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Explosions Rock Kobani; ISIS near Baghdad; Baghdad Airport; CDC Changing Ebola Approach; NBC Crew Under Mandatory Quarantine

Aired October 13, 2014 - 12:30   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I want to bring in now our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen as we are talking about this.

Elizabeth, he didn't talk about designating certain hospitals -- and also Dr. Adalja, Amesh Adalja, joins us as well. But he did -- he said safe and effective care for the Dallas worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan.

The possibility, which is very disturbing for a lot of people, the possibility of additional patients. So they are going to continue to track all of the 48 contacts, meaning the 10 people who have possibly came in contact and the 38 people who came -- who did come in contact with that patient. And he says also work with hospitals throughout the country to think Ebola, to think Ebola, and to double-down on training, outreach, education and assistance.

Elizabeth Cohen, what do you make of what Thomas Frieden said in that press conference?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think some people have criticized Dr. Frieden for being too reassuring and I think that he was smart to say, you know, we could -- we could see other cases of health care workers becoming infected with Ebola. If there was a problem with this woman's protective gear, there could be a problem with someone else's protective gear.

I also thought, you know, you highlighted, Don, that he apologized. I think that people took what he said yesterday to mean that she made a mistake. And it's so important, and I've been saying this now for 24 hours that she didn't make a mistake. She's a worker at this hospital. She does as she's instructed. She follows the protocols that she's given.

So one has to look, how did the hospital coach her? How did they supervise her? Did she have a buddy as really these workers do in other situations and hospitals? They often have a buddy who watches them put the -- put the gear on, do the procedure, and then take the gear off. The guidelines from CDC, are they as specific and thorough as they should be?

This is not about the nurse. She's a hero. She's incredibly brave to have treated an Ebola patient.

LEMON: Well said. Dr. Amesh Adalja of the Center of Health Security at the University of

Pittsburgh Medical Center. Listening to Thomas -- listening to Thomas Frieden in Atlanta, I could imagine what many people who are watching are thinking much of this should have been thought about before a patient started to come here to the United States and started to be treated.

Why this late in the process early on depending on your perspective? But considering the number of people who came in contact with these people -- people who have -- you know, who had Ebola, one would wonder, why not have this protocol in place earlier?

DR. AMESH ADALJA, INFECTIOUS DISEASE/SECURITY SPECIALIST: So we know that hospitals have been preparing for quite a while and it's hard -- it was hard to tell exactly which hospital would get the first Ebola patient in the United States that was diagnosed in the United States. And there's varying degrees of preparedness. Some care centers may be extremely prepared while others -- other smaller community hospitals may not have adequate resources.

And we do have this discrepancy across the country and the levels of preparedness. And I think that Dr. Frieden struck the right tone, talking about looking at all of the procedures that occurred with this health care worker exposure. Looking for places where it could be improved just to make it -- to add a layer of security in order to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

LEMON: Elizabeth Cohen, also he announced that with the new steps that are in place at the bigger airports, the airports, you know, the ones where people come in from overseas at LaGuardia, at Atlanta, at Hartsfield -- excuse, not LaGuardia, at JFK, at Atlanta, Hartsfield, and on and on and on.

There are new procedures that are in place and he said so far 91 people have been identified as possibly carriers of Ebola and that but five have -- they said have had -- have been found -- have been evaluated but so far no confirmation of anything.

COHEN: Right. I mean, it's interesting that they just started that screening recently and to see that it already has yielded some folks who might possibly have Ebola. The CDC had been relying on the screening being done in Africa. I think the way they thought about it was, well, if you left Liberia fever-free and then feeling OK, then, you know, that's the screening that we need.

But, you know, they are putting in this extra layer of screening so that when you land here, they can ask you, how are you feeling, they can take your temperature, they can also get contact information which I think is really important so that that way if later there's an issue, you can call people and sort of see who it is who's maybe causing the issue.

LEMON: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, Dr. Amesh Adalja, thanks to both of you. Appreciate your helping us out during the press conference from the CDC. A news crew covering the crisis on the ground in Liberia has been

forced into quarantine. Did they break their promise to self- quarantine? What we know about the scary situation and the legal consequences, that's next.


LEMON: So this is a really measure of America's anxiety over Ebola. That an NBC News crew is now under mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. The network's medical reporter Dr. Nancy Snyderman and other crew members flew home from Liberia after their photographer came down with Ebola earlier this month. The crew volunteered to self-quarantine for the virus' 21-day incubation period but according to the New Jersey Health Department, that promise was violated.

So now it's a legally enforceable order. The patient, meantime, is being treated in Nebraska and is said to be improving. So far, none of his colleagues has shown any signs of illness.

But I want to talk about these mandatory, these mandatory confinements with defense attorney CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, trial attorney Midwin Charles, and CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.

OK, Brian, we don't have independent confirmation that she did break the quarantine. But NBC has --



LEMON: Has not denied it. So --

STELTER: -- let you in on how it works, Don. As you know, if it wasn't true, NBC would be out denying it. And what's so strange about this is NBC hasn't explained and Dr. Nancy Snyderman hasn't explained what happened here. You know, sometimes there's an old saying that the doctors make the worst patients.

LEMON: Right.

STELTER: Is this a case where she just didn't think she should abide by these rules? We don't know.

LEMON: So how does she --

STELTER: I don't understand why she hasn't come on via Skype from her home and talk to me.

LEMON: Right. How did she reportedly break the quarantine, though?

STELTER: Apparently she was out -- according to this local news Web site that heard from a number of different readers who saw her out in her local community in New Jersey. She was in the back of a car while someone went in to the restaurant to get take-out food for her. It's one of those things. That doesn't of course pose a dramatic risk to the community. But if

does create fear. We're in a period where there is a lot of fear. Seems to me like something like this now a mandatory quarantine is actually there to reassure the rest of the population.

LEMON: Midwin, can health officials mandate a quarantine?

MIDWIN CHARLES, TRIAL ATTORNEY: They can. They can. Health officials -- the Centers for Disease Control has legal authority to do so under federal law. The federal law, obviously, as you know, there's a compelling interest to make sure that people who are believed to have had access to a contagious disease is separated and kept away from those who are not sick.

So the federal law, obviously, as you know, there's a compelling interesting to make sure that people who are believed to have had access to a contagious disease is separated and kept away from those who are not sick. So the federal law, as you know, they're able to do this under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution as well as a section of the Public Health and Safety Act, where the U.S. Security of Health and Safety has authority to quarantine people and isolate, obviously, those --


LEMON: You have no legal -- you have no legal recourse either if you don't want to be quarantined. That's just a real SOL.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you do have legal recourse at a point in time and I would add, although federal authorities can quarantine you, she's being -- Dr. Nancy Snyderman is being quarantined by state authorities.

CHARLES: They have authorities as well.

CALLAN: Every state in the United States has independent authority and she's been -- they made out a deal, voluntary quarantine, she broke that, so now it's mandatory, and in New Jersey you can go to jail for 60 days if you violate the quarantine. After 30 days of mandatory quarantine, you can take it to court, Superior Court, and then try to convince a judge that it's not warranted. But before the 30 days, you're pretty much stuck in quarantine.

STELTER: We may conclude someday down the road this was all an overreaction. But for the time being it goes to her credibility as the chief medical correspondent of the network to appear to be breaking a quarantine.

CALLAN: And Brian, doesn't she have to -- doesn't she have an example to set to the nation?

STELTER: That's why I'm bothered that she hasn't gone on air and talk about it.

CALLAN: That's what gets me. That everybody loves her. She's a great correspondent. STELTER: Yes. Yes.

CALLAN: And people depend on her and if she won't abide by these --


LEMON: But again, the benefit of the doubt, though, I mean, would -- she could have been with someone. I don't know if she was with someone who is also in quarantine, but this person went into the restaurant, correct?

STELTER: Right. She apparently --

LEMON: She's in the back of a car.

CHARLES: Yes, but I think, Don --

LEMON: She didn't get out with the public.

STELTER: And it goes to show how the community is concerned.

CHARLES: But the bigger issue is -- right. But the bigger issue here is the purpose of a quarantine is to keep you away from everyone.

LEMON: Right.

CHARLES: Not just your driver, not just your friend, but from everyone in order to prevent the spread of this disease that clearly we're having issues containing at this point.

STELTER: The good news is NBC says that all the crew members are doing just fine, they're healthy and the freelance cameraman who was sick, who had to go to Nebraska for treatment.

CHARLES: He's doing better.

STELTER: Is also doing better. So that is the silver lining, Don.

LEMON: Well, we wish them all well. We hope they do better. I would imagine, though, by the time "Nightly News" comes on tonight we will hear something because that's what she does. The bulk of her reporting is with Brian Williams.

STELTER: Well, she's under quarantine until October 22nd.

LEMON: Well, she can Skype.

CALLAN: That's what Skype is for.

CHARLES: She can Skype at home.

LEMON: That's right. She can do that. Yes.

Thank you. Thank you, Midwin. Thank you, Paul.

CALLAN: Thanks. LEMON: Thank you, Brian Stelter. Appreciate it.

Want to move on to another big story now. A huge blast caught on video just across Turkey's border with Syria. We're going to get more about the impact that may have in the fight against ISIS from the frontlines. That's coming up.


LEMON: Welcome back, everyone.

ISIS is making startling advances despite coalition air strikes bombarding them and they may soon control Kobani, a critical town near the Turkish-Syrian border. I want you to look at this enormous explosion from earlier this morning. It appears to come from a coalition air strake in the center of Kobani. Now this as Turkey now says it will let the U.S. use its military bases to fight ISIS. CNN's senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh reports from Kobani on the front lines of the fight against ISIS.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, there are intense explosions behind me in the town of Kobani. Just in the last 30 minutes or so, one or two more over the brow of the hill that seemed to be targeting, again, ISIS positions. A press release from CENTCOM said coalition air force, including Saudi Arabia, in fact, too, were involved in seven air strikes both Sunday and Monday in and around the Kobani area. We saw, I think, four or five, possibly six or seven just today themselves. Often hard to tell what the large blasts we see, in fact, are, but often they're accompanied by the sound of jets overhead.

What does that mean for the fighters of the city that's come to symbolize so much to so many? Well, we've seen the positions being hit move slightly to the west as the day continued. That's bad news potentially for the Kurds because that might suggest that ISIS positions are edging towards the west of the city, which is the area the Kurds control.

We've known they've been in trouble for days. We've known each day that passes is going to get harder for them because they can't be resupplied ammunition, the basic things they need. Don, one interesting thing we saw was a column at the end of our long distance lens of about 50, it seemed, unarmed men moving in single file from the Kurdish area towards the more ISIS controlled area. No idea what they were doing. But interesting to see people moving in that orderly kind of fashion in one particular direction.

What's key is the battle for the official crossing into Turkey. We don't know how that's going to go. All eyes, though, on the ordinance from the sky that drops down and tries to change the dynamic of this conflict.


LEMON: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much for that.

Right now, ISIS is controlling territory on the doorstep of Baghdad. It's a big milestone strategically and symbolically when you consider the 4,000-plus American troops who lost their lives in wars there since 19 -- since 9/11, excuse me. Can the Iraqi capital be saved and what happens if it falls to ISIS? We're going to talk about it coming up.


LEMON: America's already paid a very heavy price for Operation Iraqi Freedom with more than 4,000 U.S. military casualties and more than 30,000 wounded in action since 9/11. And now Iraq's capital and the giant U.S. embassy there housing thousands of Americans could be in danger with ISIS on the verge of controlling an entire province on Baghdad's doorsteps. CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us now live from Baghdad.

Ben, how much danger does ISIS really pose to Baghdad?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At the moment, not much danger at all. The defenses of Baghdad are good. We've been out there. We've seen what appeared to be well-trained troops, well- armed, commanded by what appeared to be competent generals. They also do have - there are U.S. advisers working with the Iraqi army on the perimeter. There are U.S. Apache helicopters at Baghdad International Airport.

Now the problem is, of course, Baghdad International Airport is on the western edge of the city, but Anbar province, which at this point is 80 percent under ISIS' control and, of course, ISIS today took yet another Iraqi army base, which is about 90 miles to the northwest of Baghdad, but nonetheless that province does definitely look shaky at the moment as far as government control goes.

The real threat to Baghdad, and we've been reminded of it again this evening, is things like car bombs and suicide bombers. There have been three bombings this evening in Baghdad leaving 17 people at least dead so far. And this is the pattern. Every evening these bombs go off. ISIS doesn't normally claim responsibility for them, but security officials believe that this is the tactic of ISIS, put pressure on Baghdad's defenses, not necessarily launching a frontal assault, but keep up a steady wave of bombings, suicide bombings, car bombings, truck bombings in the city to keep the population on edge and they've done a fairly efficient job at that.


LEMON: Hey, Ben, will you talk to us about these Apache helicopters they use to keep ISIS at bay. Are they still actively fighting - actively fighting forces outside Baghdad?

WEDEMAN: Well, they are deployed when they're needed. Last week they were deployed in Anbar province and I think everybody knows that General Dempsey referred to an incident where the - where ISIS was approaching Baghdad Airport and he didn't specify when exactly this happened but he did say that if it weren't for Apache helicopters being used to strike those ISIS targets, which were moving toward the airport, he said it would have been a straight shot. So definitely they are used when they are needed. And certainly in the case of the instance General Dempsey is referring to, most people in Baghdad would agree, that they were definitely needed then.


LEMON: Ben Wedeman reporting for us in Baghdad. Thank you, Ben Wedeman.

Now joining me now to talk about the significant of the advances ISIS has made in Iraq, CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr and CNN's military analyst General James "Spider" Marks.

Barbara, how concerned are U.S. officials about ISIS inching towards Baghdad and taking control of more land around it?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot of concern. And just to underscore what Ben was saying, a lot of focus on the western approaches to Baghdad because the airport is there. There's some 1,600 U.S. military personnel, plus diplomatic personnel at the embassy. If it all goes sideways in Iraq, that airport is the only way out of Iraq for them, for those Americans. So it is vital for the U.S. military to do everything it can to keep that airport open.

I don't think they see -- in agreement with Ben, they don't see a frontal assault on Baghdad at this point, but ISIS is continuing to sort of do these raids, these suicide bombs, stirring up sectarian violence, stirring up doubt in the government and generally making life miserable for everybody. But the taking of Anbar province to the west of Baghdad does now seem more certain. Additional territory falling to ISIS even today. Their control reaches now all the way, of course, back up into Syria.


LEMON: General Marks, can they keep ISIS fighters from sneaking into Baghdad?

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No, you can't. Individual fighters can infiltrate, not at will, but can do it quite well if you know the terrain, you know what's normative in terms of behavior, of course that can always be done. But the real issue here is, if they accomplish that, it really undermines the government, it frightens the population and it gets everybody kind of on their heels a little bit when they need to be leaning forward trying to figure out what the next steps are. What that does is ISIS maintains the momentum and that's exactly what they're trying to do. But ISIS will not take Baghdad. They can't take Baghdad.

LEMON: But Barbara talked about Anbar province, right?

MARKS: Sure.

LEMON: And we have been -- Kobani has been in the news a lot. Kobani, many are saying, you know, that we were so concerned about it, there was so much coverage about it, Kobani's not that big a deal but Anbar province would be a big deal. Does that --

MARKS: Anbar province is a big deal. At this point, it's probably gone.

LEMON: Right.

MARKS: It's probably gone. Baghdad remains solid right now. Certainly the airport is going to remain intact, but it could be on the verge. But the United States and ISF, the Iraqi Security Forces, are paying attention to that. Kobani is a spot on the map that happens to be approximate to Turkey. ISIS owns the rest of the border with Turkey. And the Turkish forces are up on the high ground watching over this advance on Kobani.

Kobani, strategically, has no importance other than in terms of perception vis-a-vis ISIS and its ability to act with momentum and with ease within Syria.

LEMON: So then what is the goal here? Obviously it's to disband ISIS and what have you. But does (INAUDIBLE) possible considering how much ground they have gained? You said you don't think that they're going to take Baghdad, but does that seem possible at all?

MARKS: No, they're not going to take Baghdad. I mean that would be the strongest point that they would have to attack and you don't want to attack your enemy's strongest points.

LEMON: My question is, I hear people saying, you know, ISIS is being overplayed, ISIS is, you know, they're sort of the bully on the playground. But then you hear them making all of these advances here. What's the truth here?

MARKS: I don't know that they're the bully on the playground. And I don't know who's saying that. That critic needs to kind of get his act together. ISIS is a considerable threat, could even be defined as existential if it's not halted and taken care of right now. That's why all of these moves, Don, are extremely important. But for us to focus in like a laser on Kobani and try to draw some conclusions, we might be attributing more to them than we should.

LEMON: Barbara Starr, have less than a minute left, so then now what for the Pentagon? What is - what are they strategically keeping their eye on at the moment?

STARR: Keeping their eye on the airport, but also trying to look at this through the lens of ISIS. Maybe it's not all about taking all of Baghdad, but what if ISIS begins to chip away at neighborhoods, portions of the city, gaining enough control to reach a tipping point in certain places in Baghdad that makes certain parts of that city under their control? Maybe not the whole thing, maybe they don't need the whole thing, but could they take parts of it?


LEMON: It's very interesting. Many said that they didn't think that we would get to this point when it comes to the fight against ISIS, but apparently it's escalating. We'll be watching all day. Thank you very much, general. Thank you very much, Barbara Starr.

I'm Don Lemon. I appreciate you watching. "Wolf" starts right now.