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Is U.S. Nearing Airstrikes in Syria?; Grand Jury Weighs Ferguson Case; James Foley's Brother: "He's My Hero"; California Still Facing Drought Conditions; Part of Russian Convoy Leaves Ukraine

Aired August 23, 2014 - 07:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: This is NEW DAY SATURDAY and we'll have the latest on the Michael Brown and the investigation in just a moment.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. We want to begin, Victor, with news that the U.S. is considering airstrikes on ISIS leadership targets in Syria now.

So, this new violence, we know, that has started in Iraq this morning. And speculation over the U.S. stepping up its assault against ISIS is coming out this hour. A suicide bomber struck the Iraqi intelligence directorate in Baghdad today, killed at least two people, injured 10 others. But this is coming, of course, as the U.S. is gathering intel on ISIS leaders in Syria and considering possible airstrikes there.

CNN's Michelle Kosinski has more on ISIS threat.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today's assessment of the ISIS by the White House is serious.

BEN RHODES, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: It's not simply the threat they pose to the United States. It's the threat that 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 refer to such groups in an interview as a jayvee team when compared to al Qaeda.

(on camera): Would you still agree with his assessment a few months ago?

RHODES: As they become better funded in including what they're able to sell in terms of oil and gas, the ransoms that they've been able to obtain. And that has developed the capacity in the way that has increased the threat, and they pose a greater threat today than they did six months ago. And we're taking it very seriously.

KOSINSKI (voice-over): The administration does agree though that ISIS is still mainly involve in regional operations, not the 9/11 level planning of al Qaeda. And today, the Department of Homeland Security and the 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, 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've murdered Muslims, both 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 while ago.

KOSINSKI: Does he agree with Secretary Hagel's assessment, though?

SCHULTZ: That what?

KOSINSKI: That this is beyond a threat of 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 times.


PAUL: Michelle Kosinski is in Martha's Vineyard. Michelle, good to see you, thanks for being here.

Listen, I understand that we had a guest on earlier that said there's a lack of intelligence in Syria. Is that part of the problem here?

KOSINSKI: Yes, absolutely. I mean, we've known about that for a long time. I mean, just look at what happened with this rescue attempt. James Foley and the other journalists held by ISIS. They were able to gather another intel to find out where they were. I mean, you might say that's pretty incredible.

In fact, a senior official told us they have several streams of intel coming out of Syria. They were able to pinpoint where the hostages were being held but, of course, in the end, the rescue mission failed.

Now, what the Department of Defense and the White House has been saying this was a flawless rescue operation, aside from the fact that it failed. They think that those hostages were in that location. They just missed them by possibly a few days.

So, in that sense, it gives you a picture of, OK, they're able to gather enough intelligence to find that information. But it's not good enough, even at this point, to be able to find them when the time is right -- Christi.

PAUL: All right, Michelle Kosinski, good to see you this morning. Thank you, ma'am.

The question is, will President Obama be pushed to something that he has avoided for three years. The administration says if it sees a threat to the U.S. from anywhere, they are ready to take action against it.

Joining us now, CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem, and senior correspondent for "The Daily Beast" Josh Rogin. Good to have both of you with us. Thank you.

Juliette, let me start with you. How big a game changer would it be, in the effort to defeat ISIS, if the president decided we have to get involved in Syria specifically?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It would be major. There's a big difference between a country like Iraq asking us to come in and bomb or do aerial bombings, to describe ISIS and not having a country ask us and doing it on our own. It's just a different between what might be called a traditional cooperative agreement with Iraq and violating another country's sovereignty.

And so, it would change the dynamics with our relationship with Syria. Obviously, other countries that support Russia would come in. So, it is a game-changer. So, I don't -- I don't actually don't mind the White House taking its time. Over the last three days, we've heard a lot of generals sort of raising the fears of homeland threat. And we need -- you know, this is a huge threat for America. And you saw the white house trying to get the generals under control.

I thought it was sort of a bad strategy on the Pentagon's part to have so many people come out and essentially terrify people into thinking that bombing ISIS in Syria was the right solution. So, I'm glad to see the White House try to ratchet it down a little bit. Take your time, figure out what the strategy it and keep the generals in line essentially.

PAUL: It's interesting you say it changed the relationship of U.S. with Syria but Bashar al Assad has allowed ISIS to form there in Syria because apparently they were helping his factions who were fighting anti-government forces at the time.

So, of course, Josh, my question to you is how would bombing them change anything in terms of the relationship with Assad and the U.S.


First of all, I think it's important to note here that President Assad has not controlled that part of Syria for quite some time. And this whole distinction that this is Syria and that's Iraq has largely been erased by the Islamic state's takeover of this area. So, while the previous concern was that Bashar al Assad would have objected to the violation of sovereignty, I think that concern has long been pushed aside.

The real concern here is, one, we done have a lot of intelligence on the ground to direct the strikes. Two, there's a risk of all the things going on in northern Syria, including bombing by the Assad regime in the same area. So, this is a big mission.

And, unlike the other analyst, I don't think there's a big break there between the Pentagon and the White House. There's been a coordinated effort to change the rhetoric to signal that the U.S. is now ready to strike inside Syria, but what we haven't seen is an actual change in policy that leads to those strikes actually happening, except for the one raid, unfortunately, that failed to rescue James Foley.

So, the dynamic here we're actually now on the same side as Assad in fighting against is, although we won't coordinate with him. But, again, there's a lot of talk from both the White House and the State Department and from the Secretary of State John Kerry, but no actual indication that that's really going to happen anytime soon because that would require a shift in intelligence, a shift in resources and a shift in momentum that the U.S. military has not -- and the U.S. government has not yet put into place.

We'll have to wait and see if President Obama can actually do what all parts of the administration are now signaling that they intend to consider.

PAUL: Right. But after the murder of James Foley, I'm wondering, Juliette, is there any sense that America is behind taking ISIS out, so to speak, regardless of what it takes?

KAYYEM: Well, I think -- I mean, I think that there is a strategic plan to sort of up the ante and to get Americans potentially prepared for more bombings and the president isn't clear about this over the last couple of months. Where I differ with Josh is I do think that the Pentagon statements linking it to the homeland have been different over the last three or four days, and there's just no credible threat right now that this is actually something that the average American needs to be worried about here in the United States.

As regards to specific, you know, sort of take out plan to protect journalists or others who may be captives, however harsh this may sound, we just cannot sort of judge what the right national security policy should be based on individual captives or hostages, however harsh that may sound, especially given what we've seen over the last week. Unfortunately, this tends to happen.

PAUL: Sure.

KAYYEM: -- to journalists or others who are captive. And we have to proceed with what's in the best interest of both the United States and our allies in the Middle East.

PAUL: Josh, what do you say to Juliette's comments that there's no credible threat right now?

ROGIN: Yes, I don't think we can really know that. I mean, we hear warnings that ISIS plans and has aspirations to attack the U.S. homeland. Let's remember, this is a terrorist that's limited only by its capabilities that has a huge safe haven in both Syria and Iraq. I don't see a strategic plan to defeat them. If there is one it's certainly not explained to the American people. The strikes that are ongoing now are tactical, they're limited, they do not go into Syria where ISIS maintains 12,000 troops, control over several cities, oil refineries, billions of dollars. I think the administration is scrambling frankly to come up with a strategic plan to defeat ISIS. What we've seen is the rhetoric saying, OK, now, it's in our interest to defeat them, and they are a direct threat to the U.S. homeland, whether or not that's today, General Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs --

PAUL: Right.

ROGIN: -- he said the threat to the U.S. interest is imminent. So, I've taken him at his word on that. I haven't seen the intelligence but what we don't have is a U.S. plan that would actually combat and defeat this group.

I think that right now, I think we're playing catch-up. And I think that until they confront the problem in Syria one way or another, ISIS' momentum and its growth, and its expansion will not be turned back.

PAUL: OK. Well, Juliette Kayyem and Josh Rogin, great debate. Thank you both so much for taking the time to be with us today.

ROGIN: Anytime.

PAUL: Sure.

KAYYEM: Thank you.

PAUL: Our other big story, obviously, that we're watching, we're now two weeks since unarmed teen Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer. The streets of Ferguson are finally starting to settle down a bit. It doesn't mean the community isn't outraged. Why Ferguson may have to wait months to find out whether this case is going to trial.

Plus, murdered American James Foley's brother is paying tribute to him. He tells Anderson Cooper why he did not die in vain.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. I'm live here in Ferguson, Missouri.

And although the protests here are smaller now in the streets of Ferguson, the calls for justice are getting louder. Today marks two weeks since unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson.

Since then, this community has been outraged. Overnight, though, it was peaceful here. Protesters still took to the streets but there were no arrests.

Now, today, in a sign of solidarity with the people of Ferguson, a lot of cities around the country, they're planning rallies and also one planned in the nation's capital. Supporters of Darren Wilson, though, the officer who shot Brown, they are not staying silent. They're expected to gather in St. Louis later today.

Meanwhile, a St. Louis County police officer, he's in trouble. This is Dan Page, you see him there on the left of you screen. He's the officer who pushed CNN's Don Lemon back and some protesters there during a live show this week.

Now, this morning, Page, who's a military veteran, 35-year veteran of the force, is on administrative leave. This comes after video surfaced of him making some inflammatory comments about women and Muslims and gays, even President Obama.



DAN PAGE, ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICER: Now this here is Kenya. I had my own airplane. I had me a Learjet, so I want to go find where that illegal alien, our president (ph), 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.


BLACKWELL: The county police chief has apologized for Page's actions and calls the video bizarre. CNN has placed several phone calls to what's believed to be Page's home number for comment on the video and disciplinary action, but was not received a response.

So, let's talk about the investigation and possible charges against Officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury is now deciding his fate. Nine whites, three African-Americans are on this 12-member panel.

CNN's Alina Machado is here in Ferguson as well. She joins us now.

Alina, we know a few details about the grand jury. But inherently, these processes are secret. Predominantly male, what else do we know?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, not much else beyond that. There's a lot we don't know. We don't the ages of these jurors, excuse me. We don't know where they live specifically in St. Louis County. We don't know their backgrounds. We don't know what they do for a living.

Those are all details that, of course, I think all of us would like to know. But because of the inherent secretive nature of grand jury proceedings, we just will never these things.

We also do know, though, that they were selected at random from St. Louis County and that they have been seated since May, which means they possibly have been listening to evidence and other cases before taking on this one, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Alina, of course, there are several investigations happening. Of course, the protests happened every day and night since Michael Brown was killed. But at the center of this, there is a family. Michael Brown, Sr., Lesley McSpadden, his parents. Tell me about the funeral they're planning, and that's going to happen Monday, right?

MACHADO: Yes, the funeral is expected to take place this Monday. It will be open to the public. It's going to be taking place at the friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church right here in Ferguson. This church has been preparing to accommodate more than 5,000 people. They're expecting a really large crowd here.

The details of service have not been made public yet, but we do know that Reverend Al Sharpton is expected to deliver the eulogy. So, I think we'll all be watching on Monday to see what happens -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. Alina Machado reporting for us as well in Ferguson, with us this morning. Thank you so much.

You know, we've talked a lot about Michael Brown and the protests and all the figures that have come into Ferguson, but where is the police officer who pull the trigger, Darren Wilson? And despite all the protest and media coverage these last weeks, very little is known about Officer Wilson or where he is right now.

CNN's Jason Carroll has more.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His very name has stirred unrest and invoked words of injustices and police brutality.

But to others here in Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson's name is synonymous with justice and has become a pro-police rallying cry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police have done nothing wrong and this is just a rush to judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not going home, honey. It's my America, too.

CARROLL (on camera): The man behind the division here in Ferguson has yet to emerge following the shooting of Michael Brown. A Ferguson police source telling CNN Officer Wilson received death threats following the shooting when all the unrests broke out.

(voice-over): The source also says Wilson left Ferguson last week to an undisclosed location for his safety, and is now on paid leave pending out outcome of the investigation. Ferguson's police chief has spoken to Wilson several times since the shooting.

CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE: He's very shaken about what happened that day and the aftermath.

CARROLL (on camera): Has he said anything about his emotional state of mind?

JACKSON: We talked but he's hurt.

CARROLL (voice-over): For those looking into insight into Wilson or his actions the day he shot and killed Michael Brown may have to wait. Wilson is not talking, has no spokesperson and the 28-year-old has not confirmed who, if anyone, may be legally representing him.

As for his record on the force --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great job there.

CARROLL: -- he's a six-year veteran with no disciplinary action.

JAKE SHEPHERD, FRIEND OF DARREN WILSON: I'm just here to tell people that he's a good person.

CARROLL: Wilson's friend Jake Shepherd was one of the first to publicly defend him.

SHEPHERD: It makes me sad. You know, I'm obviously sad for the family of Michael Brown, but I'm sad for Darren and his family, too. Every law enforcement officer dreads the time when they are forced to make that split second decision whether or not they have to take someone's life.

CARROLL: Shepherd said after this interview on CNN, Wilson sent him text messages. One reads, "The support is keeping me going during this stressful time. Just stay safe. I appreciate all you have done."

Wilson then wrote the following about his situation, "I can't go out."

And while Wilson remains in hiding, support for him continues to grow online. A Go Fund Me page has already raised more than $250,000.

Jason Carroll, CNN, Ferguson, Missouri.


BLACKWELL: All right. Our thanks to Jason.

Christi, we're going to continue to follow what's happening here this weekend. We're expecting an influx of people around the country. It is the weekend. And there are rallies scheduled here around the country, and of course, leading up to the funeral on Monday in St. Louis -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Victor, thank you. We so appreciate it.

You know, if you look hard enough, you'll find the death of American journalist James Foley was not in vain. How do we know that? Because his brother talks to us about the legacy that he says not even terrorism can extinguish.


PAUL: You're focusing on the savage murder of American James Foley would be a mistake according to those who knew him best and loved him most. Foley's brother Michael insists that his legacy shouldn't be how he died but rather how he lived. And he told CNN's Anderson Cooper that Jim proved he was willing to tell the story of others who had no voice.


MICHAEL FOLEY, BROTHER: I don't want Jim who have died in vain. And from the amount of support I've seen and interest, I certainly don't believe that will be the case. But I want people to remember Jim and his legacy, how he -- you know, his fight for the less than privileged people, for the poor, for his love of journalism and the desire to bring light, to bring the story out from places in the world that wouldn't otherwise be heard.

And Jim's really -- really my hero. And I think he's a hero for many people. And I really just hope that legacy carries on.

It was clear in the images in the video that Jim didn't flinch. He had the courage. I'm certain that he put himself in a position to be first in line. And he wanted us to be strong.

And that's the message he was sending without saying it. And, you know, I want that memory to live on. We all love Jim. And I know there's a lot of others that look up to him. And it's just the people from all over the world. All over the country, from all walks of life have reached out to us. And it really -- really, really means a lot.



PAUL: Take a nice deep breath. Thirty minutes past the hour on a Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul. So grateful for your company.

We have so much to talk to you about today. We'll go to Ferguson, Missouri, of course for the latest developments there. Some developments with Iraq and ISIS.

But, first, we do want to tell you some of the other stories that are making headlines.

And number one is a Hamas official now admitting that Hamas militants are, in fact, responsible for kidnapping and killing three Israeli teens back in June. Their deaths are what helped spark the current war that's raging in Israel and Gaza. The official, however, said the militants acted on their own, that neither Hamas leadership nor its military wing approved the operation. It's believed more than 2,000 people have been killed since the fighting began.

Number two, Russia's state-run news agency says several dozen Russian aid trucks left Ukraine this morning after rolling into the country against the government's wishes. Russia says the trucks were on an essential humanitarian mission. Now, President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel among others called the convoy, quote, "a provocation". There's also growing international concern over the massing of Russian troops at Ukraine's border. There were 18,000 combat-ready troops last night.

Number three, the White House says a Chinese fighter jet had a, quote, "dangerous encounter" with a U.S. Navy plane. Apparently, the Chinese plane repeatedly roared over, under and beside the plane -- it was a U.S. patrol plane -- and at one point passed within 20 feet. This happened in international airspace. It was over the South China Sea. The pentagon voiced its objection to the incident directly to the Chinese government.

Number four, Texas Governor Rick Perry is New Hampshire testing his presidential prospects for 2016. Perry says in 2016, he simply didn't lay enough groundwork before jumping in the race. He's, quote, "spent a lot of time in preparation," although he hasn't decided whether he's going to run. It's his first visit to the states since he ran for president 2012. He was arraigned on an abuse of power charge just yesterday, though, which he contends was politically motivated.

And number five, a SpaceX rocket blew up during a test flight in Texas. A problem was detected in the test vehicle apparently and it auto-terminated during that mission. There's the video. Fortunately, no one is injured in the blast. SpaceX says it will provide another update after the flight data has been fully analyzed there.


And we're learning more about the investigation into the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown. I want to head right out to Victor Blackwell. He's on the ground there this morning in Ferguson, Missouri.

Good morning, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Good morning to you, Christi.

We're learning about the FBI investigation. Sources tell CNN the FBI has interviewed more than 200 people here in this community, knocked on more than 400 doors. Officials are also investigating recent cyber attacks against local law enforcement here. We heard from the Ferguson Police Department chief, Tom Jackson, that their Web site was down several times.

We're also learning more about the makeup of the grand jury weighing in on the case here in the county. According to a St. Louis court administrator, a 12-person panel, nine are white, three are African- Americans, one African-American male, two African-American females.

According to the prosecuting attorney, it could take another two months before the grand jury decides whether this case should go to trial, and that -- it's agonizing for the friends and family who are here waiting for the answer to the question did the officer go too far? All of this, you know, we have to remember there's a family at the center of this that is mourning. And on Monday, they will hold the funeral for 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Now, the investigation in Ferguson is, you know, for people who watch those dramas, this is "CSI" in real life in many ways. And ballistics, now, that will play a pivotal role in this case. We know from one autopsy, at least six of Officer Dan Wilson's bullets hit Brown. But things like the science of the ballistics, the trajectory, they'll tell investigators a lot more.

Joining me now, David Klinger, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. He's also a former police officer, also an author of the book "Into the Kill Zone."

Good to have you with us this morning.


BLACKWELL: You know, during the break, we were talking. I just threw out the general question. What do you think, legitimate use of deadly force and it's not a quick and easy answer?

KLINGER: No, it's not. I understand that the Brown family and indeed everybody across the country, apparently, wants to have answers about what happened. And unfortunately, we have to wait and we have to wait because there's a process that occurs in terms of the investigation. We just mentioned that the FBI has apparently interviewed a few hundred people, or at least 200 people.

That took time. The St. Louis County Police department had to interview a bunch of people. That took time. The autopsy, that took time, talking to the officer involved, that took time. Getting all the crime scene processing, that took time. Getting lab results, it all takes time.

I understand that people want answers but people also have to understand that every single step of the investigation is going to take some time. And we have to wait for all the information before we can draw any reasonable conclusions.

BLACKWELL: You brought up one specific phrase that I think a lot of people are hearing for the first time "bullet course", and what can that tell us?

KLINGER: Right. So, for example, we had a press conference -- there was a press conference involving the Brown family attorney and the two pathologists who did the second autopsy for the family. And they said -- they talked about a couple of bullets. And they said that based upon where the bullet struck, the arm could have been in a bunch of different postures.

But we need to know more than just where a bullet entered, or we need to know how it traveled through the arm. We understand, at least I've been told there was a shot to the top of the head. I don't know -- the course of that wound is very important, did it go directly down? Did it come forward? Did it go back?

These things are very important. So, knowledge of where the bullet strikes does not tell us anything in and of itself. We have to know the course of the wound in order to understand the relative posture, the barrel of the gun and the person that the bullet hit and then we can tell what the posture of the body was when that bullet struck. That only tells us right then at that split moment when the bullet struck the course of the body. So, for example, if one come straight on and then another bullet is fired immediately after, the first bullet could move the body and another bullet almost on top of it could have a completely different wound course.

BLACKWELL: Is there any way to know from the bullet course, though the story of ballistics, whether Michael Brown was falling forward when he was shot at the crown of his head, or he was lunging forward?

KLINGER: No, all we can say from the shot on the head, let's say it indicates that his head was down. All we know his head was in this posture. It doesn't tell us anything about what's happening here, doesn't tell us anything about his body posture stepping forward. Theoretically, he could have put his head down and moved back, or as you indicated he may be collapsing from other bullet strikes.

And my understanding, there's one witness that says that's what happened. The individual, Mr. Brown, was struck and he started to collapse. So that could explain.

BLACKWELL: Quickly, if we can, because we're on short of time, why so many shots? You know the training; you're a former police officer.

KLINGER: Police officer are trained to shoot until the threat has ceased. And so, theoretically, in terms of Officer Wilson, if he perceived that Mr. Brown was attacking him, his training is to shoot until the threat is over. So, theoretically, now, he shoots and he says, oh, the threat is done, that's basically it.

BLACKWELL: All right. David Klinger, appreciate having your expertise this morning.

KLINGER: Thanks for having me.

BLACKWELL: Thank you so much.

Christi, back to you.

PAUL: All righty. Hey, Victor, thank you.

Right now investigators are scrambling to identify the man who killed American journalist James Foley. Look at his face here. It's hidden in that gruesome execution video. There are clues, however, such as his voice. We're talking about the murderer dressed in black there.

Hear the latest on a high-tech international manhunt.


PAUL: We have your mortgage update. Thirty-year fixed rates are fixed. Take a look.


PAUL: An international manhunt is under way right now for the Islamic extremist who beheaded American journalist James Foley. ISIS is using it video of the massacre to recruit new members. But investigators in the U.S. and U.K. are also combing through every frame of this tape for clues that could lead them to the killers, specifically that masked man there. His face is hidden but he can be heard spouting militant propaganda in an unmistakable British accent.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in bloodshed of your people.


PAUL: Already, experts tell CNN the masked man is under 30 years old. He grew up in Britain from a very young age, every detail from the terrain, the weather, to Foley's orange jumpsuit, everything is being examined.

So, let's talk about this with Phil Mattingly from Bloomberg TV.

So, thank you for being with us.

Without obviously compromising any intelligence, we don't want to do that, but you can tell us more about the voice recognition work that's being done?

PHIL MATTINGLY, BLOOMBERG TV, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Well, obviously, investigators from both the U.K. and U.S. intelligence services have really drilled down into that specifically, just with the information you've showed it's very clear how quickly people can figure out origin and things of this nature. But on this investigation itself, what you're hearing from U.S. and U.K. intelligence services is what they're trying to do is match that voice to intelligence intercepts they've had in the area.

Now, you mentioned obviously in a desolate desert. The location, not a lot you can take from that. But what it does do, is it allows intelligence services to kind of pin down if anybody had a phone on it. If any battery field phones were operational during at the time, it helps them work on the location.

When you have the location and you have a voice, intelligence intercepts in that area are easier to use, easier to weed out. And I think the hope at least on the U.S. and U.K. investigation side is that that will help narrow down the potential names for the killer.

PAUL: Well, not only the voice recognition, but, you know, his height, his build, you mentioned the terrain and the weather. Anything else that they focus on? What clues can that give them?

MATTINGLY: An interesting way of looking at this is what you hear a lot from intelligence communities and it's all a mosaic. I think they take pieces of every little thing. As somebody told me as I was reporting out the story, it's all basically comes piece by piece. It's really grinded out police work. You look at what the man is wearing. You look at the shadows to help try and identify the time line.

But then you also look at the people that he may have associate with overtime, via social media, via people back as you track where he may have been from in Great Britain, you track people that he may have been associated with his family, other worshippers, from his mosque, things of that nature.

So, it's really -- it's everything put together. Tech and social media obviously plays a huge role in that, but there's also just a lot of old school police work here.

PAUL: OK. Well, this is the thing, I know this week that ISIS supporters aims to get 1 billion Muslims posting on Twitter, on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, and this is, quote, "to support the Islamic State." ISIS fell dramatically short of that goal but there were still thousands who tweeted solidarity at landmarks in Spain and France and the U.K.

There has got to be -- is there not, a way to track at least some of the social media activity by ISIS and its supporters?

MATTINGLY: Location tracking has been difficult. It's always been difficult when it comes to Twitter and another of different programs on social media. However, each posting -- I keep going back to this, but each posting represents a clue. You start figuring out people. Maybe they post pictures associated with other individuals who have been under investigation, who have been shown in previous videos who have come up in previous interviews as well.

So, every time they do this, it's a clue. Look, it's a great recruiting tool for ISIS. And, obviously, this is -- their social media strategy is one that has set them apart from other terror groups that had been working in that area and really we've seen over the last decade.

But it cuts both way. Every time they post something, every time they put out a new hashtag, any of those things, U.S. intelligence, U.K. intelligence is tracking, and they're putting all of that together in a way that I think when you talk to U.S. government officials, they feel like it's very helpful as they try and continue these investigations.

PAUL: One more quick thought here. We know that France has paid al Qaeda or related groups up to $58 million in ransoms. Is there any way to try to gauge where that money went when those ransoms were paid?

MATTINGLY: It's difficult on the ransom side. But the interesting thing is on the finance side, that is another aspect of these investigations that have really kicked up in high gear. U.S. terror financing investigators, over at the U.S. Treasury Department, over at the U.S. Justice Department are extremely, extremely active this in this field. And you've seen them especially over the last four to six weeks kind of pick up their game in terms of how they're tracking the financing. They're trying to close off flows of money but they're also trying to follow money in an effort to try and pin down and track where these individuals are.

It doesn't mean that there's going to be an easy law enforcement operation if they're tracking down. Obviously, a very unstable part of the world right now, but they do feel they have an opportunity as they follow the money, like they've done with a number of other terror groups to make some progress forward in these investigations.

PAUL: All right. Certainly hope so. Phil Mattingly, we appreciate all your insight today. Thanks for being with us.

Well, some trucks from a Russian convoy left Ukraine this morning. Global pressure on Moscow has not left, however. We'll tell you what's happening there, some developments in that region.

Also. Look at this video, yes, you see it? That's a kayak. That's not a river. That's a flooded street in Chicago.


PAUL: I know that it's only 4:51 out in the West. For all of you folks who may be just, you know, be rubbing your eyes, waking up, trying to get ready for the day and I know it has been tough because you have the drought you are dealing with and this just oppressive heat that has been so tough. And some of this is really taking a toll on the lakes in the region, particularly Lake Oroville, if you are planning on being in that area as well.

And I know you're wondering, am I going to get some relief from all of this heat?

Well, CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray is looking into that for you. Now, remember, she is a meteorologist, so she can just tell you what's going on. She is not responsible for it. So, please don't -- don't shoot the messenger as we say. Don't hold her accountable.

But what does it look like for those folks?

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, I'm just the messenger of a really dire situation. Christi, this has been going on for three years. And so, California needs the rain. We don't just need a couple days of rain, we need long periods of slow days of rain, and it doesn't look like it's going to come anytime soon.

Just to update you on the drought situation, 97 percent of the state is severe drought or worse, 58 percent in exceptional drought. Here is what the state looks like. If this image is not exciting enough, let me show you these pictures, and this is dire.

This is from three years ago. This is from the lake you were just mentioning. It is only about 33 percent capacity. All of the paved boat ramps have been closed. They have replaced those with some gravel ones, of course. If you are caught excessively watering your lawn, you can be slapped with a $5,000 fine.

And so, the situation is extremely, extremely dire, Christi. Look at those pictures right there. Just incredible. PAUL: Wow. You know, everybody is talking about this ALS challenge.

I have a friend in California who used recycled water to do it. He was trying to be --

GRAY: Incredible. Or put it over your garden, you know, that's so thirsty, you know?

PAUL: Exactly, yes.

GRAY: Put it to some good use.

PAUL: Yes, very nice. Hey, Jen, thank you so much.

GRAY: Yes, no problem.

PAUL: So, here is the question. Could the U.S. expand its air war against ISIS from Iraq into Syria now? How expansive is the U.S. going to get with this?

And will the U.S. have to work with the Assad regime to do it? Those are the questions we are looking into at the top of the hour.


PAUL: Fifty-seven minutes past the hour right now.

And Russia is saying that it does plan to continue to cooperate in aid efforts in eastern Ukraine. This is despite international condemnation surrounding its entry into the country in the first place. But we've learned 50 trucks from the convoy of 227 vehicles did return to Russia this morning. Ukraine called the convoy's arrival yesterday, though, an invasion. President Obama is among the leaders using the words against Moscow as well.

CNN's Diana Magnay is in Sloviansk, Ukraine us.

They keep saying, Diana, that this was an aid effort. Do we know what kind of humanitarian aid was really in those trucks?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, some of those trucks were inspected by the Red Cross and some reporters when they stayed on the border for some 10 days waiting to go in. It clearly was humanitarian aid that was inside, water, supplies, food, nappies, the kind of things you would expect. But many people pointed out that a lot of those trucks appeared to be empty.

And now, we are finding out from the Ukraine national security council a possible reason why. They said in today's security briefing that they believed that those trucks were now being loaded with defense materials from some of the arms factories that are dotted around eastern Ukraine. That is very interesting because Russia historically depends very much on this area of Ukraine for its own defense industry. It needs components from the arms sector here.

So, possibly, that is a reason why Mr. Putin sent in his convoy and is now bringing out those trucks fully loaded, which would indeed be two brazen things to have crossed into Ukraine sovereign territory and to have walked away with what he could get his hands on. But this is still very preliminary information, Christi.

PAUL: All righty. And real quickly, Diana, what is it like there right now where you are?

MAGNAY: Well, this is Sloviansk, which two months ago when I was out there, was under siege. This was completely deserted. We walked through here. It was very, very scary. The city hall behind me completely boarded up.

Now, it's a different story. People are out getting ready for Ukraine's independence day. The Ukrainian flag is everywhere. And they say they are praying for the citizens of these two beleaguered cities, Luhansk and Donetsk, where the fighting is still underway, Christi.