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Terrorist Group Threatens Baghdad; Alleged Benghazi Planner Captured by U.S. Forces; Humanitarian Crisis in America's Backyard; Dr. Oz Grilled by Congress on Weight Loss Products; Explosion in Nigeria Crowd Watching World Cup
Aired June 18, 2014 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: What are you hearing from folks that you've been talking to?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, look, they certainly are. Any time you have this group ISIS and other Sunni militants less than 40 miles from this capital city, you know, that just ratchets tensions up to even more. As you know, there was fighting in Baqubah, a city about 37 or so miles from Baghdad, that fighting going back and forth. Militants said to have taken western parts of Baqubah, again, the status of that is unclear right now. There's a lot of rumor and a lot of contradictory statements. It's very hard to actually get on the ground in a lot of these places.
One interesting thing that occurred in Baqubah, the Iraqi government had said that militants had stormed the police station. That seems to be true, and it taken weapons. Apparently, though, they wanted to recapture about 34 Sunni prisoners who had been held in that police station. The Iraqi government claims that the militants shelled the police station and killed those prisoners, but CNN has been able to confirm from a health official in that town, those prisoners were actually shot at very close range, which also then confirms the "New York Times" report that those prisoners were actually shot by Iraqi police officers prior to evacuating that facility so that those prisoners would not be released and returned to the fight on the side of ISIS. So a sign perhaps of growing sectarian violence. We've seen that sort of thing here a lot before back in 2006 and 2007, and that's exactly the concern of a lot of observers here that escalating sectarian violence.
BOLDUAN: When we heard from Nic Robertson a little earlier who was talking about, and you also talk about it's difficult to verify information and what's happening on the ground. But Nic was saying, the Iraqi military, they believe that -- the Iraqi military is telling them that they are gaining some ground, they are pushing back the militants in some regard. Do you see any evidence of that though on the ground?
COOPER: Yes, I mean, look, as militants have gotten closer to Baghdad they are now -- they start to operate in areas which are more Shia areas. In the areas like Mosul, I know it's confusing, but in areas up in the north, in areas like Mosul, that is a predominantly Sunni town. So it's not all that surprising that Shia forces there of the government would have cut and run. It's not all that sprucing there that Sunni groups would get support from Sunnis in areas like Mosul.
But as they come closer to the capital of Baghdad it's more predominantly Shia, certainly from the north, and the city of Baghdad itself is more predominantly Shia. There's greater reason for the largely Shia forces of the Iraq government to fight and to fight effectively defend their homes and to defend Shia areas. Again, that sectarian divide really showing up here.
So there's a lot of confidence. When you go around Baghdad, I mean, there's obviously tension and obviously concern, but there's also business as usual. Businesses are open. People are going about their jobs for parts of the day, at least. And you talk to young men especially, they are very confident. You know, there's been tens of thousands of volunteers who have signed up to fight, to defend Baghdad and other Shia areas. So as they come closer to Baghdad even militants are some 37, 40 miles from the city, there's not a sense of imminent panic at all in the capital.
BOLDUAN: Which is really interesting, and also I think probably shows that dealing with violence and the threat of violence isn't anything new for those who have been living in and around Baghdad for years now. Anderson on the ground for us, Anderson thank you so much. Anderson is going to continue his reporting there in Iraq. We'll be getting back to him, and can you see more of his reporting, of course, on "AC360" tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern. Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Kate, this morning the man believed to be responsible for the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi is in American hands. His name Ahmed Abu Khatallah. He's already being grilled aboard a Navy ship. He's expected to be brought stateside soon. The suspect was under surveillance for days we're told before commandos made their move. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon this morning with more reporting for us. Barbara, this was military and FBI, right, took two teams?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Chris. The U.S. military commandos, Army delta Force commandos, with the cooperation and assistance of FBI law enforcement agents, worked this case. And apparently on Sunday, Sunday evening in Libya, they were able to execute the capture of Abu Khatallah. He was apparently, by all accounts, lured to a location south of Benghazi. They had been watching for days his movement, and they moved in very quickly to capture him. We're told not a shot fired, nobody hurt.
With the assistance, it's our understanding, of intelligence developed on the ground from local Libyans, so this was potentially a very dangerous operation. Khatallah, of course, one of the key masterminds, the U.S. says, behind those 2012 attacks on the U.S. compound in Benghazi which set off a political firestorm for the Obama administration. Now he is being interrogated on board a U.S. Navy ship and is expected to be returned to the United States to face terrorism charges. Chris?
CUOMO: Barbara, thank you very much. This man holds three levels of significance, so let's get into that right now with Fran Townsend, CNN national security analyst and former adviser homeland security adviser under the Bush administration. She's also on the external advisory boards for the CIA and DHS, so you should know everything about this. Three levels of significance, what he knows about Benghazi, what he knows about bad guys in the area, and perhaps most importantly, what he knows about what was planned next. Let's start with that one because that would be more pressing. What is the speculation there about future plans that he may have been connected to?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's interesting, Chris, because he did all these press interviews, including with Arwa Damon, and then went very dark. He realized that he was being targeted. And so the question is how close to imminent planning did he remain, right? How many people did he see? If he was removing himself to avoid being capture he may not have a lot of information about current planning of ongoing attacks.
CUOMO: Now, we get that they were trying to make the case, but this isn't some garden variety homicide where you want to make sure the bad guy doesn't get away. Why did they delay in taking a guy that the media was able to get to?
TOWNSEND: Well, it's a little different about Khatallah being willing to meet with Arwa Damon and other journalists and then really putting himself out there. He understood he was being targeted and so he was trying to be very careful. You know, Barbara reported that this was done with the help of Libyan intelligence developed on the ground. What that sounds like to me is the FBI had a source, someone close enough to Khatallah to be able to predict his movements so that they can set it up and have a capture that didn't have a shot fired.
CUOMO: But it still seems awkward. If I'm a couple of phone calls away from the guy, why weren't they, you know, all over him?
TOWNSEND: You know, talking to military and law enforcement officials, Chris, there were plans for this capture and there was some ongoing intelligence over the course of more than the last year. And there was some frustration, frankly, among the operators that they couldn't get approval from the policy makers to attempt this. The reason was because what U.S. policy makers didn't want to do was conduct an operation that could tip the balance of power in Libya. They were afraid and they didn't want to be responsible if there was political instability. Now, frankly, there is political instability having nothing to do with the United States inside Libya, and so that timing came together with the opportunity to capture him, and it all came together, and I think that that really explains it.
CUOMO: Any reason to believe that he had other things in the hopper, that there were other plans afoot?
TOWNSEND: Sure. Look, this is a really bad guy with real responsibility and real operational sort of command ability. And so we ought to assume he did, and that's the reason it's so important that they take their time, do this interrogation aboard the Navy ship, before bringing him back and putting him through the criminal process here in the United States.
CUOMO: What's his affiliation? Who is he with? TOWNSEND: That's just it. The most important thing right now to get
to the bottom of what happened that tragic night in Benghazi is, who are his coconspirators?
CUOMO: Right. Was it a mob? Was it Al Qaeda? Was it an Al Qaeda mob?
TOWNSEND: And where are they? Has he kept in touch with them? Does he know who they are? Can he help us capture them? Those are the sorts of interesting intelligence leads that he could help us develop.
CUOMO: Now, is it falsely suggestive, the current situation. You've got him on a U.S. ship, a slow ride back to the U.S., all the tactics you guys don't like to talk about in interrogation, or are you really doing it by the book, which justified the slow retrieval of him, and if he says I want a lawyer, it's all over?
TOWNSEND: Basically that's right, Chris. I mean, it's the way you describe the second way. They have him on a ship. They are observing the Geneva conventions. He is being fed, he is sleeping. Gut they are asking him questions. Does he have to answer them? No, he doesn't have to answer them. He can rightfully say he's not going to answer them.
But they're not looking to get this. Let's just be clear with our viewers. What they get on the ship they are not looking to use in prosecution. This is a separate team conducting this investigation, so this is really for intelligence persons, and they're not going to use this. Whatever evidence they have to make the case that he's going to face the indictment he's going to face here in the U.S., they have got that already and they will keep these things very simple.
CUOMO: There is a sealed indictment, so we'll see what comes next.
Let me ask you one quick question about Iraq. You have been clear that you don't believe ISIS has what it takes to overrun the country, that there's a little bit of false panic there. So there's this two fronts. There's what's going on there, and what's going on here about what's going on there, OK? The administration is stymied by finger- pointing right now. For Dick Cheney to come out with an op-ed where he says rarely has a president been wrong about so much that has hurt so many, if he's talking about Iraq, which president should he be talking about?
TOWNSEND: Yes, OK, you're not going to draw me into this political bat. As you know, I've worked with both Republicans and Democrats.
CUOMO: A little surprise that had he wrote it?
TOWNSEND: I'm going to stay out of the political.
CUOMO: Won't touch that?
TOWNSEND: I'm going to stay out of the food fight.
CUOMO: You're telling us to hold our horses in saying that Iraq is going to be overtaken by ISIS. You believe they have what it takes to keep security there?
TOWNSEND: I believe they have what it talks to hold Baghdad. I think it would be tragic if we allowed them, ISIS, to maintain an Islamic state between Iraq and Syria because I think that really would be a tragic failure of policy.
CUOMO: You have been watching those Hillary interviews too much, you're starting to slip my questions.
CUOMO: That's the problem with you, Fran. You're too smart. Thank you very much for giving us the perspective, appreciate it.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's take a look at the headlines at 10 minutes past the hour. The Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap gets another congressional hearing today. The House foreign affairs committee will look at Bergdahl's exchange for five senior Taliban leaders and the potential impact on national security. The army sergeant is still recovering in an army hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Officials tell CNN that he is being gradually exposed to the media coverage about him.
Breaking overnight, more than 30 people are still missing after a boat capsized off the coast of Malaysia. Local fishermen and emergency responders were able to pull some 60 people from the water. They have rescued some 60 people. The boat was reportedly carrying undocumented migrant workers to Indonesia. Malaysian officials dispatched three ships to the area, but rescue efforts are being hampered, we're told, by low tide.
For the first time in seven weeks lethal injections have been used to put inmates to death in our country. Overnight Georgia executed convicted rapist and murderer Marcus Wellens and just minutes later Missouri put together John Winfield, a convicted murder. The procedure has been put on hold in many states since a botched execution in Oklahoma back in April.
This morning General motors chief Mary Barra heads back to Capitol Hill, lawmakers expected to grill her once again on an internal investigation into the company's handling of an ignition switch defect that led to 13 deaths. The report criticized a corporate culture that discouraged the flow of bad news. It took GM over a decade to issue a recall. So far this year that automaker has called back some 20 million vehicles. So we'll be watching that here on CNN to see what kinds of questions she faces and what the outcome is.
BOLDUAN: As the recalls continue, 20 million, amazing. Thanks so much, Michaela.
Coming up next on NEW DAY, Dr. Oz gets quite a scolding on Capitol Hill for defending so-called miracle weight loss products on his talk show. Did he back down? Did he apologize? The fireworks over questionable fat burners coming up.
CUOMO: Coming up on "INSIDE POLITICS," we're going to take you behind all the key moments of the Hillary Clinton town hall, Benghazi, immigration, and somewhat of a surprising stance on gun control. What was it? Stay with us.
CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's a humanitarian crisis and it's right in our own backyard. Children from Central America streaming in from Mexico by the thousands. The Obama administration has stepped up efforts to deport them. And during CNN's town hall event, Hillary Clinton defended the president, saying she supports sending home people to the responsible adults for those children, if possibility.
Now, the government of Honduras is making its pitch to the White House to do the opposite. What will happen here? We have CNN's Rosa Flores with more. Rosa.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning. Honduras making a bold request this morning, asking the U.S. to stop deporting minors. Now, based on what I saw on the ground, the request is actually an honest reality check, the country saying it doesn't have the resources to receive a new wave of deported children.
FLORES (voice-over): They came by the thousands, ending up here in crowded detention centers, some as young as 5. The federal government in southwestern states struggling and arguing with how to deal with them as they work through processing them all. Many of them sent alone in the hopes the U.S. will have compassion and allow them to stay.
HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: We have to send a clear message.
FLORES: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighing in to CNN. Her message, send it back.
CLINTON: They have to be spent back as soon as it's determined who responsible adults in their families are, because there are concerns about whether all can be sent back, but I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families
FLORES: The Obama administration has called the influx of tens of thousands of minors an urgent humanitarian situation and says they're providing relief, including housing, medical treatment and transportation, but is still deporting children.
Now the Honduran government is firing back. They want the U.S. to keep the children and their families in the States, saying in a statement they can't handle the influx of immigrants coming back and that if we are talking of the principle of family reunification, why not reunite them in the United States? In Honduras, this is where every deported minor is processed. The
ones that don't get claimed stay in these dormitories with open ceilings and no air conditioning. And if Honduras has its way, these beds will stay empty at a time when the country is fighting a huge wave of violence.
(on camera): The communities on opposite sides of this river are a glaring example of the breakdown of law and order. On one side, you've got a gang-control slum where crime is rampant. On the other side of the river, you've got a neighborhood watch community taking security into its own hands.
(voice-over): Gangs controlling neighborhoods, not thinking twice about assaulting, robbing and killing. Terrified parents wanting a chance at life for their children.
FLORES (on-camera): Now Vice President Biden is expected to visit Central America at the end of the week to talk about this humanitarian crisis. Now the big question now is, if the United States says yes to Honduras, will El Salvador and Guatemala jump in the bandwagon? And let's not forget, when we're talking about these unaccompanied children, the estimate for this year is about 60,000 children.
BOLDUAN: So many questions of what to do. Good question. Thank you so, Rosa. Great reporting, going all the way down there to get that.
Now to one of TV's most popular doctors taking heat from lawmakers in Washington. Dr. Mehmet Oz was grilled by a Senate panel over his promotion of weight loss products on his daytime TV show. Lawmakers questioned him for supporting products with little or no scientific evidence to back them up.
Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us from the CNN center with much more. What did they have to say and how did Oz respond, Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL HEALTH CORRESPONDENT: Well, they had lots of criticism for Dr. Oz and Dr. Oz said, look, I might be guilty of using flowery, passionate language, but all the ads on the internet, they are not mine.
DR. MEHMET OZ, TV HOST: This little bean has scientists saying they found the magic weight loss cure for every body type,
COHEN (voice-over): This is standard fare on the Dr. Oz show.
OZ: This miracle pill did burn fat fast.
COHEN: And Tuesday, senators asked, "Really?"
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Well, three weeks ago, I quote you, "FBX literally flushes fat from your system." In January, you called forskolin, quote, "lightning in a bottle." I don't get why you need to say this stuff because you know it's not true. So why, when you have this amazing megaphone and this amazing ability to communicate, why would you cheapen your show by saying things like that?
OZ: I actually do personally believe in the items that I talk about on the show. I've passionately studied them. I would give the audience the advice I give my family all the time. And I've given my family these products.
COHEN: 70 percent of American adults are overweight or obese, and last year consumers spent $2.4 billion on weight loss products and services.
OZ: It's green coffee beans.
COHEN: At the hearing on deceptive advertising of weight loss products, Senator Claire McCaskill asked about all the online ads that use Dr. Mehmet Oz's name and image. He says he's gone to court to stop them, but the senators still wouldn't let the doctor off the hook.
MCCASKILL: When you so much a product on your show, it creates what has become known as the Oz effect, dramatically boosting sales and driving scam artists to pop up overnight.
OZ: How did you find this thing? It's amazing.
COHEN: Oz acknowledged that these advertisers might have been inspired by his flowery language.
OZ: I use language that was very passionate, but it ended up not being helpful but incendiary. And it provided fodder for unscrupulous advertisers. I'm second guessing every word I use on the show right now.
COHEN: Oz conceded that had oftentimes the claims he makes about some products would not withstand the scrutiny of the Food and Drug administration -- but they don't have to. Supplements don't have to have their claims approved by the FDA.
COHEN (on camera): I want to note that I've been a guest on the Dr. Oz show. Also, at this hearing, the Federal Trade Commission said, look, we know that there is an endless flood, as they put it, of these products that make bogus claims, but they say we don't have the money or the resources to go after all of them. In fact, they can only go after a small percentage. Chris, Kate?
CUOMO: How about that aspect of the problem? You going after Dr. Oz, I get it. Why doesn't Congress -- you ever hear that expression, you point the finger at somebody, you've got four pointing back at you? The FDA does not take a look at what they call nutraceuticals, these types of supplements. They should regulate them then, instead of just talking to Oz. That's not going to cure it.
BOLDUAN: Well, they say they don't have the resources. That's exactly what Elizabeth said.
CUOMO: The government doesn't have enough money.
BOLDUAN: Elizabeth, thank you.
CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, talk about a selfie. Look at this video. This is a woman filming herself as she's having a stroke. Why it she do it? How was she able to do it? And how will it help her condition. We're going to tell you the answers and it may be as shocking to you as the video.
BOLDUAN: Also ahead, Dick Cheney returns. The former vice president says the U.S. was winning the war in Iraq until President Obama abandoned it, he says. Those controversial statements and more coming up on Inside Politics.
PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Here's a look at your headlines.
We begin with a developing story north of Baghdad. One of Iraq's main oil refineries under attack by ISIS militants. The Iraqi military claims they were able to keep those militants from taking over their facility. We're told that ISIS reportedly only about 37 miles from Baghdad now, but Iraqi forces and tribal fighters are working to keep them at bay.
The alleged mastermind of the deadly 2012 attack on the American mission in Benghazi should be in the U.S. within days. Special forces captured Ahmed Abu Khatallah over the weekend. Told no shots were fired in the operation. He is now being questioned aboard a Navy ship. President Obama says Khatallah will face the full weight of the law.
An explosion ripped through a crowd of people that had gathered to watch the World Cup in Nigeria, killing at least 21, injuring dozens more. Witnesses say a suicide bomber steered a motorized rickshaw packed with explosives towards the crowd, which was watching the match between Mexico and Brazil. No group has claimed responsibility for that blast, although the area is home to the militant Islamist Boko Haram group.
An independent group of experts says it thinks it knows where Flight 370 went down. The group says five separate computer models put the plane in the southern Indian Ocean, in a cluster of spots hundreds of miles southwest of the previous search area. The group points to new information that the plane's equipment was programmed with certain assumptions about the location of a satellite which ended up being false.
Keep in mind, more than 100 days since MH-370 went missing, March 8. Long time. Long wait for those families.
CUOMO: A long time still to come, to be sure, especially at the rate it's going.
All right. Time for Inside Politics on NEW DAY with John King. Mr. King, plenty to discuss once again. Take us through it,
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Chris, Kate, Michaela, good morning. There is a lot to discuss, foreign policy a big part of the political debate here in Washington this morning.
Let's get right to it. With me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Peter Hamby, Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times." Let's start with the president yesterday talking about the arrest of the lead suspect in the Benghazi attacks. He's been criticized for a long time. CNN's Arwa Damon sat down with the suspect more than a year ago. A lot of the president's critics are saying where's the FBI? Where's the military to go in and get Khatallah? Well, they got him yesterday and here's the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When Americans are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice. And that's a message I sent the day after it happened, and regardless of how long it takes, we will find you.