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tv   Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield  CNN  August 22, 2014 9:00am-10:01am PDT

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thanks for watching us "at this hour." john will be back on monday, i will be too. "legal view" with ashleigh banfield starts now. hello, everyone, i'm ashleigh banfield. we know who they are. we know where they are. and more than ever we know what they're capable of. the question today, with isis jihadis openly declaring their thirst for american blood, is what the united states is willing to do to stop them. we may get a better idea when the pentagon press secretary john kirby speaks to reporters any moments now. yesterday, kirby's boss, the defense secretary himself, chuck hagel, branded isis, also known as islamic state, beyond a terrorist group. forcing the pentagon to, quote, prepare for everything.
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>> they marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. they are tremendously well funded. oh this is beyond anything that we've seen. >> the world is still reeling from the group's cold-blooded slaughter of american journalist jim foley who's parents now have made public the very last venomous e-mail that they received from foley's captors. it's dated august 12th. it reads, in part, quote, today our swords are unsheathed towards you. government and citizens alike. and we will not stop until we quench our thirst for your blood. you do not spare our weak elderly women or children so we will not spare yours. you and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings in iraq. the first of which being the blood of the american citizen james foley. he will be executed as a direct
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result of your transgressions towards us. now listen to what jim's father told nbc about that message. >> well, we hadn't heard from jim's captors since december, and, you know, i actually was excited to see an e-mail, despite the conclusions they would execute jim. i underestimated that point. i did not realize how brutal they were. and i actually hoped we could engage in negotiations with them, if they were willing to send us any sort of communication. because we'd had none prior. >> such a stoic family. i want to talk more about the global threat that the obama administration from the president on down has termed "cancer." terrorism expert author and cnn
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terrorism analyst peter bergen. and peter monsor, also the former executive officer to general patrioteetraeus during q surge. is it possible what happened to jim foley has awakened a sleeping giant? >> well, let's hope so. this is the first of many atrocities that this group will commit. and it's not just the united states that needs to wake up to that fact, but it's europe as well. because many europeans have been captured by groups such as this and the european governments have shamefully given ransoms to this group, these groups, in order to get their people back. but we can -- we can, you know, feel for them in the humanitarian sense but all it does is causes groups like this to seize more western hostages in order to finance their very
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barbaric activities. >> peter bergen, you know, earlier today the family of jim foley spoke out not just as parents, but also two of his sibling, and his brother subjects he was upset with how america dealt with the negotiation process. understanding fully about paying ransom and how dangerous than can be as a precedent and funding tool, but that there are other means, meaning prisoner swaps, perhaps much like the w bowe bergdahl swap. >> i think it's highly unlikely because in the bergdahl case it was a prisoner of war exchange. the taliban was treating him as the prisoner of war. we treat the inmates at guantanamo as prisoners of war. what the foley family has said i think cab interpreted as a slightly different way, which is there was a rescue operation conducted over the weekend of july 4.
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it came up empty. if that operation had been conducted a little bit earlier, those hostages might have still been there. they were held in that location for some period. and that's a big what if that perhaps they were referring to. >> and i want to just play for anyone who may not have seen this interview that was conducted with yahoo! what michael foley who is jim folly's brother, who was sitting alongside his sister, katie foley, said about this very notion, have a look. >> you can accomplish both things. the united states could have done more on behalf of the western and american hostages over there and still, you know, dealt with the broader worldwide issues and other nations have done that and that's been a source of frustration for me. and i really, really, really hope that in some way jim's death pushes us to take another look at our approach, our policy
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to terrorists and hostage negotiations and rethink that. >> again, jim foley's siblings speaking earlier today about what's happened in the aftermath of the execution of their brother. if i could ask you, peter bergen the very tough words and reminder to our viewers on the right-hand side of your screen we're awaiting the pentagon briefing any moment. there is a lot to speak of today. the notion that there is this, now, ramped up rhetoric it seems from the defense secretary himself. suggesting, a, we may need to take this battle to syria and, b, expect anything. do you foresee this getting to be a tougher war of words or do you think the pentagon may have to dial this back in light of the fact we still have at least one open threat against steven
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sotlof who's being held by isis? >> dempsey was demonstrating his opinion that if you want isis, you have to go to syria. at the end of the day, dempsey will take orders from the obama administration about whether or how to do that. i think his comments are factionally true but at the end of the day it's a political decision that's not his decision. >> when starting to speak of syria and the idea that the giant chiefs, you know, the head of the joint chiefs suggested that this may end up being a battle against isis and syria, there are so many insurgent groups that are different. battling amongst themselves, i dare say, as well as battling the assad regime there. if america decides to take this battle to isis over the syrian border could that also be perceived as effectuating an assist to bashar al assad?
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>> well, i think some people might view it that way. look, this border, in fact, no longer exists. isis doesn't recognize it. and they've moved people back and forth routinely. if we were to attack isis only in iraq, it would simply move back into syria and metastasize again. so general dempsey's right it has to be dealt with on both sides of this nonexistent border. we need better intelligence to attack it directly in syria. otherwise, we will be attacking a lot of groups that aren't privy to the conflict between the united states and iraq and this very virulent and deadly terrorist group that we need to defeat, not just contain. >> i just gave you quite a promotion, calling you general, colonel, apologize for that. peter bergen, the intelligence gathering, it is need for it, i think everybody has said that, since 9/11 particularly, there's a critical need for what many people term dirty intelligence as opposed to satellite
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intelligence. but has the game changed at all in the last year, given the notion of the sheer brutality that isis is known to exact on its prisoners? being a dirty intel officer is an extraordinarily dangerous prospect. is it more dangerous now than ever and more difficult to achieve? >> i think it's not only just the intelligence picture, just the picture of just generally what's going on in syria is extremely obscure. that's because -- i mean, one of the reasons we're here talking about this of course is james foley's tragic death. he was a freelancer. he wasn't working for "the new york times" or the "washington post." the post he worked for made ever effort to get him out. the fact is, it's incredibly dangerous. the number of journalists covering this is smaller than it was in the past. in iraq, there was a huge and effective press corps there. we don't have anything similar in syria. it's not only the intelligence picture, just the open source picture. you do get some of that from
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social media but it's quite distorted because it's often very partisan and for one side or the other. so, you know, i think any kind of decision about what to do in syria is very much hampered by the fact that we simply don't know very much about what is going on on the ground. >> i just want to draw our viewer's attention, if you're just joining us, you'll see on the right-hand side of your screen, the pentagon briefing is expected to start soon. we're waiting for rear admiral john kirby to update us. after some pretty striking comments yesterday from his boss, chuck hagel, the defense secretary, and the chairman of the joint chiefs as well, stepping up the government's description of what the government considers a cancer. and that is isis and the spread of isis control throughout the cradle of civilization, effectively. if i could ask you this, colonel what could grow wrong? it's easy to suggest going after isis when you're sitting in this chair on this side of the ocean. but what could go wrong? what kind of domino effect could
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happen by broadening the battle, possibly even on the ground, against isis? >> well, the danger is if the united states is seeing as taking over the fight against isis. then isis can paint this as a battle of islam against the great satin. and get actually more followers to flock to its banners. this is why the united states has to tread a very fine line between supporting iraqi efforts and other efforts to combat isis and make it an islam on islam fight. and going too far and painting it as sort of an american jihad in the middle east against the terrorist group. so we're walking a fine line. i don't think we're going far enough yet. that may be because the iraqi government is not formed yet and we're waiting for an inclusive government in baghdad in order to get the iraqis together.
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once that happens, the united states is going to have to step up its game to go over the line that makes us the primary combatant in the region. >> don rumsfeld, the secretary of defense who put it, the number of knowns and the number of unknowns makes it a tricky guessing game when operating something like this, especially in this region. peter, your thoughts about the notion that right now as there are several americans being held hostage, one in direct threat right now, the journalist who was pictured in the same execution video as james foley, steven sotloff, do you expect there are several or any special operations being conducted as we speak? >> i don't know is the short answer. the plans for such an operation must be front and center. there are many risks. we've seen the british aid worker rescued by u.s. special
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operations in 2010 and she died in the rescue attempt when the u.s. navy s.e.a.l. dropped a grenade that killed her. so yes you have contingency plans but they're fraught with risks. of course isis is keenly aware that already one operation was launched and so they're presumably going to be very careful. we have two other americans that haven't been publicly disclosed. their napes haven't been disclosed. so it's not just the time freelancer we also saw in the foley video. of course there are other westerners still being held from other countries. >> yes, of course. as always, our thoughts go out to those families who are waiting and it is just -- it's a very difficult time for so many of them. we're going to take a quick break. if you could stand by, gentlemen, please. i'm going to remind us, we are expecting the reared an initi a kirby to address the press
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corps. granted, we certainly had some pretty striking comments last night from his boss and so whether that tone will change at all, we're going to get an update as soon as he takes to the mic right after this. a worf passengers. the red-eyes. (daughter) i'm really tired. (vo) the transfers. well, that's kid number three. (vo) the co-pilots. all sitting... ...trusting... ...waiting... ...for a safe arrival. introducing the all-new subaru legacy. designed to help the driver in you... ...care for the passenger in them. the subaru legacy. it's not just a sedan. it's a subaru.
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once again, we're looking at live pictures of the pentagon briefing room. we were actually expecting this at the top of the hour but we're 17 minutes in and we're still waiting for the rear admiral john kirby to take to the mic.
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we're told there won't be a statement per se but the press is going to have an opportunity to ask questions. clearly, there will be a lot of questions, given what the defense secretary said yesterday regarding the severe it a of isis. how this is like nothing we've seen before. and how the chairman of the joint chiefs suggesting this campaign may have to go all way to syria. it is estimating that dozens of americans and hundreds of brits are fighting in syria and/or iraq in the service of isis. that in itself is just sort of a bizarre notion. but the prospect of westerners bringing their jihadist techniques back home to their respective countries certainly does add a whole new dimension to the threat. cnn's brian todd has been following that angle and he joins me live from washington. while we heard yesterday, brian, that the threat overseas may be ramped up and maybe a whole new
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picture, a whole new ball game essentially, does that mean the threat here in the united states is the -- i'm going to interrupt myself only because the rear admiral is taking to the mic. >> i do want to say something, then your questions. we are very concerned by the movement of a russian convoy across ukraine's border. we strongly condemn this action and any actions that russian forces take that increase tensions in the region. russia should not send vehicles, persons or cargo of any kind into ukraine, whether under the guise of humanitarian convoys or any other pretext, without kiev's express permission. this is a violation of ukraine's authority by russia. russia must remove its vehicles and personnel from the territory of ukraine immediately. failure to do so will result in additional costs and isolation. we're currently consulting with the international red cross and other international partners. as we have more details to provide on what we know, we'll
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certainly do that. >> does the u.s. consider this an invasion and is the u.s. taking any action, either calling any counterparts overseas, either in ukraine or russia? >> it's certainly unauthorized entry into ukraine by this convoy. and we are consulting, as i said, with international partners about next steps. i don't have anything additional to add at this time. in my opening statement, made it very, very clear what we expect of russia. >> but no phone calls or anything yet with either -- between the administration -- >> this is just happening today. i'm not aware of any outreach today by -- certainly by this building. i won't speak for other agencies in the federal government. i would remind you, though, the secretary did talk to the minister just a few days ago and the minister guaranteed, was his words, that there would be no military intervention using the
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pretext of humanitarian relief. in fact, assured us that there would be no military members as a part of this humanitarian convoy. >> you said under the guise of a humanitarian convoy. does the u.s. have evidence there was military forces -- >> i'm not prepared to speak to specific evidence at this time. we've made our position very clear, that they should not be doing this under the guise of humanitarian convoy, to use that as an excuse to cross the border in an unauthorized way. we have a lot more work to do here. and i think we'll sort this out throughout the day. i think you'll hear more from us throughout the day. joe. >> on iraq, we heard yesterday secretary hagel and chairman dempsey talking about a long-term strategy. could you give us a sense what does it mean? are we going to face to see changes in regard to the current
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operation right now in iraq? >> i think what the secretary was referring to, i'm pretty sure the chairman was referring to, is that we need to have a regional approach here and an agency and an international approach about this threat posed by this particular extremist group, isil. and that this would take time to develop this kind of multilateral and multinational approach. to deal with this threat. the president himself said that this wasn't going to be over in a matter of weeks. i think we're all -- we all recognize that this group didn't grow up overnight. they didn't get the capabilities that they got overnight. we've been watching this for a while. we all recognize it's going to take a while. but just as critically, joe, it's going to take a while for everybody. not just the united states military. the secretary was clear about this yesterday. you're not going to see the answer to all isil problems
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through military lens. we're a component. we're a tool. we are -- we are conducting operations inside iraq against this group in support of iraqis and kurdish forces. but we're not going to be the only tool in the tool box that can or should be used. >> do you know, does the pentagon know, was the size of isil in iraq and syria? are we talking about 10,000, 20,000? do you have any number? >> it's a difficult number to get at, joe. believe me, we've asked ourselves that question. it fluctuates a lot. it changes. if not weekly, then certainly daily. it's a constant fluctuation. it's hard to pin it down. this isn't a classic army with an order of battle that you can just take a look at a map and say this is how many they have. clearly, it's thousands. there's no question about that. it changes every day.
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as we've talked about, you know, they have free flow across that border between syria and iraq, which for all intents and purposes doesn't exist for them, so it's very difficult to pin it down to a given number. >> admiral kirby, can we go back on russia for a minute and another question, is it not accurate that you now estimate there might be two 18,000 troops near that border between russia and ukraine, and isn't the reality that you have seen very recently, a number of additional heavy weapons including surface to air missiles and long-range artillery go across? and my second question is, can you bring us up to date on the threatening encounter the chinese military has had with the u.s. navy this week in the air? >> okay, there's a lot there, barbara. let's start with ukraine. i'm reticent as i typically am to give you a hard number on russian troops arrayed along the
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border. i have said for several weeks now it's north of 10,000. i believe it is still north of 10,000. we do believe that they continue to add to their battalion tactical groups there along the border. >> is it now closer to 18, well north of 10? >> i'm going to stay where i've stayed, which is, it's north of 10. it does fleck wauctuate. we've seen an increase in the last week or so. haven't exactly seen troops moving away. they've certainly added and reinforced those troops. again, i'm reticent to get into numbers. it's hard for us here in the pentagon to give an exact order of battle for another military force when you're not there with them. north of 10,000.
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they are, as i've described before, armor, infiantrinfantry defense. they're very capability and they're very mobile. they continue to do nothing but just increase the tension on the other side with ukraine. just as -- it gets to your second of three questions, the continued support to the separatists. artillery systems. tanks. we're seeing a lot of hard war going by on a routine basis. >> and russian troops? >> it's hard to believe -- i think it strains cr s credulity.
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but i wouldn't get into an estimate. let's not get fixated on the numbers that we tend to drill down on that. what's more worrisome are the capabilities. and the capabilities that continued to find their way into separatists hands or in support of separatist actions. that's the real problem. that's what needs to stop. now you asked about china. i know you may have seen a press report on this. let me give you a little bit of -- i'm just going to give you an update here on it in case you weren't following it. on the 19th of august, an armed chinese fighter jet conducted a dangerous intercept of a u.s. navy poseidon aircraft that was on a routine mission. the intercept took place about 135 miles east of hainon island in international air space. we've registered our strong concerns to the chinese about the unsafe and unprofessional
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intercept which posed a risk to the safety and well being of the air crew. and was inconsistent with customary international law. it undermines efforts to continue developing military to military relations with the chinese military. so that's where we are now. [ inaudible ] >> it's difficult to say with precision, but within 30 feet of the p-8. very, very close, very dangerous. >> is it correct, is they went within 30 feet, they moved around the u.s. aircraft over, under, around it, at close range? >> we believe that they made several passes. three different occasions crossed under the aircraft. with only 100 feet of
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separation. the chinese jet also passed the nose of the p-8 at 90 degrees with its belly towards the p-8 poseidon. we believe to make a point of show i showing it's weapons load. then they flew directly under and alongside the p-8, bringing their wing tips to within 20 feet. and then conducted a roll, a roll, over the p-8, passing within 45 feet, so -- [ inaudible ] i mean a roll. i'm not an aviator. basically if here's your p-8, your jet fighter is going other like this. pretty aggressive. very unprofessional. as i said, we've registered our concerns very strongly through official diplomatic channels with the chinese. this kind of behavior not only is unprofessional, it's unsafe,
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and it is certainly not in keeping with the kind of military to military relationship, relations that we've like to have with china. >> do you have photos or video? >> i believe there's imagery of it, jim. i don't know. we'll have to get back to you on that. i'm not sure. >> i'd like to follow up on joe's question. can you tell us, is the administration more seriously considering now expanding the air campaign in iraq to directly confront isil in a way that it hasn't with a goal, an expanded mission perhaps in defeating them with strikes to syria? some of the comments the administration officials have made in the last few days suggesting that's maybe under serious considering more than it has been in the past. also, weapons by the united states or the allies to the peshmerga? >> i think secretary hagel and the chairman spoke pretty well to it yesterday. i don't know if i can expand on
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it further. we continue to assess and monitor isil activities. that's one of the reasons why we put assessment teams there in the first place, to get a situational awareness of what's going on there. we are engaged in supporting iraqi security forces. and not just only but, you know, with air strikes which we believe have had an effect. i'm not going to get ahead of planning that hasn't been done or decisions that haven't been made. we don't telegraph our punches. rest assured the leadership in the pentagon understands the threat posed by this group. understand, the threat posed inside iraq. we're gaining every day a better
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understanding of iraqi security force and kurdish force capability in meeting the threat inside iraq. two threats are important to make. i'm not -- i'm going to make these points. i also know i'm not answering your question. i'm not going to talk about any future planning or future operations. it is important to remind everybody these -- what we are doing in there is in support of iraq. and ultimately this is a fight the iraqi security forces have got to take on. the second point is there's not going to be a purely military solution. when the secretary and the chairman were up here talking to you yesterday, they talked about using all the elements of american power and international influence as well to deal with this. ultimately, the answer's going to be found in good governance. i know that's not -- that doesn't offer everybody, you know, the immediacy they might want to have with dealing with this threat, this very serious threat. but ultimately, it's defeating the ideology through good governance. it's removing the unstable
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conditions, the pete tri dish through which groups like this can foster and grow, so that's where we've really got to get long term. we're a tool in the tool box. we're going to continue missions. we're up over 93 air strikes. ultimately, that's not what's going to solve this problem. >> when does it become u.s. self-defense versus this organization that's posing a transnational threat? because, you know, the administration has said, again and again, it won't hesitate to act against any organization or terrorist group that threat bes american interests. that to me seems different than the iraqi -- you know, helping them to defeat, you know, push back -- >> i think what you're seeing us do in iraq does both of those things. again, the secretary mentioned this yesterday, that we are -- that part of the mission is in supporting, advising, assisting, helping iraqi security forces and kurdish forces blunt the
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momentum. we believe we've succeeded in blunting that momentum. but it's about protecting u.s. personnel and facilities. including air strikes inside iraq. i think the united states military has, over the last several years, a pretty good track record of defending american citizens and american facilities in many places around the world from, you know, protecting them and defending them from terrorist threats. >> another peshmerga question. >> i'm sorry, as you heard yesterday, i think i've said it before, the secretary has set up a task force to examine options and opportunities for us to resupply kurdish forces. no decisions have come out. i have nothing to announce about that today. that said, we do continue to help the iraqi government in baghdad conduct those kinds of
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resupply missions. in some cases, actually flying their equipment up to the north where it needs to get. and we have been encouraged by the assistance of international partners like the uk. i also want to take the opportunity today to thank albania. albania has now come forward and offered to conduct resupply missions for kurdish forces which, again, we're very grateful for. >> can you help just understand what dempsey was saying yesterday. he did not rule out air strikes inside syria, did he? >> i think he said that all options remain available. i'm not going to speculate about where that might take us. i think you can understand why we wouldn't do that. >> on the foley operation, there was a suggestion from at least one member of congress that the
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president or the white house was slow to approve the rescue mission. and that this may have led to not getting there on time essentially. and that the hostages were then moved. do you have any indication that this operation was slowed down in any way? >> i don't have any such indication. as we've talked about before, attempts like this, which was risky, under the best of circumstances. they take time. they take time to organize. just as critically, it takes time for you to become informed enough to be able to conduct an operation. intelligence is not perfect. it is often layered over time. not unlike the way you are doing your jobs when you are working with sources. your build a picture over time with many different vehicles. that's the way intelligence works. that's the way it worked in this
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rescue attempt. i think dempsey said it well yesterday, there was a lot of planning that went into it. once on site, had an indication they had been at that site. when they were moved, we don't know. but to say, you know, that it was slow-footed or done in a ham-fisted manner or it was an intel failure i think does a disservice to the immense amount of work and the courageous decision it was to move forward to actually make the attempt. it also, if you allow me just a second to editorialize it, i think it says a lot about who we are, not just as a military but as a country that we're willing to try to pull something like that off. a lot of brave men and women, faces you'll never know, that put their lives very much at risk to try to save the lives of
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others. i think that's pretty darn commonable. >> is there any update about sending this 300 security personnel to baghdad? is there any specific threat to the embassy in baghdad? are these people being sent there to prepare for an evacuation? what's going on? we heard this request from the state department. when is it going to be fulfilled in at all? >> what i'm tell you now, we are processing our request by the state department for some additional security force personnel. for baghdad specifically. like all requests that we get for forces, we take them seriously. we explore sourcing options. and force protection requirements that go along with it. and any number of factors that go into this. we're reviewing that right now. i don't have a decision to announce on it today.
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and as for the need, i wouldn't get into -- i don't talk about specific intelligence matters. i won't do that today. i'm not aware of a specific threat stream that led to this request. but clearly, it's the kind of request that we take very seriously and we will. >> admiral? >> yeah. >> last night, missouri representatives met with the secretary to talk about the 1033 program. can you tell me if the secretary is contemplating an official review or even a temporary suspension of that program? >> the secretary is keeping an open mind on the program. he shares the president's concerns about any blurring of lines between military and local law enforcement of course. certainly as that concern could lead to the use of military equipment. but he's not made any decision about conducting a review. he's still very much gathering information about it. he not only met with those two representatives, he held a
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meeting with senior staffers the day before to ask lots of probing deep questions about this program and about how it's operated. he hasn't made any decisions yet. i do want to point out, you know, that most of the -- first of all, the military's not the only source of tactical gear used by law enforcement in this country. and i think we're losing sight of that. we look, we see the pictures and we think, well, that's all military. most of the stuff you're seeing in video coming out of ferguson is not military equipment. as i've said before, ferguson itself only had -- they got two humvees, soft skinned humvees from this program and a generator. and i think a trailer. and that's it. so a lot of the stuff is not u.s. military equipment. that's point number one. point number two, 95% of the property that is transferred to law enforcement through this program is not tactical.
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it's communications gear, that kind of thing. furniture. i think it's important to keep this thing in perspective. and make sure we're striking the right balance, that the right accountability is in place. he's remindful it's not a good place for the republic, for the pentagon to be holding carrots and sticks out to local law enforcement. there's a reason why we're not involved in local law enforcement activities. he wants to make sure we maintain our proper place inside this democracy. >> local media accounts about them being heavily armored -- >> the two humvee vehicles we provided were soft skinned, not armored. now, other tactical vehicles they have, i can't speak for
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where they got them and whether they're armored or not. i just don't know. i was trying to make the point as you look at the video coming out of ferg sousonferguson, i u people would say, well, look at all that military gear. most of it, in fact, all of it, is not military gear. it doesn't belong to us. we didn't provide it to them. i wanted to provide perspective on your question, which is a good one i think. thank you for it. margaret. >> you heard a lot about the rye spons response to isis need to be local, retaking their country. yesterday secretary hagel talked about the $500 million he wants to put to work to help train and equip syrians, moderates, we've identified we want to work with. what's the status of that program? if it's not going to be funded until 2015, is there thought to actually speed that up? >> you're right, the program is part of our oversea contingency
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request submitted to congress this summer. it's on the hill for contemplate. it has to be authorized by congress. it's a fiscal year '15 request. if authorized, we wouldn't be able to access that money and therefore wouldn't be able to execute that program until fiscal year '15. we're working through congress and through the budget vehicles available to us to get at that program. the secretary is working with the joint staff central command and of course his own staff here in the pentagon to further develop the ways in which we -- should we get the funding we're asking fork the ways in which we would execute that. i don't have any hard decisions to announce today. or how many people will be trained. there's still a vetting process.
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there's still a lot of homework to do. we have kept congress informed. we were there frequently, keeping them informed what the thinking was. it's not fully developed yet. secretary wants to work closely with congress as they both review the request itself and we continue to develop our plans. >> kirby discussing the strategies dealing with isis threat not only in iraq but also across the border in syria after strong suggestions from the secretary of defense yesterday and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff that things are getting more serious, that perhaps syria needs to be a place that needs to be considered. maybe one of the bigger headlines that's come out of this briefing is we're not going to telegraph our punches, the direct quote, when it comes to how to deal and when to deal with isis threats. not only that, the talk about the long-term strategy and
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dealing with this radical group is that the rear admiral suggests the americans need to have a regional approach. a multinational approach. and this will take time to forge a group, that the americans will not be, as he quoted, the only tool in the tool box that will be used. another significant mention, a question about the 300 american troops that have been requested to be transferred to baghdad. as additional security forces, specifically the force protection request for the embassy there. i want to go straight to baghdad where our reporter is joining us live. can you give us a picture of what things are like right now in baghdad? as so much of the energy circles around baghdad when it comes to isis threat. and then this request for additional troops. set the scene there for me, if you would. >> well, it's a very tense time.
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it's government formation and this historically is a very tense time. there are always fears about violence taking place here at that time, politics and violence in this country are very closely intertwined. isis has always had its eyes on baghdad. this is one of its goals. there have been concerns of attacks from within. of course, we have seen shia militias and iraqi security forces really securing the entrances to baghdad, the surrounding areas, trying to stop these advances of isis. but of course there's always that concern about infiltration, about attacks that might happen. it's very unpredictable here in baghdad. >> i want to return to peter bergen, cnn's national security analyst, with this question about what the rear admiral suggests when he said this issue of dealing with isis will not be purely a military solution. his quote. it seems, though, peter, and shed some light on this, that we are a long way away from a
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successful political solution at this point. >> yeah, i mean, you can argue that successful political solution in iraq hasn't presented itself for other a decade. and so there's no reason to expect one will immediately be apparent. the rear admiral kirby did talk about 93 air strikes. i mean, yes, military solutionings asolutions are not the only solutions. the drone program in pakistan has decimated the core of al qaeda and isis is now a stronger organization than the core of al qaeda but military strikes do degrade these organizations and force them to fight in different ways. isis has been fighting as a conventional army. if the strikes continue, it's going to be very hard to be rolling tanks down highways as they've been doing in the past. they've got to revert to being more of an insurgent group. more of a terrorist group. which is not a good thing but it's certainly better than them having a conventional army taking over a third of the
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country, as they've done right now, ashleigh. >> colonel, to you, i'm dovetailing off what peter was just talking about. there was this specific question in that briefing with the rear admiral at the pentagon about the potential of air strikes inside syria. it was a pretty nondescription answer. we were not ruling anything in and we're not ruling anything out. with your background and having spent so much time in that region, as an executive officer, to the man in charge of forces in that region, syria is an extraordinarily complicated place. it is far more complicated, it might be said, than iraq. things have not gone particularly well in iraq. is there any hope that anything could go well in syria? >> we could defeat isis on both sides of the border with a regional approach, with supporting iraqi and kurdish forces, u.s. air power, u.s.
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advisers. this is a mission that can be accomplished. if we go into syria and say, we're going to solve the civil war there, it's -- it would be a can of worms. but that's not the mission. the mission is simply to destroy this one group that is a threat to the united states, and that, i believe, is a mission that the military could accomplish, give and kuwait support from regional partners and adequate support from european and the united states government. >> colonel monsur, peter bergen, thank you all, your insight is available at this extremely important time. i want to take us a little closer to home right now. because there are some brand-new questions that are being raised about the past of one of the witnesses who's been speaking about the shooting of michael brown in ferguson, missouri. will the credibility issue be an issue? should this go to trial? we'll talk about that in a moment. ere was a credit card
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police department says johnson was arrested back in 2011 for stealing a backpack and then lying to police about his identity. our chris cuomo spoke with johnson's attorney about his past and how johnson's past might affect his credibility. have a listen. >> did you know anything about your client's criminal background before today? >> the client's criminal background is really a red herring here. this is a case where you have two innocent unarmed citizens walking down the street who eventually had to flee for their lives unarmed with their hands in the air. criminal background or not, everyone is entitled to constitutional protection. this police officer can't be judge, jury and executioner. criminal record, history, "a" student, honor roll, whatever it is. the point here is you can't gun down innocent people. >> and during johnson's attorney suggests that any suggestion
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this client's past is relevant to his credibility is a diversion and several witnesses have cooperated his version, his explanation. for the legal view on this, want to bring in three divergent opinions because that's what they always are. i want to bring in cnn's legal analyst paul callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor himself, as well as sunny hostin, former federal prosecutor, and cnn legal analyst and defense attorney dandan y cevellos. i know you differ specifically about the credibility issues. danny, i'm not sure where you fall on this. we always see witness credibility at stake. we always see the challenge of credibility. i wonder if we see it before we're even in a courtroom. >> i think it's remarkable that's what we're talking about now. we're talking about some arrest three years ago for stealing
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mail. as opposed to talking about what this person saw. which is his friend shot in front of him. and i think it's remarkable that anyone is saying that his credibility somehow is an issue in terms of what he saw. because we've got four other eyewitnesses with no dog in this fight who are -- >> that we know of. >> i suspect there are many more that are saying the same exact thing. even if he were cross examined at trial, which i expect he would be cross examined on his credibility of course, there are four other people that are saying the same thing. >> that we know of specifically. and they are on the side of the family. >> they were people that were there in the street. >> they support the notion of what mike's brown's attorneys have called an execution. which i have a big problem with. we have a presumption of innocence in this country. is there concern about a jury
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pool right now being poise bed? i know we're already in the grand jury stage. this is very poisonous, this kind of rhetoric being tossed around by all sides. >> yes, i think the well has already been poisoned. this story has been so divisive, it's impossible for me to believe you could get a jury that would really focus on the evidence. i think they may have to change venue. getting to sunny's point, on why i disagree, the believability of a witness, the credibility of a witness, is always key in a criminal case. i wonder, sunny, if officer wilson had been convicted of lying to the police -- i guess you wouldn't cross examine him on it in court. >> i have to get danny in on this. >> i wish i had an answer to that, paul. >> you don't have an answer, sunny. >> the police and authority are
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rare to release volumes of information so oftentimes what you do hear from is the other side of the potential coin. are you surprised what your hearing? >> when civilians are arrested, there's one prosecution, a criminal investigation. when police officers are, there's a criminal prosecution and an administrative investigation. this officer may or may not have already given a statement, something that immunizes him. he can be fired for not giving it because it's an administrative investigation. but it can't be used against him. so st. louis county usually waits until the investigation runs its course. so we don't know if he's given that statement. but he should probably avoid making any other statements. >> could i talk to you for hours. i just don't have them. have a good weekend. don lemon is reporting live from ferguson. he starts a s after a quick br. hi. i'm henry winkler.
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take control of your retirement today. ♪ ♪ hello, everyone, i'm don lemon. we want to welcome viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm reporting live now from ferguson, missouri. tomorrow, we'll mark two weeks since the fatal police shooting that put ferguson in the national spotlight. and there are signs that the tide is turning now. protests overnight were peaceful. national guard troops are starting to pull out. and the surge for answers about the death of 18-year-old michael brown is moving forward. here's the very latest for you. new details are emerging about the past legal troubles of one of the key witnesses here. that is

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