them. >> ambassador hill, thank you so much for your time. >> thank you. osama bin laden's secrets revealed we are just now learning about the inner workings of al qaeda, including infighting in the group and frustration over lack of communication. but perhaps the most unbelievable a job application to be an al qaeda jihadi including questions about hobby hobbies and who to contact in case of mar dirdom. that story next.
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big day? ah, the usual. moved some new cars. hauled a bunch of steel. kept the supermarket shelves stocked. made sure everyone got their latest gadgets. what's up for the next shift? ah, nothing much. just keeping the lights on. (laugh) nice. doing the big things that move an economy. see you tomorrow, mac. see you tomorrow, sam. just another day at norfolk southern. when you're not confident you have complete visibility into your business, it can quickly become the only thing you think about. that's where at&t can help. with innovative solutions that connect machines and people... to keep your internet of things in-sync, in real-time. leaving you free to focus on what matters most.
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we live in a pick and choose world choose choose choose. but at bedtime? ...why settle for this? enter sleep number... don't miss the memorial day special edition mattress with sleepiq technology. sleepiq tells you how well you slept and what adjustments you can make. you like the bed soft. he's more hardcore. so your sleep goes from good to great to wow! now we can all choose amazing sleep, only at a sleep number store. save $500 on the memorial day special edition mattress with sleepiq technology. know better sleep with sleep number. welcome back to "the lead." it starts like every other job application you've ever seen
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please right clearly and legibly. and then it goes on to ask for your emergency contact information, just in case of martyrdom martyrdom. that job application to join al qaeda is one of the hundreds of just-released documents recovered when navy s.e.a.l.s took out osama bin laden's compound in abbottabad, pakistan. much of it previously classified all released this morning by the director of national intelligence. i gather that up until the end, bin laden was pushing for another major attack in the united states. >> yeah. and we kept thinking how involved was he? we still don't know how much real power he had. but he was trying to exercise what he did if you read these papers revealed. it shows it hatred of the united states and the real steps he took to try to make an attack happen.
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newly revealed in the now declassified bin laden papers al qaeda sent agents to attack with an emphasis on hitting americans whenever possible. so why did the attacks fail? . according to the master terrorist, it was bad luck and god wasn't on our side. the papers show that in all the years since 9/11 bin laden's desire to strike america again never let up. one says these pig-eating invaders and their loyal dogs are too scared of death to fight us face to face. the main reason they continue to kill us is because we do not have the knowledge and the resources to counter their technology. bin laden clearly feared the power of american drones warning his commanders to change locations only under cloudy skies to avoid detection. and he cautioned, we should be careful not to send big secrets
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by e-mail because the enemy can easily monitor it. computer science is not our science. he distinctly saw any plan to establish an islamic state as premature and risky, writing his followers should be prepared for a long struggle for things like food and water shortages. "i'm sure that you're aware that climate change is causing drought in some areas and floods in others." his online library also revealed in the documents contain nearly 40 books in english, including obama's wars bloodlines and the rise and fall of the great powers. and there is this an application form for would-be jihadis, asking about their education, families hobbies and do any of your family or friends work with the government? would they be willing to help us? do you wish to execute a suicide operation? and who should we contact in case you become a martyr?
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he even wrote one message to american voters saying the reason the value of the dollar was falling and the suicide rate among soldiers was rising was essentially because the united states was destined to lose the war on terror and yet we now know he was ultimately killed by the very troops he said could not win. >> grand irony for mr. bin laden. >> an amazing collection of writing. >> tom, thank you so much. joining me to talk about this newly declassified intelligence as well as the ongoing fight against isis is richard clark. he is out with a new novel titled "pinnacle event." thank you for being here. congratulations on the novel. i have to take advantage of you being here. your response to this treasure trove of information, is there anything as a counterterrorism expert somebody who was in the white house on 9/11 anything you found striking or surprising? >> i think the striking part is how different he is and how
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different that al qaeda, al qaeda 1.0 or 2.0, is from isis. isis is very professional very organized, has created successfully an islamic state, let's admit it. they run three or four cities probably have 2 million or 3 million people under their control. and bin laden says don't make the islamic state your priority go after the americans. and so far, isis hasn't gone after the americans in a big way. they've urged those in the united states to act on their own. but the contrast between this sort of philosophical approach of bin laden, this unclear approach of bin laden, and the businesslike organized, sort of corporate governance approach of isis is striking. >> is it because, do you think, the goals of the groups are so different? al qaeda more aimed at tearing down the west and isis aimed at
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building a caliphate? >> i think they both wanted to build a caliphate ultimately. but isis or daesh as the arabs call it just went straight to it and did it. and bin laden saw this as sort of something like the withering away of the state in the old communist jargon. try to knock off the egyptian government and the saudi government. but we can't do that until we get the americans out of the way. so let's, bin laden said attack the far enemy, the united states increase their pain point and then they'll leave. >> right, drive them out of the region. >> and once they leave, we can go after these governments. >> speaking of isis and the fall of ramadi reported this week to isis there's a lot of criticism that the white house strategy is simply not working although the white house says there is going to be no, quote, formal strategy review. do you think the obama administration is in denial about their strategy against isis? >> i don't know whether they are in private or not. but it's very clear after the fall of ramadi the strategy
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isn't working. it was clear before that. but it was a dirty little secret, i think, in washington. there's no plan jake to liberate the city of mosul. they were going to try to liberate fallujah last month. they didn't do that. and now they've lost ramadi. there's no plan to get rid of them in raqqa, a big city in syria. there is nothing realistic about what we're doing that will in the next year or so get rid of isis control of large cities in syria and iraq. >> this is a very depressing thing for you to say although i have to say, i know a lot of people who agree with you. if you were advising president obama, what would you tell him to do? >> i think he's beginning to do some of it. susan rice the national security adviser, just said that maybe we'll allow air support, u.s. air support of iranian-backed militias. that's painful. it's distasteful. but you have to pick your enemy. and they can't all be enemies.
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you have to pick who's on your side in this fight for now. and the iraniranian-backed militias are on our side or we're on their side in this situation. i would give arms immediately to the kurds. i would give arms immediately to the sunni militias and not let the baghdad government block those things. and we've been letting that happen. >> what do you make of the calls we've been hearing from republican circles george pataki, senator lindsay graham saying we need to send thousands more u.s. troops to the region? >> we tried that jake with painful results, with a lot of dead americans and a lot of americans still suffering without limbs and with ptsd. no i think the 3,000 americans we have there could be better utilized if the president allowed them as central command wants to do let them go to the front and act as advisers near
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the front with ford air controllers calling in air strikes. we've got 3,000 americans there. that's more than enough. our job is not to fight it on the ground but to help them fight it on the ground with intelligence air support and air cover. >> james comey said isis presents the most urgent threat to america than any others. do they have the capability of carrying out a large-scale attack here in the united states? >> we don't know. it's at least possible. al qaeda is still around, too, particularly in yemen now. we have to imagine that both al qaeda and isis want ultimately to do that. we can't let down our guard even though there's been no major attack in the united states since 9/11 there's no guarantee it won't happen. >> the new book is riveting. there's a growing concern about nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists hell-bent on attacking the united states.
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how much does your experience as a counterterrorism official influence what you write about this fiction? >> a lot. what i tried to do is -- the challenge is write a fun book write a thriller a page-turner, that is as factual as possible. i read thrillers all the time. and they frustrate me because they're so crazy and unrealistic. the challenge to me was see if you can make one that's realistic, make it fun but yet at the same time when the reader is done reading it they'll say, wow, i think i learned something. >> fascinating. the book is richard clarke's "pinnacle event," his fourth novel. they must be selling well. always a pleasure. good to see you. >> thank you. coming up senator rand paul three hours into a protest on the senate floor. why he says he's not planning on stopping anytime soon. plus new details in that horrific quadruple murder at a mansion in a wealthy part of washington.
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an employee of the husband's company delivered $40,000 to the home hours before the family was found dead. was this all about money? the keys to this home belong to mark and alissa anderson. they bought the place four months ago on what was arguably the scariest day of their lives. neither has any idea what the future holds for them. but they bought into a 30-year mortgage anyway. that was bold. they must really believe in themselves. buy in. quickenloans/home buy. refi. power.
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. just about three hours and counting. that's how long ran paul has been speaking on and off the senate floor as part of the his strategy to block the renewal of the patriot act. this is a live look at paul in action. >> if the senator from utah is interested in telling us a little bit of the story, we'd probably like to hear a little bit from his angle or in the form of a question -- >> well in any case he started his speech at about 1:18 p.m. eastern time. he keeps going and going and going. about 20 minutes in he or a staffer tweeted, i've just taken the senate floor to begin a filibuster of the patriot act renewal.
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it's time to end the nsa spying. dana bash is here. it's not technically a filibuster right? >> not yet because to be an actual technical filibuster, you have to be holding up some piece of legislation. he's not technically doing that. but if he keeps speaking till midnight he will technically be doing that on the trade bill. but regardless he's talking and will keep talking, maybe overnight, depends on how long he can go. the reason he is doing this is because he's opposed to continuing or extending the key provisions of the patriot act. they'll expire on june 1st which have to do with nsa wiretapping which he's long opposed. he's also running for president and it happens the minute he took to the senate floor, it was a coordinated effort with his presidential campaign to send tweets to raise money and also to keep kind of the momentum going because it certainly isn't a unified position on the
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republican side to be opposed to this. there are plenty of fellow republicans who say we need these rules. put in place under george w. bush. but rand paul is very unique in some ways in the republican field in that he has tapped into the libertarian kind of anti-big government fervor out there that very much does exist in the republican party and for him, he is their candidate on the gop side. so he wants to gin up their support. >> to the other side of the aisle, "the wall street journal" has a report that hillary clinton's political aides inside the u.s. state department while she was secretary of state, quote, sometimes blocked the release of documents requested under public records law. what can you tell us about that? is that unusual? >> well apparently when it comes to freedom of information requests which news organizations do across the board, it's not unusual to take some time to get responses
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because they sometimes do get held up because of the political wings of the agencies looking into it. but ultimately they should if they follow the law give over what journalists and others are requesting. in this particular report "the wall street journal" has sources saying that some key things that people are looking for were actually not turned over because political appointees and named cheryl mills who was hillary clinton's chief of staff and her longtime adviser, actually held them up. i should say the clinton campaign denies that at the state department saying it is not unusual for political figures to be involved in these decisions. but i will say that this obviously would not be an issue if transparency at the state department weren't already an issue for hillary clinton. and one good government group, the center for effective government went through all the agencies and put the state department dead last in terms of those who respond to foia --
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>> when she was in. >> yes. >> dana bash, thank you so much. baltimore still reeling from the death of freddie gray while in police custody. some police officers blame the violent on that case suggesting that law enforcement is afraid to do its job. we're live in baltimore next.
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welcome back to "the lead." the national lead, right now, protesters gathering on the streets of baltimore calling for justice in the death of freddie gray. fred gray died from a spinal cord injury a week after police dragged him into their van. six officers currently facing charges in the case. protesters say they're targeting the most vocal defender of those arrested officers baltimore's police union. cnn's miguel marquez is live in baltimore outside the fraternal order of police building. miguel? >> reporter: we've just arrived here. i want to show you the police
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presence that met us here at the fraternal order of police. to get here we took a circuitous route through baltimore. it was different than these groups have gone to before. at one point down here a white individual came out and started taunting the protesters. police trying to follow along. there were tense moments on this protest as police thought that the protesters were going to try to move on to the freeway, onto 83. i want to speak to lamont lily here. he was mixing it up with police -- i think they thought you were going to go onto 83. but you would not be stopped. why? >> because the problem has not stopped. until the problem stops, the people will not stop. until there's justice, there will be no damn peace, period. >> reporter: how often will you do this -- how often do you have to do this -- you're 50 strong
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very loud, very boisterous. how much pressure do you have to keep up in order to get what you want? >> right now, i'd say we're about 150 strong and we'll continue the pressure as much as we can, in any way possible. where there's demonstrations teach-ins, hopefully your camera in the news got that beautiful mural of freddie gray. spoke volumes. we're here raising our issues raising our voices. it's not just me, it's all the people. it's different nationalities, different genders. this is democracy, this is america. >> reporter: and the police union because this is the place that defends the officers the most right? >> correct. the f.o.p. has been one of the sharpest thorns for justice. they're denying that. people are saying no we support this decision to charge these officers.
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they should be charged. >> reporter: there's another protest planned for saturday and they say they will keep up this pressure the monkey wrench getting through traffic as long as it takes. >> miguel, thank you. there are many members of congress who think that police body cameras could have made all the difference in freddie gray's case. senator tim scott joins me now. he is planning to introduce legislation that would increase the use of cameras nationwide. senator, welcome to "the lead." you're introducing body cam legislation. what do you say to your fellow republicans who say this is an example of federalizing local police forces? >> i think there's nothing further from the truth. i haven't heard any of my senate colleagues come forward and say they believe that the step forward of having body cameras available for local law enforcement is in any way, shape or form federalizing local law enforcement. i would oppose strongly object and stand in the way of federalizing local law
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enforcement. >> what would this do? >> provide funding for local law enforcement who are interested in having body-worn cameras but can't afford it. there are about 4,000 jurisdictions around the country that have made the move to get body cameras. i'm trying to make sure the funding apparatus that could be available is available. and i think it will save more money than it actually costs. >> there are a lot of cases we've seen and they've been brought to light because of cell phone cameras mainly. there was a case in south carolina and obviously the freddie gray case. was there any one of these cases that prompted you to embrace this legislation. >> certainly watching the theme that's going on -- we have the opportunity to restore trust between law enforcement and community members is through the use of body-worn cameras. for me north charleston had a lot to do with me stepping
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forward and asking for the hearing, now asking for the groups that have been part of the hearing process, the experts that have come into my office over a dozen groups have come in and talked about their concerns whether it's disclosure issues whether it's data retention, a lot of issues that we need to solve on our way to it. >> privacy is a big issue. >> it should be. we should not rush into something. what i hope to see is america working on behalf of the citizens of the country. i'm trying to find the best practices around the country and make them available to other jurisdictions without us as a federal government coming in and dictating, mandating or requiring anything other than having a funding apparatus. and the d.o.j.'s argument of moving in that direction, $20 million being provided is a step in the right direction. >> who's expressing the most concern? >> everyone has a concern. no doubt about that.
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but i've been very excited about the fact that the sheriff's associations that i've met with the attorney general's associations that i've met with the mayors all have the same comments. yes, this will probably be a very good tool for law enforcement officers. let us talk first about the cost the data retention, the disclosure issues foia as well if we can overcome those obstacles, we have a clear path. but everyone so far has agreed that body cameras would in fact lower complaints. one study's come out that said there's a 90% drop in complaints against officers and a 60% drop in the use of force. everyone seems to act differently when they know they're on video. >> i know i do. >> me and you both. >> senator, thank you so much. >> thank you. coming up horrific new details in that horrible quadruple murder in washington, d.c. including reports that $40,000 in cash was dropped off
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at the mansion just hours before the family was killed. plus how many people came to the door while they were possibly being held hostage? next. big day? ah, the usual. moved some new cars. hauled a bunch of steel. kept the supermarket shelves stocked. made sure everyone got their latest gadgets. what's up for the next shift? ah, nothing much. just keeping the lights on. (laugh) nice. doing the big things that move an economy. see you tomorrow, mac. see you tomorrow, sam. just another day at norfolk southern.
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we live in a pick and choose world choose choose choose. but at bedtime? ...why settle for this? enter sleep number... don't miss the memorial day special edition mattress with sleepiq technology. sleepiq tells you how well you slept and what adjustments you can make. you like the bed soft. he's more hardcore. so your sleep goes from good to great to wow! now we can all choose amazing sleep, only at a sleep number store. save $500 on the memorial day special edition mattress with sleepiq technology. know better sleep with sleep number.
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. the national lead now, new tragic details about events that led up to the mysterious murders in a d.c. mansion. a wealthy businessman, his wife their 10-year-old son and their housekeeper all found dead inside the charred home. but their torture may have started well before someone deliberately set the family's house on fire. and money may have been the motivation. let's bring in pamela brown who's been digging into this story. what do we know about a package that was dropped off at the family home before apparently the fire before the murders? >> here's what we're learning according to our sources, whoever was holding the family and their housekeeper hostage made away with thousands of dollars in cash. local media is reporting while the assailant or assailants was holding the family and housekeeper hostage that someone dropped off a package full of cash. investigators of the mystery
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behind the quadruple homicide inside this washington, d.c. mansion believe money was the motive. a separate source with knowledge of the investigation says the couple and their son and housekeeper were bound and held captive inside the home. the source says there were signs of torture to at least one of the victims. while this was going on law enforcement officials tell "the washington post" that an employee of the husband delivered a package containing $40,000. a law enforcement official tells cnn that the assailants are believed to have gotten away with that amount of money. the deceased housekeeper's husband tells cnn's affiliate he went to the home the morning after the incident began and knew something was wrong. >> i saw the two cars in the garage. >> you saw the porsche? >> yeah the porsche was on the street.
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and then i was knocking and knocking. my feelings was that someone was inside. >> reporter: but nobody answers. then he received a phone call from the husband? >> i'm sorry i didn't call you last night. she has to stay with my wife because she was feeling bad and she has to go to the hospital and asking vera to go with her. >> reporter: that day, amy texted the family's other housekeeper reminding her not to come to work. three hours later, the mansion right next to vice president volleyballjoe biden's home went up in flames. investigators believe the four were killed before the home was set on fire. >> all they want is the money or the valuables. the fact that these people are dead tells me they're especially brutal. >> reporter: police have released this grainy video of a person of interest who
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investigators believe drove the family's porsche to maryland before setting it on fire in broad daylight. and in a perplexing twist to the story, we've learned a pizza may have been delivereded from a domino's franchise to the home on wednesday night, possibly during the time the family was being held hostage. a manager at the store tells us that police have contacted them but the manager couldn't comment any further because of the ongoing investigation. >> pamela, i have to say, $40,000 to this family was really -- they lived in a more than $4 million estate. >> i was just interviewing a family friend who said $40,000 is a drop in the bucket for this family. they are a wealthy family and he was saying it doesn't make sense, it just doesn't add up that this would happen. "the washington post" is reporting that the $40,000 may have been tied to a martial arts studio that a she is trying to
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opening in virginia but it is perplexing that all this was about $40,000 in cash. >> pamela brown, horrific story thank you so much. cnn exclusive coming up next on "the situation room." we're joined by wolf blitzer. a u.s. spy plane flew over the south china sea. what is your team working on? >> jim sciutto, our chief national security correspondent, was on this poseidon over the south china sea. the chinese are building these huge manmade islands there, not just for recreation or condos but for military purposes. the u.s. is very worried about it. and jim sciutto got exclusive access flying on one of these poseidons over the area. we'll take our viewers there. senator tom cotton is standing by. marie harf, we'll get her reaction. lots of news coming up. >> under ten minutes. "the situation room." wolf blitzer. thank you so much. coming up tonight will be a sad night not just for david
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letterman fans but for his sidekick and friend paul schaefer. paul schaefer visits "the lead" next. what he tells me about the final show and the strange way his boss broke the news to him what he was he tiring.
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tomorrow is our final show. but -- no, no, no, wait a minute. unless it rains, then there will be a rain delay. and we'll probably make it up -- >> in just a few hours, david letterman will say good-bye to late night television after 33 years. listen to his career stats along the way. 16 emmy awards, 4,600 top ten lists. nearly 20,000 guests. a large crowd lined up this morning in front of the ed sullivan theater.
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some were lucky enough to get a ticket to today's final recording. we now know that the foo fighters will be his final musical guest tonight. jay leno will not make an appearance despite being invited. dave gets the glory for more than three decades on stage but his show and his career just wouldn't be the same without his right-hand man, show music director, paul schaefer. hear that? that's comedy's theme music. an anthem for "a" listers. ♪ orchestrated by "the late show's" paul schaefer. >> mr. paul schaefer! i based it on these bands that i heard in toronto that wore these sleazy topless lounges. the music was the hippest. >> who are you?
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>> you remember me. >> david letterman's band leader and friend for more than three decades has composed quite a career. >> what a dream job i have had working for really a dream boss who encouraged me to do whatever i wanted literally on this show. >> reporter: schaefer became a true sidekick with skits and unscripted jokes of his own. >> i've watched johnny carson. and you are no johnny carson. improviseing with a guy on the level of david letterman is really an honor, nobody gets to do that. >> reporter: the seasoned musician is also famous for his musical puns. >> it's paul "just play along" schaefer. >> reporter: like playing a spin doctor song for former white house press secretary jay carney or nirvana's qul all "all apologies"
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for mitt romney. >> i had a repertoire of songs in common with our audience. so when i picked a song to make a point, people would get it because we had this repertoire in common. it was a lot of fun. >> reporter: not just fun for schaefer but for viewers and guests as well. >> 80% of the guests probably don't know what paul is referring to. he fills gaps that need to be filled. he always has kind of the perfect reaction. >> are you paying attention? >> yes, i am. >> reporter: shaffer and letterman are also good friends, bonding over holidays spent away from the spotlight, performing in war zones. >> first year in afghanistan and christmas eves in iraq, entertaining a little bit. just any show hanging out, taking pictures. it was an honor being here with all you guys and gals.
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that's when our friendship really -- what we went through -- >> reporter: after 33 years together you might think letterman would break his retirement news to shaffer very gently. but that's never been his shtick. when did you first know that he was going to retire? >> there was no indication until one day on a monday we were in the wings just about to go on and before we went on he said just come with me. took me into a little alcove and he said i've told the guys at cbs that i'm going to retire. wow. and then the next thing i knew i was on stage. >> reporter: this must be a difficult time. this is -- i'm having a tough time and i've only just been watching it. >> boy, i've known nothing else for half my life. but at the same time what a wonderfully satisfying long run it has been. >> paul shaffer, ladies and gentlemen.
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that was wonderful. >> so what next for paul? i asked him. he said after tonight's show he would like to play a villain in a three-episode arc on "csi miami." of course, that show was canceled in 2012. he might need another plan. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news, spy plane confrontation. >> this is the chinese navy. this is the chinese navy. >> cnn's there exclusively as china's military confronts an american spy plane. our crew on board for the intense encounter. why is china building a secret military base in disputed waters? terror gains, another city falls to isis as thousands flee advancing terrorist forces. is the wife of an isis commander giving violate new information to u.s.