tv CNN Newsroom CNN September 2, 2013 11:00am-1:01pm PDT
it was all such a crscramble. from talking to the boat crew i did on the beach, they said it was a combination of something to do with the phase of the moon and the salinity in the water. it's things as minuscule as that that can make a difference. they actually only ran into one jelly fish the entire time. as you guys know, that's what plagued her in the last three attempts were these deadly jelly fish. they are potentially deadly jelly fish stings. >> matt, we're going to have a lot more of a conversation with you in the moments to come. history being made. diana nyad completing that swim from cuba to florida without a shark cage. we're going to turn our coverage over to brooke baldwin who takes it from here. >> we'll take it from here, suzanne. thank you so much. welcome to all of you. we are watching this incredible feat playing out live here on cnn. two boxes on your screen. live pictures. left side, smathers beach, key west, florida. a lot of revelers. a lot of revelers who so
happened to be there when really history is made. we now know 64-year-old diana nyad has swum to shore. that multihour, multiday swim she had been chasing, this dream of hers, ever since her first attempt when she was 29 years young. she has now reached the shore. i want to go straight to john zarrella who's been waiting, who has followed this journey of diana's for years and years. i have spoken with her. talk about, you know, talk about living the dream, john. tell me what you know, how long ago did she accomplish this? >> reporter: well, you know, you have to just say, brooke, wow. >> wow is right. >> reporter: you exhale. it's over. you know, she's done it. she's finally put the exclamation point on to this 35-year quest of hers. and, you know, four attempts. this was the fifth attempt. she had said that she would not do it again if she didn't make it. so the fifth time certainly the
charm. all along, you know, she has said, look, you know, i want to give it one more try. i want to give it one more try. and everything played out into her favor this time around. the weather conditions, as you saw. the water is perfectly calm. she had good weather conditions all the way across. she did not run into the obstacles of the jelly fish that she did last year. that really those box jelly fish that derailed her attempt a year ago to make this swim. she wore that specially -- this prosthetic mask that was made for her to keep those jelly fish from stinging her if they encountered them. so everything played out in her favor to make this swim certainly much easier on her than in the past attempts. but that doesn't take anything away from what she's accomplished. we talked to one woman who was down there at the other end of the beach. she came ashore about 300 yards from us. a person that witnessed it saying she walked out under her
own power and she got -- fell into the arms of one of her -- one of the people in her team. but that she just was absolutely determined to walk out on her own. to make it without any more help to the shore. and she did it. and what a tremendous athlete she is. we hear about all these incredible athletes out there. but there's no doubt about it. diana nyad with what she has accomplished at 64 years young ranks up there among certainly in my estimation one of the greatest of all times as far as an athletic feat here. but the people are starting to thin out a little bit now. still a lot of them up the beach. but many people just running back this way. everybody, brooke, smiling. what a wonderful moment. >> as they should be. talk about an athletic hero who has officially at 64 years young truly realized her dream. we are waiting to see and hear from diana nyad. john zarrella, don't go too far from that camera. because we will take our viewers
right back to the spot where you are at smathers beach there in key west to bring her story to our viewers live in just a moment. i want to move away from this story, though, from key west and talk syria. because also happening at this moment, the threats from syria are getting louder. president bashar al assad reportedly warning u.s. ally france, stay out. stay out. or prepare to face, i'm quoting him, negative repercussions. of course, we know now what president obama says he wants. a military strike on syrian soil. he is now making the case to convince everyone else to get onboard with his plan. this whole thing now moving into the hands of congress. while certainly there is a lot of skepticism among lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, plenty of folks against any involvement whatsoever, right now president obama is sitting down with two men who have called on him to do more militarily, not less. i'm talking about senators lindsey graham and john mccain.
both republicans. senator mccain also thinks leaving it up to congress is risky business. zbli >> i want to talk to the president. i want to find out whether there is a plan and a strategy. i want to find out whether this is just a pinprick that somehow bashar al assad can trumpet that he defeated the united states of america. but i will say that if congress overrules a decision of the president of the united states on an issue of national security, that could set a catastrophic precedent in the future. it would be very dangerous precedent to be setting. >> this dramatic change of mind for president obama has left him with a very small window to work with before congress votes. keep in mind, they're still on vacation. they come back next monday. look at this busy week ahead. the president leaves the u.s. for sweden tomorrow. then on thursday and friday of this week, he will be in russia. remember russia? good friend of syria's.
for the g-20 summit. he returns home to the u.s. on friday night. at the start of next week as i mentioned, congress reconvenes monday. jake tapper, chief washington correspondent, host of "the lead" and dana bash, our chief congressional correspondent, both join me now. jake, let me begin with you. we know, senator john mccain not just the guy president obama beat to become president, he has been one of the feare esfierciss of the white house. how important is it for the president to get john mccain behind him on syria? >> it's very important. first of all, because they need every vote they can get. this is probably as of right now, there's no guarantee this will pass either the house or the senate. there's a lot of skepticism among not only republicans, but democrats. john mccain has been calling for action since assad started behaving violently towards those demonstrating against his administration two years ago. he basically is the voice of action, for action in syria and
has been for the last two years. so getting him on board is incredibly important. because other republicans will definitely follow mccain's lead on this issue. without mccain, it gives republicans an excuse to vote against it. >> just to be specific, when you say action, i mean, senator mccain is taking it to the point where he wants to interrupt the ground war, interrupt the civil war, and ultimately get assad out. correct? >> mccain supports regime change. that has been his position for quite some time. he hasn't gone into detail as far as i know about whether he wants boots on the ground or what. but he has supported military action against assad's regime for years. >> dana, you've got some information on this call. 127 democratic members. lasted 70 minutes. tell me what you're learning about this call. >> i'll tell you just in one second. i just wanted to ask, jake was talking, got information we will hear from senators mccain and graham at the white house right after they have their meeting. we're going to get that information on their decision hopefully in the next hour or
so, depending on how long this goes. second thing on this point i want to make is that i have actually spoken to lindsey graham a couple of times over the past couple of days. what he says is just as jake was suggesting, it's not that they expect president obama to just go have a massive military strike. what they are doing effectively is using this authorization vote as leverage to get the president to do what they've been pounding him to do, which is to articulate a strategy. specifically to train and arm the rebels that they can find who they trust inside syria. on the question that you asked, very fascinating conference call that apparently just went on today with 127 members of the democratic caucus in the house. and secretaries kerry, hagel, martin dempsey and susan rice. explaining, again, why they think that this is the right thing to do. i'm told that secretary kerry gave them some information saying that the turks and the
saudis and the uae will -- have promised to help to contribute with military support. and he argued to these democrats that 100 members of the syrian army have already defected thanks to the threat of military action by the u.s. so those are some substantive readouts that i got. on the politics and the pushback from these democratic members, the one that i was told by a couple of sources on this call is the most interesting is one lawmaker from minnesota saying that he believes that the administration is suffering from historical amnesia. they're forgetting lessons of iraq and of vietnam. i'm told that secretary kerry was the most forceful in answering that, saying he's just wrong. of course, secretary kerry is a vietnam veteran who turned against that war. but separate from that, he said as a former prosecutor, kerry believes that he has a case beyond a reasonable doubt. very interesting call as they continue this full court press to get those votes, particularly in the house. >> that's info on the call.
jake, back to you. we also learned today from the kremlin about this russian delegation. because they're planning on sending their lawmakers to washington to talk to congress to -- i believe the word is "dialogue" with our folks. has this ever happened before? and do you think the u.s. lawmakers will listen? >> talked to a number of senior aides on the house and senate and democrat and republican side. i am told it is very, very uncommon. no one could recall a similar incident of the russians or a similar country coming to lobby lawmakers to vote against something the president is supporting. no one could remember any similar incident. obviously the russians are skeptical and have voiced skepticism that the syrian regime was behind the august 21st chemical attack outside damascus. so it's not surprising that they would have that position. but to come to the united states or to come from the embassy to capitol hill to lobby lawmakers
to vote against a piece of legislation as opposed to just making their views and their opinions known seems very, very rare. >> dana, quickly back to you. as you broke the news at the top of what you were saying about mccain and lindsey graham, do we have any idea, chronology as far as when they might be speaking? when they might step in front of the microphones? >> no. it all depends on how long this meeting with the president goes. but clearly what we are going to be looking for is whether or not they are going to say, yes, we support this and we will vote yes on authorization. just as jake laid out beautifully. that is going to matter tremendously. that is exactly why the white house had them pretty much first at the white house as they're doing this full court press. >> got it. we'll watch for it. dana bash, jake tapper, thank you very much. as we mentioned there's a lot of convincing that needs to be done if congress is going to get on board for the strike on syria. the case for and the case against. what lawmakers will be debating all week.
zoey carpenter, reporter from "the nation." emily smith, senior editor of "the weekly standard." welcome to both of you wp we brought you both on because you come from very different ends of the spectrum when it comes to possible involvement in syria. i want to begin with you. i read the piece in "the nation" entitled "the case against military intervention in syria." of all the myriad reasons that are laid out, give me one reason, one reason the u.s. should not strike. >> sure. one is a practical reason. will those strikes be effective? and what does effective mean? are they going to be effective as retaliation? are they going to be effective as a deterrent? are they going to be effective for advancing a humanitarian agenda? we don't know those questions. we don't know the answers to those questions. there is a significant chance that they won't be effective to meet any of those objectives. >> lee, how do you counter that argument? >> first of all, i'd like to see some of those answers flushed out over the next week or so
until september 9th. those are serious and legitimate questions. i would say, though, that the united states has a vital national interest in containing and preventing the use of weapons of mass destruction. so i think that in itself, that in itself means we should take a strike very seriously. >> i know one argument for intervention is the fact that other leaders of other nations, i.e. north korea, i.e. iran, are watching to see if the u.s. responds. and so, lee, if the united states strikes syria, what message would the u.s. be spending to those other countries? >> i think in particular we're looking at the investment that iran has made in props up bashar al assad in syria. i think the iranians will take it as a very clear message that when the president sits down and when the president says we will not allow them to have a nuclear weapons program, the president is quite serious. a very useful and constructive message to be sending at this time when we're very concerned about the iranian nuclear program.
>> zoe, you say -- or you should say "the nation" says it's too late to worry about credibility in that region. how so? >> well, i think we've pretty much shot our credibility with the hasty entrance into iraq and the false accusations of weapons of mass destruction there. and in the chaos that was unleashed after our intervention in libya also. i think if we're worried about a nuclear iran, we should be pursuing all diplomatic strategies as well. we're not doing that. there are a lot of other ways to -- to approach our concerns about weapons of mass destruction in other regimes that have nothing to do with red lines and retaliatory attacks. >> given the questions that both of you have, do you think the president -- this is for both of you. do you think the president should address the nation after the debate continues this week, before congress reconvenes monday? do you feel that he needs to lay out more evidence? to either of you. >> i think the president should have been making this case for the last two years. i think that one of the problems he's going to have on the hill
right now, because he's been basically brushing off allies, regional partners from saudi arabia to turkey to jordan and saying it's not that important. and now he's saying it is important. so i'm very happy that he's campaigning on the hill. he's sending out john kerry. he's sending out other senior policymakers to make the case. yes, i'd like to see the president make a powerful case to the american people. while his it sha-- while his aid officials make the case up on the hill. absolutely. >> zoe, since your argument is against, let me put it to you this way. >> sure. >> what if chemical weapons were used again, tomorrow? would you opinion change? >> i think it's not very useful to speculate. i think if we're concerned about -- >> just a question. >> well, if we're concerned about the ongoing humanitarian implications of the assad regime in syria, we should be looking to choke off all the arms coming in. we should be working with the russians. there are a lot of humanitarian assistance measures that we could be pursuing, especially
with refugee camps. >> zoe carpenter and lee smith, thank you both very much. coming up next, diana nyad. she just spoke after her record breaking swim. there she is. you will hear it in full from key west. huge, huge day for her. don't miss this. my asthma's under control. i get out a lot... except when it's too cold. like the last three weekends. asthma doesn't affect my job... you missed the meeting again last week! it doesn't affect my family. your coughing woke me up again.
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he has done it. 64-year-old tdiana nyad swimmin all the way from cuba to the u.s. without a shark cage. without flippers. she's done it. we just now heard from her. take a listen. >> i've got three messages. one is, we should never, ever give up. [ cheers and applause ] two is, you're never too old to
chase -- >> oh, we didn't get it. hopefully we can -- okay. we'll get it. we'll fix it. want to hear all three. three things we've learned from diana nyad. as we work to fix that, let me show you something. the president of the united states has just tweeted. let's throw up the tweet. let me look at my e-mail. i'll tell you verbatim what it says. congratulations to diana nyad. never give up on your dreams. this was the fifth time and apparently the fifth time was the charm for diana nyad. there you go. there's the tweet. as soon as we can get that video working, i know you all want to hear from her. we'll bring it to you on cnn. c congratulations to diana nyad. we're waiting for two senators. john mccain and lindsey graham to speak at the white house. to step behind that podium. they're meeting with president obama on syria as i speak. don't miss a moment. with diabetes, it's tough to keep life balanced.
security are warning americans cyber attacks from syria are here. and they could be happening more and more often. a group called the syrian electronic army is is now claiming responsibility for these cyber attacks. usually big media outlets are the target. remember, just last week it was "the new york times." this go round they targeted the recruiting website for the u.s. marines. what did they do? they replaced it with messages trying to convince the u.s. not to take military action in syria. so does taking down a military website mean a high value cyber attack for this group? let's go to our correspondent in london, samuel burke. how big of deal is this, samuel? >> lucky for all of us this is a pretty soft target, so it's probably not that big of a deal. a u.s. marine corps official tells cnn what this group did was redirect traffic from that website to another website, the one you're seeing right now on your screen, in fact. basically, brooke, that's like me telling you someone graffitied my front door and my gated patio but wasn't able to
get into my house. i spoke with a retired u.s. air force colonel who specializes in cyber security. he said it seems very likely that they never got close to any important information. this is not a classified network. this is just a recruiting network of the u.s. marines. but he did tell me that if your viewers are curious, don't visit marines.com right now because it could still have malware on it. >> what about just that they were able to be successful using the internet as a weapon? >> well, it is a soft target. they're taking websites like marines.com, twitter. they actually had more of an impact to use it as a weapon, so to speak, when they hacked the news organizations' twitter accounts. that affected the stock market. what they did here was embarrassing for the united states. they posted propaganda. it didn't have a tangible effect. what the expert told me i was talking about before, we should be very cautious. what if they did this to an online retailer.
yes, the marines missed one day of recruitment. what if this was a major online retailer that missed 24 hours of sales. coming up next, we're taking you inside the mind of the president of syria including his mood swings, his temperament. how apparently he's a phil collins fan. i'll talk with someone who's met with bashar al assad multiple times. don't miss this. [ male announcer ] this is jim, a man who doesn't stand still. but jim has afib, atrial fibrillation -- an irregular heartbeat, not caused by a heart valve problem. that puts jim at a greater risk of stroke. for years, jim's medicine tied him to a monthly trip to the clinic to get his blood tested. but now, with once-a-day xarelto®, jim's on the move. jim's doctor recommended xarelto®. like warfarin, xarelto® is proven effective to reduce afib-related stroke risk. but xarelto® is the first
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bottom of the hour. i'm brooke baldwin. at this very moment behind closed doors president barack obama is set to meet with two of his biggest critics, republican senators john mccain and lindsey graham. he needs their support to help convince congress taking action against syria is the right thing to do. i want to go straight to the white house to our correspondent
there, athena jones. athena, not only is this meeting happening today, you now are getting word of a pretty high profile meeting happening tomorrow. >> reporter: that's right, brooke. house speaker john boehner is scheduled to come to the white house tomorrow morning to meet with the president as is minority leader nancy pelosi. this is part of the ongoing consultations and multiple briefings the president and other members of the administration have been having with members of congress to try to get this resolution passed. now, we know that the white house has said the president doesn't have to have congressional approval to act in syria. but now that he's taken this step in seeking it, they're going to do all they can, working very, very hard night and day to try to get this through the congress. it's right now very much up in the air. there are a lot of folks with a lot of questions. so today you have the president meeting with senators mccain and graham. we expect to hear from them coming out of this meeting. and one thing that's important here is that these are two senators, republican senators, who really have said they want the president to go further. they say they want him to talk
about a clear plan and strategy in syria. something that -- they want the goal to be to take bashar al assad out of power. to change the battlefield balance against assad. they want these strikes to strike at assad's missile defense, command and control centers. that sort of thing. the white house has said the goal here is not regime change. so there's a big difference here. the white house wants to punish assad for using these chemical weapons. certainly something we expect these two to be talking to the president about today, brooke. >> and as you highlighted, we are watching and waiting. we have that camera poised just outside of the white house. waiting to hear from both of those senators as soon as that meeting is finished. athena jones, thank you very much. i want to take you inside syria now and just tell you the number we have. 118. 118 people were killed in fighting there on sunday. including 13 children. this is according to the syrian opposition. just to show you, some of the fighting here, this is saturday. these are rebels fighting
government forces in extreme southern syria. this is very, very close to israel. [ gunfire ] that is the fighting on saturday. the following day bashar al assad met in damascus with parliament members from syria's close ally, iran. and in an interview today with french newspaper, assad called the middle east a, quote, powder keg which could, quote, explode if the u.s. strikes. joining me now from san antonio, texas, middle east history professor david lesch. he is the author of two books on the assad family and he has met multiple times with bashar al assad. professor, nice to see you. welcome. >> thank you. >> if you could guess, sir, do you think bashar al assad is celebrating today? or breathing a sigh of relief that the u.s. has put off action against him? >> i think he's sighing a little
breath of relief. but i think overall they've already made the calculation that anything the u.s. would do in terms of a strike, whether now or later, wasn't going to change dramatically the scope of things on the battlefield. i think they've already made the determination that the united states, the obama administration, is not out to affect regime change as the obama administration has said right up front. and numerous times the syrian regime, obviously, has come up against or exceeded these so-called red lines. and so i think they feel fairly certain that below a certain level of force, that they can do what they want in terms of -- in terms of taking action against the revolutionaries. >> so a sigh of relief from the president in syria. i want to take you back, david, to last friday. military action against syria at the time seemed a near certainty. even imminent. i was talking to one of our cnn analysts, former cia operative bob baer. he told me this. i want to play this sound bite for you. this is based upon conversations
he has with his contacts in damascus. >> and this regime is panicking. and they've made it very clear that if any of these strikes look like regime change, if they hit, for instance, the fourth division, the president's brother's division, bashar al assad will act irrationally. and that could mean anything you could imagine, from attacking neighboring countries to using more gas. >> panicking. irrational. david lesch. again, that was my interview last friday when the rewregime appeared to be under that imminent threat of attack. the crux there being assad might act irrationally. as we mentioned, you've met the man a couple of times. proper assessment, unstable? >> i wouldn't -- i wouldn't describe it like that. they weren't panicking. i can almost assure you of that. they're used to this. again, they're fairly certain that the united states was going to act in a very limited way. the united states was actually saying it was going to act in a
limited way. they know the united states doesn't want to effect regime change. if anything they were trying to figure out how they would respond. not so much in a dramatic fashion or any meaningful sort of way against the u.s. or u.s. interests, but how do we turn this to our favor in terms of prap began propaganda. how do we make it fit the narrative they've been saying from the beginning, that the whole uprising is caused by external enemies of syria. how do we portray ourselves as the victim? it's won him a lot of street credibility in the arab world in recent years. >> street cred from some. considered a despot by some. saddam hussein seemed to relish playing the bad guy. side by side with saddam, bashar al assad, strictly by appearances, seems to be -- just
look at this. seems to be milder. i read an article you wrote, i guess when you first met him in 2004 you let the world know this man loves phil collins. you called him a geek. is that right? >> yeah. that's why people had a lot of home in bashar al assad when he came to power. because he was different. because he had the atypical background and atypical personality of your usual middle east tyrant. people thought he would bring dramatic reform into syria. what people didn't realize is that, you know, syria is almost immune to dramatic reform because of the innert, stagnant system that he inherited. i think the expectations of him in syria and particularly outside of syria in the united states were way too high. therefore the disappointment was that much greater. just because he likes western rock music doesn't mean he's going to embrace the west and embrace israel. the major influences on his life were his father. he was a child of his father. he was a child of the arab/israeli conflict. he was a child of the super power cold war. this had a great deal more
impact on his world view than spending 18 months in london studying ophthalmology. >> right. he was an eye doctor. i want to get to the point about his father. i've read so many articles. i'm fas naited by the relationship. also about his brothers. my question is, is bashar al assad really the guy in charge of syria? hold that thought. got to take a quick break. that answer after this. nk it wa. i had pain in my abdomen... it just wouldn't go away. i was spotting, but i had already gone through menopause. these symptoms may be nothing... but they could be early warning signs of a gynecologic cancer, such as cervical, ovarian, or uterine cancer. feeling bloated for no reason. that's what i remember. seeing my doctor probably saved my life. warning signs are not the same for everyone. if you think something's wrong... see your doctor. ask about gynecologic cancer. and get the inside knowledge.
we're back with just fascinating insight from david lesch, bashar al assad biographer, live with me from san antonio, texas. david lesch, i want to just take a look at the assad family photo. here you have hafez. bashar, his father, predecessor. standing left to right that is mahar, bashar and bazel. and we are all led to believe that bashar was not his father's
first choice to succeed him. tell me about that, david. >> well, bazel was the first to succeed. everyone believes that to be the case. until he died in a car accident in 1994. as is usual in the arab world, the second eldest son then takes over or is groomed for the family business. that's what bashar was in the mid to late 1990s. he was elevated in the state apparatus in a number of ways very, very quickly. in almost a race against time to build a credible base of power before his father, who was in ill health, died in 2000. >> and let's throw the picture back up. i want to talk more about the brother, mahar assad. he commands syria's ruthless fourth infantry division. there are rebels who believe mahir is in charge and bashar is
more of a figure head. is there any truth to that? >> not to my knowledge. my understanding of the situation, many syrians to whom i've spoken who were either recently in the syrian government or still in the syrian government, universally say that bashar al assad is in control. he's the one that's calling the shots. i think this counters the dominant image of bashar over the years. he was thought of as fairly weak and incompetent by most governments. what's interesting is that in talking to high level government officials in countries in the middle east in recent months, they've told me, you know, now they almost have a grudging respect for him. certainly not a like for him. but a grudging respect. that they've changeded their profile of him. that he's a lot tougher guy to deal with than they first thought. >> we talked earlier about saddam hussein. we know he had palaces all over the place. some or all of which were also military command centers. and he had this network of underground bunkers impervious to attack.
do you know if bashar al assad has that same kind of infrastructure as well in syria? >> i don't know for sure. i assume they have something akin to that. you know, the syrian regime is somewhat paranoid to the outside world. i don't think to the case that saddam hussein was. especially the saddam hussein who was attacked on numerous occasions by the west. i assume there is something there. particularly because they've been confronting israel or they see themselves as having confronted israel for decades. therefore, they've made preparations mostly against israel and israeli attacks. so i assume there is something there and they've made arrangements to protect themselves should there be a u.s. strike. >> speaking of a u.s. strike, just bringing this all back to washington, we know right now the president's meeting the senators graham and mccain. washington's really in a holding pattern right now as far as any kind of military action. as the u.s. debates this, do you see any possibility that bashar al assad might stage another chemical weapons strike?
>> that would be even more foolish than the initial one if, in fact, they did carry that out. i can't imagine anything like this happening. especially when they, in their view, see the united states and the world community equivocating somewhat, giving them a bit of a respite. why would they do anything that would generate more heat on them than already exists? i don't see anything happening. now, you know, if the u.s. does strike at some point, you know, the question will be, will it affect a change of behavior? certainly not a change of regime, but a change of behavior. then we'll see at that point. >> what do you think? >> i think again the bashar al assad regime is doing things in a very calibrated way. it's a calibrated way of bloodshed. enough to do the job and protect the regime and to defeat the rebels. but not enough to bring down the wrath of the world community. and so far they've really been treading right at that line and
crossing it. so i suspect they may draw back a little bit from that, at least for a time, and concentrate on their most immediate problems. >> david lesch, thank you so much for your insight. having met this man multiple times. professor, middle east studies. thank you so much. i really appreciate it. >> my pleasure. coming up next, the woman who just completed that record breaking swim from cuba to florida. all 103 miles. she has spoken after reaching the shore. you will hear her comments in full. see the moment she first stood up. ?hña @8@x
we've got it for you. it has 35 years in the making. 64-year-old diana nyad just within the last hour has accomplished her dream, ever since she first tried it back in her 20s. she has officially swum from cuba to key west. we were there. we heard from her. take it. >> i got three messages. one is, we should never, ever give up. [ cheers and applause ] two is, you never are too old to chase your dreams. three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it's a team. >> and the man who has followed her progress for the last couple of years, been part of the
documentary, our chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta. we're going to talk to him and show a clip of that documentary on this incredible, incredible story, right after this. [ male announcer ] these heads belong to those who can't put life on hold because of a migraine. so they trust excedrin migraine to relieve pain fast. plus sensitivity to light, sound, even nausea. and it's #1 neurologist recommended. migraines are where excedrin excels. it's back to school time. and excedrin wants to make sure your child's school is equipped to help your child excel. purchase excedrin for a chance to win one of 5 $10,000 donations to your child's school. go to excedrin's facebook page to enter.
without a shark cage. look at that crowd there. this was the scene op smathers beach just this path hour in key west. i want to bring in our chief medical correspondent, dr. sanjay gupta, who's hopping on the phone with me now. sanjay, i don't even know if there are really words, right, for this feat. fifth time was the charm for her. you have been following her journey for quite some time. and the failures along the way. you know her well. what do you think this means for her today? >> she is one of the most inspiring people that i know, period. we get to meet a lot of people in this job, as you know, brooke. she's 64 years old and she just swam 55 hours almost. it's incredible by any -- any definition. when i spent time with her and she talked about the fact that
she had tried this since she was 29 years old. she gave up swimming after that for 30 years. just said good-bye to the sport. started again age 60. let me tell you, brooke, today my kids and my parents were calling me about diana. across generations, it's just absolutely remarkable. she sang songs to herself in the dark. it's a big, wide ocean. you can't hardly see anything. you have no reference points. she would sing songs to keep herself going hour after hour after hour. daylight would come up sometimes and she would be in these dreamlike states. she would think someone had opened the door to her bedroom since she was a child. it was actually the sunshining down on her back. it's absolutely extraordinary any way you define it. >> let's just watch a piece of one of your documentaries on this incredible woman. >> i was driving in my car, telling myself, you better get with these life lesson. you can't go back. you better just seize the day. go forward. 60 isn't old.
i was looking at the cars in the rear-view mirror and i caught a sight of my eyes for a second and i thought, but wait a second. maybe i could go back. maybe that would be the event that would make me feel strong and powerful again. would define me again. >> so let's just, sanjay, talk about a couple other things. the challenges if you will. you have sharks, right? this is significant because this is the first person who's done this without a shark cage. there are jelly fish. in fact, i know the third and fourth attempts ended with near death because of those box jelly fish stings. dehydration. nausea from just the sea salt. what is the toll all of that takes on the human body? >> well, you know, a good way of putting it is one of these extreme medicine doctors we talked to about diana basically said she is in a race really against her own body. she is consuming and burning so many calories, needing so much
hydration to maintain her activity, but also to maintain her body temperature, it's near impossible to sort of just keep up in terms of fluids and calories. she just starts off almost immediately fatigued and no matter how hard she tries, very hard to keep up with that. they had these -- you can see in the video there, brooke, they had basically a line of fluid out to her and occasionally feed her various concoctions that she had come up with to provide her the most calories in the shortest amount of time. but it is -- it's just -- there's not a tactful way of putting this. she's essentially digesting her own body, her muscle mass, in order to fuel that activity and her heat. again, for a young person, a person in their 20s, very hard. she's 64 years old. again, it's mind numbing. >> digesting her own body. here she is taking in some of that. i know some of it made her sick along the way. please do me a favor when you -- when you see her. give her a collective high-five
from all of us here at cnn. i look forward to watching the new documentary, of course, with the happy ending, sanjay gupta. thank you. >> i'll give her a big hug. absolutely. thank you. >> please do, thanks, sanjay. any moment now, as we now know, senators john mccain, lindsey graham, we know they've been meeting with the president behind closed doors. see that podium there? we have learned they will speak publicly talking about the meeting with the president as congress getting ready to debate syria. reconvening a week from today. stay right here. try classic garlic shrimp scampi and more. only $15.99, offer ends soon. so come in and sea food differently. now, try seven lunch choices for $7.99. sandwiches, salads and more. ♪ ♪
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one of cnn's most famous programs is returning one week from today. now one of the new hosts shares a clip from classic "crossfire." >> one of the most intense episodes of "crossfire" was in november of 1985. six months earlier the philadelphia police department's attempt to evict members from a group called move from their home started a fire. they killed 11 people and destroyed eed 61 homes. watch what happened when two members of move joined -- >> you said, and i quote, there's no doubt that move through garbage in the streets and some of their neighbors. i assume you saw them number one throw garbage in the streets. is this true? >> look, we cannot all derive our knowledge by personal experience. >> i am asking you a question. >> every newspaper reporter knew
you threw bar ggarbage in the streets. >> we can't talk together. may i finish, please. top of the hour. i'm brooke baldwin. thanks for being with us here on this labor day. we are getting details of this call today. of course, on syria. according to sources on that call, secretary of state believes more ally support is coming. other countries, getting behind the president's plan to strike syria. also revealed on this call, there are apparently still no specific targets for this proposed limited strike. right now, president obama is sitting down behind closed doors with two men who have called on him to do more militarily. not less. senators lindsey graham and john mccain.
senator mccain also thinks leaving this whole thing up to congress is a bit risky. >> i want to talk to the president. i want to find out whether there is a plan and a strategy. i want to find out whether this is just a pinprick that somehow bashar al assad can trumpet that he defeated the united states of america. but i will say that if congress overrules a decision of the president of the united states on an issue of national security, that could set a catastrophic precedent in the future. it would be very dangerous precedent to be set. >> we are waiting to hear from senator mccain and senator graham as soon as they finish that meeting in front of the white house. and what happens when everyone convenes on monday. the fact that the president has to convince congress, the senate, the house, to fwget on board with this plan for authorization. a busy schedule has left the president with a very small window to work with. look at this. before congress votes, that is next monday, the president leaves the u.s. for sweden tomorrow. then he's off thursday and
friday of this week, he'll be in russia. good friend of syria's. for the g-20 summit. the president then returns home to the u.s. on friday night. and then at the start of next week, congress reconvenes monday. cnn's athena jones is at the white house for us at this hour. and as we are learning, before he hops on the plane to sweden, and in addition to the meeting that's happening in the building behind you, there is another meeting that is scheduled for tomorrow. tell me about that. >> reporter: that's right, brooke. lots and lots of meetings going on with the president himself and with other senior administration officials. tomorrow's meeting will be with house speaker john boehner and with minority leader nancy pelosi. this, of course, is all part of this effort to get members of congress on both -- on both sides of the aisle on board. as you know there are questions on both sides of the aisle about just what the goal here of the military strike is in syria. and i should mention that it's not just boehner and pelosi the president will be meeting with
tomorrow. he's also going to meet with the chairs and ranking members of national security committees in the house and senate. again, part of an effort to get this resolution through. the white house has said that the president doesn't have to have congressional approval to act militarily in syria. but now that this is on the table, now that the president has said he's seeking this approval, you can bet that both he and other members of his administration are going to be doing all they can, working day and night, to try to get members of both sides on board. >> athena jones, thank you. we know several members of the administration were on this call. we're getting some reporting now on that call between those top officials. and house democrats. our chief congressional correspondent, dana bash, dug up some scoop for us on this monday, this holiday. she joins us live from capitol hill. dana, tell me about this call. >> reporter: well, it was just one of several calls that have been going on and will continue to go on as the white house continues to, in their words,
flood the zone, an effort to get the votes to pass these authorization measures. i should tell you that one source who was on the call told me if anyone tells you -- >> let me interrupt, dana bash. we've got, here we go, senators mccain and graham. >> good afternoon. senator graham and i just had a very good and productive discussion with the president about the issue of syria. and the use of chemical weapons. we emphasized to the president that now it's been over a year since the president said it would be a game changer if chemical weapons were used. it's been two years since the president said bashar al assad must leave. and we emphasized the importance we place to actions that would degrade bashar assad's capabilities, upgrade the opposition, and to seek a change
to momentum on the ground in order that the -- the free syrian army can prevail over time. that does not mean that any of us support having american boots on the ground. but right now it's a fight with thousands of hezbollah fighters who have weapons coming in from russia and iran. and iran basically being the sponsor of bashar assad. so we had, i think, a very productive conversation. both senator graham and i are in agreement that now that a resolution is going to be before the congress of the united states, we want to work to make that resolution something that the majority of members of both houses can support. a rejection of that, a vote against that resolution by congress i think would be catastrophic. because it would undermine the credibility of the united states
of america and the president of the united states. none of us want that. but we do want an articulation of a goal that over time will degrade bashar assad's capabilities, increase and upgrade the capabilities of the free syrian army and the free syrian government so that they can reverse the momentum on the battlefield that is presently not in their favor because they have not received the assistance that they need. while bashar assad has received an abundance of capabilities from his sponsors, russia and iran. finally, this is a regional conflict. this is not a conflict that's confined to just syria. lebanon is destabilized. jordan is badly destabilized. iraq has turned into a breeding place for al qaeda and islamic
extremists. and so we have to understand that not only is there the threat of this conflict spreading, but the iranian issue is one, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons that will be directly affected by our actions in syria. i want to thank -- again, we appreciate the president meeting with us. we had a candid exchange of views. and we -- i think we have found some areas that we can work together. but we have a long way to go. >> i guess the way i would term the conversation is, is there's a consensus being formed that we need to degrade assad's capabilities and upgrade the opposition, vetted opposition. the first thing i suggest to the president is to give the opposition a chance to speak directly to the american people. john and i and the president all believe that syrians by nature are not al qaeda sympathizers. they're not trying to replace
one dictator, assad, who has been brutal, his whole family has been brutal for generations, to only have al qaeda run syria. that makes no sense. but it's time for the syrian opposition to step forward. i want a statement from the syrian opposition that if we get in charge of syria with your help, we're going to renounce chemical weapons. in the new syria, there will be no chemical weapons because we're going to turn them over to the international community. as toward the -- as to the limited military strike, john and i both would like to see a more sustained military effort. but we understand where the president is at on that issue. but it is my hope that even a limited military strike can degrade assad's ability to project force, particularly using chemical weapons. but there seems to be a emerging from this administration a pretty solid plan to upgrade the opposition. to get the regional players more involved. saudi arabia, turkey, jordan, a lot of the gulf arab states have
been helping quietly -- when it comes to financing these operations, the people in the region need to carry the lion's share of the financial cost. so what can i sell to people in south carolina? i can't sell another iraq or afghanistan. because i don't want to. i can sell to the people of south carolina that if we don't get syria right, iran is surely going to take the signals that we don't care about the nuclear program. and it weighs on the president's mind strongly about the signals we send. so if we lost a vote in the congress dealing with the chemical weapons being used in syria, what effect would that have on iran in terms of their nuclear program? most south carolinians get that point. so i am hopeful that over the coming days we will learn more about this strategy of degrading and upgrading. and that when the vote comes we can go on the floor of the senate and say, the administration has a plan apart from a limited military action
that will allow us to get where we need to go as a nation. which is to deter iran from a nuclear weapons march and to stabilize the region before it's too late. >> do you believe that the opposition, if we were to strike relatively soon, that the opposition is in any kind of position to take advantage of that? >> clearly, they could take advantage of it. the question is how much. the fact is that we have not given the arms and equipment to the resistance, which has been shameful, while huge amounts of arm have flown in from russia and iran and now thousands of hezbollah on the ground from lebanon. so -- but if we have a plan to give them the arms that they need, which i believe is part of an upgrade that we could orchestrate and this government could do, then it would matter. >> are we doing it quickly, i guess is the question? >> we need to do it -- frankly,
it's shameful that we haven't. >> two years ago? >> we should have done it two years ago. >> sounds like you're more on board with a limited strike than you might have been when we walked into this meeting. is that a fair assessment -- >> i think it's a fair assessment to say that we still have significant concerns. but we believe that there is in formulation a strategy to upgrade the capabilities of the free syrian army and to degrade the capabilities of bashar assad. before this meeting, we had not had that indication. now it's a question whether that will be put into a concrete strategy that we can sell to our colleagues. and that we could agree with. >> senator mccain, a lot of republicans and democrats coming out of these, especially yesterday's briefing, very skeptical about this. how hard is the president going to have to work to get this resolution passed? >> i think they're going to have to work very hard. americans are skeptical. we've gone for 2 1/2 years
without helping these people. obviously people are weary after iraq and afghanistan. americans have to be assured that no plan will entail american boots on the ground. we totally are in agreement with that. they have a selling job to do. but at the same time, i believe that if we can formulate this strategy that i just articulated, degrading bashar assad's capability, upgrading the resistance in the long term, then i think that -- that we have a chance of succeeding in the vote. [ inaudible question ] >> if the congress were to reject a resolution like this after the president of the united states has already committed to action, the consequences would be catastrophic in that the credibility of this country with friends and enemy, allies and adversaries alike, would be shredded. and it would be not only
implications for this presidency, but for our future presidencies as well. >> the president really has no one to blame in many ways but himself about the lack of public understanding of what's at stake in syria. and we talk about the past, the present and the future. two years ago where an opportunity to get assad out when there were dozens of al qaeda only in syria. now there's thousands. a year from now there are going to be tens of thousands. two years ago there were not 600,000 refugees in jordan. compromising the king of jordan. time is not on our side. so we urge the president to up his game and inform the american people, what does it mean if assad wins and the opposition loses? what does it mean if assad with the backing of the iranians and the russians win after we say assad's got to go? the russians and the iranians are all in. i finally see an effort by this administration to counter. at the end of the day, this is a
syrian fight. but the outcome does not limit itself to syria. if we don't get syria right, good luck convincing the iranians on changing their behavior. so we led it be known to the president that we don't want endless war. john and i it sha-- john knows than anybody, war is a terrible thing. we want sustainable security. and syria is a cancer that's growing in the region. and for two years, the president has allowed this to become quite frankly a debacle. and when it comes to selling the american people on what we should do in syria, given the indifference and quite frankly contradictions, it is going to be a tough sell. but it is not too late. so, mr. president, clear the air. be decisive. be firm about why it matters to us as a nation to get syria right. i'm going to go back home to south carolina and, one, listen to the people. but give them what happens if we do nothing. what happens if we have a weak response. and what happens if we get syria
right. >> senator, what do you -- >> a weak response is almost as bad as doing nothing. >> bottom line, senator mccain. is what you heard today from the president sufficient for you and senator graham to go out and try to gain support for the president's plan? >> i think it's encouraging. but we have to have concrete plans. we have to have concrete details. and we have to be assured that this is a dramatic difference from the last two years of a policy of neglect, which has led to the deaths of 100,000 people. a million refugees. excuse me. a million children of refugees and a spreading of this conflict to the region. >> are you satisfied that the time line is of no consequence? >> i am not satisfied the timeline is of no consequence. and i'm astounded when the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff says it doesn't matter. anyone who understands warfare knows that bashar assad is moving his assets, military
assets, into civilian populations. and civilians into military areas. it's much harder now than it would have if we'd have acted initially. >> have you discussed the hardening aspect with the president and the potential, the really penetrating blow that could be? >> those are some of the details that very frankly they have not shared with us. and probably shouldn't. but we have been given some reason to believe that very serious of strikes may take place as o opposed to cosmetic. and i say that, "may," because we now need to see a lot of the te tai details. >> for the first time, i've got an understanding of what happens the day after the smoke clears. the israelis don't announce their attacks ahead of time for a reason. you read about it when it's over because that's the best way to effect the outcome militarily. this is pretty bizarre to give
the enemy weeks to reconfigure their force. but we are where we are. and a degrading strike, limited in scope to degrade his chemical weapons delivery systems, could have a beneficial effect to the battlefield momentum. there will never be a political settlement in syria as long as assad's winning. i told the president, how do you expect anybody to go to the negotiating table as long as assad's winning? and if you believe the syrians will not accept him as part of the new syria, then he has to go. >> senator, you said president obama needs to do a better job selling this. what does he need to do specifically? >> again, articulate a strategy and a plan which so far has not been here. simply the statement was that they were going to have some strikes. and specifically cat fwor iegor that is not intended to achieve regime change. i strongly disagree with that.
and i believe that -- that if we can degrade, as i mentioned, and upgrade, then i think we have a chance. but we need to see that plan. we need to see that strategy articulated. we also have to make it clear that a vote against this would be catastrophic in its con kw s consequences. not only as far as this issue is concerned but in the future. >> the president speaks about bringing change to washington and gal ve nizing supporters to get congress to act. is this a situation where that's not as effective as it might be on other issues? >> well, it's a very tough sell whenever you commit american forces even to limited military involvement. frankly, there is a credibility gap because of the last two years where nothing has happened. while people have been massacred by the thousands. as much as -- more than 100,000. so there's a credibility gap with some of us who believe that we could have ended this war two years ago when now there's
possibly a change in strategy that could bring successful conclusion to this conflict. >> did the president say when, if or how he'll be articulating this strategy? >> we can't talk about that. >> you made it clear, senator -- >> it would be catastrophic. to you republicans in congress agree with you, it would be catastrophic -- >> i think that many of my colleagues in congress have yet to be congrevinced either way. they need to have the hearings that we're going to have starting tomorrow in the foreign relations committee. and they need to be briefed. and they need to understand, and i'm sure they do, the seriousness of thissish hue. >> yes. can i just -- from my point of view, from the republican point of view, there's a libertarian wing of our party that i very much respect. fortress america i just don't think will work. but having said that, it is not a mystery to me that most member of kocongress are le kureluctan
engage when it comes to syria because they don't know what's going to happen. they have no idea if this military strike so limited and focused in nature are going to change thing. what are they going to tell people back home? we shot some missiles and then what? for the first time i see a development of a strategy that will upgrade the opposition as well as degrade assad that i think, if it becomes a reality, we'll know in the next couple of days, that i can believe in my heart will work. and to my colleagues, if you think the outcome in syria doesn't matter to the united states, then you must really believe the king of jordan is just somebody else in the mideast. and if you can't see the connection between syria and iran, you're blind at a time when history needs for you to have good eyesight. the connection between syria and iran is clear as a bell. to disconnect these two would be a huge foreign policy, national security mistake. and i hope the president, above
all else, will make that connection. >> have you talked to the president about how he would, senator graham said, upgrade the opposition? >> well, i mean, you use military means to upgrade the opposition. >> you said it would be a catastrophe if there's no vote. doesn't that mean you've really got to vote for the motion? >> a weak response is just as bad. >> a weak response is something that would give us a serious dilemma. because that would be also catastrophic. >> the white house has made it clear the president doesn't need this authorization to go through with this. >> yes, sir. >> do you think that he really would go ahead with an attack on syria if congress rejects -- >> i think it would be much harder for him to go ahead with any military operation if congress has already rejected it. he had ample precedent in previous is tpresidents, republ and democrat, acting without the
a approval of congress. >> i think that he found that with the british going the way they did, obviously without united nations approval, as long as the russians and chinese are there, that -- that perhaps that a resolution of congress would give him some more sustainability. by the way, again, these attacks have to be sustainable. sustainable to debade bashar's capability and to upgrade the free syrian army's capability to bring this conflict to an end. and bashar assad gone. he will only leave when the tide of battle turns against him. >> how long is sustainable, senator? >> it depends on the -- it's harder and harder now. because with this delay, bay schar assad is moving his foss around and making it much more
difficult to target them. despite what the chairman of the joint chiefs might say. anyone who knows the military and actions, the israelis and others don't telegraph their intention days, even weeks ahead of time. >> in the goal is to have a military strike to defwrad the capability of the assad regime to deliver chemical weapons in the future, that means delivery systems have to be affected. means the ability to repair and deliver has to be effected. if that is done in a rebust manner, keeping the chemical weapons delivery systems, that will have a substantial effect degrading the overall ability of the assad regime. simultaneously, you're upgrading the military capability of the opposition. you're getting a regional force behind the opposition. these three things together would work. but if the goal of this is to put it in my lap, i welcome a discussion about what we should do. i've been telling you for two years what i think. so i welcome the discussion with the president and my colleagues. to those who say in the
congress, syria's not our business, then you really honest to god don't understand the world in which we live in. to the president, if you don't understand that the american people are not fwoing to follow an uncertain trumpet, now st the time to reshape public opinion and world opinion. take advantage of us. tell us without any hesitation, mr. president, what does it matter to this nation if a war goes on and assad wins. i believe the president's capable of doing that. has not yet done it. but he's ready to do it. if he's ready to do that part, i'm ready to go to my colleagues in the kopg and say now is the time for us to come together before it's too late. >> upgrading the opposition opportunity mean supporting groups with links to al qaeda? >> i am totally, completely, 100% confident that we know who the pre-syrian army is. we know what they need.
they are the preupponderant for fighting against bashar al assad. there's a definite geographic division between them. we know who they are. if they had a safe area we would know exactly how to get these weapons to them. the saudis have provided weapons. they have gotten to the right people. those who say we don't know who the opposition are, they're either not telling the truth and they know the truth or they're badly mistaken. [ inaudible question ] >> i think starting tomorrow we're going to have a hearing in the foreign relation committee. >> you personally. >> i'm already talking to a lot of my colleagues. but before i can persuade them to support this, i have to be persuaded. and i'm saying that the president, i think, made sense in a lot of things he had to say. but we're a long way from achieving what i think would be
a most effective strategy. finally, for who say we don't care about syria. i guess czechoslovakia didn't matter. china didn't matter. acts of atrocity and massacre took place in those countries. we paid a horrible price for some paying attention to what happened in those countries. and we paid a heavy price in world war ii. we have to pay attention to this region. and we have to bring bashar assad down. >> i'm not a military expert. isn't what it is they contemplated about as risk free as it gets anyway? >> absolutely. and the key selling point that must be told to the american people over and over is no american boots on the ground. they are tired and weary of it. you've got to tell them. no american boots on the ground. but you also have to show them a way forward. that, so far, has not been articulated to the congress or
the american people. >> in the past you said needed to degrade command and control. do you still believe that? >> i absolutely believe it. [ inaudible question ] >> they're one and the same. what senator graham is saying, what i'm saying, the delivery systems are the same. they're the scud missiles that deliver congressional weapons as well as chemical weapons. degrading his capability for chemical weapons would degrade his capability. the great asset and advantage that bashar assad has today is air. he uses it to move his logistics around. it's air that moves in the supplies and arms from iran and russia. it is what he uses to launch air attacks against the free syrian army, which with predominance in the area is a deciding factor on the battlefield.
you take out his air, he is at a distinct disadvantage. okay? thanks very much. >> you heard it from both senators lindsey graham and john mccain. still critical of the administration when it comes to syria. very specific. one word from senator mccain four different times. catastrophic. it would be stat strofic if the u.s. congress rejects this proposal that will be set before them when they reconvene beginning on monday when it comes to the limited strikes on syria. jake tapper, let me bring you in. chief washington correspondent. host of "the lead." dana bash, chief congressional correspondent. a couple of things. jake, let me begin with you. first the catastrophic if there was a no vote. two, it seems despite the fact that perhaps they want a change in momentum in syria, that they would now more support the limited strikes. and, three, this suspect just about syria. this is about iran. >> right. i think that's one of the pointings senator mccain has been making for a couple years now. this has to do not only with
syria but it has to do with the security of israel. it has to do with the stability of jordan and lebanon. and that, also, of course, syria and iran are very closely allied. in the event syria is able to continue to take these actions against their own people, against its own people, especially when it comes to chemical weapons, what signal does that send to i yan whran w comes to nuclear weapons? one thing i thought was very interesting. you hear senator mccain and senator lindsey graham of south carolina today outside the white house. basically saying not only did they need to hear more from president obama in terms of making the case to the public and other members of the congress, but they want to hear more about other military actions against syria. not boots on the ground. but what comes after this strike. they want greater steps taken. they think that the president is not outlining enough that needs to be done. many members of congress have the opposite concern.
they are already concerned that this is too much. so in order to assuage people like senators mccain and graham, president obama risks alienating people who don't want any action at all or at the very least want very -- or at the. >> reporter: most want just a teeny bit of military action. it is quite a conone drum for a white house that finds itself really fighting against the tide when it comes to getting support for this use of force authorization, brooke. >> conondrum, kwag fire, whatever you want to call it. they're going to have a lot on their plate come monday when everyone recon phines. also i thought it was interesting. i jotted down two quotes from senator graham. syria is a cancer that's growing in the region. president obama allowed this to become a debacle. two, the president has no one to blame but himself on why the public hasn't been informed. how nothing has been done. what do you make of that tone? >> well, look, graham and mccain
and a few others have been literally for years, since 2011, arguing that the u.s. needed to be arming the rebels in syria. they've been making that case. i'm sure that they believe that if that had been done in 2011 and 2012, there would not have been this moment where the syrian regime allegedly gassed its own people on august 21st. it's hard to dispute the fact that the white house has not done enough in terms of convincing the public and in convincing congress that something needs to be done. president obama has talked periodically about sanctions. about syria needing to control itself and to lay down its arms. there really hasn't been any serious preparation for the idea of military action in terms of a public campaign. it's hard to disagree with that.
look, the president himself sounds very ambivalent about the use of force. up until saturday, when he talked about he's made up his mind, but he wants to go and get congressional approval, even the day before on friday, secretary of state john kerry was -- was conveying a very fierce urgency of military action, while president obama during a pool spray was sounding torn. was sounding am bif lent. it's not just the public that needs to be convinced. sometimes it's president obama who sounds as though he needs to be convince zbld yeah. and also the angle with russia. dana bash, let me bring you in on this. i want talking to jake about this earlier. we're now learning from the creme lick, they're sending their russian delegation -- i guess all these phone calls jake mad, basically this is sort of unprecede unprecedented. my question to you is, how is that going to go? are they going to listen?
>> first of all, depends who "they" are. who's actually going to meet with these russian members of parliament. i agree with jake. we are a team here. we can't think of any precedence either. let me as to when you know thing. i complete agree this is something john mccain and lindsey graham has been talking about. threatened the region and everything you just heard them say. but also just to give a little bit of context here. everyone says it isn't political. guess what? it's washington. everything is political. lindsey graham is racing back to south carolina now because he's got a very difficult re-election on his plate. he's getting hit from all sides. particularly the right. so he's got to be careful here. i thought that was a very interesting moment. he basically went off on the president there. but also just bigger picture
here. when this whole -- when this press conference started, i was getting ready to say i thought it was potentially a seminole moment on a process and on a substantive reason. first process, because john mccain has proven in the past couple of months that if he wants to help the president, he can get it done for him. twist arms. he knows how to legislate. he's a veteran here. he knows how to kind of work deals. if he wants to work a deal for the president he can probably make it happen. he sounded like he was almost there at the beginning. at the end someone asked the direct question, are you going to twist arms? he said i have to be persuaded first. sounds like he's almost there. substantively they did sound a lot more positive about the fact that they felt the administration does have a plan to, in their words, upgrade help for the rebels. that's what lindsey graham told me several times in the past few days. use the authorization vote as leverage to get what they want. they feel more comfortable. they're not there yet. that is absolutely what this is about. i completely agree with jake and
talking to lawmakers here, it is why it mauks this job of the white house to lobby members so difficult. there was this conference call just a few hours ago with democrats arguing the opposite in order to get their vote. >> gosh, it's all over the place. dana bash, my thanks to you. jake tapper, we will, of course, be watching for you at the top of the hour with all the news that has percolated on what has certainly not been a boring holiday. i know you're speaking with former cia director michael hayden. we'll stay tuned to that. let's get both sides of this political speaking. chris cofinas is a democratic strate strategist and political strategist. anna novorro. let me go to you first. you talked to both of those senators last night. in hearing from them today, did anything surprise you? >> absolutely nothing surprised
me. they've been saying it. and it shouldn't be a surprise. because both jake and dana were completely right. they've been saying the same thing now for years. they have been rattling the cage about what this means for jordan. about how a risky position the king of jordan is in because of the influx of refugees. they have been asking for more sustained help and support for the syrian rebels. they have been saying over and over again that we are losing the moment. that we've lost the momentum in syria. there were some times ago when it looked like the rebels were about to win. when we were talking about a possible exit, immediate exit by assad. we've lost that momentum while we twidle our thumbs. so this is not surprising by john mccain. it's also not surprising that lindsey graham and john mccain show up and do this as the white house because it has political risks. they have been in this region over and over and over again. they are internationalists.
they care tremendously about the stature of the country and how we are seen in the world. they have been known to put our country over politics time and time again. i am very proud of them. >> chris, to you, hearing -- again, dana was exactly right in saying some of this is politics. hearing lindsey graham rail on the president in his own driveway. hearing him say, you know, it's a serious cancer growing in the region. it's the president who's allowed this to become a debacle, do you think that's a fair criticism? >> no, it's not a fair criticism for a lot of reasons. listening to senator mccain and, you know, senator graham is kind of -- sometimes amusing. because they think somehow this is a big game of risk. you just move these little pieces around and you have no consequences. the reason why this is so complicated, there's not one single opposition. to suggest to the american people, to suggest it would have been just easy to give weapons to, one, good guys who are rebel force. it's not. it's much more complicated. there are groups that are twided. there are groups backed by al
qaeda and others. the thing that surprised me what senator graham and senator mccain said, you have a real difficult position for the president to try to build support amongst democrats and republicans who are very concerned about what the end game here is. they go out there and they basically suggest that it's not a limited strike they want. it's an expansive strike. it's a long-term commitment. does anyone think that's fwoing to help build congressional support? i mean, does anyone think that's going to help build public support? it was very counterproductive. and very political. but it is what it is. because i think as you pointed out, senator graham has his political, you know, contest back home that maybe he has to worry about. >> so they have a meeting. >> senator graham didn't have to show up today, okay? he was in south carolina. he blew up expressley for this. if he had wanted to say in south carolina, he could have. as most of his colleagues. he's there because president obama called him in because he
realizes he needs the support of these two key senators in order to get this done. what they want is is not a more expansive strike. they want an effective strike. they don't want us to just go in and give them a slap. give assad a slap in the wrist that then doesn't do a thing. you know, going out there, sticking our tongue out and saying boo to assad is is not going to achieve anything. they want us to be respected. they want us to have a march. and they want us to be effective. >> you know -- >> what's the purpose of going through all of this very difficult and painful process? >> with all due respect, not a lot of people are going to take strategic advice from senator graham and senator mccain giving their strategic analysis going up to the iraq war, dealing with afghanistan. it's not surprising that a lot of americans are going to be suspect. listen, this is a complex issue. there's no easy answers here. everyones understands that. the frustrating part i have here is you have republicans like senator mccain and senator graham and others who make it sound like this was easy. who make it sound like, oh, there's no problem here.
there's no consequence. >> i don't think they think this is easy. come on. >> listen -- >> you think a guy who hung by his thumbs -- you think a guy who hung by his thumbs in a political prison for five years thinks it's easy? you think barack obama's not calling them in because he appreciates their strategic advice? >> when they sit there and say that they want to take assad out, that's fine. he's a very bad man. he's done very evil things. and clearly has to pay some price. then what ends up happening after that? and that's where i think when you talk to a lot of average americans and a lot of real people going, listen, we've been in two wars now in iraq and afghanistan. our military is exhausted. what they want is clarity. i think when senator mccain and senator graham go out there and make it sound like we're talking about a bigger commitment, a bigger commission, it doesn't help the cause. >> let me jump in. because on your point, when it comes to iraq and afghanistan, i think a lot of people, chris,
agree with you. going back to what one of the senators said. senator graham specifically. he's saying how can i sell this? he's going back. they're on vacation one more week. how do i sell this to south carolinians. he says it's not iraq. it's not afghanistan. if we don't send the signal, what affect would this have ultimately connecting the dots with iran? right? because we know what the president said august of last year. when it comes to this red line. if we follow through, that is sending a message when it comes to the pursuit of nuclear weapons and saying you can't do it. and we're going to come after you if you do. >> listen, the president's made, i think, a very clear red line. i think there's going to be some consequences that follow from that regardless of what happens to congressional vote. but i think -- and listen. just as i think as a normal human being, i think most of us would agree the use of chemical weapons by any regime, either against its people or another country is an international norm and standard that we cannot look away when it's broken. but that being said, we cannot do this alone. and i think what most americans will say is, wait. if this is an international norm
and standard, where are our other allies? in the middle east? across the world? that's why i think the administration as well as republicans, democrats have to kind of try to explain to the american people this is not going to be something we're going to do by ourselves. >> ana? >> let's just think, though, that the arab league is supporting action by the u.s. our allies in the region are aghast by the recent decision by president obama and the fact we haven't taken action yet. >> the ash leagrab league put o statement. >> what both senators are saying is that in order for there to be ally support, in order for there to be congressional support, in order for there to be support from the american public the president of the united states, who's got the biggest bully pulpit in the country, has got to go out there himself looking determined. himself looking resolved. himself looking decided, looking like a leader. if he wants us to follow, he's got to lead. there's been a lot of
vacillation from him. what they are doing is trying to pump him up to go out there and do the sales job he needs to do so that we don't go at it alone. because, yes, we will be much stronger with the congressional approval. >> on the sale job -- chris, let me jump in. on the sale job this is a question i wanted to get in to both of you. if you're advising the president, do you feel like the president needs to come out again to the nation to lay out, i don't know, more proof or details, more evidence when it comes to syria? what do you want to hear from the president? >> listen, i think at this point given, i think, a lot of questions the american public has, everyone right now is focused on congress. that's where the legislative battle is going to be over this resolution. i understand why. the reality here is i think the real audience here is the american public. they have a lot of questions. a lot of concerns. a lot of issues with what the president may or may not do. at the end of the day i think the administration, the president, need to come out. i think to address the american people. they need to put a very aggressive effort in place to let people know what the stakes are here. what the scope of the mission is.
what the interests are here at stake. and what the end game here is. i think he'll get support. once you get the american public's support, he'll be able to get congressional support. but it's not going to be easy if it's the other way around. >> ana, final word from you. >> brooke, i think what i want to hear from him, i want to hear him articulate a vision, a strategy, an end game. i want to hear him talk about what the effects are for the united states around the world if we don't do anything. i want him to touch our human hearts. to talk about those children gassed. to talk about what it means as a parent to see those images. and what it means for all of us. and why we cannot stand by and allow this to continue. i want us to -- him to win us over. listen, if there is something that president barack obama can do, it's campaign. we've seen him over and over do it. and he's done it -- he's a master at campaigning. he is in campaign mode right now. put the golf clubs down. there was no reason why he should have been golfing right after this announcement. and go out and sell this to the
american people. he can do it. he's capable of it. i think that's what mccain and graham want to see from him. >> ana novarro and chris cofinas. coming up next, as we heard from senator mccain, made a surprising comment about possible targets including chemical weapons. our military analyst breaks that part of it down, right after this. ♪ [ sighs ] ♪ ♪ have you ever, think ♪ ooohhhh, oh, oohh ♪ ♪ perfect work of art ♪ i knew right from the start ♪ i was sent here for you ♪ we were made to love [ male announcer ] the all-new 2014 chevrolet impala. made to love.
just in to me. on the phone right now, the reporter who just interviewed syria's leader, bashar al assad. it was an interview during which the deck at a timer blasted president obama directly. his name is george mal bruno. he's calling in from the capital city of damascus. george, thank you for calling in. just begin with how did bashar al assad seem? is he celebrating? is he breathing a sigh of relief that at least for now the u.s. has put off any kind of military
action? >> bashar al assad looked calm. he didn't show any sign apparently of worriness. but he is very concerned about the seriousness of the situation. and, as you said, he was -- he was quite tough against president obama, saying that he's weak because he was facing pressures from inside united states. and he was -- he was warning, he was advising the member of the congress to think twice before -- to say yes to the u.s. strike. i think that the u.s. don't need more instability in the middle east. that the war in iraq, the war in libya, it didn't bring any stability to the country. brought more instability. and he was extremely tough against france, saying that
france became -- is now enemy for his country, syria. >> the u.s. says it has proof that it was bashar al assad's regime who specifically we learned over the weekend it was sarin gas on his own people back on august 21st. did you ask him about that? could the president prove otherwise? >> yes, of course i asked him. and he said that according to him, barack obama and francois hollande were unable to show any evidence to the -- to their people. and that he said also, secondly, that there was no alleging his army launch an attack at this time when the syrian and they had no need to launch chemical attack, using mass destruction weapons while the
conventional weapons were bringing at this time, achieving progress on the ground. so i said where is the logic? that is the way he answered my question. >> coming up, israel, israel not at all thrilled with president obama' decision and now the country is -- [ gerry ] you really couldn't have come at a better time.
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