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U.S. to Send Military Advisers to Aid Iraqi Government Against Terrorist Group; Interview with Senator Angus King; Anthrax Scare Rocking CDC; World Cup Fever Sweeps the Nation
Aired June 20, 2014 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He told them that they needed to be patient with the constitution timeline as a new government is formed. He's wading into politics. He doesn't normally do this, but he is making it very clear that a new government needs to be formed. Is that a between-the-lines message for Maliki, that he was the old prime minister, there needs to be a new one? That's what a lot of people are looking for.
As for the chemical weapons site out in the desert about 50 miles from Baghdad where ISIS is now, I visited it about 12 years ago with U.N. weapons inspectors. The chemical weapons at that time looked pretty old, rusting. It had been formed in the 91 Gulf War. Inspectors have been there and essentially rendered the munitions beyond use. But they are still dangerous, and some of the military forces fighting with ISIS are part of Saddam Hussein's army who helped build up that original arsenal of mustard gas, VX, sarin. They have knowledge on their side here. Back to you, Kate.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Nic, thanks so much. Not anything any American wants to hear, the president deciding to send military advisers over there right now, 300 military advisers to be exact. In fact, he's going to be sending to Iraq to help the government hold off advancing militants. But with no combat troops and airstrikes still on the table -- air strikes are still on the table, where do officials go from here? Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is joining us live really to talk strategy, Barbara. So we have basically a first step of what the president wants to do. What does this mean?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. The first step, let's move rapidly ahead. He's talking about 300 military advisers. It will start small in the coming days, about 100. They have a couple of different jobs. Assess, go to Iraq and assess. What they are really going to do is try to get the Iraqi government to stiffen its spine and get its troops and commanders back out into the field and back out into the fight.
Their second job, gather intelligence, even keeping an eye on the perimeter of Baghdad where ISIS is less than 40 miles from Baghdad. That means they don't trust Iraqi intelligence at this point. They want to get their own intelligence. Also gathering this intelligence about where ISIS is in northern Iraq in case, in case President Obama wants that targeting of information to conduct airstrikes, even keeping an eye on the Syrian border. But I think the big unanswered question remains. These will be small teams of American troops out in the field at Iraqi headquarters and around the country. How will they be kept safe? If they come under attack, if they become vulnerable, what is the plan for U.S. troops to be protected? At this point, it looks like bringing in troops from outside of Iraq as quickly as possible. Kate, Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Again, Barbara, the words "mission creep" start to sound familiar in this situation. Thank you, Barbara, for keeping us ahead on the reporting throughout this situation.
Let's discuss now with someone who opposed the Iraq war, Senator Angus King. He's from Maine, of course. The independent senator serves on both the intelligence and armed services committee. Senator, no matter what you call them, assets, advisors, boots on the ground, Americans are once again at risk in Iraq. That's the reality, yes?
SEN. ANGUS KING, (I) MAINE: I think that is the reality, and, of course, all of us that go back far enough have heard that term "advisers," and it doesn't create good memories. I think the president is trying to at least settle this situation over the next few days, settle down the Iraqi military. And also, as Barbara said, a lot of this is about intelligence, trying to figure out exactly what's going on and where ISIS is and what their strength is. But you're right, it's hard to be a little bit pregnant in this situation.
CUOMO: And also it's about being straight with the American people. No boots on the ground. Boots are on the ground. No mission creep. This feels exactly like 1991, and I don't know if you've been watching our '60s series, but, you know, it's not to promote CNN product, it's just perspective. Vietnam, this felt like this in the beginning, and I'm not saying Iraq is Vietnam, but the American people are tired of the war and it does seem like we're going the wrong way. Can you reassure them otherwise?
KING: Well, I think the most reassurance is if there's any one person in the United States that doesn't want to get involved in a military situation in Iraq it's Barack Obama. I mean, his big thing was winding that war down. He was against it at the very beginning, and I don't think he has any inclination to do it.
The real problem is the Iraqi government. We need a government over there -- the problem is Maliki is no Mandela. You know, Mandela took over and did immediate national reconciliation and didn't take revenge, didn't exclude, had an inclusive government, and South Africa's been a success. Just the opposite, and in a sense the Iraqi government created the situation because what hasn't come through so much is this ISIS group is very small, in the few thousands. But the reason they have been so successful is that the Sunnis in northern Iraq don't have any loyalty or connection to the government in Baghdad because they have been excluded and repressed and discriminated against.
So here's what has to happen, in my view. We hope that ISIS goes -- overreaches, you know. They don't like music and smoking and drinking and women have to stay inside and cutting off hands, and they can -- they can alienate that -- that Sunni population that they are trying to take over. At the same time we absolutely need a more inclusive regime in -- in Baghdad. Otherwise it's -- I think it's pretty hopeless and you're going to see three countries. I think the Kurds are quietly setting up their own country right now.
CUOMO: Well, so, let's go with two natural follows here. The issue of the Kurds we'll save for another day because they are certainly less inimical to the U.S. than other factors here. It seems as though as daunting as ISIS is, we are treating a symptom and the easier problem than the two main ones. One you just mentioned, the Iraqi government. Maliki needs to go. That's what people keep saying, but we're not really dealing with that head on, at least in a way that's public. And ISIS is only strong because of their base is Syria. That problem is getting worse and we're still not doing anything worse there. Are we addressing the main sources of our trouble?
KING: Well, I think it goes one step deeper, Chris. We're -- if you think about it, we're dealing in a kind of geopolitical whack-a-mole. I made a quick list just, you know, we've got al Nusra in Syria, Al Qaeda, of course, we've got not ISIS. We've got al Shabaab in Kenya, Boko Haram in Nigeria. This thing is going on all over the place, and I've been saying as I've listened to these briefings we've got to have a new strategy. We're not going to be able to just kill these guys one at a time because every time you do, two of them come back. We've got to be thinking more strategically.
Chris, the real weapons of mass destruction in the world today are unemployed 22-year-old males with no hope. And if we don't try to get at the base of that in some way, this is just going to keep happening. And, you know, we can -- you know, how do -- how much do we have to learn?
CUOMO: True, senator.
KING: And this keeps going.
CUOMO: However, senator, you can say that's also a main problem we have in the United States of America, you know, is young people without jobs and without hope. And my point in saying that is we have a lot to worry about. The question becomes who is "we," excuse the grammar there, when we talk about these foreign situations. Why is it just the U.S. going back into Iraq? Where is the calling for a Security Council meeting? Where's the international coalition to take on some of these battles?
KING: Well, you're absolutely right, and I know that there are -- that Secretary Kerry has been dispatched to the Middle East to talk to some of these other countries. Everybody is saying, yes, we've got to do something about it, you do it.
One of the most interesting aspects of this is Iran because they are -- they are as much freaked out by ISIS as anybody else. They want to hold on to a Shia government in Iraq. The question is whether they are going to put the Shiites in Iraq to be more inclusive, to be more open, or whether they are going to say oh, no, we just want a Shiite government in which case that's only going to -- going to make it worse. And, you know, they have got their 200 or 300 people in Iraq, you know. This is a crazy world where, you know, we're fighting against -- we're on the same side as ISIS in Syria trying to depose Assad, and we're opposed to ISIS in Iraq trying to hold on to the government in Baghdad.
I think it's -- it's got to be -- the solution has to be political. I think if there's anything we've learned over the last 12 years is that it's not going to be military. And I don't know if you've noticed, but some of the guys that got us into the Iraq war in the first place are now criticizing Obama's policy. That takes a lot of nerve. Being criticized for those guys for your war policy is like being called ugly by a toad.
CUOMO: That's an insult to toads. I think that, you know, while it is almost laughable in a pathetic way of what's going on with the finger-pointing, that's a reflection of the current political dialogue, that the blame game is acceptable no matter what the premise. I think the lesson going forward and why I hope to come back to you, Senator King, is that we'll only know what we learned in Iraq when we finally design our exit in Afghanistan, because, you know, the idea of American presence, as distasteful as it is, John McCain says this better than I can, but if you look at the places where we've put our foot in, we usually keep a footprint there. And now the plan in Afghanistan is the same one that we've put in place in Iraq. Will it lead to the same kind of trouble there, but that's one crisis ahead?
KING: That's the difference though, because in Afghanistan we are talking about a residual force.
CUOMO: That's right.
KING: We've got to work out a status of forces agreement with the Afghanis which we couldn't with the Iraqis, and that's one of the differences. But you're right. This isn't a switch you can turn off and on.
CUOMO: Senator King, thank you very much for joining us about this. We look forward to continuing the discussion with you because we don't know what this move is going to mean except that for sure Americans are back on the ground in Iraq. Thank you, senator.
KING: Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: Kate, over to you.
BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, thanks so much. And on that note, an important note for all of you, I'll be sitting down with President Obama later today to ask him about the situation in Iraq, among many other important issues. You're going to hear some of that conversation tonight on CNN, and we will, of course, have much more Monday right here on NEW DAY. Michaela?
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Very much looking forward to that conversation, Kate. All right, let's give you a look at headlines 10 minutes past the hour.
The IRS commissioner is facing tough questioning on Capitol Hill today after it was revealed the agency lost an unknown number of e-mails wanted in the congressional investigation. The IRS says e-mails to and from former top official Lois Lerner were lost in a computer crash and are not retrievable. The agency has been under fire for allegedly targeting the Tea Party and other conservative groups.
Breaking overnight, in a surprise move, the House voted to limit the NSA surveillance on Americans. The amendment requires the agency to obtain a warrant to search government databases for information on U.S. citizens. It also prohibits surveillance backdoor gadgets on commercial tech products. This measure was an amendment to a defense bill. The final vote is expected today.
Married gay couples getting more support from the White House. Changes set to be announced today will require most federal agencies to respect married rights even if they live in a state without legalized same-sex marriage. This move comes nearly a year after the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the defense of marriage act.
Some kind of amazing video of a motorcycle accident in Clearwater, Florida. It looks like a perfectly executed Hollywood stunt. This is real life. See that circle. The motorcyclist cartwheels through traffic, yes, lands on his feet. This is crazy. He walks away. Watch again. It's almost like -- he sort goes over the hood of the car and almost essentially cartwheels. The bike was totaled, but, incredibly, the rider was not hurt. The car's driver was cited for an improper left turn. I saw images online of the motorcycle which is just, you know, a mess, completely totaled. But the fact that that young man walked away --
BOLDUAN: That's not going to happen again.
PEREIRA: It wasn't his time.
CUOMO: That's all it is.
BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela. My goodness.
Coming up next on NEW DAY, a major scare out of Atlanta, government lab workers at the CDC exposed to anthrax. How could this have happened, and what are they going to do about it?
CUOMO: And on "INSIDE POLITICS" We're going to look at decision to put boots on the ground back in Iraq, because that's what's happening. You can call them whatever you want, assets, advisers, Americans are at risk there once again. Was it the only decision to make in just a bad situation? We're going to look at the politics of Iraq and whether Americans are ready for another engagement there, because that's what's going to happen. Stay with us.
BOLDUAN: Welcome back. An anthrax scare is rocking the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The FBI is investigating about 75 staffers who may have been exposed when their lab failed to inactivate, if you will, dangerous samples of anthrax. They are being closely watched this morning as officials race to find out simply what went wrong.
Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is with us once again from the CNN Center. Elizabeth, lay out how this could happen. There, of course, are procedures and safety -- safeguards in place.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely, Kate. This is all spelled out how you're supposed to handle things like anthrax. So at the CDC they have high-level labs that are equipped to handle dangerous things like anthrax. So there was one of these high-level labs that was supposed to deactivate some anthrax to send down to lower-level labs that don't have those kinds of measures.
So they thought they deactivate it; they sent it to the lower level labs. And the lower level labs said to them, hey, wait a second, some of this stuff is alive and we're not supposed to have it.
So, of course, that was not a good thing. And then when they went back to see what had gone wrong, they have to figure it out, of course, but one thing they did notice is that when you kill anthrax, when you deactivate it, the lab is supposed to wait 48 hours before sending it on to the other labs. Well, it turns out they didn't wait that 48 hours, so we know that that's one thing that seems to have gone wrong. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Elizabeth, you mentioned earlier that those who were potentially exposed, they have already started to receive treatment. But are you getting any indication that there is still a threat because anthrax exposure, we all know, can be fatal?
COHEN: Right, absolutely. It can be very, very dangerous. We all remember that from when this was such a big story years ago. The CDC says that there's a very low risk, just based on how these people were exposed and how much time has passed, that there is a very low risk -- but that risk is still there. And that's why they have offered people the anthrax vaccine. That's why they have offered these scientists 60 days of cipro, the antibiotic that we heard so much about years ago. So yes, there is a risk there and I imagine these scientists are very concerned. Again, they thought they were handling dead anthrax; turns out they were handling live anthrax.
BOLDUAN: Unbelievable. You can imagine that moment when they had that realization, and they do such important work. Let's hope everything goes okay and their treatment does as well. Thanks so much, Elizabeth. We'll talk to you soon.
CUOMO: The excitement is building for Team USA's big World Cup match against Portugal on Sunday. Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo may not play, and you know what? It may not matter either way. You know why? Because one of America's best players, Jozy Alitdore, is also out. And the team can handle it anyway.
Sunday's contest is sure to be another ratings grabber with World Cup fever sweeping the country. So we have one of our best, CNN's Jason Carroll, who can play with any injury out among the fanatics.
PEREIRA: I didn't know that.
CUOMO: Of course he does. Look at him.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know about that.
CUOMO: Twisted steel.
CARROLL: Yes, I will take that. I will take that.
With your guys' schedule, I don't know if you've been to any of the viewing parties but I have to tell you they are nuts. They are completely insane. I've seen crazy fans in Latin America and in Europe, but right now, right here in the United States, U.S. fans are giving them all a run for their money.
CARROLL (voice-over): Whoever says the United States doesn't have a case of football fever hasn't been to Chicago.
CROWD: USA! USA!
CARROLL: Or New York.
CARROLL (on-camera): How does this compare celebrating here to celebrating, I don't know, in Australia or anywhere else?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're representing our country, we're here. World Cup. Walla (ph), let's go, Aussies.
CARROLL: Once again making our way through the Australian NYC bar here in New York City, it's packed. We can still make our way through here and down to the bar. We're not going to get a drink.
(voice-over): In this place, on this day Americans -- actually just about everyone here -- is an Aussie. Unless, of course, you're Dutch.
CARROLL (on-camera): Anyone rooting for the Netherlands in here? I see some orange over there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We won't win.
CARROLL: You think so.
If you do win, make sure you make a quick exit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will.
CARROLL (voice-over): A record 16 million viewers tuned in for Monday's match against Ghana. The U.S. team still a long shot but still in the hunt. World Cup frenzy lighting up social media. 4.9 million tweets
worldwide. Watch as tweets rippled across the United States before and then after Team USA's winning goal. The hashtag #worldcup on Instagram going viral with more than 2.3 million posts.
In the end, it doesn't matter if it's the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, it's game on.
CARROLL (on camera): And later today it's going to be Italy versus Costa Rica. That's going to be at noon. You've got Switzerland versus France at 3:00. That's going to be a good one. Of course the big game that everyone's going to be watching here, of course, is going to be Sunday, it's going to be U.S. versus Portugal.
Also CNN.com/facebookpolls, you can get all the latest on all the games, all the update, see all the crazy pictures and maybe even find out where the next viewing party is going to be. It was a lot of fun. It's just great to see, no matter where you're from, everyone coming together in the spirit of the sport and celebrate.
BOLDUAN: This makes me want to violate curfew and go out to one of these viewing parties.
CARROLL: You need to do that. Just don't have a drink when you're doing it.
PEREIRA: On the streets of New York you see people sporting jerseys, like I've never seen before. They're like high fashion right now. It's kind of awesome to see.
CARROLL: It's fantastic.
BOLDUAN: That's fun. How many drinks did you have spilled on you?
CARROLL: Spilled on me or drank? No, no, no, I'm just kidding. I didn't have any drinks. I did not have any drinks.
BOLDUAN: Why not? It's called when in Rome, Jason.
CARROLL: Yes, but, you know, you know who they are, they are watching.
BOLDUAN: When the camera's rolling, yes.
CUOMO: Management, the suits.
CUOMO: Always there to take you out. But I think it's what makes the country great. We've got people from all over the world in here. Soccer is the universal romance sport.
BOLDUAN: And New York is unique because so many different people, you know.
CARROLL: So many different cultures here, so many different nationalities. Just a lot of fun.
CUOMO: But the colors this weekend will be decidedly red, white and blue. And later this hour one of the team's biggest stars, Alejandro Bedoya, is going to join us live. One of our future heroes, so stick with us and we'll talk to him.
Also coming up on NEW DAY, the bad news -- back to Baghdad. Even as President Obama OKs the deployment of special forces to Iraq, he's promising no boots on the ground, which now means combat troops. But is there a real difference? We're going to look to the politics of Iraq and whether Americans are ready for what it looks like, which is more engagement there that is dangerous.
"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King coming up.
BOLDUAN: And attention, men suffering from baldness, a cure may be in the works. But is it for real? Find out, Chris.
PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Here's a look at your headlines.
President Obama is sending up to 300 military advisers to Iraq to help slow the aggression of ISIS militants. He still says combat troops are not an option. However, air strikes are not ruled out. Now ISIS fighters have taken over a chemical weapons complex from the Saddam Hussein era. Hundreds of tons of potentially deadly toxins are inside, but officials say they are likely contaminated.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart, Petro Poroshenko, about a peace plan for eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's president reportedly called for the release of hostages and effective security controls on the border. Putin also spoke with the leaders of France and Germany about resolving the crisis. Ukrainian forces have battled pro-Russian separatists now for months.
Songwriter Gerry Goffin, the man behind some of our most beloved music, has passed away.
PEREIRA: Goffin teamed with his one-time wife Carole King for some of the biggest hits in the 1960s, including the song you just heard, "Will You Still Love Me?" and "The Locomotion." Goffin's music was recorded by artists from Aretha Franklin to the Beatles. Back in 1990, he was inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame. Gerry Goffin, 75 years old.
BOLDUAN: Good stuff.
PEREIRA: Really great music to remember.
CUOMO: So it's on the table. Americans are going back to Iraq. There are no two ways about it. You can call them whatever you want -- assets, advisers -- they are there and they're going to be at risk. So we take you to "INSIDE POLITICS" on NEW DAY with John King to get into what this means and what the American people are going to have to accept or reject? Right, John?
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS': Chris, Kate, Michaela, good morning. That's dead right. It's a policy dilemma for the president that's become a big political debate here in Washington and across the country. So let's go "INSIDE POLITICS".
With me this morning to share their reporting and their insights, Jackie Kucinich of the "Washington Post", Olivier Knox of Yahoo1 News.
Let's listen to the president first. Remember, this is what makes this so fascinating. He made his name saying I was against with the Iraq war to begin with and I'm going to get us out of Iraq as soon as possible. Now the President of the United States saying U.S. military personnel going back in, but he adds an important but.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we always have to guard against mission creep, so let me repeat what I've said in the past. American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I don't question, Olivier, the president's commitment to the last sentence at all -- combat troops not going to be fighting. But you send in advisers, you don't know what happens next.
OLIVIER KNOX, YAHOO! NEWS: You don't, and the president may as well have been answering Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House Minority Leader, who came out even before the president had spoken and said, look, this is the kind of deployment that has a way of swelling, of getting beyond your control. I need a timetable or time line. I need precise goals. She was pretty critical of this plan.
KING: Democrats are nervous, Jackie, and the Republicans see an opening to criticize the president more and more and more. Listen to them in recent days, not only questioning him on Iraq but now they seem to have this broader idea that this president is suddenly soft on terrorism.