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United Kingdom to Review Counterterrorism Strategy; ISIS Claims London Attack; Trump Change Rhetoric on London Attack; Trump's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan; Facebook To Be Hostile to Terrorists. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 5, 2017 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:00] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You can really see about London is that the people here are extremely defiant, you know. There's a lot of people who are out here, morning commutes are going for people exactly as they had planned before. So, certainly, this is a city that's showing that it will not be derailed by terrorism. At the same time, the investigation continues to go on. You guys mentioned there's about a dozen people who are still in custody.

What the authorities are trying to find out right now, Dave, is whether or not the attackers had links to some sort of wider network or whether or not they were mostly acting on their own. That's why there are a lot of these raids that are currently taking place, especially in the east London area. At the same time, as you've mentioned, Theresa May saying that there will be a review of this country's counterterrorism policies and strategy. She said she believes that in general in the fight against terrorism four things need to change.

One, pluralistic British values must defeat Islamist extremism, Democratic governments must regulate cyberspace -- cyberspace, of course, very, very important in the debate about this -- Military action to destroy ISIS abroad, less tolerance of extremism in the United Kingdom. That's a big point she made. And she's also saying they will review counterterrorism strategy so police have all the powers they need.

Again, the Brits are saying they feel that the response of this attack was adequate and very fast. Of course, the attackers gunned down within about eight minutes of the police officers receiving the first call that something was going on, but they are saying that there will be another review to try and make things even more efficient, Dave.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Fred, we mentioned the elections will go on Thursday. Is terror the central issue?

PLEITGEN: Yes, I mean, it's, you know, one of the central issues, but it's becoming a more central issue. Before these attacks took place, the one in Manchester and especially now the one in London as well, of course, Brexit was the major issue and how Britain was going to move forward with that. Of course, we have to keep in mind that the reason why this election was called was because Theresa May feels that she needs a stronger mandate in the Brexit negotiations. But now with these events taking place, of course, terror has become

one of the central themes. And one of the things that the man who's running against Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labor Party, he said that this election was a fight between terrorism and British democratic values. It certainly is the way the political party see it. They suspended campaigning until today so it's going to continue again at the start of this week and the election coming up very, very shortly as the authorities continue to investigate this crime and of course, try to prevent further plots in the future guys.

BRIGGS: And the polls surprisingly tight there ahead of the Thursday elections. Frederik Pleitgen live for us in London. Thanks.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring in CNN law enforcement analyst James Gagliano. He's a retired FBI supervisory special agent and an adjunct professor at St. John's University. We're so pleased to have you with us this morning to help us really look at the law enforcement aspect of this.

First of all, ISIS, the breaking news overnight -- ISIS claiming responsibility. Not really a surprise, is it? When something like this happens, whether they have any knowledge of this or not, they're going to take responsibility.

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Not surprising at all. Again, it's that centralized intent that they put out there and then that decentralized execution. So, anybody who reads their material or hears a radicalized speech can go out there and execute. What I'm struck with this, if you look at this from a military perspective, as the United States strategy in the Middle East changes, instead of pushing ISIS back or containing them, under the new secretary of defense, their tactics are to encircle and destroy ISIS, which is causing ISIS to have less territory to have to occupy.

ROMANS: Right.

GAGLIANO: That is allowing more of these folks now become a part of the propaganda push and in helping radicalize these terror threats here in the United States and in Britain.

BRIGGS: Theresa May, a former home secretary there in the U.K., said, "Things need to change. There's far too much tolerance for extremism in the U.K." She wants to regulate cyberspace, but how do you begin to do that?

GAGLIANO: That's a dicey call, Dave. I thought her words were measured, resolute, defiant --

BRIGGS: Absolutely.

GAGLIANO: So completely British.

BRIGGS: Striking a perfect tone once again.

GAGLIANO: She reminds me of Margaret Thatcher and Churchill during the bombing in Britain in the '40s. I think that she set the right tone and the right course going forward. The devil is always in the details. You know, we have programs here in the United States -- Stellar Wind, the Patriot Act, FISA -- and we always have to balance how much civil liberty do we want to take away from folks to keep us safe, and she's in the same position.

BRIGGS: You mentioned our programs. They have what's called Prevent there in the U.K., but it's very controversial. What is it? What's the backdrop of it? What are they designed to do?

GAGLIANO: The controversy there is the collection of metadata. Americans and the Brits are a little uncomfortable with the fact that the government might collect and store data. They don't look at that data unless it has a link to someone that has been determined to be in terrorist channels, but we're uncomfortable with that, as are the Brits.

[04:05:05] ROMANS: Right. The other thing we're uncomfortable with is this idea of some kind of international confab regulating information, you know? I mean, and that's something -- honestly, I mean, information and free speech is the oxygen of democracy, but that's been weaponized by the terrorists. That's a really fine line to walk here.

You know, how do you prevent all of this, you know, terrible terrorist ideology from spreading like wildfire online without actually then having the terrorists win by shutting down some free speech?

GAGLIANO: What is one of the dearest tenants to Americans and it's the First Amendment, and where is that appropriate line where you say free speech now goes into the realm of being dangerous? And that's kind of where we are right now, is making that determination on allowing free speech, allowing people to express themselves, allowing people to read what they want, listen to what they want, but when does it border on this could potentially turn into an attack?

BRIGGS: The macro level is where this would be fought, but on a micro level, you often see London police officers unarmed. Should something be done differently? And they responded perfectly to this --

ROMANS: Eight minutes.

BRIGGS: -- eight minutes after the call. But should more police officers be armed in the U.K.?

GAGLIANO: Britain's history being what it is, that is a tough call. From my perspective, we have to give law enforcement in the United States every tool available. And I know when we come down and look at things like what happened in Ferguson, we say we don't want our law enforcement militarized.

ROMANS: Right.

GAGLIANO: We don't want armored personnel carriers and grenade launchers, but the problem is, when you do need them against a consistent and I'll use this term, existential threat that the terrorists are, we need to have them in our -- ROMANS: An armed police officer versus a big truck mowing down -- I

mean, so this was another one of this vehicle attack. We've had many of them since 2014. There's one in Stockholm, of course, the Christmas market in Berlin, that terrible episode in Nice, France, you know, just the pictures of the crushed strollers. How do we in this country protect against vehicle attacks? In New York, there was just an attack in New York. It wasn't a terrorist, but still, there were fatalities.

GAGLIANO: The average consumer vehicle in the United States weighs 4,000 pounds, 2 tons. Unless we want to regulate it to the point where we're going to go in and make sure that that vehicle can't go above 10 miles an hour, which is not going to happen --

ROMANS: What about pedestrian safe zones? I mean for London Bridge for example, I mean maybe -- is there something they could have done? There was just another bridge attack in Westminster two weeks ago.

GAGLIANO: Look in New York. I used to work at 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan, right in the shadow of the towers. Look at how every major building, whether it's an iconic building like the Empire State building, or the Federal building, have concrete barriers (ph) placed around it and layered security. Layered security is the secret. What happened in Nice, France where you had 86 people killed, was that long, unending thoroughfare where that driver was able to wreak maximum havoc.

In a city like New York, I don't think you could drive that far. You look at what happened in Times Square. It definitely is a threat, but unless we want to start making so that it's impossible for us to get around in our day-to-day --

ROMANS: Because terrorism makes us all live in a police state, basically.

BRIGGS: Right.

GAGLIANO: Look what happens with TSA just trying to get on a plane nowadays. I mean, how frustrating that can be for us, but this is the age of ISIS.

BRIGGS: All right, well, three terror attacks now in ten weeks in the U.K. What is it about this target? We'll get more from James in the next half hour.

ROMANS: All right, President Trump switching -- shifting his tone on the London attack. His initial response, he re-tweeted the "Drudge Report" and renewed calls for a travel ban. What tune is he singing now?



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We renew our resolve stronger than ever before to protect the United States and its allies from a vial enemy that has waged war on innocent life, and it's gone on too long. This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end.


ROMANS: There is the president, President Trump sounding a bit more diplomatic last night after heavy criticism for his initial response to the London terror attack. The first reaction from the president, he re-tweeted a "Drudge Report" headline, and then he used the attack to call for reinstatement of his travel ban, now blocked by the courts, "We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the travel ban as an extra level of safety."

To help us understand the politics unleashed on this side of the Atlantic by the London attack, I want to turn to political economist Greg Valliere, chief strategist for Horizon Investments. Good morning. So you've heard the president sounding a little more presidential if you will and you heard him, ultimately he did say god bless the U.K. and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. But before that, it was more about him, wasn't it?

GREG VALLIERE, CHIEF STRATEGIST, HORIZON INVESTMENTS: Yes, his initial reaction was typical. It was about him. It was to justify his policies. I didn't hear him initially express condolences to the victims and their families. Well, that's Trump being Trump. I think you've got to say, Christine, that the last week or so has represented a real turning point with people in the U.K., people on the continent of Europe really turning against Trump in the U.S., and a new alliance forming. An alliance of the U.K., France and Germany with Macron becoming a big star, as the U.S. really diminishes as a force.

BRIGGS: All right, so, a particular criticism is the way the president responded to the London mayor, Sadiq Khan. And here's what he tweeted, "At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and the mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!" Now, Sadiq Khan was talking about the extreme, the added police force in the streets of London. He wasn't saying there was no reason to be alarmed by this terror attack.

Here's how the spokesman to Sadiq Khan responded. "The mayor is too busy working with police, emergency and government to coordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack. He has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed tweet."

[04:15:04] Was it ill-informed or did he deliberately take out of context what Sadiq Khan said, Greg?

VALLIERE: Regardless of the motivation, it was not presidential. And on instance after instance, he needlessly injects himself in a way that doesn't do the U.S. any good. And you know, I travel all around the country, guys, and I talk to a lot of Trump supporters who are still fiercely loyal to him, but they all say, boy, I wish he'd tone down the tweeting.

ROMANS: Yes, I hear that a lot, too. You know, that's one consistent complaint. But what about the hearings? We have Comey hearings this week. The president today is going to try to launch his infrastructure -- $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Talk to me a little bit about the president's domestic agenda. It has been overshadowed by his own self- inflicted twitter wounds.


ROMANS: And by the drama still over the Russia investigation.

VALLIERE: Those two are big factors, but I'd add a third, Christine, and that is, once again, he's unveiling a big, new initiative without any details. There's not going to be any details on how he'd pay for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. So, Congress got a one-page piece of paper on tax reform. I think there will be an equivalent of a one-page piece of paper this week on infrastructure that really infuriates Congress.

ROMANS: Well, the president on Friday made the remark -- Thursday or Friday -- made the remark that his bill, his tax bill was moving through Congress. There is no tax bill, is there?

VALLIERE: There isn't a bill, unless I missed something. It's early in the morning, but I don't think there is a tax bill, and that's a big problem with infrastructure. I think maybe a year from now, a year and a half from now, we'll get something, but it certainly isn't imminent. But it may deflect attention away from this big Comey story coming on Thursday.

BRIGGS: How pivotal are those -- is that testimony from James Comey at the end of this week?

VALLIERE: I think, Dave, by Friday morning, we may be talking once again about obstruction of justice. I think Schumer and the Democrats will try to make that case. The Republicans will resist. The bottom line still to me is this -- I do not see the votes in the House or the Senate to indict and then convict. I don't think the votes are there, but I do think it's going to be damaging for the president, because Comey is a pretty good witness.

ROMANS: Let's talk about the business angle here, the civil liberties of the business angle. You know, even Theresa May calling on increased regulation of cyberspace. You have the tech companies coming out and saying, Facebook said it's going to be hostile to terrorism. Law enforcement officials privately say it's not very hostile to terrorism. Are we going to see a civil liberties move here, do you think?

VALLIERE: Absolutely, Christine. I do think that, you know, as John Kerry said yesterday on one of the talk shows that this goes against our values to intrude, but I would argue that desperate times require desperate measures. And I do think there's going to be an increased scrutiny by intelligence officials on who is logging on to these websites that urge jihadists to kill people.

ROMANS: A lot of folks urging the tech companies they should self- regulate more aggressively or they will be regulated by someone else.


ROMANS: You never want that. All right, Greg Valliere, nice to see you bright and early this morning, 4:18 in Washington, D.C. We love that. Thank you.

BRIGGS: All right, Prime Minister Theresa May says tougher rules online will prevent terrorism.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: We need to work with allied democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremist and terrorism planning.


BRIGGS: So, how are tech companies responding? That story is next.


ROMANS: Facebook vows to be "hostile to terrorists" after the U.K. prime minister blames tech companies for helping foster terrorism.


MAY: We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet, that is precisely what the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide.


ROMANS: Especially all the encrypted channels that are offered. She wants tougher regulations for cyberspace, and many governments criticize tech companies for how they handle terrorist threats, especially in their encrypted messaging services. Investigations show terrorists use online tools from your favorite social media companies to coordinate attacks. And law enforcement wants access, but Facebook, Google and Apple lobby against giving authorities a peek. They say it hurts the privacy of customers, not terrorists.

Facebook and twitter also, of course, condemn terrorist content on their sites, telling CNN they're working to curb terrorism and warn of attacks. However, they offer no specific plans.

BRIGGS: All right, a strong response from the British prime minister after yet another terror attack on her soil.


MAY: They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamistic extremism.


BRIGGS: The prime minister laying out what needs to change to bring this terror spree to a stop. We are live in London next on "Early Start."



MAY: There is to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.


ROMANS: British Prime Minister Therese May calling for major changes to the U.K.'s anti-terror strategy, this after three men drive a van into pedestrians on London Bridge, then draw knives, attacking civilians in a nearby market. We are live with more in London, straight ahead.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. Twenty-nine minutes after the hour. This morning, a major reset in London's war on terror as Prime Minister Theresa May calls for a sweeping review of Britain's counterterrorism strategy. Her vow to ramp up the country's terror response comes in the wake of a deadly, new attack in the U.K., the third in three months, the second in as many weeks.

Overnight police conducting new raids in east London on top of earlier raids on Sunday. They say 11 people are now in custody, a huge amount of forensic material to go through.

ROMANS: All right, at least seven people were killed, 48 others injured in this rampage. ISIS has claimed responsibility but offered no evidence to back that up. Britain's general election will go on as scheduled on Thursday, now against the backdrop of heightened concern over terrorism. I want to bring in CNN's Frederik Pleitgen. He's one of the first reporters on the scene.

[04:30:00] He is there for us again now bringing us up to speed on all of the developments. Good morning Fred.

PLEITGEN: Hi there Christine.