Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf; Ebola Turning Point; Ferguson Protests; New Fears Airports Not Doing Enough to Stop Ebola
Aired October 6, 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 ANCHOR: What new action is the U.S. planning to do to stop the spread of this disease?
Days of rage, plans under way for a weekend of civil disobedience to protest the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Will the state listen to new calls from Brown's family for a special prosecutor?
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 the breaking news.
President Obama now declaring Ebola a top national security priority following an urgent White House meeting following an urgent White House meeting on the alarming spread of the virus.
Also, charges against a Chicago area teenager arrested at the airport, where federal officials now say he was trying to fly to the Middle East to fight side by side with ISIS forces. We're covering all the breaking news this hour with our correspondents, our guests in key locations, including the State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But let's begin with our Pentagon, Barbara Starr.
She has more now on the growing concern at the Pentagon about these ISIS advances.
What are you hearing over there, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at this hour, I'll tell you, I don't think you can underestimate how concerned the Pentagon is about ISIS advances west of Baghdad.
I have been talking to officials all day. The outlook is, by all accounts, grim. Iraqi forces over the weekend tried to move west of Baghdad towards Anbar Province and they were pushed back by ISIS. This is Anbar province, Fallujah, Ramadi, towns Americans have heard of for years, because hundreds and thousands of American forces fought and died there, so many grievously wounded during the war in Iraq. Now ISIS on the march here and the Iraqis unable to push them
back. That is why U.S. Apache helicopter gunships were called into action over the weekend to try and push ISIS back and let the Iraqi forces get some momentum going. But by all accounts, they could not do it.
If ISIS is able to take this section of Anbar Province, Fallujah, Ramadi, everything west of Baghdad, that will give ISIS basically control of hundreds of miles of the Euphrates River Valley, all the way back up into Syria, all the way back up into the Turkish border. That is why it's so concerning right now, and the problem is, though, they will call more Apaches into action, they will have more airstrikes.
But the problem, officials tell me, the Iraqi forces on the ground just are not getting it done -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They are not getting it done by any means. Why aren't more U.S.-led airstrikes being launched against those targets, those ISIS targets in and around Kobani, that key town not far from the Turkish border?
STARR: U.S. officials know that this is -- well know this is a very emotional subject. There's been a good deal of visibility about it, because U.S. and international television crews are perched on the hill near the town and can see most of what is going on there.
But what U.S. officials are telling me is they have no mission to protect Kobani. They have a couple of problems here. It is very close to the Turkish border. If you're going to launch airstrikes from 15,000 feet, you have to make sure you're not hitting the Kurds, the Syrian Kurds, you're not hitting into Turkey.
These are some technical issues. But the real reality they tell me is they have no mission to save Kobani from ISIS. The U.S. military, the coalition mission in Syria is to try and degrade ISIS when and where they find them and keep ISIS from moving across the border into Iraq and that takes us right back to how tough all of this is, Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara, thanks very much.
Let's bring in our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, now. She has more on that Chicago man, a 19-year-old who was allegedly trying to join these ISIS terrorists.
What do you know, Pamela?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're learning that federal authorities allege this 19-year-old suspect left behind notebooks inside his suburban Chicago home detailing his support for ISIS and desire to travel to Syria or Iraq. He was arrested just before boarding a flight overseas.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BROWN (voice-over): Today in federal court, the 19-year-old
Illinois man stood silently as he was arraigned on charges of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, accused of wanting to travel to join ISIS.
According to this criminal complaint, Mohammed Khan had a notebook with detailed travel plans, a $4,000 ticket to Istanbul and cash for a hotel along with what police say appeared to be a map showing an arrow pointing across the Turkey-Syria border. The FBI says it arrested Khan at Chicago's O'Hare Airport Saturday as he was about to board a flight to Vienna and on to Istanbul, the gateway into Syria.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: What they were waiting for here was the last minute, because the more deeply he gets into this criminal conspiracy, the more likely they have a case in federal court.
BROWN: According to this criminal complaint obtained by CNN, police also discovered notebooks at Khan's home with drawings of the ISIS flag and an armed fighter with the words "Come to jihad." One page allegedly says, "Here to stay, we are the lions of the war. My nation. The dawn has emerged."
CALLAN: Federal authorities here may be saying that he's offering himself as a soldier for ISIL. In other words, he's going to provide services to this terrorist organization.
BROWN: Authorities say they also found a three-page letter apparently written by Khan to his parents in which he allegedly asks that they please make sure to not tell the authorities about his plans to "migrate to the Islamic State."
Today, CNN spoke with one of Khan's neighbors near his suburban Chicago home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surprised. Really surprised. The kid was polite, you know? I didn't expect anything like that in the least bit.
BROWN: Khan is one of at least a dozen Americans who authorities say have attempted to travel to Syria to fight. Although the FBI director told CBS overnight he can't be sure the U.S. knows the whereabouts of all the Americans trying to join the fight.
BROWN: And authorities say Khan bought a round-trip ticket arriving back to the U.S. this week. But law enforcement officials say that was likely a ploy for Khan to cover his tracks.
And during an interview with authorities, Khan allegedly said he wanted to travel overseas to Syria or Iraq to be involved in some type of public service, police force, humanitarian work or a combat role. Wolf, we did reach out to his attorney and have not heard back. BLITZER: That round-trip ticket, law enforcement authorities
say, cost him $4,000. Do we know where he got that money? A 19-year- old kid getting $4,000, it is a lot of money.
BROWN: That's certainly a big question. Authorities will want to follow the money trail here, Wolf. We know that according to this criminal complaint he was in touch apparently with someone else who was not named in the complaint, but someone who was allegedly trying to recruit him.
So of course, they're going to try to see if this person could have played a role with that money.
BLITZER: Pamela Brown with the latest on that front, thanks very much.
We're also getting new information here in THE SITUATION ROOM about the hunt for the black mask killer who symbolizes ISIS brutality in those horrifying beheading videos.
Brian Todd is joining us. He's got more.
What do we know now about this man, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we know there's new pressure tonight on British and U.S. officials to hunt down this man.
He's appeared in all four ISIS beheading videos and his threat to kill another American puts more heat on the allies to take him off the battlefield.
TODD (voice-over): He's now threatened to kill a third American in ISIS captivity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama, you have started your aerial bombardment, which keeps on striking our people. So it's only right we continue to strike the necks of your people.
TODD: The accent the same. The rhetoric much the same. The British newspapers call him Jihadi John. His threatening propaganda message prompting the parents of American Abdul-Rahman Kassig to issue a videotaped plea for their son's release.
ED KASSIG, FATHER OF HOSTAGE: We implore his captors to show mercy and use their power to let our son go.
TODD: Kassig's parents released a letter their son sent them while he was in the hands of ISIS -- quote -- "I am obviously pretty scare to die."
As Kassig's parents wait, there's new urgency tonight to capture or kill this man. An official in British Prime Minister David Cameron's office tells CNN Cameron's held an urgent meeting with his top intelligence, defense and police officials and pressed them to hunt down Jihadi John after he spoke in the grotesque murder video of British aid worker Alan Henning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His blood is on the hands of the British Parliament.
TODD: Analysts say the presence of this British jihadist in four videos showing the beheadings of two Americans and two British citizens puts enormous pressure on David Cameron.
AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA OFFICER: It is priority, a political priority for the prime minister Really to take this guy off the battlefield.
TODD: And ISIS seems to be working hard to remove as many clues as possible. The background terrain in the newest videos is more nondescript, but there's a fresh clue in the Henning video.
PERITZ: If you watch this video carefully, you can actually see his eyes move back and forth. So he's probably reading from a cue card, which means that he's actually being forced to read a pre- approved script.
TODD: Analyst Aki Peritz says it means hostage and possibly hostage taker are under more duress.
(on camera): Does that mean that this man is under more and more pressure?
PERITZ: This man is under incredible pressure, because he's actually now the face of these beheading videos for the West.
TODD (voice-over): But a mission to capture or kill Jihadi John is a huge risk.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: ISIS is operating in a remote part of Syria. They know that area very well. It's pretty far from the borders, so getting in there would be very difficult.
TODD: One reason is that this British jihadist may be operating in or near the Syrian city of Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold where he will have plenty of reinforcements.
Rick Francona says a drone strike to take him out is also risky because of all the Western hostages who are likely right around him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: That's a good point.
There's still significant doubt, though Brian, isn't there, that this guy is the actual real killer of these hostages. Isn't that right?
TODD: There is, Wolf. Aki Peritz, who analyzed several beheading videos for the CIA
during the Iraq war, told me today the fact that the militant's hands and his clothing are clean following the beheadings in each video means there's a pretty good chance he didn't do the actual killing, that he spoke and that he had made gestures and then someone else may have come in and done that gruesome killing.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
Let's dig deeper on all of this and a whole lot more with Marie Harf. She's the deputy State Department spokeswoman who is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with me right now.
Marie, thanks very much for coming in.
MARIE HARF, SPOKESWOMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: Happy to be here.
BLITZER: I assume the U.S. is doing everything it can to authenticate these videos and find this killer, right?
And as some of my colleagues have said in the past few weeks, we do believe we have identified the masked man in these videos and we have all been very clear. No matter how long it takes, we will find this person and hold them responsible, accountable for what they are involved in again as we have seen on the videos.
BLITZER: Have you concluded that this masked man is in fact the guy who beheads these innocent people?
HARF: Well, as your segment just noted, that's not always shown on the video.
He's clearly very involved with the situation. And we're looking at all of that to determine who actually may have unfortunately taken that act specifically. But, obviously, he's involved. We believe we have identified that person and we're committed to finding them.
BLITZER: And I assume the British believe they have identified this individual as well, a British citizen, we're told. What would be wrong in releasing this person's name?
HARF: Well, we're working very, very closely with the British, with British intelligence, with our British counterparts across the board to find those responsible, because it's American and British citizens now that have been murdered at the hands of these terrorists, and bring them to justice.
Obviously, we don't always release all the information we know publicly, because we have ways of finding out that information and we want to be able to use all of that information to eventually find them.
BLITZER: But would it be an intelligence sources and methods, some sort of complicating factor if you were to release this guy's name right now?
HARF: There's a number of reasons not to release it. Again, we believe we know who it is. And when we can make more information public, we will do so, but at this time are protecting that.
BLITZER: What can you tell us about this 19-year-old, Mohammed Hamzah Khan, who was arrested over the weekend at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, before he got on a flight to Vienna, then onto Turkey, where he was supposedly, allegedly going to be working, supporting these ISIS terrorists? What do you know about this guy?
HARF: As my law enforcement colleagues said today, he was arrested on Saturday, has been charged with trying to go join ISIL, which is obviously a very serious accusation.
We know there are people who may try to join these groups. We know a small number have joined them. So we're very focused on it. Domestic law enforcement is very focused on it. Obviously, this is a concern.
BLITZER: As you know -- maybe you don't know, but in the document, in the criminal complaint, it says he received his U.S. passport in May of this year, just a few months ago. Were there any red flags involving this guy, giving him a U.S. passport that -- because the State Department, as you know, is in charge of giving their passports.
HARF: We are. We are.
And I don't I have any details about his specific passport to share publicly. Obviously, law enforcement, everyone is looking at his case right now. But in terms of passports, we are very concerned particularly about Americans that may already have gone there and attempt to return home once they have already joined the fight. So, obviously, that's something we're focused on. And we do have the ability to revoke passports if people -- if they are deemed a threat to U.S. national security.
BLITZER: As far as you know right now, he's under police custody, he's under arrest, but the State Department has not yet revoked his passport?
HARF: Not to my knowledge. But again there are a variety of tools we, law enforcement, the intel community have to prevent people from traveling. I'm sure we will talk about this more in the coming days.
BLITZER: All right, Marie, stand by. I got more questions for you. We have got a lot more to discuss.
Marie Harf is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We will take a quick break. We will be right back.
BLITZER: We're back with Marie Harf. At least three or four mortars landed in that Green Zone in
Baghdad. Is the U.S. Embassy and the Americans who are there, I think it's still the largest U.S. Embassy in the world, are they in danger?
HARF: Well, we're still looking into those reports, Wolf, from today about whether or not mortars actually did land in the Green Zone. I think there's been some conflicting information.
But one of the main reasons we have taken military action inside Iraq for many weeks now, as you know, is to protect our people there. It's a dangerous place, but we have full contingent of folks in Baghdad, in Irbil, because it's important for them to be there.
BLITZER: Right now, only essentially diplomats and other people are there. Family member, they're no longer there.
Are you thinking of rethinking maybe bringing home more Americans right now?
HARF: Well, we really do believe it's important to have a full staff in Baghdad and in Irbil, not just at the embassy, but also at the joint operations center, because we need to be closely coordinated and working with the Iraqis on this fight.
So it's important for them to be there. They know it's dangerous, but we have taken very many steps to protect our people. That's what our focus has been.
BLITZER: Are you planning on taking more steps to protect all the Americans in that so-called Green Zone in Baghdad?
HARF: We constantly reevaluate and take additional steps if necessary. There's already a very high level of security in Baghdad and Irbil. I know our folks are very focused on that, even while we're dealing with the number of the other issues we're working on there.
BLITZER: I got a bunch of tweets today from folks out there if in fact mortars are coming in, rockets are coming in, maybe the U.S. should install that so-called Iron Dome system around the Green Zone which the U.S. helped developed with Israel, worked very well when those rockets were coming into Israel, as you know, from Gaza
We will see if the U.S. needs to do that at some point down the road to protect those Americans in the Green Zone. Turkey, any decision yet by the Turkish military, which is the largest in the region, a NATO ally, to actually send in boots on the ground to destroy ISIS near that city of Kobani, which is right near the Turkish-Syrian border?
HARF: I know the Turkish government is still talking through what exactly the role they will play in the coalition.
And General Allen and Ambassador Brett McGurk are over in the region this week. They will be going To Ankara to meet with the Turks to talk about exactly what role they can play. That doesn't necessarily have to be military action. There are a number of other things they can do, including cracking down even more on the foreign fighter network, which obviously, given their location, they could play a key role in really shutting that down.
But we will have conversations about what role they could play militarily.
BLITZER: Which raises I guess the controversial comments that the vice president, Joe Biden, made at Harvard University the other day that really upset the Turkish President Erdogan, the UAE. He later apologized. Let me play the clip of what the vice president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens -- thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Now, he later issued a pretty unusual public apology to the government of Turkey, the government of the United Arab Emirates, saying, don't get me wrong. I appreciate what you're trying to do. But was he factually correct in what he said and did he really need to apologize?
HARF: Well, he did speak to President Erdogan, as you mentioned, also to our Emirati partners who we have been working very closely with in this coalition.
I think he made clear that he did not intend in any way to sort of relitigate history and make accusations about how ISIL's strength got to where it is. He also made clear that both Turkey and the UAE play clear roles in this coalition, and one of the lines of effect in terms of degrading ISIL's capabilities.
So what I know our folks in the region are focused on and what we're hearing from our partners is how to move forward from here, not these comments. The vice president has addressed them and they're looking now at how we all come together to fight this threat.
BLITZER: Because, as you know, Marie, there were a lot of reports that individuals in Qatar, for example, they were funneling ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria.
But United Arab Emirates, they have been a very, very loyal, friendly country to the United States. They have worked in a very collaborative effort. Did the United Arab Emirates, were there other individuals in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, were they funneling money to these ISIS terrorists as well?
HARF: Wolf, to be clear, we have never had evidence that pointed to governments supporting ISIS. There have been cases that we have known about where individuals,
private individuals in some of these countries have supported ISIS. And that's why these countries have taken steps to crack down on this financing network. You're absolutely right. The UAE has flown next to us in our military action in Syria.
One of their pilots was a woman, which I think is incredible. They're a very close partner here, a very close friend when it comes to this fight. The vice president made clear what he was intending to say and not intending to say and we're focused on moving forward.
BLITZER: All right, Marie Harf, thanks very much for coming in.
HARF: Thank you.
BLITZER: She's the deputy spokeswoman at the State Department.
Just ahead, a dangerous milestone in the deadly spread of Ebola. We have new details of the first case contracted outside of Africa.
Plus, calls for tighter airport screening for Ebola. Is Customs and Border Protection doing enough to prevent the spread of the virus? Stay with us.
BLITZER: We're tracking some major developments in the fight against Ebola. A nurse's assistant in Spain, now the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa, marking a very dangerous milestone in the deadly disease's spread.
Another American, meanwhile, with Ebola has just arrived in the United States. The freelance cameraman who contracted the virus in Liberia has arrived in Nebraska for treatment. And President Obama wrapped up a meeting a little while ago with top public health officials over at the White House and made it clear his administration is taking this outbreak very seriously.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I consider this a top national security. It is an issue about our safety. It is also an issue with respect to our economic stability in the region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president also called for additional passenger screenings in the United States and abroad. Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, is watching all of this in Dallas.
Elizabeth, you're learning new information about that experimental drug being used to deal with -- to treat some of these Ebola patients. What's the latest?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've just learned that the patient in this hospital, Thomas Eric Duncan, that he's been receiving a drug called brincidofovir. It's an antiviral drug that was really designed for other viruses, and it's still an experimental drug, but they're hoping that it will keep this virus from replicating inside Duncan's body.
But, Wolf, it's important to note that Duncan had been sick for about ten days before he started receiving this drug. And ten days for Ebola, that's a long time. This is a fast-moving virus. So he's in critical condition. It's really unknown whether the brincidofovir is going to help him or not.
BLITZER: Elizabeth, what is being done to help contain the spread of this illness where you are right now in the Dallas area?
COHEN: They're doing what's called contact tracing. So they made this list of 48 people who had contact with Duncan since he's become ill. Now, 10 of those are high risk. They're hospital workers; they're family members. The other 38 are low risk. For example, they were in the ambulance after he was in the ambulance.
But what they do is they keep track of all these people. They get a temperature on them twice a day. They visit them every day to -- you know, a health worker will look at them to sort of see if they're starting to look sick. And so far, good news: so far no one has become ill -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So far. Let's hope it stays that way. Elizabeth, thanks very much.
There's also growing concern that Customs and Border Protections is not doing enough to protect the American public from the spread of Ebola, with critics now calling for more screening at airports around the world.
Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, has been monitoring this part of the story. She's joining us from Dulles International Airport. That's right -- right outside of Washington, D.C. What are you learning, Rene?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, some people are saying that the U.S. screening procedures, they are, in a word, passive. And it's not good enough to prevent more people infected with Ebola from making it to the U.S. on a plane.
Here at Dulles, where that Ebola patient first landed in the U.S., passengers say they are ready for the U.S. government to get more aggressive.
MARSH (voice-over): At Newark Airport, CDC quarantine officers surround a sick passenger on United Flight 998 from Brussels. It was determined the passenger did not have Ebola. The scare coming as the calls get louder for more aggressive screening for the deadly disease at U.S. airports.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: These are reminders that the threat is out there.
MARSH: New York Senator Chuck Schumer pushing for more aggressive screening of passengers arriving in the U.S. from Ebola hot spots.
SCHUMER: Including a temperature check for travelers returning from Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, either directly or indirectly through another airport.
MARSH: Passenger's temperatures are already taken when they leave West African countries, and they must fill out a detailed health questionnaire. But Schumer says those procedures need to happen in the U.S., too.
SCHUMER: If you ask them a whole lot of specific questions -- and CDC is very good at coming up with these questions and doing it -- you may well find answers that you wouldn't have found in a cursory type of questioning.
MARSH: There are only two non-stop flights to the U.S. from countries most impacted by Ebola. So most passengers connect through other countries before stepping up in the U.S.
STEWART VERDERY (PH): The problem is that when they get here, they're coming to another gateway airport. They're coming to a flight where you may not know that they've been, maybe, in Liberia or other countries.
MARSH: Some U.S. lawmakers are calling for a halt to flights altogether.
REP. PETE SESSIONS (R), TEXAS: What is correct is, is that we treat this in a circumstance where we stop travel to the United States. Not just from there but also understanding that the African travel goes to Europe and other places.
MARSH: But the CDC director says those flights are crucial.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can't get assistance in, if we can't keep the airlines flying, it will be harder to stop the outbreaks there.
MARSH: Well, Wolf, at the end of all this, we know that Customs and Border Protection will be on the front line for the screening process. I have been in touch with the agency, and at this point, no definitive word on the extent to which these measures will be ramped up.
But what the White House made very clear today is they are not considering banning flight to the region -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Rene Marsh at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, thanks very much.
Let's dig deeper now. Joining us, Dr. Alexander Van Tufoken. He's a public health specialist at Fordham University in New York.
Are airline passengers at risk right now?
DR. ALEXANDER VAN TUFOKEN, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Look, I think at the moment that the screening measures that we've got in place stop people who are symptomatic from getting on planes. If they haven't got a fever, it's one of the earliest symptoms. If you haven't got a fever, really, to the best of our knowledge, you can't catch Ebola.
But these measures are not going to stop people with Ebola from getting to America. That is basically impossible to do. And so the focus has to be, as Tom Frieden said -- it has to be on West Africa. Banning flights isn't going to stop people coming here with Ebola. And so the main thing is to control the epidemic
BLITZER: Should they rethink some of these screening methods, though?
VAN TUFOKEN: I mean, I think it's really important to say every aspect of this Ebola response has to be done more thoroughly than it's currently being done. So the people do have to take the temperature responses really seriously. This is a big headache, you know. If it's a slight temperature up, and someone says they haven't been to West Africa, it's really important to chase those things down.
So doing the existing screening measures is going to be really important. And I think -- I would be confident to be on a plane leaving west Africa and not catch Ebola on that plane. The screening measures that exist work pretty well to do that. But I don't think we're going to keep everyone out.
BLITZER: There was a pretty alarming development today. A Spanish nurse tested positive for Ebola. This is the first known case of someone who contracted the disease outside of West Africa, was not infected in west Africa but contracted it in Europe outside of Africa. How alarming is this?
VAN TUFOKEN: I have to say, to me, this is a really shocking development. So this is something where my belief is that, if you're in a major western hospital operating under good conditions and you're well-trained, this is a disease that is hard to get.
Today we're seeing that that isn't necessarily the case. We really want to know what's happened here, because if he's had a needle stick injury, if there's been a clear breach of protocol, perhaps she wasn't trained, perhaps she didn't know what the patient had at the time. Any of those situations might make us feel a little bit better. But if this is something where there isn't a clear breach of protocol, we do have to be concerned that this strain of Ebola may be more contagious than we previously thought.
BLITZER: So basically, what you said is we really have to investigate how this nurse in Spain contracted the disease in Spain. She had never been to Africa, unlike all those people who have been in United States with Ebola, they got the Ebola when they were in West Africa and came here. It either developed there or developed here, in the case of Mr. Duncan in Dallas.
So they really have to study this specific case to learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again, right?
VAN TUFOKEN: This is the first time that Ebola has ever been transmitted outside of Africa to the best of our knowledge. And that should really make us worry. Because we believe at the moment that the basic personal protective gear -- that's what the CDC recommends, not hazmat suits for looking after people with Ebola, for people, but we isolate people with basic personal protective gear, so aprons, glasses, masks and gloves. And that should be enough.
So we really do need to know what's happened here. And I think the thing to me that this reinforces, if it's one thing to put the rules out. It's one thing for the CDC or the Spanish equivalent to distribute those protocols. It's another thing to get people trained and practiced and on absolutely high alert. You want people who are looking after Ebola patients My brother is on the Ebola team looking out for London at the moment. I can tell you, they practice a huge amount. That's hugely important.
BLITZER: You heard Elizabeth Cohen report Thomas Duncan in Dallas is receiving that experimental treatment. He's listed in critical condition. He took a ton for the worse over the few days at that Dallas hospital. Could these experimental drugs save him, do you think?
This is an off license use. The drug has been developed and licensed for one thing and now being tried for another, which you know, happens in lots of diseases. I think it's worth a go, because we know the safety profile of this drug.
But I have to say, you know, it's -- it's a gamble. And if he survives, we are still not going to know whether this drug is useful. So these kind of stories, you know, and as Elizabeth said, we're well into his infection now. He is probably -- the dye is cast for him, whatever this drug does. So what we're seeing is physicians doing everything to give him the best shot. What we won't get is really useful information out of this.
BLITZER: And that other drug, ZMapp, apparently there's known left. They're working on development. That was used on those Americans who were brought back to America from Africa with Ebola.
Doctor Van Tulofen, thank you very much for joining us. We'll continue this conversation tomorrow. Appreciate it very much.
And just ahead, Ferguson, Missouri, now bracing for a fresh wave of protests after a weekend flash mob interrupted the St. Louis Symphony. Our panel is standing by live to bring you the latest news from the city that is still very much on edge. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Ferguson, Missouri, on edge once again tonight as the city awaits more protests. After weeks of demonstrations, protesters remain on the streets demanding the arrest of Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown two months ago.
Beyond the streets this weekend, also following an unusual protest at the St. Louis Symphony. A flash mob of about 50 people interrupted the orchestra and began singing. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which side are you on, friend? Which side are you on? Justice for Mike Brown. Justice for Mike Brown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which side are you on, friend? Which side are you on? Justice for Mike Brown. Justice for Mike Brown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which side are you on, friend? Which side are you on? Justice for Mike Brown. Justice for Mike Brown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Let's discuss what's going on. Joining us, our CNN anchor, Don Lemon; NAACP board member John Gaskin and CNN senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.
John, what's going on with this new wave of protests outside of Ferguson? What's the goal here?
JOHN GASKIN, NAACP BOARD MEMBER: Well, it appears the protesters are being more creative in their strategy. They are broadening the issue and broadening the folks, at least the crowd of people that are seeing the protests.
That protest that took place Saturday night was probably the most creative that I've ever seen. The typical folks that go to the symphony are a demographic that we have never appealed to.
And so, for them to get the opportunity to hear that there are people within that community that want justice for Michael Brown, that want them to be aware of these types of issues, to know the type of racism that's taking place in the city of St. Louis I think is a good thing. The protest was quite organized and I believe it was done in a way that was quite dignified, because as you can hear, some people even joined in with the singers. There were some applauses during that performance, or demonstration rather, as well as after.
And even after the protest, no one was arrested. They peacefully filed out and went back to listening to the performance. But I've spoken with a number of people that were actually at the symphony and some thought it was a disruption, did not take too kindly to it. There was some that actually appreciated it.
BLITZER: You know, Don, there's talk now that may be thousands could be getting ready to protest. What do you make of these latest developments?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I thought the symphony protest was pretty ingenious. As I always say, you have to meet people where they are. You can't just a one-trick pony. You can't continue to sing the same old tune.
There's a time for protests on the street and for people to -- you know, be in an uproar. And then there are times, like the symphony, where you meet people where they are and it paid off for them. So, I think if they continue in this vein, if they continue sort of evolving and reinventing themselves when it comes to protesting and to showing their outrage, I think it can only be helpful to their side.
BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey, these reports that Michael Brown's parents are asking the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, to go ahead and reconsider his earlier decision not to appoint a special prosecutor, a special counsel, if you will, but to keep the prosecutor in place. A lot of folks in the community are not happy with that decision by the governor.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that -- this has been a continuing source of controversy ever since the prosecutor took over this investigation and began the grand jury proceeding.
It's not going to change now. The governor has made his decision. He's not appointing a special prosecutor, and the question now is, what is the result of this grand jury investigation? Will there be an indictment?
And that's obviously going to be both a key legal turning point in the case, but also a key political moment in terms of how the community reacts, how the community is prepared for it. And that, I think, is the next really dramatic serious moment coming. It's apparently October -- it's going to be November at the earliest.
But when the grand jury returns it's decision, that's a time --
BLITZER: But we're told that grand jury decision may be delayed to January or even later.
TOOBIN: It certainly could be. Originally the deadline was October. It's been moved back. I think moving it back is certainly better if you're going to have a thorough and appropriate investigation.
But at some point, it's an up-or-down decision, whether he gets indicted or not. That's going to be a big deal in this community.
BLITZER: Has the NAACP, John, taken a formal position on this prosecutor? Or do you have confidence in Robert McCullough, or do you want the governor to name a special prosecutor?
GASKIN: We have asked several times that the governor appoint a special prosecutor. As you can see, our requests have been ignored, as many other groups, along with the family's. So, it's our hope that Bob McCullough's office will be thorough and do what they're supposed to do to ensure that justice is served.
BLITZER: Don, how do you see this playing out? LEMON: I've spoken to the governor. I sat down with him at
length and discussed Bob McCullough and the special prosecutor. He has said from the very beginning that he's happy with how this is -- with the way it is going. He's happy with Bob McCullough.
And I agree with Jeffrey, I think it's unlikely that the governor changes his mind at that point.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, legally speaking, what, this grand jury only meets, what, once a week. So, they've got a lot of work to do. It's not as if they're meeting every day.
TOOBIN: Especially because McCullough said something unusual. He said, "I am going to present every piece of evidence to the grand jury." That's a lot of evidence. This -- we've discussed how many eyewitnesses there were, how many eyewitnesses will testify.
All the forensic tests that we don't even know all of them that have been completed yet. When you're presenting evidence only one day a week to the grand jury, that's going to take a long time.
BLITZER: And, John, are there going to be a more protests by a lot of folks in the coming days?
GASKIN: I believe there's going to be a lot of unrest and you're going to be hearing from a lot of people that are very upset.
BLITZER: Because what I'm worried about, Don, you were there. You spent a lot of time on the ground what they call these outside agitators. Peaceful people -- they want to protest, which is their right, but people from the outside, they come in and they get violent. You've seen that up close.
LEMON: I have. And that happened a lot in the very beginning. I don't know if that is going to happen to the magnitude that it did in the beginning.
I think for the most part, and John would know more about this -- they've gotten a handle on those so-called outside agitators. But I do think as I said, and as you saw from the symphony, that protests are going to evolve. Yes, there may be some more violent protests. Let's hope there aren't.
But I think they're going to change. And by changing them, they will bring more people in with their message to understand what they're trying to get accomplished.
BLITZER: All right, guys. Thanks very much, Don Lemon, John Gaskin, Jeffrey Toobin.
An important note to our viewers, Don Lemon will be back later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, "CNN TONIGHT." A special two-hour edition, 10:00 p.m. until midnight tonight. Please be sure to tune in.
Just ahead, he may be the most popular Democrat in the country right now, but Bill Clinton -- he's lending his popularity to some Democrats who are facing some extremely tough elections. Stand by for how he says Democrats can win this November.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Candidate for the Senate and a graduate of the Clinton school of public service. Our candidate for land commissioner, Mark Robertson, and John --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We're just about one month away from a very important midterm election here in the United States and embattled Democrats, they're turning to one man to help them win, but it's not necessarily the current leader of the party. That would be the president of the United States, President Obama.
Many Democrats are trying to distance themselves from President Obama right now. Instead they're turning to Bill Clinton who is a lot more popular in some of those states. And he is hitting the campaign trail in his home state of Arkansas right now.
Let's go to our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar. She is in Little Rock with more.
So, how did it go in Arkansas? This is a sensitive moment a month before the elections, Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is very tight races here. When it comes to congressional races, as well as the gubernatorial race, and this is a state that is very important to Bill Clinton personally. You look at the ballot for November 4th and it reads like cards out of his 1980s rolodex.
You have Mike Ross who was his driver during his 1982 run for governor. He is now running for governor. Mark Pryor, one of the most vulnerable incumbent Senate Democrats. He is hoping to hang on here and that is someone who Bill Clinton knew even as a kid. He was here campaigning for all of these Democrats today.
And I asked him about what really Democrats need to do to win. And there's also this speculation that perhaps and it may be a long shot, that if his wife were to run, that she might be able to put Arkansas in play. I talked to him about that on the rope line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Mr. President, how do Democrats win in Arkansas? How do Democrats win in Arkansas?
CLINTON: More of this. If young people vote, these people will win. They've got a good poll today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you. KEILAR: And your wife (INAUDIBLE) in 2016?
CLINTON: No, I'm worried about 2012 -- '14, I'm worried this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And you look, Wolf, at Bill Clinton's schedule. Four stops over two days. Three of them are colleges. He is concentrating very much on the youth vote, the young voters tend to stay home during off-year elections like this one and he is trying to make sure that at least enough of them turn out to keep Democrats in charge of the Senate and in charge of the statehouse, as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Brianna, I know the president -- President Clinton confronted President Obama's unpopularity head on in Arkansas today. Tell our viewers what happened.
KEILAR: Yes. This is something that is playing very big here. When you look at the ads run by Republicans and by outside groups, they really lump in the Democratic candidates with President Obama, as you would expect. This is happening in other states as well.
But the president's approval rating is hovering around 30 percent here in Arkansas. He is very unpopular. You won't see him showing up certainly at a campaign event for Senator Mark Pryor.
And we heard really Bill Clinton addressing that head on as you said. He said to this crowd, vote for what you are for. Not for what you are against.
BLITZER: So most of these Democratic candidates in states like Arkansas or Louisiana, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, where there is really competitive races. Correct me if I'm wrong. They don't want the president of the United States to come in and campaign with them. But they might welcome Bill Clinton. Is that right?
KEILAR: Yes. And in fact, they would welcome Bill Clinton. That's exactly right, Wolf. And they would welcome Bill Clinton above any other Democrat.
We just saw in a recent "Wall Street Journal" poll that he is by far the most popular surrogate for Democrats. That a lot of registered voters say, that if he endorses someone, they look favorably on the candidate that he endorses. And that really, I guess, what could detract from that.
Some people, he may be polarizing but he certainly makes up -- let me repeat -- let me try to rephrase that. He sort of wins more people over than he loses, more so than any other Democratic candidate, Wolf.
BLITZER: He certainly does.
All right. Brianna Keilar in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton campaigning for Democrats. Tight elections going on there. Brianna, thanks very, very much.
Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Tweet me @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Please be sure to join us again tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always watch us live or you can DVR the show so you won't miss a moment.
That's it for me. Thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.