Skip to main content

tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  September 10, 2013 10:00am-11:01am PDT

10:00 am
sleeve. >> that's happening 9:00 eastern tonight. you can watch his speech right here on cnn. our primetime coverage starts at 7:00 eastern. >> thanks for watching "around the world." wolf blitzer is up next. >> "cnn newsroom" starts now. >> president obama faces a crucial test of leadership at home and on the world stage. right now, the president is on capitol hill. he's trying to lobby very skeptical lawmakers. he wants them to authorize u.s. military action against syria even as a diplomatic proposal plays out right now. and tonight, the president faces another tough audience, the american people. right now, the secretary of state john kerry is warn tag diplomacy on syria can't just be a process of delaying a u.s. military strike. kerry told lawmakers the administration is waiting for russia's proposal but "we're not waiting for long." those were his words. we'll have the very latest on the push to authorize u.s.
10:01 am
military action and the search for a diplomatic solution to avoid. also happening right now, apple is unveiling its new crop of iphones. you the rumors have been rampant, more colors, a more budget-friendly model, even a new fingerprint sensor. will all this help apple keep up with the competition? we have details coming up in a live report. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. we want to start with dramatic developments right now that are reshaping the debate over what to do about syria. what started as an off the cuff remark seemingly at least now a diplomatic push to avoid a u.s. military strike. at the same time, president obama is pressing ahead, trying to make the case for potential u.s. military action. he's lobbying lawmakers this hour. he addresses the nation tonight. the president says it's the
10:02 am
threat of force that's driving the diplomacy. the secretary of state john kerry echoed that view during a congressional hearing today. >> a lot of people say that nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging. well, it's the credible threat of force that has been on the table for these last weeks that has for the first time brought this regime to even acknowledge that they have a chemical weapons arsenal. and it is the threat of this force and our determination to hold assad accountable that has motivated others to even talk about a real and credible international action that might have an impact. so how do you maintain that pressure? we have to continue to show syria, russia, and the world that we are not going to fall for stalling tactics, if the challenge we laid down is going to have the potential to become a real proposal, it is only
10:03 am
because of the threat of force that we are discussing today and that threat is more compelling if congress stands with the commander in chief. >> we're covering all the latest developments with jim acosta over at the white house, dana bash is up on capitol hill. phil black is in moscow. phil, we'll start with you. syria has accepted this russian plan to surrender control of its chemical weapons, potentially to destroy all those chem wal weapons but there's not much concrete to that at least not yet. there is a u.n. resolution security council resolution that is now being drafted by france, a close ally, of course, of the u.s. outline what france is proposing and how all this so dramatically at least potentially fits together. >> well, wolf, france is proposing a resolution that's pretty tough, very strong. one that effectively blames the syrian government for using chemical weapons against innocent syrian civilians and one that calls for pretty tough
10:04 am
measures if the syrian government doesn't follow through. with the commitments that it appears to be making and allowing its chemical weapons stockpile to come under international control. already, this is a red flag for the russians. they are not happy with the strong language that france wants to use and the russian foreign ministry says it is working on its own rival united nations security council resolution because it says what the french are proposing is unacceptable. this is really a key issue to what extent will the russians allow a resolution that has teeth? one that is enforceable perhaps with military action if the syrian government doesn't live up to its commitments on this. the other big challenge for the russians and syrians is what they say they're working on, as well which is on the ground. how do you actually make this happen? how do you account, secure and ultimately perhaps identify even destroy russia's syria's i should say top secret chemical weapons stockpile within the context of of of civil war very
10:05 am
much tearing apart the country. that's the challenge on the ground in syria. russia says it is working on a plan with the syrians and plans to make that plan available to the world in the coming days. wolf? >> yesterday, president obama told me he actually discussed this initiative potential initiative with the russian president, president putin at the st. petersburg summit in russia last week. walk us through because there's this notion that secretary kerry yesterday morning, he raised the idea soft of in an off the cuff way and the russians immediately grabbed it. give us a sense what russians are saying how the initiative got off the ground? >> you're right. it's still pretty murk ku when it comes to understanding the origins and evolution of this idea. yesterday, when the russians jumped on it and endorsed it, they said very clearly they were doing that because of those remarks. the secretary kerry seemed to make off the cuff when he was in
10:06 am
london. those remarks made by kerry were later played down by the state department as being a rhetorical argument not necessarily very serious. since then we've heard from the u.s. administration and here in russia, as well, that yes, this very idea was discussed by presidents obama and putin when they were in st. petersburg on the sidelines of the summit last week. what we've heard from te russian foreign ministry, this is not an exclusive russian, but something that has come about because of contacts between the two corrupts. they were reacting from the publicra, from secretary kerry yesterday. >> phil black in moscow, thank you. president obama has called this initiative a possible possible break through. that's what he told me yesterday. here's how senator john mccain reacted to all of this on cnn's "new day." >> i am very skeptical, very, very skeptical. but the fact is that you can't
10:07 am
pass up this opportunity if it is one, but you've got to the right away determine whether it's real or not. >> it's bring in dana bash right now. the president's there up on capitol hill where you are, dana. he's making a personal appeal to senators from both parties. do we know how this russian proposal is actually impacting his message right now? >> it's thrown everything up in the air. and nobody knows exactly how things are going to fall. if i just can be set the scene for you, all of those people behind me, most of them reporters, some staff waiting for the president behind those doors at this point with senate democrats and he's going to meet with senate republicans. this is the time they have their weekly lunches. the white house asked the president come 0 make his case in person and, of course, take some questions what exactly the policy is when they made these plans, they thought it was going to be about the military use of force resolution that they were planning to vote on maybe as soon as tomorrow.
10:08 am
but of course, that's on hold indefinitely because of the fact that everybody is kind of waiting for russia and now specifically the u.n. to see if there is any kind i have off rach here. what is going on behind the scenes is a rather large group of bipartisan senators. john mccain is one and chuck schumer is another working on a potential resolution that would replace what they are originally planned that takes into account what's going on diplomatically. and the idea at this point and it's the beginning of this idea, at this point, it would be to say explicitly that bashar al assad did use these chemical weapons and most importantly it would say that syria would have to turn over the chemical weapons in some way to the international community. if not, the threat of force of military action would still be there as sort of the teeth behind any kind diplomatic solution. i talked to lindsey graham, senator from are south carolina.
10:09 am
he said he doesn't even want to talk about this, even discuss bringing it it to the floor of the senate till they are sure that the process at the united nations is real and this isn't something that russia floated out there in order to stall things. >> let's talk about that because the senate foreign reeses committee approved that earlier authorization, 10-7 with one senator, ed markey voting present. that resolution now for all practical purposes has gone away. harry reid has put that on hold because of this dramatic diplomatic development. >> absolutely. and that's why things are really up in the air. not just on the international stage but here in the united states congress. and you know, it's really unclear where these senators or these house members would be asked to vote. there are a lot of people here who still think they should push forward on the concept of having military force because republicans, democrats alike insist just like the white house says, that that is the reason
10:10 am
why things seem to be moving a little bit more, a lot more than they were diplomatically because of the threat of force because the senate foreign relations committee did pass that resolution last week. but how this goes from here, it's anybody's guess. what is fascinating and so telling about where the public is and where congress is is ta as it became clear that the actual resolution to authorize military force wasn't going to happen, you saw for after senator, house member after house member, democrat and republican come out and say they were against it. it was almost like the floodgates opened when they realized they didn't have to rote for it. that includes ed markey, senator from massachusetts who is only in the senate because john kerry left his seat to become secretary of state, and he's opposing secretary kerry despite all of the hours countless hours he has put in here on capitol hill to convince people like markey to support this. >> dana bash up on capitol hill. thanks very much. the president is delivering his
10:11 am
message in person. he'll be delivering it to tonight and you'll be able to see him on your tv screens, your smartphones, all sorts of other mobile devices. in my one-on-one interview with the president yesterday, he spoke about keeping up the pressure on syria, and that includes laying out his case to the american people. >> if we can accomplish this limited goal without taking military action, that would be my preference. on the other hand, if we don't maintain and move forward with a credible threat of military pressure, i do not think we will actually get the kind of agreement i'd like to see. >> let's go to our senior white house correspondent jim acosta. i assume the speech that we're going to hear tonight, jim, is going to be totally different, maybe not totally different but pretty different than what it would have been let's say 48 hours ago. >> that's right, wolf. i talked to a couple of administration officials this morning who said that this is not going to be the speech that the president might have delivered 48 hours ago that the
10:12 am
events of the last 24 hours specifically, the russia proposal that seemed get off the ground when the secretary of state made those comments yesterday in lon do, all of that has changed what is going into tonight's speech. others have been reporting, i've also talked to an administration official who said there is now less pressure for a vote on capitol hill. they want to let diplomacy take its course. speaking of diplomacy, a little bit of a story to tell you about diplomacy in realtime as one senior administration official put it as to how this russian proposal came about. according to this administration official, presidents obama and putin have been talking about the syria issue of chemical weapons for about a year now. they appointed secretary of state john kerry and the foreign minister sergey lavrov to be their point persons in all of this and discussing this idea of getting the russians more invested in this process for some time now. then as you know, wolf, this came up at the g-20 summit. president obama and president
10:13 am
putin talked about this. then it was over the weekend lavrov and kerry talked about it again. they talked about it again on monday and then kerry came out and made that statement in london where he said perhaps assad should just get rid of his chemical weapons. i'm told by a senior administration official at that point, after he made that statement, a call was made, a prearranged call occurred between kerry and lavrov where kerry basically said we need to see a credible plan for action here. it was at that point that the russian foreign minister said okay, we'll get back to you and then the russians made their proposal and it started to take a life of its own from that point forward. it was interesting to note, by talking to this administration official, that almost immediately after kerry got off the phone with lavrov, he called the white house and all of this getting batted back and forth between the white house and the state department. this official described as diplomacy if realtime and sometimes you just have to take opportunities that come your
10:14 am
way. but obviously, a stunning development in all of in that is very much changed the state of play here in washington, wolf. >> totally stunning. you have details. the president was on the phone earlier today, separate conversations with the french president hollande and british prime minister cameron . tell us what the white house is saying about those calls. >> basically that those calls, that the president spoke with the french president, david cameron, that they've all agreed to start letting this process at the u.n. take its course. and that's important, wolf, because up until 24 hours ago, we were expecting the speech from the president tonight to focus on his case for military action and it seems now if you listen to the tick-tock behind the scenes that went on between kerry and lavrov and the momentum starting to build there towards getting russia involvement in that will syria chemical weapon plan and what is happening with the president calling foreign leaders saying let's take a look at this u.n.
10:15 am
plan, some of the steam has come out of this in terms of the united states moving quickly and rapidly toward some sort of military action. it just doesn't seem that is the case anymore. i think that's going to be reflected in the president's speech tonight. >> interesting the statement that the white house just released. i'll just read a section of it. the white house saying that in these phone conversations with the french and british leaders, the president and all three of them, they agreed to work closely together in consultation with russia and china to explore seriously the viability of the russian proposal to put all syrian chemmal weapons and related materials fully under international control in order to insure their vir fibl and enforceable destruction. these efforts will begin today at the united nations and will include a discussion on elements of a potential u.n. security council resolution. it goes on to talk about president bashar al assad. i must say, jim, this is pretty specific and it is -- it shows
10:16 am
that all three of these allies, the u.s., uk and france are now on board. they're ready to give diplomacy a chance and as a result, military action while significant potentially in encouraging the syrians and the russians to get on board, that's not going to happen at least for the time being. they're going to give diplomacy a shot. >> that's right. diplomacy is on the table but administration officials caution, wolf, they don't think they would have gotten to this point had there not been the threat of military force. they think that was the driving mechanism that got the russians to say okay, we will get involved here. we're going to come up with a plan and it was at that point that the united states said okay, this is worth taking a look at. obviously, as we heard secretary kerry say up on capitol hill as we heard the president say to you, they don't want this to be a stalling tactic or delay tactic but at this point they believe that this has great potential for bringing about what they say was the end result that they were seeking in all of this, and that was for bashar al assad to abandon his chemical
10:17 am
weapons stockpile and think this plan potentially could work. >> it would work a lot better than what the president was working about, degrade agen deterring. this would destroy for all practical purposes if it succeeds. jim acosta, thanks very much. please be sure to tune in right here to cnn for the president's address on syria. it begins at 9:00 p.m. eastern when the president will address the american people. our special primetime coverage though will begin at 7:00 p.m. eastern with aaron burnett out front. a sincere proposal or simple mr. i a stalling tactic. that's the question about russia's new push to disarm syria of chemical weapons. the former state department official nicholas burns is standing by to join us. that's next. also, we'll talk about the next steps for the obama administration and what to do about syria. stay with us.
10:18 am
i'm only in my 60's... i've got a nice long life ahead. big plans. so when i found out medicare doesn't pay all my medical expenses, i looked at my options. then i got a medicare supplement insurance plan. [ male announcer ] if you're eligible for medicare, you may know it only covers about 80% of your part b medical expenses. the rest is up to you. call now and find out about an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company. like all standardized medicare supplement plans,
10:19 am
it helps pick up some of what medicare doesn't pay. and could save you thousands in out-of-pocket costs. to me, relationships matter. i've been with my doctor for 12 years. now i know i'll be able to stick with him. [ male announcer ] with these types of plans, you'll be able to visit any doctor or hospital that accepts medicare patients. plus, there are no networks, and you never need a referral to see a specialist. so don't wait. call now and request this free decision guide to help you better understand medicare... and which aarp medicare supplement plan might be best for you. there's a wide range to choose from. we love to travel -- and there's so much more to see. so we found a plan that can travel with us. anywhere in the country. [ male announcer ] join the millions of people who have already enrolled in the only medicare supplement insurance plans endorsed by aarp, an organization serving the needs of people 50 and over for generations. remember,
10:20 am
all medicare supplement insurance plans help cover what medicare doesn't pay. and could save you thousands a year in out-of-pocket costs. call now to request your free decision guide. and learn more about the kinds of plans that will be here for you now -- and down the road. i have a lifetime of experience. so i know how important that is. welcome back. earlier we spoke about syria's accepting russia's proposal on chemical weapons which may seem odd given this from the syrian president, bashar al assad. >> why do you have such a stockpile of chemical weapons?
10:21 am
>> we don't discuss this issue in public because we never said we have it and never said we won't have it. it's a syrian issue, a military issue. we never discuss in public with anyone. >> with syria though, accepting the russian plan, they are in effect admitting they do have chemical weapons, something he tried as you just heard to avoid doing. so now certainly the cat is out of the bag, officially at least. it doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who has watched syria over these many years that would include the former u.s. ambassador to nato, nicholas burns joining us right now. thanks very much for coming in. do you think this initiative has a shot of working and avoiding a u.s. military strike? >> well, it certainly does, i think it does, wolf. and the president's right to pursue it, but it's far from a done deal and it's going to be very difficult to get it done because we have not yet seen the details of the russia/syria proposal that lavrov said he's
10:22 am
working on, number one. number two, the u.s. will insist on a very strong tough u.n. security council resolution that censors syria that makes sure all the chemical weapons in the country are given to a responsible third party like the united nations. and that has some kind of enforcement mechanism. so that means if syria reneges on this deal 30 or 60 days from now, the u.s. and france would retain the right of force. that's critical under chapter 7 of the u.n. charter. all that is going to be tough because i think the russians and chinese acting on behalf of the syrians will resist the tougher parts of what the united states is seeking to achieve. >> does the u.s. have a good sense as far as intelligence is concerned where all these chemical weapons stockpiles in syria are? in other words, would inspectors know with are to go to secure them? >> i don't think that's likely. you're right to suggest this is an extraordinary, extraordinary day when for decades assad
10:23 am
father and son refused to say whether they had chemical weapons. now they're implicitly admitting it. the big task in the middle of a syrian civil war will be for u.n. inspectors to go in and find it all. that's another big question that the administration will have to determine, how do we know when all the syrian chemical weapons have been discovered and then put together in one place and shipped out of the country for destruction? it's going to be a long laborious process. and again, i think it's important at that time united states be very tough in these negotiations with the russians and chinese. the action now shifting to the security council in new york. >> it looks though like the russians for whatever reason may have thrown a sort of a lifeline to this whole prospect because the u.s., with or without congressional authorization, if you listen to the obama administration, they were ready to launch air strikes. now for all practical purposes, that's on delay for the time being. >> well, wolf, it may be that the russians and syrians were in effect intimidated by the tough posture of president obama.
10:24 am
president obama threatened air strikes. and it may be that the syrians and russians concluded the syrians couldn't afford it. this is a lifeline to the syrian regime. as president reagan used to say, we should not trust the syrian regime. we're going to have to verify. it will be in the implementation, the painstaking implementation of this plan if it does get off the ground where i think i success or failure will be met. and i think president obama's right to walk down the road, but boy, we're entering now diplomatic combat of sorts. and it will mean that france, the uk and u.s. will have to stick together against the russians and chinese up in new york. >> yeah, well let's see what happens. there is an opening right now as the president told me yesterday a potential break through, a long way to go as you point out, but potentially important developments, positive developments. nick burns, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. still ahead, what the crisis in syria is doing to the price
10:25 am
of oil, the price of gas. stay with us. we went out and asked people a simple question: how old is the oldest person you've known? we gave people a sticker and had them show us. we learned a lot of us have known someone
10:26 am
who's lived well into their 90s. and that's a great thing. but even though we're living longer, one thing that hasn't changed much is the official retirement age. ♪ the question is how do you make sure you have the money you need to enjoy all of these years. ♪ what are you guys doing? having some fiber! with new phillips' fiber good gummies. they're fruity delicious! just two gummies have 4 grams of fiber! to help support regularity! i want some... [ woman ] hop on over! [ marge ] fiber the fun way, from phillips'.
10:27 am
10:28 am
welcome back to our continuing coverage of the crisis in syria. the price of oil meanwhile is dropping once again today. most of that is coming on the possibility that tensions could ease between the u.s. and syria. the price had been running up for weeks, passing the two-year high. on this week's how to speak money, christine romans explains why there's concern over prices spiking at the gas pushes, as well. >> that's right, wolf. conventional wisdom holds that the threat of conflict in syria and instability in the middle east will the keep prices they're the two-year highs. don't worry just yet. there might not be a spike in your prices. syria is not a major oil producer but experts always worry that the conflict could spread to oil rich countries or corrupts that control the flow of oil. that would mean higher prices at the pump. mideast turmoil always worries people. you always get this return of the images like these from the
10:29 am
1970s, gas lines and shortages in the u.s. because of mideast unrest. but that is very, very unlikely. here's why. the u.s. is not as dependent on middle eastern oil as it used to be. we are producing more oil here and we're importing less. >> we're producing about 2 million barrels a day more crude than we were during the first arab spring back in the first quarter of 2011. we're he producing much more crude than we did in 2003 and in addition, our canadian neighbors to the north are sending us over 2 million barrels a day. >> today, wolf, imports account for about 30% of the oil and gas consumed in the u.s., down from 60% as recently as 2005. and we're using less gas. in 2007, the average new car in the u.s. got something like 20 miles per gallon, right? today it's nearly 25. and close as prediction for the end of the year, he says even with tensions running high in
10:30 am
the middle east, he expects gas will stay the same or even go down a bit. as for $4 gas, he says that's not in the cards. wolf? >> christine romans, pretty encouraging i should say. just ahead, my interview with president obama. he says the russian plan for syria is to hand over its chemical weapons is in fact possible if it's real. the rest of what he had to say right after this break. this man is about to be the millionth customer. would you mind if i go ahead of you? instead we had someone go ahead of him and win fifty thousand dollars. congratulations you are our one millionth customer. nobody likes to miss out. that's why ally treats all their customers the same. whether you're the first or the millionth. if your bank doesn't think you're special anymore, you need an ally.
10:31 am
ally bank. your money needs an ally. but it might just be my favorite. [ female announcer ] welcome to the new aarp. we're ready to help you rediscover purpose and passion with programs like life reimagined to inspire you and connect you, resources to help turn your goals and dreams into real possibilities. aarp, an ally for real possibilities. find new tools and ideas for work, money, health and fun
10:32 am
at vo:remember to changew that oil is the it on schedule toy car.n keep your car healthy. show your car a little love with an oil change starting at $19.95.
10:33 am
this is certainly a crucial week for the obama presidency. a lot riding on his major speech to the nation tonight. we'll certainly try to make the case for u.s. military action against the syrian regime, but
10:34 am
at the same time, he will also keerly leave the door open for diplomacy. i had a chance to sit down with president obama for a one-on-one interview just ahead of tonight's primetime address. >> mr. president, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> this latest idea floated by the secretary of state john kerry picked up by the russians, is it possible this could avert a u.s. military strike on syria if. >> it's possible if it's real. and you know, i think it's certainly a positive development when the russians and the syrians both make gestures towards dealing with these chemical weapons. this is what we've been asking for, not just over the last week or the last month but for the last couple of years because these chemical weapons pose a significant threat to all nations and to the united states in particular. that's why 9 8% of humanity has said we don't use these. that protects our troops and it protects children like the ones we saw in those videos inside of
10:35 am
syria. so it is a potentially positive development. i have to say that it's unlikely that we would have arrived at that point where there were even public statements like that without a credible military threat to deal with the chemical weapons used inside of syria. but we're going to run this to ground. and john kerry and the rest of my national security team will engage with the russians and the international community to see, can we arrive at something that is enforceable and serious. one reason that this may have a chance of success is that even syria's allies like iran detest chemical weapons. iran, you know, unfortunately was the target of chemical weapons at the hands of saddam hussein back during the iraq-iran war. we may be able to arrive at a con sense in which it doesn't solve the underlying problems of a civil war in syria but it does solve the problem that i'm trying to focus on right now
10:36 am
which is making sure you don't have over 400 children gassed indiscriminately by these chemical weapons. >> as ban ki-moon says not only control them but go ahead and destroy them. that's a lot better than deterring the syrians from using these chemical weapons. >> absolutely. that's why we're going to take this seriously. but i have to consistently point out that we have not seen these kinds of gestures up until now. and in part, the fact that the u.s. administration and i have said we are serious about this, i think has prompted some interesting conversations. and these are conversations that i've had directly with mr. putin when i was at the g-20, we had some time to discuss this. and i believe that mr. putin does not see the use of chemical weapons as a good thing inside of syria or any place else and
10:37 am
so it's possible that we can get a break-through, but it's going to have to be followed up on and we don't want just a stalling or delaying tactic to put off the pressure that we have on there right now. we have to maintain this pressure by i'll still be speaking to the nation why this is so important. >> is this bashar al assad's last chance? >> i think it is important for assad to understand that the chemical weapons ban which has been in place is one that the entire civilized world just about respects and observes. it's something that protects our troops, even when we're in the toughest war theaters from being threatened by these chemical weapons. it's something that protects women and children and civilians because these weapons by definition are indiscriminate. they don't just target somebody in uniform. and you know, i suspect that
10:38 am
some of assad's allies recognize the mistakes he made in using these weapons. and it may be that he is under pressure from them, as well. you know, again, this doesn't solve the underlying terrible conflict inside of syria, but if we can accomplish this limited goal without taking military action, that would be my preference. on the other hand, if we don't maintain and move forward with a credible threat of military pressure, i do not think we will actually get the kind of agreement i'd like to see. >> you're being seen right now on cnn and cnn international around the world, including in damascus. what i'd like you to do mr. president, if you're amenable to doing it, look into the camera, talk directly to president bashar al assad, tell him specifically what you think he must do to avert a u.s. military strike. >> you know, i don't need to talk in the camera. i suspect he's got people who
10:39 am
will be watching this. >> he's probably watching it himself. >> we've been very clear about what we expect, and that is do not use chemical weapons. control the chemical weapons and now because we've seen assad's willingness to use chemical weapons, we're going to have to go further and give the international community assurances that they will not be used potentially by getting them out of there, at minimum making sure that international control over those chemical weapons takes place. that can be accomplished, and it does not solve the broader political situation. i would say to mr. assad, we need a political settlement so that you're not slaughtering your own people. and by the way, encouraging some elements of the opposition 0 engage in some terrible behavior, as well. you know, what i'm thinking about is right now though, how do we make sure that we can verify that we do not have chemical weapons that can be used not only inside of syria,
10:40 am
but potentially could drift outside of syria. >> he said in an interview with charlie rose that if you, the united states, attack launch military strikes, he said he will respond anything, he said expect anything. >> yeah. >> not only from him but from his allies. that sounds like a threat to the united states. >> yeah. mr. assad doesn't have a lot of capability. he has capability relative to children. he has capability relative to a an opposition that is still getting itself organized or not professional trained fighters. he doesn't have a credible means to threaten the united states. his allies, iran and hezbollah, could potentially engage in asymmetrical strikes against us, but frankly the kind of threats that they could pose against us are typical of the kinds of threats that we're dealing with around the world that i've spoken of recently which is embassies that are being threatened, you know, u.s.
10:41 am
personnel in the region. those are threats that we deal with on an ongoing basis. they are always of concern. obviously, we saw the situation in yemen just a few weeks ago where we wanted to respond by getting some of our folks out of there. but the notion that mr. assad could significantly threaten the united states is just not the case. >> strong words from the president. more of my interview coming up this hour. i asked the president how worried americans should be about the 12th industry of 9/11 that happens to be tomorrow. you'll be interested to hear what he says about threats that are out there. let's bring in our chief political analyst, gloria borger. gloria, he's got a major assignment tonight when he delivers this speech because he's got american audiences who will be watching, the whole world will be watching at the same time. >> right. as he's been doing throughout this entire crisis, he's got to thread the needle again because what he has to do is go to congress and say, this is a vote
10:42 am
for diplomacy. the only reason that the russians and the syrians are even thinking about coming to the table or letting inspectors in to syria is because of the threat of use of american force. so what he's got to say, the threat got us to this point, i'm skeptical about whether they really will cooperate. but we have to make the threat real. so he's got to continue to ask for the authorization of the use of force, but at the same time, he's got to the portray it as a diplomatic initiative and as kind of a last resort, which by the way, reminds me of iraq which is -- which was a vote to authorize the use of force, not the vote to use force. >> and iraq, they gave saddam hussein a lot of canness. >> they did. >> in the end to let the inspectors do what they wanted to do. >> that's why the administration says you know, and john mccain says we want a timetable. we want benchmarks. we're not going to go through that all over again. but as nick burns was saying to
10:43 am
you earlier, we're not quite sure where all these chemical weapons are. and that's not going to be an easy process. >> he speaks at a time when overwhelming majority of the american people don't want to go to war against syria. the mr. i can is deeply divided about him as president of the united states. we asked this question in our new cnn/orc poll. is president obama a strong and decisive leader. 50% said yes, 49% said no. that's a deep division within the country. >> well, it is a deep division within the country. as you've seen this syria issue play out, it's completely understandable. if you dig deeper into our plos we also asked whether the president inspires confidence and the public is split right down the middle on that. we asked the public whether the president is honest and trustworthy. split right down the middle on that. you remember during the election, one of the things that president obama had going for him when he was seeking re-election was the fak that the public always believed him to be honest and trustworthy.
10:44 am
and as a president, you really cannot afford to lose that particularly as you're asking members of congress to take a tough vote that their constituents are opposed to. but again, this gives him an opening because he can call this a vote for diplomacy rather than a vote for war. >> gives him a huge opening and i'm sure a lifeline as some people -- a political life line as a lot of people are suggesting. gloria will be later with me throughout the pite for our coverage of the president's address. be sure to tune in right here to cnn for the president's address on syria. it will air 9:00 p.m. eastern. our special coverage will begin at 7:00 p.m. eastern with aaron burnett out front. we'll have much more on syria ahead. we're also monitoring a live event in silicon valley, apple unveiling two new iphones. this hour. we have some details. that's next. ♪
10:45 am
[ jen garner ] what skincare brand is so effective...
10:46 am
so trusted... so clinically proven dermatologists recommend it twice as much as any other brand? neutrogena®. recommended by dermatologists 2 times more than any other brand. now that's beautiful. neutrogena®. ♪
10:47 am
10:48 am
syria in a few moments. happening right now in silicon valley, we're monitoring a live event. apple is announcing not one, but two new iphones including what they're causing a budget version. alison kosik is monitoring the event for us. what are we hearing from apple? >> we're hearing from tim cook and other executives from apple in cupertino, california, announcing all the new stuff. cook even joking about the rumors saying some of you may have expected the iphone 5 being replaced with two phones including the 5c, the sort of lower end version, the cheaper version that companies out in green, yellow, blue, red and white. it will be cheaper. one apple executive saying it's beautifully unapologetically plastic because instead of being made of glass aluminum, it's made of plastic. it's cheaper to produce. as far as the prices go for this phone, it looks like it will be about $99 for the 16 gigabyte, $199 for the 32 gigabyte and
10:49 am
these are the subsidized prices meaning this is a price you would pay when you get a two-year contract with your carrier. the battery on this one is expected to be a little larger than the iphone 5. that's the first phone coming out. the second is the 5s, called the gold standard in smartphones. it's referencing to the new colors, gold, silver, space gray. the big deal here is the 64-bit chip that can handle double the memory of the current model. that is a big difference -- that's a big deal. as far as what we're waiting on, we're waiting on pricing on this iphone 5s and when both of these phones are going to go on sale. one more thing to mention for those of us who still have our iphones and ipads right now, the next generation operating system will be available for you to get on september 1th. you can download that for free. >> alison kosik with the latest on the new iphones. thanks very, very much. adjust ahead, we'll get back to
10:50 am
our coverage of the crisis in syria, the obama administration, a lot of officials skeptical of russia's plan to have syria hand over its chemical arsenal but they're willing to give it a shot. we're taking a closer look at what's going on. i had pain in my abdomen... it just wouldn't go away.thing. i was spotting, but i had already gone through menopause. these symptoms may be nothing... but they could be early warning signs of a gynecologic cancer, such as cervical, ovarian, or uterine cancer. feeling bloated for no reason. that's what i remember. seeing my doctor probably saved my life. warning signs are not the same for everyone. if you think something's wrong... see your doctor. ask about gynecologic cancer. and get the inside knowledge.
10:51 am
chantix... it's a non-nicotine pill. i didn't want nicotine to give up nicotine. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven to help people quit smoking. [ mike ] when i was taking the chantix, it reduced the urge to smoke. [ male announcer ] some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. if you notice any of these, stop taking chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems, which could get worse while taking chantix. don't take chantix if you've had a serious allergic or skin reaction to it. if you develop these, stop taking chantix and see your doctor right away as some can be life-threatening. tell your doctor if you have a history of heart or blood vessel problems, or if you develop new or worse symptoms. get medical help right away if you have symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. use caution when driving or operating machinery. common side effects include nausea, trouble sleeping and unusual dreams. it feels wonderful. i don't smoke. i don't smoke. [ male announcer ] ask your doctor if chantix is right for you.
10:52 am
mayo? corn dogs? you are so outta here! aah! [ female announcer ] the complete balanced nutrition of great-tasting ensure. 24 vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and 9 grams of protein. [ bottle ] ensure®. nutrition in charge™. [ bottle ] ensure®. you just heard president obama say syria must get rid of its chemical weapons stockpiles. he's now in alone by any means. even russia has chimed in with a
10:53 am
proposal. let's bring in brian todd. a lot of folks are saying it's ironic for russia to be stepping in. >> it's ironic because you dig up information from russia's past. we know they've supplied them with conventional weapons. this is a cia document from 1983. what this boils down to is the russians, as the soviet union back in the '70s and '80s, helped the syrians lay the foundation for their chemical weapons program. this is a cia document from 1983. it's entitled "implications of soviet use of chemical and toxin weapons." a clear passage from this, it says, syria is a major recipient of soviet chemical weapons assistance, probably has the most advanced chemical warfare capability in the arab world with the exception of egypt. it says the soviet union
10:54 am
provided the chemical agents and training. the soviets made a conscious decision to help syria build its chemical weapons program. a u.s. official told me a short tme ago that russia in more recent years may have been one of the many sources for precursors and other ingredients for syria's chemical weapons program, but not necessarily consciously supporting that program in recent years. maybe shipping some chemicals they thought were being used for dual use like pharmaceuticals. but back in the soviet era, the russians consciously helped them lay the foundation for that program. that lends to skepticism of whether russia will be an honest broker right now. >> we'll see what happens. you look carefully at that syrian weapons program, they got a lot of help not just from russia, but from various european countries. even some american companies. inadvertently provided -- i know you have a lot more coming up in "the situation room." brian todd, thank you. just ahead, more of my interview with president obama, including why the united states apparently is going to be on some sort of
10:55 am
heightened alert tomorrow on the anniversary of 9/11.
10:56 am
10:57 am
we're only one day away from the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. the first anner have ri of the attack in benghazi that killed four americans, including the u.s. ambassador. i asked president obama when i sat down with him about all of that, how worried potentially we all should be. here's what he had to say.
10:58 am
>> one final quick question. 9/11, the anniversary this wednesday. should americans expect some sort of attack? >> i think that we are always on heightened alert on 9/11. we will continue to be. you know, what we've seen over the last decade because of the heroism of our troops and the enormous sacrifices of them and their families, america is safer than it was right before 9/11. but we still have threats out there, particularly outside of the homeland. we also have lone wolf threats as we saw during the boston marathon bombing. we have to remain vigilant. we're not going to be able to protect ourselves 100% of the time against every threat. but what we can do is make sure that we understand these threats are real. we have to be prepared. but not overreact in ways that potentially compromise our values and our ideals over long term. >> mr. president, thanks very much.
10:59 am
>> i appreciate it. thank you, wolf. >> and other u.s. officials have suggested to me that those so-called lone wolf threats, they are very, very serious out there. there are a lot of people apparently who would like to do something to hurt the united states for whatever reason. that's something that u.s. law enforcement, counterterrorism, homeland security officials are on the look out for tomorrow on the 12th anniversary of 9/11. we'll have extensive coverage, obviously, of that. don't forget, later tonight, tune into cnn for the president's address to the nation on syria and potential military and diplomatic options. the president will speak at 9:00 p.m. eastern. our special coverage will begin at 7:00 p.m. eastern with erin burnett "out front." i'll be back later today in "the situation room," 5:00 p.m. eastern for special coverage of the crisis in syria. much more coming up on that. i'll be back later tonight to anchor our coverage around the
11:00 am
president's address to the nation, a critically important address. we'll hear what the president has to say today. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in washington. "newsroom" continues right now. wolf, thank you. thank you so much for being with e me. a major development. syria officially takes up russia's proposal to give up control of its chemical weapons stockpile. this is a move that offers a double edge to the united states' debate as to whether or not the u.s. should strike. you have here on the one hand there may not be a need for the u.s. to attack syria, period. on the other, well, that's the point the president's top staffers stressed today before the house armed services committee. they say if syria is going to hand over its stockpile to international control, the u.s. needs to keep the threat of a