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The Shooting of Michael Brown; U.S. Warplanes Strike ISIS Targets; Tension Erupts Again in Ferguson; Rick Perry Indicted on Felony Charges

Aired August 16, 2014 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Nice to wake up without an alarm clock, isn't it? Hopefully that is what Saturday is for you. I know things look a little different here. I'm Christi Paul at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. Feeling a little lonely -- Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I'm Victor Blackwell here in Ferguson, Missouri. It's 8:00 here on the east coast and 7:00 actually here in Ferguson. This is NEW DAY Saturday.

PAUL: Of course, Victor is there. Because breaking news overnight, looters hit more stores there in Ferguson. Victor, I know you've got some video you want to walk us through here?

BLACKWELL: Yes, a few hours ago, a SWAT team in riot gear with the gas masks and armored trucks, reminiscent of what we have seen earlier in the week, they pointed those military-style weapons and marked slowly toward people who gathered in the rain outside the market and liquor store here in Ferguson.

PAUL: Now listen, our affiliate, KMOV, is reporting some 200 protesters in the streets yesterday and eventually they met about 100 officers there. Police reportedly say there was at least one shooting at a nearby intersection with the victim rushed to the hospital there.

One officer they say was hurt by a brick or a rock that was thrown. As we thought things were winding down, Victor, it looks like that is not the case overnight.

BLACKWELL: You know, it is an important day. It is one week to the day after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a member of the Ferguson Police Department.

Just yesterday, the city's police chief named that officer who pulled the trigger. He is Darren Wilson, 28 years old and protesters have been waiting for that name, demanding it -- Christi.

PAUL: Right. Once they release that that came with a raft of new details about Brown's alleged involvement in a robbery. With all of it coming out at the same time, that is raising more questions for a lot of people there, isn't it, Victor?

BLACKWELL: Also and for a lot of people, inflamed tensions that were obviously already raw. Here is what we saw in Ferguson early this morning. Watch.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): A tense standoff overnight in Ferguson, Missouri as police in riot gear confront looters. What started out as a night of peaceful demonstrations escalated into violence.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: There were at least three Molotov cocktails that our crews saw. They were thrown on to the roof of a Dominos Pizza. The police and fire department were called in and they were able to put out the flames before much damage was done. That resulted in a bit of a police force here that ultimately culminated with a very, very tense standoff.

BLACKWELL: The flashpoint? The Ferguson market and liquor store. The same store that is part of the case surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown. The teen who was killed by police. Officers on Friday released surveillance video showing allegedly Michael Brown taking part in a robbery in the store.

A SWAT team lined up across from the store commanding people via bull horn to get out of the street and get onto the sidewalks or go home. Officers warned if they disobeyed, they would be arrested.

Minutes after the looting, about a dozen people lined up to block the entrance of a convenient store, putting their hands in the air. They said they had come to fend off the looters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked to me like you came over here to protect the store.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we did. You see the store. That store has been attacked. Everything is still there. We protected the store. They were going to set it on fire.


BLACKWELL: You know, the police were not the ones who eventually got those looters to leave the store. There were other people who live in the community, other protesters who put themselves between the potential looters and store for a period of time and then those men and women stepped aside and looters went in and cleaned the shelves.

We have pictures of the owners, employees and workers at the Ferguson market who had weapons. Assault rifles and handguns standing there protecting their property.

I have Ana Cabrera here with me. You have been in Ferguson all week. People are asking is it possible the officer thought Brown knew about that armed robbery -- not armed robbery, alleged robbery.

A lot of focus on this here. Why did this officer feel it was necessary to draw his weapon and shoot and eventually kill Michael Brown? That is the focus for most people here.

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the big question people want to have answered. We don't have the exact answer in that case. We really don't know a lot about that officer's story because police just have not released those details of the investigation. They don't want to compromise that case.

But to answer our viewer's question there. You know, what we have been told by Police Chief Tom Jackson yesterday was that the officer who responded and eventually took Michael Brown's life, did not know at that time, he had the initial contact with Michael Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, who were walking up in the middle of the street.

He did not know at that time that they were indeed suspects in a strong armed robbery. It got a little bit muddy yesterday. There were several stories about this issue. The robbery and the shooting and potential connection and how they were related that was not clear.

Details were released throughout the day in which initially we were under the understanding that the officer had heard the dispatcher say that this strong armed robbery had happened and that these suspects in that case were walking toward the Quick Trip.

It is on the lookout for the suspects. Then he recanted saying he did not know Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson were walking down the street. Later, he came back out and said, well, he had heard something about a robbery of cigars and when he made the contact with them, it was because they were walking in the street.

He happened to notice cigars in one of their hands. He made a quick connection about it. It is hard to know if they are indeed connected with the officer's response.

BLACKWELL: What is frustrating for a lot of people is this is coming out in drips and drabs, and there is very little consistency for that element of what's happening here.

We have our CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, from Washington. Tom, again, we are soliciting these questions via Twitter, #fergusonqs. The question is, if police told the store owners there wasn't anything they could do about looting, were Ferguson police rebelling?

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: That is a good question, Victor. I think that that whole scenario last night about the police not stopping the looting is absolutely -- I just can't explain it. That's the police job. People need to be safe in their homes, in their business and on the streets.

The protesters need to be protected and treated properly so do the store owners and so does everybody else in the community. The police are not supposed to be telling people you are on your own, protect yourself. We wonder why there has been such a run on gun stores and the purchase of weapons in the St. Louis area in the last week.

Because people get the impression if the police are not going to do their job, I may have to do it for them. We don't want that. That is why we have a civil society. That is why we have laws, rules and that's what the police' job. They are trained. They are professionals. They have the discipline to do it. They are not supposed to tell people do it yourself.

BLACKWELL: I hate to interrupt here, but what are police supposed to do? Because it seems in some situations, you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. If the police went in that riot gear had gone up to that crown at the store, I can imagine we would have seen the repeat of Wednesday night.

Where the police would be blamed or state troopers would be blamed for inciting whatever came next. What is the proper way in your opinion to deal with looters?

FUENTES: Well, the proper way is that dealing with looters is not the same with dealing with protesters. You had the store owners out their protecting their property. They would have welcomed. They called for the police to come and protect their stores.

They would have welcomed the police intervention. I think the community leaders who also tried to stop the looting, would have welcomed that type of intervention. Not the intervention of dragging protesters off the streets or reporters out of McDonald's.

But stopping actual felonies in progress. That is the job of the police. Whether it is unpopular or not or whether it has risks. What if we had looters come out and kill one of the store owners? What is the story of police?

We were trying to prevent violence so we just kind of let them blow up steam and do what they wanted. It is a shame they killed innocent people. That is not allowed. That is not acceptable.

BLACKWELL: You know, Ana, the difference between what we saw last night and what we saw the previous night, which would have been the first night under the command of Captain Johnson was there were no police anywhere, essentially on Thursday night. They pulled back. They had a command post where I went and tried to get all the vehicles in one picture to tweet out.

There are so many, you cannot get them in a single shot. They came in yesterday, this kinder and gentler approach, apparently, is not as effective as some thought.

PAUL: I think we would be naive to think police pulled back entirely on Thursday. I think they did not want to show a show of force in the way that they had previously because that is what protesters feel like they were intimidated by police.

That was the intention of law enforcement initially. And so I think that, you know, those specific vehicles and their gear and their resources were still on scene on Thursday, but they were able to pull back.

But then last night, when we saw things start to flare up with people throwing Molotov cocktails a little before midnight and looters coming to the Ferguson market and trying to storm in. I think police then did say we are here and that's when we saw them respond in that way. What is the right way to respond? I guess we are still trying to figure that out.

BLACKWELL: Figure out what that balance is.

PAUL: Our law enforcement who is in charge of this effort when they hold their press conference earlier or later this morning.

BLACKWELL: It should be important to say that there were no unformed police officers or troopers that we saw Thursday night, very likely plain-clothes troopers and officers there in the crowd so just keep an eye on it. Ana Cabrera, thank you so much. Tom Fuentes in Washington, thank you as well.

PAUL: All right, Victor, thank you. You are doing a great job. Stay dry.

A Republican presidential hopeful is fighting serious charges this morning. We will look at the case against Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Plus, SeaWorld is giving its whales a little more space, but apparently not everyone is happy about this.


PAUL: Texas Governor Rick Perry is fighting back against charges that could possibly send him away for a long time. The 2016 Republican presidential hopeful has been indicted on two felony charges.

Here is the thing, he is accused of abusing his power by trying to pressure a local district attorney to resign. Our national political reporter, Peter Hamby, has been following the story.

Peter, good to have you with us this morning. So take us back to the start of this whole thing. How did the charges come about?

PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLICE REPORTER: Yes, well, earlier this spring, the Travis county district attorney, her name is Rosemarie Lemberg was arrested for drunk driving. Now Lemberg oversees this public integrity unit in Texas. They basically investigate public corruption cases.

They look at the government. After this drunk driving arrest, Perry threatened to veto $7.5 million of state funding for this unit. That raised alarming for a left-leaning watch dog group that filed an ethics complaint.

Basically a special prosecutor spent months with the grand jury bringing witnesses, looking into this ethics complaint. Last night, he dropped a two-count indictment on Governor Perry. One count was abuse of power and the other one was coercion.

Basically arguing that it was inappropriate for Perry to use state money to threaten this Democratic district attorney to resign. Now Perry's people are saying this Veto threat was fully within his constitutional authority.

They are saying politics are at play here in Travis County, which is liberal. This is where Austin, the capital of Texas is. They are vowing to fight very, very hard against this, Christi.

But look, this really threatens his presidential prospects. I'm not going to say yet that it is fatal because we don't know how it's going to play out. The word indictment alone is going to be associated with Rick Perry and his political biography heading into the 2016 presidential race.

He is trying to remake his image after the disastrous 2012 race, which you remember was really embarrassing for him. He came in really, really hot and then flamed out in pretty spectacular fashion. So this is a real political headache for him.

We are waiting to see next week whether or not he is actually going to get a mug shot. The special prosecutor said that he is going to have to come in to a courtroom next week, possibly get fingerprinted and possibly a mug shot. He is working with Perry's attorney on whether that's actually going to happens -- Christi.

PAUL: Well, and you know, if that happens, it will be all over the place. Everybody will look at it. It will be all over social media. When you talk about, you know, the basis of this and the two sides and both allegations here that it is politically motivated.

And this indictment is warranted, give me the back-ups to both sides. How do they warrant both arguments? First of all, let's start with the indictment. Is it a strong indictment? Is there strong evidence?

HAMBY: Well, that is really interesting. So the special prosecutor does have some legal chops. He's worked under George H.W. Bush and appointed U.S. attorney by Barack Obama. He has a strong case he says.

Look, this really comes down to the definition of what, you know, constitutional authority is in Texas. The abuse of power count basically argues that Perry took money, allotted to him by the state legislature, and misused it.

The coercion count is more interesting because, look, is this politics or is this hard ball politics? Is this a governor of a state who has been in power 14 years just sort of using his authority to push out, you know, a political opponent and where does that cross the line between just politics and the law?

Again, it's tough because Austin is the seat of power in Texas and yet the Travis County is actually very Democratic. The local offices are stocked with Democrats. The district attorney is a Democrat. Perry has a lot of enemies in Travis County.

So it will just be impossible, Christi, to separate politics from this case. One other point on the political front, there is a governor's race to replace Rick Perry who is leaving office early next year. Perry's attorney general, Greg Abbott, is the Republican nominee. So he is going to have to answer questions about this and then Abbott's opponent, Wendy Davis, the national Democratic star is already making this an issue. Democrats are saying Perry should resign. That's highly unlikely -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Peter Hamby, thank you for breaking this down for us. We appreciate it.

HAMBY: Thanks.

PAUL: Sure. New developments this morning in the murder of an American mom in Bali. Who police have charged with her killing now. Not just killing her, but stuffing her body in a suitcase.

Also, the pope makes a historic trip to Asia. Look at all the folks here. The message he gave the hundreds of thousands of Catholics in South Korea.


PAUL: We're going to take you live back to Ferguson, Missouri in just a bit. But first, Nick Valencia has some other stories that we are watching this morning.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's get you caught up here. The top five stories. Number one, a U.S.-led military operation underway right now to retake Iraq's largest hydroelectric dam from ISIS. U.S. war planes have struck ISIS targets near the Mosul Dam.

The dam is said to be still up and running. The Peshmerga spokesman says Peshmerga forces are not advancing to the dam, but he says they are coordinating with the U.S. and Kurdish forces.

Number two, two people have been arrested and charged with the kidnapping of two Amish girls on Wednesday. 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 help police make the arrest.

Number three, two American charged with the murder of a Chicago woman in Bali, Indonesia. Heather Mack and Tommy Schaeffer are accused of killing Mack's mother. Police say they put a suitcase with her body in a taxi outside a hotel. Telling the cab driver they would be back. The cab driver contacted police after he noticed blood on the suitcase.

Number four, battered by controversy over its treatment of killer whales, SeaWorld says it will build new state of the art facilities for orca environments, nearly double the size of their old ones.

The new exhibits will debut at SeaWorld in San Diego in 2018 and followed by parks in Florida and. But PETA is pushing back saying the whales should be released to seaside sanctuaries. Number five, in Seoul, South Korea, Pope Francis has beatified 124 South Korean martyrs. He told the crowd estimated at 800,000, they should take pride in their religion. The pope said their ancestors' willingness to die for the faith two centuries ago is a model for Asian missionaries.

Those are the top five stories to get you caught up on NEW DAY Saturday. We're going to throw it back to you, Christi.

PAUL: Nick, thank you so much. So glad you're here. By the way, we will take you back to Ferguson, Missouri with Victor. He is live there as we saw some looters overnight. Protesters and police co confronting them. All stemming from the police shooting of an unarmed teenager. The latest is next.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back to NEW DAY. I'm Victor Blackwell in Ferguson, Missouri. Daybreak in Ferguson now and residents and local shop owners, they've started to clean up. Overnight, a return to the looting and the molotov cocktails that exploded across the city earlier in the week. But in a distinct turn, it was the protesters who were fighting back against the looters and were eventually able to keep them from going into the store for at least a period of time.

You know, yesterday, early in the day, I saw five guys walk into that store. It was peaceful at the time. They walked in. They were all wearing red bandanas and red hats. When they came out, I asked them a few questions.

Listen to their response when I asked first simply "give me your names".


BLACKWELL: First, can I get your names?


BLACKWELL: Mike Brown.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Mike. Mike Brown.

BLACKWELL: You are all saying you are Mike Brown. I understand. That is probably out of solidarity. Tell me why? Why are you here? Why the red bandanas and the hats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could be anybody. We could be anybody. That could be your son. That could be your nephew. That could be anybody. It could have been him. It could have been him. It could have been him. It could have been her. It could have been her.

BLACKWELL: Do you think anything will change after all the cameras and all the crowds and marches? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way. Look, I'm from around here. It has been

like this since I was growing up.


BLACKWELL: They went and actually spoke with the man who's been tasked with turning things around, Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson and listen to their exchange. It is pretty stern and honest. So listen.


CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: I'm going to do what's right. That's what I want to do.


JOHNSON: If you want to hear, if you want to stay out of my face, I will tell you I'm not. I'm not. But we are going to make -- we're going to make a difference. But I'm going to tell you, just like me and you are talking, and you listening to me, everybody out there is not listening to me. Just like you are saying it, everybody is not going to be like me. Everybody is not going to try to understand to make a difference.

Everybody is not going to be like you. But I can tell you, we have to start with me and we have to start with you. Keep doing what you are doing. Keep expressing your views. Keep saying what you are saying.


BLACKWELL: I'm joined now by attorney and former law enforcement officer Lance LoRusso. He is also the author of "When Cops Kill: the aftermath of a critical incident". It is good to have you with us.

And the first question is when does a cop have the right to shoot someone?

LANCE LORUSSO, FORMER LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER: One of the questions that you have to ask is it is not actually a right. It is an obligation that the officer has to protect themselves or a third party. The law in certain situations will allow an officer to use deadly force.

BLACKWELL: You know, we have been soliciting these questions through Twitter. Ferguson Q's #Fergusonqs is the hashtag. And one of the questions is "How did the police chief know that the cop didn't know anything about the robbery?" Isn't that prejudicial to the cop's case? Shouldn't we know that element? And is it something that can be proved right now?

LORUSSO: Well, I think the simple answer to how the chief knew is he asked the officer. You know, what's going on behind is, is three investigations that are going to take place. Anytime an officer uses deadly force that ends up in the death of a person, there is an administrative investigation that has to do with policy and procedure and training; then there's a concurrent criminal investigation. It's a homicide investigation just like any other investigation into the death of a person. And then after that, there will be a prosecutorial investigation where you'll have the DA either present the case to a grand jury independently review it.

So what you have going on behind the scenes is that investigative process going forward: interviewing of the officer and witnesses and looking to see if there are other witnesses. If there is cell phone video, if there's other people who have come forward. That is why they are withholding a lot of information. So when a witness does come forward, they are able to vet that person to determine whether they actually saw something or whether they heard it on the news.

BLACKWELL: Now, for a lot of people in this community, they question the credibility of the chief. They question the credibility of that investigation because things have come out in this rolling disclosure and at some point it hasn't been consistent.

Talk about the damage to the credibility of a law enforcement officer in a case like this where things are recanted and then reinforced and then recanted again. And in this case, the law enforcement of the community turned over to another agency.

LORUSSO: Well, so far as the officer's credibility, the officer in the biggest perspective of the criminal aspect, Officer Wilson who is a person being examined to see whether his us of force was lawful or not. So his credibility is not in question, his actions are in question; and so far as the police department releasing information and not releasing information -- that is not atypical. I have involved representing officers before when there was a great deal of information that was provided and then when we followed back up, we realized that the actual witnesses who said they saw something, actually didn't.

Right now there is probably somebody in that city as a witness or with cellphone video and with all the violence they are not encouraged to come forward. They're probably afraid to.

BLACKWELL: And I spoke with several people yesterday, Lance, and I asked them do they believe that this threat against his life and his family's life is real. Even people who hope that he would not be injured, that he would not be hurt, there would be no retaliation. Every single person to the person said yes, they do believe that he is in some danger.

Lance LoRusso, thank you so much. And of course, we hope nothing happens to that officer. And we hope things calm down here.

Christi, we will send it back over to you in Atlanta. It has definitely been a rough night here in Ferguson.

PAUL: Boy, no kidding. All right. Hey Victor, thank you so much. Great to bring it to us that way.

We want to talk to you too about some new U.S. air strikes overnight in Iraq. The target: of course, ISIS fighters. They are moving toward an important dam near Mosul. We have a live report for you next.


PAUL: 38 minutes past the hour right now -- so grateful for your company.

President Obama is warning U.S. air strikes in Iraq will continue to drive ISIS militants out of its stronghold. And he's making good on that threat right now. We know overnight, U.S. warplanes struck ISIS targets near Iraq's largest hydro electric dam. It's on the Tigris River at Mosul.

But the dam has strategic importance here because it controls much of the power and water supply for Northern Iraq. ISIS militants captured that dam earlier this month and there are fears that maybe they'd blow it up causing catastrophic flooding or use it in some way to cut off electricity to some of those in the region.

One Iraqi engineer calls it a quote, "ticking time bomb" in the hands of ISIS, representing an unorthodox but deadly kind of weapon of mass destruction.

Let's talk to Douglas Ollivant, he's senior national security fellow at the New America Foundation; Douglas, so glad to have you with us. Thank you so much.


PAUL: When we look at this situation with the dam, do you think it is really possible that they would use it as a weapon or some are even wondering what if they would try to use it as a bargaining chip. Although ISIS doesn't seem to be a bargaining type of group to me -- what do you think?

OLLIVANT: No, no. They are not in the bargaining business. But you're absolutely right. They can use the dam -- your set-up piece did it really well both positively and negatively. On the positive side, it does control the electricity and the water of this entire area. So this puts them in charge of the services that can be provided. And therefore anyone who lives around Mosul will be forced to deal with the Islamic State if they want water or electricity.

On the negative side, not only could they blow it up, but the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction published in 2007, a report that said essentially what your Iraqi engineer said. It is so poorly constructed, that dam, that it is a ticking time bomb. I'm told literally they have to take sacks of concrete and just throw it into the base of the dam every day because it is corroding. The construction was so poor.

So not only by blowing it up but just by neglecting it, this dam could fail and if so that would be a humanitarian catastrophe. Your map shows very well that all the water that would hit Mosul within just an hour or so.

PAUL: And we already have a humanitarian catastrophe there as some are calling it certainly.

OLLIVANT: Absolutely.

PAUL: When we talk about what is at the heart of this. This is a physical fight right now that really stems from political roots. And we know that they are saying, you know, you have to have the Kurds, the Shiites and the Sunnis all in one in order to fight ISIS. How much -- but this is a new government that's just been formed here in Iraq with all of the modifications to the leaders. How much time do you think they have?

OLLIVANT: Well, actually, this government isn't formed yet. Mr. Abadi is the prime minister designate. He still has to be able to get enough people on board to form his government, get the ministers, he had 30 days from the day he was informed and has to get a majority in parliament for his new government.

So we are still in a very transitional phase. We certainly do need all the sects to come together -- Iraq Sunnis, Shia and Kurds to fight ISIS. But I think now we are seeing that the initial reports that this was largely a Sunni rebellion against Mr. Maliki's policies, this is belied by the fact that they are now attacking into Erbil and attacking Kurds. This isn't a Sunni rebellion against Mr. al-Maliki. This is an incredibly potent terrorist army that wants to take over the entire region.

It is not just about Mr. Maliki as we see as they are moving towards Erbil, moving towards Jordan, towards Lebanon. This is a real concern for the whole region.

PAUL: Well, and they have been able to make this much head way in Iraq as many people say because of the Sunni support that they've garnered along the way.


PAUL: The question is how willing will Sunnis be to jump on board with this new government for one and secondly, how free are they to do so? Say, if you have Sunnis who are already fighting with ISIS, are they fighting because they fear them? Would they dare get out of that situation to join the government? And are they even able to do so?

OLLIVANT: It's all very complicated. You asked two very good questions to which we don't know the answer. And the third question is, are the Shia and Kurds willing to receive into the government people who have been supporting however passively and however much out of desperation this extremist Khmer Rouge-Nazi-al Qaeda like terrorist group. Let's not underestimate how complex the politics are going to be putting the Iraqi government back together. Trust has been lost on all sides for very valid reasons. It's going to take a real act of statesmanship on the part of Mr. Abadi to pull all these groups in.

PAUL: You know, I think a lot of Americans especially who fought in the Iraq war and their families are looking at this and they're feeling so disheartened because people died so Iraq would not be in this situation again. And you wonder, we know that we are there for humanitarian reasons, of course, but how deeply embedded at this point or engaged do you think and responsible is the U.S. to continue to move forward in some military fashion?

OLLIVANT: I think the U.S. is obligated to move forward in a military fashion not for the Iraqis, but out of our own self interests. ISIS or ISIL or the Islamic State is a threat to us both to our interests in the region and to Europe and ultimately to the American homeland. So, while I'm all about helping the Iraqis, I spent a lot of time in Iraq. Were this month a little calmer, we might be celebrating or commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the battle of Najah Cemetery in August of 2004 which was my first experience in Iraq.

But we certainly need to help move things forward if not for the Iraqis, then certainly for ourselves.

PAUL: All right. Douglas Ollivant, thank you so much for your insight as always.

OLLIVANT: Thank you Christi.

PAUL: Good to have you here. Sure.

OLLIVANT: Good morning.

PAUL: So to find out more about what is happening in Iraq, by the way, particularly the plight of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, and it is just heart breaking, log on to And we thank you for doing so.

Meanwhile, the police shooting of an unarmed Missouri teen was all the talk on Twitter and Facebook this week. Not all the tweets and posts were correct, though. We're going to take a look at the dangers of crowdsourcing. That's next.


MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Good morning. I'm Michael Smerconish.

More than a week since a white police officer shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown Ferguson, Missouri continues to erupt in violence and anger. We're covering Ferguson from many different angles with really great insightful voices joining us.

We are also talking about the indictment of Texas Governor Rick Perry.

And more U.S. air strikes in Iraq. General Wesley Clark is here with me today.

A lot to share with you at the top of the hour and I hope to see you then -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Michael, thank you so much. SMERCONISH coming your way this morning, top of the hour, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

In the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting death, millions of people, you I'm sure included, took to social media to try to get some answers. On one hand, sites like Facebook and Twitter, they did not just help organize protests in Ferguson, Missouri it was in part responsible for mass demonstrations across the country.

What's more -- videos showing the crime scene -- a simple street in the American heartland there, they have been shared and viewed around the world. Then you have the hash tags such as "if they gunned me down" which went viral because of the outrage over the teen's death.

But the thing is we have to be fair here. Social media failed in a big way, too in some aspects. In the mad scramble for answers, you have rumors and half truths that spread like wildfire. Take the case of hacking group Anonymous where vigilantes identified the wrong shooter in Brown's death.

Brett Larson is a CNN technology analyst and host of TechBytes. Brett we're glad to have you with us.


PAUL: Sure. So according to reports, the stepmother of the falsely accused police dispatcher is apparently scared for her life right now. A year ago in the wake of the Boston bombing, online crowdsourcing we know blamed innocent people for that terror attack. Is there a way to stop this or is this the new norm?

LARSON: You know, unfortunately, I think this is the new norm. You brought up the Boston bombing which is a great example of where social media actually helped the government, encouraged people to share the photos that they had of the crime scene, to share the pictures of the day, to share whatever they knew so that they were able to piece together that big puzzle and give us some answers.

But again, we got those answers in time. We did not rush to judgment. And the times we did rush to judgment, then and again now, we were not necessarily correct. And that has happened again in Ferguson where social media has stepped in and done a great job of keeping us informed, keeping us up to date and giving us that on the ground, that raw story that we get now with social media.

But unfortunately, as we go down that rabbit hole, we've also run into problems where as you said, the wrong people have been brought out and said, you know, you are responsible for something that they were not responsible for. It is a difficult challenge and you know, for news people, for CNN, we can't go on the air and say something until we get it checked.

PAUL: We confirm it.

LARSON: We confirm something before we say it. Social media is a very different beast. And I think it is in its infancy and in time, we'll hopefully learn that we need to just because one tweet says it doesn't mean it is necessarily true.

PAUL: Ok. So that was my question. We talk about the evolution of where we go from here do you think that there will be some laws established to deal with situations like that? So there would a consequence if you just threw something out there?

LARSON: There should be. There are, you know, defamation of character, libel and slander -- all of those are definitely there. This is kind of a slippery slope because any laws that we try to put in place, people are going to complain about freedom of speech. We've had these problems already with Twitter and Facebook when they pull down people's accounts for saying things that they deem inappropriate or they deem not to their community's standards then people come back and say well, it is a freedom of speech issue. I should be able to say whatever I want.

The law also is very, very far behind technology. I mean just in the past few months, we had a Supreme Court case about cell phones. And we've had cell phones for 20 years and they're, you know, they're just now getting to the point where they can say, you can't search someone's cell phone without a warrant.

So I think the law is always going to be way behind where technology is because technology advances a lot faster.

PAUL: You know something else a lot of people are talking about today, the fact that so little is known about Darren Wilson, the officer who was ID'd as shooting Michael Brown. And again, you know, we hope he stays more than anything else. We know that there are most likely some threats out against him.

Did you find it bizarre that as a 28-year-old though there is such little digital footprint of him?

LARSON: Yes. That is very -- to me that's very unusual. I mean there are definitely ways that you can go and remove yourself from the Internet. But that is a multistep process that you would not be able to really accomplish overnight. It would probably take some time. And Google has a really good memory.

I think it is very odd that someone who is 28 years old has nothing. That there's nothing out there about him, that no one knows who he is, that he is not randomly in someone's photographs on someone else's digital account or on a Facebook or someone's social media. You would think that he would be there somewhere. Kudos to him if he's managed to avoid it all this time.

PAUL: Right.

LARSON: At the end of this, maybe he could sit down and explain to us how he's managed to stay out of the spotlight on social media in all ways possible.

PAUL: Yes. I mean I have a friend who absolutely hates it. You can't really find him either because he just tells you, you know, don't post his picture. He doesn't appreciate it.

LARSON: Exactly.

PAUL: Brett Larson, thank you so much.

LARSON: Thanks for having me.

PAUL: We're going to be right back.


PAUL: If you are looking for a travel destination with style and culture, have you considered New Orleans?


ZOE MCCLELLAN, ACTOR: I'm Zoe McClellan and I'm so excited to show you two of my favorite spots in New Orleans. I just moved here about a month ago. I'm so excited to be shooting here. This happens to be my favorite city in the world.

Are you ready to shop? I am. Let's go.

This is Trashy Diva.

LINDSAY DAVIS, TRASHY DIVA WNER: We started as a vintage shop, an ode to the starlet back in the 1940s and 50s. And then in 2000 our owner released her first collection and it's all been uphill from there.

MCCLELLAN: I feel like when I want to get dressed up for a night on the town Trashy Diva is the place to go because everything here really embraces your figure. I feel like a goddess here. That is gorgeous.

DAVIS: Beautiful. Absolutely perfect.

MCCLELLAN: It's a keeper.

Now that I've got the shopping out of my system and the sun has gone down, I'm ready to play.

Night Row -- one of my favorite places -- the Maple Leaf Bar. This is the best bar for live music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the quintessential New Orleans experience. You can ask anybody local, they're going to tell you, the place you want to be is here. It's a little bit of funk, it's a little bit of soul, it's a little bit of R&B -- how can you not dance to this?

MCCLELLAN: This band is pretty awesome. This is (inaudible) they've named a beer after this band. It's as delicious as they are. Cheers.


PAUL: Having fun there. All right. We will see you back here at 10:00.