tv The Situation Room CNN June 18, 2014 2:00pm-3:29pm PDT
suspicion of trafficking meth to the united states and he could come to the u.s. to face charges. make sure to follow me on @jaketapper, one word. i'll turn you over to wolf blitzer. he is right next door in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com happening now, iraq wants air strikes. president obama huddling with congressional leaders while they review possible targets. iraq's biggest refinery, is it time for the u.s. to act? grabbing terror suspects as u.s. intelligence questions the mastermind. we'll take you behind the scenes of a special ops raid to show you how they do it. and medical marijuana, a new twist in the political debate over pot. does weed work or not? we'll hear from dr. sanjay gupta. he'll react to what hillary clinton told us. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
new urgency in iraq right now as insurgents attack the biggest oil refinery. baghdad is bracing for a terrorist onlaslaught and askin for u.s. help namely air strikes and they look over a list of likely targets. president obama has been muddling with top lawmakers and is meeting this hour with secretary of state john kerry. our correspondents and analysts are standing by to bring you all of the coverage that only cnn can deliver. we begin with our chief national security correspondent jim shuno, jim? >> the pentagon has presented the president with several options for iraq including sending military advisers and limited air strikes. i am told there is a draft target list and that list is very fluid and constantly being re-evaluated. meanwhile, today we saw the regional implications as iraq accused saudi arabia of backing
isis militants, a charge saudi arabia vehemently denied this as those militants continued their march towards baghdad. for isis militants more celebration. this time, parading through the streets of beiji after attacking a crucial oil refinery there. by nightfall, both militants and the iraqi government were claiming control. isis fighters are now within 37 miles of the capital baghdad. multiple officials tell cnn that the pentagon has prepared a draft list of possible targets as well as other options including deploying more u.s. military advisers. but the president who met with congressional leaders today at the white house, has got decide a plan of action. >> options like air strikes as the president said is not ruled in or out, but there has to be a reason for those. there has to be an objective, where do you go with those and
what does it do to move the effort down the road for a political solution. >> reporter: political solution is, by all account, dependent on shiite prime minister nuri al maliki welcoming minority sunnis and kurds into his government in a meaningful way, but today maliki's own deputy, a sunni himself told cristiane amanpour that is far from a reality. >> if you ask me did i take a forward sharing during my presence in the government i say definitely no. we were almost isolated from the decisions especially the security issue. >> reporter: as the crisis deepen, the administration is coming under increasing pressure from republicans to take action. >> isn't it a little bit late? the territory has already been lost and the cities have been taken and the u.s. weapons have already been seized, the banks have been robbed. oil may or may not be in control
of the extremist group which is is a great source of monetary resource. >> senator, it's only late if you suggest that we could have stopped it. there is very little that could have been done to overcome the degree to which the government of iraq had failed its people. that's what has caused this problem. >> iraq is now the second largest oil producer in opec, trailing only saudi arabia and that's yet crisis has helped drive up world oil prices. this is why you care at home and as you can see, this is only one day, the price up more than a dollar and the price now at a 12-month high and this is because, one reason it's causing increased concern is because that increased production from iraq has helped the world economy recover after 2008, but let's look at the map here and this is why oil prices have not gone up more than they have so far and that's because when you look at oil exports, 90% of them come out of the southern part of the country through these pipelines here. so far the southern part of the country has largely been
insulated from the violence up north. what is important about events today, beiji where isis militants have advanced today accounts for one-half of iraq's domestic gasoline production and that's very important to iraq's domestic economy and also huge implications for the iraqi military's war fighting capability that that is now under threat from these militants. >> it's a serious concern, and i want you to stand by, jim, as the situation deteriorates and iraq's leaders formally asking for u.s. help. president obama has briefed leaders about possible u.s. options including military options and let's turn to our senior washington correspondent joe johns over at the white house. what are you learning over there, joe? >> reporter: it was a brief meeting with congressional leaders, mitch mcconnell said the president did talk to them about iraq. he said he did not believe he needed authority from congress in order to take the steps he might take and he said he would keep them posted. now earlier there was a
briefing, of course, here, jay carney's last briefing in the briefing room, he said it is up to iraq to figure out iraq's problems and he also said the united states is considering all of its options and the military option remains on the table, however, he said u.s. troops would not be sent back into combat in iraq. that does leave open the possibility of air strikes, of course, and that is something the president has not made a decision on. listen. >> any action that he might contemplate when it comes to direct military, and the use of military force would be to deal with the immediate -- and medium-term threat posed by isol and to make sure that our first and foremost objective in the region which is to deny extremists a safe haven is pursued and achieved. >> now one big concern that's being talked about here is the
possibility of the united states cooperating with iran on a solution in iraq. congressional republicans have been expressing bewilderment that the united states would even consider such an idea. jay carney said there would be limits to any agreement of that type. >> i can tell you that we are open to engaging the iranians just as we are engaging other regional players on the threat posed by isil in iraq. any engagements we have with the iranians will not include strategic determination about iraq's future over the heads of the iraqi people. >> reporter: now we are told here at the white house secretary of state john kerry has just arrived presumably to talk with the president about iraq and other matters. one running debate right now is about whether the united states ought to get involved in the question of the prime minister of iraq, nuri al maliki and whether he ought to be prime
minister. jay carney said it is up to the people of iraq to decide who their leaders are and that the united states will deal with whoever the iraqi people pick. wolf? >> though we are hearing more and more members of congress, and dianne feinstein, the chairwoman of the intelligence committee saying it's time for him to go, and it is unlikely to be any progress. joe johns at the white house. when you get word on what happens, what's going on in this meetsing that's ongoing and about to begin between the president and secretary of state let us know. we'll come back to you. we're all waiting anxiously to see if the president makes up his mind any time soon. up next, dick chains, an architect of the iraq war blaming president obama for today's desperate situation, now the white house is hitting him right back. retired generalia nth me zinni is standing by. commandos snatch and grab a top terror suspect. we'll take you behind the scenes
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dick cheney says it's all president obama's fault as vice president of the bush administration cheney was a key architect of the 2003 iraq invasion which was followed by years of bloody insurgency, sectarian warfare and terrorism. now he's written an op-ed in the wall street journal with his daughter liz saying obama failed to finish the job and now, quote, we are watching america's defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.
our tom foreman is joining us and he's got a little reality check. tom? >> when dick cheney speaks he's one of those characters in washington that can excite tremendous passions on either side of the issue and that is precisely what he has done now. even as isis brutally rolls through iraq, the former vk is slamming president obama for allowing a security threat not seen since the cold war saying iraq is at risk of falling to a radical islamic terror threat and mr. obama is talking climate change. on capitol hill, a swift counterattacount er attack from democrats. >> if there's one thing this country does not need is that we should be taking advice from dick cheney on wars. >> to be sure the in the war to overthrow saddam hussein, the george w. bush white house where cheney was a huge player made many miscalculations. the war was initially to cost $50 to $60 billion and be
relatively short. instead it lasted nine years and cost at least $800 billion. the administration thoughta i reinvigorated iraqi economy and oil trade would help pay for the war. that did not happen. >> my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. >> that didn't happen either. instead, insurgents began attacking viciously and even after cheney told cnn in 2005 -- >> in the lastthrows of the insurgency. >> it went on and still does. no wonder some of president obama's defenders are pleased to see cheney take the spotlight for a bit. >> it's obviously always good to hear from former vice president cheney. >> killing the ms. efrjer does nothing to help the white house deal with the message here. in short, that the current president has made dire miscalculations of his own. >> i am honored to be in the timeless city of cairo. >> early on, president obama preached better relations in the
middle east which has not paid off. he's captured and killed some big terrorists, but events in libya and syria have raised questions of commitment and there are broad fears that groups like isis are enjoying new momentum on the very ground where americans died to defeat them. so the real question and challenge for the white house is this, these headlines about dick cheney will last a day or two wolf, and they will fade rapidly, but the overarching questions is whether or not this agenda and political plans for the middle east are working and those will be around for a while, wolf? >> they certainly will be. tom foreman, thanks very much. let's discuss what we just heard. joining us our chief political analyst gloria borger and retired army officer and later was director of the national security council in both the bush and obama administrations
and he has clients and security in aerospace and defense. also joining us the former commander of the u.s. military's central command, retired u.s. marine corps general anthony zinni. to all of you, thanks very much for joining us. general zinni, you were strongly opposed to going to war in march of 2003. you thought it was a mistake. i remember and i've got the quote here. you said in the summer of 2002 you said attacking iraq now would cause a lot of problems. iran is about to turn around 180 degrees. we ought to be focused on that. they're the ones that funded hezbollah and other terrorist organizations. that ought to be a focus, and i can give you many, many more before you get down to saddam and iraq. you firmly believed saddam hussein was contained inside iraq, that there was no need to go to war. so when you hear dick cheney and others who supported going to war come out so publicly now blaming all of the problems on president obama, what say you? >> well, you know, wolf, it
reminds me of a starting pitcher who gives up ten runs in a first inning and leaves the game and blames the bull pen for the loss. we have to get the politics out of this. this is serious business. mistakes were made certainly by the bush administration. a ought to take the example of the president, george w. bush to heart. upon he has kept quiet. i don't think advice, comments or criticism from those who bungled this in the beginning is helpful. there have been mistakes made by this administration, too. i don't take a political side, but the politics have got to stop at the water's edge when we have a serious foreign policy issue on our hands. >> do you believe the vice president and former vice president cheney has any credibility when it comes to iraq? >> i do not, and i respect vice president cheney. he was very helpful which i was doing the israeli-palestinian negotiations and went beyond to try to help me with my mission.
so this certainly isn't personal, but i really think right now we've got to figure out what needs to be done over there. we are not moving the way we should and as quickly as we should and in the direction we should, in my mind, but resurrecting a failed strategy in policy and operational design from the past and claiming it in a revisionist way as victory is ridiculous. >> i'm going come back to you because i want to look ahead and get your thoughts on where the the u.s. should go from here in dealing with this current crisis. stand by for a moment general zinni. doug, let me bring you in on this. you worked on iraq in the bush administration and the obama administration. >> right. >> when you see this debate for what's going on, who is to plame, you hear cheney and other republicans saying they had victory when the u.s. was going withdraw. the u.s. never really negotiated. a status of force agreement and they wanted to get out and as a result, the u.s. and everyone else is paying a huge price.
it's all president obama's fault. >> i don't think there is any question that president obama wanted to get out of iraq, just like every united states citizen wanted to get out of iraq. iraqi politics were never going to allow a residual force to stay in iraq past 2011. what we called the sofa, they called the wig drawl agreement. >> status of force agreement. >> he was in baghdad and he heard from nuri al maliki saying he was open to it, but the obama administration never seriously pursued it. >> well, like in politics here, the leadership may want something. that doesn't mean they can bring their rank and file along, let again sell it to the grassroots constituentses. there was never a chance that nuri al maliki would a through have 5,000 or 10,000 u.s. troops to have the total withdrawal that president obama negotiated with the iraqis. >> gloria, i want to play a clip
for you, this is lindsay graham puts some of the blame on president obama. you interviewed him last sunday. let me play this little clip, your exchange with lindsay graham. >> the stubborn-headed president we have who thinks he knows better than anybody else who withdrew troops and exposed this country to the inevitable needs to change his policies quickly. if he does we can -- still save this. >> stubborn-headed president? >> stubborn-headed, delusional, detached president. >> that's pretty tough rhetoric. >> right, and the point he's making is the point that you disagree with and that is, you know, he said it was president obama who could have negotiated this agreement to have a residual force ask that it is his fault in no uncertain terms that we are having the problems we're having now. now having said that lindsay graham then also won't and said, you know what? we ought to be talking to iran
about this. we ought to be soliciting their advice or on, you know, talking to them at least about how we get out of this and how it can help iraq so he was trying to help the white house on the one hand, but on the other hand he was saying, you know what? we have no responsibility here and the american public is sick and tired of this, wolf and that's why it is 37% in the polls in terms of its handling of foreign approximately see. they don't think he's got a policy. this president has got syria which is a mess, he's got iraq which is a mess. people are questioning the complete withdrawal from afghanistan. >> let's talk, general zinni, about where the u.s. should go from here. the president met with the congressional leadership within the past hour and meeting with the secretary of state as we speak right now over at the white house. what military options, if any, would you recommend? >> well, on the military side i think you have to look at
stemming isis' advance. it's unclear to me what the intelligence community is telling us about their capability to go further south or disrupt business in baghdad in any way. so the line has to be drawn and if it's an immediate requirement, things like advisers on the ground and air strikes and more equipment, that's sort of the emergency requirement, but i want to say something. this isn't about the military requirements there. it's about the need to change the maliki government's approach to the sunnis and if we ever partner with iran in any way and support a maliki government that's not changing we would have validated a religious war and we will lose the support of the golf allies and others, the sunni-arab nations and we have got to ensure beyond the emergency measures we may take in the military sense that there is a mittment from maliki that's real and accepted and we had
better keep our distance from iran and we had better get inclusive of the sunni arabs that are allies because they're the ones that will convince the sunni population in the north to resist isis if they have some hope of a better future in terms of the governance of that country. >> do you think there is any hope that nuri al will maliki. as you know, a lot of experts and they've spoken to a lot of them, they just think he'll never get the job done and basically write him off, in your words, as a jerk. >> well, he's going to have to change or he's going to end up with a rough state in the south and he'll have a separate kurdish state and a sunni state that becomes a safrnther with for problems that will plague him in the region for the foreseeable future. i think he's got to stop and smell the coffee here because realistically, if he doesn't make significant change he has
to go. >> all right, doug. you worked with him. you know this guy, what do you think? can he change? because a lot of folks think he can't. >> i think we're putting too much blame on maliki himself. the bottom line is all of maliki's government is dysfunctional especially because talabani was incapacitated and he seemed they could get them to talk. maliki is no man dale and it's not like there is an equivalent of the de klerk saying we committed some crime in the minority regime. there's no equivalent fig out other side. >> the bottom line what i hear you saying is there is a good chance, a lot of experts believe that iraq will become three separate countries? >> i hope not. that would be a bad outcome. all three of the countries would be less than the current sum and
the kyrgyzstan would become a sunni, and the shia state would become the iranian client state. >> so are you saying if maliki would leave that you'd have the same problem? that there isn't anybody there who could -- because, you know, the administration seems to think that maliki, it's his problem because he has been unable to perform the coalition. >> let me ask general zinni if iraq broke up between the former yugoslavia, what if there was an independent kyrgyzstan in the north and a shiite-led country in the south and a sunni-led country, and what would be so bad if there was a partition and three independent country emerge? >> doug gave you a good reason why that's not going to work. the kurdish state in the north is going have problems with
turkey and iran who do not want to see kurdish independence blossom in any way. the sunni-run state will be the poor step-cousin to jordan and may become another sanctuary for terrorists and obviously, the small state just as doug said in the south will become a shia client for the iranians and none of that would bode well for stability in the middle east. >> general zinni, always good to have you and you were very, very precise and accurate leading up to the war in 2003. a lot of folks regret the fact that the voice was not hurt, and we expect what you're doing. former sentcom commander and gloria, thank you as well. >> we have new details on the raid that captured a top benghazi suspect. how did they do it? we'll take you behind the scenes. a twist in the political
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learning new details of the dramatic u.s. army commando operation that ended with the capture of a key suspect on the deadly attack on the mission in benghazi, libya. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr is joining us. >> officially the pentagon is saying almost nothing about this raid, but cnn has fresh information. >> reporter: ahmed abu khattala was lured south of benghazi. army delta force commandos, the fbi and intelligence agencies had been watching him for days. they swooped in sunday night. the chairman of the joint chiefs hinting at how dangerous it all was. >> the abu khattala operation though it may have looked rather routine, it took us months of preparation and intelligence. >> khattala, a key operative
offence ar al sharia, the group the u.s. blames for the attack on the u.s. compound in benghazi. intelligence gleaned from local libyans helped draw khattala to the location. they captured with no shots fired and no one getting hurt. then u.s. commandos whisked him to the "uss new york" in the mediterranean. he is now undergoing questioning. delta force commandos had been in libya before, in october, they captured alleged al qaeda operative anas al libi in a raid that took less than 30 seconds. some wonder why it took so long to get to khattala when journalists like cnn's arwa damon found and talked to him more than a year ago. >> we met with ahmed abu khattala in public at the coffee shop of a well known hotel here in benghazi for around two hours. he seemed to be confident, his demeanor most certainly not that of a man who believed that he
was going to be detained or targeted any time soon. >> so how could cnn find khattala and it took u.s. commandos over a year to find him? khattala had gone into hiding and u.s. intelligence had to track him down and get ready to move. >> you have to know where he live, where he frequents and when he goes where? does he go with his family? does he have a security detail? all of these questions have to be factored in and once you know the answer to that then you develop your plan on how you are going take him. >> the delta force commandos belonged to one of the most secretive organizations inside the u.s. military, an organization called the joint special operations command, the very same group of commandos, the same forces that were sent to get bowe bergdahl and went into osama bin laden's compound. >> stand by for a moment. i want to bring in cnn national
security analyst fran townsend, former adviser to president bush and a member of the external advisory board. peter king, a key member of the house intelligence committee and homeland security committee thought this guy should be sent to gitmo, to guantanamo bay and instead he's coming here to washington, d.c., and will make an appearance after a long boat ride in a federal court. what would have been smarter? >> look, the most important thing is the interrogation that's going on right now. let's put aside for a second whether to a military commissioner at trial, the fact is what you really care about is what information you can get from him now about other whos may have been involved in the benghazi attack and what their roles were? what contacts they've had, who their associates are and it's that sort of intelligence and you get that without regard to the criminal case against him because you're not going to use that in a criminal prosecution. look, the president's been very clear, agree or disagree, by the way, both president obama and
president obama wanted to close guantanamo. turns out that's harder than what the president. whether you agree whether to keep it open, the track record in the u.s. judicial system of being able it to try suspects in terrorism-related cases and it it goes back to the embassy bomb negligence 1998. there's history here of success in trying these criminal cases. >> if it may be easier to do it with the federal judicial system and you fully understand this as opposed to a military tribunal that can go on and on and on. quickly, what do you think on this boat, he's on a boat coming to the united states. they're interrogating him. how tfar can they go during thi process? >> wolf, he continues to have the right to not answer their questions and we know from the president's policy statements certainly that there will be no use of force to try and extract the statement from him, but
they'll take their time. now, we know there have been cases where people have been questioned for months, but there are also instances, wolf, where it didn't go on very long. the boston bomber and the faisal al shaz ad, if they quickly moved them into the judicial process and so it really will depend on how successful these interrogations are. >> are they really explaining, barbara, at the pentagon why if arwa damon a year ago had time to spend a couple of hours in a coffee shop why it took so long to pick up this guy? >> well, if you're going to send a military force into a situation where you could possibly run the risk of getting into a fire fight killing civilians, causing destruction. you've got to have perfect intelligence. it's one thing for him to meet with journalists in benghazi, but you would be sending u.s. american military lives into what could potentially be a hostile situation so you want to make sure you have the intelligence and you want to
make sure you've got it right and look, wolf, by all accounts, this time around there was local intelligence on the ground. that is what we are told. libyan intelligence was provided, not by the government, necessarily, let me be clear, but u.s. troops and u.s. intelligence got information from libya on the ground. so they had some source of information this time that made it totally different, that made them believe that they could execute this mission and they did. >> barbara starr at the pentagon, fran townsend here with me in "the situation room". coming up, terrorists battling for iraq. they targeted an oil refinery. we'll have a special report right at the top of the hour. straight ahead, hillary clinton versus maybe our own sanjay gupta on the issue of medical marijuana. she says the jury is still out. sanjay will explain why he explains the verdict for all practical purposes is in. are feeling the love, too.
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switch now and add voice and tv for $34.90. comcast business. built for business. hillary clinton calling for more research on medical marijuana. she responded during a cnn global town hall telling christian amanpour that the jury is still out on the the use of medicinal marijuana. >> i think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. i don't think we've done enough research yet although i think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be
availability under appropriate circumstances, but i do think we need more research because we don't know how it it interacts with other drugs. there is a lot we don't know. so on medicinal, on medicinal purposes. on recreational, you know, states are the laboratories of democracy. we have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. i want to wait and see what the evidence is. >> you want to wait and try it? you said you've never smoked. >> no. i didn't do when i was young. i'm not going to start now. >> our chief medical correspondent dr. sanjay gupta was a white house fellow and served as special adviser to then first lady hillary clinton and sanjay is joining us now. sanjay, you've been looking through the health benefits of marijuana, specifically for medicinal purposes. do you think enough research has been done on that or do you agree with the former secretary that more studies are needed? >> reporter: you know, i think theray more question more research is necessary although
admittedly it's a very challenging thing here in the united states to do and i'm happy to talk about that, but it's worth pointing out, wolf, that for a couple of thousand years marijuana was used as a medication even in the united states up until 1943. it was part of what is known as the formulary, the list of medications from which doctors can prescribe. this isn't brand new. this is something that was discussed before. right now the united states is a medication known as marinol, a marijuana-based medication that be used to treat symptoms of newsia after keep on therapy. sadovix used to treat m.s. symptoms in many countries around the world. there was lots of research done before those medications got approved. there's research happening in other countries outside the united states that i think is really worth examining when trying to make some determinations about the future of marijuana in this country. >> why hasn't there been more official research in the united states on the medicinal value of marijuana?
>> you know, the answer to that may lie in the sort of collision between science and soss yciolo wolf. it is categorized as a schedule 1 substance and that is among the most harmful and has no accepted medicinal benefit. that's how they describe schedule one substances. you can imagine wofrl, a researcher who says i want to obtain funding and i want to get approvals to study marijuana as a medicine while it's pre-ordained as having no medicinal benefit. it it throws up these challenging obstacles. so the i think the idea of doing research in this country in a productive way in a way that seemingly everybody wants comes about if you can loosen the ability for these researchers to do that research. it's not easy at all right now. >> how much politically vibrant, more politically active do you think this whole debate over marijuana both recreational and medicinal is going to get in the
united states? >> well, i've been focused on the medicinal part of this and in part because, as you know, wolf, we talked about this, i changed my mind after looking at the research from other countries and other labs around the world and i believe that not only can it have benefit in certain situations, but it can have benefit when nothing else has worked. i would say from a medicinal standpoint that is starting to be a message that more and more people are trying to understand. i certainly wasn't the first person to talk about this, but i think it has gained a lot of momentum and even just on monday, governor scott in florida has approved a certain strain of marijuana known as charlotte's web to help treat children who have the most challenging forms of epilepsy. i don't think that anyone expected that sort of thing to happen in florida, certainly in this legislative session. you have 20 states across the country who have approved some form of medicinal marijuana. i think more states are going to approve it. the big question becomes what happens at the federal level? what does the fda do with this? what does the de ado with this
and nida, the national institute of drug abuse whos mandate it is to study drug abuse and do they make it easier to do these studies and get this more widely approved? >> sanjay gupta, thanks so much. >> you got it, wolf. any time. thank you. up next, outside experts say they've now pinpointed where that missing malaysia airplane went down hundreds of miles from where searchers have been looking. we'll have an update. plus government forces battling terrorists for control over one of iraq's most important oil refineries. our "situation room" special report coming up. what's your function? ♪ ♪ hooking up the country helping business run ♪ ♪ trains! they haul everything, safely and on time. ♪ tracks! they connect the factories built along the lines. and that means jobs, lots of people, making lots and lots of things. let's get your business rolling now, everybody sing. ♪ norfolk southern what's your function? ♪ ♪ helping this big country move ahead as one ♪
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a new theory about 370. fresh analysis of satellite data point to an unsearched area. renee marsh reports. >> reporter: right ocean, right arch, but wrong spot. a group of independent experts believe flight 370 went down here. hundreds of miles southwest of where crews spent weeks searching. >> my personal opinion is that we're at the 80 to 90% confidence level. >> reporter: michael and a dozen other experts pushed for the ri lease of raw satellite data when government officials used to calculate the possible final resting place. the plane almost certainly went south. but the group says five computer models place it in this tight cluster and say the search
should focus here. >> this is our recommended search area. no one is claiming that we know it's at this location, but we think it has the highest probability of any area in the southern indian ocean. >> there have been multiple aerial searches in the indian ocean with no trace of the missing plane, but their new target area was unexplored. >> they have already searched areas close to the area that we have recommended but not exactly on it. >> the group says the four underwater signals detected in april unintentionally kept them from looking at other areas they flagged. but the outsiders all agree the underwater pings were a lead that needed to be pursued. and authorities leading the search say they are reanalysis of the data is almost complete
and a new search area will be revealed built end of this month. ships are essentially mapping the ocean floor for the second phase of the search. >> thanks very much. coming up, a situation room special report as terrorists close in on the iraqi capital. we'll take you live to baghdad. and the '6 0s, the war in vietnam. see how it began. we will prevail in vietnam. >> the war in vietnam has become the most divisive in 100 years. >> it introduced us to a new kind of american. one that was not pure. can't do your job and feel pity. >> didn't play by our rules. they are being killed. >> i don't think it's worth fighting for. >> you started to distrust your own leaders because you started to say they are lying to us. >> i can assure you we intend to
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>p happening now, a si room special report. terrorists battling for control of iraq are targeted on a u.s. hit list under review right now. there's an ominous through threat. we have new detail us about the rise of isis, the brutal terror group that's built up its power by outdoing its opposition. and allies are lashing out at
hillary clinton after her live town hall appearance right here on cnn. we're gauging the fallout. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this hour, a new threat to attack u.s. embassies worldwide if the united states launches air strikes in iraq. president obama has been holding urgent high level talks about a possible u.s. military response to terrorist fighters who are pushing closer and closer to baghdad. standby for our in-depth reporting and analysis including our team of correspondents covering the fighting and danger in iraq right now. but first let's go to our senior international correspondent nick in baghdad. >> every day we hear of another attack launched by isis.
today in the early hours, they began attack on an important town with a big oil refinery. the latest target of o isis militants, a critical oil refinery 140 miles north of baghdad. workers say despite heavy clashes between militants and security forces, isis fighters remain in control of the facility and have set five oil storage units on fire. this could be an especially crippling blow to the government since this refinery produces about 40% of iraq's gas. but in his weekly address, the prime minister insisted government forces will win against the militants. >> translator: we absorbed the initial shock and now we are on
the rebound. we will respond and keep the momentum. what happened was a catastrophe, but not every catastrophe is a defeat. >> reporter: iraq is now formally asking pr military help. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff surprised u.s. lawmakers with the news during a senate hearing. >> we have a request for air power from the iraqi government. >> we do? do you think it's in our national security interest? >> it is in our national security interest to counter isis wherever we found them. >> reporter: cnn learn ed the united states is already conducting manned recognizance flights over iraq to collect up to the minute intelligence on isis movements and positions. military forces says there's a draft list of targets being constantly reviewed and revised. the threat of american air
strikes prompted this ominous warning from a militant cleric calling on jihadists everywhere to strike american embassies. >> translator: if the u.s. attacks isis forces. >> reporter: one of the questions being asked is what is the price going to be for the united states to target isis inside iraq? certainly that's a request coming from prime minister al maliki. one thinks they have the answer to that question. the independent reporter with 30 years of experience here in iraq is saying that the price is the u.s. air strikes the prime minister will have to go. that's what that newspaper is saying. >> we'll see if that happens. nic robertson in baghdad, thank you. christians throughout iraq are being terrorized by isis fighters.
there are now reports of christian churches being burned and lewded and women of all being forced to wear the vail. arwa damon has been talking to iraqi christians about the dangers they face. what is the latest on this front, arwa? >> reporter: well, wolf, the country's christian minority has long been subjected to all sorts of horrific violence. especially when iraq's sectarian warfare was raging and now the fears are mounting once again. on a dusty street corner in the christian enclave, they tried to pretend that things are normal. that isis fighters aren't potentially just moments away from slaughtering them. we all have our bags ready if anything happens we will leave, he says. the first city to fall to the terrorist group is right next door. in 2005 there were a series of
attacks against churches in baghdad. after that the youth decided to ban together and form their own civilian defense units. that's been going on pretty much ever since. but neither efforts have really intensify ied. they don't want us filming their check points or other measures they put into place. especially isis just a ten-minute drive away. most shops are closed. the owners either fled or don't bother opening. not everyone can afford generators. it's a grim existence. her heart, she says, seres with the pain of the past and fear of the future. here is my son. every day he pulls a 12-hour guard duty.
it's very hard. if it stays like this, there won't be an iraqi left in the country. for most there's little to do but wait. outside the church we meet these women. it's fine, what are they going to do, kill us, they tried to joke. i might be the only girl left here. everyone will go, but i will stay, this 22-year-old says. i won't leave my country. her mother remembers the days when they felt they had a future. but the moment there is a glimmer of hope in iraq it's stolen. i remember coming here when i was this big he proudly points out. the new renovations at his church. the arch ways and floor he always wanted to build. what are we spoeds to do, he wonders? this is our land, our church that our ancestors built. this evil can't continue.
a day will come when people will come to their senses. a hope, a dream in a country hijacked by violence few can understand. wolf, one can barely begin to comprehend the psychological toll that all of this is taking on the population. especially in this case that christian minority that really feels as if there's no one out there who is going to protect them. >> heartbreaking story indeed for iraqi christians and so many other folks. isis terrorists have been gain. ing ground and power by controlling an army of hard lined fighters and amassing a huge fortune. the group has one upped al qaeda in its ruthlessness and borrowed a page from the mafia as el well. brian todd has the more on the rise of isis. >> this is a group that al qaeda pushed away for being too violent. they are calculating in their tactics and ravage ri. to many wernesternerswesterners
out of nowhere. but isis runs like a corporation even issuing spread sheets for assassinations, cities it's taken over. one bank robbery has given them operating cash of $430 million. isis has been building momentum for years. the group's inspiration comes from the man who formed al qaeda in iraq in 2004. >> he was a criminal, he was a thug, he was in jail for all kinds of crimes. then he gets out and gets religion and creates an organization that al qaeda is afraid of. >> reporter: his death in 2006 left them down and nearly out, but the u.s. withdrawal in 2011 coupled with the war in syria starting that same year gave isis its new name and life. >> the pressure is off. suddenly you see them carrying out attacks inside iraq, going into syria and other place where
is they can train and recruit without any influence of any western powers. . >> reporter: they gather volunteers and weapons, spent years breaking senior leaders out of prison. but how were they able to take mosul, a city of almost 2 million? >> intimidating local security forces through bombs in their homes, by targeting key leaders for assassination, making them a softer target for the assault that would someday come which we can confirm was a very easy assault. >> reporter: then to hold mosul and other cities they have captured pure mafia tactics. >> extorting money, but there was a recent bank robbery. they have been taxing civilians to get money from civilians. >> reporter: a u.s. counterterrorism official tells us successful business owners are shaken down, threatened with death if they don't pay extortion fees.
kidnappings are big moneymakers for them. this official says isis made several million dollars a month for those tactics. they bend the locals to their will with public floggings, executions and crucifixions of christians. but that's also a tactic that may cause local residents to turn on them eventually. >> i know you're speaking to a lot of experts. . what is their weakness on the battlefield? >> one analyst told us one of the problems is all the different groups of fighters that it has. it has militants who have been fighting in the field, but it has newly released prisoners coming into the fold and foreign fighters also joining them for the first time. getting them all on the same page, getting them disciplined is going to be tough. that could be problems fighting iraqi forces and maybe other forces coming in. >> thanks very much. still ahead, is the u.s. close to backing up iraq's
launching air strikes? a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is standing by along with anderson cooper will join us from baghdad. plus some critics are accusing hillary clinton of trying to play both sides of an explosive political issue. take a closer look at the blowback she's getting after her live appearance right here on cnn. could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. mmmhmmm...everybody knows that. well, did you know that old macdonald was a really bad speller? your word is...cow. cow. cow. c...o...w... ...e...i...e...i...o. [buzzer] dangnabbit. geico. fifteen minutes could save you...well, you know. explaining my moderate to severe so there i was again, chronic plaque psoriasis to another new stylist.
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also joining us is cnn's anderson cooper joining us live from baghdad. i understand there were some terrorist bombings in baghdad not far from where you were today. what did you hear? what's going on? >> there have been. that's nothing knnew. we had one car bomb, a road side bomb, 12 people were killed. dsz more injured. i haven't gotten a fatality told today, but it's a sign that there are already fighters inside the capital of baghdad which adds to the security concerns of the people here, wolf. >> standby for a moment. i want to get general meyer's thoughts. the president now reviewing military options. you have a wealth of experience. you were one of the advisers that helped president bush in
2004. knowing what you have learned over these years, if the current president and commander-in-chief were to ask you launch air strikes, don't launch air strikes, what would you say? >> well, i think there are a range of military options available to the president. i'm sure general dempsey and the commander are providing those options to him. from equipping iraqi forces providing advice, intelligence, surveillance and recognizance, providing eyes and ears for the iraqi forces up to air strikes. air strikes would require more coordination with iraqi forces than we're probably capable of right now. that would take some time and planning because your big fear there is you would strike the wrong target. but those are all, i think, options that will be presented to the president and maybe more. i doubt anybody is considering boots on the ground option.
>> the president has clearly ruled that out. anderson, you're there on the ground. the current chairman of the joint chiefs told congress today that there is a formal request from al-maliki for air strikes. are the folks you're talking to, what do they want the u.s. to do? it's further kpcomplicated by in potentially getting involved militarily as well. >> a lot of people you talk to say that iraqis can defend themselves. but there are real concerns about the capabilities of the iraqi military. the fighting that's going on at the oil refinery right now that's said to be specialized unit, a counterterrorism unit still holding on to part of that refinery, they have been fighting back. but other forces maintaining road blocks apparently according to local reports abandoned their post just as we have seen in
mosul and other places. there are very real concerns about whether the military, especially in areas largely sunni dominated areas whether they are willing to stand up and fight. a lot of reports were it wasn't even defections in the battle. it was before battles begun. iraqi officers and then lower level troops taking off. al-maliki announced on television they are going to investigate 59 high level military officers and police officials for abandoning their post. potential punishments for those officers would be execution. so just shows you the kind of concern not only among people here, but even in the iraqi government here about the capability of their military. >> that's what's so frustrating to so many of us. i'm sure it is to you, general, as well. the americans spent billions e equipping these soldiers and there's a little sign of trouble. instead of fighting and going to war and defeating these isis
riss they take off their uniforms and run away. how do you explain that? >> well, i think the way you explain that, by the way, if you listen to our chairman today in front of congress, he said and i think everybody believes that there are some units that can and will fight. clearly that's not been the case across the board, but the missing element, the activity between the troops deployed in mosul and other places and the political apparatus in baghdad, if you don't have confidence in your political leadership, then you're probably not going to fight for them. that's what we're seeing at this point. i think president maliki bares large responsibility for what's happening and for not making sure that connective tissue between high level policymakers in baghdad and troops on the front line is consistent and
connected. >> a lot of people have lost total confidence in the prime minister of iraq. they don't think he's ever going to be able to get the job done. certainly not what the u.s. would like to see. we'll see if the president conditions u.s. action on doing the right thing in baghdad. general meyers, thanks very much. anderson, you have a special report coming up tonight. we will tune many for that. thanks to both of you for joining us. just ahead, hillary clinton answered an hour of questions live here on cnn. now she's under fire for some of those answers. not just from republicans who are complaining, standby. means keeping seven billion ctransactions flowing.g, and when weather hits, it's data mayhem. but airlines running hp end-to-end solutions are always calm during a storm. so if your business deals with the unexpected, hp big data and cloud solutions
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a day after hillary clinton faced a slew of tough questions on cnn, some of her answers are raising new questions that could haunt her run if he runs in 2016. let's go to our congressional correspondent dana bash. >> hillary clinton is one of the most polarizing figures in politics. it's coming from la ttino group on the issue of immigration. it was one of her impassioned and human moments on cnn's houn tall on president obama's policy of deporting illegal immigrants. >> children coming home to an empty house, that's just not who
we are as americans. >> reporter: but moments later a stockily different take on an exploding crisis. children crossing the border to the u.s. alone, illegally. >> they should be september back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults are in their families. >> reporter: she's speaking out of both sides of her mouth. >> if you want the immigrant community to see you as a champion, you're going to have to make difficult choices and take a firm position. >> it didn't seem that way yesterday. >> reporter: then there's benghazi. the attack that killed four americans on clinton's watch. republicans say she still has a lot of explaining to do so this was music to gop ears. >> there are still unanswered questions. it was the fog of war. >> republicans convinced benghazi is clin clinton's achilles heel wasted no time saying she's the one who must answer questions. >> secretary clinton from the beginning has stone walled on