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tv   CNN Presents  CNN  February 20, 2016 12:30am-1:31am PST

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isis came to life in this desolate landscape, the windswept desert of southern iraq. this is camp bucca, an american prison. during the iraq war, the most dangerous jihadis were locked up here, up to 20,000 of the country's angriest men. some americans who worked at camp bucca called it simply camp hell. it wasn't just crowded, it was violent. in 2005, riots broke out. detainees went on a rampage, taking over whole sections of the prison camp. american forces massed outside the fences, firing into the
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crowd. at least four prisoners were killed. >> now, this is camp bucca. >> major general doug stone was brought in to fix camp bucca. even he was wary of the inmates. here he is giving cnn's nic robertson a tour in 2008. >> we have about 2,000 identified al qaeda in the facility. they're very hard to break. >> you have shields up here to protect us. everyone is crowded around looking at us now. >> this is not a place that you want to hang around. we don't want to stand here that much longer because they will now organize around us. >> there were beatings, unexplained prisoner deaths, and several dangerous jihadis escaped. into this cauldron, one day in early 2004, a new man arrived.
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we know him now as abu bakr al baghdadi, the leader of isis. and, yes, he was in american custody during the iraq war. al baghdadi has shown his face publicly only once. last year when he gave a sermon to his followers. but back when the u.s. had him under lock and key, he was seen as, believe it or not, a man who could be trusted. >> the americans seem to see abu bakr as someone who could keep the prison quiet. there are 24 camps within the sunni side of camp bucca, he was allowed open access to all of them. >> he wasn't considered from everything that we know now a high-level detainee, and he was allowed to, you know, lead prayers, he was allowed to give religious lessons.
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>> the future leader of isis was giving other inmates lessons on islam. those inmates were jihadists or former ba'athists, henchmen of saddam, or simply common criminals. >> it most assuredly was a jihadist university. unquestionably. >> put them all together in the baking heat of southern iraq, with al baghdadi, a man who dreamed of a new kind of terror, it was a recipe for isis. >> they were meeting, they were playing soccer together, they were strategizing together. >> one thing is clear, al baghdadi went through a transformation at camp bucca. >> baghdadi was an average person. he was just a sunni foot soldier when he was arrested by the americans. >> but by the time al baghdadi
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left, he was someone else. >> all we know is that baghdadi became an entirely different creature in terms of radicalization, in terms of militarization, in terms of building a huge network of militants in the prison. >> at camp bucca, al baghdadi networked with hundreds of jihadis. at least some of whom would later join isis. and the day would come when he would also need military expertise. enter saddam hussein's army. dismissed by the americans, many now at camp bucca. men with exactly the skill set al baghdadi could later make use of. and then he was set free. the future leader of isis was recommended for unconditional release by a military review board in december 2004. they did not consider him a threat. whether it turns out al baghdadi is the mastermind of isis or a
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figurehead, the fact remains the united states has put a $10 million price tag on his head. when we come back, the dangerous way that isis is using us. television news. >> while the u.s. is backing sunni arabs in yemen, in iraq, it is fighting -- i think it landed last tuesday. one second it's there. then, woosh, it's gone. i swear i saw it swallow seven people. seven. i just wish one of those people could have been mrs. johnson. [dog bark] trust me, we're dealing with a higher intelligence here. ♪ the all-new audi q7 is here. ♪
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evil just a click away. it takes no more than a few seconds to find isis propaganda online. thousands of videos are strewn across the internet. much of it, of course, is sickeningly violent, unbearable to watch. the awful beheadings, the fiery murders. but all of it may add up to the single biggest reason for the success of isis. like so much of what the group does, this is a terror tactic we have not seen before. and it is frighteningly effective. >> 20 years ago, you could never find the three people in minnesota who would be attracted to the isis ideology. today you can and they can find you.
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isis has used facebook, twitter, google, and the worldwide web as its command and control system. >> the violence in isis propaganda is enhanced by artful editing, special effects, and powerful music. ♪ some videos really are like small films, done with real skill. ironically, it is the barbarism that makes these clips go viral. no one has ever seen anything like this. most of us look at this, and this, and wonder how it could possibly attract recruits. but for some young men raised on violent video games and shoot-them up movies, it's a powerful lure. >> actions speak louder than words. it is -- it's savagery and viciousness, all of us here. we look at it, horrible and evil.
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of course it's evil. this is part of its strategy to convince young men and women on the fringe, who are deluded, who have no purpose in life, who suffer from torn identities, come to us. >> all brothers and sisters come to jihad and feel the honor we are feeling. feel the happiness we're feeling. >> they want killing machines, that's why you see them, you know, doing these videos and making kids watch these videos and making kids commit the crimes and kill because they are trying to establish a new generation of killers. >> it's the gang mentality. >> the gang idea is important because isis uses it to manipulate kids. a lot of the propaganda mixes the violence with scenes of camaraderie, friendship, the people in isis videos seem to be saying we did not belong where we were, but now we have found a home. a powerful message to the
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millions of unemployed, disconnected young muslims across the middle east. and even in countries like france and germany. >> i'm your brother in islam here in syria. i originally come from canada. >> i'm thinking i'm still dreaming. i'm feeling like i'm still dreaming. i'm feeling like i'm in the dream world. you have to be here to understand what i'm saying. >> and, of course, isis also manipulates us, television news. they put their videos online, we put them on television. and in a bizarre twist, isis turns around and makes clever use of what it sees on tv. this video is called "victory in kobani." it glorifies the isis capture of that syrian city, while mocking president obama and other western leaders. >> air power, alone, first of all, there's no military solution to isil. >> the angry rhetoric of cable
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news fits right into their script. >> even with troops on the ground, we have proven we cannot defeat these people. we are so incompetent in terms of conducting a foreign policy, in terms of conducting military operation. >> cnn makes an occasional appearance. >> into that city of kobani. >> but fox news is a favorite of isis with commentators demanding boots on the ground playing into isis' dreams of a grand battle against america. >> when it falls, by all accounts it will, the united states will look absolutely foolish for doing some pinprick strikes that had no effect on the outcome, and isis is going to come out more empowered than ever. isis will be the big winner and the united states will be the big loser. >> all of it is frighteningly effective. creating a 21st century machine designed perfectly for the young and built to recruit followers
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from across the world. >> they were raised on twitter, they were raised on youtube, they were raised on facebook. isis is cnn to somebody's home tv. these guys are very sophisticated. they're a whole different generation. >> in just a moment, isis and the white house, the story of what we knew about the terror group and when we knew it. >> we failed to understand the enemy that we faced. my constipation and belly pain
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it is a moment americans will never forget. u.s. contractors brutally murdered. their bodies burned and hung from a bridge. >> four u.s. civilians butchered, dragged through the street. >> this was fallujah, iraq. the year was 2004. the atrocity aroused deep american anger and brought promises of retribution. >> we will hunt down the
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criminals, we will kill them or capture them. and we will pacify fallujah. >> and u.s. forces fought two long and bloody battles to retake the city. nearly 70 americans lost their lives liberating fallujah, and hundreds more were left seriously wounded. ten years later, fallujah falls back into the hands of an enemy. this time it's isis. just a few days after fallujah fell, the president talked about the threat from the terror group in an interview with "the new yorker" magazine. >> he said, "the analogy we use around here sometimes. and i think is accurate, is if a jv team puts on lakers uniforms, that doesn't make them kobe bryant." >> i was disappointed. i was disappointed that he said that.
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i don't think he was well served. >> the need for intelligence surveillance. >> lieutenant general michael flynn had a front-row seat to the rise of isis. he led the defense intelligence agency until late last year. >> we failed to understand the enemy that we faced. >> flynn says intelligence officials had warned the administration that isis was growing more dangerous before the president made his infamous jv comment. but the president has said the intelligence on isis was inadequate. here he is on "60 minutes." >> how did they end up where they are in control of so much territory? was that a complete surprise to you? >> well, i think our head of the intelligence community, jim clapper, has acknowledged that they underestimated what had been taking place in syria. >> you were d.i.a. at the time? >> yeah. do you think it was an intelligence failure?
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>> no, i don't. i really look at that and -- it's easy to -- i mean, i'll take one for the team, you know? the president has to decide who he's going to listen to and what information he's going to use. and i think that he was poorly advised to say that. >> the president makes no apologies for being measured and deliberate about committing u.s. military resources. >> benjamin rhodes is deputy national security adviser and close aide to president obama. do you think we should have been alerted to the threat that isis posed earlier? >> you know, it's always easy to look back and say you could have been alerted to a specific threat at a specific time, the question is then, what action would that have triggered? part of what the president has brought, his approach to national security, is some degree of restraint in saying that we're not going to chase
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every rabbit down every hole in the middle east. >> the white house did underestimate isis. and republicans seized on the issue, excoriating the president, growing increasingly strident. >> our strategy will fail yet again. this president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home. >> even former top officials in the obama administration had tough words. >> it's more than just an intelligence failure, it's a policy failure as well. >> of course, the solution offered by most critics is the one thing isis wants the most. american boots on the ground. the united states has 3500 military advisers in iraq helping them take on isis. but the biggest underestimation was not of the strength of the self-style islamic state but of
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the weakness of the iraqi state. in the middle of 2014 when isis started taking town after town in iraq, the iraqi army essentially laid down its arms and ran away. remember, this was an army that the united states had spent more than $25 billion building up, an army more than 200,000 strong. that's more than six times the size of isis and maybe more. and it was all rendered useless against the isis assault. why? well, much of it can be pinned on one man. >> if you ask me, what's the most important factor of iraq, driver behind the resurgence of isis? i would say nuri al maliki. >> nuri al maliki, the iraqi
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prime minister, whom the bush administration had helped put into power in 2006. >> i appreciate your commitment to representing the people of iraq. >> back then, maliki's appointment was touted by the administration as a triumphant moment for the newly democratic iraq. >> i appreciate you recognize the fact that the future of your country is in your hands. >> to ensure the success of democracy, maliki, a shiite, needed to heal the powerful schism between shiites and sunnis in iraq, but he never did. so when asked by the shiite abusers to fight against isis, the sunni soldiers and the iraqi army simply said no. >> for many sunnis, they looked at iranian-backed regime in baghdad and they looked at isis and some of them made the disastrous calculation that isis was the lesser of two evils.
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>> the last american soldier left the country in 2011, after the u.s. could not reach agreement with maliki to maintain a military presence. >> the question that we ask today when people look back at that decision is what would we have done with 10,000 u.s. troops? would they have enforced security? and frankly would we have wanted them to be fighting in places like mosul and fallujah against isil? >> republicans have criticized president obama for not leaving troops in iraq. some have said if american forces had stayed, there would be no isis. but emma sky believes that was never in the cards. iraq's prime minister al maliki had a new set of patrons, his fellow shiites in tehran, and the mullahs made him an offer he couldn't refuse. >> that was part of iran's deal with maliki, we'll give you a third term, but the conditions
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are, no american soldiers. that was what tehran had demanded. there was no way it would have gone through the parliament. >> one thing is clear, it was only iraq's army that could have stopped isis. instead, iraqi soldiers threw down their weapons and ran. [ phone ringing ] >> hello? >> next on "blindsided." what drives these people? what makes them tick? you'll go inside the mind of a radical. meet a man who was prepared to die for a fantasy. the idea of an islamic caliphate.
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the 1980s and '90s in afghanistan and pakistan were crucial years for jihad. bin laden was there, zawahiri was there. it's where al qaeda and islamic terrorism as we know it today was born. foreign fighters were constantly flowing in. but now, incredibly, foreign fighters are flowing in even faster to iraq and syria. an estimated 20,000 of them in total. what drives these people there?
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what makes them leave home to go far away and fight for an idea, a fantasy? you're about to find out. in the days that followed 9/11, just about everyone in the world seemed to be standing with the united states, even yasser arafat. >> i am offering my condolences to the american president, president bush. >> but not this man. >> i'm very, very sorry to your viewers for saying this, but i lacked any empathy for the victims. >> maajid nawaz didn't start his life as a radical. he grew up here in essex, england. the beneficiary of a middle class upbringing. the son of hard working pakistani parents. but he didn't feel quite at home in britain and yet had no other
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place to call home. no community to call his own. he read for us what he wrote in his diary after seeing the towers fall. >> don't you think we've been crying, too, like you are now, for years? do you think we felt no pain as you raped and plundered our lands and bombed our cities? what lands, what cities, you ask? your arrogance is only compounded by your ignorance. you chose your side, and we have chosen ours. ♪ >> nawaz had become convinced that the world of islam was under constant and brutal attack from the west. muslims had to fight back. nawaz's chosen army was a radical group, hizb ut tahrir. the day before 9/11, he had landed in egypt to recruit for the group, which in some ways was a forerunner to isis.
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>> it's the first islamist organization responsible for popularizing the notion of resurrecting a so-called islamic state. this caliphate, so-called islamic state is what he's been dreaming of since 1953. >> the trigger for nawaz was the muslim slaughter he saw every night on tv, every morning in the papers. the genocide in bosnia. >> it had a profound impact on me. up until that point, i didn't consider myself particularly muslim. but almost in a form of defiance, we became so much more muslim overnight. >> and it made him a perfect prospect for a local recruiter. >> he said look at palestine, look at kashmir, look at chechnya. wherever you look, muslims are the victims who are being killed. because there's a global war going on against islam and muslims. i wholeheartedly felt that at 15, 16 years old, i subscribed to it, and dedicated the rest of my life to it.
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in fact, i was prepared to die for it. >> in the months after 9/11, maajid nawaz was arrested. in an egyptian jail, with what he calls the cream of the crop of jihadists, he was thrilled at first about all he could learn from them, but then he had a jailhouse revelation. >> living so close with them for four years in prison, i came to the conclusion that if these guys, any of them, ever got to power, if they ever declared this so-called caliphate, it would be hell on earth. it would be a living nightmare. >> something had clicked. where once he felt no sympathy for the victims of 9/11, the 7/7 attacks in london he says made him feel revulsion. recently nawaz's journey took him from prison to parliament. he ran for a seat in the british elections.
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he's currently a chairman of a think tank he co-founded to study extremism and challenge it. >> people that join isil, they genuinely think about bringing about an end of days scenario, they genuinely believe they're working on behalf of god. >> his story sheds light on one crucial aspect of this picture. but what about the others? why are hundreds, thousands of people streaming from four corners of the world to fight for isis? >> why do young men -- and they are almost all young men -- lust for jihad? thomas friedman has a simple explanation. >> none of them have ever held a job, power or a girl's hand. and when you put large numbers of young males together and you offer them a wife, you offer them a salary and you offer them the ability to lord it over
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somebody else, that is isis' value proposition. >> next on "blindsided," is isis a threat to the united states, to the homeland? i'll give you my thoughts when we come back.
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you've heard so much and seen so much about isis, it's easy to get anxious. it is trying to scare you and confuse you. and the gruesome attacks in paris have again done just that. we still can't be certain how many of these attacks are planned or directed or simply inspired by isis, but that lack of knowledge only adds to our anxiety and fuels our fury. and, indeed, the terrible attacks in paris have alarmed the entire world, making it all the more important that we understand the islamic state fully and realistically. isis presents itself as a global organization, but it has thrived
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because of a local cause. the group has gained territory, cash and recruits, primarily because of the rage and reb rebellion of the sunnis of iraq and syria. that sunni cause is going to endure for some time. the sunni dominated areas will remain in turmoil and isis will be able to capitalize on this chaos. now, in the long run, isis might find its greatest foes lie within its so-called caliphate. the few reports emerging from areas controlled by isis suggest that people don't like living under a brutal theocratic dictatorship. they live in fear. even those who chose it as an alternative to shiite rule are growing enchanted. in this respect, isis is like other radical isis groups, such as the taliban. they have allure in the abstract, but once they are actually governing in their
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medieval, that this ever increasing repression. no one has voted isis into power anywhere. they slaughter their way to victory. is isis a threat to the west? their groups leaders declare it is every day. but until recently their ambitions seemed to be appeared mostly centered on arab enemies, on building a caliphate in iraq and syria. in recent months, however, with the attacks against russia and turkey and france, clearly isis has expanded its ambitions and its operations. >> they understand, of course, that to be terror group number one, they must battle the country that is the world's number one power, america. they seek that confrontation. and hope that the united states would come to the middle east and fight them on their terms, on their terrain.
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now, to be clear, they are opportunists, and they ask and hope that their followers would act in america. but their main focus is not to come here. they want americans to go there. the leaders of isis have recognized that, above all, they are a messaging machine, which in turn becomes a recruitment machine. their gruesome videos would seem a repulsive turnoff, and are to most people, but they work on the web. the shock and awe they produce makes them go viral. and thus are seen by tens of millions. that ensures that these videos attract those utterly alienated young men, a few thousand among the world's 1.6 billion muslims who seek revenge, glory and gore. and as long as those young muslim men scattered across the globe are attracted to isis and stream to its cause, the group presents the world with a danger that is impossible to fully
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assess and a danger that grows by the month. time to cover the race for the white house as we welcome our viewers here in the united states to the show. now, as you know, saturday is a very big day on the campaign trail. republican voters head to the polls in the state of south carolina for that state's primary. donald trump is in the lead there, but the latest poll numbers show his margin against ted cruz, it's narrowing. moov meanwhile, democrats hold their caucuses in nevada on saturday. the polls there show the race between hillary clinton and bernie sanders is just too close to call. here's a look at some of the poll numbers on the republican side of things.
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the cnn poll of polls show 39% of south carolina voters who were surveyed support donald trump. ted cruz at 20%. this margin was wider a few days ago. marco rubio in third, followed by jeb bush, ben carson and then john kasich. the last three national choices are trump, cruz and rubio. the bottom standings are a bit different on the national level with kasich ahead of mr. carson and mr. bush. evangelical christians could be the key to the victory in south carolina. in 2012, 65% of republican primary voters there describe themselves as born-again or evangelicals. cnn's randi kaye spoke with some of them to find out which way they're leaning now. >> reporter: how many of you are still undecided? four out of the six. with the evangelical voted still up for grabs in south carolina, this group of evangelical
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christians are still split, although most favor marco rubio. this resident likes ben carson, too. >> i feel he has a spirit about him that makes me feel like a spiritual kinship. he's got humility and kindness and grace. >> reporter: these voters want a president who is pro-life but say for them pro-life is more than just politics. it's a set of values they treasure. >> how are we pro-life in education? are we pro-life in talking about refugees or undocumented immigrants? how are we pro-life talking about the environment and our duty to be a steward of it? for me that extends beyond this checked box of political topics. zoo. >> reporter: trump was pro-choice once. does that bother you? >> i was adopted when i was 3. i grew up in a group home and so, like, being pro-choice for me is a huge aversion. i think there are other alternatives. >> reporter: the group is also
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passionate about immigration reform, favoring a path to citizenship. megan smith from spartanburg says trump has made this about anger and fear, which don't coincide with her christian beliefs. >> as christians we're not called to act on our fear or our anger. we're called to act on our love. the bible tells us love casts out all fear so we need to look for candidates who are going to, i think, encourage us to two better and be better and love others. >> reporter: for these voters it's not about electing a president to restore christian america. >> i don't think we're looking for a pastor in chief. i don't think we're looking for somebody to restore a certain set of spiritual values in a president. we just want somebody who will respect -- who will respect our faith and allow us to practice it freerly. >> reporter: for this group, that someone isn't ted cruz or donald trump. is anybody here supporting donald trump? raise your hand. none of you. are there any ted cruz fans?
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nobody. they think cruz is running a dirty campaign and say despite his evangelical roots, he's against the teachings of war, poverty and running against strangers. >> he's not embodying this christian values because it's against the teachings of jesus. >> reporter: some here have the same problem with trump and question more than his policies. when i holds his bible up and says it's his favorite book, do any of you buy that about donald trump? >> no. >> he knows he has to do that to win the republican nomination. >> i don't want someone who's a serial ma nothing mist, he owns casinos, with strip clubs in those casinos. there's just so much about his lifestyle and the choices that he has made over the years that just as a woman particularly,
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and then as a woman of faith, make me very uncomfortable, to say the least. >> that was cnn's randi kaye reporting for us in south carolina. the group that she talked to also said they see a generational divide among evangelicals and they want a candidate who is against abortion and also has compassion. hillary clinton and bernie sanders are in a near dead heat. ahead of nevada's democratic caucuses. latest cnn/orc poll shows ms. clinton now has a narrow lead over bernie sanders among likely caucusgoers 48% to 47%. clinton is leading nationally but sanders has narrowed the gap to six percentage points. clinton is up 48% to the ver senator's 4 %. the two didn't waste any time on friday. sanders and clinton both larged last-minute efforts to win over nevada voters. and clinton scored a big endorsement ahead of south carolina's primary. senior political correspondent
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brianna keilar reports. >> show the world that democracy is alive and well here in nevada. >> reporter: today bernie sanders is making a final pitch to nevada voters before saturday's caucuses. >> the issue is not just who wins the democratic nomination. the issue is whether nevada will play a leading role in moving this country toward a political revolution, which transforms this country. >> reporter: as hillary clinton tries to tighten her grip on south carolina, the first in the south primary. scoring a big palmetto state endorsement from jim clyburn, the highest-ranking african-american in congress. >> my heart has always been with hillary clinton. >> her church -- >> reporter: clinton is also running a new buy graphical
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television ad, featuring the iconic voice of actor morgan freeman. >> her life's work has been about breaking barriers and so would her presidency. >> reporter: one day before nevada democrats caucus, clinton is still in search of potential supporters, hoarding all important union support in this state. >> i am no johnny or jane come lately to this. i did not just discover unions were under pressure from the republicans and the right. >> reporter: suggesting that sanders is unrealistic in his promises. >> i'm not just making speeches. i'm not just promising free this, free that. >> reporter: clinton and sanders facing fresh scrutiny at a nevada town hall last night. clinton on whether she would release transcript of speeches she's given to financial institutions. >> i'm happy to release anything i have when everybody else does the same because every other candidate in this race has given
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speeches to private groups, including senator sanders. >> reporter: sanders was pressed to respond to comments he made in 2011, raising the question of a primary re-election over president obama. >> overall, i think the president has done an outstanding job. the idea there can be a primary where different ideas get floated and debated, i don't think that that is terrible. >> reporter: meanwhile, bernie sanders' larry taking aim at bill clinton, saying he was dreadful for poor people but he actually said his brother bernie respects hillary clinton. he said they're not friends but they did work near each other. brianna keilar, cnn, las vegas. and cnn has reporters covering both contests from every angle. we are live from south carolina, where republican voters will go to the polls these coming days and from the democratic nevada caucuses. also happening on saturday, stay with cnn for the very latest on it. the winner of uganda's
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presidential election will soon be named. latest on the results coming up in a live report here on "newsroom." plus, people in fiji are boarding up. tropical cyclone winston pummels the nation. we'll have a look at what islanders may be in for as "newsroom" continues.
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viewers here in the united states and around the world. you're watching "cnn newsroom." i'm george howell. tropical cyclone winston is making landfall in fiji this hour and people who live there can only hope they have done enough to get ready. it is the most powerful storm to
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make a driblgt hit on fiji's main islands ever. the fiji times says the government has declared a state of emergency for the next 30 days. there is a curfew in effect right now. in about a half hour from now, david cameron is expected to make a statement on the deal reached with european leaders to keep his country in the european union. right after that he will present the agreement to his cabinet. and he says he will then announce a date for a public referendum on the eu deal if the cabinet approves. in the united states, the presidential race, democrats in nevada will be holding their caucuses on saturday. polls say the competition between hillary clinton and bernie sanders is too close to call. meanwhile, south carolina republicans go to the polls. in a few hours, new survey shows donald trump leads the state but ted cruz is gaining. u.s. president barack obama and his wife michele paid their respects to antonin


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