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THE SITUATION ROOM
Ferguson Police Chief Apologizes; New ISIS Threat?; Inside ISIS Black Market Oil Money; Ferguson Police Chief: 'I Won't Resign
Aired September 25, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, disturbing video of an unarmed man shot by a state trooper, more questions about race and law enforcement after the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, where the police chief is apologizing and talking exclusively to CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON, MISSOURI, POLICE CHIEF: This is something that's just been weighing on me. It's something that needed to be said. Should have been said a long time ago.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: Breaking news tonight.
Witnesses inside of Syria report new airstrikes against ISIS within the past hours, with big explosions shaking the group's stronghold of Raqqa. As this war escalates, there's new reason to fear that Americans may be in grave danger from the terrorists the U.S. is fighting.
The FBI chief is warning that an al Qaeda cell may still be actively plotting attacks, even after being bombed. At the same time, U.S. authorities are investigating a reported claim by the Iraqi prime minister that his country uncovered an imminent ISIS plot against subway systems in the U.S.
Stand by for the latest on that.
Our correspondents and analysts are following all of the breaking news in the war zone and here in the U.S.
And we go first to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the terror threat from Khorasan group in Syria, today's uncorroborated threat from ISIS in Iraq a reminder of just how vigilant U.S. officials are now of the terror threat emanating from the Middle East. As they are, U.S. warplanes in the air over Iraq and Syria
virtually every day striking troops targets.
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: This is just the beginning.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Just the beginning of a campaign the Pentagon now says may take years. Airstrikes overnight killed 14 ISIS militants in Syria, according to a human rights group, with the U.S. and France striking more vehicles and warehouses inside Iraq.
And now the international coalition fighting ISIS is growing. ISIS, in its propaganda at least, remains uncowed, one video showing the stronghold of Raqqa appearing unharmed, with ISIS fighters relaxing, even singing.
But, according to the Pentagon, the terrorists' song was drowned out by this, 41 precision-guided bombs dropped last night by 16 fighter aircraft, six from the U.S., 10 from coalition forces, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the target, these oil refineries in Eastern Syria, profitable assets that ISIS uses to finance its operation, to the tune of $2 million a day. They are assets that U.S. forces are hoping to simultaneously disable and preserve.
KIRBY: We want to keep some infrastructure available, in the hopes that it can be -- these refineries can be used again one day by the moderate opposition.
SCIUTTO: The shocking beheadings by ISIS were the spark for this campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are an Islamic army.
SCIUTTO: CNN has learned that U.S. intelligence agencies have determined the identity of the man speaking in these ISIS execution videos of Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British citizen David Haines.
And this is one face of the pilots now targeting ISIS, the United Arab Emirates' first female pilot and strike team commander, Major Mariam Al Mansouri, flying in the face of a group known amongst its many acts of violence for its brutality towards women.
SCIUTTO: I spoke to the Pentagon spokesperson, Admiral John Kirby, earlier today and asked him how the damage assessments are going from these strikes.
He said it's the Pentagon's assessment that they are having success, Brianna, that they are disrupting operations. But then even the Pentagon won't say that the first round of strikes destroys these groups. They know they're preparing the U.S. people for the American people for a campaign that's going to last years here. I did ask about Iraq in particular, because that's a place where
you do have a ground force to couple with the airstrikes, both Iraqi and Kurdish forces. He said their biggest gain to date is taking back the Mosul dam from ISIS, a key piece of infrastructure. But as you and I well know, they have a long way to go even in Iraq.
KEILAR: And they don't have eyes on the ground in Syria.
SCIUTTO: Even some measure to assess the success of the strikes.
KEILAR: Exactly. Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.
Now the latest on another terror group targeted by U.S. airstrikes. The FBI director is warning that attempts to stop the al Qaeda cell from plotting against Americans may not have been successful.
We're talking about the Khorasan group, and our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is here with more on that -- Pamela..
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna FBI Director James Comey says he's "not confident at all" that the U.S. airstrikes in Syria targeting buildings linked to Khorasan have taken out the group of seasoned al Qaeda operatives.
U.S. officials say the group was planning an imminent attack on Western targets and Comey said he believes Khorasan could "carry out the attack tomorrow, next week or months from now," pointing out that intel officials have limited visibility into the group's activities in Syria.
And according to U.S. intelligence officials, the group of al Qaeda operatives, including a former deputy of Osama bin Laden, had already acquired materials and was in an advanced stage of planning an attack against the U.S. or Europe. And, Brianna, sources say one of the plots involved Westerners smuggling bombs concealed into electronic devices onto airplanes.
As Comey awaits a final assessment of the strikes, he's made it clear today that the Khorasan group is still at the top of his list of concerns.
KEILAR: Pam Brown, thank you so much for that report.
There's also new word that Iraq is conducting its own investigation into a plot, an alleged ISIS plot to attack subways in the U.S.
Reuters quoting a senior Iraqi official saying that his country's intelligence uncovered serious threats. U.S. authorities appear though to be blindsided when the Iraqi prime minister spoke publicly about this.
Let's go now to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, I just spoke with a spokeswoman for the State Department and
she said she would be very comfortable being on the subway in New York. She was talking to us from New York. We have heard from the administration and we have heard from New York City officials, mixed messages between what they're saying and what we're hearing out of Iraq.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right.
It appears they were caught off guard here in the U.S., Brianna. This all started when Iraq's new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, told a small group of reporters this morning that Baghdad intelligence officials had information about an imminent ISIS terror plot aimed at subways in the U.S. and Paris. Officials from the White House to FBI Director James Comey said they were not aware of such a blot. Same goes for New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio who said people in his city can safely ride the Big Apple's subway system. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL DE BLASIO (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: The NYPD Intelligence Bureau which everyone knows has outposts all over the world and is the leader in terms of this work and local law enforcement all over the country, has assessed the statements of the Iraqi prime minister, and at this point finds no specific credible threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: What makes all of this even more curious is that President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry just met with Abadi this week at the U.N. and administration officials say the prime minister did not raise this alleged plot with them either.
Over at the U.N., Abadi was asked by CNN once again about by this claim earlier in the day and here is his response to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: What was the source of that terror plot threat? What was the source of that terror plot threat? The terror plot in New York City and Paris, where is that threat from? But where was the source of that plot?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: You can see in that video right there, Brianna that the new prime minister did not have more to say about that, did not go back and repeat that claim.
It is important to point out that senior administration officials say the U.S. intelligence community remains concerned about this threat posed by foreign fighters traveling to and from the ISIS battlefields. But officials have stressed for weeks they don't believe ISIS has the capability to launch terror attacks on U.S. soil. But U.S. law enforcement, they appear to be more concerned about
the potential for attacks carried out by remnants of al Qaeda now affiliated with the Khorasan group -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Certainly a lot to figure out here. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you so much.
To help us try to get through this, we want to bring in CNN terrorism Paul Cruickshank, as well as CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd.
OK, this is all very confusing, Phil. To you first, why would you have the Iraqis knowing about a plot that the U.S. is denying? What do you make of this?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This smells.
If you can figure this out, you're a better counterterrorism analyst than I am. And I have been doing this for almost three decades. I have got two problems with them. First, if you're a security service and you get a threat to the United States, you know what you do? You walk into your counterpart and you say here's the threat, and here's how we're going to either validate it or wash it off the table.
You do not front it publicly in New York City. The way this is done makes no sense. Second and finally, the timing of this is really silly. You show up in New York City for a U.N. conference to talk about the seriousness of the threat in Iraq. You're trying to persuade European and North American partners to do more.
All of a sudden, coincidentally, you front a plot that has to do with attacks in Europe and the United States? This one smells all the way to high heaven to me. I don't get it.
KEILAR: What do you think, Paul, fishy to you?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Brianna, this information seems to come from captured ISIS fighters in Iraq that the Iraqi government has captured and interrogated.
These kind of interrogations are notorious for providing unreliable information. Possible that the ISIS fighters just made this up or made these claims under duress. Not clear whether they have been cross-checked or verified at this point, Brianna.
KEILAR: OK. So then, Paul, this is sort of the question that comes out of this. Prime Minister Abadi is the new prime minister of Iraq. You have many Obama administration officials who even to point, with what appears to be a very uncredible threat, they're saying this is still the guy for the job, this is someone we can partner with, and they certainly don't want to detract from his authority on this.
But if he is the guy for the job, this is someone who is saying this one day after meeting face-to-face with President Obama in New York. Isn't this troubling from someone who is supposed to be the answer to the political problems in Iraq?
CRUICKSHANK: Well, it could be this information just came in today.
But it's very, very raw information. And I think the Americans would have expected it to be shared first with them privately before he goes and talks to the world's media about it. I think there will be great frustration, as Phil was saying, amongst American policy- makers that this was put out in this way.
KEILAR: I'm sure there is. I'm sure that is being communicated loud and clear, although publicly it's not being communicated by the U.S.
Phil, let's talk about the Khorasan group. This is the group, the al Qaeda veterans that authorities have said did pose an imminent threat to the U.S., that the U.S. went in alone on airstrikes in Syria again in the last few days. The FBI director, James Comey, saying he's not confident that these airstrikes inside of Syria have disrupted their plotting. How concerned are we about an imminent threat still existing?
MUDD: The concern should be pretty high. My experience doing this is that plots are like cats, they have nine lives.
The reason is simple. You might think of terrorist cells as tight clusters of people. That's not what I witnessed. It's a loose confederation of people. They might be operatives. They might be foreign fighters who are being trained, people providing false documents. You might may have the operational commanders who are providing strategic direction, as we saw from al Qaeda on 9/11.
You might have people facilitating travel, for example, of operatives from Europe, a lot of people in a loose confederation who are plotting over the course of months or years. One strike when you're dealing with a cluster that is that loose is not going to eliminate the plot. And, furthermore, once these plotters get an idea in their mind and they think that idea is going to work, you might eliminate 20 percent of that plot. The rest of it will regenerate.
I would be more confident -- I don't even know the intelligence -- than Jim Comey that this one is going to live on until we keep coming back and back and back to it again.
KEILAR: And this, Paul, is another area where we're getting mixed I think assessments from the American government. We heard from Comey. He's not confident the Khorasan group has been affected.
We just had the deputy spokeswoman for the State Department on the show and she said that strikes have been effective. She seemed to push back a little bit on what Comey's assessment was of the Khorasan group. Help us with that and just sort of make some sense of it if you think that it's been undermined by the strikes.
CRUICKSHANK: The short answer is, we don't know. We don't know if the leadership have been killed, senior operatives have been killed, the Westerners, they were trying to recruit into these attacks have been killed.
We just don't know the answers to those questions at this moment. It's possible they could reconstitute themselves if they still have that know-how. They could build training camps again. And they could even accelerate this plot, Brianna.
KEILAR: If they're loosely affiliated or spread out, I wonder how much do you think, Paul, that Khorasan has in terms of reach. Do they have members outside of Syria that actually could carry out a plot, which seems to be the concern?
CRUICKSHANK: We don't know that yet.
The intelligence was suggesting that they were in the planning stage in Syria. But this group is very much part of al Qaeda, so they have connections throughout the Middle East back to Afghanistan and Pakistan and also in Yemen, concern they're cooperating with AQAP, the group there that has managed to put bombs on planes.
So this is a group which is really al Qaeda's A-team with a lot of reach throughout the region. But the concern will be that they could also get operatives back into the West to launch attacks.
KEILAR: Phil, I want you to check out the cover of "The Economist," and this is something that created a whole lot of buzz. This is it. It's President Obama Photoshopped onto the body of George W. Bush, an iconic image there of him on that aircraft carrier several years ago, declaring mission accomplished at the time. Here it says mission relaunched.
What do you about this?
MUDD: That doesn't make sense to me.
Look, I respect "The Economist." I'm actually a subscriber. But let's be serious. When I was back at the agency in '01 and '02 going into the mid-2000s, we threw everything but the kitchen sink at al Qaeda, major boots on the ground in Afghanistan, drone strikes in Afghanistan, cooperation with security services, dozens, maybe 100 or more around the world.
We opened Guantanamo. At CIA, let's be blunt. We had black sites with prisoners in them, the top 100-plus of al Qaeda. Now we have a president, 13 years later, saying maybe we can stem the flow of foreign fighters, let's focus on the financial fight, I don't want troops on the ground in Syria, let's have an air campaign, let's front it with other people from the Arab world.
If you think this is what I saw when we threw everything at them 13 years ago, you have got to be kidding me. This is far more nuanced, far more restrained.
KEILAR: Phil, there you have it. You're saying it's not the same, you can't make the comparison.
Phil Mudd, Paul Cruickshank, thank you so much to both of you. Appreciate it.
MUDD: Thank you.
KEILAR: Still ahead, it's being called an historic agreement in the war against ISIS. CNN was there when it happened. Stand by for exclusive new details on this.
Plus, will airstrikes be enough to cut off a huge moneymaker for terrorists? We're learning more about the black market smuggling that is making these killers rich.
KEILAR: Tonight, a new alliance in the war against ISIS that's being billed as historic. More than 20 Syrian rebel commanders have signed off on a new unity agreement. CNN was the only news organization at the meeting.
CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is near the Turkish-Syrian border. He has exclusive new details.
This was unexpected, Drew, and honestly very fascinating.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It was unexpected, 20 of these commanders in one hotel just across the border in Turkey.
And they were agreeing to join forces. And what's interesting about this, Brianna, is along with many of the moderate Muslim rebels is the Christian rebels in Syria agreeing to form this alliance. A lot of this work to bring these groups together done by the Syrian Emergency Task Force, the group out of Washington, D.C., and also members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, trying to get this alliance together and convince maybe the United States, maybe an international conglomerate that these are the rebels worth investing in.
A lot of people are still very skeptical, think that this might be more symbolic than anyone else, but they believe, the groups who signed on today believe this is the start for a more inclusive and potentially future free Syria.
KEILAR: And also, Drew, rebel leaders that you spoke with, they have a number of concerns about the U.S. and allied airstrikes there in Syria. What did they say to you?
GRIFFIN: I can tell thank , two of those commanders, Brianna, confirmed that there were civilian casualties.
All of them told me that they were not involved in any of the coordination or planning of those airstrikes, and, quite frankly, were stunned that the U.S.-led coalition isn't using their talents on the ground to make these strikes against ISIS particularly in Syria much more effective.
It is a disconnect between what they think the strategy is in Syria, and perhaps what the U.S.-led coalition is. They want to get rid of ISIS and Bashar al-Assad's regime. It seems the U.S.-led coalition just wants to hamper ISIS in the northern areas of Syria. They truly believe that you can't just cripple ISIS, you have to get rid of ISIS, and if you get rid of ISIS, the only way to effectively do that is to get rid of Bashar al-Assad's regime.
So there is some tense communication going back and forth there. They want really a much more active role, if indeed the U.S. wants to get rid of ISIS.
KEILAR: These rebel groups in the U.S. and some of their allies with different goals, maybe overlapping, but not the same. The question is, can they work together? We will see.
Drew Griffin, great report. Thank you so much.
Just ahead, ISIS boasts about its oil supplies and its blood money. We're getting new information about the black market connections making the terrorists rich.
And a new assessment of ISIS in Iraq and its power in Iraq, is it evidence that U.S. ground troops may be called into action?
KEILAR: The Pentagon is promising a massive bomb attack to put ISIS oil refineries out of commission for some time. The U.S. is trying to choke off a huge source of money that has helped make the terror group so rich and so dangerous.
Our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, has been talking to her sources about this.
What are they telling you, Elise?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we have heard President Obama say that the campaign against ISIS is not just a military one. Cutting off the flow of foreign fighters and finances that's the lifeblood of this group is equally important, which is why the U.S. airstrikes in Syria went after ISIS pocketbooks.
LABOTT (voice-over): ISIS is not just one of the world's most dangerous organizations. It's also a ruthless terror corporation, earning millions of dollars every day from this, oil crude pulled from beneath the sands of Iraq and Syria and sold on the black market at a discount.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They use the financing to expand their recruitment operations.
LABOTT: Experts say ISIS intentionally focused on seizing large swathes of the most oil-rich areas in the region and now controls as much as 60 percent of production in Syria, along with seven oil fields in Iraq. U.S. government sources tell CNN ISIS takes some of that crude
out of the ground and refines it for their own use, to fuel its trucks and tanks.
Overnight, the U.S. hit some of the organization's mobile refineries. What's more concerning, sources say, is the rest of that oil, which is now being smuggled out of Syria, not through pipelines, but by more than 200 ISIS tanker trucks driven along secret routes mostly in Turkey's southern corridor.
What's still not clear is just who is buying all of it. Sources tell CNN ISIS crude oil appears to be sold by middlemen, intermediaries who sell the oil to legitimate refineries in the region.
AL-KHATEEB: There are a number of tribes, local tribes, local families. They tend to handle these volumes and basically they smuggle the oil and eventually, basically, they either trade it to neighboring territories.
LABOTT: And that, sources say, means some of ISIS oil may actually be making it into the world market undetected.
Before the U.S.-led air strikes started this week, the Iraq Energy Institute estimated ISIS produced about 30,000 barrels a day in Iraq and 50,000 more each day in Syria. At about $40 a barrel on the black market, that would fetch up to $3 million in profit each day.
Tonight, the U.S. government says it hopes it can take out ISIS ability and sell all of that oil, crippling a key profit center for this terror corporation.
LABOTT: And the president of Turkey made it clear today that his country is on a serious mission to fight ISIS, saying they're closing the borders, but administration officials say they're looking for Turkey and other neighboring countries to clamp down on these black- market routes and shadowy networks handling the oil cells to deny ISIS the cash to keep fueling their activity. That's a key part of the administration's strategy for combatting the group, Brianna.
KEILAR: It is such big money, and it's one of their huge advantages. Elise Labott, our global affairs correspondent in New York. Great report. Thank you.
Let's talk more about this now, about ISIS and its oil money with Brett McGurk. He is the deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran.
And I want to talk to you about the oil money. But first, because I know that you have just spoken with the prime minister of Iraq, Prime Minister Abadi, I want to get some clarification from you. He had told reporters that Iraq's intelligence agency had uncovered an imminent ISIS plot against U.S. subways. What did he say to you? BRETT MCGURK, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Thanks,
Brianna. I just saw Prime Minister Abadi just about half an hour ago. We finished a long meeting between him and Vice President Biden. And I spoke with the prime minister also about that.
He confirmed to me, in obviously, close consultation with the Iraqi government, there is no specific credible threat whatsoever that they have uncovered to the United States. He was discussing in general terms the threat, particularly of foreign fighters and ISIS fighters. And there is routinely information uncovered, either from fighters who are captured or from the effects on those who are killed, of the aspirations of these foreign fighters to attack outside of their borders, including the west and including here in the United States. That is something we know very clearly.
We work with Iraqis very closely. We have a close partnership with them through appropriate channels to assess all appropriate information. And any information that they pass to us, we assess the veracity of.
But he was very clear in the meeting with me and with the vice president that the veracity of any such information has not been assessed. There is no specific credible threat to the United States. And so I just wanted to make that -- make that very clear.
KEILAR: If the veracity has not been assessed, why did he say something? That seems really out of line.
MCGURK: Well, again, he was addressing a question, as I understand it, about the overall threat from foreign fighters, that this is a global threat, a threat to the entire world.
And he's speaking here in New York as the entire world has come together, over 100 nations yesterday signed onto a U.N. Security Council Chapter 7 resolution to stop the flood of foreign fighters around the world, and particularly into Syria and into Iraq.
So he's addressing that threat, which is a threat to the entire world. It's a threat to Europe. It's a threat to the United States. And it is very clear. And a spokesman for ISIS just about 72 hours ago released a statement in which he very clearly called for attacks on Americans, attacks on French citizens. That is the aspirational goal of these terrorist groups. And that is why they have to be confronted and stopped.
KEILAR: All right. I want to talk to you about this oil money, which is giving ISIS one of its huge advantages. We understand that ISI has about $1 billion in the bank. That's the expectation. Destroying these refineries, these oil refineries, does this really cut off the financial support to ISIS or is it just a drop in the bucket?
MCGURK: Well, Brianna, this is part of a long-term -- long-term strategy along five main lines of effort, as the president has laid out. One is military support for our partners. One is countering the foreign fighters into these theaters, and that was about the Security Council yesterday.
The third is counter-finance. We have to get at and choke off the financial streams of ISIL. Because ISIL, unlike other terrorist groups around the world, is a terrorist group that is acting as a quasi-state. It is trying to establish a caliphate and a state, and to do that, it needs financial resources.
The targets that were hit last night are module oil refineries, which we assess are able to generate almost $1 million to $2 million a day. And those strikes were quite effective. But again, this is only the start of a very long -- long-term campaign to entirely choke off any of the financial resources to sustain this organization.
KEILAR: What about the money that ISIS already has? When it went through Mosul, the understanding is that it took about, I think, a third of a billion dollars from the bank there. How do you really take those pas assets?
MCGURK: Well, there are mixed reports on what actually happened with them with that bank in Mosul, but at the end of the day, this is a very wealthy terrorist organization. The world has never quite seen anything like it. And again, that is why the entire world, really this week, in a truly extraordinary multilateral diplomacy here this week before the Security Council, the entire world came together to say, "We're going the stand with, and we're going to stand together and take a stand against ISIS."
But it's going to be a long haul. We have to stop the flow of foreign fighters into the theater. The foreign fighters are the lifeblood, the oxygen which gives ISIL its -- its most lethal effects. They're mostly the suicide bombers. And they're the most hardened fighters. And the finances of this organization is quite extraordinary. And that is why we're going to go after it through all measures and be totally, totally relentless.
In capitals across Europe and North Africa in the region, in the gulf to make sure that the nations stop and to make sure that there is self-generated financing through oil production and through oil sales stopped. And the attacks last night were a part of that.
And the U.N. Security Council here in New York also passed a Chapter 7 resolution about three weeks ago, Resolution 2170, which calls for the entire world to stop and to get at the financing of ISIL and other associated al Qaeda-like groups.
KEILAR: Brett, I want to talk to you about Iran's role in all of this. We heard from President Rouhani, and he spoke there at the U.N. He has basically said that there cannot be security cooperation on Syria, on ISIS, unless sanctions are dropped, sanctions that pertain to Iran's alleged nuclear program. So where does that leave the U.S. and Iran and Iran's role in all of this?
MCGURK: Well, we've been very clear. Secretary Kerry said last week that there's a role for every country around the world. He said before the Security Council last Friday, with the Iranian foreign minister there, or the Iranian minister there, that there is a role for Iran to play, an important role for Iran to play.
However, we are going to act in our interests, and we're going to act in the interests of our partners. And that mean we will take action when it is in our interests and the interests of our partners.
KEILAR: Is it a nonstarter, though, the coupling of sanctions on Iran due to its alleged nuclear program and then having Iran come back, taking a role in somehow combatting ISIS? Is that a nonstarter to couple those?
MCGURK: Well, it's not worth mixing the issues, because really, a precondition for Iran opening up to the world is that they have to convince the world of the peace nature of its nuclear program. And that is why, again, here in New York, we have been engaged in very intense diplomacy with the Iranians and with our P5 plus 1 partners on the nuclear -- on the nuclear issue.
And so that is an ongoing negotiation. It's a very difficult negotiation. And that will go on over the coming days and weeks.
But again, for Iran to really rejoin the community of nations and be a constructive partner, they have to convince the global community of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program. And that is not just an issue the United States has with Iran, it's an issue, again, the world has with Iran. And that is why Russia, China, the P5 plus 1 are with us in these negotiations and also actively enforcing the sanctions against Iran, which are directly linked, again, to the nuclear program. If Iran wants to get out of sanctions, they have to address the nuclear program. The sanctions are related to that program.
KEILAR: Brett, thanks so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
MCGURK: Thank you so much for having me.
KEILAR: Brett McGurk, deputy assistant undersecretary for Iraq and Iran.
And just ahead, a dramatic apology for the shooting of Michael Brown by the Ferguson, Missouri, police chief. He's talking about his future exclusively with CNN.
Plus, video of another controversial police shooting. This one had a very different outcome.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: A dramatic apology by the embattled police chief of
Ferguson, Missouri, for the shooting death of Michael Brown and the violent aftermath. But despite the controversy, Chief Thomas Jackson tells CNN exclusively he will not resign.
CNN's Anna Cabrera got the exclusive interview. Anna, what did the police chief tell you?
ANNA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, he said this has been the biggest test of his life, both personally and professionally. He feels really bad about what has happened here in the past couple of months. It's been almost seven weeks now since the shooting death of Michael Brown. And he says he wants to apologize for a part that his police department has had in the racial tensions that are present still in this community.
But I asked him, you know, given the fact that there is still so much distrust between law enforcement and some of the residents in this community, might he consider resigning and letting new leadership take the helm. And here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: I have to ask you about yourself, and you are still the leader of the Ferguson Police Department, correct?
CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, I am.
CABRERA: Have you heard of any plans, intentions to remove you from that position?
JACKSON: No, I haven't.
CABRERA: Are you aware of at least some of the vocal people, protesters included, who would like to see you removed from your position?
JACKSON: Sure, I have. I've talked to a lot of those people and I've talked to a lot of people who initially called for that and have changed their mind after having meetings and discussions about moving forward. Realistically, I'm going to stay here and see this through. You know, this is mine and I'm taking ownership of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, Chief Jackson in a 2 1/2 plus minute apology released this video, which he apologized to the parents of Michael Brown. He apologized for Michael Brown's body being left in the street for so long after the shooting death. He apologized to the protesters who feel that their rights were infringed upon in the police reaction to how they were protesting. And he hopes that the first step in making things right in this community, we've had a chance to talk to some of the protesters and some of the community members here.
And his apology has been sort of received with mixed reviews. One person we talked to said that was awesome. One of the protesters said, in fact, just behind me across the police department saying, you know, this is what he needed to say. It came a little later than we had hoped, but that is a good effort. Other protesters we've talked to and residents say it was too little too late. They questioned his sincerity and say actions speak more than words and they want to see a little more action moving forward -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Ana Cabrera, great interview. Thank you so much.
Let's get more now with CNN's Don Lemon, John Gaskin of the St. Louis NAACP, and CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes. He's the former assistant director of the FBI.
John, to you first. We talked so much over the past several weeks what happened in Ferguson. What's your reaction to Chief Thomas Jackson apologizing?
JOHN GASKIN, ST. LOUIS NAACP: Well, I'll say this much -- it is good that he's apologized. The family deserves that. The community deserves that. To be quite frank with you, the world deserves that.
But we've got some concerns about that apology, as some of the people on the ground had mentioned, actions speak louder than words. But you know, to prerecord this type of apology, something like that, to prerecord it, to have it done by really a PR group or PR firm, to have the PR firm's logo flashing in the video is almost is this is -- as almost though it's a production is concerning to us. It almost questions the sincerity of it to an extent.
We, I hope that he has reached out personally to Ms. McSpadden and Michael Brown's family, to go to them personally and apologize. And I certainly hope that he's apologized to many of those protesters in Ferguson that have had their rights infringed upon that have had to deal with that type of brutality.
But I certainly hope he will take a step further and apologize to many of the citizens of that community that have been victims to police brutality and the type of disenfranchisement that they've seen in that community, I hope he apologizes to them as well in person.
KEILAR: Don, John bringing up a lot of really good points there. Do we know if the chief has reached out to the family? Also, when you look at this, does it strike you as a PR offensive or as genuine, genuine apology?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as John said, it's almost Paula Deen-esque in nature, you know, the pink video where that was pre- produced after, you know, she had her issues.
But, you know, having met him and spending time with him -- listen, quite honestly, the chief is an affable guy. He is not the same person that you see on the television, in person. He answered every question that I asked him there, and he always was open to an interview, and he said, you know, being interviewed by you, Don, is like being beat up by your best friend. So, I took that as sort of a backhanded compliment.
But I did not see anything in that video that he had not alluded to before in interviews. If you go back and look through the interviews, he's said similar things. This is a little more specific than he's done in other interviews and he's said all along, throughout every single interview, that he's not going anywhere. That he is not going to ride it out.
So, I don't -- listen, it's great that he's out talking. It's great that he's apologizing. But he's really is not saying anything differently than he has said over the course of the last seven weeks.
KEILAR: Well, that's a really interesting point and maybe that goes to my question, to you, Tom, this is a situation that is in the middle of an investigation. So, your reaction to that apology, to this interview, and also really any I guess legal effects, because this is in the middle of an investigation.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think, Brianna, for the first part of that is, that he can apologize to the family for the death of their son. He can apologize to the community for what is regarded as maybe there wasn't enough to help community outreach, community policing, previous cases of brutality. He can apologize I think for the things that were beyond his control. I mean, in his control.
But here, he is apologizing for everything that occurred in the aftermath of the shooting. And I think much of that, if not all of that was really out of his control. The fact there -- was you know, a lot of emotion that spun up that day because of the body laid in the street for four hours, that's out of his control. That body, as soon as the paramedic said Michael Brown is dead, then the police have no control over the removal. The medical examiner takes over. The medical examiner will not have the body removed until the crime scene is investigated by evidence staff (ph).
So, it didn't rise --
KEILAR: So, what's that telling you if he didn't have control over that and he's apologizing for it? How do you read that apology?
FUENTES: It's telling me that what should have happened, I think, the first day and definitely by the next day is somebody should have gone in front of the public, him --
FUENTES: -- as the leader of Ferguson police and explain to them why the body laid in the street for hours. It was not disrespect. It was procedure that he didn't have within his control.
LEMON: And, Brianna and Tom -- Tom, you're exactly right, because -- what I want to say is that he is not, and I don't mean this in a derogatory way, he's not a sophisticated man when it comes to how to deal with the media, special the type of media that he was exposed to. So, I think Tom is exactly right. Someone, after having a couple of weeks to step back and look at the optics of this, to realize how big it is, because he was right in the middle of it, I think someone got a hold of him and said, listen, here's what's probably going to save your, you know, career and here's probably going to make things better.
KEILAR: And gentlemen --
LEMON: Sorry to cut you off.
KEILAR: And, gentlemen, I'm actually afraid that I have to cut all of you off. I apologize for that. We're going to have to leave the conversation there. But this is an ongoing conversation that we'll be having.
Tom, thank you so much. Don, thank you so much.
We'll have more after the break as well with John Gaskin. We want to our guests to standby for that. We'll be talking about another police shooting of an unarmed man with a very different outcome. We have details ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN GROUBERT: Can I see your license please?
Get out of the car! Get out of the --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: South Carolina officials released dash cam video showing what they say is a decorated South Carolina highway patrol trooper shooting an unarmed man. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GROUBERT: Can I see your license please?
Get out of the car! Get out of the --
GROUBERT: Get on the ground! Get on the ground!
LEVAR JONES: I just got my license. You said get my license. I got my license right there.
GROUBERT: Put your hands behind your back. Put your hands behind your back. Put your hands behind your back. Put your hands behind your back.
JONES: What did I do, sir?
GROUBERT: Are you hit?
JONES: I think so. I can't feel my leg. I don't know what happened. I just grabbed my license.
GROUBERT: I need a 1052.
JONES: Why did you shoot me?
GROUBERT: Well, you dove head first back into your car.
JONES: I'm sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Now, thankfully, Levar Jones survived that shooting, that man who said he couldn't feel his leg, and trooper Groubert was fired for the incident and is charged now with aggravated assault and battery, and he could get 20 years in prison.
Let's dig deeper with our panel on this. CNN anchor Don Lemon, we have John Gaskin, pardon me, of the St. Louis NAACP, and we have CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes. He's the former assistant director of the FBI.
John, I want your reaction to this, both to the incident, kind of looking at the bigger picture here, and also the result that this trooper has been charged and could face serious time.
GASKIN: As you can see, they have moved quite swiftly in their action that's going to be taken against this trooper. I've seen the video on your (ph) network and, wow, it's very powerful.
But it just goes to show these types of street side executions that are happening almost biweekly here in America with altercations with law enforcement officers and this event luckily, it's a blessing that this young man was not killed.
GASKIN: But as you can see, he had his hands up. He was simply trying to obey the order that the trooper had given him to get his driver's license. And I mean, he turns away and simple shots are fired. It is unbelievable.
KEILAR: It is unbelievable. And, Tom, inconsistent, quick answers here for the last two guys because we have to go pretty quickly, but this isn't consistent with training. So, why did this happen?
FUENTES: I don't know why it happened. He obviously overreacted. The dash cam shows that completely, that he was scared beyond what you would normally except a trained officer to be. KEILAR: Yes. And, Don, final word from you? Your reaction
LEMON: Well, thank God for the videotape. This is something that happens all the time in America and we can't keep saying, hey, listen, we don't know what happened. We weren't there. Well, we were from the videotape. This happens all the time. Wake up, America. We need to change this.
KEILAR: Yes, that is certainly a very good point and certainly very interesting to see the reaction of the trooper.
John, Don, Tom, thank you so much to all of you for this discussion.
Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Tweet the show @CNNSitroom and be sure to join us tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM. Watch us live or DVR the show so you don't miss a moment.
Thanks so much for watching. I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.