tv At This Hour With Berman and Michaela CNN June 17, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PDT
we are all very excited and happy. keep going. at this hour with berman and michaela starts right now. the clock is ticking. a terror group moves toward bag as the white house weighs its options. manpower, fire power moving to the region to beef up security. will it be enough. air strikes are on the table? when will the obama administration decide. >> and will special forces and drones be part of that plan. a former top u.s. authority in iraq seems to think so. >> we will have to have special forces and intelligence observers, fire control officers, people identifying targets in these cities, so that drones can hit them. >> but should more u.s. lives be put at risk. >> and then -- >> these are major tornadoes on
the ground. >> dual tornadoes rip a path through nebraska. amazing pictures and we have a live look at the devastation this morning. >> hello, everyone, investigate to see you, i'm john berman. >> i'm michaela pereira. almost 300 u.s. troops are on the ground in iraq, about 500 marines are on stand by. they are ready to make a move if the order comes in from washington. as brutal fighting between islamic militants and iraq's security forces gets closer to baghdad and of course u.s. embassy. >> the terror group isis unleashing chaos and reportedly taking weapons from a police station. a short drive, less than 40
miles from baghdad has saw so much violence over the last 11 years. we're covering this crisis right now. what can you tell us about the situation on the ground right now? >> reporter: well it seems that the iraqi security forces are attempt to go do a bit better than they did in the north, managing to keep isis away from the city outskirts in baghdad. they are fighting alongside various other shia volunteers, via my lish vas that have been reactivated, putting up a much stronger defense, battling with isis as you were saying there about an hour north to baghdad. at least on that front line, bearing in mind that this is a war for the heart of the country that has multiple front lines and isis trying to push forward in various different directions to include from the west, isis also has the potential should it choose to do so to move some fighters in from the south. this is a very tricky situation
for the iraqi security forces in and of themselves to try to navigate. baghdad banking on the fact that since most of the iraq ai security forces that are deployed in and around the capital are shia they will actually stand and fie but the foe they are facing is quite formidable. isis is more powerful than al qaeda ever was. it has more money and more fighters and suicide bombers at its disposal and that is to say that america is not on the ground here right now with iraqi security forces significantly weaker than the americans ever were. >> it's a sobering notion to consider that isis is more formidable than al qaeda. to that point, you were mentioning about the united states. what are you hearing that the iraqis want from the united states? that they want them to move in and help? what are they expecting? >> reporter: in an ideal scenario, the government in baghdad of shia prime minister
maliki would like to see the american come many and launch a number of significant air strikes and effectively save his shia-dominated government. if that were to happen, that would have a catastrophic impact on the country. the americans have to make a different calculation. bearing in mind, they are goernting with a man, nuri al mali kay who has broken his promises on numerous occasions in the past, so placing their trust in him at this stage is going to be a very challenging decision, if they do in fact choose to make that gavl. plus, if the americans are perceived as fighting in this battle alongside the shia, potentially even alongside iran that would further aggravate the sunnis and isis and create an even bloodier battlefield than the one that already exists.
>> we want to pick up that conversation about iran with our next geflet. our thanks to you on the ground. we want to bring lieutenant general frank korona. there seems to be this growing sense of urgency. we hear what is being told to us. we see what's going on. we know president met with the national security counsel. what do you see as the best course of action? >> it's a bad situation no matter what we want. there's two things we need to be doing. we need to be thinking tactically. we need to stopping these guys. they are on the outskirts of baghdad. strategically we have to look at the maliki government. the government is the problem, and if we jump in on the side of the maliki government that just strengthens the resolve of all these sunnis who believe they have been disenfranchised by
that government. we're kind of in a bad situation here. we should help stop isis but we in the long run have to change this government and have it become more inclusive for the sunnis or nothing changes. >> i want to ask you this because i couldn't have done so much work study terror groups over the years. the success that isis has seen, is this because they are so well trained or doesn't this require some complicity or at a minimum acquiescence among the towns they are moving through? >> i think it's more than that. it's not just isis that are doing these operations. there are a whole slew of other sunni tribal groups or sunni ininjure -- insurgent group. you can't take a city the size of mosul, with 800 people. it doesn't happen like that.
the sunni population has been so a lee yen ated by the actions of the maliki government. they have every reason to be. this is a guy who has excluded sunni politicians from important roles. even ones that have been elect. he's arrested them. there have been an sunni awakening movement. there's hundreds of thousands of guys without jobs and with guns and it's what we've been seeing. it's been a long time coming. >> we have more thing we want to talk to you about. we want to take a look at u.s. options. >> move forward with air strikes, send drones, special forces, and if we do, could that be for the long haul. >> also, bowe bergdahl has been in the states a couple of weeks. >> all right. a couple of projects are coming
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people, any more lives going to risk for that country? >> because it's in our interests, and there are two points about our interest. number one, as the president pointed out on friday in his first statement, we cannot allow a -- the world's worst terrorist group to get a base of support in a failed nation. this is not afghanistan, which is remote and behind the mountains. this is the heart of the middle east with a lot of wealth and we cannot allow that to happen. so that's in our interests to stop that. you've got foreign fighters there. we know an american conducted a suicide attack recently for this group in syria. those people have american passports, they can come back here and conduct a terrorist attack. it's in our interests. that's number one. number two what we're seeing is the potential falling apart of the entire, as i wrote this morning -- >> yes. >> the entire regional structure which threatens our allies in the region, not the least the king of jordan. >> as we said. this is making a lot of waves. in part because of who is saying
it, paul bremer but more the foes let's focus on what he's saying. should the u.s. send in special forces. rick, what do you make of bremer's comments and should the special forces be sent in and would make a disagreement? >> i hate to be in a position of agreeing with him, but he does make some good points. i believe the special forces should be sent in but in a limited role, that role to advise the iraqis what to do. the other reason is i think you need special forces teams to designate targets, to control -- if we're going to have air strikes, they are much more effective if they are controlled from the ground by u.s. eyeballs. >> you know, peter, i guess i have two questions for you right now. we're talking about u.s. interests in that region right now. that's what paul bremer was talking about. do you see isis as a threat to the united states? let me ask that first.
directly to the united states? >> right now, isis and the other al qaeda affiliated group which is in syria, they are basically keeping their hands full doing what they are doing. we know from history from the afghan war in 80s and other kind of jihads, one it's over, these guys come home, some retire, some go on into other forms of terrorism. so history would suggest that isis in the long-term is certainly a threat to the united states. we've had hundreds of foreign fighters many from european countries go and fight. they are from so-called visa waiver countries. i think it's only prudent to be concerned about isis in the future, and also by the way, the conflict in syria, which is really not at all distinct from the conflict from iraq can go on for many, many years. there's a whole slew of very
good research how long civil wars go for and they usually last at least a decade. we've seen the one in iraq has gone at least a decade. the syria is in year four. these things have a tendency to go for a long time. >> one of the ideas we've heard floating around is working with iran stemming from all of this. >> it's very unpalatable. we've got to arrest this development. these guys are on the outskirts of baghdad. what do we do to stop them? the iranians are already in. they are already two battalions. they are a good force. they are qualified. they were responsible for training the militias killing american soldiers a few years ago. unfortunately, we may have to do that tactically, but
strategically we've got to do other things. if we work with the iranians it's going to alienate all the sunnis. >> one of the big problems we don't trust the government in iraq. who does the u.s. trust there right now? "the new york times" article says another person wants to step into power there. >> talibi, he was going to train up this massive army and it turpd out to be 70 guys, many of them overweight who got trained and made no impact on the war. so, you know, what we're facing in iraq is very similar to what the president faced in syria what does day two look like after you intervene. there's a bad set, you have to make a least bad decision in al
qaeda, hezbollah. here, the most effective fighting forces are going to be the force which is an iranian group. and also isis which is an even worse form of al qaeda so at the end of the day, if you intervene, you are helping one of those sides and neither of them. >> the least bad decision. no wonder it's not building a lot of enthusiasm in the united states. the situation in iraq obviously changing by the hour, and cnn anderson cooper is on the ground there in bapged. you can watch his live report tonight at 8:00 eastern. another big story, bad, bad weather. severe thunderstorms have threatened the midwest again after nearly 30 tornadoes ripped threw that region. we'll bring you a live report from the ground coming up next.
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deadly devastateling tornadoes just tearing through the midwest. as of last count, nearly 30, including these dual tornadoes. that means two of them tearing through, ben mcmilan called this weather event historic. >> we started out the day north of columbus and the storms just went very violent rather quickly. almost as fast as i've seen storms go from a cloud to a tornado and what happened next, we saw a violent tornado translate into two and even
three tornadoes at once on the ground. >> as cool as it is that's not the kind of history you want to make. those tornadoes were quick to form. they left a wide swath of destruction and heart break. they are saying more than half of the town of pilger was destroyed. half of this town has been decimated. and give us the latest. >> one of things i actually want to clarify, michaela, you talk about these two tornadoes. it's not rare to see two tornadoes but what is rare to see two large violent tornadoes, both of equal magnitude. both of them hit a town directly. being separated by a mile or so. we're seeing 75% of this town was completely demolished by this tornado. the entire town is about one square mile, about 150 residents.
this morning, now they are slowly being trickled back here, 40, 50 of these home completely leveled. the fire station gone, the middle school looks like it's past the point of being repair. a lot of the residents declared a state of emergency, actually spent the night in a red cross shelter in the city nearby. this is the sight they are seeing. it was actually pretty hard to see this morning. these are power lines. i don't know if you can see the power poles. this is from the complete opposite side of the highway. this is highway 15. you are talking about these polls complete in half. they're are power lines on top. what was supposed to be a two story building now down to the ground. >> it's not crazy. it's not through yet. this system is really moving across the united states right now. >> that's exactly the concern. earlier this morning, it was 40 million people, it's now been
expanded to 80 million people, we're talking about a huge population being threatened by severe weather. >> i had a chance to speak to someone earlier today on new day. they felt that their area where they live in pilger, they were too close to the river. they had this false impression that they wouldn't see tornadoes of this magnitude there. this isn't an unusual sight for this area? >> what they are used to seeing is tornadoes, what they are not used to seeing is two of them of that size. they have never seen anything like yesterday. you are talking about two violent magnitudes. >> thank you so very much for bringing us those live images from that town.
as we mentioned the, the town that was of about 350 people, mostly destroyed by the tornadoes there. if you would like to find out about ways to help those affected by the disaster, visit our website cnn.com. >> the former u.s. straight tor in iraq is blaming the president now for the instability but is this the time to blame and is that the right person to blame and is this the guy to be doing the blaming? our political commentators weigh in ahead at this hour.
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a whole lot of blame going around for what's happening in iraq rhine. in a tense exchange with our erin burnett, the former u.s. administrator, paul bremer. >> i want to make can threer you are not trying to blame president obama for anything that's gone wrong. >> i'm saying his decision to withdraw all the troops at the end of 2011 is a serious mistake. i'm on the record as saying that
three years ago. yes, it was. >> but it was president bush who signed that agreement in 2008 that promised that all those troops would be removed at the end of 2011. >> the planning in 2011 leaked very heavily from the pentagon and the white house was to keep 20 to 30,000 troops after 2011. >> i got to say there are so many people talking about this interview, erin, with paul bremer. there are other members of bush administration who were involved in iraq. this is causing so much controversy. i want to bring in our political commentators. >> you are a republican. nevertheless, you said the invasion of iraq in 2003 was a grave mistake. still you see the criticism of people like paul bremer. there are people saying why does he now get to criticize after the job that he did in iraq, after the turmoil that was caused in iraq, after the u.s. invasion, are these the people
to be criticizing president obama now? >> it's fair to say that paul bremer contributed to some of the tensions that we're seeing in iraq now. i think that's absolutely true. it's also true that there are people like bren scokrof who opposed the invasion. once you make the commitment, once u.s. forces contributed to breaking down the state that did exist in iraq, then i think you can make a plausible case, they had a responsibility to do what they could so a nascent state could occur. >> if they blew it 11 years ago, does that mean that they are wrong again now? that there is not a threat worth acting on? >> this is a really interesting moral argument. you broke it, you bought it. whether you think we should have broke it in the first place, whether you have it. on the other hand, the real question now is there anything
the united states could do to fix this? we were incredibly naive as a country when we went into iraq in the first place. thven good -- this wasn't about getting is a dam. this is about the longstanding fight sunni and shia. president bush said he didn't know the difference between them. our being there now isn't going to solve this either. we condition pick sides in this longstanding civil war and have it resolve. it's not going to end good. we can't help. >> i reference you wrote in a magazine, had we stayed there, president maliki would have acted differently. my question though, aren't you basically committing to yourself to not an indefinite troop presence in iraq, a very, very long-term one, doesn't your logic require a willingness to keep a fair number of troops
there for a very long time. >> i think that's quite possible. if you are looking at south korea, much of europe. now, here the question, so the possibility that we're offering, that we're throwing out there is that if you have troops for some period of time, you would allow for trust to build among these different communities. trust that you do not have. trust that you did not have at thend of 2011, but that period 2010-2011 was actually the height of the political stability. it wasn't great but it was moving in the right direction. if you had u.s. forces to restrain sectarianism, then there's the possibility you would have seen that organic development. there's no guarantee. i can't tell you there nos guarantee that it would have necessarily would have work. logical -- >> what there a guarantee of? there's no guarantee that the united states can do anything about these deep civil tensions
in the country. there are two things we can guarantee. number one, that our going in and intervening and picking sides will inflame more anti american sentiments on one side on the other, the other thing that more americans will die. we can guarantee those two things. >> that's the thing americans are wrestling with. how much money and how many lives have been lost. >> two separate questions. let's say we do decide we ought to intervene. we need intelligence assets. we don't have them right now. if we had kept even a very small token force in the country we would frankly know much more about what's happening, who we're dealing with and how to make better decisions to protect our personnel who are there now. >> we want you to stick around because we have more topics. great conversation. >> i appreciate this. it helps us talk about the future when you guys talk about the past in such a reasonable way. >> we like reasonable. we really do. we want to push ahead to our town hall with hillary clinton. we want to get your thoughts on
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comcast business. built for business. we do have breaking news indeed here at cnn. u.s. forces have captured a suspect in the benghazi situation. we want to bring in our bar bar starr from the pentagon. >> not just captured but this is one of the most wanted terrorists in libya for allege involvement in the benghazi attack. a man named abgmed anabuu katala on sunday in libya.
he is being held at an undisclosed location. let's unpack this a little bit. the pentagon not saying very much at all other than to confirm he's now in u.s. custody. u.s. special forces and the fbi had been after this guy for a very long time. they had been watching his movements in the benghazi area. he had been seen there. he was someone they were keeping an eye on. the u.s. very much believes that katla is one of key master minds behind the attacks in benghazi, in september 2012 that killed u.s. ambassador chris stevens and three others, and has sparked an unending political firestorm on capitol hill for the white house. this man now in custody. it's quite interesting what they are not telling us. they are not saying where he's being held. in the past, in several instances, terrorists have been taken and put on board u.s. navy
ships before they are brought back to the united states for federal prosecution. we do know that the us.s. -- a navy ship is in the med. not too far from libya. it has been there for several weeks in case the embassy had to be evacuated there due to unrest. there are warships nearby. we don't know if he's on one of them. the u.s. not saying what kind of forces captured other than military and law enforcement, but we do know that u.s. special operations forces, we are talking delta force, s.e.a.l. team 6, these are the guys who have operated in and out of libya in very dicey security circumstances for the last several years. they have captured other people there. so i think it's pretty safe to assume realistically it was one of these tier 1 types of special
operations groups, tilting 6, delta that went in and got him out. of course, unless he was going to be driven across a border, they most lukely took him out by airplane or helicopter. this time we believe the libyan government had much more awareness of it. knew perhaps the basic parameters of what the u.s. had planned. in the past, the libyan government has been pretty upset when they believe they don't know what's going on. >> however, it was done, and whoever did it, got him, those blanks will be filled in soon, i'm sure, barbara by your reporting but fill in the blank about the man now in custody. you said he's believed to be one of master minds behind storming the compound in benghazi. who is he connected to? what's his background and you say they have been keeping eyes on him for the last year and a half or so. what's he been doing? >> this is quite interesting.
and katla by all accounts been seen in benghazi, living the cafe life so to speak. had not necessarily been in hiding. giving interviews. feeling very bold he would not be caught. we know several months ago when the u.s. forces went after a different guy named al-liby in tripoli, they had planned to make a two-part operation. they are going to have to go after katala. it didn't work out because the libyan government got so concerned about the u.s. forces being there. they backed away from getting katala at that time. not too far behind the scenes, we know that u.s. special forces, the intelligence
community, the fbi had been in and out of benghazi, in and out of the region very quietly, very covertly, keeping track of him. katala one of several suspects in the benghazi attacks. there are other guys they want to get just as bad, but this is something they really wanted. said to be associted with the al qaeda affiliate element operating in that region and said to be very involved in the planning. benghazi is such a complicated situation in term of who did what, who was behind it, what elements were behind it. it's this constant sort of unending dialog, was it al qaeda, was it local al qaeda, affiliate elements in that part of libya, was it outsiders. that debate goes on and on. but katala very specifically is
someone they feel had very good understanding that he was one of the key master minds, not the only, but one of the key master minds behind that attack. >> as you mentioned, other men involved, but getting that one man, the most wanted as you also said, barbara is so key to this. we want to bring in arwa damon. you can give us more an understanding of who this man is and how he operates as and john what you are seeing what he's been up to the last while. >> reporter: well, we actually met him around a year ago, and it was as barbara was mentioning there in an open space in a coffee shop of a very well-known hotel. he seemed to be confident that a man at that point of being hunted down. he was aware of the fact that the u.s. did consider him to be a person of interest. he was at the time being protected by the one of other
islamist groups in benghazi. we did speak to him about the attack on the u.s. consulate. he does not deny being on the scene of the attack. he does fully deny or he did at the time that he was directly involved in any way and that he was in fact the orchestrater, the mastermind of the u.s. consulate attack. he had claimed he had arrived on scene after receiving a phone call from one of the libyan commanders on the ground requesting his assistance, and then that is why he showed up there. he claims to have been directing traffic. at times, hi narrative did not exactly match-up to how we know events unfolded on the ground, but he was also saying that despite what the u.s. was claiming at the time, and that is that he was a part or the leader of the organization that is widely believed to be behind the attack. he says he was never involved with them. he did lead a rebel force during the libyan revolution, but he had disbanded them at that point
in time. he seemed to be a man who was very confident and quite outspoken about what had happened at the u.s. consulate. making no effort to mask how he felt about the americans. interestingly, at the time he said he did not support what happened there and nor did he support the killing of u.s. ambassador chris stevens, but he did say the americans were not doing enough to reach out to the appropriate people in libya. he felt as if they were meddling too much in libya's internal affairs. but he did say that he would be willing to speak to u.s. authorities, not be intir investigated by them. he was very clear to specify that. i will not be inter investigated by them. >> i would like to welcome our viewers around the u.s. and around the world from cnn international. what's interesting to me is that you met with this man as you say about a year ago. i think a lot of people are wondering how it is you, a journalist, albeit one of best got to sit down with this man
and it took u.s. special forces a year to apprehend him. how could one explain that gap? >> well, a number of factors, presumably and that would be after the attack on the u.s. consulate and then the cia shutting down. the usa did not have the reach into libya and benghazi to pick him up. also the sensitive nature of libyan politics. picking him up is going to inflame the situation here. this was not a man who was in hiding. i was the first television correspondent to speak to him but he had spoken to one or two other print outlets beforehand. he did not feel the need to secure himself other than with this small unit of libyan forces that were part of one of islamist militias at that point. i don't know if he went into
hiding afterwards. he was not someone western able to reach afterwards. i had his phone number afterwards upon a couple of questions, it would just ring. it would no answer, whenever his name would come up on the news, whenever the news about benghazi with would come up. i'm not sure what he's been doing for the last year at this stage. we're working sources trying to get more information about this. when it comes into u.s. operations, there are a number of calculations that go into that. after the attack on the u.s. consula consulate, the americans certainly had intelligence capacities diminished when it came to benghazi. >> well, they got their man. they could say. arwa damon we want to say a big thank you to you. and also barbara starr. we're going to continue our conversation about the capture
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welcome back to our viewers in the u.s. and around the world. the breaking news is this, the united states forces have captured a major suspect, the major suspect, in the attacks on the consulate in benghazi, more than a year ago now. i want to bring in our evan perez in washington to talk about the situation now facing this man. what kind of charges does he
face and where? >> well, we know that the prosecutors here in washington have filed charges against cat tall la on terrorism charges. these are related to the attack on the benghazi compound. we reported them last year here on cnn for the first time. the president later on in a press conference confirmed the existence of those charges. so what is probably happening right now is khattalah is he is likely being held on a navy ship or somewhere in the defense department's custody and they're questioning him and from there they're going to try to bring him to face those charges here in the u.s. >> let's fold in barbara starr into the conversation right now. after listening to arwa damon talk about the fact she met with this man face-to-face, even had his cell phone number, are wondering why on earth it took special forces or u.s. forces so
long to capture him. he was seemingly in plain sight. >> let's walk through how these things work. benghazi that area where we believe he was captured, is not friendly to the united states in any way, shape or form. i mean, arwa did incredible work. for her to go up to him and talk to him is one set of circumstances. for u.s. special operations forces, potentially cia personnel, fbi personnel, to move in to what essentially is not friendly territory, capture someone and get that person and themselves out of there, you have to have perfect intelligence. you have to know where the person is. and to be able to move in. and you don't want to have a gunfight suddenly erupt. so this takes time. what we do know is they had been watching for exactly the right time to move in and it looks like they got it. >> lieutenant colonel is here with us. you were telling us at the
break, basically, easy for us to say how come they didn't get this guy for the last year. you hunted criminals in bosnia. >> as barbara says, you have to have perfect intelligence. you have to know where they're going to be. how fast can the security forces react. what is, you know, all the situation around you. sometime also you have to call it off because the police will be there. because the last thing you want to do is get involved in a firefight inside another country. especially a country that's not friendly to you. for them to set up everything would take time. they may have aborted this several times. we don't know that. >> they did get him alive. the hope is they'll get more intelligence about the other players in this scenario from him. >> absolutely. it's always better to take these guys alive. i think that's one of the criticisms people have of the drone program is you don't get the opportunity to debrief these guys. so we may have had the opportunity to go in and kill this guy, but now we've got him. and whether he can get anything out of him or not remains to be seen.
but at least he's going to stand up in front a jury. >> can they talk to him before he gets a lawyer? >> it's an interesting thing. once he's in u.s. custody and the way we did this in bosnia is once he was -- these guys were in our custody, they had not formally been arrested yet it the military can't arrest people. >> thanks for being with us. the timing on this is fascinating. particularly for cnn. cnn has a town meeting. a live town hall meeting with hillary clinton who was secretary state when this whole benghazi thing happened. i think there will be a lot of questions for her about this man, about this operation and about what it means for the benghazi controversy going forward. >> they have breaking news at the town hall that will be monitored by our christiane amanpour this evening. i want to thank barbara starr for joining us. evan perez. thank you for joining us, all, "an this hour."
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built for business. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, everyone, i'm ashleigh banfield. it is tuesday, june 17th. welcome to "legal view." we're going to begin this hour with breaking news out libya. united states forces have captured a major suspect long sought after in the 2012 attack in the u.s. diplomatic outpost in benghazi. his name is ahmed abuhl khattalah. cnn has learned he is now in u.s. custody outside of libya. my cnn colleague arwa damon has met this the man. she joins me live now from iraq with much much more. you'll have to remind us who this man
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