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Trump's Afghanistan Plan; Manhunt Ends For Barcelona Attacker; Crowds Flock To Catch The Eclipse; South Korea-U.S. Military Drill Continue Amid Tension; Navy Reviewing Operations After Latest Mishap At Sea; One Person Killed, Seven Trapped After Italian Earthquake; Trump Travel Straining Secret Service Budget; U.S. Views Solar Eclipse of the Century; London's "Big Ben" Falls Silent. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 22, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, a new U.S. plan for the war in Afghanistan, but a lot of new detail from a U.S. president who argues that's exactly what the enemy wants. Plus, a bloody end to the hunt for the Barcelona attacker. The tip that helped police track down their suspect. A later, the once in a century event that had millions across the U.S. staring at the sun, and why scientists were especially excited about the total eclipse. Hello, and thanks for being with us, everybody. I'm John Vause. We're not into the second hour of NEWSROOM L.A.

The U.S. president has revealed his long-awaited plans for Afghanistan in the prime-time address. He acknowledged a nation weary from war, but warned that the consequences of a rapid troop withdrawal and that would be unacceptable, he said. He revealed few specifics, in particular on increased troop numbers arguing that only helps the enemy.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From now on, victory will have a clear definition. Attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al-Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge. We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists. They are nothing but thugs, and criminals, and predators, and that's right losers.


VAUSE: Well, joining me now for more on this: Journalist Catherine James in Kabul, Afghanistan; CNN Military Analyst, retired Lt. Col. Rick Francona; and here in Los Angeles retired Major General Mark MacCarley. And Catherine, I'd like to start with you. A short time ago, Afghanistan's ambassador to the U.S., he tweeted this out, "We welcome Donald Trump's decision for a strong Afghan/U.S. partnership in the fight against terrorism towards a peaceful and enduring outcome."

We're still waiting to hear from the Afghan president, but is this essentially the reaction there in Kabul, you know, the official reaction? But what about from people who live there, who are obviously increasingly concerned about the gains being made by the Taliban?

CATHERINE JAMES, JOURNALIST: That's right. The Afghan leadership has welcomed this idea of an increase in troop numbers some time ago. It has been something that the Afghan president wanted and the military leadership here wanted. So, the ambassador, as you noted, is simply voicing that. It's very much a sense that, it's also, perhaps, in some way an acknowledgment that the draw down that happened quite rapidly in 2013 and 2014 may have happened too quickly.

Indeed, that was something in the last few years, I've heard frequently from Afghan military leaders, that they felt it happened far too quickly. And to some extent while they were not abandoned, per se, there were still soldiers here, they very much felt that they had been left unprepared for what they would face. And as we know now, the Taliban now controls almost half of Afghanistan. That is the latest figure from, at least, halfway through this year.

So, there's very much sense that these gains, this momentum that they had needed to be broke, and that is what the U.S. Commander General John Nicholson is seeking. When he requested more troops from Donald -- from President Trump, he was saying that he needs not so much troops on the ground for combat, but he needs to put troops in more training and advice positions across more of the Afghan forces.

VAUSE: OK. Catherine, stay with us. Sorry, Catherine, I just want to bring General MacCarley in here. Because, General, what Catherine raises here is this that the initial troop draws down was too fast, too quick, too soon. Do you see that now being reversed? And how long do you think it takes for this plan, what we know about it, to have any real impact?

GEN. MARK MACCARLEY, DEPUTY COMMANDING GENERAL, U.S. ARMY: Was the draw down precipitous? Absolutely. But it was part in parcel of a strategy that was put together by the previous president who wanted an end date and could be able to say to the American people that he kept to his commitments. So as a result, you create this vacuum. My analysis of Afghanistan revolves around one word and is a political, geopolitical vacuum.

When the U.S. removes its presence regardless of the numbers, it creates that conditions in which the Taliban and the other identified terrorist organizations, not only ISIS and al-Qaeda but others, find their way into an environment, and that environment creates greater risk globally for the United States. Now, while they're infusing another 4,000 is going to make a different -- that's the million- dollar or the multi-trillion-dollar question of the day.

VAUSE: We don't even know if it's 4,000. We're assuming that because it's been reported.

MACCARLEY: That's correct.

[01:05:08] VAUSE: That is the safe assumption. Col. Francona, to you, if you look at the map, and Catherine touched on this, you know, clearly, the Taliban have been making significant gains in recent years. Did you hear anything from the president in the last couple of hours, in that 12-minute speech to the nation, which will actually stop that advance from the Taliban fighters?

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it depends on how you take his words. And I was a little confused because he's talking about continuing the train advise and assist mission, which is basically what we're doing now -- only doing it with more people. I'm not sure, really, that's going to change the situation on the ground, but he's also talking about we're going to kill terrorists, and that we're going to obliterate al-Qaeda, we're going to defeat the Taliban.

Who is we? Is he talking about putting U.S combat forces back into Afghanistan? He's not said. I don't think that General Nicholson has asked for that or maybe he has, we're not privy to those conversations. But if we need to break the back of this Taliban resurgence, we may need to do just that. I don't think we can continue to go on the path that we're on and allow the Taliban to continue to resurge.

As Nick Paton Walsh was mentioning earlier, we see these advances every summer, and we're in that season right now. So, if we're going to continue what we're doing, I think that might be just the continuation of the bad situation we find ourselves in. So, I really would like to see what the composition of these forces going back into Afghanistan is.

VAUSE: And Catherine, just to bring you back into this. One of the things that were pretty clear from the U.S. president's address was that, you know, the United States is no longer in the business of nation building. That seems it will have some very obvious consequences for what is a fairly fragile government there, led by actual Afghani.

JAMES: I think in that case, President Trump insists -- merely trying to -- not necessarily rhetoric, but the fact is that the U.S. is heavily invested in Afghanistan, not just on a military front. There's very much a sense that they to build up the government as well. I think part of the reason why the Taliban has made its gains, it's not simply a military win, it's that the people of Afghanistan have lost a lot of faith in the government. There needs to be a lot of reforms made in terms of corruption, in terms of stability of the government. The coalition government forms under John Kerry, so to speak, under his advice, has not been a stable one.

And so, there has definitely a sense that the U.S. cannot simply invest in the military strategy and ignore everything else because, of course, the people Afghanistan are going to only really measure the effectiveness of any kind of military strategy by seeing a change in their lifestyle, seeing not simply a loss of -- lessened kind of conflict, but also an improvement in their circumstances which they haven't seen. So, that's why among the people of Afghanistan, at least outside of the cities, outside of Kabul, in the provinces. The appetite for more foreign troops to be coming here is actually not very high because they haven't a big change, they haven't seen almost any change at all. If anything, they've only seen more conflict and a resurgence of the Taliban.

VAUSE: OK. Catherine, I just wanted General MacCarley here, because I see you nodding your head.

MACCARLEY: Oh, yes. I did want to comment. I think Catherine's onto something. I'm not so sure it's consistent with the strategy or this new strategy that was laid out by the president, only because think he removes himself from what we called counter insurgency operations, to use a classic phrase -- if you remember, clear, hold, and bill -- which is all about nation-building. Meaning, you can't kill yourself to success.

And maybe we're moving back to that. Where we say, we're going to kill terrorist, fine idea. But at the end of the day, you kill terrorist, but you remove those very operators who effected that removal within hours. And I am going to say within hours, you're going to see the same Taliban, different faces, back in the same villages. So right now, the strategy is one of -- I'm going to use another trite phrase, it's called "stay the course." Meaning, we're going to continue where we are. We don't want that vacuum. If we remove ourselves completely from Afghanistan, there are going to be horrific consequences.

VAUSE: And Col Francona, to you, the president made it clear that you know, part of this new strategy, it's no longer timetable-based. It's you know, essentially, what he said that it's a --

FRANCONA: Conditions based.

VAUSE: A conditions based. Thank you. I was looking for the right phrase. Which seems -- you know, he said that's a big change, others disagree. But essentially, what he's saying is that this is now an open-ended war. Are the American people ready for that?

[01:10:05] FRANCONA: Well, I think he wanted to get away from putting a date certain on another withdrawal because as we've seen what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan that when you put these date certain withdrawals and you actually leave, it creates that vacuum. And he doesn't want to leave anybody with the idea that we're going to create another vacuum. And he doesn't want to telegraph anything to the Afghans that say, we're going to leave you again. So, I think that was -- I think that was a smart thing to do. I think full-well, the American people realize, this president is not interested in an open- ended. I think we're going to try and bring this to a conclusion as soon as possible, but as soon as feasible as well.

VAUSE: OK. Col. Francona, General MacCarley, I'd like you to stay with us. Catherine, there in Kabul, I'd like to say thank you for being with us. So, we're moving on now. Well, the U.S. president has been announcing this new approach to Afghanistan, there is still an ongoing problem with North Korea. And despite the escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula or the maybe because of it, the U.S. and South Korea have continued on with planned military exercises -- now for their second day. Paula Hancocks is in Seoul for us with more on this. Paula, a lot of threats coming from the North Koreans. The question is: what will Pyongyang actually do, as opposed to what they've been saying?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a good question, John, it seems we only don't know the answer, too. If you look at last year, just a number of weeks after the drills that North Korea carried out another nuclear test. Now, there's no way of knowing if that was connected or if it was just time for North Korea to do that other test. But what we just had in the past few minutes is that journalists are being briefed the top U.S. military commanders in the region.

We heard from Vincent Brooks, General Vincent Brooks, who's head of the U.S. forces in Korea, and he was asked about these military drills on whether they should continue. And he said, in our view, we have to exercise until we have a reason not to, and that reason has not yet emerged. So, pointing at that the situation on the Korean Peninsula means that, of course, they have to continue with these military drills.

Also, though, the Head of U.S. Pacific Commander, Admiral Harry Harris, and he said that the diplomatic starting point was the most important, saying that there's a strong diplomatic effort, needs to be backed by the strong military, that is not the other way around. So, we're really hearing from these top U.S. military commanders, something similar as to what we heard from the secretary of state, the secretary of defense in the United States, that diplomacy comes first, but it has to be backed up by a military option. John

VAUSE: Paula, thank you. Paula, there live for us in Seoul. And to you, Rick Francona, I guess in terms of the response that we may or may not get from the North Koreans, exactly what their response will be will tell us a lot about what's happening inside North Korea.

FRANCONA: Yes, right. And of course, the United States was very upfront about telling the North Koreans that this is a defensive exercise and it's mostly going to be a command post exercise, it's mostly going to be communication, and working out interfaces. They're not just U.S and South Korean forces involved. There are forces from many nations. This is a U.N. force there. So, they're trying to figure out how they work closer together. They've decided that's what they're exercising this year. So, there are very few maneuver troops.

So, that's not going to -- that shouldn't really alarm the North Koreans too much, although we do this every year and we go through the same drill every year. That you know, we have the exercise, the Koreans say it's a prelude to war. They know it's not. We know it's not. So, I see - I think we're going to see a lot of posturing. Although, after this last flair-up with this perceived threat against Guam, I don't think the Koreans are going to be looking for a fight right now.

VAUSE: And General to you. You know, some people may have made the argument that with tensions so high, why not just cancel the drills? Clearly, that would send the wrong message to the North Koreans, but also training is crucial. Training has a shelf life if you like.

MACCARLEY: Absolutely. This is sort of deja vu for me, having participated, at least I'm counting backward, seven of what we call these Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises. And as the colonel indicated, to give you a little clearer view of what takes place. Yes, there are 17,000 American soldiers, most of whom are already stationed in Korea. But the exercise itself is done in a room very similar to this stage. And we have computer screens in front of us and we manipulate icons on the screen to replicate potential scenarios if, in fact, some attacks were to take place.

But this has been going on in various variations since 1953. In fact, in the armistice itself, there was a provision that allowed the U.S. and the North Koreans themselves to conduct their own exercises in the north for us engage with our South Korean partners, and our allies to just this. So, there's nothing shocking about it.

VAUSE: Yes. A lot of people made the -- you know, point make the point that these military exercises are legal. Missile tests and nuclear tests still remain as illegal.

MACCARLEY: That's correct.

[01:15:08] VAUSE: OK. With the tension so high in the Pacific, there is another problem confronting the United States. The Navy is ordering a one-day stand down for its fleets around the world, that's after the USS John S. McCain, a guided missile destroyer, collided with an oil tanker of Singapore earlier on Monday. It's the Navy's fourth mishap in the Pacific this year. Manisha Tank joins us now live from Singapore. And Manisha, there are some new details about how this collision happened.

MANISHA TANK, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Yes. A naval official speaking to CNN, John, now saying -- and this was after it was raised a day ago -- now saying that the ship, the USS John S. McCain, suffered a steering failure. And that steering failure happened -- I think it was coming from the South China Sea, it was making its way to the Strait of Malacca in that direction, at least, coming from the East of Singapore, and that is where that collision happened.

And what's interesting about this is there is a system here, it works a little bit like air traffic control systems, that's a sort of sea- based system where all of these ships check in with the operations that are registered here in Singapore, and also the Malaysians can track these ships as well. These are really knit-narrow shipping channels. Those are all ships lined up behind me, they're very close together. So, it's very important to be able to manage these waters safely.

That oil tanker with which the USS John S. McCain collided, was a 600- foot long ship, and it would be difficult for that to turn in any particular direction and react if another ship coming its way with steering, off course. So of course, that raises lots of really big questions, and it puts into perspective this sort of suspension that you've just mentioned. Having to look at these four incidents already that have happened in that particular fleet that is based out of Japan, and why they are occurring? The USS Fitzgerald, also another example of a ship going into another one. So, these are all areas that need to be investigated. And seemingly, really quite serious, I do want to update you though,

on the fact that we're now into day two of the search and rescue. These are the Malaysians were -- held the press conference just yesterday night here in this region, and indicating that these are rough waters that they're dealing with. You've got assets from the Malaysians, from the Singaporeans, from the U.S. itself, also the Indonesians sending out an aircraft, all of these countries assisting in this search and rescue. But we are into day two, and still no word of those ten missing sailors. John.

VAUSE: OK. Manisha, thank you for the very latest there from Singapore. And back to Col. Francona, you know, we've made the note here that this is the fourth incident involving a USS ship in the Pacific. What message is this now sending about the U.S. Navy to other countries in the region, to the North Koreans, to China, to Russia?

FRANCONA: Well, it just looks bad. But when you actually dissect these four separate events, there doesn't seem to be any systemic issue that's common to all four of them. It's just -- you know, unfortunately, it looks like a series of coincidences. Although it looks like there's a big problem with the seventh fleet, something going on with the Navy, it's really hard to actually pin that down, and that's what the pause is for.

They're going to review their procedures and find out if there is something that needs to be done to remedy this. This could be a maintenance issue, could be bridge work, it could be seamanship. They're going to try and find that, but I just don't see a common connection to the four. So, I'm reluctant to say there's a systemic problem that has to be addressed, but we'll find that out.

VAUSE: Well, the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson, he says this comprehensive review will look at trends in personnel, material, maintenance, and equipment. It will also include a review of how we train and certify our surface warfare community, including tactical and navigational proficiency. General, what are the chances that all these accidents, all of these mishaps are a result of a military which is facing, you know, budgetary restraints. There have been cuts because of sea quest ration, you know, Defense Department is sort of living under a continuing budget resolution, and there seems to be an uncertainty about where the funding will be in the future.

MACCARLEY: Listening to the Colonel, and I absolutely agree with him that at this point we haven't found some common basis for the four incidents that have occurred over the last couple of months. And certainly, our hearts go out to those sailors missing and who have lost their lives in these tragic events. On the other hand, you say to yourself, and if -- and you've quoted Admiral Richardson, he's put in place his operational pause, what we called in the army a stand down. Because you're trying to ascertain just what might be, perhaps, a systemic concern, whether it relates to forces or naval meaning in the West Pacific.

Could it be resources? Meaning, that as a result of a shortage of funds, we have -- we called it a readiness issue. Meaning, you have to have your systems in place, your sailor on those platforms, those frigates, those destroyers, constantly out at sea training, so that if ever called to duty in an active and hot war incident, they're ready to go. If you don't have enough funds, then it could surface that there is not sufficient training for those very sailors, and then you backtrack yourself and say, well, if there wasn't sufficient training, was that sort of a cause, whether a primary or a secondary cause -- we won't know yet. But yes, I think readiness is something that the CNO, the chief of naval operations, and of course some Congressional Inquiry Committee will take a look at.

[01:20:50] VAUSE: And following to you Col. Francona, the same question: do you believe that there is some connection here between the budget cuts for the military for its sea quest ration, you know, the uncertainty about funding, and maybe, you know, a lack of training, a lack of readiness?

FRANCONA: Well, I think that's common to all of the services. I can speak for the Air Force and Marine Aviation, Naval Aviation, they're having a real problem with their readiness to keeping enough aircraft flyable. It's a spare parts issue, it's a maintenance issue, and it's a funding issue, and that's what all comes down to because of the lack of funds.

And until sea quest ration goes away, until we can adequately resource the military, and you know, these are expensive -- it's expensive to run these, these very hi-tech ships, aircraft, army equipment, and we beat it up for the past 16 years. We were talking about being at war for 16 years. That takes a toll on your equipment. It takes a toll on your personnel, and it really hurts your readiness because your ops tempo is so high that training suffers.

VAUSE: OK. Last word there to Col. Francona. Thank you, Gen. MacCarley. Also, thank you very much for being with us. We will take a short break. When we come back here on NEWSROOM L.A., a terror suspect is dead after days on the run. We'll have the very latest on the investigation into the deadly van attack in Barcelona. Also, this hour, London's Big Ben falling silent for some repair work, but some in Britain are not happy about the lengthy down time.


VAUSE: Well, a suspected driver of the van used in last week's terror attack in Barcelona has been shot dead by police, bringing to an end a five-day manhunt. And warning, there are some graphic images in this report from Melissa Bell.

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The last hide-out of 22-year-old, Younes Abouyaaqoub, a rural hillside about an hour from Barcelona. A villager, called police Monday afternoon after spotting someone suspicious. Abouyaaqoub was shot dead, wearing an explosive belt that turned out to be fake. It was the end of an intense manhunt.

[01:25:03] CARLES PUIGDEMONT, PRESIDENT OF THE GENERALITAT OF CATALONIA: I'm so sure that Catalonia, and Europe, and the world is most of safe today after the death of Younes Abouyaaqoub than before. BELL: Five days ago, Abouyaaqoub drove a van into crowds on

Barcelona's most populous street -- Las Ramblas. He escaped on foot through a market then hijacked a car, stabbing to death its owner. As he went on the run, five other members of the cell were preparing to launch an attack in the town of Cambrils, about 100 miles down the coast. All five were shot dead by police. They, too, were wearing fake suicide belts. Most of the cell were men of Moroccan origin in their 20's, and most came from the quiet town of Ripoll, in the foothills of the Pyrenees. They used to meet at this apartment, according to police. But these young men were spending a lot of time a long way from home in a house in the town of Alcanar that was destroyed by a massive explosion last week. Found in the wreckage, the remains of a preacher, 42-year-old, Abdelbaki Es Satty, a man who appears to have influenced many of the attackers.

Spanish police discovered more than 100 gas canisters in the wreckage, as well as components for the powerful explosive, TATP. There was so much dangerous material in the house that police had to carry out several controlled explosions. They believe the group was preparing dozens of bombs for one or more major attacks in Barcelona, but the bomb maker appears to have made a fatal mistake. Up and down Las Ramblas, candles glow at night in tribute to the people of seven nationalities who lost their lives here, and in hope for the recovery of a dozen still in the hospital. But as details emerge about the scale of this plot and the size of this group, there's a frightening realization that the carnage could have been so much worse. And there are alarming questions too about how this conspiracy and the bomb factory at the heart of it went undiscovered. Melissa Bell, CNN, Barcelona.


VAUSE: To Italy now. A desperate search for survivors after an earthquake on an island near Naples. Rescuers are still trying to reach seven people trapped under the rubble, at least one person was killed, local media reporting at least 25 others have injured. Police says a 7-year-old boy is among those trapped. Power was also cut off to parts of the island. And there's this dramatic video just in, showing a baby being rescued. Here, you can see the firefighters lifting the child up from the rubble.

We'll take a short break. When we come back, the high cost of the Trump family travels. The budget crunch, now facing the secret service after all those visits to golf clubs and overseas trips.


[01:30:12] VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

We'll check the headlines now this hour.


VAUSE: In his televised primetime speech to the nation, U.S. President Donald Trump has laid out his strategy for Afghanistan, saying the United States is no longer in the business of nation- building, but rather killing terrorists. And the strategy will be based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables. And he's not disclosing troop numbers or when operations will happen because he says that only plays into the hands of terrorists.

For more on the president's Afghanistan strategy, Middle East expert and editor-in-chief of "The Foreign Desk," Lisa Daftari is with me

Good to see you.


VAUSE: It's funny because a lot of what the president said in that 12-minute address, we've heard it all before.


VAUSE: And David Axelrod, a former senior advisor to President Obama, tweeted this, "Amazing how familiar all these arguments are after 16 years in Afghanistan."

You know, the arguments have stayed the same and, in many ways, it seems the strategy has stayed the same, right?

DAFTARI: The strategy has not stayed the same. The focus is shifting.

VAUSE: Right.

DAFTARI: We're dealing with the same country. We're dealing with the same terror group, some of them have grown and expanded and branched off. Now we have ISIS added to the list of terror groups. But we haven't evolved terror strategy, which we have to parallel now. A lot of the fight that we are fighting, particularly against ISIS and then al Qaeda and these groups that try to mimic what ISIS has done, is to take their strategy and put it online. And then you have recruitment efforts online. A lot of our intelligence and our counterterrorism strategies have been forced to go online and to counter, at least get some intel, rather than just stay and worry about troop numbers and the ground battle. We talk about ISIS, for example, diminishing in Syria, in Iraq. We don't talk about where they are growing, in Libya, in Egypt, in the Sinai Peninsula, for example. We also don't talk about how they're growing online and on the dark web, on the web --

VAUSE: But none of that was addressed in the speech.

DAFTARI: None of that was addressed in the speech. And a lot of it, as you said, was repetitive, the fact that a terror organization can take a political vacuum. That was from 1979 in Iran, right?

VAUSE: Candidate Trump very much opposed to leaving troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.


VAUSE: This is what he said.


TRUMP: We're on track now to spend - listen to this -- $6 trillion. $6 trillion. We could have rebuilt our country twice -- altogether on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East. It's time to rebuild America.


VAUSE: Now it seems the President is at least listening to the generals in the Oval Office, but criticism is this plan, which will be a continuation of what's already been tried, is a continuation of a strategy that's about losing less quickly.

DAFTARI: Losing less quickly. That's because he's not giving a timeline. It buys him all the time in the world, right? But now he's saying our end goal is not to stay there and to rebuild the nation they way that we had, for example, in Iraq, and then hand it over on a silver platter and walk out. The goal is to get rid of terrorists. If that's our end goal, I think he is staying we do take into consideration how much it's costing us, how many people we're sending over, the families - we have to answer to all these families. And as you said --

VAUSE: And the other administrations were concerned about those issues as well, surely.

DAFTARI: Of course, they were.

VAUSE: Which is why there were timetables put on these operations.

DAFTARI: Of course. But we didn't do anything in the 16 years. That was the calculation. When Donald Trump sat around with his advisers, the question was, how can we justify this when we've been there for 16 years. We are going to do differently now to make this -- and I think one of the main factors is to bring in the neighbors and to say allies need to help us with everything across the board. Meaning, if we're helping you financially, and you call yourself an ally of the United States, then we require reciprocity in that relationship.

VAUSE: We're looking at you, Pakistan, right/


VAUSE: And Pakistan got called out.

DAFTARI: Shames them completely.

VAUSE: But, again, the previous administrations have taken the point of view that Pakistan needs to do more to fight terrorism.

DAFTARI: They were words. They were words, because the checks were still paid out to Pakistan. They continued on with their business. The truth of the matter is that, like Donald Trump said, it behooves these countries to play along with the United States and out counterterrorism measures. Look at europe, for example, and what they're dealing with right now. The United States will deal with that type of national security threat on that frequency, attacks happening weekly if we don't confront this. Meaning, we want to fight this where it's at and not to have it on our borders.

[01:35:22] VAUSE: But just to get back to Pakistan, Pakistan has leverage here. If you want to supply troops, if you want to send 4,000 more troops in into Afghanistan, you need Pakistan, because all the supply comes through Karachi, goes north and then goes over the border of Pakistan. Pakistan can close that down and they've done that before. So --


DAFTARI: They can close it down. We could also say to Pakistan, you also have a terrorism problem. So this is the same thing Donald Trump did with Saudi Arabia, for example. The parallel is that Donald Trump is the CEO, he walks in and says, listen, you have a terrorism problem, we have a terrorism problem, here's our -- this is how we propose to fix it. That's the shift in what the plan he's putting out

Look, terrorism is not new, right? None of that. In the Middle East, it's not new. These are very old battles that we're fighting. It's just that the lens by which we look at the problem is now shifting a touch. We've always looked at the Middle East through a Western lens. And standing at the podium and saying pretty words is no longer going to serve us.

VAUSE: I just think that the -- this is a president who is very much transactional -- I do this, you do that, and we're good. In something like dealing with Afghanistan, it's three level, 3-D, multifaced chess.

DAFTARI: Yes, yes.

VAUSE: Of course, the question is, is this a strategy, and is it a president who is capable of getting that at once?

DAFTARI: Right. That's a wonderful point. And I think that what we saw today, and whether you're critical of the president or supportive of his measures, I think that it was quite nuanced in comparison to what he's done and said before. And I think that that's a direct reflection of the people that are surrounding him. We're talking about generals who have been on the field. I think what he was trying to say today was that the realities on the ground are dictating and telling a very different story than what he perceived. He said, my instinct was to pull out.


DAFTARI: Why? Because two plus two is four. I'm a CEO. It's not - it's just bleeding money. He doesn't believe in throwing good money after bad. I think that, in this case, he's truly being told a very different narrative, a very nuanced narrative, and that's what we hope to see, and to see a change in the strategy after 16 years of putting so much into this. VAUSE: I still see this huge change that some of the people

DAFTARI: If you go to the Middle East and you see the realities, its a tall order for any administration to make significant changes.

We're out of time, Lisa. On the other side, at least they got rid of Steve Bannon's plan for a private mercenary army take over. Anyway, that was a good thing that's not happening.

DAFTARI: I think so.

VAUSE: Lisa, good to see you. Thank you.

DAFTARI: You. too.

VAUSE: Meantime, the cost of President Trump' travel in his first year in office is on track to exceed the entire eight years of Barack Obama. That's putting a big strain on the Secret Service.

Details now from Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The multiple weekend excursions to Mar-a-Lago, the repeated visits to his golf club in New Jersey, around-the-clock security for the first lady and their son inside Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan until recently. Now there's more scrutiny of the strain of those operations for the men and women who protect President Trump and his extended family.

UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: They are working more overtime hours they are not getting paid for.

TODD: Secret Service Director Randolph Alles said about 1,100 agency employees will work overtime hours this year that they won't get paid for without Congress stepping in.

Alles pointed in a statement, quote, "This issue is not one that can be attributed to the current administration's protection requirements. But rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade."

Still, observers say Alles has a problem internally at the Secret Service.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has a lot of angry, frustrated agents, who feel that they are giving more than they should give by serving on these details.

TODD: And the Trump details are taxing the Secret Service in unique ways. Unlike other presidents who made trips to Camp David, where military security is already in place, President Trump's made frequent trips to his resorts.

Former Secret Service agent, Larry Johnson, says that creates more security challenges and longer hours for the agents. LARRY JOHNSON, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: You are going to have to

name-check, you're going to have to do extra security because of access to individuals that may either be residents in that location, or members of the golf club, et cetera. The logistics of the Secret Services is quite amazing, when you talk about moving vehicles, moving agents, moving assets, like magnetometers.

TODD: And Trump's large family, 18 members in all, travel often and need protection wherever they go. "USA Today" reports Trump's son, Eric, took a business trip to Uruguay earlier this year, which cost the Secret Service almost $100,000 just for hotel rooms.

[01:40:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You may remember when the children, the three adult children all went skiing. It cost quite a pretty penny in ski lift fees just for the Secret Service agents. It costs thousands upon thousands of dollars in golf cart fees when the family in at Mar-a-Lago because the Secret Service agents have to have golf carts to follow everybody around.

TODD: This, from a president who tweeted three years ago, quote, "We pay for Obama's travel, so he can fundraise millions so Democrats can run on lies. Then we pay for his golf."

The White House issued a statement saying, "The president is committed to ensuring the Secret Service has all the resources it needs.

Secret Service Director Alles promised to work with Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to make sure agents are paid their overtime.

(on camera): Even if the budget and overtime issue are resolved this year, former Secret Service agents and other observers worry about a broader long-term issue, the challenges of keeping top agents in the agency. Several of them have left in recent years. And the challenges of recruiting top law enforcement agents to join the Secret Service.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Next here on NEWSROOM L.A., millions in the U.S. gazed skywards for a once-in-a-century total eclipse. If you missed it, don't worry, because the next one is just a few years away.


VAUSE: Across the United States, they ooh'd and aah'd. Some cried, others cheered. They held each other and shared a moment like no other. And here are some of the highlights of the total solar eclipse.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: At this, some live pictures now coming in from Madras, Oregon, one of the first cities to experience this historic event, stretching across 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina. We'll be in what's called the path of totality for this solar event.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESOPNDENT: This is absolutely incredible, Wolf. It's getting darker here. It's getting cooler here. Several degrees cooler. And we have this perfect sort of Cheshire Cat grin right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the moon moves across, you'll see subtle changes in the structure of the corona, that's sort of with the light passing through different parts of the valleys of the moon in the profile. But it' really those three incredible -- oh, my god, look at that.

MARQUEZ: Look at the phones trying to take pictures of this thing. We are in full totality now. You can see the streams coming off the moon.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: But in Casper, Wyoming, it's just before. And if you think of the crescent there as a smile, the smile is getting narrower and narrow, and amazing, at this point, it's gone.

BLITZER: There it is. Total eclipse in Casper, Wyoming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, if they take the filters off the camera, they will see the corona.

VAUSE: You see it. You see it. There it is.



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So you see how dark it is, Anderson? You can actually see how dark it's getting. Can you see that?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's amazing. Yes, it's amazing.

ELAM: Can you hear the cheering?


ELAM: It's amazing. This is the most phenomenal thing I've ever seen.

[01:45:14] UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're only getting 81 percent. But the president and Melania Trump and some members of his cabinet, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, are all heading out on the South Lawn of the White House right now.

What are you experiencing right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, it the first time I've ever felt in my life as one person connected to the universe. UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORERSPONDENT: Everyone right now just taking

pictures of what's happening. They're just really enjoying this once- in-a-lifetime moment. And it really, for many people, that's what this is, a time where they'll probably be telling children and grandchildren about the time they saw the moon blot out the sun.


VAUSE: For more on this once-in-a-lifetime, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, magnificent, astonishing, transcendent, life-changing, spiritually uplifting, unrivalled moment in the history of the world, we head to Houston, Texas and former NASA astronaut, Leroy Chao.

Leroy, thank you for being with us.

I'm looking to you for one good explanation for why this total eclipse was such a big deal. Now, there's another one coming up over South America in two years, another one in the U.S. in seven years. They happen about once every year and a half, don't they?

LEROY CHIAO, FORMER ASTRONAUT: Right. So eclipses occur fairly often, occur fairly often, as you can imagine. You have the moon orbiting. We have the earth orbiting the sun. So there's several times when the moon is going to pass between the earth and the sun, which is what, of course, an eclipse is. The reason this one was so special is because out of all those orbits and everything lined up, and so that we have a total eclipse of the sun that traversed over a very large part of the United States. And that, frankly, hasn't happened since 1979. And even that eclipse did cover as much area as this one did today. And so it was very exciting for a lot of people to go down and get into the path of totality, as it's called, so that they could watch the sun be pretty much completely covered by the moon and just be able to see the edge, the corona around the edge of the sun. I've never seen that myself. But I imagine, from the photographs, it looks pretty spectacular.

VAUSE: I still don't get it, but thank you.

Back in 2005, you're were on board the international space station. There was a solar eclipse. Can you describe what that experience is like from that perspective and also describe the video which you recorded at the time.

CHIAO: Right. So we were told from the Mission Control Center that at a certain time, we might be able to see the shadow of the moon on the earth from a partial eclipse. And so at the right time, I got to a window with a video camera. I was able to shoot some footage of the shadow of the moon on the clouds of the earth. So that was pretty cool, pretty impressive to see. But from the images I've seen from the earth, if you're in the path of totality, it looks like it's actually more of an awesome thing to see from the ground.

VAUSE: OK, so apart from my, I guess, disappointment in all of this, there is actually a reason to be excited from a scientific point of view. Because when you have a total eclipse, there's a chance for scientists to gather important information about the sun and the inner corona.

CHIAO: That's right. And so when you observe the sun, of course, you're hit with the full brunt of all the light and all the spectra coming from the sun. But when you have the moon basically blocking pretty much most of the visible part of the sun, you can see the corona around the edge. And so you can make some detailed observations with some sensitive instruments to try to tease out some more details about the corona, which really is not very well understood. These kinds of conditions offer scientists that ability, or that opportunity to make those kinds of measurements.

VAUSE: And the corona is important because that's where the solar winds come from, the magnetic fields come from, the stuff which kind of impacts cell phone networks, for example?

CHIAO: Right. It's really not very well understood. It's the outer portion of the sun. It extends quite a bit off of what you might call the surface of the sun. And it's actually a lot cooler than a little farther down. So it's a little counterintuitive that the so-called outer layer of the sun is going to be cooler than the layer next down. So we really don't understand -- I should say, we understand some of what the corona is, but there's a lot about it that we don't understand. So these kinds of conditions do make it possible to make those observations.

VAUSE: Throughout the day, there was one crucial piece of advice, which we heard over and over again. This was it. Take a listen.


BLITZER: Anderson, you can see my solar eclipse lenses right here. I just want to alert the viewers who are watching, don't look directly. They need these special glasses, right?

[01:50:06] COOPER: Absolutely.


VAUSE: OK, they're taking it's very seriously. So for anyone, like the president of the United States, who decided that was fake news or something and decided to look directly at the sun without any protective eyewear on, how long before they would know if they've suffered some kind of serious eye damage?

CHIAO: Well, of course, the danger is, you know, just in normal daylight, you don't want to look directly at the sun. But you can take a quick glance at it and look away if you choose. And you might see spots for a few seconds but you really haven't done any damage to your eye. Now, if you stare at the sun for seconds at a time, now you're going to start doing some damage. The problem with an eclipse, if you're not in the part of totality, you're only getting part of the sun blocked and so while it might appear dim and you might be able to look at the sun, the part of the sun that's not covered, that's still coming at you at full intensity. So that' going to burn your retina, it's going to burn your eye, cause eye damage. That's the problem. The president, I'm sure he glanced at the sun briefly. I have to confess, I did the same today. I went outside, kind of glanced up quickly, and then borrowed a pair of these special lenses to take a look at the obscuration. But, yes, you have to be careful. If it hurts, you ought to stop doing it. And looking at the sun hurts.

VAUSE: Leroy, I appreciate your honesty.

Thank you for being with us.

CHIAO: My pleasure. Thank you.

VAUSE: The anthem for this day was written more than 30 years ago, Bonnie Tyler and "Total Eclipse of the Heart." She sang it loud and proud onboard a cruise ship as the temperature fell and the sky went dark.





VAUSE: Long time since 1983.

We'll take a short break. Still ahead here on NEWSROOM L.A. --




VAUSE: -- the bells no longer toll from Big Ben. An icon silenced. We'll explain why after the break.





VAUSE: Killer robots, just like these ones here from "The Terminator" series, have been the stuff of Hollywood movies for a long time. But if they become reality, Arnold Schwarzenegger probably won't be there to save the day because he's an actor and not really a terminator. But the world's top experts on artificial intelligence are calling on the U.N. to ban killer robots worldwide. This is a serious issue. In an open letter, they warn, "These autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought of a scale greater than ever and at time scales faster than humans can comprehend."

The head of Tesla, Elon Musk, has long warned that A.I. could be more dangerous than nukes. Human Rights Watch says more than a dozen countries, including the United States, China, and Russia, are currently developing autonomous weapons systems.

From the future to the past. For almost 150 years, the iconic sound of Big Ben has been ringing out across London. But Big Ben needs fixing, and on Monday fell silent. It will not be heard for at least the next four years.

David McKenzie reports on the sound of controversy which is being heard across the British capitol.



[01:55:16] DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's perhaps London's most famous sight and sound.


MCKENZIE: Every hour, on the hour, the bongs of Big Ben, drawing crowds, keeping time over London.


MCKENZIE: The clock a marvel of 19th century engineering.


MCKENZIE: They 13-ton bell chiming through war and peace nearly uninterrupted for 157 years. Halted now for major renovations to Elizabeth Tower. The 118-decibel bong is too loud for the renovation team.

ADAM WATROBSKI, RESTORATION ARCHITECT: Well, this is the most extensive work that's ever been done. The tower is in pressing need of repair and doing nothing, of course, is not an option. Based on that, we've put together an extensive package of works, which really starts at the top and goes all the way down to the bottom.

MCKENZIE (on camera): The bell will be mostly silent for at least four years.

And for some members of parliament, that's a bit of a clanger.

(voice-over): And it's created a very British tiff.

STEPHEN POUND, BRITISH MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: What could be more symbolic than the sound of Big Ben. The sound of those glorious bells ringing out in the key of E across Westminster. So people feel they want to cling on to something that they understand, and they feel it's being dashed from their lips.

MCKENZIE: For some tourists here, it's all a bit emotional.

ROBERT ELLIS, TOURIST: Well, Big Ben is just what London is all about. When I was little, I used to watch the news and Big Ben always used to be 10:00 news, Big Ben used to strike. And that said it all. All the big occasions, you've get Big Ben. So for the next four years, it's going be sad, really, not to hear it.


MCKENZIE: The hammer will still strike on Remembrance Day and New Year's Eve.

And when it's all done, the clock face is restored to their colorful Victorian splendor. Then sounding off once again.

David McKenzie, CNN, London.



VAUSE: Four very long years. We'll just have to wait.

You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

Please follow us on Twitter, @CNNNEWSROOMLA. Isha will respond to all of your tweets. And you can watch highlights and clips from our show.

In the meantime, stay with us. I'll be back with a lot more news after a very short break.