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Fatal Police Shooting Sparks Protests; NASCAR Star Involved in Deadly Crash; Iraq's Political Crisis Deepens; Gaza Peace Talks To Resume In Cairo

Aired August 11, 2014 - 06:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Baghdad neighborhoods including near the U.S. Embassy in an apparent show of force by the embattled Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. Some embassy staffers have been evacuated. Al Maliki in a surprise speech to the nation Sunday rejected calls for his resignation and accused Iraq's new president of violating the constitution.

The Obama administration has thrown its full support though behind Iraq's president. Let's go live to CNN's Barbara Starr who is at the Pentagon for us, of course, this morning.

Barbara, everyone's attention has really been on the humanitarian crisis in the north, but there's a lot of trouble in Baghdad right now.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Indeed there is, Iraq in full-known military and political crisis for the White House.


STARR (voice-over): This morning, political chaos in Iraq. The prime minister of the country in crisis, Nuri Al-Maliki flexing military muscle amid fears of being ousted. Maliki who is in charge of the Iraqi military increased the numbers of Iraqi troops, security forces and tanks in Baghdad on Sunday.

Including in Baghdad's green zone, the location of the Iraqi parliament and the largest U.S. Embassy in the world, a troubling sign after Iraq's new president allowed more time for the national coalition to find a replacement for the prime minister.

Maliki said the extension is a violation of the constitution that would lead the political process into a dark tunnel. The U.S. says they back the new Iraqi president. Only 220 miles north in Erbil, one apparent consequence of a government divided.

ISIS' murderous rampage hampered by U.S. air strikes over the weekend. The U.S. conducting five air strikes near Erbil to defend Kurdish forces protecting U.S. personnel and four air strikes near Sinjar defending Yazidi civilians.

Kurdish forces were able to recapture two towns south of Erbil pushing back ISIS militants. The U.S. response hoping to break the siege by ISIS and allow thousands of the religious minority trapped on Mt. Sinjar to be rescued.

The U.S. also conducting its fourth air drop of food and water as the humanitarian crisis worsens, totaling over 70,000 meals and 15,000 gallons of water now delivered.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Our military obviously can play an extraordinarily important role in bolstering efforts of an Iraqi partner as they make the right steps to keep their country together, but we can't do it for them.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Barbara, thanks for the reporting. Appreciate that. Let's figure out what this means. We have CNN political commentator, Peter Beinart, is a contributing editor at "Atlantic Media" and CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, he is a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence officer who is assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Gentlemen, thanks for joining us. All right, so we're going from bad to worse in Iraq. There is no reason to debate that. That's the reality. Having been in country as you have and understanding it politically as you do, Peter, it always has felt like a country that was very much desiring to break apart.

Right, you had the Kurds who had been asking for their territory. They haven't gotten it. You now have this majority-minority pull with the government. Let's start with that. With what's going on there, Maliki has the power. No question about it. Does he have the ability, Rick, to fight off change?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, that's a good question. He's trying to do that, but time is not on his side and he's lost all -- he's losing his support. We saw him flexing his muscle. This is not how you have a transition of power. He's taking on the trappings of a dictator.

CUOMO: So let's play it out. He says I'm not leaving. The one thing that he controls as the colonel says is the only thing that matters, which is the military. He sets up there. He starts firing on opposition. That's ongoing. Distracts from anything they're able to do in the north, which is almost nothing anyway. That's all the Kurds then what happens.

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think the Obama administration has made it clear. They're willing to take military action to prevent Erbil with a lot of oil from falling to ISIS and to protect those Yazidis. But they're not going to go further in trying to fight ISIS unless they feel they have an Iraqi government that has support among the Sunnis.

Unless Maliki can be a new prime minister beyond Maliki who actually is able to rally the country together, I think you see the Obama administration will be unwilling to pursue further military action.

FRANCONA: That's exactly right. The problem is we are trying to buy time for the Iraqi government, for the Iraqi Army to stand up and defend itself and demanding that they have an inclusive government. One doesn't follow the other. Someone has to take on ISIS right now. If we stand back and wait while ISIS continues to roll down the river valleys, it may be too late.

CUOMO: There's criticism these U.S. air strikes are all show no go.

FRANCONA: Pretty much. I don't want to say it's all show. We are not hitting the people we need to hit. Yes, we're defending Erbil. That needs to be done. Yes, we are protecting the Yazidis up there. That needs to be done, but we need to be going after ISIS. We need to be hitting ISIS where they hurt. Not on the front lines in Erbil. We need to be taking out the whole organization.

CUOMO: Can you do that through air?

FRANCONA: You can, if you're willing to commit the resources and you have people on the ground. There's a ready-made army right there, the Peshmerga.

CUOMO: You believe in the Peshmerga, if they are better equip, which we should be doing. Do we think that we are, Peter, by the way? Are we giving them anything?

BEINART: It seems like there are some reports we are giving them better weapons.

CUOMO: All right, now, big problem, Rick, that we should feed in so people understand. Why do we care if it's a Shia country whether there's Sunni representation in the government? That's what helps keep the country together. A lot of those ISIS fighters are believed to be former Sunni, Iraqi military guys who got kicked out when Saddam left. Isn't that part of the speculation? That you're fighting your own?

FRANCONA: That's what's happening, as they roll further south, they gain strength as these former Iraqi military people join with them. That's not a long-term solution for ISIS. That's a temporary fix for them. They gather these people. But many of these people are more secular than they are radical Islamists.

This is a temporary marriage for them because they're joining not because they agree with ISIS, but because they dislike or hate the government in Baghdad. So that's going to --

CUOMO: The quicker you change the government, you may hurt ISIS through the collateral impact of changing and having a more stable government where people can get something from their Iraq. Fair point?

BEINART: Right. This is the fact that the situation we've seen in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, also, you have the U.S. waging this military campaign on behalf of a leader, Hamid Karzai, who is not able to unify the country politically. It turns out that it's actually easier to deploy American military assets than it is to create a government that can get the full backing of its people. CUOMO: We keep picking our own bad guys in these places. Maliki now is being revealed as a different flavor of bad guy, not Saddam Hussein, but not that different. In Afghanistan, same thing. You picked somebody now written off more as a chieftain and a local tough than a changed agent, fair criticism?

FRANCONA: Fair. I've talked to some Kurdish friends in Erbil this morning. They're very concerned that, yes, they'll get U.S. aid, but that U.S. aid comes with the proviso that they don't form an independent country.

CUOMO: I thought that the Kurds getting their own land was somewhat of a forgone conclusion now. That it would finally happen.

FRANCONA: They have their own autonomous region, but they want to be a country.

CUOMO: Why would the U.S. stand in the way of that, Peter?

BEINART: Well, because that really does mean the dissolution of Iraq. I mean, if Kurdistan becomes its own country, it's harder to see what keeps the rest of Iraq together. You have this scenario where you have a Shia country in the south, very close to Iran, a Kurdish country in the north fairly stable and progressive.

But then most frightening at all this central city area under control of ISIS, a very, very large state, which can be a launching pad for Jihadist around the world.

FRANCONA: And has very few natural resources.

CUOMO: So they have nothing else to do.

FRANCONA: The curds will be OK, the Shia will be OK. The Sunnis will have nothing more to do than to create this terrorist city.

CUOMO: Why isn't the likely scenario that you divide that area, you know, so the Kurds get some of it, the rest of the Shia minority get it and then you defend, which part is yours and you do your part to battle the insurgent element.

FRANCONA: That leaves a radical Islamist country in between Baghdad and Damascus.

CUOMO: Bottom line, quick yes, no, on this, this is mission creep. It's written all over it. The U.S. has to get more involved. You're going to have to be aggressive getting rid of ISIS or it's going to spread. It's going to be the U.S. fault.

BEINART: I don't think the Obama administration will resist that unless they have a partner in Baghdad. Right now, they don't.

CUOMO: Who is a possible partner?

BEINART: There's been talk about Joffery, other potential candidate. None of them look particularly good, but it's clear that Maliki will never gain the support of his country's Sunni population.

CUOMO: I'm taking that as a long yes. Colonel, Peter, thank you very much -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Chris, thanks so much. Let's turn our attention to Israel right now where there's a fresh and fragile 72-hour cease- fire between Israel and Hamas. It is holding right now in Gaza.

In the hours leading up to the truce both sides fired on each other. If a long-term end to the fighting is possible, today could be absolutely key. Both Israeli and Palestinian delegations are back in Cairo to try to kick start talks once again. That's where our Reza Sayah is with much more -- Reza.

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, another round of indirect negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians has yet to get under way here in Cairo. Both sides have agreed to give this another shot.

And much of the world anxious to see if this time anything is going to be different because, of course, last time these two sides failed to get anywhere, the Palestinian delegation is here in Cairo. They've been here for a week, they never left even after the initial cease- fire last week fell apart.

There are media reports that the Israeli delegation is here in Cairo as well. But we have yet to confirm that with the Egyptian government. All of this happening, of course, when yet another cease- fire agreement went into effect Sunday midnight local time.

The Palestinians agreed to it first. Soon after the Israelis sat there on board, obviously it's good news if the cease-fire seems to be holding and the fighting has stopped. Here is the glaring problem. Even with these two sides negotiating again, the glaring problem remains and that's the core demands that have yet to be met from either side.

On one side, Hamas is demanding for a lifting of the economic blockade, the opening of the border crossings. On the other side, Israel saying we're not going to agree to anything until Hamas has been disarmed. That's where the impasse is. All eyes on Cairo to see if they're going to resolve this impasse in the coming hours and the coming days -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course, the question is will the cease-fire hold for the 72 hours. We'll see.

CUOMO: I think it's more about who than what right now. We're thinking about what it takes on each side. You have to remember Bibi Netanyahu, the prime minister came in at 30 percent approval. He's now at 80 percent. The question is what kind of peace can he make?

BOLDUAN: Demands are the same as they were the last time they sat down at the table.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, anger turns to chaos in a St. Louis after an unarmed African-American teenager is fatally shot by police. We're going to go live to the scene.

CUOMO: Plus the racing world and pretty much everybody is still in shock over the death of a driver seem to be struck and killed by Tony Stewart's car as he walked on the track. There's a big investigation going on. We'll give you the latest ahead.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Breaking overnight, a quiet Missouri town is spinning out of control after an unarmed black teenager was shot and killed by police. What started as a protest turned into looting and gunfire over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Hundreds of people took to the streets as you can see and decried the killing as unprovoked.

But police say the teen was killed after a violent struggle with the officer involved. Now the family is demanding answers.

Let's get right to CNN's George Howell, who's live in Ferguson, Missouri, with much more.

What is the latest?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, at this point, the street is much quieter. What I can tell you earlier, several hours ago, it was a chaotic scene.


HOWELL (voice-over): Across the city, a night of pure chaos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is your warning. Leave the area, disperse!

HOWELL: People pushing the limit with police.

Racial tensions, nerves on edge. Even an officer we caught on camera gave in to his rage calling protesters animals. Listen.



HOWELL: Many here are angry about what witnesses say was an unprovoked attack on an unarmed teenager. Michael Brown, shot and killed Saturday by a Ferguson police officer.

We watched as a struggle played out Sunday night. Some protesters who took to the streets trying to keep the peace while taking a stand against police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really a peace march. It's nothing started to hurt a police officer. This is all about peace.

HOWELL (on camera): It's not a peace march anymore. I mean, you hear what's happening. You see them, these confrontations between people and police officers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and then it got outrageous.

HOWELL (voice-over): Others who simply came to cause trouble.

(on camera): Police are still stationary right now. But I want to show you what's happening at that JC Wireless. People broke through the glass. And right now, you can see people running in and out, apparently looting that store.

Cell phone video captures the frenzy, stores being looted. Some people threw rocks and bottles. The sound of gunshots rang out several times Sunday night. We had to take cover.

All of this started as a peaceful march Sunday for Michael Brown's family.

LESLEY MCSPADDEN, VICTIM'S MOTHER: You took my son away from me. You know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many. Because you bring them down to this type of level where they feel like they don't got nothing to live for anyway. They're going to try to take me out anyway.

HOWELL: The victim's friend says they were walking together when Brown was stopped by a police officer. Witnesses say the teen had his hands in the air at the time he was shot and killed.

But police tell a different story, that Brown instigated the altercation, physically assaulting the officer while in his car and struggling to take his gun. The unanswered questions sparked people to take action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're (INAUDIBLE) for the community, Caucasian, African-American, Asian, everyone, it doesn't matter what color you are. Get out here and support your people.

HOWELL: Police made several hours of arrest, several hours of insanity, for the moment distracting from the greater call for justice.


HOWELL: And as I managed a minute ago, you know, things here on the street are much quieter than they were several hours before. In fact, we were caught right in the middle of it all, really caught by surprise as crowds, basically just the crowd became chaotic. And you see teenagers, some showed up to be here, to be seen and to basically cause trouble.

What we know at this point, though, there is another peace march that is set to happen at 10:00 a.m. local time here in Ferguson. Many of the people who organized the first peace march certainly are disappointed by what happened overnight. The hope here, Kate, again is that that does not happen today. BOLDUAN: All right. George, thank you so much. We'll see what

happens today, all the while as one family tries to understand what happened to their son. Thank you, George. Thanks so much.

Let's get over to Michaela now.

A lot of headlines to go through this morning.


We'll turn back to Ebola. The World Health Organization holds a meeting today on the African Ebola outbreak. An ethics panel will consider the use of experimental treatments to fight the virus. Two American aid workers with the disease have responded to the experimental medicine that had never before tested on humans. The panel will explore who will get the limited amount of drugs that are available.

Shelling continues in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk as Ukrainian forces close in on the city. The military is said to be in the final stage of retaking the city from pro-Russian rebels. The rebel leader says the city is running out of food and would accept a cease-fire to avoid a humanitarian crisis. Ukraine is calling for pro-Russian separatists to surrender.

A thrill ride turned scary for all the wrong reasons in Maryland. This roller coaster came to a stop near the top of its 79-foot-tall peak. It took more than four hours to get all of the 24 riders off the Joker's Jinks coaster in Six Flags America. The theme park says it doesn't know what made the ride stalled, but it did say the ride which hit 60-mile-per-hour speeds has a sophisticated computer safety system that can make it stop. Fortunately, no one was injured.

The White House says President Obama will be keeping a close eye on Iraq and all the international hot spots while he vacations with his family in Martha's Vineyard. The commander-in-chief at the golf course certainly after arriving Sunday. He's taking quite a bit of heat for the timing of this vacation. He does plan to break up the two-week hiatus with a brief return to Washington in about a week, certainly a lot going on on the world's stage. And critics are questioning the timing of his vacation, his annual vacation, we should point out.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It's a bit of a distraction. They all go on vacation. And you know what? They have such capabilities where they are. It's not like the man is ever able to disconnect from what's going on.

PEREIRA: You don't think he's in a Winnebago in the middle of Martha's Vineyard somewhere? You don't like that?

CUOMO: If he were, he had a big antenna on the top it.

BOLDUAN: Sure a lot more going on this summer than a normal summer.

PEREIRA: It sure does. CUOMO: It sure is. But again, we do always hear this.

Let's take a little break. Coming up on NEW DAY, what will President Obama do in Iraq? Another flash point that demands a decision, like Syria, like Gaza and the policy in these cases under attack itself including friendly fire from his own former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. We'll tell you what she says.

BOLDUAN: Plus, police have more questions for Tony Stewart after he struck and killed a fellow driver on a dirt track in Upstate New York over the weekend. Could he face charges? They're still investigating.

We're going to have a live report from the very latest, coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

Police in Upstate New York insist it is not a criminal investigation right now, but authorities are questioning NASCAR driver Tony Stewart for a second time about a fatal crash that happened during a race track -- a dirt race track this weekend. Stewart's car struck and killed 20-year-old driver Kevin Ward, Jr., as he walked on the track, apparently to confront Stewart about an earlier collision.

CNN's Alexandra Field is following the development. She's live in Watkins Glen, New York.

So, what is the latest on this investigation, Alexandra?


Well, investigators are doing a crash reconstruction. Along with that, they said they want to see more videos that may have been recorded by members of the audience that could show the moment of impact and what led up to it. They say they're in close contact with Tony Stewart and his team. At the same time, Tony Stewart is speaking out, telling fans why he felt he couldn't race here, also sending his thoughts and condolences to the Ward family.


FIELD (voice-over): Tragedy on the race track, 20-year-old race car driver Kevin Ward, Jr., killed after he steps out of his car and onto the track, hit by one of the sport's greatest drivers, Tony Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion.

GREG ZIPADELLI, STEWART-HAAS RACING, COMPETITION DIRECTOR: It's just an unbelievable tragedy. Our hearts go out to obviously Kevin and his family.

FIELD: The deadly hit coming after the 14th lap of the 25-lap race on this dirt track in Upstate New York, Saturday night. Watch what happens as Stewart's car closes in onward's cutting him off. Ward's car is forced up against the wall where he spins out. As the race continues amateur video shows Ward out of his car pointing

his finger, seemingly in the direction of Stewart's car. One car swerves around ward. Stewart's car hits him, Ward's death now under investigation.

SHERRIFF PHIP POVERO, ONTARIO COUNTY, NEW YORK: The investigation, when it's completed, we will sit down with the district attorney and review it. I want to make it very clear -- there are no criminal charges pending at this time.

FIELD: Stewart is cooperating with investigators. On Sunday, the NASCAR great decided to pull out of another race just hours before it started saying in part, it's a very emotional time for all involved and it's the reason I've decided not to participate in today's race.

Stewart is known to show passion for racing. At times, he's been called hot-headed.

JIM UTTER, CHARLOTTE OBSERVER NASCAR PRODUCTION: It just looked like to me someone who got wrecked by Tony Stewart was very upset, wanted to show his displeasure and in the process of doing that, got caught up in a terrible accident.


FIELD: And with respect to this ongoing investigation, NASCAR has put out its own statement saying that it will respect the process of local authorities involved with all of this. Kate, they're also sending their condolences to the Ward family which is where people's focus is this morning.

BOLDUAN: And should be, Alexandra. Thank you very much. Thanks for that.


CUOMO: Difficult situation. Seems people are talking around it. Let's see if we can get more right to it.

Let's bring in Brad Gillie, host of Sirius XM's NASCAR Radio, and Andy Scholes with CNN's "Sports and Bleacher Report".

Fellow thanks for joining us.

Let me start with you, Brad. We know that people within the race community are talking about this, two very definite schools of thought about what happened and why. Take us through it.