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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Details on Oregon School Shooting; Militants Take Iraq Airport, TV Stations, Military Bases; Donald Sterling Nixes Sale, OKs Lawsuit; Friendly Fire Kills 5 U.S. Troops; New Crackdown on Aircraft Laser Attacks
Aired June 10, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, thank you very much. Happening now, breaking news -- school shooting. Shock and terror as a gunman enters a high school, opens fire and a SWAT team rushes to protect children. We're learning new details as yet another American community is torn apart by violence.
Donald Sterling says no deal. Instead of a $2 billion sale of his team, the Clippers' owner is working on $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA. I'll speak live this hour with his attorney.
And a laser attack -- a sudden flash of light in the cockpit puts pilots and passengers at very serious risk. But even as authorities crack down, they too are falling victim to these dangerous strikes.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE STITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: And let's begin with the breaking news. We're learning chilling new details about an Oregon high school shooting that has left one student and the gunman dead. Police now revealing just a little while ago that a teacher was also injured in the incident and that the weapon used was a rifle.
Our CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown is working all of the details for us. She's joining us. Pamela, you're learning new information about the student. Tell us what you have learned.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. We're learning from law enforcement sources that the shooter appears to be a student at this school. According to scanner traffic, he was reportedly wearing all black, including a helmet and bulletproof vest, when he opened fire on the school early this morning, killing one of his fellow students. And sources say it appears that he died from a self-inflicted wound. Right now, investigators are on the scene trying to piece together why the gunman did this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired in the locker room. At least one person down.
BROWN (voice-over): The burst of gunfire rang out shortly after 8:00 a.m. With more than 2800 students at Reynolds High School in class.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two people shot, one is down.
BROWN: Tonight police have not released a motive, but say the gunman showed up alone and began firing a semiautomatic weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: I heard gunshots and then they started yelling, telling us all to get down.
BROWN: The school went on lockdown. Over a loudspeaker, students told this was not a drill. Outside, police and SWAT team members descend on the campus. Back inside, the gunman has killed one student and shot a popular teacher. That man is expected to survive.
BROWN (on camera): And we're told he is the PE teacher at the school. And as far as the investigation goes, authorities are casting a wide net. They're interviewing family and friends, scrubbing social media, searching the gunman's home for reasons to explain a motive, something authorities are being looking at, whether the gunman was bullied and the target -- the victim was targeted or just killed at random. Still a lot of unanswered questions here, Wolf.
BLITZER: What a chilling story this is. Pamela Brown, thanks very much.
Let's get some more. Joining us via Skype right now, a student who was in the school at the time of the shooting. Kara Ikebe is joining us. So tell us what happened, from your perspective, when the shooting happened. Where were you?
KARA IKEBE, STUDENT INSIDE SCHOOL DURING SHOOTING: I was in a catering class that was a few halls from the main entrance of the building which then leads to the gymnasium area, which apparently is where all took place.
BLITZER: What are the school authorities, teachers and everyone, tell you?
IKEBE: Well, it was actually -- I had heard the first bell ring but the second bell, the start of first period, hadn't gone through yet. But luckily right as my teacher was walking into class we heard on the loud speaker that we were going into lockdown, it wasn't a drill, and we needed to get inside the classrooms with the doors locked as soon as we could.
BLITZER: How did the students, Kara, react?
IKEBE: Everybody was scared at first but I don't think they really realized the severity of the situation until we were in lockdown for a good half an hour.
BLITZER: Half an hour in lockdown in your classroom, is that right?
IKEBE: Yes, at least. It was probably actually more like 45 minutes. BLITZER: And so then what happened? Who came in to tell you you
could leave? .
IKEBE: There was probably four SWAT team members that came into the classroom that told us that we could leave. But before that happened --
BLITZER: Kara, were you among the students who were asked to walk out single file with your hands raised high?
IKEBE: Yes, I was. That's how we had to exit the building.
BLITZER: How scary was all of this?
IKEBE: Oh, it was very scary. Seeing the SWAT team members as soon as we got out of the classroom made it all so real and I couldn't believe that this was happening to me.
BLITZER: Did you have a cell phone with you? Were you able to call your parents and let them know that you were OK?
IKEBE: Yes. I actually was texting my mom while I was in the classroom under lockdown but when we got out and were on our way out of the classroom with our hands above our heads, we couldn't have anything like that in our hands. We had to make sure our palms were up and open so that they could see we had nothing, no sort of weapon or anything in our hands.
BLITZER: Are you OK now, Kara?
IKEBE: Yes, I am. Still a little shaken up, but I'll be OK.
BLITZER: Kara Ikebe, thanks very much for sharing your experience with our viewers.
Let's bring in HLN's law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks who has been watching all of this. Mike, give us your thoughts about how this went down. It sounds now like we're getting a lot more details. The shooter was a student. The student who was killed clearly a student. We don't know what connection, what relationship, they may have had.
MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, Wolf. We don't know a relationship; we still don't know the motive. But apparently the response by law enforcement was fairly rapid there.
There are two school resource officers that are assigned to Reynolds High School. It's the second largest high school in the State of Oregon and the police chief said, at the press conference, that it was the two resource officers who were the first responders to this, along with a tactical team member. There was question of whether he took his own life or if law enforcement shot him, but Pamela Brown is reporting apparently he did take his own life. But still we don't know any connection.
And also, Wolf, there's apparently another weapon that was recovered the search. They found the weapon on somebody who was on the school grounds during this, but they say it was not connected whatsoever.
BLITZER: We have just been told that during the course of the day, one group every time (ph) for gun safety, that since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December of 2012, there have been 74 school shooting incidents in the United States. We've got a graphic; we're showing our viewers where they have taken place. What does this number tell you, Mike?
BROOKS: Wolf, it tells me that we live in a very violent society. I know some of the shootings, some of the ones that happened here in Atlanta, were basically student on student, and some were in retaliation for something else, that we're not dealing with someone who had a bullet-resistant vest and helmet.
Today sounds like this shooter went into that school looking possibly for one particular student and was basically on a mission. And, Wolf, keep in mind, tomorrow was supposed to be the last day of school. Today was finals. Tomorrow was the last day. So what was the motivation? What was going on with this shooter in the last 24 to 48 hours that brought that student to go and kill another student in the gymnasium locker room.
BLITZER: Of those 74 incidents, we're told, since Sandy Hook, most of those incidents have involved a lone gunman. So what does that say?
BROOKS: That says to me, is bullying one of the reasons for this? It seems that a lot of these shootings, Wolf, have been retaliatory for some reason, or someone who thought that they were wronged by another student or by a group of students. So again, it comes down -- a lot of people talk about guns but it also comes down, as we talked about just a couple of weeks ago with the Isla Vista shootings outside Santa Barbara, with mental health shootings.
BLITZER: Mike, hold on for a moment because President Obama has just commented on this deadly shooting incident in Oregon. Listen to what the president just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People often ask me, how has it been being president? What are my -- what am I proudest of and what are my biggest disappointments. And I've got 2 1/2 years left.
My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people can do just unbelievable damage. We're the only society -- we're the only developed country on earth where this happens. And it happens not once a week, and it's a one-day story.
There's no place else like this. Our leveled of gun violence are off the charts. There is no advanced developed country on earth that would put up with this.
Now, we have a different tradition. We have a Second Amendment. We have historically respected gun rights. I respect gun rights. But the idea that, for example, we couldn't even get a background check bill in to make sure that if you're going to buy a weapon, you have to actually go through a fairly rigorous process so that we know who you are, so that you can't just walk up to a store and buy a semiautomatic weapon, makes no sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Clearly frustrated. The president -- once again, once again since Sandy Hook, 74 gun -- school shooting incidents have occurred in the United States. The president says basically one a week. Mike Brooks, give me a quick thought.
BROOKS: Well, it comes down to access to guns. Did this shooter today, did he purchase that gun? Most likely not. It may have been someone else. We look at Sandy Hook with Adam Lanza, who clearly had mental health issues for a number of years, and his guns were bought for him by his mother. So there's a lot of different things that we need to look at as we move forward, Wolf.
BLITZER: Mike Brooks, thanks very much. We'll stay on top of this story. Another shooting incident, this one in Oregon.
Let's get to more breaking news we're following. Iraq's prime minister calls for a state of emergency as a notorious group known for brutality, too brutal apparently even for al Qaeda, carries out a shocking mass attack, seizing control of a key city, capturing the airport, military bases, and freeing 1,000 prisoners. Witnesses report mutilated bodies in the streets. Government troops and police are fleeing, abandoning their weapon.
CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon has spent years covering the conflict in Iraq. She's joining us now from London. Another horrible situation, but this time, Arwa, Iraq's second largest city is in turmoil.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And this is beyond a disastrous situation for the Iraqi government and for the security forces that clearly were unable to push back these militant fighters who carried out what is a very coordinated and well-planned attack.
DAMON (voice-over): Within hours, huge swaths of Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, fell to the ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al Qaeda splinter group so ruthless that even the feared terrorist organization has distanced itself from them.
The Iraqi military abandoned their positions.
USAMA AL- NUJAIFI, IRAQI PARLIAMENT MEMBER (via translator): Planes and command positions, all of them have fallen, in addition to weapon caches. Also prisons were stormed and criminals have been set free. What happened is a catastrophe by any measure.
DAMON: Residents fled on foot. The voice on this video pleading, "God help us," as people are seen walking into the Barren countryside.
Iraq's prime minister urged parliament to declare a state of emergency, but many blame the central government for failing to heed warnings that ISIS was planning this brazen attack. ISIS had already taken over much of Iraq's Sunni heartland of al-Anbar province, including the city of Fallujah, which was wrested from insurgents decades ago in one of the deadliest battles for U.S. forces.
The U.S. once declared that it had al Qaeda and Iraq on the run, as troops were withdrawing, commanders publicly stating they believed Iraqi security forces could maintain the, quote, security gains.
Many blame Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite government, saying he and his polarizing policies caused the nation's sectarian wounds to fester and grow, which in turn allowed groups like ISIS to regain territory as Sunni anger grew three years after American boots left Iraqi soil.
A terrorist group considered more merciless and brutal than al Qaeda and Iraq is gaining power and control.
BLITZER: Arwa, the whole situation --
DAMON: And Wolf --
BLITZER: -- in Mosul right now is a disaster; you pointed out in Fallujah as well. You've spent a lot of time in Iraq but you've also spent some serious time in Syria covering the civil war there. Is the civil war that we're seeing unfold in Syria right now about to explode in neighboring Iraq as well?
DAMON: Wolf, the two are very intertwined, especially when you have a organization like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that controls territory in both of those countries, and the border between Iraq and Syria very porous. And it's been quite the challenge, even when U.S. troops were in Iraq, to try to control the flow of weapons and fighters going back and forth.
So the dynamics of both nations, most certainly at this stage, Wolf, are intertwined. And you also have ISIS not only regaining, at this stage, control over huge portions of Mosul, but also various other villages in Salahadin province and Kirkuk provicne as well. All of this sending refugees streaming into Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan. As one senior Iraqi politician I was just speaking to was telling me, this is a disaster of epic proportions. At this stage, no one can pretend that the government has any control over this situation.
BLITZER: I think you're right, Arwa.
Jim Sciutto, our chief national security correspondent, is with us. I know you're speaking to U.S. officials here in Washington. They see a disaster unfolding in Iraq, and let's remember, this is a country where the U.S. spent a decade with tens of thousands of troops, 4,500 came home in body bags. Thousands of others were injured. The U.S. spent hundreds of billions of dollars. They look at this disaster in Iraq right now, and they say to you what?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This administration's position that the U.S. did not gain enough by this invasion, and that informed their decision to withdraw the troops. It was not worth having U.S. troops there anymore.
Now, the administration's critics, many Republicans will say that, had they negotiated -- negotiated a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government, they would have allowed a stabilizing force of U.S. soldiers there, 10,000. Perhaps that that would help prevent events like this or earlier, a couple months ago, when you had militants taking over Fallujah, for instance.
Now the Pentagon press secretary was speaking about the Iraq situation, and today he said that the U.S. maintains what he describes as one of the most robust military sales relationships with the Iraqis, supplying them weapons that they would need to respond to this kind of thing, including two F-16s going later this year, Hellfire missiles. But as you see this unfold, that kind of relationship is not giving the Iraqis the support it seems they need to fight this off.
BLITZER: You know, it's a real, real disaster forming in Iraq. Jim Sciutto, Arwa Damon, guys, thanks. We'll stay on top of the story.
Just ahead, five U.S. troops killed in an apparent friendly fire incident in Afghanistan. We're looking into what went so horribly wrong.
But up next, Donald Sterling says a $2 billion deal, from his perspective, is off. But a billion-dollar lawsuit against NBA is on. There he is, Donald Sterling's attorney, Max Blecher. We'll speak with him live.
BLITZER: Another jarring turn of events in the Donald Sterling controversy. Sterling now saying no to a $2 billion deal to sell his Los Angeles Clipper and yes to a $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA.
I'll speak live with Donald Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher in just a moment. But let's bring in Brian Todd for the very latest details that are coming in. What are you learning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Donald Sterling's newest declaration: no deal. Just when most of us thought the odyssey was winding down and the sale of the L.A. Clippers would soon be final, a letter from Sterling now says, "I intend to fight to keep the team."
TODD (voice-over): Another stunning reversal. Donald Sterling says he's not ready to give up the Clippers. He contends, again, he'll fight the NBA's lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine and demand a billion dollars from the league. Sterling attorney Bobby Samini on NBC.
BOBBY SAMINI, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD STERLING: My client is out to clear his name, and he's going to basically expose the NBA for what it is: it's a band of hypocrites.
TODD: The NBA hasn't responded. This comes just after lead commissioner Adam Silver said Sterling's ban and fine will never be rescinded. Silver told CNN's Rachel Nichols he never trusted Sterling regarding the sale.
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: There's well-known incidents in the league when he was right there at a closing and at the last minute decided not to sell. Until he signs the document, we still have a pending litigation with him.
TODD: This is at least the sixth time Donald Sterling has publicly changed course since he was taped making racist remarks. May 8, he says, "You can't force someone to sell property in America."
Flip-flop No. 1, May 11, he tells Anderson Cooper...
DONALD STERLING, OWNER, L.A. CLIPPERS: Settling sometimes is better than fighting, and maybe I have to settle for whatever they want to do.
TODD: Flip-flop No. 2, May 28, Sterling vows to fight to the bloody end to keep the team.
Flip-flop No. 3, May 30, Sterling's attorney tells CNN, quote, "He doesn't want to fight with Shelly. That's the bottom line."
Flip-flop No. 4, that same day Sterling files a billion-dollar suit against the NBA, fighting his ban, the fine, and the Clippers' sale.
Flip-flop No. 5, June 3, after Shelly Sterling agrees to the sale of the Clippers, Donald Sterling says he's ready to move on.
Flip-flop No. 6, today's statement that he'll fight the NBA.
A knowledgeable source now tells CNN Shelly Sterling's attorneys on Wednesday will ask a judge to confirm her standing in the Clippers' sale. She'll likely ask the judge to confirm that Donald is mentally incapable, and she's the sole decision maker about the Clippers sale. Analysts say she may be doing that to calm the nerves of the team's chosen buyer, Steve Ballmer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I was the buyer, I would have been concerned all along because there was a latent ambiguity from the start. I've never maintained that Mr. Sterling had a winning argument, but I've always believed that he had an argument.
TODD: One of the arguments Donald Sterling may now make in court, a contention that he's not mentally incapacitated. That finding by two independent doctors paved the way for Shelly Sterling to sell the Clippers. Today one of Sterling's lawyer contended again he is not incapacitated. Lawyers had previously said Sterling had a diagnosis of a modest mental impairment, what one Sterling attorney called, quote, "a slowing down" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Did you ever get any indication from NBA sources or others that the league might reconsider the $2.5 million fine against Sterling or the lifetime ban if he just walked away and let the sale go through?
TODD: There's been kind of an implication that they were considering that, Wolf, but an NBA spokesman said there was never a consideration within the league offices of reducing, modifying Sterling's penalty in any way. They say that was never on the table in their offices.
BLITZER: Those two issues seem to be a big issue in his mind. All right, Brian, thanks very much.
Let's bring in Donald Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, who's joining us from Los Angeles right now.
Mr. Blecher, thanks once again for joining us. So what's the maneuverability that you have now? Are you going ahead with this $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA? What would it take to drop it?
MAXWELL BLECHER, DONALD STERLING'S ATTORNEY: I don't know what it would take to drop it, but I've been instructed to go forward with it, and that's what we intend to do.
And I'm not sure that I agree with your basic premise about all these reversals. Although I'm his lawyer; I'm not his rabbi, and he doesn't tell me the innermost secrets that he has. So what I'm about to tell you is my perception of what went on.
From day one, Mr. Sterling did not want to sell or leave the team. The team is part of his persona. He's very much attached to it. He's very much attached to the fan base. And he did not want to sell this team. It was only under the pressure of the league confiscating the team that he agreed with Shelly that she could sell the team, and he would consent to it.
Now that was -- she orchestrated the sale, not him. He was reluctant about it all of the time.
And then we read on an NBA -- we read on an NBA web page that if Sterling sold the team -- and I'm not quoting this exactly -- but the implication was, if the team is sold to Mr. Ballmer, the NBA would resolve all of its differences with Mr. Sterling. And we understood that to mean that they were offering a truce, an olive branch, that they would rescind the ban for life, and they would rescind the fine; and we could go on our way. And then we find out abruptly that that understanding of what was on their website was not correct.
BLITZER: So as far as you know, Mr. Blecher, as far as your position is -- and Brian just suggested this -- the NBA is not rescinding anything. They still want -- they want Sterling to pay $2.5 million fine, and they still want him banned from the NBA for life. Is that your understanding, as well?
BLECHER: Correct. That's my understanding. And I want to...
BLITZER: Go ahead.
BLECHER: I want to comment that I think they missed an enormous opportunity. That had they been magnanimous in victory and said, well, they're now -- he sold the team. He'll be out of the team. We'll be done with him. We'll rescind all of the bans and the fines, I think we probably wouldn't be having this conference today.
BLITZER: So if they're watching right now, if the NBA leadership is watching, let me ask you this question. Is it too late that they come back to you and say, "You know what? Forget about the two and a half million dollars and he won't be banned for life, then the sale goes through, is that what you're saying?
BLECHER: I can't speak for Mr. Sterling, but I can tell you that obviously it's not about the money, because he's walking away from the $2 billion deal. It's more about the restoration of his integrity and dignity. That's what he wanted the NBA to do. When he said, "I'll get out of the league, I'll sell the team, but you should do something for me." They didn't do one single thing to restore his dignity or -- or prestige.
And so I think the deal fell apart because of that. That's my own personal perception.
BLITZER: The NBA, at least I've heard, are not very worried about your $1 billion lawsuit, because his wife, Shelly Sterling, has indemnified the NBA as part of the $2 billion sale to Steve Ballmer. The -- she says she would pay any fine -- any lawsuit requirements that the NBA may have to provide to your husband. In other words, if you sue the NBA, Shelly Sterling might have to pay whatever you might win. Is that acceptable to you?
BLECHER: What makes you think that that indemnity is enforceable? She owes, as the trustee of the trust, she owes Donald Sterling a fiduciary duty. She's also his wife. And there's a serious question in my mind whether that indemnity agreement is worth the paragraph that it's written on. So I'm not paying all that much attention to it. The idea that he's suing himself strikes me as ridiculous.
Besides, the suit isn't as much about the money as it is about getting his name cleared. It's getting his name cleared. You have to recognize that the origin of this was in an illegally-tape-recorded conversation between Mr. Sterling and his girlfriend in the living room of her home. And it was Surreptitiously and illegally recorded and then exploited by the NBA
which could have said, look, this is an illegal tape recording. We're not going near it. But instead, they saw the opportunity to finally get rid of there Sterling who had been something of a nuisance or a thorn in their side of family (ph) and so, they exploited it.
BLITZER: You're going to -- I was just going to say -- so, as far as you're going ahead with the lawsuit. One final question, quickly. Give me a quick answer. Why didn't he agree to go to those neurological exams? Because the wife says, that these two independent physicians, they ruled him incompetent as a result she has 100 percent control of the trust that owns the Clippers and he's no longer responsible.
BLECHER: Well, that's what she says. We'll have to see what the probate court decides.
BLITZER: So, you'll going to have to deal with that on a separate basis.
BLECHER: I don't -- at the end of the day, it strikes me as totally incredible to argue that this man, I talk to him every day, is incapable of making decisions and is mentally incompetent and I don't believe any court is going to make a finding to the contrary.
BLITZER: Even though two neurologists said in this report that he was incompetent?
BLECHER: Best opinions money can buy. Those reports were directed to Mrs. Sterling's attorney. So, guess who they thought they were working for.
BLITZER: All right. So, you're definitely going to go to probate court on that issue as well, right?
BLITZER: All right. Max -- Max Blecher, thanks very much for updating us on where this -- and where you guys are planning to go. Maxwell Blecher is Donald Sterling's attorney. Thank you very much for joining us.
BLECHER: Thank you for having me. My pleasure.
BLITZER: Up next, deal or no deal? And where is the Donald Sterling drama headed? Our own Don Lemon and Rachel Nichols, they are both standing by.
And a sudden blinding flash in the cockpit threatening pilots through and passengers, authorities are tracking down a laser attacks, but they too are being targeted. Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.
BLITZER: Joining us now to breakdown what we just heard from Donald Sterling's Attorney Maxwell Blecher, our own CNN's Rachel Nichols, the host of Unguarded with Rachel Nichols and CNN anchor Don Lemon. Rachel, you just heard Maxwell Blecher say that they are going to go to probate court to make sure that he is not (inaudible) incompetent and mentally incompetent. What do you make of that?
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST, UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS: Well, that's huge and it's huge too that he does decides to turn around and sue Shelly because right now, this billion dollar lawsuit is against the NBA and there's a lot of legal experts, if our friend Jeffrey Toobin was here, he would tell us, he is not going to win that battle. However, if he starts fighting with Shelly legally in the courts, which in the past he said he doesn't want it to come to that but of course in the past, let's be honest Donald Sterling has done pretty much everything. So, you can't count on anything that he says, if he does start to fight with Shelly and he can prove somehow that she did not have the right to declare him incompetent and sell the team on her own, well then, this whole thing could unravel. This is going to be very big if he turns around and makes that pivot.
BLITZER: You also heard him suggest that, Don, that if the NBA were to walk away from the $2.5 million fine they imposed on Don Sterling and the lifetime ban, then there could be a sale, there could be a deal. The team was sold to Steve Ballmer for $2 million and everyone moves on, is that something that the NBA could accept?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You know, I don't know at this point. At this point, you know, I'd have to hate to say it, but if I was in NBA, I would probably do whatever I needed to do just to get rid of that bad, and probably...
LEMON: Listen, though.
LEMON: You know where I've been. You know where I've been. I was going to start off by saying, the thing that you hate people to say is, I told you so. I've been telling you guys this, I do not trust the Sterlings at all and when I heard Brian Todd's story where he was going through how many times he's contradicted himself. I was like, there isn't enough time on a day. He doesn't have enough...
NICHOLS: The flip-flop?
LEMON: Right. The flip-flop. I -- Listen, but at this point, but just because he says he wants to hold on to his dignity and integrity and wants the NBA to give him back his dignity and integrity, we've been around long enough to know, no one can give you your integrity or dignity but yourself. So, he doesn't get it.
NICHOLS: But here is why they can't do it, Don.
LEMON: If I were the NBA I would let him go and then say OK fine, we have to do what we have to do.
NICHOLS: OK, but here is why they can't do it. The very reason that he most wants them to walk back that fine and that ban is the reason they can't do it. That fine, that ban, that brands him as somebody who made racial remarks against the league, who damaged the league, who may be a racist, in most people's eyes. He wants that walked back. His lawyer had said, I don't want that -- he doesn't want that on his tombstone. Guess what, the NBA that's the reason they did that was to make a statement, to say we will not tolerate this in this league. And if they walk back the punishment, then they are walking back their integrity.
LEMON: The punishment is taking away the team though as well. That's a bigger punishment in all of them.
BLITZER: I think you both make excellent points.
NICHOLS: I don't know.
BLITZER: And, Don, you've been very, very consistently as you correctly pointed out that you don't trust this guy from the beginning. You don't trust him now. We'll see what happens in the coming days. Guys, thanks very, very much. By the way, (inaudible) to our viewers you can see Rachel's exclusive interview with the NBA commissioner Adam Silver on her program, Unguarded with Rachel Nichols, Friday night at 10:30 P.M. Eastern, and don't forget to catch, Don, later tonight at 10:00 P.M. Eastern on CNN Tonight with Don Lemon. We'll be watching both of those shows.
Turning on to the political battle for 2014, and a critical primary day in five key states among them South Carolina and Virginia. In Virginia, the number two house republican Eric Cantor, he is bitter fight against the (inaudible) challenging his conservative principles. The house majority leader is expected to pull through, but there are some questions about whether the race could hurt any potential quest to be the next house speaker should, should John Boehner decide to step down.
Meanwhile in South Carolina, two term Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is up against six GOP primary challengers. The most recent polling indicates that Graham near the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff. Up next, friendly fire is being blamed up for the death of five elite U.S. troops in Afghanistan. We're taking a closer look into what went so horribly wrong. And laser attack, a sudden flash of light in the cockpit puts pilots and passengers in severe danger. How authorities are now cracking down on this rapidly growing problem.
BLITZER: A deadly set back for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Five Americans and an Afghan soldier have been killed. And what officials now say was a friendly fire after an air strike apparently went awry. Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, she's got the details. Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it happened in one of the toughest scariest(ph) of fighting in Southern Afghanistan for U.S. troops something went terribly wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STARR: The five U.S. Special Forces troops were killed on a security operation in advance of Saturday's presidential runoff election. Working in Southern Afghanistan to often violence Zabul Province, the Americans along with Afghan forces ran into militants, a fire fight ensued and they called for air support. It's now suspected that an air force B-1 bomber that responded may have drop its weapon accidentally on the U.S. troops. The incident is being investigated.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We do have reason to suspect that friendly fire was the cause here. Specifically, friendly fire from the air. But the issue is under investigation.
STARR: There have been at least five major so-called friendly fire incidents since the war begin in 2001. Among the most well known, the 2004 death of Pat Tillman. Tillman gave up a lucrative contract with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals to join the army ranger's force. He was awarded the Silver Star, the military's third highest combat decoration after the army said he was killed leaving a counterattack against enemy forces. Only later did the army admit he'd been shot accidentally by his comrades in the fire fight.
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STARR: Now, this latest incident comes as President Obama has announced U.S. troops will be leaving Afghanistan. But for five American military families now, the deepest mourning. Wolf.
BLITZER: Our hearts and prayers go out to their families as well. Barbara, thanks very much. Up next, blinding light that directed at aircraft from the ground. There are a growing number of laser attacks that are putting pilots and passengers at serious risk. What authorities are doing about it. We'll have a full report. And house speaker John Boehner now says the trade of Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders will cost American lives. That's coming up.
BLITZER: A deadly setback for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Five Americans and an Afghan soldier have been killed in what officials now are saying was a friendly fire after an airstrike apparently went awry.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She's got the details -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it happened in one of the toughest areas of fighting in southern Afghanistan for U.S. troops. Something went terribly wrong.
STARR (voice-over): The five U.S. Special Forces troops were killed on a security operation in advance of Saturday's presidential runoff election. Working in southern Afghanistan to often violent troubled province, the Americans, along with Afghan forces, ran into militants. A firefight ensued and they called for air support.
It's now suspected that an Air Force B-1 bomber that responded may have dropped its weapons accidently on the U.S. troops. The incident is being investigated.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We do have reason to suspect that friendly fire was the cause here. Specifically, friendly fire from the air. But the issue is under investigation.
STARR: There have been at least five major so-called friendly fire incidents since the war began in 2001. Among the most well known, the 2004 death of Pat Tillman. Tillman gave up a lucrative contract with the NFL's Arizona Cardinals to join the Army's Ranger Force. He was awarded the Silver Star, the military's third highest combat decoration, after the Army said he was killed leaving a counterattack against enemy forces. Only later did the Army admit he had been shot accidently by his comrades in the firefight.
STARR: Now this latest incident comes as President Obama has announced U.S. troops will be leaving Afghanistan. But for five American military families now, the deepest mourning -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Our hearts and prayers go out to their families as well.
Barbara, thanks very much.
Up next, blinding light directed at aircraft from the ground. There's a growing number of laser attacks that are putting pilots and passengers at serious risk. What authorities are doing about it. We'll have a full report.
And House Speaker John Boehner now says the trade of Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders will cost American lives. That's coming up.
BLITZER: Some flash of light in the cockpit putting pilots and passengers at very serious risk. Laser attacks on aircraft are a growing problem. But even as authorities crack down, they, too, are falling prey to these dangerous laser strikes.
Our aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is here in the SITUATION ROOM looking into these problems for us.
What are you finding out?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, these are the handheld lasers, they are very easy to buy, and when you see the small light there you would not even think that this will be capable of causing a plane crash, but authorities say it is quite possible and that's why the FBI is cracking down. The latest example, a Florida man now facing the possibility of federal time behind bars.
MARSH (voice-over): Blinding light from below, a Seminole County sheriff's helicopter and two pilots inside targeted. This is what it looks like on the receiving end of this laser attack near Orlando Saturday. Nineteen-year-old Trevor Rango now charged with a felony.
STEVE FARRIS, SEMINOLE COUNTY CHIEF PILOT: He said he didn't have a good explanation, but you can see in the video he was actually running around and continued to shine the laser beam at the helicopter.
MARSH: Laser attacks like this are capable of disorienting and temporarily blinding pilots.
DR. JAY LUSTBADER, MEDSTAR WASHINGTON HOSPITAL: Vision itself can get washed out for a few seconds, which in and of itself can be dangerous, but then there can be these after images causing distortion in the vision for a number of minutes afterwards.
MARSH: It's like a camera flash going off in a pitch black car, the ultimate consequence could be a crash. The number of laser strikes is escalating nationwide, from a jet full of passengers landing in Dallas --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was blue and they were definitely trying to get us.
MARSH: To New York --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First Officer's having vision problems.
MARSH: To a small plane in Las Vegas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was right in my face.
MARSH: And another police helicopter, this attack in Dallas last year.
There's been a more than 1,000 percent surge since the FBI and the FAA started tracking laser strikes in 2005. Last year, nearly 4,000 strikes were reported. That's almost 11 per day. It's estimated thousands more go unreported every year.
SEAN CASSIDY, AIR LINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION: Regardless of whether it's a malicious act or regardless if it's an innocent act, the effect is the exactly the same to me when I'm flying my airplane and I get hit with that laser.
MARSH: As police crack down, the punishments are harsh. In March, a California man was slapped with a 14-year sentence for shining a laser at a police helicopter. In this latest case in Florida, police say Rango told them he didn't realize what he did was so serious. Now he's learning the hard way.
MARSH: All right, well, we reached out to Rango's family, but no comment. The FBI has expanded this operation to nationwide, its nationwide crackdown, offering rewards up to $10,000 for information leading to arrests of anyone who aims a laser at an aircraft.
We should point out we don't know of any crashes caused by one of these lasers, most likely because there's usually two pilots in the cockpit, but doesn't make it any less dangerous.
BLITZER: That's very dangerous. And we don't want to see anybody die as a result of this.
All right, Rene, thanks very much.
Coming up, the House Speaker John Boehner says American lives are at risk because of the trade of Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders.
And Hillary Clinton is in the middle of a massive campaign now to sell her brand new book, but is she tipping her hand about a possible presidential campaign?