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Last-Minute Campaigning; Americans Joining ISIS?; ISIS Slaughters 322 Tribe Members; Video Emerges of ISIS Brainwashing Children; Report: Ferguson No-Fly Zone Aimed at Media; Investigators Find Clues to Spaceship's Crash

Aired November 3, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We have transformed THE SITUATION ROOM into CNN's Election Center. And this is where we're counting down to the votes that will decide whether Republicans take over the U.S. Senate and gain full control of Congress in tomorrow's midterm election.

The first polls open in just six hours. That would be at midnight Eastern in several locations in New Hampshire, where one of the many closely watched contests is unfolding.

We're covering all the key races this hour, and we're also following a fresh wave of hundreds of foreigners, including Americans, rushing to fight alongside ISIS terrorists. We have our correspondents, our guests, our CNN global resources. They're on these stories and more. That's coming up this hour.

Let's begin though with our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She's watching the candidates make their final push.

Dana, what are you seeing?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a slew of Republican candidates feeling cautiously optimistic, Democrats feeling jittery and thousands of volunteers trying to convince voters that Washington may be dysfunctional, but it's still important to vote tomorrow.


BASH (voice-over): Ground troops from both parties.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got it? Next house, 2154.

BASH: With high-tech apps looking for every possible voter behind every door.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Victory is in the air. And we're going to bring it home tomorrow night.

BASH: As candidates launch their closing arguments in nearly a dozen intense Senate races. For Republicans, it's all about President Obama and distrust of government here in Georgia.

NARRATOR: Do you trust President Obama and the Washington politicians to deal with the problems we face?

BASH: Democrats who understand voter disgust with Washington are trying to keep it local and personal, like Senator Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: It's the 1,200 people who are in their homes because we worked for them when they were foreclosed on.

BASH: Some Democrats in trouble are attempting a last-minute course correction. Colorado's Mark Udall is finally talking up his own appeal after even what Democrats call a failed strategy, an almost singular focus on women's issues. In Iowa, Democrat Bruce Braley said the same about his GOP opponent.

BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: She introduced a constitutional amendment in the Iowa Senate to ban all abortions.

BASH: Republican Joni Ernst called Braley part of the...

JONI ERNST (R), IOWA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: Big Washington, D.C., bureaucracy.

BASH: But watch their strikingly similar closing ads.

ERNST: More government, more spending, more taxing.

BASH: Appealing to undecided independents, as they look to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, who went very often script.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: And there's sort of this sense that, well, I hear so much Joni Ernst, she is really attractive, and she sounds nice. I don't care if she is as good-looking as Taylor Swift.

BASH: Ernst was offended, but also joked like Taylor Swift, she would shake it off. And in Kentucky, a sign of exhaustion at the end of a hard-fought campaign.

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES (D), KENTUCKY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: You are the messenger that Mitch McConnell can't buy. He can buy the airwaves, but he cannot buy the hearts and minds of each and every one of you. And let me tell you, this strong independent Kentucky woman, I have got kick left still in me. I'm not giving up.


BASH: Grimes is down in the polls in Kentucky. She's given the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell the toughest fight he's had in decades, but Republicans who are close to him say he's feeling much more confident and bullish that he will get the job that he's wanted for decades, and that is Senate majority leader after tomorrow's election. BLITZER: He's first got to get reelected, and then we will see if the Republicans become the majority.

BASH: He does. More than likely.


BLITZER: And then he will get his dream come true, I guess. All right, Dana, thanks. Any reaction from Taylor Swift yet, by the way?

BASH: No. I'm just going to text her after this. I will let you know.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.

Let's get more now on that closely watched Kentucky Senate race that could determine who will be the next majority leader.

Our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is in Lexington for us.

Brianna, what's the latest there?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. Mitch McConnell has a comfortable lead in the polls here, as you heard Dana say, by several points, certainly very comfortable and enviable by the standards of others in close races.

He is in a very tough race. It has been a tough race with Alison Lundergan Grimes, the secretary of state here in Kentucky. But even with the lead, he's really not taking anything for granted, because while this cycle is a tough environment for incumbents, it's also a tough environment for incumbents. Mitch McConnell is a Washington mainstay. Kentuckians first elected him to the Senate in 1984. Today, he had seven events. Grimes had nine events. Both of them really going all out on this last day of campaigning -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Not taking any chances at all. Brianna, thank you.

We're also watching the race in Kansas where Democrats certainly have a shot at taking a Senate seat from Republicans, even though there's no Democrat on the ballot.

CNN's Jim Sciutto is in Kansas City for us.

What are you seeing over there, Jim?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I will tell you, Greg Orman, the independent, he has a message this year that frankly has a lot of resonance with voters certainly here in Kansas. That is that D.C. is broken and that Kansans want problem solvers, not partisans.

The competing message from his opponent, Senator Pat Roberts, 34-year Hill veteran, is that Orman is a closet Democrat, that he's going to back Obama's policies. Those competing messages have created a virtual dead heat here, the final polls showing Orman ahead just by 1 percentage point. So, basically a dead heat.

The big question is, if Orman were to pull this off, which party will he caucus with? He's been very coy about that question, saying he will caucus most likely with the majority party. But of course that question like this race is likely to go down to the wire tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We will watch it together with you, Jim. Thank you.

One very tight race has just been rocked by a bombshell poll. We're talking about Iowa.

Our justice correspondent Pamela Brown is in Iowa. She's in Des Moines for us.

What is the latest there, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we just got off the phone with the auditor from Iowa's largest county.

He says people have been pouring in all day to cast ballots. He says early voting has produced record turnout. In fact, right now, the early voting polls are closing, and he says they're having to hustle people through because the lines are so long.

More than 400,000 Iowans have cast ballots this year. As I said, that's record turnout. I think that's a reflection of the fact that both camps have been so focused on their ground game this election, and Iowans realize how high the stakes are. This is the first open Senate seat in Iowa in four decades and whoever wins the Senate race could determine who controls the Senate.

So there's really a lot at stake here. It's down to the wire. Election officials I have spoken to say that they're preparing for a recount, because they expect it to be so tight come tomorrow night -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Pamela, thank you very much.

We haven't seen much of President Obama in these final campaign days. That's exactly the way many of his fellow Democrats want it.

Let's go to our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski.

Michelle, what is the president doing now, what is he up to?


The White House says we will continue to hear from him leading up to the election, but it will likely be local races, things like robocalls. Even in places where we have seen him campaign, blue states, races for governor and Congress, certainly not the hot contests where we have seen Democrats put on the defensive for agreeing with the president's policies, making for some awkward moments out there.


KOSINSKI (voice-over): The first lady on the campaign trail, while the president supported Democrats out of the public eye. The White House says there are robocalls and radio interviews still to come.

He did have a busy weekend, several stops, but far away from those pivotal Senate contests the nation is watching.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is sort of the last election cycle in which I'm involved as president. You know, it makes you a little wistful, because I do like campaigning. It's fun.

KOSINSKI: Less so though when vulnerable Democrats don't exactly invite you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The administration's policies are simply wrong.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There's no question that Democrats are running away. More than anything else in this cacophony of an election, the issue of the president's unpopularity really has become a drag in key Senate races.

KOSINSKI: In New Hampshire, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen was asked why Obama wasn't coming. Her answer?

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: He's busy in Washington. He's dealing with the Ebola threat. He's dealing with the threat from ISIS. I think he's exactly where he needs to be.

KOSINSKI: Adding to the discomfort, when the president said this last month.

OBAMA: I'm not on the ballot this fall. These policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.

KOSINSKI: Which Republicans jumped all over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On issue after issue, Senator Shaheen continues to vote with President Obama 99 percent of the time.

NARRATOR: The issue is trust. Do you trust President Obama and the Washington politicians to deal with the problems we face?

KOSINSKI: Some analysts feel the strongest message the White House could send which could have helped these Democrats if they had allowed it is that the American economy is doing well, better than virtually any other country affected by the recession. But they say that just hasn't been registering, that many voters have tuned out, which happens in almost every presidential second term.

The campaign cold shoulder was also turned on George W. Bush during the 2006 midterms.

GERGEN: What's striking is that President Obama and George W. stand out as the two weakest presidents going into the midterms in over 30 years.


KOSINSKI: Today, the White House said they feel Democrat will hold the Senate. If that doesn't happen, unlike what Vice President Biden seemed to be saying to CNN earlier, the White House says that would be a big deal, but the president would simply continue to work with anyone who supports policies that help middle-class families -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Michelle, where is the president planning on spending Election Day?

KOSINSKI: Here at the White House. The White House just told us they don't anticipate any additional appearances, which is what we expected.

But they say that there are these robocalls that haven't gone out yet. Some radio appearances that haven't gone out yet, so different pockets of the country we will be hearing from him, we just don't know where exactly or when, Wolf.

BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski at the White House for us, thank you very much.

Let's bring in our chief national correspondent, John King. He's here with me at the magic wall.

The president of the United States effectively being shunned by a lot of his fellow Democrats. That is awkward.


It is awkward. We have seen it before, as David Gergen notes there, with George W. Bush. This is the 2014 map. We will wait and watch this one fill in tomorrow night, but let's address this question looking at the 201 presidential maps.

So, you get a better sense of a lot of these places where he's not going and not welcome, he actually did quite well a few years ago. First let's quickly look at where he has been. This is the state of Michigan, because this is the only Senate race he has campaigned in this year.

Michigan, that one though we expect to go for the Democrats. A lot of governor's races, New York, Maine, Maryland, the Wisconsin governor's race, which is one of the premier races in the country, but nowhere in the big Senate battlegrounds have you seen the president of the United States.

He's mostly been in very safe, very blue territory. It's a debate in the campaigns. Out of the places it's a debate is out here in Colorado. Remember, the president's won twice. Mark Udall, the Democratic incumbent, trailing his Republican opponent. In our latest poll, the president's approval rating just 39 percent.

That's why -- I was out here, Wolf, and some of the Democratic congressman say this is where you need the turnout, Denver in the suburbs. They say the president is still pretty popular out here. They wish Senator Udall brought him out. But see all this red?

The president is very unpopular out there. That was the calculation. Let's look at one other one here. North Carolina is another one. Kay Hagan, in a very close race, the president carried this in 2008, narrowly lost in 2012.

Look at his approval rating here. Here is where it gets interesting. In states that have a higher African-American population, the president's approval numbers are actually better than in the other battleground states. If Kay Hagan wins, this will be forgotten. If she loses a very narrow race and African-American turnout is down significantly, I think they will be asking the question, might it have helped to bring in the president of the United States in?

Again though here, as in Georgia, another state we could look at, the president is popular where you see the blue, very unpopular where you see the red. These candidates in these statewide races face a tough calculation. One last one, Georgia, 44-53. Michelle Nunn has not invited the president down. She has said this isn't about him.

If she ends up in a runoff here in Georgia or if we get a runoff over in Louisiana, I do think we will revisit this question. In Louisiana, the president at 37 percent in our latest polls. If there are runoffs in those states, we're likely to revisit this question because the Republicans will be favored. The Democrats' only hope will be dramatic high African-American turnout. Who better to turn them out than the president?

We may not be done with this conversation tomorrow night.

BLITZER: Almost everyone think there is will be a runoff, at least in Louisiana.

KING: At least in Louisiana. It's sort of on the cusp in the state of Georgia. And then here again Mary Landrieu will face a question. If you pull this out, you see the red here. In most of the state, the president is very unpopular.

But in a runoff election in December, where turnout in a midterm year will be a question, all the polls have shown Mary Landrieu losing in a one on one race against Republican Bill Cassidy. Does she decide it's my only chance and roll the dice and bring the president in, maybe bring Bill Clinton in as well? We will see.

BLITZER: I'm sure they will bring in Bill Clinton. He's still pretty popular in a lot of parts of Louisiana.

But in Louisiana and Georgia, just to remind our viewers, they have a unique feature that you need 50 percent plus one of the vote in order to avoid that runoff. If there's a runoff, the two top candidates they have that runoff.

KING: I call it the Secret Service nightmare strategy, a Bill Clinton-Barack Obama bus tour through Georgia and Louisiana. BLITZER: Let's talk about both of those states.

Let's to here in Louisiana right now. It looks like in this multi- candidate race, no one is going to get 50 percent presumably right now. But we have done some polling suggesting if it's just Mary Landrieu against Cassidy, she's in trouble potentially, with a third- party libertarian or other Republican in the race.

KING: Right now, you have Maness, a Tea Party candidate who wouldn't drop out. The Republican establishment tried to get him to drop out. He's polling somewhere in the ballpark of 10 percent, 12 percent.

So all the polls have shown that neither candidate is likely. Let's count the votes tomorrow. Sometimes we're surprised. But it looks like she will end up in a runoff against Bill Cassidy, who is the leading Republican. I have not even one poll that shows her winning that runoff. So then that's the question. If that is likely to happen there, we will have to watch and see how that plays out.

That's what makes it so interesting. We have taken the state yellow, these are the two opponents there. Likely to be this, but again let's respect the voters and see if we count this one. And over in Georgia, you have the same question. You have a third-party candidate. We don't have them up here, but there are a couple third-party candidates.

Late polls show David Perdue surging a little bit. If you believe late polls, Republicans are hoping they get 50 percent plus one tomorrow night. If not, either one of these candidates can be on top, but shy of that 50 plus one. This one is January 6. Imagine if that is to control the United States Senate. We are going to be waiting a while.

BLITZER: She's the daughter of Sam Nunn, who represented Georgia as a Democrat, a U.S. senator, for a long time, was very popular in his day. She is obviously hoping people, older voters will remember Sam Nunn.

KING: Familiarity.

BLITZER: Yes. Thank you very much, John. We will be obviously spending a lot of time, you and me, here at this magic wall.

We're going to dig deeper on all of this. Our political commentators, S.E. Cupp, Cornell Belcher, they are both standing by live.

Also, we're getting in some gruesome new details of an ISIS massacre. Hundreds of people slaughtered, including women and children, possibly targeted in revenge.


BLITZER: Perhaps the majority in the United States Senate?


CORNELL BELCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm glad you put such a positive spin on it.

Look, there are enough elections still within the margin of error for Democrats to control the Senate. If you look at early voting, we're clearly not going to have the 2010 electorate. If you look at early voting in North Carolina, look at early voting in Georgia, if you look at early voting in Iowa, we're expanding the electorate in a way we didn't do in 2010.

All these signs are good. The question is, given the map -- you guys spent a lot of time talking about the president. The truth of the matter is, it's not about the president, it's about the map. Given this map in really red, GOP-controlled areas, the GOP is not pulling away. They're not running up the score anywhere in a way that expands the map.

That's the fundamental problem. So we go into Election Day with all these races being a tossup, and Democrats like their chances when it comes to ground.

Do you agree with that assessment?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, they're going to be tight races.

It's not going to be a landslide election for Republicans. They're going to be close. But in an off-year, when conservative and Republican turnout is going to be higher anyway, early voting actually looks to favor Republicans, surprisingly, in some states. And incumbents, by virtue of being incumbents, should be in a better position. It's not looking good for Democrats. There's a path, but it's an improbable path to victory for Democrats.

BLITZER: Because you remember, Cornell, in 2010, the midterm elections, the president the next day acknowledged there was in his word a shellacking. Here's the question. Do you anticipate another shellacking or shellacking two?

BELCHER: There's not a wave out there.

Look, I would like to -- look, there's not a wave. If you look at the generic from 2010, Republicans had an 10-point or eight-point advantage in the generic in 2010. Right now, it's tied. If you look at these races, look, we're going into an election talking about Georgia may be in a runoff. Georgia?

No, there's not a wave out there. And I think Senator Rand Paul was on to something, that there's a problem with the Republican brand. Everything is set, you all should have a fantastic night. But your brand has been such a problem that I think it's getting in the way. Don't forget, this is the same party that a couple months ago shut down the government.

BLITZER: Rand Paul says the Republican brand is not very good right now.

CUPP: Yes, I think it's going to be pretty good tomorrow. I think the brand is going to be better than the president's brand, where you have Democrats literally running away from the president's record, candidates refusing to say whether they voted for the president.

Imagine how extraordinary this is. Michelle Nunn in Georgia running for Senate there is invoking her experience with George H.W. Bush to convince voters there that she's not like the president. You're just not seeing the brand Obama or the brand Democrat being effective this year. So Republicans maybe need to work on a few things, but I think tomorrow they're going to be fine.

BELCHER: Given the map, given these are states that no national Democrat typically does well in, it would be asinine, quite frankly, for Democrats to be dropping the national head of the party really into these solidly Republican states. It would playing right into the narrative of wanting to nationalize these election.

It would be -- nationalize the election, given these red states, it would be disastrous for Democrats.


CUPP: What about places like Colorado or North Carolina?


CUPP: Or New Hampshire -- if Republicans win?

BELCHER: Last time, we didn't win North Carolina.

But, look, if you want to say Democrats are going to lose because of the president, well, then what happens tomorrow night if in fact we win New Hampshire? What happens if tomorrow in fact we win North Carolina? Is it because of the president?


CUPP: No. It will be because Democrats have run so far away from Obama that they were able to win.


BELCHER: Because you know what? If you want to give the president the blame, you have to give him the credit. If these both things are equal, if one is wrong, they're both wrong.

BLITZER: All right, let's move on to Tom Harkin right now, the outgoing senator from the state of Iowa. He's caused quite a bit of stir. You saw it with Dana Bash's report. He said that Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, a war veteran, he said she's attractive, and he said she's even as good looking as Taylor Swift.

He's apologized for that. He said he was wrong. What did you make of that? Because it's generating a lot of commotion out there in Iowa and beyond.

CUPP: I could feign outrage in this. I don't find it outrageous. I really don't.

But there are two truisms here. One, he would not have said that about a man, that's just a fact. He would not be talking about what a man looked like. And, two, it would absolutely meet the very low liberal threshold for outrage if Joni Ernst had a D next to her name, instead of an R next to her name.

Then the liberals would be talking about a war on women and sexism. I'm not going to do that, because I don't think it's all that outrageous a comment. It's just unfortunate.

BELCHER: It's true that women are treated differently in our political system. Our conversation around women is different in our political system. Hopefully, we will get to the day where that's not true.

CUPP: Yes.

BLITZER: What mistakes do you think, if the Democrats had some do- overs, what mistakes do you think they made this cycle?

BELCHER: Mistakes, listen, Wolf, 3.5 growth, unemployment back down to where it was pre-recession, stock market looking good, manufacturing jobs growing in a way you haven't seen since the '90s.


BLITZER: Why does the majority in the country think the country is going in the wrong direction?

BELCHER: Look, if we can't sell what we're doing now, especially when Europe would love to have people at 5 percent grown, if we can't sell this, well, then that's our fault.

BLITZER: So, it's a communications problem?

BELCHER: It's our fault if we can't sell this.

CUPP: Democrats have spent a lot of time, too much time narrowly focused on women's issues and a war on women.


CUPP: And their deficits with men far outpace Republican deficits among women. It's like they have ignored half the electorate. I think they're going to pay a price for overselling and overpandering tomorrow.

BELCHER: I'm going to agree with my colleague here. I think both parties have narrowcast in a way that is not beneficial.

Look, if I were a Republican, I would be talking about what you just said, Wolf. Americans are still anxious about the economy. Double down on the economy, instead of making all the focus about President Obama. I think both parties have made some mistakes. BLITZER: But the Republicans could lose some incumbent Republican governors right now, including some who have presidential ambitions. I made a list. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, he's in trouble. He's the Republican. Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, he's in trouble. Rick Scott, the Florida governor, he's in trouble.

So, yes, the Democrats have problems in the Senate, but on a lot of these governor races, the Republicans have some serious problems right now.

CUPP: Yes.

Pennsylvania I think was never going to happen for Republicans, but Wisconsin would be a significant blow, not just because Scott Walker is a darling, I think rightly so, of the conservative movement and, as you said, a potential 2016 contender, but also because he's won already twice in really hard-fought elections in that state. It would be a real shame if it came down to a couple hundred or couple thousand votes this time around.

BLITZER: And if he loses, the president of the United States, he did go to Wisconsin to campaign for the Democratic governor's candidate.


BLITZER: She was not afraid to invite him to come to Wisconsin.

BELCHER: Listen, two things.

I think Kansas is a perfect example of this. It's one thing for senators to be talking all the time in theory, but when you actually put that ideology in place, you see what's happening in Kansas with the creating of the deficit there, creating of the government there.

The real problem about Republicans to think about, think about Florida, because here you have Florida going twice blue in the presidential year. If they go blue again in an off-year, Republicans have real problems.

BLITZER: Charlie Crist, if he wins.

BELCHER: Because there's not a lot of maps where Republicans can win nationally if they're not competitive -- competing in Florida.

CUPP: Florida will be interesting. Colorado is the same, but flipped, right? Colorado was flipped by the Democrats in 2008, much heralded. Read the book "The Blueprint" if you want the behind the scenes on that. And just six years later, if Republicans manage to flip that state back...


BLITZER: On the Senate side, but Hickenlooper, the Democratic governor of Colorado, he could have a little problem, but he seems to be in better shape than Udall. Right?

CUPP: He could.

We will see. Hickenlooper has had a very interesting year. He's had to walk back on a number of the legislative things that he's accomplished. So it's a really interesting state. For the same reasons that Florida is interesting for Republicans, Colorado is interesting for Democrats.

BELCHER: All politicians are in trouble, Wolf, all of them.

BLITZER: On that note, we will leave it. Thanks very much.

CUPP: Thanks.

BELCHER: Thank you.

BLITZER: We will you back here tomorrow.

Our special election coverage begins tomorrow afternoon right here 5:00 p.m. Eastern in THE SITUATION ROOM. We hope you will stay with us throughout the night.

Just ahead, how ISIS is brainwashing children, trying to get a new generation to carry on their brutality.

And did officials try to block the news media from covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting death of Michael Brown? We're taking a closer look at a troubling new report.

But, first, a look at one of tomorrow's key races.


BLITZER (voice-over): Whether you think it's unique or just plain weird, Louisiana does it differently.

In Louisiana, there are not party primaries. Instead, multiple candidates square off in the general election. This year, they include Democratic incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu, three other Democrats and three Republicans.

If no one gets 50 percent plus one of the vote, the top two finishers have a runoff December 6.



BLITZER: We're following very disturbing breaking news out of Iraq right now. The country's health ministry says ISIS forces have now killed at least 322 members of a Sunni tribe, including women and children, as bodies were recovered in a mass grave. The slaughter is believed to be retaliation for the tribe's resistance to the Sunni-led ISIS.

And there are now more troubling developments at the same time. Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has details. What are you picking up, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, foreign fighters are now pouring, pouring into Syria and Iraq, and that means trouble here at home.


STARR (voice-over): The intensity of the fighting in Kobani grabs attention. But behind the scenes, a huge new worry for the U.S. In the last six weeks, 1,000 new foreign fighters streamed into Syria and Iraq. There are now 16,000 there, nearly 3,000 are westerners.

ANDREW LIEPMAN, RAND CORPORATION: I suspect that the air strikes are an additional motivating factor for some who want to fight.

STARR: Today, the FBI director warned it's extremely difficult to identify Americans trying to join ISIS.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The challenge of the traveler phenomena is, it's -- there's no typical profile.

STARR: NATO's top commander worries the fighters will return home and launch attacks.

GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE, NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Lone wolves don't plug into networks, and so it's tougher problem. You've seen some increased security across many of the European nations.

STARR: It's a war getting more complicated every day. The Syrian al Qaeda affiliate, the Al-Nusra Front, has taken key areas of northern Syria, according to activists, pushing out U.S.-backed rebels. Now a U.S. military training program for the rebels may be a long shot.

LIEPMAN: It's really hard for me to conceive of, you know, the so- called moderate opposition coming back and becoming a real force on the battlefield.

STARR: In Iraq, forces there are making some progress, but it's not enough. A senior U.S. military official tells CNN U.S. military advisers are pressing the Iraqi army to prepare for major offensives in the coming weeks and months, with at least three critical targets. Retaking the city of Mosul; bringing the oil refinery and city of Baji back under whole Iraqi control; and winning back al Anbar province, the critical western approaches to Baghdad which the U.S. has vowed to keep safe.

But even a modest effort will require thousands of Iraqi troops, trained, equipped and motivated to fight, something that has not yet fully happened.


STARR: The Department of Homeland Security now is so concerned about this lone-wolf attack scenario that once again today they announced they are stepping up screening measures for passports and visas for people coming into this country -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Seem to be stepping up those kinds of procedures every other day in one area or another. Barbara, thanks very much.

Not far from the ISIS battlefield, the terrorists are working to ensure that their brutality lives on with a new generation. Our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, is right near the Syrian-Turkish border with more on how ISIS is now brainwashing children. Nick, tell us what you're finding out.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we know that daily the damage done to Syrian society is visible in those videos you see. The destruction. But quietly behind the scenes, ISIS are working. We've seen some shocking exclusive video of how this comes into play -- are working to indoctrinate the very youngest in the areas they control.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The dark they sit in makes the light from the projector all the more captivating. Children in Derazul (ph) gathered. This is movie night. But it's an ISIS production and comes with a pep talk.


WALSH: "So don't be afraid. We're your brothers," he says. "If anyone assaults you, a top chief or unimportant soldier, just complain about him, and your rights will be restored to you by Allah's will."

An activist secretly filmed these pictures as the main event gets underway. An ISIS execution video, running in their underwear in their last moments. Some of 250 Syrian regime soldiers executed by ISIS in August. They keep watching.

What's the first movie you remember? We don't know if they were shown the moment of death. But this is how that propaganda video continued.

A Syrian psychologist specializing in the impact of war and ISIS on children examined this footage.

"What we see in these videos," he says, is ISIS taking steps to make it normal for their children to see such things. They hope that all, or at least some, will go on to do the same things. Not just be silent or accept it, but do it.

"Of course, when a child is growing up, it's a special time in his life when you can work on planting specific ideas in their minds that will result in attitudes in the future."

Indoctrination comes with pageantry, in this study (ph). This is a graduation ceremony for the ISIS Cubs (ph). They're not playing masked superheroes, but real-life jihadi.

After years of sectarian bloodshed, hear what they have these children sing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (CHANTING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)



GRAPHIC: Oh, Alawi Shia police who live to slaughter, we will come to slaughter you without you even knowing.

WALSH: Minds molded to their fit. Schooled to remember huge texts by rote. Yet, there is nothing staged about the vigor in these eyes as they chant "God is our leader and backer. America is their leader."

They talk about a lost generation in Syria's war here. The dogma and horror it has lost, too.


WALSH: Now, key obviously to resolving Syria's crisis is what we do with the millions of refugees who are around Syria's borders trying to seek some kind of solace? And you just heard Barbara talking about the fear of a lone Wolf. With these children, even if the caliphate is somehow dispersed or broken up, one has to wonder quite while the ideology falls upon them would do to them in their adult lives and what they'd be willing to undertake, Wolf.

BLITZER: What a chilling report. That is Nick. Among everything else, all of a sudden, we're hearing that al-Nusra, another group the U.S. regards as a terrorist organization has, in the few days, taken some ground in Syria's north. What does that mean for U.S. policy, al-Nusra moving ahead?

WALSH: Well, Nusra are always militarily successful on the battlefield, but they have recently been pushing out, it seems, from key areas in the northwest of the country. Moderate groups who get a lot of backing from the United States -- that's the Handon (ph) movement, the Syrian revolutionaries -- even claiming they've taken some of the weapons which some say either the U.S. or U.S.-Arab allies have been supplying to them. No one has been able to back that up at this stage.

But it's a key issue, certainly. It seems like al-Nusra are tired of sharing that territory with more moderate groups. And frankly, the losses these groups have suffered in terms of prestige and possibly weaponry, as well, that's a severe problem for U.S. policy. They're always weak; they're always weaker than Nusra. Hope perhaps people hope for them to stand up to our al Qaeda affiliates and push them back.

Quite the opposite has happened. And that really leads the key Syrian rebel ally the U.S. needs to bolster right now actually on their back foot.

BLITZER: It does. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much.

Just ahead, a no-fly zone to keep the U.S. media from getting a view of the Ferguson, Missouri protests. What's that all about? Our panelists standing by.

And the billionaire Sir Richard Branson speaking to CNN about the crash of his company's spaceship and the future of private space flights.


BLITZER: Ferguson, Missouri, is, as you know, is already on edge over grand jury deliberations. Now, a new report that the federal government restricted air space to block news media coverage of protest sparking fresh criticism. Let's discuss what's going on.

Joining us, CNN anchor Don Lemon, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and the community activist John Gaskin.

John, let's -- what's been the reaction to this "A.P." report that the news media was intentionally kept away, not allowed to fly over Ferguson, Missouri, during those initial hours and days after the disturbances following the death of that young teenager?

JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Well, as I have spoken with many community leaders, many are very concerned, because as you know, it was the press that was able to capture many of those frightening images of the heavy artillery, the military-like weapons that were being used on citizens there in Ferguson. They were able to capture the images of the journalists that were arrested in the McDonald's that afternoon during that period of unrest. So, it's very concerning to see that there could have possibly been efforts to keep the media from being able to cover the unrest from a certain angle to allow the world to see what was taking place there in Ferguson.

BLITZER: Don, you were there, you covered what was going on there from almost day one. Police said that flight restriction preventing the news media from flying over in helicopter, whatever, was put in place because they were concerned about safety.

You've looked into this. What is -- what's your thought?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they say they were concerned about flares and other possible projectiles, you know, targeting either helicopters or airplanes in the area. But the interesting thing is that there was -- it was a limited restriction that the media didn't really know about, because one of the helicopters actually flew during the time because they knew about the limited restriction, which had to do I think it was like 3,500 or 3,800 feet into the air.

So that helicopter, it wasn't optimal for shooting news footage, but helicopters were actually allowed to go in the air if they knew the law specifically. KMOV knew that, they were able to shoot some of it, but I don't know what's in the minds of police officers. It seems a little bit sketchy to me that they would do it and not to allow the media in the zone, because we should be about transparency. They should allow the media. If they're doing the right thing, police officers have nothing to worry about it.

BLITZER: Well, what about that, Jeffrey? Are police legally allowed to go ahead and block news media access like this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: They are allowed to block access, but they are supposed to do so by telling the truth about why they're doing it. It is certainly legal to keep air space safe if you really believe there are projectiles. If you simply want to protect good -- get good publicity, that's not a legitimate reason.

I don't think the legal system is going to be involved with this at all. No one -- you can't really sue about it. It's not a crime, but it is yet another example of why the Ferguson police department has a credibility problem in the community, because they weren't straight with people during these crisis days.

BLITZER: Don, there is this report that the hacking group Anonymous who supporters wear those masks, popularized in the movie "Deeper Vendetta" has supposedly outed police officers. This is a report from "St. Louis Dispatch", apparently, taking control of the Ferguson mayor parents' checking account.

Explain this what's going on over there, because this is pretty disturbing.

LEMON: We've seen the masks before, it's like the guy with the little mustaches, from Guy Fawkes, you know, they tried to burn down the House of Commons in 1605. It was a real character. And in the movie, "Deeper Vendetta", he was sort of the leader, the fictional leader.

And so, people wear these masks. And I think November 5th, I believe it is, which is Guy Fawkes say they are planning some sort of protests. And there's that movie there that depicts Guy Fawkes that way.

But, yes, Anonymous since the very beginning has been tweeting information about the mayor. They initial thought it was the mayor, but it happened to be the mayor's family, they've been getting information about their checking account, their personal informing, they have been buying things, and they have been doing it -- taking the identity of people in the community, including police officers, members of the council, community leaders. They have been getting, -- taking their identity and buying things with it. And this is the second round.

But Anonymous is saying this round is not theirs. So, they're not claiming responsibility for it. They did it for the first round right after the killing of making Michael Brown. For this one they're saying it is not them.

So, I don't know what's going on. But regardless of which side you're on here, anyone should be a bit nervous about Anonymous, because even if you're a protester, they can also use your entity and take your identity as well.

BLITZER: As we get closer, John, to a potential decision by the grand jury, what's the mood over there right now?

GASKIN: Well, as I've said before, many people are certainly hoping the peace will be kept. People will continue to protest peacefully, and that the police in the area will use an incredible amount of restraint when dealing with protesters, and dealing with individuals that may be exercising their rights.

So, we're going to hope that piece is kept. And people act accordingly and obey the laws and the rules within the area.

BLITZER: And, Jeffrey, we are getting closer and closer. All of the estimates are that by mid-November, this grand jury should reach a decision whether to indict or not indict.

TOOBIN: Yes. That's extra. Of course the community reaction is a source of worry for everyone. I imagine that the grand jury and the prosecutors supervising it will let the authorities know when the decision is coming in advance so people can prepare.

But certainly, they will not tell what that decision is. And that will lead to a great deal of tension. But I think it's better to have people being prepared for a decision, rather than it just being sprung out of nowhere.

BLITZER: All right, guys. We're going to continue to watch what's going on there in Ferguson, Missouri. I'm sure the tension is going to increase. We'll see what happens and I hope everybody agrees with you, John. Everyone should keep calm and try to avoid violence. That would be bad.

All right, guys, thanks very much.

This important note. Don will be back later tonight anchoring a two- hour "CNN TONIGHT", 10:00 p.m. Eastern until midnight Eastern. Tune in for that.

Just ahead, Richard Branson talks to CNN about the deadly crash of one of his virgin galactic spacecraft. Is at this time end of his quest to make space tourism a reality?


BLITZER: Billionaire Richard Branson tells CNN commercial space travel is worth the risk despite Friday's deadly test flight accident. Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board, they have been combing through the wreckage and studying data that hasn't been made public yet and finding important clues, we're told. They said the co-pilot unlocked the device used to stabilize and slow the spacecraft later in its flight. The device opened, even though a second handle wasn't touched and the spacecraft disintegrated.

While it will be a long time before the NTSB can say exactly what went wrong, Sir Richard Branson isn't giving up.


RICHARD BRANSON, VIRGIN GROUP FOUNDER: We have to go through difficult testing stage of creating a space line in order to make it safe for travelers who want to travel on that space line in the years ahead.


BLITZER: Branson says Virgin Galactic will continue to test a second spacecraft and he still intends to be the first passenger. Good luck with that.

This important programming note: tomorrow night, be sure to join us for a special night. "Election Night in America" will begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. I'll be anchoring CNN's political coverage all through the evening with the best political team on television. We'll be here for you until every vote is counted.

Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Go ahead and tweet me @WolfBlitzer. Always tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Please be sure to join us again tomorrow. Watch us live or DVR the show so you won't miss a moment.

That's it for me. Thanks for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.