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Harry Reid Warns Against Dick Cheney on ISIS; Ray Rice Incident Ignites Debate on Off-Field Behavior; Psychology of Domestic Violence Abuse.

Aired September 10, 2014 - 14:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We're past the bottom of the hour.

And in a couple hours, the world will find out if President Obama plans to launch air strikes in Syria as part of the plan to defeat the ISIS terror group. We know the president is asking members of Congress to green light Army and training and equipping the so-called moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS on the ground, but the president does not ask for authority to use U.S. military force against the terror group. And Congress doesn't appear too interested to vote on military action before the midterm elections in November.

But one voice on Capitol Hill is definitely stirring up a lot of emotions. Talking about former Vice President Dick Cheney talking to House Republicans on the Hill with a warning: The U.S. military is unprepared to take on ISIS, he says, because of a lack of military funding and what he calls a "disengaged" president.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you have a president whose primary concern is never to "elevate America," it's no surprise that we also have a defense secretary in a serious state of alarm. The world, as Secretary Hagel said a few weeks ago, is exploding all over. I'm here to tell you there's a connection between these problems, between a disengaged president and some very volatile situations abroad.


BALDWIN: Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Harry Reid, quick to mock Cheney on the Senate floor.


SEN. HARRY REID, (D-NV), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: There are people here in Congress who are taking advice from Dick Cheney. He was here yesterday. I think they better be very careful with advice that they take from Dick Cheney. Dick Cheney is more responsible than anyone else for the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the country, the invasion of Iraq.


BALDWIN: Joining me now, Buck Sexton, national security editor at, and former CIA analyst and author of the book on Iraq and Afghanistan; and also Larry Haas, a former Al Gore adviser and senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy.

Gentlemen, welcome.


BALDWIN: Buck, to you first.

You heard Senator Reid talk about the worst foreign policy decision ever. A day before 9/11, hours from hearing the president tonight talking about this new fight, this new terror organization. Why the heck should anyone listen to Dick Cheney, who many agree got it so, so wrong in Iraq?

BUCK SEXTON, NATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR, THEBLAZE.COM & FORMER CIA ANALYST: This goes to compulsive need Democrats have now to re- litigate the Iraq war when we're on the verge of a third Iraq war. One that President Obama is being drawn into despite all of his efforts to the contrary.

BALDWIN: Why is he the one coming out?

SEXTON: Why is Cheney coming out?


SEXTON: Because Cheney views the Obama world view as proven wrong by what's happened in the Middle East. The idea that we can withdraw, we can -- I was on this network a month ago talking about lowering military readiness by having less troops in any period since World War II, that is problematic because you can't foresee. But this was foreseeable. What President Obama is going to do tonight is say that those who are telling me to take action, which means air strikes in Iraq and Syria, and arming the Peshmerga forces and assisting Baghdad more directly, those who are saying that were right. I was wrong. We have a strategy. It took me a while to get there. Hopefully, it will go better than the past few months.

BALDWIN: Larry, respond to Buck's comments. Specifically to the notion of Democrats wanting to re-litigate the woes of Iraq past.

LARRY HAAS, SENIOR FELLOW FOR U.S. FOREIGN POLICY & FORMER AL GORE PRESIDENTIAL ADVISOR: Frankly, I find all of this very unfortunate. I think it's unfortunate that Vice President Cheney is speaking out against President Obama. The editorial in the "Wall Street Journal" is unfortunate, because neither side should be litigating the past, and both sides are guilty of doing so.

We have the president of the United States, the commander-in-chief, going to the nation tonight on a very serious matter of national security. All of us need to come together. We need to listen to the president, hear what he has to say, hopefully hear some firm resolve, understand the nature of the threat that we have at hand and move forward robustly into the future with our allies. And these kinds of debates about how we got into Iraq, what happened afterward, whether Obama blew it by moving out of Iraq too quickly are really not the point today. We've had plenty of debate about the past. We need to look ahead to the future and we need to rally the country even if you don't like the president.

BALDWIN: Larry, let me stay with you. This is something I was kicking around earlier, wondering, it has been 13 years. 13 years since the U.S. has seen any major terror attack on U.S. soil. Who gets that credit?

HAAS: I think both administrations frankly. No question that president Bush was wise to rally the country in the days after 9/11 and put in place a counterterrorism strategy that put al Qaeda on the run and made clear that, you know, we were not going to allow safe havens. Now, President Obama, for all of the criticism -- and I have made many of it myself, many of those criticisms -- but for all of the criticism, he has kept terrorists largely on the run, certainly with regard to al Qaeda. He has taken action Af-Pak in the area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.


SEXTON: This is in defiance of the facts. We've seen al Qaeda franchises spring up where they didn't exist before and we see al Qaeda seizing large swaths of territory, operating with artillery pieces, mechanized infantry. They are doing things that when I served in Iraq, when I was there, we would not have dreamed up at the time because Bush administration would not have allowed it. Meanwhile, President Obama thinks this is something we can have a coalition, a meeting. The fact that he's coming up tonight with a strategy is useful. It would be more useful if he hadn't said a couple weeks ago we don't have a strategy. It's as though this problem snuck up on the administration from nowhere, didn't know it was coming, but in reality, they just didn't want the domestic politics to look like President Obama is being drawn into another war in Iraq.


BALDWIN: Can I turn to you and try as best as we can take the politics out of this for just a second? I have been so curious -- I'll be sitting down with three veterans tomorrow ahead of the show. As a veteran, having fought overseas --and a lot of people have fought different iterations of what we know as Islamic State -- how do you and other veterans feel? What do you want to hear as far as military strategy to beat these guys?

SEXTON: I'm a former CIA officer and not a veteran. But I did serve. I served my country in two war zones. I would say, at this point in time, there has to be -- he was correct in saying robust action. I would question why it's taken this long to figure out. You have former ambassador, Ryan Crocker, respected across intelligence and diplomatic community, and a guy that knows what's going on, and he wrote an editorial in which he made it very clear this administration is moving with absolute slowness at all times on this issue. And that matters. The enemy gets a vote. They are more entrenched, building up their regional alliances. Iraqi people look at this government in Baghdad, the new government, thinking will they be able to beat back these Islamic terrorists. The reality of all this is that if we don't actually move with speed and we don't actually do what is necessary immediately, not wait, not have these coalitions of the capable and very willing, as John Kerry says, we'll lose strategic initiative here. And this problem won't be a couple years. We'll be there for decades.

BALDWIN: Ryan Crocker's word was delusional.

SEXTON: Delusional administration. And he's not hyperpartisan. So this idea that we're going to come together after President Obama has made a hash of the whole situation I think is fantasy. But I hope that he gives some good points tonight in the speech.

BALDWIN: We'll be talking it through I'm sure all day tomorrow.

Buck Sexton, Larry Haas, thank you so much for both perspectives. I appreciate the whole picture.

Here's a sobering thought. The NFL did not have a domestic violence policy until two weeks ago. We will look at the need for one within the organization. And my next guest has an image to show you that will put it all into context.


BALDWIN: The Ray Rice incident ignited a debate about off-the-field behavior of players who are still on the field. Two players that many are making reference to are 49ers defensive tackle, Ray McDonald, who was arrested for hitting his pregnant fiance three days after the new policy was enacted and he was convicted of threatening to kill his ex- girlfriend. Both McDonald and Hardy are suiting up while Ray Rice is not.

We'll go to the gal you have seen on the TV a heck of a lot lately, Rachel Nichols.

You were just making the point yesterday that so many people are focusing their anger and aggression on Ray Rice. Perspective. Let's talk about the other men.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST, UNGUARDED: Greg Hardy. The problem is there's no video of what Greg Hardy did. I want you to do the video yourself in your head. Imagine the video according to testimony of his trial where he was convicted, his girlfriend says that he picked her up, threw her on the bathroom floor. Threatened to kill her. Picked her up again. Moved her over to the living room where he had a couch with guns and assault rifles laid out on the couch. Told her that they were loaded. Threw her onto the couch on top of the guns. Started choking her. Only at the end, she realized she was going to live through this ordeal. A court convicted him. He is still playing because he is appealing the verdict. Now, most people would be told they got --


BALDWIN: Convicted but still playing.

NICHOLS: The idea is that he would be given the benefit of the doubt because he's still appealing. In our justice system, if you're convicted and you appeal, you're still in jail during your appeal process. That's what we're talking about here. It's important that people continue to put pressure on Roger Goodell to look at these cases. It's not just about video and whether he saw Ray Rice and what he did. It's about how they are handling things in the future.

I want to show you this graph. The NFL doesn't have a huge domestic violence or crime problem. The red bars is national average. NFL is the blue bars. So NFL players if you look at those numbers, actually a lot better behaved than the national average. Not just a little bit. A lot. Now any problem is a problem. When you look at those bars, the domestic violence number is closest to the national average of anything. And that's really what we're talking about here. We're talking about the fact that as a whole you don't want to paint everyone where a broad brush. NFL players are not a huge problem overall. But proportionately, domestic violence is a bigger problem in the NFL than other issues we hear a lot more about and that's why it's so important that people continue to question the NFL and Roger Goodell and say, great, Ray Rice situation. You suspended him indefinitely. What are you going to do about everything else because those two guys, whose faces you flashed on the screen, will be playing this weekend and that is a problem?

BALDWIN: We need to keep talking about those guys. Hardy making $13 million this year.

Rachel Nichols, thank you very much.

NICHOLS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: So when a man hits a woman -- and, by the way, it can go the other way around too -- can he ever be counseled out of that kind of behavior or is it a trait and permanent part of who he is? His behavior? Coming up next, we'll talk to a man who counsels these guys on abusive behavior and what he tells them in hope they will stop.


BALDWIN: Want to take you back to more on the coverage of the Ray Rice fallout. Elevator surveillance video that is pushing this debate on domestic violence. One debate is whether the Baltimore Ravens blamed Janay Rice for what happened. The Ravens tweeted that Mrs. Rice said she deeply regretted the role she played in the incident. And our Don Lemon got ESPN anchor, Steven A. Smith's take on that. As many of you know, he caught himself in controversy after talking that Janay had provoked Ray Rice. But last night, Smith told Don Lemon, no one will say she brought this on herself after seeing the video.


STEVEN A. SMITH, ESPN ANCHOR & RADIO ANALYST: Once the video came out, there's no question that nobody is going to come out and say she brought this on herself. You can talk to these tweets and what have you and you can surmise that's what they were insinuating. After everybody saw this video yesterday, I don't think the NFL or anybody associated with this in any way or anybody that has two eyes and saw this would look to her and point the finger blaming her direction in any capacity.


BALDWIN: In a letter to fans, the owner of Baltimore Ravens acknowledged what Ray and Janay Rice have been indicating since the February night he hit her. It happened one time. Quoting Steve Bisciotti's letter, quote, "Both told us nothing like this had happened before. He was showing great remorse."

And again listened to the couple speak on the violence themselves. This is before the nation knew and saw what a knockout punch from Ray Rice actually looked like.


RAY RICE, FORMER NFL BALTIMORE RAVEN RUNNING BACK: This is just totally inexcusable. I'm here today to tell you that, you know, I made the biggest mistake of my life. Me. She can do no wrong. She's an angel.

JANAY RICE, WIFE OF RAY RICE: -- in the incident that night but I can say that I'm happy that we continue to work through it together.


BALDWIN: Let's bring in a unique perspective here, an expert who knows abusers. We have a professor of psychology and director of events counseling in Chicago, which provides court-appointed counseling for men who beat their wives or partners.

Doctor, welcome.


BALDWIN: First of all, just from what we just heard, this couple maintains this is the one and only time. We can't climb in their relationship. I'm not judging here. When you hear after seeing this video that Ray Rice says he hit Janay Rice one time, what do you think?

ARGUETA: It may be one time that he used physical violence but domestic abuse includes economic abuse, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, isolation. Different forms of abuse. It could have been the first time that he engages in physical aggression. However, this type of behaviors are learned from previous experiences so if he has this type of behaviors, it means that it already is in his personalities and attitudes and judgment of situations such as a conflict or an argument. Based on his learned behaviors, he had to make a decision as to how to resolve the conflict, the argument and like I said, these behaviors are learned so it's really impossible that the person has -- that this is the first time they engage in this type of behaviors. Maybe the physical violence but not the other types of abuses.

BALDWIN: Let me talk about this group of abusers who you counseled. It's so important in talking to multiple women survivors and this can go both ways, women hitting men, men hitting women, a lot of people say stop asking the question, why don't you just leave this abusive relationship, and ask the question, why are men beating these women. You talk to this counseling group just yesterday full of men and what was their reaction in seeing and hearing this video?

ARGUETA: They were talking about the video. They were basically asking the same questions as to why didn't he have any severe legal consequences as they did. They were also talking about whether the NFL knew about this video before. They were asking a lot of questions yesterday and I think they wanted to in some ways some people wanted to relate to the situation and in some ways they wanted to ask questions because they want to figure it out the similarities that they have with the particular situation.

BALDWIN: My final question to you and these different men is why is it that these certain men in our society beat these women and more importantly, how do they stop?

ARGUETA: Well, the only reason for domestic abuse is power and control and power and control we learn ideas about power and control from society, from the culture, from the institutions in society such as religion, politics, the school system, the media -- movies, music, et cetera. All of these ideas are shaped into our attitudes and perspectives and every time that we have a situation where we believe that we're losing control and power, we become aggressive and the own intention is to manipulate the person so the person can be able to listen to us and to respect us and to do what we want them to do. These are learned behaviors that we have learned since childhood and now they are affecting us. The only way to change is to understand that the only intention -- by the way, it's not a mistake. It's a choice that we chose. It's not a mistake like he said in the interview. We have to take responsibility. We to take accountability and understand the relationship we have in society and understand that we are affected also by our male privilege.

BALDWIN: We are empowered to change that learned behavior.

I would love to have you back to keep talking about this. I'm up against a break. We have to go.

Jorge, if you want to talk to Jorge, he's in Chicago.

Thank you so much. It's such an important conversation. We'll continue it another time.

We'll be right back.

ARGUETA: Thank you.