two families. appreciate that. thanks for watching, everybody. just a quick note, too. stay with my colleague wolf blitzer and cnn because wolf is going to be speaking with presidential candidate senator rand paul. he's going to have that interview. not only that, he's probably going to ask him, does he plan to stay in the race? poll numbers are kind of low. you'll find out in a moment. hello, i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. in washington, 8:00 p.m. in jerusalem, 8:30 p.m. in tehran. wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us. we begin with breaking news. president obama announcing just a little while ago that nearly 10,000 u.s. troops will remain in afghanistan longer than planned. the president had hoped to bring virtually all of them home by the end of next year, but now, instead, he's acknowledging that afghan security forces aren't ready to hold off the taliban on their own. >> i do not support the idea of
endless war. and i have repeatedly argued against marching into open ended military conflicts that do not serve our core security interests. yet given what's at stake in afghanistan, and the opportunity for a stable and committed ally that can partner with us in preventing future threats and the fact we have an international coalition, i am firmly convinced that we should make this extra effort. in the afghan government, we have a serious partner who wants our help and the majority of the afghan people share our goals. we have a bilateral security agreement to guide our cooperation. and every single day, afghan fores are out there fighting and dying to protect their country. they're not looking for us to do it for them. >> all right, let's bring in our white house correspondent
michelle kosinski. break down the president's new plan for u.s. troops, the timetable, the cost to u.s. tax payers. >> yes, this is basically the same plan that has been in place, but this is the second time it's been delayed. so as it stands now, according to the president, that same number about 9,800 troops will stay through most of next year. then after that, it's going to drop down to 5,500. before some time after that, after the president leaves office it going down to just a basic force protecting the u.s. embassy in kabul. so it was interesting to hear the president say there at the very end. he took a question which wasn't even expected. but to say this is not disappointing, that this is part of the mission that they always felt that they were going to be tweaked as needed, that the threat is still there, but that the overall mission is still working. still, though, it's really hard to see how this would not be disappointing to a president who promised to end these wars. afghanistan's been going on for 14 years now. and who ran on that.
this is something he clearly wants for his legacy. that goes without saying really. and it's just not going to happen. the administration really wanting to focus on the positive. maybe not so much in the last several weeks have we heard them using such careful language to focus on the mission remaining, the real progress has been made by these forces that are there, the government is behind them, the government is asking for help. not wanting to even say at the most basic level that this is disappointing, wolf. >> the announcement does follow the taliban victory last month capturing the afghan city of kunduz, a city of 300,000, the fifth largest city in afghanistan, major parts of that victory for the taliban have now been reversed. but the administration is insisting that their new strategy is not simply the result of that city falling, right? >> right, yes, they're saying they were looking at the overall picture, really weighing a range of options and looking at the
extend of the threat. they still want to focus on core al qaeda being decimated in that country, the progress that has been made. really wants to compare it to the way it was back when this all started and the changes that have been made there. but what a reality check kunduz was. for the taliban to take it over, hold it for a couple of weeks and then finally afghan security forces with the u.s. help was able to take it back. obviously the administration wants to focus on the encouraging elements of the afghans being able to take it back. afghan troop readiness has been an issue for so many years, wolf. these questions have been around forever. i remember being there in 2011, watching u.s. trainers work with these troops. that was back when the u.s. was just going to hand over individual bases in a kind of cascading way across the country. and then to a person these u.s. trainers we talked to were saying, look, they're just not ready. it takes a lot longer than originally planned to get them
up and running. first of all, most of them were illiterate. you had to teach them how to read and count before you could train them to fight. >> did the president say or other u.s. officials say how much this is going to cost u.s. taxpayers, keeping 10,000 troops there next year, 5, 500 troops the following year? >> right, $14 billion a year to keep them there. the administration emphasizing this is key to u.s. national security interests, wolf. >> $14.6 llion, on top of the hundreds of billions the u.s. has already spent in this, the longest war in u.s. history, 14 years and counting right now. all right, michelle, thanks very much. let's get some analysis on what's going upon joining us, our senior international correspondent nick paton walsh. joining us from istanbul turkey. and our analyst paul bergen. you've been there recently.
you're encouraged, i take it, by what you've heard from the president? >> yes, it is a slight grasp of reality. the timetable has really been down to obama's own electoral cycle. he saw it was a war in trouble. put the surge in place. that was tailored off to get him really able to keep the idea that afghanistan was winding down, to get himself into a second term. and the second term was about pulling most of the rest of the troops out. clearly that isn't going to happen here. it is a reflection of the reality. it goes against the narrative us as reporters in kabul were forced to swallow on a daily basis, that the afghan security forces are ready, violence is on the decrease, the taliban were losing out to consistent night raids against them. it clearly didn't have the long-term effect. it's obvious, really, the afghan national security forces weren't able to continue the job. it's now admitted by barack obama there still needs to get
better. the slight tweaking of the timetable. always felt the sloping off down to an embassy presence by 2017 or 2016 was much faster really than you could possibly consider to be ideal for the security situation on the ground. but it coincided with the end of his second term. now we're looking at him keeping the same number pretty much until his successor comes into place. the ground in afghanistan has been changing so fast. taliban, yes, in resurgence. but they're fractured. they just admitted their leader was dead. now mosul has managed to get some currency by that victory in kunduz. taliban, they're increasingly prevalence in the eefts of the country. the president, who obama spoke so warmly about then, yes, much more affable to the west, ashraf ghani. he's sharing power with abdullah abdullah, another western-friendly face. there's still the disputed
results of the election. it's not easy, life in kabul. still, there will be 10,000 troops to try to keep the taliban at bay. >> let me bring in peter bergen. as you know, hundreds of billions of u.s. taxpayer dollars already spent over these past 14 years in afghanistan. those afghani troops were supposed to be trained and ready to go a long time ago. they're still not ready, as the president acknowledged. explain to the american people why you believe spending another $15 billion a year to maintain that u.s. troop presence in afghanistan is money well spent. >> well, wolf, in the course of a morning, the morning of september 11th, 2001, the united states was attacked, and we lost $500 billion, the american economy, and of course 3,000 people. obviously, we don't want to see that replay. as nick said, you know, we're seeing isis establishing himself in eastern afghanistan and we are seeing, you know, there was simply no reason for us to
repeat the experiment we already ran in iraq. where an incompetent iraqi government, incompetent iraqi security services and a total american absence helped precipitate the rise of isis there. and since we're already seeing isis in afghanistan, i mean, it really -- i don't think it's a very difficult decision to make to say, hey, we need to make sure that we maintain the afghan armed services. given afghan's confidence, saying we're going to leave. the big difference here with iraq is that afghans overwhelmingly want u.s. forces to stay. they have extraordinarily high levels of support for the afghan armed services in contrast to iraq. so the situation is quite different. and yet we do want to be, you know, the united states and its allies cannot tolerate the potential of it being p reverting to a failed to state and al qaeda or isis gaining a strong foothold there again.
>> phil, i want you to listen to what the president had to say about the u.s. military involvement in afghanistan. this is back, what, in may of 2014. this is what he said then. >> starting next year, afghans will be fully responsible for securing their country. american personnel will be in an advisory role. we willi no longer patrol afgha cities or towns, mountains or valleys. that is a task for the afghan people. >> it's clear, though, the afghan military, the afghan police, even at this point, 14 years into this war, phil, they are not ready to be fully responsible for securing their country. >> that's right. i think we should draw a simple parallel there. the question is, it's much easier for a president to maintain forces there than to withdraw them and reinsert them. let's think about iraq for a moment. we had a rapid withdrawal of u.s. forces. we had a military that was not
capable of blunting an insurgen insurgency, an isis insurgency. we had a president who had to reverse course, a lot of political capital, and say we're reinserting american forces to train and advise the iraqi military. think of the parallel. the white house had to sit there and say, do we take a legacy move, to say we're going to maintain forces, as the president said today, or do we withdraw forces quickly and face the prospect that the next president, the successor to president obama, has to reinsert them when we realize the taliban is going to defeat the afghan military? we can't afford to have the taliban roll through these provinces in northern afghanistan. >> the u.n. issued a report this month, not a year ago, two years ago. they found out the taliban is now in more parts of afghanistan than in any point going back to 2001, october 2001, right after 9/11, that's when the u.s. went into afghanistan, and now the
taliban, they're targeting urban areas just as much as villaging out there. why is the taliban so successful now in afghanistan? maybe even more successful than it's been over 14 years? >> well, i mean, the international troop presence is, you know, pretty much at an all-time low. it's not just u.s. troops that have drawn down to a much lower level. it's our nato allies as well. so we're not talking about, you know, that, you know, some sort of -- the taliban has taken -- let's put it in perspective. in the last 14 years, the taliban has taken one city for two weeks. this is not like isis taking mosul, the second largest city in iraq, or taking fallujah or ramadi or any other big iraqi cities. yes, they've had one battlefield success, certainly not to be discounted. but the last 14 years have not been that militarily successful for the taliban writ large.
>> why did the u.n. in its new report say taliban is in more parts in afghanistan than at any point going back to 2001? >> i'm sure that's true. the u.n. has a good record of these kinds of assessments. being in a lot of places doesn't mean you control large cities or towns. i'm just trying to create a little bit of perspective here compared to iraq, wolf, which is that the taliban has presence in plenty of rural parts of afghanistan. unfortunately, so now does isis in some parts. this is all not an argument for saying, hey, we should just withdraw, it's an argument for saying we should stay for as long as necessary to make sure isis and other of their allies do not come back. >> peter, thanks very much. phil mudd, appreciate it very much. we're going to have more on this developing story coming up this hour. i'll speak live with senator rand paul. he's been very critical of the role of u.s. troops in afghanistan. he's standing by live. i'll also ask him what he thinks
about the president's new strategy. we'll get into some other political issues. his recent comments on gay right also in the workplace. his efforts to become the republican presidential nominee. more coming up this hour with senator rand paul. also, a surge of violence has israel on edge right now. so much so, the government is even asking legally armed citizens to play a bigger part. what's going on? we'll explain. when i was sidelined with blood clots in my lung,h. it was serious. fortunately, my doctor had a game plan. treatment with xarelto®. hey guys! hey, finally, somebody i can look up to... ...besides arnie. xarelto® is proven to treat and help reduce the risk of dvt and pe blood clots. xarelto® is also proven to reduce the risk of stroke in people with afib, not caused by a heart valve problem.
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now to the very tense situation in israel right now. just a little while ago, the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu addressed the security crisis in his country. it comes on the heels of some horrific attacks in jerusalem and elsewhere over the past week. >> the only way that we can fight this big lie, all the other lies that are hurled at israel and spread in the palestinian social network and from there to the world is to tell the truth. this is what we will do today.
we expect all our friends and anyone concerned with the facts and the truth, to look at these facts, to see the truth and not to draw false symmetry between israeli citizens and those who would stab them and knife them to death. >> netanyahu's government is encouraging legally armed civilians to play a greater part in keep the streets safe after a surge in violence. police and soldiers have tightened security after repeated stabbings and other attacks. our international correspondent phil black is in jerusalem. he's joining us live right now. phil, there's apparently no new attacks today, but what's the mood there in jerusalem? >> no new attacks, wolf, but a great deal of tension, really, a very significant security presence on the streets of jerusalem. israelis openly talking about the fear that they feel here at the moment. a couple of incidents which i think show just how tense things are here at the moment. on a train to haifa, the
northern city there, a woman thought she saw a suspicious-looking man, shouted "terrorist." in the chaos that follow, the brakes were applied, a police officer discharged his weapon. a search of the train found there was no threat. similar, around tel aviv, a car, supposedly a suspicious car, was chased, blocked off using roadblocks and a helicopter and two palestinian youths taken into custody before being released. once their suspicion was eventually cleared as well. you mentioned the fact that legal weapons owners in this country are being encouraged to carry their weapons here. it is all a sign of just how tense, how scared people are. and how difficult it is to police and secure the streets against the sorts of attacks we've been seeing here. young men, sometimes teenagers, sudd suddenly, without warning, attacking with knives and cleavers innocent people on the streets. it is a real security challenge. and that is why things remain very tense here in jerusalem
tonight, wolf. >> all right, be careful over there, phil, we'll stay in close touch with you. thank you very much. just ahead, senator rand paul's presidential campaign has a message for those naysayers out there who are not quitting. what about the pressure? ing sagging poll numbers, a whole lot more. here's a little healthy advice.
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senator rand paul's run for the white house, a focus of a lot of speculation. the republican senator from kentucky says he's in this race to stay. senator paul is joining us here live. thanks very much for coming. >> thanks for having me. >> we'll talk politics in a few moments. let's get your reaction to the president's decision today, reversal earlier, all u.s. troops basically were going to be out of afghanistan by the end
of next year. he says 10,000 will remain next year, 5,500 the year after. it's going to wind up costing u.s. taxpayers $15 billion a year to keep those troops there. good idea, bad idea? >> i think it's a mistake. it's also not what our founding fathers intended. our founding fathers intended when we were to go to war, congress would debate this and this would be approved or disapproved by congress. i don't know what our mission is. i would have voted for the original mission to go after those who attacked us on 9/11. we have bin laden. we have the people who attacked us. what are our mission? to build a nation? frankly, i'm not for having our military stay indefinitely to build a nation. >> presumably to make sure the taliban or isis in this particular case don't take over afghanistan from which they could build terrorist plots to do what they did on 9/11. >> why don't the local people defend themselves against the taliban? >> they're obviously not yet capable. so the u.s. is being asked to stay there and train them and equip them. >> how long?
it's been a decade. >> it's been 14 years. >> more than a decade. we've spent more in afghanistan using equivalent dollars than we did in the marshal plan. how much plan and how much money is it going to take? i think people will not stand up and defend themselves until they're asked to. the people who live in afghanistan should stand up and say do you want to let the taliban, these thugs, run you over? are you willing to fight? i think they would fight. we can aid them but i don't think we need troops there. >> you would get out right away? >> yeah, i don't think we need to be in afghanistan. >> immediately? >> yes. >> other controversy, hillary clinton criticizing your comments about same-sex rights in the workplace. you were asked if lgbt employees should be allowed to sue if they were fired over their sexual orientation and you said, i think really the things you do in your house, if you could just leave those in your house and it wouldn't have to be part of the workplace, to tell you the truth. then you said, i think society is rapidly changing. if you are gay, there are plenty
of places that will hire you. the criticism is that you're preventing these people from going to court, if you will, if they are fired or terminated or exploited because of their sexual orientation. >> i don't think anybody should be fired for being gay. i do also, though, believe your personal life should be personal and shouldn't affect anyone firing you. i don't think the decision whether to hire or fire you should be based on things from your personal life. when say it should remain in your house, yeah, i don't think it should be part of the decision making of the business. i might have been able to word it better but i don't think it should enter into the decision at all. >> the implication is -- let's say you're gay and the employees don't like the fact you're gay so they fire you. should that employee be allowed to go to court and sue? if you're an excellent employee, you haven't done anything wrong. shouldn't that employee have a right to go to court? >> i don't think anybody should be fired for being gay and i don't think their personal lives
should enter into whether we hire or fire anyone. whether or not that should be a federal law, i think these things should be decided at the state level. when our country was founded, we said that most criminal justice and most civil action would be performed at the local level. the federal government didn't have anything to do with it. i don't think the federal government should weigh in on things like this. should be decided state by state. i do worry about a workplace, though, where every sort of classification, a person then becomes something where, oh, i lost my job, maybe i'll see because i also happen to be gay. >> if you could prove it's because the employee -- >> it's always a he said/she said. nobody puts signs up saying that. what i'm saying is i think it should not enter into the workplace. in the sense you shouldn't be hired or fired because you're gay. >> let's talk a little about your quest to become the republican president ial nomine.
is the money drying up? >> the interesting thing is we've raised about $20 million between us and our superpacs. that's not an insignificant -- >> how much is the superpac? >> i don't know the exact number, i think it's 14 and 6. >> 14 for the superpac? >> 14 for us and 6 for the superpac. that's an approximate. i don't think all reports have come out. i do think raising $20 million is not an insignificant amount of money. we have about $150,000. this is not a significant movement. we have 600 precinct chairman. we get annoyed when they say, only raised 2 1/2, why is he in the races? really, have $150,000. we also have something significant to add. everybody's talking about iraq, i think it's the world's dumbest idea and the recipe for disaster and recipe for war.
if i'm not in the race, that voice doesn't get heard. a lot of americans are with me and think we need a more prudent foreign policy and would prefer to not have another war. >> the president doesn't support a no-fly zone. you're with bernie sanders at the same time. does that make you feel uncomfortable? >> i'm a fiscal conservative. i think you can be a fiscal conservative and also one who thinks less intervention is a good idea. i'm against the president in the sense that the president and hillary clinton have wanted to be involved in that civil war from the begin. i stood up to the president and said i don't want to bomb assad because i think that will make isis stronger. i stood up against the president and hillary clinton and said i don't want to send arms in there to fight against assad because that might create a space for radical islam. sure enough, that's what happened. i wouldn't say as simple as me supporting them, but on the no-fly zone, right now, russia has been inviteded by syria and by iraq to fly over their countries. they currently are flying over there. if you create a no-fly zone in the space where russia's already
flying, you're essentially saying we're going to shoot down russian aircraft. this is something we spent 70 years trying to avoid, was an altercation with russia. so it's a big mistake, a very naive approach. >> on the cash issue, the money you have, how much cash on hand do you have now? >> 2 million on hand. and even if we raise not a penny more, we'd have enough. we continue to raise money. it's gone up some since the last debate as well. there is a movement out there. in fact, when you poll me against hillary clinton, we lead her among independents in five of the battleground states. really, we think among the republicans, we have a better chance of beating hillary clinton than any other -- >> to beat hillary clinton, you have to first get the republican nomination. let me put some numbers up. our new polls in nevada, south carolina. these are among the first four contests in the country. right now, in nevada, you're at 2%. in is being is you're at 4%. you're not doing much better in iowa or new hampshire. the first two contests.
what's going on? >> the interesting thing about the polls is sometimes they have about 200 people polled. the standard of error -- >> this is a cnn/orc poll. >> seeing that -- >> it's the gold standard. it's siconsistent with other mainstream polls. >> most of the polling have a plus or minus, 4 or 5 standard points of error. which means could be my 5 is 10 or it could be 0 even according to what the pollsters are saying. when you look at all these polls, the first question they ask is are you decided. then they ask you, well, who would you vote for it you had to? this is a vote or a poll of undecide people. that's why it's very fluid. it won't wind up this way. >> these people, these are registered republicans or people leaning republican. we don't ask, you know, democrats -- >> i know, but the people in the poll will also tell you they're not firmly decided yet. they're leaning. they'll ask you, who would you support? so really is a poll of largely undecided people. i do think it's going to shift.
come january, we will be right in the mix and there will be four or five people that can possibly win iowa and i predict you won't know until late in the evening who wins iowa. >> i know the next republican debate is a couple of weeks or so, a cnbc debate. they'll have two tiers. one start at 6:00 p.m., one at 8:00 p.m. if you're not at 3% or so nationally in the national polls, you'll go in the second tier. if they put you in the second tier, will you participate? >> we've already seen the numbers and we know we'll be in the first tier. >> they've already told you? >> there's only one or two polls left and we're averaging well above the cutoff. >> the cutoff is 3%. >> i think it's 3 and we're way above the cutoff. mathematically, i don't think there's a way we could go below 3. our poll numbers seem to be ticking up. and as more people see that i'm the only voice really for not going back to war in iraq on the republican side, there are republicans who don't think war should be the first resort and are somewhat reticent to go back to iraq.
>> so you're in it at least for now, right? >> for the long haul. we've planned and organized in all 50 states. i wouldn't waste trying to get mooi message out. >> you don't think it's going to hurt getting re-elected? >> so far, no one's running against me. so it's hard to think i'm struggling when no one's running against me yet. i still spend a lot of time in kentucky, that's where i live, in kentucky, in bowling green. i spend a lot of time doing my job as a u.s. senator. i hope the people in kentucky will see i'm trying to give kentucky a bigger voice in the country. >> i know you sometimes do some medical work as well, volunteer. i know you were just in haiti and other places, took some time off to do that, which is obviously very important. senator, thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks for having me. >> up next, russia flexing its military muscles in syria right now, but are there controversial maneuvers also giving the west a gift? a glimpse into the new russian weaponry.
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russia's continuing its aerial assault in syria with 32 reported air strikes and a range of targets in just the past 24 hours. right now the russian president vladimir putin is taking aim, though, at the united states, for its refusal to sit down for direct talks over a possible solution in syria. a solution that includes a military and diplomat appointment. what is the u.s. position, has there been any progress in these preliminary talks with the russians over syria? >> purely over the issue of decon flexion in the skies. we do have word of positive progress. you have a lot of aircraft in that airspace.
u.s.-led coalition jets. now russian warplanes very active. in fact, more active than those u.s.-led coalition jets. they need to avoid dangerous conflicts in the sky. where they don't have any progress is on the larger issue of a political settlement. it's of the belief that russian priority is propping up the regime of syria's assad. while the u.s. may not want him to fall immediately, they don't see him as part of the solution, they see him as part of the problem. that's an issue where they have yet to find common ground. >> as you know, the russians are using a lot of newly developed military hardware in syria right now. is the syria operation an opportunity for the u.s. to actually see what russia has in its arsenal? >> it is. it's been sobering. this is the first major russian operation overseas really since the invasion of afghanistan in 1979. and you're seeing some new tools. the fruits of billions of dollars invested in their military in recent years by vladimir putin.
the su-34, a warplane that the u.s. calls the fullback. the sukoi-34, operating, as many strikes a day as u.s.-led coalition jets are carrying out in about a month. you have a new russian cruise missile fired from 900 miles away, from some analyst estimates, more capable than u.s. cruise missiles. beyond that, a coordinated large-scale deployment, far from its shores. that is an opportunity. and it's also a sign of russia's willingness to carry out and to use some of those military assetses to, you know, far from its shores. it's something the u.s. and people certainly in this building watching very closely. >> they're not just using those military assets occasionally, they're pounding and pounding and pounding. the number of air strikes on a daily basis, huge. a lot more than what the u.s. and its coalition partners have been doing in this, over the syrian skies. >> that's right. as much in a day as you're seeing in an average month from
the u.s.-led coalition. it's a show of force. and also probably under different rules of engagement. you know the concern that u.s. and coalition forces take to avoid civilian casualties. it's the criticism from this building that russia certainly doesn't take the same concern. you haven't heard reports of civilian casualties on the ground. the biggest criticism is the u.s. does not believe these strikes are really going after isis, they believe they're going after anyone who threatens the forces of bashar al assad because of real concern from russia, from iran, that he was teetering on the brink of collapse. >> jim sciutto at the pentagon for us, thank you. up next, we're going to catch up with hillary clinton on the campaign trail as her camp lashes out at the congressional benghazi select committee after yet another republican admits hillary clinton was personally targeted by the republicans on the panel. stay with us. with my moderate to severe ulcerative colitis, the possibility of a flare was almost always on my mind.
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and help stop joint damage. enbrel, the number one rheumatologist-prescribed biologic. let's get to politics. here in the united states, another republican congressman saying the house select committee on benghazi was designed to target hillary clinton. congressman hanna, of new york, is the second republican lawmaker to link the panel to partisan politics directly aimed at hurting secretary clinton. representative hanna not a member of that select benghazi committee but here's what he told a new york radio station. >> i think that there is a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, hillary clinton.
i think there's also a lot of it that's important that we needed to get to the bottom of this. but this has been the longest investigation, longer than watergate. >> hillary clinton's campaign says the congressman's comment is yet further proof the benghazi committee is, in their words, a partisan fars. farce. right now, she's campaigning in san antonio, texas. she's trying to build on the momentum from her strong performance at tuesday night's cnn democratic presidential debate. our national political reporter is traveling with the secretary. she's at san antonio, at a rally right now. quick to seize on these remarks by representative hanna. how is the campaign specifically responding? >> as you mentioned, they have long described this as a partisan farce. this morning, they came out and said this investigation has zero credibility. this is obviously galvanizing
her supporters. we talked to a lot of voters here in san antonio this morning before her event. basically, this is a partisan witch-hunt that is only helping to excite people about hillary clinton around the country. >> she gave her assessment of this week's democratic debate. what did she say? >> well, what's so fascinating she's here talking about immigration issues, getting her latino voters excited here. she started in south texas as an organizer talking about some of that history. but she used this event here to contrast the rhetoric of the democrats with the rhetoric of the republicans like donald trump, who she called the flamboyant front runner. they have had paranoia threaded through his remarks that's it's really been hurting the republican side and hillary is trying to reach out to latinos and it's clearly going to hurt the republicans as donald trump is making news remarks
throughout. >> i think we have a clip from hillary clinton. i want to play it, if we can cue that up. let's listen. >> you could see those two long republican debates and when they weren't insulting each other or some other person or group of people, they were not talking about the issues that are confronting our families or that are our nation faces. so i was proud to be on that stage with democrats who are focused on dealing with everything from how we're going to raise incomes, how we're going to make. the wealthy pay their fair share, how we're going to make college affordable. all of the issues that we were talking about. so i came out of it very pleased that the country had a chance to hear an alternative to the prejudice and paranoia that we're hearing from the other side led by their flamboyant front runner.
>> flamboyant runner, that would be donald trump. >> standby, i want to go to the pentagon, the defense secretary ash carter is speaking out answering questions about the latest u.s. decision to keep u.s. troops in afghanistan. >> our top military leaders, national security team, nato allies and the government of afghanistan, the president announced his decision to maintain our current force posture of 9,800 troops through most of next year. by january 2017, u.s. forces will draw down to 5,500 troops. and they will be deployed at several locations around afghanistan including kabul, kandahar and ji lal bad in support of two enduring missions opinion our counterterrorism
effort and support to the afghan security forces. we're adjusting our presence based on conditions on the ground to give the united states and our allies the capability to sustain a robust counterterrorism platform, denying a safe haven for terrorist organizations. this will keep americans safer back home. these changing take into account the progress of afghan forces and the partnership we have form ed with the president. afghan forces have proven thmss to be capable and resilient fighters who are able to provide security for afghanistan. they have performed admirably this fighting season, the first for which the responsibility to fight the taliban has fallen squarely on their shoulders. but taliban advances underscore
the reality that this and remains a difficult fight. we understand they still need assistance and we're working closely with the national defense and security forces and ministries to ensure that they are prepared to protect the afghan people and set iting the conditions for stability in this vital region. this extends, by the way, beyond our u.s. military presence and includes financial. the u.s. military's presence and financial sustainment will enable the afghan security forces to continue their development as anned a jiel and forces capable of meeting security forces and partnering with terrorist exploitation of the region.
it sends a strong message to the international community that the united states is committed to afghanistan and intent on fostering stability over the long-term. we anticipate that the u.s. commitment will in turn garner the coalition that u.s. forces have operated with. we are securing their continued support for this mission. over time, we will reduce our footprint in afghanistan but not our commitment to the country and its people. back in march during his first official visit to the u.s., president gauny came to the pentagon and did something important to all of us here. he said thank you to the men and women of the forces that they have made over the last 14 years. he he visited arlington national
cemetery to remember the fallen. it was an important message. today we deliver our own message to the afghan people. we're with you. we support you. and we're not going to give up the gains we fought so hard to achieve. thank you and now i'll take some questions. >> mr. secretary, what do you say to critic who is suggest that the 5,500 level isn't enough to do both the counterterrorism mission and the training and advise mission. do you see that number as an enduring long-term troop level for some years to come after that? >> we do look at enough. we do a lot of homework on this and it's the reason for that number of troop level, but also the locations that is important
and i want to make sure we. keep track of the funding, which is vitally important. those are the ingredients of continuing to prosecute the mission in a way that can be successful. so that is what we judged, myself and chairman. to the second part of your question, which was is it going to be 5,500 forever. that is our best estimate now of what we should plan for in our planning for and budgeting for for 2017. i think that in the future, these will be decisions that a future president will take in that timeframe and i'll presume we'll make judgments the way president obama has, namely to take into account circumstances as they pertained at the time
and make whatever adjustments seem necessary at the time. this was our advice to the president for what would be sufficient and good basis for planning for 2017. >> the president today talked about the end of the u.s. combat mission in afghanistan. does that mean the that the u.s. military will no longer provide combat support to the afghan forces, such as the airstrikes in kunduz a few weeks ago? >> it's not a part of the mission on a day-to-day basis to engage in combat. our mission on a day-to-day basis is, and will continue to be, first of all, counterterrorism operations such as, for example, the one we conducted with the afghans just
a week ago, which was very successful in destroying a major part of the remaining al qaeda presence in afghanistan. that kind of thing. and secondly, the train, advise and assist part of the mission. the commander does retain the authority to use u.s. forces for, first of all, force protection and succeedly, in extremist support to afghan security forces. both of those things. now you asked about kunduz and just to remind you there, we don't know yet everything that happened there. general campbell as knowledged that a mistake was made. i have ordered him to conduct and he is committed to conduct and i'm sure he will a full and transparent investigation. the answer to your question is has ended and our mission now.
>> have you personally seen the video from that airstrike or either heard or read transcripts of any cockpit audio recordings. >> i have gotten periodic records, but i'm waiting for the full investigation. this is a situation we need to put all the facts together and make sure that every participant has an tournament tor interview. you're talking about one particular kind of data, but there's other data as well. and make sure we have the full story. i'm going to want the full story because. i think we have promised the world that we would give the facts when we have the facts.