tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN September 5, 2017 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT
california, burning down 72 homes. be sure to follow me on facebook and twitter. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i now turn you over to wolf blitzer. he's in "the situation room." happening now, breaking news. monster storm. hurricane irma is now one of the strongest and most intense hurricanes on record. the potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane could make a direct impact on florida where a state of emergency has been declared and mandatory evacuations are already ordered. unprotect unprotected, the trump administration moves to end a program that sheltered from deportation nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the united states as children. will a divided congress now step in and protect them? on the brink. south korean warships conduct live fire drills in the wake of north korea's latest nuclear
test. but kim jong-un is not backing down, promising more missile tests as the world tries to pull back the rogue regime from the brink of war. and not my bride. vladimir putin says president trump is, quote, not my bride. they say they will expose more diplomats as tension between the two countries rise. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." breaking news, the latest forecast is just in for hurricane irma and it's chilling. with sustained winds of 185 miles an hour, hurricane irma is the strongest atlantic storm in a decade and tied for the second strongest atlantic storm ever. the potentially catastrophic category 5 monster is bearing down on islands in the northeast caribbean with the virgin
islands and puerto rico in line. florida suris under a state of emergency emergency. visitors are being ordered out of the keys and residents across the state are making a run on baur water, food and emergency supplies. also breaking, calling it a solution for the long term, president trump is defending his move for ending a program that has protected nearly 800,000 immigrants who came to the united states as children. the program has allowed them to live here without having to fear deportation. but the administration calls the obama-era program unconstitutional, and the president says it's time for congress to act on the matter. former president obama says congress never acted on immigration in the past and calls the trump administration's revoking of his program, quote, wrong, self-defeating and cruel. and following its most powerful nuclear blast yet, north korea may be preparing for a new missile test. south korea has carried out live
fire naval exercises but kim jong-un's regime is defiant, issuing a new threat to, quote, blow up the u.s. mainland. we'll get both sides of the debate with mark meadows. he's standing by live. our correspondents and guests, they are standing by with full coverage of today's top stories. let's begin with breaking news. the new forecast for hurricane irma just out, now tied for the second strongest storm ever in the atlantic. a monster category 5, irma has winds of 185 miles an hour. florida is under a state of emergency and bracing for what could be a devastating blow. let's go live to our meteorologist tom sater at the cnn severe weather center. what's the latest forecast? what's the latest, tom? >> you'll see the most massive storm we've seen before.
there has only been one recorded in history that's been any stronger, and that was hurricane allen in 1980. we are watching this most likely make its way directly over the island of antigua. could decimate them with loss of power, loss of communications and water. as it makes its way across the u.s., virgin british isles, could make landfall there as well. if you look at the winds alone, it is going to be massive. this is going to leave a path of destruction. what is this back behind it? that's jose and most likely will become a hurricane, but we're not going to worry about that. it should slide into the open waters. we have new concerns as a new track from the national hurricane center has more of a curve, looks more like after interacting with cuba on friday and saturday. wolf, it looks more like it's going to be a west coast of florida deal. however, the computer models which have been in agreement for days continue to agree. it gives us confidence.
but until that turn to the north makes its turn, until that happens on saturday afternoon, we will not be able to say with any certainty who exactly will have a landfall and at what time because we still have options here on the east coast of florida, possibly up to the carolinas or even more into the gulf of mexico with its eyes maybe on coastal mississippi or alabama, even the panhandle. one thing for sure is, with this massive storm already at a strong category 5, it will find itself in even warmer waters as it makes its way through the caribbean, getting close to the coast of florida. this is going to be jet fuel for this storm. wolf, one more idea i want to show you. i want to show you the comparisons of the european model and the u.s. model. last thursday they were 1200 miles apart. but they are in agreement now. right now they're on top of each other. we'll take you from friday 6:00 in the morning. the european has more interaction with cuba. the high terrain, the spine in the central and eastern part of the country that could help break the system down. however, with that warm water,
it's got time and space to still generate. the u.s. model carries it more on the eastern coastline with possible landfall getting up closer toward savannah. any way you look at it, i don't want anyone to say, well, for sure you're going to have a landfall in miami right now, because we have to continue to watch this unfold day in and day out. it is hard to have a hurricane like this continue with its magnitude and strength for this long period of time. it goes through reorganizing. it will spin like a top on a table and start to wobble. when it goes to that reorganization, wolf, we could have a new center placement. so the retracking has to take place. but it does look like by this coming weekend and maybe a landfall on september 11 that somewhere in the southeastern u.s., we have a formidable storm that could be a catastrophic hurricane, a category 4 or category 5. >> a lot of nervous people down in south florida. take miami-dade county, a county of nearly 3 million people. at what point do they decide to
evacuate that county, for example? >> the way the models are shaping up now, there is more confidence in this. because they're clustered close together, these models, the european had this system here last thursday. so it's got a great handle on the environment. in fact, all families in all of florida right now should be having a little family talk right now about what our plans should be. but i think you've got some time in the next couple days, because we'll be watching this for some time. we've got all of wednesday, thursday, friday and even saturday, but at that time you don't want to get backed up on the highways and not be able to exit the state at that time. this could head more into the gulf of mexico or slide off to the carolinas. we have lost the window, i believe, to see the system actually slide and miss the u.s. i think that window has shut, pretty much. it's hopeful, we're optimistic, but it looks more like an impact in florida, at least one coast
or another, late sunday into monday. >> tom sater, thanks very much. meanwhile, there's other breaking news we're following. a sharp backlash developing right now to president trump's move to end obama-era protections for nearly 800,000 young immigrants who came to the united states as children. protestors spinning off on their own. the president's supporters are deeply divided. the president strongly defending his decision. >> reporter: that's right, wolf, we finally heard from the president on this decision this morning. he told reporters he has, quote, great love for the dreamers, but they're not feeling the love tonight. the white house said this wasn't a cold-hearted decision for the president and it's one he wrestled with for his advisers, but in the end, the white house won and the president decided to dump the dreamers. >> reporter: for the young, undocumented immigrants brought
to the u.s. as children known as the dreamers. the trump administration is terminating the obama-era policy that shielded the dreamers from being deported. white house attorney general jeff sessions made an announcement that sounded tailor made for the president's political base. >> to have a lawful immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. it's just that simple. that would be an open borders policy, and the american people have rightly rejected that. >> reporter: instead the same president who declared he loved the dreamers -- >> we love the dreamers. we love everybody. >> we're going to deal with daca with heart. >> i said my highest duty is to defend the american people and the constitution of the united
states. i don't condemn the parents for the action of their children. but we must also recognize that we are a nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws. >> it was a big part of the legal protcess. this was deemed illegal by just about every legal expert you can find in the country. >> reporter: late in the day, the president finally weighed in. >> i have a great heart for the folks we're talking about, a great love for them. people think in terms of children, but they're really young adults. i have a love for these people and hopefully now congress will be able to help them and do it properly. and i can tell you, in speaking to members of congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right. and, really, we have no choice. we have to be able to do something, and i think it's going to work out very well. long term it's going to be the right solution. >> reporter: the white house is
stressing that congress still has six months to pass a fix to protect the 800,000 dreamers and that nothing will be impacted by march. he's saying he wants something in return. namely, a wall. is that correct? >> i don't think the president has been shy about the fact he wants a wall and something he feels is an important part of a responsible immigration reform package. >> democrats are already balking at that, questioning the president's motives, including pardoning jeff arpaio. not to mention his past comments about immigrants. >> they bring in drugs, they bring in crime, they're rapists. and some, i assume, are good people. >> opposition is coming in from all sides.
including the diversity council. >> i am resigning right now from that council. i see no point in trying to work with people that clearly don't see this issue the way i do. >> to former president obama who said in a statement, to target these young people is wrong because they have done nothing wrong. it is self-defeating because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs and perform in the country we love. do they have time to fix this? >> calculation six months is to march 5, so we have plenty of time, right? rnlt. >> these dreamers are concerned because they handed over their personal contact information when they faced the threat of deportation. now they say that information could potentially be used by individuals. wolf, the dream is in danger tonight.
>> jim acosta at the white house. thank you very much. joining us now, republican congressm congressman. >> wolf, it's great to be with you. >> what is your reaction of the president's decision to rescind daca affecting these 800,000 young people? >> obviously i support the president's decision, wolf. one of the things that's perhaps not getting reported a whole lot is the jurisprudence that is out there would suggest this was going away, anyway. the president took a decisive action. he did it in a way that gave congress six months to deal with it. you saw dick durbin and lindsey graham working together already trying to look at some legislative fix. but more importantly, any solution is going to have to start, really, with securing our southern borders. as we look at this, we're getting calls on both sipds.
those that said, well, we should have been remember left it just like she was. they need to be sent back now. >> it's cool that congress acts. i think you'll see an expeditious way that we tried to deal with this. >> i want you to hear this once again. here is the president moments ago speaking about these 800,000 dreamers. listen to this. >> we all have a great heart for the folks we're talking about, a great love for them. people think in terms of children, but they're really young adults. i have a love for these people and hopefully now congress will be able to help them and do it properly. and i can tell you, in speaking to members of congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right. and, really, we have no choice. we have to be able to do something and i think it's going to work out very well. long term it's going to be the
right solution. >> so you agree with the president? do you agree with him when he says, i have a love for these people and hopefully congress will be able to help them and do it properly? in other words, allow them to remain here in the united states. >> i do know personally from the standpoint -- there is a real compassionate side of things. on behalf of maybe a parent or somebody else getting them in, so it was really a fight between that. and the constitutional principles that we have. if you allow a president only to make those law, we has, we have problem. i'll remind you, when president obama talked about deferred action, he said this was a temporary stopgap measure intending for congress to act.
so this president has said it's the duty of congress to pass those laws so we get rid of any k inconsistency. it's now incumbent on members of congress in the house and the senate to act and deal with this to make sure we have secure borders but that we treat people with compassion as well. >> your leader, the speaker paul ryan, he said at the heart of this issue, our young who are impacted. when all is said and done, do you want law that has allowed these 800,000 young people who are now working or going to school or serving in the u.s. military, do you want them to be able to remain in the united states, have a pathway to legal status and a pathway to u.s. citizenship? >> when we look at this, it gets back to what i said earlier,
wolf. right now we're dealing with 800,000 people. if we don't secure a southern border, how many are we dealing with? at what point does amnesty become the de facto immigration policy? if we're going to deal with this in terms of a legal status or anything else you were mentioning, we have to make sure we have e-verify in place. we have a border security to make sure that. it's all part of a debate that's ongoing that daca and our border security has to come together as we try to resolve this. >> are you okay -- i want to be precise on this -- assuming there is no other legislation deporting these 800,000 dreamers? >> if we don't take action, they will be deported?
>> is that okay with you? >> well, it's the rule of law. it's not a matter of what i think. i'm one member of 135 members. what we have to do is be a nation of laws, and we look to th that. do i want necessarily that to happen? my mind goes to a person i just spoke to. we had someone who was really concerned about this issue, yet what happens is our interaction creates a crisis. so it's time we move and we work on immigration. there are a lot of level-headed people trying to do that. and as we see that, it has to be part of a comprehensive package. we're up against deadlines right now with the debt krooelg and funding the government and nothing will get done, just like it wasn't done in the last
administration. >> what would it take for you, one member of congress. i have a pathway for citizenship. if there is funding for the wall in mexico, would that be enough? >> ronald reagan said you never get in trouble by not answering a hypothetical, wolf, so what i am going to say is this. we have to start with border security and the wall. if we have a kprecomprehensive program that not only deals with our southern border, it also looks in terms of e-verify. other areas where we have this situation, and really, with a merit-based legal immigration system, if we look into that, then i'm willing to look in a compassionate way of handling this daca issue. i think there are a number of us
that get painted into a corner. but finally we can deal with it. weaver been dealing with this for years. it's dime to deal with it. >> do you think the president will pay a price if these 800,000 people are deported? >> there is one constituency that wants you to deal with it one more, another constituency wants you to deal with it another way. i think we'll have a bigger fallout when we don't seal our security border. i know. that means we ever to all get in a room and discuss it.
you're not going to pass with some republicans and some democrats. it need to be a truly bipartisan situation. >> we'll get another discussion yeah, since birth. that drives me crazy. yes. it's on all your email. yes. they should know this? yeah. the guy was my brother-in-law. that's ridiculous. well, i happen to know some people. do they listen? what? they're amazing listeners. nice. guidance from professionals who take their time to get to know you.
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rates are competitive, and they're the only plans of their kind endorsed by aarp. remember - these plans let you apply all year round. so call today. because now's the perfect time to learn more. go long. . breaking news, president trump strongly defending his move to end protections for nearly 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the united states as children saying, quote, long term it's going to be the right solution. but it's drawing a very sharp backlash. former president obama who started the program calls the move wrong, self-defeating and cruel. joining us now, democratic
congressman john iramendi of california. you heard the conversation. what's your reaction? >> the president has structured a deal putting 800,000 young men and women, young dreamers, on the line in exchange for his border wall. that's what this is all about. he is putting at risk those 800,000. >> would you vote for the border wall funding, billions of dollars for the border wall, if it allows these 800,000 dreamers to remain in the united states? >> i think it's a bad deal. the president didn't need to do anything. this will go through the courts to determine the constitutionality. to say president trump is a constitutional genius? come on, give me a break. this needs to go through the courts. maybe it will stand muster, maybe it's not. in the meantime we can move on way comprehensive reform. >> if there has to be a
compromise skpar compromise, a lot of times there does need to be a compromise, what would you support people like mark meadows, for example, including funding for the wall in order to have an opening for these 800,000 young people to remain in the united states legally? >> take down the border wall the president wants. give it to the coast guard because the coast guard has the real potential of stopping the drugs from coming into the united states. we need to move forward. there needs to be an e-verify, there needs to be a guest program. you have about 11 million people out there. what is their status? these are the undocumented people in the united states. we need a comprehensive reform. mark wants to take the first step forward with the daca legislation. good, first step. now let's put the rest of this puzzle together and solve this very serious problem. >> do you see a possibility there can be legislation passed in the house and the senate within the next six months, something the president will sign into law, that will in the end allow these dreamers to stay
here legally? >> it's going to be a tough go. let's understand that the president spent 18 months poisoning this well. his rhetoric from the very first day he announced his candidacy poisoned this entire immigration issue. and it's going to be an extremely difficult thing. >> he said he loves the dreamers, he wants to be compassionate, he wants to work something out and you heard him say he thinks in the end this will be better. >> this is the kind of love none of us want. this is the kind of love that put 800,000 young men and women who came forward, who signed an agreement with the nation that they would give their personal information in order to be able to go to school, in order to work in this country. 91% of these people. they are working, they are in school, they are performing. you take these 800,000 people and you move them out of this economy, we're talking about as much as a half trillion dollar loss, economic loss, to this nation over the next decade.
>> do you really fear realistically that these 800,000 young people could be deported from the united states? >> absolutely no doubt. you just heard mr. mett lerks s ta -- mettles talk about that. literally they bring their children to school. here we have 800,000 targets for them. this is going to be a major challenge across this nation. totally unnecessary. it would work its way through the courts, the current daca situation, and found to be constitutional or not. and the congress has to come to grips with a comprehensive immigration reform. >> but is that realistic given the nature of the u.s. congress right now? >> we can always be hopeful. >> do you think it's realistic that within six months you could get comprehensive immigration reform? >> it's going to be hard enough to get with this quid pro quo.
>> let alone the other undocumented living in the united states living very peacefully. >> peacefully, employed in our economy and paying taxes. keep in mind none of the dacas can receive benefits. they can't receive welfare. that's part of the deal. so we have a situation here that's totally unnecessary, extremely harmful to the economy, obviously harmful to the families, many of them married who now have children of their own, who are citizens. >> while i have you on a totally different subject, you're a member of the armed services committee. i know you'll be briefed tomorrow on this escalating tension with north korea right now, the nuclear tension, the possibility they could be launching another intercontinental ballistic missile. what do you want to hear from the president of the united states to try to calm things down? >> i want to hear nothing. i don't want to hear a tweet. i want to hear a deep breath being taken. we've got a very big stick. teddy roosevelt says carry the
big stick. nobody has a bigger stick than the united states. yes, we could wipe north korea out. it would be a horrendous, horrible war, but we could do that. but the other part of it, speak softly. get back to the negotiating table. we've got some really good things to negotiate. there is no peace treaty. we've been 64 years without a peace treaty between north korea -- >> you want direct negotiations with north korea? >> definitely. get south korea, north korea, japan and russia. negotiate this thing. there are fruitful negotiations that are possible. is a treaty possible? quite possibly. >> in exchange for the nuclear program? they're not going to give up their nukes. >> we don't know, do we? we don't know until we sit down at the negotiating table. their economy is in trouble. go to the banks. prohibit the banks from doing business with them. these are all negotiating principles that we have. this talk of war, this cheap
talk that is not cheap at all, it is extraordinarily dangerous because there could be an incident that could start it. then hell would be paid. >> let's hope not. john garamendi of california, thank you. >> thank you. coming up, north korea may now be preparing for another launch, another intercontinental ballistic missile launch as kim jong-un staying a step ahead of u.s. intelligence. former president obama calls it cruel but president trump strongly ending daca for 800,000 young people in the united states. will congress be able to protect them? stay with us. you're in "the situation room." ? nope. get those kids some new capri sun! you myour joints...thing for your heart...
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i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. former president barack obama rolled back daca registrations for 800,000 undocumented children. president trump is stopping it hoping congress can change the move. jeff zeleny, you learned how much the president has struggled with this issue himself over these past many months. i want to play for our viewers how he described the dilemma back in february.
>> daca is a very, very difficult subject for me, i will tell you. for me it's one of the most difficult subjects i have. because you have these incredible kids in many cases -- not in all cases -- in some of the cases having daca, there are gang members and drug dealers, too. but you have some absolutely incredible kids, i would say mostly. they were brought here in such a way -- it's a very, very tough subject. we are going to deal with daca with heart. >> so what have your sources told you how the president came to his decision today? >> in a sense, the timeline was forced for him. there was going to be a lawsuit and the government thought they indeed might not win that lawsuit because it is on very uncertain ground constitutionally. but i am told by a senior white house official it was like a tug-of-war in the west wing of the white house. all these advisers and outside advisers who the president listens to were largely telling him different things, but business leaders and others were
urging him not to do anything draconian here. we're told he's not happy necessarily with this decision but was trying to find a spot in the middle. i think from watching the president in february, it makes you wonder if he could have softened this a little more to have him make that announcement today, not the attorney general, which was such a form of harsh hardline decision. but the reality is he is trying to bring congress in on this, share the burden and make them do it. the question is, if they don't and they've not been able to do immigration reform -- dana and i have been on the hills of congress for a long time -- they've not been able to do it. he's the new dynamic here. we'll see if he takes a leadership role on that. this was a tough decision for him and i believe that. >> listen to what he said just a few moments ago when he was asked by a reporter about today's decision. >> i had a great heart for the folks we're talking about, a great love for them. and people think in terms of
children but they're really young adults. i have a love for these people, and hopefully now congress will be able to help them and do it properly. >> so when you hear him talk like that about a love for these people, congress will do it properly, you heard mark meadows of the freedom caucus say, if there isn't all sorts of other border security issues, a border wall included, he could see those 800,000 young people deported. >> yeah, because conservatives in the house, and to a lesser extent in the senate, but they're there as well, it's hard to see them voting for anything, any piece of legislation that would allow these dreamers to stay. it just is not going to happen. and that is in large part why the republican-led house and senate, when barack obama was in the white house, never did anything on even this, which is the most bipartisan idea of any of the immigration concepts, and
that is letting these dreamers stay in this country. even that didn't get through. and it's in large part because of those conservatives. which is why the only answer to getting this done is bipartis bipartisanship. it's got to be genuine, real, old-fashioned, bipartisanship where democrats and republicans come together, craft something where they know they're going to lose the conservatives like mark meadows. they know they're going to lose maybe even some of the liberals who want to go further. but they've got to come together and that's the only way this is going to happen. then you have to rely on the president to defy his base and sign it, because it's hard to imagine -- >> when you hear mark meadows of the freedom caucus say to us as he did just a little while ago that there shouldn't even be a vote, that the speaker should not allow a vote unless a majority of the majority is with them, and that's a problem. >> well, it's a problem if the house speaker agrees to it.
this is the same problem that his predecessor john baynor found over and over where the base was tying his hands and not allowing him to reach across the aisle. by the way, it's not that different from what you're seeing with the democratic base right now working with republicans and donald trump on other issues. but that's the litmus test, that's the criteria in which the conservatives are trying to make this not happen, and it's going to be up to the house speaker who asks for, publicly asks for, the president to let congress handle this to put his money where his mouth is. >> what's different than what john baynor faced is you now have a republican president. so what is president trump going to do and what is his role going to be in this process? if he comes out and says i support the republicans in congress taking this action, i support the bipartisan solution, the conservatives will be left as an island unto themselves and they will be the ones facing
pressure potentially. >> he could have said that more strongly today and we've not yet seen him play a leadership role in any piece of legislation. this could certainly be one of them. that would be the different dynamic. you're right, rebecca, some of the conservative house members may go along. he has sway with them. this is what the potential leadership is about here. but this is more of a challenge than people think. anything with immigration related to it never seems to get far. >> senator john cornyn of texas just told our manu raju up on capitol hill that any project for large-scale, comprehensive immigration reform would pretty much guarantee failure. he said, we've tried comprehensive for as long as i've been here. we've never succeeded because people have asked for a pathway to citizenship, for example, and we've just never been able to do that. that would be a mistake.
that would guarantee failure, because there are so many republicans who see a pathway to citizenship or even legal status as amnesty. >> no question. the notion of comprehensive immigration reform, i think at this point, is -- john cornyn is right. it's just not going to happen and we saw the last time a real -- excuse me, the first time a real comprehensive immigration reform bill tried to get through with a republican president in the white house, george w. bush. it failed big time. >> if they don't pass legislation in the next six months, do you think it's realistic these 800,000 young people will be deported from the united states? >> i don't think it's realistic, wolf, but it is a possibility. it leaves them open to that uncertainty, it leaves them open to deportation. i believe this would be a major political problem for republicans if there is no
solution. because if you do look at the polling on this issue, dana is absolutely right, this is a part of a facet of immigration reform that does have broad bipartisan support, ask children who are left in this situation are very sympathetic figures to many people. >> the one thing to keep in mind is the difference between kind of the debate before president obama put daca in place and now is that these people came out of the shadows. they gave all their information to the united states government. so they have that. they are known quantities. they are known people. and so if this isn't fixed and the government wants to deport them, it's a lot easier to find them. >> since president obama signed that executive order, there have been 800,000 people in the united states. they are not undocumented or illegal. >> it was a big risk. i remember talking to a lot of dreamers at the time. it was absolutely a risk. but you look at wise,
experienced statesmen like orren hatch and others who would like to bring the young people on, but this is why the contours of immigration challenges are there. this president is different. let's see what he does on this. >> if you look at the timeline of this, wolf, and the politics, six months takes you to the point where midterms are starting to ramp up. republicans will be thinking about that as well. stick around. we're following as north korea unleashes its most powerful missile test to date. many worry that the united states has underestimated kim jong-un. why are intelligence agencies struggling right now to collect reliable information inside the secretive regime? how do we say that this fall,
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to help you sort through your options and find a perfect place. a place for mom. you know your family we know senior living. together we'll make the right choice. north korea is once again flexing its military muscle. conducting a nuclear missile launch in the last week alone. american authorities are still struggling to understand the secretive regime. our brian todd has been digging into the challenges faced by the u.s. intelligence community. brian is joining us now. brian, what are you learning? >> reporter: some analysts believe the u.s. intelligence community was caught off guard by how rapidly kim jong-un's nuclear and missile programs advanced. intelligence officials deny that but they do acknowledge north korea is a difficult target. tonight we've got new insights, excuse me, into the challenges of hacking, surveilling and gathering human intelligence inside this nearly impenetrable regime.
he's never met with a foreign head of state, never even set foot outside his own country during nearly six years in power. some of the best intelligence on kim jong-un comes from the unpredictable former nba star dennis rodman who says he's held kim's baby daughter in his arms. that in a nutshell shows the challenges of gathering intelligence on the secretive regime of america's increasingly powerful enemy. >> it is very difficult. and the intelligence community we refer to north korea as the hardest of the hard targets. >> reporter: u.s. director of national intelligence recently admitted how difficult north korea is to spy on. >> it is if not one of the hardest, the hardest collection a nation that we have to collect against. it becomes a difficult challenge relative to the society is closed and is isolated as north korea is to get the right intelligence that we need. >> reporter: human intelligence is scarce. how hard is it for a westerner to get in there and walk down the street in pyongyang, meet with someone to get
intelligence? >> it is extremely difficult, virtually impossible. first we don't have an embassy in pyongyang so that limits the official diplomats or any kind of agents we might run. also just trying to blend in. obviously we stand out because of different ethnicity. also even south koreans try and run operatives, they have difficulty. different dialects, different use of words, pronunciation, the populist is suspicious of any foreigner, anyone they don't recognize. >> reporter: north koreans who talk to foreigners without permission could wind up thrown in prison camps or even executed. there are not a lot of phone or internet signals to hack. this photo from space shows what a dark country it is. and while spy satellites can look for activity at launch pads and nuclear sites, u.s. military officials say north korea has stepped up its efforts to hide many of its weapons activities. >> they have learned from watching how we attack targets how to bury things deep underground complexes.
one of the notable things where you see something like vip housing, some observable, often what they've done is buried something so deep you cannot see what is going on. >> reporter: analysts say the u.s. does get valuable help from south korean intelligence, but are america's decision makers making choices without a full picture? >> i think the decision makers may not have the full information but they do understand how to look at history and figure out by extrapolation what's probably going to happen. >> reporter: analysts say u.s. and allied intelligence agencies often have to recruit north korean defectors to get the best information. people like diplomats. but even they come with baggage. some might give misinformation in order to get money or protection. some might be double agents for the north koreans. and others could have criminal backgrounds because they deal in money and drug trafficking and they might be unreliable because of that. wolf? >> brian, in recent months it seems at least that the director of national intelligence, dan coates, and the new cia director mike pompeo, they were giving
sort of contradictory accounts of the difficulties of intelligence gathering when it comes to north korea. is that right? >> reporter: that's right. in may dan coates told congress north korea was the toughest nation to collect intelligence against. he said they get limited results when trying to collect electronic surveillance and they have gaps in overhead reconnaissance. mike pompeo in mid august said the intelligence community has done what he said was, quote, remarkable work in watching the missile and nuclear programs develop. today intelligence officials insisted to us there is no daylight between coates and pompeo, that they are bringing a lot of resources to bear to make sure policy makers understand the threat and they're on the same page. >> stakes clearly are enormous. brian todd, good report. thank you. coming up breaking news we're following, winds of 185 miles an hour, hurricane irma is one of the strongest hurricanes on record right now, the potentially catastrophic storm could make a direct impact on florida where mandatory
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