Return to Transcripts main page
NEW DAY SATURDAY
Violence Erupts again in Ferguson; Rick Perry Indicted; U.S. Warplanes Hit ISIS Near Dam; Ferguson Looters Target Stores; Small Town Police Military-Grade Armor; U.S. Weighs Involvement in Iraq
Aired August 16, 2014 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news overnight as more violence erupts in Ferguson, Missouri.
Good morning, everyone. We're so grateful for your company. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell, live in Ferguson, Missouri, for this early special edition. And we want to welcome our viewers in the U.S. and of course around the world.
PAUL: Victor, good to see you this morning.
PAUL: We want to show you this video from just a few hours ago. A SWAT team in riot gear with gas mask and armed trucks. Pointing military-style weapons at a group of people gathered in the rain outside a market and liquor store.
This is in Ferguson. It's the same store where police now say 18- year-old Michael Brown is suspected of stealing $50 worth of cigars. Now just a short time before he was gunned down a week ago this afternoon, by the way. He was gunned down, of course, by an officer with the Ferguson Police Department -- Victor.
BLACKWELL: Yes, let's look more at this video. The store was looted. That store that you're talking about. Our affiliate KMOV reports that about 200 protesters took to the streets early this morning. It started really late, actually late Friday. And then they met about 100 officers. Police reportedly say there was also at least one shooting at a nearby intersection with a victim rushed to the hospital.
Also, one officer, we're told, was hurt by a brick or a rock that was thrown. Waiting for an update, of course, on that officer's condition as well. But we also saw peaceful protesters continuing to demand answers about why Michael Brown was shot and killed.
We have with us, CNN videographer, Steve Kastenbaum. He was behind the camera while all of this was going on. I've got Ana Cabrera here with me as well who's been monitoring the situation all week. By phone also we have CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes so we can look at this from all angles. I want to start with you, Steve. Give us a better idea, kind of
unpack what happened overnight into the early morning hours, and what's the scene there like now?
STEVE KASTENBAUM, CNN VIDEOGRAPHER: Well, we just witnessed something that has been extremely tense throughout the night come to a conclusion. Literally just two or three minutes ago, dozens of police officers, protected with heavy body armor, using armored trucks and heavily armed where here at this intersection in Ferguson right by this convenience store behind me, over my shoulder, that has been the flash point here all through the night.
This started many hours ago, around midnight, the police came in in riot gear and in large numbers. And they formed a line on the avenue here that goes right through Ferguson. It's where all of the demonstrations have been taking place for the last couple of days. And that that is when a tense standoff began between a few hundred protesters and these police.
It began earlier in the evening as a very peaceful demonstration. The overwhelming majority of people who are here throughout the evening were here peacefully, demonstrating. They brought their children out. At some times during the night it even took on the air of a block party. There was music we saw. A drummer and dancers out here. But as the night wore on, there were a few people in the crowd who were obviously intent on expressing themselves in other ways.
We did see that several Molotov cocktails were thrown on to the roof of a Domino's Pizzeria just up the avenue here. A neighbor witnessed this, called police. The fire department came in, were able to put out the flames according to our CNN crews who were there on the scene. And they did see evidence of Molotov cocktails.
And that of course resulted in the police who had largely pulled away from here showing up in large numbers again. They were here presumably to try to prevent any sort of destruction of private property. The scene then switched to where we are now, here just a few blocks away outside the liquor store, the convenience store that has become a flash point. Because this is where surveillance video footage was -- was originate, where it was released from, that shows -- allegedly shows Michael Brown taking part in a robbery of some sort according to police.
There have been some people here in the crowd, a small number of people in the crowd, who have a feeling that the owners of this store bear some responsibility for character assassination in some ways of Michael Brown. And they brought their frustration here to this store.
Some point during the night while there were dozens of police officers protecting this shop, somebody in the crowd, an individual threw a bottle at police officers, we're told by several witnesses here. And that prompted another large response. That's when the police showed up in riot gear.
Hundreds of protesters rallied here. And there was a very tense standoff. Police threatening to make arrests if people did not clear the street. They were ordering these protesters to get out of the street. They were not -- they were not confronting them physically, there were about 75 yards away from them. But through their bull horns were telling them, if you do not get out of the street, do not stop blocking traffic, you are risking arrest.
The protesters stood their ground. And that's when a small number of young men, individuals, broke away from the main protesters, went towards a convenience store and another shop, a family dollar shop on the other side of the street, and broke into the stores and started looting.
Very quickly, people who live in this community and those who came to join these peaceful demonstrations decided they weren't going to let that happen. They ran to the front doors that had been broken down. And they formed a line. They got people out of the stores. They told the looters to get out. And they stood their ground. They would not let looters go any farther.
And those community residents, the area residents, those protesters who stood guard, they tell me they didn't even know each other. They just saw what was going on and decided the right thing to do was to stop that. And for hours they were out here standing guard over these stores that had been broken into and looted and would let no -- no further mischief take place.
But again, just moments ago, we just witnessed dozens of heavily armed police officers in riot gear pulling out of here after a multiple hour standoff with protesters but again, this time no confrontation, no rubber bullets. No beanbags fired at the protesters. And the standoff here, while very tense, ended without any incidents between police and protesters.
BLACKWELL: Let's go to Tom Fuentes with that.
Tom, I remember specifically an image that we saw on Wednesday night of local police officers, or at least a local police officer, one with a weapon trained on the crowd and staring through the scope. I saw that same image again early this morning. But this time, it was a state trooper.
So, Tom, when Captain Ron Johnson was brought in from Highway Patrol, that was expected to offer some change. Now we see again the SWAT teams, the riot gear and those officers looking through those scopes.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via phone): Yes, Victor. Well, Captain Johnson and the state police have done everything they can to put on a kinder, gentler show of police power in the area, if you will, that tried to stand down the heavy equipment and the people in combat gear. The officers to get ready for battle. However, at the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the police to protect life and limb and property for the people of Ferguson.
So if that doesn't work, they have no alternative. It is not the responsibility of the citizens of Ferguson to try to prevent looting or stand guard in front of the stores in Ferguson. So, you know, the police are really in a difficult spot. Captain Johnson in a difficult spot. Trying to do it as gently as possible so no one can accuse the police as provoking the riot. But at the end of the day, they can't stand by and watch people harm other people or loot them. That's their job, that's their responsibility, like it or not.
BLACKWELL: All right, Tom. Law and order of course has to be restored when there were reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown and the looting.
We've got Ana Cabrera here.
Ana, you've been here since Tuesday. And you've seen the transition of the response from both the community and from law enforcement. How is what we saw this morning different from what we've seen at the same time earlier in the week?
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Much different. Even with the unrest that were still seeing here this morning, a much smaller number of people involved in that unrest. So it's still less of an intense situation than what we've seen, you know, as recent as Wednesday night which seemed to be a climax of sort on the streets of Ferguson, you know, with multiple things happening.
Tear gas, you know, reported shots fired. Molotov cocktails being thrown at police. There was way more of a clash on Wednesday night than there really is today. And I think that's one really important thing to emphasize because as we've been talking to the residents here, they say you know, we do have pride in our community. And we need these stores. We need these shops.
You know, a lot of us aren't the ones doing it. It's from people -- they have come in from outside the community because it's a smaller and a broader community. And that they don't know exactly, you know -- they don't have the same connection to this immediate area.
BLACKWELL: And that's one thing to consider, earlier in the week, I mean, people who were passionate about this issue, possibly could not have come here to Ferguson because their kids have to get to school or they have to get to work in the morning. This was a Friday night and likely they had nowhere to go Saturday morning. And people who possibly wanted to be here and were passionate about it, they came in on Friday.
We'll, of course, try to learn more about who exactly is coming into this community and the people who -- go ahead.
CABRERA: And worth noting, you know, as you just pointed out, a lot of the people who dispersed some of these looters were community members themselves.
BLACKWELL: Yes, stood in front of that store.
CABRERA: That they did come in and they said, no, don't do this here. We want to assemble peacefully and they have been tonight or overnight integral in trying to disperse some of the unrest.
BLACKWELL: And we'll talk more about what was saw overnight. Ana Cabrera, thank you very much. Steve Kastenbaum, Tom Fuentes,
thank you as well.
Let's toss it back to Christi in Atlanta.
PAUL: All right. Hey, thank you so much, Victor. Great job out there. He's going to be out there all morning for us as we continue to talk about what's going on in Ferguson.
Meanwhile, U.S. air strikes are taking aim at ISIS. The warplanes are trying to get people away to drive the terrorists away from a hydroelectric dam there.
Also a 2012 Republicans presidential candidate is indicted. We have full details for you on the other side of the break. Stay close.
PAUL: Fourteen minutes past the hour. Thank you so much for being part of our morning here.
You know, Rick Perry is on the defense this morning. He was just indicted on two felony counts but the Texas governor says the accusations are politically motivated.
Our national political reporter Peter Hamby breaks this down for us.
PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Christi, Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted Friday by a state grand jury as part of an ethics inquiry into his push to get a local district attorney to resign earlier this year.
Perry, in all but certain Republican presidential contender in 2016, was indicted on two counts, abuse of power and another count called coercion. The charges stem from Perry's push earlier this year to get Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after she was arrested for drunk driving in Austin.
Lehmberg, a Democrat, also ran the state's Publicly Integrity Unit which oversees state public corruption investigations. Perry threatened to withhold state funding for the unit unless Lehmberg resigned. That threat through an ethics complaint from a left-leaning watchdog group called Texans for Public Justice. Special prosecutors spent months calling witnesses to testify in front of a grand jury before the indictment was released late Friday.
The special prosecutor said Perry will appear in an Austin courtroom as early as next week and actually may have to get a mug shot. Perry's attorneys said the veto threat was fully within his constitutional authority and Perry's office is vowing to fight aggressively to defend him.
The politics of this are of course fascinating. Perry is only in office for another few months. There's a high profile campaign to replace him this fall and this will surely surface in that race. Then there's the presidential campaign he's plotting. Perry is headed to New Hampshire and South Carolina in the coming weeks to court Republican activists.
It's a safe bet that Perry will try to turn the indictment on its head and call it a partisan witch hunt conducted in liberal Austin. But make no mistake, this is a major headache for Perry as he tries to recuperate his image nationally after his embarrassing presidential campaign in 2012 -- Christi.
PAUL: All right. Peter Hamby, we appreciate it this morning. Thank you.
You know, from war zones in Afghanistan to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a lot of people were wondering how is that police department so well-equipped, it seems. Well, we're taking a look at the military-grade tanks and the guns that are making their way to small town police forces, not just in Ferguson, but across the country.
PAUL: Also breaking overnight, U.S. air strikes took aim at ISIS terror targets in Iraq. This is according to Kurdish news agencies. U.S. and Iraqi forces, though, are trying to drive the extremist militants from Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam area, that's Mosul dam, in northern Iraq. As refugees continue, we understand, to flee the ISIS advance, ISIS fighters swept into a village in northern Iraq yesterday. And officials tell CNN, they killed at least 80 men and then took more than 100 women captive.
CNN's Anna Coren joins us live now from the town of Zahko in northern Iraq.
Anna, thank you so much for being with us. What do you know about the air strikes that are said to be going on.
ANNA CABRERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Yes -- we've got confirmation that these air strikes are under way. U.S. and Iraqi air strikes. And on top of that, obviously, as you mentioned, local media reports are also saying that it is happening. They have eyewitness who's accounting saw ISIS militants being taken out for their artillery and mortar position, being struck. It's being described by the Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces, as the most intensive air strike campaigns since this battle with ISIS began.
Now the significance of the dam, as you mentioned, it's the largest hydroelectric dam in Iraq. It was seized by ISIS militants earlier this month. A major blow obviously for Iraq. It's considered to be rather unstable, Christi. The Army Corps of Engineers assessed it as the most dangerous dam in the world because its built on sand. So it required a great deal of maintenance. They have to pump grit into the lower layers of this dam to keep the foundation stable.
So the concern was it would break or that ISIS militants would blow it up in which case, Mosul would be flooded, the second largest city of Iraq, as well as Baghdad. But certainly, that operation is under way. And obviously, we'll bring you more details as we get them -- Christi.
PAUL: Anna, help us understand the significance of that, though, too, in this respect. If they are in control of that dam do they also then have the ability to cut off electricity to people in the region?
COREN: Well, we haven't gotten any reports that they actually did that. But there was concern that they would rob the dam, which obviously would have caused an absolute disaster on what, you know, is already unfolding. But certainly, Peshmerga forces are now on the ground battling those ISIS militants.
We have to remember that while ISIS controlled one-third of Iraq, they're also extremely spread out so these U.S. air strikes, they're targeting these key positions around the dam. According to eyewitnesses, the militants are retreating, which means that the Peshmerga can then move in and hopefully gain control of this particular facility -- Christi.
PAUL: Anna, you know, a lot of people wonder where ISIS gets their money. As I understand it, they've seized critical oil feeds as well as the Mogul dam. Is that where they're getting, as I understand it, millions of dollars from those oil fields?
COREN: Look, I think as far as their resources, I mean, they may have taken over some pretty big cities. For example, Mosul back in June. You know, the second largest city in Iraq. So with that they have cleaned out the banks, they've taken the weaponry from the Iraqi military, which, of course, is U.S. weaponry and superior weaponry which obviously they're outgunning the Kurdish forces.
And then, of course, they also have benefactors and people who are fundraising their reign of terror throughout Iraq. But it certainly is causing, you know, so much fear and concern within Iraq for the last few days, Christi. We've been covering the humanitarian disaster from Zahko which is very close to the Syrian border. And we've been going to those U.N. refugee camps which are absolutely dire.
You know, it's a dust bowl. It's excruciatingly hot. And there are families with many, many children who have fled these ISIS militants, wondering what is going to be their future. We talked to the governor yesterday who said that he is completely overwhelmed. He cannot feed all of these people. And he's appealing to the United Nations and to the international community to come to his aid because if not, if they don't get on the ground now, his fear is that the children who are of course the most vulnerable will start to die, Christi.
PAUL: All right. And real quickly, just -- if I can get this in, tell us what you know about this village that ISIS fighters overtook and the 100 women that they kidnapped.
COREN: Yes. An absolutely horrific story but one that is becoming way too common. We got word yet today from the Kurdish regional government that ISIS militants had seized the town of Kojo which is 20 kilometers south of Sinjar where 400 people fled those ISIS militants. This particular village, they moved in, they executed 80 men. That is what we're hearing from one survivor who managed to get away and contact the senior Yazidis who are here in Kurdistan.
He also said that 100 women, 100 women, were taken to northern Iraq which is part of it that are now controlled by the ISIS militants. And he said they're being taken away to be sex slaves and to be sold.
So, Christi, this is a story that we're hearing much, much more of as they continue to take over these towns and villages. They are dividing and conquering. I mean, this is obviously a tactic of war that they're using. A psychological tactic as well because the Yazidis come here and they say they are trying to exterminate us, they're taking our women, using them as sex slaves and they are trying to exterminate us.
PAUL: Anna Coren, thank you so much for bringing us the latest from that region. As stomach churning as it is. We appreciate you. Thank you.
We want to talk about the other big story today that has been in the news for some time now. The unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
And Victor, I know things look a little different here, but Victor is there today.
BLACKWELL: Hi, Christi, it's been a week since Michael Brown was shot and killed here in Ferguson. And overnight the standoff between protesters and police has intensified. One person shot, there are reports of that and officer hurt. Also Molotov cocktails thrown and looting.
You're going to see the video and hear from a CNN producer who watched it all go down. Stay with us here for this special early edition of NEW DAY SATURDAY.
PAUL: Bottom of the hour now. Good morning to you on a Saturday. We are grateful for you who are watching us here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Christi Paul.
Nick Valencia is here with the five things you need to know for your knew day.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Christi. Let's get you caught up right here at the bottom of the hour.
Number one, U.S.-led military operation is under way to retake Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam from ISIS militants. U.S. warplanes have struck ISIS targets near the Mosul dam. The air strikes are expected to be followed by a ground assault by Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Number two, an MMA fighter, Jonathan "War Machine" Koppenhaver, you're looking at his mugshot right there, he's been arrested in Simi Valley, California. He's accused of brutally beating his girlfriend in Las Vegas last week. U.S. Marshals Service said he was arrested without incident. Koppenhaver's accusations have been widespread condemnation from the MMA community. Number three, three people have been arrested in connection with the
kidnapping of two Amish girls on Wednesday. The girls had been selling vegetables near their family farm when they disappeared. An Amber alert was issued but officials announced Friday they had been found safe. The girls were able to provide important details that helped police make the arrest.
Number four, Dr. Kent Brantly, one of the two American Ebola patients says he is, quote, recovering in every way in an isolation unit at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital. Brantly released a statement yesterday saying he's looking forward to a reunion with his wife and family. And asking people to pray for the Ebola victims in West Africa.
This was the scene in Oakland, California, last night. What started as a peaceful march to denounce the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, quickly escalated to a scuffle between police and protesters. Police in riot gear used what appears to be pepper spray to break up the protest. Some windows were broken and at least one police car was vandalized but for the most part, the activists were peaceful.
And in Ferguson, Missouri, things have been very active there overnight in the morning hours, we've got a big team there. Victor Blackwell anchoring our coverage from Ferguson.
Victor, we'll throw it to you to bring us up on the latest.
BLACKWELL: All right. Nick, thank you very much. Here in Ferguson it was a return to the unrest that we actually saw earlier in the week. And that many hoped was over. Overnight looters targeted the Ferguson market where Michael Brown allegedly stole those cigars that you heard a lot about in the minutes before he was shot and killed by that officer who was named yesterday, Darren Wilson.
Let's bring in our producer Shimon Prokupecz who witnessed the looting there.
Shimon, describe the scene for us. I was there earlier in the day and spoke with the owners and their attorney and there was, we know now, a credible fear that something was going to happen. What did you see?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, yes, there was. You know, in fact, they boarded up the entire store. So several looters who basically -- there were several stores they want to, one of was beauty sort of supply shop and then they concentrated on the convenience store. They went inside, they broke through the door. There was a wood panel, they sort of tore down the wood panel. They then went into the store and, you know, just several of them -- I could see several of them taking items out.
You know, the store is OK. But you know, certainly, a lot of the stuff is out of there. They took soda and some food. And, you know, people were just taking whatever they could out of there. And then what happens was other people who claimed they were not looting, went in there and sort of pulled the looters out and started guarding the store, preventing any other looters from entering the store.
So you have sort of like two various groups there. You know, one group wanting to loot and then another group saying, hey, you know, you can't do this. But then the looters went on to other stores and other -- and several other stores were looted as well.
BLACKWELL: You know, the attorney, Jake Hensler, for the family that owns that store, I spoke with him yesterday and during his press conference actually, he tried to reiterate that the family, the store is not part of the investigation. He says they didn't even call the police after that alleged strong arm robbery, that they were asked to give up that surveillance video, and they did. There were a lot of police officers there yesterday.
Shimon, what was the police presence like at the time of the looting? Were they nearby? Were they close?
PROKUPECZ: Well, it's shocking. They were really close. And, you know, one of the things that I certainly found shocking is they stood back and they -- I'm not even entirely clear that they knew what was going on. They were about a block away. It took some time for a police helicopter to get up. So they just stood there. I mean they -- you know, a couple of times when the protesters would come into the street, they would get on the megaphone and basically threaten them and say, if you don't get off -- get out of the street, you're going to be arrested.
But when it came time to the looting, there was not one police officer anywhere near these stores. The looters were free to go in these stores. They went in, they broke through glass, they broke through doors and they took whatever they wanted. We saw two guys carrying a huge -- I mean, huge like industrial-size saw out of one of the stores where there was some construction going on. So the police just stood by and waited for things to calm down and eventually, they turned around and left.
BLACKWELL: And we'll talk with our law enforcement experts throughout the show about the best way to approach a scene like this.
Shimon Prokupecz, thank you for your reporting and we'll check back with you in the next hour.
Let's go back to Christi in the studio -- Christi.
PAUL: All right, hey, Victor, thank you so much.
Boy, they are making a rapid, brutal advance across Iraq right now. Seizing territory all along the way.
The power behind ISIS. It's perplexing to a lot of us but where is it coming from? The answer might surprise you.
PAUL: You know, some of the most striking images of the early Ferguson protests weren't necessarily the people on the street where they -- or the level of violence by the demonstrators. Instead a lot of people homed in on the military-grade tanks and the assault rifles that were being touted by a small police force.
Well, Brian Todd got on that and he reports that that kind of scene is becoming much more commonplace across the country than you might think.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Men in Kevlar vests and helmets, camouflage, carrying automatic rifles, moving in tactical armored vehicles. These aren't American troops on the battlefield but police in Ferguson. One observer says he thought he saw police in an MRAP.
KARA DANSKY, ACLU: An MRAP is a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. It's built to withstand armor pierces bombs. This is not something that we need in American communities.
TODD: But Kara Dansky of the ACLU says more than 500 MRAPs have made their way from Afghanistan and Iraq to local police forces in America just over the past couple of years. It's part of what the ACLU in a recent report called the Excessive Militarization of American Policing.
Indications of that are everywhere in Ferguson. Police in these towns are getting much of this combat equipment free of charge from the Pentagon. The Defense Department says just in 2013 nearly $450 million worth of military equipment was given to law enforcement. A Defense official says Ferguson Police only got a couple of Humvees and a trailer.
But police departments throughout Missouri which are assisting in Ferguson got 20 MRAPs and hundreds of M-16 rifles in recent years. Critics say often when they get these weapons, policemen's attitudes change.
DANSKY: Increasingly, the police are trained to view the people in the communities that they're supposed to be protecting and serving as enemies.
TODD (on camera): It's not just their possession of all of this equipment that's an issue. Watchdog groups say many of these police departments lack the training on how to use these weapons responsibly. And that often escalates the dangers.
(Voice-over): Dangers like police overacting when conducting minor operations like serving search warrants.
DANSKY: They will drive up in an armored personnel carrier, raid a person's home, holding assault rifles, holding people at gunpoint, yelling at everyone to get on the floor. This is an extremely traumatic experience and we've seen over and over again situations like this where people are traumatized and sometimes people are injured and killed.
TODD: But current and former police say criminals have increasingly more fire power. And law enforcement can't afford to be outgunned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If people are shooting at the police and committing looting and other violent acts then the police need to protect themselves.
TODD: The Defense Department supports this trend overall. While it would you or me four to six weeks in unending hassle and documentation to secure a passport as reported by "The Washington Post," your local police force need only fill out a one-page form for an armored personnel carrier.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
PAUL: Now listen, if you have questions that you want answered about Ferguson, the situation that's unfolding there, the tactics being used by both sides, anything, just tweet us using the #fergusonqs and we'll get some of your questions to our panel of experts throughout the day.
Meanwhile, as we've been talking about the rapid advancement of ISIS through Iraq, it seems that the power behind them may just be too much for that area to be able to overpower.
How much does the U.S. have to be involved here? We'll talk about that in a moment.
PAUL: Forty-seven minutes past the hour and welcome to you.
Well, they are brutal. They are powerful, they're rich and they are growing. Overnight, more U.S. air strikes targeted ISIS in Iraq. The militant group, they really shocked the world by sweeping control of town after town in Iraq and in Syria. And a lot of people are wondering how have they had so much military success? How are they so well-armed?
Well, they may have the United States in part to thank for that.
Andrew Tabler is with us now. A senior fellow at the Washington Institute.
Andrew, thank you so much for joining us. Explain that to us, first of all, how are they so well armed?
ANDREW TABLER, SENIOR FELLOW, THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE: Well, first of all, they captured a lot of weapons from United States in Iraq. The reason they're so powerful is they're self-sufficient. At the moment, they don't require a lot of outside funding. And they are able to take advantage of the perception in the region that actually they're defending the Sunni cause against Iranian-backed regimes in Damascus and in Baghdad. And they're rolling Sunni groups into their lives.
PAUL: Essentially the Obama administration I know needs to decide whether to arm the Peshmerga so they could stand a chance against the group -- this group, you know, that's using U.S.-made weapons. Is that a smart thing to do, is to put more U.S. weapons into the hands of Peshmerga?
TABLER: If you want to defeat ISIS, you're going to have to work with groups like the Kurds to defend their areas and to push back on ISIS and to ISIS from going back into those areas. The harder issue is what to do in places like Syria, where the regime is extremely brutal, the Assad regime. And the country is majority Sunni. And then we don't really have any Sunnis there that we can support very easily.
So that's where the United States is trying to look for options and look across the border into Iraq for options with the Sunni community there as well.
PAUL: So what other options are there, in your opinion, other than supplying weapons?
TABLER: I think that at this point diplomacy isn't going to do much good. I think perhaps security coordination to try and contain it. But unless you deal with the problem from the ground up. And this is where I think American policy has been, you know, a big challenge. We're not going to be really dealing with this. And we're not going to be rooting out ISIS permanently. We're at best going to be containing it and putting off the problem until later.
PAUL: When you talk about diplomacy, we know that a big part of that depends on what happens with the government in Iraq. We know that Maliki just resigned. Do you think that ISIS is going to see a new government in Iraq as an opportunity for them? Or is it more of an opportunity for the U.S. and nations to come together with Iraq and help try to fight ISIS?
It's more of an opportunity for the United States. Because at that point, then the new government can reach out to the Sunni tribes that are in western Iraq and eastern Syria and say, look, here, you know, we can work with you. At that point, the tribes can make that decision. Until now -- they have said the Maliki government doesn't support us. Well, we're ostracized so we're going to join us up with ISIS.
So it's an opportunity for the United States but I think it's going to take a lot more than -- you know, limited strikes and the change in government in Iraq to deal with ISIS and I think that's the point that the White House is trying to grapple with.
PAUL: All right. Andrew, but how welcoming do you think the Sunnis will be to a new government? There are so much distrust at the root of everything here in Iraq.
TABLER: I think it's -- I think it will be more limited than you think. Of course, it would depend on the package that's offered. But, you know, for us, we see Iraq as a civil war. We're constantly told that the war in Syria is a civil war. But the people in the region, it's something else. It's not just about these brutal regimes but it's also about spreading (INAUDIBLE) influence and Sunni's rejection of and resistance to that influence.
And I think until you address that, it's hard to get Sunnis to work together with governments in Baghdad that are backed by Iran. And that's the conundrum we're in at the moment.
PAUL: You know, people understand the humanitarian crisis there in the U.S. helping in that regard. But there are a lot of people who fought and who died in the Iraq war and they're looking at this now and they're wondering, was it all for nothing?
How is fighting ISIS different than, say, fighting al Qaeda or the fighting that they did already in Iraq?
TABLER: Fighting al Qaeda, it was -- well, it was, of course, important for after the strikes on 9/11 and the strike on the homeland. What we have in terms of ISIS is a durable safe haven. The safe haven isn't going away soon. And unless you deal with that, threat of attacks in Europe, the United States and elsewhere go up dramatically. I think that, you know, those who fought in the Iraq war have every right to be critical.
But I think that they also can be critical of the administration for not doing basic maintenance, making good decisions, concerning our deployments, as well as our political commitments of Iraq in the region. And I think that's what the debate, and you've seen the debate in the media currently came from.
PAUL: How early do you think the U.S. should have had ISIS on their radar? Where did we miss the boat here?
TABLER: We missed the boat because they transplanted themselves across the border from Syria and metastasized in a very chaotic environment that we didn't want to get involved in it. Again, we and many people called it someone else's civil war. Well, sometimes, terrorist groups can take advantage of someone else's civil war and that's where -- you know, because we didn't deal with armed groups earlier in Syria, in any kind of comprehensive way, then we allowed ISIS to fill up that vacuum.
You know, it's hard to get back in time and say we should have or could have done something. But in this case, I think what we can say is that American policy, until now, did lead to a certain extent to the creation of this safe haven. And the question is, now how are we going to deal with it?
PAUL: All right. Andrew Tabler, always appreciate your insight. Thank you for being with us, sir.
TABLER: My pleasure.
OK, folks. Brace yourself, hot temperatures, especially for Atlanta. You are living up to your Hot-lanta moniker there. It's going to be brutal today. And we're hoping it's better for the rest of you wherever you are. We're going to have -- give you a little bit of insight as to what your day is going to look like weather-wise. Stay close.
PAUL: Are you looking for maybe go outside and get a good tan today? Come to hot-lanta. Jennifer Gray in the weather center and apparently we're living up to our name today.
JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we are. You know we're only running about two degrees above normal. Normal is 88. We're running around 90, 91 for tomorrow. When you factor the humidity, that's when you really start to notice. We have high humidity levels, we have that moisture coming in from the south, and it's really making us feel warm all across the south, all the way down into Florida. So that's what we're going to be dealing with over the next couple of days across the south with some really nice days during your work week now as we head into the weekend.
And especially on into next week, we're going to really continue this warming trend. So 90s for the weekend. We will have a brief little break on Monday. And it will continue to warm as we go into next week.
Look at Jacksonville, almost mid-90s by Sunday into Monday. Same with Charlotte, Memphis, New Orleans, same trend. Lower to mid-90s, as we go into the middle part of the week.
And look at these humidity values. We're going to see in the 60 percentile. Atlanta, 81 percent, relative humidity in Savannah. 84 percent in Orlando. So relative humidity really up there. So the moisture just pumping in from the south. And so that's going to make your temperatures feel even warmer, especially for the afternoon. So make sure you hydrate when you're heading outside and make sure you try to stay cool especially during the heat of the day.
The focus today really is going to be in portions of the Midwest. Especially from Kansas City to St. Louis. We're going to be looking at the possibility of possible storms. The bulk of the rain right now to the north of St. Louis, but we do have that warm moist air that's pulling in from the south. And so that's going to produce possible heavy rains, possibility of gusty winds, large hail. Some storms we'll be watching out for, Christi, this afternoon in those areas.
PAUL: Hopefully everybody takes care there and with that humidity, maybe a ponytail day tomorrow.
GRAY: Ponytail day. To stay by the pool. Something like that.
PAUL: Yes. That's true. Anything to get it off your face.
PAUL: Thank you so much, Jen. Appreciate it.
GRAY: All right.
PAUL: Hey, by the way, have you heard about this rock star pitcher, Mo'ne Davis? 13-year-old right-hander, just became the first girl to ever throw a complete game shutout in a Little League World Series. Look at this video from ESPN. Armed with a 70-mile-an-hour fast ball, Davis struck out eight batters in six innings. Led her team from Philadelphia to a dominant four-zip over Nashville. And athletes are praising her performance on Twitter.