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U.S. to Send Military Adviser to Iraq; Hillary Clinton and President Obama to Attend Same Party; Heavy Rains Hit Parts of U.S.; Iraqi Prime Minister Fighting Back; Ferguson Police Refuse to Name Officer Who Shot Michael Brown

Aired August 13, 2014 - 07:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Want to go to Iraq now. The subject now for at least where embattled Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is fighting back, calling efforts to force him out unconstitutional and a conspiracy. His bid to stay in power though is crumbling. This coming as more U.S. troops arrive in that nation. About 130 U.S. marines and special operation forces now on the ground there in what the Pentagon is calling advisory roles to help rescue tens of thousands of civilians now trapped by ISIS militants. Some do worry that the increased U.S. presence could foreshadow a confrontation between American forces and ISIS.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has the latest on what the U.S. now appears to be considering this morning, Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. And 130 additional U.S. troops in northern Iraq, more than 900 American forces on the ground now in that country. The new job, to assess how to get those thousands of Iraqi -- you see these civilians stranded on the mountain top off of there, how to get them off of there safely.

The military looking at a number of options and working with other countries. Two ideas on table - get them out by air. That could take weeks of landing aircraft around the clock to fly them out. Not clear where they would take them, land. Hundreds of trucks, again, maybe it could take weeks to drive them out of that area, transport them to a safe location. Nobody knows at this point where that would be.

One of the big challenges, of course, is security, security to keep any kind of evacuation effort safe, orderly, and organized as it would unfold over a number of days and weeks. There are thousands of people up there, but also the U.S. likely to have to step up air strikes. That's key issue to push ISIS positions back, get them away from the mountain, push them back so there can be a secure operation. It is going to be a herculean task.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Barbara Starr at the pentagon discussing what the U.S. is considering now and perhaps an escalation on the ground in Iraq. Appreciate it, Barbara. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's stay on this topic. Let's bring in Bobby Ghosh. He's the managing editor of "Quartz" and the former international editor of "TIME" magazine. So Bobby, I want to get your take on this, this new detail that's coming out that Barbara Starr is reporting on. We have 130 advisers, but it includes marines and special forces on the ground trying to come up with options for the president to consider for a rescue operation. What do you think this means? A lot of folks are saying this is a step to a much more expanded rescue mission.

BOBBY GHOSH, MANAGING EDITOR, "QUARTZ": I think if we could quickly research and find out how many people use the expression "mission creep" on Twitter last night once the news on this went out then you'd find hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

The key question is where these people are going to be. If they are going to be in the green zone in Baghdad or consulate in Erbil advising from there, that's one thing. If they are going to go out into the ground towards that mountain to help people, even if it's just to supervise the rescue effort, if they are going to be armed, then they are essentially boots on the ground whether we'd like to call them combat troops or not, because guess who wants to confront these people. It's ISIS. Is wants nothing more than a direct confrontation, a small, limited, one with American troops on Iraqi soil. It would help their propaganda purposes no end to have that confrontation. It would give them legitimacy in their own eyes because they are fighting against Americans.

BOLDUAN: When you look at the scope of what they are up against to try to get these what still remains an estimated tens of thousands of people on this barren mountain off safely, you look at the scope of an operation like that, does it to you, is it going to mean that it has to be boots on the ground even though Secretary Hagel said again and again they are spending more time saying what they're not going to be doing rather than what they are going to be doing there. It's not a boots on the ground operation. This is not a combat operation.

GHOSH: There's not a lot that American soldiers can do on the ground, truth be told. It's not terrain their familiar with. They don't speak the language. The actual herding of these people, if you can use that expression off the mountain and bringing to safety will have to be done by Iraqis and Kurdish force. American troops can provide logistical support, they can provide, that this is not a small thing, psychological support. They can just have presence, will give reassurance particularly to the Kurdish fighters that we got their back, essentially. We already are doing that from the air. To have some American boots on the ground, would give that impression. But when it comes to actually going to the mountains and sort of coaxing people off and putting them onto truck or helicopters, that can't to be done by American troops, or that doesn't have to be done by American troops.

BOLDUAN: What do you also make with the success of the U.S. air strikes so far, that ISIS, there's a lot of worries now that ISIS is changing tactics, rather than acting more kind of like an army, going and doing more kind of insurgency tactics, blending in with civilian populations in order to make it more difficult to target.

GHOSH: Yes, and they got a long history of this. For a long time until a couple of months ago when they sort of sprang almost out of nowhere and attacked Mosul, they were hiding among the populace. They have an enormous advantage. They are a large part Iraqis. They are of that populace. And they are familiar with this sort of tactic. This is what makes them so much more dangerous. They don't behave like any other kind of conventional army.

BOLDUAN: How much time do you think they have to get these people off the mountain? I mean, it is a dire situation. We see it with our own eyes in the video that our correspondents are sending back.

GHOSH: I think if they continue at the rate they are going now it will be weeks. But to accelerate the rate is very complicated because it's not terrain that is easy to transport people off. I've been on that mountain. It's a very bare piece of rock. There not that many roads going up. You can't send up a convoy of trucks up there easily.

BOLDUAN: You're just looking at the operation in the north. We haven't even talked about the political situation that they need to deal with in Baghdad. We'll continue that conversation. Bobby, thanks so much.

GHOSH: Any time.

BERMAN: So while the Obama administration steps up its military presence in Iraq, the president facing some criticism of his foreign policy. Tonight he will attend the same party as Hillary Clinton in Martha's Vineyard. You have perhaps heard of her. The former secretary of state recently called his policy in Syria in part a failure, but she tried to smooth things over in a phone call on Tuesday. Now an aide to Mrs. Clinton says she's looking forward to hugging it out with the president. CNN's Jim Acosta is live in Martha's Vineyard, Jim, with the hug that perhaps be heard around the world, or felt, I should say.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And hopefully we'll get a picture of it, John, just to prove that it happened.

But you're right, the president is getting constant updates on the mission in Iraq, those humanitarian air drops and the military advisers that are being sent it that Barbara Starr mentioned. But he has some political business to attend to. Later on today in a flashback to the 2008 campaign between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the president will be coming face to face with his former secretary of state here on Martha's Vineyard.

The president saw the former secretary of state criticize his Iraq policy earlier this week when she told "The Atlantic" magazine that the failure to arm rebels in Syria contributed to the rise of ISIS in Iraq. She even went after the president's foreign policy mantra, "Don't do stupid stuff," telling "The Atlantic" great nations need organizing principles and "Don't do stupid stuff" is not an organizing principle. I asked one of the president's top aides, Ben Rhodes, who is the deputy national security adviser to the president, whether or not he took that personally, and here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Did the president take that criticism personally?

BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No. Look, I think he and Secretary Clinton have been through so much together on the campaign trail, in the White House, at the State Department.

ACOSTA: It was a flashback to the campaign a little bit.

RHODES: But, again, I think their relationship is very resilient. They've been through so much together.


ACOSTA: And, as you mentioned, John, Hillary Clinton called the president yesterday to smooth things over. And her spokesman put out a statement saying the former secretary of state meant no offense, did not mean to attack the president. Here's what he had to say, "Like any two friends who has to deal with the public eye, she looks forward to," as you said earlier, John, "hugging it out when they see each other." They are going to be at a party later on this evening hosted by the former Democratic adviser Vernon Jordan here on Martha's Vineyard. John, it will be just like old times.

BERMAN: As you keep on mentioned, this is a serious situation in Iraq. More advisers going in, this to be in addition to the air strikes and the humanitarian airlifts right there. It's the drip, drip, the classic phrase "mission creep." Are White House advisers worried about this at all?

ACOSTA: I asked Ben Rhodes about that, and he said no, this is not mission creep, that these advisors who are going in, 130 or so, they are going to be advising the Iraqis on how best to deal with that humanitarian situation to try to get those people off of that mountain. As Ben Rhodes told me, they are not going in a combat role, John.

BERMAN: Jim Acosta, thanks so much, appreciate it, from Martha's Vineyard. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's take a look at some of our headlines right now. In the Middle East the ceasefire in Gaza ends in less than 12 hours. This morning the Associated Press is reporting a plan is on the table to bring an end the month long conflict between Israel and Hamas. Negotiators in Egypt calling on Israel to ease parts of its blockade on Gaza with the border opened gradually over time. No word yet from either side whether the Egyptian proposal will be accepted.

Canada will provide up to 1,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to help fight the outbreak in Africa. This after the World Health Organization said it was ethical to use the drugs against the virus. Nigerian officials also announcing a third death connected to an infected Liberian man who died in Nigeria last month. So far that outbreak has claimed more than 1,000 lives in West Africa.

The Obama administration is issuing a warning to hundreds of thousands of people who have purchased health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. They could lose it without proof of citizenship or legal residency. Officials say more than 300,000 people could be affected. They have until September 5th to submit the proper documentation.

I've got to show you some crazy video of a strong storm system that is dumping rain in New York, causing severe thunderstorms and flooding all around the country on Tuesday. Look at this. Nebraska security cameras caught flash flood waters bursting through the doors of a hospital, Good Samaritan hospital. That is crazy. Look at that.

BOLDUAN: Unbelievable. Let's stay on this weather. There's a lot of weather going on. Breaking news this morning, got heavy rains overnight has left parts of the northeast under water. Check out these pictures. This is from New York's Long Island. This is of the southern state parkway. Cars nearly submerged on the flooded highway, a busy highway. Meteorologist Indra Petersons is taking a look this. What are they looking at this morning?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is unbelievable footage right now. What you're looking at, Kate, right now, you're seeing about a month's worth of rain in just one day. You're seeing a lot of cars flooded here on the southern state parkway. Right now we're hearing about road rescues currently underway or water rescues underway. You can see many of these vehicles now underwater.

So what is going on? Remember Detroit had record breaking rain. Yesterday D.C. had record breaking rain, over six inches of rain, a month's worth of rain in just about an hour. So currently that is the same situation, the exact same system dumping this heavy rain right here on Long Island and now pushing in through portions of Connecticut. Thereafter it's going to pushing in through Boston today. This will be a huge situation as you talk about the northeast today, or you talk about these water rescues going under way with cars stranded.

Look at these reports from flooding starting yesterday from D.C. having spread in through jersey and in through Long Island and eventually making its way in through Connecticut, and then behind that will be Boston. If you're talking about how much water, look at the amount of rain. We're talking about on Monday about five inches of rain in towards Michigan. August, the entire month you only see about three inches. Right now in Long Island, look at this number. We're talking about almost a foot of rain just today, a lot of that having fallen in just these last few hours. The average for the entire month of August should only be four inches. So three times the amount you should see in the entire month here really in the last several hours. This is the concern as the system will continue to push off into the northeast today. Kate and John?

BOLDUAN: No matter what you do, you cannot handle that amount of rainfall in that short amount of time, my goodness. Indra, thank you so much. We're going to watch that.

We're also going to take a break here. Coming up on NEW DAY, Missouri police still not releasing the identity of the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Missouri. Are concerns for that officer's safety a valid reason not to release his name? We're going to talk to the head of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, talk about that and much more.


BERMAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. More news overnight on the fatal shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri. Authorities for now refusing to release the identity of the officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, citing concerns for the officer's safety. The Ferguson police chief said the officer is horrified by what has happened. Listen to this.


CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Nobody comes to work saying, you know, I want to kill somebody. Nobody wants to go home from work having taken a life.


BERMAN: Brown's death creating outrage nationwide, spurring an investigation now from the Justice Department as well. I want to dig deeper with Cedric Alexander, president of National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, known as NOBLE. Sir, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.


BERMAN: We're now four days after this incident, and authorities there not releasing the name of the police officer involved. I cannot recall something similar to this. This seems like an awfully long time to come forward with those details. The chief there says the benefit would be minimal. Do you agree?

ALEXANDER: Well, I think one thing we have to consider, if we take a moment, if we look at historically the backdrop of law enforcement in communities of color -- historically, it's always been a very strained relationship and clearly there's a strained relationship there in this city.

When an officer name is not revealed as such, I have to be respectful, quite frankly, to what the chief is requesting, because, number one, he's there on the ground, and if they have intelligence information that suggests that that officer or his family could be at risk, they do have a responsibility, I think, to be very cautious about this.

However, if you look at their relationship, which is really questionable, and I think most people around the country would see that and agree, it certainly does not help. But if you separate the two out and you think about the fact that if they have information that that officer could be at risk or could be harmed, I think we have to be respectful of that.

Now, NOBLE as an organization, we're watching this very, very closely, paying very, very close attention to it. A couple of days ago, I was in contact with Chief Jackson there and he assured me and NOBLE that he's going to do everything to be as transparent and open and cooperative as he can during this investigation.

And I think that's a very important piece to note here as well too. Until all the evidence has been collected, until all the witnesses have been interviewed, all the forensic evidence has been collected and reviewed, we should not draw any conclusions. But I think we all have some real grave concerns certainly around this shooting, and there's a lot of questions that are going to need to be answered.

BERMAN: How do you strike the balance between need for safety and also the need for transparency? Because transparency, in some cases, seems to be lacking here. You know, the lack of the release of the officer's name --

ALEXANDER: Absolutely.

BERMAN: The police force reluctant to release details about the shooting. You know, there are people who say he was shot 35 feet from the car; the police won't confirm that. The coroner says he was shot multiple times; the police won't really confirm that either. So how do you get the transparency that this community is calling for?

ALEXANDER: Well, one thing clearly that has not happened -- and, you know, here again there has not been open dialogue between that police department and that community. So when you have events like this to occur, it create a tipping point.

So, to answer your question, though, directly at some point, the police department in that community is going to have to begin to answer some of these questions. But you also got to be respectful that it is an ongoing investigation and there's still a number of people that have to be interviewed. But --


BERMAN: Do you think -- sorry, you say there's a tipping point. Are we past the tipping point?

ALEXANDER: Well, you know, you had two nights of rioting in that city. And here again, what that clearly indicates is that there's a very strained relationship between that police department and that community. So there's no trust. And where you don't have trust is where you have this transparency -- or it gives the appearance of something being hidden from that community. And we've got to get past that.

BERMAN: Transparency leads to trust.

ALEXANDER: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Let me ask you, you talk about the riots -- riots is a word that we should probably be careful about using. You talk, we talked about the unrest, the clear violence going on on the streets in that town. We've seen pictures of the police presence, the law enforcement presence in there, the very, very strong law enforcement presence. Some would say disproportionate perhaps to what is actually happening on the ground, these heavily armed law enforcement officials. When you see these pictures, what message are you getting?

ALEXANDER: Well, considering here again the relationship is strained between these communities and that police department has a job to do, and that is to protect innocent people that live in that community and businesses as well too. They have to prepare themselves for whatever type of civil unrest, or whatever term you use media to frame it as. So it does not help, of course, when police departments or this police department is in riot gear. However, in a situation where you have such civil unrest, they have to be prepared to protect themselves and protect innocent people and businesses as well in that community.

BERMAN: Mr. Alexander, I just want to ask you one last question here. You're being very diplomatic and I appreciate what you need to do in your role as a leader of your organization, NOBLE. But just yes or no, when you see what's going on right now on the ground in Ferguson, do you approve of what's going on right now?

ALEXANDER: No, absolutely not. Because here again -- and I'm not being diplomatic about this. Quite frankly, I'm being very straightforward in the sense that we have to be respectful of an investigation, but at the same time we also have to answer the needs of that community as well too, that does not trust their police department.

I don't think any of us like what's going on on the ground right now where you have civil unrest and you have a police department that has the appearance of not being transparent. And that is something that that police department is going to have to find a way to work through, and we here at NOBLE are willing to help them and we're standing by to help them if they wish our help. And I know there's a number of organizations that are in there as well too.

So, there's a point of diplomacy in all of this, but there's a realism here that exists too, that we are seeing a number of young African- American men who are being killed in communities across this country that is raising a great deal of questions for all of us who are American citizens.

BERMAN: It certainly does, and that is an issue that certainly needs to be discussed, and I think there are communities around this country that need to listen to your sage advice on many of these subjects. Cedric, thanks so much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me this morning. Thank you.

BERMAN: Next up for us on NEW DAY, how did ISIS get so big and so strong so quickly? We have a chilling firsthand look at the terror group's efforts to recruit young people and grow their ranks. That's just ahead.

Also a look at the growing political rift in Washington about how to deal with ISIS that has sparked tension between President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Will the two of them be able to hug it out? Those were words from Hillary Clinton's aides. We'll have the latest INSIDE POLITICS.


PEREIRA: 27 minutes past the hour. Here's a look at your headlines.

Authorities in California confirm that Robin Williams' death was a suicide. They say he hanged himself at his home in Tiburon, California, following a long battle with depression. Toxicology tests are going to take a few more weeks. In a post online, Williams' daughter Zelda says the world is, quote, "darker and less colorful and less full of laughter."

Iraq's beleaguered Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki fighting back, calling efforts to force him out unconstitutional and a conspiracy. His bid to stay in power is crumbling as more U.S. troops arrive. 130 more U.S. military advisors have arrived now in northern Africa to help evacuate refugees under siege by ISIS militants. This expanded U.S. role raises the stakes for an eventual direct confrontation between American troops and ISIS.

In the meantime, at least two people have been killed by a doubled bombing in Baghdad. A federal building and a market were both targeted.

Texas governor Rick Perry will meet today with members of the Texas National Guard. They are training for deployment to secure the U.S.- Mexico border. The program comes at a cost of about $18 million a month. At that rate, money would dry up by October. But a Texas National Guard official says other states have offered to help share those costs.

Got to show you this crazy dash cam video -- Kalamazoo, Michigan. An officer pulls a driver over for running a red light, initially thought she was trying to get out of the ticket. But he steps to the window, sees the driver can't breathe. Pulls the driver out. Starts the Heimlich maneuver, and is able to force a bit of sausage and a bun out of the driver's throat. She cries, she hugs him. No, she didn't get a ticket. And apparently it was his first time doing the Heimlich.

BERMAN: He did a very nice job.

PEREIRA: He did a very nice job.

BERMAN: And no ticket for running the red light.

PEREIRA: And no ticket.

BOLDUAN: And he sure seemed cool under pressure.

PEREIRA: That's what you always want.

BOLDUAN: I would say so. Thank goodness.

All right, let's start -- I'm not going to make some kind of weird choking reference, John, don't worry Let's get to INSIDE POLITICS on NEW DAY with John King. (LAUGHTER)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Always my favorite. Just waiting for the segue.

BERMAN: Here you go.

BOLDUAN: I was more going to talk about, as John Berman put it, the hug heard around the world.

KING: I was going to say, there can be no choke on National Hug Out Day.

Let's go INSIDE POLITICS. Back to you guys in a minute. With me this morning to share their reporting and their insights and maybe a hug or two, Molly Ball of "The Atlantic", CNN's Peter Hamby.

We're joking about hug outs because in Martha's Vineyard tonight, Secretary of State Clinton, the former Secretary of State, will be in the same room with the President of the United States. This after a big dust up after some comments she made, Molly, in "The Atlantic" where she says she disagreed the president on arming the Syrian rebels. She makes the case that maybe, just maybe, things wouldn't be as bad in Iraq today if we had dealt with this sooner.