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How Would Trump, Clinton Handle Foreign Policy In Office; Accused War Criminal Working As Airport Security Guard; Interview with Barbara Comstock. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired June 3, 2016 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:31:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, there is new focus on both the Clinton and Trump foreign policy after a bitter back and forth on handling the most pressing international issues. So, how do they stack up? We got to hear Hillary Clinton last night. Let's look at a little point-by-point comparison.
We have Carl Higbie, spokesman for the Pro-Trump Great America PAC. He is a former Navy SEAL. We also have retired Major General Paul Eaton, senior adviser to VoteVets.org. He was commanding general of the coalition military assistance training team in Iraq. Gentlemen, thank you both for being here this morning.
Let's play a little bit of sound from both candidates and then we'll react. This is on the issue of how to deal with ISIS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to take out their strongholds in Iraq and Syria by intensifying the air campaign and stepping up our support for Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground. We need to keep pursuing diplomacy to end Syria's civil war and close Iraq's sectarian divide.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Their days are numbered. I won't tell them where and I won't tell them how. We must, as a nation, be more unpredictable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: General, what appeals to you, and why?
MAJ. GEN. PAUL EATON (RET.), SENIOR ADVISER, VOTEVETS.ORG: Gentlemen, first, thank you very much for having me. With respect to ISIS we've got to contain them, we've got to collapse the perimeter, and using American airpower, intelligence surveillancereconnaissance -- just erode their capacity to wage war. Hillary Clinton is spot on, on this, and so is the President of the United States.
CUOMO: The criticism is, General, that we seem less safe today than ever. Everything seems worse than ever and that happened, ISIS specifically, under the Obama, and for part of the time Clinton, watch.
EATON: Chris, when you come to the vital national interests of the United States, we're OK. We have access to the commons -- the global commons -- air, sea, cyber, and space. Our borders are secure. We have a problem in the Middle East. It's remote, we're containing it, we're doing OK. We'll support Europe because they're at greater risk than we are, through NATO.
CUOMO: Carl, the criticism on Trump's policy is that he doesn't state one. That he just says he's going to smash them, he's going to bomb them, it's going to be fast. And he says I'm not going to tell you because I want to be unpredictable, but that's not really how the politics of war works. You usually explain yourself. What do you see in it?
CARL HIGBIE, SPOKESMAN, PRO-TRUMP GREAT AMERICA PAC, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Exactly, and I want to hit on the General real quick here, respectfully sir.
HIGBIE: I couldn't disagree with you more. Our borders are not secure. And additionally, this air campaign -- Hillary Clinton has made a big point to say Donald Trump is rogue and he's going to bomb and kill innocent civilians. Keep in mind, the airstrikes under Hillary Clinton have killed 90 percent of innocent civilians, as they call them, opposed to the people they were targeting. So, an air --
CUOMO: Explain that number, too.
HIGBIE: Yes. So, under Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama the airstrikes that they've conducted through drone strikes and things like that -- 90 percent of the people they have killed are not the people they are targeting. So keep in mind that these airstrikes, while sometimes effective, they are not the only thing. And Donald Trump is committed to putting boots on the ground to solve the problem.
[07:35:00] CUOMO: Boots on the ground, that's very controversial though, Carl, you know. Americans don't want men and women -- men like you on the ground and risking them in a battle they feel isn't even theirs.
HIGBIE: Well, the problem here is this threat is now coming to our shores. We pulled out. Under Hillary Clinton's policies we pulled out of Iraq and the air in the region, and now look. What happened is it left a power void so the ISIS forces could fall back into Iraq, create a stronghold, take places like Fallujah and things like that.
And now we're facing this problem that they've grown so strong that they can now attack us on our shores. All throughout Europe we see the refugee crisis. This is a serious problem we need to address. We are not secure.
CUOMO: Now, Trump has said he doesn't want to put people in there. He wants to pull back. He also says let's see what happens once I get in there. But, General, with what you're hearing from Carl Higbie, what do you want to push back on? EATON: Well first, Chris, I hate the term "boots on the ground". My sons are soldiers, and it's soldiers. We're talking about the sons and daughters of the United States of America, so "boots on the ground" is a very bad term. Let's talk about soldiers.
We're doing fine in the Middle East. We need strategic operational and tactical patience. This is a fight that's going to take time. It's an ideological fight. That's where the real money is going to be made. So we're containing these guys and we're going to kill them slowly over time. So patience, my friends.
CUOMO: Patience is unsatisfying, though, to the American people, General, because they say patience means that the problem gets worse. Patience means there's another San Bernardino. Patience means we're losing.
EATON: Patience, as in we contained Saddam Hussein for over a decade. We did it very cheaply, we did it very well. Are we going to take some hits? Yes. Is it worth putting 100,000-200,000 Americans to the field? No. We're doing fine with our special operating forces. We're doing fine with our air power. And is there collateral damage? Yes, that's a fact of war. But we're doing far better today than ISIS is doing. We're winning.
CUOMO: Carl, I want a final point from you, but within this context -- I'm not saying I disagree with what your strategy is. I'm just curious because it doesn't sound like Donald Trump's strategy. He doesn't say I want to go in there more than ever. I mean, he's saying the opposite.
He says the Iraq war was a mistake. That he's always been against it, although as we've discussed before, I've never seen any proof that at the time that the war was being debated that Donald Trump said he was against it. I know he says that now --
CUOMO: -- but do you hear him saying I'm going to go more all in? I'm going to have more people on the ground?
HIGBIE: He said that he's going to do what it takes. At times, we have discussed the notion of putting boots on the ground. And, General, with all due respect, your philosophy of not wanting to call them boots on the ground -- who cares what they're called?
But, respectfully sir, your outlook and your view that we are winning this war is the reason we are losing it, and I don't think that people like you should be commanding people in a war zone because we're losing this war right now because we're unwilling to do what it takes. And if that takes boots on the ground or that takes massive airstrikes and campaigns and things like that, fine.
But the fact of the matter is we have to realize that we have a problem right now. We have not committed the resources, we have not committed the American public's persona to this, and we need to do that. CUOMO: Just to give you a chance to button it up, when you're talking about the General, you're talking about this discussion right now, or do you really take exception to the fact that the General was on the war field leading people?
HIGBIE: I think that the leadership that he's displayed -- he's articulated here today is not conducive to winning a war, respectfully sir.
CUOMO: General, final word.
EATON: Well, obviously, I disagree. I am a patient man and I understand vital national interest. The fight with ISIS is not a vital national interest to the United States. It is a conditional interest, which means you go in with restraints and you go in with the appropriate use of airpower, intelligence, and special forces. That's it.
CUOMO: General, Carl, always good to have you both.
HIGBIE: Thank you, sir.
CUOMO: Thank you for having the discussion, guys -- Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Chris, thanks so much. There is a CNN investigation that is sending shockwaves. A former Somalian military commander accused of horrific war crimes. You won't believe what we found him doing at a major U.S. airport. That's next.
[07:42:20] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: New questions this morning about the hiring practices at the nation's airports after CNN first reported a military commander, during the Civil War in Somalia, an accused war criminal, is now working as a private security guard at Dulles International.
CNN's Kyra Phillips went straight to the source for answers after first speaking with an attorney who represents one of this man's alleged victims.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN REPORTER: Bones are all that remain of ethnic clan members, slaughtered in a vicious civil war in the 1980's. Evidence of the brutality carried out by the government regime in Somalia.
Now, CNN has learned a former military commander accused of some of the worst atrocities is living in the United States and working near our nation's capital. His name is Yusuf Abdi Ali, also known as Col. Tukeh. He, and soldiers under his command, are accused of terrorizing the Isaaq people. Torturing them, burning their villages, and carrying out mass executions.
In 1992, Somali locals told a Canadian documentary team what they experienced under Col. Tukeh, a reign of terror.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Two men were caught, tied to a tree. Oil was poured on them and they were burned alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): He caught my brother. He tied him to a military vehicle and dragged him behind. That's how he died.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see Tukeh do that with your own eyes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, and there are many people around who saw it.
KATHY ROBERTS, LEGAL DIRECTOR, THE CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY: He oversaw some of the most incredible violence that you can imagine.
PHILLIPS: Kathy Roberts is an attorney for The Center for Justice and Accountability, a non-profit dedicated to bringing war criminals to justice. She's now representing an alleged torture victim in a lawsuit against Ali in civil court.
ROBERTS: He tortured people personally. He oversaw torture.
PHILLIPS: But now, Yusuf Abdi Ali lives in the United States and we found him working at one of the nation's largest airports. He is a security guard at Dulles International. Our camera captured him guarding a security exit. He even started a conversation with our producer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CNN PRODUCER: What's your name?
YUSUF ABDI ALI: Ali.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CNN PRODUCER: Huh?
ALI: Ali, Ali.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CNN PRODUCER: Alec?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CNN PRODUCER: Oh, Ali, OK. Yusuf Ali?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CNN PRODUCER: Where are you originally from?
[07:45:00] PHILLIPS: A couple of weeks later we approached him as he left his apartment.
Mr. Ali, I'm Kyra Phillips with CNN. I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about your time in Somalia as commander of the Fifth Brigade. ALI: Uh, no comment right now, but we'll get together with my lawyer and then I will talk to you. Let me have your card. To tell you the truth, on the spot, it's baseless.
PHILLIPS: It's all baseless and all false?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No comment at this time, Yusuf.
ALI: No comment, no comment.
PHILLIPS: What about violating immigration law, Mr. Ali and lying about your past, sir? Did you murder any innocent people in Somalia, sir? If not of it is true then tell me that none of this is true.
ALI: We will talk with my lawyer. I told you, I call you. Goodbye.
PHILLIPS: Now, while Mr. Ali said he would talk to us, his attorney said no, insisting his client is innocent.
JOSEPH PETER DRENNAN, YUSUF ABDI ALI'S ATTORNEY: How dare anyone call him a war criminal? Those are just allegations. If he is, indeed, a war criminal take him to The Hague. Or, if he's a war criminal take it up with the immigration authorities.
My client deserves to live in the United States just as any other legal permanent resident deserves to live in the United States.
PHILLIPS: But right now there is no criminal court in the world where Ali can be tried for war crimes because the International War Crimes Court didn't even exist during Somalia's civil war. However, the U.S. government says it's been aware of Ali for years, based upon allegations that he had been involved in human rights violations, but wouldn't answer any of CNN's detailed questions.
I think it's really hard for the average viewer to listen to this, and the fact that he is working in an airport that we all fly through on a regular basis.
ROBERTS: It's deeply disturbing, in part, because that is a position of trust. He abused that authority terribly in Somalia. In my opinion, he should be in jail.
PHILLIPS: Ali ended up in the U.S. after being deported from Canada because of his past. He got a U.S. visa through his wife, a Somali woman who became a U.S. citizen. Adding to the outrage, his wife was convicted of immigration fraud for lying. She claimed she was a refugee from the same Somali clan Ali is accused of torturing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: When we tried to find out how Ali was hired we just got passed from one group to the next. Ali works for a private contractor, Master Security, and they said they didn't know about the accusations against Ali until CNN contacted them. They placed him on administrative leave.
The Airport Authority did confirm that Ali was checked out by the FBI and TSA. The TSA, however, said that we should ask the Department of Homeland Security, and Homeland Security said it's the Airport Authority's responsibility. So no agency is willing to explain just how it happened. In Atlanta, Kyra Phillips, CNN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Great reporting by Kyra, there. So now, the obvious questions. How did this accused war criminal end up working at a major U.S. airport? We will ask the Virginia congresswoman whose district covers Dulles Airport. Stick around.
[07:52:30] CABRERA: More now on the growing concern over who is working in our nation's airports. As you've just heard, reported by CNN's Kyra Phillips, accused Somali war criminal, Yusuf Abdi Ali, works as a security guard right now at Dulles International Airport. He was only placed on administrative leave after CNN's investigation.
Joining us now to discuss this, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock. She's a Republican from Virginia. She sits on the Committee for Transportation and Infrastructure, and Dulles is in her district. Congresswoman, thankyou so much for joining us.
REP. BARBARA COMSTOCK, (R) VIRGINIA, HOUSE COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE: Good morning. Great to be with you.
CABRERA: So how does this happen, is the obvious question? A man who has been in the U.S. for 20 years, escaping persecution in Somalia, not only has been given a life here but he now works security at one of our country's busiest airports in our nation's capital. What went through your mind when you learned this?
COMSTOCK: Well first, I'd like to thank CNN's investigative team because I think they did very good work and they've highlighted multiple failures in multiple systems. First, we've had a failure in airport security and that needs to be looked at very thoroughly.
I'm happy to tell you that the House of Representatives passed two bills last year about upgrading security and really vetting who works there. Unfortunately, the Senate hasn't passed them yet, so I hope they will quickly take up those bills and pass them and the president will sign them.
But we need to continue to look, in this particular case, the failures. But then secondly, there was a failure in the immigration system. We know we have a broken immigration system. Why was this couple allowed in this country?
First, Mr. Ali was kicked out of Canada because of what was publicly shown in the media in Canada with these atrocities, alleged or otherwise, but certainly they're very disturbing. We need to know a lot more about that.
And then his wife was convicted of immigration fraud, as Kyra pointed out in the report, so that's your second failure. And then third, we have a failure of our office that's at the Department of Homeland Security that's supposed to be investigating when war criminals or human rights violators have gotten into the country in some way.
And so we need to clean up all three of these failures in these systems and I think what we need to look at in this particular case is know every fact and what was going on. And all of the people involved with looking at our airport workers need to be looking at basic media that's available, as Kyra pointed out in the report. You could Google this and find out all this information that you've highlighted. You went a step further.
[07:55:00] Yet, we have multiple agencies pointing at each other saying they didn't know, or if they did know they couldn't do anything. I think most of us, if we Googled somebody and saw they were an alleged war criminal, they wouldn't get an interview. You wouldn't invite them in. You'd never have to worry about them working in any type of job because you wouldn't want an alleged war criminal in your office, whatever officeyou're in.
CABRERA: Sure. This guy certainly seems like low hanging fruit. Somebody whose history is right there online. Chris Cuomo's done a story with this guy in the past, just several years ago. So we know that his history has been put out front and yet he passed a background check. That does not give a traveler a lot of confidence in the system.
COMSTOCK: Well, my understanding from the Department of Homeland Security is the so-called checks that they run are just the criminal background checks, the terrorist watch list, which we know is incredibly flawed and didn't include anything about war criminals, and then they have other systems that they put them through. He apparently wasn't in these systems, but he wasn't Googled. That doesn't cost the government anything.
So, DHS should be looking at Google, the people who are hiring somebody should be looking at them so they don't even bring them into the system and clear them for being looked at in any way. And then the airport, itself -- I mean, I hope right now everybody's taking all the employees at Dulles or any airport around this country, put them in a Google search and see what you find, so if there's anything like this.
I'd also like to invite your listening public to contact our office. To contact the Homeland Security Committee that is working on this two bills to upgrade --
CABRERA: So, I hear what you're saying. I mean, there is a lot of finger pointing going on. You have asked for an investigation. You have bills. But the bottom line is nothing is getting done. And the broader, and most important, part of the question here is how safe are we really when people like this are slipping through the cracks? Could there be other people who want to harm Americans and travelers? We know the aviation system is vulnerable. Could they, too, be slipping through the cracks?
COMSTOCK: Well certainly, and that's why the Homeland Security Committee put -- my colleague, John Katko from New York -- he has two bills on airport security and he's been having a lot of hearings on that. We're going to be having --
CABRERA: When's it going to happen? When is something going to get done?
COMSTOCK: Well, we need the Senate to get in gear and to get these bills passed. But we also need to immediately do more investigation and I am not happy with the response -- you know, I spent, and my staff did all day yesterday, trying to get more answers. We're in the same boat that you are. Everybody's pointing at everybody else and we're not getting satisfactory answers.
So that's why I'm going to the public, also, to ask them. Provide us more information that you know about. We're going to have hearings. We're going to hold people accountable. And if you see something out there that you know about, if there's not action being taken please let us know so we can do more to make sure that incidents like this don't happen and that terrorists, as you point out, we know they want to come.
COMSTOCK: We know they still target airlines. We don't need to have these kind of slipups in the system and have everybody pointing at each other. We need to have a system that has built-in redundancies. That everybody is looking at something like Google. That everybody is double checking and rechecking --
CABRERA: I hear you.
COMSTOCK: -- and raising these kind of concerns that you've raised.
CABRERA: Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, thank you so much for joining us. We do appreciate it.
COMSTOCK: Thank you.
CABRERA: We will follow up with you to see how things are proceeding as that investigation and those bills work through Congress.
COMSTOCK: Thank you.
CABRERA: We are following a lot of news. We're talking to Madeleine Albright also this morning, so let's get to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: This isn't reality television, this is actual reality.
TRUMP: Lying, crooked Hillary.
CLINTON: He is temperamentally unfit. TRUMP: Four more years of this stuff and we're not going to have a country left.
CLINTON: It's not hard to imagine Donald Trump leading us into a war because somebody got under his very thin skin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He went there to kill two faculty from UCLA. He was only able to locate one.
CUOMO: A kill list, leading investigators to another victim in Minnesota.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An adult female was found deceased.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had two semi-automatic pistols.
CABRERA: An Army truck overturned in floodwaters at Fort Hood, Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We urge all citizens to take these evacuation notices seriously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm concerned about the people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's cars floating down the street.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your new Friday. It is Friday, June 3rd, 8:00 in the east. Ana Cabrera, very happy about it. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump exchanging fire on foreign policy. Donald Trump unloading on Clinton after her speech, warning of the perils of a Trump presidency.
He says you know what? Clinton should be in jail because of her Email server. She says you know what? He's dangerous and temperamentally unfit to be in the White House.