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President to Give Speech on Proposed Syrian Strike; Congress Continues Debate Over Authorization of Military Force Against Syria; Interview with Congressman Mike Rogers; Mudslides Strike Midwest; Amusement Ride Terror; Rodman Back from North Korea, Has Harsh Words for Obama

Aired September 9, 2013 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Monday, September 9th, 7:00 in the east. Coming up this hour, a crucial week for President Obama, he is trying to convince Congress to authorize a military strike against Syria. But brand-new CNN poll numbers show the majority of Americans are not behind a strike. Take a look, yourself -- 59 percent oppose Congress authorizing action in Syria. And here's a big "even if" -- even if Congress were to go ahead and pass this resolution, 55 percent of Americans still oppose a strike. Look at this one, 72 percent don't think that the action would accomplish anything for the United States. So the president is doing multiple interviews today. He will hopefully try to change minds.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus this. We have been talking about the stunning online confession. A young man in a video admitting to killing another man in a drunk driving accident. This morning he is set to be indicted. And for the first time, we are hearing from the family of a victim. What do they make of the confession? Do they think it should earn him a lighter sentence?

Dennis Rodman is back in the U.S. after visiting North Korea. He is already sparking all sort outrage with his choice of words for President Obama and secretary of state Hillary Clinton. But wait until you the insult he throws at them over an American missionary that is imprisoned there in North Korea. He is apparently also announcing some big surprise today. There is some big thing that he is teasing all day. We're going to tell you what we think, or at least we might take some guesses with that announcement. It is hard to know.

CUOMO: That's true.

Let's start with these poll numbers for you. Let's bring in CNN chief national correspondent John King joining us from Washington. John, you know you got it tough when the headline isn't even the worst part. Take us behind the numbers here.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, if you look at these numbers, there's clear skepticism. You mentioned the headline, six in 10 Americans, 59 percent, say Congress should vote no. They should tell the president no, we do not want a military action in Syria right now. That's the big headline.

That support, it ticks up a little bit, the support of the American people, if Congress says yes, a smaller percentage of Americans say, OK, Mr. President.

But look at this. The president talks about a shot across the bow of Bashar al-Assad. Look at this shot across the bow to the president of the United States -- 71 percent of Americans say if you can't get this resolution, don't do this. So remember, the president said he believes he has the right. But the American people are speaking loudly here, Chris, and our new poll saying, Mr. President, if Congress says no, don't use the military.

CUOMO: One of the fundamental concerns is the most important one, which is why are you going to do this? A little glimmer of hope in terms of his ability to persuade what people said in the poll what they believe happened in Syria, right?

KING: There is two sides to this coin. yes, you are right, except look at what people told us when we asked them, did Bashar al-Assad do this? Did he use chemical weapons against his own people, including women and children? More than 80 percent, 82 percent say they're certain it's true or it's likely true. So they believe Assad is a murderer. They believe he has done this, he has used these heinous weapons against his people. So the president there has the moral argument, if you will.

But Chris, here's the biggest problem, and the evidence in our poll is overwhelming. As you noted at the top, still more than 70 percent of Americans, 72 percent, say they don't believe the president can do what he's promising. They don't believe you will have a limited military action that actually will make a difference and achieve U.S. strategic goals.

That skepticism -- they believe Assad did this, they believe he's a murderer. But they're skeptical their president can deliver on what he's promising to do. That is the president's biggest problem as he tries to sell members of Congress, and more importantly, the American public this important week.

CUOMO: The "why" problem, that is why this address is so big when the president gives it. John King, thank you very much. I'll see you in a little bit.

BOLDUAN: And if you needed a reminder, it's clearly a critical week in the Syria crisis with Congress back to work. President Obama pounding home his message that the Assad regime needs to feel the pain of military strikes. Brianna Keilar is live at the White House with this angle of the developing story. Good morning, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Kate.

President Obama has a problem convincing Americans and convincing Congress. And it's a problem with his own party. You look at his former political arm, Organizing for America, and they have been mum on Syria. Now, President Obama is trying to get a little help from his former secretary of state.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: President Obama getting some high powered help from none other than Hillary Clinton, a source telling CNN she'll speak out on Syria when she comes here today for an unrelated event. The president needs the help. He's pulling out all the stops, including interviews today with CNN's Wolf Blitzer and other major news networks before a speech to the nation Tuesday night.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we've seen out of Syria.

KEILAR: Images of children dying from nerve gas, videos the president's team lab showing senators in secret to get their votes, first obtained by CNN, now made available for all Americans to see. Obama's chief of staff on a media blitz, appearing on all five Sunday talk shows.

DENIS MCDONOUGH, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I hope before any member of Congress makes his decision on how to vote, they take a look at that video you all made available to the world yesterday. Take a look at that and try to turn away from that.

KEILAR: Those videos expected to be shown in closed door briefings for all members of Congress returning for the dramatic debate and vote. To turn the tide, the president unexpectedly showed up Sunday night at a dinner hosted by Vice President Joe Biden to sell Republican senators on Syria. And today he's sending National Security Adviser Susan Rice to the Congressional Black Caucus. But opposition is growing, even among Democrats.

SEN. TOM UDALL, (D) NEW MEXICO: My heart is broken when I see that video and you see women and children dying as a result of chemical weapons. But the big question for the Congress right now is, what is the most effective way to move forward?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was the president, I would withdraw my request for the authorization at this particular point. I don't believe the support is there in Congress.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is also making his case in an interview with CBS News' Charlie Rose. He says "There is no evidence I used chemical weapons against my own people." The White House responded by saying they're not surprised a person who would use chemical weapons against civilians would also lie about it. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Brianna, thank you so much for that.

Let's talk more about this. Joining me now to discuss whether the House and Senate will approve military action in Syria is the chairman of the House select committee on intelligence, Republican Mike Rogers. Mr. Chairman, it is great to see you. Thank you so much for joining me this morning.

REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) MICHIGAN: Glad to be here, Kate. Great to see you as well.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. We got these big poll numbers out this morning I want to talk with you about, because it really shows the American people are sending a clear, loud message to Congress this morning. Nearly six if 10 Americans say Congress should not authorize a strike against Syria. With that in mind, do you think the votes are there in either chamber at this moment?

ROGERS: Oh, not today. They're certainly not here today, Kate. That's certainly the issue.

And on something as important as national security, believe me, I understand why people are skeptical. I'm skeptical at this point. But we have to come back here, I think, then talk about what is the U.S. national security interests? If we're just punishing someone for using chemical weapons and then disappearing, I think that's not a great plan and, a, and, b, it's not a great message.

Here's what we need to do. We need to understand the use of those chemical weapons is a serious problem. We have other nations, North Korea, Iran, others that we believe have stockpiles, at least some stockpiles of chemical weapons, so they're used. By the way, this was an escalation of use. The British think it was 14 times. This happened to be the biggest because there was no earlier intervention or no pressure for him or no consequence for him using it earlier than that. So we've seen human nature here. If he can use it to his advantage, he will. It sends a pretty important message to North Korea and Iran, if they can use it to their advantage and there's no consequence, they likely will at some point.

So we need so say, we need fix this problem of his use of chemical weapons. How does the United States secure those chemical weapons after this to make sure they don't fall into the wrong hands? And the next step up, this isn't really a civil war. It's a proxy war with Iran and Russia. And it's turning into a regional conflict. All of that has national security consequences for the United States.

BOLDUAN: I hear you saying that. But I'll tell you, when we look at these poll numbers, Mr. Chairman, the American people clearly don't hear that, believe that, or don't know that on some level. When you ask them the question of would U.S. airstrikes achieve a significant goal for the U.S., 72 percent say no. They don't think it's worth it for the United States to be getting involved with this fight. I want to know, what does that tell you, and I think the important question is, do you think, when you see that poll number, that the president can do anything to sway public opinion when he speaks to the nation tomorrow night?

ROGERS: Here's the problem. He started the debate basically today, this week. So he hasn't had any national or foreign policy speeches really to speak of in the last five years. He hasn't really talked about Syria in a meaningful way with any depth of understanding of how it impacts the United States at all.

He has very poor relations with members of Congress, of both parties, by the way. They are completely disengaged. And so they're coming in and asking for a very big thing without allowing I think Americans and most members of Congress who don't sit on national security committees to understand the broader impact of what's going on in Syria.

So, listen, by the way, he announced it on a Saturday and left for a week. And so, you couldn't do this in a worse way, in my opinion. But we find ourselves where we are. So what I hope happens this week is we have that dialogue and that discussion and that debate, as we should as members of Congress, about national security issues. And that means we will get some classified information that our constituents won't have access to.

So that's why they send us here, to take a look at that, to take a look at the consequences of doing something and the consequences of not doing something. And they, believe me, there are consequences for not doing something. We better have that discussion in a way that allows each member to come to their own conclusion about what is the United States' national security interest on a bigger scope. And I think, hopefully, that can happen this week.

BOLDUAN: And we know the administration keeps saying this is not Iraq. This is not Afghanistan, and this is not Libya. But you know that people are very skeptical post-Iraq about trusting just on face value the intelligence that they are hearing as an argument for military action. It's a subject of an Associated Press piece over the weekend. There is a lack of concrete evidence linking this chemical weapons attack to the Assad regime. I know there is classified information and you are privy to it. There is no question it was Assad.

But do you think the American people deserve to know more, deserve to see that intelligence, deserve to see that evidence before the U.S. goes in?

ROGERS: Well, I think we ought to provide as much as we can. But remember, some of the ways this information and intelligent is collected is important to protect so we can continue to get information and intelligence about what's happening in Syria. So that we can do in classified settings and we should.

BOLDUAN: But don't you think the American people deserve more, because you can see in our public opinion polls they're not believing what the president and the administration are saying at this point.

ROGERS: Well, the president has a huge credible problem. I get that. And it's real, and, as I said, I'm a little skeptical until you go through this process. The good news is people who are getting exposed to the classified reports, Republicans and Democrats, have come out and said, you know, yep, I get the chemical weapons thing.

It's not just about the use of chemical weapons. I don't think that's where people's problems are. They are very skeptical about moving forward for a couple reasons, no. One, they don't understand, nor has it been defined, what is the United States' national security interests? I happen to think they're there, but the president certainly hasn't talked about it at all. That's causing this problem. No one request say, well, if we do this, for what gain? What is the end game? What is the mission?

Here's my hope. If Congress came in and gave a huge authorization to the president and said, you can do this, you don't have to fire one missile. You lay it down and say, listen, bad things will happen, you either negotiate now or guess what, something really bad will happen. Right now, if we do this, we eliminate ourselves, the United States ability to sit down and force a negotiated settlement that protects our national security interest by protecting those chemical stockpiles and conventional weapons from falling into the lands of what has become a jihadist magnet from all over the world, including the United States, by the way, in Syria.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Chairman, let me ask you one quick final question. Do you think the president should go ahead, because I know you support action, do you think the president should go ahead if he does not win approval in the House of Representatives?

ROGERS: Absolutely not. I think that would be a horrible mistake. And I would strongly recommend to the administration that they not move forward if you can't win enough votes and confidence in the United States Congress.

BOLDUAN: All right, Mr. Chairman, great to see you. Thank you so much. A big week ahead for you and for the president. We will be leaning on you for more information. Thank you. Great to see you.

We do want to remind you, next hour, we will get reaction from White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes on this very issue. You want to tune into that. And then tonight, Wolf Blitzer going one on one with President Obama on the issue of Syria. You will see that interview at 6:00 eastern. And following that very important interview "Crossfire" is back in action, just in time. That will begin tonight at 6:30 eastern.

CUOMO: All right, Kate, we have weather news, from mudslides to heat waves. Plenty going on this morning in the way of extreme weather. Take a look at the heavy damage in Utah, Saturday. Look at this, massive mudslides because of a thunderstorm. And now you go to the other side of the scale. We got a heat wave bringing triple digit temperatures to the mid-west.

So let's bring in CNN meteorologist to Indra Petersons to join us with the forecast. What do we know about all this?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's unbelievable. We do remember tropical storm Lorena out in the eastern Pacific. All that moisture went out to the southwest over the weekend, and every time we see that, unfortunately we see flash flooding.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my god. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like a black monster lava.

PETERSONS: This amazing cellphone video was just one of many scenes across Utah after a massive storm Saturday caused flooding, evacuations, power outages, and mudslides. In Alpine City about 100 people were briefly evacuated. The National Weather Service reported three-quarters of an inch of rain fell if just 15 minutes.

VICKIE REAY, ALIPINE CITY RESIDENT: It was 100 feet wide. You know, it just got bigger and bigger and picked up more momentum.

PETERSONS: Lone Peak police captures these incredible images of a mudslide tearing through Utah county. Residents in some neighborhoods reported more than 3 feet of water in their homes. In Provo, the water so powerful that it actually collapsed the corner of this hill.

BATTALION CHIEF JOSEPH MCRAE, LONE PEAK DIRE DISTRICT: When I came up here, the water was running down the street about a foot-and-a-half deep. So it's probably the worst I've ever seen.

PETERSONS: At the BYU-Texas football game, pounding rain caused a two- hour delay. Rain, thunder and lightning left fans running for cover. In the Mid West, an intense heat wave is forecast to bring record- breaking temperatures over the next two days. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, heat indices could rise into the triple digits. Chicago has not set a record high in September since 1998, but that streak could end on Tuesday if they see temperatures in the mid- to upper- 90s.

Many schools have already closed tear doors to students as a precaution. This elementary school in Denver was one of six that closed early Friday after temperatures soared into the upper 90s.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's too hot for the movie in there and teachers too, it's very hot.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PETERSONS: All from remnants of Lorraina in the eastern Pacific causing all that flooding in the southwest. Now, our next tropical storm. We have Humberto out there, 40 mile per hour steady winds. This is the Atlantic. Here's the thing we have all been watching. Will from be our first hurricane? Will we break record? Will we go the farthest ever in the satellite era without having a hurricane? Let's keep in mind that record is on September 11. The was Gustav in 2002 at 8:00 in the morning. This storm is expected to strengthen. Looks like it could be category 1 hurricane on Wednesday 2:00 in the morning if that's the case. We will not beat that record, but wither way we will be watching this. For now, the good news expected to stay away from the U.S. mainland.

CUOMO: Thank you for that.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much. We have new details this morning on what caused a frightening, I would say terrifying, carnival ride accident in Connecticut. The rotating swing, suddenly, you see it there, it lost power Sunday sending about a dozen children to the hospital. CNN's Pamela Brown is joining us with the latest. This goes under the category of every parent's nightmare. Supposed to be a fun weekend. Then this.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And then this: we learned the ride was inspected two days before this accident happened. The company that owns the ride issued a statement saying the accident was caused by a mechanical malfunction. As can you imagine, that is doing little to comfort the parents who watched in horror as their children were hurled 10-15 feet to ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a big bang the whole apparatus of swings came smashing down at the bottom of the swing.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I looked to my left. I saw the swing ride. It collapsed. All these people were there. I actually saw someone fall out of the cart.

BROWN: This swing ride in Norwalk, Connecticut, became a dangerous terrifying thriller on Sunday when the ride suddenly lost power sending children to the ground.

SHAWN MARSH, WITNESS: It was just injured kids everywhere, the parents ripping out the gate, trying to get to their kids, it was horrible.

BROWN: Sitting in chairs, suspended by chains, 13 children were injured. At least two seriously when the ride malfunctioned. Other rides are the Norwalk's annual Oyster festival were shut down as a precaution, but soon reopened following inspections.

KEN MARTIN, AMUSEMENT RIDE SAFETY ANALYST: Portable rides have a very good safety record. In the straight of Connecticut, however, they are only inspected once a year.

BROWN: Stewart Amusement owns the ride, they posted this statement to their website saying, in part, "The Zumur swing ride suffered a mechanical malfunction. And we are continuing to cooperate with authorities as they investigate into the root cause of the accident."

State officials inspected the swing ride on Friday, just two days before the incident. This comes on the heels of a deadly accident in July at a Six Flags amusement park in Arlington, Texas. A woman fell to her death from the popular ride. The Texas Giant known for having one of the steepest drops in the world. There are currently no federal agencies enforcing safety regulations on fixed amusement parks like Six Flags. Experts are calling for a change.

MARTIN: This particular ride in Connecticut was a traveling ride. There will be federal oversight. An amusement ride is an amusement ride. And they need to be the same inspection guidelines for amusement rides all across the country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And Stewart Amusement says its rides are inspected daily by its own trained personnel, weekly by state and local inspectors, and annually by professional engineers and insurance company inspectors. State police will conduct a detailed investigation to find out what caused the incident. An important distinction there. Remember, Six Flags conducted an internal investigation. A lot of controversy with that. In this case, an outside agency will come in and investigate.

BOLDUAN: It sounds like a very good move. All right. Thanks so much, Pamela.

CUOMO: A lot of other news, this morning so let's go right to Mick.

PEREIRA: All right, here we go. Another fast moving wildfire near Northern California State Park, this one just east of San Francisco, it's called the Morgan fire near Clayton, California. Several dozen homes evacuated. People rushing to get themselves and farm animals out of harm's way. Evacuees are hoping the hard work of those firefighters will let them return later this morning. So far, about 800 acres have burned.

A 30-year-old fan fell to his death at the San Francisco 49ers season opening game. Police say the victim was with his brother on am elevated pedestrian walkway at Candlestick Park when he plunged to the sidewalk below. Witnesses say he appeared to be intoxicated.

The NSA may be able to get into your smartphone. Documents obtained by the German news magazine "Der Spiegel" show the spy agency has cracked protective measures on iPhones, Blackberries and Android devices. It can get to your contacts, call list, text messages, and location information. But the documents do not show the NSA is conducting mass under surveillance of smartphones.

At least 91 first responders who rushed to the Pentagon in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 9-11 have requested compensation and health benefits. Even though there are no medical studies suggesting those sites were anywhere near as toxic as Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. Over 24,000 emergency personnel in New York have applied for the benefits after developing illnesses from their work at the World Trade Center site.

Dub stem phenom' and Youtube sensation Marqeese "Nonstop" Scott is back. Ooh, look at him move. His latest video set to a remix of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" has gone viral already. A million views more than that in just a week. It's amazing, this guy has the moves. He has a long way to go, though, to reach his more popular video, "Pumped Up Kicks," 94 million views and counting. I cannot move like that. It's amazing. He's just so.

BOLDUAN: I would be in a hospital emergency room right away if we attempted to.

PEREIRA: Just try a little dub step.

CUOMO: 94 million viewers. It makes me want to get the linoleum out.

PEREIRA: Dust it off.

CUOMO: Show my moves. See if I still have my style. PEREIRA: Break dancing phenomenon Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: It's evolved.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: Your L3 couldn't take it.

CUOMO: That's true. I'm brittle.

BOLDUAN: Oh my goodness. Coming up next on NEW DAY, Dennis Rodman is back from North Korea. He has, yes, you could describe them as choice words for President Obama and Hillary Clinton. We're going to hear what the worm had to say about his trip.

CUOMO: We have been talking to you about Syria a lot, but for all the politics, remember, this started about people. There is a huge health crisis along Syria's border with Lebanon. More than a million refugees have traveled there to avoid the fighting. We will go live to Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He is there. He will show you the situation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. Hope you're having a good morning so far. Well, Dennis Rodman, back in the Unites States, and once again under fire. The former NBA star returned from North Korea this weekend saying it was not his job to help free a U.S. missionary jailed. And what else he said has sparked some pretty major outrage.

CNN's David McKenzie is in Beijing with much more on this story. We knew his trip would make headlines, but we didn't expect this from him, David.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no. We didn't expect this from basketball bad boy Dennis Rodman. Yes, he's normally making headlines and that just what he did on his way out from North Korea. Not the most obvious diplomat, but he has developed a close relationship with the dictator in North Korea. When I pushed Rodman about imprisioned American, Kenneth Bae, just look what he had to say to me.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE: Former NBA star Dennis Rodman back from North Korea. Showing off snapshots with his friend, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Rodman fueled speculation that he would push Kim about imprisoned American Kenneth Bae. Now, a very different tune.

Did you ask about Kenneth Bae? CNN.

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: (INAUDIBLE) Guess what. That's not my job to ask about Kenneth Bae.

MCKENZIE: Rodman showing off that famous temper.

RODMAN: Ask Obama about that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As if you are going to talk about it.

RODMAN: Ask Hillary Clinton.

(CROSSTALK)

RODMAN: (EXPLETIVES DELETED)

MCKENZIE: Bae is serving 15 years of hard labor and desperately ill, his family says.

TERRI CHUNG, KENNETH BAE'S SISTER: Rodman is the only person, the only American to have contact with the North Korean leader. You cannot help but hope their friendship would benefit Kenneth. So we were disappointed.

MCKENZIE: The worm billed his trip as basketball diplomacy, but some aren't buying it.

ABRAHAM COOPER, VICE CHAIR OF N. KOREA FREEDOM COALITION: Rodman's behavior, now, on both these trips are just absolutely outrageous. It just aids and abets one of the most dangerous regimes in real time.

MCKENZIE: Kim's regime is running vast labor camps and developing nukes. Rodman calls the young leader a, quote, "awesome kid."

COOPER: I have no idea from his point of view what game he's playing. Although, you can just take a look at the obvious. He's getting phenomenal coverage. For someone who hasn't put the ball into the basket in years is now being talked about in capitals around the world.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCKENZIE: We can expect more publicity for Dennis Rodman. He is hours away from what he calls a major announcement in New York. Just how close is he with Kim Jong Un? Well, he said to "Guardian" newspaper, a British newspaper that, he spent time with Kim and his family and revealed that the dictator has a young girl called Ju-Ae. So, really, that's more access than even top diplomats have gotten for more than a decade. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: Which speaks volumes, David McKenzie, thank you so much for bringing that to us this morning.

CUOMO: I would love to boycott the worm. But you can't because it involves North Korea. When you talk about Syria --

BOLDUAN: He's the only American to get in, unfortunately, to know what's going on there. So we have to --

CUOMO: We are all worried about Syria. This is a viable nuclear power we're talking about and the worm is our best lead on information here. Amazing.

BOLDUAN: Can't make it up. CUOMO: Take a break here, when we come back on NEW DAY, the man who confessed to driving drunk when he caused a fatal accident. Remember this? He's expected to be charged today. The big question is whether this was done to help others for himself the isn't it? Wait until you hear what the victim's family had to say.

BOLDUAN: Also, ahead, more than a million Syrian refugees are believed to be living in squalid conditions along the border with Lebanon. How long can it go on? How are they surviving? We will hear straight from Dr. Sanjay Gupta who is live there this morning for us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)