tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN September 12, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
mark james, thank you. appreciate you weighing in. >> thank you. top of the hour now. hello, everyone. i'm randi kaye in for brooke baldwin. breaking news in the fight against isis. for weeks we've been told action against them in iraq and syria would not constitute a war. today that message changed. the white house saying we are in fact at war with isis. joining me now is michelle kosinski, white house correspondent. he said this in response to your question. what exactly did the white house say now? >> reporter: they said it very clearly although it took some questioning there because over the last couple of days we have heard the messaging even saying, no, it is not a war in response to really specific questions. yesterday secretary of state was asked, you know, it sounds like a war. it looks like a war. are we at war? the national security adviser
was asked the same thing. kerry at least said, no, that's the wrong terminology. national security adviser sues yab rice said, well, i don't know if you want to call it a war but we call it a counterterrorism operation. a sustained counterterror campaign but today when asked, things have changed. the white house now says, okay, yes, the u.s. is at war against isis. here's what was said exactly. >> the administration hasn't wanted to call this a war on isis but is it not a war? >> the question that you're asking goes to the central question that is important for people to understand. this is not a situation where it's the united states against isil. the fact is isil has indicated that they're ready to go to war against the world and this
president as is expected of american presidents is stepping up to lead an international coalition to confront that threat and to deny isil a safe haven and ultimately this international coalition will be responsible for degrading and destroying isil. so i think we need to conclude from this is the united states is at war with isil in the same way that we are at war with al qaeda and its al qaeda affiliates around the globe. >> reporter: something changed today in the messaging. possibly because they keep getting this question. different parts of the administration like we mentioned yesterday secretary of state national security adviser and today we even heard it directly from the department of defense using almost the same language that we just heard there in the daily briefing. saying that, okay, yes, you can call this a war on isis. we're saying that we are at war against isis but they qualify it saying in the same way that you can say that we are still at war
against al qaeda. >> and you mentioned john kerry and what he's been saying how even though it looks like a war and sounds like a war, it's not a war. let's play that sound bite. >> we're engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation. and it's going to go on for some period of time. if somebody wants to think about it as being at war with isil, they can do so but the fact is it's a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts. >> so there's that and then you also have the sound from the pentagon today. listen to this. >> what i said is this is not the iraq war of 2002. but make no mistake, we know we are at war with isil in the same way we are at war and continue to be at war with al qaeda and its affiliates.
>> so i guess what are we to think? do you think that this is a deliberate turn around or another case of mixed messages in these different briefings? >> i think at first the -- one reason why they didn't want to call it a war is because of that panic people at home. the president has been anti-war ending the wars in iraq and afghanistan. and so the administration has wanted to really distinguish what is going on now from those prior wars. you heard it in the response to my question saying we have been saying this is not like iraq. this is not like afghanistan. there's a broad international coalition on this. here are other ways it's different. as over the last few days they've been getting these repeated questions and they're getting slightly different answers here and there and they know that it is a tough question. i mean, when you look at the fact, it does look like a war even in the language the president was using so it looks like now they have taken that
step to say, okay, you can say this is a war if you want to but we're going to describe it more as the continued counterterrorism efforts so we've been conducting where you could say the war that we are still at with al qaeda. randy? >> all right. michelle kosinski, thank you very much. let me bring in foreign editor of "the daily beast" to talk more about this. nice to see you. first of all, what do you make of this? why finally define us today as being at war with isis after saying all this time that we're not? >> several things are going on. when it comes to this being a war like the war we fight against al qaeda, you have to remember the president is saying the authorization to use military force that gives him power to do what he's doing is the one that came out against al qaeda or against anybody involved with the 9/11 attacks in september of 2001. so if we are not fighting the same group, if we're not fighting a spin-off of al qaeda, if this isn't the same war as al
qaeda, where is his authorization for the use of military force? that's one issue. so he's got to try to dance around that. but the other problem is sort of two-fold is that in fact what john kerry was saying, what the secretary of state was saying is closer to the way this administration actually conce e conceives of this operation. when the president said that this was something that would be reduced to manageable terms that reflects the president's thinking because that's the realistic thinking about what you can do. you don't defeat terrorism in the sense you defeat the german army in world war ii. you defeat terrorism by giving it less room to operate, by taking away its means, by taking away its ideological initiative. by finding leaders and killing them and reducing it to where instead of 1,000 people or 2,000 people you are talking about a few hundred or a few dozen. to carry out a terrorist operation you only need a few dozen people.
you don't defeat it. >> thinking in terms of strategy that the president outlined, does this change anything now that they are using this report? >> what i said before is president's strategy. that's what they want to do. what he's going to be doing is all of those things to try to get the threat from isis down to manageable size. >> you also say and i know you have written quite a bit about this that we have been here before. that isis looks a whole lot like al qaeda to you at least pre- 9/11. >> that's right. what worries me is back before 9/11 i had been covering al qaeda already for years at that point. and all of us had been covering it understood that they were going to try to do something major against american targets and maybe in the united states. there was even a memo to president obama in august of 2001 saying they're going to attack here. it feels very much that way when you look at isis and their intentions and their abilities and yet we hear the president
say, we hear the head of the department of homeland security say we don't have any actual intelligence saying they're going to attack the united states. we didn't on 9/11 either. >> that's what i was going to say. what does that tell you? >> it tells me we should be very, very concerned, extremely vigilant and understand the threat is out there and probably the administration is doing everything it can to manage it but the very disturbing thing is that with these huge bureaucracies up against these relatively small nimble impulsive organizations it's very hard to counteract everything they do and the 9/11 commission report was very clear. the greatest failure before 9/11 was a failure of the imagination. the failure to imagine what these guys could do just like everybody failed to imagine that isis could take over in a matter of days the second biggest city in iraq. >> right. it is certainly alarming. nice to see you. thank you. >> my pleasure. >> we'll have much more on this breaking news including moments ago the state department weighing in on whether this is a
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to go the distance with you. go long. the question of the day seems to be this. is the united states at war with isis or is it not and it seems the answer depends on who you ask because just moments ago the spokesman for the white house came out and said that, yes, this is a war when all along president obama and secretary of
state john kerry say this is a counterterrorism operation. in fact, the president when he spoke the other night never even used the word war in his speech. i want you to listen to what the white house said moments ago and also the pentagon. >> the administration hasn't wanted to call this a war on isis but is it not a war? >> the question you're asking goes to the central question that is important for people to understand. this is not a situation where it's the united states against isil. the fact is isil has indicated that they're ready to go to war against the world and this president as is expected of american presidents is stepping up to lead an international coalition to confront that threat and deny isil a safe haven and ultimately this international coalition will be responsible for degrading and
destroying isil so i think we can conclude from this is the united states is at war with isil in the same way that we are at war with al qaeda and its al qaeda affiliates all around the globe. >> what i said is this is not the iraq war of 2002 but make no mistake, we know we are at war with isil in the same way we are at war and continue to be at war with al qaeda and its affiliates. >> i mentioned john kerry said we are not at war. listen to what he told cnn just yesterday. >> is the united states at war with isis? if sounds from the president's speech that we are. >> i think that's the wrong terminology. what we are doing is engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation and it's going to go on for some period of time. if somebody wants to think about it being at war with isil, they can do so but the fact is that it's a major counterterrorism
operation that will have many different moving parts. >> so in that sound bite that you saw with secretary of state john kerry, he was speaking with cnn's global affairs correspondent elise labott joining me by knophone to talk about that. the secretary of state told you this is not a war and it's the wrong terminology but the white house is now saying it's a war. >> reporter: they are all over the place. the administration with messaging on how they are going to characterize this. i think they don't know because they never had anything like this before. the other night the president when he gave his speech, he said he'll model the campaign after u.s. campaigns against al qaeda in somalia and yemen. at the same time those countries are rife for terrorism so it's not really a ringing endorsement and then he also said that yemen
and somalia are nothing like al qaeda. nobody really is on message here. everyone is saying different things. i think one thing is clear that this isn't a war in the sense that one organization, one army is fighting another. this is going to be a global campaign not just in the military sense but there's going to be a diplomatic angle. there will be an economic angle. they will try to stop the flow of funding to isis with stopping illicit oil sales and other individual funding that's going from place to place. it's not necessarily a war that you see on a battlefield but it is very much like the war against terrorism i would say that the u.s. started fighting against al qaeda in 2001. >> all right. thank you so much. let me bring in associate editor of "the hill" and also a former cia operative to talk more about this and break this down a little bit. first, i guess, let me get your
reaction on that. what do you think about the white house coming out and calling it a war? >> they had no choice. they went from being passive in the last few weeks to trying to mount an aggressive campaign to unite america behind an attack against isis and what we're doing, what is involved here clearly means war and isis has declared war and sooner or later they would have to call it that. >> bob, what do you make of that? does the word war even matter whether you call it war or you call it a counterterrorism effort? >> it doesn't matter at all. we are at war. the islamic state is a state. there's 20 million people under its governance. it's doing fairly well controlling this area. it has tanks. it has airplanes and surface to air missiles and communication systems we can't break into.
it's a war even more than the war against al qaeda and secondly, i think the white house isdisingenuous. they are doing probes into syria and isis territories. this is going to escalate over the days. calling it anything other than a war i think is done for political reasons. >> let me just ask you about some other news today. retired general john allen appointed as envoy to help build this coalition against isis including the arab nations. how vital is that to the u.s.'s goal in terms of defeating isis? >> i think it's extremely important. john allen has been slated to this position for a while. he's going to try to rally support especially in iraq with the sunnis to turn against isil. he's a smart guy. he was part of the awakening in iraq. he knows what it means and if the pentagon is allowed to get politics and elections coming up
in 2016 elections out of the way, he'll do well. >> in terms of the coalition and the support in getting that together, why do you think the president came out and announced this strategy before he knew that this coalition had already come together? there are many of these countries the u.s. is not getting support from. >> that's true. there's a real lack of trust in this administration frankly for several reasons. many nations in the middle east believe that isis was allowed to become strong because we didn't get in on the ground in syria to train the rebels when we knew who the rebels were. you have ryan crocker saying we have no idea who they are. that's not a really good plan here. i think over the weekend securing approval from saudi arabia to train in their territory and not in syria to train rebel groups that we can identify there became such a victory for the administration
and they were so worried about how passive a stance the president had taken in public saying it was a manageable problem, et cetera. they felt like they had to make that prime time address and come out as soon as possible and hoped other nations would follow saudi arabia and once congress approves money for training of rebels that other nations will come along. you see a lot of hesitance. >> this coalition could be up against a whole lot more than they bargained for now that we know according to the cia there may be triple the number of isis forces waiting for us. we'll talk more about that after we particular a quick break. ♪ ♪
welcome back, everyone. let's remind our viewers here of the breaking news we've been following in the last few minutes in the "cnn newsroom." just moments ago the white house spokesman confirming to cnn, to michelle kosinski, that the white house is saying that the united states is at war with isis even though we know that the president in his speech the other night did not use the term war but said it was a counterterrorism operation. now you have the white house saying we're at war. pentagon also saying that we are at war. but the secretary of state john kerry just yesterday telling our global affairs correspondent elise labott this is not a war and it's wrong terminology. she says these folks are all
over the place. they don't have their stories straight. they don't have it all in line. let's continue with our panel here to discuss a little bit about this. bob is with us and also the associated editor of "the hill." and we also have christopher. good to see all of you once again. bob, let me start with you on this news today also. the cia telling cnn that there may be triple the number of fighters with isis there waiting for this coalition and waiting for these air strikes. what do you make of the numbers? >> let me interpret it this way. what's happening is that islamic state is finding a message playing across the middle east and they are not hardcore fundamentals as they are ex-officers with saddam's army are joining various groups in syria and they are disbanding
and joining the islamic state. the cia numbers reflect that it starts out as a small group. the jv team as the president described it and it's really been picking up strength. it's certainly surplanted al qaeda. it's the organization to join if you are inclined to join a jihad. >> and to you now on this. the u.s. doesn't seem to know who these rebel fighters are. >> well, it knows generally who they are. it knows for instance that some of them are coming from europe. and some are coming from asia and some from africa and some from the united states. when we talk about 25,000, 30,000, we're not talking about europeans or asians or americans, we're talking about syrians and iraqis and the big questions are those that have joined with isis over the last few months, will they stay with isis or at some point will they decide that the grass looks
greener on the other side of the fence and they can get a better deal by breaking away from isis. isis is aware of that danger but right now its numbers are inflated. >> their ranks been decimated, are they not? >> their ranks were decimated in 2007 and 2008 during the surge in iraq but they have a tight and efficient structure. tighter and more efficient than most people realize. they retreated in syria when they had an opportunity after 2011. they regrouped and then they came storming back as we know only too well. >> let me ask you because certainly the u.s. has announced this action. do you think that's actually helped boost recruitment efforts for isis? >> there's a very good chance of that. really, president obama will find this coalition building and this slow building up of other armies, other partner forces on
the ground to be a very difficult task because they are unlike any other force according to secretary hagel that we've ever seen, the most well funded, the best command of social media, the most able to galvanize and attract westerners and this is something that president obama has now come out and said that he's going to be committed to. in the weeks to come what will be problematic is not only the challenge of meeting it globally but here at home trying to keep the congress and country together on a sustained effort that will eventually involve real boots on the ground. he's continuing to not say that this is a war or not and say there's boots on the ground. there are boots on the ground. numbers nearing 2,000 now. they may be called special forces but i think we'll see a debate soon before christmas about whether or not we need to strengthen our military involvement with more combat
forces and that's going to be a very difficult debate. >> certainly is. all right. much more on the isis threat including an interview with the former u.s. general coming up. thank you to all of you. next, an inside look at the report that led the nfl to investigate its handling of the ray rice case. the associated press broke the story about the nfl allegedly receiving the ray rice video back in april. that led to a whole lot of questions about what commissioner roger goodell knew and when he knew it. we'll talk to managing editor of the ap about this report coming up next. hi, i'm henry winkler
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now to ray rice fallout. roger goodell's version of events is getting sacked by unnamed sources. this time they are contradicting the nfl commissioner on what he knew before handing down the two-game suspension for rice hitting his wife. listen to what goodell told cbs and sports reporters on wednesday. >> when we met with ray rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened. >> what was ambiguous about her laying on consciounconscious on
and being dragged out by her feet? >> we didn't know details of that. we asked for that on several occasions. the description of what happened was not consistent with what the videotape was. when you see that, that's clear. that's why we took the action we did. it was completely unacceptable. it was graphic and violent and something we felt we had to make immediate reaction to. >> but espn cites four sources who say ray rice flat out told goodell he hit his wife in the face and knocked her unconscious. espn cites a source saying ray didn't lie to the commissioner and told the full truth to goodell and a second source told cnn he told the truth and this is a public lynching of ray. you notice i said once again. this report comes one day after the associated press put into question another statement from the nfl commissioner that no one including himself saw the clip of rice striking his then fiance
until tmz actually released it on monday. let's talk about this with the ap's managing editor for sports. the ap is reporting and you've been involved in this, there's a voice mail that shows that the nfl actually received the tape of this surveillance video. i guess the question is have you been any closer to figuring out who exactly at the nfl left this voice mail saying they acknowledge receipt of the tape? >> no. we don't have details on who may have received the tape. we have a source who says he sent the tape anded individu et arrived at the nfl and that person has confirmation it arrived at nfl offices. who saw it, we don't know and we don't know details of how many people may have seen it if anyone at all. >> you mention this source. this is a law enforcement source or just a source? >> yes. we quoted a law enforcement official in our story.
the voice mail confirmed that one person did see it and said it was terrible what they saw. we don't know if the executives in the nfl saw it at what level they saw it and we don't know how many people beyond that one person who confirmed that they saw it. >> did your source tell you why this law enforcement source -- why they came forward now? >> nothing i can go into detail about. i think with all sources, there's interest in getting information out and in this case, there's been questions about not necessarily ray rice and that case as much as how the nfl is handling it. >> you went to the nfl with this information? >> yes. >> tell me about that conversation what you can. >> i think you see quoted in our story the nfl said it was unaware of this and then immediately said they would look into it and the fallout from that was commissioner goodell coming back. he was in north carolina at the time. he came back and tapped former fbi director robert mueller to
look into things and that investigation internalaly is being overseen by two owners. >> it's an interesting story and nice investigation on your team's part as well. thank you. >> thank you. >> is there a double standard when it comes to stars and domestic violence? what about gender? soccer star hope solo isn't getting the amount of attention ray rice is getting. we'll discuss that next. (vo) ours is a world of passengers.
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ray rice domestic abuse controversy isn't sitting well with other people but some wonder if there's a double standard when the women is the alleged abuser. hope solo apologized this summer after accused of assaulting her half sister and her 17-year-old nephew. she pleaded not guilty. she faces two counts of fourth degree domestic violence assault, u.s. soccer sill promotes her. let me talk this over with the co-host of "numbers never lie" joining us by phone. is outrage against domestic violence different when the alleged abuser is a woman? >> i think that's a big difference. i think it's also we have to think of the different platform than most female athletes have. the question we should ask is hope is a big star in international soccer. she's remained in this country. she's not a part of billions of
dollars like the nfl is. the nfl is on three nights a week. number one sport in america. i think that it's less about a double standard and more about the popularity of that sport compared to what football is. if this was serena williams, i think it probably would have gotten more traction. but the fact of the matter is that she's not in a sport that's as popular as the nfl. >> let me ask you about something that christine brennan said. she said solo has been convicted of no crimes but neither was michael phelps when usa swimming suspended him in 2009 after pictures surfaced of him smoking a marijuana pipe. what's your response to that? >> how they deal with her within their sport deserves to be
criticized. if you want to use maybe in the similar sport, olympic sport as a comparison, i think that either a suspension or her not being allowed to participate in some things would have been completely reasonable and i think the measure regardless of gender that i go by is when you have been accused of something or involved in something or your name is attached to something that for whoever you represent is not good for that brand, you better believe that if friday night i got into trouble tonight i won't be working at espn on monday or i for sure won't be on air on monday. and so it's well within your employer's right if you are causing considerable damage to their brand to sit you down. >> right. absolutely. all right. thanks for weighing in.
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here's what one former cia chief compared to isis. >> is this not a war? >> the question you're asking goes to sort of the central question. it's important for people to understand. this is not a situation where it's the united states against isil. the fact is, isil has indicated that they're ready to go to war against the world. and this president, as is expected of american presidents, is stepping up to lead an international coalition to confront that threat and to deny isil a safe haven. and ultimately this international coalition will be
responsible for degrading and destroying isil. so i think what we conclude from this is the united states is at war with isil in the same way that we are at war with al qaeda and its al qaeda affiliates are. >> there you have the white house saying, we are at war. but listen to what the secretary of state john kerry told our elise labott yesterday about that very same topic. >> reporter: is the united states at war with isis? it sure sounds from the president's speech that we are. >> i think that's the wrong terminology. what we are doing is engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation. and it's going to be on for some period of time. if somebody wants to think about it as being a war with isil, they can do so. but the fact is it's a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts. >> and as our elise labott told me just moments ago, the
administration seems all over the place on this terminology. and you can see it there for yourself. u.s. military planes are already flying over iraq and syria looking for the isis targets that would be on the receiving end of american airpower. but one retired u.s. general has an eye-browing analogy -- quote, the reliance on airpower has all of the atracks of casual sex. seems to offer gratification but with very little commitment, from general michael hayden who also led the cia and the national security agency. and he's not the only retired u.s. general with something to say about what the united states calls a war with isis. erin burnett joins me to talk about this. you just spoke with retired army general stanley mcchrystal. he left in a shroud of controversy after an explosive "rolling stones" article quoting him for mocking government
officials. >> he had a stormy relationship at the end with president obama. but he's the man who was responsible for capturing osama bin laden and alazh zarqawi. he said it's sort of ridiculous that there is this discussion on. on the ground, this is a war. and it's a war that he believes makes sense isis is a threat to the united states and bigger than anything he saw when he was in iraq dealing with the counterinsurgency. but this issue of who's to blame? john mccain is saying, the president's to blame for pulling troops out of iraq. others say, no, george w. bush is to blame. here's our conversation. the blame came as ugly and simplistic. but it is going on in full force, as you know.
some say president obama didn't really want to renegotiate, if he had, he could have kept troops in. and others say president bush committed to troop withdrawals and he was the one who signed that agreement. is one side or the other more to blame or is this plenty to go around? >> yeah. i remember what joe namath said years ago. you never get blitzed in the press box. unless you've been in the position where president bush or president obama has been, it's really difficult to understand all the context of a decision. i think there's plenty of blame for everybody. but i think we spend way too much time thinking about blame. if you think about our strategy now against isis, the one thing we absolutely need is cohesion in the united states in support of the president's strategy. is it a perfect strategy? no. i've never seen a perfect strategy. but i can guarantee that it's a
weaker strategy if we don't fall behind it. >> he also had a lot to say about the sticky subject of arming rebels. >> he did. he was adamant about that. he believes the united states should arm the rebels. he thinks it is a necessary risk and that that must be done. very strong on that. and he also talked about air strikes. general hayden likening relying on air strikes to casual sex. general mcchrystal agrees with that. he said air strikes are just a part of the solution. and we talked about ground troops. we'll have that full interview coming up tonight. >> looking forward to watching the rest of that interview. thank you very much. you can watch erin's interview tonight with stanley mcchrystal on "erin burnett outfront." that's at 7:00 eastern on cnn. 245 thanks for watching. "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. a former cia director
compares air strikes to casual sex and he is not kidding. general michael hayden is here to explain. i'm jake tapper and this is "the lead." the world lead, the united states, trying to sell allies on dropping bombs on the middle east again as the cia says isis may have doubled its numbers but since more boots on the ground have been ruled out, is there any real way to stop them? and how do you stop an outbreak if you're turning patients away? and the pop culture lead, if you can make it here, you just might make it on your own show someday. a groundbreaking shuffle on "saturday night live" brings a new face to the fake news. good afternoon, everyone. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. the president said, we cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. not president obama this week but president bush on