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Clinton-Sanders Dead Heat In Iowa; U.S. Officials Accused Of Altering Intel Assessments; General Allen: U.S. Monitoring Russian Troops In Syria; Drivers Targeted Along Busy Highway; Raging Floodwaters Slam Japan. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired September 10, 2015 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Now to the others side of today's Politics Lead, the Democrats for the first time in this 2016 race, Hillary Clinton is no longer the frontrunner in Iowa.

It is now a dead heat according to a brand new Quinnipiac poll out today. The numbers show Clinton at 40 percent and Senator Bernie Sanders at 41 percent. Now neither has a true lead when you factor in the margin error, but still 41 is more than 40.

Vice President Joe Biden has yet to jump into this race yet. He is ranked third in this poll with 12 percent. This is also the second poll this week showing Clinton no longer dominating the top spot in this race.

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is in Ohio where Clinton was today. She filed this report.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Ohio, Hillary Clinton sticking to her message of helping women and families get ahead, but in the Democratic horse race, Clinton risks falling behind. A new Quinnipiac poll shows progressive underdog Bernie Sanders has caught up to Clinton in Iowa.


MALVEAUX: Sanders already leads Clinton in New Hampshire putting her in danger of losing the first two early voting states.

SANDERS: If you come to the rallies that we hold, what you're going to see is a lot of working class people. You can see a lot of young people I think I can do a good job in explaining the (inaudible).

MALVEAUX: Clinton facing more bad news today, as an I.T. aide who worked for her at the State Department walked into a congressional hearing and walked out 21 minutes later, pleading the Fifth instead of testifying about managing Clinton's private serve server.

REPRESENTATIVE TREY GOWDY (R), CHAIRMAN, SELECT COMMITTEE ON BENGHAZI: He has a right to not answer questions that he thinks may incriminate him, and you have a right to glean whatever inference you want.

MALVEAUX: Clinton has found herself losing ground in early states once before in 2008 and once again she is trying to turn things around taking aim at her rivals particularly Donald Trump.

CLINTON: There's one particular candidate who just seems to delight in insulting women every change he gets. I have to say, if he emerges, I would love to debate him.

MALVEAUX: And pitching herself as a rare dealmaker in today's politics.

CLINTON: You know, I get accused of being kind of moderate, center. I plead guilty. I think sometimes it's important when you're in the elected arena you try to figure out how to bring people together to get something done, instead of just standing on the opposite sides yelling at each other.

MALVEAUX: Sanders' response to that?

SANDERS: I am a proud progressive.

MALVEAUX: Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden is also in the spotlight. He's speaking at a handful of events in New York today including an appearance on the "Late Show" with Stephen Colbert. Some Democratic voters even this Clinton supporter are finding it difficult to choose.

[16:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I could have my choice, I would have Elizabeth Warren, Hillary, and Bernie, all running the country, because I think that is what we need.


MALVEAUX: And the crowd was relatively small for the venue, Jake, but Hillary Clinton does do well when it comes to women against Biden and Sanders as well a leader when it comes to international crisis where she lags is in trustworthiness and honesty -- Jake.

TAPPER: Suzanne Malveaux, thank you so much.

In our World Lead today, some stunning allegations that U.S. military officials allegedly altered intelligence to suggest the fight against ISIS is going better than it actually is. We'll dive deeper into that story, next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Topping our World Lead today, allegations that U.S. military officials altered ISIS intelligence assessments exaggerating the success of the U.S.-led coalition's fight against the terrorist group, and now CNN has learned that the Pentagon's watch dog, the inspector general is investigating.

[16:40:08] Let's get right to CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon. Barbara, what are your sources telling you about this? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, after weeks of rumors, defense officials today finally did confirm the inspector general investigating these allegations. The big question is how broad, how deep, how far does all of this go?

The allegation appears to be that Defense Intelligence Agency military intelligence analysts claim that some of their work was altered by higher-ups so the progress in the war would look better all the way up the chain of command.

So a complaint was made to the inspector general. It's now being looked at. Is it illegal? Is it inappropriate? Experts are telling us that, you know, in intelligence, you can have different interpretations of the same facts.

And it's OK to have different interpretations, but what is not OK is to alter basic fundamental intelligence and try and make it look better. Of course, we know that this is so sensitive, because back in 2003, the world went down this road when it watch the war, the original invasion into Iraq emerge.

It was later discovered that that was based on faulty intelligence. No indication that that's what's happening here to that extent, but right now all of this very sensitive at the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has already told his top intelligence officials to make sure when he gets intelligence that it is the unvarnished truth -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon for us, thank you so much.

Today marks one year since President Obama announced the formation of a global campaign to defeat ISIS. Earlier, I spoke with John Allen, the retired four-star Marine general who as a civilian was named special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIL or ISIS as we called on the show.

As a matter of policy, General Allen would not comment on that ongoing inspector general investigation into whether intelligence is being misrepresented in any way, but Allen pushed back, strongly on the notion that the U.S. is losing the battle against this terrorist group.


GENERAL JOHN ALLEN (RETIRED), SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY, GLOBAL COALITION TO COUNTER ISIL: We have to start with a couple of reality points, Jake, that is, you know, the first interview I did was last year was for CNN. I made the point then this is going to be a long conflict. We need to be prepared.

TAPPER: How long?

ALLEN: We think it could be years. There will be aspects that will go even beyond that. TAPPER: Decades?

ALLEN: The competition of ideas, that's right. We shouldn't be surprised at that. But if we -- if we remember where we were a year ago now, roughly at the beginning of the formation of the coalition, Mosul has fallen, the better part of three to four provinces in Iraq has fallen, much of the order of Syria and Turkey has been lost to the control of dash --

TAPPER: That's another word for ISIS?

ALLEN: Which is the term we typically use in our interaction with our partners in the coalition. We were uncertain whether Iraq was going to survive this. When you think back to that moment in history, what was going on then, and you think about what's happening now, there is really a dramatic change.

We had success in some areas. We've had some setbacks in other areas. In Syria, where we've had the opportunity to work with credible partners, you'll recall back in the fall of last year, the place we never heard of called Kobani, it looked like that was going to collapse.

TAPPER: And it did ultimately.

ALLEN: But in the end, the support of the coalition, with credibility partners, Kobani held. When you think about to where we were a year ago to where we are today, I don't agree with the articulation of the formulation that we are losing.

TAPPER: The Russian Foreign Ministry just finally acknowledged that they do have some personnel in Syria, aiding Assad's regime in its fight against ISIS. Do you have a problem with Russian forces in Syria on Assad's side but fighting ISIS?

ALLEN: We've been watching this closely over the last several days, watching the buildup to see what it might mean.

TAPPER: So we don't know whether or not it's a good or a bad thing?

ALLEN: I think it's a bad thing, if they use combat forces to prop the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Assad is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of his people. To prop him up with military force creates an additional crisis in the region and in fact could bring Russian forces in confrontation with coalition forces.

TAPPER: The U.S., as you mentioned, tried to train some moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS on the ground, $500 million was spent on the effort. Ultimately reports came out that many of these individuals were either kidnapped or they fled. Is this basically the best the U.S. can hope for when it comes to moderate, Syrian opposition?

[16:45:03] ALLEN: To be clear, the $500 million wasn't spent solely on that. It's a long-term investment. We do acknowledge that was a setback. But we remain committed to the principles of that program. There have been other elements in Syria that we have worked with very closely that have accomplished some pretty significant military games.

TAPPER: Would this fight be easier for you and the military generals, because you're a retired military general if the rules of engagement were changed and you could have as many ground forces, whether American or Jordanian or whatever, as you wanted?

ALLEN: That's a hypothetical question. We have to remember that much of the Iraqi Security Forces suffered a major defeat this time last year, so the process of building their capabilities and their confidence and their leadership and their military capacity, it's going to take a while. As I said before, this is not going to be a short-term conflict.

TAPPER: Retired Marine General John Allen, we wish you the best of luck with your mission.

ALLEN: Thank you.

TAPPER: Thanks for talking to us.

ALLEN: Great to be with you.


TAPPER: Coming up, driver talking about an apparent sniper, more than ten cars have been hit by bullets. Police is now asking for the public's help. Are they any closer to finding the persons behind the attacks?

Plus stranded residents rescued from the roofs of their homes after 2 feet of rain falls in just days and the threat is not yet over. That story is next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. The National Lead now, a dire warning to drivers in Arizona, someone could be out to kill you. A sniper is apparently targeting drivers on Arizona's busy Interstate 10, which runs in and out of Phoenix.

Police is now saying that at least 11 cars have been hit in the last two weeks, windshields shattered by bullets. Other cars were smashed by projectiles. One shooting blew out the window of a police officer in an unmarked SUV on his way to work.

Let's go to CNN's Sara Sidner in Phoenix where the hunt is on for this serial sniper.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the head of Arizona's Department of Public Safety says what is happening along Interstate 10 amounts to domestic terrorism. He says someone is shooting and throwing projectiles at cars.

We do know no one has been killed, but he says that could change. We know a 13-year-old has been injured when glass sprayed on her after someone shot the windshield of the truck that she was riding in.

This situation is dangerous, police say, and there are an army of police, the FBI, the ATF also helping out trying to figure out who is responsible for what has been a really random shooting that are happening at night, in the morning and in the daytime.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to catch them as soon as possible, because if he or she is doing it in the middle of the day, then it's a scary situation it's bad enough it's happening at dark, but if they're brazen enough to come out here in the day and do it.


SIDNER: Police are also imploring the public to help out. All along Interstate 10, we are seeing signs that are lit up saying I-10 shooter and giving a tip line for people to call.

We also know there are a group of people here called Bolt Force. They are armed to the teeth, and they are focusing their attentions on crime fighting, looking along the cracks and crevices, trying to see if they can help police find this shooter.

All in all, we are hearing from some members of the public saying they're trying to avoid Interstate 10 all together, if they can -- Jake.

TAPPER: Sara Sidner, thank you so much.

Turning to our Money Lead, more cash in your pocket this fall, especially if you depend upon your car every day, the government making a dramatic cut in its forecast for the national gas price, predicting gas will fall to $2 a gallon by the end of this year.

Gasoline has not been that low since the depths of the reception back in 2008-2009. If you're saying, wait a second I already have gas that cheap, you're probably in one of the 17 states bringing the average down, places like California, Hawaii and Alaska, meanwhile, not so lucky.

Coming up, houses swept away, hundreds of thousands evacuated as desperate residents climbed to their roofs to be rescued and the rain is not yet over. That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our World Lead, more than 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as extreme flooding has hit Eastern Japan. Some of those houses have been literally ripped off their foundations and washed away.

The situation is so dire that military helicopters are plucking residents off their rooftops, coming from unprecedented rainfall from a tropical storm, dumping some two feet of rain since Monday.

CNN correspondent, Will Ripley, joins me on the phone now from Japan. Will, do we know how many are missing or injured?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, we know that at least 15 people have been injured as a result of this tropical storm the flooding, high winds, and the sad news that at least one person has died in landslides as a result of this rain.

In fact there's just been a new evacuation advisory for an additional 200,000 people because of risk of landslides. This is something we see in Japan, where we have heavy rain in this mountainous nation.

There's flooding, and often mudslides and landslides as well. That is why you're seeing these dramatic rescue teams unfolding, very quickly after the water rose. The self-defense force was called in to start rescues people.

Those rescue operations have been continuing throughout the overnight hours. It is still dark here, so the helicopter rescues, they will resume at daylight. What has been happening all night long is they've been in boats going from building to building looking for people who may still be stranded in their homes.

There is a concern. They still don't know how many people are out there. They now there were a number of people who called for help. Dozens of people who said they were stranded, but there may be other people who didn't get time to get to the phone, maybe in the upper left of a building, waiting for help to arrive.

So it's definitely a concerning situation. There are 100 different emergency evacuation centers that are open. People spent the night there getting food, water and medicine, additional people going into the centers throughout the overnight hours, as the sun comes up, we'll get a better sense. As far as the true scale of this disaster and who else may be out there.

TAPPER: All right, Will Ripley for us in Japan, thank you so much.

Don't forget in just six days I'll be moderating the next Republican presidential debate. It starts at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, that's 3:00 p.m. Pacific.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over now to one Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." See you tomorrow.