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Riots Erupt After Police Shooting in Missouri; Police Use Tear Gas and Rubber Bullets to Break Up Protests; U.S. Military Backing Away from Mountain Rescue Operation; Interview with Fmr. Ambassador James Jeffrey
Aired August 14, 2014 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Ana Cabrera is live from Missouri with the latest. Ana, it was a long night.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a long night. And now, John, we're seeing what appears to be the calm after the storm, so to speak. We are outside the Ferguson police station where everything ended last night. And we do know that some of those arrested are still being processed just inside this building behind me.
Now on the ground here, people are angry. They're still frustrated. All of those emotions continue to boil over. And many are fearful things could still get worse, all this unrest, before it gets better.
CABRERA: Overnight, Ferguson erupted, perhaps the most chaotic protests and police response yet. Angry crowds throwing bottles at law enforcement and police firing tear gas and flash-bangs to disperse them. A TV news crew on the scene runs for cover after a tear gas canister lands directly in front of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There it goes. They're now firing on to the crowd. Ouch! They are firing rubber bullets.
CABRERA: Dramatic video shot by a reporter on the ground captures utter chaos. Police advance on the protesters, sending them running in fear. As officers fire rubber bullets and smoke grenades in this residential neighborhood. At least 18 arrested overnight, including two journalists, detained while police attempted to clear out a local McDonald's, the altercation caught on camera.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Let's go. We don't have time to ask questions. Let's go.
CABRERA: This as new cellphone video from just after Brown was killed captures the heartbreaking moment when a man believed to be Brown's uncle rushes to his lifeless body and is immediately pushed away by police. The witness who captured this video also says she saw the shooting unfold, telling CNN's Don Lemon exclusively the details of what she witnessed.
TIFFANY MITCHELL, EYEWITNESS TO MICHAEL BROWN SHOOTING: What I saw was when the cop and Michael were like wrestling through the window. It looked as if Michael was pushing off and the cop was trying to pull him in. Then the cop shot a fire through the window. Michael breaks away and he starts running away from the officer. The officer gets out of his vehicle and pursues Michael as he's shooting the weapon. Michael jerks his body as if he was hit, and then he turns around, faces the officer, and puts his hands up, and the officer continues to shoot him until he goes down to the ground.
CABRERA: Another eyewitness describes how the officer repeatedly shoots Brown, who was unarmed.
MITCHELL: He was trying to get away from him. Why did he continue to shoot at him? I still don't get that part at all. Why was he killed trying to get away from the officer?
Even as he turned around and put his arms in the air, he was over killed, shot multiple times.
CABRERA: Multiple witnesses tell a similar story while police maintain Brown assaulted the officer in his car and tried to take his weapon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A shooting out of Ferguson, 2190 said they had more shots fired in the area.
CABRERA: The police chief now says the officer suffered injuries to his face during the altercation and was taken to a local hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is very shaken about what happened that day and the aftermath.
CABRERA: Earlier Wednesday, police had asked that all protests be held during the daytime. But Wednesday night's protests continued as scheduled. Police responded with force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're now firing on to the crowd. Ouch!
CABRERA: So much of the emotion has to do with the lack of answers in this case. We still don't know exactly what happened in those moments when Michael Brown died. We're hearing from both sides, of course, but no definitive answers. We heard from the prosecutor late yesterday, who said there is no timetable for when this investigation will be complete. He says they will do it quickly, thoroughly, but will not be rushed. And he says we may not get details until all the evidence is collected, processed, and in the hands of a grand jury. John, Kate?
BERMAN: A lack of answers only exacerbating the situation. Ana Cabrera for us on the street there in Ferguson ground, thanks so much.
Joining us now is CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, thanks so much for being with us. I want to talk into your legal expertise in a second, but first I want to talk to you really as a really smart guy and an analyst of American culture here. Look at what's going on in Ferguson right now. You have Molotov
cocktails, tear gas on an American street. You have law enforcement personnel that many people look at and say are militarized. You have reporters being taken into custody by law enforcement. One, who by the way, just tweeted he was never read his Miranda rights. What are your general impressions of the situation in Ferguson right now?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That the Ferguson police is in way over its head and the governor of Missouri needs to step in and get them, frankly, replaced. The Ferguson police does not appear to know what they're doing. Crowd control is an art and a science and people have been doing it in this country for years. And rubber bullets and tear gas are not the way to do it in the vast majority of circumstances.
And there's going to be another tragedy in that city unless Governor Nixon of Missouri says we need to get the National Guard there. We need to get people who know what they're doing who can calm the situation down, because the Ferguson police just seem completely in over their head.
BERMAN: One of the words you're hearing is "proportionality," which, my god, is a word we were hearing in Gaza over the last several weeks. When you talk about proportionality, legally speaking, is there a clear line?
TOOBIN: It's very hard to answer these questions in the abstract. You know, the police are entitled to keep order. But people are also allowed to protest as well. And if you look at the many, many protests that take place in cities like New York and Chicago and Los Angeles, where people protest even at night, and there are not rubber bullets, they're not tear gassed, there are not reporters being arrested for sitting in McDonald's. It can be done well and it can be done badly. And crowd control certainly seems to be done very badly by the Ferguson police.
BERMAN: Ana Cabrera just reported that the law enforcement officials say they will not be rushed in this investigation. Yet there seems to be a lack of transparency right now and a lack of facts, at least in these early stages. What's the right timeline here? Has it been too long at this point to identify the shooter? Do they need to come forward with more details, more confirmation about the number of times he was shot and the details of the actual incident?
TOOBIN: It is certainly too early to decide whether there is any criminal liability on the part of the police officer. The FBI and the Missouri authorities have to take their time with that. But people need more answers than they've gotten.
And frankly, John, it's worse than just no information. What you have is the police selectively leaking stuff that is helpful to the police position. For example, yesterday you had the police chief saying the officer was hit in the face, which presumably he means to justify the officer's behavior. But, you know, that's not only fact out there. How many shots were fired? Who else was present? What were the circumstances? All of that needs to come out sooner rather than later in some sort of
organized fashion that is not just leaks to help the police. There have to be some authorities step in that are not the Ferguson police, because they are very much a participant in this controversy and they can't be the decider and the arbiter as well.
BERMAN: Let talk about the fact that is have come it to light over the last several hours in CNN interviews. Last night Wolf spoke to a witness on the scene, someone who actually took video from after Michael Brown was shot. You saw the family trying to get to him and the police holding him off. But she also testified that Michael Brown was shot with his hands in the air from several feet away.
Now, whatever happened in the car, whatever confrontation there was or wasn't between the officer and Michael Brown, if, in fact, he was later shot more times with his hands in the air, how problematic is that for this officer?
TOOBIN: It's homicide. It's not problematic. It's a crime. I mean, shooting someone with their hands in the air is, without question, a crime.
Now, again, we don't want to make a prejudgment about whether that is the only evidence that we want to make our judgment about. This is obviously a complex situation. There are several witnesses who have come forward. They're undoubtedly more witnesses. Just today we were just watching a new cell phone video of apparently the immediate aftermath of the crime. There may be more video out there. But if Michael Brown was shot with his hands in the air, that's homicide, and, you know, the officer should be prosecuted.
BERMAN: No matter what happened in the car.
All right, last question, let's talk about journalism here, Jeffrey, because two reporters were taken into custody last night. They were at a McDonald's. They say they were there simply charging their computers. What's allowable and not allowable? Can you ever take journalists into custody like that for simply doing their jobs?
TOOBIN: You know, we, obviously, were journalists ourselves so we take a special concern when our colleagues are arrested. But, you know, it's not special pleading. It's not just our concern for ourselves that when things like this happen. If you look at circumstances where journalists are arrested, it is almost always something that winds up reflecting badly on the people who do the arresting.
Obviously, journalists are not above the law. We have to follow the law like everyone else. But, you know, sitting in a McDonald's, charging your computer, it is hard to think of any circumstance that would justify these sorts of arrests. And, again, this is more evidence of how the Ferguson police just seems out of its depth and other people have to step in there before more tragedies occur.
BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, great to have you with us this morning. We appreciate your commentary. Michaela? MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, 10 minutes past the hour.
Let's give you a look at some of your headlines right now. U.S. special ops assessment team finds far fewer refugees on Mount Sinjar than was originally thought, making a rescue mission unlikely. However, the crisis is far from over. We're going to go live to Iraq for a live report in a moment.
In the Middle East silence remains over Gaza this morning after Israel and Hamas agreed on a new five-day cease fire. Violence flared briefly as militants launch a rocket into Israel, which responded with a new round of air strikes into Gaza moments after that truce was announced. Talks on a longer term deal will now continue in Cairo.
Pope Francis is in South Korea this morning, the first trip there by a pontiff in some 25 years. His visit was preceded by rocket launches from the north. South Korea's defense ministry says North Korea fired five short range rockets off its east coast this morning, the last one fired about half an hour before the Pope's arrival in Seoul. Not the welcome he was looking for to be sure.
BERMAN: Here's some rocket fire.
PEREIRA: That's right.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up next on NEW DAY, much more on the escalating violence in Missouri. But first, the U.S. military's massive rescue mission in Iraq may not be needed after all. We're going to talk with a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Plus we're going to have a live report from a refugee camp there where thousands of Yazidis have fled to.
BERMAN: And President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and surf and turf, what does it all mean? Did they hug it out over their foreign policy differences? And do we have all the answers we now need to figure out what's going to happen in 2016? A full report when we go INSIDE POLITICS, coming up.
BERMAN: Welcome back. The U.S. military now backing away from plans to amount what would have amounted to a huge rescue operation on a mountain in Northern Iraq, after an assessment team found that far fewer people were trapped there than they originally thought. The White House now credits a wave of air strikes for giving thousands of refugees the opportunity to escape these ISIS militants on their own.
I want to get straight to Anna Coren, who is on the Iraq-Syria border at a refugee camp filled with people who fled that mountain. And, Anna, I should make clear, whatever immediate crisis they may have faced on that mountaintop, they still have incredibly difficult times ahead.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is without doubt, John. These people, desperate. They have come here with just the clothes on their back. And they've been living in makeshift shelters now for days while this U.N. camp is busily being erected behind us. They're hoping to move within the next few days.
But the U.N. has even said they don't have enough tents. This is how dire the situation is. No one was expected the mass exodus, that wave of humanity we saw, cross Syria into Kurdistan. And now they have to look after all these people. Food, water, basic necessities, medical assistance. It really is coming in drips and drabs.
And I might get our cameraman Phil Littleton (ph) just to pan over here -- there is a truck that is run by a local man who's come to give food to the children. Beforehand, it was just packed with children, packed with people who have gone without meals for days. You look at the children's faces, John, and they are extremely malnourished.
The U.N. has issued its highest emergency, its highest humanitarian emergency. So that just goes to really ram home how dire the situation is. And, yes, the U.S. has said the crisis on Mount Sinjar isn't what they first thought, but it is still a crisis. There are thousands of people still trapped on that mountain. The ISIS militants, they are surrounding it, so it is going to require helicopters to fly in, get those people -- the elderly, the sick, the young -- off that mountain to safety.
But certainly speaking to the people here, they don't want to stay. You know, they really feel that they've been persecuted for way too long in Iraq, the Yazidis. And they are calling on the international community to give them asylum elsewhere, John.
BERMAN: Seeing those little children run behind you, Anna, it is a vision. Anna Coren for us on the Iraq-Syrian border. Thanks so much.
BOLDUAN: We'll stay right on top of this. Let's bring in James Jeffrey, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, to discuss. Mr. Ambassador, thank you so much for your time.
JAMES JEFFREY, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Thank you, Kate, for having me on.
BOLDUAN: Of course. I want to -- I mean, we see the video, we hear what Anna Coren is saying from the Iraq-Syrian border. I also want to get your take on this -- I can guess we can call it a surprising assessment coming out from the U.S. military since yesterday, that what they found on the mountain is not what they thought they were going to find. So now this massive rescue operation that they were leaning towards is far less likely. What do you make of it?
JEFFREY: Kate, first of all, this is a success for President Obama who ordered in strike and air drops and the crisis certainly isn't what it was a week ago, thanks to that decisive action. Nonetheless, those special forces and USAID civilian personnel risked their lives to make the assessment. They're professionals. If they say the crisis is over and we can continue with drops, then we're in a better position.
But we just heard your reporter on the ground -- there's still a crisis up there. So we have to figure out exactly what is going on and what the administration's next steps are going to be. BOLDUAN: Yes, and I think there's a big question. I've seen some
reporting this morning that the air strikes have broken the siege of ISIS. We heard that from a top State Department official, Brett McGurk, I know you know him. He also said that we broke the siege of ISIS on the mountain.
Do you believe that the siege, the progress of ISIS, has been broken?
JEFFREY: Certainly the progress of ISIS around the country has not been broken at all. It's been halted in a few places. If we have been broken the news, that's great news. It shows that air power works. But, again, we have to see what the situation is. I'm always afraid -- and I've made this mistake myself while in government -- of declaring victory too early.
BOLDUAN: And that's an interesting point. You say maybe it's been halted but the progress not stopped. With that in mind, Ambassador, what do you think the U.S. role is now? I think -- there seems to be a bit of confusion, really, I think this morning of what does the United States do now?
JEFFREY: Kate, first of all, these are always confusing situations, having spent four years in Iraq and Vietnam as a diplomat and soldier. That's the way things are.
The administration is doing the right thing and should be applauded. They're working politically in Baghdad to get a new government that will be more inclusive and more effective than the old one, and they're doing the strikes, they're doing the air drops. They put boots on the ground, at least temporarily, on the mountain to assess the situation. These are all good and bold and risky things, and the right things. We just need to play this out hour by hour, day by day.
BOLDUAN: How does the political chaos, if you will, or unrest, in Baghdad, how does it play into all of this? We now have a prime minister designate; we have 30 days that the prime minister will be working to put together his cabinet. What do you make of the situation in Baghdad and how that plays into the larger crisis in the country?
JEFFREY: It's key to the entire thing. And President Obama has been good laying this thing out. First of all, we are capable of using strikes for counterterrorism purposes and if ISIS pushes into other areas, massacres civilians, threatens our own personnel, our infrastructure.
But to really roll back ISIS from these areas where they've taken over, where they found support particularly in the Sunni Arab population, we need an effective government in Baghdad and we haven't had one for a long time. That's what the U.S. government -- and, I'm very happy to say -- Iraqis of all stripes are working on right now. And I'm convinced within 30 days we'll have a new prime minister, probably Haider al Abadi, and we're going to have a new commitment to try to make this place better and try to roll back these devils.
BOLDUAN: And -- let's talk about rolling back those devils. Because I do want to get your take on what you think the United States should do. Do you think the United States -- in look at the progress, really remarkable progress that ISIS has made in Iraq and Syria -- do you think the United States' role is to slow ISIS, stop ISIS, or neither?
JEFFREY: Well, right now, it's to slow it down and then it's to work with locals. There are hundreds of thousands of troops still in the Iraqi armed forces. There are at least 100,000 more in the Peshmerga. It's not a question of boots on the ground; it's a question of intelligence, of advisory efforts, of coordination, of weapons, equipment, and air support. These are open areas; air support can be and has been in the last week very effective. If we get an offensive rolling, we need to support that.
BOLDUAN: And, Ambassador, we can see very clearly the threat that ISIS has -- the threat of ISIS for the Middle East, for Iraq. What do you think -- how much of a threat do you think ISIS is to the United States?
JEFFREY: Well, I'm not the expert there. It's the attorney general of the United States and the director of national intelligence. Both have spoken out in the last few weeks that this is an extremely serious threat.
For your viewers, this is the first time since Afghanistan before 9/11, and we know what that led to, where an al Qaeda-like element has seized real territory and basically is trying to set up a government. They will be a magnet for radicals and terrorists from all over the world. And they're coming to us sooner or later.
BOLDUAN: Do you see a disconnect there, though, in how it's described, how much of a threat ISIS is described as, but the position and the role that the United States is prepared to take right now to take them on?
JEFFREY: Well, Kate, I think the United States, again, is going in the right direction. I think the president took some bold and potentially risky steps. But given our experience in Iraq, given his own reluctance to commit military forces that he has talked about to the American people, he is going to move slow. I could wish, you could wish he's going to move faster. The most important thing right now is he is moving.
BOLDUAN: Ambassador James Jeffrey, thank you very much for your time, Mr. Ambassador.
JEFFREY: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Of course.
Let's take another break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, INSIDE POLITICS. Did President Obama and Hillary Clinton, did they hug it out? I know that question is just burning in your mind.
BERMAN: They will study it at universities for decades to come.
BOLDUAN: And you lost sleep over it. We'll discuss.
PEREIRA: 27 minutes past the hour. Here's a look at your headlines.
Breaking overnight, police had to use tear gas to disperse protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. They're demonstrating for a fifth straight night over the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. Missouri governor Jay Nixon will be back in Ferguson today. We understand President Obama has been briefed on the situation that continues there.
The first day of school in Ferguson has now been pushed from today until Monday.
Overnight in the Middle East, violence flaring briefly once again, the fighting erupting moments after negotiators in Cairo agreed on a five- day extension, which is holding this morning. It's unclear who's behind the rocketfire that triggered latest round of Israeli air strikes in Gaza. Hamas, for their part, claims they're not responsible.
In Eastern Ukraine, reports of shelling in the rebel-held city of Donetsk. This morning, the city council's asking all residents to remain indoors, saying two shopping centers in the city have been hit by shelling. This as hundreds of trucks Russia claims are carrying humanitarian aid are headed for Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine, for its part, is protesting the shipment, concerned the convoy could actually be providing support to pro-Russian separatists.
Sea World, their profits taking a major dive. Sea World's second quarter earnings came in at $32 million below expectations. The company's stock is down 31 percent for the year. It's believed to be fallout from the CNN film "Blackfish", which suggested Sea World's treatment of captive killer whales has provoked violent behavior and caused trainers to die.
BOLDUAN: Very interesting. All right, let's get to INSIDE POLITICS now. John King, how are you this morning, my friend?
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": Kate, John, Michaela, I'm doing great. Not your normal slow August so let's get in to politics. With me this morning to share their reporting and their insights, Jackie Kucinich of "The Washington Post", Josh Kraushaar of "National Journal".
Let's start -- I want to pose a question, that local residents, if you look at the reports out of Ferguson, Missouri, are asking, "Should Washington, and specifically should the president, be doing more" when you have this violence Ferguson?
Now, we're not there so we need to be careful. But the president was briefed last night. He has issued one statement. He will be briefed again this morning. First African-American president. There is some in the community
saying why isn't he speaking to the camera? Why won't he visit Ferguson? Is that an unrealistic expectation or is it the president's responsibility?