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THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama: 'No Complete Strategy' Yet on Training Iraqis; Interview with John Kirby; Supreme Court Strikes Down Jerusalem Passport Law; Source: U.S. Had Intel on ISIS Leader's Location; Policeman Pulls Gun on Teen Pool Party. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 8, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[17:00:09] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now -- incomplete strategy. President Obama concedes there still is no finished game plan for training for Iraqi forces to battle ISIS. Why won't the Iraqis fight for their country? We'll take you to the front lines where another battle looms.
Baghdadi secrets. New details on how the reclusive leader of ISIS operates. Why won't he allow cell phones in his presence, and what role do the ISIS wives play in the terror group's operations?
Prison break. Two notorious murderers pull off a high-tech escape from a maximum security prison. Where are they now?
And excessive force -- why were teens in bathing suits thrown to the ground by police? Were officers targeting African-Americans? I'll ask the head of the in NAACP.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: President Obama admitted today there still is no complete strategy for training Iraqi troops to fight ISIS. After talks with world leaders, the president conceded that the United States and its partners are still suffering setbacks in that fight, even as the Pentagon weighs a possible increase in the number of U.S. troops training and advising Iraqis.
At the same time ISIS is now threatening a major Iraqi base. We'll take you to the front lines. I'll also speak live with the State Department spokesman, John Kirby, and our correspondents, analysts, and guests are all standing by with full coverage.
Let's begin with our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta. He's in Europe where the president has wrapped up his talks with the G-7 leaders. So what happened, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in a startling admission at the G-7 summit, President Obama acknowledged, more than nine months into the battle against ISIS, he is still developing his strategy for defeating this terrorist group.
ACOSTA (voice-over): In the battle against ISIS, President Obama conceded he's still in search of a path for success. After strolling through the Bavarian Alps with G-7 leaders, the president revealed he's tweaking what's been the cornerstone of his ISIS strategy -- training Iraqi forces.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well about how recruitment takes place, how that training takes place. And so the details of that are not yet worked out.
ACOSTA: The president admitted that even as the Pentagon is drawing up a plan to boost training, for Iraqi troops the government in Baghdad is having trouble finding new fighters.
OBAMA: One of the things we are still seeing is, in Iraq, places where we've got more training capacity than we have recruits.
ACOSTA: Critics pounced, with Republican National Committee asking what has President Obama been doing for the last ten months? Since he said this --
OBAMA: I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet.
ACOSTA: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi traveled all the way to the summit in search of more military aid. While at one point it looked like Abadi couldn't get the president's attention, he later received a promise ISIS will be defeated.
OBAMA: I'm confident that, although it is going to take time and there will be setbacks and lessons learned, that we are going to be successful.
ACOSTA: ISIS wasn't the only dark cloud hanging over the summit. On Russia's meddling in Ukraine, the G-7 offered a show the strength, agreeing that sanctions on Moscow should remain in place despite growing doubts in Europe.
OBAMA: The costs that the Russian people are bearing are severe.
ACOSTA: The man who could change that, Mr. Obama said, is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
OBAMA: Does he continue to wreck his country's economy and continue Russia's isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to re-create the glories of the Soviet empire? Or does he recognize that Russia's greatness does not depend on violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of other countries?
(END VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA (on camera): The White House knew going into this summit that it was not going to get new sanctions against Russia, just walking out of here with the current sanctions in place is enough of a win for this president, even as his aides acknowledge they have not really changed Putin's behavior. The Russian president appears to be digging in, in the hopes of wearing down Europe's will to wage this economic fight. Wolf?
BLITZER: Jim Acosta in Europe, with us, at the G-7. Thanks very much
After capturing the major Iraqi city of Ramadi, ISIS has been pushing east and is now threatening a key Iraqi military base where Iraqi troops and militia fighters are gathered to confront the terror group.
Our senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is back from the front lines.
[17:05:01] He has a CNN exclusive. Tell us how it went. You're now back safely, fortunately, in Baghdad. What's the latest, Nick?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's been very hard to get access to this supposed large counterattack that Iraqi forces are mounting against Ramadi. It's, we told, now in progress. But we have first Western television network to see the key base of Habbaniyah, where they are supposed to be mounting these forces, but find themselves frequently under attack from ISIS.
WALSH (voice-over): A long, edgy road leads to the Iraqi base at Habbaniyah, the closest the military has taken Western television towards Ramadi since it fell to ISIS.
Huge, sprawling, it's meant to be where soldiers and militias, both Sunni and Shia, are amassing to retake Ramadi from ISIS. But we're told they're mostly deployed outside.
And here it is the Iraqi army along the northern edge of their base in a vicious front line with ISIS along the river. ISIS have blocked a dam upstream to lower the tides and help them attack.
(on camera): It is minute by minute here, the situation can change, and that river bed very much the front line. They've been using water from the lake to keep its levels high, but still, as you can hear, ISIS are very close.
(voice-over): They see and watch ISIS daily, but say they are overlooked by coalition air strikes. "They're supposed to give us some support now for war planes," he says. "We're in control of the ground. What we need is air support."
Here, caught between the ISIS towns of Ramadi and Fallujah, they face 1,000 ISIS, they think. But here, he says, he sees only a few with long beards and a flag here.
But soon ISIS fire back. This is what happens when you poke that snake.
They lead us out. This, the Iraqi army stronghold, where they speaking of readiness and glory to come, yet seem busied by an enemy far too close.
WALSH (on camera): Now, Wolf, one of the key issues we learned on that base regards the Sunni fighters that the government is trying to get together to help them fight for that Sunni heartland there, remember the sectarian division here in Iraq between Sunni and Shia. We were told by one Iraqi official that, on paper, there are 2,000 Sunni fighters, but he said in reality there are about 500. We didn't see them ourselves. We're told they're out and around securing the area.
That is a vital flaw in the strategy here. It's what Washington badly wanted to see -- Sunnis fighting for that Sunni area, not being some large Shia paramilitary force, but alongside the Iraqi army, sweeping in. Barack Obama surely must be aware of that when he's trying to complete his strategy now, nearly a year in since Mosul was taken.
BLITZER: All right, Nick, thanks very much. Nick Paton Walsh reporting live from Baghdad. As I said, glad you're back safe and sound.
Let's bring in the State Department spokesman John Kirby. He's joining us from the State Department right now. John, thanks very much for joining us.
The president said today the United States, his administration, does not yet have a complete strategy for how to train Iraqi troops in this fight against ISIS, to advise Iraqi troops. What's taking so long?
JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: I think what the president was referring to is the train and equip strategy isn't complete yet, because there still needs to be some commitments from the Iraqi side. You still -- you need trainees, you need more trainees, and we're working with them on that. I think that's what he was referring to.
But, look, make no mistake, we have been training literally hundreds of Iraqi troops and units to get out there in the field and fight. And those that we have trained and helped and equipped have done well out there. Doesn't mean it's perfect, doesn't mean there's still not more work to do. And, again, that's what I think the president was referring to.
BLITZER: But the troops that the U.S. trained and equipped simply in Ramadi and Mosul did not do well. They simply ran away and left their U.S. equipment behind.
KIRBY: Well, certainly there were issues there in Ramadi. And I don't want to -- I don't think it's going to be much value revisiting the recent past there. Everybody knows that things didn't go in Ramadi the way we would have liked them to go, the way the Iraqis wouldn't have liked them to go. Our focus is on the future now. Again, we're going to have to keep working with the Iraqi government to get this train and equip program more robust, more aggressive, and to keep help performing -- help increasing the performance, the competence of Iraqi security forces out there in the field.
[17:10:09] BLITZER: What do the Iraqis need to do, the government in Baghdad, the Iraqi military, what do they need to do to convince the United States now to go ahead and complete this strategy?
KIRBY: It is a joint strategy, Wolf. It's not about them convincing us or us convincing them. It's about being a team and approaching this from a concerted team effort, and that's what we're trying to get at. There are still some things we need to do to apply more energy to it, and we're working our way through that. I don't think this is going to take very long to get to the answers that we're looking for.
But I think it's really important to remember that the boots on the ground that matter most are the Iraqi troops. And we have to stay committed to helping them and improving their competence, and their confidence quite frankly, on the battlefield.
BLITZER: When I heard the president, that news conference in Europe today, say there was still an incomplete strategy that the United States is still working on, it sounded to me -- and I'm anxious to get your reaction, John -- if it was designed -- those words -- tough words, if you will, to put pressure on the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi to do the right thing, to unite the country, not only the Shia, but the Sunnis and the Kurds, and get some sore of coordinated strategy on the Iraqi part.
KIRBY: Well, I think the president, as commander in chief, was simply bengg honest about the challenges that remain before us, and stressing -- I think throughout today, stressing. And not just him, but the other members of the G-7, the need that this has to be a concerted effort by everybody in the coalition. Everybody has to continue to pull on the oars as hard and as together as we can.
And this is one of the components of the strategy, multi-faceted strategy, by the way, but this is one component that we all need to work just a bit harder at. And that does include some additional effort by the Iraqis, particularly with respect to the population of trainees that we want to get through this training. We have the trainers in place, we have the facilities, they're stood up and ready to go. We certainly know how to do this in the American military. We know how to train indigenous forces to combat those kinds of threats inside their borders.
BLITZER: You heard Ash Carter the other day tell our Barbara Starr that the Iraqi army simply did not show the will to fight. Here's the question to you -- do you believe the Iraqis have the will to fight?
KIRBY: What we have seen, Wolf, is when they are trained, equipped, well led, well resourced, they are very brave and they can be very brave and they can perform very well. And while we're all fixated on Ramadi, and I understand that, there are other places in Iraq where they have, in conjunction with other forces, have been able to push back ISIL, retake territory, and hold it, sustain their gains. Doesn't mean they're going to do that every time, doesn't mean there's
not going to be give and take, doesn't mean there won't be defeats. But the simple facts of the matter is, over the last nine, ten months, they have shown the capacity and the capability to do this. They just need the support. And, again, we're all committed to helping provide that support.
BLITZER: John Kirby, stand by. We have more to discuss, including a key question -- what is the U.S. mission in Iraq right now? Much more with the State Department spokesman John Kirby when we come back.
BLITZER: We're back with the State Department spokesman, John Kirby. John, as you understand it, what is the U.S. mission in Iraq today?
KIRBY: Our mission is to help degrade and defeat ISIL and their capabilities in Iraq and in Syria, quite frankly. This is a fight that we're taking on with 62 other nations. Lots of international commitment here, but on the ground, it is predominantly an Iraqi fight. They're the boots on the ground that matter the most. In keeping with that part of the strategy, we're very dedicated to trying to improve their capabilities on the battlefield.
BLITZER: So it's not just to contain or degrade ISIS. It's to destroy, defeat ISIS completely, right?
KIRBY: It's to defeat them and their capabilities, absolutely yes.
BLITZER: What is the estimate? How long is that going to take?
KIRBY: Well, we've been very honest about this from the very beginning, Wolf, as you know. And we think it's a multiyear effort, probably three to five is the best estimate that people have right now. It's going to take a while. And that's why I think we continue to talk about the need for some strategic patience here on the part of everybody who's watching and following this very, very important fight.
BLITZER: President Obama, as you know, he emphasized the need for political inclusion in Iraq, including not only the Shia, but the Kurds and the Sunnis, as well.
When the U.S. talks to people in Iraq, do they -- you have to just go through the Shiite-led government? Or can you have a direct dialogue, if you will, with Kurdish leaders, with Sunni leaders, and provide them weapons directly at the same time?
KIRBY: Well, you sort of get two different things here on there, whether we talk to other parties in Iraq and whether -- and how we're doing the arming and equipping. All the arming and equipping is going through the government in Baghdad, but yes, we have dialogue across the spectrum of Iraqi society. But it's Prime Minister Abadi's government is the government, the central government in Iraq. That's the one we recognize. That's the one that we worked through.
And back to inclusiveness, one of the reasons why we are where we are today and how ISIL was able to gain the kind of influence that they have inside Iraq, is because the Malaki administration beforehand, over the three years after we left Iraq, did not properly look at inclusiveness, did not properly train, resource and equip and lead Iraqi security forces in an inclusive, responsive way.
[17:20:04] And so that's one of the reasons why we're here, and that's why it's -- it's very important that we continue to talk about inclusiveness inside the Iraqi government.
BLITZER: Let me shift gears to talk about a major U.S. Supreme Court decision today that involves the State Department. You're the spokesman for the State Department.
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of what you want, the State Department, not only this administration, but Republican administrations, that American citizens who are born in Jerusalem when they apply for a U.S. passport, they can only list their place of birth on their passports as Jerusalem. They can't list their place of birth as Jerusalem, Israel, even if they are born in pre-'67 Jerusalem.
Is that because the U.S. does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem?
KIRBY: Nothing has changed about our long-standing policy here in the United States government by administrations on both sides of the aisle, that we don't recognize any state's sovereignty over Jerusalem.
BLITZER: And why is that?
KIRBY: Well, look, this is a long-standing policy, that we don't recognize any state's -- any individual state's sovereignty over Jerusalem. And I'll tell you, we welcome this decision, because it also recognizes the president's authority to handle sensitive recognition determinations as he sees fit until his authority to conduct the foreign policy of this country, and to do so, to have that recognition reaffirmed through official documents, such as passports.
BLITZER: So I just want to be precise in this. So as far as the U.S. government is concerned, you don't differentiate between the predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, which Israel captured after the '67 war, as opposed to the predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem, which Israel controlled since 1948?
KIRBY: We don't consider there to be any state sovereignty over Jerusalem. And when we talk about Jerusalem, we talk about all of Jerusalem.
BLITZER: John Kirby is the State Department spokesman. John, thanks very much for joining us.
KIRBY: Thanks very much. Coming up, new information on how the reclusive leader of ISIS
operates. Why won't he allow electronic devices in his presence. And what role do ISIS wives play in the terror group's operations?
And an urgent manhunt is under way after two notorious murderers use power towels to break out of a maximum-security prison. Why they could be anywhere right now.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:27:10] BLITZER: That daring U.S. commando raid that took out a key ISIS leader in Syria, Abu Sayyaf, provided a wealth of intelligence information. We're learning some new details tonight.
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. Where have you learned, Barbara, about the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is located, for example?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, maybe not as a direct result of that raid in particular, Wolf, but now CNN has learned that U.S. officials say there has been intelligence over the last several months at various points about possible locations for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, the man the U.S. wants to get?
Why do we say possible location? The intelligence has been incomplete, too vague, unverifiable. Not specific enough to allow the U.S. to launch any airstrikes or raids, specifically to go get Baghdadi. The intelligence hasn't been that good, because the U.S. doesn't have direct operatives on the ground.
So this has been very tough. And at the same time, what they are learning is that Baghdadi is well aware how much the U.S. is chasing him.
Right now the intelligence assessment is that he is staying in populated areas, very deliberately, because he knows that the U.S. won't strike if there's a risk of civilian casualties. So he knows the U.S. is chasing him, and the U.S. is doing just that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We're also learning, Barbara, some of the ways that ISIS leaders communicate, right?
STARR: As a result of that Abu Sayyaf raid that you mentioned, indeed. You know, they got -- they were able to capture his wife, Umm Sayyaf. She has been talking a good deal about operations, what she knows, what information, intelligence than she has about ISIS. And we are told that this is now leading to a bit of a rethink.
Is it possible that the ISIS wives, the women of ISIS , maybe they are used as couriers, maybe they are used to carrying information. Maybe they know a lot more than they've been letting on or that the U.S. thinks they are involved in, because women don't attract that much attention.
So it's a threat that the U.S. is looking at very carefully, Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much.
Let's bring in counterterrorism analyst, the former CNN counterterrorism official, Philip Mudd; our CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen; and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Ollivant. He's a senior national security fellow at the New America Foundation.
Guys, thanks to all of you for coming in. You heard Barbara Starr's report, Peter, does it make sense that these ISIS wives are being used that way? What do you think?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Certainly, it seems that Abu Sayyaf was involved in something to do with...
BLITZER: Umm Sayyaf is the wife.
BERGEN: Yes, with Kayla Mueller, the American aid worker who was taken by ISIS and perhaps other western aid workers who are female. It would make sense that a female would be handling them in some way rather than having male members of ISIS, you know, basically being their prisoners. So that seems entirely plausible.
BLITZER: Do you think the U.S. is paying enough attention to the role these ISIS wives are playing? A lot of our viewers will remember in Paris, the wives of the Kouachi brothers, they obviously played some sort of significant role, as well.
LT. COL. DOUGLAS OLLIVANT (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I think this will certainly get a relook. We've always known that family members, wives, other family members, can and often are involved, but there's a difference between suspecting and knowing. It sounds like we now have better intelligence to actually know that some of these wives are involved.
BLITZER: You would agree, I assume?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I agree. This puts a lot of pressure on the U.S. intelligence community, though. If you think about what we've done historically, back when we were hunting al Qaeda, they would not have run an operation like this.
Now when you get women involved, if you talk about running raids and potentially detaining women, because you think they're part of the operation, culturally in the Middle East, that's going to put a limelight on what the U.S. is doing in terms of counterterrorism operations. They raise a lot of questions about whether you bring women in for questioning.
BLITZER: Let's talk about this "New York Times" report that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader, he meets occasionally in Raqqah -- that's his headquarters, presumably -- in Syria with these regional leaders, as described. But before any of them can even get close to him, they take away any of the electronic devices, cell phones, other stuff along those lines. Explain why you do that. MUDD: You look at the traditions of intelligence, there are two
pieces of intelligence, two ways to track something. What we call sources and wires. That is a human being who penetrates your inner circle and a penetration of your communications that allows you to determine where all those cell phones are going.
He's taken away one of those tools if the "Times" report is accurate, by relying on his security detail to make sure no phones are coming in the perimeter.
That said, over the course of time, back dating from the first takedown we had of al Qaeda, in the spring of 2002, Abu Zubaydah, they all go down eventually. He will make a mistake. Somebody is in -- in his inner circle will give him up. And particularly if Barbara's right, if he's staying in Nerveh (ph) area, he will have some footprint of activity that analysts can identify. And he'll go down eventually.
BLITZER: I think you're right. Eventually, but that's a lot -- Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al Qaeda, the U.S. has been looking for him since 9/11. He's still out there someplace, right?
OLLIVANT: That's right. Eventually yes, but as Phil said, a long time can be a long time. It could be years, still.
BLITZER: What do you think?
BERGEN: It took a long time to find bin Laden. He was living in a city of 500,000 people, an urban area. Obviously, he was being pretty careful. So yes, this can take a while. And everybody knows the capability of the United States in term of electronic surveillance, so they're obviously going to be very careful.
BLITZER: How important is it for a guy like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader, to actually receive regional leaders, if you will, face- to-face? He's got to be nervous whenever someone gets close to him. He's the most wanted guy out there.
BERGEN: It seems like a big risk. You know, Bin Laden certainly didn't do that. We know, you know, he never met with the leaders. He was always sort of communicating via courier with them.
BLITZER: No indication Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al Qaeda leader, meets with anyone, right?
BERGEN: No, not that I'm aware of.
BLITZER: What do you think?
MUDD: This is a huge risk. In this business, movement is vulnerability. And anytime these guys move, he is presuming -- that is, Baghdadi is presuming that not only is he in an isolated location that can't be identified, but these guys aren't being followed, either. Huge vulnerability.
BLITZER: He takes a huge risk whenever he receives anyone, even if he believes that person is friendly.
OLLIVANT: He does, but other than that there's no substitute for face-to-face conversation. I mean, you want the three of us here, not in some outlying studios talking to you. There's no substitute for the physical presence, being able to sense what someone's thinking. And people are more candid in person, so he has to do it.
BLITZER: But I trust the three of you.
OLLIVANT: Of course you do.
BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very, very much.
Coming up, an update on the urgent search for a pair of escaped killers. They used power tools to cut through their cell walls and even a steel pipe. So where are they now?
And later, I'll speak live with the president of the NAACP about the growing outrage over a video he calls a troubling use of excessive force by police.
[17:38:41] BLITZER: We're following breaking new, the expanding manhunt for a pair of escaped murderers now stretching from New York state across the United States into Canada and even Mexico.
Police are working about 300 leads right now. We're awaiting word on what was discovered when authorities questioned a woman who works at the maximum security prison in upstate New York.
Both men, who turned up missing early Saturday morning, used power tools to cut through walls and steel pipes. We'll take you to the prison in a few minutes, but first CNN's Brian Todd is joining us. He has new details on these escaped killers -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've got new information tonight about these two men. They're backgrounds, their extensive records of brutality. A detective who worked on Richard Matt's murder case told CNN he wouldn't be surprised if Matt, who's the man on your left, had more to do with the escape than his cohort, David Sweat, the man on the right. That detective described Richard Matt as, quote, "a vicious, violent individual."
TODD: Forty-nine-year-old Richard Matt is, by all accounts, very distinguishable. His front teeth are reported to be metal, knocked out by prison guards in Mexico. He's got a Marine Corps insignia tattoo on his right shoulder, heart-shaped tattoos on his chest and left shoulder.
David Sweat, 35 years old, may blend in a little more, but both men are stone-cold killers.
(on camera): How dangerous and desperate are these guys? [17:40:00] ARNETT GASTON, FORMER COMMANDING OFFICER, RIKERS ISLAND:
They are most dangerous, and clearly, their activity clearly indicates that they are extremely desperate. Both of them callously killed people. One of them dismembered his victim. They will stop at nothing.
TODD: Richard Matt is serving 25 years to life for kidnapping and beating to death his former boss, William Rickerson, whose body was found dismembered. The murder took place in 1997, in North Tonawanda, New York. Matt fled to Mexico to get away, served nine years there for killing a man in a bar fight, then was extradited to the U.S. to stand trial in the Rickerson case.
A detective from that case described Richard Matt as psychotic. David Bentley told "The New York Times," quote, "I've seen him inflict wounds on himself, cut himself, break his collarbone and not seek any treatment. He's just totally, totally fearless and doesn't respond to pain."
And this isn't Matt's first escape. In 1996 he broke out of a jail in Erie County, New York.
For those who dealt with David Sweat's case, the knowledge of his escape is equally chilling.
And event like this, with Sweat escaping, of course, tears open old wounds, if you will, really tugs on people's emotional strings.
TODD: Sweat was serving a life sentence for killing Kevin Tarsia, a sheriff's deputy in Broome County, New York. Tarsia was reportedly shot 15 times and then run over as he approached Sweat and other burglary suspects near a park in 2002.
Arnett Gaston, former commanding officer at New York's Rikers Islands Prison, says the detectives who worked on both cases, especially Richard Matt's, could be in danger.
GASTON: I should say they should be very, very careful. Let me say you don't escape just to escape. Certainly, freedom is sweet, and that's one thing they want to do. But once you're out, then you start thinking about it's payback time.
TODD: In fact, one former detective who worked on Richard Matt's case told me police contacted him and warned him of Matt's escape. Another detective who helped put Matt away told "The New York Times" he is prepared to defend himself if Richard Matt comes after him -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And there are really chilling details that you've learned about Richard Matt's, this whole operation. Various accounts of security during court proceedings.
TODD: This really tells you how violent he is and how just how wary authorities have been about his potential for violence. One of the detectives who worked on the case of this William Rickerson, who he was convicted of killing, he told "The New York Times" you can never have enough security around Richard Matt; you can never turn your back on him.
When he faced trial in the Rickerson case, according to the "Times," a sniper was posted outside the courthouse. There were double the usual number of deputies inside the courtroom, and the glass that covered the wooden table for the lawyers was removed out of concern that Richard Matt might break the glass and use the shards as weapons. That's how potential violent this guy was and is, and that is why this is such a tense situation tonight.
BLITZER: So chilling indeed. All right, Brian, thank you.
The maximum security prison where the killers were held is known as Little Siberia because of its remote location in upstate New York.
Let's go to our national correspondent, Jason Carroll. He's on the scene for us following the manhunt and the investigation into how the two men actually broke out.
What are you learning, Jason?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the investigation, Wolf, seems to be focused now on this woman who worked inside the prison, a woman who's been brought in for questioning. She apparently worked with Richard Matt and David Sweat, working with them tailoring clothing, apparently knew both of them very, very well.
This woman has been brought in for questioning. Unclear about what her role was, how much she possibly could have helped them, but when you look at the way these two men escaped, a lot of investigators already saying they must have had some sort of inside help.
Just to review it very quickly, it really reads somewhat like a Hollywood movie. Now, you remember both of these men were in cells side by side. They somehow got ahold of power tools and were able to cut through a metal steel wall, and then after that, they once behind the wall maneuvered and shim yesterday their way down a catwalk. Then they cut their way through another steel pipe that led outside the prison. That pipe about 24 inches wide, eventually emerging just about a block away from the prison, escaping through a manhole. Even the governor coming out and saying, after hearing and listening to all that, they must have had some sort of help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: There's no doubt in my opinion that they needed equipment that they wouldn't have had, and they had to have the assistance of someone. But we're looking at the civilian employees now and the private contractors to see if possibly one -- a civilian employee or a contractor was assisting this escape. Because they wouldn't have had the equipment on their own. That's for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Now you just heard so much, Wolf, about Richard Matt and David Sweat's violent, violent past. But having said all that, they were actually held -- housed in a section of the prison for good behavior, simply because apparently, they had a pretty good record when they were inside the prison there. So they actually had some extra privileges, including access to be able to wash their clothes, access to extra type of things, such as being able to monitor and watch television, things like that.
Right now a massive manhunt under way for them, some 300 members of law enforcement on the ground here in this rural area. Investigators saying, though, at this point, Wolf, they could be anywhere.
BLITZER: So basically because of their so-called good behavior as prisoners in this maximum security prison, they had access to this woman who worked there, who is now being questioned by authorities? Is that right?
CARROLL: That is absolutely correct. This woman. And once again, there seems to be a question, you know, once they got on the outside, did they separate? Did they change their appearance? Did they have access to different clothes?
Well, if they were working with this woman inside the prison theoretically learning how to tailor clothes, there's already some theories sort of floating around that perhaps they were able to get access to civilian clothes as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a story that is. We're going to have more on the next hour as well.
Jason Carroll, thanks very much.
Coming up, the growing outcry over a video showing police breaking up a pool party, chasing teenagers. Throwing them to the ground. One officer even pulls his gun. And the president of the NAACP calls this a troubling use of excessive force. He's standing by. He'll join me here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:50:48] BLITZER: We're following the breaking developments in a pair of stories involving allegations of police misconduct and excessive use of force. A suburban Dallas police officer now on administrative leave amid outrage sparked by a video posted over the weekend. The policeman throws a teenage African-American girl to the ground, pulls his gun on a pair of boys who are chased by other police officers. Police were responding to a call about rowdy teens fighting in a pool party last Friday.
The NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks is here in THE SITUATION ROOM to discuss what's going on.
Cornell, thanks very much for coming in. All of us by now have seen the video which is pretty chilling. I must say. But you're going one step further. You want a full investigation, not only of the one police officer who's been put on administrative leave, but of the entire McKinney Police Department. Why?
CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: Why, here's why. We have an officer who is a supervisor, who grabs a girl by the hair, slams her to the ground. Treats her like chattel property. Curses her, pulls out his gun and conducts himself in a way that dishonors his uniform, dishonors his badge, and dishonors the profession. And so the point being here is, we're concerned that, is this officer's conduct, an individual's conduct? Or is it emblematic, indicative, illustrative of a department?
This is a very serious matter. I mean, think about this. And the question I would ask you is this. Of the people who watch this program, which one of us will be comfortable having our daughter, granddaughter, and niece, treated like this? Having a grown man straddle her as though she was some kind of property.
This is just offensive. It's an assault on our collective dignity. So the point being here is we don't need to relish in the fact that no one was shot. We need to think about the fact that these were children who were literally assaulted in terms of their dignity in the midst of a birthday party no doubt.
BLITZER: And she's wearing a bathing suit as we can see. So clearly she wasn't trying to conceal any weapon or anything like that. She's only 14 years old. But we did see these two other police officers run into the scene and basically tell this one cop who pulled his gun, hey, calm down, these are a bunch of kids over here. There's no need to get that extreme.
BROOKS: That's right. And while I find that behavior encouraging, the fact that this happened at all is alarming and concerning. We are in the midst of what feels like for many young people a pandemic of police misconduct. We have to take this seriously. And the fact that you had an officer pull his gun in the midst of a pool party, surrounded by children, this is no minor matter. We have to take it seriously and we have to look at that police department. And we need to take a look at the fact that it was only African-American and --
BLITZER: Arab and some Hispanic.
BROOKS: Some Hispanic children who directed to sit.
BLITZER: Well, so you think there's an element of racism here?
BROOKS: Well, if not racial profiling by policy, perhaps racial profiling by assumption. The fact of the matter is we had one white person who was there say, I felt invisible because all of these children of color were directed to sit down, but I was not.
BLITZER: Let's quickly get your reaction to what happened in North Charleston, South Carolina. The police officer, Michael Slager, who shoot and killed Walter Scott. And all of us remember that video when Walter Scott was running away and the police officer shot him. He has now been charged. He's been formally indicted by a grand jury. Your reaction? BROOKS: It is tragically encouraging. In the sense that we have an
officer being held accountable. What we saw was what I can only describe as an execution on film. We have an officer discharge his gun into the back of a fleeing pedestrian. And the fact that he's being held accountable is a good thing. But it is not enough. We've got to be clear here. We have to hold police departments across the country accountable in the sense of doing more and stepping up to the plate.
[17:55:01] BLITZER: Cornell Brooks, thanks very much for coming in. We'll continue these conversations.
BROOKS: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Cornell Brooks is the president and CEO of the NAACP.
Coming up, President Obama admits there's still no complete strategy for training Iraqi Forces to battle ISIS. Are the Iraqis ready to fight for their own country?
And as the U.S. and its allies agree to continue tough sanctions against Russia, President Obama blames Russia's President Putin for any misery being felt by the Russian people.
BLITZER: Happening now, still no plan. President Obama admits his strategy against ISIS remains incomplete after nine months of fighting. Who's to blame?
[18:00:02] Punishing Putin. The U.S. and its allies threatened Russia's president with more sanctions. Accusing him of continuing aggression in Ukraine. Will Putin lash out instead of backing down?