tv The Flag CNN September 11, 2013 7:30pm-9:01pm PDT
welcome back. we were talk before the break about what it will take to locate inventory, ultimately neutralize syria's arsenal. as the chief u.s. weapons inspector in iraq ten years ago, a member of the state department's international security advisory board joins us now. david, we were talking last night, you were saying 500 to 1,000 inspectors would be needed to secure these sites. you have now revised that number up dramatically. >> well, after discussion with colleagues and trying to think through the process that you'd have to go through, and i think our estimate is a reasonable
estimate is you're probably talking upwards of 2,000 people. >> are there that many qualified inspectors available? >> no. no, there are not. i'm sure it probably will not be that large simply because of that bottle neck. in the american case, the largest number of qualified personnel to serve as inspectors are actually in the military, and in the military they're in the special forces, which as we all know is overstretched there. so you're going to have to do it with less than i would like and less as desirable. and you're not going to do it with any of the american military personnel so you've got to find these people in other places. >> so play out the scenario, david. let's say kerry and lavrov have a very successful meeting. they've got their technical experts with them. tell us what the technical experts are doing with them right now. and what is it going to look like on the ground? >> well, i think the americans, at least i hope the americans are stressing that the inspectors have got to have an
unfetterred right to intervene, to inspect, to move freely, to bring the equipment they need, that the syrians have an obligation that the russians have got to insist that they honor of providing the physical protection and security for the inspectors, because they're not going to come with arms if their own troops to guard them. that this will be intrusive. and that they're going to move quickly. and let me emphasize that. look, anyone who's ever done this understands that you have a limited window of opportunity. and you
do as much as you can in the first three weeks to three months. because sooner or later, the people you're inspecting are going to decide you're too intrusive, they're giving up something they didn't intend to give up, they didn't realize that's what the russians meant, or they really would like to keep this. >> is your correlation of forces immediately around the good feeling and security council resolution generates. you've got to take advantage of that. you surge and do as much as you can in the first three months.
>> you're suggesting a supreme irony here, right? which is that if we bomb, obama guarantees there will be no boots on the ground. if we don't and try to security weapons, we guarantee that there will be american boots on the ground for a very long time in the middle of a civil war. is that the choice we're facing? >> no, you've misunderstood me. i said if i could pick my ideal inspectors who are trained, i know where i would go. i don't think i or anyone else will ever have that right. so you're going to have to pick up people, quite frankly if i were doing it i would be starting looking right now at resume's from people who work in chemical pesticide facilities. >> what about the security force? >> look, be realistic. in iraq in '91, we insisted that the iraqis provide us security. because we can't introduce the u.s. military doesn't want to go back into iraq. you're not going to introduce a security force now. now, the difficulty of that is
at some point as we saw two weeks ago with the chemical inspectors that went in there, the syrians will say, it's too dangerous to go someplace. at that point as an inspector you have two options. maybe it is too damn dangerous to go someplace, or they're trying to keep you from going to a place they don't want you to go. >> david, how many inspectors do you think are there qualified in the world? >> look, it's in the hundreds. it's not in the thousands. >> you're saying you would start looking at resume's from people like pesticides? are you saying exterminators? this is a dumb question. >> no. i certainly wouldn't -- >> are we in that bad of shape here? >> i'd like to see the translation if i told the syrians i was coming with exterminators. >> that would not go well. >> no. i'm talking about process engineers who work for companies like dow who know how the -- the first thing you've got to do, the first piece of information an inspector wants in this case
is show us the records of your production. we know the facilities they designed in the 60s and 70s. they were designed with the help of the soviet union. they now have a chemical inventory that's a result of 45 years of producing chemicals. the only way you can compare what they say when they hand off and say this is what we've got, secure it, whether that's even close to what they actually have is by looking at those production records. >> i'm just going to
jump in. we were reporting or the "washington post" was reporting earlier cnn has now confirmed the "washington post" earlier reporting that cia is now providing weapons to the syrian rebels. >> just an interesting nugget, david, to all this talk about the stockpiles and the fact that actually one of the successes is now that they've admitted to having it. but i'm so fascinated by syrian ministers who seem to be falling over themselves now to give more details. it's almost like tmi. today one of the cabinet
ministers said, you know, we've got chemical weapons and those were our strategic calculation as a strategic balance against israel. i mean, he actually said that out loud. >> do you have any doubt that some of the islamists, the extremists, would use chemical weapons if they had access to them? >> no doubt if they had access they would use them. one of these arguments that cuts both ways. we're worried about whether if by intervening we're going to make the situation worse. again if by not intervening some of the extremist rebels take over some of the areas where these chemical weapons are being held they would most certainly use them if they had the opportunity. we've had nonal qaeda members, the man who has made infamous he attempted or did eat the heart of the lung or one of the fighters that he killed. that's a nonal qaeda member who stooped to those levels of depravity. if al qaeda got hold of those weapons they most certainly would use them. >> it's been one of their key
goals since 9/11. the first thing we heard after 9/11 was that they were after chemical weapons. >> it's fascinating. they seem almost relieved to unburden themselves. it depends what -- we have to think about what's going on in their heads. >> i think the poor man's nukes, the same minister said chemical weapons are the poor man's nukes. >> his comment is really interesting but it illustrates the problem i'm more concerned with. the ministers are the people who are divulging the information. they are not the key people key players in producing those weapons. within and after this initial wave of good feeling, if this scheme goes ahead, the people in the military, it's the syrian revolutionary guard who guards those weapons who in fact were designed -- their whole mission has been the strategic deterrent against israel. if they suddenly see this most
valuable thing we have, the unique thing we had is starting to disappear, i suspect that is the resistance you'll run into. you mean we can't hide them? >> would you hope israel got rid of its chemical weapons? >> tarik hazziz told me after my second mission in 1991. he said, dr. david, we didn't think you're not behaving like a u.n. inspector we expected. you go into these agreements thinking one thing will happen, and something else happens. and we're going in, i hope if we go in, to seriously seize control of these weapons with the ultimate purpose of destroying them. i can guarantee you today there are a lot in the syrian military that aren't committed to that scenario. >> how long would that take by the way? the assessment, securing and destruction? how long is that? >> it would take years.
>> just break it down. >> it's going to take decades if you go to destruction. >> the assessment and securing. how long do you think that would take? >> depends on how many people you have and how you craft the security nut. what you've got to do when you secure thesis provide 24/7 security. now, are you going to depend on the syrians to do that? i rather think not. but on the other hand, inspectors are awful people for securing sitting around 24/7. >> i'm sorry, david. i didn't mean to interrupt you. david we've got to take a break. i appreciate you being on again. it's always fascinating to hear from one with so much experience on the ground. coming up next, the backdrop to so much of this conversation today, the tragic events of 12 years ago. we'll be right back. [ male announcer ] what's important to you?
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vo:remember to changew that oil is the it on schedule toy car. keep your car healthy. show your car a little love with an oil change starting at $19.95. welcome back. here with our panel. majid, i wanted to ask you where were you on 9/11? what did you think about 9/11 today? i know today you visited the site.
obviously you've had a sea change in your mind frame. >> i was in egypt. it was just before my arrest and detention. >> at that point you were an islamist extremist? >> i was. and i was very indifferent to the suffering caused by 9/11 to the american people. since then i've gone and spoken at the 9/11 memorial. i visited ground zero today. but at the time it happened i was so full of rage and anger towards democracy, the western america, that it didn't touch me whatsoever because i was consumed by what i had defined as my own people's suffering. >> so how do you -- now you lecture people go, to people, argue with them of trying to change islamist extremists' minds if this is a long war and i war of ideas as well as military war how do you change people's minds? >> picking holes in what i call the islamist narrative. that says there's a war going on against islam and muslims. the genocide in bosnia was a recruitment tool for extremists because of the fact it was so easy to make that point with bosnia as it is with many other
conflicts across the world. now, importantly when i go to pakistan and i say look you guys are upset about say u.s. drone strikes which i too oppose, but ultimately more pakistani muslims have died because of taliban attacks and al qaeda attacks than they have by u.s. drone strikes. >> as christiane knows, u.s. did get involved in somalia where i was at the height of the famine. we did get involved and americans were killed. >> if you now speak to kosovos and libyans where there have been intervention strikes limited and not troops on the ground, they are still to this day despite the assassination of chris stevens by a faction, al qaeda, not the people of libya who protested against that assassination, they're still very u.s. and pro nato as are the kosovos. the thing we're intervening in syria, if it's done in the right way, in a proper way, without troops on the ground, without toppling the regime, disabling
assad's capability to strike at his people with chemical weapons it dents the narrative there's a global war going on against islamists by americans. that is crucial. [ overlapping speakers ] >> that's an overwhelmingly naive thing to say. i'm not saying he's not a muslim. try to make that case to the overwhelming majority of the syrian people. >> shia. doesn't it depend who you're making the argument to? the soon is in or the alowites or the christians? >> the main gripe with assad began because he was a dictator who tortured. >> why do the christians now fear the opposition more than assad? >> they fear the jabat faction of the opposition. >> they're right to. >> we don't use the word opposition in that generalized way. >> talk about libya, syria, egypt, there was a feeling during the arab spring that the narrative of al qaeda was fading, that the whole idea of violence in order to get democracy was fading and they
were doing it by uprising and et cetera. syria has now brought back the narrative of al qaeda. where do you think al qaeda is? >> they are more effective. we've got to keep one thing in mind you just mentioned, this comes off the back of the egyptian militaryover throwing -- i spent time with their leaders in prison. i know them intimately. i've been critical of the ideology per se. i've been critical of the muslim brotherhood's track record. at the same time, i don't believe it military dictatorships. so at the back of a democratically yet liberal regime being overthrown by a military regime in egypt we now have the syria scenario. it's easy for al qaeda to say look we tried democracy in egypt. we used to give flowers to the syrian troops and we're being killed. the only thing that works is violence. that's a recruitment sergeant to al qaeda. >> i want to bring in the literary editor of the new republic he joins us now from washington.
i know you've been listening to this. you support military action. why? in syria? >> i support it for a variety of reasons. i support it because i'm quite confident that if we do nothing, the following will happen. the mass slaughter will continue into the hundreds of thousands. there will be 3.5 million refugees outside of syria's borders by the end of this calendar year. jordan will be destabilized or destroyed, lebanon will be redestabilized and redestroyed. turkey will be severely damaged. the moderate opposition in syria will get weaker and weaker and more and more demoralized. the chemical weapons will fall into the wrong hands or continue to be used by the man who's used them for at least 35 times that we know of. and eventually when assad falls, we will get al qaeda. he will bring us al qaeda the way mubarek brought us the muslim brotherhood. >> is this in the interests of the united states? and why?
people in the united states say why is the u.s. having to be the world's policeman. you look at congo. >> we are in no danger of becoming the world's policeman. an intervention in syria at this point would be consistent firstly with our values. we should do it because we believe it certain things. we do not believe that the humanitarian element or i hope we don't is invalid in american foreign policy. we should do it because we're the only country that will do it -- >> aren't there a lot of humanitarian places? >> yes, there are. >> i bring up congo the deadliest conflict since world war ii. >> yes, there are. that is a perfectly fine alibi for helping exactly nowhere. as importantly, strategically there is nothing more important to the united states in the middle east than to damage the strategic position of iran. in my view. if assad persists in power, the
iranians and assad and hezbollah could continue in this growing position of strength. it is something that -- it is enormously in our strategic interests to do. now, nobody, nobody is suggesting that 100,000 plus troops be introduced anywhere. but we are now so interested, we are now so actively looking for ways not to intervene in this problem, we are doing everything we possibly can to have no impact on this. >> let me just jump in here. i'm a broken record on this. >> i am, too. >> there are plenty of wars that get started where no one expects it's going to become that. no one expected there would have to be a surge in afghanistan what ten years after small groups and special forces on horseback helped overthrow the government there. >> i understand that. but let me say first, we are a famously war-weary country. and with good reason. but history doesn't take timeouts. >> i don't know what that means. >> what that means is that our exhaustion may not be a
sufficient reason for the united states not to muster the energy to intervene in a conflict for sound moral and strategic reasons. secondly, i do not know for certain what the outcome of the limited but vigorous intervention that i advocate -- and by the way, i'm under no illusions that the policy i propose has a chance of ever being adopted by this administration. >> what is the policy you propose? >> what exactly are you proposing? troops on the ground? >> no. the policy i propose is since the syrian population is the no entirely composed of sectarian loon ticks and jihadist maniacs but consists largely of people who would like a dignified life, and since there is a moderate opposition in syria, and since where as the jihadist fighting force there is powerful but remains distinctly in the minority, i propose the following. that the united states aloner in concert with its allies begin to develop this opposition first
politically. the same people who are telling us not to do this now were telling us not to do this two years ago when a lot could have been accomplished. hold on, andrew. second i propose that we help these people military by arming them and destroying assad's monopoly of the skies which is the only thing that is keeping the opposition from making any real military advancement. >> exactly his point. >> exactly what mr. noar is saying. >> for me having been in bosnia and elsewhere and seen all this, and actually obviously seeing what majit has said, in libya, kosovo, bosnia still, people are grateful for what the united states did. and that is in the united states' interests! [ overlapping speakers ] >> andrew go ahead. >> i just think these arguments sound as if the iraq war never happened. >> andrew, the iraq war is not the only thing one need to know about the american foreign policy. >> biggest disaster in american foreign policy which you have supported and not recanted from.
>> hold on my friend. you know very well when i learned there were no weapons of mass destruction i recanted my support of that war very clearly and immediately. however, that does not mean they do not believe that no good may have come out of that war. >> really? >> that's correct. however, this is not about iraq, believe it or not. >> it is. >> no, it is not. it's about an actually -- [ overlapping speakers ] >> go ahead,najit. >> i was in prison when iraq happened. i opposed it. if you're worried about regional war it's already happening. if you're worrying about -- those reasons happen in both cases. we've got to think about our prince and why we need to act. >> enmeshed in a struggle. >> we'll be right back. of getting something "new."
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for a store near you go to benjaminmoore.com/bayarea. that's all the time we have for this ed edition of "ac 360." jake tapper is next. thanks for watching. tonight a special hour of cnn. >> he isn't about to do it. it can't be done, obviously. >> obviously except that at this very moment secretary of state john kerry is on a plane to geneva to negotiate with the
russians over the very plan he raised and then dismissed. to strip syria of chemical weapons. >> the rugs are part of the problem in syria. >> skepticism over the sincerity of rush why's plan. vladimir putin laying down an ultimatum for the u.s. a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. a supposed expert on the syrian rebel cited by kerry and mccain and others in the case for military action, surprise, he's in the pocket of a group that has pushed the u.s. to back the rebels. this is "crisis in syria decision point." good evening, everyone. i'm jake tap per. welcome to the special hour of "cnn crisis in syria decision point." minutes ago on this eve of an all important pow wow with john kerry and his counterpart to strip syria of chemical weapons,
the "new york times" published an op ed from their contributor, vladimir putin. he says among many things that there is quote every reason to believe it was the rebels, not syrian regime forces, who used poison gas. then there's this from his final paragraph referencing president obama's speech on syria last night. quote i would rather disagree with the case the president made on american exceptionalism, stating that the united states policy is what makes america different. it's what makes us exceptional. it is extremely dangerous, putin writes, to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional whatever the motivation. glasnost is ain't. it's entitle add plea from russia but it doesn't contain much pleading. was he taking lessons on diplomacy from rocky iv? and also this plan to enact this plan. >> this won't mean anything if
the united states and others supporting it tell us they're giving up their plan to use force against syria. you can't ask them to strike unilaterally. >> standing down isn't something the u.s. want to do at this point. while secretary kerry is over the atlantic as we speak to see if there's a way out of this without u.s. air strikes, they have confirmed the cia has started delivering weapons to the syrian rebels in the last two weeks after months of delays. i'm joined for this special hour of cnn by our panel dana bash, gloria borger and jessica yellin. our first guest is the chairman of the foreign relations committee, senator bob menendez of new jersey. senator, thanks for joining us. first of all, just your response to this remarkable op ed from vladimir putin that doesn't seem to be exactly on message with what i thought was being agreed to. >> well, jake, i got an e-mail
with what president putin had to say. and i have to be honest with you at dinner. i almost wanted to vomit. the reality is, i worry when someone who came up to the kgb tells us what is in our national interests an what is not. and it really raises the questions of how serious this russian proposal is. >> and that's what i wonder is with this as a scene setter, i mean, it's not quite the message the subtle message that anthony weiner gave to the members of the press on his last limo ride away from -- but it's pretty close. taking issue with american exceptionalism, saying it was the rebels, when he's already saying that he's going to help take cw away from the assad regime. it's kind of in your face. >> well, it's very much in your face. and you know, when i see putin's other comments that suggest, well you, can't expect a country to unilaterally disarm. we're not talking about
unilateral disarmament. we're talking about chemical weapons. so if he believes that in the arsenal that syria or any country should have is chemical weapons that they can use, my god, that's a real problem. that's not unilateral disarmament by any stretch of the imagination. >> you said it raises questions about how serious the russian proposal is. john kerry is on a plane right now going to try to talk to his counterpart from russia. is he on a fool's errand? >> no, look. i believe as someone who helped author the resolution that got a bipartisan support in the senate foreign relations committee that it would be foolish to slam the door on a potential diplomacy. we have to test it. but all of the indicators from russia beginning to back off of a security council resolution, which is the only confirming way that we'll know whether this is serious to this latest op ed piece, to the suggestion that unilateral disarmament means ability to use chemical weapons, that's a real serious consequence to the validity of
this offer and sincerity of it. but we have to test it both at home and abroad. >> doesn't the security council resolution is what you must agree. to because the russians in the past have agreed to have iran abandon their nuclear weapons and then backed off of that. the russians also agreed to a similar proposal to allow nuclear enrichment in their country for iran and then backed off of that as well. wouldn't include teeth. so if they agree to this and then syria balks, what should russia -- how should the rest of the world enforce it? >> well, that's why a security council resolution is critical in order to achieve what we hope -- what we would hope can happen. look, a potential result of this could be far more positive. we were ready to strike, to stop assad's abilities to have weapons that deliver chemical weapons. if you can eliminate the chemical weapons that's a greater desirable result. but it has to be real. and look, the only reason i
believe that the only reason that the russians are even maneuvering in this way and considering the possibility is because of the credible use of force if that was not there we would neither hear russia making any offer nor would we hear the syrians contemplating some. >> senator, so what do you think is going on in the kremlin? here they are -- >> your guess is as good as mine. >> but your guess is probably better than mine. so let me ask you, what's going on? they get together and say let's write this op ed for the "new york times" and play to public opinion, which is against president obama, and divide america even more. i mean, what's the thinking here? >> i think there are two things going on here. first of all, i think the russians did see the contemplated possibility of strikes against assad, and that would have weakened him. even though our purpose was to pursue the delivery mechanisms for chemical weapons, it would have degraded assad significantly. it could have by consequence
created a change on -- >> i mean with this op ed. >> on the battle field. that's why i think they began to move this direction. he's trying to maximize his leverage. he's trying to get the american people to ultimately be further divided, and in doing so have a stronger leverage point through his foreign minister in these negotiations. but i think the american people when they read that will reject it wholeheartedly. he may have an opposite result as the result of his op ed. >> i am sure the holy father has moved putin at various other times. >> i want to get your response to some of the claims he makes, because you have information that we as people who haven't seen the classified intelligence have and that the public as well doesn't have. putin writes when talking about the poison gas and who's responsible quote no one doubts that poison gas was used in syria but there is ever reason to believe thought was used not by the syrian army but by opposition forces to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons who would be
siding with the fundamentalists. reports that militants are preparing another attack, this time against israel, cannot be ignored. now, you've seen the classified intelligence. does he have any case to make there? >> no. look, only in russia and putin's parallel alternate universe could you believe that. let's add the facts up for a moment. the facts are these. that there is no question that the delivery system of the chemical weapons were through missiles. if the rebels had missiles they'd be striking at his artillery and his aircraft. they don't have missiles number one. number two, ought of our satellite intelligence shows that the delivery of those missiles came from areas controlled by assad into the rebel areas. we also know that assad's regime as it relates to chemical weapons are fully vetted for loyalty to the regime and under its absolute control. and we know, basically, that access to chemical weapons does not exist at this point in time
among the rebels. so if you add up all of those facts, you can clearly understand that putin's position is out of the realm of believability. >> but senator, you just said it is called putin's -- you just talked about putin's parallel alternate universe. it's his universe and we're living anytime right now. isn't that the reality that we are -- that's part of what he was trying to say in his op ed. he's running the show right now. but as chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, do you feel comfortable with the fact that we are living in his parallel alternate universe? >> when i say his parallel alternate universe, this is a guy who grew from the kgb to be the head of it. he is still, from my perspective, still very dominated in his mind by kgb and the desires for a greater russia. so that's what i mean by his parallel alternate universe. he's very conniving, he's very calculating. at the end of the day, i think the world, however, needs to see that challenge. many of my colleagues who are
ambivalent about the declaration of the use of force want to see a diplomatic track to be pursued. this is an opportunity to do that. >> he has all the leverage right nows doesn't he? he supplied all those weapons to assad that you're talking about. for 30 years he's been supplying those weapons. why do we think he'd be moat i haved -- motivated to get him to turn them over? >> thissies the credible use of military force needs to continue to be on the table. [ overlapping speakers ] let me finish the first answer then i'll go to the second. it's four on one here. let me finish the first answer. that is he came to a conclusion strategically that there was a real possibility. remember what the president said. the president said, i have made the decision that the use of force is necessary. but i'm going to go to the
congress. he has not yet beabdicated the possible use of force. so in that respect he looks at the issue of syria's interest. this is the only foothold they have in the middle east. he's lost enormous support within the middle east because of his position as a patron of syria. and to be very honest with you, as he sees syria eroding, even as they try to keep assad in power, this is never going to be a country from my perspective where assad is going to control the whole country. so the access to those chemical weapons potentially at risk may be in russia's interests as well to make sure they're secured again. >> hasn't he just stuck his thumb in john kerry's eye? one in john kerry's eye and one in president obama's eye with -- >> that's two thumbs. >> two thumbs with this piece. thank you. we have instant fact check at this table. hasn't he done that with this op ed and kind of stopped things before they even start? >> look, i think they are going
to try to maximize their position as john kerry goes in to his discussions with lavrov and create the maximum ability to get the result that they want. >> is that a yes or a no? >> well, it means that they're going to maximize their position. and if maximizing their position is taking efforts to try to divide the american public and try to undermine the very efforts that the americans are in a weakened position, but i don't think he'll achieve that. it's very clear that we're going to insist on a verifiable process with the u.n. resolution, otherwise we have nothing. >> all right, senator menendez and the rest of our panel, stay with us. there's a lot more to tackle tonight. coming up, are your yeah's offer to work out a syria deal bailed the obama administration out of a showdown with congress over military strike. what happens if talks with russia fail? is there a plan c? we'll break down the options with our panel and senator menendez coming up next.
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welcome back to "crisis in syria decision point." best case scenario for the obama administration, secretary of state john kerry arrives in russia, hashes out a solid deal to get syria's chemical weapons stockpiles put under international control. syria complies without pulling any funny business and we all go back to remembering that looming debt ceiling battle. if that sound like a pipe dream, and some say it is, what does that mean for the next phase of dealing with this crisis? let's bring back our panel. gloria borger, jessica yellin,
dana bash and the chairman of the foreign relations committee, democratic senator robert menendez from the garden state of new jersey. senator, let's make the assumption that this isn't going to work or the a least it stumbles a little bit. it seemed as though the house was definitely not going to support an authorization of force, and the senate might not, either, even though of course it passed through your committee, the senate foreign relations committee. can the obama administration afford to take this back to congress? >> well, look. i think that many members who i've talked to who are undecided actually view this set of circumstances as an opportunity, and we've been talking about the possibility -- >> i think they view it as an escape hatch. >> i think they look at it as an opportunity in which those who have said we should really exercise the full extent of the diplomacy, although i've argued with them that two years of russian vetoes is an extensive use of diplomacy. but this opportunity might give them the wherewithal to say, you
know what, put this in the resolution, give it an opportunity, and if in fact it doesn't -- >> they want a vote? really? >> do they want to vote? i don't know if anybody wants to vote. but to the extent that there is a vote, i think this would bring votes to the resolution that aren't necessarily there right now. >> on that note, a big part of the reason as you well know that the opposition was there is because people even in your own party feel that the case has not been made by the president. he gave a big speech last night, and your counterpart, republican counterpart on the senate foreign relations committee talked to me today and was extremely candid, frustrated, exasperated with the way the president handled that speech and this whole issue in general. listen to what he said. >> the president just seems to be very uncomfortable being commander in chief of this nation. he cannot speak to the nation as a commander in chief. he cannot speak to the world as
a commander in chief. he just cannot do it. and i don't know what it is. >> now, this is for people who don't realize, he's not a republican firebrand, on this issue, he worked with you. you wrote the resolution together. you very much support the president on this issue. he's saying he doesn't think he's comfortable being commander in chief. what do you think about that? >> well, look, bob corker is an excellent senator. we have passed a whole slew of legislation, including the resolution for the use of force in a bipartisan process. i'm thrilled to be working with him. i think that what i gathered from that interview and his sense of frustration is he wanted the president to make a broader argument beyond that which he made. he wanted him to make -- >> do you agree with him? >> i do believe it where the president missed an opportunity in his address last night was to talk about some of the other consequences. for example, what does the i
ayatollah in iran think about our inability to enforce a red line as we are telling him do not pass that line as it relates to nuclear weapons? what does the dictator of north korea think about our resolve as it relates to some of his nuclear process and a big cachet of chemical weapons as well? i would like to see the president extend is back and talk about the consequences. i think he did make a national security argument. i think he could vex banded to the strategic importance that goes beyond syria into other parts of the world which are very dangerous for us as well. >> senator, are you at all concerned about who's driving the president's policy? when you look at his first term national security team, he seemed pretty decisive compared to this. but at that time he had secretary clinton, he had secretary pa nnetta, at some pot petraeus. those people are all gone. does it worry you that perhaps he doesn't have people around him who can drive him, can say no to him, can give him a little more direction?
>> look, the president of the united states is the one person who gets elected by all of us to make a decision. he's the one who holds the nuclear code. he's the one that makes decisions about the use of american forces. he can have a team around him that can make all the arguments in the world. he has to make the final decision. i think he's a very capable person. >> they're very forceful. >> john kerry is not a shrinking violet. i don't think susan rice is a shrinking violet and has a particular close relationship with the president even beyond his previous national security adviser. i don't doubt that they are forceful in their arguments. but he's the president. he makes the final decision. >> can i get back to the negotiations with the russians? there's been talk of a timetable, no timetable. how long will it take us to know that we're being played? >> well, gloria, i think that these negotiations in geneva are going to give us a big understanding. the chemical weapons inspectors are supposedly at the u.n. supposedly come out with their report next week. >> what's your time frame? >> i would say that we are going to know pretty clearly within the next two weeks whether this
is a serious opportunity or not, whether we're going to be at the u.n. with a resolution somewhere within that time frame. i think that that's going to give us a pretty clear idea whether this is a sincere opportunity or whether this just is a purchase of time and international maneuvering. >> senator before you go i want to get your reaction. i asked the white house what they made of the "new york times" op ed. and from vladimir putin. they did not express any feelings of nausea as you did. they of course are in the middle of negotiating. >> they must have a strong stomach. >> and stronger stomachs. this is what they said, a senior white house official saying that the op ed indicates that putin is now fully invested in serious chemical weapons disarmament. i said what about saying the rebels were behind the chemical weapons the poke in the eye of american exceptionalism. he said that's all irrelevant. he put this proposal forward and he's now invested in it. that's good. that's the best possible reaction. he's fully invested in a
military strike that would deter or wouldn't get rid of all the chemical weapons. he has asserted full ownership of it and he needs to deliver. that's good spin. but do you think that that's what this op ed says? i am vladimir putin and i own this process? >> look, i don't think that's necessarily what it says. but i don't disagree with the part of the analysis that says, look, russia has played a card here. and they think it's going to work out to their advantage. this could be a total backfire for russia. if at the end of the day the sincerity, the transparency ends up being that this was just a ploy, i think the russians pay a huge consequence for it. i think the world looks at it in a different way. i think americans look at it in a different way. and that could backfire. >> don't we pay a price too, though? if it fails? not just the russian? >> if the effort fails? >> yes. >> i think what happens is we once again show to the entire world at time that they're riveted -- i don't know that they've been riveted in the last two years with our efforts with
the u.n., but world and the nation is riveted on this right now. seeing that the russians lied, if that's what ends up happening, and that in fact was not sincere and we have exhausted all possibilities i think that strengthens the president's hand. what we need to be doing in the congress is making sure that a credible use of military force is on the table because that's the only way that we're going to get to a diplomatic solution. >> senator menendez i have to end it here. i promised your staff i'd let you get home before you turn into a pumpkin. great having you here. up next, the spin doctors aren't just a cheesy 90s band, they go out of their way to control the message from washington. there is speculation -- we'll take you behind the curtain of d.c.'s true power players. that's up next. [ female announcer ] what if the next big thing, isn't a thing at all? it's lots of things. all waking up. connecting to the global phenomenon
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welcome back to "crisis in syria decision point" i'm sure i'm going to blow your mind with this operation. the operators in washington, d.c. do not always have the purest of motivation, so-called experts and analysts can have their own agendas, connections, financial ties that might make you re-evaluate their positions, that is if you ever found out about it. >> do you remember the movie "wag the dog" about a fake war sold to the american people by public relations professionals and a hollywood producer? >> we're going have the appearance of a war. >> or do you remember "thank you for smoke" an attempt to pull back the curtain on how this town really works? >> the message hollywood needs to send out is smoking is cool.
>> those movies came to mind today because of this woman who has regularly appeared on cnn and other networks. >> i travel with groups where we actually can kind of identify the more extremist checkpoints. >> elizabeth o'bagy. as the obama administration prepared its case for military reforce, she wrote an op ed for the "wall street journal" in which she pushed back against the narrative that the rebels are al qaeda-led extremists. she argued that quote moderate opposition groups make up the majority of actual fighting forces. >> there is a real moderate opposition that exists. >> the op ed was cited just days later by senator john mccain and secretary of state john kerry as kerry testified before congress. >> dr. elizabeth o'bagy. she works with the institute of war, fluent in arabic. >> but she also works for an organization that advocates for the syrian rebels. the syrian emergency task force.
that was not disclosed at the time. today the institute for the study of war fired o'bagy saying in a statement quote contrary to her representations, ms. elizabeth o'bagy does not in fact have a phd from georgetown university. we have accordingly terminated her employment effective immediately. even so, the founder of isw defended the content of the op ed as rock solid in an interview with "politico" today. still, it's all part of this weird world in washington, an echo chamber of paid pseudoexperts, a doctor who is not a doctor writing an op ed, testifying for the rebels without disclosing that she is paid for by a rebel advocacy group. and it all ends up as evidence in a case for attacking. >> as has been said, why does the dog wag its tail? because the dog is smarter than the tail. if the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog. i want to bring back in our panel, dana, jessica and gloria.
>> now that that's clear. >> here's the thing. this all reminded me -- this is an extreme example, okay? because nothing that o'bagy wrote, the credibility has not been questioned. >> exactly. >> it's whether or not she was paid. but what she wrote in the op ed, the "wall street journal" and institute for the study of war say it all seems legitimate even in retrospect. it does remind me of when the bush-cheney administration would place information in the "new york times" with judith miller and then the next day cite the "new york times" as evidence for why saddam hussein was trying to build a nuclear bomb or whatever. again, that's an extreme example. i'm not comparing o'bagy. >> we're willing participants in that. of course in the case of the bush administration, they're leaking to the "new york times" because they then want to refer to the "new york times" which they say the media reads and listens to so they create their own story line. >> the illusion it's independent
though is what i'm getting at as opposed to like if o'bagy had been cited according to the obama administration blah blah as opposed to she's an independent researcher. but i know this is how washington works. i just thought it would be interesting to pull back the curtain a little bit for our viewers because it does happen all the time. >> it happens absolutely all the time. the way to show the reality and then to show john mccain and john kerry talking about this woman in one of the most important hearings we've seen in a long time, should give everybody pause. >> but it's part of the rollout. and i don't have any indication that she was involved in any way in that. we now know who she represents. but you see this article, you quote this article. somebody plants this article. we don't know fit was planted or not planted. i mean, the "wall street journal" just says that they had no idea about any of her other credentials, right? >> that's what public relations firms in this town do is they'll say we're trying to have this happen. >> yeah. >> let's write an op ed.
we'll get so-and-so to sign their name to it. it appears in the "washington post," the "new york times," the "wall street journal." and then people are able to point to this as evidence when again it's -- >> like warren buffett writing about tax laws, right? on behalf of the obama administration, right? >> didn't they name the law after him? >> then they named the law after him. >> that's the reward you get a law named after you. >> this is happening in this arena this way. but it also happens in advertising, it happens in business, it happens all over the place. with people who are trying to -- >> people are savvy to it at this point? and it's part of the reason that there's less -- you don't think so? >> i don't think so. that's why the disclosure that did not appear originally with elizabeth o'bagy's op ed was important. then they could have held it up as evidence and we wouldn't have done a story. we did reach out to her and she didn't return our call. even before the situation in syria came ahead president obama
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special coverage "crisis in syria decision point." after president george w. bush was elected to a second term he told reporters candidly -- >> let me put it to you this way. i earned capital in the campaign, political capital. and now i intend to spend it. >> political capital. it doesn't come cheap in this town. now after weeks of trying to rally congress to support him on a fast-changing policy in syria, has president obama broken the bank on what political capital he has left in his second term? joining our panel right now congressman steve israel, he is the chairman of the democratic congressional campaign committee. thanks so much for being here. you say that you were surprised by how politicized this vote became. i want to play some sound from tulsy gabbert. she's a freshman from hawaii? >> yes, she's great. >> this whatis /* what she has
say about this vote. i apologize. it's tammy duckworth. >> also great. >> it's military families like mine that are the first bleed when our nation makes this kind of commitment." she opposes the authorization as does tulsy gabbert. is president obama hurting his credibility with some democratic members of the house? >> i don't think so at all. look, the president has a strongly held position on this. many of us agree, some disagree. what counts now is what emerged at a briefing we had early this morning in the democratic caucus where we focused on where do we go from here, what has to happen with the russian proposal. >> who was briefing? >> it was a democratic caucus briefing. with members of the administration. and it was a classified briefing. i'm not going to talk about what happened in a classified briefing. >> it's between us. >> that's right. just between us. >> just us girls. >> but here's what's important. the focus wasn't on the nature of the intel, the focus was on how do we make sure that the
russian proposal is real? how do we make sure that there are meat on the bones? >> yeah. >> so our focus on both sides of the aisle right now, quite honestly, is on ensuring that this is a legitimate, transparent, verifiable proposal. >> how do you do it? >> here's how you do it. i think as it unfolds. you send your secretary of state to sit down with the foreign minister over the next several days and begin to not dot the is and cross the ts but we want to seat is and the ts. secondly the united nations is going to present inspectors will present their report and congress has a responsibility to digest that. then we have to make an assessment sometime next week, i believe, as to have we put this proposal in the pressure cooker and has it -- can it withstand the pressure? >> and vladimir putin writes an op ed? is that part of it? you heard what senator menendez said. >> the point is this. words don't matter. the words in an op ed don't matter. even the words on a proposal that the russians present to us don't matter.
it is the deed that matters. and you have to make sure -- i agree with what ronald reagan once said. trust but verify. you can trust the words but you have to verify the deed. >> if it's okay i want to turn back to what jake was talking about and about the agenda. and also just about kind of the state of play of congress vis-a-vis the president. jake was talking about spin doctors. we like talking to you because you're definitely not a spin doctor you'll give us the truth. >> my mother always wanted me to be a doctor but not a spin doctor. >> you're doing okay. but the idea of the whole -- much of the caucus of your caucus, people you helped get elected in the last cycle, being against the president. how much of that is because they don't have a relationship with a president of their own party? it's just -- there's no there there. in all candor. >> no, i think it has more to do with the concern that many of my colleagues had with intelligence in the prior administration. i think there's a -- >> this is about the president?
>> no. i think more than that, is a sense that we've been down this road. we're dubious when the intelligence community tells us that there are weapons of mass destruction. been there done that. and so this administration had a much and has a much higher hurdle. >> but it's easier to swallow and it's easier to clear that hurdle when members of the president's own party have a relationship with him. fair? >> no. i think, you know, quite honestly the relationship actually should be put aside when you're making decisions on whether to commit force. you have to put those relationships aside. you've got to make a judgment not based on do i like this president but do i believe the intelligence and do i believe that his recommendation is the most appropriate course for the national security interests of this country? >> but how does it affect everything else as dana was talking about? you've got the debt ceiling, the government shutdown, all this other stuff that's really important coming up. and syria. >> and the issue is not whether
the president of the united states has expended his political capital. the issue is whether house republicans are willing to spend any of theirs. this is a group of people who have said that they're willing to shut down the government unless the affordable care act is defunded. this is a group of people that couldn't even pass a bill to provide assistance to families like my constituents who got hurt in hurricane sandy. so it's not that the president doesn't have any more political capital to spend, it's does he have anybody who's willing to get stuff done. >> are you at all surprised that he has spent more lobbying effort on this one cause than on any other effort to date since health care reform? >> no, i'm not. this is a very significant crisis. >> to the american people this is the most significant crisis that has faced the american people since health care reform? >> a decision on whether you should deploy force, even if it's a standoff capability, is a very serious decision. >> didn't do it for libya. >> you know, i've never believed that there's a one size fits all
on any kind of national security imperative. so you have to take each crisis and each situation on its own. >> congressman, i want to ask you about the intelligence. you're saying that members of the house democratic congress, democratic members of the house are skeptical of the intelligence. is that what you're saying? >> i'm saying they came into this with a high level of skepticism. i listened to president bush tell me saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. ways there when he showed me a vial of clear liquid and said this is a precursor to a chemical weapons. to me it looked like a medicine you would get at a local drugstore. the president of the united states said that intelligence supported this was dangerous to our country. i actually entered this process far more dubious and far more skeptical about what the intelligence community was saying than i would have had i not gone through the iraq process. and that actually ended up serving me well. because i questioned it more seriously.
i parsed the data in a more significant way. and came to the conclusion, having been more dubious, that this was the real deal, that this guy has used chemical weapons. every time we didn't stop him he showed the world he was willing to escalate, amplify and willing to do it again. >> our allies need to be on board with it. the gulf states coalition say they feel misled. lafigero say "cameron in england took a humiliating defeat that now looks like he didn't have to take. do you think america's allies are now going to be with us after they've gone through all of this maybe for naught? >> i think that the focus over the next week or so, with our international partners and with russia, will be whether or not we have a diplomatic solution to this, whether or not we can achieve the key strategic objective of degrading the chemical weapons capacity in
syria through diplomacy, through inspections, through an opening up of the process. and if we can get that done in a verifiable way, all the process arguments and all the arguments about what happened, what didn't happen, who said what will be irrelevant. you know who studies the process that goes into presidential decisions? presidential historians. you know what the american people care about? did you get a result. >> do you think the president in a way has boxed himself in? and if these negotiations fall apart, let's just say it falls apart. that now he has to use force? whether he goes to the congress or not? >> and should he go to the congress? >> one and two. >> would you tell him to go? >> question, two yes, he should go. he should continue to engage. >> do you want all your members to vote on this? >> do you think he's boxed himself in so now he has to use force? >> no, i believe he did what most presidents would do. you are managing a crisis.
you are managing a very fluid situation. there's a new development, a new development that is only a few days old. where the entity, the country that was protecting a chemical weapons capability in syria now says, okay, we're going to take a different position. we're going to open up the process. we're going to help you verify that these chemical weapons will not be used. now, it's easy to criticize any president of any party for what he's done. but what would you do? would you say, given that offer, we're not even interested in exploring it? the president did what we would want him to do. let's take a look at it, put it in the pressure cooker. fit works, great. if it doesn't work, we're going to consider other alternatives. >> carl levin of michigan said that he believes that the message has been muddled. i'm paraphrasing what he said. he said there have just been different messages from different members of the administration. have you found that that's a problem that you're hearing about when you are in the cloak room or on the house floor with your colleagues? >> i've heard my colleagues say that the message has been
muddled. i do believe that there's a level of frustration with how fast things are changing. how would you like to be a white house speech writer yesterday? so the fact of the matter is, this is just international politics. when you have a fast-changing situation you want to be able to adapt to it. you don't want to force a position that may no longer be operative because events have overtaken that position. so you want to have flexibility. and you want to use time as an ally. you have to use time as an ally. that's what's happening now. >> congressman steve israel, democrat of new york, chairman of the democratic congressional campaign committee, thanks so much for stopping by. we appreciate it. coming up next for our panel, was putin's feisty op ed in the "new york times" the turning point in the negotiations? our panel delivers the best lines and i'm going to make them do it with russian accents. ♪
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likely included. jessica, i want to get your take on what was the most interesting, the turning point in the op ed. i thought for me it was his -- he's still blaming it on the syrian rebels and not the syrian government against all rhyme and reason and against the actions of his own government. what was the most -- >> he's going to hold onto that message, i think. i thought when he said we must keep hope alive. because this is putin showing that he really understands american politics and he is really messing with president obama, hoping to change his head. putin 2016. >> okay. so i'm going to bounce right off of that about messing with obama and also understanding that the american political system effectively saying that he's george bush. he said you're either with us or against us. you, barack obama, are being a warmonger here. you are just like the guy who you promised you were never going to be like. pretty remarkable. >> do you think this essay is one of those things that was dropped into the "new york times," a la the one we were
just talking about. planted? >> putin wrote it all by himself? >> number one he didn't write it. but the bored kid in the back of the classroom as the president calls him is also writing essays now. my favorite part was when he said, my working and personal relationship with president obama is marked by growing trust. >> growing. >> growing ever ever larger. >> except for the edward snow den thing. >> you're just talking about who wrote this. vladimir putin doesn't speak english. he didn't write it. he probably is not familiar with jesse jackson's campaign. >> half kidding, half seriousness the next thing will be to try to figure out which crisis communication in washington was hired by the russians and wrote this. i challenge you. >> i don't think a catch in public relations represents the russian government. but i can't believe any p.r. firm would recommend this op ed being published in the "new york
times." >> why not? >> because it's not winning anybody over. >> but you're not always in charge of your clients. sometimes your clients will say, i think this is a really good idea and we ought to -- this is what i want so go write. >> he doesn't want to win anybody over. >> that's all the time we have. dana bash, jessica yellin, gloria borger thanks so much. i'm jake tapper. you can catch me on "the lead" and i'll be right back here tomorrow night at 11:00 p.m. eastern, 8:00 p.m. pacific, for another edition of "crisis in syria decision point." syria decision point." up next, "piers morgan live." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com ♪
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this is cnn breaking news. this is piers morgan live, welcome to our viewers and around the world tonight. putin's extraordinary plea for caution in a new op-ed piece appearing tomorrow, he says that he cites history, saying relations between us have passed through different stations, the cold war, we were allies once and defeated the nazis together. they were trying to