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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  May 18, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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extras and subscribe to our video on flipboard, if you like. that's it for "the lead." i'm jt. turn jake tapper. turning you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." wolf? happening now -- defeat. fearing a slaughter, tens of thousands flee a major iraqi city now seized by isis. the capture of ramadi leaves the terror group 70 miles from baghdad. can militias backed by iran make a difference? leader killed. a bearing, very dangerous special ops raid takes out a top isis commander. how valuable is the intelligence u.s. commandos gathered and how much did he know about u.s. hostages? and plane hack. a cyber security consultant tells the fbi he broke into the computer systems aboard airlines and took control of an engine during a flight. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac --
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hours after a victory over isis a major setback. the black flag flying over ramadi as the terror group tightens its group, thousands fleeing the city fearing a bloodbath. iraqi troops led first in the face of a stunning isis military offensive. now as the u.s.-led coalition targets isis from the air, the iraqi government is calling on iranian-backed shiite militias for a push to try to retake ramadi capital of the sunni heartland. meantime learning new detailance a the special ops raid deep into an isis corner of syria. u.s. troops fought hand to hand with isis terrorists killed a senior commander. made off with what officials say is valuable intelligence linking him to american hostages. i'll talk live this hour with republican senator landsy graham of the armed services committee and our correspondents and guests are standing by for full
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kov respect coverage. we begin with barbara starr. what's the latest? what are you hearing about ramadi? >> reporter: wolf the pentagon and obama administration calling it a setback for the iraqis but the state department already saying it believes that the iraqis will be able to retake ramadi. i think it is fair to say there are a good number of questions about whether that is possible at this point. whether they can retake it anytime soon. right now isis digging in. they took ramadi with waves and waves of attacks, carbombs fighters moving in. it was a pitched battle. ramadi had been under siege for months by isis but this time over the weekend they were able to mass a significant offensive isis military force. that's what the u.s. had been saying isis could not do. they were down to moving just in small groups, but not in ramadi.
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they were able to mass fire power. now the question is can iraqis even with the help of shia militias move back into this sunni area if isis is digging in minute by minute? can the iraqis actually dislodge them anytime soon? >> raramadi a big city. half a million people used to live there in the last few weeks and months 120,000 people have fled ramadi. barbara, on to another major development. you were the first, you broke the story early saturday morning of an isis raid. explain what you learned, what happened? because this is a potentially, a significant development as well. >> reporter: indeed. the man, the pentagon says named abu sayyaf what is his real name? still many questions about that. the obama administration not yet releasing his full true real name. what do we know about him jp who is he? u.s. officials saying over the weekend he is the isis money
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man. he ran the oil and gas operations, but indeed, he also had a lot of information, a lot of military intelligence information potentially about hostages. delta force, army delta force commandos moved in overnight on friday. they went to this site via helicopter with fresh intelligence knowing he would be there. they had him under surveillance since march, but they had very fresh intelligence knowing he would be at that site. it raising an awful lot of questions about what delta force knew what surveillance they had, what information was coming in. they got to the site a big firefight broke out. in the end, abu sayyaf was killed in the firefight, delta coming into hand to hand combat with the isis forces there. now, they are going through the laptops, the cell phones all electronic media. they seized to see what they can learn what information he had. perhaps most sensitive at this
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point what information, if any did he have about the fate and handling of american hostages that were held by isis before they were killed? our own jim acosta learning that the white house called some of the american hostage families after the raid to tell them that they were looking for this information. >> barbara starr, excellent reporting. vaunk very much. the killing of that isis commander is it a crucial blow to isis and who is runs icesis now? >> reporter: wolf tonight we're told that isis leader abubakar al baghdadi is "still a player" running day-to-day operations for isis but new information ow isis spread its leadership structure around and tried to inoculate itself from so-called decapitation strikes. we're told operations like the one that took out sayyaf over it's weekend are effective but not fatal.
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a prize kill for the u.s.-led coalition. sayyaf say he had a key role in black market oil and gas operations and its military exploits is taken off the battlefield but 23409 eveeven on the top ten list of isis leaders. who's in charge? most indications say abubakar al baghdadi the black robe and secrecy obsessed iraqi jihadist only appearance at this mosque in mosul last summer. last week he released an audiotape calling for new recruits. he was injured recently in a coalition air strike it was said. he remains a player still taking part in the day-to-day running of isis. >> the load stone religious figure to which all the mujahadin are drawn, i'm sure playing a central role in military strategic planning. >> reporter: if baghdadi were taken out, who would replace him? abu a la al afri a shod owie
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operative to take control of day-to-day operations. he is said to have been osama bin laden favorite candidate for the top job in isis when baghdadi's predecessor was killed in 2010. the u.s. has a $7 million reward for information on al afri. u.s. officials say they cannot corroborate reports from the iraqi military al afri was kill dmd a coalition strike last week. yore potential leader adnani calling for supporters to launch lone attacks in the we have. america's bounty for him, $5 million. analysts say isis positioned itself to not be dependent on a few people at the top. >> it's been clear even killing the leader of isis and its president sayser organization al qaeda in iraq including abu al zahr zarqawi has not limited
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them. >> reporter: losing abu sayyaf's ability to run oil operations doesn't hurt that much. they're lining pockets from several sources. >> from kidnapping to extortion to brothels to selling precious artifacts from ancient sites that are inside the territory that they control. >> reporter: and analysts say isis isn't just in syria and in iraq anymore. it's taken its black market operations and diversified leadership structure to places like africa and south asia. another reason that experts say decapitation strikes won't finish this group off, wolf. >> and brian, learning about palace intrigue among the leadership of isis for who's going to really be in control of that terror group? >> reporter: fascinating. a key reason al baghdadi is at the top of isis from a family with direct lineage to the prophet muhammad. the number two leader the man profiled in the piece, al afri maneuvering to claim the top job. one, by preemping, giving a
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sermon in the same mosque that al baghdadi gave last summer when he gave that famous sermen in a mosque in mosul that al afri gave a serm tln recently also and also trying to repaint his own family history to claim that he is also a direct descendant of the prophet muhammad, but not much credibility there and not arab turkman. that might work against him. fascinating to hear about the palace intrigue. people are under him maneuvering to try to claim that role. >> and we heard the audio from al baghdadi last week. >> reporter: right. joining us from the armed services committee, republican senator lindsey graham of south carolina expected to officially announce campaign for president of the united states june 1st. talk about that later. based on the information you have how important is this guy, abu sayyaf? >> i think it's -- congratulations to those who did the operation. well done mr. president, but at the end of the day, you're going to have to do this every day and
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every flight for a long time to neuter this organization. what we did in 2007 '08 and '09. went after them every night. by no mean as strategy by itself. >> do you know in abu sayyaf ever killed americans? >> no i don't. i just know he was a key leader in isis' organization. we know what works. the surge in iraq in 2007-08 worked. put in extra troops partnered with iraqis went after terrorists by the day and by night hit them hard and we killed a lot of them and eventually we got al qaeda in iraq on their knees and if we left troops behind in iraq we wouldn't have this problem today. >> a lot of speculation this abu sayyaf may not necessarily have been all that important. only the other day the justice department put out a most wanted list of isis terrorists out there, he wasn't included.
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a lot of isis experts don't even know who this guy was? >> you know, we killed bin laden and al qaeda didn't go away. the only thing i can tell the american people to get iraq in a better place and to degrade and destroy isil in syria we have to strange our strategy. there's no other way to do it. president bush faced this problem in 2006. this strategy wasn't working. came up with a new strategy orchestrated by general petraeus and general kaine called the surge. if this president doesn't adjust a strategy we'll get hit here at home by the problems over there. >> do you know in abu sayyaf actually provided specific information to his wife umm sayyaf also captured? presumably she'll be interrogated by u.s. and iraqi officials? >> no i do not. it's a good cap can cher a good kill. we have to do it a lot more all over iraq and syria. and we need more american forces in iraq to help rebuild the iraqi security forces and if
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the shia militia are relied upon to deliberate anbar that gives iran a strong hand in iraq and i worry about a bloodbath in the process of liberating ra maud to have the shia militia do it. shows how failed the strategy is. >> senator, stand by. a lot more to discuss including a disaster in the anbar province unfolding. much more with senator lindsey graham, right after this. ♪ ♪virgin islands nice♪ ♪so nice♪ ♪so nice, so nice♪ book five nights to get one free.
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we're back with republican senator lindsey graham of south carolina member of the armed services committee, also officially expected to announce his campaign for president of the united states on june 1st. senator, the secretary of state john kerry says he's absolutely confident that the takeover of ramadi a major iraqi city in the anbar province by these isis terrorists he says it will be reversed in the days ahead. do you agree with the secretary? >> i think it can be. at the end of the day, shia militia, if they're called in to save ramadi that says all you need to know about the state of the iraqi security forces. the reason ramadi is important is because it's the capital of the sunni-arab part of iraq. and what really matters, the sunnis and anbar province cannot trust the baghdad government to take care of them. this is a big blow to political reconciliation. if isil is able to defeat the iraqi army and anbar province
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the sunnis no longer can feel they're part of iraq and that's the big blow here. >> the u.s. spent a decade training and arming the iraqi army. they used to have a big force, 200,000, 300,000 troops. the u.s. spent billions and billions of dollars providing them with the best weapons and most sophisticated training yet this army has turned out to be a disaster. why? >> well at the end of the day, iraq was moving in the right direction in 2011. the military leadership of this country advised president obama to leave 10,000 troops behinds to continue training and partnering. when we pulled the plug, the security vacuum created by our absence allowsed al qaeda in iraq to come back and most of the army is made up of shias and aren't going to die in anbar province and not in mosul. we had the country on track to political reconciliation security was in a good place,
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and when we withdrew it wall went to hell as i predicted in 2011. so if we retake ramadi and we retake mosul and we don't leave american forces behind to help keep this country together it will all happen again, and you'll never fix iraq without dealing with syria and we have absolutely no strategy in syria. >> but the prime minister at that time nuri al maliki turned out to be a disaster too. right? >> yeah he was, but the problem was that the american government the white house, was offering less than 3,000 troops as follow-on force, not enough to make a difference but when we pulled out he went back to his sectarian ways. iraq split apart. the security environment deteriorated and everything we fought for, everything that was sacrificed on behalf of the american taxpayer and american soldier, was just squandered by president obama. president bush made plenty of mistakes. smart enough to adjust in 2006 but president obama's decision to withdraw all forces in the
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face of sound military advice has come back to haunt us in iraq and syria, and if he doesn't ate just his policy this problem's going to get worse over there and eventually come here. >> you don't accept the notion nuri al maliki was the prime minister of iraq at the time rejected u.s. requests. >> no. >> that any u.s. troops who remained would have immunity from iraqi prosecution? once he rejeshgtsed that the u.s. got out? >> that was a complete absolute lie. i was on the ground talking to maliki and every political leader in iraq, they were willing to have a follow-on force but the administration got the answer they wanted. the president wanted to keep a political promise to get us out of iraq and he did making it impossible for us to stay when he says otherwise, he is rewriting history. that has come back to haunt him, our country, it's destroying iraq. syria's hell on earth because of his decision to withdraw all forces. he got the answer he wanted wolf. he's not going to be able to rewrite history here. what do we do going forward in
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the question. >> well we'd like to get to that in a moment. look back a moment. more than 1,000 american troops died in that battle for the anbar province. did they die in vain? >> no. they died trying to give iraq a chance making our lives better here at home. by taking the fight to radical islamists with a goal of not only occupying iraq but hit us here at home. the soldier did their job. they were in a good place. the security environment fundamentally changes, the surge worked. the soldiers' are not the problem. it's the political leadership of president obama. he created this mess. if you want to turn it around you have to send more american soldiers to train the iraqi army and in a more effective manner and have to do something about syria. >> you want to be president of the united states. you're running for the republican presidential nomination. was the iraq war a mistake? >> no. i don't think so. i think at the end of the day, if i know now then what i know
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now, a land invasion may not have been the right answer but saddam hussein was firing at american planes patrolling iraqi skies under international law. he was denying u.n. weapons inspectors access to sites where we thought there would be weapons of mass destruction. he was killing his own people. the biggest mistake we made was leaving iraq without a follow-on force against sound military advice. there's two things going on in the mideast that people need to understand. a fight for the heart and soul of the islamic faith. radical imlawsists are a small minority. we need to decide with the 95% who would live in peace with us to destroy this ideology and people in the middle east are no longer living in dictatorships for our convenience. to those who think this is is a temporary problem or brought it on ourselves, you don't know what you're talking about. we got hit in 2001 two years
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before we invaded iraq. didn't have one soldier, an embassy, one dime of aid going into afghanistan and a they hit us anyway, because this is a religious war. not caused by iraq or libya. >> but saddam hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. >> well he had a lot to do in terms of destabilizing the region. he had invaded his neighbor was violating u.n. mandates about inspecting items as part of the, ending the first gulf war, was shooting at american aircraft patrolling the skies over iraq as part of a no-fly zone he was gassings kurds. i am glad he is gone. at the end of the day, i blame president obama for the mess in iraq and syria, not president bush. >> you don't say president bush made a major blunder in going to war against saddam hussein, if you had to do it all over again, you would have done the same thing? is that what you're saying? >> i'm saying i don't know if i would have done a ground invasion to get rid of saddam hussein, knowing the intelligence of him was faulty.
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but continued pressure to get rid of saddam hussein. the world is bester without saddam hussein. end of the day, the iraqi people were making progress on the security front, on the economic front and on the political front. that is an undeniable fact. leaving iraq too soon not leaving a residual force resulted in what you see today and it is in our national security interests to get iraq in a better position and do something about syria. syria is the most likely launching pad for an attack on the united states. isil has a stronghold in syria. there's no strategy to deal with that stronghold and the longer isil is ahoured to survive in iraq and syria, the more likely they are to attack us here at home. i am sorry it's going to take reen gaugement by the american people through their, for their military economic support to iraq and syria. i wish it were not this way, but i'm thinking about running for president, and here's what i would tell the american people if i do run. the outcome in iraq matters to us. you can't allow isil to run wild throughout syria and iraq and
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thinking it won't matter to us. we're going to have to send some of our troops back over there, to partner with iraqis and arab armies making sure these radical islamists don't hit us here at home. there is no easy way forward. no way to win the war without some of us over there doing the fighting so they don't hit us here at home. >> still 3,000 military personnel in iraq. you want a lot more. how many troops do you want there? >> enough to partner at the battalion level. >> how many thousands? >> about 10,000. i think about 10,000. >> you think 10,000 troops would make a meal difference? >> yes. april lew us to trainer the iraqi army at a faster pace. and this raid in syria was a good step. if i were president of the united states there would be raids every night in iraq and syria againsted leadership of isil. they were nover know a minute's peace. if they picked up the phone, if they got in the car, they'd be subject to being killed.
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this is the only way you can do it. you've got to hit them hard and the hit them in a sustained nanner. >> you support boots on the ground and presumably unfortunately more american troops coming home in body bags? >> more american troops will be subject to dying because at the end of the day, the american forces in iraq and those that need to go to help deal with syria are protecting us here at home. let me tell you, wolf i've seen the war up close and personal. 4,000 american soldiers have died plus dealing in iraq and now over 2,000 in afghanistan. you need to talk to the soldier. how do you think they feel seeing saul they fought for go to waste? if i thought we could protect america without sending one soldier back to iraq i would do it but we cannot. we don't have enough forces in iraq to help the iraqis no strategy in syria. let me tell you as bluntly as i know how. if we don't turn around the tide of battle if we don't put isil
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on the run and disrupt their operations they're going to hit us here at home. so it will take thousands of american soldiers over there to protect millions of us back here at home and the only way i know to engage the public if i decide to run for president is to be honest. i don't know how to defend this nation without some of us fighting over there. >> senator graham leave it on that note but continue this conversation. look forward to your announcement in south carolina on june 1st. >> thank you. a cyber security consultant tells the fbi he broke into airline computer systems and took control of an engine during a flight. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." why do we do it? why do we spend every waking moment, thinking about people? why are we so committed to keeping you connected? why combine performance with a conscience? why innovate for a future without accidents? why do any of it? why do all of it? because if it matters to you it's everything to us.
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light. liberty mutual insurance. top story, isis captures the major city of ramadi even losing a key commander in a daring u.s. special ops raid. digging deeper with phil mudd former cia official cnn military analyst, and cnn global affair s affairs correspondent. take us inside the delta force operation. how important is it that this guy, abu sayyaf is now dead? what information might the u.s. learn from his wife umm sayyaf and how long would u.s. delta forces have trained for a daring operation like this one? >> well wolf let me start from back to first there. so delta force has been doing this over 35 years now.
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as you know it was stood up with the iran incident for our hostages in iran. since 9/11 these type of operations have been going on throughout the middle east. both at the joint special operations command has been returning. what delta has done and joint special operations command especially in iraq. we were in iraq and the senator said it right. when we were there, we had home field advantage. we would run these operations and conduct 12 15 operations a night, and start coming back on the helicopters just at dawn. now that we've lost that home field advantage, now we have to do these long-range hits. for his wife i believe we're going to glean some information from her, at least -- no. who are the people he's been around? maybe moving patterns. who are other people what operations were going on in that aspect right there. at the end of the day, this type of operation is like mowing the grass for the joint special operations command. >> what about that general hurtling, you used to be
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involved with consolidating intelligence from a daring raid like this one. what are the next steps? >> also driving the raids. i suggest that general lloyd austin the centcom kmanltcommander and the joint operations commander put this raid together based and a target package, based on intelligence they have. a big room mooklooking at totality. once they get a target the fun begin. you draw the information away from what you found on the scene and what you might get through interrogation. it will unravel continued threads and perhaps allow them to connect the dots much like a great, big crossword puzzle where you begin to see things that help you solve other things. something like this gives you a treasure-trove of intelligence to allow you to go after a lot of other things especially in the financial arena a. fair point. phil mudd though some critics are saying that is all true. why did the u.s. have to
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publicize on this information? why not keep it secret? why do we all have to know abu sayyaf was killed his wife taken, a zeidi womancede yizidi woman enslaved there. >> the adversary knows. that's what i thought giving out information to the public. are we giving the adversary an advantage? they don't get one here. this is washington, d.c. this is a success. the white house likes to talk about success, not so much about failure. third and final there is a public policy issue. the president has said we've got an advisory role in iraq. now special forces are going into a lethal situation. i think it's fair for the white house to tell the american people their american citizens soldiers at risk in a combat zone. a significant change from just having people out in advisory roles. >> on ramadi, general mert ling,hertling
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120,000 citizens have fled ramadi. the isis guys go in there and start and defeat the regular iraqi military with supposedly that was in control, and now run away like they did in mosul last year and leave behind tons of milt tear equipment. 340e679 mostly u.s.-made and the iraqi military, former saddam hussein loyalists, they know how to use them. how much of a setback is this? >> you're going to see continued clashing violent clashes, and exchange of ground in ra maupdmadi and throughout anbar province. make no mistake, anbar is very different than the northern part of iraq where i commanded. it is a sunni province with interesting political approaches to things. very interesting tribal dynamics and very interesting military approaches. the baghdad government does have to give them some leeway in terms of building their forces
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up and there's going to be some interesting dynamics over the next week because i'm going to make a prediction. we are going to see a lot of clashes in ramadi over the next week plus. there's going to be a continued fight in this ground. there's going to be retaking and taking of places. and it's the difference between a long strategic war versus a short, tactical fight. we're in a tactical fight but a long strategical war. the government of iraq has to stand up get forces build and use other forces in that area. >> why couldn't, colonel reese, the iraqi military trained by the united states i've pointsed it out many times, armed by the united states financed by the united states, over a decade protect its own people? forget about mows's last year but in ramadi in recent days? >> wolf we know it's been very well spelled out for us that the soldiers out in the ramadi area and in al anbar did not have the manning and equipment over the past year. and one of the problems we've
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watched with the iraqis, the soldiers want to fight. both sunni and shia. they have a common enemy, but one of the things the iraqi government and the senior military has to do is work on their logistics and their supply trains what we called it to make sure that the equipment is getting out to the right folks. if that gets cut off or is delayed, that stops the fighting forces from doing those things. so what i believe is going to happen here a lot of these pictures seen today from northwest and west ramadi. everything's cleaved out. the iraqis pull back. a tactical play. you pull back. you're going to see a lot of air power going in over the next couple days. once we've been able to suppress the isis aspects, the iraqis go back in in this tactical fight and retake that terrain t. hasn't happened in mosul yet. has it? >> no it hasn't. you are not going to see it in mosul. right now mosul's isolated. pretty much have it cleared off in the north. pressed from the south. it's isolated. no reason to go into a fight
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there. >> all right. james reese, bill mudd mark hertling thanks very much. important note to viewser, 9:00 p.m. special report "blindsided: how isis shook the world" taking you deep is inside isis. who are these people? what do they want? that's "blindsided" 9:00 p.m. eastern tonight. coming up a disturbing new report indicates the nation's airlines e!xtremely vulnerable to hacker es. one man tells cnn he sent commands to a plane's engine during a flight.
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about the investigation into the deadly amtrak train derailment in philadelphia. this is the first day since the accident that passenger trains are running again. one the most important and heavily traveled areas of the northeast. let's go to cnn's rene marsh at philadelphia's main train station for us. what's the latest, rene? >> reporter: well wolf there's only one way that a train could speed up and that's by the person driving it. data from the train's recorders show that this engineer manually pushed the throttles forward to increase the speed, but the question remains, why? why did this happen? we've been here all day talking to law enforcement and government sources, and they are all indicating that there is a sharp focus on the engineer and his handling of the train. they are looking at all possibilities. from perhaps, he miscalculated his speed as he was navigating that turn to even looking at the possibility that perhaps
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this was intentional. everything is on the table as far as investigators go. there-of-they are also looking at his experience. we know that he had only been on this route a matter of weeks. also today, wolf a law enforcement source is essentially throwing water on this theory that something, a projectile was thrown at amtrak 188, and that may have caused the crash. this source is saying that police they listened to all of the dispatch recorders, and have heard nothing about 188 being shot. they also spoke to passengers and none of them said that the train was struck. >> rene we'll check back. thank you. up next a computer hacker claiming he plugged into an airliner's computer system that sent a command how the plane was flying. n charge of approving every new recipe. because it's cats who know best what cats like to eat. up today, new friskies 7. we're trying seven cat-favorite flavors all in one dish.
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test. we're learning disturbing new details about airliners' potential vulnerability to hackers. an fbi warrant says one hacker plugged his computer into a jet's computer system and tampered with one of the engines while the plane was in the air. our justice correspondent pamela brown is working the story for us. what are you learning? >> i can tell you the fbi is taking roberts' alarming allegations, what he's claiming he did seriously, saying they thought he had the ability to possibly access several of commercial plane systems through the in-flight entertainment systems. roberts claims he has accessed plane systems 15 to 20 times since 2011 in an effort to
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improve aviation security. >> reporter: it's an aviation nightmare, a passenger plane in mid flight makes a move sideways controlled not by pilots in the cockpit but a passenger seated in the cabin. this man, a cyber security consultant chris roberts, tells the fbi he did just that to expose airline vulnerability. he said he issued a command that quote, caused one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or size ways movement of the plane. >> absolutely a flight crew would notice extraneous input to their airplane albeit engine controls or flight controls. >> reporter: roberts claims on multiple occasions he's reached to what's called a seat electronics box, hacked into the inflight entertainment system connecting him to the flight and navigation systems. >> the very idea that they're
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making airplanes with these boxes under the seats that you can hard wire a cable to is mind-boggling to me. >> reporter: the fbi seized roberts electronics in april after he tweeted about activating oxygen masks on a flight from denver to chicago. boeing says its aircraft inflight entertainment systems on commercial aircrafts are isolated from flight and navigation systems, but would not explain how the systems are separated. >> if it's only separated by a firewall or piece of software but inside the same hardware then i think that's a much more serious risk. >> reporter: a government report in april warned of potential siber security risks for airlines saying technologies including passenger wi-fi systems create quote, the possibility that unauthorized individuals might access and compromise aircraft aif onic systems.
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a senior law enforcement official says there's no credible information that the flight control system can be accessed or manipulate friday the flight entertainment system. united says it's confident the claims are unfounded but won't be specific about the claims. we did reach out to roberts. in a tweet roberts said he has been advised against speaking given his current situation. >> pamela thanks very much. more information from peter goelz, our aviation analyst. do you buy this notion that this chris roberts could get into the computer system and deal with the engine move the plane around in flight? >> i have to tell you i'm september cal. i agree with les al bin. if there was any activity on the part of the engines or the directional control of the plane, the pilots would notice it and would report it. they would report it immediately. the other thing that makes me skeptical is this event supposedly happened 30 days ago. it can't be verified now on the
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flight data recorder because by now the recorder would have taped over that event. if he claimed it and released it a week afterward, we could have checked his allegations. >> forget about this specific allegation. in general, how vulnerability are planes to being hacked? >> i think the gao report was right, that there is a potential vulnerability. it needs to be looked at. but the vulnerability is not there right now. >> but something passengers have to worry about down the road? >> it's something that the airlines have to deal with and the manufacturers have to deal with, and they have to deal it with quickly. >> good advice peter. thanks very much. coming up a daring and dangerous u.s. raid to take on a top u.s. isis commander. we're going inside the delta force mission with a former delta force commander. do police really need bay nets and grenade launchers?
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demilitarizing police after protests from ferguson to baltimore. will it make a difference? 2015 minefield. jeb bush isn't the only republican struggling with questions about the iraq war and whether it was a mistake. how will this issue play out in the race for the white house? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." breaking now, fears of a blood bath now that isis has seized control of a major iraqi city. local officials warning the terrorists are likely slaughtering their opponents right now. isis just released criminals from a prison. the fall of that city is a dangerous setback for the u.s.-led battle against isis only hours after a victory. today we have new details on a secret attack. a leading member of the senate
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foreign relations committee, republican cory gardner, is standing by along with correspondents and analysts all covering the news breaking right now. first let's get the latest from our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. barbara? >> reporter: wolf after years, billions of dallas of u.s. military investment in iraq in ramadi and so many u.s. troops having fallen in that city. finally iraqi forces could not stand in the face of the isis onslaught. out gunned by isis faced with waves of fighters and suicide car bombs, iraqi forces in ramadi and thousands of residents with no choice but to flee. the pentagon called it a setback. the obama administration trying to downplay the loss. >> i am absolutely confident in the days ahead that will be reversed. >> reporter: but isis did what the u.s. said it could not do,
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field a large-scale military attack. >> there are fierce battles taking place in neighborhoods in the city and popular mobilization units have been ordered by the prime minister to move in. >> reporter: just 48 hours earlier a top u.s. military official suggested ramadi might be just an isis pr stunt. now isis roaming deserted streets. able ban donned weapons, a sign of hasty retreat. u.s. air strikes will continue but no sign yet of iraqi government forces ready to counterattack. all this says u.s. intelligence agencies scour computers, cell phones and other intelligence from that weekend raid deep in eastern syria. cnn has learned the target a man called abu sayaf by the u.s. had been under surveillance since march when delta force commandos flew in helicopters to his residence to capture him, they had fresh intelligence
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indicating he was there. the commandos quickly ran into a fire fight and hand-to-hand combat. they blew a hole inside the building to get inside. abu sayaf was killed his wooif taken into custody. u.s. officials said he had critical intelligence on military plans and finances. one official saying he could potentially have information regarding americans who had been held hostage by isis. but just how important was this isis money man? >> very significant target a guy who played a very significant role in advancing the interests of isis a guy who was very close to al baghdadi one of al baghdadi's senior advisers. >> reporter: a u.s. official says the white house did contact several of the american hostage families after the raid to tell
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them about it and say it hoped there might be information about the fate of their loved ones how isis handled all of these hostages. still no word on whether they did find any of that intelligence. >> maybe we'll find out in the coming days. thanks very much barbara, for that report. let's talk about the battle for ramadi with one of our correspondents who has report friday the front lines against isis that would be our senior international correspondent nick paton walsh, joining us now from beirut. what are you hearing about what's going on right now rks nick. >> reporter: after a weekend, forces left behind a fair bit of weaponry. either early signs of thousands of shia militia garthering a far distance to the east of ramadi the defensive line put in by iraqi police and iraqi government loyal tribes is about
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15 kilometers east of ramadi. now, wolf there is a vital battle ahead, because obviously, as you heard john kerry say there, they have to get back into ramadi and try to contest that densely populated urban area. used to be a million people there. going into a sunni town we know the fault line in iraq that could be replicated in the fight ahead for ramadi. >> a very significant loss. mosul a city of two million people was lost to isis a year or so ago, now ramadi. what happens next? where do we go from here? >> reporter: the key issue is what level of u.s. air power is willing to go in? everyone agrees they're the ones that have to do most of the fighting here. we have to ask how many civilians are still trapped inside that city. you saw the pictures of deserted streets. the u.n. says 25,000 people have
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fled, but only a prak shun of the 300,000 that were there at the time the isis assault began. there are still people trying to hold out, fleeing toward bagdad now. wolf the bigger picture here imagine the huge highway through syria into bagdad. there are pockets of iraqi army there. they've lost the road. they run the risk of losing all those pockets along there. then isis may have a straight short towards the capital. that's what people are deeply concerned about in the months ahead. >> why does the iraqi military nick this is a military trained by the u.s., armed by the u.s. some of the best weapons the u.s. provided why in a battle like this against isis terrorists who move into ramadi they drop the weapons, abandon the city and run away. why are they so pitiful? >> reporter: well the issue has been i think they've been
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facing months of resistance against isis here, and there are many questions about were they adequately resupplied, reenforced. the tribes in that area, were they getting weapons from the iraqi government who predominantly are shia sympathizers so much of the politics around there, are due to the sunni-shia sectors, maybe political masses wanted to see the shia militia come in and finish the job. that's all speculation. it shows how difficult it must be for the ordinary iraqi soldier to pursue holding a city like ramadi when they're not sure whether the political masters have their better sbefr interests at heart. those scenes of people fleeing coming after months. big question as to why they left so much weaponry. >> isis will use those weapons
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against the iraqi military and population. a lot of people will die as a result. nick paton walsh. thank you very much. senator cory gardner, member of the senate foreign relations committee. senator, thanks very much for joining us. secretary of state john kerry said he is in his words absolutely confident that the tide will turn against isis in ramadi in his words in the coming days. do you agree with the secretary? >> this sa huge setback. we all hope and will do everything we can to make sure the tide turns. would be one of the biggest dangers is every time there's a small victory, it brings more to theirside. while the tied will turn and i believe it will. it has to. it will only turn if we have the right strategy in place to mike the tide turn. >> what do you recommend? >> if you look at the number of strikes we have going back to
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august of 2014 inherent resolve. we have about 2800 strikes from august 2014 to today. that's about ten a day. i think the pace of activity has to increase. our work and coordination with people on the ground our allies has into crease. we have to question whether or not we are actually accomplishing the defeat part of degrade. we go back and forth on degrade. as ramadi shows, the defeat part is very much in question. >> it looks like isis is not only still in control of the second largest city of iraq, moz sul, city of 2 million people now this city of ramadi. it doesn't look like they're being degraded much at all, does it? >> that's a big concern. i was in iraq meeting with the top leadership when we were in the same meeting when they were informed that tikrit had been taken by iraq. that was a big moment for the forces a point of encouragement. again, now we have a setback in ramadi. now we have a situation where we have about a 100-mile corridor from aleppo and syria to ramadi
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controlled by isis a supply line 100 miles long controlled by isis and only 70 miles outside of bagdad. i think we have to come back to the table and people need to answer for are we accomplishing, are we get together the defeat part? is it very much up in question at this point. >> general martin dempsey, the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, it says in his words ramadi is not symbolic in any way to the future of iraq. a lot of us were surprised to hear the chairman of the joint chiefs say that given the fact that more than 1,000 american troops died in the on bar province many of them in ramadi fighting during the war. >> people remember in 2006 this was the site of the anbar awakening where a great deal of american blood, a great deal of sack fifs was made by our men and women in uniform. this is not something that can be taken lightly. when it comes to iraq what we're doing with the tribes to make sure those on the sidelines come to our side we have to win and we have to show that that sort of absolute knowledge that
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we are going to be victorious in tend. without that then it does pose dangerous for us as we try to gain more efforts in our efforts to defeat and grade, not only that but to eradicate this scourge of isis. >> i know you ear not running for re-election, but i'll still ask you, was the invasion of iraq back in 2002 a mistake? >> if we had known then what we know now, congress would have made a different decision. i was not here at the time. i think the president would have made a different decision if we knew then what we know now. the fact is the world is a better place because saddam hussein is dead. >> why do you think the world is a better place? there weren't any terrorists emerging from iraq under his reign. there was no al qaeda presence in iraq no weapons of mass destruction, being contained by the u.s.-led co-lags, the no-fly zones were in effect. why do you think the world is a
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better place now without saddam hussein in iraq than it was with saddam hussein controlling what's going on in iraq? >> saddam hussein was a brutal dictator. >> what was he doing to the u.s. that made the world worse under saddam hussein than it is right now f you take a look at what's going on in iraq? >> we know his regime in the past had attempted to secure weapons of mass destruction, had attempted decades ago to secure nuclear weapons. i had quite a bit of time with one of the scientists jailed under saddam's efforts to secure military use for a nuclear weapon. we know he was violating human rights. we know he had done a number of efforts to sponsor terrorism in iraq and the threat that posed to the united states. so i don't think anybody would argue right now that we'd be in a better place if saddam hussein was still in charge of a brutal dictatorship. >> senator, just to be precise in this matter because it's
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really sensitive, a lot of people are watching right now. the more than 4,000 u.s. troops who lost their lives in iraq the tens of thousands who came home with severe injuries the more than a trillion dollars u.s. taxpayers spent in iraq from your perspective that was money well sped blood well shed? >> if we knew then what we know now, we would have made a different decision. you have to look at the past decade of leadership whether it was the drawdown in iraq that led to other problems. in our time in middle east we talked to every leader and asked the same question. was the withdraw in iraq a smart thing? they know by the statements they made -- we know by the statements they made that was not the best decision that could have been made. they would have done things differently. i don't think you can answer this question in a vacuum and pretend no other knowledge or fact exists. the fact sour men and women in uniform, the bravest in the world did everything they could to protect this country from a tear ror threat that was saddam hussein.
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nobody can deny we are in a better place because saddam hussein is dead. >> senator, i want you to stand by. we have more to discuss. senator cory gardner of colorado is with us. we'll continue the news right after this. thank you for being a sailor, and my daddy. thank you mom, for protecting my future. thank you for being my hero and my dad. military families are thankful for many things. the legacy of usaa auto insurance could be one of them. our world-class service earned usaa the top spot in a study of the most recommended large companies in america. if you're current or former military or their family, see if you're eligible to get an auto insurance quote. unbelievable! toenail fungus? seriously? smash it with jublia! jublia is a prescription medicine proven to treat toenail fungus. use jublia as instructed by your doctor. look at the footwork! most common side effects include ingrown toenail,
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we're back with senator cory gardner of colorado member of
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the senate foreign relations committee. senator, we're talking about a new victory for isis now in control of ramadi the capital of the anbar province just 70 miles from bagdad. on friday the u.s. announced that weapons would be expedited to iraq because of the fighting in ramadi shoulder fire rockets, ammunition supplies. there's a lot of concerns the u.s. weapons being provided to the iraqi military eventually will wind up in the hands of isis after the iraqi military abandons their position runs away and leaves these stockpiles behind. how concerned are you about that? >> we know from reports there was a considerable amount of supplies and weapons left behind as they've evacuated or left ramadi. i think that's one more indication of what we need to do to make sure we have the proper training a security force that is up to the task that understands they cannot leave weapons like that behind because, in fact they are winning is what we must make sure they're in the position to
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do. i think this also brings up the question of what happens in northern iraq with the peshmerga. the questions now, do they have enough? and are they getting the arms at the level they need considering the amount of fighting they're undertaking. >> a lot of people have confidence in peshmerga, the kurdish fighters but not in the iraqi military. do you? >> we have to. that's what we're doing and making sure we're stepping up training and security. the upcoming budget $8.8 billion of funding in the overseas contingency operations fund additional funding for the state department as part of that and the defense department president to increase our spending. if we're going to eye rad cat isis if defeat and degrade is going to work we have to step up the training and make sure they have the ability, tasks and skills to do the job. >> let's talk about syria. senior isis commander abu sayyaf was killed in a special
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ops raid. do you know if he was actually responsible for any american deaths? >> again, i think if you assume that he was one of the high level actors officials within isis, we know he was in charge of some of the oil and gas operations and financial operations. if he directly wasn't responsible, we know the money he raised through isis was directly responsible for the deaths of americans and the deaths of iraqi citizens and the people of syria. we know by the mere fact he was in charge of financing the operation, he has blood on his hands. >> because a lot of us had never heard of this guy. spoke to a lot of isis experts, they never heard of this guy. when the u.s. issued their most wanted isis terrorists the other day, he was not on that list. had you ever heard of him? >> i knew they were of course operating the oil and gas systems and that's how they were financing. had i heard him individually named, it was not something we spent a lot of time focusing on as part of the efforts to take out. i do think, though we have to make sure we learn from this
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experience the delta force is to be commended, the incredible way to carry out this. we will be able to gather intelligence. look at ramadi and what happened with sayyaf it seems like every time we take off one head, another one grows in its place. that's ramadi. that's the danger of the situation we're in right now. it was a good thing we took out one of their top leading officials, but then we have the fall of ramadi a significant setback. that's why this is such a precarious position right now, where exactly we are with degrade and defeat. >> i want to get your thoughts of another part of the world, north and south korea. secretary of state john kerry is in south korea, trying to reassure the south koreans that any challenge from the north will be met by the u.s. as well. how dangerous is that korean peninsula now, how tense is the situation between north and south? we know there are a million north korean groups along the
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dmz, 30,000 u.s. troops in between. what's your assessment? >> we have to be brutally honest. the administration's policy of strategic patience has been a strategic failure. the fact is this the north korean nuclear capability seems to be about 20 nuclear warheads. there are estimates in five years it could be over 100. it's a dangerous situation. we have to start taking the strategic patience and turning it into preconditions of talks that will result in denuclearization a promise they made back in 2005 they will commit committing depraved acts against human rights that we step up our security efforts in south korea and around the region. that's something we have to do to make sure this regime is no longer following the brutal path it is towards destruction of the peninsula and perhaps the united states. that's why i'll be introducing a resolution in a matter of days going up against north korea and directing this administration to take it seriously and to start separating up our efforts
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against a brutal regime. >> we'll stay in touch with you on that senator gardner, thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. just ahead, more on the iraqi military's failures on fighting isis. are there any forces on the ground capable of pushing back the terrorists? did a bullet hit the windshield of an amtrak train before the deadly crash in philadelphia? stand by. we're getting new information.
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breaking right now, tens of thousands of people fleeing a major iraqi city that's fallen to isis. ramadi only 70 miles from bagdad. terrorist troops have seized weapons from an iraqi army base there, lots of them. they freed inmates from a ramadi
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prison stealing money from banks. who knows what else they're doing. right now the iraqi government is rushing reenforcements to stop isis from advancing even closer to bagdad only 70 miles away. joining us cnn international security analyst peter bergen dploebl affairs analyst james rees and retired brigadier general mark kemmet. you served time in iraq general kemmet. they died trying to defend ramadi in anbar province. this san important area. how big of a disaster is it that they have taken control of this major iraqi city? >> it's pretty important. but i think what's more disastrous is responding bringing in iranian forces not
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doing anything about it. there's a significance chance the prime minister will make the wrong decisions in trying to too hastily take back ramadi. >> if he brings in the shiite militias this is an area sunni dominated, the on bar province. they hate these militias. that could cause an even worse civil war? >> you've added a sectarian element to this flight. this isn't just the government of iraq fighting i.s.i.s. sill. this is a secretary face-to-face between the tribes inside anbar and possibly shia-backed, iran iranian-backed militias as well. >> colonel rees you were there recently. what's so heartbreak sog many of these iraqis see themselves and shia sunni or kurds for that matter. the fact they're iraqis doesn't seem to weigh heavily on them.
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this is a sectarian battle that's been going on not for decades, but centuries. >> i have to disagree. i spent a month in tikrit. i have iraqi employees that are both sunni, shia christian, kurd. i disagree. what i see on the ground is iraqis iraqi whose want to take care of families want to send their kids to school. my last trip out of iraq one thing came to mind oopsz, two types of people left in this world, politicians and everybody else. that's the problem we have right now. >> if that's true why did the iraqi military crumble in mosul and crumble in ramadi? >> like i just said one of the problems is the political side of these countries have to get involved and figure out -- they're in-fighting between them sechlts i've watched sunni fight together come arm and arm with each other. they fight for their national iraq. it's interesting, even ministers
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of parliament even the shia they're bringing in the sunnis they had sunni elements in tikrit. i think we need to watch how far we go with the sectarian peace here and try to push this and use the center of gravity, dish to bring it together. >> it's a pretty upbeat analysis. with all due respect, he was just there. >> if you go back to 2003 sunni and shia were often enter married, the neighborhoods were intermingled. what's happened in the last decade is that has come undone. the idea that yes, sunni and shia have had sentries' hold conflicts, but in iraq that was not happening until the american invasion of the civil war that then followed. this can be put back together potentially or maybe it's gone too far. it's hard to tell right now. >> you think it can be put back
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together? >> i spent a lot of time in bagdad probably more than most americans have. the fact remains there's a sig any can't sectarian element that are ideologically connected to iran or ideologically connected to fair faith. they fight for their faith and their ideology. i left an arabic station where a sunni tribal leader was railing about putting shia militia in there. we can pre tend everybody is iraqi. at this point the most ideologically commit right-hand the ones in front lines, not ideologically committed to iraq but to their tribes. >> colonel reese, you were there, a lot of people are losing confidence in this new iraqi prime minister. nuri al maliki turned out to be a disaster for the people of iraq. >> wolf i tell you, i know he's working hard.
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i've seen him there. these are very challenging aspects and missions to do to try to bring this government together. everyone is fighting for their own piece of the pie. like general kemmet said you have the iranian influence. i was there with ben wedeman who asked about the eight force advisers out there. his comment was, hey, i'd rather have eight kuds advisers on the front line instead of 200 in the green line not giving advice. i'm not sure our policy is there. one of the problems is we're training the iraqi shoulders, but as soon as they leave the base they're on their own. that's not an advise and assist mission. we have special forces who know how to do this get out there, helped fight them train them and lead them. that would be a turning point if we looked at changing their policies. >> colonel reese, thanks for joining us. general kemmet appreciate it very much. glad you're back safe and sound.
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tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern "blind-sided" how isis shook the world. we'll take you deep inside isis. who are these people what do they want? fareed zakaria reports tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern. just ahead, new details in the probe of the deadly amtrak derailment? was the train struck by a bullet or some other object just before the disaster. president obama banning things for local police across the u.s. in the wake of the protests in ferguson and baltimore. with two ways to earn on purchases, it makes a lot of other cards seem one-sided. ♪ eight time zones later... you finally reach this booking lavish tokyo hotel. and so does: jetlag ♪ ♪ woman: whoa. ♪ ♪
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there's new information tonight about the probe into the deadly amtrak derailment. investigators are now saying they have found no evidence of damage to the train's windshield that could have been caused by a gun. officials also say they have not ruled out another object possibly striking the train before it flew off the rails. cnn's rene marsh is joining us from philadelphia with more. what are you hearing, rene from your source there is? >> reporter: well law enforcement sources essentially throwing cold water on this theory that a projectile might have been thrown at the train causing the derailment. the sources say philadelphia police listened to the amtrak dispatch tapes, didn't hear any mention about the train being
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struck. they also interviewed passengers no mention of the train being struck. meantime we've been talking to government sources as well as law enforcement sources all day. it appears there's a sharp focus on the engineer, his experience and his handling of the train. tonight fbi analysts are examining the crashed amtrak locomotive now housed at this maintenance site in delaware trying to determine if something struck the train moments before it derailed. meantime the ntsb said they found no evidence to back up an assistant conductor's claims she heard the engineer say train 188 had been hit. >> we interviewed the septa engineer and he did not recall having any conversation between him and the amtrak engineer but nevertheless we do have this marked on the windshield of the amtrak train. >> reporter: amtrak restored full service today along the busy northeast corridor
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maneuvering the curve where 188 derailed without problems. technology called automatic train control is now in place to slow northbound trains before the curve. >> if they were able to put atc in over the weekend, some are going to say, if it was this simple why not before? >> from the north to the south, you ear coming from a high rate of speed, 110 down to 50. you had to have it there. but from the south, the maximum speed was 80 and you could get around this corner at 80. >> reporter: at the crash site new steel fencing has been put up alongside the clocks. there might as well not even be fencing. this is wide open. the fencing isn't keeping anyone from walking right on the tracks steps away from where the deadly derailment happened. amtrak officials say for them securing the rail lines is now
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priority one. we should tell you, wolf data from the recorder shows this engineer moved the throttle forward to speed up the train. the question remains why? although investigators are focusing on this engineer and his handling of the train, we should say it is too early to say this indicates a criminal act. in fact we know police as well as the district attorney's office they're waiting for the ntsb to complete their investigation before they make any moves. an ntsb source is saying it's too early to take anything off the table, are possibilities are still on the tashlgs wolf. >> rene, thanks for that report. rene marsh reporting from philadelphia. president obama is restricting the kinds of u.s. military equipment local police departments can now use. a new ban on things like grenade launchers, high caliber weapons was sparked by the controversy
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of what so many saw as a militarized police unrest in ferguson missouri. our senior white house correspondent jim acosta has details. >> reporter: the white house is clamping down on some but not all the equipment provided to police departments across the country. some are warning the president he may be going too far, potentially putting public safety at risk. nine months after riots turned the streets of ferguson missouri into what looked like a combat zone with local police dressed in camouflage and controlling crowds with armored vehicles the white house is outlining reforms aimed at demille tirizing law enforcement. >> we're going to prohibit some equipment made for the battlefield that is not appropriate for local police departments. >> reporter: under the new policy federal agencies would be barred from providing cops with
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tank-like vehicles grenade launchers and camouflage uniforms. the administration would control but still allow the acquisition of the kind of armored vehicles that were roaming ferguson if police departments can show officers are being trained properly. also permitted under certain conditions manned aircraft drones guns explosives and riot gear. >> we'll ensure departments have what they need but also the training to use it. >> reporter: jonathan thompson with the national sheriff's association worries the white house will overreach and leave officers and deputies out gunned noting the weekend's biker blood bath in waco texas. >> let me give you the scenario in waco where the sheriffs no longer have equipment sufficient to contain that type of situation. what's the sheriff supposed to do say, wait a minute fellows, don't start that fight, let me call for added resources? >> reporter: the new rules are picking up bipartisan support
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from members of the black caucus to gop presidential candidate rand paul. >> i'm all forgiving the police bulletproof vests, giving them weapons, ordinary guns things we can use to defend ourselves. i think it's not a great idea to show up everywhere in a full military sort of preference like an army. >> reporter: meeting with police in camden new jersey the president said it will take more than law enforcement reforms for cities to avoid becoming the next baltimore or ferguson. >> we can't ask the police to contain and control problems that the rest of us aren't willing to face or do anything about. >> reporter: the white house says its new restrictions on the list of banned military equipment takes effect right away. the new training for military departments seeking military hardware kicks in later this year. >> let's dig in deeper with
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justice reporter evan perez. what are you hearing to this announcement by the president today? >> they were part of developing this plan that the administration announced, and so this is all part of a broader initiative that they have the justice department is funding body cameras, a pilot program, i believe $20 million, to try to get more police departments to adopt these body cameras, make sure the officers are actually using them as you've seen in some of these recent police shootings, having cameras on the scene there, making a huge difference. >> there's a loophole, correct me if i'm wrong. if tloekal police forces want to go to private vendors and buy this kind of military equipment and hardware nothing restricts them right? >> that's right. a lot of manufacturers of these types of equipment including the m rap vehicles used in the streets of ferguson these are mine-resistant vehicles most commonly seen in iraq and
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afghanistan, they're being used on the street oopsz. you can still get them through the government and definitely through private sector. >> evan thanks very much. just ahead, another republican struggles with the question about the war in iraq. why is that subject proving to be so difficult for so many of these gop white house hopefuls. up today, new friskies 7. we're trying seven cat-favorite flavors all in one dish. now for the moment of truth. yep, looks like it's time to share what our cats love with your cats. new friskies 7. for cats. by cats. it's time to bid farewell... to this booking incredible island resort. and it's incredible island staff. (father:) i can't imagine life without them. this is not goodbye. ♪
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scrutiny for his answer to that question as well. let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent dana bash. our chief political analyst gloria borger and our cnn political reporter sarah murray. gloria why is this question proving to be so hard for some of these republican candidates? >> look i think republicans are searching for where the base of the republican party might be right now. this is a very complicated question with a very complicated answer. as we've seen with marco rubio and with jeb bush. what you have is a republican party that believes generally, as does the american public that the war in iraq was a failure, was a mistake. but you also have a republican party that is growing increasingly muscular when it comes to fighting isis more hawkish. 70% or more of republicans believe there should be some sort of combat troops to fight isis. so i think they're trying to strike a balance here. and they're having a really difficult time. >> what surprised me marco rubio is a very smart guy, especially on foreign policy.
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a member of the foreign relations committee. we saw the commotion, the uproar in the aftermath of jeb bush sort of mangling that question. yesterday, when he was on fox news he had some serious problems just addressing that question as well. was he not prepared for the question? >> he was prepared. i think it was a struggle in fairness on both sides. it was a three-minute exchange in total. and if you watch the whole thing, it was cringe worthy in general because they were kind of stepping all over each other. and i think that's fair to say both of them. but on marco rubio's point, he is the guy running for president. he is required to answer questions. and what chris wallace at fox news is trying to get out of him was something that is very specific but very important, which is what jeb bush got tripped up on. knowing what you know now, would you go into iraq. his answer was no. but just a few months ago, also on fox, he was asked was the iraq war a mistake.
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he said no because saddam hussein, the world is better without saddam hussein. and it's actually, if you drill down on that those two things are hard to square. >> a little flip-flop question. >> in 2007 and 2008 the war in iraq was huge issue on the democratic side between barack obama who opposed the war hillary clinton who voted for the war. show the iraq war going to play out on the republican -- in the republican contest this time? >> you know i think the thing that is really baffling especially to foreign experts who are watching this this isn't even a question about iraq anymore. the question now is how do you deal with isis, how do you deal with this instability in the region that has cropped up in recent years. it's not a question of whether we should have gone to war in iraq or not. it's what do you do about instability now. and i really think that's the discussion you're going to see going forward. >> but having the debate backwards eight years which is exactly what the republicans don't want to do. they do want to move the debate ahead. >> but to that point, today on the campaign trail you saw rand
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paul and others try to move it back to hitting barack obama because of what you were saying because he pulled the troops out of iraq and allowed for isis to crop up not just in ire iasyria but iraq. >> don't forget hillary clinton is a part of this issue as well because she voted for the war. and at first when she was asked this question if 2006 or 2007 she basically gave the same answer that jeb bush gave which was if we had known then what we knew now, there wouldn't have been a vote. then in her book her recent book she said it was a mistake. >> but i have republicans tell me they are impressed with how the clinton operation is handling this because you have not heard a peep from hillary clinton, even though she voted on anything. but especially on iraq even though she voted to authorize it. >> sarah, you're doing some reporting on chris christie. and his ambition to become president of the united states. what are you learning? >> so chris christie gave a big
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foreign policy speech today. essentially, to convince voters to take him seriously, to give him a second look as a presidential candidate. but the thing that they're really running into trouble with is they're having problems convincing big dollar donors to give them a lot of money there are some christie loyalists who are willing to show up and give him a lot of money. he had a big fundraiser in d.c. nearly 120 people showed up. but the really big guys, the guys who treat politics like a sport are just not convinced that christie is viable. >> but now there is such a big field. you guys know that you're out there. they have a choice. and the menu is quite large. and so they can decide to hold back. >> explain what is going on legally politically. they're not formally announcing for what reason? >> i had the story on cnn right now. it's the dirty little secret the
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reason is money. it's because people like chris christie and he has problems because of what you just said. but more along the lines of scott walker and jeb bush. because they do have a lot of money at their disposal people with millions of dollars who want to write them checks it benefits them to wait and not become an official candidate because once they do that they can't actually ask. if i'm jeb bush and you're a millionaire, wolf will, you give me a million dollars. they can't do that for their superpac anymore. they can go to an event where there is a fundraiser but they can't ask. when a candidate asks, or if you look at the other side if you have a billionaire, they generally like to be asked and they like to be catered to by these politicians which is why they're in the game. and so they can't do that. >> hillary clinton is back on the campaign trail. she is back in iowa today. is she answering reporters' questions? >> she is mum. she is not taking reporters' questions. one thing you can say about jeb bush or marco rubio or any of the republican candidates they're out there taking
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reporters' questions because they are. hillary clinton is -- wants to her roll-out in her on way. and the roll-out is okay, now i'm going to listen to voters. i'm going to talk to voters. and you're just going to be off to the side. and eventually i'm going to take your questions. but at my own pace. >> it reminds me when she was running for new york senate race she went on a listening tour for a month or six weeks. she doing the same thing supposedly right now. >> and i think she is perfectly happy to watch all the republicans take questions and get themselves tied up in knots and then go talk to voters. if that's all you see is republicans twisting themselves in circles over iraq and hillary off having a nice factory tour or whatever then it looks better for her. >> and there is a big difference. when you a field of over a dozen republicans, they need what we call earned media. they need to be out there getting free face time. hillary clinton doesn't need that. >> all right, guys. we'll continue our coverage tomorrow. thank you very much. remember, you can always follow us on twitter. please tweet me at wolf blitzer.
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tweet the show@cnn sitroom. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. >> "outfront" tonight, breaking news. the investigation into the amtrak crash now zeroing in on the engineer. sources tell cnn they are not ruling out something intentional. a live report coming up. plus isis seizes the key city of ramadi. not far from baghdad, 400 prisoners released from jails, hundreds killed. fleeing the city. will there be a massacre? in texas, warnings of more biker gang violence. nine murdered in a shoot-out. what started this? and could it happen again? let's go "outfront." and