Return to Transcripts main page
Afghan Army Soldiers Defect to Taliban; Police Seek 10 People after Indian Temple Fire; Obama Opens Up; Willett's Brother Grabs Masters Spotlight; Trump Campaign Made Up of Political Outsiders; U.S. Navy Officer Charged with Espionage, Sex Crimes. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired April 11, 2016 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST (voice-over): Ahead at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, an exclusive report on Afghan soldiers deserting to the Taliban.
President Obama reveals what he calls his worst mistake in office.
And what Danny Willett's family said about his win at the Masters on Twitter.
CURNOW: Hi, there. Welcome, I'm Robyn Curnow.
We begin in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is now on a rampant offense of pushing deeper into the region that was once defended by U.S. and British
troops. Thousands of soldiers have died to keep Helmand Province from Taliban control and still the Afghan army is struggling. CNN's Nick Paton
Walsh is in Kabul.
Hi, there, Nick. The security situation in Afghanistan really slipping, very concerning.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. And just bear this one number in mind: 5,500 Afghan soldiers and police died just last
year alone. That's way more than NATO lost in their entire campaign in the fight against the Taliban.
Concerns are that this year desertion and, in some indications, defection to the Taliban may make the fight, particularly for Helmand, one of the
most strategically vital provinces going extraordinarily hard.
WALSH (voice-over): You know a war is going badly when your enemy is right in front of you. This white flag is the Taliban's. They really are that
close to these Afghans, defending one of the last government holdouts in Helmand Province.
It used to be NATO that shot from these positions near the vulnerable city of Lashkar Gah. Hundreds of Americans and Britons died for Helmand. Many
in the town of Sangin, where these pictures show the Afghan army recently in heavy clashes.
But now Afghanistan is quite quickly watching Helmand fall. The Taliban are winning partly because of men like these.
This is a rare window into the Afghan government's worst nightmare, soldiers from the Afghan army, who America spent billions training, who say
they have defected and joined the Taliban. Derieji (ph) never dreamed they would change sides.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I did 18 months of army training and took an oath to serve this country. But the situation changed. The
army let us down. So we had to come to the Taliban, who treat us like guests.
WALSH (voice-over): They carried their old uniforms, IDs and bank cards used to get their old army wages. They fought in violent Sangin, where
these pictures were more recently filmed, yet now both use their training and experience to train the Taliban.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I decided to leave the army when my dead and injured comrades lay in our base but nobody took them to the
My army training is very useful now, as I'm now training Taliban fighters with the same knowledge.
WALSH (voice-over): Men who have seen the tide turn and voted with their feet.
WALSH: Helmand's the indisputable heartland of the south that NATO fought so hard to push the Taliban back. And the fact that here in Kabul you can
talk to many officials who say its capital, Lashkar Gah, could fall at any day really. That gives you a sense of how much on the offensive the
Taliban are and what could happen in the summer fighting season ahead.
WALSH (voice-over): This is the center of Lashkar Gah, the key town in the Taliban's sights, tense yet teeming. Some visit briefly from areas the
Taliban now control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's a bit too soon to say whether people are happy with the Taliban in Musekala (ph). The bazaar is now full
of people while it used to be empty. That was because the security was bad and some people avoided the government's forces.
WALSH (voice-over): Others fled to its outskirts from the fighting in flashpoints, like Sangin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My worst memory from Sangin is how a wedding party was hit by a mortar, killing a large number of women and
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The police left after the fighting intensified and told me to move to a vacant corner of the village but the
bullets and rockets followed, killing 10 people. So I fled here.
WALSH (voice-over): Just over a year since NATO stopped fighting and here the Taliban's white flags are closer than ever.
WALSH: Now, Robyn, I should point out that Afghan and American officials disagree with the idea that Lashkar Gah is that vulnerable. In fact, the
Afghan acting defense minister staked his job on its fate. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: People can see the Taliban's flag from the outskirts of Lashkar Gah. People say to me so regularly Lashkar Gah could fall any day.
AFGHAN ACTING DEFENSE MINISTER: It will not fall.
WALSH: At all?
MINISTER: At all.
WALSH: If it does, will you resign?
MINISTER: It will not fall. If it falls, there is no doubt I will resign. But it will not fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALSH: I showed you really how significant that particular capital of Helmand really is. And I spoke to a police official on Sunday, who said,
look, that capital is under pressure from both sides. And even advances made by the government are pushed back by the Taliban.
Now I should point out as well that things aren't rosy, by far from rosy here in Kabul. John Kerry's visit, U.S. secretary of state on Saturday,
minutes after he left, rockets hit near the U.S. embassy compound. This morning we have had a bus of education ministry employees hit by an
explosion, killing two.
And just now, it seems, a suicide bomber targeted new Afghan army recruits, who were in the eastern city of Jalalabad going to a recruitment center
there, being driven to Kabul here for further training, was hit. Twelve killed and 38 people injured as well. That's just a snapshot really in
about 72 hours of daily life here in Kabul and beyond.
And shows you really how slippery things are getting as we head not even into yet, as we head into the more violent summer season, known as the
fighting season, when temperatures and violence rise -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Indeed. Just an example of how fragile the security situation is there. And, of course, all the while this unity government struggling to
make some key political decisions as well.
Nick Paton Walsh, in Kabul, thank you so much.
To Southern India now, where police are hunting for at least 10 people who are linked to that deadly temple fire. Authorities say more than 100
people died in the fireworks accident in Kollam and more than 500 were injured. A local police commissioner says five workers from the fireworks
supplier has been detained.
Well, Mallika Kapur joins me now live from Mumbai.
Hi, there, Mallika.
Who are police looking for?
MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police are looking for 10 temple trustees. They are trying to track them down. We believe these 10 temple
trustees are on the run. Meanwhile, police have detained five other people. They work for the company that supplied the fireworks to the
temple. They really want to get to the bottom of who broke which law. There is allegedly a ban in place, which prevented the fireworks from going
off that night, a ban that was clearly violated and want to get to the bottom of it.
So they are looking for people who worked for the temple authority board. Meanwhile, really the focus remains on the humanitarian side of the
disaster. The death toll, Robyn, I can confirm, has risen. It is now 109 people dead.
Meanwhile, several people remain unaccounted for and very worried family members have spent today, going from hospital to morgues to hospitals, to
try and look for their loved ones, to try and identify their bodies because the blast was so intense that many of the bodies were charred beyond the
point of recognition.
And it's a really grim and heartbreaking task for them.
KAPUR (voice-over): This is the moment a string of explosions ripped through a temple in Kollam, Southern India, early Sunday morning.
This is what remains at the site now, a grim reminder how deadly the blaze caused by fireworks was.
The Indian prime minister, who rushed to the scene within hours, describes what he saw and heard.
NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): People as far away as 200 meters were injured. Doctors have told me that, in some cases,
bodies and heads were blown apart due to the explosion. I can understand how severe the scale of destruction is.
KAPUR (voice-over): More than 100 people are dead. Almost four times as many are being treated in hospitals.
This family, who had come to attend a festival at the temple, experienced the trauma first-hand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were very happy and all three of us, including me, my brother and his son, were sitting there when the
fire broke out. A big piece of stone hit my brother on the head.
KAPUR (voice-over): Rescue operations at the site are now over. Relatives must now go through the heartbreaking process of looking for loved ones and
many bodies are charred beyond recognition.
Others are demanding answers.
Kulim police are investigating whether temple officials ignored a ban on fireworks and are looking for some temple trustees, who are on the run.
They have detained five people who worked for the company that supplied the fireworks. They will get answers soon enough.
But for more than 100 families who've lost loved ones in this terrible tragedy --
-- that will never be enough.
KAPUR: Police investigation aside, the need of the hour really is medical attention. And there is a team of doctors and nurses and burn specialists;
around 30 of them flew in with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited the site yesterday.
And they are working with local doctors across a group of 11 hospitals, most of them private hospitals, but they are working hard doing whatever
they can to treat those who have been seriously injured and to do what they can to prevent the death toll, Robyn, from rising even further.
CURNOW: In Mumbai, Mallika Kapur, thank you so much.
In the U.S., President Barack Obama is reflecting on his presidency in a new interview. Mr. Obama tells FOX News he regrets a lack of planning
following the toppling and death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Went so far as to call it "the worst mistake" of his presidency. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CURNOW: Let's get the view from the White House. Athena Jones joins me now live from Washington.
President Obama being pretty Frank about his mistakes here.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And this is not the first time, Robyn, we have heard him talk about his disappointment with how
things turned out in Libya back in 2011.
We know from interviews he's given, including one to Jeffrey Goldberg from "The Atlantic," that was published several weeks ago, that he believes
Libya is a mess right now. He even used stronger terminology simply because it's become basically a haven for ISIS.
We also know, though, that going in, the president has been generally resistant to get heavily involved in a country when the U.S.' national
security is not at stake. But they thought he was urged by parts of his national security team, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton among
them, to get involved in Libya to make sure that Moammar Gadhafi did not massacre large numbers of people.
And so they were able to do that. They were able, the president says, to prevent these atrocities. But then after the fact, things really fell
apart. And so you've heard the president talk about how, for instance, he had more faith in some of the U.S. allies in the region, for instance,
France and the U.K., to do more to step up.
He talked about how British Prime Minister David Cameron became distracted, how not too long after the invasion -- after Libya -- the French president,
Nicolas Sarkozy, left office. So he talks about Libya being a disappointment. But he also suggests that there's a little bit of blame to
go around, not just in dealing with the allies but also just having a real understanding of the extent of tribal divisions there on the ground in
Libya that have added to this very not-pretty picture right now -- Robyn.
CURNOW: Yes. Many people, particularly in his interview with "The Atlantic," felt that he was, in many ways, throwing the French and the
British under the bus. I mean, he was very stark in his concern about the reaction from allies as well.
Let's just talk about how common this is for a sitting president to be calibrating his legacy while of course still in office. He really does
seem to be trying to massage the message of what his presidency was and is.
JONES: Sure. And I don't think this is surprising. He knows that he will be gone. By this time next year, these are his last days in office. So
they are doing what they can to try to shape his legacy and shape our understanding of it -- ours; I speak broadly as the press and sort of the
American public, the world public when it comes to the decisions that the president has made.
And so they're going to do their best to highlight areas where they think he's done well. For instance, passing the Affordable Care Act, the
landmark health care legislation here in the U.S.
But, yes, he's also trying to give his own interpretation of why he may not have been as successful in other areas. This is one of them. It's not
surprising to see him do this and I expect we'll see more of it.
CURNOW: Yes. And he has also said that perhaps the lessons learned from Libya have impacted how he made decisions regarding Syria.
Athena Jones, at the White House, thanks so much.
CURNOW: Well, up next here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK, White House hopeful Donald Trump cries foul after rival Ted Cruz hands him a resounding defeat
Plus England's Danny Willett won the Masters tournament as his brother back home grabbed his own bit of fame with his comments on Twitter. You want to
stick around for that story.
CURNOW: British golfer Danny Willett won the Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia, on Sunday but it was his brother back in England who
really managed to grab some of the fame with his comments on Twitter as the final was underway.
For more, our Don Riddell joins us live from Augusta.
Hi, there, Don. When his brother live tweeted I think under the influence of at least one bottle of champagne and it really makes for some classic
DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Everything about the final round of the Masters yesterday was absolutely exhilarating. Everybody except Jordan
Spieth really enjoyed it. And in particularly one of Danny Willett's brothers, who is now claiming today that he's won Twitter while his brother
won the Masters championship.
So I'll just read you a couple of them. Some, it has to be said, are in no way fit for broadcast. But his running commentary on social media was just
As his brother was standing over a putt on the 18th, he wrote, "Three-putt this and you might as well stay in America."
And as it dawned on him that his brother could become the Masters champion, he wrote, "If the boy does what he should, I'll be able to say I have
shared a bath with a Masters winner."
That was one of the things I put to Danny afterwards when he was wearing the green jacket.
DANNY WILLETT, MASTERS CHAMPION: There's a few pictures that could prove that. We all used to -- back in the day -- to try and save water. That was
it, one hot water bath and then, you know, as many people get in as possible, try and get clean.
RIDDELL: He also said, "Green makes you look fat. Refuse the jacket."
WILLETT: I can't really say too much on that. He's a little bit porky himself.
RIDDELL: And Sarah, "Don't ever put us through this again, Dan. I've aged 20 years."
WILLETT: That's my sister-in-law. No, it's just nice to know they are all pulling for you. I spoke to them a good bit over this last week. I'm very
privileged to have a fantastic group of family, in-laws, friends, everyone around me and to keep me down to Earth, to keep me being the person that
I've worked hard to be, regardless of if I play golf or not.
They don't really care. They care that I'm a good person and I keep doing the right things and keep working hard and any little bonuses along the way
within golf is a bonus. So, yes, I'm incredibly privileged to have them people around me.
RIDDELL: So his brother, Peter, was still tweeting today. And get this: he's a schoolteacher.
And once he sobered up and got back on Twitter this morning before he headed off to school, he wrote, "When I'm too tired to teach a good lesson
tomorrow and some kid spits at me, I'm just going to smile and say, 'I won Twitter,' drops mike."
Robyn, this story is just so amazing for so many reasons, one of which is the fact that Danny Willett wasn't even supposed to be here. His first son
was supposed to be born --
RIDDELL: -- on Sunday. Fortunately for him, Zach came early. That meant that he was able to play here -- and get this. His wife, Nicole, she was
born on April the 11th, when Sandy Lyle, another great British golfer, was winning the Masters back in 1988. Her mom was in labor with her during
So this time of year clearly very, very special to Danny Willett and his family. And you have to wonder, it's almost as if it was just meant to be.
CURNOW: I know. And I mean, so much to celebrate in that household, a Masters winner and a new baby.
Just wonderful and just also the whole family vibe just makes you want to smile. Thanks so much, Don Riddell. I think you have had an exciting and
busy weekend. Appreciate it.
CURNOW: Now to the race for the White House. Republican front-runner Donald Trump is back after an unusual break from the campaign trail and
he's come out swinging, clearly angry after a big win for rival Ted Cruz. Our Phil Mattingly has the latest.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump on the attack. His target: the delegate system, a system that, up to this point, Ted Cruz,
his top opponent, has taken advantage of, sweeping delegates in states like North Dakota and Colorado, putting Donald Trump on the disadvantage, even
as he holds a very large top-line delegate lead.
That, according to Trump and his top aides, is leaving them to cry foul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got a corrupt system. It's not right. We're supposed to be a democracy.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Donald Trump, back on the campaign trail in New York after spending four days laying low.
TRUMP: We've got to have a system where voting means something.
Doesn't it have to mean something?
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Criticizing the delegate system after a string of losses in state battles dominated by Ted Cruz's campaign organization and
issuing a warning to the Republican National Committee.
TRUMP: You're going to have a big problem, folks, because there are people that don't like what's going on.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Trump's top adviser, Paul Manafort, echoing his boss' concerns, alleging that the Cruz campaign is threatening Trump's
PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP TOP ADVISER: You go into these county conventions and you see the tactic, Gestapo tactics. We're going to be filing several
protests because the reality is they are not playing by the rules.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): The Cruz campaign calls it sour grapes, writing in a statement, quote, "It's no surprise that Trump's team will lash out with
falsehoods when facing a loss to distract from their failure."
Trump taking to social media to express his frustration with the delegate fight, tweeting, "The people of Colorado had their vote taken away from
them by phony politicians. Biggest story in politics. This will not be allowed."
This back-and-forth coming just a day after Cruz went after Trump over electability while courting top donors in Las Vegas.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: If Donald is the nominee, poll after poll after poll shows him losing by double digits. We're looking at a bloodbath of
Walter Mondale proportions.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): These attacks coming as Trump tries out a new strategy, playing it safe.
The Republican front-runner was absent from the Sunday talk shows yesterday for the first time in four months.
MATTINGLY: Now the reality is while Trump and his aides complain about the rules, they are the rules. It's a system that Ted Cruz and his team have
taken great advantage of. Now I have spoken to top Trump advisers over the last couple days and they acknowledge while they're being candid that they
are outmanned and outgunned by Cruz's on-the-ground operation, so much so that it will take a couple of weeks for them to ramp up to the point to
even be able to compete with them.
Still, Donald Trump in a good place when you look at the primaries and caucuses ahead, most notably in New York. April 19th, 95 delegates at
stake. That, according to advisers, is where Donald Trump will get back on track and that will be the first step towards Donald Trump really securing
that magic 1,237 number of delegates needed to take the Republican nomination before the convention --back to you.
CURNOW: And, thanks for that, Phil Mattingly there.
And you heard in Phil's report from a new member of the Trump campaign staff, Paul Manafort. Well, I talked about his hire recently with Gabriel
Sherman, who wrote an article in "New York" magazine with the subtitle, "Inside the Most Unorthodox Campaign in Political History."
This is the conversation I had with him just a few days ago.
GABRIEL SHERMAN, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: Trump has surrounded himself with people who are completely outside the American political establishment.
His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, had managed, up until this point, the biggest campaign was a losing reelection bid for Senate in New
Hampshire more than a decade ago.
Trump's spokesperson, Hope Hicks (ph), had worked in the fashion industry for Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka. And his social media director was his
one-time golf caddie at a country club and who had become a general manager of the golf course. So these are people who --
SHERMAN: -- in any other campaign, would have no role whatsoever. And yet Donald Trump has elevated them to the most senior positions.
CURNOW: And in terms of his most valuable and trusted advisers, he's even said it himself. He considers himself his most trusted adviser. He
doesn't take a lot of in-depth advice, does he?
SHERMAN: Yes. And that's been one of the challenges and the liabilities for the campaign is that, up until this point, it has been very difficult
for anybody with real political experience to get Donald Trump's ear.
That said, we're now seeing his campaign shift into a new phase, where he realizes that this delegate fight for the Republican nomination is really
going to require somebody with deep political experience.
And that's why you see late last month he brought in Paul Manafort, who is a veteran Republican strategist, who has deep experience in convention
fights and delegate wrangling, to be the senior guy in charge of this delegate operation. So this is really the first time that Trump is
bringing in some political professionals.
CURNOW: Now you spent so much time with him and you got a sense of how this campaign worked. And you also spent some time with the actual
campaign officers. Starkly different to Trump Towers or the big, fancy golf resorts.
SHERMAN: Exactly. I almost thought I was being directed into the wrong place when the security guards told me to go to the campaign office on the
5th floor. And I pulled back these frosted glass doors and it really looks like a construction zone.
It's an unfinished room. There's wires and pipes hanging from the ceiling. And this is where Donald Trump's presidential campaign is operated. It's
virtually a boiler room.
So -- but for all of Trump's glitz and glamor, one thing that stands out is he is -- and by his own admission -- very cheap. He does not spend money
that he doesn't need to spend. And he feels that he doesn't need the trappings of a real professional campaign operation.
So he wasn't going to spend money to set up a fancy office across the river in Brooklyn, New York.
Hillary Clinton has an 80,000-square foot campaign headquarters. They have ping-pong tables and air hockey tables. It looks like a tech startup. So
really that's the contrast that shows you what a real campaign office looks like. Trump says I don't need to do any of that. I don't need to spend
CURNOW: I think you say in your piece that it's -- a college newspaper is better resourced.
Let's also talk, though, about Trump on the campaign trail. He wears a bulletproof vest, you said.
SHERMAN: Yes, and that was a way of illustrating why we have seen some stumbles and gaffes from Trump that, even by Trump's standards, have caused
him problems. And his friends and the people in the inner circle I talked to have said that they have never seen him more tired and they pointed to
the bulletproof vest as another thing making Trump's grueling pace on the campaign trail even more taxing.
It's uncomfortable, he sweats a lot, it's constricting. And so the security precautions that he has taken is making it even more difficult to
maintain the schedule, the grueling pace of sometimes holding two and three rallies in one day.
CURNOW (voice-over): Well, it's a big week for politics on CNN. For the next three nights, Anderson Cooper will host town halls with each of the
Republican candidates and their families.
Then on Thursday, don't miss the Democratic presidential debate as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders face off live from New York. It all happens
this week at 9:00 pm Eastern time or 9:00 the next morning for our viewers in Hong Kong, only on CNN.
Ahead on the INTERNATIONAL DESK, we're keeping an eye on the U.K. parliament, where the prime minister is expected to take to the floor any
minute now to make an announcement on new tax evasion legislation. This, of course, all coming as David Cameron has been accused of hypocrisy for
going after tax evaders while his father had an offshore account.
CURNOW: Welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Here's a check of the headlines.
CURNOW: CNN is getting new details about a spying investigation within the U.S. Navy that officials say could have threatened national security.
According to a heavily redacted charge document, an unnamed U.S. Navy officer has been arrested for espionage, illegally sharing information,
procuring a prostitute and more.
Joining me from Washington is CNN chief U.S. security correspondent Jim Sciutto.
A lot of skulduggery seems to have been going on -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question, Robyn, potentially explosive case. One, it involves a senior Naval officer; two,
it involves some of the most sensitive U.S. spyplanes, information intelligence about those spyplanes.
Now I'm told by a Defense official that there's not enough information at this point to identify which country this Naval officer was giving this
information to, passing this information on. But there is enough information to begin legal proceedings.
The question now is does he go on to face court-martial, et cetera?
But when you begin to piece these together, this could be a potentially explosive espionage case.
CURNOW: And I know there's a lot of off-the-record reporting and there's a lot we can't say without checking it ourselves.
I mean, do we know anything about who this man is and how long he's been in custody even?
SCIUTTO: Well, what's interesting about this is that this case began some eight months ago. That's when he was taken into custody. It was only
revealed as those court documents, those heavily redacted court documents, which we've been looking at here at CNN as well, when they were revealed.
And that's how we learned about this case.
I'm speaking to sources about him, know his rank. We're not saying his name yet on the air but we do know that they are proceeding within the
military legal system at this point.
What they are not willing to do at this point or don't have the information at this point is to identify which country that this information was going
to. And that's something we're going to be following very closely.
CURNOW: OK. Jim Sciutto there in Washington, thanks so much.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
CURNOW: Well, I understand we want to take you to the U.K. parliament. There you can see the prime minister is about to make an announcement about
tax evasion. Let's listen in.