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Former Gitmo Detainee Carries Out Mosul Suicide Bombing; Wounded American Troops in Mosul; Ivanka Trump, Daughter Visit Supreme Court; Reports of Abuse at Nursing Homes. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired February 22, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:30:54] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: A man who carried out a suicide bombing has been identified as a British former detainee at Guantanamo Bay, at least according to British officials, citing U.K. intelligence. This is Ronald Fiddler, a 50-year-old British national, picked up by U.S. forces in Pakistan back in 2001. He was sent to Gitmo and released some three years later.

CNN senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen, joins me live.

Fred, he was released from Gitmo, then what happened?

FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONIAL CORERSPONDENT: Apparently, it wasn't until 2014, he then became radicalized and made his way to Syria. And according to our affiliate, Channel 4, here in the United Kingdom, his wife tried to get him to come back and a couple of days ago, he attempted a suicide bottom attack. They call him -- obviously in reference to the fact that he is a British national. But really, of course, this story has as a lot of different twists and turns because when he was released in 2004 from Guantanamo Bay it was at the request of Britain. Now it seems as though ISIS is saying he is the one who blew himself up in Iraq.

BALDWIN: Doesn't this lead to bigger questions about detainees, release, nefarious questions once they're out?

PLEITGEN: Yeah, that's what's been found out statistically that are people who were detained in Guantanamo Bay, and went to Iraq and Syria and did things like this. It seems more are being radicalized and trying to go to those places but that certainly is a concern as we have been talking about various administrations trying to shut down Guantanamo Bay, trying to get these people to try or get them to go somewhere else -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Thank you so much.

We are getting breaking news regarding American troops, they have been wounded on the front lines to retake the city of Mosul from ISIS.

Barbara Starr is on it, our CNN Pentagon correspondent.

Barbara Starr, what do we know? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESOPNDENT: For the last six to eight

weeks, U.S. troops have been moving closer around Mosul. They have been providing targeting coordinates calling in airstrikes. What we now know today in this last six to eight weeks, when this has been going on, there have been a number of times the Pentagon will not say how many those U.S. troops have come under fire from ISIS, returned fire. And of course, a source told me a short time ago that, yes, some U.S. troops in the last six to eight weeks had to have been Medevacked off the battlefield. U.S. troops really are not supposed to be in front lines of combat. But this is a very murky front line and so they have come under fire and engaged in fire fights back with ISIS. These were photos posted a short time ago by the U.S. military and does show some of the U.S. troops operating in and around near Mosul, calling in airstrikes and assisting Iraqi forces. They are getting much closer to the fight. The military saying these are the troops helping retake west Mosul and why is that so important? Because west Mosul right now is the most dangerous part, it is where ISIS is dug in, ISIS making its last stand, the area that U.S. troops are getting closer to -- Brooke?

[14:35:20] BALDWIN: Barbara, thank you so much.

STARR: Sure.

BALDWIN: Next, a surprising appearance at the U.S. Supreme Court today. President Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and her daughter. Why she was there. Who invited her? Next.


BALDWIN: Ivanka Trump, the first daughter, becoming increasingly visible inside the Beltway. Today she was spotted at the United States Supreme Court. The first daughter departing with her five- year-old little girl and was invited by Justice Anthony Kennedy to hear arguments. One ruling came down before she and her daughter left the VIP gallery.

CNN White House reporter, Kate Bennett, is with me from Washington.

It's nice to see Ivanka there showing up with her little girl. How did the invitation come about?

[14:40:17] KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Apparently, she met Justice Anthony Kennedy after the inauguration, he invited her to come down and watch, I don't know how fun it was for the five-year- old, she got the little quill hat and waving on the steps so it could have been a fun time but she received a VIP invitation to watch.

BALDWIN: We were talking about Ivanka Trump the other day. We said part of softening and here his daughter is showing up at the highest court of the land.

BENNETT: She's using it as a classroom for her children and she tweeted afterwards that she and her daughter had this nice mother/daughter moment to teach about our judicial system in our country. So after about a week or 10 days of her father going after judges and sort of being a little, you know, contentious about the judicial system, here is Ivanka taking her daughter and having this firsthand experience, she's really using D.C. as a field trip.

BALDWIN: Can't wait to see where else she shows up.

Kate Bennett, thank you very much, my friend.

A reminder, Republican leaders are down south on the U.S.-Mexico border assessing how feasible President Trump's wall really is. Two secretaries also assessing how feasible a middle ground is. But Mexico just weighed in with a surprising statement. We have that coming up for you, next.


[14:46:27] BALDWIN: CNN investigations has uncovered disturbing reports of rape and abuse inside America's nursing homes. The victims are seniors, frail and vulnerable who are abused by the very employees tasked with taking care of them. The oversight of these facilities is even more alarming.

Ana Cabrera has the story.


MYAH FISCHER, MOTHER ABUSED AT NURSING HOME: How are you feeling today, mom?

Do you know who I am?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She could hardly move. She couldn't speak. She was the most vulnerable of vulnerable when at 83 Sonya Fischer was raped by one of her care givers.

FISCHER: He destroyed the final memories I had of my mother.

CABRERA: Myah Fischer remembers her mom in better times.

FISCHER: She had a beautiful smile, a beautiful spirit.

Here is some photos of my mom in Indonesia.


CABRERA: Sonya immigrated to the U.S. where she raised two children.

FISCHER: She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It was gut wrenching. You lose a little bit of your mom kind of day after day.

CABRERA: The Fischer family turned to the Walker Center in Minneapolis. Then a week before Christmas in 2014, a nurse at Walker walked in on an unthinkable act, by a 76-year-old certified nursing assistant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had his pants down, was between her legs, and he was raping her. You couldn't be more vulnerable than she was. She was at the same level of vulnerability of a child who can't walk. There was nothing she could do to protect herself. She couldn't even call out.

CABRERA: CNN analyzed data from coast to coast and found, from 2013 to 2016, out more than a thousand nursing homes have been cited by federal authorities for mishandling cases of suspected sex abuse, ranging from allegations between inappropriate touching of residents to violent rape, and at least a quarter alleged abuse by an employee at the facility.

UNIDENTIFIED ABUSE VICTIM: I'm all alone and there's no one there, no family, and I'm all alone in my room.

This man, and his name first name was Andy, and he came in my room and actually molested me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact of the matter is, you gave her an opiate, a narcotic, correct?


CABRERA: 28-year-old Andrew Merzekski (ph) admitted to drugging before assaulting an 88-year-old resident at Edgewood Vista, an assisted living facility in Hermantown, Minnesota.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He testified she was coming on to me. Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask him to have sex with you?

UNIDENTIFIED ABUSE VICTIM: Of course, not! Do you think I'm crazy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had about a two-centimeter laceration within her vaginal vault that was healing but was pretty significant.

CABRERA: Sexual assault nurse examiner, Theresa, remembers a phone call she got from Edgewood Vista director of nursing.

[14:50:10] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And just wanted me to understand that this person was what she would consider a flirt and flirted with this poor boy mercilessly and when he saw it was hurting her he stopped because he's nice like that.

CABRERA (on camera): Would you consider that victim blaming?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's absolutely victim blaming.

CABRERA: She told us there was victim blaming that happened in this place that happened by your personnel at Edgewood Vista.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, I can't comment on matters.

CABRERA: It is was perceived that way, is there any response.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we learned, we weren't prepared for anything of this nature and had to do better. CABRERA (voice-over): State regulators cited Edgewood Vista for not

reporting the assault there soon enough, yet the facility faced no penalty, neither did Walker Methodist. The Department of Health found no wrong doing, even though the record shows show Sonya Fischer's rapist had been previously suspended as part of at least three other sexual assault investigations at the same facility as far as back as 2008. In all those cases, investigators ruled the allegations unsubstantiated so he was kept on the job.

When asked, Walker Methodist told CNN they cooperated every step of the way and regularly evaluate standards and safety protocols in an effort to enhance and protect the lives of older adults.

CABRERA (on camera): Are the agencies doing a good job of holding the nursing homes accountable?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the regulatory agencies I see throughout the country are really weak.

CABRERA (voice-over): The Minnesota Department of Health declined an interview but tells us they're seeing an increase in allegation abuse and taking steps to make the process more efficient, adding, "We take these cases very seriously and making sure patients are protected are our top priority."

Merzekski (ph) was just released from prison in November. The other remains behind bars. But CNN found that many perpetrators face no punishment at all. Sometimes even allowed to continue working with the elderly, even after multiple allegations of abuse.

(on camera): If you could say something to the person who did this to her perpetrator what would you say? What would you tell him?

FISCHER: He took away the last shred of dignity that my mother had.


BALDWIN: Oh, my god. And I was asking, as I was watching that. It's tough to watch. But important to talk about because you hear and pedophilia, people abusing children, but you never hear about this.

CABRERA: Well, we started hearing about these cases and I can tell you there are countless stories like this, equally heartbreaking. And it's not something people like to talk about and not being measured. We did a data analysis compiling state records and national records and we found not only it's a huge issue but a problem with oversight and accountability. Some of the holes in the system include there's no consistency state to state when it comes to tracking these alleged cases of sexual abuse. These are people who often have memory problems or on medications. The other issue is substantiating or proving it. You're dealing with a vulnerable population. It's easier to for facilities or investigators to dismiss the claims. If it's not substantiated, a lot of regulatory systems are set up that those complaints aren't necessarily put into a data base to be tracked. So it's very difficult to identify patterns of alleged abuse, which makes it much easier for perpetrators and repeat offenders to slip through the cracks.

BALDWIN: It is frightening to think this is going on and nobody is really keeping track of it.

BALDWIN: Ana Cabrera, thank you for shining a light on it.

And there's more on it on

Ana Cabrera, thank you.


We do need to move in. Breaking news. Sound in from Vice President Mike Pence in St. Louis on threats against Jewish communities in this country, including vandalism at a St. Louis Jewish cemetery. Here he was.


[14:54:52] MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Before we get started, I would like to address something that happened in St. Louis over the weekend. On Monday morning, America awoke to discover nearly 200 tombstones were toppled at a nearby Jewish graveyard. Speaking yesterday, President Trump called this a horrible and painful act. And so it was. Yet it was, he declared it all a sad reminder of the work that must be done to rout out hate, prejudice and evil. We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrate it in the strongest possible terms.


PENCE: And let me say it's been inspiring to people all across this country to see the way the people of Missouri have rallied around the Jewish community with compassion and support. You have inspired this nation with your kindness and your care.



BALDWIN: The vice president there at the facility in St. Louis, Missouri.

Next, Mexico's foreign minister with a provocative statement just hours before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is said to visit. Here what as just happened.

Also, is President Trump's political advisor undermining U.S. policy behind the see scenes? Brand new reporting out of the State Department, next.



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Who is this right here?


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