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Videos of Air Strike on ISIS Military Position Released; Obama Talks about Iraqi Government Squandering Opportunity of Creating Inclusive Government; Minorities Fearing ISIS; Experts Explain Why ISIS Poses New Kind of Danger in Middle East; Interview With IDF Spokesman Peter Lerner; At Least 50 Percent of Casualties in Gaza Are Civilians; Grim Anniversary of Charles Manson Killing Spree; White House Gives No Firm Timeline for Ending Operation in Iraq

Aired August 9, 2014 - 5:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everybody. Mad dash here today, obviously. There's so much going on. We're just getting everything together for you. But oh, my goodness, the things to talk about. And it's frightening this morning. I'm Christi Paul, by the way.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. This is a special edition of "NEW DAY Saturday." We welcome our viewers that are here in the U.S and from more than 200 countries around the world. We're getting new information in. That's why you just saw someone drop this - we're beginning in Iraq and some stunning new video of the first U.S. air strikes targeting ISIS fighters.

PAUL: Yeah, for the first time on CNN here you're seeing these images from the U.S. military. These are FA/18 fighter jets honing in on an ISIS mobile artillery unit, and you saw there the explosion.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. Those are 500-pound laser-guided bombs unleashed on the terror group that has forced thousands of Iraqis to run for their lives. Later a U.S. drone targeted an ISIS mortar position, then it hit again when militants returned to the site. An ISIS convoy also was bombed.

PAUL: The attacks happened near Erbil, now this is the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region where hundreds of U.S. military and diplomatic personnel are stationed. West of Erbil, as you see on the map there, U.S. military planes have dropped more food and water over Mount Sinjar.

BLACKWELL: These are the packages being prepared for distribution to thousands of members of the Yazidi minority who just ran to the top of that mountain. Of course, they were under pressure from ISIS militants to convert to Islam or die.

PAUL: Now, we want to show you here this night vision video. Those are the pallets being hoisted off a cargo plane. So far, the U.S. mission has dropped more than 36,000 meals and almost 7,000 gallons of water. BLACKWELL: This aerial view shows the bundles floating to the ground.

Take a look at this. The British government now says it will undertake its own air drops as well. And the United Nations is urgently preparing what it calls a humanitarian corridor to help Iraqis get away from that violence.

PAUL: Even in that air strikes, though, in the humanitarian push, ISIS has gained ground, do you believe it? They've captured a key asset of Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam. Now, U.S. officials say its failure would be catastrophic here because it would cause flooding from Iraq's north all the way down into Baghdad.

BLACKWELL: U.S. warplanes patrolling northern Iraq have a green light right now to go after these perceived ISIS threats, of course.

PAUL: Yeah, a key official in Erbil where the U.S. military as we said have an operation center there, said the U.S. air strikes are critical because ISIS fighters are outgunning Kurdish forces. Chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto has the latest on the U.S. mission. Hi, Jim.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: With the looming massacre of minority Yazidis and hundreds of Americans now under threat, President Barack Obama did what many believed he least wanted to do, go back into Iraq.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Earlier this week, one Iraqi in area cried to the world, there is no one coming to help. Well, today, America is coming to help.

SCIUTTO: Still, the administration insists operations will be strictly limited. Mission number one, protecting the Yazidis. U.S. forces delivered food and water to some 40,000 stranded Yazidis and may have opened a humanitarian corridor to safer ground in Iraqi Kurdistan. Thousands of Christians are now also in danger. ISIS threatens all non-Sunni Muslims to convert or die.

JOHN KERRY. U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Its grotesque targeted acts of violence show all the warning signs of genocide.

SCIUTTO: Mission number two. Protecting the nearly 6,000 American embassy staff and military advisers now stationed in Erbil and Baghdad.

OBAMA: We intend to stay vigilant and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq.

SCIUTTO: The more difficult question for the president is what then? He's repeatedly said Iraqis must take on ISIS themselves. However as ISIS continues to advance with little challenge from Iraqi forces, both Mr. Obama and his advisers are offering as yet undefined American help.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: The third is slightly broader, but is related to our belief and commitment to supporting integrated Iraqi security forces and Kurdish security forces.

SCIUTTO: Some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing the president to do more. And right away. It takes an army to defeat an army said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat. And I believe that we either confront ISIL now or we will be forced to deal with an even stronger enemy in the future.


SCIUTTO: Administration officials insist there will be no mission creep. But there's still open questions. In addition to aid, what military support will the U.S. provide to open a humanitarian corridor? To get those stranded Yazidis to safety. Two, what happens if other ethnic groups including Iraqi Christians come under threat from ISIS? Will the U.S. rescue them as well? But also, finally what kind of military support will the U.S. offer to Iraqi forces, not only to stop ISIS advances, but to push back, to gain background. That's still an open question. Christi and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jim Sciutto, reporting for us. Jim, thank you so much.

President Obama speaking with "The New York Times'" Tom Freedman, he made it clear that he's only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East if opposing factions agree to an inclusive politics. And he said Iraqis missed the chance at that kind of cooperation.


OBAMA: They squandered an opportunity. And I've been, I think, pretty clear, about the fact that had the Shia majority seized the opportunity to reach out to the Sunnis and the Kurds in a more effective way passed legislation like de-Baathification, that that would have made a difference, I don't think that's - can be disputed. The flip side of it is, if they had done exactly what they did and we had had 10,000 troops there that would not have prevented the kinds of problem that we are seeing anyway. The difference would be we'd have 10,000 troops in the middle of this chaos as opposed to having a much more limited number.


PAUL: So, with Christians running for their lives in northern Iraq, Pope Francis is sending a personal envoy there in a show of solidarity. The Vatican says Cardinal Fernando Filoni will travel to the region in the next few days to offer spiritual guidance. The pope made an appeal to Christians around the world yesterday to pray for those in danger. This is what he tweeted, quote, "Lord, we pray that you sustain those who have been deprived of everything in Iraq. #prayforpeace." Unquote.

Also, the U.S. State Department is warning U.S. citizens against traveling to Iraq. Officials say the American embassy in Baghdad is open. Employees there, though, are operating with limited capabilities, but officials also warn U.S. personnel on the ground are at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence.

BLACKWELL: Well, as the situation becomes more dire there on the ground, some major oil companies are evacuating employees from that region. And some companies are also temporarily suspending drilling in Iraq. And you know what that means. Energy analysts are confirming it already. They say that the escalating violence could force a hike in oil prices if production is disrupted.

PAUL: And we just talked about it a bit. But there is no one, apparently, fleeing the impact of this new wave of violence quite like the hundreds of thousands of Christian Iraqis on the ground.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, Ivan Watson joins us from inside a Christian church in Kurdistan, where hundreds are taking shelters, sleeping in the pews or floor in some cases because there's nowhere else to go.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hundreds of Iraqi Christians taking shelter in a place of worship. Sleeping under the pews of St. Joseph's Church. These frightened people have come here because there's simply no place else to go. They're part of a wave of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who fled their homes to escape the Islamist militants.

People are running for their lives, and according to the patriarch of the Chaldean Christian community of Iraq among the exodus, are more than a 100,000 Christians who tell us that they've been given a choice by the militants from the Islamic states of Iraq and Syria, either convert to their brand of violent, harsh Islam or face the sword.

The Kurdish leadership is struggling to deal with this wave of humanity. The governor of Erbil, a Muslim, working with a Christian priest to provide aid to these homeless families. The archbishop says Iraq's ancient Christian community is basically being cleansed from its homeland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But this is another kind of message, because they are losing any kind of connection with the land now. They've killed the history. They've killed the future also.

WATSON: The exodus includes the other minorities from the religious and ethnic mosaic of northern Iraq including Yazidis, Shiites, Kurds, Turkmen, Shabak. But Kurdish officials fear ISIS militants may try to attack Erbil, a city that has become a fragile Kurdish safe haven.

(on camera): Is Erbil in danger?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, if there's no protection to the end, the danger, but it's very important to be quick and to start to attack them.

WATSON: The Kurdish leadership says it's grateful that U.S. air strikes are now helping to protect Erbil, but these desperate Iraqi civilians just don't know what to do?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we do? What we do now? We want solution to this problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to be like other people in other countries. The USA government said in 2003, we came to the Iraqi people to be free. That's the free? That's the freedom? Impossible that's the freedom.

WATSON: All these people suddenly homeless. Looking to a higher power for some kind of help. Ivan Watson, CNN, Ankawa in Iraqi Kurdistan.


BLACKWELL: You know, early on, there were some, not everyone, but there were some who saw ISIS as this haphazard, ragtag group that really doesn't seem to be organized but that obviously has changed now, at least to not to get the U.S. involved.

PAUL: Oh, sure. So who are they? Where do they get their money? What is it going to take to beat them?

BLACKWELL: And speaking for the first time since her husband's bond was denied, Leanna Harris's attorney is talking about his client's plans and whether she still stands behind her husband in the death of their son in that sweltering SUV.


PAUL: 14 minutes past the hour right now. And the U.S. has launched two rounds of air strikes against ISIS fighters in Iraq and has the green light to conduct more.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, the Pentagon says it used F/A-18 fighters to drop 500-pound laser-guided bombs on the targets. So, let's take a closer look at these fighter jets.

PAUL: This is the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. Here it is. It's used for ground attack and combat air patrol. It can go as fast as 1370 miles per hour, that's mach 1.8, by the way. It has aerial refueling capability, precision guided missiles, and force multiplier capabilities. The Super Hornet, by the way, also comes equipped with an arsenal of weapons including a 20 millimeter canon, mines and rockets. And includes laser-guided bombs as well.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk more about the U.S. military strategy in Iraq. We're joined now by Andrew Tabler, he's a senior fellow for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He's also the author of "In the Lion's Den" an eye witness account of Washington's battle with Syria.

PAUL: We're also joined by Professor Peter Neumann. He's the director of International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King's College in London. Gentlemen, so great to have both of you with us. Thank you. We know that U.S. officials say they have been able to hit ISIS artillery units and convoys advancing on Erbil this morning. But Peter, to you first. Are air strikes going to be enough to combat ISIS from going any farther? PETER NEUMANN, KING'S COLLEGE: I think they are very important in

containing the threat. I mean over the past months, ISIS, rather than being pushed back has actually advanced. It's actually gained more ground. So it's really, really important that they're being contained. The second step is to really increase the capability of the people that are fighting against ISIS. The Kurds, the Iraqi government, the Jordanians secular forces in Syria. And the third step would be to bring about a more inclusive government in Iraq that allows for a political solution.

BLACKWELL: Andrew, to you. Kurdish fighters, the Peshmerga, they have been for most of this conflict, have been able to hold on to this large hydroelectric dam, the largest there in Iraq. But now ISIS fighters have control of it, essentially. It's just north of Mosul. Some experts believe it could be used as a weapon to flood Mosul. It's used to power the city nearby. Do you think that's a tactic ISIS is likely to use?

ANDREW TABLER, SENIOR FELLOW WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: It's possible. And remember, that this is not the only dam that ISIS holds. ISIS also holds the largest dam in Syria on the Euphrates. What makes ISIS unusual, is not just the speed of its advance, but its ability to take and hold territory until now. We'll see how U.S. air strikes affect that calculation. But my suspicion is that they won't be enough, it will take a lot more to get rid of ISIS, which has carved out this durable safe haven between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers.

PAUL: President Obama sat down with "The New York Times" yesterday, gentlemen. Let's listen here to something he said about the Iraqi government.


OBAMA: They squandered an opportunity. And I've been, I think, pretty clear about the fact that had the Shia majority seized the opportunity to reach out to the Sunnis and the Kurds in a more effective way passed legislation like the de-Baathification, that that would have made a difference, I don't think that can be disputed. The flip side of it is, if they had done exactly what they did, and we have had 10,000 troops there, that would not have prevented the kinds of problems that we've seen anyway. The difference would be we would have 10,000 troops in the middle of this chaos as opposed to having a much more limited number.


PAUL: Andrew, do you think the U.S. overestimated the capability of the Iraqi government?

TABLER: Absolutely. I think, unfortunately, in this case, we overestimated not just the ability of Maliki to be more inclusive, to answer very quickly is, our disenfranchised Sunnis in Syria - sorry, in Iraq, but it also spreads into Syria, and they don't feel really represented. And so, with those more sectarian policies and with more riot influence, that helped ISIS come to power. BLACKWELL: You know, Peter, the president also said on Thursday night that this is the Iraqis' fight. That the way that this will be controlled eventually is that the Iraqi forces must become stronger. The U.S. obviously has committed time, blood, treasure, to training and supporting and arming Iraqi forces. Moving forward, what more can the U.S. do, essentially? What does that commitment look like?

NEUMANN: Sir, the commitment now in the first instance consists of advisers for Special Forces that are helping the parts of the Iraqi army that are equal and capable of fighting to do so. In the longer term, however, it's really important that there is a political solution on top of the military solution. The Iraqi government clearly has to change course. It has to become more inclusive. One of the reasons ISIS is so successful is because they have the Sunni tribes supporting them. It is only when the Sunni tribes are starting to support the Iraqi government again that you can finally see ISIS being dislodged from the whole country. That has to be brought about, the political solution on top of the military solution.

PAUL: OK, but how is fighting ISIS -- I mean I think people have a good idea of who al Qaeda is.


PAUL: ISIS is still somewhat of an unknown. Help us understand how it's different to fight ISIS as oppose to fighting al Qaeda as we've done in the past. Peter.

NEUMANN: So, al Qaeda always wants to overthrow governments. In Syria, they're still trying to overthrow governments. ISIS has a different strategy. They want to - they don't care so much about the Syrian government or Iraqi government. They want to basically start their own state in a very small place and then expand from there. And because they are starting their own state, they can seize all the military equipment and all the fighters in the territories they hold. And they are fighting like a conventional army, not like terrorists like al Qaeda. That makes them so dangerous, because step-by-step, they're becoming bigger and bigger. And every little piece of territory that they seize, they're getting money. They're getting troops, and they're gaining a base.

PAUL: Already. Andrew Tabler and Peter Neumann, we so appreciate your insight this morning, gentlemen, thanks for being with us.

NEUMANN: Thank you.

PAUL: We're going to continue this conversation for several hours today. So, stick with us here. There's so much more to ask and so many more answers to get.

But also another story that I know so many people are really honed in on Leanna Harris' son Cooper, he died trapped in a hot car. Her husband Justin is now charged in his death. Since then investigators uncovered shocking allegations, though, of cheating and grim Internet searches. BLACKWELL: So does Leanna Harris still stand behind her husband?

Well, her attorney, the only network that he's speaking with is CNN. We'll have that for you. And the landmark ruling this morning against the NCAA. We'll have that for you coming up as well.


BLACKWELL: Tropical Storm Iselle is moving farther away from Hawaii, but it's already done some major damage.

PAUL: Take a look at the cleanup here. Efforts in the east side of the Big Island that's what you're looking at. Iselle brought winds topping 60 miles per hour when it made landfall. This could have gotten worse here. Look at the Wanaque River. It is just swelling, isn't it? Because of that, the Big Island is in flood watch until 6:00 this morning.

BLACKWELL: The mother of the Georgia toddler who died after being left in a hot SUV for hours says she is also a victim. In a statement Leanna Harris writes "The rush to judgment by the public in the mainstream media has left me with little confidence in our legal system and our society." And police say Harris was behaving strangely in the days before and moments after the death of her son Cooper. She has not been charged with anything, but her husband has. Justin Ross Harris faces murder and child cruelty charges. They say he left his 22-month old son Cooper strapped into a car seat for seven hours while he went to work. That was back in June. Justin Ross Harris has pleaded not guilty. Now, Leanna Harris' attorney Lawrence Zimmerman told me his client is afraid. Listen.


BLACKWELL: Why not come out and tell the truth now?

LAWRENCE ZIMMERMAN, ATTORNEY: Because she's not only dealing with the loss of her child, her husband, and grieving and trying to get her life back in order, she's also concerned that the district attorney's office may try to level the charges against her.


BLACKWELL: And this conversation went on for some time. We're going to have more on this story throughout the morning, so stay with us.

PAUL: All right. A landmark ruling Friday could mean top-tier college basketball and football players are going to start getting paid.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, this could be a real game-changer. U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken ruled against the NCAA, the governing body, of course, as you know, for collegiate sports.

PAUL: In a 99-page ruling Judge Wilken writes the NCAA violated antitrust laws by forcing its member schools to not pay athletes even though those athletes' images or likeness were used to generate revenues. Plus, she ruled that the NCAA cannot stop players from selling rights to their own names and images.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, but also Judge Wilken said that the NCAA could set a cap on the money paid to athletes as long as it allows at least $5,000 per athlete per year. We'll see where that goes.

The U.S. conducts another round of air strikes in Iraq. There's new video to show you this morning. And this is some of it of those strikes. And the specific targets the airmen went after.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charles Manson was born evil.


PAUL: The dark anniversary involving Charles Manson and the look inside an even darker mind.


PAUL: Well, a hearty good morning to you at 5:30 in the morning here in the Eastern. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start this - with five things you need to know for your "NEW DAY." Up first, new video here from the U.S. military of the first U.S. air strikes in Iraq. Fighter jets hone in on an ISIS mobile artillery unit there. And then you see the explosion. Those are the 500-pound laser-guided bombs unleashed on the terror group that has forced thousands of Iraqis to run for their lives. We also have new video here of U.S. military planes dropping food. Here it is. We've got water and also to Iraqi minorities who have fled into the northern mountains. ISIS has warned them to convert to radical Islam or die. So far more than 36,000 meals have been delivered and when I say radical Islam, it's their brand. Their type, their sect of the religion. I don't want to, of course, malign Islam.

PAUL: Sure. Sure. Number two, the death of Ronald Reagan's former press secretary James Brady has been ruled a homicide. Brady died this week at age 73. Well, the medical examiner said it was due to his wounds that he sustained in 1981 when he was shot during an assassination attempt on President Reagan. Brady spent the rest of his life partly paralyzed in a wheelchair. The shooter, remember, John Hinckley, was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

BLACKWELL: Number three, Russia has arrested five Ukrainian officers on suspicion of committing war crimes, that's according to a state-run news agency. Ukraine denies claims that the officers are responsible for bombing civilians and shelling Russia. Meanwhile, Russia denies allegations that it is arming pro-Russian rebels.

PAUL: Number four, Palestinian officials say they're digging to retrieve the bodies of at least three people who died when an Israeli air strike hit a mosque. They say two others were killed in a separate strike. It was one of 30 targets Israel hit in Gaza today. Five rockets have been fired from Gaza.

BLACKWELL: And number five, Starbucks is defending itself against a fast-moving boycott. It claims the coffee giant supports the occupation of Palestine. Well, a statement says neither Starbucks nor CEO Howard Schultz, quote, provides financial support to Israel or to its army. The coffee chain currently operates almost 600 stores in 12 countries in the Mideast and North Africa. But all of its stores in Israel were closed more than a decade ago.

PAUL: Back to the latest on the Mideast now, since peace talks crumbled, Gaza has once again, as we just said, become a bloody war zone. Palestinian officials say at least five people there have been killed today.

BLACKWELL: Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner is a spokesman for the Israel Defense Force. Thank you, sir, for joining us again. All right, good to have you first. Good morning to you.

Did you agree with the numbers from Gaza, here they are, five Palestinians have been killed today. Five before. I know that there has been some disagreement, some discrepancy in the numbers that we're getting from Gaza. And from Palestinian officials. And those from Israeli officials.

PETER LERNER, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCE SPOKESMAN: I'm not aware of those figures. I do know that just before I came on, we did strike a group of terrorists on a motorcycle in southern Gaza Strip. Something that we carried out a targeted strike. I know that that happened. And what happened actually since the ceasefire broke down when Hamas decided that the ceasefire is no longer good for them is that the Israel Defense Forces was forced into responding to that aggression. We've had over 70 rockets come out in the last day and a half now. From Gaza. And we've basically had no choice. We are striking this terrorist organization, this Islamist extremist organization that is just trying to hold Israel hostage with its rockets. That's what we're doing.

PAUL: Lieutenant Colonel, can you talk to us about the rockets that struck that mosque killing, we know, at least three people? Was that intentional, that particular target? Was there a misfire?

LERNER: I don't know the specifics. Again, I couldn't see what you were showing just as we came in. But what I do know is that since the beginning of this conflict, at least the 170 instances of rockets being launched from around mosques, indeed, we did strike a position rocket launcher adjacent to a mosque in the early hours of this morning. That I can confirm. What it goes to show, really, is that Hamas has strategically positioned these type of weapons, weapon caches, rocket launchers in and around these types of positions. So we're not intentionally, I would say, singling out mosques, but indeed when a rocket launcher or weapons are being stored in these type of places, then they are a legitimate target. I would ask Hamas why are they placing these type of things in and around these mosques.

BLACKWELL: Lieutenant Colonel, I want to go back to something you said just a moment ago. You said right before you came on, you confirmed that there was the strike against several people on a motorcycle. Can you be more specific about where that was?

LERNER: I don't have the specifics, again I was just coming online. I saw a quick message just for my information that there was a strike. These are the type of things we do. We are striking Hamas and other terrorist organizations that are attacking Israel so that the individuals are pursued. That the organization is paralyzed. And so that they can't feel free to operate against us. This is exactly the situation we're facing. Where people think they can use Gaza as a springboard for carrying out attacks. If they want to use Gaza as a launching pad, if they want to get from "A" to "B," they have to realize that they will not be able to move freely, they will be a target. And if they're planning on carrying out these attacks or they're carrying out these attacks personally or even instructing other people to carry out these attacks then they are under our scope, we will take them out.

PAUL: The tunnels, I know, have been a point of contention for you and certainly a target. Do you know how much ground you've gained in terms of dismantling those tunnels?

LERNER: Well, in the early hours of the ceasefire, just as a ceasefire was coming in, we had completed the destruction and neutralization of 32 tunnels. Those tunnels indeed were intended to strike into the communities of southern Israel to enable them to have easy access into the community so they could carry out multiple attacks simultaneously with tens of terrorists infiltrating inside the state of Israel. I'm happy to report that that no longer is a major threat as it was beforehand. There is a possibility that there are some tunnels that we didn't find that they could utilize, but definitely not on the scale that they had intended. This would have been a huge threat, not was basically the reason why we had to go in with the ground forces. That was the reason why we mobilized inside the peripheral areas of the Gaza Strip. See, we couldn't deal with these tunnels, the way they were built, we couldn't deal with them from the air or from far. We needed to be on the ground, we needed to take them out. We had to demolish them along the whole length of them. Because they were like these arteries with many veins coming out of them. So, if you would strike the artery, they would just use the vein to continue building towards Israel. So, we really needed - had to deal with them in its complete form so that they no longer pose a threat. Indeed, that's a good thing that those - they cannot now have that easy access on multiple access points.

BLACKWELL: Lieutenant Colonel, I quickly want to get to this IDF tweet from yesterday, and we have it put up on the screen. Every rocket, this is from the IDF, every rocket fired by Hamas is meant to kill Israeli civilians. Every rocket is a war crime. The Palestinian authorities in the West Bank are saying that Israel committed war crimes during this military operation and should be brought before the International Criminal Court. There's also Geoffrey Nice, one of the world's most renowned war crimes prosecutors involved in many trials there, he told CNN it is possible that Israel could face war crimes charges. What's your response to that?

LERNER: Well, first of all, we carry out our actions with explicit care in order to limit the civilian impact. We are faced with a terrorist organization that is indiscriminately launching rockets at our civilians. And that is why that tweet indicated how we feel about what they are doing. We don't want to go into Gaza. We just don't have a choice. And can you imagine if the U.S. was, three quarters of the United States was covered by rockets, being launched at you on a daily basis, how would you feel? What would you do? What would you expect your military to do? So, indeed, this is a huge challenge for the military. And indeed, when we're addressing the type of warfare that we are going in striking against Hamas, striking against these terrorists, Islamist terrorist organizations, that are using the Gaza Strip as this staging ground, as an area where they utilize schools, ambulances, you mentioned the mosques, this is how they're operating. So, it's a huge challenge for a military, even with precision munitions. And indeed, when you go in on the ground, it's an even bigger challenge. We have no intention in striking civilians. We have -- I would say we also accompany every strike that we carry out with legal counsel. We discuss it. We think through it very thoroughly. In order to minimize the civilian impact. Indeed, we are faced with a huge challenge.

PAUL: All right. Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, we appreciate you taking time for us today. Spokesman for the Israeli Defense Force. Thank you, sir.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's go to Gaza now where CNN's John Vause is monitoring the developments there on the ground. John, you just heard, I'm sure you were listening in to the Lieutenant Colonel discussing not wanting to go - to have the civilian deaths, but even by the best estimate, 50 percent, and those were the numbers from Israel. 70 percent from the U.N., 80 percent from Palestinian authorities are civilians. Also this new information about a strike of militants on a motorcycle. I guess we're expecting, of course, today, the death toll to increase.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And let's just be clear about the Israeli numbers as well. What they are saying is that during the course of this operation, their soldiers, their troops, their air strikes have killed 900 militants. Now, you're making the assumption that the Israelis agreed with the overall death toll of 1800. At this point, I'm not entirely sure that they do. So, they are not putting a figure on the number of civilians who have been killed.

And in fact, that has always been a point of contention throughout these campaigns in Gaza over the years. The Israelis saying they killed far more militants than civilians than what has been claimed by the Palestinians and also claimed by the United Nations. And you do have to be very, very careful with those number. The reason why we report those numbers, basically, because they're the only ones we get at this point. And of course, we always attribute these numbers to Palestinian officials or to the United Nations. The U.N. number is slightly lower than the numbers which we are getting from the Palestinians, but, yeah, as you say, the death toll continues to rise. There have been a number of strikes here in Gaza, especially in Gaza City twin air strikes, just a few moments ago. And right now, we do know that, as of today, five more people have been killed here as Israel continues with this military offensive. And it seems that since the ceasefire ended on Friday, the Israelis are mostly using air power to go after those targets. Victor.

PAUL: John, what do we know about the peace talks that are supposed to be going on in Egypt?

VAUSE: Yeah. Well, as far as the Israelis are concerned, those peace talks are just not happening. They've made it very, very clear there can be no talk of peace while they are coming under hostile fire. But there is something which is interesting happening today. And to be honest, we don't really know what it means, but we'll share it with you anyway. Since the ceasefire ended all of the rocket fire coming out of Gaza has been claimed by another militant group. They're called Islamic Jihad. They're rivals to Hamas. They're a smaller group. Sometimes, they work with Hamas. Sometimes, they work against Hamas. But right now they're represented at those peace talks in Cairo as well. They're the only ones who are claiming rocket fire coming out of Gaza. Hamas is not. So what that means at this point, does it mean that Hamas is looking to de-escalate this conflict in some way, we don't know. But it is unusual, Christi.

PAUL: Very unusual. John Vause. We so appreciate it. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, John. It's been 45 years since the Manson family went on a killing spree.

PAUL: Why does Charles Manson continue to fascinate people, even today?


BLACKWELL: California Governor Jerry Brown has denied parole for former Charles Manson associate. Bruce Davis is his name. He's serving a life sentence for two murders committed in 1969.

PAUL: He was convicted of the first degree murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea. No Manson family member has been freed solely for good behavior, we should point out.

BLACKWELL: You know, Charles Manson became a cult figure after his group went on this gruesome killing spree back in the '60s. He's still serving a life sentence for his role in nine murders.

PAUL: Our Ted ROWLANDS takes a look why the crimes continue to just horrify people even today.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, we're outside the LaBianca house where 45 years ago, two of the seven Tate-LaBianca murders took place. And even though it has been that long, people are still fascinated by not only this case, but with Charles Manson.


ROWLANDS: San Francisco, 1967. Summer of love was at its peak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES (singing): One, two, three. What are we fightin' for? ROWLANDS: Free love, free drugs, dream living for hippies escaping the mainstream. But 32-year-old Charles Manson arrived with much darker ambitions.

Um: You get these kids, these children coming into Haight-Ashbury, and here is someone, Charlie Manson saying how much he loves them and he wants to take care of them. It was made to order form and he took full advantage.

ROWLANDS: Manson's destructive course through life was fixed from the start.

CHARLES MANSON: I don't have any particular reality.

ROWLANDS: He spoke to CNN from prison in 1987.

MANSON: I spent the best part of my life in boys' schools, prisons and reform schools because I had nobody.

ROWLANDS: He blamed his mother for his troubled youth. Kathleen Maddox gave birth to Manson in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the age of 16 and went to prison when Charlie was five years old.

MANSON: She got out of my life early and let me scuffle for myself. And I became my own mother.

ROWLANDS: But author Jeff Guinn says there's only one explanation for the life of Charles Manson.

JEFF GUINN, AUTHOR: Charles Manson was born evil.

ROWLANDS: In 2013, Gwinn landed exclusive interviews with Manson's sister and cousin.

GWINN: Little Charlie was taken in by loving relatives. His grandmother. His uncle. His aunt. His cousin Joanne. But he always had people who loved him. The problem was that Charlie himself was a rotten little kid from the word "go."


ROWLANDS: And coming up tonight on our Manson special, we also have an exclusive interview with Star, a 25-year-old woman who says she is married to Charles Manson. We also talked to Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor that put Manson away. A lot of fascinating stuff. Hopefully people can watch. Victor, Christi.

PAUL: I will be watching.

BLACKWELL: Certainly.

PAUL: That, I can tell you. Don't forget to watch it. The full documentary on Charles Manson tonight, CNN, 7:30 Eastern.

BLACKWELL: American fighter jets in Iraq given the green light to go after ISIS targets. Here's the question, though, what could be the impact on President Obama's legacy? We'll go to the White House for the latest on that.


BLACKWELL: We continue the coverage now of the American military action in Iraq. Two air strikes on key ISIS targets. More of them may be coming, trying to stem the militant group and the growth in Iraq, of course.

PAUL: This is the first time the U.S. has embarked on direct military action in Iraq since 2011. Jim Acosta is joining us from the White House now with the administration's response to this growing terror threat. Good morning, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENR: Victor and Christi, President Obama is receiving regular updates from his national security team on the damage done by those strikes on ISIS. In the meantime, aides to the president are hinting that there could be more air strikes in the coming days.


ACOSTA: After multiple rounds of U.S. air strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq this was all we could see of the president, commander-in-chief on the phone with King Abdullah of Jordan discussing what's next. Agencies, the mission in Iraq will be limited. Protect U.S. military advisers and diplomats in Erbil and end the siege against Iraqi minorities driven into the mountains by ISIS fighters. But the White House concedes there's no firm timeline.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has not laid out a specific end date.

ACOSTA: That prospect of an open-ended engagement is a far cry from the president's initial reluctance to deal with ISIS two months ago. As well as his preference for diplomatic solutions in Ukraine and Syria. After ending the war in Iraq nearly three years ago.

OBAMA: America's war in Iraq will be over.

ACOSTA: Mr. Obama is now the fourth U.S. president in a row to launch military action in Iraq.

(on camera): Was he reluctant to make this decision?

EARNEST: I think the president was determined to use military action to protect American personnel who are in harm's way in Iraq. He was determined to use American military assets to try to address an urgent humanitarian situation.

ACOSTA: ISIS is just as determined. As one of its fighters told VICE News, we will raise the flag of Allah at the White House.

Um: Those people are not people. They are monsters.

ACOSTA: Monsters the president apparently brushed off back in January when he said to "The New Yorker" if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn't make them Kobe Bryant. They're not the jayvee anymore.

EARNEST: We do remain concerned about the military proficiency that's been demonstrated by ISIL.

ACOSTA: For now, members of Congress are showing support for the air strikes, but House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement, "I'm dismayed by the ongoing absence of a strategy for countering the grave threat ISIS poses to the region. Vital national interest are at stake, yet the White House has remained disengaged."

ISIS has threatened one of Mr. Obama's main hopes for his legacy to get out and stay out of Iraq.

OBAMA: I want to make sure that when I turn the keys over to the next president, that they have the ability, that he or she has the capacity to make some decisions with a relatively clean slate.


ACOSTA: And White House officials insist the president will stay on top of this crisis during his family vacation in Martha's Vineyard. Key members of the national security team will be making the trip. Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jim Acosta, of course, we'll talk about that Martha's Vineyard trip throughout the show.

PAUL: We have some brand-new video for you, though --


PAUL: Of these other air strike - U.S. air strike in Iraq. This next round.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, we also want to tell you about the video we have. We are going to show it to you coming up. The new night vision video, of supply drop for hundreds of people trapped in the mountains there. We're going to have that for you in the next hour of your "NEW DAY" continues after the break.


PAUL: Take a nice deep breath. It's Saturday.

BLACKWELL: Yes, it is.

PAUL: And we need it with all that's going on in the world today. We are so glad to have your company, though, I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. 6:00 here in the East here in the east here in the U.S. This is "NEW DAY Saturday". Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world.