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Will Biden Run?; Jeb Bush Defends George's Iraq Policy; Death Toll From Explosion in China Rising; Is ISIS Using Chemical Weapons?; Air Marshal Insecurity; Interview with Henry Winkler. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired August 13, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:09] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Tonight Jeb Bush getting a lot of buzz saying that when it comes to security in Iraq his brother's mission quote "was accomplished." We'll talk about the fallout shortly.

We begin, though, with rising anticipation, growing suspense and very high stakes, all connected to a single answer from a single person that could turn the 2016 Democratic presidential race upside down. Yes or no, will vice president Joe Biden run? He has kept a fairly low profile publicly since the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinkney back in June and before that the funeral of son Beau whose dying wish was said to be that his dad make one last run for president.

The vice president is now vacationing with his family in South Carolina coast and seeking their advice. We have learned that he is also been talking to friend and potential supporters. Now, we're told that he could reveal his decision when he gets back to Washington.

Tonight, what it would take to take on Hillary Clinton and what it could do to an already turbulent race?

Our senior White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski begins our coverage. He is on Martha's Vineyard where the first family is vacationing.

So, what's the latest tonight on Joe Biden?


Well, we know that he has been reaching out to people. And that's really the most that we have heard on this for a long time. Because people have been talking about this for a while. You ask people close to Biden, is he running or not? And really, the most that they have been able to say for a very long time is, well, we don't know. He himself is trying to make that decision. And as you mentioned, it comes at an extremely difficult time for him personally. It's wrenching. I mean, people that know him say he is still grieving his son. And they feel bad for him that he is having to make such a weighty decision right now.

But we know that he has been making a few phone calls to key people, supporters, looking for advice, trying to get in his own mind, what exactly this run would look like. Would it be worth it for him politically and personally? And so, this gives us an indication that this decision is coming soon. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not in a week, it could take a few more weeks. But really now is the time.

There are some people who are questioning because of that, is it too late in the game to get in now? But that doesn't mean this isn't going to happen. I think it is hard to read in too much now that he is making the calls. Will he or won't he? It seems like this is still very much something that he is wrestling with internally. But that mystery could be solved in a matter of weeks. Probably at the most, Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, a lot of question as but fundraising, about organization on the ground. We'll see.

Michelle Kosinski, appreciate it.

I want to explore possibilities now with CNN Jeff Zeleny and Nia- Malika Henderson. Joining us well, one of the voices on "the Wall Street Journal" article that got people talking today, South Carolina state representative and Biden supporter James Smith.

James, you had a personal relationship with the vice president and his family. You say, you have actually encouraged him to get into the race. What makes you think he would have more success this time around? And do you think it may be too late given that Hillary Clinton has already taken up a lot of the fund that might have gone to Joe Biden?

JAMES SMITH, JOE BIDEN SUPPORTER: Anderson. Good to be with you.

No, I do not think it is too late. I there is plenty of space and time for the vice president to make his decision. I know that he and Jill are working through this personal decision after Beau's passing. But if he decide to go he will win South Carolina. It is not just he feels that way. He has a broad base of support. Long standing, diverse group of business leaders, faith leaders, elected leaders who were ready for him to give the word. And we're ready to support him.

And part of this week was us, you know, letting him know that. That well are ready when he is ready and encouraging him and helping him, how they talk and work through the decision.

COOPER: Nia, I mean, Howard Dean was on the "Today" show this morning saying that it is too late. The vice president doesn't have a super Pac, no inroads in early voting states, the infrastructure he need to win just isn't there. What do you think of that?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: And Howard Dean is very much in Hillary Clinton's camp. And so you sort of put it in the context of that. I believe he said that he didn't feel like Joe Biden could catch on with young people under, you know, people under 35.

I think the broader point is what lane would he fit in? And whether or not Hillary Clinton is taking up too much space. They are both essentially centrist, moderate, Democrats. They would -- you would imagine if they both got in this - he got in this race, they both be essentially running, at least in part, on Barack Obama's record. So it would be this odd race where they're sort of competing for the same, the same mantel, the same legacy and the same voters.

I do think it is interesting that in South Carolina, because in many ways that's the state where you - I think you are going to see Hillary Clinton do really well. And a lot of African-American voters. Bernie Sanders having trouble with the voters. So if he is to make a stand it would be in South Carolina.

I talked to a lot of folks down there today. And there is a lot of buzz down there about him potentially getting into that race. He got about 20 or so endorsements back in 2008. So there is, you know, long standing ties to folks down there. The problem is in 2008, he never got to South Carolina right because he only got one percent in Iowa and never made it down.

[20:05:20] COOPER: Jeff, what do we know about him as a campaigner? And I ask that because we can't get inside his head. But I'm curious to know and would love to know how much of his calculus right now is based on what he perceives Hillary Clinton's abilities as a campaigner or lack of abilities as a campaigner are.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Joe Biden's capabilities as a campaigner are generally excellent. He has the authenticity that is really being craved in this election cycle. He is, you know, Joe from Scranton. He appeals to the Joe six-pack character.

I remember covering his race in 2007, early 20 02008. Nia is right. He did go beyond here in Iowa, but he did very well in retail political settings.

Anderson, I'm told the calculus is this. He is -- he does not believe that he would not be able to put an organization together. He believes he is a unique figure in the sense everyone knows who he is, and he believes he would have the money there for him. He is looking at a couple things -- one, one of his friend told me that running for president might actually somewhat therapeutic for him as he tries to get over the tragic, tragic loss of his son any passing. And two, he is also waiting to see how vulnerable Hillary Clinton is with all these email. That's why he is making telephone calls to Democrats. He is trying to see -- are these, you know, just concerns or deep question as but her actual viability going forward? And so far, there aren't. He is hearing some criticism of her. But I'm told by some people who are in his orbit that those are his calculations right now.

COOPER: James, you also had a good relationship, Beau Biden, vice president's son, who recently passed away. I understand you also talked to him about his father running?

SMITH: Sure. You know, Beau and I both state elected officials and National guardsmen and deployed and had some, you know, very strong relationship on the basis. But let me tell you, I think that it is not a question of how Hillary is doing. It is not a question at all. It is really about I think the vice president's love for the country. And his candidacy responding to what I think we need in terms of a leader.

You look at the Republicans and Democrats who announced to run. There is not a single candidate who has the strength of character and commands a level of respect among Republican and Democratic leaders. I think he is the one that can bring the state, the country together and move us forward.

COOPER: Nia -- I mean, in terms of timeline, Nia, when do you think he would have to make this decision?

HENDERSON: You know, I mean, he would probably have to take, make it very soon. I mean, given the head of team that Hillary Clinton has in terms of gathering up not only money, fundraisers, big donors, but also just staff. People who would - staff at campaign, campaign managers. People know the different states on you could hire an office.

You know, the clock is ticking. This isn't a 1991 when Bill Clinton was able to get in in October of 1991 before the election in 1992. It is a whole different landscape now.

COOPER: Nia-Malika Henderson, James Smith, great to have you on. Jeff, stick around.

We are going to play Jeb Bush's new remarks on Iraq and his brother's legacy.

Next, joining us also Paul Begala, David Gergen and Republican strategist Ana Navarro.

And later tonight, Randi Kaye takes us inside the Trump family and introduce us the young men and women Mr. Trump told me would be running company if he is elected president. He has also spoken about them particularly his daughter Ivanka on the campaign trail.

Later, a CNN investigation on the armed men and women you might be flying with the next time you go on a trip. The air marshals who are there to keep everyone safe. As Drew Griffin's team found out, though, many say they're working long hours, the conditions they say are driving them to drink, drugs even in some cases taking their own lives.


[20:12:51] COOPER: Jeb Bush is making headlines again this public struggle to address his brother's legacy on Iraq. He has been grappling, as you know, with it for months now. And by the looks of it today still is. The latest happened as I said just today at a national security forum in Davenport, Iowa, covered a lot of ground, some of which has proven treacherous.

Back now with is Jeff Zeleny who has the latest on what he said today and the reaction it is getting. So what happened? ZELENY: Anderson, former Florida governor Jeb Bush was asked about

those torture policies. And he said in general, he finds it inappropriate to use a torture. He praised the work of his brother, former president, George W. Bush, who eventually outlawed most of those enhanced interrogation techniques after 9/11. But then he said he could not commit he would never instigate terror techniques on his own. He seemed to hedge a little bit. Let's take a listen.


JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who knows? I mean, that's just such a complicated hypothetical. Who knows? I can't answer that. I will tell you, though, that taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.


ZELENY: Right. And so, in answering that, he basically did not want to close the door to saying he would never do any enhanced interrogation techniques. He said who knows? So, it is dangerous ground for presidential candidates to answer hypothetical questions like this. But so much more tricky for him because of all the legacy of his brother and his brother's administration on this very sensitive topic, Anderson.

COOPER: Did he go into detail about how he thinks taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal in his words?

ZELENY: I mean, he went into a bit of detail. But of course, you know, the whole Saddam Hussein legacy is still tide with the Bush legacy of President George W. Bush and President George H. W. Bush. But he talked to a little bit about that and about he is trying to put this in the context of how he thinks America would be safer in his administration, not the Obama administration, let's take a listen.


BUSH: It was important to create a secure situation so that the Iraqi people felt like there was progress being made. That they weren't scared to walk the streets. The decision to abandon. Dismantle the Iraqi army, was a mistake. And I think my brother would admit that today.


[20:15:13] ZELENY: So, Anderson, the context here is that he believes the Obama administration and of course secretary, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton has sort of abandoned Iraq. So he has been going into foreign policy trying to create what he believes are differences between him and the Obama administration.

But Anderson, it is a little bit muddled as he goes through this because Iraq is so fraught with political peril for him because of his brother. So interestingly that he is taking it on. But today, he took it head on today in Davenport and he is back in Des Moines at the Iowa state fair tomorrow -- Anderson. COOPER: Jeff, appreciate the reporting. I want to dig deeper on this

now with our CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen, Democratic strategist, Bill Clinton Super Pac chief and CNN political commentator, Paul Begala, and GOP strategist and CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro.

David, I mean, it is interesting, this is the second time this week that Jeb Bush has brought up Iraq and talked about it in some depth. To hear him say that, you know, it turned out pretty good getting rid of Saddam, what do you make of that?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Anderson, in leadership there is an old saying about put a lantern on your problem. Put a lantern on your problem. That is shine a light on your liability and try to turn night an asset. That's what he is trying to do. So far it isn't working very well. Because I don't think - I think if he is going to do that he need to have a text that that has nuance and that it does spells out the arguments in a way. He has got this behind him. He can't be sort of mired in the past in order to be a candidate of the future.

COOPER: Paul, is this something you think Democrats are going to jump on?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes, and not just Democrats. I think the Republicans - first of all, David Gergen is exactly right. A sentence I try not to say too often. But David Gergen is exactly right.

This is the portion of your broadcast usually where I make some snarky, smart aleck comment.


BEGALA: No, but that is not what I want to be search (ph). This is about life and death. It is about a war. Two things for Jeb, and I mean this. This is honest advice.

First, listen to Gergen. The campaign is about the future not the past. When you are asked about Iraq, Governor, here is what you say, Winston Churchill said if we open of a quell between the past and present we shall surely lose the future.

So talk about the future. What are you going to do now? There are plenty of problems of Iraq in the future and that you can address without getting wrapped around the axel of your brother's mistakes or maybe his perceived sense of President Obama's mistakes.

Second, be really reverential about the costs of the war, sir, 4,500 American troops died. When you flip it off, like it is a pretty good deal like it was a condo that you flipped in Miami, that's really - he is a son of a war hero. I'm not saying that he doesn't respect the sacrifice of those troops and their families. But you can't just say, gee, it was a pretty good deal. It is really disrespectful.

COOPER: Ana, do you agree with that? ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I can tell you that

President Obama said something very similar about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. I do think that, you know, the Jeb Bush I know feels incredibly reverently to those who lost their lives and who those who served. I can tell you he went to Iraq. He visited with troops from Florida. And he tried to call everyone, every family that lost a family member in that war.

Now, I think this is politically smart and policy smart. First of all, every time that Jeb is going at Hillary or Hillary is going at Jeb, it's good for Hillary, it's good for Jeb, and it is good for voters who get to hear some actual issues being debated by two major candidates.

It is also an issue that is not going to go away and the reason is not going to go away is because we have a horrible crisis, national security crisis on our hands with this Iraq issue and with ISIS, with the growth of ISIS. So, any candidate, all candidates, serious candidates running, should be putting out policy discussions, policy papers on their proposals.

COOPER: But Ana, would you want --

NAVARRO: And we are focusing on this stuff --

COOPER: Would you want?

NAVARRO: Yes. But we are focusing on this, right, this back and forth. But the truth, we haven't talked about is, that he had some very specific policy proposals. On what to do about ISIS, what to do about Syria and that speech that he made at the Reagan library. I heard the army chief of staff, the retiring army chief of staff General Odierno say some very similar things yesterday in his retirement remarks.

COOPER: But Ana, would you want Jeb Bush to make this a mantra of his campaign? That getting rid of Saddam was, you know, a pretty good deal?

NAVARRO: Well you, know. We may have been able to say it more eloquently. But I think, I think most people would agree that getting rid of Saddam Hussein made the world a safer place and a better place.

COOPER: Paul - Go ahead, David.

GERGEN: Yes. He cannot -- I want to go back to what Paul said because I think he and I are very much in agreement. He cannot spend time.

NAVARRO: That's so scary.

[20:19:58] GERGEN: That's not where he wants to be. He maybe has to deal with it once and he has to do it in a very complete way and then he has to move on about the future. What he could be doing more of right now, about the future is about veterans and ensuring that with the Veterans Administration is cleaned up, that problem is solved. And he is hugely on the side of helping of veterans. That's a very important part of the legacy of this war.

I think when he does deal with the past and gets in to it, he has got to share the blame. He cannot make this, this is mostly Obama's fault. That's not what Americans believe. They believe at the minimum, that if the fault is, is shared. But he has got to get rid of the past so we can move on and deal with the future. Day-to-day combat over this issue what happened in Iraq, and how we got in there, does not serve his interest, now or in the long term.

COOPER: Because, I mean, Paul, to you know, to Ana's point that he did make specific things, he does sort of jump from getting rid of Saddam Hussein, to, I mean, he mentioned dismantling the army as a mistake today. But to the surge, there was a long - there were many years, between, you know, Saddam falling and the surge. And there were a lot of mistakes by a lot of different people along that way. His history of what happened is very truncated.

BEGALA: It is. And the McClatchy newspaper chain, which got it right, before the Iraq war. One of the few in the media who got it completely right before the Iraq war, they reviewed Jeb's speech at the Reagan library and made that point. That he got the history completely wrong. And he is going to continue to get it wrong because well, couple of things. He sees it through the eyes of a partisan who is trying to win the race. But so other politicians in both parties. But importantly, through a brother who loves big brother and doesn't want to accept the fact that his brother committed the most serious was policy mistake in the last half century. And I understand he doesn't want to wrestle with that. But in no run for president or if you do, listen - seriously listen to me. Listen to Gergen. Talk about the future, Governor. You cannot win, cannot win a fight trying to re-litigate your brother's disastrous invasion of Iraq. You cannot win that, sir.

COOPER: Ana, because we have heard, I mean, Donald Trump has taken this up against Jeb Bush. Do you think other - that this is something that other GOP contenders are also going to take up or are they going to leave that to Trump and the Democrats?

NAVARRO: Well, I think, you know, I think what Trump has the said is that he was against the war on Iraq. Of course, I think back then, he was a limo liberal. Now he is a limo conservative. You know, on the issue of Iraq, I think most people are going to focus on this administration's failures and it is for a very simple reason.

We presume that the Democrat nominee is going to be secretary Clinton who was part of this administration, part of President Obama's national security team, who when was secretary of state only went and visited Iraq one time in her thousand and thousand and hundreds of thousands of miles that she logged traveling to over 100 countries.

And so, that's why the scrutiny on this, administration, and on Secretary Clinton is relevant. And you know, my hope is that, she puts out -- her policy proposal for how to deal with ISIS, how to deal with Syria very soon. And that we have comparison points and debate points. I think it is going to be challenging for her because she at this point is going to have to color within the Obama books, coloring lines. And she is part of that.

COOPER: Paul, to Ana's point, though. She and other Democrats can come back and say well, look, we were following a playbook which was handed to us by, you know, Jeb Bush, by your brother's administration who signed a status of forces agreement, who signed an agreement to pull troops out of Iraq.

BEGALA: Well, and that was part of what was so fundamentally, intellectually dishonest about Governor Bush's speech. He pretended that the reason American troops left Iraq was solely because of President Obama when in fact as you note, President Obama was following. Didn't change it. He wasn't able. The Iraqis won't agree to it. But he was following the status of forces agreement that President Bush negotiated which called for removal of all U.S. troops. You cannot win this.

Look, Hillary voted for the war. I think biggest mistake of her life, but she owned up to it. In her book, she wrote about it candidly and she said it was a mistake. And now, she is ready to move forward. And believe me, Ana, she is going to come, we all know, what a policy wonk she is. She is going to come with idea about the future. Jeb is a very bright guy. He should have idea about the future, but he shouldn't try to re-litigate the past and he certainly shouldn't try to do it in a dishonest to a flippant way.

COOPER: We got to leave it there.

I should also, for accuracy sake, say the Republicans will come back and say well, look, if you argue it was the status of forces agreement that the Obama administration could have done more to change the terms of that had they really wanted to keep forces on the ground. So there is back and forth.

Anna, it is good to have you on. David Gergen, Paul Begala.

Up next, growing up Trump. You are going to meet Donald Trump's five kids, many of them making a name for themselves in a big way and have for years. He has talked about them on the campaign trail.

Also later, the rising death toll, a number of people hospitalized after the massive explosion in China. We'll get the latest on the investigation into what touched it off.


[20:29:11] COOPER: Well, fair or not, the children of presidential candidates have become a part of campaign 2016. After Donald Trump called Rand Paul a spoiled brat, reminded him of a spoiled brat. Senator Paul shot back with this attacking Trump's kids.


PAUL: If we are talking about who is a spilled brat or not, my kids are all work minimum wage jobs. Do you think any of the Trump kids have been working at the local pizza hut? So I live a pretty ordinary life. And I'm not begrudging him his wealth. But there is nothing about me or my family that is spoiled.


COOPER: A lot of observers said that was way, way below the belt. For his part, Mr. Trump has praised his kids on the campaign trail. Well enough, he told me that when we sat down recently to do his job.


COOPER: Who would run your business if you are president?

TRUMP: My children and executive. They are very good executives and great children. They're very good.


COOPER: In Fact, they are already like their father, brand names in their own right. More on that from out from our Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Five children from three different women. Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric, Tiffany and Baron.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think being Trumps and having the Trump genetics - to be in this family business really since almost we were born.

KAYE: Eric Trump, the youngest son of Donald and Ivana, attended Georgetown. Today, he's an executive vice president for his father's company. He is married and owns and operates Trump Winery. He's also raised millions for Saint Jude Children's Research Hospital through his Eric Trump foundation. At this foundation event, Twisted Sister, rocked out with the Donald and his kids.

Donald Trump Jr., the oldest son was just 12 when his father and Ivana divorced. He's fluent in Czech like his mom and spent summers outside Prague with his grandfather hunting and fishing. He earned a degree in finance and real estate from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. Donald Jr. is also an executive at the Trump organization.

DONALD TRUMP JR.: My primary job is not to build buildings with the Trump name on it. To really be the caretaker of, you know, that annuity. Of kind of making sure not to kill the golden goose.

KAYE: Donald Jr. met his wife at a fashion show. The couple now have five children. Perhaps the most well-known of Trump's children with Ivana is daughter Ivanka. She oversees acquisitions for the family business, but also has her own jewelry and accessory lines. Ivanka who in 1997 graced the cover of "Seventeen" magazine, also graduated from the Wharton School. She later created this online venture for working women.

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: With a website that has, I think, really compelling and inspiring narrative to, to encourage these women to pursue their dreams.

KAYE: Ivanka married into another real estate family. The couple has two children. While all of them were successful in their own rights, Trump's hit show "The Apprentice" really propelled these three oldest children into stardom.

DONALD TRUMP: Don and Eric will be my advisers. Ivanka, how will they be judged?

IVANKA TRUMP: I will be judging this task ...

KAYE: With his second wife, Marla Maples, Trump saw the birth of his daughter Tiffany in 1993. Tiffany talked to Oprah in 2013.

TIFFANY TRUMP: My relationships with my brothers and my sister are getting stronger, the same with my father, of course.

KAYE: Unlike the siblings, Tiffany is pursuing a career in fashion and music. Big sister Ivanka reportedly helped her getting an internship at Vogue. In 2011, she cut her first single "Like a Bird."

The baby of the family is nine-year-old Baron, born to Trump's third wife Melania. When he was just five, his mother told Joy Behar, Baron spoke both English and Slovenian.

MELANIA TRUMP, BARRON TRUMP'S MOTHER: And she talks with my parents Slovenian. And he is a very mature five-year-old. He is bossing everybody around.

JOY BEHAR: Really?

MELANIA TRUMP: He fired nannies. Fired housekeepers.


JOY BEHAR: He is taking after the Donald.

MELANIA TRUMP: He does. And it's very cute, you know.


COOPER: Donald Trump is understandably very proud of his family. That was our Randi Kaye. Coming up next, a live report from the Chinese city rocked by this explosion and the latest on the investigation into it.


COOPER: The death toll is rising again from that massive explosion at a chemical warehouse in China's port city. At least 50 people have now lost their lives. More than 500 others are hospitalized. CNN's Will Ripley is there for us tonight. What's the latest, Will?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is understandable, Anderson, that people here in Tianjin are fearful of an explosion. When you see the kind of damage that it did to this car and to this building sitting more than a mile away from the blast site. There is a bio-chem team on the ground here right now. And what they're trying to figure out, it's how much air pollution and water contamination is there. Because this is a city of almost 13 million people. And the chemicals that there are - they are mixed together they're still trying to figure out.

The fact that they could launch a projectile, like that, they could blow the windows out of so many buildings here in the city. People are very fearful, and they are fearful of what they're breathing in. There was a huge smoke plume off in the distance yesterday. Just beyond those buildings, you can see today, it's no longer visible. But we can still taste and smell the chemicals in the air, Anderson.

COOPER: You can still smell them, that's incredible. How is the Chinese government responding to this?

RIPLEY: President Xi Jinping has been promising a transparent and open investigation into what happened. But we are seeing indications that that is not necessarily the case. A lot of social media posts critical of the Chinese government have been deleted. And even video of an incident yesterday where we were accosted while reporting outside of a hospital by a group that included civilians, but also security officers in uniform. That has been censored by the Chinese government as well. So, it appears as if they're wanting to give people answers, but perhaps not, not, not answers to everything. At least that's the suspicion on the ground here.

COOPER: All right, Will Ripley. Will, thanks very much.

A troubling question now -- is ISIS using chemical weapons? The United States is investigating what it believes are credible reports that ISIS fighters use a skin burning mustard agent in an attack against Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq earlier this week. Now, this comes from several U.S. officials all of whom stress more intelligence is being gathered to find out exactly what happened. Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto joins us now.

So, about this attack -- how - particularly, how does the U.S. believe that ISIS could have obtained chemical weapons?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: This is an extremely powerful chemical agent. It dates back to World War I. Outlawed, in fact, after World War I. These Kurdish fighters, who were attacked with it, they show breathing problems with also evidence of a blistering agent, blisters on the skin. That's a telltale sign of mustard gas.

And two explanation as to how they could have gotten it. They could have either overrun weapons caches, old Iraqi, or old Syrian weapons caches on either side of the border. Or U.S. officials say it's possible they've developed the ability to make mustard gas and put it on the end of a, mortar shell. Both of those explanations are bad, obviously.


SCIUTTO: It would be significant increase, expansion in the ability of ISIS to carry out attacks on the battlefield.

COOPER: Yeah, I mean, if in fact this is confirmed. I guess then another question is, how does it change the equation for U.S. coalition against ISIS for U.S. intelligence services operating in the area, for instance?

SCIUTTO: What U.S. officials say in terms of a battlefield weapon doesn't change the calculation on the battlefield too much. Of course, ISIS is going to be overpowered by U.S. coalition air strikes et cetera. But it's a weapon of fear. Like terrorism, like the beheadings. And that has an enormous effect on the battlefield. And then, of course, if the U.S. considers putting U.S. troops on the battlefield, that's something that General Odierno, the outgoing Army chief of staff, mentioned yesterday, that he would recommend. This, of course, would add to the dangers that they would face on the ground.

COOPER: Jim, I appreciate the update. Jim Sciutto. Just ahead, thousands of federal air marshals were recruited since the 9/11 attacks to keep everybody safe in the skies. The question is -- how well can they do that when they say they're stressed out, chronically sleep deprived and in some cases taking pills and drinking? Details ahead.



COOPER: Well, tonight a report you should see before your next flight. The result of a CNN investigation into the men and women who may be on board with you undercover and armed, presumably on the lookout for anyone up to no good. We say presumably because of what our CNN investigative team have found out. Namely growing concerns that far too many of the thousands of air marshals recruited and flying since the 9/11 attacks are doing their jobs, their vital jobs, while being sleep deprived, while being medicated, and in some cases even suicidal. According to marshals. Here is senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: On July 31st, 2013, a federal air marshal stepped outside this Syracuse New York hotel. Put his service pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. The suicide committed within hours of the armed air marshal's next scheduled mission to fly on a commercial U.S. air flight from Syracuse, New York to Washington, D.C.

Since 2002, CNN has learned ten federal air marshals have committed suicide. Several more have died in questionable accidents. And some armed federal air marshals, sleep deprived and mentally exhausted from grueling flight schedules are breaking down on assignments turning to medications and alcohol.

(on camera): Would I, sitting on a plane, want a stressed out federal air marshal, potentially suicidal air marshal on the plane with me? SONYA HIGHTOWER, RETIRED FEDERAL AIR MARSHAL: You would not.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Sonya Hightower, a recently retired federal air marshal, says the threat of a suicidal air marshal is just the beginning. On board the aircraft, the armed federal air marshal must respond at a moment's notice to any threat. Right now she says some air marshals are falling apart.

HIGHTOWER: Air marshals are exhausted, they're having memory loss, they're being forgetful. They can't move. They can't respond fast to things. And the agency was not prepared for someone to document that as well as Harvard did in their study.

GRIFFIN: This is that study. It is from 2012. TSA commissioned it, got the results and had it classified as sensitive security information. CNN obtained a copy of the report and the results are disturbing. 75 percent of air marshals flying on domestic missions were sleep deficient. On international runs, the figure rose to more than 84 percent. In a job where it is critical to be alert and accurate at a moment's notice, the study finds the acute and chronic lack of sleep substantially degrades a federal air marshal's ability to react and think quickly. And it gets even worse. The study conducted by the division of sleep medicine, Brigham and Women's hospital and Harvard Medical School found half of federal air marshals take some medication or supplement to get to sleep. Others commented they turned to alcohol. Federal air marshals responded to survey questions saying, most of the sleep patterns I have are broken. This is not healthy. I need to take sleep aids. Alcoholic drinks mixed with sleeping pills.

One air marshal in response to a question asking if he consumed five or six drinks per week, responded saying, give us a break, Harvard. 8 to 12 per night on an overnighter. And the same just to sleep at home.

The study says it is likely a significant proportion of FAMs, air marshals, suffer from undiagnosed sleep disorders and puts them at increased risk of self-injury. Higher rates of fatigue-related motor vehicle accidents, and greater incidents of serious errors.

(on camera): Do you fear that it will take a catastrophe to get the attention of somebody?

HIGHTOWER: I hope to god that we don't have to go through that. We have the ability to fix this agency. We have the ability to change these things. We can. And we can do it pretty fast. Nobody is listening.

GRIFFIN (voice over): In April of last year, a federal air marshal, sitting at his desk in this field office in New Jersey, shot himself in the leg.

JOHN CASARETTI, PRESIDENT, AIR MARSHAL ASSOCIATION: I can tell you that that -- that was a cry for help.

GRIFFIN: John Casaretti is a senior federal air marshal and national president of the Air Marshals Association.

CASARETTI: We don't know how many suicides there have been here. We don't know how many have been covered up. We don't know how many attempted suicides we have had.

GRIFFIN: We wanted to speak to the federal air marshal service about the suicides. But our interview request was turned down. Instead the TSA issued this statement. Saying it is committed to providing air marshals with the resources and support they need to carry out their mission and any loss of life is unacceptable. The statement goes on to say that, the air marshal service maintains a robust system of both medical, including mandatory physicals and psychological assistance programs, which are readily available to the work force and their families.

CNN has learned of only one incident during an actual flight. Sources say an air marshal had to be restrained by other members of a security team during a flight from Africa.


GRIFFIN: Where an intoxicated air marshal got into an altercation with the flight crew.

Casaretti says it is the grueling and in his opinion pointless schedules of the federal air marshals that are leading to mental exhaustion.

(on camera): Are these suicides the result of that?

CASARETTI: I believe so. I'm sure of it. I have no doubts. I have no doubts.

GRIFFIN (voice over): A TSA official insists air marshals schedules ensure appropriate rest periods. As for the study that shows an overwhelming number of sleep deprived air marshals, an official told CNN recommendations were adopted including "the creation of an educational training DVD." Not enough, say air marshals who say they are wasting their lives and some even taking them carrying out a pointless mission.


COOPER: Drew, I mean if the air marshals, or some air marshals themselves are calling it a pointless mission, I mean, why continue to have them? Has there been one incidence when a would-be terrorist was stopped by an air marshal?

GRIFFIN: Anderson, that is the big question. We don't know of a single terrorist attack that's been prevented by an air marshal. We do know that the director of the federal air marshals proudly said that his officers helped with on board medical emergencies, unruly passengers, but nothing about stopping a terrorist. The air marshals tell us they're misused, Anderson. The idea of putting terror cops on planes was a knee-jerk reaction after 9/11. It's proven not to be a good use of their time or our tax dollars. Here's what they say. They want to focus on actually investigating,

doing the work, trying to be actual terror cops. Not just flying around on these grueling schedules and covering, Anderson, only a very tiny fraction of the actual flights. Anderson.

COOPER: Well, Drew, we'll continue to follow this. Thank you very much.

Coming up, in honor of tonight's season finale of the CNN original series "The Seventies," which airs the top of the hour, I sat down with Henry Winkler, who I'm a huge fan of, and the Fonz himself, and asked him about the odd thing he wrote on the autograph picture I got when I was a little boy and I sent him a fan letter.


COOPER: Just a few minutes, the season finale of the CNN original series, "The Seventies" airs, the episode is all about the music of the '70s. But speaking personally for me, "The '70s" was really all about "happy days" in general and the Fonz in particular. I was a huge Henry Winkler fan, I still am. He continues to - he produces the television shows, he's directed movies, he continues to act, he's in "Arrested Development," he's author of the series of children's books. 17, of them two other books as well. He's just a wonderful, wonderful guy. I have been a bit of an obsession about him as a kid. And I recently sat down with Henry Winkler to delve further into the '70s. Take a look.


COOPER: First of all, I can't believe that I am getting to talk to you. This is such an honor.

HENRY WINKLER, ACTOR: For me too. The Winklers, I can honestly say this, the Winklers, down to a human being. The newest human being is 8 days old.

COOPER: Is that right?

WINKLER: We are fans.

COOPER: That is really sweet. As you know, as you and I talked about this before, I grew up obsessed with "Happy Days" and obsessed with you, and I had Fonzi sheets, I had Fonzi pillows, I went as The Fonz. I put Vaseline in my hair. Not knowing--

WINKLER: That it stayed forever.

COOPER: It stayed -- I had to go to school for the next week with Vaseline. I was mocked mercilessly. And I will say, just one little point of contention, I once as a child, I sent in, I used to send in letters you. I got an autograph from you one time.

WINKLER: But you don't know if it was really me?

COOPER: I have no idea. It was an 8 x 10 picture of you, and it said "Andy, go water a plant."

WINKLER: That was me.

COOPER: I didn't know. Literally it's been 40-something years. I don't know, was that an insult, what does that mean, go water a plant?

WINKLER: No. Go water a plant. Means give life. The same thing as give life.


WINKLER: Watering a plant, you're giving life.

COOPER: I honestly thought it meant like go pee on a plant, like get lost.

WINKLER: I understand what you thought.

COOPER: I was a little -I love the Fonz, but did he just told me to get lost?

WINKLER: No, no. He didn't.

COOPER: But then I thought maybe he told me to get lost in a cool way.

WINKLER: Self-respect is cool. I used to write that. I would only write --

COOPER: Self-respect is cool.

WINKLER: I never wrote best wishes.

COOPER: Do you think the '70s was, I think it doesn't get a lot of credit I think as a decade. A lot of people focus on the '60s as this time of revolutionary change.

WINKLER: Right. You know why? I think that in the 70s, there was -- it was like a back eddie of the 60s. Do you know? It was like -- the '60s was a moment of revolution. It was a moment of coming alive, of taking your responsibility for your life. And in the '70s, it was like confused. Everything got confused.

COOPER: Was it hard giving up "Happy days?"

WINKLER: No. By the time we finished, it was time. Now did I miss being with those people? Yes. Are they truly still a family? Yes.

COOPER: When Fonzi jumped the shark, did you know that that might become --

WINKLER: No. My father, a very short German refugee, who escaped Nazi Germany, said to me, tell the producers that you water ski. I said, I don't think I am going to tell them. No, no. This is important. You tell the producers you water ski. And I said, he said it so many times. I said, Gary, I water ski. COOPER: And there you go.

WINKLER: And I did all the water skiing except the jump.

COOPER: I will honestly say that at some point I think I transferred my obsession from Fonzi to Chachi.

WINKLER: I understand that. Chachi wore that thing around his pants. That's very cool.

COOPER: Of course he did. I was besotted.

WINKLER: Here it is now-

COOPER: Except for that Joanie, she kept getting in the way.

WINKLER: It's true. Then they started dating.

COOPER: It was a heartbreaking moment for me.

WINKLER: She wasn't thinking. She wasn't thinking.

COOPER: I kept thinking if only he had met me.

WINKLER: You know what? It would have been, I swear to God it would have been Anderson and Chachi, and not Joanie loves Chachi.

COOPER: Sure, it would have been revolutionary.

WINKLER: It would have been brand new, the first one of its kind.

COOPER: Exactly. Henry, thank you.

WINKLER: Oh my gosh, Anderson, it is always-


COOPER: Henry Winkler is a great, great guy. A lovely man.

With that, "THE SEVENTIES" starts now.