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tv   At This Hour With Berman and Michaela  CNN  November 24, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PST

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i want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer reporting from washington. we're following breaking news out of washington right now. a key member of the president's administration is stepping down. we're talking about chuck hagel. he's leaving his post as the defense secretary of the united states. sources telling cnn hagel is being pushed out after less than two years on the job. the white house is insisting the decision is mutual. we're covering the story from all angles. our barbara starr has the latest information from the pentagon. jim acosta is joining us from the white house. our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto is joining us. he's in vienna, austria, right now covering the u.s./iranian nuclear talks. we're standing by for our chief international correspondent christiane amanpour. jim, you're working your sources over there. a lot of sensitivity, the president will presumably down
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play this notion that hagel is being forced out, pushed out. what are you hearing? >> i'm hearing from defense officials that this was mutual. that's a consistent line. i know that others are hearing he was pushed out and, to be frank, there had been talk of dissatisfaction from the white house with secretary hagel for some number of weeks. now, to be fair, that criticism does not only go in one direction. fact is, in the halls of the pentagon you will hear frustration with the white house, with lack of strategic planning, with micromanagement and that's, frankly, a criticism that i've heard, wolf, outside of the pentagon as well in other departments. the state department, other wings of this government. it's a consistent frustration with this administration which we hear quietly and privately internally. keep in mind as well that secretary hagel when he came into this job he had a different remit. a little less than two years ago the focus was on withdrawing troops from iraq, withdrawing
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troops in afghanistan, shrinking the pentagon budget in light of sequestration but also the president's priorities and continuing to rebalancing towards asia. secretary of defense chuck hagel a key proponent of that switch to asia. the world has changed very much in those last 18 months, returning to war in iraq, an expanded mission in afghanistan the withdrawal of most of those troops and for all the attention on asia, getting dragged back into the middle east so you can argue as some defense officials have been arguing to me today that this secretary of defense could have done a very good job with those old priorities that -- but that the president has new priorities now these final two years anded that that's the explanation behind this change. >> we'll hear directly from the president within a few minutes. he'll be in the state dining room at the white house to make this announcement with chuck hagel at his side. peter king is joining us, the
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congressman from new york, he's a member of the house intelligence committee, the house homeland security committee. with hindsight you say you're not surprised given the stories that have been out there over these past few weeks of differences between the defense secretary and the white house. >> i'm not saying i was pecking it but i'm not surprised because i noticed really in the last several months just the public disagreements between the secretary of defense and the administration policies as far as syria, as far as the use of ground troops and also the differences between the top military officials and the administration. i found that very unusual that there would be a public disagreement like that between the pentagon and the president. so it appeared to be that there was some tension, there was some friction and so i can see why this is happening. i'm saying as a republican when secretary hagel was first nominated and went through the confirmation process i think there was a lot of hard feeling
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toward him. one is because he endorsed president obama but also just at his confirmation hearings did not do a very good job. i would say the secretary of defense has done what he's been asked to do and he's tried to carry out the policies in the best way possible and i hope the administration doesn't try and make chuck hagel a scapegoat here. as i said earlier, when opinion asked don rumsfeld to leave, there has been a breakdown in confidence towards secretary rumsfe rumsfeld. deserved or not, that was the reality and also president bush wanted to change his policies dramatically in iraq at that time. does this mean the president is going to change his policy? if so in what direction? is he trying to find a policy? so i find it very interesting that secretary hagel is leaving now and who the president is going to bring in. >> we'll soon find out who the president will be bringing in. congressman, if you could stick around i'd love to hear your thoughts. we're only a few moments away
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from the president about to make this announcement at the state dining room inside the white house. we'll have live coverage coming up on cnn. i want to go to senior white house correspondent jim acosta standing by. hagel, i don't know how close thoefs the president, jim. i know he was very close to the vice president when he was a senator. vice president biden was a very close associate of then senator chuck hagel. they were together on the senate foreign relations committee all the time even though hagel was a republican, biden a democrat, they traveled together, they worked together. this is going to be a disappointment, i suspect, to the vice president who is very close with chuck hagel. >> that's right, wolf, and we are hearing vice president biden will be at this event that's happening at the white house. we should mention this is going to be in the sate dining room and this will be pooled press, which means you won't have reporters shouting questions at the president or chuck hagel but there will be a briefing this afternoon and the white house press secretary will be asked ten ways to sunday wolf whether
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or not chuck hagel was forced out of this job. and it is true that chuck hagel did endear himself to the president, did endear himself to this white house team when he was criticizing the war in iraq under george w. bush. this white house liked that in chuck hagel. but when chuck hagel testified at his confirmation hearing in the senate, he was already seen by some in this administration as somebody who wasn't just really strong rhetorically and then there were a couple instances over the last year as you know where that view was cemented in the minds of some people in this administration when chuck hagel said isil goes way beyond anything we've ever seen before. that was in sharp contrast of what the president said earlier in the year when he said isis and other groups in the middle east were like the jv team in al qaeda. so that raised questions as to whether or not chuck hagel an martin dempsey, also espousing different views, were on the same page as the president. and the white house would say what matters is they're on the
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same page as president obama. so i think this is an effort on the part of this white house to put together a team for the last two years who will be on the same page as the president. who won't be going off in different directions rhetorically on these important issues. there was that very important memo that chuck hagel wrote to national security advisor susan rice sharply criticizing the white house policy on syria and this president was asked in recent days about his policy in syria and he is determined, as he has been in the last several weeks, to stick with this policy which is no ground troops in iraq, perhaps in limited cases and no ground troops in syria, just working with groups and developing rebels on the ground and not taking a different posture when it comes to bashar al assad. so that adds up to very key differences. i talked to a senior white house official this morning, wolf, who said you can characterize it this way, they arrived at this decision together. chag until the view of this white house wasn't forced out but the president wasn't asking him to stay, either, woman. >> there wasn't the comfort
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level, a mutual comfort level, i suspect as well. jim, stand by. we're moments away from the president making this announcement in the state dining room at the white house. christiane amanpour is our chief international correspondent. she's joining us right now. christiane, that comes as a really awful time for the u.s. with the war against isis in iraq about syria, an effort to get a nuclear deal with iran, serious tensions potentially reemerging, north korea, serious ebola problems in africa, i could go on. how will this be seen around the world? >> well, certainly it's going to be viewed very, very much in the narrow focus of isis, syria, iraq, afghanistan and as jim was talking about, the differences between secretary hagel, the pentagon versus a very political staff around president obama and his national security staff at the white house, if s.e.c. hair hagel was more forward leaning on the it theres of isis and the threats of leaving a vacuum in
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syria that was the correct analysis because that's what's transpired. so the threat of isis huge, even general dempsey, even hagel, even president obama have said this is not something that's going to be won very quickly and some has said it's not going to be won from the air alone. so that's a how long policy principle that has to be resolved. if isis is going to be pushed back, it's not going to happen just from the air. switch over to afghanistan and president obama, we're hearing now reports in the "new york times" and elsewhere may expand the mission of the remnants torre sing wall u.s. force that will stay in afghanistan. at first it was going to be no combat role and just a sort of train and watch out and be there to support the afghans. now he is apparently going to say, apparently if these reports are correct, that actually u.s. forces will have more of a continued combat role at least for another year. to keep fighting off al qaeda, taliban, and the like. and there he has a very willing partner in the new president of
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afghanistan, ashraf ghani who has just over the weekend signed and approved these new security arrangements with the united states, is a much more close collaborator than president karzai was towards his last years as president. so very, very important there. if indeed michele flournoy, the former undersecretary of defense for policy, if she is chosen, i spoke to her a few months ago after a last major foreign policy speech that president obama made in may and she, too, believes that the effort on the ground must dictate any timetable for withdrawal. that, yes, america may be a war-weary nation but good leadership and effective leadership will make them understand. >> here we go. here comes the president, the secretary of defense and the vice president. >> good morning, everybody. please be seated. about a year ago, secretary of defense chuck hagel was visiting our troops in the republic of korea thanking them for their
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service and answering their questions and they asked about the usual topics, about our national security, the future of our military and then one soldier, a sergeant from ohio, asked him what was the most per innocent question of the day, which was "what was your favorite college football team?" [ laughter ] to which chuck replied "born and raised in nebraska, i don't have a choice, i am a strong cornhusker's fan." now, there was a time when an enlisted soldier might have been reluctant to ask that kind of question of the secretary of defense. but chuck hagel has been no ordinary secretary of defense. as the first enlisted combat veteran to serve in that position, he understands our men and women like few others because he stood where they stood, he's been in the dirt and he's been in the mud. and that's established a special
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bond. he sees himself in them and they see themselves in him. and their safety, their lives have always been at the center of chuck's service. when i asked chuck to serve as secretary of defense we were entering a significant period of transition. the drawdown in afghanistan, the need to prepare our forces for future missions, and tough fiscal choices to keep our military strong and ready. over two years, chuck has been an exemplary defense secretary, providing a steady hand as we modernize our strategy and budget to meet long-term threats while still responding to immediate challenges like isil and ebola. thanks to chuck, our military is on a firmer footing engaged in these missions and looking ahead to the future. last month chuck came to me to discuss the final quarter of my presidency and determined that,
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having guided the department through this transition, it was an appropriate time for him to to complete his service. let me just say let me just say that schuk and have been a great find of mine. i've known him, admired him, and trusted him for nearly a decade since i was a green behind the ears freshman senator and we were both on the senate foreign relations committee. if there's one thing i know about chuck it's that he does not make this or any decision lightly. this decision does not come easily to him but i consider myself extraordinarily lucky to have had him by my side for two years and i am grateful that chuck has agreed to stay on until i nominate a successor and that successor is confirmed by the senate. which means he'll continue to guide our troops at this challenging time i'll have more opportunity to pay tribute to chuck's life of service in the days ahead. for now let me just say this.
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chuck hagel has devoted himself to our national security and our men and women in uniform across more than six decades. he volunteered for vietnam and still carries the scars and shrapnel from the battles that he faugtd. at the v.a., he fought to give our veterans, especially his fellow vietnam veterans, the benefits they had earned. as head of the uso, he made sure americas always honors our troops. as a senator, he helped lead the fight for the pest 9/11 g.i. bill which is helping our newest veterans and the families realize their dreams of a college education. as secretary, chuck has helped transition our military and bolstered america's leadership around the world. during his tenure. afghan forces took the lead for security in afghanistan, our forces have drawn down, our combat mission there ends next month and will partner with afghans to preserve the gains we have made. the nato alliance is as strong
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as it has ever been and we have reassured our allies with our increased difference central and eastern europe. we've modernized our alliances in the asia-pacific, updated our defense posture and recently agreed to improve communications between the u.s. and chinese militaries. chuck has been critical to all these accomplishments. meanwhile, chuck's ensured that our military is ready for new missions. today our men and women in uniform are taking the fight against isil in iraq and syria and chuck helped build the international coalition to ensure that the world is meeting this threat together. today our forces are helping support the civilian effort against ebola in west africa. a reminder, as chuck likes to say, that america's military is the greatest force for good in the world. finally, in a very difficult budgetary environment chuck has
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never lost sight of key priorities. the readiness of our force and the quality of our life, of our troops and their families. he's launched new reforms to ensure that even as our military is leaner, it remains the strongest in the world so our troops can continue to get the pay, the housing, the health care, the child care that they and their families need. reforms that we need congress to now support. at the same time, after the tragedies we've seen, chuck has helped lead the effort to improve security at our military installations and to stamp out the scourge of sexual assault from the ranks chuck, i also want to thank you on a personal level. we come from different parties but in accepting this position you sent a powerful message, especially to folks in this city and when it comes to our national security and caring for our troops and their families we are all americans first.
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when i nominated you for this position you said you'd always give me your honest advice and informed con sell. you have. when it's mattered most, behind closed doors and the oval office you've always given it to me straight and far i will always be grateful. i recall when i was a nominee in 2008 and i traveled to afghanistan and iraq chuck hagel accompanied me on that trip along with jack reid and it's pretty rare at a time when sometime this is town is so politicized to have a friend who was willing to accompany a nominee from another party because he understood that whoever ended up being president, what was most important was that we were unified when we confronted the challenges that we see overseas and this's the kind of class and integrity that chuck hagel has
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always represented. now, chuck, you've said that a life is only as good as the family you have and the friends you surround yourself with and in that you are blessed. i want to thank lily beth, your son and your daughter for the sacrifices that they've made adds well. i know that as reluctant as we are to see you go, they are equally excited to be getting their husband and father back and i'm sure the corn huskers are also happy that a fan will be there to cheer them on more often. today the united states of america can proudly claim the strongest military the world has ever known. that's the result of the investments made over many decades. the blood and treasure and sacrifices of generations. that's the result of the character and wisdom of those who lead them as well, including a young army sergeant in vietnam who rose to serve as our nation's 24th secretary of defense. so on behalf of a grateful nation, thank you, chuck. [ applause ]
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>> thank you, thank you very much. thank you. [ applause ] thank you very much. mr. president, thank you. thank you for your generous words, for your friendship, for your support which i have always valued and will continue to value into my not old but my long-time dear friend vice president biden who i have always admired and respected and both the president and i have learned an awful lot from the vice president over the years. thank you. and i want to thank the deputy
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secretary of defse who was here, bob work p and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general marty dempsey who also is here. i want to thank them for being here this morning. i also want to thank you both for your tremendous leadership of the department and what you mean to our men and women and their families all over the world and for the honor i've had to serve with each of you and the privilege. it's been that in every way. i want to thank the entire leadership team at the pentagon without their support and wise council over the last couple of years our many accomplishments and the president noted some i have been part of that. but it's a team. it's all these tremendous men and women that make this happen and i couldn't be prouder of
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them and we have we have accomplished over the almost two years that i've had the honor of serving in this position. as the president noted i have submitted my resignation as secretary of defense. it's been the greatest privilege of my life to lead and most important to serve with the men and women of the department and support their families. i am immensely cloud proud of what we've accomplished during this time. we have prepared ourselves, as the president has noted, our allies and afghan national security forces for successful transition in afghanistan. we bolstered enduring alliances and strengthened emerging partnerships while successfully responding to crises around the world. and we've launched important reforms that the president noted reforms that will prepare this institution for challenges facing us in decades to come.
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i believe we have set not only this department, the department of defense but the nation on a stronger course toward security, stability and prosperity. if i didn't believe, that i would not have done this job. as our country prepares to celebrate thanksgiving i want you mr. president and you vice president biden acknowledge what you have done and how grateful i am to both of you for your leadership and your friendship and for giving me this opportunity to serve our country once again. i will continue to support you, mr. president and the men and women who defend this country everyday so unselfishly and their families, what they do for our country. so unselfishly. and as i have said and as the president noted. i will stay on this job and work just as hard as i have over the
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last couple years everyday, every moment until my successor is confirmed by the united states senate. i'd also like to express my gratitude to our colleagues on capitol hill. my gratitude but they're support o of our troops. and they're continued commitment to. i also want to thank my international counterparts for their friendship and their partnership and their advice during my time as secretary of defense and so many of these important areas as we build these coalitions of common interest as you have noted, president president are so critically important.
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if i want to thank my wife who has been with me throughout so many years and this experience in opportunity and privilege to serve as secretary of defense has been one of those. and to my daughter and son. mr. president, again, thank you to all of our team everywhere and as we know mr. president and mr. vice president it is a teamer and that's part of the fun of it. to help build teams and make things offer for the good of the country and make a better world. for all that i'm immensely grateful and to all of you your families happy thanksgiving. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> so there it 1, the official word from the white house. the secretary of defense.
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let's see if a reporter shouts a question to the president. not happening, no questions. you see susan rice there. you see the attorney general there, dennis mcdonough the white house chief of staff. the president speaking for about nine minutes, the secretary of defense speaking for about five minutes. the secretary of defense after nearly two years stepping down. he says he will stay as the secretary of defense until a successor emerges. confirmed by the senate let's go to our pentagon correspondent. i know there are names out there already. we're hearing several names, potential candidates to succeed chuck hagel. what are you hearing? >> well, wolf, you know, the usual cast of names already circulating around washington, i think it's very early at this
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point to perhaps highlight any one of them. i want to go back to what we just saw. that was a very important optic that you saw. the secretary of defense also a vietnam veteran, sergeant chuck hagel and this time getting a very dignified sendoff from the white house very deliberatedly sending out a message to the troops that hagel will have a dignified departure from the office. clear out all of the underbrush, all of the politics, he was basically forced out by a white house perceived as micromanaging the pentagon, all of the decisions. hagel perhaps himself not quite satisfied with what was going on. he had been known to be objecting to some of the isis policy. particularly concerned about the government? syria and his chairman of the joint chiefs general martin dempsey also at odds with the white house publicly about the potential need for a small
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number of troops on the ground what does this mean for u.s. troops? will the president shift gears? will he shift policy? removing chuck hagel, what does it get you unless there's going to be a policy change? that takes you to the question who will be his successor. one of the names most mentioned, michele flournoy, former undersecretary of policy, number three at the pentagon. i saw her last saturday in california, i chaired an event at the reagan presidential library, she was on my panel then very much positioning herself for some time now as a centrist on defense policy that she can work with republicans and democrats. the temptation perhaps to name her to be the first female secretary of defense, that is out there. many people believe that. i've already spoken to people this morning who talk about how qualified she is, she has long years of experience will she
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want the job? senator jack reid weighing in saying he loves his job in the senate. former secretary secretary of defense number two ashton carter has a lot of international experience. he is out there. the president may decide to go another way i'll go on a limb, i would be surprised if he picks a retired general or admiral. i think he reach into the civilian sector. there are a lot of people very well qualified but i think it goes back to this question. you've gotten chuck hagel out of office, where do you go from here? what have you achieved? what will the new policy be? and for thousands and tens of thousands of american troops and their families, what does it mean for them? will they be headed back into iraq, into syria? what does it mean for u.s. troops? wolf? you're absolutely right. it was a very dignified sendoff for the secretary of defense. i suspect this is not the timing
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he would have liked to have served throughout this second term of the obama administration. as you point out. that was not meant to be for a variety of reasons. peter king is a republican from new york, a member of the intelligence committee as well as the homeland security committee. what did you think of that sendoff, congressman? >> it was dignify and chuck hagel was entitled to that but there is no reason give on the why he is leaving. the president read off his accomplishments but did not give any real reason why chuck hagel is stepping down now so it's obvious that there has been a plit betwe split between the president and secretary, at least between the white house and chuck hagel. so i go back to what barbara starr said, what does that mean as far as a new policy? that will lead us into the senate confirmation hearings which i think will go beyond the question of who the individual is or what our policy is going to be because john mccain is the
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chairperson of the -- is going to be the chairman of the arms services committee and nobody has stronger views on our military and what he believes is a failed policy in the middle east than senator mccain. so i think it will be very interesting. so i don't mean that from a partisan point of view but from a philosophical point of view as to what the president's policy is going to be, how senator mccain is going to accept that i think it will be an interesting discussion as to what was name bud also what the policy will be and how that will play out as far as confirmation. >> those hearings will be really, really fascinating because, as you correctly point out, senator mccain is very well versed on all of these issues, whether isis, syria, iraq, afghanistan iran, north korea, those hearings, whoever the nominee turns out to be, will be fascinating. congressman king, stand by. christiane amanpour is monitoring what's going on as well.
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christiane, give us your reaction. how will this play? >> i think precisely the questions that barbara and representative king have just raised. what is the policy going to be going forward? as president obama said for the last quarter of his presidency. obviously you've all reported for many years now, since his first presidency, that there has been tension between the white house and the armed military. it's been played out on the ground over the last several years. many, many, many of the highest-ranking armed uniform military plus the lowest ranking have been very uncomfortable about pulling out of, let's say, iraq and afghanistan before the job is done. and now as we've seen the results are all ready for us all to see and now this administration is having to go back in and try to get back a level playing field. what is that going to mean for syria and iraq. what is it going to mean for essentially working with nato allies like turkey? will there be a more robust attempt to fix what's going
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nonsyria and iraq? turkey wanted a no-fly zone. turkey practically offered to be america's ground forces if the united states decides to go against assad as well, believing that you cannot fight and defeat isis if assad remains in power. so will there be a shift in that regard? what about afghanistan? the lesson of pulling out of iraq has sort of mitigated a little bit the idea that all forces are going to be pulled out of afghanistan, but as president obama said this morning, just now, america's combat role in afghanistan will end at the end of next month. so despite reports in newspapers that perhaps there may be a decision to continue america's combat role against the taliban, in other words using air strikes, this and that, we're not sure yet. the president has not made that public yet. but certainly michele flournoy, if she's tapped as a successor, has told me that you mustn't pull back in any way unless objectives are made.
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you can't have that be made on a political timetable. so it's all going to be very interesting but there are real, real issues on the ground that have to be dealt with and it's a very complex moment right now, wolf, as we all know. >> christiane, i want you stand by as well. let's get military reaction. retired colonel rick francona, cnn military analyst, is joining us right now. how's this going to play with the military? they've got enormous problems right now the men and women of the united states military. when they see the defense secretary suddenly leaving, i think the -- even if maybe with hientd sight we can say maybe it shouldn't be such a surprise given some of the differences between the secretary of defense and the white house. certainly it did come out of the blue today. how will this play with the men and women of the united states military? >> i think they're going to be very concerned because what we've seen over the last month, last couple of months, is secretary hagel becoming much more forceful and offering the kind of advice the president
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might not want to hear. he's talked about beefing up our attention to syria. he's -- he and both -- both he and the chairman of the joint chiefs general dempsey, have said we may need to put more troops in, we may need to put boots on the ground. these are the things the president is adamantly against. and it seems that the secretary has been echoing what the generals have been telling him. he's finally come around to their way of thinking and all of a sudden he's cut off at the knees. so this is going to cause a lot of concerns in the senior ranks all the way down to the troops in the field right now because they don't know what the policy is going forward. just like everyone has mentioned, where are we going now? will this signal a change in the leadership or with we're going? >> i think that's well stated. certainly an issue white house is going to have to address. jim acosta is our senior white house correspondent. they peel be very sensitive to the men and women of the united states military.
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they'll have to put forward a nominee who will reinstill that confidence that the secretary of defense is with them. >> you recall this talk will there be a big shakeup and officials inside the white house are ensuring us before and after the midterm elections that there would not bt a big shakeup. but we have a slow motion shakeup occurring when you have eric holder departing this white house. but no question about it. chuck hagel was a different kind of defense secretary as president obama said during his remarks. he's been in the dirt, he's been in the mud. a vietnam veteran and so perhaps that is why you're seeing senator jack reed's name on this short list. perhaps he won't be the nominee for the next secretary of defense. he already has a spokesman putting out statements in the last hour or so saying he wants to remain in the senate. so perhaps that's why his name is on the list. no question about it, wolf, there are people inside this military who are wondering
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whether where is this mission heading with respect to going after isis when it comes to going after al qaeda and afghanistan. we saw those adjustments over the weekend that were announced by this administration where the president is now saying that there might be offensive operations. perhaps just to protect american personnel but also to go after al qaeda and counterterrorism operations in afghanistan. perhaps they don't want a repeat of what happened in iraq when a total pullout occurred yet you saw this cancer grow up inside syria that spread into iraq and has destabilized the entire region. so there are big questions for 24 national security team, as barbara starr was saying. martin dempsey has not been shrinking from putting out the possibility that putting out ground troops might be necessary. i asked the president about this as he wrapped up that trip to asia and australia and he said maybe if isis were to get a nuclear weapons then he would put ground troops in iraq. that's a very remote possibility, wolf. it sounds like the president isn't moving from that position that there might be cases where he's going to have to put troops
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on the ground. i think as chuck hagel semi-straited perhaps unintentionally, this national security team, this white house, they're not on the same page when it comes to dealing with this big threat that they'll reason is to hand off to the next administration. republican or democrat. and the president has made it clear and top administration officials have made it clear they're not going to be able to solve the isis problem, they don't think, before president obama's time is up. that's a big reason why this next secretary of defense is so critical. >> and i assume the president is vetting some candidates right now. we should have a decision very, very soon. all right, guys, thanks very much. christiane amanpour, thanks to you. colonel terry francona. i'll be back at 1:00 p.m. eastern, a little bit more than an hour or so for much more coverage. your program willing continue on cnn and cnn international after a quick break.
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we'll connect you with the right people and programs, offer smart ways to save, and give you the tools to help make your healthcare experience a positive one. remember, open enrollment ends december 7th. call unitedhealthcare today about an aarp medicarecomplete plan. you can even enroll right over the phone. or visit us online. don't wait. call now. i'm john berman. >> silt john berman, we missed him, didn't we? i'm michaela pereira. all these stories ahead for you. we are watching ferguson, any minute we could get decisions from the grand jury investigating the shooting death of michael brown. will they decide to indict police officer darren wilson or will they clear him of any state charges in the killing of the
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unarmed teenager. >> the weight has been excruciatingly tense in ferguson. our anna cabrera is there outside the courthouse in missouri where the grand jury has been meeting. ana, a decision we know was expected days ago. what's the latest? what's the feeling on the ground there. >> we are just in a waiting game right now michaela and john, as you mentioned. we believe the grand jury is currently going over their proceedings and dliging rig ide behind me in the justice center in st. louis county. i can tell you there is a fairly large law enforcement presence here around the media staging area across the street just making sure everything stays peaceful but as you can see behind me, pretty quiet here, it's a cold day here in the st. louis area and perhaps that's keeping people indoors for the moment. but people are certainly very anxious to hear what the decision will be and at this point we don't know even exactly when that announcement will come following a decision that's made. john and michaela? >> ana, do we know the mechanism
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by which we will be informed when it does happen? does someone come out or do they send out a press release? >> there's been a lot of mystery in all this. we've been certainly contacting the prosecutor's office today to get a little bit more guidance as to what we can anticipate. what we do know is there is supposed to be some kind of press release giving information, whether that's where to meet for an announcement, when that announcement is going to be made. we know exactly what they will be able to inform us of at any given moment. we do know that there's now a little bit of question about whether law enforcement will receive much notice. they were initially told that they would be given 48 hours notice after a decision was made to when an announcement would go public about that decision and now some sources are telling cnn that that 48-hour window may have been closed and that that announcement may be more imminent following a decision. so we'll have to wait and see. we'll be here and keep you posted on anything we learn.
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>> ana cab rare, a our thank you to you. >> interesting news out of the "new york times" and st. louis dispatch saying officer darren wilson got married over the last few weeks. >> and where he would have gotten married would be just a few steps from where the grand jury is reconvening and deliberating. >> it's very, very interesting. cnn working to confirm that but that in the "new york times" and the st. louis "post-dispatch." ahead ff us at this hour, a new woman steps forward accusing comedian bill cosby of sexual assault. why she decided to come forward decades after this alleged encounter. .. i'm an idaho potato farmer and our big idaho potato truck is still missing. so my buddy here is going to help me find it. here we go. woo who, woah, woah, woah. it's out there somewhere spreading the word about americas favorite potatoes: heart healthy idaho potatoes and the american heart association's go red for women campaign. if you see it i hope you'll let us know. always look for the grown in idaho seal.
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at least 15 women have come forward in the past two weeks to accuse comedian bill cosby of sexual assault. you're about to meet another
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accuser who says cosby assaulted her almost 50 years ago. 12 of the alleged victims have either spoken to cnn about their accusations, talked on camera about them or had their claims addressed by cosby's attorney. the latest woman to come forward is making claims that are the earliest known allegations in the case. >> alisyn camerota spoke to this new accuser. alis alisyn, this happened a long time ago. >> there's a lot of speculation as to why these women are coming forward and whether or not there's any gain and when i know i sat down with christina, i asked her, i said "have you ever made any money or would you take any money for your story?" >> i am a very -- woman that's very comfortable financially. i'm really happy. i have everything. i don't want his money. or anyone else's.
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>> reporter: so why are you coming forward? >> two reasons. one, i don't like to see these other women who had similar experiences called liars and trashed in the media when i know that i can speak for them. and the second reason, it was that it might encourage others because i thought, well, these are all new that i didn't know about and there may be dozens or hundreds of other victims. >> reporter: 71-year-old christina ruehli says her encounter with bill cosby took place in 1965 when she was 22 years old, making hers the earliest known alleged case. she was working as a secretary at a talent agency when she says cosby invited her and several co-workers to a party at his
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house. you get to the party, or the beginning of what you think will be a party and he prepares a . >> yes. a bourbon and 7. >> you had two drinks? >> i had two drinks that i'm clear about. >> reporter: and then what happened? >> i don't remember a thing. it went blank. when you're in that kind of a foggy state, you don't think of anything but that had you drunk too much. so i must have passed out again because when i awakened again, i found myself on a bed. >> reporter: and then what happened? >> he was there, he had his shirt off and i believe he had his pants off. it's pretty groggy. and he had his hand on the back of my head. >> reporter: she says he then tried to force her to perform oral sex. >> i lifted my head away, i think it surprised him.
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i lifted my head away and pulled myself away immediately. and i went into the bathroom and i threw up and i know i threw up a couple of times. when i finished, i came out and he was gone. >> reporter: christina believes it could have been worse, that cosby could have raped her. she told her boyfriend at the time what happened. >> did you tell anyone else other than your boyfriend? >> i might have. i might have. but it's something that sort of how you would tell your boyfriend but not girlfriends? things were different. you talked about different things. you didn't talk about date rape with a girlfriend. >> reporter: did it ever occur to you to go to the police? >> no. he had not injured me. what had he done? he had exposed himself to me but this was the '60s. and it never occurred to me to go to the police. i just went on with my life.
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>> people are skeptical. >> i know. >> reporter: that bill cosby did this to you and to the other women. bill cosby was a likable, beloved celebrity. >> he was likable. >> reporter: back in the '60s and '70s. so why did he have to resort to drugging women? >> i don't think he's very attractive or sexy. i guess that's just my viewpoint. maybe he is inadequate inside but i heard this was a routine of his all the time. rape is about power, not sex. rape is about anger, not sex. and until he had this series "eye spy," which was a series he had then, he was just a comedian. and the power that he found in his hands, he abused. >> reporter: in 2005, 40 years
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later, christina read about another alleged victim, andrea constand. she became one of the 13 jane does in the case which was settled for an undisclosed amount. >> so you basically volunteered your services and memory to this other lawsuit? >> yes. >> reporter: but you did not stand to gain for being part of that lawsuit? >> oh, no. i didn't need it and i didn't need the aggravation. but i thought, what's the worst thing that something could happen to me? that somebody calls me a liar. >> reporter: i want to read you a statement from bill cosby's attorney. "lawsuits are filed against people every day. there has never been a shortage of lawyers willing to represent people with claims against rich, powerful men so it makes no sense that not one of these women who came forward for the first time now ever asserted a
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legal claim back at the time. >> well, rich lawyers can be hired for people when they are silent. that's my answer. >> reporter: cosby's attorney did not provide cnn with a specific response to christina's claims. >> what do you think is going to happen next? do you think there's such a din now being created by these more than a dozen women? >> i think whatever you follow here, it doesn't end with me. >> do you think it's time for bill cosby to come forward and say something? >> i do. i wish he had courage. i wish he had the balls. who would want 15 minutes of this kind of not fame, shame.
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so i'm here -- not that i think i'm this great courageous, character person, but to say to the others who have come forward and who i hope will come forward, it takes courage. >> such an interesting discussion. listen to her talk about it. it's almost matter of fact. do you get a sense that it was hard for her to speak about this at such length right now? >> i don't think it was hard for her. obviously sexual assault -- alleged sexual assault affects people in all different ways and hearse was not an emotional response. she felt she had a responsibility now to come forward. she didn't feel traumatized by what happened but she does think that it was disgusting and she said she has a very supportive husband who is financially stable who encouraged her to come forward now, again, to show solidarity with the other accusers. >> she showed solidarity before but as a jane doe. >> yes.
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>> this time she waved the paper bag and said, this is who i am and spoke forward. >> yes. >> do you think these women will gather together at some point? have they spoken to one another? >> she has not yet spoken to any of the other accusers but like so many that you and i have spoken to, she saw their stories online, she saw them in the news and she felt she wanted to support them. michaela, it's so interesting because they come from all walks of life. >> and it's affecting them all differently. >> absolutely. there are people who have gone on to have troubled lives, she's very honest and she's had a privileged life. it really covers the gamut of experiences. >> great interview. thank you for sharing it with us. >> thanks. >> that's all for us. thank you so much for joining us at this hour. i'm john berman. >> you'll be back later today. >> i do not think i will be. >> will you be back tomorrow? >> i will be. "legal view" with ashleigh banfield starts now. narrator: these are the tennis shoes
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hello, everyone. i'm ashleigh banfield. this is "legal view." cabinet members go and cabinet members go. the world takes note when a u.s. defense secretary makes a sudden -- and from all indications -- involuntary exit, less than two years into his tenure. president obama making the announcement with the vietnam vet and former republican


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