Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Military Executes Two Daring Raids; Obama Addresses FEMA Employees; Pay Drying Up for Furloughed Workers

Aired October 7, 2013 - 12:30   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Two daring raids by U.S. forces in Africa, one went by the book; the other, not quite as planned.

You had an elite Delta Force captured a most wanted terror suspect in Libya. Now he's in U.S. custody, facing interrogation.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And then in Somalia, thousands of kilometers away, Navy SEALs went after a top terror commander of Al- Shabaab, but they couldn't capture him alive, so they backed off.

Let's talk about both of these operations with Clark Kent Ervin, the first inspector-general of Homeland Security, now director of the homeland security program at The Aspen Institute.

First, let's talk about the Libyan, Abu Anas al-Libi. You know, I'm curious what you think about the legal implications here. He's not on U.S. soil. He's on a U.S. ship.

Does it matter? Does this start to look a little bit like rendition?

CLARK ERVIN, THE ASPEN INSTITUTE: Well, Michael, there's precedent here. Some years ago, a Somali suspect was captured.

He was interrogated for some two months without being advised of his Miranda rights, without being told of his right to have a lawyer.

And he proved to open up and was a huge treasure trove of information, then was later told about his right to have a lawyer and then elected to cooperate, and he's been cooperating ever since.

So this is perfectly proper and legal and I expect that we'll get a lot of information out of al-Libi.

MALVEAUX: One thing that is not quite clear is the timing of all of this.

This is somebody who, for all intents and purposes, was living in broad daylight, had another role. His wife said that he wasn't involved in the twin bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, but he's left al Qaeda in 1996.

So why now? Why did they decide to go after him at this time? ERVIN: I'd say a number of things about that, Suzanne. One, there's no question but that, at least in the beginning, he was a key al Qaeda operative.

He was one of the close associates of bin laden, reported directly to him, was with him in the beginning, before the East Africa bombings, and was involved in the East Africa bombings.

This shows, as the secretary of state said, that we will pursue you to the ends of the earth through three presidential administrations, Democratic and Republican, if you have perpetrated a terror attack against the United States.

I would take with a grain of salt what his wife says. It could well, of course, be the case that he hasn't been involved in terrorism for quite some time. We'll find that out.

It's conceivable that he does know about ongoing operations, but at a minimum, he'll be hugely valuable to us as far as institutional knowledge is concerned.

HOLMES: What's interesting here is we've seen a lot of drone use over recent years as a tactic. I mean, you couldn't imagine a drone being used in Libya, an ostensibly friendly government there.

Somalia is another story. Are you surprised that it wasn't used in that attack?

ERVIN: No, I'm not actually, Michael. I think we're seeing the future of counterterrorism operations play out in both these places.

No big ground invasions like Iraq and Afghanistan, and we're seeing a ratcheting back of drone operations as well for a number of reasons.

In Pakistan, in Yemen, to some degree in Somalia, there's been a huge political backlash. It's proved to be a recruiting tool, creating still more terrorists.

Also, we can't abduct and get any intelligence value from people. And sometimes it's unclear exactly whom we kill, and certainly there can be and has been a lot of collateral damage, civilians.

So for all these reasons, these kind of surgical strikes where, ideally, we abduct someone for the intelligence value, and failing that, we know who we kill, as I say, I think that's the wave of the future.

MALVEAUX: Clark, one thing that really surprises me is the fact that we're actually talking about these, these top secret raids.

You know, 10 years ago, even five years ago, this would not be something that we're discussing.

You point out about something that the Navy SEALs were doing, maybe five, 10 years later after their operations. So why do you suppose the U.S. government, the military, is making it known that they have these secret operations that are going after terrorists, not only the successes, but the failures?

ERVIN: Well, that's a very good point, Suzanne. There's no question butt there is much greater transparency now than, as you say, five years ago, certainly 10, 20 years ago.

There's a lot of public pressure for that, and to some degree, I think the administration is responding to that.

You know, the criticism in the Snowden wake was that we haven't been transparent enough.

Also, of course, it's largely a good news story, entirely a good news story in the Libya case. A mixed story, I'd argue, in the Somali case.

So I worry about the degree of transparency that we have here. There's no question about that.

HOLMES: Very quickly, I mean, what about the U.S. reputation? You've got U.S. special forces going into Libya.

The Libyan government, as I said, ostensibly a friend who's going, hang on, please explain, we didn't know about this. Somalia is a different case, in many ways.

But what about the U.S. reputation being seen as they just go in anywhere they want and take whoever they want?

ERVIN: Right, well, as far as Libya is concerned, it really is a government in name only, Michael. We still haven't caught perpetrators of the Benghazi attack from longer than a year ago and that's in part because of the dysfunction of the Libyan government.

We saw that we captured al-Libi right in the middle of the capital, so the government doesn't control the capital much less the rest of the country.

So -- and also there are indications that the government is tacitly supportive of this and is protesting for political reasons, because it was hugely unpopular among the populace.

Likewise, the same is true in Somalia. There's not much of a government there as well. So these are lawless places, and there's a long recognized legal principle that a country has a right to defend itself and we're doing that in Libya and Somalia because we're not getting the cooperation of the Libyan and the Somali governments.

HOLMES: Indeed, Clark Kent Ervin, appreciate that, too.

And the Somali government often allowing those sorts of attacks as well from the U.S., important to note. Thanks so much.

MALVEAUX: We're also getting some news from the White House.

We're hearing about some possible conciliatory language that could lead to a deal in the shutdown showdown.


MALVEAUX: We've got some breaking news out of the White House, Jim Acosta following the shut down story here.

And I understand, Jim, that the president is actually going to go to visit FEMA to actually --


MALVEAUX: -- make a statement there.

What do we know about his trip, first of all?

ACOSTA: I can tell you, Suzanne, that he's there right now. Apparently, he's talking to the FEMA employees that have been working on Tropical Storm Karen.

He's going to be thanking those employees. He may be thanking them right now. We're waiting for those remarks to come back. They called it "carry back," as you know, Suzanne, back to the White House, and we'll be able to put that on the air.

But as of right now, he only has the traveling press pool with him. But from a White House official, this what the president is going to be talking about.

Not only FEMA, he's also going to be talking about this issue of a government shutdown and that the Congress should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open again.

He's also going to be talking about this debt ceiling increase. You've heard House Republicans and this White House going back and forth over the last 24 hours over that, House Speaker John Boehner saying that they don't essentially have the votes at this point for a clean debt ceiling increase; White House officials calling back and saying, no, that's not the case. If they just hold a vote, up or down, they can get the government up and running again and get an extension to the debt ceiling.

So the president talking about some of those issues over at FEMA this morning -- or this afternoon, right now. We should get those comments in just a few moments. Within the hour, I would think.

And then the White House press briefing with Jay Carney will start at around 1:00, so we'll get even more of a readout at that point as well, guys.

HOLMES: Tell us a little bit more. You've been reporting on this conciliatory language, let's call it that, about the debt ceiling and the potential for default.

And you were saying earlier, this is the well-kicked can being kicked further. What are you hearing about this? ACOSTA: Well, the can hasn't been kicked just yet, so we need to caution that, you know, they still have to kick the can before it can be kicked down the road, guys.

But as you know, the debt ceiling comes up on October 17th. That's the rough date as to when the treasury secretary has said the nation could potentially go into default.

And over the last couple of weeks there's almost been no negotiations, almost no hint of compromise between either side on this.

Now this morning, a White House official told CNN that they are open to a debt ceiling increase of whatever Congress decides, so basically making it up to Congress to decide how long that debt ceiling increase should be.

Why is that important? Well, potentially, Congress could raise the debt ceiling for just a few months. That would give both sides some breathing room to hammer out a larger compromise, perhaps, on the budget and everything else.

But White House officials are also stressing that they're not offering anything in exchange for this, I guess, conciliatory language on the debt ceiling increase.

They don't want Republicans in Congress to think that they're going to be able to get concessions on ObamaCare and on the budget and everything else. They just want to make sure that it's clear at this point that it's up to Congress to raise the debt ceiling and for how long.

So perhaps some conciliatory language, perhaps it could lead to something, but we'll have to wait and see.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jim Acosta, thank you so much. We'll be following this, and it will be interesting to see what Speaker Boehner, his response is to perhaps this offer from the White House and how Jay Carney phrases it, because they say they want tax reform. They want entitlement reform. They want something out of this.

HOLMES: In return, yeah. Yeah, is this a door opening? Who knows? But, yes, again, can-kicking.

You've heard the numbers, half a million government workers still furloughed. In a minute, we're going to meet one of those workers and hear what she has to do just to make ends meet once her paycheck is gone.


MALVEAUX: So, over the weekend, the House passed a bill to approve back pay for government workers, but they're not going to get the money until the government fully resumes operations, of course. That means for more than 500,000 workers, their paychecks are going to be drawn up within about a week or so. HOLMES: A week, yes. They'll have to live off what they've already got. Well, Lyn Kirshenbaum is one of those workers. She's a specialist at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. She joins us now from Philadelphia.

Now, even before this shutdown, you'd already been furloughed for one day every other week I think because of the sequester. Was that because of the spending cuts or the sequester? How did that come about and how does this add on to the woes?

LYN KIRSHENBAUM, FURLOUGHED GOVERNMENT WORKER: Well, there was a serious problem that the sequester cut 10 percent of every agency's pay without them being able to decide what they wanted to cut. So losing the funds for the sequester made it difficult for me, even from living paycheck to paycheck, to make my bills, so I had to start use my home equity loan advance.

MALVEAUX: So, Lyn, what does this mean for you in practical terms? I understand that your own sisters called you to see if you needed to borrow money.

KIRSHENBAUM: Yes, that's true. I'm a single parent with two children, two adopted children from Guatemala, and the instability is really affecting them. I'd like to be able to pay my mortgage. I'd like to be able to pay my utilities and my creditors. And it's very terrible that we are not able to go to work, when that's the thing that federal employees do. We serve the public and we need to go back to work and get paid.

HOLMES: It doesn't' - it does look like most workers are going to get paid once the shutdown is over. But your need is more immediate, that's what you're saying?

KIRSHENBAUM: Well, I think everybody's need is more immediate. And there's some people who make less salaries than me that are more entry-level workers. We have our bills to pay now. The creditors are not saying we won't -- we'll forgive late fees and interest rates. We need to buy food for our families now.

MALVEAUX: Right. Well, Lyn, we wish you the very best, and we certainly wish your children the best as well. Please keep us posted, keep us informed as the days and maybe weeks go on. This government shutdown continues. And she's absolutely right, you know, I mean Visa, MasterCard, these people - you know, American Express, they're not waiting -

HOLMES: Exactly, for you to get the back pay.

MALVEAUX: For you to say, oh, I'm so sorry.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes.

MALVEAUX: Right. Yes, I mean, they've got fees and those - they're going to add those fees onto it.

HOLMES: Hundreds of thousands of people, too. MALVEAUX: Uh-huh. Lyn, she is just one of more than 500,000 federal employees who are out of work right now. In just a minute, we're going to get some advice for those folks who find themselves now out of a job.


HOLMES: Now, before the break, we spoke with a furloughed government worker in Philadelphia. She's about to get her last paycheck until the government shutdown is over. And she is in the same boat as about 500,000 other government employees.

MALVEAUX: So we want to talk to Jeff Gardere, he's a clinical psychologist, about this.

And, Jeff, you know, people, they - their work is so important to them sometimes. They really identify and they feel like a sense of stability, of routine. If you had some advice to give to folks, you know, what do they do now, especially because they're so worried about how to pay their bills?

JEFF GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think one of the most important things that they can do is to speak to other furloughed workers, other laid off individuals. But it shouldn't be a grieving session. It really should be an empowerment session to see what it is that they can do as far as, you know, keeping their time, staying busy. The second thing is that they need to talk to family members. They really shouldn't sit on their emotions because that will make them sick. And the third, and very important thing, is to stay as busy as possible. Find a routine. Stay vital. If you're in a relationship and you feel that your contribution of money is no longer there, then you can contribute by helping around the house, finding old projects that you've been doing, because it's not just about the money, it's more important to be in a situation of where you're feeling vital, you're feeling empowered. So for many people, work is therapy. So keep some sort of work going on.

HOLMES: And what is the risk factors for them? That's great advice on what to do. I mean for people who maybe aren't doing that, what can come out of something like this in a negative way, in terms of, you know, psychologically?

GARDERE: Well, I think psychologically, what we see is that a lot of these people do end up becoming depressed. They have what we call a mild depression, which is a disstymieia (ph), and they just feel that they're not contributing at all. Their sense of worth is gone. And what we tend to see is a lot of anger. We're going to see that anger in the road rage. We're going to see the anger in relationships and marriages with families because they really are very frustrated. They don't know what to do about this government shutdown. They don't know what to do about the politicians. And they feel that if nothing else, that people are fiddling while Rome is actually burning.

MALVEAUX: And, Jeff, real quick here, to wrap this, you know, we've been talking about these rewards that they have for people, consolation prizes, get a free beer, a mani-pedi, you know, all those kind of things. Does that help at all or does that seem to trivialize people's real emotions about not going to work?

GARDERE: Well, I don't want to see it become commercialized and people are making money off of someone else's pain or trivializing it. But if nothing else, I think it should begin to show that we all care. Those of us who are working, who are employed, we're going to reach out to our brothers and sister, our fellow human beings, and make sure that we can do whatever we can to help them out. We need to see humanity come out of this, even if we're not seeing humidity in Washington.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jeff Gardere, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Obviously a lot of people are going to be needing a little bit of support during this tough time.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, very stressful too, those bills mounting up.

Now, she has many arms and means a lot to Hindus. Just one of many cool pictures from around the world that are coming up. We're going to tell you what this celebration is all about. Stay with us here on AROUND THE WORLD.



The Olympic torch has arrived in Moscow, on its way to the sight of the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia. But a few red faces in red square where the flame went out.

HOLMES: Look at that. He just notices there. And you see him now. He signals to a security guard. He's like, it's out! It's out. Luckily, it's probably not good for his health, but he was a smoker, pulls out the old Zippo, and watch this.

MALVEAUX: He had a light.

HOLMES: Yes, a couple of flicks and he gets it lit up again.

Now, there is an unlit one that's going to remain unlit that is even going to journey to the International Space Station because you don't take a lit one up there.

MALVEAUX: All right. Well -

HOLMES: Did you not see "Gravity"?


HOLMES: It doesn't work.

MALVEAUX: Several stories catching our attention today, the photos as well. I want you to take a look at this. This is Indian Hindu widows standing in awe of the 10-handed Hindu goddess Durga. About 50 widows were brought to their native city to celebrate the Hindu festival Durga Puja. HOLMES: Yes, you - now check this one out. This is -- unionists (ph) and human rights activists in Brussels, just prior to a soccer game apparently, they're standing inside inflatable plastic bubbles. The two groups came together to denounce working conditions of migrant workers. I'm not getting how this helps, but --

MALVEAUX: Ah, well, you know, this is just a demonstration.

HOLMES: It's a worthy cause, yes.

MALVEAUX: And, finally, Indian chefs possessing with what they hope is the longest dolca (ph) there. It's a dolca. It's a fermented crepe or pancake made from rice batter and black lentil --

HOLMES: Delicious.

MALVEAUX: Is it really?

HOLMES: You haven't had one? It is.

MALVEAUX: This is 53-feet long.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes.

MALVEAUX: They said it only took 10 minutes to make that thing.

HOLMES: A lot of people working on it. They are delicious, though.

MALVEAUX: It looks like of dangerous to me. It looks (ph) like a lot (ph).

All right, thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD.

HOLMES: I'm hungry now.

MALVEAUX: CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

HOLMES: See you tomorrow.

MALVEAUX: You've had one.

HOLMES: Yes, absolutely.

MALVEAUX: Are they good?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now the House is in session, but the government is still in a partial shutdown. We're in day six of the showdown. And the House speaker, John Boehner, is focused in on spending cuts instead of Obamacare. Stand by, new information coming in.

Also right now, we're watching the president of the United States. He's getting ready to speak. We'll have more on that.

And a suspects al Qaeda terrorist is in U.S. military custody after a lightning fast raid by commandos, but another special force operations in Somalia unclear how much of its objective was achieved. We'll debrief the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. He's been briefed on Libya and Somalia.