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Senate to Vote on Obama's ISIS Plan; Another NFL Player Arrested; Top Defense Leadership Signs Off on Attack Plan for ISIS; Amateur Sleuths Use Twitter to Crack Crime; Neil Patrick Harris Takes Up Digital Art.

Aired September 18, 2014 - 11:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Today the Senate may vote on President Obama's plan to arm and train the so-called moderate Syrian rebels to fight against ISIS. The House has already approved the proposal.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Though it's expected to pass in the Senate, many Democrats not happy about it. Take a listen.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, (D), CONNECTICUT: How can you give us confidence that we are not going to train a fighting force that is then going to enter a battle with a known affiliate of al Qaeda?


PEREIRA: That was Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, voicing his concerns.

Want to bring in our political commentator, Margaret Hoover; and political analyst, John Avlon.

Great to have you with us.

Margaret, I'll start with you. We saw an interesting and incredible coalition on both sides, for and against arming the so-called moderate Syrian rebels. Liberal Democrats and Tea Party Republicans voting against it. This makes us wonder, is this a new era in politics that we're seeing foreign policy not so easy to define via partisanship?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We've talked a lot about that, Michaela and John, how you're getting the isolationist Republicans an isolationist Democrats going together with hawks of both parties and it could be creating these new coalitions. I

don't know if yesterday's vote is the granularity we need to decipher that. It was almost a fig leaf of a vote. Because of the two beheadings of American journalists, Congress almost has to do something before they leave for eight weeks and have to answer to their constituents. The vote didn't allocate funding, didn't have any serious teeth in it. It had a ton of protective measures about making sure we're vetting the right people. It's ex-s extremely hard to do this as you know.

Republicans who voted against it weren't isolationists. They are Republicans who think we need to have our own boots on the ground, alluding to the statement that General Dempsey made yesterday, that if circumstances change, we need American boots on the ground. We can get this done better and quicker than arming mercenaries halfway around the world to do our dirty work for us.

So I'm not sure if this vote is simply indicative of this new coalition.

BERMAN: Although, John, we are going to see a vote in the Senate and you could see some Republicans including some Republican presidential candidates vote against it?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You could. The larger dynamics are I think significant. You have polarization not only between the parties but within both parties. You have a resurgent Libertarian wing who are enormously anxious about executive power. A lot of Democrats, despite having a Democrat in the White House, still feel this enormous Iraq war hangover.

I think it's significant, also, as we look for the Senate vote tonight, the Senate is the more, quote, unquote, "responsible body," more likely to take an executive approach to thing in terms of responsibility as opposed to grandstanding. The fact that the House passed it along bipartisan lines is a reminder that the Hastert Rule needs to die. The only time we've seen anything getting done in this dysfunctional Congress is when Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner worked together against the wings of their own parties. That's the only way the logjam gets broke in Washington.

PEREIRA: We've actually saw a rare moment where the two were agreeing yesterday.

A recent poll shows the president's worst numbers in terms of handling terrorism.

Margaret, what can be done in terms of what the president is doing, how can he turn this around for him?

HOOVER: He has the largest weapon at his disposal which is the bully pulpit of the presidency. This was a rather successful vote in terms of getting the House of Representatives to go along with something that he wanted to have happen. It was done it looks like because he and his closest advisers got on the phone and went up and had meetings and encouraged, talked to, pleaded, cajoled, engaged the Congress, Republicans and Democrats, to vote for this. They pled it was necessary. It's real leadership.

Frankly, when he gets up and talks about the need for American security and how it's connected directly to ISIS and directly to frankly not containing ISIS, but destroying ISIS, Americans will listen. He has the most powerful tool. Everybody listens when the president of the United States speaks. That's what he needs to do. He needs to start talking about it. BERMAN: Margaret Hoover, John Avlon --

AVLON: Yeah, but to your point about this poll, it is damning. The poll is a real concern for folks in the White House because President Obama has always done well regarding his treatment and the way he's approached terrorism. With a lot of the substance of the Bush era, but a totally different style. If American people move against him on that -- this is a president who campaigned on a campaign of killed bin Laden, save GM.

If that starts to fade, if that starts to be -- if people look at the world, the proliferation of ISIS and start to lose faith in this president on what's been a core strength, that's a real concern about the strength of his ability to project from the bully pulpit. It doesn't diminish from his responsibilities. This is a poll they should watch this poll closely. I understand dent voters support air strikes, much more concerned about arming civilian rebels.



BERMAN: John Avlon, Margaret Hoover -- we'll both say it together -- we want you guys to come back soon.

PEREIRA: Yes, we do. They're separated by us. I don't like that. We're in the middle.

All right, guys, thanks so much.

After the break, we're going to talk about the NFL. Wow, how about this start for the season? The NFL dealing with yet another player arrested for domestic violence. So far, what is it, six in the headlines? We'll talk about why this appears to be a growing problem within the NFL.


PEREIRA: Here we go again. A sixth NFL player has been arrested now for alleged domestic abuse, this time 25-year-old Arizona Cardinals player, Jonathan Dwyer. A woman accused the team's backup running back of assaulting her and her toddler.

BERMAN: One of the charges is aggravated assault causing a fracture. Police say Dwyer denies the assault. He was released from jail this morning when he posted bail.

Nischelle Turner joins us.

So, Dwyer banned by the Cardinals now while this investigation is going on.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Unfortunately, we are not Bill Murray in "Groundhog's Day." This is actually happening. Every day it seems like something else. Yes, he has been banned from the Cardinals. They took immediate and

swift action. They're learning a lesson here with all the things going on. This incident is the latest. There are six players in the half being accused of domestic violence. He was arrested yesterday, taken off the practice field and taken to jail. Charged with one count of aggravated assault, a 27-year-old female, causing a fracture, and another involving his 18-month-old child. This apparently happened back in late July.

The woman says at one point he threw a shoe at the child, threw her cell phone out the window so she couldn't call police. He talked to police and admitted he was involved in an incident. But he says there was no physical assault.

PEREIRA: July, that makes me wonder about the time frame. Do we understand the delay? Was it a concern that she wouldn't be believed? What do we know?

TURNER: Those things are still coming out and being worked out. We know that they were -- at one point in the relationship, we don't know if they're married, a girlfriend or a woman he had a former relationship. She has a child. Afterwards she apparently left town. Now she is deciding to report this. It could be a number of things. We have heard a lot of time from women saying at the time they just didn't feel safe.


TURNER: -- didn't feel like they would be believed or seen other people come forward and seen other cases being played out play have prompted her to come out and say I need to tell the story.

BERMAN: Good point. The delay is not in the NFL which has been at issue.

TURNER: No, no.

BERMAN: On the contrary when the NFL found ought about it, they acted very quickly which gets me to my question here. Look, the NFL is now hypersensitive it seems to these issues. Maybe that's a good thing.

TURNER: Can you ever be too hypersensitive to domestic violence? I don't think so. I think by many people's accounts, they've been lax so far. To be hypersensitive to this is a very good thing. Whether or not the statistics show that these guys are getting arrested at higher rates than others which they aren't, the NFL has a pr problem right now. They've got a lot of things to fix. So starting with taking swift action when another player is accused and arrested for domestic violence, that's what has to happen.

PEREIRA: Every minute, 24 people are victims in the United States. Watching the statistics go by on our screen, sobering. Making us all take a good hard look at this.

Nischelle Turner, thanks.

TURNER: Let's not stop thinking about it.

PEREIRA: Let's not.


BERMAN: If it makes the NFL take quick action, good. .

TURNER: By the way, it's week three.


PEREIRA: An interesting twist to a story. A group suspected of attacking a gay couple, they might have been identified by social media sleuths. Find out how the Twitter-verse helped connect the dots.

BERMAN: The one and only, Neil Patrick Harris, star of stage and screen. He takes on a new role, digital art, because he hasn't done enough already. He joins us coming up.


BERMAN: Welcome back. Breaking news, top defense leadership in the country right now has signed off on a strike plan to hit ISIS inside Syria. That news coming from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel testifying before the House Arms Committee hearing right now.

PEREIRA: He says the plans include targeted actions against ISIS safe havens in Syria including command and control, includes logistics capabilities and infrastructure. Let's take a listen.


CHUCK HAGEL, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: -- against ISIL in Syria as well as Iraq. Because ISIL operates freely across the Iraqi-Syrian border and maintains a safe haven in Syria, our actions will not be restrained by a border that exists if name only. CENTCOM's plan includes targeted actions against ISIL safe havens in Syria, including command and control, logistics capabilities and infrastructure. General Dempsey and I have both approved and spent considerable time reviewing and adapting the CENTCOM plan.


BERMAN: It is important to note the president has not signed off on the plan. Top military leadership has. And we expect no doubt to hear from the president soon.

PEREIRA: Let's turn to a story that the web is helping for once. We see so much going on on Twitter that people get upset about. Twitter sleuths being credited with helping police investigate a hate crime. A group of young people allegedly beat up and robbed a gay couple in Philadelphia. Police posted surveillance video of the suspects on YouTube. Amateur detectives, they took to tweeting.

BERMAN: In the Twitterverse as it's called, they helped connect the dots.

We're joined by Laurie Segall to explain it all to us.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty awesome to see the Internet being used for good. I'm always on talking about hacking. This is being used for good.

What happened was the Philadelphia Police Department put out this surveillance video. The Twitterverse said, hey, we can help find these people. A user posted a picture inside a restaurant of a group of people, matched it with that surveillance video and said, hey, I think we might have something. Within minutes Twitter users were saying, this is the restaurant, this is where we need to look.

Let me tell you about Facebook's Grab Search. That is the hero of this story, a very interesting tool. One user went to Facebook, in the bar, you can put the restaurant, and see who visited there. He was able to see who checked in. You never know how much information you're leaving behind when you check in on Facebook.


SEGALL: So he was able to see these people that checked in at a certain restaurant.


SEGALL: And from there be able to say this could be it. I will say he took this information, instead of publishing his name -- this is a very important part of the story -- he gave that to police. He said do your investigating. That's why you see the police tweeting thank you. He said now it's your job.

PEREIRA: We should point out, there isn't an arrest made yet. They're investigating and they're on the case.

SEGALL: They're investigating. What one of the police officers tweeted out, he said, this isn't a "Law & Order" episode. They're looking into these leads, as they said.

But at the end of the day, when you look at what happened in the Boston bombing --

BERMAN: That's what I was just thinking about.

SEGALL: -- with the Redditt users posting the wrong name of the wrong person and potentially ruining lives. It took the Internet two hours to investigate. But instead of just putting it out there, they're actually gave it to the police and they're vetting it now. Hopefully, we'll have updates on it.

PEREIRA: They can do their job.

SEGALL: Exactly.

BERMAN: Laurie Segall, it's great to have you here. SEGALL: Thank you.

PEREIRA: What a story.

All right. Ahead @THISHOUR, the one and only Neil Patrick Harris joins us live in studio live. He will tell us about a new role he has -- an art coach. You are going to meet the winner of L.G.'s Art of the Pixel Nationwide Contest and see the winning submission.


BERMAN: He is a better actor, singer, dancer than almost all of us, and add smarter and better looking. Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother" "Doogie Hauser" and recently winning a Tony award, but that is not enough. No. Now he wants to revolutionize art and technology as well. Partnering with L.G. Electronics to find a digital Monet or Picasso as part of a project called the Art of the Pixel.

PEREIRA: Students from nine art schools submitted digital art projects. We have a winner. Take a look at part of the winning submission.




PEREIRA: We all were just -- we could sit and watch the rest of it but we have the winner here.

Joining us, Neil Patrick Harris; and the winner of Art of the Pixel, John Summerson.

Neil, good to see you. Blah-blah-blah-blah.

Oh, that was the coolest thing I've ever seen.


PEREIRA: Tell us how you came up with this idea and then Neil will also talk, I promise.

SUMMERSON: I was wanting to make a piece about making a piece about making artwork and how wonderful that is.

PEREIRA: And you did it.

SUMMERSON: Thank you. Yeah. So I wanted to include water color animation, different film techniques and put them together and make a mishmash. Ai came up with the idea of painting out your window animating. Putting together a story board and made a film.

BERMAN: That is deeply thoughtful. My brain exploded right there.

PEREIRA: I felt that.

BERMAN: Neil, you've done the stage thing, the screen thing, TV and film. Done the performing arts. Why now the visual arts also? You keep showing off here.


NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, ACTOR: No, not at all. L.G. came and told me about the new technologies in the TVs they have, the ultra H.D.s have the capacity for every pixel to be amazing clarity and amazing -- amazing color, and so they challenged these art students from art schools across the country to submit things on to their website and people voted and then they whittled it down to nine and chose a winner from that. I thought it was a great thing to talk about because, A, I love technology but, B, I love talking about and shining a light on students and art students specifically and the digital medium is the iPhone 6 about to come out tomorrow and through that is new technology and bigger screens and more pixels and it's great to then honor artists who are able to be challenged with something like what can I make that utilizes this technology?

PEREIRA: Be honest, does it make you feel aged? Crayons are my medium. Like this is mind boggling. I can draw a stick man.

HARRIS: I have a 4-year-old. I know from crayons.

PEREIRA: It is kind of mind boggling what can be done now.

HARRIS: Yes. The learning curve is very, very fast. We were talking about it earlier, is I -- I lost it on the tablets. Once they started to have the tablet on to the computer screen and the buttons I didn't know. Photo shop and all those things I'm so impressed by and know that they can be done very quickly, but I don't know how to do them.

BERMAN: John, is this code? Is this art? Is this working with your hands or like typing in numbers?

PEREIRA: Are you a geek or artist?

SUMMERSON: I'm both. Absolutely both. The fun part about this film is that it was water colors made on paper. I filmed it and the only digital thing I did was compositing a little color correcting at the end. It's old-school film trickery.

PEREIRA: Tell him what he won. He gets a good prize.

HARRIS: He got $10,000 and his school, Pacific --

SUMMERSON: Pacific Northwest College of Art.

HARRIS: Got $50,000 to their school and the runner-up got money and their school got money as well.

PEREIRA: So everybody kind of wins.

BERMAN: It was a good thing. You mentioned your kids. How does that change your perspective on art

and on creativity? I got 7-year-old twins. I see them draw and I'm like, you may not be a Monet one day.


But it makes me appreciate perhaps the effort more.

HARRIS: I find that my role as a parent, you know, I'm not their best friend, I'm trying to be their parent, so I'm their disciplinarian and keeps telling them not to do this and how do you respond and how -- how -- I'm like constantly telling them what to do. With art it's fun to watch them and see where -- what their minds create without me having to dictate anything to them. So I'm very pro art, whether it be sculptural or paints or coloring outside of the lines and just seeing where their minds go with stuff.

PEREIRA: There aren't rules, right?

HARRIS: There aren't rules. I miss that in the school systems these days. Not to be political about it because I'm not trying to say anything about that, but I loved art class and music class, and that helps create a fully rounded brain.

PEREIRA: Well, congratulations to you, John. Really something else. It's beautiful. You can see it in its entirety --


BERMAN: On the site.

PEREIRA: -- on the site. We'll make sure we put it on our website.

BERMAN: Congratulations to you.

HARRIS: Thank you.

BERMAN: Put a ring on it.

HARRIS: This thing.

PEREIRA: Put a ring on it.

HARRIS: I should have put a ring on it. I did.

PEREIRA: Do I apologize or smile?

Gentlemen, thank you so much. Maybe you'll get in joining us @THISHOUR.

John, congratulations. Keep up the great work.

BERMAN: Well done.

SUMMERSON: Thank you.

PEREIRA: That's it for us @THISHOUR.

Really. Did you just Beyonce?

BERMAN: I've seen the song once. This much connection to popular culture.


BERMAN: I had to bring it.


"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield, luckily, starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.