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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Attempted Coup Underway In Turkey, Unclear Who Has Control; Turkish President Calls On People To Go Into Streets; Pres. Source: Turkish President Back In Istanbul; Explosions Heard In Istanbul, Ankara During Attempted Coup; Turkish President Addresses Nation; 84 Dead, 50+ Critical In France Terror Attack; Attacker Identified As 31- Year-Old Man From Tunisia; Texas Father And Son, 11 Among Victims; UC Berkeley Student Missing After France Attack. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired July 15, 2016 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:30] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN AC360 ANCHOR: And welcome back to the top of the hour. We have been following very fast-moving fragmentary and sometimes conflicting developments tonight in America's NATO ally, Turkey. Already we have seen a coup attempt, some kind of counter- coup, a popular outpouring on the streets. There have been confrontations between the elements of the military and security forces and between people and troops as well.
You're seeing one of those confrontations that we witnessed about an hour or so ago. We've heard gunfire just about 20 minutes ago. What are believed to believe, a multiple explosions in Istanbul and Ankara. Although, some people have also been confused because of low of flying fighter jets which to some people have sounded like explosions.
The Reuters news agency reporting that Turkish legislators are taking shelter in parliament building. Our sister network, CNN Turk, was taken off the air by members the coup by soldiers apparently who entered the building. That you see the broadcast. Nobody obviously behind the anchor desk anymore.
Plus, a presidential source saying that the president of Turkey has actually returned, flown into Istanbul. His exact location now is not clear.
A lot, to say the least, is in flux. We begin with Jeff Kehl on the phone from the airport in Istanbul. Jeff, I understand, did you yourself hear an explosion?
JEFF KEHL, CNN PHOTO JOURNALIST AT ISTANBUL AIRPORT: What happened just now was a big bang and it did rattle the windows and the walls of the airport, and people were running in a big panic. But, to say the explosion, I can't be sure. Most of the people I have spoken to kind of big barriers on the assumption that it was probably a sonic boom, possibly from Erdogan on corps of jets that have come in.
So apparently who's been (inaudible) on official because information trickling through is very minimal at the moment. So, it's possible that it was an explosion, but I'll say that the sonic boom of aircraft was more likely.
COOPER: Yeah, and that's an important point. Someone else we talked to a short time ago also heard initially what she thought was an explosion, but then started to think perhaps it to was a sonic boom of low-flying aircraft. Who's in control of the airport in Istanbul? I mean, is it the Erdogan supporters?
KEHL: Yeah, it's good question. That's a good question. At the moment, no one is. All shops are closed. The checkpoint security, they are manning security, but you can pretty much walk in and out if you want. All is actually (inaudible).
COOPER: I'm sorry?
KEHL: Yeah, sorry. Yeah. So I just lost you for a second. It was not more than an hour ago when up to maybe 1,000 or so protesters stormed straight into the terminal peacefully and (inaudible) ...
COOPER: And we're showing our viewers ...
KEHL: ... the Turkish flag and they were chanting in favor of the military coup and they all came in progression through the airport on to the tarmac and within the half now we have all left the duty as well. So there was a calm sense about it. The travelers (inaudible) of the moment. So (inaudible) panic on and off, on anf off every 20 minutes or so.
COOPER: Jeff, the pictures we're showing are from, I think about an hour or so, perhaps a little bit more ago, seen large numbers to a hundreds of people streaming toward the airport. You're say the ones you saw were actually supporters of the coup?
KEHL: Yeah, (inaudible) a couple of (inaudible) and they were all -- they have said they were in support of the military coup and a lot essential, we tried to make sure that (inaudible) because (inaudible) what they were the chants about yelling that makes that. If they're on support of it, but they also said we're hopeful that what's happening now was going to be the right fix. But in essence, what they were happy about was that happening -- what's happening and they're not sure if the forces that have taken place were the right option there. So it was kind of hard hearted.
COOPER: So Jeff ...
KEHL: So that if they were in favor of it. Yes?
COOPER: ... are there or if you're at the airport now, are there soldiers at the airport now, pro-coup soldiers?
KEHL: No. No soldiers at all. There are soldiers that a couple security with guns that are -- that they just (inaudible) security here. Outside is less security here now than what there was three hours ago when I arrived before it happened. [21:05:08] So, people are kind of doing their own thing, just having a drink, sitting down. It's all very -- there are people are trying to stay as calm as they can and just waiting and then seeing if flights will come in and I'm pretty doubtful it's going to happen by the looks of it.
COOPER: And Jeff, the answer to this is probably don't know, but we heard a report according to a presidential source telling us that Erdogan had returned to the airport, had flown back into the airport in Istanbul. Can you confirm that and if so, do you have any idea where he went from there? If he's still -- if he's no longer ...
KEHL: No. I'm sorry, I don't know that one. There was talk that he was doing that and that's what people thought that sonic boom was a half hour ago, but this is all speculation ...
KEHL: ... and I can't confirm it yet.
KEHL: (Inaudible) especially talk amongst the people from ...
COOPER: All right.
KEHL: ... it may just be out (inaudible).
COOPER: Jeff, thank you. Jeff Kehl, be careful out there. At the top of the last hour we spoke with Kat Cohen in Istanbul who had heard gunfire, perhaps explosions. There has been more happening where she is. She's back on the phone. Explain where you are, Kat again to our viewers and what you have been hearing and seeing.
KAT COHEN, AMERICAN TRAPPED IN ISTANBUL: Well, I'm right now at the four seasons Bosporus so we can see the bridge from the hotel. There was a small group of who are outside on the terrace, trying to see what was going on, listen to what was going on. We heard two bombs in the last hour and the fighter planes going right over us and the last one, everyone just got up and ran inside. It was just -- it was so loud. We have heard nonstop gunshots.
It sounds like it's coming from the Asia side, you know, right at the bridge, you know, because we're -- the bridge is just left of us, but we have not seen any other Americans here. And for the last few days, because I've been here working, really have not seen many tourists I think because of the other bombing in the airport. So, just a small corp group of people who are here and the hotel has just put us on lock down.
COOPER: Let me ask you, you said you heard two bombs. Are you sure they were -- and planes flying overhead. Are you sure they were bombs and not like a sonic boom from a low-flying fighter aircraft?
COHEN: I'm not a 100 percent sure, but it sounded like they were bombs. COOPER: So you didn't actually see two explosions or aftermath of fire or anything like that?
COHEN: We can we can't see that much because it's very dark. It's middle of the night, but we're hearing a lot. And so we're hearing the gunshots and as soon as the first explosion that we heard happened, the hotel shut off all the lights outside. So, it went completely dark right after and then literally seconds later, one of the fighter planes flew over. We had probably about five passing fighter planes that are literally right overhead.
COOPER: And the hotel, you said it's in lock down. Is that from soldiers or is that from the hotel personnel?
COHEN: It's from the military because we originally had called the hotel to try to get a ride back here. When the news came out and they said they couldn't do anything.
COHEN: The military shut them down. And we came ...
COOPER: So as far as -- my point ...
COHEN: ... (inaudible) ...
COHEN: ... and then finally walked over here.
COOPER: My question really is, as far as you know right now, are there pro-coup soldiers still outside the hotel?
COHEN: There probably are. They are not letting anybody out.
COHEN: So for example when we came in, there were some people who are having, you know, were here having dinner, I guess, who wanted to go back to their homes and they're not letting anybody out or in right now.
COOPER: Got it. All right.
COHEN: I mean, they're letting the people in I guess who are staying here because they let us in. But we came pretty after the news came out.
COHEN: Right now, no one is moving anywhere.
COOPER: Kat, again, be careful. I'm glad you're in a place of relative safety. Kat Cohen, thank you.
With us now is CNN Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto. Jim, according to the least the report from a presidential source telling us that Erdogan landed in Istanbul. Have we heard anything from him? Are his whereabouts known because obviously that take a critical points?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: There are pictures of him on social media being swarmed by crowds of supporters at Istanbul airport and there was talk that he would make an address from Istanbul. Keep in mind he used to be the mayor of Istanbul, so he has some local support there. But we have not heard from him since that now famous and remarkable image of him making his statement via Facetime on a cell phone held up on one of the state broadcasters there.
[21:10:06] But I'll tell you, Anderson, I've been speaking to U.S. officials and just as a measure on how confusing the situation is. I mean, we're watching this. We're confused because you see in some areas, people confronting the soldiers. Elsewhere, I'm seeing videos of soldiers and helicopters firing on the people. That's what we see. We're confused. U.S. officials watching this are confused as well.
They're still assessing the situation. I was just told by a senior U.S. official that they are in touch with their Turkish counterparts. Those lines of communication are open, but that's not giving the U.S. frankly a clear picture of what is happening there right now. That is the status. That is the assessment.
It is a confusing one. And what is clear is that the situation appears to be different in different parts of the country.
COOPER: Yeah and Jim, I also wanted to show you these images which we've seen before, these are older images. These are soldiers being marched away. It looks by sort of plain clothes police officers, but it looks like ...
SCIUTTO: That's right.
COOPER: ... these soldiers have been actually taken into custody, assuming those are pro-coup soldiers. The people taking them away, some of them are wearing a ballistic vest which indicates they're police officers or in some sort of intelligence unit, but at the very least police officers which are more aligned. The police force really aligned with Erdogan.
We've also just been getting some disturbing information social media images posted to Twitter, document the aftermath of rebel military fire on anti-coup street protests on the bridge over the Bosporus. At least five bodies in civilian clothes could be seen torn apart by what appear to be heavy weapons fire off camera. A voice could be heard reassuring the wounded that an ambulance is coming.
Now, we should point out that earlier in the evening witnesses said they did see soldiers shooting at anti-coup protesters on the bridge. And in fact, we were broadcasting some images. I'm not sure if it's from that area of people ducking on the streets. I believe it was from that area from close to the bridge, but clearly there was live fire going on toward those pro-government protesters.
So Jim, we'll continue to check in with you. Jim Sciutto.
A lot happening here. The situation is changing very, very quickly. It cannot be overstated. Turkey is NATO's second largest military member, America's forward base in the fight against ISIS.
This has critical implications for U.S. policy moving forward in the region. CNN's Barbara Starr joins us now from the Pentagon. The Obama administration, what side are they on in this?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the statements in the last hours have been very strong in support of the Erdogan government because it is, regardless of politics, the democratically elected government of Turkey and the U.S. supports to democratically elected governments no matter how controversial they are. But now tonight, the problem for the Obama administration is where does it all go from here?
Whether the coup succeeds or fails, if there is martial law, which it is said that there is tonight, this becomes a situation that makes it very difficult for the U.S. to maintain that military relationship with Turkey because the U.S. doesn't work with countries where there's martial law generally speaking, does not work with countries where there's military coups by force, generally speaking. The issue of course is, Turkey provides the base, down itself at Incirlik. That's where ISIS strikes or launched from.
The U.S. wants access to that base. So will this calm down? Will the U.S. be able to stay there? But tonight, Anderson, the bottom line as you look at the streets, as you look at all these pictures, one of the largest military forces in NATO is not fully under the command and control of the central government.
STARR: That alone is an amazing development.
COOPER: Yeah, I want to bring in Fareed Zakaria. Fareed, you know obviously Turkey extraordinarily well. What's at stake here?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: What's striking about what's going on here is, I think it's even more messy than we have been describing. There is clearly a division within the Turkish military. This is not a military coup. This is not -- in the Turkish military has done.
COOPER: Not a military coup in the traditional sense of senior officers overthrowing the government.
ZAKARIA: The head -- the General of the Army making a decision top down hierarchal. The entire army is in lockstep with them. They've done that three times before. They once did it in what was called a soft coup. The army was completely unified. You would never have seen what you're seeing right now.
What is clear here is there is some division in the army. The chief of the army staff has not issued any declarations. My sources in Turkey tell me there are senior generals who have said they do not support this. So this is some - we're all speculating here, but it has all the hallmarks of some faction within the army.
COOPER: The Erdogan and his supporters are saying these are lower level, you know ...
COOPER: ... low level troops
[21:15:01] ZAKARIA: And we don't know, you know, the validity of that.
ZAKARIA: But Turkey has had three coups and one soft coup. This has none of the hallmarks of that. This seems much more chaotic, much more messy as you were describing. The airport is not even secured by anybody. So, you're now going to get into some period of great, great disturbance and the one thing to remind people is this looks a little bit like Egypt, right?
There, you had a democratically elected government. Mohammed Morsi was the elected president. The difference is, Morsi was narrowly elected and was deeply unpopular. Erdogan is the most popular politician in Turkey in 75 years, since the founding of Turkey, since at Turk himself. So this is going to be very messy. He's not going to go quietly into the night.
My guess is there are a lot of army officers who recognize that. So I can't imagine this will resolve itself very quickly.
COOPER: Fareed, stay with us. I also want to bring in CNN's Ivan Watson and CNN's Military Analyst, Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
General Hertling, just in terms of how this coup was kind of brought together and actually carried out, I mean, the fact that they didn't apprehend or try to arrest the prime minister and perhaps they tried, but did they failed to arrest the prime minister or the president. I mean, that sort of is coup 101, isn't it?
MARK HERTLING, RET. U.S. ARMY: It is, Anderson, if the president is in the capital at the time. But as we now know, he was away on vacation. It's relatively easy to try a coup when the president is out of country or somewhere else and I think that was part of the coup planning. But you're right. It is extremely difficult to conduct a coup in any way. This is a very secretive thing.
You have to have the support of a lot of people in order to get the troops going and at the same time, not letting anybody know you're doing it. With a force of about 500,000, that's the size of the Turkish army, to have them rolling in the streets in multiple places throughout the country, in a country where the population is 70 million or plus. That's very challenging. What you've seen tonight though is we're looking at it all through a soda straw.
I personally don't think this is over, not by a long shot. A lot of people are saying the coup is complete. Now, this is going to go on for awhile, in my view. And what we're seeing is soda straw approaches to different locations. We've been watching Istanbul. That's a city of about 20 million people and that's where, when the coup leaders say stay home, we're placing things under martial law and the president says come on out and support me on the street. His supporters are all going to go out at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 2:00 in the morning while the other side is going to stay home.
So I think we're going to see more activity tomorrow significantly. I also agree with Fareed, this is an element of the Turkish army, not the entire army. But I know from my experiences over there, there were a lot of disgruntled senior leaders in the Turkish army based on the 200 or so generals and admirals that were court martial by Mr. Erdogan in the early part of this decade.
COOPER: Ivan, I think the General Hertling makes an incredibly important point, as one for you was actually making off air which is, we don't know the situation in Ankara, frankly. I mean, all the images we're seeing really are from out of Istanbul. Many of them are no longer even live at this point. And this thing, for all reports of it being over, according to the pro-Erdogan supporters and parts of the military, we have no evidence that it's over.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We've heard reports, difficult to confirm of some kind of explosions at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, reports that some of the lawmakers there took to the basement to kind of take cover there. We know that the headquarters of state media TRT, the state TV channel, initially announced that the coup had taken over and then the same anchor woman several hours later came out saying I was forced to read that by soldiers at gunpoint.
And now the government has retaken control of the state media, TRT. But we still see the live image of our sister network CNN Turk and it's surreal scene of an empty studio after alleged coup soldiers forced our colleagues off the air within the last hour.
You know, there's one important thing and that is the Turkish President Erdogan's very complicated relationship throughout history with the military. When his party was first elected in 2002, the top generals basically ran the country. And Erdogan spent years kind of politically jousting with them when sometimes they would make public statements criticizing the elected government.
[21:19:57] And over the course of the next 14, 15 years, Erdogan proved very effective at marshaling his supporters, at winning elections and referendums and it basically beating the military at the game of politics and then eventually arresting hundreds and hundreds of generals and navy admirals in these wide ranging investigations that were alleged coup plots. So Erdogan's been talking about coups almost since he was first elected in 2002.
Why? Because in the previous half century, Turkey went through no less than four military coups. It had much history with that. But in the last couple years, Anderson, Erdogan had proved in (inaudible) the military.
COOPER: I mean, Ivan, this is Erdogan addressing the nation. Let's listen in. Well, I'm sorry. There's no translation of this one. We are listening to it. We're going to tell you what he said as soon as we are able to translate it.
We have folks listening in right now. So, but Ivan, the fact that he is able now to actually address the nation is in a position to freedom and that is obviously in and yet another step in trying to stop this coup to have the president on television being able to speak to the nation is critical.
ZAKARIA: Again, as you point out, this is a suggestion of the sign the coup is not very well planned, you know? If the first step is you arrest the president, the second step is you control all media. We also have reports now that the leader of the opposition. Erdogan's democratically elected opposition has come out and made a statement supporting Erdogan in opposing the coup.
COOPER: I want to bring in Ferhat Boratav, Editor-In-Chief of CNN Turk, which was their anchor who was forced off the air. He joins me now by phone. What is the situation with CNN Turk? Who was it who came in? What happened?
FERHAT BORATAV, CNN TURK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: An hour ago, (inaudible) landed on (inaudible) with -- now 15 soldiers on it. They entered the building and they forced my colleague to leave the building. This is a four story building. One story by one story they came up today to the top level where CNN Turk is news room and use studio is (inaudible) and at gunpoint we have to evacuate the floor.
I am still in the building. Most of my colleagues are in the building because right at that moment, a group of people entered the premises. They were pro-government demonstrators. They first gathered in the courtyard and then at the door, at the entrance. The police intervened and rather tense moments, we experienced rather tense moments.
And what it leaves one shot that I heard. I don't know whether there were any others. The demonstrators are still in the building and they shout out a slogan, soldiers out, soldiers out. And as far as I know, the police fired the soldiers. They are outside on the either taking all the third floor.
The police disarmed the soldiers, but they are afraid that their life might be in danger. The demonstrators are very angry, so they don't take them right out now. So, that's more of it the situation.
COOPER: That's an incredible situation that you have described. Soldiers, pro-coup soldiers entering, forcing your anchors off the air, then demonstrators who I guess saw your broadcast new or maybe perhaps saw the helicopter landing coming in the building, stopping the soldiers and the police coming in who are pro-Erdogan stop arresting and apprehending the soldiers and now protecting the soldiers, because -- so, do you know, is the helicopter still in the parking lot?
BORATAV: I mean, from where I stand right now, I can't see the parking lot. But I assume the helicopter is still there, yeah.
COOPER: So what do you do now? I mean, this is a bizarre situation. What do you do?
BORATAV: Right now, we are in a standoff. The demonstrators are literally occupying the building and they basically (inaudible) the soldiers. So the police first acted as a buffer in between the two groups. Right now, as far as I can understand from our security people, they are protecting the soldiers. And at one point, I assume we will be able to convince demonstrators that their aim is -- their purpose has been fulfilled.
[21:25:04] And if they leave the building or if they withdraw to a safe distance, the police will (inaudible) against the soldiers out. Right now across the country in various places, the soldiers who took part in this attempted coup are arrested so that's going to be another case.
COOPER: So, do you know what the status of the coup is at this point? I mean, I know obviously you've been dealing with your own situation in your own building. Are you getting reports from Ankara and elsewhere?
BORATAV: I think and there is clearly one time that these are more they found of control and that time is President Erdogan came back to Istanbul and now, and that is the crowd. So, there might be sporadic resistance, but I think that would in the coming hours.
COOPER: Well Ferhat Boratav, I know you have a lot -- go ahead.
BORATAV: But, the reaction of the people on the street was the, if this is hectic (ph) of course.
COOPER: Yeah. And that was motivated by Erdogan coming forward and telling people to go out in the streets and then a lot of the mosques also joining people to out in the streets.
BORATAV: Yeah, but it had already started before that call.
COOPER: It had?
BORATAV: Yes. We had already seen people coming out already before the calls from the politicians.
COOPER: Well, Ferhat, I appreciate talking to you. You got a lot of -- it's going to be a long night for you in a long couple days. I appreciate you taking the time. Good luck to you and be careful.
We're going to continue our coverage, but I'm going to take a short break. More with Fareed Zakaria and others, ahead.
[21:30:49] COOPER: We're obviously following an incredibly dramatic story out of Turkey. The situation very much in flux whoever. Turkish President Erdogan back in Istanbul has just spoken to the Turkish people calling the coup attempt an act of treason, saying military officers are being arrested, telling people "We will not hand the country over to occupiers."
Back with our panel here, with Fareed Zakaria, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and also Ivan Watson, who now only reported from Istanbul and who also lived there for a long period of time.
Fareed, this -- assuming Erdogan remains in power, which the fact as our colleague from CNN Turk pointed out. The fact he was able to fly back to Istanbul says he might, it allows him to even grab more power.
ZAKARIA: Almost certainly, Anderson, because if you think of this, he was already the most popular politician in Turkey. He's won three elections. He won them with, you know, a very large public support. And he had always the one criticism about him was that he was paranoid. He was usurping power and he kept talking about coups.
As Ivan pointed out here, he arrested almost 200 military officers. Well now all of that seems it though, it was justified because this, you know, there were these efforts. So I would expect that many people who want Erdogan to be more restrained, more moderate in various ways, unfortunately more likely this is going to embolden him because he will have won this extraordinary power struggle.
Now we don't know it for sure, but again, interesting news, the head of the army has not come out against Erdogan. So you don't have the countervailing force.
ZAKARIA: And in that context, Erdogan is slowly going to -- be able to resume power. It seems to be.
COOPER: General Hertling, I mean, the government is saying this was junior officers trying to mount a coup. From what we're seeing now, do you think that's likely the case? I mean, because again, just to plan something like this in total secrecy and catch not only the president, but pretty much everybody by surprise does require a certain level of finesse and experience.
HERTLING: It certainly does. I don't buy that, Anderson. But it depends on your definition of junior officer. If you're talking the more senior leaders, but not the chiefs of the army, possibly, but I don't think so. I think there are too many things going on where the senior generals needed to know that this was occurring.
There's too much communication, too much planning that's associated with something like this. The other thing that's fascinating though, Anderson is, one of the things that I learned in working with the Turkish army is they have a very unique culture in terms of what they have been given by Ataturk.
In the Turkish army is the army that is given the charge to protect the democracy, unlike our military where it's the civilian governmental officials that do that.
So they feel it is their responsibility to ensure democracy and that's one of the things that may have generated this coup was the feeling that Mr. Erdogan was straying far away from the essence of democracy by jailing journalists, by doing some of the things he's done, by taking away individual rights, et cetera.
COOPER: General Hertling, there was a remarkable moment. I think we have the video of it. If we do, I would like to try to show it because I do think it's again, just as the takeover of CNN Turk was kind of a microcosm of what's happening. This confrontation was through a microcosm. There's a tank or armored personnel, I think there's a tank there ...
COOPER: ... a pro-coup tank, soldiers firing in the air, but this large crowd of Erdogan supporters not backing down, essentially starting to argue with the soldiers and clearly, the soldiers have to make a decision, do you fire in the crowd or do you just keep shooting over the crowd or what do you do? And ultimately, they just finally stopped shooting and the crowd just is able to approach directly the tank and basically swarm all over the tank.
HERTLING: Yeah, a fascinating moment. I watched that live with Erin Burnett and it was interesting because some of the things that come out when you see that film is the tank actually has its barrel, its main gun, pointed in the air. What many wouldn't see is the coaxial machine gun which is inline with the main gun, was firing. So there was actually a machine gunfire coming out of the tank, as well as the individual soldiers firing their weapons.
[21:35:01] And as you said, it appeared that one of the leaders, probably a lieutenant, approached the crowd, tried to engage and then realized as he started to back off. I was -- as a tanker myself, I was watching the tank commander and the loader on top of the turret. They were nervous. As we say in the military, their pucker factor was high as those crowds continued to get closer and closer to the tank.
And it got to the point where it then invaded their personal space from a soldier's standpoint, that's tough, especially when you're a tank. When you've got people all around you, there is only so little things you can do with a 70 ton beast like that. It was an interesting moment but just shows when you put one tank in a crowd of thousands of people, unless you're willing to fire, that tank's not very good in terms of making your point.
COOPER: We're also joined by Former CIA Officer Bob Baer. Bob, I mean obviously, look and you probably live through a number of coups in your career. Unless, you know, back in Tiananmen Square, you know, the Chinese government brought in troops from outside Beijing in order to have troops who are willing to fire on peaceful protesters. Unless you have troops who are willing to actually go that far, there's not much, you know, all the weapons in the world don't really matter.
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Oh, absolutely this was not professionally done. I've been involved in coups before. They should have taken CNN Turk and closed it down the first minutes, the radio station, social media, the internet. Even if they didn't arrest Erdogan they should have taken care of all of that right at the beginning.
I have been speculating with the Turkish officers, a couple months ago, about a coup and they say absolutely not, and clearly, they are probably not involved so it's -- there's limited support for this. And when Erdogan can get his party out there and he's very popular with the great number of Turks, to stop this -- I mean it's a huge setback and it's the Turkish army -- these elements want to go to war with the people, it would mean civil war. And, right now, it doesn't look like it but, you know, tomorrow is another day and who knows what's going to happen. Certainly people in the Turkish military aren't certain, or the government.
COOPER: And I've been watching the image we have seen before, again, this is some of the soldiers involved in coup plots being marched off by what I assume are Turkish police who are loyal to Erdogan.
What does -- I mean, Ivan, what does this allow Erdogan to do now moving forward? And, what direction does the government move continue to move kind of away from the secular direction?
WATSON: He was already trying to make moves to give himself sweeping new powers as a president, to change the constitution. In 2013, there were a series of police raids that arrested three sons of Erdogan's cabinet ministers, of three separate cabinet ministers, in a big corruption scandal.
In the ensuing months, Erdogan accused the prosecutors and police who did this of being part of essentially a terrorist organization, a coup attempt, and began firing hundreds of police chiefs and prosecutors from their positions and accusing them of being loyal to a Turkish- Islamic preacher who has lived in exile for a long time in Pennsylvania of all places.
WATSON: And, he lives in the Poconos. It's a really strange bizarre story. And already, Erdogan and some of his cabinet ministers have been pointing their finger in these turbulent hours, again, at the (inaudible) in the U.S. if they are able to completely get control again, then it is very likely that we will see further purges, a further witch hunt taking place as a result.
And I do want to point out that our colleagues at CNN Turk have gotten back in the studio, Anderson, just in the last couple of minutes. Reporters who were -- and journalists and broadcasters who were forced out by alleged coup soldiers at gun point, now back in the studio and I think that this highlights something else here, that in the wake of this turbulence, this power struggle and this violence, you've had different sectors of society in Turkey, the opposition political parties, journalists from T.V. networks that were not seen to be loyal to Erdogan who have stayed on the air and have come out in condemning the coup attempt itself which is really remarkable, that you apparently have loyal opposition here, people defending the tenets of democracy and the elected government even if it's a government they criticized in the past. Fareed.
ZAKARIA: I think what's fascinating about your question, Anderson, is about what might happen, is Erdogan has actually not done very much in terms of moving Turkey in an Islamist direction.
[21:40:08] He's talked about it a little, he's used certain kind of symbols but everyone for the first five years, he was actually a great reformer and he made the Turkish laws much more compatible with European Union laws in a quest to make Turkey part of the European Union. What he has done is he has accumulated power, jailed journalists, and, you know, kind of attacks the opposition. He's more a Putin than a kind of Islamist.
And, my fear is that what this will do is it will embolden him to accumulate more and more powers. As, Ivan says he's trying to amend the constitution. Again, not to turn it toward the greater more toward Islam but more accumulated power for himself. I think we tend to view this from our concern which is Islamism when you talk to people in Turkey their great concern is he's becoming Putin.
COOPER: General Hertling, we just got in some video. I believe, you have seen now -- and we have not seen it yet. This -- apparently, helicopter gunship firing toward a bridge. What do you see in this?
HERTLING: Well, it's -- when I first saw it, it certainly appeared to me as either a nose gun from an attack helicopter like a cobra or a door gunner from a UH-60 or I'm sorry, either a UH-60 or UH-1, the utility helicopters.
But those are tracer rounds coming on to the bridge, striking the ground. They appear to be firing in front of the crowds but what's interesting about any time you fire from a door gun in a helicopter it's very difficult to hit your target unless you walk the bullets in. Now, those may have been bullets that were meant to disperse the crowd that were fired maybe a hundred 100-200 yards in front of it but that sustained fire from some type of aerial platform, whether an attack helicopter or utility helicopter with machine guns. And it's hitting the pavement, causing a lot of ricochets and it's certainly dispersing the crowd.
COOPER: Not the kind of thing you see in certainly in Istanbul everyday.
COOPER: To say the least. Ivan, I don't know if you can see this video. Do you have any sense Ivan of what -- which bridge this is?
WATSON: I'm not sure what that exact location is this. COOPER: OK.
WATSON: Is that Istanbul or is that Ankara? That's one of the videos that's emerged, as of other videos but we're still trying to confirm on social media which show people with terrible wounds laying on the curb of a road that looks like that. But there's no question that amid some scenes of crowds of Erdogan supporters disarming soldiers or police marching soldiers away, we have seen other indicators of very heavy weapons being used during this very tumultuous and potentially deadly night in Turkey.
COOPER: I want to bring in Jared Malsin, Time Magazine, Middle East Bureau of Chief. He was in Taksim Square. I saw a confrontation between pro government and protesters and security forces. Thanks so much for joining us, and tell us what you saw and when this was.
JARED MALSIN, MIDDLE EAST BEREAU CHIEF, TIME: Yes. So the pro- government demonstrators went down to Takim Square earlier in the evening and after the news of the coup attempt was announced and then there was a kind of standoff for a few hours where you had military soldiers and police facing off with protesters.
And then, that kind of came to an end at the end of night when there was suddenly some kind of jet swooping low over the square and kind of explosion followed by gunfire which sent nearly everyone running and then since then, we have had jets flying low over Central Istanbul, rattling windows, shattering windows. Incredibly startling, incredibly really just shattering any sense of normalcy here.
COOPER: You know, Jared, and we are trying to get a sense of, you know, we have had a number of people talk about explosions how often in conjunction with jets being close by. Did you actually see an explosion, or was it just the sound because I'm wondering if it could have been the sound of -- almost of a sonic boom of a low-flying fighter aircraft.
MALSIN: That's possible. I believe I saw some kind of an explosion out of the corner of my eye but you have to understand that this is an extremely chaotic situation. And it's possible that it was sonic boom but definitely the sound of a massive explosion also the sense of the air compressing in your ears that accompanies some kind of explosion usually so.
[21:45:02] COOPER: And Jared, Do you have any sense now of what the status of this situation is? I mean, in Istanbul?
MALSIN: It's an extremely fluid situation. This is not over by any means. Right now, you know, moments ago, Erdogan was on TV addressing the nation from the Istanbul Airport, but meanwhile, we have this kind of violent scenes unfolding in Istanbul and in Ankara and its just unclear where this is headed right now. The earlier in the night you had not only Erdogan but other government officials, you know, declaring that the coup has failed but it seems that the military is not going to back down that easily so it's unclear exactly where this is all going. COOPER: Hey, Jared we get to get breaking but just very quickly. And did you say that Erdogan -- the location that he was addressing the nation from was the airport itself?
MALSIN: That's correct. He was on one television station moments ago, you know, declaring that he will carry on until the end.
COOPER: So that's interesting while he's flowing into Istanbul and at least while he was on the area, he had not left the airport area.
MALSIN: No. He was speaking from the airport.
COOPER: OK. Interesting just to give a sense of his confidence in terms of where control is in the city. He's apparently still at the airport after flying in. Jared Malsin I appreciate it. We're going to continue to monitor developments out of Turkey throughout the night.
When we come back we are also learning more about the aftermath of the terror attack in the South of France, including some heartbreaking stories of Americans among the fallen.
[21:50:46] COOPER: As we continue to monitor their chaotic situation in Turkey. I want to update you on tonight's other breaking news. The terror attack in Nice, tonight the death toll is 84 more than 200 others injured including dozens in critical conditions still. The killer, the terrorist, the driver of an 18 tank truck hit the vulnerable target. In fact, promenade in Bastille Day, families have come to celebrate.
The truck traveled 1.3 miles striking people and anything else in the way. At least two Americans were killed, more on them in a moment. Investigators say the driver was a 31-year-old Tunisian born citizen of France and who lived in Nice.
We're showing you his photo sparingly because police are trying to find out more information about him. They're looking the public for help. He was shot to death by police.
Clarissa Ward joins us now, from Nice with more. Where does the investigation stand?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it's a little bit of a muddled picture because you heard the French authorities coming out very early on and declaring that this was an act of terrorism. But so far we haven't seen any terrorist group claim responsibility for the attack. And we also haven't seen any evidence of any linkage with the attacker to any known extremist entities.
He was known to authorities here but that was in the context of his criminal record, which was mostly petty criminal violations, nothing that would indicate that he was involved with terrorist activities. He didn't have one of these so-called (inaudible) sort of surveillance counter terror warrants around him. So there's a little bit of confusion here and what we're seeing in French media and getting a picture of in terms of his personality is more the character of someone who was perhaps disturbed psychologically having problems, allegations of domestic abuse, reportedly friends and family saying he didn't even go to the mosque, he certainly wasn't a practicing Muslim, he was more interested in body building.
So it's a conflicted picture. But as we've seen so many times and particularly, I think in the case of Orlando it can easily be that a disturbed individual gravitates towards the sort of radicalism at a certain point in their life. Anderson.
COOPER: Yeah. I mean we've certainly seen that even in the Charlie Hebdo attacks, in the Bataclan attacks. I mean, kind of -- it was whether someone just one of life losers or psychopath or a petty criminal kind of looking for an identity and with the Jihadist organization or sort of the Jihadist identity.
WARD: That's right and what is stark, though, I mean, while we're talking about no clear ties to any known terrorist network, the method of killing was so specific, choosing to use a truck. This is something that Al-Qaeda has been talking about for years and years. Just two years ago we heard ISIS spokesman saying the same thing, if you don't have gun, if you don't have a bomb, go get a knife, go get a rock, go get your car and run people over.
So this is very much within the purview of that extremist nomenclature. Anderson.
COOPER: And Clarissa Ward, thank you very much for your reporting all day. And, Nice, of course is a -- incredibly a popular tourist destination, Quint, essential city along the French Riviera. Yesterday it was thronged with people, many vacationing from around the world. So it's not surprising that Americans are among the dead and among the missing. More on that now from our Jean Casarez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Funny, popular and one of a kind, that's how family and friends are remembering 11 year old Brodie Copeland and his father Sean.
COLEEN SERFOSS, BRODIE COPELAND'S 5TH GRADE TEACHER: Brodie, was a super star whether in class, performing on stage, or the baseball field. He bursted with talent.
He always wore a huge smile and was admired by fellow students and the faculty. Our Lakewood Elementary Family was honored to have known him and we'll miss his glowing personality.
CASAREZ: The native Texans are among the 84 dead after a motorist use a truck to plow through a crowd gathered for the Bastille Day celebration in Nice. The Copelands were on vacation celebrating birthdays in the family. Sean's niece Haley, turn to Facebook to express her grieve saying "This is an extremely difficult time for my family and anyone who knows Sean and Brodie Copeland. Losing a love one is hard no matter the circumstances but losing a love one in such a tragic and unexpected way is unbearable. Prayers are much appreciated."
[21:55:15] According to Brodie's uncle, his mom and his half siblings are still in France and still reeling from the shock of what happened. Back home friends are preparing for the family's return and say they are at a loss as to how to explain all of this to their kids.
JASON DIXON, FAMILY FRIEND: This is devastating and theirs really no words to say. I mean, I cried a little bit with the kid last night. It's just that it sad and I really don't have a good answer for them.
CASAREZ: Meanwhile, the family of 20-year-old Nicolas Leslie is hopeful that he survived the attack. His godfather tell CNN, friends of the UC Berkeley Junior saw him dive out of the way of the truck but he is not yet heard from his godson, he says "In my heart, I know, he's OK."
Two other Berkeley students suffered broken legs and one suffered a broken foot. They were among 85 UC Berkeley students studying abroad.
Jean Casarez, CNN New York
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And we hope to learn more about the victims in the coming days. We'll be right back.
COOPER: As we came at the top of the hour. A quick update out of the Istanbul, our sister network at CNN Turk which have been taken off the air earlier tonight by coup who forces is now broadcasting again. Just one item, we'll be many, many more n the coming hours.
[22:00:06] Time now for "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: The breaking news of course an attempted coup --