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tv   CNN Newsroom With Alisyn Camerota and Victor Blackwell  CNN  August 12, 2021 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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applicants? sounds like engineers, medical and mps -- >> when i say engineers, we're talking about a very small number of engineers. it's largely for electrical power to make sure we have power to do the processing of applicants. by engineers, i didn't mean construction and that kind of thing. >> going to kuwait, that's roughly 3,000 to 3500 people total? >> a common combat brigade is about 3500 to 4,000 people. >> it's 3,000 people going right away in the coming days. then you have another 3500 on standby in case for security. i'm unclear what they're doing. the 3,000, it's like a couple of miles from the embassy. what are 3,000 people doing? are they just there securing the airport then? >> they'll be there to provide
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safety and a secure movement of the reduction of civilian personnel out of the embassy to help facilitate their departure from the country, to also help with the process of moving special immigrant visa applications out of the country and to provide additional security at the airport. again, we believe this is a prudent measure given the deteriorating security situation. >> 3,000 is a lot of people. can you give any better sense on a day to day what are they doing? sounds like that many people must be responsible for getting people to the airport and it almost sounds as if they're coming in and taking over security at the airport. >> i wouldn't go that far. turkish forces are still at the airport in the lead of security. we already have some united states security forces at the airport including some aviation elements. these 3,000 would be going to bolster that presence and to
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make sure that the airport is secure enough to facilitate movement of all of these people over the next couple of weeks. this is about prudent preparation. we want to make sure we've got enough on hand to adapt to any contingencies. your question about the numbers being too high, we believe it's appropriate to the security situation that we see now and that we can anticipate possibly in the future, which is again why we're going to flow a brigade combat team into the theater to be ready in case we need even more. hopefully, courtney, this will be an incredibly permissive environment and we won't need these additional capabilities, but the secretary believes the safety and security of our people, not just american troops but our allies and partners and our state department colleagues is of paramount concern and he's not going to add additional risk
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to that safe movement. >> very quickly, kandahar city, can you confirm the taliban have taken it? >> i can't. i'm not going to do battle assessment from the podium. let me get to the phones. >> the infantry battalions, where are they coming from? >> they are already coming from inside the central command area of responsibility. i think i'd rather leave it at that for now. already in theater. >> thank you. the thousand that will be at qatar, is the intent they will stay at qatar or will they also be flying into kabul to provide additional support if needed? >> right now the plan is to get them to qatar. again, we were looking at
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regional sites for processing of siv applicants. qatar is one of those sites we are looking at potentially being able to use. if we need to move in part or in whole elsewhere to do this job to help with the application process, we'll deal with that at the right time. for now, in the coming days they'll be heading to qatar. >> besides the increase in troops, it becomes kind of a logistics issue if you don't have enough air lift support. is the u.s. going to send additional planes or get additional contracted air to increase the throughput of people that can leave kabul? >> we do anticipate an increased need for us air lift. the secretary has already had conversations with the chairman and transportation command about these potential needs. so we do fully expect there will be additional united states military air lift required.
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i just don't have the details here today. we absolutely anticipate being more involved in the air lift element of this mission. >> what about close air support? are you going to increase drones or fighter jets overhead to protect troops? >> yesterday we have and today we have the authority and capabilities in the region to conduct air strikes if needed. that's not going to change as a result of these new mission sets. >> does this mean the u.s. military withdrawal is not going to be complete by august 31st? >> again, what i said was we're aiming to facilitate the reduction of these civilian personnel by august 31st. so it's all lining up on the same timeline. i won't speculate about what the footprint is going to look like post august 31st because there's this additional mission set of helping process special immigrants. we're going to have to wait and see. but the drawdown itself is still
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on track to be complete by august 31st. >> that makes no sense, john. >> i know what you're saying, lucas. i'm saying of the original footprint plans, that's still continuing. yes, we are adding additional troops for this specific and narrow focus. >> and you're going to get them all out by the end of the month? >> i'm not going to speculate beyond august 31st. our job now is to facilitate the safe movement of civilian personnel out of afghanistan. the president's been very clear he wants that reduction complete by the end of august. >> have you spoken to the taliban so they know you're doing this and you have some assurances or guarantees they will not attack special forces moving in? >> the defense department has not spoken to the taliban about this. >> are you concerned they're going to be under attack? >> as in all cases our commanders will have the right of self-defense and any attack upon our forces will be met with
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a swift and appropriate response. >> do you consider this a combat mission? >> this is a very narrowly focused mission of safeguarding the orderly reduction of civilian personnel out of afghanistan. that esp's what we're going to focused on. >> it's not a combat mission? >> i've already described this mission three times. we're mindful the security situation continues to deteriorate in afghanistan. our troops will, as always, have the right of self-defense, but this is a narrowly focused mission to help safeguard an orderly reduction of civilian personnel. >> if i could follow up on lucas's question, with all these new troops, resources going into kabul, is there any consideration of using the kabul airport as a staging point for what had been the over the
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horizon capabilities? and has there been any progress on securing anything closer to afghanistan in terms of staging or basing for the over the horizon air strikes? secondly, how worrisome is it that a city like kandahar, which where us air power has been focused in repatcent weeks in attempt to assist the afghan security forces have fallen to the taliban despite the u.s. support? >> i didn't get what the question was on your second one. >> sorry. over the last week or so the u.s., we're told, has focused some of its air strike capability on cities like kandahar in an effort to bolster the efforts of afghan security forces there. how worrisome is it that those cities appear to be falling or have fallen into taliban hands
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despite the fact that the u.s. has focused what capabilities it has on those areas? >> obviously, no one's pleased to see that the security situation in afghanistan continues to deteriorate and the taliban continues to act as if they believe the only path to governance is through violence and brutality and oppression and force. contrary to what they have said previously at the negotiating table. so of course nobody's happy to see that. as we've said before, jeff, with these air strikes, we would provide support to the afghan national security defense forces where and when feasible with the expectation and knowledge that it's not always going to be feasible. your first question about the airport, there is no planning and no discussion of using the airport as a base for conducting air strikes in and around afghanistan. there is a small aviation
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element at the airport that is rotary based and it's for the facilitation and logistics in movement and that kind of thing. >> three battalions at the airport, brigade there in kuwait. who's in charge of this? what's the chain of command? is there somebody in charge of the collective military effort, or do they report to the embassy security officer, the rso? >> as you said we have the admiral in kabul and has been placed in charge by general mckenzie to be the commander of u.s. forces afghanistan forward. ashley? >> just to follow up on some of the other questions, in addition to any additional aircraft, is there additional equipment that these three battalions are going to need? could you walk us through how
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you arrived at the need for 3,000 additional troops? >> i'm not going to get into the deliberations over exactly how these particular units were chosen. this was based on consultation by the secretary with the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff based on the mission set. again, it's a narrowly defined mission to safeguard the movement of civilian personnel and help process at an accelerated pace special immigrant visas. we sourced a mission and based on consultations with top military leaders, the secretary decided this was the appropriate amount right now and to again have additional forces available closer in to theater if that was required. i missed your other question. >> in addition to potential aircraft being sent to the country to help with the evacuation, is there additional equipment being sent and to help
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with transportation or anything else at this point in time? >> as i said, we anticipate the use of additional military air lift. these infantry battalions come with some measure of self-defense equipment, mortars, machine guns and of course personally carried weaponry. they have self-defense capabilities. i'm not able to detail specifically what each battalion will be carrying with them, but they will obviously have the capabilities they need to defend themselves. [ inaudible question ] >> sending 3,000 personnel inside, that's a significant number. is this a -- and why are you not calling it that? >> we're not classifying this as
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a noncombatant evacuation operation. this is a narrowly focused mission to help the state department colleagues accelerate the processing of siv applicants. we are not classifying this as a n.e.o. at this time. >> there's a certain irony here that the drawdown was for 2500 troops and you're sending in an additional 3,000 to get out civilians. on top of that, another 3500 in kuwait. i mean, what is the irony here for people who might be asking, is it? literally isn't it ironic that in order to get out the 2500 you're having to ramp up significantly? >> i don't share your view of the irony.
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this is a very temporary mission for a very specific purpose nan that's a big difference than saying you're deploying for eight, nine, 12 months forces to stabilize and secure afghanistan, which we've been doing for the last 20 years. this is a very narrowly defined, temporary mission. >> once this mission is over, there are only going to be 650 troops to protect the airport and the embassy staff? >> once this mission is over -- i won't get into specific numbers here, but we anticipate having less than 1,000 u.s. troops on the ground to support the diplomatic presence in kabul, which we all agree we want to still be able to have. >> are you considering the need for more troops if the situation continues to deteriorate? if there wasn't one event that
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led to this, what changed to the last 24-48 hours that's led to an incredibly acceleration to get out? >> i think we laid out pretty clearly that three infantry battalions on the way now and a brigade combat team as a reserve. there's no plans for additional forces. i can only say what i said before to david. there wasn't one precipitating event in the last couple of days that led the president and the secretary to make this decision. it's a confluence of events. as i've been saying now for several weeks, we have been watching very closely with concern the security situation on the ground. far better to be prudent and responsible and watching the trends to make the best decision you can for safety and security of our people than to wait until
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it's too late. we believe this is not only the right thing to do, but it's the right time to do it. [ inaudible question ] >> i wouldn't speculate. i'm not going to speculate about hypothetical situations in the future and i'm certainly not going to get into intelligence assessments. >> you think it's close if you're evacuating all these americans? >> i'm not going to speculate about the future of kabul and i'm certainly not going to talk about intelligence assessments. we believe this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it. as my state department colleague said earlier today, there is still a diplomatic presence in kabul and the intention is to maintain a diplomatic presence in kabul. [ inaudible question ] >> we have a special envoy, who routinely talks to leaders of the taliban in terms of the pursuit of a diplomatic negotiated settlement.
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i would refer you to my state department colleagues to speak to it. >> -- combat deployment. it's insulting for americans watching. >> i disagree,lucas. i don't think it's insulting and i'm not sure i share that sentiment at all. >> this is deploying into kabul. you tell me this isn't combat? >> lucas, what i'm telling you is -- and i've said it before -- they will have the ability to defend themselves. they will be armed. of course. they're going for a security mission. they're going for a narrowly defined mission to secure and safeguard the movement of civilian personnel and special immigrants. that's the goal. >> not a combat mission? >> being clear here, i'm responding to e-mails i'm getting from people in afghanistan. this is a narrowly defined mission to, as you said, for our diplomatic personnel and those in the siv program.
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it's not for any other individuals who are not afghans in kabul who may have worked for u.s. agencies or who worked for other governments. the follow-up question is, at some point, without you speculating, you know, this is a nato mission. is it possible that the u.s. could work with other nato allies to evacuate other personnel? >> i think i've characterized this mission appropriately and i'm going to leave it at that. on your second question, this is a u.s. decision by the commander in chief to reduce civilian personnel and to have u.s. military personnel flow in to help with that reduction. so it's not a nato mission. that said, we fully anticipate to be in close consultation with our allies and partners going forward. if we can be of assistance to them, if they desire to make changes in their footprint, then
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the secretary fully intends to make it clear to them that we'll be ready to help as needed. >> thank you. >> let's see. dan? >> thank you, john. can you clarify how this doesn't qualify as a n.e.o.? and regardless of that, can you at least make it clear if a n.e.o. is needed because this speeds up yet still, you've got everything you need in place for one? >> again, the purpose here is to help with the reduction of civilian personnel out of the embassy. that is not the same as a noncombatant evacuation operation where you're moving a massive amount of people, you know, who aren't necessarily u.s. government employees. it's a different operation all together and we're just not there. the other thing we're going to be doing is helping the state
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department, again, accelerate the process for special immigrant visa applicants that does not fall under the rubric of a noncombat ant evacuation operation. >> i know you're telling us as much as you can and i know the pentagon is committed to transparency. it is in that spirit that i ask can you say where these infantry battalions are coming from? the "new york times" is reporting they're coming from a marine expedition unit. >> they're coming from within central command area of responsibility and i'm just going to leave it at that for right now. >> thank you. which brigade from bragg is going? >> i'm not going into detail which brigade but it is a brigade from the 82nd airborne.
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sylvio? >> you said that you don't want to speak about intelligence, which i understand, but you can speak about image. what do you think the evacuation of civilian by the military will look like? and how are you going to avoid the parallel with the fall of saigon? >> what this is going to look like is what it is. that's the united states government looking after the safety and security of our people, first and foremost, and making sure that we, the military, are supporting the safe movement of these individuals out of afghanistan, as i said, which we believe is a prudent step. not walking away from our commitments to the afghan forces. we're not completely eliminating
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our diplomatic presence on the ground. we're still going to have diplomats there. we're still going to be doing work. the military will still remain committed to helping protect the diplomatic presence that remains inside of afghanistan. nobody is abandoning afghanistan. it's doing the right thing at the right time to protect our people. one more. >> may seem a little strange, but does this operation have a name? >> no, it does not. [ inaudible question ] >> you know more than me. >> okay. >> i wasn't aware of that. >> are you worried about this triggering panic in the population there in kabul? >> again, this is about the safe movement of our people in afgha afghanistan. we obviously want -- >> people who live there are
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going to see a large number of americans being whisked away by the military while they're stuck there with the taliban. >> what i'd say to them, mike, is what i've been saying for the last few days. the afghan porforces have capability to protect their territory and their people. they have the capacity to do that. what i think the afghan people want to see and what they deserve to see is the leadership and the will to use those advantages to their benefit. thanks, everybody. have to go now. [ inaudible question ] >> 3,000 into the airport, 1,000 going to qatar. >> thousand are going to qatar right now. >> then 3500. >> 3,000 to the airport in the next few days and then a reserve force out of bragg that will
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stage out of kuwait. that's roughly 3500 to 4,000. >> all of that is in addition to the 650? >> that is correct. >> is that just transportation? >> no. processing applications. >> you've been listening to the pentagon briefing there from retired admiral john kirby and this very important announcement as the situation in afghanistan continues to deteriorate. let's talk to kyl nick paton wa and barbara starr. we go from 650 u.s. troops in afghanistan to now more than
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3,650. break down what's happening over the next 24-48 hours. >> here is where we are at this hour. let's recall that all of this is about the withdrawal of 2500 u.s. troops from afghanistan by the end of the month, but in the last several days the security situation in the country has largely fallen apart with taliban advances. now we are talking about putting more than 3,000 u.s. troops possibly back into the area. what the pentagon announced a short time ago is 3,000 troops will go into afghanistan to help take diplomats out of the embassy, to help get afghans out, to facilitate security, to facilitate operations at the airport. let's break it down a little bit. of these 3,000 military personnel that go in, they will be made up of marines and army troops coming from kuwait.
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aircraft are likely now to be used to help take people out of afghanistan. to the side, another thousand troops will go to the gulf nation of qatar to help process afghans who need visas. another unit from the 82nd airborne will go into the region,probably 3,000 or more troops. they are a crisis response unit out of ft. bragg from the 82nd airborne. they will be close by and ready to help. all of this because the taliban in the last several days have made massive advances across afghanistan taking city after city. the pentagon clearly unsettled, the state department wanting to assure security for the diplomatic personnel it's trying
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to get out of there. i want to make another point. john kirby was repeatedly asked if this is now a combat mission, because u.s. troops have not been technically in combat in afghanistan for some years now. he did not say it was a combat mission, but let's be clear. u u.s. troops are in a combat environment, they are going to be heavily armed, they will have the right of self-defense. they are concerned about a taliban challenge and they will respond with force under the rules if they are challenged. we also have u.s. pilots over head conducting air strikes. so there is a good number now of u.s. troops certainly in a combat environment in afghanistan even if the pentagon wants to stand on that delicate point, but they are not in combat. >> let's take that point to nick now. the taliban now taking its 12th
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provincial capital. fill out the picture of the environment in which these 3,000 troops arrive. >> reporter: they land with the focus on kabul. it's extraordinary this move has been made utterly unexpected that this volume of troops would go back in. it puts them above the number they were in before they were withdrawing. it's a sign of concern about what's likely to happen in the. months ahead. we have see cities falling. the reports of real taliban advances inside the third largest city in the country just a matter of hours ago.
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half a million people live there. many i think felt it would probably hold out. now eyes on kandahar too. both inflicted with prison breaks that swelled taliban ranks. the second biggest city looks deeply imperilled too. once these other places are taken and there are still at least over half that are not in taliban hands, then you might see the insurgency focus on kabul. clearly there are many deeply concerned that security could deteriorate inside kabul. i have to tell you this announcement is extraordinary in two ways. as you heard from barbara it puts back into the game so many american soldiers to enact this withdrawal. it will mean there will be moments when they have to come
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out again and america will be faced with the decision to pull these troops out effectively by being in kabul in such extraordinary numbers. there's 600 brits going as well separately. that provides a slight security blanket around some key institutions for the next few weeks. i have to say, though, one senior official i spoke to in kabul was really taken aback and distraught at hearing this announcement. i've never heard someone sound so betrayed, how darkly they're per sceiving what america is dog right now. the simple decision to send troops into harm's way just to get their people out, i think they consider that a betrayal. i could hear that in the tone of this person's voice.
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is it really the case on the 31st of august they will pack up and leave the capital to its fate? >> i want to take the last point to you. admiral kirby made it clear that this is a focused mission of evacuation of those u.s. personnel. would not speculate beyond august 31st. how plausible is it you could send in 3,000 u.s. troops and this is all wrapped up in three weeks? >> i think it's very plausible. i don't have the same feeling that nick has on this. i think it's prudent, to use john kirby's term, that the u.s. would do this, to prevent the potential for the taliban that might enter kabul. if that happens, it's going to push to the extreme the ability of the u.s. government to get
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their embassy officials out. there's the desire not to have another fall of saigon that occurred in 1975. when you're talking about three infantry battalions, that's a relatively small force to have the contingency mission of defending the airfield and ensuring the embassy personnel gets out. right now this is not a n.e.o. operation, a noncombatant evacuation operation. it may not be one now, but that force that is going to both the airfield as well as the ready brigade from the 82nd airborne, i would bet they have a be prepared to conduct n.e.o. operation in case of dire
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circumstances. the taliban has been moving so fast that they want to ensure that the capital of kabul is defended and the american presence there is also defended. you not only have the noncombatants of the state department that are part of the emb embassy, but you also have the processing of the thousands of sivs that are going to be pouring through kabul. that puts another twist on what those three infantry battalions are going to do defending the airport to ensure planes get in and get out. it also sends a message to the taliban, hey, don't screw with the airport because we're here and we will take you down. the taliban have been marching unopposed across afghanistan because the afghan national army are not opposing them. they're doing that because there
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are no other american forces there to support the a.n.a. it sure looks to me like a n.e.o. operation in the making. >> what's the significance of that distinction, general, between what was described by admiral kirby and this noncombatant operation operation you're discussing? >> i think the distinction is,when you say noncombatant evacuation, that tells me you're going into a place that has combat going on and you're taking civilians and personnel that aren't involved in combat out. john didn't want to say that right now, because kabul is not in the midst of a combat zone yet, but it very well could be soon. if it becomes a forced exit and you have to defend those individuals, those civilians,
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those noncombatants -- and it could be the sivs as an example -- then it becomes a force issue and there are a lot of other things that go into a n.e.o. once it hits that trigger point. >> we're talking the translators, the fixers, tens of thousands of them when your include their family members, who this country has made a commitment to evacuate them to other locations. do we have any numbers on how far into that process the u.s. is? >> yeah. so ned price, a spokesperson at the state department, says they are going to be increasing the number of evacuation flights for those special immigrant visa applicants. they are going to be getting more of those folks out of the country. that is significant, because in the last few weeks we have only
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seen a total of six flights of those afghan siv applicants here to the united states. that amounts to about 1,000 of those siv applicants and their family members. but as you state, there are still upwards of 10,000 of these applicants plus their family members who are desperately th trying to get out of the country. the top u.s. diplomat at the embassy in kabul put out just today an internal memo urging those at the state department here in washington to consider a broader number of afghans they would consider evacuating, folks who may not qualify for the siv application but do qualify as refugees. right now the united states is not flying those afghans out of the country. that is challenging because they can't get out of the buncountry
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foot right now given the gains the taliban has made. spokesperson ned price said the message to the afghan people is that of enduring partnership. they continue to repeat that the u.s. is not completely evacuating the country right now. they are going to maintain some of what they are doing diplomatically on the ground right now but it is hard to see how this doesn't lead to that. certainly today appears to be a preparation for when those diplomats may need to leave the country in full. >> thank you all for your insight and reporting. next, the chaos outside a tennessee school. >> you better watch out. >> keep it calm.
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>> this is after a school board voted to approve a temporary mask order. the father in that car who's being harassed is joining me next. yes, please! neuriva. think bigger. subway®... has so much new it didn't fit in our last ad.
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we see a bright future, still hungry for the ingenuity of those ready for the next challenge. today, we are translating decades of experience into strategies for the road ahead. we are morgan stanley. a school board meeting devovled into shouting andtenne. this is a sign how contentious the debate over masks in schools has become in this part of the country. the school board voted to approve a temporary mask order for elementary schools.
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some threatened and harassed parents wearing masks as they left. >> take that mask off! >> no more masks! no more masks! you're all child abusers! there's a bad place in hell and everybody's taking notes, buddy. >> back up! put your mask on! >> sucking in that bacteria. how you like that? we know who you are. we know who you are. no more masks. >> keep it calm. >> no more masks! >> we're on these guys side. >> no, they're not on our side. >> the police are on our side. calm down. calm down. >> we know who you are! >> we can find you and we know
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who are. >> i know who you are. let him out. let him out. >> you better watch out! you better watch out! >> keep it calm. >> everybody back up. back up. >> i'm back, man. i'm a parent. >> peace. everyone, peace. peace. we know who you are. >> [ bleep ] you. >> with me now is the man you saw being harassed in that car, michael miller.
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michael, thank you for being here. i've got a preview monitor right over here and i could see you shaking your head as you were watching that video. what are you thinking as you watch that back? >> every time i watch that, i'm terrified. in the moment i knew it was bad. i called my wife as soon as i got out of there. i called a friend on the way home. i drove the most convoluted way home possible after that. i had no idea how bad it was until i saw it and someone shared it with me the next day. >> the meeting was about 3 hours in williamson county, the school board meeting. i watched it. it was raucous inside the room. it was nothing like that. how did it escalate? >> well, the tensions were definitely high before the meeting. i do want to compliment. i lined up there at 2:30. i was the fourth person in line. there were 30 speaker spots,
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each with one minute. so we wanted to get there early. we were peaceful. one handed me a bottle of water prior to the meeting. we were fairly civil. i bumped knuckles with a gentleman prior to the meeting. understand inside the decordeco went out of control. that was a mob mentality. we recessed and came back. the board started talking. there are videos of one gentleman who spoke his mind and walked out and a bunch of people walked out in a very violent uproar. i use the word violent in terms of loud. it wa it was deafening in that room.
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it was echoey and loud and intimidating. >> i saw the board chair ask the deputy to escort some people out during the public comment portion. >> it was very clear the direction the final vote was going. it was clear that the main amendment to have masks mandated in elementary was going to pass. there were several doctors seated around me that had left one by one. at 8:00 i noticed a sheriff's deputy enter the room in a full bulletproof vest on the outside of his shirt. that was a sign something was going wrong. we could hear the chanting from the crowd outside. at 8:30, one person left next to me aptnd i followed her out the
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d door. when i walked out i said i want an escort to my car. he said there are officers waiting immediately outside the door. i said thank you, sir. they escorted my ed me to my ve. the crowd was located in a position between the exit door and my vehicle. they were not to the side or anything like that. i had to get out of there. all i wanted to do was go home to my family and my kids. i'm a parent. i'm not a doctor. i work as a data analyst inspect health care profession. i'm just a parent who wanted to have his say why masks were important for children, all children under the age of 12. >> you got, i understand, two sons in schools there in williamson county. >> yes. >> one positive case in your son's sixth grade class last year. we know that masks are mandatory
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for elementary schools. what's your concern now for your older son? >> let me correct you there. that was one case as of the meeting on tuesday night, as of yesterday. >> thank you. >> i received a phone call just a little while ago. there is a second case today in the sixth grade class at my son's school. parents are paranoid. we're oh highly concerned there was an amendment voted on by the board to cover all children with a mask mandate under the age of 12 because they're not eligible for the vaccine. it's a logical proposproposal. that was state mated with a 5-5 board tie. there were two members not present. one was traveling, the other i don't know the reason for. but the vote did not pass. as a result our sixth grade children are not protected. there was a point brought up in the meeting about this that many of these kids are turning 12.
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even if they turn 12 tomorrow, they're two months away from being fully vaccinated. >> yeah. they've got to get their first shot, second shot and then two weeks after that second shot. >> correct. >> so i understand that in your remarks you said that in march the school district asked parents to make a decision i . >> you asked parents to make a decision in person or with virtual learning and now there's a vote if they will follow cdc guidance. do you feel like the school board pulled the rug from under families? >> yeah. you know, i don't know if i want to point the finger solely at the school board just as much as the entire administration. let me be clear about that. i don't know where the disconnect is. we were given the option back in march after governor lee said that schools would no longer be permitted to go online and have extra days for covid, that you either had to be in person or you had to opt for online which was a totally separate system
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this year. it would be effectively a subdistrict of williamson county, no longer affiliated with our home schools, and, yes, at the time the school district was adhering to cdc policies. they had masks in addition to other layered mitigation strategies as superintendent referred to it the other night as the swiss cheese strategy, and we made the decision based upon that. children deserve to have the least restrictive environment to grow in. there is not a parent in that room that would disagree that a classroom environment is best for their child and that's on both sides. we all want our kids in schoompt they learn best in school. they learn socially. they learn academically the best. we made the decision to send our children to school based on that promise from williamson county. that, unfortunately, is not how things rolled out for us. >> listen to -- i know you were there, but i want you and those who are watching to listen to some of the arguments from the parents who are anti-mask mandate and then i want your thoughts.
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>> these parents aren't putting matching on their children an if you try to force to us do so i know i'll personally sue and anyone else who will join me please show your hand. >> i would never put them in a mask because their brain needs oxygen to grow which the neurologist can confirm. anyway, the real part of the clown show is that you all think that you actually have the authority to mandate this. >> i swore an oath to protect this country, owl enemies foreign and domestic. if you harm my children you harm my children domestically and we'll come after you. you've awakened the eighth army and the holy spirit is coming with us. >> what's your reaction to what you heard there? i see you shaking your head and more of what you heard that night. >> several things. first of all, some of the ignorance is appalling, and that's my opinion. the intimidation factor, the one gentleman that i'm seeing now in purple, the ex-marine, i
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listened intently to what every one of them said respectfully. i think that a lot of those arguments were just bunk as far as the school district doesn't have the authority. governor lee himself said he wants local control for that so they do. i'm never going to put moy kids in a mask. folks, we sacrificed a year with kids in online school committee we didn't feel safe in the environment, that was our choice. we were not given a choice this year. our choice was you can go back to school. our kids are entitled to learn in school. why are we the ones that have to time and time again make sack is. >> reporter: why should we sacrifice the safety of are our children because people don't want to put on a simple mask, and the fact that a mask came up. one of the board members made mention to a comment that had opinion made by one of the other speakers in the evening about a snotty nose rag, like a little
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tissue, what is that going do? you know what, you're right. one of the other speakers turned and faced the group, myself and the group of doctors i was sitting with and said look at these guys. they are sitting here in their fancy ppe. no wonder they are fine. well, i say then it's on the patients to make sure that the children have proper masks. i agree with them. a flimsy cloth mask is going to help but won't do nearly as match as a proper grade mask. they are available. >> yeah. michael this. conversation we're having and what you saw and heard that night at the meeting is happening all over the country. >> yes. >> as you know. not just in tennessee. the president today took the opportunity, and i know for you this is not political, but he mentioned >> no. >> -- what he saw in that parking lot and i want to play what the president said. >> this isn't about politics. this is about keeping our children safe. in our health care workers are heroes.
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they were the heros when there was no vaccine. many of them gave their lives trying to save others, and they are heroes again with the vaccine. they are doing their best to care for the people refusing to get vaccinated. to the mayors, school superintendents, educators, local leaders who are standing up to the governors politicizing mask protection for our kids thank you. thank you as well. thank god that we have heroes like you, and i stand with you all and america should as well. >> and he spoke specifically about the video in tennessee. your reaction to that at all? >> thank you, mr. president. it's -- this went viral in a way that -- for all the worst reasons, and i woke up this morning it was on -- lead story on national news and then by lunchtime the support talking about it. the truth is that nobody wants this kind of violence.
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there's no need for this. there can be terse discourse, but we have to learn to remember to respect one another and love one another and care for one another. the vocal group at the board meeting the other night spoke about we are -- we are the majority. let us vote. the silent majority was not present in that room. 70% -- the board cite that had 70% of the letters that they have received over the last several weeks have been pro-mask. 70%. this is the outlower. i can't implore enough that we need more parents to be willing to speak up. >> michael. you started this by telling me your fear and concern that night after the meeting. some time has passed. are you still -- they said we know who you are. we know where you r.are you still concerned for your safety, your family's safety? >> absolutely.
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absolutely. i believe some of the bad actors have been identified, and i'll say here to please let bygones be bigoncz. we're in a different point. we need to look where we are now and go forward from this point. the terror of that day will take time to heal. there's absolutely no question. >> yeah. >> the outrage over it, the discussion over it needs to continue. board meetings are for parents and concerned community members to have peaceful discourse with one another. board members should not be signature on a board being threatened with their lives. parents shouldn't feel threatened for their lives walking into a parking lot. that is not the america i know. >> michael miller, i thank you for spending some time with me and i'm sorry for what had you experienced after that meeting. again, michael, thank you. >> thank you. so the fda is on the verge of authorizing a third dose of vaccine for some
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immunocompromised people, a booster shot of pfizer or moderna is expected to be green lit in the next couple of days with the cdc expected to hold a vote tomorrow. also new today, word that moderna's vaccine protects people for six months and likely longer, even against the delta variant, according to a study released by the national institute of health. the white house is turning to a new group to get vaccine numbers up, social influencers. the founder of project swish chicago. mckinley joins us now. tell mow what you are doing and why you got involved to help people get vaccinated. >> first what, i'm doing in chicago, i founded a project called project swish where we use basketball to combat violence and provide mental health resources in the city. being a leader in the community and amongst my peers i was recently given this influencer role and with this role i wanted
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to promote the vaccine. us being out with the pandemic during covid we missed out on a lot, right. the gyms were closed. class roms were closed. yoga studios were closed so us getting the guys off the streets, we weren't able to do so, and when the vaccine came about it was -- it was super important for me to kind of lead this campaign to get my guys vaccinated and back into the gym and save lives in chicago. >> are you seeing success? >> i'm seeing some success. ia. i mean, these are not easy conversations that i'm having my peers, we have access to the internet now and that can be like good and bad. they are reaching a bunch of conspiracy theories and things like that so the conversation definitely isn't easy, but i'm doing my part and i know that because i'm opening up the conversation in the first place. >> yeah. quickly. you're 24, right? >> i'm 24. >> why did you get vaccinated? >> well, i kind of talked about it, you know. i personally developed this
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foundation because of the friends that i lost and a couple of them are kind of painted behind me due to gun violence and i know i wanted this foundation to happen and to succeed because i wanted to avoid that pain for a lot of other kids in chicago. >> yeah. >> and i wasn't table do my job during the pandemic and, you know, we lost a lot of guys within our foundation. even today i got a call that one of the kids in the foundation we lost to gun violence so in order for me to succeed it was important for everybody to -- everybody to get vaccinated so we can get back in the gym. >> mckinley nelson, thank you for the work you're doing and for your time. that does it for me. i'm victor blackwell in new york. "the lead" with the jake tapper starts right now. america's longest war not over yet. "the lead" starts right now. breaking news in afghanistan. the taliban seized more cities. the u.s. is sending thousands of troops evacuating staff and telling any u.s. citizen to get out immediately. we're live in kabul.
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