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Syria War Planes Cooperating with Iraqi Army; What It's Like to Be Undocumented Immigrant; Diane Sawyer to Sign Off at ABC News; Book Out on Michael Jackson's Legacy

Aired June 25, 2014 - 11:30   ET



MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: A blatant affront to U.S. efforts in Iraq, the country's prime minister, Nouri al Maliki is flat out rejecting Washington's call to form a unity government. The Iraqi leader said in a televised address that such a move would go against the constitution and the results of recent elections.

In the meantime, U.S. military advisers are beginning their work, helping Iraqi forces. The Pentagon says some 90 advisers have arrived and are on the ground with more set to arrive in the next few days. The U.S. is also conducting air surveillance in Iraq, with 35 flights daily to gain better insight into the situation there.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: It appears Syria is now getting involved. Syrian war planes launching a series of air strikes in cooperation with the Iraqi army. The head of Iraq's Anbar Provincial Council says 57 civilians were killed and 120 others union.

I want to bring in our military analyst, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, a former military liaison officer with the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Colonel, this is fascinating here. You have the situation where the enemy of enemy is a dictator. Syrian forces bombing people that the U.S. is against in western Iraq. What does that do?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: This really complicates the situation. Because Iraqi airspace is not that big. Now you've got Syrian armed fighters and bombers dropping bombs in that same area. Pretty soon, you're going to have an airspace issue, you are going to have armed Syrian aircraft and U.S. aircraft very close to each other. Syria air force, U.S. Air Force, we have no cooperation protocol whatsoever.

PEREIRA: The U.S. advisors sent there have been very well briefed in the situation, all the players. This probably was on their radar to some extent but it's really on their radar now.

FRANCONA: This is a new development and we're seeing other things happen out there in the west. We're seeing a -- the merging of the al Nursa Front with ISIS. When they were in Syria fighting, they were fighting each other, because they are rival groups. ISIS split from al Qaeda. They were fighting each other, in addition to fighting the Syrian government. They did that for a while too, so everybody is fighting each other. Now they have joined forces together. That makes them a very formidable force, even worse than ISIS by itself. Now we've got these radical jihadis moving down to the Syrian border as well. This is going to be much more complicated and involved before anything is resolved.

BERMAN: What we're seeing happening with Maliki is nothing, despite the U.S. government is saying reach across the aisle to your Sunnis and Shiites. Not going to do it.

FRANCONA: This is troubling. Instead of the political reconciliation we're hopping to see, we're seeing Maliki gets his back up. This plays right into the hands of the Sunnis in Anbar and the Kurds up north who say, why are they dealing with these people? I think this has complicated things and today the situation just got a little more muddy.

PEREIRA: It certainly makes for another human rights issue. We're talking about the people on the ground who are caught in the middle of all of this.

FRANCONA: And the Syrian air force is not going to be concerned with the collateral damage as the U.S. Air Force.

BERMAN: Not as concerned, at all.


BERMAN: Great to have you with us. Really appreciate it.

PEREIRA: As we mentioned, more than a million Iraqis have been forced from their homes by escalating violence. The United Nations is saying the number is expected to rise with the threat of ISIS terror groups and the other groups operating there.

To find out how you can help Iraqi refugees, go to

Another topic, more than 11 million undocumented people live in the United States, many of them coming as children, just like Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas. We're taking a look at his journey in what he calls a broken immigration system. He joins us live ahead.


PEREIRA: Here's a number to consider. An estimated 400 children cross every day from Texas into Mexico. Hundreds more are pouring into Arizona. This problem is so big, the government doesn't have enough facilities to house, feed or care for them.

BERMAN: Today the Homeland Security Secretary traveling to Arizona to see this crisis firsthand.

Award-winning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas, knows what it means to be an undocumented child and CNN is telling this story in the film "Documented," airing this Sunday night. JOSE ANTONIO VARGAS, JOURNALIST: Growing up in the Philippines, I

always knew I was going to America. America seemed inevitable.

What I remember most about Manila was the air. There was something about the air that was heavy. My mother and I lived in a small house. We slept in the same bed. We were always together. We were inseparable. One morning, my mother woke me up. My suitcase was packed. A cab waited outside for me. When I got to the airport, I was introduced to a man I had never met. He held my hand as I boarded the airplane for the first time. It was 1993. I was 12.

Hi, I'm Jose Antonio Vargas, contributing for

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jose Antonio Vargas at "The Washington Post". We thank you for your insight.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jose Antonio Vargas is technology and innovations editor for the "Huffington Post" in New York.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Jose Antonio Vargas whose rare exclusive interview with founder and CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerburg, is --

VARGAS: I lived the American dream, building a successful career as a journalist, but I was living a lie.


BERMAN: Joining us is Jose Antonio Vargas, who lived for years with a secret until he wrote that essay in the "New York Times" magazine, as an undocumented immigrant, and now the documentary.

I think the question is, why that initial article, why the documentary when you are still undocumented? Why take these risks?

VARGAS: First of all, I think I'm the most privileged undocumented immigrant in America. People like me are getting deported every day and I'm doing I'm talking to you and I made a film that CNN is about to air. With that kind of privilege comes a great amount of responsibility, so I felt like it was time for me to do something that I never wanted to do which is as a journalist we're supposed to tell other people's stories. We're not supposed to tell our own story, but I decided three years ago that it was either someone was going to tell my story or I was going to tell it.

PEREIRA: Get ahead of it, yeah.

VARGAS: It kind of felt like -- this was -- it was a kind of situation that I couldn't keep lying to people, much less to myself, right? So somehow I needed to stop, and I decided three years ago before I turned 30 that it was time to stop. So I did. And so now I've done about, I don't know, 250 events in 40 states in three years. You know, insisting that we as a country look at immigration outside of this U.S.-Mexico border, Latino issue. We don't even talk about the fact that there are half a million undocumented immigrants in the city of New York alone, undocumented Caribbean's, Canadians, Koreans.


VARGAS: We never consider that.

PEREIRA: It's such an interesting thing, because there is such a face put on the idea of undocumented person.

VARGAS: And who are supposed to be.

PEREIRA: And who they are supposed to be. To that end, you probably have a very specific reaction to the story that we're seeing going on right now with these children flooding into the country without any -- without adult supervision, and we've seen the state they are being kept in. We see what's going on with them there. What is your reaction to that? What do you think needs to happen?

VARGAS: My reaction is we're that far away from Ellis Island. We're only a few miles away. We're not too far away from the lower east side, where a lot of immigrant Jews, Italians and Irish Germans came back decades, decades, decades ago, right. So I think it's really important that we remember history. When we talk about this humanitarian crisis happening, right, what's happening with the 11 million undocumented people in this country is also a humanitarian crisis. And I think too often we failed to kind of connect the dots. Like why are people coming here?

BERMAN: Let me ask you. Do you think people coming here because they see you very publicly undocumented, living this successful life? And do you think --


BERMAN: Not you particularly, but people like you. They see this life that they can have even if it is against the law, per se.

VARGAS: Well, they are coming here because in some stances because their parents are here, they are looking for their parents, and in some cases they are here because of the gang violence that's happening in their countries, and some cases they are here because the United States, we're there. That's why they are here. Right. What does U.S. foreign policy and U.S. trade agreements have to do with migration patterns? You just played the few sentences of the film that's going to air on Sunday. The first two sentences growing up in the Philippines, I always knew I was going to America. America was inevitable that was my own way of talking about, U.S. foreign policy and the fact that the Philippines was the first Iraq. We were the first occupied territory. Yet, we don't know about that. We don't know about the history of the United States as it pertains to all these other countries.

PEREIRA: We could talk to you all day. But we want -- we wanted you here to point to this documentary that people really need to see. It's a compelling story. The film "Documented" airs this Sunday on CNN, 9:00 p.m. eastern. Please watch it with an open heart, open mind. It's an American story.

VARGAS: It's an American -- but it's only one story of 11 million people like us and it's important that we take it out of this political partisan lens and make it about stories and our own history, like how do we fine American in this country.

BERMAN: Jose, great to have you here.

PEREIRA: Thank you so much.

VARGAS: Thank you so much for having me.

BERMAN: After months of speculation, ABC's "World News" anchor, Diane Sawyer, will be signing off. What this says about the news business, particularly the evening news? Dinnertime TV, a thing of the past? That's ahead.


BERMAN: After months of speculation, Diane Sawyer from ABC News saying good-bye to the anchor desk.


ANNOUNCER: This is Diane Sawyer.

DIANE SAWYER, ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: A good evening to you on this Tuesday night. We come on the air with threatening skies and rising water in parts of the country.


BERMAN: Diane says she's stepping aside to lead new programming tackling big issues for the network. Weekend anchor for "World News," also 20/20 anchor, David Muir, will replace her starting at the beginning of December.

PEREIRA: This announcement is huge.

Joining us to dissect it all, CNN media correspondent, Brian Stelter.

How does it change the media landscape? What does it say to you?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: The nightly newscasts are still the biggest newscast in America. Between NBC, ABC, CBS, these nightly newscasts guess 22, 23 million viewers a night. People are getting their news so many different ways, a phone, a laptop on our desk here. The nightly newscasts still matter. And David Muir will be the face of that nightly newscast.

But what's so interesting is that George Stephanopoulos will be the main breaking news anchor, the main election anchor. We've never seen a break up of the roles like this before where Muir will be there every night, but on big news days, Stephanopoulos will be in the chair. BERMAN: They have announced that George will be the chief anchor of

ABC News. And I think it says much of where the news business is headed. Yes, still more viewers may be there at night. But the money is in the morning. Did try to get a great show that will still be important, but it does seem like there's a shift focus to the morning.

STELTER: "Good Morning, America" is the number-one top rated show. It's been that way for a couple years now. George Stephanopoulos is one of the main anchors. When he renewed his contract a few months ago, it was clear he wasn't going to "World News." That is a shift in what matters. For years, the belief inside ABC was Stephanopoulos wanted to be the nightly news anchor. The fact that he's content at the morning anchor job shows how this change has happened toward the morning.

PEREIRA: When's the last time you were actually home for dinner at 6:30 to turn on the news?

STELTER: That's right. We're talking to two morning anchors as well.

PEREIRA: This is where it's at.

STELTER: People, when they wake up in the morning, they want reassurance about their world. They turn on the TV and check their phones. I like when I'm home at 6:30 to still turn on the nightly news but it doesn't happen every night. I think that will continue to be true, even as these shows find new ways to reach people.

BERMAN: It's also a generational shift.


STELTER: It sure is. Diane Sawyer, 68. David Muir, 40 years old. They'll try to bring in more young viewers to "World News." All the newscasts want more younger viewers. It's been very hard to get them. This is a time slot so resistant to change but it's a big change.

PEREIRA: Brian Stelter, thanks so much for joining us.

STELTER: Thanks.

PEREIRA: Sorry for that.

BERMAN: We've got another development to tell you about. We told you about some House Republicans threatening to sue President Obama because of his use of executive orders and unilateral actions. Well, the speaker of the House, John Boehner, spoke about this just moments ago.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you planning to initiate a lawsuit against the Obama administration and President Obama over the use of executive action?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I am. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Could you explain why that is necessary and

what you hope to achieve?

BOEHNER: The Constitution makes it clear that a president's job is to faithfully execute the laws. In my view, the president has not faithfully executed the laws. We have --


That was Speaker John Boehner right there, saying he is thinking about doing this. It might very well happen. We'll let you know when it does.

PEREIRA: We certainly will.

We're going to take a short break here @THISHOUR. If you look at your calendar, it's been five year since Michael Jackson passed away. His bodyguards are out with some new details, some of them quite salacious, about the pop star's personal life, his loneliness, rendezvous views with women, financial troubles, all divulged in a new book. A look at M.J.'s legacy ahead @THISHOUR.


PEREIRA: Kind of hard to believe, John, it's been five years since Michael Jackson died. He's still one of the biggest pop stars in the world. His music still is in the top ten charts everywhere on and the radio.

BERMAN: When he died, he was preparing to make a comeback -- in a desperate search for sleep.

Our Stephanie Elam takes us back.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be his farewell tour.


ELAM: But Michael Jackson would never perform for his fans again. The entertainer, with the iconic moves and unmistakable sound, died in 2009 while the This Is It concert tour was still in rehearsals.


ELAM: Since his passing, we've learned much more about the pop icon.

First, M.J. sounding like we never heard him before. During the trial of Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal doctor who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the singer's death. Audio was played of M.J. speaking. His voice graveled and slurred.


JACKSON: When people leave my show, I want them to say, I've never seen anything like this in my life.


ELAM: Second, shocking details about M.J.'s appearance. The autopsy report revealing his lips were tattooed pink and, like his eyebrows, his hairline had a dark tattoo to blend with his wigs.

Third, Jackson's addiction to painkillers. Drugs he also used to battle his insomnia. For 60 nights, Murray injected Jackson with Propofol, a strong anesthesia. The drug deprived the star of any real sleep for those two months leading up to those deaths. The doctor who conducted the autopsy testified if it were not for the Propofol overdose, Jackson could have had a normal life-span.

And Jackson's children. His three kids were kept covered up in public.

(on camera): But since Jackson's death, the children have shown their faces. In 2012, Paris, Prince and Blanket were here in Hollywood, honoring their legendary father in a hand and footprint ceremony outside a Chinese theater.


ELAM (voice-over): Prince even embracing his fame, appearing as a guest correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight" in 2013.

PRINCE JACKSON, SON OF MICHAEL JACKSON: I know how to keep my cool.

ELAM: As one of the most famous men in the world, the king of pop fought to give his children a normal childhood. After all, he gave his to the spotlight.


BERMAN: So interesting to look back.

Stephanie Elam, here with us on the set right now.

Stephanie, some of his former bodyguards are starting to talk about some of the things that were going on, revealing secrets. Really interesting, the relationships he had with women.

ELAM: It is very eye opening. Because this is something we hadn't heard about. These two bodyguards came together, wrote a book about the years that they were with him after they came back to the United States. Remember, after that big trial, about the child molestation, he came back. They're saying in that time, he was just all by himself, but he would disappear and go off and have make-out sessions with two women that he called Friend and Flower. That's all they knew them as. At one point, he was driving -- the bodyguard was driving the SUV. He was in the back seat, behind a blanket, making out. The bodyguards started high fiving each other because they were like, yes, we knew it, he had this other side to him that people don't get to see. Very interesting because that's something people don't hear about. (CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: The other thing they talked about a lot, too, they saw a side we didn't see, right, the quiet, more private, that he was alone, about the money woes he really truly had.

ELAM: A lot of this, they were saying they were not getting paid for months on end. They said they helped him out, driving him to his meetings. They said people in his team were colluding behind him. And when he returned to the country, it was him, his three children and the nanny, and that he was pretty much alone. He was not spending time with family and kept the family pushed away, except for mom, Katherine. She was allowed in. Everyone else he wanted to stay away.

BERMAN: They weren't getting paid. Think of that. Michael Jackson. All the money he made. Couldn't pay his staff.

ELAM: And think about the money he's made since he's passed. His albums have gone on to make so much money. Memorabilia about him has made so much money for the estate. You hear this before, these really famous people, maybe one of the most famous people in the world, and being worth more in death than in life.

PEREIRA: Than they were alive. Such a sad statement.

ELAM: Very sad.

PEREIRA: Goodness knows, we still love him and love his music.

Steph, thank you.


PEREIRA: Don't forget, tonight, Don Lemon is going to sit down with Michael Jackson's former physician, Conrad Murray. That will be a very interesting conversation.

BERMAN: Interesting discussion to be sure.

Thanks for joining us @THISHOUR. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: I'm Michaela Pereira.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Deb Feyerick starts right now.