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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Chinese Fighter Jet Threatens U.S. Plane; White House Foley Killing A Terrorist Attack; U.S. Considering Airstrikes Against Syria; ISIS Wanted "Lady Al Qaeda" Freed For Foley
Aired August 22, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, a major development tonight, the White House for the first time calls the beheading of an American a terror attack. Is a strike next?
Plus Lady al Qaeda, why ISIS demanded her release before beheading James Foley.
And calls for justice in the Mike Brown shooting. We now know the racial breakdown of the grand jury. Is there any chance of a fair trial? Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, everyone, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the Obama administration tonight calling the beheading of American James Foley by ISIS, a terrorist attack, the United States is now considering more air strikes against Iraq and possibly going into Syria.
Today, one of the president's top national security advisors made it clear that Foley's horrific murder was an attack against all Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Clearly, the brutal execution of Jim Foley represented an affront, an attack, not just on him, but he's an American, and we see that as an attack on our country, one of our own is killed like that.
We made very clear time and again that if you come after Americans we're going to come after you, wherever you. And that's going to guide our planning in the days to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is the White House making a case for war? Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon tonight. Barbara, this is beyond Iraq. Jim Foley of course we are told was beheaded by ISIS in Syria, a place the United States has so far steadfastly avoided. Will the president strike Syria?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, It appears to be heading in that direction because the words we're hearing from the administration are both sides of the border. They're not restricting it or just continuing in Iraq. They are making a very key point going after ISIS potentially on both sides of the border.
If you want to do airstrikes, there is an awful a lot of work to do before you can get there. The U.S. is going to need better intelligence the military about where ISIS targets are located. In order to get that intelligence you are not putting U.S. troops on the ground in Syria.
So you are talking about aircraft or drones flying over Syria on surveillance missions to collect that realtime intelligence the instant information about where ISIS fighters are located and where command and control centers are, where their leadership may be.
And then decide to make the decision to proceed with air strikes bombing ISIS targets inside Syria. That will be the decision for the president of course.
BURNETT: You know, Barbara, it's amazing because, of course, that would do something that helps one person very particularly, Bashar al- Assad who has been fighting ISIS in his country, not a man the United States supports.
What will the U.S. do? I mean, we have heard for years. It is impossible to send the military into Syria because of these complex ties because in this case we would be helping a person that we say should not be ruling Syria?
STARR: Well, you know, it's a really fascinating military dilemma, if you will. The U.S. military has made the case it would be very difficult to send manned aircraft to bomb inside Syria and the regime target because Syria has radar, anti-aircraft missiles. That kind of thing.
You can't take that risk with American pilots. What officials are now saying is they have looked at where they believe ISIS is. That is a less populated area. If you're going to go downtown Damascus, the capital of Syria and try and get to the Assad regime, very tough military business.
The chances of getting shot down a little too risky for the U.S. to take. But ISIS perhaps in less populated areas with less air defense. So maybe they can work their way around it and maybe they can do it.
And we have now seen the first military mission inside Syria with that attempted rescue of the hostages.
BURNETT: Right. Of course, they said went off flawlessly but failed and that the hostages weren't there. Barbara Starr, thank you very much. Now how did the Obama administration underestimate the threat of ISIS? Michelle Kosinski is traveling with the president.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today's assessment of the ISIS threat by the White House is serious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not simply the threat they pose to the United States. It's the threat they pose to the entire world.
KOSINSKI: A big jump, though, this talk now about how to contain and ultimately defeat ISIS as the lives of other American hostages hang in the balance from January when President Obama referred to such groups in an interview as a JV team when compared to al Qaeda?
BEN RHODES, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: As they have become better funded through various funding streams including what they are able to sell in terms of oil and gas and the ransoms they have been able to obtain.
And that has developed their capacity in a way that has increased the threat. And they pose a greater threat today than they did six months ago and we are taking it very seriously.
KOSINSKI: The administration does agree, though, that ISIS is still mainly involved in regional operations not the 9/11 level planning of al Qaeda. And today the Department of Homeland Security and FBI sent out a bulletin to law enforcement across America saying there is no credible homeland security threat linked to ISIS.
But warns ISIS is using social media to try to gain followers and that it's urging acts of violence against, quote, "American interests." And today the White House would not go so far as to agree with Defense Secretary Hagel's words yesterday.
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: This is beyond anything that we've seen. So we must prepare for everything.
ERIC SCHULTZ, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: They abduct women and children and subject them to torture, rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, Sunni and Shia by the thousands.
KOSINSKI (on camera): So in those terms, is that beyond anything we've seen?
SCHULTZ: The president has addressed this a little bit ago.
KOSINSKI: Does he agree with Secretary Hagel's assessment though?
SCHULTZ: That what?
KOSINSKI: That this is a threat beyond anything we've seen or that ISIS is a force beyond anything we've seen.
SCHULTZ: I think how the president views ISIL has been articulated a couple of times now.
KOSINSKI: You know, Erin, one reason the White House has been saying that ISIS has been able to become such a threat in such a short period of time is those enormous ransoms paid by a number of countries including Europeans.
Say the White House has some strong words about that calling it absolutely the wrong policy saying it gives these terrorists a perverse incentive to keep up with the kidnappings.
And we know that the White House has applied some pressure to certain countries telling to stop this practice, but some have been unwilling to do so -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Michelle. Of course, as we were told last night, you know, $3 million to $5 million were paid for journalists who were freed that were held with James Foley, who of course, lost his life.
Joining me now is Bob Baer, a former CIA operative, who lived and worked in Syria and Retired General Wesley Clark, former supreme allied commander of NATO. Bob, you lived and worked in Syria.
We're told now that the United States doesn't have any significant on the ground intelligence there. People have said, look, it's been a black hole. That's why the United States didn't see ISIS coming.
At this moment, given what is happening to so many Americans it feels like an incredible mix. If Chuck Hagel is saying this is beyond anything we've seen, but a few months ago, they were a JV team.
BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Exactly, Erin. Remember the Arab spring turned bad very quickly. By the time it turned bad we closed our embassy in Syria and we closed it in Libya.
This thing percolated out of our sight. You can put officers in Turkey and Jordan, but unless you on the ground it is difficult to tell what is going on.
And don't forget in Iraq that embassy officers didn't travel from Baghdad into places like Fallujah and Ramadi where the Sunni lived. So yes, it was a black hole and in that sense, it was a failure of the U.S. government.
Not just the intelligence agencies. The embassy officers aren't going to Fallujah. They didn't understand the discontent. On top of it, we were listening to Maliki and Maliki the prime minister of Iraq was saying things are fine, don't worry about the Sunni.
I'll take care of terrorism and that turned out to be a huge mistake and that's how they took over Mosul and set up a state right in front of our eyes. But this is the problem with the State Department's clientitis when they listen to a prime minister, for instance, and don't go beyond that.
BURNETT: General Clark, what do you have to say to that? Because it does seem now, you know, the president of the United States said in an interview earlier this year ISIS is a JV team. And now here we are. It's a shocking change.
GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY (RETIRED): Yes. But they've had six months. They've gotten support. The rumors are they have got a lot of money from some states in the region. And there are a lot of mixed motives in all of the fighting around Syria. But what comes through clearly is the United States, we're re- evaluating policies and I think you're going to see us go into Syria with combat multipliers, with air strikes once suitable intelligence is there.
I think it's very clear from General Dempsey's comments yesterday that we don't anticipate giving ISIS a sanctuary.
BURNETT: How do you not give them a sanctuary without going against the thing, General Clark, that this president has made a key part of his legacy, which is I'm the president who got America out of two wars. That is what he has ran on. That is what he had done.
And now not only is it a possibility of whatever word you'd like to use, but you know, military involvement in one of the countries he supposedly got this country out of.
CLARK: I think what the president is going to say is he is a president of the United States, who is working to keep America safe from terrorists. That's why he took out Osama Bin Laden and going after ISIS. They are a threat, but Erin, the key thing here is the United States is not going to do this alone.
We have to have our regional allies in there. I want to see the Saudis have to show leadership here. They are after all the one country in the region that is the most threatened. Because how can you have an Islamic caliphate if you don't control Mecca and Medina?
So one or another, that IS, is coming after the Saudis and they need to take action now to go after the IS. Not stand back, go after it now.
BURNETT: Bob, and to that point, there are some who might say as long as ISIS' main goal is to attack in the Middle East and go after Saudi Arabia and fight within Iraq, why should the United States do anything about it? Just step back and let them kill each other.
You hear some people make that argument. But then you hear the United States government today say the words here there is a real threat to the United States. A federal alert goes out. So are there ISIS cells already operating in the U.S. or is this a faraway threat?
BAER: There are cells in the United States.
CLARK: Go ahead, Bob.
BAER: There are cells in the United States. They tell me over and over again ISIS is here. They don't know their plans and intentions but they're here. They're definitely trying to find that out. The FBI is working full-time on this. They are doing a great job and the rest of it.
But when you have the border with Mexico, essentially wide open where I was talking to some authorities today and you have these boats letting people off in California I know this sounds alarmist, but ISIS has the ability to hit us here. And the administration after the Foley murder is really worried about this and that's why we have to go after ISIS. I don't care if we have to send the SEALs and Delta Force in. You have to decapitate the leadership if they intent to attack us and they've demonstrated that they want to.
BURNETT: General Clark, how seriously do you take the threat against the United States? What Bob is talking about? The sleeper cells right now here in this country.
CLARK: I'm not on the inside of the intelligence loop. I can't give you an accurate assessment of that. But I can tell you this the United States is a much tougher target to come after today than it was 10 or 15 years ago. We've done a lot so there may be sleeper cells here.
But we've got great domestic intelligence and great people working this. We have a lot of team work from top to bottom in all of the security agencies of the United States.
So it's not that we're defenseless on this. But I agree with what Bob says, you have to go after the Islamic state where it lives in Syria as well as in Iraq.
BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to both of you. As you heard Bob Baer say ISIS is here talking about the mainland United States.
OUTFRONT next, ISIS demanded the release of a woman named Lady al- Qaeda in exchange for American Jim Foley. Why is she so important to ISIS?
Plus a Chinese fighter jet threatens an American plane coming within 20 feet of an American jet and taunting it. A special report.
And in Missouri tonight, another police officer put on leave. He's seen here in this video with our Don Lemon.
BURNETT: Back to our top story, the Obama administration today for the first time calling the beheading of James Foley a terror attack. Those words could come as significant consequences.
The Obama administration today under questioning for how it handles hostage negotiations reiterated that it will not pay ransoms to terrorist groups.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RHODES: We feel strongly it is not the right policy for governments to support the payment of ransom to terrorist organizations. In the long run, what that does is it provides additional funding to these terrorist organizations, which allows them to expand their operations.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: We also know that ISIS was demanding more than just money in ransom. The Islamic State also asked the United States to release a prisoner known as Lady Al Qaeda. Jean Casarez has more on the world's most famous female terrorist.
AAFIA SADDIQUI, SUSPECTED TERRORIST CONVICTED OF ATTEMPTED MURDER: What I'm saying is simply that the woman is not an unpaid slave.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Dr. Aafia Saddiqui also called "Lady Al Qaeda," a Pakistani national, her release from a U.S. prison was one of the demands made by ISIS in exchange for American journalist, James Foley, before he was beheaded by his captors.
In an e-mail sent to Foley's family on August 12th, ISIS wrote, "We have also offered prisoner exchanges to free the Muslims currently in your detention like our sister, Dr. Aafia Saddiqui.
DEBORAH SCROGGINS, AUTHOR, "WATNED WOMAN": She is an icon. She is the poster girl for Jihad and in that way, she serves as a sort of rallying point. She is the premier symbol of the Muslim woman in distress.
CASAREZ: Saddiqui earned degrees from MIT and Brandies University outside Boston. This petite 44-year-old woman, a neuroscientist and mother of three lived in the U.S. for more than a decade and in 2003 she disappeared.
In 2004 was put on an FBI alert list, considered a clear and present danger. In 2008, Saddiqui was stopped by Afghanistan National Police for acting suspicious outside a government building.
According to court documents, officers searched her handbag and found numerous documents describing the creation of explosives, chemical weapons and other weapons involving biological material and radiological agents.
Handwritten notes by Saddiqui referred to a mass casualty attacks listing various locations in the United States including the Empire State Building, Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge.
When American authorities can to question her the next day, she grabbed one of their rifles and started shooting. Saddiqui was flown to the U.S. where she was never charged with terrorism, but convicted of attempted murder. Saddiqui claimed she was framed.
SCROGGINS: She interrupted her trial with heated outburst, anti- Semitic outbursts about Jews. All kinds of things. The judge found that she was mentally capable of standing trial, but that she needed some sort of treatment and that's why he sentenced her a prison in Texas where she is able to receive psychiatric care.
CASAREZ: She also has a notorious in law. She married the brother of the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. (on camera): Based on what you know, is she a scientist or is she a terrorist?
SCROGGINS: She is definitely a terrorist sympathizer. There is no doubt about that and she was helping terrorists. But she was never -- she's never been accused of actually committing a terrorist act herself.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Whether she has committed a terrorist act or not, ISIS clearly considers her to be of great value. Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: CNN national security analyst, Fran Townsend and former FBI counterterrorism agent, Tim Clemente are OUTFRONT. Fran, the United States just this summer released five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for American POW Bowe Bergdahl. Does that embolden ISIS to make a demand about the release in this case of Lady al Qaeda?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: First, Erin, we have to point out that there's been a GAO report that says that swap of the five Taliban members for Bergdahl was not legal.
The second thing this is not the first time that a terrorist organization has suggested such a swap. Al Qaeda repeatedly said they wanted the blind Shaykh released. He, too was the iconic figure to al Qaeda.
I think she is -- this is sort of the same thing. Al Qaeda has tried to distance itself from ISIS and what this tells you is these are one and the same. They share the same tactics and ideals.
The administration is absolutely right to say we don't do these swaps. We don't pay ransoms and we don't negotiate with terrorist groups.
BURNETT: Tim, this Bowe Bergdahl issue though is fair to bring up because the State Department today said the prisoner swap for Bergdahl didn't create an incentive to kidnap Americans. I want to be fair here, Jim Foley, of course, was kidnapped long before that swap ever happened. But has Bergdahl's release changed the game?
TIM CLEMENTE, FORMER FBI COUNTERTERRORISM AGENT: I think it was a big mistake. I don't think we should be negotiating with terrorists as Fran just said. And any time you reward an activity, you promote that activity. And so kidnapping is a way of life in third world countries, in both hemispheres.
It happens in south and Central America regularly. The cartels make a lot of money. Supporting the cartels is one thing. Supporting people like ISIS that all they do is rape, torture and kill, that's their ideology is an entirely different thing.
I think it's a big mistake ever to negotiate with people like that. The Taliban and Haqqani Network are not far from ISIS and their ideology in the way they kill.
BURNETT: Is there, though, Fran, you know, the United States government tries to make a distinction that Bowe Bergdahl was in the U.S. military so that's different. That's not something that would embolden anybody to kidnap or to demand prisoner swaps because they would understand that it's U.S. serviceman. Do you buy that?
TOWNSEND: I don't buy. That you have to have a very clear statement of policy and then you've got to be true to that, right? You either negotiate with these people or you don't. You need to pay these ransoms like some European governments do or you don't.
And you can't -- you sort of can't pick and choose depending on the quality or cast of the victim. You either negotiate with them or you don't and I think we have to be absolutely clear that we don't do that.
BURNETT: It's funny, Tim, because I was talking to Jim Foley's boss yesterday and he was saying, you know, he's changed his mind on this. That he would have wanted the ransom paid and the family, of course, as you can understand was trying to raise money. They thought about $5 million to get their son free. But what I'm curious about is this issue of ransom.
The United States, again, if they're going to negotiate with the Taliban for the release of Bowe Bergdahl, would it be consistent to just pay ransoms. I know you don't think they should either, but are those two things consistent?
CLEMENTE: I don't think they are inconsistent. Obviously as Fran said the law was violated in that trade and that is something for Congress to work out with the executive branch. But I think when you're going to sit down and negotiate face to face with a terrorist group that's a precedent that should never, ever, ever be established.
And I think it's going to come back to haunt us in the end. This is a group that kills and maims and tortures. How can there be any honor in a deal? The only way I could have done a trade is to put a tracker on the person so we could hit them with a drone strike 5 minutes after we released the prisoner.
TOWNSEND: One other thing I would say to you, Ben Rhodes' words were carefully crafted. He said as a government we don't pay them and you mentioned about the Foley family was trying to accumulate the cash. He didn't say that we would object to or interfere with the family wanted to pay it. He was talking about U.S. government policy.
BURNETT: Right. Well, thanks very much to both of you.
Next, breaking news, another St. Louis area officer relieved of duty tonight four days after he was seen here with our Don Lemon.
Plus the shooting death of Mike Brown unfolded in just seconds. How long would it have taken for Officer Darren Wilson to fire that first shot? We investigate.
BURNETT: Breaking news out of Missouri tonight, another St. Louis County police officer relieved of duty. He is at least the third officer to be relieved of duty since Mike Brown was shot and killed by a police officer 13 days ago.
The officer gone tonight is the same one seen here in this video in front of our Don Lemon when he was reporting earlier this week in Ferguson. Don is OUTFRONT tonight. He is in Ferguson. Don, why is the officer off the force tonight?
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's off the force because he made several inflammatory statements as he was speaking in front of an oath keepers meeting that was back in April. You see him on videotape there making these controversial and very inflammatory statements talking about women and killing people.
And also saying that people involved in domestic violence he's just getting over with and shoot themselves. I want you to listen to the controversial statements, some of the controversial statements of an hour long speech he gave in front of the Oath Keepers.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to find where the illegal aliens (INAUDIBLE) president, my undocumented president lives at. So I flew to Africa and right there, and I went to our undocumented president's home. He was born in Kenya.
I believe in Jesus Christ as my lord and savior but I'm also a killer. I killed a lot and in I need to, I will kill much more. If you don't want to be killed, don't show up in front of me. That's that simple. I have no problems with it. God did not raise me to be a coward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, again, I mean, Erin, it's unbelievable this is out there. This county police officer, a 35-year veteran of the police department has now been relieved of duties. We're told by the chief of the St. Louis County police department now he will have to undergo psychiatric examinations. Definitely has nothing to do with protesters now corralling protesters, keeping order here.
I spoke with the St. Louis police chief about this. He is embarrassed and he says horrified and he's not going to stand for it. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JON BELMAR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY POLICE: As the police chief, again when he starts talking about this -- and I can't quote him right now, about killing, that begins to cross the line. There's liability issues, there's moral issues. There's a lot of issues there. All of us understand in this environment we may be forced to take a life. But it's not something to brag about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, again, he apologized to everyone. He says he believes if it offended anyone.
And also, some new information coming out, Erin. They just released a statement, and Chief Belmar, it says Chief Belmar, Jon Belmar of the police department, would again like to apologize to anyone this video has offend and ask any videos of this nature be reported so we can take proper action against any officer not meeting our standards.
So, they are asking people in the community or out there if they know about officers who may have views like this to send them the video because they want to deal with them. But certainly, it's a very disturbing development here the officer relieved of duty, having to undergo a psychiatric examination.
And also, the chief would not go as far as saying this, but when pressed, he didn't deny it, this officer will probably be fired or either forced to be -- forced to retire.
It says his record as far as a police officer is unremarkable. Not involved in police shootings. So, he appears to have a pretty solid record as a police officer, but certainly these comments and these views are very disturbing.
BURNETT: All right. Don Lemon, thank you very much.
And, you know, this development comes as we have new details into the investigation of the shooting of Michael Brown. The FBI says its agents have knocked on more than 400 doors and interviewed more than 200 individuals, trying to get more information on what happened the day that Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson.
We are learning crucial information tonight, this, the makeup of the people who will determine if he is charged, the grand jury hearing the case.
Alina Machado is OUTFRONT from Ferguson with the details on this.
And, Alina, what can you tell us about the grand jury?
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, we've learned that this grand jury is comprised of three blacks and nine whites. Most of its members are men. The group was selected from a random pool here in St. Louis and in St. Louis County. And they were seated back in May. So, they weren't just chosen to listen to this particular case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not so much the jury versus the prosecutor, because he has the power to present whatever it is that he wants to present at this point. And from what I understand there's not much in the incident report itself. So, that makes me question what information are you going to be delivering to the grand jury? MACHADO: Do you think race will play a role as they are sitting in
there considering what happened and whether to charge Officer Wilson?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It depends on what the evidence shows, you know? That's how I feel about it.
MACHADO: Do you have faith they will reach the right decision?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.
MACHADO: What would you tell them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What, the grand jury? Just go by the facts in the evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACHADO: Now that you just heard a taste of what we heard when we went out into the community to get a sense of what people were thinking when they heard the composition of this jury. And, Erin, it seems that most people were concerned by the process itself, by the fact that this is a secretive process than they were by the composition of the jury.
BURNETT: All right. Alina, thank you very much.
And OUTFRONT tonight now, the new president of the NAACP, Cornell Williams Brooks.
Great to have you with us.
Let me just ask you about this. So, there are three black people on the jury and nine white people on the jury. That does roughly reflect the racial breakdown of St. Louis County, but it doesn't reflect the racial breakdown in Ferguson. Exactly the opposite. So, do you think this group can give a fair indictment?
CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: I believe this group can. I'm more concerned about the county prosecutor. Frankly, there have been widespread calls for the governor to appoint a special prosecutor, because there are no less than five outstanding civil rights complaints against the county police force and its municipalities. The county prosecutor has not responded to those. He has not demonstrated a sensitivity toward the community. And so, as a consequence he does not enjoy the trust or credibility of the community.
BURNETT: All right. So, we are talking about Robert McCulloch here.
BURNETT: That's the prosecutor.
Now, I hear what you're saying. Some people would come back at you and say, look, this guy has been re-elected as prosecutor in St. Louis County since 1991. Every four years, he's up for election. He's been voted back in by an overwhelming majority in St. Louis County. Doesn't that show that the majority of people think he's fair and if people don't turn out to vote, that would be their problem?
BROOKS: Well, it demonstrates he is effective as an elected official. It does not demonstrate that he can be effective in terms of handling a very high profile case where the attention of the world is focused on Ferguson, Missouri.
And here we have five -- no less than five outstanding civil rights complaints with the Justice Department filed by the NAACP concerning police harassment, intimidation and racial profiling. He's not responding to these complaints. He's not demonstrating an interest or commitment to resolving the complaints.
So, why would the people of Ferguson, Missouri, or the people of county or this country believe that he can deliver the kind of prosecutorial commitment and community sensitivity needed here?
BURNETT: And I'm curious what you think of this as a racial issue. We hear the attorneys say he was shot execution style, but kept using that word again and again and again. We haven't yet seen all of the evidence about what really happened.
But what do you think? Do you think a guilty verdict for Darren Wilson is the only verdict that can move race relations forward or are you open to the fact that maybe the facts wouldn't leave you in that direction?
BROOKS: I'm open and the NAACP is open and the community is open to a verdict that matches the facts. Here are the fundamental facts as we understand them. We have an armed adult with a gun, a badge, and training. He meets a teenager, unarmed. The teenager is jaywalking and the teenager ends up dead.
There will be other facts that emerge. But the community has every right to call for a full, robust, transparent investigation into and need a prosecutor who can do that.
BURNETT: And so, you think that must be a special prosecutor?
BROOKS: We believe so.
BURNETT: And before we go, I want to ask you about the report that Don Lemon was sharing about a police officer -- at least three since the shooting of Mike Brown relieved of duty in the St. Louis County area. Is this something that surprises you? Is this an issue that exists around the country?
BROOKS: It does surprise me. The overwhelming majority of police officers honor the badge, they honor their oaths.
BROOKS: But in this county, for some reason, we seem to have a group that represent when it comes to racial sensitivity, a back-to-the-past time machine. We're in 2014. BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Cornell. We appreciate
BROOKS: It's good to be here.
BURNETT: Cornell Williams Brooks, as we said, president of the NAACP.
And OUTFRONT next: police say Mike Brown was found dead 35 feet from Officer Darren Wilson's police car. You have heard this again and again, 35 feet, 35 feet. So what role did 35 feet play in Wilson's decision to shoot?
Plus, a Chinese fighter jet comes dangerous close to an American plane. By close, we're talking 20 feet and daunting.
We'll be back.
BURNETT: New developments tonight in Ferguson, Missouri. The FBI says it completed its work canvassing the neighborhood where Michael Brown was killed. They knock on 400 doors, they interviewed more than 200 people, trying to get more information on what happened the day brown was killed. Nearly two weeks later there are still enormous questions.
Now, here's the crucial point. Officials say brown was found dead 35 feet away from officer Wilson's car. But how does that distance factor into a police officer's decision to shoot? Some people say it's so far away and others say that's so close.
Kyung Lah is OUTFRONT.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When to shoot? For law enforcement like Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who shot Michael Brown --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got his gun out --
LAH: And then ten days later, the St. Louis police officers who confronted a knife-wielding mentally ill man.
LAH: That decision begins with training at the police academy.
(on camera): This is standard training in the police academy?
RON MARTINELLI, FORENSIC CRIMINOLOGIST: Throughout the United States, this is standard training.
LAH (voice-over): Forensic criminologist Ron Martinelli says he has been an expert in more than 100 shooting cases, most of them officer- involved, wearing a standard issued officer duty belt.
MARTINELLI: I don't know if this person is armed. He's just big and he's intimidating.
LAH: Ferguson police say Michael Brown's body was found 35 feet from the police car. It's unclear what distance he was shot from. But these types of officer-involved shootings typically happen in close proximity. At a San Diego area shooting range, using training weapons, Martinelli shows us what's called the 21-foot rule.
MARTINELLI: Sir, you put that knife down right now. Drop that knife.
LAH: The assailant rushes.
MARTINELLI: Drop it, drop it.
LAH (on camera): Do you have time to aim at this distance?
MARTINELLI: From this distance, there is no aiming.
LAH (voice-over): Everything takes time. Two seconds to unholster and lift the gun.
MARTINELLI: You have to push the button, you have to move it, you have to rock it back and you got to pull it out.
LAH: The same amount of time it takes for him to run 21 feet. Change the scenario?
(on camera): So, even at this distance, even where you see the knife, even where your gun is out, he still gotten you?
MARTINELLI: Yes, absolutely. We can really see that knife right there and we can get - you know, I've got a lot of time and on my front side and I can take shots, that distance would be OK. Right?
LAH: But in most real street situation, that's not --
MARTINELLI: Probably farther back. Right.
LAH (voice-over): Change the scenario to a smaller female assailant and you gain a little time but not much. This does not factor in the officer's experience and adrenaline level, if there is cover or if people are in the line of fire, then add to the officer's duty belt.
MARTINELLI: The more things you add to the holster or to the duty belt, that delays the officer's response by 50 percent of reaction time.
LAH: It's easy, says Martinelli, to say officers like the St. Louis police have other options, but that doesn't mean every officer- involved shooting is justified.
MARTINELLI: That assailant poses an imminent, not potential, but an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death.
BURNETT: Kyung, that's pretty incredible. I mean, you start to think, two seconds to get the gun out of the holster and someone can run 21 feet in that time. I mean, we see there's virtually no time. But what about other tools that officer Wilson might have had in his disposable? The taser? Law enforcement uses them, pepper spray? Why not in this case?
LAH: In lethal force, Erin, pepper spray is not just an option because you have to be close and that can be ineffective. And we've heard a lot of talk about the taser, why not try that?
Well, Martinelli says you have to be about 20 feet away from the assailant and, according to him, because of operator error, it only has about 60 percent effectiveness rate.
So, in the situation where you are faced with potential deadly use of a weapon, attacking an officer, he says that police officer training will be to go for the gun -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Kyung Lah, thank you very much. That's an incredible report.
And OUTRONT now, our legal analyst Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor.
Paul, that report was incredible. So two seconds to unholster, put the gun back and essentially engage it. And in that time, someone can run 21 feet. You think if Mike Brown was 35 feet away, three seconds until he was on you.
Does this in any way -- will this enable Darren Wilson to claim self- defense?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I've been astonished myself when I look at these studies and this approach is taken in the defense of police officers in this case. It's now -- obviously I don't know what the facts are with respect to what Wilson's going to say.
CALLAN: But putting the case together, first of all, an officer has to perceive and respond to a threat. Now, that wasn't even talked about here. But when he gets out of the car, he has that thought process, am I in a threatening situation? That's going to knock off a half second.
Remember, we're talking about having a whole constellation, three seconds to react, OK?
Now, he is seeing Mr. Brown who is at 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, is bigger than the average National Football League lineman. He's huge and this officer is a small officer. So, he perceives a threat if Brown is approaching him.
BURNETT: If he is, which of course the officer says he is. We don't know, but that's what he says.
CALLAN: We'll have to see.
And the arms of course were the arms like this or over the head? The witnesses seem to differ on that a little bit. So, we'll have to see how that plays up.
But nonetheless, assuming he perceives a threat, he's lost a half second already. Then, he's got to unholster the gun if it's in the holster, we're not sure about that.
CALLAN: But that's going to add 2.5 seconds. Now, in 2.5 seconds, Mr. Brown is right on top of him. So, he now starts shooting and he is so nervous, he's so adrenaline pumped that it's very difficult to hit the target. You aim dead center and everybody says like on TV, they hit your legs or they hit your arms. But got so lucky to hit dead center.
And in this case, four of the shots go into the arm. The studies indicate that a person can continue moving forward with shots in the arm because of their forward momentum. Then, Michael Brown could have started to fall forward. The officer could have perceived that as him getting ready to tackle him because remember, he'd be relatively --
BURNETT: After being shot multiple times?
CALLAN: Well, he -- the officer doesn't even know if he hit him. Remember, all of this is happening in two seconds.
So, by the way, one other thing, over a ten-year period, 400 officers killed in the line of duty by suspects. OK? So, cops have this in the back of their mind, they might get killed if they don't react properly.
BURNETT: Paul Callan, thank you.
And next, a Chinese fighter provokes a U.S. Navy plane.
BURNETT: We're learning tonight, a Chinese fighter jet tried to intercept an American Navy plane in international air space. At one point, the plane's wing tips were within 20 feet of each other.
Tom Foreman has the story.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These pictures taken from the American P-8 Sub Hunter show just how close the Chinese fighter jet came. Close enough for the American crew to easily see details on the Chinese craft and even the pilot inside.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: It's difficult to say with precision, but within 30 feet of the P-8. Very, very close. Very dangerous.
FOREMAN: And it didn't happen just once, as the American plane flew on a routine patrol mission. Repeatedly, the Chinese fighter roared over, under, and beside it.
KIRBY: The Chinese jet also passed the nose of the P-8 at 90 degrees, with its belly toward the P-8 Poseidon, we believe to make a point of showing its weapons.
FOREMAN: Military officials say the incident occurred in international airspace, about 135 miles east of Hainan Island, just off the south coast of China. And it is just the latest sign of friction as America and its allies clash with the Russians and Chinese over surveillance in the region.
Earlier this year, the U.S. moved two of its large drones to Japan. They are called Global Hawks and are used for surveillance. And last April, north of Japan, a Russia jet buzzed another U.S. plane designed to track radar signals. The Russian pilot came within 100 feet that time and again flashed his weapons at the American plane.
The U.S. officials clearly see a pattern of push-backs continuing with this more recent encounter.
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It's, obviously, a deeply concerning provocation and we have communicated directly to the Chinese government our objection to this type of action.
FOREMAN (on camera): The Chinese have been conducting large-scale military drills, and they've made it clear they consider the presence of American spy planes to be a provocation, suggesting even if those American planes are in international air space, they have no business peeping in on Chinese affairs -- Erin.
BURNETT: That's pretty incredible. Thank you, Tom Foreman, 20 feet.
OUTFRONT next, why this program wouldn't be on the air without these people.
BURNETT: Before we go tonight, I wanted to show you two special people. These are my parents. And this is their wedding picture 50 years ago today. They've done so much together in those 50 years, and they're celebrating together tonight.
Happy anniversary to mom and dad.
"AC 360" starts now.