tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN November 12, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PST
tackling the suicide bomber. his leg was almost blown off but he's able to stand strong on it today after three years at walter reed medical center and 33 surgeries. we're so lucky to have men and women like that who serve our nation. that's it for "the lead." jake tapper turning you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. suicide massacre. isis claims it carried out twin bombings in the middle east capital leaving dozens of people dead, hundreds wounded. and the terror group issues a chilling new threat against russia. is it launching a new global jihad? striking back, u.s. troops on the ground in iraq calling in air strikes as kurdish allies launch a major offensive to take back a strategic town from isis. could this be a turning point? i'll ask a former nato supreme allied commander. u.s. terror arrest. an alleged isis sympathizer in ohio is accused of soliciting the murder of u.s. military personnel posting their names, their addresses and their photos
online. and power purge. a key member of north korea's inner circle seems to be missing. is kim jong-un once again turning on those closest to him in a move to consolidate his control over the communist state? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." let's get right to the breaking news. new signs that isis is extending its reach. the terror group is now claiming responsibility for a pair of suicide bombings which killed at least 41 people, wounded 200 others in a shiite neighborhood of beirut. the area's a stronghold of lebanon's hezbollah which is backing the syrian regime in that bloody civil war next door. as russia does its part to prop up the syrian regime, isis releases a chilling new video threatening to also attack russia very soon and warning that the blood will spill like an ocean.
and a major offensive underway against isis riekt new in iraq. the pentagon says u.s. troops are now on the ground directing air strikes in support of kurdish forces trying to take back the town of sinjar. that's where isis massacred thousands of men and boys from the area's yazidi minority. and sold girls and women into slavery. i'll speak about all of this and more with the former nato supreme allied commander, retired general wesley clark. and our correspondents, analysts and guests they'll have full coverage of the day's top stories. let's begin with that bloody twin bombing in beirut today where dozens of people were killed in a massacre now being claimed by isis. our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto is tracking the latest developments for us. jim, what are you learning? >> wolf, this was the deadliest attack in lebanon in two years. and could have been worse. we're hearing of one, perhaps two additional bombers who weren't able to successfully detonate their explosives. this is a harsh defeat for security of hezbollah.
it had stepped up that security after attacks in recent months. security that failed here. the explosions struck during the height of rush hour. on an open market just south of beirut, coordinated, powerful and deadly. first, one suicide blast draws a crowd of onlookers. a second blast strikes that crowd, maximizing casualties. this man said he was praying when the blast blew a door right over his head. the victims carried by bystanders over rubble from damaged buildings and rushed to nearby hospitals. >> the twin suicide bombing went off the area is mostly empty, it's been cordoned off by the army. otherwise there's a lot of shattered glass on the street, a lot of blood. and it's really just a scene of chaos and carnage.
>> reporter: within hours isis claimed responsibility. this neighborhood is a stronghold of hezbollah, the lebanese militia fighting alongside bashar al assad's regime in syria. isis' sworn enemy there. >> isil doesn't think of itself as having borders. let's remember while you say isis, i say isil, they say i.s., the islamic state, seeing themselves as trying to establish a caliphate which means an islamic government covering all the areas where muslims live today in the world. and so lebanon is just going to be seen as another battlefield. >> we know that isis has operatives inside lebanon and has attempted other operations before including kidnappings across the border from syria. these attacks of course come on the same day of a renewed offensive against isis in iraq involving kurdish and u.s. forces and some degree, wolf, you can see this almost as an expansion of the syria war. syria got the assad regime versus isis backed up by hezbollah. here you have in lebanon,
hezbollah, assad's backer versus isis across the border inside lebanon. >> isis clearly expanding not only in iraq and syria but now in lebanon, in sinai, in egypt, in libya, it's all over the place right now. >> expanding the war and their terror attacks. >> they certainly are. thanks very much, jim sciutto, for that. i want to bring in paul cruickshank, he's been working his sources has new information on how this awful attack in beirut was carried out. paul, what have you learned? >> wolf, this comes just in from lebanese security sources says one of the four suicide bombers was taken alive and has begun talking saying he was part of a four-man isis cell dispatched from syria to lebanon to carry out this attack saying he arrived in lebanon two days ago, that this cell comprised of two palestinian nationals, two lebanese nationals. the person they have in custody being a lebanese national from
tripoli in the north of lebanon which has been a hotbed of islamic militancy. and the lebanese security services at this point believe that this was an isis cell dispatched to lebanon by the senior leadership of the group in syria to carry out this deadly attack. it could have been a lot worse. there was one other suicide bomber who was killed in the initial blast from the first two suicide bombings before he managed to detonate his suicide vest. so this could have been at least twice as bad. obviously a terrible casualty count today in lebanon, wolf. >> awful situation this war clearly now expanding from neighboring syria into lebanon. standby, we're going to get back to you, paul. but i want to get to that other major breaking story that we're following. the big offensive in northern iraq right now where u.s. troops they are on the ground, they are on the ground playing a key role as thousands of kurdish fighters try to drive isis out of the town of sinjar. we sit on a key isis supply
route. let's go to our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. you have news on the u.s. role in this new kurdish-led military offensive. what are you learning? >> wolf, it is extraordinary. there are now as we speak a number of u.s. special operations forces on sinjar mountain. boots on the ground. there's no way around it. they are on sinjar mountain and they are helping the local kurdish peshmerga fighters who are in the battle to get their city back they are helping them call in air strikes. the pentagon very much standing on formality saying the u.s. troops are now calling in the strikes themselves. but they are standing right next to the peshmerga fighters with their binoculars looking out, looking for targets and helping the peshmerga call in u.s. air strikes to defeat isis. we are told this has only happened once before. last month in a battle near kir kuk. this is an expansion of the typical job that the u.s. troops are doing there as trainers and as advisers.
no way around it. so why are they doing it in sinjar? why is sinjar so important to americans beyond the horror that isis certainly has inflicted on people there, because of the geography. it sits on a highway right between raqqa, isis' capital over in syria, and mosul, isis' big grip on mosul in iraq. what they want to do, what the u.s. wants to do is break isis' grip by cutting the highway where all these cities sit and cutting that supply line from raqqa in syria over to mosul. it's what they hope to achieve. it is why they are there. wolf. >> critical battle under way right now, thanks very much for that, barbara. i want to go to our senior international correspondent nick paton walsh. he's right near the front lines of this fight to retake sinjar. nick, tell us what you've been seeing where you are. >> reporter: concerted push from 9:00 yesterday, wolf, in the
evening. beginning really in the early hours of the morning. we were with the peshmerga, large numbers of them backed by u.s. planes in the air as they moved around to the west of the city aiming themselves at that key supply route. here's what we saw. the sun broke bringing with it a vast trail of peshmerga pushing for a new dawn of their own against isis. crawling around the back of mt. sinjar. their advance long expected and aimed here at sinjar's western flank. isis beaten back by dozens of coalition air strikes, barely a local vehicle left standing. they've asked for new weapons, but used what they had facing traps all around. their mortars and continued air strikes had one key target, the highway that runs through sinjar. in just afternoon they took it, starving isis' east of supplies
from syria. isis are just 500 meters potentially in that direction but also down this road where also lies raqqa, the caliphate's self-declared capital. this is why this road is so vital to the peshmerga and the coalition. they need to seize it to keep it to separate the isis part of iraq and their part of syria. isis won't give up the town though without burning it first. once home to thousands of yazidis they persecuted, it's being retaken by kurds. some suspicious of the other local group, the sunni arabs there. the local arabs here are all with isis, this local commander says. throughout the day one mushroom cloud after another, isis car bombs. some beaten back by a new peshmerga weapon from the west, the milan missile, which stops the suicide bombers in their
tracks. this is what one did to an isis car, melting this pistol flat. sinjar's urban sprawl too could be flattened if isis choose to fight in it. the first day's bravado taking the kurds far, but not to victory. wolf, look at the bigger picture here. washington very keen to see some sort of success story emerge from their anti-isis operation here. and this perhaps a test case. can they get the peshmerga to rally in sufficient number? we saw the answer to that today was yes. can they put the right number of air strikes in to let them hold the new ground they take? that seems to be the case when it comes to route 47, that vital supply line we saw today. but really can they harness these kind of tactics for the real challenge ahead, the fight for mosul and maybe the fight for raqqa. they're a pipe dream frankly months off from now, but success in sinjar, which we still haven't definitively seen yet that i have still got to fight for urban sprawl in the days ahead. that could be a very welcome signal, wolf. >> that battle clearly not over
yet. we'll see how long it takes, nick, please be careful over there. nick paton walsh on the ground for us in iraq. joining us now is former nato supreme allied commander retired u.s. army general wesley clark. i want your reaction first to the breaking news. these four suicide bombers, two lebanese, two palestinian, you heard paul cruickshank break the news here in "the situation room." they're telling investigators they were dispatched from syria by isis to carry out this suicide bombing in beirut in this shiite area. when you hear that kind of expansion of the isis activity, it's chilling because they're really going after targets well beyond iraq and syria right now. >> that's right. isis is a geostrategic force. to us they look like terrorists, but to them what they're fighting is iran and iran's allies, hezbollah. and shia militancy. >> but they're also fighting the russians if you believe their
claim they were the ones who brought down that russian airliner with 224 people onboard. isis says they did it. >> yes. they did bring down a russian airliner, but they also struck at president sisi in egypt because that was a strategic blow against egypt's economy. it cuts off their tourism dollar flow. >> so what is the real goal of isis right now? they've got their own problems in sinjar as we just heard from nick paton walsh. they've got a battle under there with the peshmerga, the kurdish fighters, u.s. special operations forces they're on the ground helping coordinate u.s.-led air strikes against isis. but isis is moving in all sorts of directions even as they fight goes on. >> that's right. isis is consolidating its grip on the territories it has. it's going to try to prove its ability to hold sinjar, i would presume. it's working against the egyptians in sinai. it's also working against the egyptians through its forces in libya. and so this is a cancer on the
middle east, but it's a g geostrategic cancer, not a religious cancer. it's simply using sunni nationalism or sunni ideology to recruit a bunch of zellouts. >> general clark, i need you to standby. we're going to take a quick break. we're getting indications the russians they're about to retaliate against isis. we'll have much more right after this.
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our breaking news. isis says it carried out deadly twin bombings in beirut. and according to a source a captured attacker says he and three others were sent by isis to lebanon from syria. we're back with retired u.s. army general wesley clark, former nato supreme allied commander. in the past two days, general, two key members of the senate intelligence committee including the chairman, they both told me that they expect russia to retaliate against isis for the downing of that metrojet plane with 224 people onboard. and to do it within the next day or two. what do you think the russian response will be? >> well, i think if they direct some of their air power against isis targets, that would be helpful. and i think that's the easiest response for them to make.
the question is do they have the intelligence to get the right targets? >> james one of the members of the senate intelligence committee, he didn't rule out the possibility, and i want your assessme assessment, that the russians could even attack, launch air strikes against isis targets in sinai, which of course is egypt. you think that's realistic the russians might consider doing that? >> well, if they -- there has been some communication between the russians and the egyptians. there have been some military talks, i'm told, at relatively high levels in general. so they may have channels of communication to be able to do this. but i'd like to see the russians go in syria and instead of attacking the free syrian army to put their weight of their combat power against the isis headquarters around raqqa. >> would you like to see greater cooperation, military cooperation between the u.s. and russia intelligence cooperation, for example, in deciding which isis targets to hit? >> well, that's a tough question
because you've got to protect sources and methods here. remember at the top level the russian government or the u.s. government don't share the same objectives. russia wants to expand its footprint in the middle east and keep assad there although they're at some point going to accept a settlement and push him aside. the united states says he's got to leave. russia's supporting iran, the united states is supporting saudi arabia and they're at opposite ends of the pole in the vienna talks. so it's a complicated agenda, but could there be more collaboration? there could be. but got to be very careful on the intelligence sharing. >> you're the former nato supreme allied commander. here's a question, why is nato invisible in this war against isis right now? nato is involved in afghanistan, but it's clearly invisible in this war. why? >> i think there's a lot of discussion behind the scenes as to what and how nato should work. nato's in the process of strengthening positions in eastern europe in response to the scare that russia drove into the hearts of the east europeans
with its actions in ukraine. at the same time nato nations are worried about the refugees that are coming out of the middle east through turkey. now, i think it would be a logical thing that if we could get a cease-fire established, and that's one of the things that's been talked about at the vienna talks, that maybe nato could put a monitoring force on the ground in that area. after a cease-fire. to help provide the assurance, let the free syrian army and its political leadership come in and set something up. i think those options -- those discussions are under way behind the scenes. but they're moving slowly. and they may not result in any nato activity. >> general clark, thanks for joining us. >> thank you. coming up, an exclusive talk with the u.s. general who's been coordinating this international fight against isis. a stark warning about the global war on terror. and later, an ominous change in the elite inner circle around north korea's dangerous leader kim jong-un. (vo) what's your dog food's first ingredient?
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let's get back to the breaking news. isis now claiming responsibility for deadly twin bombings in beirut and threatening bloody attacks against russia even as a major offensive is under way right now against the terror group in northern iraq. in a cnn exclusive our global affairs correspondent elise labott sat down with the
outgoing u.s. point man for the coalition fighting isis. elise is with us right now. this terror group clearly extending its global reach right now. >> that's right, wolf. well, you know a year ago president obama tapped the u.s., one of the most u.s. distinguished public servants, a former top commander in iraq and afghanistan for a challenging new mission to build a coalition to defeat isis. back then the enemy was contained to iraq and syria, now isis has morphed into the world's most preeminent global terror organization. and as he prepares to leave the battle, general john allen says the lessons learned will be key if the u.s. ever wants to finish the job. >> the far left -- >> reporter: a stark warning about repeating mistakes of the past. >> we're fighting with a radicalization in an environment where people can be easily radicalized, become extremist and ultimately join a terrorist group. if we don't get to the left of those symptoms and try to solve these underlying circumstances, working collaboratively with those who are in the region, who
best understand the region, then we're going to be condemned to fight forever. >> reporter: today, the fight against isis returned to where it began, sinjar mountain. a year into the campaign against isis, the kurds are now emerging as the u.s. most reliable partners in iraq and syria. but air strikes by key allies like saudi arabia, the uae and jordan have all been stopped. if the arab nations are not willing to be part of this military coalition, why should the u.s. be holding the bag here? >> we should not measure the contribution to the arab nation solely on whether they're flying missions over syria. the saudis for example have been very aggressive in providing support on the humanitarian level. in fact, they've given one of the largest single humanitarian contributions to help the people of iraq and syria early along in the crisis. the emirates have been genuinely serious -- >> but you want to defeat this group. >> there's arab leadership
within the coalition. i'd be careful about measuring the success based solely on numbers of air strikes in syria. >> reporter: when he took the job a year ago, allen says the situation in iraq and syria was dire. >> a year later we find daesh shrunken significantly. we find that there has been about 14,000 or so iraqis that have been trained. we have partners on the ground in syria. we have the capacity to work much more closely with turkey. so in that space of a year we've seen real evolution. i think the one area where obviously very attentive now is the expansion of daesh beyond the region. and we're watching that very closely as well. >> reporter: allen says lone wolf attacks worldwide and the growth of isis affiliates throughout the region shows isis global reach is on the rise. >> we want to address each part of it. bear down hard on the center. bear down hard on the core with the coalition. work regionally, bilaterally or
multilaterally against the individual provinces. and then understand the network in the context of where there are vulnerabilities in a network that can be taken down to collapse the network or corrupt the network. >> which ones right now are you looking at that concern you the most? >> we're going to watch very closely the one in libya. we're attentive to the organization in the sinai. clearly the one in the north caucasus is going to be a problem that the russians are going to have to deal with for some period of time. >> reporter: the downing of a russian commercial airliner by isis' sinai affiliate a potential game changer. moscow now in isis crosshairs over its intervention in syria. has russian intervention made isis stronger? >> it certainly hasn't hurt isis in my mind. >> reporter: the u.s. recently abandoned a $500 million effort to train and equip syrian rebels to fight isis after only a handful of fighters made it to the battlefield. why did they fail?
>> when you want individuals to concentrate on daesh who on a day-to-day basis or moment to moment is worrying about the regime is going to blow up their neighborhood or the future of the assad regime, that's a difficult challenge and a difficult choice to put before them. >> reporter: a new strategy to rely on kurds and other syrian groups, allen says, is starting to bear fruit. but with president obama now sending in special forces to syria, u.s. involvement only seems to be deepening. when you first took this job when we first sat down you said this conflict is going to be long. it's going to be years. how many more people are going to occupy this chair, do you think, before the job is done? >> my hope is maybe one. >> reporter: is that realistic? >> no, i think we're going to be at this for some time. whether we need someone that fulfills my duties or not remains to be determined. but i still, as i said that day a long time ago when you and i sat down for the first time, i still believe this is going to be a long conflict. >> reporter: after 45 years on
the front lines, general allen says what he'll miss most is the people working with the troops and the u.s. diplomats who risk their lives to keep america safe. for now he'll be at the brookings institution in washington, but he did tell me he would come off the bench if he gets the call from the president. i don't think we've seen the last of him, wolf. a remarkable public servant. >> thanks very much, elise, for that report. coming up, the war against global terrorism hits home right here in the united states. get this, a u.s. man has now been accused of spreading terrorist propaganda trying to recruit people to kill members of the u.s. military right here in the united states. also, an ominous sign that another member of north korean leader kim jong-un's inner circle has fallen from grace. is the perfect ingredientves for catching up with family. so she takes the time to prepare a perfectly flaky crust made from scratch, and mixes crisp vegetables with all white meat chicken in a delicious gravy. ♪ because marie callender knows that making the perfect dinner
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following breaking news. new case of alleged domestic terrorism. federal authorities arrested an ohio man today accusing him of spreading isis propaganda, exposing personal information about members of the u.s. military and urging people to murder those members of the u.s. military. our justice reporter evan perez is joining us. he's got details. very disturbing case, evan. what have you learned? >> well, wolf, exactly. we've seen dozens of these cases but this one is very novel. this akron, ohio man is charged with soliciting the murder of u.s. military members. and what he did was simply re-post files on tumblr published on the internet by isis. one file read target united states military.
it included pictures and names and addresses of u.s. military members. and it included a photograph with a knife and a gun. and it said -- a text that said, kill them wherever you find them. we took a look at his facebook and tumblr accounts and they contain plenty of posts expressing support for isis and attacks in iraq and syria. and others are simply cheering terror attacks even here at home. one of those posts says i can't wait for another 9/11, boston bombing or sandy hook. and another says somebody should park a car bomb in front of a church, school or mall. now, none of those posts actually break the law. posting those isis files with military members personal data went too far. and the justice department says that crossed a line into soliciting murder. some civil libertarians think that the justice department is going too far in trying to criminalize speech online, wolf. >> this is though part of a larger effort by the u.s. to try to shut down isis' u.s. online
recruitment efforts, right? >> that's right. that's right. back in august the u.s. military killed the isis' most prominent recruiter and propagandaist online, wolf. and last month the justice department working with malaysian authorities, malaysian authorities arrested a malaysian based blogger who's the one that actually stole all this information allegedly, the information that this gentleman today was posting -- is charged with posting, wolf. he stole the personal information of this u.s. military members. and sent it over to the isis hackers. and so what we're watching for now is what effect this has on isis recruitment. we've been told by u.s. officials that since the death of junaid hussein in august, the number of americans traveling overseas to try to join isis has gone way down. >> evan perez, very disturbing story indeed. thanks very much.
joining us now peter bergen, phil mudd, former cia official and mark hertling. phil, you just heard evan's very disturbing report. so are u.s. military members in danger right now? >> i think absolutely. i don't know how you would make an argument another way. let's do the arrhythmia tick here. we've already seen isis inspired attacks on the military in the united states. and isis has talked about the military being a legitimate target. in their eyes a far more legitimate target than a civilian who doesn't carry a weapon and won't be deployed overseas. add that to two other pieces of this arithmetic. finally, the number of isis sympathizers in the united states, the fbi has talked about hundreds going overseas. you've got to assume that behind that is thousands of people in the united states who are sympathizers. if you think one or two of them won't look at this and take the message that says just find somebody on facebook and attack them, i don't know how you do
that math. >> so, general hertling, how should members of the u.s. military respond to these threats? >> wolf, i'll give you the normal party line is we have forced protection measures. we constantly brief our soldiers and our military members on how to take care of themselves. but the real fact of the matter is we are at total war. we have been in a total war for a long time. and there are very little front line deviations between what we face every day and what we face in combat. there's very little differences. and we have to be ready for these kinds of attacks. i think the combination of what the intelligence communities are doing along with the homeland security, the fbi, the cia and the military is just trying our very best to make sure we thwart these kinds of attacks when you're not on the front line of the battlefield. >> general hertling, moving onto what's going on in iraq right now. kurdish fighters launched military offensive to try to take back that strategically important city of sinjar from
isis control. u.s. air power is there, u.s. special military operations helping to coordinate some of those air strikes. would more u.s. troops be needed though if this military offensive against isis in sinjar is going to be successful? >> potentially, yes, wolf. and we've said this from the very beginning and i know all the military commanders have said when other forces in the area, when the indigenous forces step up and when the government is not sectarian and they start applying forces across the board, then we will step up with them. we've seen a gradual increases in that. it's not mission creep, it's just, hey, they have done these things, we will help them. we've said that from the very beginning. so, yes, i think as either the peshmerga or the iraqi security forces improve and continue on with different attacks in areas, we may see more u.s. forces involved certainly. >> phil, how long could this offensive last? >> i think longer than we want to be comfortable with.
americans watching this are going to have hope here looking at 7,500 kurdish forces having success against isis. that hope though is not a plan. let me give you a reason why i would be discouraged about anticipating a short time here. fight against kobani, that's four months to fight for one city in iraq. number two, when did the fight first start accelerating against isis? that's summer of 2014. more than a year ago. third and final number, what's the average duration of an insurgency like this? you're going to measure that in ten or 20 years. so anybody looking at this saying, hey, this gives me hope that we can roll this up against isis because they represent an ideology that's so corrupt, i would say step back. this is months for the city, years for the counterinsurgency. >> peter, isis now claiming responsibility for the twin bombings in beirut today, killing and injuring hundreds of people, brutal suicide massacre. any reason to doubt isis when they say they did it? >> i don't think so. i mean, the targets set it was
in southern beirut in an area with a lot of shia. and isis is a, you know, anti-shia organization. in the absence of anybody else coming forward, i think we have to take this claim of responsibility. >> so basically this is payback the lebanese hezbollah group which supports bashar al assad's regime in damascus backed by iran as well because they're fighting against isis in syria. isis now moves in from syria, moves into beirut and employees up the shia neighborhood. >> yep. and hezbollah and isis are two of the most effective groups fighting in syria. they're fighting each other. >> well, let me ask phil, what can be done to stop this if anything? >> not much. i think the bottom line whether you're talking about a bombing in beirut, which is not that far obviously from syria, a recruitment of kids in the united states is we can talk about preventive measures, for example how you improve border security in lebanon, or how you pick up people on tumblr in the united states who are posting
photos or comments about the fight. but until you eliminate the magnet of safe haven, that is until a kid in the united states or isis bombers going into syria from lebanon don't have a space that they can call a state, i think you're going to have people drawn to the fight because they believe this is not just a local fight. this is a fight where isis represents sunnis against hezbollah who are shia and against iran who are shia. this is a sunni-shia fight, not justice is-bashar assad fight. >> thanks very much. coming up, another top official in kim jong-un's inner circle drops from sight. is the unpredictable north korean leader consolidating his power, or is he running scared? i have type 2 diabetes. i started with pills. and now i take a long-acting insulin at night. i take mine in the morning. i was trying to eat right, stay active. but i wasn't reaching my a1c goal anymore. man: my doctor says diabetes changes over time. it gets harder to control blood sugar spikes after i eat and get to goal.
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tonight we're following an ominous change with kim jong un's inner circle. brian, what could this mean? >> wolf, it appears kim jong un is displaying ruthlessness and pledging a party leader close to him. the move so significant that a south korean official is publicly saying they are looking into it. a u.s. official says i'm is solidifying his position as a leader. analysts call it a sign of brutality and a bone-chilling signal to those around him. an ominous sign kim jong un may have eliminated another person from his inner circle, considered one of kim's closest right hand man was not seen recently with names of officials planning a funeral for a top
military leader and did not show up for the funeral. >> that says he's likely been purged or sidelined from the top elites. this would be a significant event unless he's on his death bed he would attend this kind of funeral. >> reporter: why was cho purged? it could have been incompetence, betrayal or possibly an internal dispute with others in kim's circle over shady business deals. >> the north korean regime, the easiest way for most americans to understand it is think of it as sparanos, drama, families representing different clicks are vying for power? >> reporter: the news agency says he has been sent to the hire party school in east pyongyang where they undergo brutal psychological conditioning and interrogation. north koreans call it education. >> it's not a country club.
it is almost certainly a very grueling process where there is physical and mental abuse and strength. >> reporter: experts say cho may not have been executed because he's the-- revolutionariry hero but he doesn't shy away from killing legendary figures. he reportedly was killed with an anti-aircraft gun. south korean officials say he's executed more than 70 top officials since taking power four years ago. >> i think what we're seeing is a very protracted power consolidation process in which the leadership is acting in very ruthless ways, very not subtle ways to gain leadership within the system. >> reporter: but analysts say kim's ruthless purges could backfire on him. they say it could be that no one
close to kim feels safe and no matter how loyal they are, they could be betrayed and raises questions how secure kim himself is within his own circle, wolf? >> could this purged official actually come back, this cho? >> he could. he's done it before. we're told he once had a top position in north korea's military and once almost the second most powerful person in all of north korea and demoted and disappeared last year then came back in another position. he is survived because his father was such a close ally. kim jung's didn't have the protection and his uncle was protected. >> there is no sign kim jong un is giving up any power? >> no, if anything he's consolidating like his father and grandfather did before him. the difference is he's killing more people along the way. >> brian todd reporting for us. thanks very much. coming up, u.s. troops, ground
troops, they are there in iraq calling in air strikes as kurdish allies launch a major military offense to try to take back a strategic town from isis but isis is releasing furry. pilots and planes put at risk as lasers are aimed at 20 commercial aircraft in one night. the future belongs to the fast. and to help you accelerate, we've created a new company... one totally focused on what's next for your business. the true partnership where people,technology and ideas push everyone forward. accelerating innovation. accelerating transformation. accelerating next. hewlett packard enterprise.
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terrorists are threatening a bigger target vowing that blood will spill in russia. america strikes back, the united states is now engaged in a major new military offense against isis with war planes in the air and special operations forces on the ground. tonight, the president's isis warrfares they may fight the terror group forever. taser dispute, the man that died in police custody after officers used a taser on him at least 18 times. stand by for new information on the $25 million lawsuit filed by the family. >> blinding danger, more than 20 aircraft struck by lasers overnight. a shocking series of incidents that could have caused multiple crashes. was there a coordinated plan of attack? we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're "the situation room."
>> this is cnn breaking news. >> the breaking news, isis claiming responsibility for a pair of deadly suicide bombings as the terror group wages brutal and expanding war around the world. at least 41 are dead, more than 21 wounded. cnn learned one attacker survived and now telling investigators he's an isis recruit. also tonight, isis is out with a new video vowing to attack russia very soon and warning that blood will spill like an ocean. the threat comes at signs that russia may be preparing a new strike against isis in retaliation for the downing of its airliner in egypt and right now, the united states is engaged in a major new offense with special operation troops on the ground directing punishing air strikes. coalition forces are backing to retake the city of sinjar in the
grip of isis for more than a year. the chairman of the house committee is standing by live covering the breaking news. up first, national security correspondent jim sciutto about the attackers. >> wolf, a busy market in south beirut at the height of rush hour. the first blast attacked a crowd, the bomber struck to maximize casualties. isis claiming responsibility via social media. sources telling our analyst paul and myself that two other attackers appeared to have been part of the plot. one killed by that first blast, another apparently captured by the police. he is now talking and lebanese police investigating his claim he and others were dispatched to lebanon from syria by isis.
this is the deadliest attack in twoer y eyears. the assad regime, isis' sworn enemy there in this attack. you see the syria civil war spilling into lebanon and wolf, as if we needed it, more evidence of isis' ability to carry out terror attacks abroad. >> this is taking place as isis a making threats of their own. >> a chilling new warning, this one directed at russia and administration official telling me as evidence grows, that it was an isis bomb that took down that russian passenger jet over sinai. russia is very likely to react under pressure from the russian population and now you have isis putting russia on notice in effect for more acts of terror. >> reporter: from isis a new threat to a new enemy, russia chanting in russian and showing
video of russian cities, the terror group threatens attacks there very soon. what the video does not mention is the russian passenger jet downed over the sinai peninsula in egypt. still, with growing evidence, the loss of metrojet 9268 was the result of a bomb planted by isis, u.s. officials and lawmakers are anticipating a firm russian response. >> knowing putin, i don't think he's going to back away from this. i think he's going to ratchet up rather than ratchet down and those people in the sinai responsible are probably thinking about where is the biggest rock they can get under. >> reporter: administration officials say they are in contact with russian counter parts but moscow has not detailed any military plans. to date, russia's air strikes in syria focused on defending the forces of bashar al-assad rather than targeting isis. frustrating u.s. officials. both sides are now taking part in peace talks in vienna
starting tomorrow mapping a potential path to peace in syria. but moscow and washington still differ over the key question whether assad can stay. >> we have our ideas and this discussion will be an opportunity to try to see the extent to which we can forge a common way forward. >> reporter: i asked administration official if the u.s. expects russia to become a more helpful partner against isis following the sinai crash and was told that is a choice the russians have to make. that same official repeated a familiar warning from the obama administration russia's military campaign in syria makes them more of a target of isis and wolf, that is something russia and the u.s. share. >> isis clearly expanding its reach as we speak now. now to the united states' war against isis with military action in the air and on the
ground. part of an intense military offense to try and retake a stronghold in northern iraq. let's bring in our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. the u.s., i understand playing a very important role in this latest fight. >> very significant and very different, wolf. there are a number of u.s. special forces right in the middle especially of the battle for sinjar. the pentagon insists they will be safe. u.s. special operations troops are now on the ground a top sinjar mountain. >> there are some advisors who are on sinjar mountain assisting in the selection of air strike targets. >> reporter: the pentagon refuses to official recall them forward air controllers which are military personnel in a combat zone that pick out targets for air strikes. >> they are working directly with peshmerga forces in determining exactly where the most effective air strikes would be conducted. >> reporter: the pentagon has resisted putting targeting
forces in the field until now. it's only happened once before, last month near kirkook. they defended more than 50 isis positions. taking sinjar back from isis is considered vital, more than 7,000 peshmerga kurdish military fighters are involved. the city sits on highway 47, the primary isis supply route between raqqa and mosul under the firm grip of isis. >> isis is two primary capitals and seizing sinjar we'll cut that line of communication which we believe will construct isis' ability to resupply and the critical first step. >> reporter: cnn witnessed directly the horror isis inflicted here on sinjar. last year, some 50,000 fled to
the mountain to escape the isis on slot. about 5,000 men and boys in sinjar and nearby villages were massacred according to u.n. estimates while teenage girls and women were sold into slavery. the question now can the ultimate goal pushing isis out of its stronghold really succeed? >> for sinjar, i believe that's going to take weeks for mosul, i believe the iraqi security forces and the peshmerga forces are going to need months before they are able to go into mosul and retake that from isis. it will not be -- >> peshmerga fighters say they are making some gains in the sinjar fight but it's always the question if they make the gains, can they hold on to them, wolf? >> barbara you're getting breaking news at the pentagon where you are a top military aid removed. what happened? >> fired by defense secretary
ash carter, really a shocking development at the pentagon. people are very surprised. carter today has fired his top military aid three star lieutenant general ronald lewis. you see him there. all anyone is being told is general lewis was removed from his job as carter's top assistant over allegations of misconduct. we are not told what they were that are being invest gated by the inspector general and of course, it should be said these are allegations and he is innocent of all of this or any of it unless and until proven other wise but make no mistake, this is a shock. general lewis has worked for the defense secretary in various jobs over the years. these are two men that know each other well. his job is very powerful. he basically controls the flow of paper, if you will, people and meetings that defense secretary ash carter is involved in. someone carter has relied on for many years, wolf. >> barbara, thanks very much.
obviously disturbing development over there. let's talk about all of this. the breaking news we're following, the chairman of the house foreign affairs committee, ed rice of california joins us live. mr. chairman, thanks very much for joining us. have you heard anything at all about this report barbara just told us lieutenant general ron lewis fired by ash carter? >> i had not and was briefed today but that had not come up. >> that's disturbing. let's talk about what is going on in beirut. hundreds of people killed and injured in shiite neighborhood in south beirut. isis claims responsibility. has the u.s. actually confirmed that isis did this? >> i don't think there is any question and i have had consolations on this today. isis clearly carried this out. very cowardly act if you look at the attack on the bakery inside the market, that was primarily women and children and you look
at the attack outside of the mosque, the shiite mask and you see this pronouncement they are attacking because they are apostates, the same reason for aseeties or christians or kurds. this is their m.o. and claimed credit and it is good that we now have in custody one of the attackers clearly u.s. forces and lebanese armed forces are going to have to work very closely together on this security question because what you see in lebanon today, wolf, is one quarter of that population are people fleeing from syria and obviously, what happened was isis embedded their suicide bombers with that population. >> the lebanese sources tell our terrorism analyst paul, one of them taken alive. is there a suspicion now that isis really wants to expand this
war because hasballah is helping bashar al-assad's regime in syria and isis wants to retaliate by the taking the war into lebanon? >> i've seen that argument. wolf, remember from the outset, isis claimed a caliphate for the entire middle region and specifically said that lebanon is part of their caliphate. so it's very much in character for them to be pushing this war in north africa, in lebanon. certainly throughout the region. >> let's talk a little bit about this battle that's happening in sinjar right now in northern iraq. u.s. troops, they are on the ground special operations forces, calling in u.s. air strikes to help the peshmerga, the kurdish fighters who are taking the lead on the ground. is this going to succeed, the taking of sinjar because it's strategically located between
raqqua? >> i would like to see the primary focus on arming the kurdish forces as well as aseeties and the most passionate stories i've heard are from women from sinjar who survived and as you know, many of those girls and women were taken as sex slaves by isis. you have a highly motivated population in the 180,000 troops that are in the peshmerga, the kurdish peshmerga and increasingly have men who athat to fight but you need the armorments. we haven't been able to get administration to transfer the types of artillery, long-range mortars and things they need. we can call in air strikes but at the end of the day what we need to do is give them the weaponry to defend them selves
and defeat isis and sinjar. they tell us they don't have weapons to match what isis has in their command. >> according to our nick paton walsh there, the iraqi military is nowhere in sight. this is a kurdish war going on. mr. chairman, stand by. we have more to talk about including what russia might do to retaliate against isis for downing that commercial airliner in sinai. what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple veggie dish ever? heart healthy california walnuts. the best simple dinner ever? heart healthy california walnuts.
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we're back with the chairman of the foreign house affairs. stand by. u.s. war planes and ground troops supporting a new military offensive in northern iraq and a top u.s. official in america's war against isis is speaking out, this on his last day on the job. let's bring in our global affairs correspondent. you had an exclusive interview with the point man in the war against isis. what did he tell you? >> wolf, we did general alan's first interview and right there a limited campaign. the u.s. was not going to put troops on the ground there. it was now isis morphed into a global organization, russian intervention complicated the
effort in syria and with the u.s. sending special forces into iraq and syria, it seems as if the u.s. involvement in syria is only deepening. it looks as if the u.s. is getting more military entrenched in the conflict. is this mission creep? >> no, i don't think so. this is a -- this decision has been under consideration for sometime, and i would say that we should view this as the right kind of next step for us to be connected to those groups on the ground that we have provided support to. vetted groups that have been successful on the ground. this provides us the capacity to advice them forward. it provides them connectivity back into our own support system. and that's the role they are playing. they will not be in combat with these groups. >> as you step down in the two wars that you most recently had a leadership role in, they are still on going.
since you left the battle field, some would argue even worse 14 years afghanistan taliban is thriving. 12 years after the invasion of iraq, the boarders between iraq and syria are in effect gone right now and a terror group is running the area. what lesson has the u.s. not learned about this region and how do you learn that lesson to be able to finish the job now? >> i think the lesson that the u.s. has learned in fact is the emphasis put on this in the last year, that is solving in a comprehensive and collaborative way with our partners. these underlying social economic and political subcurrents that the underlying causes which take hope from large segments of the population that give large elements within countries no access to the institutions of
government, no hope for a descent job. no way to bring their children up. no hope for education. if we don't get to the left of those symptoms and try to solve these underlying circumstances working collaboratively with those who are in the region who best understand the region, then we're going to be condemned to fight forever. >> and that's why the general alan said the u.s. is looking at some of these affiliates, wolf, across the globe. that is where their concern is. after 45 years of service, looking forward to spending time with his family but said if the president called, he could come off the bench. i don't think we've seen the last of it. >> let's get back to the chairman of the foreign affairs committee. you heard general alan says isis has a growing global reach. are you concerned mr. chairman there won't be a buy in unless the u.s. is directly attacked, the u.s. will basically let others deal with isis on the
ground in syria and iraq. >> the reality here, wolf, is that every time isis is successful in an operation, they use it for recruiting and recruiting all over the world. we're not immune in the united states. there are several hundred u.s. fighters not theater that left here to fight for isis. the question is how many will return here? regardless of whether we declare, you know, our hostility to isis, they have already declared their hostility to our way of life. their entire focus is on what they can do to spread terror and bring converse to the cause in order to convert everyone for this caliphate. so whether we like it or not, we're in this struggle. >> the chairman of the senate intelligence committee, richard burr told me he believes isis likely intentionally hit russia downing that russian airliner in sinai with 224 people on board.
is isis in your analysis directly picking a fight with russia because they want some sort of global jihad? >> they do want a global jihad and the chatter two days before that attack between the sinai and syria where they have headquarters indicated their focus on this mission and subsequently after the attack they have taken credit for the attack and we've been able to monitor the followup and now indeed in looking through the luggage, the briefings that i've had, it's pretty clear that, you know, as the plane came down, you can tell by the way when an explosion goes off, the way that it has an impact on the conta containers and luggage racks and so forth and the initial information indicates they are correct in terms of what they are telling the world they did carry out an attack. >> the recorder from isis central, the so-called
caliphate's headquarters through their isis affiliate and supporters in sinai, those 224 people on board are dead. secretary kerry spoke to fareed zakaria today about this fight against isis, mr. chairman, listen to this. >> major disruptions to the leadership and command and control of isil. their terror has been shrunk by 17,000 kilometers. there is a difference in the way they operate as a result of our operations, and i believe that when you combine what is happening in iraq with what is happening in syria, there is an enormous amount of pressure continually being ramped up with respect to isil. ultimately, we want more forces on the ground to do it. not ours. they will have to be people on the ground. >> you agree with that relatively upbeat assessment that isis now apparently is on
the run? >> well, remember, isis has just carried out two attacks in lebanon and one in the sinai in egypt and what i have seen in terms of their operations in west africa and north africa, central asia indicates that the process of expansion for isis and the recruitment which you can access on the internet is not slowing and i don't think it will slow until there really is a major defeat and it doesn't look like destiny is with them or they can no longer say we can't be defeated on the battle field. that is again why it is so important that these kurdish forces, 30% of which are women are given weaponry since they are the ones engaged on the ground. given the weaponry to be successful in the war and why we have to shut down the schools
that are financed out of gulf states by major families in the gulf states that exist in central asia and africa in the middle east. those schools are a training ground for radicalization into jihad. i'm speaking specifically about those schools. something has to be done to get nations to close those schools within their boarders. >> mr. chairman, thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks. this programming note to our viewers, you can watch the full interview with secretary kerry on fareed zakaria this sunday at 10:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. eastern. the man that died in custody after being tasing tased multips by police. lasers pointed at more than 20 aircraft overnight across the united states putting pilots and planes at risk. are these incidents connected?
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the video, new details. this case is playing out in court. >> that's right. the defense attorneys appear in court disputing some of the worlds in the civil suit and said the officers are now being treated after this video surfaced showing them si simultaneously tasing a man who later died. >> reporter: today in federal court, lawyers for the virginia police officers scene here using a stun gun multiple times on a man in handcuffs argued publicity around the $25 million lawsuit filed against them has led to death threats. tonight, cnn learned a local prosecutor is still reviewing a state investigation into the case which is now garnering national attention. it started with 911 calls complaining about noise in a hotel in south boston, virginia where 46-year-old linwood lambert was staying in may 2013. when police arrived, they found him acting erratic and decided
to take him to the e.r. >> we're going to take you to the emergency room and get you looked at and make sure you good to go. >> reporter: but once at the hospital, police video shows lambert kicking out the patrol car window. he runs straight into the closed emergency room doors. the officers surround him and start tasing him. lambert admits he's on drugs and asks for help. >> i just did cocaine, man. >> reporter: instead, police shackle his legs and put him back in a police car. >> obviously, the scenario change from a mental health observation to one of ka stoed yell. they placed him under arrest and followed procedures. >> reporter: officers take lambert from outside the hospital to the police station, but by the time they arrive, he appears to be unconscious. video later shows an ambulance returning to the same e.r. with lambert and he was pronounced dead. his family has filed a $25 million lawsuit alleging
excessive force and negligence arguing in part that quote while the defendants were depriving him of necessary medical treatment, lambert suffered cardiac arrest and death in violation of his rights. south boston police department and three officers involved denied these claims. a statement from their attorney says in part quote, we are vigorously defending the case. our position is reaffirmed by the reports of two independent well-qualified experts in the field. taser logs show the officers pull the trigger 18 times with one officer using the taser 15 times, it's unclear how many times lambert was actually struck. >> it is a common practice for multiple officers to fire their taser because you need the darts to correctly seat into the person's body. every time you use that taser, every time you zap somebody with that taser even after you deploy it, you have to give a reason why. there has to be a reason why you continue to use that taser. >> reporter: while lambert's
autopsy revealed three punctures suggestive of taser bashes, the coroner ruled the death an accident of intoxication. and none of the officers involved have been charged. the prosecutor says she is still reviewing this case saying this is an extremely serious matter requiring serious deliberation but wolf, we learned today virginia state police handed over the findings of the investigation in october of 2013. it's been two and a half years the prosecutor has been looking at this case. >> thanks for that. let's get more on what is going on with our senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin and legal analyst joey jackson. you think as a result of what lambert's family is now saying it was unconscionable to use the taser this many times, do police need to rethink how they use these tasers? >> you know, the issue is always are the police threatened and that's the example, that's the defense you always hear.
>> or the public. >> or the public. right. here it certainly seems like he was right by the emergency room perhaps he should have been just brought to the emergency room and given treatment rather than put back in the police car but it is always very difficult for prosecutors, juries to look cops in the eye and say what you did was wrong and especially in a circumstance where you have a violent person who if the autopsy is correct, was suffering from acute cocaine intoxication, most jurors, everyone in circumstances like this don't simpympathize with t plaintiff. >> if he did die as the autopsy said, from a cocaine overdose, the police would go tree as part of this lawsuit, right? >> i'm not sure about that, wolf and i'll tell you why. at the time that evaluation and opinion and analysis was given, apparently the medical examiner did not have the benefit of
evaluating the videotape and it's very telling. it's troubling in as much as these officers who deployed the taser and used this force and went against department regulations were not even administratively disciplined so now there is a lute and the prosecutors alleging they are reviewing and elaborating and investigating and it's been two and a half years. when someone is shackled and not posing a threat, when someone is unarmed, it is an unconstitutional seizure to do what they did and so ultimately and they need tasers for sure. it's a dangerous world and you have to exercise caution because people can die. >> the police say we're using tasers so we don't use our guns. so again, that's another fact -- >> supposedly they are non-lethal.
>> exactly. they will argue that in the first place but certainly there is no excuse for an investigation going on for two and a half years. that is too long. >> thanks very much. just ahead, war breaks out between the republican presidential candidates over immigration. tonight, the verbal bombshells they are flying. plus, 20 aircraft across the united states hit by laser lights overnight endangering the lives of everyone on board. we're learning new information. stand by. ♪ prepare for challenges specific to your business by working with trusted advisors
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a fierce fight over immigration is rocking the republican race for the white house now. donald trump, ted cruz, marco rubio, jeb bush are engaged in a war of words withthe eventual presidential nominee. athena jones is joining us. this battle seems to be heating up. >> reporter: hi, wolf, it is and a lot of republicans and democrats believe this fight over illegal immigration will hurt the gop's chances in 2016. still, it doesn't look like it's going to end any time soon. >> i don't care what donald trump says, talk to the people on the boarder and they will tell you this. >> it's not compassion et if i'm saying i'm going to give away your job. >> reporter: the flight in the republican party over illegal immigration shaking up the race
for the white house. >> trueman also sent 3.5 million people out. >> reporter: party front runner donald trump defending his controversial plan to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. >> we would do it in a very humane way. >> reporter: ted cruz and marco rubio trading punches. >> talk is cheap. when the fight was being fought, where did you stand? >> reporter: crews blasting rubio for being part of the failed effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. >> when politicians are saying the exact opposite of what they have done in office, i treat that with a healthy degree of skepticism. >> reporter: rubio today calling out cruz saying his rival backs a path to legal status. >> ted is a supporter of legalizing people. i don't think our positions are dramatically different. >> reporter: rubio disagrees with trump's plan. >> there will be people that have to be deported. we'll enforce immigration laws.
that being said, i don't think it's reasonable to say you'll round up and deport 11 million people. >> reporter: jeb bush favors a path to legal status. >> it's not amnesty to say over a ten-year period you earn it. you're not cut income line for people patiently waiting and you can make a contribution that way. >> reporter: ben carson suggesting he, too, is open to some kind of legal status, proposing a six-month registration period that would require a background check. >> they would have to pay a back tax penalty and have to continue to pay taxes going forward, but they would no longer have to live in the shadows. >> reporter: and one more thing, this trip to iowa is the first one where trump has secret service protection. things are looking quite a bit different at this event here tonight, wolf. >> ben carson he has secret service protection, as well. thanks very much. let's get more on what is going on. joining us, dana bash and chief political analyst gloria
boringer and reporter manu raj. listen to what trump just told abc news. >> i think the name of the operation tells you something about the dangers of looking backwards. imagine the images on the screen flashed around the world as we were dragging parents away from their children and putting them in, what, detention centers and then systematically sending them out. nobody thinks that's realistic but that's not what we are as americans. >> what's his message to the gop presidential field, dana. >> he's say thing is ridiculous the concept of trying to deport 11 approximately or more undocumented immigrants in this country but look, the reality of the politics now is that the more that president obama says that, the more republicans who a, can't stand him to begin with
and b, blame him for using his executive power and going around congress to deal with some of the immigration problems, that's going to kind of get their back up. the more interesting debate, of course, has been going on within the republican party and presidential field with john kasich saying virtually what president obama said and even jeb bush saying that. so it really does, i think, i think the more important issue now is within the republican party because anything that president obama says, vis-a-vis republican voters is toxic and nothing more. >> such an explosive issue and gloria, let's not forget the president, president obama has been criticized by hispanics and others on his left because since he took office, some 2 million people have been deported from the united states on his watch. one of his critics in the hispanic committee called him deporter in chief. he's got an issue on that, as well. >> you compare what president obama has done to what donald
trump is suggesting that you do and it's -- you know, there are different ends of a spectrum. a little reality check. dana points out republicans are having an internal debate in the party but it's being played out nationally in their presidential debates and you look at how republicans have done with hispanic voter, mitt romney got 27%. george w. bush got 40%. last election, barack obama got 71%. so while this may work for republican primary voters, it's not going to work in a general election if they actually want to win. they have to find someway to appeal to his ppanic voters and that's the line jeb bush is walking and marco rubio is walking. >> you've been doing reporting on where exactly he fits into this battle because clearly john kasich was going after donald trump, jeb bush was going after donald trump. where is marco rubio?
>> wolf, two years ago, marco rubio's advisors told him not to get involved in this immigration issue and now we know why. he's been twisted in knots on this issue whether or not to give a pathway to citizen 11 mi illegally after co-arthuring that bill, that comprehensive bill, he abandoned that effort and said that we need to pass pieces of immigration reform and now he's been -- when asked about the 11 million, he says he's still open to that pathway to citizenship, assuming we get these other issues off the force. the alabama republican today said that any republican candidate who backs a pathway to citizenship should drop out of the race and expect more of that criticism to come in the days and nights to come. >> and a very long path of citizenship? >> the gang of eight and he gets
criticized for working with chuck schumer on this whole issue a couple of years ago. that's like for a lot of these republicans, almost like a kiss of death. >> well, it is. that's why he backed off of it. i mean, this is a man who had presidential ambitions and it was at the base of the republican party and that's why he's twisting now on this particular issue and, you know, kasich is out there, bush is out there and rubio now who is positioned very well in the republican primaries has to navigate a path and the problem is with the republican primary voters, there isn't a middle path. >> exactly. that's exactly right. there isn't much of a middle path. i thought what rubio tried to do, when he was talking to reporters on the campaign trail today, was quite clever. he was saying there's a lot i have in common with ted cruz on immigration and picked out the parts of that reform plan that was talked about that are
relatively noncontroversial with republicans, increasing h1-b visas, our green cards, things like that. of course, leaving the elephant in the room off the table which, of course, is the thing that people on the republican side in the party that are going to vote on this issue care most about, which is the path to citizenship or, as ted cruz calls it, amnesty. by the way, at the top of the hour, donald trump talks about immigration with our erin burnett. "outfront" at the top of the hour right after "the situation room." just ahead, blinding laser lights aimed at more than 20 planes across the united states in a single night distracting pilots, endangering pilots'. were these coordinated attacks? is it run by robots? no no, you can talk to a person anytime. 'cause i don't trust robots. right...well, if the portfolio you're invested in doesn't
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we're following an alarming problem with planes reporting incidents over 18 major cities in the united states and puerto rico. let's bring in our aviation correspondent rene marsh. what are you learning? >> tonight, the faa and police are struggling to deal with the increase in laser strikes nationwide. we know that there were several laser strikes in multiple states. the faa saying that more than 20 aircraft across the country were struck. more often than not, the suspects get away. you're about to see the takedown of a man tonight charged with a
felony charge all because of this incident that you're seeing there. >> i see the people involved right now. they are walking in and out of the building. >> reporter: this news helicopter pilot in new york caught on camera. the alleged culprit behind a laser beam attack overnight. >> hitting us right now, don't look, george. you think this is a joke, huh? >> reporter: one of the men is now charged with felony reckless endangerment. >> making arrests. that's perfect. >> reporter: the second news helicopter struck 20 minutes later near new york liberty airport in new jersey. across the country on wednesday, more than 20 aircraft were hit by lasers in ten states and puerto rico. >> if it doesn't do any temporary blindness, it's a distraction and tantamount to attempted homicide.
>> i saw it out of the corner of my eye and a few more times it hit the top of our cockpit. >> reporter: these dangerous incidents have increased steadily in recent years. through october of 2015, there were more than 5,000 reports of laser strikes on aircraft. up from nearly 4,000 in all of 2014. that, compared to less than 400 back in 2006. >> and banning the sale of long-ranged high-powered lasers, pilots want tougher penalties to help keep offenders from striking again. >> this is a federal crime. the faa advising people they can report these incidents by dialing 911. we have seen other cases where people have been caught. the california man was sentenced to more than two years behind bars, wolf. >> rene, thanks very much.
good report. that's it for me. remember, you can always follow me on twitter. tweet @wolfblitzer. in the meantime, thanks for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. donald trump one on one, you'll hear the republican front-runner defend his plan point by point and you won't believe what he says about ben carson's plan and marco rubio. and terror attack kills at least two dozen people. a death of an unarmed black man repeatedly tased by police officers. let's go "outfront." >> good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, president obama weighing in on donald trump