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Obama: Ebola "A Top National Security Priority"; U.S. Teen Arrested Trying to Join ISIS; Biden: Sorry for Saying Allies Helped ISIS; Parents: 'Help Us to Bring Hannah Home; Parents Plea to Find Missing UVA Student
Aired October 6, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Ebola spreads -- a health care worker becomes the first person to contract the disease outside of Africa.
As another patient arrives for treatment in America, can U.S. authorities prevent the same thing from happening here?
An urgent huddle at the White House.
American ISIS recruit -- an airport arrest of a U.S. teenager accused of planning to join the terror group overseas.
And plea for help -- the parents of a University of Virginia student ask for help in ending their family's nightmare.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's begin with the Ebola epidemic that is spreading and so -- so is the fear.
As the White House convenes an urgent meeting on the deadly virus, an American cameraman and -- who contracted the disease in Liberia arrives in Nebraska for treatment. Federal authorities approve an experimental drug for the first patient to be diagnosed in this country, now in critical condition in a Dallas hospital and fighting for his life.
And we're also learning that a nursing assistant in Spain is now the first person known to have contracted the disease outside of West Africa during the current outbreak.
Anderson Cooper has an interview with the quarantined partner of the Dallas patient.
Our correspondents, analysts and newsmakers, they are all standing by.
Let's go to Dallas first. CNN's Martin Savidge has the very latest -- Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf.
Hospital officials, a short while ago, updated us on the condition of Thomas Duncan. He is described in critical condition. He had taken a turn for the worse over the weekend, going from serious to critical. But he is stable. He has been administered an experimental drug so there's reason for hope.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Family members of Thomas Eric Duncan tell CNN the 42-year-old is now being given an experimental drug called Brincidofovir. Experts say it's the best treatment available due to a shortage of ZMapp, another experimental therapy which was used successfully in two other Ebola patients here in the US.
Meantime, as the home where Duncan last stayed was cleaned, his partner, Louise, and her family remain under quarantine, moved to another home, reportedly provided by a member of a church.
Following an intense manhunt in Dallas, health workers say that they have tracked down the homeless man, Michael Lively, who they say rode later in the same ambulance which took Duncan to the hospital.
So far, he has had no signs of the disease.
Across Dallas, special fever measurement kits are now being delivered to schools. The devices measure a student's temperature without a thermometer -- in other words, without touching a person, as airports continue to ask travelers to be vigilant.
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: There have been suggestions from people in Congress, from the public, from the media. We'll look at those and see what works to protect Americans and to make sure that whatever we do doesn't unintentionally actually increase our risk.
SAVIDGE: Tonight, Ashoka Mukpo, the fifth American to contract Ebola, is also being treated in the U.S., at a Nebraska medical center in Omaha.
DIANE MUKPO, MOTHER OF ASHOKA MUKPO: He's enormously relieved to be here. Of course, it's still quite frightening. But he's hanging in and he sounds very strong.
SAVIDGE: The 33-year-old was an assignment for NBC News in Liberia when he was exposed to the deadly virus.
DR. BRAD BRITIGAN, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER: With each one of these patients, therapy needs to be individualized. So we certainly are really considering all treatment options. And obviously, it will need to be discussed with him, because, ultimately, if there are experimental therapies involved, he's going to have to be willing to -- and understand the risks and benefits of those.
(END VIDEO TAPE) SAVIDGE: Wolf, back here in Dallas, the officials are reassuring the public once more that beyond the patient, Thomas Duncan, there is no one else that is exhibiting any signs or any symptoms of Ebola. All 50 people being monitored have been checked today. All are fine -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope it stays that way.
Martin Savidge, thanks very much.
Just a few moments ago at an urgent White House meeting on Ebola, President Obama spoke out about the threat, calling it a top national security priority.
Let's go live to our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski.
She's got more -- Michelle.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Right, the president met with his national security team, including the secretary of Defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. They say they are treating this as a top national security priority.
What they wanted to do was look at the measures in place, both to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa and keep it from taking hold here, and see if anything more needs to be done, as well as reassuring Americans.
Here's some of what the president just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is important for Americans to know the facts. And that is that because of the measures that we've put in place, as well as our world class health system and the nature of the Ebola virus itself, which is difficult to transmit, the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is extremely low.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: Still, though, they said they are looking at additional protocols, possibly more screening of people once they get to the United States.
Now, they've already expanded screenings of people as they are getting on planes in those countries affected by Ebola in Africa. That includes asking people questions, taking their temperature.
And the administration says that those measures have prevented dozens and dozens of people from getting on planes and coming here. Of course, the problems with screenings, though, are they depend on, first of all, people telling the truth. And, secondly, people might not have symptoms there, but develop them in the US. That is exactly what we saw happen in the Dallas case. And we asked that of the administration today. You know, that seems like a risk that we, as a country, are willing to take. But they said, look, over the last six months, tens of thousands of people have flown from African countries. There has only been one diagnosed case in the US. They say even though, yes, there were some missteps in that Dallas case, they feel like the system, as it is right now, is working well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What did the president say, Michelle, about the notion of some sort of travel ban?
KOSINSKI: Yes, that question has come up. The president wasn't asked it specifically today.
But we asked that of the administration and time and again, they say they don't think it's necessary, first of all, and that it might even hinder efforts to tackle the virus and its spread in Africa. They are looking at additional procedures, but they think that that could be detrimental and they don't want to impede the flow of people and equipment to Africa. Then again, the question has been asked, well, why not just keep people from coming here and still send things over there?
And they say they just don't think it's necessary, it might not be effective. And they point to the capability of the American medical system to stop the spread of the disease here anyway -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Michelle, thank you.
CNN's Anderson Cooper has spoken with the partner of Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.
She and relatives who were in the apartment with Duncan, they are still under quarantine, but they have now been moved to another home.
Anderson is joining us now -- Anderson, we all remember that really critically important interview you did with her last week that seemed to have really changed the way the CDC and other local authorities were dealing with these people.
What did you learn from this second conversation you've now had with her?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. In that first interview, she had been left with the sheets, with the soiled towels that Thomas Eric Duncan had used. That is finally been dealt with. As you know, HAZMAT crews are even on the scene today, continuing to clean her apartment. As you said, she is in an undisclosed location with one of her children, a 13-year-old, and two of her nephews, all of whom were directly exposed to Thomas Eric Duncan when he was ill.
She continues, she says, to take her temperature and the temperature of those people in her family every -- throughout the day. She's seen no signs in herself or the three people she's with. And she's most concerned, she says, about the status of Thomas Eric Duncan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, Louise, what are you hearing about Thomas' condition?
LOUISE: It's gone from critical to worse. And that's why I really want to go on the air, to ask the American government to please help me. I want him to be safe. I want them to save his life.
COOPER: Did they tell you that his condition had worsened?
I understood that you heard his condition had worsened from a reporter?
COOPER: When was the last time you talked to him?
LOUISE: Two days ago. Two days ago when they put a tube in his mouth. He could hardly speak. So I told him, OK, I will call you back later. And I have not heard from him anymore.
COOPER: You must be very worried.
LOUISE: I am worried. I am sad. And you don't know how frustrated I am. I'm just asking God and asking the American government, the same medicine they're giving the people that come from Liberia, the Ebola people that came, the people with Ebola that came, the people with Ebola that came (INAUDIBLE), please help me and save his life. He is too young to die. Let us save his life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And, Wolf, as you know, she was talking about ZMapp, which is what the two American missionaries who become infected in Liberia and returned to the United States received.
The federal government says there is no more ZMapp available, there won't be for several months. And as you reported at the top of your broadcast, a number of sources are now telling us that Thomas Eric Duncan is receiving another experimental treatment.
BLITZER: I know she's deeply concerned about Duncan, and understandably so. He's in really critical, awful condition right now. But she's still, potentially, very vulnerable, as well. She's still within that 21-day window.
COOPER: That's absolutely correct, as are, you know, one of her children and two other people in the house. Even her daughter, who's 35 years old and lives elsewhere, is the person who actually found Duncan on the day when they actually brought him back to the hospital. The daughter is the one who actually called the ambulance. So that daughter also is potentially at risk, as are a number of other people, who apparently, according to local health officials, had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan. That 21-day window has not expired yet. And that is the incubation period -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Does she not believe that there is no ZMapp, that experimental drug, if you will, that they gave those two Americans who came back when the federal government, when the CDC and others say they don't have any more of that?
Does she not believe them?
COOPER: You know, she's not really sure. I mean I said that. I tried to explain what the government's stance is several times and she said -- she seemed to accept that later on in the conversation.
But, you know, she's clearly just frustrated. Clearly, she's scared and just wants to appeal to anybody possible. She's very thankful for the efforts the doctors have made thus far. She's frustrated she can't talk directly, because she is not a direct family member. She's been told she can't have direct communication to receive updates of his condition, so now she's learning things through her son, who's also the son of Thomas Eric Duncan.
BLITZER: Yes. Our heart goes to her and that entire family, everyone else who is involved, as well.
Anderson, thank you very much.
An important note to our viewers. You can watch Anderson's interview later tonight on "A.C. 360," a two hour edition, "A.C. 360" starts 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Up next, ISIS on the move -- the terror group raising a black flag in a key border city.
Do airstrikes -- are they really doing any good right now?
I'll have the former U.S. military central commander, retired General Anthony Zinni.
And a tearful plea for help from the parents of a missing University of Virginia student. We're going to have the latest on this search.
BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news now. This time involving the war against ISIS. A U.S. teenager, a 19-year-old, arrested trying to leave the United States. Authorities say he was on the way to try to join the ISIS terror group.
That comes as ISIS is gaining new ground in both Syria and Iraq, seemingly shrugging off those U.S. and ally air strikes.
Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is joining us now with more on what's going on. Despite all those air strikes, Jim, looks like ISIS keeps on moving. JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf,
this is exactly the kind of recruit that U.S. law enforcement has been focusing on, someone, an American, radicalized at home who talks about going to fight and then actually takes that step. That's when authorities swoop in. At any one time, there may be dozens, even hundreds of Americans talking about the same thing.
But it is when they take that step of traveling or attempting to travel to the war zone that the U.S. authorities act.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He told his parents he felt an obligation to migrate to ISIS-controlled land. Chicago area teen Mohammed Hamzah Khan is, say federal prosecutors, the latest of roughly a dozen Americans to volunteer for ISIS. He was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport just as he was about to aboard what he allegedly said was a one-way journey to Syria and to war.
On the ground there, ISIS is advancing even in the face of American airpower. Today in Kobani, northern Syria, Kurdish fighters are locked in bloody street battles with ISIS. The militants have already raised their signature black flags on a building and a hilltop overlooking the town while raining down shellfire from tanks and heavy artillery.
Quoting one fighter, a reporter for Arabic Alon (ph) TV tweeted, "We hoped American planes would help us. Instead, American tanks in the hands of ISIS are killing us."
U.S. officials call the effort against ISIS there ongoing.
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: This is something where we've long said from the beginning that this would take some time. We're working, you know, closely to do everything we can to help push back ISIL in this part of the country.
SCIUTTO: In Iraq where U.S. officials hope the combination of coalition airpower and Iraqi army units would turn the tide, ISIS is still advancing, as well. Capturing the city of Hitt and closing in on Ramadi.
With Iraqi forces faltering, the U.S. deployed Apache attack helicopters, originally intended to protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, to come to the rescue of overwhelmed Iraqi soldiers.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The strategy of aerobombardment is not going to work to destroy ISIL. We've got a series of half-measures with ISIL. They're going to draw this conflict out, and it will not lead to ISIL's destruction, which makes it much more dangerous.
SCIUTTO: When you look at the map, you see just how difficult it has been to make progress against ISIS. Here's how Iraq looked before the U.S.-led air campaign started, with 13 cities and major towns under ISIS control. This is Iraq now, 59 days later. Fourteen cities under Iraqi control -- under ISIS control, rather. They gained the city of Hitt here and Ramadi, a major city just to the west of Baghdad. That is now being contested for control. Some Iraqi army units have fled there, leaving it in effect to those ISIS fighters.
Now let's look at Syria next. There's no need for a before-and-after map in Syria, because 14 days ago when the strikes started, there were ten cities under is control. Today, there are still ten cities under ISIS control.
And Kobani, that crucial city that we've been watching the fighting play out just across the border from Turkey, sometimes live on CNN, in fact, that one contested with ISIS fighters now inside the city, Wolf. When you speak to U.S. military commanders, they say, listen, we never said the air campaign alone was going to change this map immediately.
But here you can tell it's going to take a lot more and certainly a much more forceful ground offensive, at least from Iraqi and Kurdish forces, to change the number of cities and the amount of territory under ISIS control.
BLITZER: Certainly will. All right. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
Let's dig deeper right now. The former commander of the U.S. military Central Command, and also the former special Middle East envoy, retired General Anthony Zinni is joining us. He's the author of a brand-new book entitled "Before the First Shots Are Fired."
General Zinni, thanks very much for joining us. These air strikes that the U.S. And the allies are launching in Iraq and Syria, correct me if I'm wrong, so far doesn't seem to be a game changer by any means.
GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI (RET.), FORMER HEAD OF U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: No, they're not. I think it's been said so many times without a credible ground force, you're not going to roll back ISIS. You can take out and destroy and degrade a little bit what you can find and target. But once they get in the city, it's going to be much more difficult when they're in close contact and where they may hide amongst the civilian population.
BLITZER: I read those press releases the U.S. military Central Command puts out almost every day, describing these air strikes, and they point to the U.S. aircraft, the coalition aircraft from the UAE or Saudi Arabia or others involved. And then they sort of say, well, they destroyed a vehicle. They destroyed an armored personnel carrier or they destroyed a tank. It looks like there's not much destruction going on if that's the best they can do.
ZINNI: Well, I think you see a problem with targeting other than obviously things like were just mentioned. But they're at the onesies and twosies. And it isn't doing significant damage to ISIS. And my worry is ISIS now is so close to Baghdad, whether they can take Baghdad or not would be an issue. But they certainly can get into the suburbs and within the city and
raise havoc there. And I think eventually that's what's going to happen unless there's a counter offensive and a rollback. And frankly, I don't see the ground forces that can make that happen.
BLITZER: I remember the sacrifice the U.S. military had to endure to capture Ramadi or Hitt and certainly Fallujah. I was in Fallujah myself. I remember when the U.S. retook Fallujah over there. It looks like all these areas now, despite these air strikes, are virtually in the hands of ISIS. What's going on?
ZINNI: Well, what you're seeing now is ISIS is much better armed than AQI, al Qaeda in Iraq was, its -- its forerunner. And it took American ground units with all the firepower we had in support and bloody fighting to retake those cities. There's going to have to be a credible ground force that's not there now in conjunction with the kind of air support, attack helicopters, artillery, et cetera, that are going to have to be used again.
If we just let them sit there, they're going to obviously expand where they see an opportunity. They're going to test the Iraqi military again. The poorly armed Kurdish forces are going to be stretched too thin. So time is not on our side, despite what I hear the administration saying.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by for a moment, General Zinni, because we need to take a quick commercial break. We're going to have a lot more including the disappearance of the Iraqi military. Where are those Iraqi ground forces? Why aren't they defending their own country despite the enormous U.S. effort to build up those troops over the past decade?
Much more with General Zinni right after this.
BLITZER: ... helped the terror organization by letting foreign fighters across that same Turkish/Syrian border. Let's bring in our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. She's watching this part of the story -- Elise.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this coalition to fight ISIS was very hard to build, and its long-term commitment is far from clear. So it doesn't exactly help matters when the White House has to apologize to key members of that coalition for offending them.
LABOTT: Tonight the Obama administration is scrambling to hold together the coalition of Arab countries battling ISIS after Vice President Biden was forced to apologize to two key Arab allies for comments he made questioning their commitment to stop the terror group.
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. LABOTT: His critical comments about Turkey, United Arab Emirates,
Saudi Arabia and Qatar came during a recent speech at Harvard.
BIDEN: They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being -- who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of Jihadis coming from other parts of the world.
LABOTT: The White House was asked about Biden's apologies to Turkey and the UAE today.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The fact that he called the leaders of those senior officials in those countries to apologize is an indication that he himself wishes that he had said it differently.
LABOTT: Privately, however, officials admit that, while Biden was undiplomatic, he wasn't entirely wrong. Sources say competing agendas among allies in the volatile region has allowed money and weapons to end up in the hands of extremists.
Biden also gave voice to U.S. criticism Turkey has allowed foreign fighters to cross the border into Syria to join ISIS.
BIDEN: And the Turks' President Erdogan told me -- he's an old friend -- he said, "You were right; we let too many people through."
LABOTT: Depending on who you believe, that conversation with the Turkish president was either supposed to be private or it never happened.
But all of this is making the job of keeping a fragile coalition on message even harder for the State Department's top public diplomacy official, who just returned from the region.
RICHARD NORGILL (ph), UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: I think they regard it as a very minor distraction compared to this real challenge of mobilizing all of our collective forces against this abhorrent organization.
LABOTT: And Wolf, this is the difference between politics and diplomacy. I mean, most of the sources that I've spoken to agree with Biden. But they say it's not exactly something you say out loud when the U.S. needs Arab and Muslim countries to be in the lead fighting ISIS.
And they say a lot of this happened in the past. Arab countries, Turkey, they're all on board now. So it seemed a little bit like an unnecessary dig at important allies that the U.S. needs right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Elise. Thanks very much. Let's bring back retired General Anthony Zinni, former commander of the U.S. military Central Command.
Was it really necessary, General Zinni, for the vice president to apologize for basically saying what everybody knows to be the -- more or less the truth?
ZINNI: Well, I think he could have mentioned also what they do for us. Take the United Arab Emirates. They're actually flying sorties and striking targets. We were with us in the Balkans, in Somalia, in Afghanistan, in the first Iraq war. You know, so I think it would be more diplomatic to at least mention the support we're getting.
If there are issues that they're arming people that they're uncertain where these weapons are going, that certainly needs to be cleared up. But I think just to talk about the things that need to be done and maybe the negatives that we need to work on, I think there's not enough mention of the positive part as this coalition builds. If we keep stressing the negative and sort of passing the buck as if we didn't arm people in Afghanistan as elsewhere that eventually those weapons were turned around, I think we're going to lose allies.
BLITZER: What about the disappearance of the Iraqi military? Leon Panetta, former defense secretary, says the U.S. could be engaged now in a 30-year war against ISIS. What do you say to that?
ZINNI: Well, I think there's one important point. It's not about the material things the Iraq army needs, the weapons and the logistics and communications. It's also they need something to fight for, and they need leadership.
The Maliki government obviously alienated large portions of the population. The political generals put in place were not capable of standing their ground and leading their forces in combat.
And I would go back to the disbanding of the Iraq army that neither I nor my predecessors thought was a good idea. We actually worked on an information operations campaign to ensure we wouldn't do that when the time came. And we find many of those who were thrown out, back even to that time, are now fighting with ISIS.
BLITZER: Which is a horrible situation. General Zinni, thanks very much for joining us.
BLITZER: We're also following developments in the search for that missing University of Virginia student, Hannah Graham. Her parents have now put out a new video appealing for information about their daughter. You're going to see that video in just a few minutes.
Jobs under the umbrella of STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math -- sometimes get a bad rap for being supposedly uncool. But one woman used her degree in mechanical engineering to break into NASCAR. CNN's Michaela Pereira has this week's "Science at Work."
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As a young girl in Puerto Rico, Alba Colon's (ph) head was in the stars.
ALBA COLON (ph): I remember in fifth grade, we studied a lot about when the man went to the moon. That was where it grabbed my attention. And when I saw Sally Ride, it became like an inspiration for me. I wanted to be the first Hispanic woman to do that. But my dream got deviated, and I decided to fall in love with vehicles.
PEREIRA: She's now lead engineer for Chevy racing. But she remembers a time when teams didn't have engineers at all. Colon is a Latina woman in a white man's world. But she says that's all changing.
COLON (ph): Maybe at first when I came to the sport, the guys were like, oh, there's a woman, what does she know? But I have worked hard and gained their respect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her and the whole team that my dad drove for at Fort Richards were all great friends. She was the one person out of the Chevy group that they respected and really appreciated what she did for the race teams.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's probably most important when we have either a car change or a rules change, she fights really hard for all of our teams.
PEREIRA: Colon (ph) knows her role is much bigger than just getting her teams to the victory lane.
COLON (ph): I really never had the opportunity to meet another woman that was an engineer. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) It's a big responsibility for us. We have been very fortunate to have a great career that we pass along our knowledge and enthusiasm.
BLITZER: CNN's Michaela Pereira reporting for us.
Up next, the latest plea for help from the parents of that missing University of Virginia student. We're going live to Charlottesville in just a minute.
BLITZER: Tearful, heart-wrenching new plea from the parents of the missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. CNN's Jean Casarez is keeping track of the search. What's the latest?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The latest is searchers were out again today, and they're working on now an eight-mile radius. The epicenter being Charlottesville, because the statistics show that that is where a missing person can be found within eight miles. While the search is going on, her parents stepped up to the microphone and very bravely gave an emotional plea to the public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUE GRAHAM, HANNAH'S MOTHER: Despite all of your efforts, Hannah is still missing. Somebody listening to me today either knows where Hannah is or knows someone who has that information. We appeal to you to come forward and tell us where Hannah can be found. Please, please, please help end this nightmare for all of us. Please help us to bring Hannah home. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CASAREZ: And this is the largest search effort in Virginia's history. And another first this weekend, the Wolpert company out of Ohio sent up a private plane that they have with state-of-the-art technology of ultra-high precision sensors that scan the earth and the GPS can go to an exact location. Law enforcement told where they wanted those scans of the earth to be had.
They are analyzing the pictures right now. It takes 20 hours to analyze them. And they will see what the results are.
But where drones can give visualizations, this is more precision. This is higher accuracy. State-of-the-art, and they have never been used by this company in a search before. But I just spoke with the senior vice president, who told me, "I'm a parent. It just feels good."
BLITZER: What an awful situation. Jean, thanks for that report.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now. Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes. He's a former assistant director of the FBI. Also joining us, the investigative journalist Coy Barefoot. He's joining us from Charlottesville right now.
Coy, after this very emotional appeal from Hannah's family, has anyone come forward? What's the latest that you're hearing? I know you just came from a briefing.
COY BAREFOOT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Those comments by Sue Graham are absolutely gut-wrenching. And I was one of many, many people around this world who watched that video and just sobbed. And finally had to turn it off.
I do know that this afternoon, Tim Longo, the chief of the city of Charlottesville Police Department, has called on everyone, everyone who has known Jesse Matthew in the past to come forward, make themselves available to talk with police. Not just anybody who might know where he was that night. But anyone who knows him to come forward.
I continue to talk to friends of his who tell me, every one of them has a story about Jesse and the woods and how he knows the woods better than anyone they know. If you go just a few miles in any direction outside of this little city, you find yourself in dense forests, mountains, rolling hills, rivers, creeks, fields, and he knows this area perhaps better than anyone. And that is why we'll continue to look for Hannah, because she could be anywhere.
BLITZER: Tom, how critical is timing right now as fall is here, winter approaches?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think the timing is important and the sooner the better in terms of locating her. Some DNA evidence is perishable. And if her body is somewhere, if she's been killed, which we all hope is not the case, but if that is the case, the better chance of solving the case if they find her sooner.
BLITZER: Soon, obviously. Coy, it's been three weeks, as we all know. Police said they're focused in on this eight-mile radius right now. Tell us why.
COY BAREFOOT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: I believe that they said that they stand a chance. It's most likely that they will find Hannah in that area. I've gotten some messages from people saying, well, you know, he took off to Galveston, Texas. She could be anywhere between here and Galveston. And I don't believe that that is the information that police are basing their search on.
There were 36 guys out in the woods today searching. We had 120 on Saturday. Another 120 on Sunday. I talked with Tim Longo today. And I understand these guys have been working 12-hour days in the woods. They're tired understandably so. This is a herculean task. But there is not a one of them who will give up and who will stop looking for Hannah.
We will find her, Wolf. I'm convinced of it. We will find her. She's out there and we'll keep looking.
BLITZER: Let's hope that's the case.
Coy, stand by. Tom, stand by as well.
We're going to take a quick commercial break. When we come back, we'll continue our discussion.
BLITZER: Tearful new plea from the parents of Hannah Graham, the University of Virginia student who's been missing now for just over three weeks.
We're back with CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes and investigative journalist Coy Barefoot.
Coy, Matthew is -- he's the suspect. His lawyer chose not to try to get him out on bond or bail. Is he talking in prison? What do we know about this?
BAREFOOT: I don't believe he's talking in prison. I do know that Jesse is being kept in -- it's about a 7 by 7 foot cell. There are no bars on the front. It's a thick, clear Plexiglas front. He is being monitored at all times. There's a television set across the room from his cell that he watches. So he's watching that without sound.
I know that his attorney has not asked for bail and in Virginia you are not eligible for bond on the charge of abduction with the intent to defile, unless you have incredibly rare circumstances that would be decided by a judge. But Mr. Matthew took flight to Galveston, Texas, and had to be brought back over 1,300 miles away. So I guess his attorney is thinking why ask for what we know we won't get?
BLITZER: If there's less media attention to this case, Coy, do tips dry up? Does it make the investigation more difficult for police?
BAREFOOT: We certainly want to keep this top of mind for everyone. And there are people around the world who have been touched by this story. And the Virginia Department of Emergency Management last night in their press release, they actually used the words, "dwindling media participation."
That, of course, is not true of CNN, thank goodness, which has been on this story from the very beginning and for which we are all very appreciative of here in Charlottesville.
There's over 3,200 tips that have been called in to the tip line. It's my understanding that they continue to come in. And I receive almost every night on my Facebook page, somebody will get in touch with me and say hey, I know this. Should I call the tip line? And I give them the number and I'd say absolutely, call the tip line right now, and let them know what you know.
BLITZER: Tom, take us a little bit behind the scenes. What's likely going on with law enforcement, whether at the local, the state or the federal level? They're looking for this young woman.
FUENTES: Well, they're looking for her. That's one -- you know, that's paramount. But they're also diligently working on analyzing the evidence that's been obtained. You know, we've heard the story of the forensic ties between the Morgan Harrington murder in 2009 and other victims who have gone missing or were attacked.
And you know, that effort to try to link forensic evidence, which may include DNA evidence, back to this case is critical. And they're going to be working very, very hard to see if they can do that through the evidence.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, thanks very, very much.
Coy Barefoot, we'll check back with you tomorrow. Let's hope there's a break in this case because it is a heart wrenching, very painful situation for so many folks over there and indeed around the country, around world.
Thanks to both of you for joining us.
Let's turn to politics right now. With just a month to go until election day here in the United States, President Obama now says all of his policies are on the ballot, but embattled Democrats like Senator Mark Prior of Arkansas don't want the election to be a referendum on the current president. That's one reason why Senator Prior is now taking selfies with someone who is a lot more popular in Arkansas. We're talking about the former Arkansas governor. The former
president, Bill Clinton. He's out there. He's campaigning in Arkansas for state Democrats.
Today, by the way, our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar, she is in Arkansas, as well. She's going to join us live in the next hour. We'll have much more on what's going on. Getting ready for the midterm elections coming up November 4th.
Coming up here in the SITUATION ROOM, a U.S. teenager, a 19-year-old, arrested at the Chicago airport. Authorities say he was actually planning on joining the ISIS terrorists.
And the ISIS killer in those brutal videos is threatening to behead yet another American. Are authorities any closer to tracking him down? I'll speak to the State Department deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf. She's here live with me in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Breaking news. Teen terror charged as a young American man, 19 years old, indicted for allegedly trying to fly off to join ISIS terrorists in Syria. So how many other Americans have succeeded? Ebola turning point. The first known case in which the virus was contracted outside of Africa. What new action is the U.S. planning to do to stop the spread of this disease?
Days of rage. Plans underway for a weekend of civil disobedience to protest the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.