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tv   Wolf  CNN  September 8, 2014 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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right now, a briefing is about to get under way at the white house as president obama prepares to lay out the united states' strategy for taking on the terror group isis. and right now in new video from isis, the one showing a bloody overrun of an air base. what it tells us about the military hardware that isis now has in its possession. and presidents clinton and bush 43 hanging out for a good cause and leaving the room in stitches. the one-liners from each that had everyone and each other laughing. welcome. i'm brianna keilar in today for wolf blitzer. president obama is getting ready to lay out his strategy for combatting the terror group isis this week and it's sure to be a
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topic at the white house briefing. we're keeping an eye on it and will be taking you there live. first, let's bring in white house correspondent michelle kosinski as well as security correspondent jim sciutto. the president said he had no strategy yet and now he's preparing to move for a speech on wednesday to explain the isis game plan, as he put it. here's what he said on nbc's "meet the press." >> what i want people to understand is that over the course of months we are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of isil, we're going to shrink the territory that they control and ultimately we're going to defeat them. >> so what more will we hear from the president this week about the plan to defeat isis? that's really the question, michelle, what are we expecting?
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>> we're not really sure how much more detail we're going to hear. we know what we have heard from not only the president there in that address over the weekend but also from different members of the administration, kind of ever since that fateful day when we heard him say that he didn't have a strategy yet. the white house has been careful to say, okay, those words only related to a military portion for syria but the white house has repeatedly said there is a strategy. it's going to be a phased approach. first to degrade and destroy isis in iraq and it's interesting to hear the kind of evolution of how the white house has framed that plan. i mean, first it was degrade and destroy and now they say degrade and ultimately destroy. over the past week or so, we've been hearing them really manage expectations because they want to say, yes, the goal is to destroy isis. they've been putting that ultimately in there and we've heard different members of the administration saying it's going to take time. the president himself, we've heard him say that.
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specifically, one of his top advisers last week said it could take years, especially dealing with the syria component. they want this to be well-planned out. it could be long beyond this administration. we heard john kerry, during the nato summit, when he addressed the coalition, these ten nations meeting together on the last day to come up with this plan and the administration has repeatedly emphasized that coalition is a key part. we heard kerry say, okay, we do have the ability to defeat isis but it could take one years, two years, it could take three years. brianna? >> and michelle, you know, we hear president obama, he's repeated that there will be no u.s. combat boots on the ground. i want all of you to listen to this and we'll talk about it on the other side. >> this is not going to be an announcement about u.s. ground troops. this is not the ee kwquivalent the iraq war.
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it's similar to the kinds of counterterrorism campaigns that we've been engaging in consistently over the last five, six, seven years. >> so no boots on the ground. that's obviously going to mean that the u.s. needs some help from its friends. saudi arabia, jordan, turkey, the uae? >> he wants to have allies on the ground. the west/u.s. interacting from afar. this is why secretary of state john kerry is going to the region to help build that kind of support. so far it's been largely humanitarian. you have them sending millions of dollars to help buy humanitarian aid. they want help on isis. they want the saudis to support syrian rebel groups fighting
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assad. this is key. while the president is saying no boots on the ground, you need some sort of ground force to help take back and hold territory as you -- if you're successful, as you degrade isis from the air in the coming months and years. who is that group going to be? it's not going to be american troops. the u.s. does not expect the saudis to be sending in their forces. but also crucially, you want the sunni tribes on your side. if not fighting along isis, they've been helping them progress. you need to get them on the other side of this battle. these are very tall orders going forward. >> is there really a belief that, for instance, the syrian rebels, who have been fighting the assad regime, who have come up against isis and who have been so diminuitive compared to
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the military mite of isis. >> the performance has not been great. they have been overmatched by isis which is the decision not to arm moderate groups earlier. had you done that earlier, would isis have been weaker? would those groups have been stronger? you can't rewrite history at this point but that's left the administration open to criticism. but also there's a question as to how good are they even if you do arm them. can they stand up to isis possibly with the power of the u.s. air force and other support, special advisers on the ground, maybe. but still an open question. >> ron, this no boots on the ground, this seems to be the key when you hear politicians talking about this. they say, no boots on the ground. that obviously is speaking to the concern that many americans
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have that they may be war weary. we also saw with the targeted strikes in iraq around the mosul dam, trying to push isis back from those areas, the majority of the americans were in support of that. so what really is the landscape here when the president and politicians are looking at what the american people will go for and what they won't? >> it's a great question because the politics of the middle east seems to be shifting to a point. if you look at the first five years plus of the obama administration, clearly the defining, controlling force in the political environment on the middle east was the widespread sense of dissolution about iraq and afghanistan and therefore all of the impetus was towards getting out. and i think the public is still skeptical of a broadscale military invention. everybody is making clear that is not on the table.
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but two things havie shifted. the establishment in both parties are increasingly coalescing. and there's questions for the president about why this strategy is coming right now when isis has been consolidating territory for many months. clearly after these twin savage and if they start to get wrong at any point in the intervention. >> as we await the white house briefing, really the first white house briefing that president obama laid out his case for taking on isis in syria on wednesday. up next, congressional reaction to president obama's coming plan on isis. we will go live to capitol hill. first, palestinian president ahmad abbas sends a message to
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we are awaiting the briefing there at the white house that was supposed to begin frequent flights and we expect about the president's up coming meeting of congressional leaders as well as the speech. joining me is vice chairman of the house committee. thank you for joining me. >> i want to hear a clear
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articulation of what he thinks the goals are, what his strategy is for achieving those goals and what i really want to hear from the president is a reassurance that he's going to stick with it. because if there's one concern i've got, is that the president left early in iraq, he was on track to leave early in afghanistan, he pulled back from syria and, more important than me, other countries, our own military wants to be reassured that whatever plan he comes up with, he's going to stick with it until the job is done. >> did you hear that -- when you heard in his interview yesterday with "meet the press," he's talking about defeating isis, he's talking about ultimately defeating isis and obviously there appears to be a management of expectation of the fact that this isn't something that happens overnight or quickly at all. did you hear that to a satisfactory degree? >> well, it's certainly getting better and the bipartisan
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criticism that the president has gotten over the lack of strategy, lack of articulating what was at stake i think is starting to sink in but you're hitting on another key point. in addition to looking to whether the president is going to stick with whatever course he lays out, the other question is, is he going to articulate a strategy for the broader terrorism group and the world. if we're just looking at isis as an organization, we're ignoring the growth of terrorism in a whole variety of places. so what we need is -- it's like a virus and the suggestion has been made by newt gingrich and others that we need to treat it as a virus and look at how you control a biological epidemic. that broader, longer strategy for dealing with this threat of terrorism, isis, yes, has our focus now but beyond isis is what i really hope we hear from
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the president. >> i guess we got a preview yesterday when he was talking about a diplomatic element to his plan, an economic development to his plan as well as the military aspect to it. what do you think the u.s. needs to be doing in iraq and syria to combat isis? >> well, there has to be those elements, without question. and a military alone element, especially, you know, dropping a few bombs with air power is certainly not going to get the job done. but if we go to other countries, whether you're talking turkey, saudi arabia, jordan, whoever, and say we want you to help with some money, with presence on the ground or whatever, they are going to be looking to us and say, okay, we may be willing to take that risk but are you going to stick with us? and that's why i think the crucial thing is for the president is to reassure all those other countries and our own people that he's going to stick with it even though it will be tough, there may be some
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losses but he's got to reassure that he's going to stick with the plan that he lays out. >> and i wonder tomorrow, what is the view there on capitol hill for this meeting that the president has with congressional leaders? he'll be meeting with the big four. mcconnell, reid, pelosi, boehner. is this just a courtesy, hey, guys, this is what i'm going to say tomorrow or do you think there's going to be any incorporation of ideas here? >> well, i hope so. if all of the consultation is is a preview of what he's going to say in his speech, that's not really consultation. the key for success for the president here at home is that he's going to make this a team effort. that means reaching out to congress in a way that he has not done before, certainly in the last several years. so he needs to listen as much as he needs to talk and he needs to broaden it out beyond just the top four leaders because he's
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going to have to have bipartisan majority supporting his strategy and that's going to require some effort because there's a lot of questions about the president as a commander in chief. >> you're also a member of the intelligence committee. th are you hearing anything that could coincide with the nin9/11 anniversary? >> there's always a heightened concern when we approach 9/11. so there's always a heightened awareness. but the truth is, the threats that pose a threat to the united states is greater now than
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before september 2001. a tightened vigilance, a heightened intelligence effort is really critical. not just this week but in many, many weeks and months to come. >> congressman, we'll be watching this speech along with you on wednesday and waiting to see what comes our way. thanks for being with us. ahead, as we await the white house press briefing, isis pushes ahead on its social media campaign. this time it's online video of the key syrian military base. and next, the fragile coalition among palestinian leaders may be coming apart. we'll fine out what is causing the rift. in life, it's how you get there that matters most. it's important to know the difference. like when i found out i had a blood clot in my leg. my doctor said that it could travel to my lungs and become an even bigger problem. and that i had to take action.
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we are keeping our eye right now on the white house briefing room. this is the first since we have learned that president obama will lay out his plan for combatting isis in syria. how does the u.s. ensure that it won't become engaged in an open-ended war. these are the questions that will be doubt of white house press secretary josh earnest. we'll bring that to you as soon as it begins. a fragile agreement could be in jeopardy. palestinian president mahmoud abbas slammed the leadership at an arab meeting accusing them of a shadowed government in gaza
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they are saying that mahmoud abbas is running the government and operating inside and thus violating the agreements and elections are supposed to be at the end of the year and how are you thinking that may affect this process and abbas, a recent poll shows that the presidential elections right now would meet
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mahmoud abbas but it's also important to note that we do not know the entire story about what is going on behind the scenes here. this could be a political ploy by the palestinian president. >> and all of this comes, this spat is coming a few weeks after the major conflict that lasted for 50 days between israel and hamas. how is israel reacting to the news of this rift? >> reporter: well, israel is pleased with this rift. they were calling hamas a terrorist organization and urging abbas not to deal with them. they are also wanting the palestinian president to rejoin a dialogue with them. but if we go back to this cease-fire agreement, a big part of it was that mahmoud abbas' man would take up security along the border thus allowing humanitarian aid. the palestinian security forces are not on the gaza border so
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this could also have consequences for that cease-fire. >> all right. ian lee, thank you so much. russia could start forcing planes to fly around the russian air space for retaliation for the new sanctions against ukraine. the cease-fire which was announced on friday is still technically holding. pro-russian separatists have turned over 1200 prisoners of war as part of the terms of the cease-fire. and we're going to hear from president obama on wednesday about his new strategy for fighting isis in syria and iraq. in the meantime, isis is continuing its battle against forces in both of those countries. the extremist group is continuing its relentless public relations campaign and this time it's a video of the syrian air base that isis overran last
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month. brian todd joining me now to talk about this latest video. one of the first things we notice is we see it from the eye in the sky point of view. >> right, brianna, showing that isis has a drone capability. they've put something up in the air, an unmanned vehicle and they are showing that in this video and we believe this may be from the air base capture near raqqa last month. you can see some of the drone video that they have. this could have been after the battle but experts say, look, the fact that they have eyes in the skies at all means that they might be able to, at some point, be able to map out what is over the next ridge. we're going to get a deeper dive into this look at 5:00. >> and we're also seeing some of the battlefield action. >> right. which is extraordinary. this is the first kind of in the moment video that you're seeing
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of a battle taking place with the isis fighters firing at their enemies in some kind of a formation. that is significant because we haven't seen a lot of that. we've seen them kind of in their own positions firing away at unknown targets. here you see them in these kinds of formations and one experts told me that the fact that they are spread out in this video, they are not bunched together, means that they know what they are doing. they are seemingly showing some capability here on the battlefield. some discipline on the battlefield that you don't often see with terrorist groups. >> what is their objective in putting this out? >> i think to show their capability, is what you are hearing mostly. >> to show that they are scary in a way? is it to show fear or also to inspire? >> absolutely. fear is a huge part of these videos and the psychology behind them. they put out these videos to show potentially enemies and towns to show, hey, this is what could be in store for you if you resist us. this part of the video is interesting, too. they are capturing syrian fighter jets which is extraordinary. now, of course, what we are
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hearing from almost every expert that we've talked to, there's no evidence that they can fly these things or maintain them or fuel them. the fact that they have captured that, look at that, they have captured ammunition, some possible air-to-air rockets there. these are significant captures here because that could actually help. >> tremendous amount of weapons that they've captured. brian todd, thanks so much. we'll be looking forward to the rest of your report. >> at 5:00. >> in "the situation room." >> we're awaiting the white house press briefing where we expect to hear more about the president's meeting tomorrow with congressional leadership to talk about isis as well as the address that he'll be giving to the nation about isis. what he's doing to combat the group. we'll bring that to you when it happens. in the meantime, still to come, the immigration dilemma. we'll go on patrol with custom officers as they trap a suspect. they have that next. it's monday. a brand new start. your chance to rise and shine. with centurylink as your trusted technology partner,
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affairs correspondent elise labott. she's at the state department. i wonder, certainly 9/11 is a time of remembrance. it's also a time where i think people are fearful that something may happen, that perhaps somebody may be inspired to carry out some sort of attack. what right now are we hearing about that? >> that's right, brianna. every 9/11, of course, for the last 13 years, america has just waited and worried whether something would happen at a u.s. facility. and certainly the attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi raised those fears to a new level. this 9/11 is in some ways difference because now a lot of u.s. posts around the world, particularly in the middle east, are extra fortified. the u.s. has been taking action against that. we everything going on with isis, the question, does isis pose a threat to consulates around the world and officials say no. they don't think isis has the
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breadth and the depth and the reach to be able to carry out an attack against u.s. facilities. certainly there's a concern that westerners could travel and hurt u.s. facilities but they don't have any indications of any attacks right now but what they are concerned about, brianna, are unaffiliated, unidentified extremists who might want to prove themselves, might want to make a name for themselves and try to identify with isis and try to launch an attack. those people don't really come up on what they call intelligence chatter and those are the people that they are a little bit worried about right now. but right now, all posts on high alert, clearly for 9/11, u.s. embassies around the world looking at their security, looking at the intel, meeting with the host government to make sure that everything is on high alert for 9/11. but we hear that all u.s. embassies and consulates will be open for business. right now, everyone is
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optimistic that 9/11 will happen without incident, brianna. >> you know, we certainly hope that remains the case. elise labott at the state department, thank you so much. once again, we're awaiting today's white house press briefing. we'll bring that to you live when it happens. we'll be right back. sweenjoy it all...ry! 'cause red lobster's one and only endless shrimp is now! endless choices! endless variety! kick it up with our spicy new wood-grilled sriracha shrimp and it's back: parmesan crusted shrimp scampi! the year's largest variety of shrimp flavors! so many to explore! as much as you like, any way you like! endless shrimp is here! but not for long. so hurry in and sea food differently.
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the day that president gerald ford gave a universal pardon to richard nixon. that got nixon off the hook for all of the crimes that he may have committed during the watergate scandal. many said that this defined ford's presidency and later told cnn's larry king that it was his principle responsibility to restore integrity in the white house and to bring about healing in the country. we are currently waiting for the white house press briefing and i'm joined right now by cnn's ron brownstein. ron, i wonder, what are you expecting to hear today from josh where the president speaks on wednesday. he obviously doesn't want to get ahead of the comments but there's a lot of curiosity about some of the things that he will say. >> yeah. i think that you're going to hear, as we discussed before, the idea that it's going to be a comprehensive strategy, it will
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not just be a military strategy. this is going to be a long haul. i think you're going to hear in the questions a lot of wondering why now as opposed to many months in which isis has been gathering strength. that's going to be the key question that is going to resonate into the 2016 presidential campaign as well with the democrats and republica republicans. >> we've heard from republicans, not just democrats, who wanted the president to come out more strongly. we heard from dianne feinstein. democratic senator. she said basically he's in the right place but sort of in parenthesis, it was a finally, it took him some time to get here. >> right. >> what do you think congress is wanting to hear from him and what's the role when we talk about being so close to a midterm election. >> don't forget last year when he went to congress for authority to strike syria, he had to poll the request because
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there was not a lot of support. there's still skepticism in the public and, of course, reflected in congress about extensive military engagement in the middle east. but the basic dynamic, i think, that within the foreign policy leadership of both parties, now the dynamic is going to be more rather than less pressure. whatever he announces, there's going to be pressure that he should be doing more. i don't know if that's going to be the majority of the opinion but it's going to be a clear and loud drumbeat i think from this point through the end of his presidency. >> he's meeting tomorrow with top congressional leaders, really just the top leader from each party in each chamber. what do you think the president is going to say to them? is this just a hey guys, heads up, this is what i'm planning to say tomorrow? >> no. i'm betting he reminds them that when he came to them for support last year it wasn't there and i think they are going to be discussing areas of debate in the white house about how much congressional involvement and authorization they want to seek
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because even -- you would have to assume after everything that has happened with the horrible beheadings of two americans, there would be a congressional majority if he came, for example, and said i want explicit authority to strike at isis in syria. but that is not guaranteed even today. i thought even when you were talking to representative thornberry before, there was not that explicit, yes, come to us and we will put our fingerprints on action inside syria. it's still an uncertain environment in public opinion, certainly, but i believe that the general trajectory is changing and if -- >> yeah. >> -- the overall tluhrust in t first years of the obama presidency was we have to be careful not to do too much, the debate will be did we overcorrect and do too little and i think that will rebound into the 2016 campaign. >> and republicans tend to be more hawkish on this. they are saying that the president doesn't need to congress. we are hearing that a lot from
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them. when i was watching this up close around this time last year, ron, the effort by the white house to lobby congress to get on board with strikes against syria for using chemical weapons was unlike any sort of white house to congress lobbying effort i had seen. and i covered health care reform. so this -- >> right. >> -- was really something that sort of struck me knowing that. is there any way that -- there's just no way that the president is going to be looking for support in the form of a vote. actually, hold on for just a second. ron, josh earnest is starting the briefing right now. >> explain a bit more about what that means. >> well, what the president also mentioned in his interview is his intention to give a speech on wednesday. to discuss some of these issues. so i don't want to get out ahead of that speech. let me try to give you a sense of, at least what the president is speaking when he talks about something like that. as the president confronts the situation and the threat posed
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by isil, he puts the safety and security of the american people at the top of his list of concerns. and the actions that he has ordered thus far in iraq to strike isil is principally motivated to protect those in iraq. provide humanitarian assistance, those religious and ethnic minorities targeted by isil and counterterrorism operations. but when the president is making these decisions, particularly as it relates to an organization like isil, what he's focused on is the safety and security of the american people and the threat that this extremist
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organizati organizati organization poses to the homeland is foreign fighters, individuals with passports that have taken up arms to fight with isil. there is concern that they may try to travel back to the west and carry out acts of violence or engage in terrorism here. so as it relates to our principle concern about the threat posed by isil, the president is concerned about the threat of terrorism and that is why the other counterterrorism operations that this administration has carried out are a relevant reference point. one of the other things the president mentioned in his interview is that we have seen the united states, effectively, under the leadership of this president and thanks to the courage of men and women in uniform and the intelligence agencies, we've worked very effectively to defeat terrorists who pose a threat to the united states. that is true of the success of
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our efforts to dessimate the al qaeda core and the counterterrorism efforts that you've seen the president order in yemen and somalia and other places. what the president is trying to do is to illustrate that there is a track record here and each of these situations is different and we'll have to consider each of them differently. but in terms of evaluating what the president's chief concern is and what our solution looks like, it is similar to some of the other counterterrorism submissions that the president has ordered and have been successfully executed by the united states military and with the support and in conjunction with our allies around the world and, of course, the support of the american intelligent agencies. >> people often think about this in the context of yemen,
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pakistan, somalia, missions that are in secrecy. some cases it's not even acknowledged what is happening. that's not what the president is talking about when he talks about counterterrorism, right? >> the president gave a speech on this earlier this year. his desire and our collective effort to try to bring some more transparency to these issues. >> that's one time of counterterrorism mission. that's not the mission he's talking about here, though, right? >> each of these cases are a little bit different and each one has its own unique threat. and -- i guess what i would say is the president has been pretty clear what this -- about what he's not contemplating. the president is not contemplating the deployment of combat boots on the ground into iraq or syria to deal with the situation. he's talking about building a broader international coalition, engaging regional governments, looking for the support and
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effective -- the effective governance of the iraqi central government to confront this threat. is it possible that there might be some efforts that are also under way here? i'm sure that's the case and i'm sure that's something that i won't be in the position to talk about if they do occur. but what the president is talking about is something that he's laid out a couple of times and we'll have the opportunity to talk about at more length on wednesday. >> has he made a decision on whether air strikes should extend into syria? >> what the president has said is he -- and he said this, again, in the interview that he conducted over the weekend, is his willingness to go wherever is necessary to strike those who are threatening americans. and that is -- that has been true in a range of other circumstances, to the extent that there are parallels here, the president ordered this military mission to go after
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osama bin laden in pakistan and he was fulfilling a campaign promise in a speech that he made in the summer of 2007 where he talked about his commitment as commander in chief to deploying american resources wherever necessary to protect the american people. and i think that is a useful guideline as he tried to assess the president's thinking about these issues. >> to play that out, if he's willing to go after groups that threaten americans, wherever they are and you say isis could pose a threat to americans in syria, has he made a decision to go after them in syria? >> i'm sure that would rise to the level of the president making an announcement about that decision. i'm trying to provide insight into the president's thinking on this issue and i don't know if i'm successful in that effort but it was a valiant effort. >> josh, the president also said in his interview that he did not believe he needed further
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authorization for action on this plan but he's also been very clear that this is a long-term thing. so how do those two elements if this is going to go on for a couple of >> the administration has been transparent. our commitment to communicating with congress as we look at these priorities. the president convened a couple meetings with leaders in congress to discuss these issues before they went away on their august recess six weeks or so ago. the president has invited the four leaders of congress, the democratic and republican leader of both the house and senate to come to the white house tomorrow to discuss some of these issues and to follow-up on the successful nato summit that the president attended in whales at the end of last week. so the president is committed to intensive consultations with
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members of congress and the senate as we consider these difficult and high stake questions. in addition to that, i think the president has long believed and something that the president articulated as he's confronted different national security questions, the president believes that when the american people threw their elected representatives can demonstrate a united front across party lines that is beneficial to our foreign policy and sends a clear signal to people all over the world that the american people are united in pursuing and accomplishing a specific foreign policy or national security priority. so the president in his interview with chuck todd at nbc was clear that he does believe that he has the authority to "do what's necessary to protect the american people." he went onto say it's important for congress to understand what the plan is, to have buy in and
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to debate it. that's why we've been consulting with congress throughout. there will continue to be an effort to keep an open line of dialogue between the administration and leaders in congress as we move on this important foreign policy priority. >> dialogue but no need to ask for authorization is that a correct understanding of that? >> i think the way the president described it is he believes it's important for congress to understand what the plan is, to have buy-in, to debate it and engage in the kinds of consultations that this administration is leading right now. >> that does not mean vote on it? >> the president is not in a position where he sets the legislative floor calendar for the house or the senate. he's not in a position of asking but also in a position of consulting and trying to be as candid as to be with leaders in congress about what he's
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contemplating and what policy implications are of decisions he's prepared to make. it's important in the mind of the president for congress to be a partner in these decisions. they have a solemn responsibility as elected representative of the american people to be engaged in this process but ultimately it's the responsibility of the commander in chief to make the kinds of decisions related to our military that rest on the sho d shoulders of the president. >> he said there may be a need for more resources. can you address what kind of money requests or funding requests he might end up submitting to congress as well? >> i don't have any sort of funding request to preview at this point. i would remind you in a speech that i believe you covered when the president traveled to west point, he talked about his interest in creation of this counterterrorism partnership fund.
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this is a core component of the president's strategy of dealing with this and other issues like it around the globe. that is additional resources that can be used by the united states to build up effective partners so that when the united states has to confront threats like this, that we have well trained, well equipped effective partners that we can work with to confront these problems. ultimately we need to get into a position where the united states is not solely responsible for dealing with these kind of emerging threats. we want to be able to work closely with partners around the globe and partners who have better knowledge of local politics and have better knowledge of the local terrain who in some cases can prevent some of these situations from becoming so urgent and so severe. and that is one example of a funding request the president has made to members of congress that i think that members of congress have talked about but have not voted on.
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the president would like to see those kind of resources be provided because it would strengthen the hand of this president and future presidents for dealing with urgent situations like this. let's move around just a bit. >> the president's long standing to counterterrorism obligations, one of them the administration doesn't like to talk about is the assassination and the administration talks about 100 american citizens who are fighting alongside isis and potentially could come back here and pose a threat here. i was wondering whether the president has sought out legal justification like he did in that case as considering the use of using whether drone strikes or direct air strikes on potentially american citizens. >> i don't have any sort of policy announcement to make along these lines. i would point out the
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administration has looked at the legal justification and the decision that was made to strike threats in somalia and yemen. but as it relates to isil more generally, we are concerned about the threat that is posed by these foreign fighters. there are, it is believed by some analysts, that there are dozens of individuals with american passports who have traveled to the region and taken up arms to fight alongside isil. there are some reports that indicate that there is a risk that those individuals could return to the west whether it's the united states or one of our allies using their western american passport to travel either complete i unimpeded or relatively unimpeded in a way that poses as threat to the american people and the president will not hesitate to take actions he believes are necessary to protect the
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american people. >> if there's potential legislation on capitol hill in terms of stripping citizenship or taking action on passports of americans who are fighting alongside isil, is that a measure we can expect to hear more from the president about on wednesday and something he would support? >> i read about some of those proposals. i haven't looked at them specifically. i don't think we've taken a position on them at this point. as i mentioned to jeff, the administration certainly is interested in working in a partnership with members of congress, democrats and republicans as we confront this threat. >> josh, the president wants to degrade and destroy isil but he doesn't want to put boots on the ground. >> american combat boots on the ground. >> american combat boots on the ground. yesterday in response to chuck todd of nbc news -- >> i heard of that guy. >> chuck asked who is going to go into syria and the president said syrians like the free syrian army will occupy that space assuming the president is
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successful in pushing isil back from its syrian stronghold. the free syrian army, administration is reluctant to arm them or allow countries like saudi arabia to send them the man pads, some of the equipment that has been transferred to them has shown up in isis hands fighting against iraqi and kurdish forces. why is the free syrian army a more viable force than it was a few months ago? >> we have for more than a year now been providing both nonmilitary and military support. we've been providing military support is the term of art. >> assuming you're going to provide them with lethal military support if they are going to carry a fight as a proxy for this coalition. >> it's orrin to understand that support from the obama administration has been flowing
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to the moderate syriasyrian opposition for more than a year ago. the president has sought additional resources using our title 10 authority to ramp up that assistance to the syrian opposition. and that certainly we would hope and expect and improve their capacity and success in taking the fight to the assad regime and isil to effectively wage that battle on behalf of the citizens of their country to try to retake their country. so there is an effort that's been under way for some time. we have as you point out sought to increase or ramp up that assistance. now, the question you're asking though is somewhat more complicated which is the question is why. why them? >> why now. >> and why now.
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and who else. >> so you have three complicated questions. >> it's complicated but not illegitimate. why them? it's their country. again, the president -- i think the president again in the interview that we're all citing described it as a profound mistake to commit american combat boots to being on the ground in syria. this is not a fight that the united states can take on for them. the united states is willing to be supportive of the syrian opposition as they try to put in place a government that reflects the will of the syrian people. we'll continue to support them. >> three years later 162,000 people are dead. there are millions of refugees all over the region. again, why not then? why wasn't this plan eec