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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  August 5, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PDT

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flipboard. i'll be back tonight co-anchoring live from jerusalem. for now, i turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." blitzer in "the situation room." wolf? -- captions by vitac -- >> happening now, breaking news. u.s. general killed. a gunman said to be an afghan soldier opens fire at a military academy near kabul. 15 other troops are wounded. insider attack. dozens of coalition troops have been killed by their afghan allies in recent years. are americans safe working alongside i'd afghan soldiers? and cease-fire holding. the rockets and the air strikes have stopped. israeli troops are now out of gaza. can their neighbors help them build on then fragile truce. >> i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." let's get right to the breaking news. a u.s. general is gunned down in afghanistan as a war that's winding down claims its highest ranking american casualty.
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the shocking and bloody rampage at an officer training center near kabul apparently carried out by an afghan soldier. some 15 coalition troops were wounded including a german general. our correspondents and guests are standing by with full coverage. our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto, jim? >> a difficult day for u.s. forces in afghanistan. also at the pentagon. the most senior u.s. officer killed since 9/11 and a significant casualty toll, as well began with what was a routine visit to the marshal fahim university where after gan senior military officers are trained. this was a senior delegation involving more than one coalition general and they were met with a brazen attack. an afghan soldier i'm told had completed a seven-step vetting process opening fire with a russian made light machine gun killed the general. he wounded at least 15 others including eight americans and a german general and some of those wounded are seriously wounded.
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the attacker then killed as forces responded. the attack raising hard questions not only about the vetting process but also the upcoming handover of security in afghanistan from u.s. and coalition forces to afghan forces. >> we're months away from the u.s. handing over security responsibility for afghanistan to afghans forces like these. does this undermine your confidence in their ability to take over that role? >> the afghan national security forces continue to perform at a very strong level of competence and confidence. and warfare capability. they have had a good year securing not one but two national elections. >> generals of this rank would normally travel with a security detail. the moirlt has been deploying so-called guardian angels in response to this threat of so-called green on blue attacks instituted other changes as well as allowing u.s. forces to carry their own weapons into afghan
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ministries to possibly protect themselves. while these steps have greatly reduce this had kind of attack, this he have not eliminated them as admiral kirby was telling us today. afghanistan still very much a battlefield. in the measure of the trust he says is still strong later today after this attack, u.s. forces went out into the field on operations with afghantorss at their side. >> still about 30,000 u.s. troops in afghanistan as we speak right now. stand by, jim sciutto reporting. you would think there would be very tight security when high ranking military officers visit a facility like this. let's get more from pentagon correspondent barbara starr. you've been to afghan army training camps. you've seen what's going on and done some checking. what is going on over there? >> well, look, wolf, afghan and u.s. troops coalition troops work side by side from the smallest military bases to these more major facilities like this training on training ranges with live ammunition. we have been there.
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we have seen it. there has to be a measure of trust involved between both sides. and this at times has been very difficult to come by as a number of these attacks, the so-called green on blue afghan soldiers those in afghan uniforms if they're really soldiers or not, taliban sympathizers in afghan uniforms all of this whole mix of people attacking u.s. and coalition troops. it's been a major problem. they've been able to get a handle on it and bring those very difficult statistics down by these additional security measures, but today, wa we see is it just wasn't enough. if there is a determined attacker, u.s. general the most junior private first class, all the security in the world attackers do still get through. wolf in. >> it still is very shocking though that a general, barbara, a general has been killed along these lines. that doesn't happen very often at all. >> it does not, wolf. i'll tell you, i think that people just don't expect to see
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this. they think of the generals as being surrounded by security. but i can tell you and i'm sure jim sciutto and everyone who has beenton afghanistan a reporter would agree with me. we see generals pushing their security back a little bit shedding their helmet and vest. i've been with several of them over the years where we've gone walking lieu towns and villages and there is no apparent security. they are pushed back because many times, these generals want to show number one, the trust involved. i think you can see me there a few years ago, on one of these walk abouts. they want to show the trust that they have for the afghan people and they also very importantly want to be with their troops. many of these generals have felt very strongly over the years they don't want to be shielded. they want to be out there. and it can be a very difficult situation. there have been times behind the scenes where some of these generals have been told you know, you've got to wear your gear. you've got to wear your helmet and your vest. but a lot of them really feel
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very strongly that one of the most important things they can do with the afghan security forces is establish that bond of trust and be on an equal footing with them. wolf, what we see today is that from a high ranking u.s. army general to what we have seen over the years, perhaps the most junior soldier marine, sailor, airman, the price that is being paid, the sacrifices that military families make, this he know and they come from all ranks, wolf. >> barb gra bra star at the pentagon. thanks very much. let's stay with this story. get an update from the pentagon press secretary. joining us on the phone is rear admiral john kirby. thanks very much for joining us. i know you've been investigating. it's preliminary, but give us the bottom line, be how did this happen? >> we're still trying to feg all that out. we're still investigating this. what i can tell you is that this was a routine visit to the military academy out there in
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kabul to look at various improvements that have been made to the training and to the school itself. and somewhere in the context of this routine visit and it wasn't just american troops that were on this visit. it was a coalition visit by other staff officers from the international security force there. but in the midst of this visit, obviously, a person that we believe was an afghan soldier opened fire. and hit many with you know with his weapon. tragically this one individual died. but there were upwards of 15 who were hit and wounded. >> was this a high ranking or low ranking afghan soldier who killed this general and wounded others? >> i don't believe it was a very high ranking afghan soldier, wolf. but again, we're still trying to figure this out and piece it together. >> who killed him? >> he was -- he was killed by security forces that were on the scene. i don't exactly know who was
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responsible for actually killing the individual, but there were security forces there present. and took care of it that way. >> how worried should those 30,000 u.s. troops who are still in afghanistan right now be that will other afghan troops maybe enfiltrated by taliban, al qaeda, who knows what, these people pretending to be allies are really their enemies? >> this is an insider threat we refer to it as the insider threat you one we've been focused on for quite some sometime. just a couple of years ago, it had gotten to a pretty high degree over there. i staff and coalition and u.s. forces really took a hard look at this threat how to mitigate it. you can't limit it. it's difficult to make it go away completely. you can mitigate it. you can try to buy down that risk through some procedures that we put in place and largely they have worked. this is not been much of a story over the last couple of years because we've been working at
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this so hard. i would add the afghans have been helping us, as well. our afghan partners. it is a threat you can't completely eliminate and something we're always mindful of. our indications are u.s. soldiers over there know how important these partnered operations are. they're proud of the progress afghan forces have made particularly over the last year. we don't see the this is going to degrade either the partnership that we've been building or afghan confidence in the field. >> explain that guardian angel program that was put into effect a couple years ago. and did this dead u.s. general have a guardian angel? >> well, we hesitant to talk about too much details of the program. there is a program in place where we have -- we have security forces that are standing by and ready and may not always be visible, may not always be apparent to deal with these kinds of threats whether they're insider threats or coming from taliban insurgents outright and they're on scene
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and ready. and again, i don't know exactly how it came that this assailant was killed but i can tell you that certainly that program was in effect for this visit. >> i know you've been withholding the name of the general pending notification of his family. has that already occurred? can you tell us his name? >> i'm not going to be able to release the name right now. wolf, i can tell you the family notification process is being worked today. and i think it's important we all want to make sure that we keep the family in our thoughts and prayers and give them the space and the privacy they're going to need today. >> the associated press has named the general. i don't know if you're familiar with that. we're not doing that yet. i wanted to let you know the a.p. last named the general and put it out on wire. does that impact your decision still to withhold the name? >> we have a policy in the defense department that even once we know that the families have been notify we wait 24 hours as a grieving period before before we release the name. we are not -- the defense
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department will not be releasing the name right now. >> for 24 hours. without telling us his name, can you tell us something about him, background? experience? i'm sure you've probably looked into it. >> well, yes very experienced officer. been in the army commissioned as an officer since 1980. various operational tours. a lot of staff tours, as well. an expert in infrastructure improvement, logistics that, kind of thing and he was a leader there in the training command in afghanistan. the command that's responsible for training afghan forces. so again perfectly. >> do you know how long he had been in afghanistan this current tour? >> i do not know that, no. >> what about the conditions of the wounded? how seriously are they wounded? >> the wounded are not all united states soldiers. there are some u.s. soldiers i'm told that some off the wounded were seriously wounded. there's of course, suffered
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minor injuries but what we're being told is none of the serious -- none of the seriously bounded are life-threatening. >> i assume based on this incident you're going to be taking another look at security for u.s. military personnel in afghanistan and maybe drawing some new conclusions, making some new recommendations. normally that would happen, right? >> we always will learn something from the investigation, wolf. if we need to make changes we will. that's why we do these investigations. it's important to constantly keep looking at our security posture. but i would also say more broadly, the security in afghanistan is always a top concern. it is a war zone,' combat zone. we take security and safety very seriously. >> you're still planning on withdrawing all but about 10,000 of those u.s. troops before the end of this year, right? >> that's right. there's going to be no change to the force posture progress and planning we've been doing. the thing we've said consistently is in order to be able to keep any presence after the end of this year, we need a bilateral security agreement.
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we're waiting for the audit of the votes to conclude so that a winner can be named and we can move forward with that with the new president of afghanistan. >> i'm be speaking this hour with one man who wants to be the new president of afghanistan, dr. abdullah, abdullah. we'll get his thoughts on what happened. rear admiral john ker by, thanks very much for joining us. up next, could thetable be behind the killing of this u.s. general? could it be al qaeda? i'll speak with peter bergen. we'll also get the latest from kabul. in the heart of a residential area, a hamas rocket firing gets caught on camera. can the current truce put an end to such launches?
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let's get right back to the breaking news. the united states general is shot and killed in afghanistan in a bloody rampage argues apparently carried out by an afghan soldier. joining us now our cnn national security analyst peter bergen and "the wall street journal" reporter nathan hodge on the phone from kabul. nathan, i know you've been trying to figure out exactly what happened. what are you learning? >> reporter: we learned at midday today at an afghan training facility that probably is best described as equivalent to an afghan west point that at afghan soldier we're told by u.s. military officials opened fire during what the military calls engagement, a meeting between coalition officers and their afghan counterparts. a routine sort of meeting.
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opened fire with a light machine gun causing the death of one u.s. two-star general and injuring 14 other coalition troops, including a german brigadier general. so we found this out and trying to piece together the details. it was very difficult at first because the coalition very often is protected when an incident of this magnitude occurs. there's always the notification of the next of kin and always a lot of delicate sit around this issue of what the military calls glean on bluish. seriously undermips trust between afghans and allied counterparts. it's a problem the military says they've gotten a fix on but can't prevent every situation like this from happening >> as you know, taliban spokesman praised the gunman in a statement but didn't take responsibility for killing this u.s. general and wounding these other u.s. and coalition troops.
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who do you believe might be behind an operation like this? >> well it's not a given that it's a taliban operation. sometimes these attacks happen because of some kind of personal dispute. you know, there's somebody's been -- feels they've been dissed by u.s. ornate toe officers. in this case, you know, clearly there wasn't some kind of personal long-standing personal relationship. it was a target of opportunity. but it's not you know, it's an open question whether the taliban actually were behind this and the fact that in their statement they didn't necessarily take direct you know responsibility for this means that it could be just an aggrieved individual. because we've even a lot of that. >> and somebody who just worked his way into the afghan military planning to do this all along just to get inside, get access and kill an american general? >> i mean, you know, that's
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possible. but i mean there have been 74 of these incidents over the past several years. they really peaked in 2012 when there were 36. the military really has got control over them and this year, there have only been three. but you know, the range of reasons why had happened. a lot of them are taliban attacks. some of them are just somebody with a personal beef who fees he hasn't been treated fairly or properly by the coalition. that's also a common reason, wolf. >> nathan, how tense is the situation in afghanistan right now? there's still as i said about 30,000 u.s. troops there. it will go down to 10,000. supposedly all of whom will be out by 2016. >> right, wolf. afghanistan's in the middle of a very delicate political transition.afghans have gone to the plos twice already this year to pick a successor to president hamid karzai. the only thing missing from this election has been hanging chads. there was supposed to be an inauguration of the new
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president this past weekend but the election has become hung up in an audit of all the ballot boxes. as the two candidates former finance minister have engaged in a protracted dispute over the tallying of these votes and which votes are legitimate and which ones should be thrown out. the clock is ticking. both candidates have said they would sign a bilateral security agreement that would allow 10,000 u.s. troops to remain here. if is there no president picked, there is no deal, it does remain to be seen whether or not there would be in fact a residual u.s. military presence. >> i'll speak exclusive with dr. abdullah abdullah coming up in the situation rook". we'll get his take on what happened in the killing of this u.s. general. coming up, one of the biggest threats to the gaza cease-fire. hamas rocket team all caught on camera. we'll show you what happened. plus the return of the key power
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broker, egypt has a new attitude. what's the new end game? stay with us. you're in "the situation room."
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cnn can now confirm the identity of the united states general shot in afghanistan today. let's bring in chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. >> we are able now to identify the general killed. he was a major general harold j. green. he was the deputy commanding general of the combined security transition command for afghanistan. that is video of had imthere speaking at a previous event. previously, he was involved in acquisition reform in the
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pentagon. he's a 34-year-old veteran of the military. orally from upstate new york. and earlier in the day, we were not reporting his name or his rank because family notification had not been completed. we are told now that his family has been notified. again, this is the major general killed in this attack earlier today. the most senior american officer killed in action killed since 9/11 in fact when a three-star general was killed in the attack on the pentagon, wolf. >> 34-year veteran. he's not 34 years old. >> a 34 year veteran of the u.s. military. >> a distinguished career. obviously we're saddened to hear he was shot and killed apparently by this afghan soldier. >> no question. you talk to military officials. it's true any loss is a great loss from a private right on up to a major general and higher. but of course, this is someone with a long experience in the military and a significant event for the military to lose such a senior commander. >> thanks very much, jim sciutto. our deepest condolences to his
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family. also just in, the gaza truce is holding. an israeli delegation has now arrived in cairo for talks of a lasting cease-fire according to senior egypion officials 37 they expect indirect negotiations to begin tomorrow with egypt act is as intermediary between representatives. once again, egypt is playing a key role in trying to broker a deal between israel and hamas. this time there is a major difference. global affairs correspondent elise lab bot is working the story. >> egypt wasn't only a pivotal player in securing the cease-fire but also going to be having a central role in making sure it lasts. >> so obviously, your report that you had prepared is not yet ready. let's talk about it because there's a new government in egypt, the new president el sisi very different than the man he put in jail, mohamed morsi, the
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leader of the muslim brotherhood. the brotherhood saw hamas as beak an ally. new government sees it as a threat. >> the current pretzel see see was very close in position to israel who views hamas as a terrorist organization, as a regional threat. this is because they're akin to the muslim brotherhood, an offshoot of the muslim brotherhood and this is part of this whole regional shift. i think your report is ready. let's go to the tape right now. >> that's right. >> palestinians digging through the rubble that is now gaza look to egypt to help open the territory they have come to see as a prison. >> we need the human passage that links us to world. we need to give our people in gaza some hope. >> egypt has traditionally been the center of gaest in moments of diplomatic crisis. president hosni mubarak served
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as a bridge between the palestinians and israelis. they brokered the deal that released israeli soldier gi lad add shalit. hamas had a friend in president mohamed morsi of the muslim brotherhood who opened the border between egypt and gaza and along with then secretary of state hillary clinton brokered a cease-fire between between israel and hamas in 2012. but things have changed since then, like israel, egypt's current pretzel see see views hamas as a terrorist threat. sealing off the crossing with gaza and destroying tunnels between the borders to stop hamas from smuggling weapons. >> the reason both egypt and israel have put prestikzs on the border is because we don't want hamas to do that. as long as they want to invest in its terrorist war machine, those restrictions have to stay
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in place. >> egypt once again assumed its role as mideast power broker. when talks resume on a long-term truce, egypt hold the key to helping ease the blockade of gaza while helping to deny hamas the ability to rearm and attack israel. >> egypt is not just a negotiator. hamas has spelled out, their leading demand is an end to the seen, what they call the siege of gaza. and they're looking to egypt to open up the rafah border crossing. so egypt is in part a party to the cease-fire negotiation. if you want this to endure, then egypt is going to have to pony up something. >> and egypt blamed the failure of last week's cease-fire on the decision by john kerry to bring qatar and turkey into the diplomacy. despite egypt's role in the current crisis, everyone agrees if and when the peace talks start up again, the u.s. has this indispensable role an the major broker of any type of
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peace deal. clearly we're far aways from that. >> make sure the cease-fire holds and the parties can move on to posessionly something more endure. thanks very much. jordan certainly has been watching the situation between israel and gaza with concern and grappling with an influx of refugees from syria from iraq, from all sorts of places. it's also facing its own potential threat from jihadists coming into jordan from iraq. including isis elements. joining us now live is the foreign minister of jordan. give me your analysis because you know the region, you know the players. do you think this cease-fire will hold and can it be expanded to deal with some of the humanitarian problems facing the palestinians in gaza in. >> well, good to be with you, wolf. i think that the idea is to see the next 48 to 72 hours.
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this is a humanitarian truce as it was called. and i'm quite encouraged by the fact as are so many of us here that the delegations now are in place in cairo to negotiate what will hopefully be a permanent cease-fire, but more importantly, i think, we have to have a smooth transition to serious talks on making sure that this never happens again. this is gaza forgive the analogy, but season four or five. we've seen this before. we saw it in 2004. we saw it in 2008, 2009. we saw it in 2012 and we're seeing it this year in 2014. we have to make sure that this doesn't happen again by addressing the root cause which is that of israeli conflict. now, the problem is that regardless of the blame game that's taking place right now and it usually does happen after every gaza escalation, it's the people of gaza who are suffering
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from the siege, from a disastrous humanitarian situation, civilian deaths, destruction. i think we all have to collectively think about how we can rescue them from this. >> the whole region seems to be on fire right now foreign minister. look what's going on in libya. what a total disaster. in syria, we almost are ignoring 150,000 syrians have been killed over the course of the last three years. and there have been so many more injured and so many millions of refugees internally, externally, so many of them have fled to jordan. in iraq, it looks like a total disaster with the u.s. out of iraq right now. the isis forces taking power in all sorts of areas. jordan is still a stable place. how worried are you about what's going on in your neighborhood right now? >> well, we'd have to be totally naive not to be worried about what's happening in the region.
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as you said, we're thank god and have always been a safe haven, a safe and stable secure country. in a few years, we'll guarait celebrate god willing of contemporary modern jordan. his majesty the king is the guarantor of the constitution and dialogue and the reform process. so we're extremely comfortable inside but extremely worried about the region. we've been warning for many years that the rise of extremism and the turbulent events in iraq and in syria and we warned a few months ago that there's an explosive situation into occupied palestinian territories and it has exploded. but again, how do we address the root causes of the problem? you mentioned that jordan in your report earlier or in your introduction, you mentioned that jordan is threatened by jihadists and isis. jordan is not threatened but it
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is looking at how the region in its entirety is suffering from instability and potential instability if this continues. >> is prime minister netanyahu right when he lumps hamas in together with al qaeda and isis, and boca haram and all these other fanatic groups out there, these extreme terrorist organizations in. >> i missed the first part of the question. >> the question is -- is prime minister netanyahu right when he lumps hamas in with these other terrorist groups like al qaeda -- isis, boka haram? >> what's happening today and fib me for calling a spade a spade. like i mentioned earlier, gaza season four or season five every time we see the same thing, it's
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the same script. a few rockets are lobbed at israel. israel retaliates with the full force of its military. thousands of civilian deaths. has that made israel more secure? has that made gaza better than it was? has that made the region safer? no. and so it's time for all of us to sit and collectively think how we address the root causes again and how we come out of this mess that we see recurring every couple of years. we can't have that the continue. i mean, these images of women, children and the elderly being killed, 18, 20 members of the same family every other day. this can't be sustainable and again, bombing schools is not going to bring security to the region. i think it has serious political and negotiations that will bring
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about into reality an independent viable palestinian state and security for all the countries in the region and all the peoples in the region including israel. >> we've got to go. very quickly, are you just blaming israel or is the other party part of the problem, as well? >> wolf, i was very careful in saying that the time for the blame game is not now. we have a dire straits situation. we have the region in its entirety as you pointed out and as i totally agree suffering from many factors of instability. the blame game is not now. now we have to address the situation that we're currently facing. we have to make sure these negotiations that take place in cairo will address how to achieve a permanent cease-fire and make the smooth transition into political talks that will bring about independence for the palestinians and security for the entire region and how we go
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about the reconstruction of gaza. this is something that his majesty the king particularly in jordan we're all very, very concerned about. >> if all the region was like jordan, it would be a very peaceful wonderful place. the foreign minister of jordan, nasserer judeh, thanks very, very much. the israeli military is now saying "mission accomplished." what comes next? is there any lasting home for a lasting peace? i'll ask a prominent member of israel's opposition labor party. and later, is the 2016 presidential candidate changing his position when it comes to u.s. aid for israel? when folks think about what they get from alaska, they think salmon and energy. but the energy bp produces up here creates something else as well:
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with a fragile cease-fire holding more than 16 hours, the israeli military sums things up with a tweet that says mission accomplished and says it's ready for talks with egyptian officials and palestinian delegation. israeli delegation has now arrived in cairo. let's get the view from a member of the israeli knesset, a former spokesman of the idf. thanks for joining us. the specific be israeli military tweet said mission accomplished. we have destroyed hamas's tunnels leading from gaza into israel. all of israel is now safer. do you agree with that, or is that premature to declare mission accomplished? >> it's premature. it's a little bit exaggerated. i would wait for a while and also i would say that i'm not sure that we accomplished the mission. i think we have to do much more. if you ask me the next phase in this mission is to build new
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relations between us and the palestinians. what we did in gaza was just to destroy most of the epmy facilities which is fine. the hamas facilities but the next step is to renew the negotiation between us and the palestinians. that should be diplomatic step that israel should take right now. >> do you have confidence that the government of prime minister netanyahu and you're in the opposition will do that because there is an opportunity in cairo starting right now to begin a dialogue with the palestinian leadership. >> i'm not sure the government is ready to do that but we in opposition and we will do everything we can do using public opinion in israel to force the government to move forward. i think that this is half of the job only. we want to live peacefully with the palestinians, not just to fight with them. even if we won this battle and i believe we did, that's not enough. we have to think about tomorrow, wolf. we have to think about tomorrow. >> is it smart for israel to start reopening gaza and let
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some of that what the palestinians there call the siege go away as part of a deal now? >> we are working on a certain deal with the palestinians. we believe that abu mazen should be involved in that in order to if possible to bring the palestinian authority back to together. gaza was taken from them by the hamas by force. we'll do everything to isolate the hamas. i think egypt is in the same position as us. not only egypt but some of the major arab countries. there is a certain new coalition now in the middle east that may be very helpful. that help us very much in order to plan for the future. there may be a regional new order coming in. if the israeli government will be ready to cooperate. >> let's hope that, would. nachman shai, thank you very much. we have new details about today's shocking attack that killed the highest ranking military officer since 9/11.
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up next, does a top contender for the 2016 republican presidential nomination really want to cut u.s. money for israel?
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contenders for the 2016 republican presidential nomination is trying to clarify his stand on u.s. aid for israel. dana bash reports. >> reporter: there may be a temporary cease-fire in the mideast, but that hasn't stopped the volatile situation from spilling on to the u.s. 2016 president recall field. >> i spent the last three months
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trying to end aid to hamas. >> reporter: for the second straight day, rand paul had to answer questions about his support for israel, a virtual requirement for republican candidates. >> ultimately for israel, it would be even better if they were completely independent. but i haven't proposed targeting or eliminating any aid it israel. >> paul is denying he ever proposed cutting aid to israel. but in 2011, when paul first came to the senate, the tea party darling released his own budget, which did cut all u.s. foreign aid, including to israel. here he is with wolf at the time. >> we just can't do it any more. the debt is all consuming, and it threatens our well-being as a country. >> so just to be precise, end all foreign aid, including foreign aid to israel as well, is that right? >> yes. >> all's aides explain that yes his proposal for across the board cuts include cuts for israel but wasn't meant to single out israel for the
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chopping block. they show five more for aid to israel. >> rand paul wants to end aid to israel, it's just not true. >> to understand what all this could be a big political problem for paul, take a look at cnn's latest polling on where voters are on aid to israel. 64% of all voters support maintaining or increasing u.s. aid to israel. but that number jumps to 76% when it comes to just republicans. gop voters paul would need to get the republican presidential nomination. paul insists that his position on israel is the same as its prime minister, netanyahu, who says he aspires to wean israel off u.s. assistance for survival. the problem for paul is that it feeds into the image he is already criticize sides for, especially for people who might run against him, and that he is in knee jerk isolationist.
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he says his position is a lot more complicated. >> we will discuss you issues in "the situation room," thanks very much. at the top of the hour, the mystery, who is the new leaker exposing u.s. secrets. this is a story you will see first on cnn. plus, distinguished general shot to death in afghanistan. we have a bunch more information about this general. that's coming up. life with crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis is a daily game of "what if's". what if my abdominal pain and cramps come back? what if the plane gets delayed? what if i can't hide my symptoms? what if? but what if the most important question is the one you're not asking? what if the underlying cause of your symptoms is damaging inflammation? for help getting the answers you need,
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talk to your doctor and visit to get your complimentary q&a book, with information from experts on your condition.
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breaking news.
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we now know the identity of an american general shot dead at a military training facility in afghanistan by a man in uniform thought to be an ally. we're learning new details about how this happened. and why u.s. forces in afghanistan may be in grave danger right now. experts fear more deadly insider attacks. plus, first on cnn, sources reveal a new mole in the federal government whose believed to be exposing national security secrets. could this be on the scale of the nsa leaker's scandal? 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 is cnn breaking news. >> let's get right to breaking news. highest ranking american killed in this country's longest war or u.s. major general, gunned down in a military training facility in kabul by a man believed to be an afghan soldier. we just learned his identity, major general, harold green. eight other americans are among the wounded.
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stand by for details on the attack. it's driving home the very dangerous situation in afghanistan as the u.s. mission wined down after more than a decade of war. billions and billions of dollars spent and more than 2,000 american deaths. our correspondents are standing by. we're covering breaking news in afghanistan. in the middle east and around the world. but first, let's go to chief national security correspondent, jim sciutto, for the very latest. >> every death on the battlefield is followed by the sad task of notifying family. we're told that task is complete. the family of major general harold green informed of his death today. the shooter, an afghan soldier. one of thousands the u.s. has been training. now claiming the most senior american officer since the attack on the pentagon on 9/11. it was a brazen attack killing the most senior u.s. officer since 9/11. it began with a routine trip to
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a facility for afghan training officers. a delegation of senior, american's koegs coalition officers visiting a university outside kabul when disaster struck. an afghan soldier opened fire with a russian made light machine gun. major general harold green, deputy commander of the security trance nation afghanistan, was killed. 15 coalition soldiers, including eight americans, were injured. some seriously. forces responded, killing the shooter. pentagon officials tell cnn the shooter was an afghan soldier who had been with his unit for some time. and had completed a rigorous seven-step vetting process, to insure he was not a taliban fighter. >> we are months away from u.s. handing over security for afghanistan to afghan forces, like these. does this undermine your confidence in their ability to take over that role? >> the afghan national security forces continue to perform at a very strong level of competence
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and confidence. and warfare capability. they have had a good year securing not one but two national elections. so-called green on blue attacks when afghan soldiers attack their coalition partners have been an ongoing and grave problem for the u.s. and coalition forces. and today's attack made clear the risk remains. >> as we turn more and more of the security responsibilities for these installations over to afghan troops, i think the risk will rise. because since we don't control who the afghans assign to these duties, it is very easy for the tal been to infiltrate these people. as we draw down our force, the chances for this to happen increases, not decreases. >> officers of this rank would normally travel with a security detail. the military deployed so-called guardian angels in response to this very threat, and instituted other changes as well, allowing u.s. forces to carry their own weapons into afghan ministries.
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while these steps greatly reduced this kind of attack in the last two years, they have not eliminated them. as officials keep telling me, afghanistan, still very much a battlefield. >> let's go barbara starr. she traveled with the u.s. military brass it afghanistan. she has been to these training camps. barbara, tell us what it is like when you good into afghanistan. you are hanging out with, let's say, a two-star general. >> look, wolf, on this level these generals often have security details around them. but often they ask them to move back just a little bit. they want to be with the afghan soldiers. very much what the u.s. military want right now is that side by side profile. they are training the afghans. they are side by side with them in this fight. you will find from the most junior soldier to the most highest ranking officer, they are right along side them. what we don't know in this case is where exactly the general's security detail was.
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how many people were standing there. did they still have their helmets and vests on or did they feel so safe at this training compound, which they often do, they might have gone inside, gotten out of their vehicles and taken off their helmets and vest. that's a possibility. we do not know. these are questions that investigators will be looking at. what you find with these officers is, is this fundamental issue they want to show that there is trust, trust between the u.s. troops and their afghan counter parts. but this is a very difficult situation. if someone want to engage in an act of violence, it may in some cases, just not be something that we want to stop. >> we something with a general in 2006. a soldier aligned with taliban or al qaeda, we don't know, we don't note information, it is certainly going to undermine any confidence that remaining u.s. troops in afghanistan might
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have. about 30,000 there right now. supposed to go to 10,000 or so by the end of the year. >> this becomes something even more difficult, when you look ahead. you look at that video. we walk through towns and villages with top generals. we've done it, all of us, many of us at kcnn, in afghanistan. the most senior guys want to show trust. they take off they're helmet, take off the their vest and go walking through town. security is there but back just a little bit. but now as we come down to having just a few thousand troops in afghanistan, how much more difficult is this. because the troops are much more isolated, if you will, for them to go out of their bases, walk around like this. there are so few u.s. troops. and they all have to have some level of security with them. armed vehicles, security forces, military police. it is going to be very tough in
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months ahead to maintain the level of security and get out and about as much as they may want to, wolf. >> i'm sure it'll be. barbara starr, thanks very much. let's get more now on the u.s. major general killed in that ambush in afghanistan today. our justice correspondent pamela brown has been looking into this part of this development. pamela, what are you learning? >> wolf, general green was a very respected, highly decorated army career man. he was an engineer officer 34 years ago. he has been rising in the rank ever since to take his most recent post, helping lead the military trance nation afghanistan. >> certainly we all know we have a change in times, change in strategy. >> major general harold green speaking here at an army symposium last year. now the highest ranking american officer to be killed in the war on terror since 9/11. the highly decorated two-star general helping the afghan soldiers take oest reignes from coalition forces in afghanistan when he was shot dead today by one of those afghan soldiers.
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>> today's tragic incident is a painful reminder that our service men and women are still serving and sacrificing in afghanistan. they are facing significant risks to protect our country and to protect american citizens all around the globe. >> the new york state native, husband and father, devoted most of his life to the army. promoted to the prestigious rank of two star in 2012. grown's wife, colonel in the army, pinning two fresh stars on her husband's soldier at his promotion ceremony. she's a professor at army war college in pennsylvania. green, former cadet in army rotc, who earned two masters and ph.d in engineering was deputy commanding general for transition command in afghanistan. >> secretary hgel extend on behalf of men and women. his thoughts and prayers to all those affected by this tragedy, most especially the family of
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our fallen soldier. >> colleagues describe army veteran as a man of wisdom, humility and dedication. >> the thoughts and prayers of those of us here at the white house are here with the general are with soldiers and family of those who were injured in this attack. >> and an official with the pentagon says general green was an expert in infrastructure improvement and true leader in the training command in afghanistan. wolf, we do know his family was notified by the u.s. military sometime today he had been killed in this attack on the military training academy. wolf? >> our deepest condolences to his family. pamela brown thanks very much. let's dig deeper right now with our global affairs correspondent, former state department senior adviser, now t dean of the school of internaingsal studies at john's hopkins. when you heard earlier today that a two star major general was killed probably by an afghan soldier, at what is called the
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west point of afghanistan, you've been there, you served the country. what did you think? >> bad news. largely because we are putting a lot of stock on the discipline within the afghan military as our exit strategy from afghanistan. we are telling the afghan people they should trust this military. we are telling the american people they should trust this military. when something like this happens, in the least it creates a crisis of confidence. for afghans and us. we want to minimize how widespread this is. >> this is an enormous problem for the u.s. the obama administration, the president want troops out of there from 30,000 now to 10,000 at the end of the year. >> afghan forces are not trained. in april the pentagon came out with a report that says the so-called green on blue attacks are decreasing but they are
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still happening. and this is really eroding a lot of the trust. in this symbolic place, wolf, as you said, west point of training the afghan military, if the u.s. forces are not safe to train them there, if they can't be trained there, still rocked by illiteracy, lack of training, trust, professionalism, there is so much more to do before the u.s. troops are going to be withdrawn. and that's really why the president is keeping some 10,000 troops there. to train these forces. if they can't do the job -- >> they will be pretty vulnerable, the 10,000 troops. you don't have the force protection, like when you have a hundred thousand troops in afghanistan. >> absolutely. there is a question of how can we make sure this doesn't happen again. because every time it happens, not only is an american life but it creates greater distrust and lack of confidence. and secondly, how do we convince the afghans themselves that they should bet on this military. they shouldn't switch sides. they shouldn't be expected to
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taliban to be winning. and it creates actually a situation of pressure on the administration to defend -- >> i read everything you write, you have written that the u.s. has quote just washing its hands of afghanistan, leaving it with a shaky security force. what do you mean by that? >> i mean, that we obviously are operating on the basis we have created this great army in afghanistan. doing a great job. go down to 10,000 people and out by 2016. but many people don't believe that this army, this military is really up to snuff yet. that it can actually stand up to the taliban. the taliban have proven today they can infiltrate this force at will. the discipline we are seeking or that we are claiming is not there. and i think it is very difficult for the administration to say that everything is going according to plan. as if this is just an isolated incident and we can just leave. >> and it is not just this incident, with this training facility. as attacks on u.s. forces,
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attacks on journalists, aide workers, all increased. with this political chaos going on, that we have been talking about in afghanistan. there's an clear government that's go tock in change and that creates a lot of uncertainty among the afghan people. and that creates some kind of vacuum that the taliban can exploit. >> speaking shortly with the former foreign minister, one of two candidates who may be the next president of afghanistan after hamid karzai. but it is a mess right now. even though secretary of state kerry has been trying to mediate between the run-off candidates, there's no clear cut decision emerging. >> there is no clear cut decision emerging as to who will be president of afghanistan. it will be weak, the product of a contested election, and we want that person to sign a security deal. if i was abdullah abdullah, i
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would wonder when is it that an afghan fighter could be killing me if i signed a deal with the united states. when is it that the army that u.s. is leaving behind may actually crumble or attack the political force. and winning these wars as we've been trying to do, leaves the population to believe that you're winning. and that's not happening right now. >> the u.s. spent more than a hundred billion dollars on reconstruction programs. a lot of that money, as we know, totally wasted. hundreds of billions on combat operations in afghanistan. we don't know what end result of that will be. 2,000 american troops are dead. and so many more came home injured. the u.s. made a heavy, heavy investment there. we will see what happens in the next few years ahead. thanks very much. still ahead, obama administration's reaction to theed that deadly ambush. and we good live to the middle
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we're back with breaking news. u.s. major general, harold green, shot dead in an ambush in afghanistan. apparently by an afghan soldier. we're told the white house is closely monitoring the situation. let's go to the white house. our correspondent, michelle kozinski, is standing by. michelle, what is the reaction to this horrible news in afghanistan. >> president obama was briefed on this. he called the u.s. general who command both the u.s. and
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international forces in afghanistan. as you heard the white house call this a painful reminder of the sacrifices that u.s. troops continue to make over there. we have been asked, isn't this also a painful reminder of how volatile afghanistan remains and will they be able to handle their own security once the u.s. leaves? acknowledging that yes, afghanistan remains a dangerous place, sill a war zone, they say what different now is that law lut areas that were controlled by terrorist no longer are in the base of operations for poor al qaeda no longer exists. they say that president is very concerned about the safety of u.s. troops going forward and he is open to recommendations from the department of defense on any additional protocols that they might see as necessary. what he's not open to, though, wolf, is keeping additional u.s. troops there longer than planned. >> i'm looking at arrivals at the white house behind you, michelle. a major dinner, state dinner for a lost african leaders. >> yeah, absolutely.
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the topics here focus on economics, on building relationships with africa, even though some might say we're well behind other nations like china, like brazil. president obama laid it out that u.s. business, trade we do with all of africa, only equals the amount that we do with one other country, brazil. he want to change that. and he is announcing billions of dollars in additional commitments and investments with various countries in africa. ebola is a big topic in the news. he briefly mentioned that. but white house saying the u.s. is focused on sending resources there and working with organizations like the who and cdc, wolf. >> all right, the arrivals will continue. let's get back to the deadly ambush that's raising so many questions about screening of afghan troops and how some soldiers were trained by the united states of actually becoming a deadly threat to u.s. forces. brian todd is here. he is looking into this part of
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the story for us. brian? >> this attack on the west point of afghanistan, drawing very serious, very urgent questions tonight. questions deal with how the afghans do their own background checks on soldiers. and within those ranks, whether they guard against corruption from terrorist groups. so far, the taliban has acknowledged but not claimed responsibility for the killing of an american general. saying in a statement, the attack took place while invaders military personnel were checking the quality of training of their afghan puppet forces. experts say the taliban will get a propaganda bounce. >> i think the taliban will certainly seize on this. whether this is a tal been operation or not. >> tonight the pentagon isn't commenting on the possibility of tal been involvement saying afghan military and international force are in the early stages of the investigation. pentagon officials went out of their way to say the incident would not change the relationship between u.s. and afghan forces. >> i've seen no indication that
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there's a degradation of trust between coalition members and their afghan wounter part. >> seth jones advised u.s. forces in afghanistan. he says the vetting of afghan troops to make sure terrorist don't infiltrate the ranks has improved in recent years. it had to, he says, after the 2012 spike in attacks by afghan soldiers on coalition forces. >> part of what taking place is we are transitioning to afghan security. and for us to train them effectively, we are much closer contact, our troops are in much closer contact with afghan troops on an ongoing basis. >> those attacks, often called grown on blue, have dramatically dropped since then. now jones says every afghan soldier name and background is ran through data bases shared with intelligence and military. some get psychological screening. they revisit those checks
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periodically throughout their career. >> if they are talking to the taliban or o other groups that causes serious concern and relook at individual and in some cases it meant arrest or throwing out of these individuals from the afghan national or even in some cases, local security forces. >> but there are gaps, joan says. some afghan units may not come back and rescreen soldiers as often as they should for signs of corruption. >> taliban could have gotten to someone with bribe or extortion or grievance if something was done to this person's family. >> the whole vetting process will be reassessed, maybe overhauled. he said the two militaries may look at the possibility of never looking a rank and file afghan soldier near a top american officer ever again, wolf. this is going to change the equation. >> i'm sure it will. thanks, very, very much. let's get more on the deadly
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ambush in afghanistan. from one of the candidates of afghanistan contested presidential election. >> dr. abdullah abdullah is joining us from kabul. dr. abdullah, what happened snod a soldier wearing an afghan national uniform went out there and killed a u.s. general and several other coalition partners. to the best of your understanding, what was going on? >> this is the enemies infiltration and on the context of the situation is not known as of yet. but unfortunately, this sort of tragic incident is taking place earlier as well. but that shows enemies infiltration into the institutions. which led to this tragic event. >> when you say enemy, these are members of the taliban who
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infiltrated the afghan army? is that what you're saying? >> sometimes they get through with the afghan national army uniform. yes, members of the taliban. it may lead to members which are al qaeda affiliated or associated with al qaeda. but i'm not here to judge which group of the taliban. but there is no doubt that this taliban infiltration into that academy. >> as you know, there are still about 30,000 troops in afghanistan, going down to about 10,000 by the end of the year. what can be done to prevent these kind of attacks? >> there have been tens of thousands of troops in international troops in afghanistan. and one or two, three tragic event as such. so it is not a common trend throughout. but nevertheless, the scope of
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the incident and tragic result is such that everybody has to be more vigilant, more cautious, but to get us very friendly atmosphere between the afghan national forces and trainers in their partners throughout the country and in local afghanistan and there is a spirit of partnership in working together. but unfortunately, from time to time, such tragic event has taken place and this one was a really tragic event. and so it's for intelligence institutions to be more focused when it comes to the areas where afghan coalition or afghan international partners, soldiers and officers are working together.
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>> did you know the american general who was killed? >> i didn't know the american general that was killed. but i heard from our minister of defense as well as other senior afghan officers that he was a remarkable person. and he was doing his work and it is very unfortunate that we lost him. and here i express my condolences to his family, to his friend. >> as you know, dr. abdullah, the u.s. over the years has spent over $100 billion on afghan reconstruction programs. not including what the u.s. spent in terms of combat in afghanistan. that's hundreds of billions of dollars more. a lot of americans are asking, was that money well spent? and should any more money be spent, u.s. tax dollars, in afghanistan. i want you to tell us what you think.
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. >> i think it was a joint investment by our american friend international community, as well as the after fwans. afghans. all made sacrifices. and the u.s.'s lead partner made contributions and afghanistan was the safe haven for al qaeda and because of al qaeda's presence in afghanistan this they were able to hit the heart of the united states 9/11. and without u.s. engagement in afghanistan, the whole region would have been conquered by al qaeda had it not been for the u.s. engagement. so there is no doubt that there have been a lot of messed up opportunity in the past few years, and the opportunity was not utilized in the best way.
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but there is no way to question the investment by the u.s. in afghanistan. it is an investment in peace in this part of the world and well-being of our people, which afghan people are appreciative. >> dr. abdullah abdullah, thank you for joining us. good luck to you. good luck to all of the people of aftghanistanafghanistan. >> you're welcome, wolf. thank you. coming up, the latest on the cease-fire between israel and hamas. the war of word is raging on. plus, live to the hospital where two american ebola patients are being treated. first cases ever in the united states. our own dr. sanjay gupta standing by live. the state. and startup ny companies will be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in jobs and infrastructure. thanks to startup ny, businesses can operate tax free for 10 years.