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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  July 15, 2016 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT

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harm or death to an unborn baby. don't take entresto with an ace inhibitor or aliskiren. if you've had angioedema while taking an ace or arb medicine, don't take entresto. the most serious side effects are angioedema, low blood pressure... ...kidney problems, or high potassium in your blood. ♪ tomorrow, tomorrow i love ya, tomorrow.♪ ask your heart doctor about entresto. and help make tomorrow possible. ♪ you're only a day away ♪ welcome back. we have been following very fast-moving fragmentary and sometimes conflicting developments in america's nato ally, turkey. already we have seen a coup attempt, some kind of counter-coup, a popular outpouring on the streets. there have been confrontations between the elements of the military and security forces and between people and troops as well. you are seeing one of those confrontations that we witnessed about an hour or so ago.
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we have heard gunfire just about 20 minutes ago, what are believed to be multiple explosions in istanbul and ankara although some people have also been confused because of low-flying fighter jets which to some people have sounded like explosions. the reuters news agency reporting that turkish legislators are taking shelter in parliament building. our sister network, cnn turk, was taken off the air by members of the coup, by soldiers apparently who entered the building. that you see the broadcast, nobody obviously behind the anchor desk anymore. plus a presidential source saying that the president of turkey has actually returned, flown into istanbul. his exact location now, not clear. a lot, to say the least, is in flux. we begin with jeff kell on the phone from the airport in istanbul. jeff, i understand did you yourself hear an explosion? >> what happened just now, was a
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big bang and it did rattle the windows and the walls of the airport, and people were running in a panic. but to say explosion, i can't be sure. most of the people i have spoken to are on the assumption it was possibly a sonic boom, possibly from erdogan's corps of jets that have come in. information trickling through is very minimal at the moment. it's possible that it was an explosion but i'll say the sonic boom was aircraft more likely. >> that's an important point. someone else we talked to a short time ago also heard initially what she thought was an explosion but then started to think it was a sonic boom of low-flying aircraft. who's in control of the airport in istanbul? is it the erdogan supporters? >> good question. at the moment, no one is.
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all shops are closed. the checkpoint security, they are manning security but you can pretty much walk in and out if you want. >> i'm sorry? >> sorry. i just lost you for a second. it was not more than an hour ago when up to maybe 1,000 or so protesters stormed straight into the terminal. >> we are showing our viewers -- >> -- the turkish flag and they were chanting in favor of the military coup. they all came in progression through the airport, on to the tarmac and so there was a calm sense about it. it goes from calm to panic off and on every 20 minutes or so. >> the pictures we're showing
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are from an hour or so ago. large numbers of people streaming toward the airport. you say the ones you saw were actually supporters of the coup? >> yeah. they said they were in support of the military coup. they also said that they -- what's happening now is going to be the right fix. in essence, what they were happy about was -- they're not sure if it was the right option. it was kind of half-hearted. >> if you are at the airport now, are there soldiers at the airport now, pro-coup soldiers?
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>> no. no soldiers at all. there are a couple security with guns. less security here now than what there was three hours ago when i arrived. people are kind of doing their own thing, just having a drink, sitting down. it's all very -- people are trying to stay as calm as they can and just waiting and seeing if flights will come in. i'm pretty doubtful it's going to happen by the looks of it. >> the answer to this is probably don't know, but we heard a report according to a presidential source telling us that erdogan had returned to the airport, had flown back into the airport in istanbul. can you confirm that and if so, do you have any idea where he went from there? if he's -- >> no. i'm sorry, i don't know. there was talk he was doing that
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and that's what that sonic boom was a half hour ago but this is all speculation. i can't confirm it. >> all right. >> it may just be [ inaudible ]. >> thank you, jeff. be careful out there. at the top of the last hour we spoke with someone in istanbul who had heard gunfire, perhaps explosions. there has been more happening where she is. she's back on the phone. explain where you are to our viewers and what you have been hearing and seeing. >> i'm right now at the four seasons bosphorus so we can see the bridge from the hotel. there was a small group of people who were outside on the terrace, trying to see what was going on, listen to what was going on. we heard two bombs in the last hour and the fighter planes going right over us and the last one, everyone just got up and ran inside. it was just so loud. we have heard nonstop gunshots.
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it sounds like it's coming from the side right at the bridge because the bridge is just left of us, but we have not seen any other americans here and for the last few days, because i have been here working, really have not seen many tourists, i think because of the other bombing in the airport. just a small group of people are here and the hotel has just put us on lockdown. >> let me ask you, you said you heard two bombs. are you sure they were -- and planes flying overhead. are you sure they were bombs and not like a sonic boom from a low-flying fighter aircraft? >> i'm not 100% sure. >> so you didn't actually see -- >> they sounded like they were bombs. >> you didn't actually see two explosions or aftermath of fire or anything like that? >> no. we can't see that much because it's very dark. it's middle of the night. but we're hearing a lot. so we're hearing the gunshots
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and as soon as the first explosion that we heard happened, the hotel shut off all the lights outside. it went completely dark right after, then literally seconds later, one of the fighter planes flew over. we had probably about five passing fighter planes literally right overhead. >> and the hotel, you said it's in lockdown. is that from soldiers or is that from the hotel personnel? >> it's from the military. because we originally had called the hotel to try to get a ride back here when the news came out, and they said they couldn't do anything. the military shut them down. and we came -- >> so as far -- my point -- >> -- then finally walked over here. >> my question really is, as far as you know right now, are there pro-coup soldiers still outside
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the hotel? >> there probably are. they are not letting anybody out. so for example when we came in, there were some people here having dinner, i guess, who wanted to go back to their homes and they are not letting anybody out or in. right now. i mean, they are letting people in i guess who are staying here because they let us in. but we came pretty -- after the news came out. right now, no one is moving anywhere. >> again, be careful. i'm glad you're in a place of relative safety. with us now is cnn chief national security correspondent jim sciutto. jim, according to at least the report from a presidential source telling us that erdogan landed in is ttanbulistanbul, h heard anything from him? are his whereabouts known? >> there are pictures of him on social media being swarmed by crowds of supporters at istanbul airport and there was talk that he would make an address from istanbul. keep in mind he used to be the
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mayor of istanbul so he has some local support there. but we have not heard from him since that now famous and remarkable image of him making his statement via facetime on a cell phone held up on one of the state broadcasters there. i have been speaking to u.s. officials and just as a measure of how confusing this situation is, we are watching this, we are confused because you see in some areas people confronting the soldiers. elsewhere, i'm seeing videos of soldiers and helicopters firing on the people. that's what we see. we are confused. u.s. officials watching this are confused as well. they are still assessing the situation. i was just told by a senior u.s. official that they are in touch with their turkish counterparts. those lines of communication are open but that's not giving the u.s. frankly a clear picture of what is happening there right now. that is the status. that is the assessment. it is a confusing one. and what is clear is that the situation appears to be
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different in different parts of the country. >> jim, also let me show you the images which we have seen before, these are soldiers being marched away it looks by sort of plain clothes police officers. it looks like the soldiers have been taken into custody, assuming those are pro-coup soldiers. the people taking them away, some of them are wearing ballistic vests which indicates they are police officers or some sort of intelligence unit but at the very least police officers which are more aligned, the police force really aligned with erdogan. we have also just been getting some disturbing information, social media images post tod twitter, document the aftermath of rebel military fire on anti-coup street protests on the bridge over the bosphorus. at least five bodies in civilian clothes could be seen torn apart by what appear to be heavy weapons fire off camera, a voice could be heard reassuring the wounded that an ambulance is coming. we should point out that earlier in the evening witnesses said they did see soldiers shooting at anti-coup protesters on the
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bridge. in fact, we were broadcasting some images, i'm not sure if it's from that area, of people ducking on the streets. i believe it was from that area, from close to the bridge, but clearly, there was live fire going on toward those pro-government protesters. so jim, we will continue to check in with you, jim sciutto. a lot happening here. the situation is changing very, very quickly. cannot be overstated, turkey is nato's second largest military member. america's forward base in the fight against isis. this has critical implications for u.s. policy moving forward in the region. cnn's barbara starr joins us from the pentagon. the obama administration, what side are they on in this? >> reporter: well, the statements in the last hours have been very strong in support of the erdogan government because it is, regardless of politics, the democratically elected government of turkey and the u.s. supports democratically
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elected governments no matter how controversial they are. now tonight, the problem for the obama administration is where does it all go from here. whether the coup succeeds or fails, if there is martial law, which it is said that there is tonight, this becomes a situation that makes it very difficult for the u.s. to maintain that military relationship with turkey, because the u.s. doesn't work with countries where there's martial law generally speaking, does not work with countries where there's military coups by force, generally speaking. the issue of course is, turkey provides the base down south at incirlik. that's where isis strikes are launched from. the u.s. wants access to that base. so will this calm down, will the u.s. be able to stay there. but tonight, the bottom line as you look at the streets, you look at all these pictures, one of the largest military forces in nato is not fully under the command and control of the
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central government. that alone is an amazing development. >> i want to bring in fareed zakaria. you know turkey extraordinarily well. what's at stake here? >> what's striking about what's going on here, i think it's even more messy than we have been describing. there is clearly a division within the turkish military. this is not a military coup. this is not -- the turkish military -- >> not a military coup in the traditional sense of senior officers overthrowing the government. >> the general of the army making a decision top down, the entire army is in lockstep with them. they have done that three times before. they once did it in what was called a soft coup. the army was completely unified. you would never have seen what you're seeing right now. what is clear here is there is some division in the army. the chief of the army staff has not issued any declarations. my sources in turkey tell me there are senior generals who have said they do not support this. so this is -- we are all
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speculating here but it has all the hallmarks of some faction within the army. >> erdogan and his supporters are saying these are lower level troops. >> right. we don't know, you know, the validity of that. but turkey has had three coups and one soft coup. this has none of the hallmarks of that. this seems much more chaotic, much more messy, as you were describing, the airport is not even secured by anybody. you are now going to get into some period of great, great disturbance and the one thing to remind people is this looks a little bit like egypt. you had a democratically elected government, morsi was the elected president. the difference is, morsi was narrowly elected and was deeply unpopular. erdogan is the most popular politician in turkey in 75 years, since the founding of turkey, since ataturk himself. so this is going to be very messy. he's not going to go quietly into the night. my guess is there are a lot of army officers who recognize
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that. so i can't imagine this will resolve itself very quickly. >> stay with us. i also want to bring in ivan watson and military analyst, retired lieutenant general mark hertling. general, just in terms muof how this coup was kind of brought together and actually carried out, the fact that they didn't apprehend or try to arrest the prime minister, perhaps they tried but they failed to arrest the prime minister or the president, that sort of is coup 101, isn't it? >> it is, if the president is in the capital at the time. as we now know, he was away on vacation. it's relatively easy to try a coup when the president is out of country or somewhere else. i think that was part of the coup planning. but you're right, it is extremely difficult to conduct a coup in any way. this is a very secretive thing. you have to have the support of a lot of people in order to get
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the troops going and at the same time, not letting anybody know you're doing it. with a force of about 500,000, that's the size of the turkish army, to have them rolling in the streets in multiple places throughout the country, in a country where the population is 70 million or plus, that's very challenging. what you have seen tonight, though, is we're looking at it all through a soda straw. i personally don't think this is over, not by a long shot. a lot of people are saying the coup's complete. this is going to go on for awhile, in my view. what we're seeing is soda straw approaches to different locations. we have been watching istanbul. that's a city of about 20 million people and that's where, when the coup leaders say stay home, we are placing things under martial law and the president says come on out and support me on the street, his supporters are all going to go out at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 2:00 in the morning where the other side will stay home. i think we will see more activity tomorrow significantly.
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i agree with fareed, this is an element of the turkish army, not the entire army. but i know from my experiences over there, there were a lot of disgruntled senior leaders in the turkish army based on the 200 or so generals and admirals that were court martialed by mr. erdogan in the early part of this decade. >> i think the general makes an incredibly important point, one fareed was making off air, which is we don't know the situation in ankara, frankly. all the images we are seeing really are from out of istanbul. many of them are no longer even live at this point. and this thing, for all reports of it being over, according to the pro-erdogan supporters and parts of the military, we have no evidence that it's over. >> we have heard reports, difficult to confirm, of some kind of explosions at the turkish parliament in ankara, reports that some of the lawmakers there took to the basement to kind of take cover
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there. we know that the headquarters of state media trt, the state tv channel, initially announced that the coup had taken over and then the same anchor woman several hours later came out saying i was forced to read that by soldiers at gunpoint, now the government has retaken control of the state media, trt. we still see the live image of our sister network cnn turk and the surreal scene of an empty studio after alleged coup soldiers forced our colleagues off the air within the last hour. you know, there's one important thing and that is the turkish president erdogan's very complicated relationship throughout history with the military. when his party was first elected in 2002, the top generals basically ran the country. erdogan spent years kind of
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politically jousting with them when sometimes they would make public statements criticizing the elected government. over the course of the next 14, 15 years, erdogan proved very effective at marshalling his supporters, at winning elections and referendums and basically beating the military at the game of politics. then eventually, arresting hundreds and hundreds of generals and navy admirals in these wide-ranging investigations that were alleged coup plots. so erdogan's been talking about coups almost since he was first elected in 2002. why? because in the previous half century, turkey went through no less than four military coups. it had much history with that. but in the last couple years, erdogan had -- >> ivan, this is erdogan addressing the nation. let's listen in. sorry. there's no translation of this one. we are listening to it. we will tell you what he said as soon as we are able to translate
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it. we have folks listening in right now. but ivan, the fact that he is able to actually address the nation, is in a position to, that is obviously yet another step in trying to stop this coup, to have the president on television being able to speak to the nation is critical. >> again, as you point out, this is a sign the coup is not very well planned. if the first step is you arrest the president, the second step is you control all media. we also have reports now that the leader of the opposition, erdogan's democratically elected opposition has come out and made a statement supporting erdogan, opposing the coup. >> i want to bring in editor in chief of cnn turk, the anchor who was forced off the air. what is the situation with cnn turk? who was it who came in, what happened? >> an hour ago, they entered the
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building and they forced my colleague to leave the building. story by story they came up to the top level where the anchor and studio is and at gunpoint we had to evacuate the floor. i'm still in the building. most of my colleagues are in the building because right at that moment, a group of people entered the premises. they were pro-government demonstrators. they first gathered in the courtyard and then at the door, at the entrance. the police intervened and rather
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tense moments, we experienced rather tense moments. there was at least one shot that i heard. i don't know whether there were any others. demonstrators are still in the building and they are chanting soldiers out, soldiers out. as far as i know, the police and the soldiers are on the first floor. i'm afraid their life might be in danger. the demonstrators are very angry so they don't take them right out. >> that's an incredible situation that you have described. soldiers, pro-coup soldiers entering, forcing your anchors off the air, then demonstrators who i guess saw your broadcast,
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or maybe perhaps saw the helicopter landing coming in the building, stopping the soldiers and the police coming in who are pro-erdogan, arresting and apprehending the soldiers and now protecting the soldiers. do you know, is the helicopter still in the parking lot? >> from where i stand right now, i can't see the parking lot. but i assume the helicopter is still there, yeah. >> so what do you do now? this is a bizarre situation. what do you do? >> right now, we are in a standoff. the demonstrators are literally occupying the building and they basically -- the police first acted as a buffer between the two groups. right now, as far as i can understand from our security people, they are protecting the
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soldiers and at one point, i assume we will be able to convince demonstrators that their purpose has been fulfilled and if they leave the building or withdraw to a safe distance, the police will get the soldiers out. right now, across the country in various places, the soldiers who took part in this attempted coup are arrested so that's going to be another case. >> so do you know what the status of the coup is at this point? i know obviously you have been dealing with your own situation in your own building. are you getting reports from ankara and elsewhere? >> i think [ inaudible ]
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president erdogan came back to istanbul. it might be sporadic but i think that would in the coming hours. >> ferhat -- >> but, but i know the reaction of the people on the street [ inaudible ]. >> that was motivated by erdogan coming forward telling people to go out in the streets and a lot of the mosques also -- >> yeah, but it had already started before that call. >> it had? >> yes. we had already seen people coming out already before the calls. >> ferhat, i appreciate talking to you. it's going to be a long night for you and a long couple days. i appreciate you taking the time. good luck to you.
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out of turkey. the situation very much in flux. turkish president erdogan back in istanbul, has just spoken to the turkish people calling the coup attempt an act of treason, saying military officers are being arrested, telling people quote, we will not hand the country over to occupiers. back with our panel here, with fareed zakaria, lieutenant general mark hertling and ivan watson, who reported from istanbul and lived there for a long period of time. fareed, assuming erdogan remains in power, which the fact as our colleague from cnn turk pointed out, the fact he was able to fly back to istanbul says he might, it allows him to even grab more power. >> almost certainly. because if you think of this, he was already the most popular politician in turkey. he's won three elections. he won them with very large public support. and he had always the one criticism about him was he was paranoid, he was usurping power and kept talking about coups.
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as ivan pointed out, he arrested almost 200 military officers. now all of that seems it was justified. there were these efforts. i would expect that many people who want erdogan to be more restrained, more moderate in various ways, unfortunately more likely this is going to embolden him because he will have won this extraordinary power struggle. we don't know it for sure, but again, interesting, the head of the army has not come out against erdogan so you don't have the other force and in that context, erdogan will slowly be able to resume power. >> they were saying this was junior officers trying to mount a coup. do you think that's likely the case? again, just to plan something like this in total secrecy and catch not only the president but pretty much everybody by surprise does require a certain level of finesse and experience. >> it certainly does. i don't buy that.
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but it depends on your definition of junior officer. if you're talking the more senior leaders but not the chiefs of the army, possibly. but i don't think so. i think there's too many things going on where the senior generals needed to know that this was occurring. there's too much communication, too much planning that's associated with something like this. the other thing that's fascinating, though, is one of the things that i learned in working with the turkish army is they have a very unique culture in terms of what they have been given by ataturk. in the turkish army is the army that is given the charge to protect the democracy, unlike our military where it's the civilian governmental officials that do that. so they feel it is their responsibility to ensure democracy. that's one of the things that may have generated this coup was the feeling that mr. erdogan was straying far away from the essence of democracy by jailing journalists, by doing some of the things he's done, by taking away individual rights, et
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cetera. >> general, there was a remarkable moment, i think we have the video of it. if we do, i would like to try to show it. i do think it's again, as the takeover of cnn turk was a microcosm of what's happening, this confrontation was a microcosm. there's a tank or armored personnel, i guess a tank there, pro-coup tank, soldiers firing in the air but this large crowd of erdogan supporters not backing down, essentially starting to argue with the soldiers and clearly, the soldiers have to make a decision do you fire in the crowd or do you just keep shooting over the crowd or what do you do? and ultimately, they just finally stopped shooting and the crowd just is able to approach directly the tank and basically swarm all over the tank. >> yeah. fascinating moment. i watched that live with erin burnett. it was interesting because some of the things that come out when you see that film is the tank actually has its barrel, its main gun, pointed in the air. what many wouldn't see is the
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coaxial machine gun, in line with the main gun, was firing. there was actually machine gunfire coming out of the tank as well as the individual soldiers firing their weapons. as you said, it appeared that one of the leaders, probably a lieutenant, approached the crowd, tried to engage and then realized as he started to back off. as a tanker myself, i was watching the tank commander and the loader on top of the turret. they were nervous. their pucker factor was high as the crowds continued to get closer and closer to the tank. it got to the point where it then invaded their personal space from a soldier's standpoint, that's tough, especially when you're a tank. when you've got people all around you, there's only so little things you can do with a 70 ton beast like that. it was an interesting moment but just shows when you put one tank in a crowd of thousands of people, unless you're willing to fire, that tank's not very good in terms of making your point. >> we are also joined by former cia officer bob baer.
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bob, obviously, you probably lived through a number of coups in your career. unless, back in tiananmen square, you know, the chinese government brought in troops from outside beijing in order to have troops who were willing to fire on peaceful protesters. unless you have troops who are willing to actually go that far, there's not much, all the weapons in the world don't really matter. >> oh, absolutely. this was not professionally done. i have been involved in coups before. they should have taken cnn turk and closed it down the first minutes, the radio station, social media, the internet. even if they didn't arrest erdogan they should have taken care of all of that right at the beginning. i have been speculating with turkish officers a couple months ago about a coup. they said absolutely not. and clearly, they are probably not involved so there's limited support for this.
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when erdogan can get his party out there and he's very popular with a great number of turks, to stop this, it's a huge setback and if the turkish army, these elements want to go to war with the people, it would mean civil war. right now, it doesn't look like it but tomorrow is another day. who knows what's going to happen. certainly people in the turkish military aren't certain, or the government. >> ivan, the image we have seen before, again, this is some of the soldiers involved in coup plots being marched off by what i assume are turkish police who are loyal to erdogan. what does, i mean, ivan, what does this allow erdogan to do now moving forward? what direction does the government move, continue to move kind of away from the secular direction? >> he was already trying to make moves to give himself sweeping new powers as the president, to change the constitution. in 2013, there were a series of
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police raids that arrested three sons of erdogan's cabinet ministers, three separate cabinet ministers, in a big corruption scandal. in the ensuing months, erdogan accused the prosecutors and police who did this of being part of essentially a terrorist organization, a coup attempt, and began firing hundreds of police chiefs and prosecutors from their positions and accusing them of being loyal to a turkish islamic preacher who has lived in exile for a long time in pennsylvania of all places. and he lives in the poconos. it's a really strange bizarre story. already, erdogan and some of his cabinet ministers have been pointing the finger in these turbulent hours at him in the u.s. if they are completely able to get control again, then it is very likely that we will see
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further purges, a further witch hunt taking place as a result. i do want to point out that our colleagues at cnn turk have gotten back in the studio, anderson, just in the last couple of minutes. reporters who -- and journalists and broadcasters who were forced out by alleged coup soldiers at gun point, now back in the studio. i think this highlights something else here, that in the wake of this turbulence, this power struggle and this violence, you have had different sectors of society in turkey, the opposition political party, journalists from tv networks that were not seen to be loyal to erdogan who have stayed on the air and have come out in condemning the coup attempt itself. which is really remarkable, that you apparently have loyal opposition here, people defending the tenets of democracy and the elected
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government even the it's a government they criticized in the past. >> fareed? >> i think what's fascinating about your question is about what might happen, is erdogan has actually not done very much in terms of moving turkey in an islamist direction. he's talked about it a little, he's used certain kind of symbols, but everyone for the first five years, he was actually a great reformer and he made turkish laws much more compatible with european union laws in a quest to make turkey part of the european union. what he has done, he's accumulated power, jailed journalists, kind of attacked the opposition. he's more a putin than a kind of islamist. my fear is that what this will do, it will embolden him to accumulate more and more power. ivan says he's trying to amend the constitution. again, not to turn it toward greater more toward islam but more accumulated power for himself. we tend to view this from our
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concern which is islamism. when you talk to people in turkey, their great concern is he's becoming putin. >> general hertling, we just got in some video. we have not seen it yet. apparently helicopter gunship firing toward a bridge. what do you see in this? >> well, it's -- when i first saw it, it certainly appeared as either a nose gun from an attack helicopter like a cobra or a door gunner from a uh-60 or sorry, either a uh-60 or uh-1 utility helicopters. but those are tracer rounds coming on to the bridge, striking the ground. they appear to be firing in front of the crowds but what's interesting about any time you fire from a door gun in a helicopter it's very difficult to hit your target unless you walk the bullets in. now, those may have been bullets that were meant to disperse the crowd that were fired maybe 100, 200 yards in front of it but that sustained fire from some type of aerial platform, whether
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an attack helicopter or utility helicopter with machine guns. it's hitting the pavement, causing a lot of ricochets and it's certainly dispersing the crowd. >> not the kind of thing you see in certainly in istanbul every day. >> no. >> to say the least. ivan, i don't know if you can see this video. do you have any sense of which bridge this is? >> i'm not sure what that exact location is. is that istanbul or is that ankara? that's one of the videos that's emerged, as have others that we are still trying to confirm on social media which show people with terrible wounds laying on the curb of a road that looks like that. but there's no question that amid some scenes of crowds of erdogan supporters disarming soldiers or police marching soldiers away, we have seen other indicators of very heavy weapons being used during this very tumultuous and potentially deadly night in turkey. >> i want to bring in "time"
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magazine middle east bureau chief. he was in taksim square, saw a confrontation there. tell us what you saw and when this was. >> yes. the pro-government demonstrators went down to taksim square earlier in the evening after the news of the coup attempt was announced. there was a kind of standoff for a few hours where you had military soldiers and police facing off with protesters. that kind of came to an end at the end of night when there was suddenly some kind of jet swooping low over the square and some kind of explosion followed by gunfire which sent nearly everyone running. since then, we have had jets
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flying low over central istanbul, rattling windows, shattering windows. incredibly startling, incredibly really shattering any sense of normalcy here. >> we are trying to get a sense of we have had a number of people talk about explosions often in conjunction with jets being close by. did you actually see an explosion, or was it just the sound? because i'm wondering if it could have been the sound of almost of a sonic boom of a low-flying fighter aircraft. >> that's possible. i believe i saw some kind of an explosion out of the corner of my eye. you have to understand this is an extremely chaotic situation. and it's possible that it was
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sonic boom. but definitely the sound of a massive explosion, also the sense of the air compressing in your ears that acompanies some kind of explosion usually. >> jared, do you have any sense now of what the status of this situation is? i mean, in istanbul? >> it's an extremely fluid situation. this is not over by any means. right now, moments ago, erdogan was on tv addressing the nation from the istanbul airport but meanwhile, we have these kind of violent scenes unfolding in istanbul and in ankara and it's just unclear where this is headed right now. earlier in the night you had not only erdogan but other government officials declaring the coup had failed but the
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military is not going to back down that easily. it's unclear exactly where this is all going. >> very quickly, did you say erdogan, the location that he was addressing the nation from was the airport itself? >> that's correct. he was on one television station moments ago declaring that he will carry on until tehe end. >> that's interesting. while he's flown into istanbul, he had not left the airport area? >> no. he was speaking from the airport. >> okay. interesting to give a sense of his confidence in terms of where control is in the city. he's apparently still at the airport after flying in. jared malsin, appreciate it. we will continue to monitor developments out of tr ki throughout the night. when we come back we are learning more of the aftermath of the terror attack in the south of france, including heartbreaking stories of americans among the fallen.
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we continue to monitor the conditions in turkey. in nice, paris, the killer, the terrorist, picked a vulnerable target. families come to celebrate. the truck traveled 1.3 miles striking people and anything else in the way. at least two americans were killed. more on them in a moment. investigators say the driver was a 31-year-old tunisian-born citizen of france who lived in nice. we're showing you his photo sparingly because police are trying to find out more information about him. clarissa ward joins us from nice with more. where does the investigation stand? >> reporter: well, it's a little bit of a muddled picture because you heard the french authorities coming out very early on and declaring that this was an act of terrorism. but so far we haven't seen any terrorist group claim responsibility for the attack.
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he was known to authorities here but that was in the context of his criminal record, which was mostly petty criminal violations, nothing that would indicate that he was involved with terrorist activities. he didn't have one of these so-called surveillance counterterror warrants around him. there's a little confusion here. what we're seeing in french media and getting a feeling of in terms of his personality was more the character of someone who was perhaps disturbed, allegations of domestic abuse, reportedly friends and family saying he didn't even go to the mosque, he certainly wasn't a practicing muslim, he was more interested in body building. so it's a conflicted picture. but as we've seen so many times and particularly in the case of beyond, it can easily be that a
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disturbed individual gravitates towards a form of radicalism at a certain part of their life. >> we've certainly seen that in the "charlie hebdo" attack and bataclan attacks, looking for an identity with an organization or a jihadist identity. >> reporter: that's right. and what is stark, though, about no clear ties to any known terrorist network, the method of killing was so specific, choosing to use a truck. this is something al qaeda has been talking about for years and years. just two years ago we heard isis' spokesman say the same thing, if you don't have gun, you don't have a bomb, go get a knife, go get a rock, go get your car and run people over. it's very much in the purview of
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that extremist nomenclature, anderson. >> nice is a quintessential city along the french riviera. yesterday it was thronged with people vacationing around the world. so it no surprise that many americans are dead or missing. >> reporter: funny and popular and one of a kind. that's how family and friends are remembering their friend brody. >> cody was a super star. he bursted with talent. he always wore a huge smile and was admired by fellow students and the faculty. our lakewood elementary family was honored to have known him and will miss his glowing personality. >> it native texans are among the 84 dead after a motorist use a truck to plow through a crowd.
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the copelands were on vacation celebrating birthdays in the family. "this is an extremely difficult time for my family and anyone who knows sean and brody copeland. losing a loved one in such a tragic and unexpected way is unbearable. prayers are much appreciated. according to brodie's uncle, his mom and other siblings are still in france, reeling about what happened. at home friends prepare for the family's return and say they're at a loss of how to explain all of this to their kids. >> this is devastating. there's no word. i cried a little bit with the kid last night. it's sad and i really don't have a good answer for them. >> reporter: meanwhile the family of 20-year-old nicholas leslie is hopeful that he survived the attack.
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his godfather said friends saw him dive out of the way of the truck, though he has not yet heard from his godson, he feels he is alive. >> we hope to learn more about the victims in the coming days. we'll be right back. mr. ingalls, he's not studying over here! he's streaming my games. you can't get away with that. woo! oh, don't worry about it. they can't hear me, i'm just in your head, (announcer vo) no matter how you use your data, verizon's got your back. introducing the new verizon plan. now get 30% more data. no surprise overages. and keep the data you don't use. all on america's best network. why settle when you can have everything? switch to verizon now. schwarzkopf presents color ultîme. a model needs vibrant hair color to light up the runway.
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a quick update. our sister network that was taken off the air tonight after reporting a coup attempt. they are back on the air now. >> this is cnn breaking news. an attempted coup in turkey. the president says the coup has failed. so who is actually in control of the country at this hour? we may only find out when the sun comes up and that happens in less than an hour. this is cnn tonight. i'm don lemon. a very busy night on cnn. it is just before dawn saturday in turkey. overnight tanks rolling through istanbul, thousands of people taking to the streets amid

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