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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Washington Congressman Adam Smith; New Info on Russian Jet Downing; America on Alert; Protests Erupt After Officer Charged with Murder; Source: Second Fugitive Terrorist Went To Syria in 2004. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 25, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Law enforcement across the country stepping up security. Is a lone terrorist the greatest danger facing the U.S. right now?
More suspects, France and Belgium tracking suspected terrorists tonight, and now a report that one mayor was given a list of militants in her town, including two of the Paris attackers, a month before the massacre. Now there is word another of the fugitives previously traveled to Syria. How much training did the terrorists get before ISIS -- slipping back from ISIS, I should say, before slipping back into Europe?
Premeditated shoot-down, Russia accusing Turkey of targeting a Russian fighter jet to flex its military muscle. The pilot says he had no warning at all, but, tonight, Turkey says it's offering proof. The tension is rapidly rising. Will the U.S. be drawn into the conflict between its NATO ally Turkey and Vladimir Putin?
And tale of the tape. A second night of protest beginning in Chicago right now over the shocking video of a white police officer shooting and killing a black teenager. Will the upcoming holiday bring calm or combustion to a city already reeling?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, federal and local law enforcement across the United States ramping up security tonight in the wake of the Paris terror attacks and ISIS threats to strike New York and Washington.
President Obama is trying to reassure nervous Americans, saying there is no specific and credible threat to the U.S. homeland as millions of Americans take to the roads, rails and skies for the Thanksgiving holiday.
We're also following the situation in Chicago right now, where a second night of protests is beginning over a very disturbing police dash-cam video showing a white police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times, killing him. That officer now charged with first- degree murder.
The release of the video prompted hundreds of demonstrators to take to city streets yesterday. Five people who were arrested have now been released. We're covering that and much more this hour. Our correspondents and expert analysts, they are all standing by.
Let's get straight to Paris first, where a source is now telling CNN about some ties between terrorists and ISIS in Syria.
CNN's Martin Savidge is in Paris for us.
Martin, disturbing new information coming in tonight. What are you learning?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this information is troubling on a number of levels.
Number one, the more that French investigators dig, the more problems they seem to uncover. Another one of these terrorists appears to have been travel easily to Syria, come back to Europe undetected and now new fears in France that possibly their transportation system has been infiltrated.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Tonight, with an international manhunt still under way, there are new details emerging about a second suspect on the run, Mohamed Abrini, last seen here at a gas station in France with Salah Abdeslam, shortly before the November 13 attacks traveled to Syria in 2014, and, like Abdeslam, was able to make his way back into Europe investigators, a major concern for investigators.
Also tonight, new fears radicalized Islamic workers are infiltrating the French transportation system, a report revealing concerns about airport employees with access to commercial airlines at France's two main airports.
Officials say, since January, 50 employees at Charles de Gaulle International Airport have been denied access to secure locations due to suspicions they may have been radicalized. French transportation unions have complained some bus drivers refuse to knowledge women and have been found praying inside their bus when they were supposed to be driving their routes.
One of the Bataclan theater attackers was a bus driver as recently as 2012. Meanwhile, French military jets are stepping up the battle against ISIS pounding targets inside of Syria and Iraq.
MANUEL VALLS, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): There is no alternative. We have to destroy ISIS.
SAVIDGE: Hear about that infiltration, think of Charles de Gaulle International Airport. It's a hub for so many airlines, especially airlines coming from the United States. That has to worry them, Wolf. BLITZER: Certainly does. Martin Savidge in Paris, thank you.
Heightened terror fears ahead of a very busy Thanksgiving travel holiday prompting President Obama to speak out and law enforcement across the country to ramp up security.
Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is working this part of the story for us.
Rene, this is obviously one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf.
A record number of people are expected to travel. When it breaks down, we're talking about almost 42 million people traveling by car, 25 million on U.S. airlines and more than 770,000 by rail.
Now, today, President Obama and his national security team assured Americans there is no specific credible threat to the homeland.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, as Americans travel this weekend to be with their loved ones, I want them to know that our counterterrorism, intelligence, homeland security and law enforcement professionals at every level are working overtime. They are continually monitoring threats at home and abroad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: Despite that, there is a worldwide travel threat in effect. We know that police officers nationwide have been briefed on responding to active shooter situations on mass transit.
Travelers will see a show of force at train stations, bus stations and airports similar to what you're seeing here, heavy weaponry, bomb- sniffing dogs. The TSA will conduct random checks for explosives, and they expect to screen 40 percent more passengers than usual.
Now, let's take a look at a full picture of what is going on as we speak. This is the United States here and all of the white markings you see, those are aircraft in the air at this hour. And if you really drill down just to see if they are all on time, you see a lot of green here. That's a good sign.
However, in places like New York City, you see a little bit of orange there, a little bit there in Chicago and Atlanta as well. There are some delays. But when you look at the big picture here, it really -- things look good today for people if you're traveling by air.
However, if you're traveling by the roadways, these will be your travel spots. In Chicago, I-90, that is a congested area. Los Angeles, you have all of their trouble spots here, New York City, I- 95, Lincoln Tunnel, and the list goes on. We're expecting a lot more people to be traveling by car, Wolf, as opposed to flying.
BLITZER: Just drive carefully, as they say. Thanks very much, Rene, for that.
We're following the rapidly rising tensions right now between Turkey and Russia over Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet it says violated the airspace. And, tonight, Turkey says it's offering proof of the Russian pilots that they were actually warned by Turkey.
Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, Russia says the incident looks like a planned provocation by Turkey.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: They do contend that and the U.S. is watching this very carefully. It hopes Russia that won't push things too far, but of course no one can predict when Vladimir Putin may decide to do.
STARR (voice-over): The shoot-down of the Russian fighter jet by Turkey sparking rising tensions from Moscow to Washington, one pilot shot dead by Turkish-supported rebels as he parachuted to the ground, the other rescued, but only after a first failed attempt when a helicopter was hit by a U.S.-made TOW missile fired by rebels on the ground.
Turkey insisting the shoot-down was justified, today, the Turkish government releasing audio of what the Turks say were 10 warnings to the Russian pilots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You are approaching Turkish airspace. Change your heading south immediately. Change your heading south.
STARR: Russia disputed any warnings were given, broadcasting an interview with the rescued pilot, his back to the camera, presumably to protect his identity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Not via the radio, not visually. There was no contact whatsoever.
STARR: According to the Turks, the Russian jet flew just over a mile into its airspace and was there for just 17 seconds before they shot it down, raising questions about the Turks' very quick action.
BRIG. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Was it in an attack posture? Was it really threatening? Or was it simply violating the airspace of Turkey?
STARR: The U.S. pressing for calm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most important thing right now is for a de- escalation of tensions.
STARR: Publicly, Russia appears to agree.
SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): We do not intend to wage a war on Turkey.
STARR: Moscow far from backing off. In recent days, Russian long- range bombers flew two extraordinary attack missions, leaving Northern Russia to fly around Europe into the Mediterranean and another set of bombers flying into Iranian airspace, both launching cruise missiles into Syria.
Additional surface-to-air missiles will be placed at Latakia, its main Syrian air base.
STARR: And, tonight, the U.S. is looking at allegations of what appears to be the airstrike bombing of a humanitarian aid convoy just six miles south of the Turkish border inside Syria. Not at all clear yet whose airplanes may have struck that convoy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you very much.
I want to talk about all of this with Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Washington state. He's the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, I also want to start by showing our viewers these pictures. These are live pictures, protesters on the streets of Chicago right now, the protesters reacting to that very disturbing dash-cam police video showing white police officers shooting a young black teenager, that police officer now charged with first-degree murder.
We're going to keep showing our viewers these images on their screens.
But let's talk about this very disturbing situation, what is going on in the world right now, even as we show some of these pictures from the streets of Chicago.
Congressman, the president, President Obama, as you know, announced today the U.S. knows, in his words, of no specific credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland. But there was no specific threat apparently warning Paris officials of the terror attacks there.
Was the president being overly careful in his language because U.S. officials don't necessarily have 100 percent confidence in the intelligence they're receiving?
REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: Well, you will never have 100 percent confidence in what is going on.
But I think what the president was doing was reassuring the American people that there is no specific threat. And there have been times certainly since 9/11 when we had specific threat warnings for one reason or another. And we don't have that now.
As you point out, that's not a 100 percent guarantee. You know, ISIS is trying to motivate people in a variety of different ways. Many of these people will simply act on their own, so there would be no specific warning. We have to be very, very vigilant in tracking down anybody who could potentially threaten us.
But I think the president put it in the proper perspective. We can't live in fear every second of an attack. Our intelligence agencies, the FBI, people are working very, very hard to prevent these, and, knock on wood, have done reasonably well for the last 10, 15 years. So, I think the president was just trying to put the threat in perspective.
BLITZER: In the president's statement today, he said, we're going after ISIL, or ISIS, wherever it hides. That's been our strategy for more than a year.
How is that strategy working out so far?
SMITH: Well, it's very difficult.
I think that strategy is probably the best approach. But, look, this ideology with Da'esh, with al Qaeda, with Ansar al-Sharia, with Al- Shabaab, with the groups in Yemen, it's spread and it's hard to keep track of. In some ways, al Qaeda, as Osama bin Laden built it, was an easier target, because they built a hierarchy, they built a structure.
If we could figure out that structure, if we could figure out that network, we could go in and break it down, which under the Bush presidency and under the Obama presidency we did a fairly good job of.
What's happened now with the ideology is, it's spread. And a lot of these people are self-motivated. It's also metastasized in terms of the organization. So, it is very, very difficult and it's going to take a lot of vigilance. And ultimately what it's going to take is defeat of the overall ideology, not any one group.
BLITZER: And, very quickly, yesterday, I spoke with one of your Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives, Democratic Representative Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, an Iraq War veteran, served four tours of duty there.
And he told me bluntly, even though he's a Democrat, he says he doesn't think the administration, the Obama administration, in his words, has a serious enough political strategy right now. He doesn't even think they have a strategy for all practical purposes, given what's going on, on the ground. What do you say to Seth Moulton?
SMITH: Yes, well, I think Representative Moulton raises a descent issue.
Look, the president himself a year ago -- or I forget when -- said in a press conference, we don't have a strategy yet. And I think that's unfortunate, because I think they should be much clearer into how they deliver what their strategy is. And that strategy is to go after Da'esh, to go after this group in Syria and Iraq. But I think the people who are calling for ground forces, that's not going to help. That's only going to fuel the fire. What we need is, we need to support moderate Sunnis in the region and we need to get reasonable governments in Baghdad and Damascus, so that the Sunnis don't feel like they are under attack.
So we have got to work with them on that. So, I agree with Representative Moulton that the White House could be much clearer, much more straightforward in what its strategy is. I actually think they have a better strategy than what they frequently describe to the media.
BLITZER: The president said we're going to hearing a lot more about his strategy in the coming weeks. We're anxious to hear that, obviously.
Congressman, stand by. I also want to talk about these tensions between our NATO ally Turkey and what is going on with Russia.
These are live pictures, by the way, of protesters on the streets of Chicago right now, so far peaceful protests. Let's hope they stay that way.
We will have more on what is going on in the region, in the Middle East, what is happening in Chicago when we come back.
BLITZER: The breaking news, take a look at this, live pictures coming in from Chicago, protesters taking to the streets there. The city is on edge tonight, following the release of that very dramatic dash-cam police video, which shows the killing of a black teenager by a white police officer.
That police officer has been charged with first-degree murder.
We're going to continue to monitor what's happening on the streets of Chicago, so stay with us for that.
But we're also following other breaking news, the Turkish military releasing audio of what it says were 10 warnings to a Russian fighter jet that entered Turkish airspace. That jet eventually was taken down by Turkish warplanes, F-16s, in a move Russia says looks like it was a planned provocation.
We're back with the Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Washington state, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.
I want to show you and our viewers some -- an animation of what happened along that Turkish-Syrian border as that Russian plane maneuvered. It actually went over a tiny little strip of Southern Turkey, this according to U.S. and Turkish officials, for maybe 17 seconds as it was maneuvering there.
It didn't take very long, two miles, if that, and then Turkey shot down that Russian Su-24. Was that justified to do that? Did Turkey do the right thing?
SMITH: Well, I don't know. We will have to get more facts to know if this was justified.
But this is part of a pattern from Russia. If this had been the first time that they had gone into Turkish airspace, I doubt this would have happened. But this has been going on for quite some time, and not just in Turkey. Russia has been flaunting international law. They have been -- they have been sending submarines into territorial waters. There have been many instances where they been buzzing U.S. aircraft, where they have sent their aircraft into airspace that is -- where they're not supposed to be.
And Putin has been trying basically to provoke and weakened NATO by going anywhere he wants to go. And so I think it's part of that pattern that led up to this. If this had been the first time that a Russian airplane had gone into Turkish airspace, I don't think you would have seen Turkey react this way.
But it's happened frequently. And Turkey has warned Russia about this. So, I think the response was basically because of all the incursions into Turkish airspace that Russia has done. And Russia needs to stop doing that, not just in Turkey, but in a lot of other places where they have been sending ships and/or airplanes into airspace where they shouldn't be.
BLITZER: As you know, those ethnic Turks in Syria, Turkmen, as they're called, allied with Turkey, they actually started firing machine guns as the two pilots ejected from that downed warplane and one of the pilots was killed.
This is considered to be, at least by some, a violation of international law, a war crime, if you will. And, by all accounts, Russia probably is going to go after those Turkmen, those ethnic Turks inside Syria. The Turkish government says they want to protect their fellow Turks in Syria.
This could escalate this crisis, couldn't it?
SMITH: Yes. No, it's a dangerous situation.
And keep in mind, independent of the violation of Turkish airspace, Turkey is backing rebels who want to remove Assad. Russia is trying protect Assad. So, Russia has been bombing these Turkish-backed rebels for some time. So, yes, there is the clear potential for a conflict here.
And I think it is really important that we try to work together to get on the same page. Russia says they are concerned about ISIL, though, to this point, mostly they have been bombing rebels that are not associated with ISIL. Mostly, Russia just wants to protect their interests in Syria. And
what we have to convince them is that Assad is not the solution to that. We need an alternative to President Assad. And we need to work with as many different groups as possible to get that alternative in place.
Now, it's going to be easy, but, yes, Russia and Turkey are not -- are on opposite sides of the conflict directly to the south of Turkey. And there is definitely a huge risk of escalation, given that reality.
BLITZER: You say the U.S. should consider partnering with Russia in Syria if Putin demonstrates his commitment first and foremost to fighting ISIS. Is that realistic, given his support for Bashar al- Assad's regime?
SMITH: Well, actually, the precondition is that Russia understands that Assad has to go, because, understand, the biggest thing in Syria that fuels ISIS is the presence of Assad.
As long as Assad, who is just -- you know, he has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people, he's a horrific leader, should not be in charge of that country -- as long as he is in power, that's part of what is -- that's the biggest thing that sends all of these foreign fighters to Syria to fight with ISIL.
So, Assad has to go for us to be able to ultimately defeat ISIL. And if Russia is in there simply trying to prop him up and protect him, they are perpetuating the problem of ISIL. And so we have got to work together to find an alternative to Assad if we are ever going to have a hope of defeating ISIL. And that's part of the larger issue of, what is the strategy?
We're fighting ISIL, but we're also fighting Assad and ISIL is fighting Assad. But to truly understand the situation, we have to know that, as long as Assad is in charge, we are not going to be able to defeat ISIL, because of what Assad represents to so much of the Muslim world.
BLITZER: A complicated, very dangerous and apparently escalating situation.
Congressman Adam Smith of Washington state, thanks for joining us.
SMITH: Thank you, Wolf. I appreciate the chance.
BLITZER: There is more breaking news ahead.
We're watching this, the second night of protests now taking place on the streets of Chicago, the city reeling from that disturbing video of a white police officer shooting and killing a black teenager.
[18:30:23] BLITZER: We're following breaking news. Take a look at these live pictures coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.
Protests taking place right now in the streets of Chicago. The demonstrators are expressing their outrage at the killing of a black teenager by a white police officer. That police officer now charged with first-degree murder. Video of the shooting -- dashcam video, which shows the officer firing 16 bullets at the teen just been released that video, obviously, very disturbing.
We're going to continue to monitor what's going on in the streets of Chicago right now.
There is other breaking news we're following, this breaking news from Paris tonight. Source close to the terror investigation telling CNN that newly identified suspect Mohamed Abrini traveled to Syria last year; Abrini and Salah Abdeslam are the subject of a worldwide manhunt right now.
Our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is here. We're also joined by CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank, former CIA operative Bob Baer and former inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, Clark Kent Irving.
You know, the more you see about, Nick, all these suspects on the loose. They were in Syria. They came back to Belgium, went to France, traveled around. Their names were known. But nothing was done.
You got to wonder how good is that intelligence system over there given the tragedy that happen in Paris a couple weeks ago?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: It's fatally flawed because people were killed. Leaders are talking about securing the external border of Europe but what needs to be addressed and what is beginning to be realized is that once you have a secure outer border, you need to have much better cooperation between intelligence officials and police authorities within that common border. You need to get to share information quickly in a timely fashion, data bases that are mutually compatible, similar databases. These are the issues that are going to be addressed.
And that's why these people were able to perpetrate the attack because when they came, for example, if their names were spotted coming back into Europe, France might have been told that they were living in Belgium and never arrived in France. The Belgian authorities wouldn't have known. There are so many loopholes and also time delays in the way that information is exchanged. So, this is one of the things that's being flagged up. Many, many problems but this is perhaps going forward the most serious.
BLITZER: As you know, Bob Baer, French officials, they are not very happy with their counterparts in Belgium. They think the Belgium security service doesn't do a good job. You've heard that.
BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Oh, absolutely, Wolf. Belgians don't have a good police force. They don't really have a competent FBI. It's always been a problem. They have a disaffected North American community there.
Arms are very easy to buy, but going back to your comments on the boarder, the real problem is Turkey because it's very easy to get into Turkey without a visa if you have a European passport, crossing the border is very simple. The Turks don't keep track of people going into Syria, getting training on weapons and coming back and perpetuating an attack like the one on Paris.
I listened to that gunfire and their trigger control was quite remarkable. Those people have been in some sort of combat or intensive training and this is really the problems for the Europeans is controlling these borders, which right now they can't do.
BLITZER: How easy, is it, Paul, to buy weapons, guns, Kalashnikovs, AK-47s, Uzis in Brussels?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERROR ANALYST: It's really unfortunate, because there's a pipeline coming in, a black market flat line from the Balkans, from eastern Europe into Belgium. Also, a lot of these jihadists were involved in gangsterism before some of them spent time in jail.
And so, they have a lot of connections to quite easily buy these heavy weapons from criminal associates. One counterterrorism official just telling me there are also concerns that terrorists may find it easy to buy weapons online through the Dark Web, sites on the Dark Web where you can essentially get these delivered to your door. There was an Interpol warning that just went out on this, very concerned about new ways that they can easily get weapons.
BLITZER: Clark, if you see what is happening in Europe right now, in the aftermath of these terrorist attacks and you're working in U.S. homeland security, you used to work at the Department of Homeland Security. You've got to start asking yourself some pretty pointed questions to make sure it doesn't happen here.
CLARK KENT ERVIN, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY INSPECTOR GENERAL: Absolutely. You got to ask yourself, are we ready for it? It's very concerning, of course. Right now, in France, the concern is that there are radicalized airport workers.
Well, this past June, there was a DHS, OIG report about the fact that there were some 73 airport workers here in the United States who have ties to terrorism.
[18:35:06] TSA didn't know about that because the watch list was not fully shared with them. Just a few weeks before that, TSA failed a number of tests with the ability of screeners to get guns and knives and bombs and spot them.
So, there is real reason to be concerned here in the United States.
BLITZER: Bob, we're learning also today that France is investigating transit workers who actually may have become radicalized in recent years. They've been doing this for a couple of years. They say French officials say they don't know precisely what's going on, but they're reviewing all of this, that maybe terrorists have infiltrated the transit system there. That's pretty disturbing.
BAER: Wolf, that's very worrisome. I mean, a lot of North African people of origin are working, Muslims, believers, the rest of it, they're susceptible to recruitment and they man those airports, both Charles de Gaulle and Orly and other French airports and should be worried and denied clearances recently of a bunch of airport workers. And as you know, it's easy for a baggage handler to put a bomb on the airplane. It doesn't have to be sophisticated. You set the timer and arming switch and that's it. So, they should be worried as we should.
BLITZER: Paul, that security alert in Brussels, it's gone down a little bit. Schools resumed for the kids. Transit has resumed. But they're still -- they still haven't discovered anything, a specific plot that they were so worried about.
CRUICKSHANK: There seems to be some specific information that has come and pointing to the idea of 10 plotters being --
BLITZER: Who are still at large .
CRUICKSHANK: Being still at large, 10 plotters who have designs on launching gun and bomb attacks on the Belgian capital potentially in shopping malls. All this connected to the wider network behind the Paris attacks. There is still huge concern in Belgium.
BLITZER: And, Clark, you worked in the U.S. government. For the State Department to issue a three-month worldwide travel alert, for the U.S. embassy in Brussels to tell all U.S. military personnel -- and NATO is headquartered there -- stay in place and tell all American systems stay in place, don't go out. They don't do that unless they have some specific credible information.
ERVIN: That's exactly right, Wolf. That really is concerning, you know, if there were specific concerns about a particular region, the alert would be focused on that region for it to be a worldwide alert, means that even is tremendously concerned about what could happen next.
BLITZER: They certainly are and for good reason. Let's hope it's quite. Obviously, the intensity continues.
Guys, stay with us.
To our viewers, by the way, for more on what you can do to help the victims of the Paris terror attack, go to CNN.com/impact. You'll be able to impact your world.
Just ahead, we're following other breaking news, tensions high in Chicago right now, after a police officer is charged with shooting and killing a teenager. We're going to go there. You're looking at these live pictures from the streets of Chicago where protesters are moving.
[18:42:42] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news out of Chicago, another night of protest after a white police officer has been charged with first-degree murder for shooting a black teenager 16 times during a confrontation. You're looking at live pictures from the streets of Chicago right now.
Our national correspondent Ryan Young is on the scene for us.
Ryan, what is the latest?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I can tell you we're at the site where Laquan McDonald was shot and killed. About 75 protesters left here just recently telling us they were going to join the other protests that are going on throughout the city, but so many people have been coming here throughout the day, because they wanted to pay their respects for this young man.
YOUNG (voice-over): This shocking police dashcam video released Tuesday shows the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. McDonald is walking in the middle of the street when he heads towards some police cars, 16 shots fired, all by one officer. The video's release sparked protest and outrage overnight.
SUPT. GARRY MCCARTHY, CHICAGO POLICE: People have a right to be angry. People have a right to protest.
YOUNG: Demonstrators chanting "16 shots" referring to the number of times McDonald was shot on October 20th of 2014.
ANITA ALVAREZ, COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY: We have charged Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke with first-degree murder in the connection of the shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
YOUNG: Thirty-seven-year-old Jason Van Dyke turned himself into authorities Tuesday after being charged with first-degree murder, more than a year after the fatal shooting.
MCCARTHY: The officer, in this case, took a young man's life and he's going to have to account for his actions.
YOUNG: Investigators say Van Dyke was on the scene mere seconds, firing all 16 rounds and was reloading when another officer told him to hold his fire.
ALVAREZ: All evidence indicates that he began shooting approximately six seconds after getting out of his vehicle.
YOUNG: Van Dyke's attorney says this is not a murder case at all, that his client was justified in shooting McDonald who was welding a knife at the time of the shooting, and had already slashed the tires of a police cruiser. An autopsy later found McDonald had PCP in his subpoena.
DANIEL HERBERT, ATTORNEY FOR OFFICER JASON VAN DYKE: You have to look at what my client Jason was experiencing at the time he fired the weapon. When he jumped out of the car, the subject made a motion which put my client in fear that this individual was perhaps going to attack him with a knife.
[18:45:08] YOUNG: Chicago police never wanted the video released. It's release came only after a freedom of information act request and judges' ruling declaring it must be made public by today and prosecutors say it's not unusual to wait over a year for charges in cases like these because police shootings are always complicated.
ALVAREZ: This investigation was tenacious. It was meticulous. We did everything to make sure that we were not going to jeopardize our case.
YOUNG: The city's mayor says now the healing process must begin and is calling for peaceful protest.
MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: Now, we must work together to bring the peace and understanding and the bridges of understanding together.
YOUNG: Last night, we walked over four miles with protestors. I can tell you all last night, they kept telling us they would protest again today. And we talked to more protestors that said they would go downtown and trying to shut traffic -- Wolf.
BLITZER: But they were peaceful last night, right, Ryan?
YOUNG: Completely peaceful. And, in fact, we saw police officers getting up in people's faces and all they said was "excuse me, excuse me, excuse me". Everything worked out. They didn't block. They did block Michigan Avenue. And they remain peaceful the entire.
BLITZER: Ryan Young in Chicago for us, thanks very much. For more on the breaking news, let's bring in our guests, we're joined by our legal analyst Sunny Hostin, a former federal prosecutor, Deray McKesson, a Black Lives Matter activist, and our CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director.
Deray, after watching that very disturbing video, that clip from the police dash camera of the shooting, you tweeted, and I'll be precise, you said it is clear that it was an execution, your words, and you're also calling now for the Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago police superintendent McCarthy to resign.
Why do you -- what do you believe they specifically did wrong?
DERAY MCKESSON, BLACK LIVES MATTER: Yes, remember, not only did we see a killing, but what we've seen over the past year with this case specifically has been a cover-up. There are many people who saw this video and didn't do anything until the judge said that it had to be released in the threat of unrest. So, I'm left with so many questions, why has nobody else been responsible for whoever deleted footage out of Burger King.
I mean, why did it take for the threat of unrest to lead to the charges of the officer? Because what we saw in that video is Laquan is just sort of meandering in the street and is gunned down so casually. So, again, we saw like a killing and cover-up and both lead us to questions.
BLITZER: Sunny, I spoke to Marc Morial, the president of the National Urban League and he told me in the last hour the Chicago Urban League is now requesting that the Department of Justice here in Washington open what's called a pattern and practice investigation into the Chicago Police Department.
A, do you think that is necessary? B, do you think it's likely?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it is necessary and I think it is very likely. Let's face it, I mean, these pattern and practice investigations are conducted by the civil rights division of the Department of Justice and they look into whether or not there is systemic police misconduct going on within a police force.
And I think when you look at the history, Wolf, of this officer, someone that already had over 18 civil complaints against him, many accusing him of excessive force, many accusing of using racial slurs, and the fact that given his history, he was still on the force, and after this incident of shooting someone 16 times and having been paid for the past year remaining on the police force I think can be pretty indicative of a culture in that police department that needs to be investigated and corrected.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, you're a former FBI assistant, director, you were police officer outside of Chicago before that. Why did it take over a year to charge this police officer with first-degree murder?
HOSTIN: You know, Wolf, I have no idea. I don't see where this investigation should have been that complicated to take an entire year to do it.
And I agree with Sunny in this case that, you know, this is bad in the fact that, you know, that it took so long to take action in this case when it was so clear and officers that friends of mine that have talked about this case that are knowledgeable about the investigation said all of the officers involved in the investigation were sickened by what happened.
And unfortunately, when an officer that will do something like that is allowed to stay on the force, is allowed to keep, you know, being on the street carrying a gun, and being among the people, it shouldn't be. There's got to be more done to discipline bad cops and actually, we've heard so much about discipline and training, it has to start at the selection process.
[18:50:00] You can't train a pit bull to become a Chihuahua. You can't hire psychopathic cops in the first place, and, you know, following 14 rounds that were pumped into Laquan's body is just horrific. There is no justification for that. None of the officers at the scene thought it was justified. And, unfortunately, I think they are as horrified as the rest of us.
BLITZER: Deray, do you have confidence in the Cook County prosecutor? She finally did file first-degree murder charges yesterday. It took her over a year. But do you have confidence in her? MCKESSON: No -- you know, I'm looking forward to seeing how this will
play out. Again, the question remains: why did it take the threat of unrest for charges to come? And then, I think we also should look at, like, what are the provisions in the police union contract or other policies that allowed this officer to be protected for over a year?
You know, there are a lot of questions that remain. No confidence in Anita Alvarez or Rahm, people who had access to this material and sat on it for over a year until the threat of unrest was looming.
BLITZER: Guys, stand by. We're going to stay on top of these new protests emerging on the streets of Chicago right now. We'll have much more on the breaking news that we're following when we come back.
[18:55:54] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news out of Chicago. You're looking at live pictures. Protesters spilling into the streets, outrage by the killing of a black teenager by a white police officer. That officer, Jason Van Dyke, he's been charged now with first-degree murder. And a dashcam video of the confrontation shows Van Dyke firing 16 shots at the teenager.
We're back with our guests.
Deray, it's been a year, as you know, since the protests in Ferguson. What's your message to the protesters on the streets of Chicago tonight?
MCKESSON: You have to keep the pressure up. You know, what we've seen is the power of protests is to hold the system accountable and if it was not for the threat of unrest in Chicago, they never would have convicted or indicted that -- or charged that officer in this case and that's really important.
So, to the protesters in Chicago, there's a great organizing culture there. Keep up the pressure in the system and hold people accountable and keep asking questions.
BLITZER: Tom, as you know, the police officer's attorney, Van Dyke's attorney said on CNN today that the police officer, quote, "felt" that McDonald, the young black teenager, made a motion, he said, "which put my client in fear that this individual was perhaps going to attack him with a knife." That's a quote that the attorney said.
Looking at the video, did you see McDonald posing any threat, make a motion as if he was going to attack him with that knife?
FUENTES: No. And I've watched that video over and over. In fact, the more I watch it, the more I believe that McDonald made no such aggressive move toward that officer.
And, you know, even if he was carrying a machete down the street, if he's not threatening and especially if he's down -- it's one thing if he was coming at the police officer or another person on the street. But he didn't appear to be. He appeared to be just meandering down the center of the road and not even walking towards the officers.
So, I just don't see it. I didn't see it in any of the times that I watched that video. And again, once he goes on the ground to shoot 14 more bullets into his body, that's the part that is never going to be justifiable, ever.
BLITZER: All right. Sunny, I want to ask you, Laquan McDonald's family, they didn't want -- they didn't want that video released. It was only released because of freedom of information request coming in from a freelance journalist. But I'll get to that in a moment.
But we're just getting a statement in from President Obama on the shooting of this young teenager in Chicago.
Let me read it to our viewers, "Like many Americans," the president says, "I was deeply disturbed by the footage, the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. This thanksgiving, I ask everybody," the president says, "to keep those who have suffered tragic loss in our thoughts and prayers." The president adds, "And to be thankful for the overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform who protect our communities with honor." "I'm personally grateful," the president concludes, "to the people of my hometown for keeping protests peaceful."
Your reaction, Sunny?
HOSTIN: You know, I think this is something that every parent, including the president, sees and thinks, my goodness, there but for the grace of God go I. You know, you see really the gunning down of a young life, of a teenager.
And so, I think this Thanksgiving we hold our loved one as little closer and I completely understand why the family would not want this video to be released, because it truly shows the killing of their child and that is just -- I'm just -- it's just so disheartening that this is happening in our country.
BLITZER: Very disheartening, indeed.
And those protests obviously spilling over into the streets of Chicago right now.
Sunny Hostin, Tom Fuentes, Deray McKesson, thanks so much to all of you for joining us. And to our viewers, remember, you can always follow us on Twitter, please tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Be sure to join us again tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM.
To our viewers here in the United States, happy Thanksgiving.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.