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.S. Army General Killed in Afghanistan; U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan Examined; Ebola Outbreak in Africa Widening; Becky Hammon Breaks a Glass Ceiling

Aired August 6, 2014 - 07:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, "THE LEAD": They say basic items such food, blankets, mattresses, hygiene kits, medicine, they are getting in. The real issue they're having is with items such as basic construction materials, and also the devices that they use to carry water. And those items, Israelis often consider them dual use, meaning they could be used for terrorism, the containers for the water or the construction materials. Think of the cement that was supposed to be used to build buildings in Gaza were instead used for tunnels. And that's a real holdup and that is going to be a real problem moving forward in trying to alleviate this really horrific humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I know you're pointing it out because that situation is just as important to the peace process as the politics, because if the people there cannot live their lives surely there's going to be anger and there's going to be more lashing out.

Jake, thank you so much for being on the ground. We'll check back with you in just a little bit. OK?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also happening this morning, Afghan military and international forces are investigating one of the bloodiest insider attacks of the long Afghanistan war. U.S. Army General Harold Green was killed when a man dressed as an Afghan soldier turned on allied troops and opened fire at a military training facility in Kabul. Green is the highest ranking U.S. officer killed in a warzone since Vietnam.

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon. Barbara, just as this family is beginning to grieve the loss of Harold Green, you also have new details coming from your sources on exactly how this happened.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. Good morning, Kate. Officials familiar with the details of the attack tell us that what happened is General Green and a number of others were standing outside at this military training facility in Kabul. They were outside and the attack came when a shooter opened up from a nearby building from inside another building.

So at this point we don't even know if the security troops around where General Green was, did they have any chance to return fire, did they have any understanding of where that automatic fire was coming inside another building. All of this now part of the investigation, of course. General Green's remains, we are told, will be on their way back to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware today at some point. This is the base that receives the remains of all of the troops that fall in battle regardless of rank. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Barbara, thank you so much. Barbara Starr following those details from the Pentagon for us this morning. Thanks, Barbara. Chris?

CUOMO: All right, so we have the reporting now. Let's do some analysis of this. We have Major General James "Spider" Marks. He's a CNN military analyst and former commanding general of the U.S. army intelligence center. General, thank you so much for being with us.


CUOMO: Let's just set some context here for a moment -- 30,000 troops still in Afghanistan. Yes, the number is going down to 10,000 by year's end. But when you look at the difficulty, and I know the numbers have gone down of the so-called green on blue attacks, but it's an existing dynamic. Do you think that something like this is cause for reassessment of what the mission is?

MARKS: Well, the mission clearly has been stated that we want to regress. We want to get out of Afghanistan. I mean, that's been stated from the very top levels. The difficulty with that is in that period of transition the focus is probably on the administrative task of trying to make sure you're set as you make this departure. And so in your rush to try to establish what you think is a good bar for the number of Afghan troops that have been trained, both the security folks like police as well as military, there may be an effort to try to push as many folks through as possible. That's been analysis and that's been the criticism, frankly, from day one, that there might not be a good enough vetting process.

But to be frank, the vetting process of how the Afghans bring forward candidates to be included into this training program is that's done by the tribal leaders, like all major decisions are made within Afghanistan. So it's difficult when these candidates come forward. They have been internally vetted for the United States or other nations to turn them away. So they mostly embrace them and put them through the process and hope they can identify those that need to go away.

And in this particular case we don't know yet, and as Barbara indicated we don't know whether this was a specific green on blue soldier on soldier type of an attack, but that is in fact a challenge that we've seen in the past. And it just remains a fact of life in terms of vetting and growing these forces, and it's a terrible tragedy that we know about. It's unfortunate.

CUOMO: Of course, Barbara is reporting that they believe the shot was fired from 100 yards away, and that will complicate it in terms of it being a specific target or whether it was just about a random opportunity and spraying of fire, but that part of the forensic analysis aside, you now have a scenario that is the worst and the best right now. This is the worst. We have seven layers of vetting and still you have somebody who gets in and is able to do this. You take out the highest ranking officer since Vietnam, and you lose a great guy, and then there's a family who is heartbroken. And on the other side you have the Taliban who now has to have an amazing propaganda tool, don't you think?

MARKS: Oh, absolutely, Chris. In fact, we don't know whether the Taliban had recruited this guy or whether this was a specific attack against this general, or whether this -- this scheduled visit, I would imagine this was a scheduled visit. It might have been overt, it might have been on training schedule, so it gave those who wanted to go against, or to make a splash, to make a statement, to have a recruiting tool, built a plan around it.

Alternatively it could have been a target of opportunity. We just don't know, but the investigation will unveil that. All of that is incredibly troubling, as you can well imagine.

CUOMO: And that's the main question. As we go forward, yes, they will find out what happens and who this guy was and it makes changes to security. But at the end of the day, General Marks, when you look at the Afghan security forces, is this a metaphor for fundamental instability that is there and of the types of things that we will see going forward, especially when the U.S. is not there anymore as a threat, which may not be a bad thing from a U.S. perspective, but in terms of what the realities will be on the ground in Afghanistan?

MARKS: Well, Chris, it is fair to say that where the United States goes we become a target, so if you're not there, you're not a target. The issue becomes, what is the bigger objective, what is the strategic imperative that we're trying to achieve? That decision was made years ago. We have been part of and we have contributed to the building of a form, a form, let's be frank of each other, of Afghan democracy. It has a long way to go. It is a fledgling start.

So strategically the United States has created a partner, and we hope we can sustain that partner going forward. A decision has been made to downsize considerably. Arguably we could have two few troops in country to really provide some form of assistance. But it is in fact a statement of the United States commitment to what we're trying to achieve over there. There will be costs associated with it that are terribly unfortunate. That is in fact one of the long-term discussions that we're always going to have. Is it worth -- you know, is the run worth the slide, and we have to do that evaluation every day.

CUOMO: "Is the run worth the slide," well put. General Marks, thank you very much. Horrible conversation to have to have, especially for the major general's family, but thank you for the perspective this morning.

MARKS: Absolutely.

CUOMO: A lot of news this morning. Let's get you right to the headlines with Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it's another busy day. Here are your headlines at seven minutes past the hour. CNN is projecting that Kansas Senator Pat Roberts defeat of Tea Party challenger Milton Wolf in their often nasty Republican primary race. Roberts is seeking a fourth term in the Senate. And in Michigan congressional primary, the Tea Party-backed incumbent Representative Kerry Bentivolio was defeated by attorney Dave Trott.

The Senate report on the CIA's interrogation and detention program after 9/11 was expected to be released this week, but there has been a delay. Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein says there were too many redactions of key points and that the findings won't be made public now until that issue is addressed. Committee members have said the report concluded CIA tortured terrorism suspects and that it didn't help prevent more attack.

Bowe Bergdahl is expected to meet today with the army general leading the investigation into his 2009 disappearance. Bergdahl has met briefly with Major General Kenneth Dahl once before. We have a new picture of Bergdahl in a picture provided by his attorney. He was accused by some in his unit of deserting them. He was freed in May in exchange for five Taliban prisoners.

Officials in Australia have chosen a Dutch firm to carry out the next search phase for Malaysian Airlines flight 370. The company will use two vessels to scour the South Indian Ocean floor where officials believe the plane went down back in March. The operation is expected to begin next month and could last as long as a year.

Got to show you this incredible video of a rescue in Perth. This guy slipped and became trapped in the gap between the plane and platform just walking on the train. He flagged for help, yelling for the driver to hold the train. Dozens of other commuters got off the train and pushed against it and used their weight to push the six car train just enough so that the passenger could get himself free. This is what's amazing. The did that, brief celebration, the train continued on only 15 minutes behind schedule. I love that. Let's not make a big fuss, saved his life and carry on, people.

BOLDUAN: See that mass of humanity come out.

PEREIRA: And they all worked together. Sometimes when you get that many people there's like 59 different ideas, you know.

BOLDUAN: One prevailed. Just push the train.

PEREIRA: Exactly.

CUOMO: You're right, it does go to the grit of that particular population.

PEREIRA: Come on.

CUOMO: That guy hopped on the train.

PEREIRA: I feel like that would happen in New York.

CUOMO: You wouldn't see me for months if something like that happened, emotionally alone.


BOLDUAN: Right, exactly. My leg hurts right now thinking of it.

CUOMO: I like this. I think if I did that I'd sell it.

Let's take a little break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, we're going to take you to the Ebola hot zone. That's where three countries are struggling in their efforts to get the deadly epidemic under control.

Plus, you're going to meet the author who coined the term "The Hot Zone." His book about Ebola inspired the movie "Outbreak."

And talk about master of the obvious. Americans are fed up with Washington. They are fed up with the American political system. You don't need a poll to tell you that. But there is another one out today, and it raises an interesting question. If you think it's all so obvious about what you don't like, why do you keep electing the same politicians? We'll take a look on "INSIDE POLITICS."


BOLDUAN: The Ebola outbreak is widening this morning. The U.N. health agency has called an emergency two-day meeting starting today in Geneva. They could declare the outbreak an international public health emergency.

Also new this morning Nigeria reporting five new cases and two deaths relating to Ebola. All of them had contact with one American traveling there from Liberia. He later died. CNN's David McKenzie is the only western reporter inside Sierra Leone's main treatment center. He's live there this morning with much more.

So, David, what are you hearing from the folks on the ground? Any sense that they're getting a handle on just how widespread this is?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Kate, absolutely not. They just don't know how widespread it is. And we went inside a Doctors Without Borders clinic where at the front line in this battle against the dreaded Ebola disease, they have 80 beds. All 80 beds are taken. They can't take any new patients and the feeling is they just don't know who is sick and where they are in the rural areas of this country that joins three countries that are all affected terribly by this disease.

That's obviously a concern for here. It's a concern for global health. And there's a sense, a step ahead of these (ph), they say they're, quote, two, three steps behind. They need help with tracing people, who they got into contact. All of this, they say, could have been done months ago when they knew that this would happen, but at this point it's catch-up. Kate?

BOLDUAN: And, David, real quick, just one final point because I know our viewers are wondering it. Is it safe for you? What precautions are you taking?

MCKENZIE: We're taking the precautions that Doctors With Borders have advised us to. You cannot catch Ebola by just by breathing the air near a patient. And we were able to interview people who are suffering from this disease. You have to stand sort of four feet away from them.

This is a terrifying thing for people who get Ebola because everybody is in those spacesuits and they are just trying to get better. And I think that it's important to remember that this is a human story, that there are actual people who are suffering and trying to beat this here in Africa and in the U.S., and so that mustn't be forgotten, and you mustn't be blinded by the fear factor. But we're taking the precautions that we've been told to take. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Very important point to end on, David, thank you very much. We'll check back in with you. As always, be safe. Michaela.

PEREIRA: We're sitting over here and just saying a big amen to what David McKenzie was saying, Kate. I have with me now the man who coined the phrase "hot zone". This is Richard Preston, an author, a novelist, and a contributor to "The New Yorker". He wrote the novel "The Hot Zone," which explores viruses like Ebola. You might be familiar because it inspired a movie called "Outbreak."

Really a pleasure to have you here. You've done a tremendous amount of research on Ebola, know more about it than I'm sure you care to know. And we both were having a real "aha" moment when we were listening to David McKenzie saying that we cannot forget the human toll of this.

RICHARD PRESTON, AUTHOR: I was so impressed by David McKenzie's report. He's just dead-on right. The fact of the matter is that the doctors in West Africa have lost control of the outbreak. What that really means is that they don't have the ability now, they're stretched so thin, they can't trace people who have Ebola. And people are leaving the cities infected with Ebola and going out into the countryside, trying to make contact with faith healers, or going back to their families because they can't -- the hospitals now are stuffed with Ebola patients and the medical system is effectively in a state of collapse.

PEREIRA: We've just seen how Sierra Leone is struggling. Nigeria admitting that they didn't get around the problem when that Liberian- American Patrick Sawyer traveled there. We now have seven confirmed cases in Nigeria.

I want you to speak more of that, because I don't think we in the west really can get a sense of that. There is mistrust and there is fear even in some of those remote villagers of outsiders; some of the patients are said to be fleeing and hiding. Give us a sense of how that logistically is hampering efforts to eradicate this.

PRESTON: Well, if you're sick with Ebola or even if you aren't, if people show up in your village and they're wearing spacesuits, that's really scary.

And the other thing is that people who go to the hospitals sometimes catch Ebola from the medical system itself so there's a --

PEREIRA: Which is what we've seen. We've seen patients and doctors contracting the disease, even among the dead now.

PRESTON: Absolutely. And so it's a human thing to try to get away from it. The international community is finally really waking up to the magnitude of this crisis, which it is a crisis in West Africa.

PEREIRA: But is it too late? In Africa. Because, again, I want us to separate the fear that seems to be moving to a little bit of paranoia here in North America and the United States and separate that from the real reality that's on the ground in West Africa. Is there enough being done or is it too late in West Africa?

PRESTON: Oh, it's not too late and it's never too late. I think there's a very good chance that the doctors can get the outbreak under control.

The thing is that Ebola has been pulling surprises on all of us. I don't think anybody really expected that Ebola had the potential to do something like get into the cities and get out of control. But, you know, most of the experts I'm talking to are saying that they are pretty well convinced that, you know, they will be able to get it under control, but there's huge concern about the possibility that Ebola could get into a major city.

PEREIRA: We see in Nigeria, if it gets into Lagos, that's a really populous city, that is a concern. And Nigerian officials there are concerned even about the fact that they didn't get on the situation early enough. How confident are you that the Nigerians can handle an outbreak there?

PRESTON: Well, I think the bigger question would be can the international community handle it?

PERERIA: Better yet.

PRESTON: Because Nigeria -- these governments can't handle this thing on their own.

PEREIRA: No one can do it on their own.

PRESTON: Nobody could do it on their own. We are all one human species. To a virus like Ebola, Ebola makes no difference between one human being and another.

PEREIRA: It does not discriminate, does it?

PRESTON: From the point of view of Ebola -- no, unfortunately, we are a new host. We are -- essentially, if the virus could potentially get into the human species and stay in us, a virus in effect wants, if you can say that, to become immortal. And Ebola immortalize itself in us by being able to spread from one human being to the next endlessly. And the goal of the doctors is to break that chain and stop it.

PEREIRA: To break the chain. And part of the challenge of breaking the chain is those logistics on the ground in some of these areas, getting in front of the problem. And then the other problems is patients that don't recognize that they're ill.

PRESTON: Yes, and doctors -- look, when you start getting Ebola, it looks like you got malaria. That's one of the problems in controlling it. It's very difficult for a doctor to diagnose a case of Ebola early on. It's only later in the disease that it becomes obvious.

PEREIRA: When it's potentially too late, right?

PRESTON: By that time, it's virtually impossible to save the person's life. Though, it should be pointed out that about 40 percent of the people who have it are able to fight it off naturally with their own immune systems.

PEREIRA: And there's no telling exactly why, right? They haven't gotten their hands around why it is that some are able to survive and others have not.

PRESTON: No, they haven't gotten their hands around that at all. And Ebola virus is a very unusual virus in that when it gets into a human being it can make copies of itself in virtually all the cells in a human body. You know, if you catch a virus like the common cold, the virus specializes just in membranes in your nose and throat, really. But with Ebola virus, it's attracted to almost all forms of human tissue other than muscle and bone.

PEREIRA: I could literally sit and talk to you the rest of the show. We have so much news to get to today. I want to say a big thank you to Mr. Preston. Thank you for coming in and talking to this and helping us put this all in perspective. Really appreciate it.

PRESTON: Thank you. And I must say that CNN's reporting on this has been great.

PEREIRA: Well, I hope our bosses have heard that because they need to know that they're on the right track. Appreciate it. Thanks so much.

We're going to take a short break because, again, we do have lot of news to get to today.

Fears of an all-out war in Eastern Ukraine. Thousands of Russian troops reportedly at the border. People fleeing their homes as the city of Donetsk braces for assault. We're going to have the late for you coming up.

Also, Americans are fed up with Washington. A new poll confirms the mood of our country, so why do we keep electing the same politicians? We'll go INSIDE POLITICS to try and find out.


PEREIRA: All right, 26 minutes past the hour. Here's a look at your headlines.

Egyptian-brokered talks on a lasting truce between Israel and Palestinian factions begin today in Cairo. The Egyptians reportedly trying to get this cease-fire extended until Sunday. It is set to end Friday. Israel, meanwhile, is confirming the arrest of a senior Hamas member in the kidnapping and murder of three teens that sparked this latest round of violence. More arrests, we're told, are possible.

Two-star Army General Harold Green, the highest ranking U.S. officer to die in a war zone since Vietnam. The 55-year-old general was gunned down when a man dressed in an Afghan soldier's uniform turned on allied troops, opening fire at a military training facility in Kabul. More than a dozen other soldiers were wounded in that attack. The Taliban says it is not responsible for the attack but it considers the Afghan gunman a hero.

No deal. 20th Century Fox has withdrawn its bid to buy rival media giant Time Warner. Rupert Murdoch's unsolicited takeover bid had already been rejected by Time Warner. The reluctance of its board to negotiate along with Fox's falling stock prices were said to be factors in Murdoch's decision. Time Warner, of course, is the parent company of CNN.

A glass ceiling broken in the NBA. Becky Hammon has been hired by the San Antonio Spurs as the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history. Hammon calls it the perfect challenge and opportunity, saying she is up for being outside the box and making those tough to decisions. Hammon, BTW, a six-time all-star point guard, is set to retire from the San Antonio Silver Stars of the WNBA this season. She has struggled with a bit of an injury. Her 16th season in the WNBA, by the way. And also as a side note Lisa Boyer was the first to serve on an NBA coaching staff, part of the Cleveland Cavalier staff, back in 2001-2002. She worked part-time, so this, again, glass ceiling broken.

CUOMO: Full time,

PEREIRA: Full time, paid. Doing the job.

BOLDUAN: Full time, glass ceiling breaker.

PEREIRA: And knows the game, 16 seasons in the WNBA. No joke is she.

BOLDUAN: I'll take her on in a gotcha contest.


BOLDUAN: And I'll lose.


BOLDUAN: And I'll lose.

PEREIRA: I support you in everything. That one, I might ask you to hold back from.


CUOMO: It's about time. Because woman's basketball is dominated by male coaches. I mean, they have a lot of great women coaches also, but might as well have it both ways.

BOLDUAN: Excellent point. Can't wait for her to come on NEW DAY, wink, wink.

CUOMO: When women want to be on the NBA teams, do you think they should stick to the WNBA teams or --

PEREIRA: When I was 15, I was trying to be that person.

BOLDUAN: Is that even really a thought?

CUOMO: Just came out of my mouth.

PEREIRA: I wanted to be that person.

BOLDUAN: Is that a thought by anyone other than this wild head?

CUOMO: They said Mickey had some game. She complains about the knees a lot. She will not play me on the basket out in our office.

PEREIRA: I stay in my lane.


CUOMO: Basket's right outside our office. I try to intimidate her.

BOLDUAN: All you do is make noise outside my office.

CUOMO: And you yell at me.

BOLDUAN: Because you make noise outside my office? You know who doesn't make noise outside my office?

CUOMO: John King?

BOLDUAN: That's right.

CUOMO: Time for INSIDE POLITICS, there's the man himself looking very well.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": You guys need me to clean this one up?

CUOMO: As always.

KING: Good morning, Kate, Chris, Michaela. You know, my daughter, she's a bit older now, about to go to college, but when she was younger, she was a huge Becky Hammon fan when she played for the New York Liberty. We have her autograph. Becky Hammon does know basketball.