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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz; Battle Against ISIS; Secret Service Under Fire; Tension in Ferguson; Armed Man Ran Through White House; Eight Arrested in Ferguson after Violent Protests; CNN Poll: Airstrikes Popular, But No Obama Bounce
Aired September 29, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We're learning that he got much farther into the building than we had realized.
Plus, this: a new shooting incident here in Washington, D.C., just a little while ago. It's only adding to questions about potential danger to the first family. Is the Secret Service keeping the Obamas safe?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are our streets. These ain't your streets. These are our streets.
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BLITZER: Fresh anger and arrests on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. The tensions stoked by new incidents of police officers.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following two breaking news stories this hour.
New fears of a massacre as ISIS fighters they are closing in on a Kurdish city near Syria's border with Turkey. A civilian inside Kobani, that's the city, tells CNN terrorist forces are only about two miles away.
We're also getting shocking new details about the intruder that recently jumped the White House fence. We're learning he ran through much of the main floor of the White House. A security breach much more dangerous than all of us originally realized.
We have our correspondents and analysts standing by to cover all the breaking news.
First, let's go to our chief national correspondent, Jim Sciutto, with more on the ISIS threat -- Jim. JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, there are panicked calls from Syrian Kurds under assault from ISIS fighters on the Turkish border, where there have been no new coalition airstrikes there today. As ISIS is on the advance again in Syria, there are new questions here at home after the president laid blame for underestimating the group firmly on the intelligence community.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The message was clear, the president seeming to place responsibility for underestimating ISIS' rise firmly and solely on the intelligence community.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.
SCIUTTO: Listen to the public testimony of intelligence and administration officials in recent months, however, and the early warnings appeared clear as well.
Here's the administration's point man on Iraq, Brett McGurk, from February 11 this year, four months before ISIS' sweeping offensive in Northern Iraq.
BRETT MCGURK, U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Its current leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is a designated global terrorist under U.S. law and we believe is currently based in Syria. His mission, as clearly stated in his own statements, is to carve out a zone of governing territory from Baghdad through Syria to Lebanon.
SCIUTTO: And here's the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, General Michael Flynn, one week earlier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How imminent of a threat does the resurgence of al Qaeda affiliates pose for the region's stability there?
LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, DIRECTOR, DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: It's increasingly a concern that we're going to have to pay very close attention to.
SCIUTTO: And here's McGurk again last November, a full seven months before ISIS' advance.
MCGURK: The more that this al Qaeda network gains strength and gains roots in Western Iraq, the greater the threat will be. That's why we have to go after that in a very serious way.
SCIUTTO: Intelligence officials tell CNN that the agency's issued multiple reports warning of ISIS' rise in the months before it expanded from its base in Syria into Iraq, detailing both its growing capability and its growing ambitions to take over territory as far as Baghdad, the threat to the capital highlighted the very month before ISIS stormed across the border from Syria.
Just last week, CIA Director John Brennan said the CIA also issued a broader strategic warning about ISIS.
JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I think certainly that the intelligence community did a very good job on both those issues as far as trying to ensure that the policy-makers were informed about the evolving facts on the ground.
SCIUTTO: The White House defended the president's statement today.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Everybody knew that there was a threat that was posed by ISIL. But what nobody could predict, as the director said, is the willingness of the Iraqi security forces to stand up and fight for their own country.
SCIUTTO: Where all sides were surprised was the lightning-fast dissolution of the Iraqi army in the face of ISIS' advance, something that apparently no one saw coming.
SCIUTTO: I spoke today to Representative Adam Schiff. He's on the House Intelligence. And explained that there are numerous intelligence reports about numerous threats.
So it's one thing to say that there is a report, another thing to say that out of a mountain of threats, Wolf, that this particular threat is one you have to allocate your limited resources to. That seems to be the question here. There were certainly warnings. Were they severe enough that it should have changed administration policy?
On the other hand, the administration made two key decisions, one, withdraw those troops from Iraq and, two, not get involved in Syria earlier, and both those things, I'm told by intelligence officials, contributed to an intelligence black hole in fact there regarding ISIS.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto, thank you very much.
Let's get an update now on the bloody march by ISIS, the terrorists near Syria's border with Turkey. We're told terrorist fighters are closer than ever to a key city.
Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
What are you hearing, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the name of the town you want to remember is Kobani. This the a town of Syrian Kurds very close to the Turkish border.
This brings ISIS very close to Turkey, a NATO ally, right to the southern flank of NATO. Citizens in the city, at least one of them, is reporting that ISIS may be as little as two miles away. It's continuing its advance on that city. If ISIS is able to take Kobani, this will give them really free rein from Raqqa, which is their self- declared capital in north central Syria all the way to the Turkish border.
Again, a new frontier, if you will, controlled by ISIS all the way to NATO's southern flank -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So why isn't the U.S. doing more, the U.S., Saudis, UAE, more airstrikes in that specific area going after these ISIS targets?
STARR: We asked that question today. And Pentagon officials are saying, remember, there is no stated U.S. mission to protect the Kurds in Syria. President Obama would have to authorize that specifically.
They don't have the authorization to do that. They are going after ISIS targets. They have had a very small handful of strikes near Kobani, near these border crossings. But, right now, that is not a U.S. mission. Remember, while Iraq welcomed U.S. participation inside their country, Syria has not -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr, thanks very much.
A CNN exclusive now, ISIS insiders revealing how the terror group prepared for the airstrikes, hiding many of their fighters and equipment before the U.S. and the others even started launching attacks.
Let's go to our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, and she's joining us now live. She's in Turkey right near the border with Syria.
You have got some exclusive interviews, Arwa. Tell us what you have learned.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we spoke to two men, both with very close ties to ISIS. One who continues to maintain those ties. These conversations provided a significant level of insight into how the organization operates and how it has managed to morph to avoid being impacted, or at least significantly impacted by coalition airstrikes.
DAMON (voice-over): When coalition airstrikes blasted the ISIS strong hold of Raqqa, Abu Talha saw a target of opportunity. He called the only person he could trust.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He was a relative. He was always telling me to defect.
DAMON: Defect from ISIS. He shaved his beard and crossed into Turkey. Visibly anxious as we speak. Now wanted by all sides. The organization he refers to as the Islamic State he tells us relies heavily on foreign fighters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't see anything. The French, they have so much control. They're even more extreme than we are. They come from France, but it's as if they have been a part of the Islamic State for years. DAMON: And he says ISIS was well prepared for coalition airstrikes,
moving their fighters and equipment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They almost entirely emptied out the headquarters him some equipment they hid in civilian neighborhoods, some they hid underground. DAMON (on camera): We are interviewing him by Skype, he's ran ISIS fighter in Raqqa. But he won't speak directly to a woman so that's why (inaudible) is asking the questions.
(voice-over): Since the coalition airstrikes in Syria, he says, ISIS band all communications from Raqqa. With permission from his emir, Abu Talha travelled closer to the border with Iraq, to be able access the Internet for this interview.
ABU TALHA, SYRIAN ISIS FIGHTER (through translator): We have been ready for this for some time. We now our bases are known because they're tracking us with radars and satellites. We have back-up locations. They thought they knew everything. Thank God, they don't know anything. God willing. We will defeat the infidels.
DAMON: He says he was with the fighters who overran Mosul and that they knew how easy it would be to push out the Iraqi army and seize their weapons and armor, much of it American made.
TALHA: This thing was all planned and prepared. There was nothing by chance. It was all organized.
DAMON: Abu Talha scoffed at the coalition strikes on the oil installations and other targets.
TALHA: We, the Islamic State, we have revenue other than oil. We have other avenues and our finances are not going to stop just because of oil losses. They hit us in some areas. We advance in others. If we are pushed back if Iraq. We advance in Northern Syria. These strikes cannot stop us, our support or our fighters.
DAMON: For Abu Omar, the caliphate was a dream. One he still believes in, but not under ISIS. Not like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw a 70-year-old sheik killed in front of me. Islamic state can't continue like this there are a lot of youth who are joining, 14, 15-years-old. Maybe my voice can make them think again.
DAMON: And, Wolf, we spent most of the day watching ISIS fighters along Kobani's eastern front, moving with complete impunity and seemingly very confident that they weren't going to be targeted by coalition airstrikes.
The argument, that the U.S. mission is not to protect the Kurds, well, that's one that many people here will tell you is simply unacceptable. They will tell you that the coalition has a moral obligation to prevent a massacre from happening, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's why we saw some of those supposedly pro-American Syrians protesting on the streets of Syria, calling death to America. They don't like these airstrikes because they're not going after Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Arwa, thanks very much.
Let's talk a little bit more about ISIS and the terror threat.
Joining us, our CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd, our CNN military analyst retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, and our CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.
Phil, you just heard Arwa's report. It's pretty amazing. These ISIS guys, you have to take what they're saying with a grain of salt, they're saying these U.S.-led airstrikes are really not having much of an impact because they were braced for them. They moved their equipment, they hid their top commanders. They knew what was coming and they went into heavily populated civilian areas. What do you make of that?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This really underscores, Wolf, the importance of endurance of the U.S. mission.
When you look at the degradation of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for example, we're 13 years into that. We degraded the al Qaeda infrastructure in Pakistan a great deal, but that took years. I remember sitting in the chair four years after 9/11 wondering how much damage we had done to the al Qaeda infrastructure.
What we're seeing here is an embedded terrorist organization, it's taking advantage of civilians. But if we don't stick around for months or years, they will succeed in embedding and avoiding us.
BLITZER: What do you make of this, what these two ISIS terrorists told Arwa, Paul?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, this is consistent with a whole stream of reporting coming out of Syria, that ISIS have embedded fighters in civilian areas.
And I think that's going to make them much more difficult to target them than, say, al Qaeda in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Those were remote mountainous areas. ISIS are in urban areas, a little bit Hamas in Gaza. So this is going to be very, very difficult to target them.
There's also concern that this group could train Western operatives in apartment blocks in places like Raqqa to come back and target the West. How on earth are going to the United States going to target them without a lot of civilian casualties, Wolf?
BLITZER: General Hertling, over the weekend, we saw some video, protests throughout Syria. These were not from anti-American elements, these are people that want to cooperate with the United States, but they were protesting the U.S.-led airstrikes, shouting death to America. It's pretty shocking when you think about it, because the U.S. was not going after Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Take a look at this video. These are the people the U.S. wants to train to fight Bashar al-Assad's regime and to fight ISIS, if you will. What do you make of this?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I don't think all of those are people we're going to train to fight either ISIS or the Assad regime, Wolf.
Some of those are members of the Nusra organization. Some are members of Khorasan, as was pointed out in a very good "New York Times" article today. Again, whenever you're dealing in this part of the world, you're dealing with multiple groups, all with their separate interests. I would suggest that anybody who is shouting death to America because we haven't gone after specifically Bashar al-Assad is not understanding the situation that we find ourselves in, with interests of the American people behind us.
Everything Paul and Phil have said is exactly right, and I would add to what you said as well that we have got to take a lot of the comments by people in this part of the world with a little bit of a grain of salt. Just the fact that these terrorists, the terrorists who was talking to Arwa has gone underground and doesn't want to use communication tells me that some of the airstrikes, the strategic airstrikes that we have conducted in Syria have in fact been effective in terms of turning ISIS on their ear a little bit.
BLITZER: But here's what worries a lot of U.S. officials, Phil. I'm anxious to get your thoughts, the fact that these Free Syrian Army, these pro-U.S. elements that the U.S. is about to train and fund and arm and all of that, they are now increasingly apparently aligning themselves with these al-Nusra terrorists, because they have one thing in common, they hate Bashar al-Assad's regime.
MUDD: I think this is going to be a real problem for us over time because what you're seeing, and Mark talked about this, is that we have different objectives. Let's be clear here.
Our objective is not regime change. We did that without a great deal of success in some ways in Iraq. Saddam is not there, but we have chaos. We're not talking specifically about using force for regime change in Syria. We're talking about going after ISIS. That's way too subtle, I think, for the Free Syrian Army.
We're going to have to have some conversations that say, if we're training folks to go after ISIS, why aren't we training them to go after Assad? This has to be resolved at some point.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, right now, the U.S. is not training them to go after Bashar al-Assad. They're training them specifically to go after ISIS.
Paul, what do you think about these reports? We haven't confirmed them, but there are increasing indications the al-Nusra terrorist front, the U.S. regards al-Nusra as a terrorist organization, may be, may be aligning itself with ISIS.
CRUICKSHANK: Well, there have been some defections from Jabhat al- Nusra to ISIS. Perhaps a couple hundred people have gone over. But the two leaderships are very much still at war with each other.
In the last few days, Jabhat al-Nusra leaders have said they're still at war with ISIS. But I think the concern is, if these airstrikes continue and they intensify, you could, in the future, see some cooperation between the two groups. Some of the hard-liners within Jabhat al-Nusra may be arguing for that, Wolf.
BLITZER: We're going to leave it right there. But we will continue the breaking news. Guys, thank you very much, Phil Mudd, Paul Cruickshank, Mark Hertling. Appreciate it very much.
Still ahead, there's shocking new information we're learning about that White House intruder who not only got inside the White House, he ran through much of the main floor of the White House. Got into the East Room of the White House.
There's also been a new shooting here in the nation's capital. Secret Service agents moved in. How safe is the first family right now? Congressman Jason Chaffetz, he is here. He's a key member of Congress investigating all of this.
Congressman, we're going to talk to you in a moment. So get a seat. Get ready.
THE SITUATION ROOM will be right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news.
We're getting alarming new information about a major security breach at the White House. We're learning the man who jumped the fence and stormed the presidential residence overpowered an officer and actually made it a lot further into the White House than we previously knew.
Brian Todd has been investigating.
What are you learning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, we have learned the fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, got into the East Room of the White House before he was taken down by Secret Service officers.
This is part of the new details we're getting on two major security incidents at the White House, which have put the Secret Service on the defensive.
TODD (voice-over): The White House fence jumper swept past a Secret Service officer and ran around the main floor of the White House. That's according to Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who is part of an investigation into the incident.
The intruder, Omar Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, was inside the East Room of the White House when he was finally taken down, according to Chaffetz and "The Washington Post," which first reported these new details.
Until now, the Secret Service claimed the man had been captured right after entering the front door. Contacted by CNN, the Secret Service would not comment, citing an ongoing investigation. This comes on the heels of an earlier report from "The Washington Post" claiming the White House came under attack in November 2011. Seven bullets hit the White House, one smashing a window just a few feet from the first family's living room.
The president, first lady and daughter Malia were not home at the time, but the younger daughter, Sasha, and the first lady's mother were inside.
(on camera): How bad could this have been? What if the grandmother and the daughter had been on the balcony?
RALPH BASHAM, FORMER SECRET SERVICE DIRECTOR: Well, clearly, had the grandmother and the daughter been on the balcony, it would have been a very dangerous situation, and would have put them in harm's way.
TODD (voice-over): The shooter, Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, sped off, crashed his car a few blocks away. He was arrested five days later in Pennsylvania. According to the "Post"'s new reporting, Secret Service supervisors told agents to stand down immediately after the incident, claiming no shots fired.
And it wasn't until the cleaning staff discovered the bullets four days later that the Secret Service realized there had been shots fired. Critics are again blasting the Secret Service.
RONALD KESSLER, AUTHOR, "THE FIRST FAMILY DETAIL": They are not safe, absolutely not. The agents I talked to say it's a miracle that there's not been an assassination so far.
TODD: The Secret Service is pushing back far, telling CNN the agency did not bungle the response or the investigation. They claim agents were told to stand down immediately afterward because of the confusion of the moment. Witnesses had reported people from two cars had fired at each other. As for not finding the bullets for four days:
JOHN TOMLINSON, FORMER SECRET SERVICE ASSISTANT DEPUTY DIRECTOR: While the bullet pierced the historical glass, it didn't go through the protective coating of the White House. So when you're examining the White House from the inside windows, there were no breaks in that protective glass.
TODD: "The Washington Post" reports that first lady Michelle Obama was "furious" with the Secret Service over this incident we just detailed. A former White House official who was there at the time says the first family was concerned about the incident and unhappy with the slow response, but not furious as "The Post" said.
A current White House official says the first family has confidence in the Secret Service to do its job -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, "The Post" also reporting one agent who heard the shots that night back in 2011 thought there had been a shooter and was reluctant to tell her supervisors. Is that right?
TODD: That's right. "The Post" says that agent had heard the gunshots and actually prepared to respond with her own weapon and another one when she was told to stand down. "The Post" reports she did not want to tell her superiors for fear of being criticized.
A Secret Service official again pushed back hard on that, saying to us, that is not true, that agents are not punished for reporting security lapses. Also, former Director Ralph Basham told us that same thing. He said they are not punished.
BLITZER: Very worrisome developments. Brian, thanks very much.
Meanwhile, another security incident causing alarm here in Washington. The Secret Service has now arrested this man after he brandished a gun, fired one shot outside the Ethiopian Embassy here in the nation's capital. The incident occurred near the school attended by the Obama daughters, putting the school on lockdown.
Let's get some more on all of this.
Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah is joining us. He's chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security.
Congressman, what is going on here?
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: I've got deep concerns that the president is not as safe as we want and need him to be. I've got questions about leadership, about protocol, and about the training at the Secret Service.
BLITZER: Where is your question of leadership, for example?
CHAFFETZ: Well, these incidents seem to be getting worse, not better. There are lots of redundancies, rings of security around the president and specifically around the White House. But to have such an epic failure from top to bottom really begs the question: why did they decrease the number of trainings that were going on at the same time that the House was actually appropriating even more money? Why did those trainings come down? What is the protocol?
Why is it that the White House -- I'm sorry, the Secret Service -- they issue a statement and said that the intruder, the guy who hopped the fence, had no weapon? Ends up he did have a weapon. Why is it that they said he stopped at the door, but our whistle-blowers are telling us he went much further into the White House? Why is it that they brag about -- I say brag, but they tout the idea that there is tremendous restraint by these officers? I want to see overwhelming force, repel anybody who is trying to get into the White House. I don't think that's good leadership.
BLITZER: What's shocking to me as someone -- I spent almost eight years covering the White House, going there almost every day during the Clinton administration. There were always fence jumpers. They jump over the fence, they run on the lawn, the dogs come, they arrest them, and that's that.
But someone actually got through the lawn, ran all the way to the front door on the north side of the White House. The door was unlocked. Got inside. And originally we thought that person was stopped right inside. But what you're saying, based on what you're hearing, that person not only ran through the White House, got into the East Room of the White House, where the president hosts state dinners.
CHAFFETZ: And to the doorway to the Green Room. And so the question is -- there's an audible alarm that's supposed to be there. One of our whistle-blowers has indicated that the audible alarm had been muted because the ushers thought it was disruptive and made noises.
And so it begs the question of leadership. Are we going to put security at the top, at the number one issue, or are there going to be some political considerations like making sure it doesn't get too noisy on the first floor there?
BLITZER: I'm still confused what are the rules of engagement? When can a Secret Service officer, either uniformed or not uniformed -- actually use force? They're all armed, basically. When can they shoot an intruder?
CHAFFETZ: Again, when the Secret Service puts out a statement saying that the officers showed tremendous restraint, I've got a problem with that. I don't want tremendous restraint. Safety and security of the president, the first family is priority one and securing the White House.
You don't know what this person has underneath them. In this day of ISIS and ISIL and terrorists and all this, you don't know if the person has an improvised explosive device, maybe a dirty bomb, some other thing.
What if there were 12 people came over the fence, then what would they have done? I want to see overwhelming force deter somebody. And when you have a situation where you have the apparent lax security, you're unfortunately going to invite more attacks. And that's the concern.
BLITZER: Is it true that the threats against this president, President Obama, that they're much more than previous presidents?
CHAFFETZ: Unfortunately, I think that is true. I've got to see some more solid stats. But the world situation, the historic nature of this president, he's under constant attack. There's a reason why we have such an elaborate security force surrounding the president and the first family. Great men and women who serve there, but they can never, ever, ever make a mistake. Ever! It just can't happen.
BLITZER: The Secret Service says they're not providing all this information because there's an ongoing investigation, and as a result they'll share the information down the road. I think sharing the information with Congress, with you.
CHAFFETZ: We're going to have a hearing tomorrow. I appreciate the director coming and answering the questions in the light of day. Just because something is embarrassing doesn't mean that it's classified. So it will be interesting to see the mix. I don't want to hear the director continue to say well, that's classified, it's classified, it's classified.
In the United States of America, we are self-critical. This is how we make things better, and this is why Congress needs to get involved.
BLITZER: If you don't learn from mistakes, you're bound to repeat those mistakes. You've got to learn the important lessons. Do you have confidence in the relatively new Secret Service director, Julia Pierson?
CHAFFETZ: I've got real questions for her. I know the president has expressed great confidence in the Secret Service, but I have some serious questions. Great men and women, but I question their training, I question the protocol, and I question the leadership.
BLITZER: But she's got a lot of experience there. But you think she comes from what, the same culture? Is that the problem? She really hasn't made many changes that you want to see? Is that what you're saying?
CHAFFETZ: Long-term, I think we need to evaluate after 9/11 when they moved Secret Service out of Treasury, put it into Homeland Security, made the director a Senate-confirmed position? Did that become too political? That's a long-term question; we won't answer that tomorrow. But a real question about the structure and how they make these decisions, the protocol. I would like to see more force, lethal force if necessary. If you can't put a dog or a person in between an intruder into the White House, then I would like to see lethal force. You just cannot let somebody get into the White House.
BLITZER: Congressman, I want you to stand by.
I want to continue the breaking news coverage. We'll take a quick break. Much more right after this.
BLITZER: We're covering the breaking news. The man who jumped the fence, stormed the White House, overpowered an officer, made it further into the White House than we previously knew. This information comes from Congressman Jason Chaffetz, who's still with us.
Congressman, we spoke about that, and it's pretty alarming. But in 2011, shots are fired at the White House, in the residence. And for four days nobody knew that shots were fired at the White House? How could that happen?
CHAFFETZ: Well, what's concerning to me is we had a relatively young agent who was there. She heard what she thought were shots. She called it out, but somehow, it gets to a supervisor and the supervisor says, "No, no, just stand down." That's the word I heard was "stand down."
And that's of deep concern, because when you have somebody who hears shots fired, what is the protocol? What are the alarm bells that go off?
And then shortly thereafter, Secret Service finds a vehicle that had crashed and actually had some information in there that would lead you to believe that perhaps the two were connected. But again, that was dismissed. And it wasn't very far from the White House.
Then you had local law enforcement actually detain somebody who ended up being the person they were looking for, but they let him go because the Secret Service didn't put anything out over the bulletins. That person is then detained again in another setting. And again, nothing out from the Secret Service, so they let him go again.
It wasn't for four days that they figured out that the White House had taken seven rounds.
BLITZER: And that's only because somebody was -- a housekeeper at the White House was cleaning up and saw what looked like a bullet wound. And all of a sudden, they realized that shots had been fired at the White House.
CHAFFETZ: Maybe I'm just being a little naive. I thought that the Secret Service would at least make some rounds and walk around a little bit. Because anybody who would have walked up on that second floor of the residence would have noticed broken glass on the ground.
BLITZER: So what needs -- you're going to have a hearing tomorrow on this whole issue. The director of the Secret Service will be there. What needs to be done?
CHAFFETZ: Look, great men and women who are patriotic. They serve this nation. But questions about training, questions about protocol. What is it that is their true objective? I don't buy the idea, the notion that they're supposed to offer great restraint or tremendous restraint as the Secret Service touts. I don't think that's the right message.
I want the Secret Service to know we've got their back. You can never let something happen to the White House or the president. And if they have to take more aggressive measures, we've got their back.
BLITZER: Because you've heard all these reports that morale at the Secret Service, not good right now. You've heard that.
CHAFFETZ: Oh, yes, it's one of the worst in all of the federal agencies. Homeland Security is a haul (ph). But particularly there at the Secret Service. It's very demoralizing to have gone through all these incidents. They
had problems with their inspector general that hopefully has been cleaned up. The training levels have come dramatically down. They have pay issues. There are lots of things the Secret Service is dealing with. And then to pat somebody on the back for offering tremendous restraint, I don't think that's the message you want to be sending to all these agents out there.
BLITZER: No, clearly there are problems. But let's also not lose sight of the fact these men and women of the Secret Service, they do an excellent job. They risk their own lives to protect the president, the first family and others.
CHAFFETZ: Oh, absolutely. I mean, what they do day in and day out, I'm sure is somewhat mundane, and then all of a sudden, everything breaks loose. And I could not be more proud of the individual agents. But I worry that Director Pierson and the leadership there at the Secret Service is failing them. And I question again the training and the protocol.
How are we going to reward and recognize these people for the tough, tough work that they do? It's just not happening.
BLITZER: Well, I know you've got a hearing tomorrow. You're going to be grilling the director. We'll talk afterwards, if that's OK with you.
BLITZER: All right. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, thanks very much for joining us.
Just ahead, a weekend of chaos in Ferguson, Missouri. With more protests, multiple arrests, two officers under fire. We're going there live for the very latest.
BLITZER: There are more arrests in Ferguson, Missouri, after another chaotic weekend of demonstrations that turned violent. Police arrested eight people after rocks and bottles were thrown at officers outside the police station.
CNN's Sara Sidner is on the ground in Ferguson with the very latest.
What is the latest, Sara?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it doesn't matter what happens and what police are involved in it, people here do not trust them, especially in the black community. And we're seeing just about every night some type of protest erupt here.
SIDNER (voice-over): Tensions in Ferguson boiling over again. Several people arrested Sunday as crowds gathered outside the police department. A community on edge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These ain't your streets. These are our streets.
SIDNER: On Saturday, protests during a manhunt after a Ferguson police officer was shot in the arm while patrolling behind the community center. There was concern the officer was targeted, a reaction to the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer last month. But authorities say that is not the case.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this in any way related to the protests?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I don't think it is.
SIDNER: But there is an ongoing mistrust between the black community and police here.
DAVID WYATT: As long as this memorial is standing, people will be reminded, No. 1, who the enemy is.
SIDNER (on camera): Is that police?
WITT: Exactly. They are the No. 1 enemy. They are the -- they are the protectors of those who seek to do people injustice.
SIDNER (voice-over): The Ferguson police chief insists that his officers do not target people based on race. But David Witt says the black community still feels they are treated differently, a sentiment echoed by President Obama in a speech this weekend.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement. Guilty of walking while black or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness.
SIDNER: In Ferguson, the racial divide isn't just limited to police and protesters. Residents say they feel it between one another.
(on camera): What are you experiencing now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yelling, screaming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of anger wherever you go. Manners seem to have gone out the window when you're going to the grocery store. And it could be on both sides of the fence. You don't know where anybody stands.
SIDNER (voice-over): Since Brown's death, police and protesters are watching the streets like never before.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of anger wherever you go. Manners seem to have gone out the window when you're going to the grocery store. And it could be on both sides of the fence. You don't know where anybody stands.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Since Brown's death, police and protesters are watching the streets like never before. Not long after the Michael Brown shooting, police here began wearing body cameras. In fact, the officer who was shot during a patrol at the community center was wearing one, but police say he didn't turn it on.
And that just heightens mistrust here. Now, it isn't just police wearing cameras, but citizens are donning them, too. Both trying to protect themselves in the eyes of the law with indisputable proof.
SIDNER: And tomorrow, there's going to be another town hall meeting here. This time between people here in the community and the leaders where they can ask any question they want. We have talked to the mayor. The mayor saying that he hopes they are working towards a better Ferguson. The Department of Justice is mediating that -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Sara, thanks very much. Sara Sidner in Ferguson.
Let's big deeper right now. Joining us John Gaskin of NAACP, and our CNN law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI.
John, how long are these protests going to continue?
JOHN GASKIN, NAACP BOARD MEMBER: You know, you have a community that is very upset, that does not trust local law enforcement, that feels the local leadership there is incompetent. You've got a police chief that has really irreparable relationship with the community.
I believe the protests will remain until they see justice. And people want answers. There is a very large level and amount of distrust.
And so, as we saw this weekend, people are on edge. I feel as though we're almost working with borrowed time. Tensions are very high, so people want answers, and they want them now.
BLITZER: Tom, how does law enforcement there calm these tensions? Because it is very, very potentially dangerous.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Wolf, I'm starting to believe they can't calm it, almost anything they do. I think the attempted apology by the chief of police was probably a mistake and the way it was presented, and hiring a PR firm to put it out made it look insincere all by itself.
But I think that the fact that these protests are going on in such a strong way, so long after the event, and we're not going to have a result of the Missouri grand jury for a long time, we're not going to have the results of the federal investigation for a longer time. I don't see an end in this any time soon.
BLITZER: Over the weekend, John, as you know, two police officers were shot in and around Ferguson, apparently no connection at all to the protests. What was your reaction when you heard about it? How did the community react?
GASKIN: Well, when I heard about it, I was very concerned, because one thing that the NAACP and everyone in the community should know is that all life matters. Whether it's black or white, it doesn't matter. All life is valuable.
So, we don't want anyone to get hurt. But, you know, the police chief, Chief Belmar, said that he doesn't feel as though it was in relation to the protests, and it may not have been. But the fact of the matter is, you have policemen that are on edge. They're probably very agitated, watching really every move.
But, you know, you have a community that is really outraged, that the steps we've been encouraging, they're not even taking. The officer who was shot, his camera wasn't. They're not wearing their name badges. And it's my understanding the policemen are still wearing the bands that say "I am Dan Wilson," which the Department of Justice asked them to stop wearing.
So, you know, people are wondering why protesters are remaining angry. But it appears to be almost no progress.
BLITZER: We'll see what happens. Let's hope it stays calm.
John Gaskin, Tom Fuentes -- guys, thank you very much.
Just ahead, as the U.S. takes the fight to ISIS with air strikes in Syria and Iraq, there's growing support in the American public. But is the campaign doing anything for the president's public image? Stand by. We have details.
BLITZER: As the U.S. expands its military assault against ISIS, we have brand new evidence that Americans support the overall mission. Our exclusive CNN/ORC poll shows 73 percent favor airstrikes by the U.S. and its allies. The poll shows Americans are giving the president higher marks in his handling of terrorism and ISIS.
But take a look. His overall job approval rating, the president is still at just 44 percent of the job he's doing. It's about the same as it was earlier this month, suggesting he is not necessarily getting what's called that war time rally effect bump.
Let's bring in our chief national correspondent John King, anchor of CNN's "INSIDE POLITICS". Our political commentator, Ryan Lizza, he is the Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker", and our chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
Why isn't he, Gloria, getting that little increase? Normally, the president takes the country to war, the American public generally supports the president.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the public tends to view this as airstrikes, Wolf, because the president has said over and over and over again that there are no boots on the ground. We may call it a war but they regard it pretty differently.
And while the president has gotten an uptick in the polling on his handling of terrorism and ISIS and foreign affairs, there is one big number that stands out. And that is that less than 50 percent of the American public believes he is a really good commander-in-chief. And so, that keeps a level on his ratings. So, this isn't like at all like George W. Bush post-9/11.
BLITZER: The president doesn't have to worry, again, about politics or getting reelected, but there are a lot of Democrats who are desperately, five weeks from now, have to run for re-election and stake the Senate -- the majority in Senate. His job approval nationally might be 44 percent. You go to some of these key states, in Arkansas right now, his job approval, the president's, is at 33 percent, 38 percent in New Hampshire, 40 percent in Louisiana.
That generally hurts the Democratic candidate, the incumbent who is not that popular.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there will be some exceptions to the rule, in individual states, where individual campaigns have their own quirks and dynamics. But as a general rule, especially in the midterm election, the North Star of a midterm election is the president's approval rating. If the president goes up, his party comes up with him. The president goes down, his party goes down with him, and the president as you noted, both nationally and the states, has mostly been in a rut. Somewhere in the 30s or low 40s and that's been a pretty flat line.
So, with the president in a rut, Democrats are in a rut. The question is: can they overcome that dynamic and turn out their voters? Because you look at the president's approval rating in those states, if you also look, Wolf, at the difference between urban areas, where the president tends to do fairly well, or better anyway, that's where you find your African-Americans and Latino voters. You get into the suburbs, he sinks. You get into the rural areas, he sinks even more.
This is going to be a turnout game in Election Day. But the wind is blowing in the Democrats' face.
BLITZER: And, Ryan, if you take a look at what's going on over the next five weeks between now and the November mid-term elections, presumably the U.S. airstrikes against ISIS and Iraq and Syria will be continuing. How is that likely to impact, if at all this midterm elections?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, just to go back to the point that you open with, is why are not we seeing that traditional rally around the president effect. And, look, frankly, we have went been at war in some way or another since 9/11, right? And I'm not sure the country is -- or the public is processing the airstrikes the same as the invasion of Afghanistan or the invasion of Iraq was processed.
BORGER: No boots on the ground. LIZZA: There's no boots on the ground. We don't -- a lot of the images are not available to the press.
LIZZA: And so, I think this is, if there is no rally around the president now, I doubt it's going to -- we're going to see that increase as we get closer to the elections. People are -- we've been dropping bombs on Middle Eastern countries since 9/11. I think people are a little bit immune to the rally around the (INAUDIBLE).
The other thing is, the electorate is very polarized, and it's very hard to get Republicans or conservatives to say anything nice about the president, even in a war.
BORGER: But this could be a motivator for Republican voters, because a lot of candidates in these battleground states are saying the Democrats were asleep at the switch on ISIS. There's an ad in North Carolina, up on that, why the Democrats keep quiet about ISIS? Why weren't they there before? Couldn't this have been avoided? So, that's something you will see play out.
BLITZER: It's going to be -- I want to quickly get to this new article you have in "The New Yorker" about Senator Rand Paul. You entitle it, "The Revenge of Rand Paul."
By all accounts, he is seriously thinking of running for 2016, right?
LIZZA: His top political staffers said unless Rand's wife says no, Rand Paul is running.
BORGER: That's a big if.
BLITZER: So, you got Rand Paul --
BLITZER: Rand Paul running, I think Ted Cruz is seriously thinking, John. You got Ted Cruz. But a lot of people are waiting for some others like Jeb Bush, for example. Or even Mitt Romney, to make up their minds. What are you hearing?
KING: You're going to have a cross-section of this tug-of-war we've seen in the party since George W. Bush left office, really, and it is front and center now and this foreign policy issues play, too, because you got the more libertarian, less interventionist speak. Rand Paul says he's not an isolationist, but he's less interventionist than say a Marco Rubio or a John McCain. Now, we're waiting on Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, maybe Mike Pence the governor of Indiana is going up to New Hampshire pretty soon. So, we'll watch to see those folks --
BLITZER: All right. Hold on, we're just getting some video. Gloria, watch this video.
BLITZER: The first video we're seeing. Look at this, this is Chelsea Clinton, Marc Mezvinsky, her husband. They're leaving the hospital with the Clintons right behind them. Baby Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky right there.
Gloria, I guess --
BORGER: It looks like Kate -- reminiscent of Kate Middleton leaving --
LIZZA: This is our royalty, isn't it?
BLITZER: Can they get a shot of the baby at least?
BLITZER: I'm sure the baby is adorable.
BORGER: Proud grandma and grandpa behind.
BLITZER: This is video. It's pretty --
KING: I was at the Arkansas state house when they moved on out. Chelsea Clinton I think was 12 years old. I was the "A.P." pool reporter.
So, to see this -- it's just a milestone in their life and we talk about politics too much. This is a wonderful --
KING: Wonderful moment for the family. Good for Chelsea and Marc and yes, the woman behind her, the grandmom thinking of running for president. Bit she's gong to spend a little time with that baby first.
BLITZER: Is she running for president, do you think?
LIZZA: Why would she not run for president? What is the case against her running? No Democrat has been as dominant as she is at this part --
BORGER: If her spouse gets a vote, the vote is yes.
BLITZER: Chelsea and Marc, and Baby Charlotte, the Clintons, Marjorie Margolies, Marc's mother, let's wish them all congratulations and good luck. A wonderful, wonderful scene.
That's it for me. Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Please be sure to join us tomorrow. You can watch us live. You can always DVR the show, so you won't miss a moment. Thanks very much for watching.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.