tv The Situation Room CNN August 26, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT
i now turn you over to wolf blitzer. >> happening now, american jihadist killed, born in the united states but died in syria fighting for isis. how many other americans are out there doing the same thing. spy fights over syria. the president gives the go-ahead for u.s. planes to scope out isis targets. and a series of shots apparently recorded accidentally. are they from the weapon that killed michael brown? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." >> we're following two major developments at this hour. the breaking news, we're learning that an american who converted to islam several years ago has been killed fighting for the terror group in syria. we have details momentarily. stand by for that. first, a u.s. official says president obama has authorized reconnaissance flights over syria to scout possible isis targets. will air strikes be next? our correspondents and guests
are standing by for full coverage. let's begin with our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. how close, barbara, is the united states? is president obama to ordering air strikes in syria? >> wolf, it's a question at this hour no one knows the answer to perhaps an except the president himself. air strikes according to u.s. officials not yet approved by the president. but he has authorized those reconnaissance flights to begin in order to begin collecting intelligence on potential isis targets on the ground inside syria. the president today spoke about jim foley's killer. he had a bit of a promise. he had a bit of a threat. >> america does not forget our reach is long. we are patient, justice will be done. we have proved time and time again we will do what's necessary to capture those who harm americans. to go after those who harm americans.
and we'll continue to take direct action where needed to protect our people. >> so still the question does isis pose a direct threat? at this time to the homeland? does the president want to go after jim foley's killer? what is the trigger that will lead to a decision from president obama one way or the other about proceeding to the next step, air strikes inside syria? >> when he says direct action, potentially that means targeted killings, assassinations going after those responsible for killing americans, be direct action clearly being a code word, code phrase if you will for targeted killings of these guys who kill americans. what are you hearing at the pentagon, barbara, about the potential end game if the president does order air strikes against isis targets inside syriale? >> at this point, wolf, all indications are there's no effort to at the moment put special operations on the ground, any kind of ground troops inside syria.
it would all come from the air if they get the intelligence to go after the targets they want. right in the top, general martin dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff has continued to warn time and again, air strikes will not defeat isis on the whole. if there's anything the u.s. military has learned since 9/11, air strikes do not defeat a radical ideology. you cannot kill your way to victory. it can take years. it requires political and economic progress. inside both iraq and syria, that may it be very difficult to come by. wolf? >> barbara starr with the latest at the pentagon working your sources. we'll check back with you shortly. meanwhile, an american who converted from christianity to islam has died in syria fighting alongside a jihadist group. the united states believes that group was in fact isis. california relatives of douglas mcauthur mccain had seen pro-isis facebook postings but they say they were shocked at
how things actually turned out. the big concern, how many other americans are following the same path? how many americans are jihadists are isis in syria and iraq? right now, let's go to our chief national security correspondent jim sciutto working the story for us. what are you learning? >> a remarkable story, an ominous story, an american with an all-american name, douglas mcauthur mccain. i spoke with his uncle a short time ago, kenneth. he told me the family was notified in the last 24 hours by the state department that mccain was killed fighting in syria over the weekend. i've spoken to u.s. officials who confirmed he was fighting alongside isis. an american fighting for a group that u.s. officials have identified as a grave threat to america. u.s. officials also tell us that he was on a terror watch list that u.s. officials, intelligence agencies were aware of him and his travel to syria. you speak to the family, wolf, they say they're devastated by this and just as surprised by the country at what he decided to do.
he was raised a christian. his uncle says he took his faith seriously. it was a few years ago that he converted to islam. at the time, that didn't raise red flags for the family. they respect all faiths and then he told them recently months ago that he was traveling to syria, sorry to turkey, no the to syria, and they only found out that he had gone into syria when they got that sad phone call from the state department that he died there. >> we've spoken to british officials who say there are hundreds of british citizens serving with isis in syria and iraq. do we have any idea how many other americans are jihadists serving isis right now, whether in syria or iraq? >> we do. the best estimate from u.s. intelligence officials is something on the order of 100 are fighting for isis and other extremist groups there. as remarkable as unique as this story sounds, there are dozens of americans who have made this incredible decision to go there and remember, we saw just how brutal a group like isis could be a few days ago when you had
this terrible, this grizzly beheading of the american james foley. so we have this remarkable situation now, wolf, where you have americans on both sides of this conflict fighting isis but also fighting for isis. >> and the great fear is that they all these americans have u.s. passports potentially they could leave iraq, syria, go back to turkey, get on a plane in istanbul and fly nonstop to the united states and nothing would stop them, right? >> absolutely. they will might be missed. also, the possibility of other westerners returning to europe to do the same thing. >> but they do try, the u.s. intelligence community to monitor these guys going in and out of syria, for example,ing this douglas mcauthur mccain supposedly was on some sort of watch list, right? >> he was. there was another american killed in a suicide bombing a number of months ago from florida. we learned the alarming fact after the fact that before he did that, he returned, he went to syria, he returned to the
states. then went back to carry out the attack. so there are holes in the system. >> let's dig deeper right now with our national security analyst peter bergen, retired brigadier mark kimmitt, the chief military spokesman during the iraq invasion, a former pentagon and state department official. general kim met, what do you make of this american converts from christianity to islam, goes to turkey, goes into syria and joins isis? >> i think jim said it right. it is not only a current phenomenon that's happening but the ability to travel into these countries demonstrates how porous the boarders are. there's going to be more of this rather than less of this. i would hope that customs and the fbi are prepared for this. >> you agree there may be 100 u.s. citizens serving isis right now? is that a number you've heard? >> we need to break it down. 100 american who have either attempted or gone to fight in syria. it's not clear even to the u.s. government if they're fighting with isis or other
organizations. we've had an american suicide bomber dying for an al qaeda affiliate. we've had this guy fighting for isis that we're talking about, douglas mccain. we've had four americans indicted for trying to join sifs who were stopped at the airport and four other americans stopped trying to join an al qaeda affiliate in syria. those are the hard facts. >> there are obviously a lot more europeans from britain or whether from the netherlands or the scandinavian countries can, other places in europe that have gone over and started serving as a jihadist in the syria or iraq. >> that's true. and david cameron in london has been very, very vocal about his concern about these returnees and the threat they pose to the united kingdom. >> do you think the european intelligence community has a better handle on what's going on over there? are they on top of it. >> i don't think they are because of the volume of people. the brits say 450. they've started saying the number of 500. you can't follow 500 people. a lot of those people have
returned to the uk. if you're a military age male coming from turkey to the united states, you're going to be put into secondary almost without exception now. >> secondary meaning it extra screening. >> even if there's no reason to suspect anything, if you're coming from turkey, that's a big red flag. if you're coming into the united states if you're a military age male. >> full go through turkish customs over there, they can question you and do stuff, ask you a whole bunch of questions they might not necessarily ask at jfk or l.a.x. we have a lot more to talk about. how close is the united states to launching air strikes against these isis terrorist targets in syria right now? much more coming up.
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an american jihadist killed in syria apparently fighting for isis. a u.s. official says president obama has okayed spy flights over syria to gather intelligence over isis. air strikes may soon follow. let's go in depth once again. joining us peter bergen and mark kimmitt, the chief military spokesman during the iraq invasion. also a former pentagon and state department official. so the president authorizes surveillance, reconnaissance, spy flights. isn't it only a matter of time before they collect enough information to actually start launching air strikes against some isis targets not only in iraq but in syria? >> well, before you do the attack, you have to have the intelligence. >> you wouldn't do reconnaissance unless you were planning on attacking. >> you do the reconnaissance and the surveillance in case you wanted to attack. >> it's not a done deal he's going to order air strikes. >> he isn't going to order the
strikes until he's done reconnaissance. >> it makes sense if to me if he's doing reconnaissance, because that's a major step, he's going to at least launch some air strikes against targets in syria. that's where the command and control center of isis is in syria, not iraq. >> there's legal problems with launching air strikes willy-nilly. there's no u.n. resolution ornate toe operation that covers this. in the past the president wanted to go to congress. i think he will. the authorization for use of military force covers other military action. >> you're saying he doesn't have the authority to launch air strikes in the sovereign nation of syria as opposed to iraq where he hasn't gotten authorization. >> white house lawyers could say say you do have the authorizations. i think the president is not going to just do this. >> the president authorized a lot of air strikes killing a lot of people in pakistan without necessarilily a u.n. resolution, without any congressional authorization. why if he can do it in pakistan a sovereign nation, why can't he do it in syria?
>> in many ways what he did in pakistan is with the implicit understanding of the pakistan government. the syrians have been insistent even though they would like to jointly go after the targets no, unilateral action on the part of the americans would be permitted by the regime. >> wouldn't the assad regime be thrilled if the united states came and helped them in destroying their number one enemy which happens to be isis. >> yes, they would be. adding to general kim met's point, i mean, the authorization for the use of military force was what allowed the opportunities do what it did in pakistan and yemen because it was forces allied to al qaeda that are allowed to be hit under that authorization. isis is a slightly different matter. they divorce themselves from al qaeda. >> what you're saying if they launch air strikes in syria, that's an act of war that requires norrization from congress and maybe from the u.n. security council? >> at an absolute minimum for congress. >> do you agree? >> i do. >> in other words is, the
president's not going to order strikes unless he gets resolutions of approval from the house and senate? >> unless something significant changes. >> frequency, an attack at the consulate in erbil or perhaps more slayings, he may feel he has the authority to go after isis. >> that's what i've been told, could do it and report to congress under the war powers act. here's what i've done but not necessarily wait for the house and senate to pass resolutions. >> my assessment is right now, he doesn't have as peter said, the inclination to do that. there is no immediate need to go after the isil targets. they're not going anywhere. why not do this properly and methodically. >> do you think he would get the votes in the house and senate if he were to ask for authorization like that? a lot of members regret the vote they took in 2002 authorizing the war against saddam hussein in march of 2003. >> you raise a good point which is congress may not want to vote on this issue despite calls to do something. >> right.
how good is the syrian anti-aircraft missile system? you're flying reconnaissance planes about to start, i don't know, maybe they already started for all we know, pretty sophisticated aircraft whether drones or manned aircraft. how good is the syrian anti-aircraft batteries, shoulder fired missiles, other surface to air missiles that could endanger u.s. pilots, u.s. aircraft? >> for years and years, syria has developed probably one of the most robust air defense systems in the region. the russians have been very very glad to provide them with the most advanced technology. they've tried to get the most advanced s-300s, but have not been able to do this. bottom line it's not a great system. the u.s. could probably avoid most of the shots, but there still is a medium to medium low risk that an american plane would be shot down the way syrian airplanes have been shot down by those missiles that have fallen in hands of the rebels. >> that's what people have to worry about. they also have to worry about the president said today he
wants to strengthen support the moderate opposition forceses in syria but there's great fear and i've been told this by u.s. military officials, you give them sophisticated weaponry potentially it's going to wind up in the hands of isis. >> it's a velts reasonable fear. look at the weaponry they've already taken from the iraq army and from the syrians. >> would you be willing to give the moderate opposition forces the rebel forces the proets western forces in syria thanks, armored personnel carriers, shoulder fired missiles, stuff like that, worried maybe they would run away from their bases or give them up and isis could wind up with all that kind of equipment as they did in iraq? as you know, the iraqi military ran away from their bases in mosul and elsewhere and left tons and tons of u.s. hardware there for isis to use. >> that's right. i think that's why it would take some measure of end use monitoring when we give this equipment over. that might require american personnel to be with those units to maintain security and to
maintain accountability of that equipment. >> what's the difference? you're an expert on terrorism and al qaeda between al qaeda and isis? >> well, in some ways there's a distinction without a difference but it's important to the people involved. al qaeda rejected isis and said you're not under our control. objecting partly to their brutal tactics which is kind of ironic. isis said great, we're not under your control. we're seeing a number of jihadi groups saying isis is the leader of the movement right now. al qaeda in yemen say we like isis. al qaeda core is yesterday's story. isis is a big deal now. the reason we're seeing the foreign fighters come to iraq and syria is because isis is succeeding and they're the flavor du jour. >> isis and al nusra? al news ras is also a spinoff of al qaeda. >> they're fighting each other right now. al nusra is the al qaeda core group in syria which is fighting isis. >> it's amazing when you think about it that a group like al
nusra or al qaeda thinks isis is too radical even for them. we know where they're coming from. thanks very much. celebrations in the streets of gaza after the announcement of a cease-fire deal between israel and hamas after seven weeks of war marked by temporary truces this one is open-ended, at least supposedly. the egyptian brokered deal calls for israel to ease the blockade on gaza, open crossings for humanitarian aid. israel says it's the same framework hamas rejected a month ago. dozens of israelis have died in the conflict. we'll go live to gaza later in the situation room. ian lee is standing by. he'll have a full report. coming up, a risk assessment from u.s. senator jack reade to specializes in how the united states military responds to emerging threats. there you see him. later, a potential clue in the michael brown shooting investigation. you're going to hear an audiotape that raises some important new questions.
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citizen who joined isis dies over the weekend fighting for these isis terrorists. there's a picture of him, hug does mcauthur mcccain. do you have any idea how many other americans may have gone into syria and iraq to fight for these terrorists? >> i don't think -- i don't have a precise idea. i've heard several dozen. and then there are, of course, many more europeans. they're another aspect of the complicated problem here not so much isis itself but individuals who radicalize and then have american or european passports and don't fit the stereotype of a jihadist radical but then can come back into europe or the united states. so it's another dimension of the problem we face in that region. >> do you believe isis represents a direct threat to the u.s. homeland? >> we have to look at it very critically to see if in fact it does represent such a threat.
and at this juncture, that's one of the reasons why i believe the president is devoting intense intelligence efforts, as you indicated previously, beginning to surveil syria itself, beginning to develop the kind of intelligence that will allow us to make a sound judgment about the intention and the capabiliti capabilities. that's something i think we have to assume frankly, the worst and then work to see what, in fact, on ground they're capable of doing and what they will do. >> should the u.s. launch air strikes against isis targets inside syria just as the u.s. is doing against isis targets in iraq right now? >> if the president feels that there is a direct imminent threat to the united states and to our interests, the same rationale he used with respect to the defending erbil, then i think he has that authority. once again, using these overflights beginning to develop
very comprehensive intelligence is a way to make an assessment of the capacity and the capability and intensions of isis. short of an immediate direct threat to the united states, i think his preference would be to use every and all means short of that. regional partnerships, trying to develop an effective resistance within syria to both the assad regime and to isis, all of these things together. as he said, this is going to be not a short one-or two-shot affair. this is going to be over many, many months if not years. >> should the president seek congressional authorization before ordering air strikes against isis targets in syria? >> well, again, it goes back to the immediate threat to the united states. if there is an immediate threat, then he has i think under his powers as the commander in chief the ability to conduct an attack and then under the war powers act notify congress. he's been doing that with respect to the operations in iraq. if it's a situation where he
feels that this requires a long-term intense operation, then again, that's another issue. at that point, congressional debate and congressional support i think would be very useful and very critical. >> here's what the president said almost will exactly one year ago to the day about going, launching air strikes against targets in syria. listen to the president back in august of 2013. >> yet, while i believe i have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, i know that the country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be even more effective. we should have this debate. because the issues are too big for business as usual. >> do you agree that what the president said then should still stand a year later? >> well, again, if there is an
immediate threat to the united states then he has to act. that's his constitutional obligation. but if this is a longer term more complicated comprehensive approach, then as you said, back then, the debate issues not only the debate, having the support of congress on a bipartisan basis, that's the only way you can get something through congress would be very much more effective than a singular action by the executive. >> would he get that? say he went this week to the united states congress and asked for a vote in the house of representatives and the senate to authorize u.s. air strikes against isis targets in syria claiming this is isis represents a threat to the u.s. homeland, to u.s. national security. would he get a vote of approval? would he get a majority in both chambers? >> well, that's where this whole process of developing the intelligence, developing the profile specifically identifying the capabilities of isis is so
critical because without the facts, without the good analysis, i don't think that you could get that kind of automatic instantaneous reflexive support. president would have to make the case and make it compellingly that this represents the only alternative that we have in the face of a very grave and serious threat. he's beginning to develop the analysis. i don't think he's made a decision about the course of action but he's made the first step and the right step was let's get all the facts we have so that we can make the case and make the case accurately. one of the problems and you mentioned it before, talking to mark kimmitt and peter bergen is that in 2002 and 2003, the information was sketchy and it turned out in many cases to be not only inconclusive but erroneous. we can't do that again. >> would you support arming the so-called syrian opposition forces, the rebels, the president said today he wants to
strengthen them. but would you support providing them with sophisticated u.s. weaponry? >> we are in the process of following up the president's request for resources, money to provide support to these groups within syria. i think the more so than simply arming them is training them or helping them to be a cohesive effective group. that's just as much in fact in many cases it's more important than having the weapons. we saw an example of iraq where they had plenty of weapons. they didn't have a cohesive chain of command and were not willing and able to fight. this combination of both training and also weaponses that as one of the previous speakers suggested can be monitored and controlled is an appropriate way i think to begin to help resolve the situation in syria. >> because there's great fear as you know that just as so many of the thanks armored personnel carriers sophisticated weapons the u.s. left behind for the
iraqi military used was abandoned by the iraqi military. now in the possession of these isis terrorists in iraq. there's great concern that if the u.s. where is to provide weapons to these moderate syrian forces, those weapons could wind up in the hands of isis, as well. you know that concern exists. senator reed, thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. >> the fbi is questioning a man who says he recorded the gunshots that killed michael brown. you're going to hear that recording. that's coming up. later, an alarming new study points to a sharp increase in what are described as near collisions of passenger jets. [ female announcer ] we help make secure financial tomorrows a reality
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an intriguing new clue surfaced in the michael brown shooting investigation. it's audio recording where we hear gub shots in the background, presumably the shots that killed the missouri teenager. the fbi is now investigating. cnn obtained a copy of the recording. let's go to cnn's don lemon with the very latest. i know you've been listening. a lot of viewers have been listening. what is the very latest on this whole new twist in this investigation? >> we've even had an audio expert, wolf, listen to it. i have to say cnn has not been able to independently authenticate the tape but the fbi is looking at it now. they're a saying they're taking it very seriously. this tape purportedly is the gunshots, the sound of gunshots that killed michael brown. listen closely. >> the fbi has questioned a man who has given them a tape which
he claims was recorded at the exact moment a police officer opened fire on the unarmed mike brown. it was recorded unintentionally during a video chat by a man who lives near the scene of the shooting. >> you are pretty. you are so fine. just going over some of your videos. how could i forget? >> audio expert paul ginsburg is a veteran of the cia, fbi, and atf. >> there were six gunshots and then there was a pause for a little over three seconds, followed by another four gunshots. all of the gunshots seemed to be identical in nature but there was this pause. >> and what about that pause? >> there could have been a reloading of the weapon or there could have been movement or getting into another position or any number of different reasons. >> the fbi is working to validate the recording. the mon who recorded it wants to
remain nameless. >> you are pretty. >> the lawyer for the man who recorded the audio says she believes it could be significant to the investigation. >> not just a number of gunshots. it's how they're fired. that has a huge relevance or how this case might finally end up. you can analyze the information and take stock of what you hear and how important that is. >> a key witness in the investigation is dorian johnson, brown's friend who was walking with him at the time of the shooting. johnson says brown was struck in the back and then put his arms up after the shooting. but ferguson police say brown attacked and injured wilson before the shooting took place. johnson says looking back on that fateful day, he would do things differently if given the chance. >> that day was like a regular day. if i'd known what would have happened, that day, i would have just stayed in the house, probably told him to go back in the house. if i knew he would have died that day, i would have told him
to stay in the house. >> you hear according to the audio expert ten shots. of course, we know according to the autopsy at least six shots fired or at least he was shot six times. in oh p so now they're going to look at every expert said they're going to look at the number of shots and also that three-second pause there. does that corroborate dornian johnson's version of the story or the officer's version of the story? that's what experts will look at. >> remind me, you've been following this very, very closely, don. weren't there some initial reports from eyewitnesss who said a shot had been fired inside the vehicle before the other shots were fired? is that right? >> you got it right, wolf. that was the first accounts we heard was that the first account, some of the first accounts we heard that a shot was fired inside the car. there was a struggle for the gun. and then the officer got out of the car and chased him and then shot him. but yes, are you absolutely right. but on that tape, we don't hear an initial shot at least in that
the 12 seconds. we hear that series of five or six gunshots, that pause and then a series of more, three or four, four more gunshots. so the the audio expert says 10. i hear 11. they're saying that is maybe we're hearing an echo in there. i heard 11. he heard ten. >> stand by, don. i want to continue this conversation. we'll dig deeper with our law enforcement and nis, tom feign tes is here with me in "the situation room." joining us from ferguson, missouri it, naacp board member john gaskin. tom, you worked at the fbi for a long time. does it sound credible to you? i know the fbi is taking it seriously. they're investigating. what's your appreciation of this audiotape? >> it sounds so unusual that in the fact it's coming out right now, it does sound a little bit like it could be skeptical about it. but they'll evaluate it, the fbi and determine if they can attach authenticity to it. does it look like this was
authentically recorded, not tampered with, not dubbed over taking a recording and dubbing over gunshots from another recording. they'll take a hard look at being able to determine that. as don mentioned, the report of the first shot being made in the car, that's also in dorian's first account the day after the shooting when you interviewed him. forensically, i think the investigators already know if that happened or not. they'll have gun powder residue in the car up close on his clothing from the car. probably officer wilson's clothing if that shot took place. so that sounds like that shot is not in this recording. that maybe the recording started afterward. >> maybe it started after if there was a gunshot had inside the car. ten shots, we heard ten shots or 11, depending on if there was an echo or not. but the private autopsy commissioned by the family of michael brown said there was six gunshot wounds in the body that
they saw. which means that four of those shots bullets must have gone someplace else. i assume police are searching that whole area to see if they can find any residue. >> they would be counting the bullet casings on the ground and then also trying to find where they lodged if it was in another building and that would be very difficult in a fairly wide open space like that street was. but if the first shot took place and was not recorded, then the sequence that you have later of maybe six shots with a pause, as the expert said, it could be reloading, most police officers carry semi-automatic pistols with a 15-shot capacity. if he fired one at the car, he could still have 14 more before he needed to reload. it also could play into officer wilson's third party account that maybe he paused, maybe brown stopped, turned around and then charged the officer. that could be the pause that maybe he was going to give up. >> but it shouldn't take long for the fbi to determine whether
this is a real audiotape or not. let me go to john gaskin of the naacp. what's been the reaction over there, john, to this audiotape? on the scene, you're right there. >> well, first of all, i've got to give your network credit on getting access to that tape. you know, and you all's coverage as a whole. it goes to shows there are so many details that are going to be forth come. there's so many questions that haven't been answered. many people on the ground have said that they heard more shots. especially in that the video obviously that's come out of the recording, certainly supports that. and so, you know, it really makes you question what the officer was doing. if you listen to the tape, it's obvious that there was somewhat of a pause there. it makes you wonder was he changing his position when he was shooting at mike brown, was he reloading his weapon? those are all questions that will hopefully come out during the trial.
but i think this video will be very, very helpful for this trial and for trying to bring justice to this family. there are a lot of questions here. a lot of people here on the ground. the reaction has been great. there's more information coming out because a lot of people have a lot of questions. a lot of questions. >> certainly do. and john gaskin, you've been very helpful to us. we'll check back with you tomorrow. let's hope it stays quiet in the st. louis county area. i'm going to have tom fuentes stand by and don lemon stand by, as well. just ahead, what may be a new clue in the ferguson shooting. are the sounds from the weapon that killed michael brown? and there's been an alarming rise in near collisions involving airliners. we have the results of a brand-new study.
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there's been an alarming increase in collisions involving airliners. renee marsh has been going over the latest numbers that have just come out. renee, what are you learning? >> wolf, this is not supposed to happen. jets getting close in the skies. new statistics from the faa shows just how often it happens. a near midair collision in april over newark. a united airlines 737 landing with 160 passengers comes within 150 yards of a united express regional jet preparing to take off. >> put the nose down and yeah, he's real close. >> the fourth time this year a
near collision has made headlines. cnn has learned the number of close calls nearly doubled in 2013 over the previous year. a closer look at the faa's newly released stats show 38 were considered high risk. that's actually three fewer than the previous year. but the number of medium and low risk incidents soared. and in 2014, there have been other close calls. april 25, a united flight cruising at 33,000 feet over the pacific gets too close to a us airways plane. passengers say the aircraft plunged to avoid disaster. may 9th, in houston, two united airlines flights come less than a mile of each other. when a controller gives one pilot the wrong instructions. the mistake quickly corrected. >> stop your turn. stop your climbing. stop your turn united 601. >> may 10, in new york, two
jetblue planes come within a mile as one takes off and the other prepares it land. all of those close calls are what the faa calls loss of separation. usually come down to pilot or controller error. >> any time there is a also of separation we are concerned about it. because it's not supposed to occur. >> the faa attributes the spike to its voluntary safety reporting system. which allows employees to submit safety incidents confidentially. the faa says that's led to increased reporting. so it's not known if the actual number of incidents have gone up. the agency tells cnn more than 99.99% of all air traffic operations occur with no loss of separation. which helps make the u.s. airspace the safest in the world. >> while some air traffic controllers agree, the faa may receive more reports about the close calls and that's created the spike in numbers.
but some of the same controllers say other factors are at play. some of the towers they say are understaffed. they say that leads it fatigue and eventually mistakes. >> renee marsh with that report. thanks very, very much. important information. coming up, an american jihadist is killed fighting for isis. what led him to go to syria? how many other americans are following the same path? president obama gives the go-ahead for u.s. spy flights over syria. are airstrikes in sirat next step? narrator: summer.
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happening now. an american killed while fighting along side an isis terrorist. i will ask about the murderous reach inside the united states. airstrikes could happen against isis in syria at any time. scoping out the possible targets. and a possible clue in michael brown's death. the gunshots were heard by a police officer and recorded them during web chat. >> you are pretty. you're so fine. just going over some of your videos. >> we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
we're following breaking news. an american believed to be fighting with isis has been killed while waging holy war as they call it, in syria. at the same time, u.s. airstrikes in syria may be imminent. now that president obama approved aerial surveillance of isis targets. we have our correspondents and analysts standing by along with deputy spokeswoman to share new details about the isis threat in the united states and around the world. let's go to brian todd first. >> wolf, disturbing information from u.s. officials. they believe this man, douglas mccain, was fighting with isis when he was killed. we have more information on his death and the lethal terrorist group. a young american killed while fighting in the terrorist group isis. u.s. officials say they believe he died in syria. he's thought to have been killed
in a about the el between rival extremist groups near the city of aleppo, according to a human rights group. mccain's uncle telling cnn his death occurred this past weekend. >> this ratchets up concerns with americans involved in isis. now you have a confirmed example of an american killed. warriors that this is someone that became a trained killer. >> authorities were investigating mccain for some time before his death. he was on a list of americans believed to have joined militant groups. and who would be suggest to additional scrutiny if they travel. u.s. officials have told cnn more than 100 americans have gone to syria it fight with various jihadist groups. a 22-year-old from florida blew himself up while fighting with el nusra. it is believed handful of americans fought with isis in syria. this man is referred to by isis as an american. he called on muslims to join the fight.
>> please, all believers come. come as soon as possible. >> a senior u.s. intelligence official says the intelligence community is tracking this man but can confirm or deny he's an american. cnn's peterburg ensays others have fought with isis. >> a few have fought with isis, including a woman, which sun usual. clearly, isis, if you are interested in the idology, that the most exciting thing to join right now. >> there is a worry of revenge, if there is an escalation of airstrikes against isis. >> launching airstrikes in syria could be a red line for isis. they could use these americans, not for attacks inside syria or iraq, but back home in the united states. >> experts say mccain's death could be a big propaganda victory for isis and they could use that to recruit other
americans to the fight. this is ratcheting up concerns about americans in isis. >> what else do we know about this guy, douglas mcarthur mccain. >> his uncle told us that douglas converted to islam a few years ago. they weren't worried at the time. but became aware of his social media postings, sympathizing with the isis after moving to turkey. the family is devastatedevastat. they didn't know at all he was traveling to isis to be involved in the fight. possible airstrikes against isis in syria. let's bring in barbara starr. what are you learning, barbara? >> wolf, of course the president well known. he has authorized reconnaissance flights over syria to spy, to see enshlly gather intelligence about isis targets for potential airstrikes. but will he take the next step and order bombing? >> from president obama, a
threat and a promise. trs. >> justice will be done. we have proved time and time again, we will do what's necessary to capture those who harm americans and will continue to take direct action where needed to protect our people. and to defend our homeland. >> but as u.s. prepares to potentially confront isis, the pentagon will say little about the reconnaissance flight president obama authorized over syria. >> i'm not going to talk about intelligence. >> an administration official tells cnn that drones have flown over iraq near the border with syria to pick up whatever intelligence they can about isis troops, convoys, weapons and training camps just inside syria. anything on targets that could be hit to disrupt their brutal campaign of murder and intimidation. u.s. satellites have already gathered some information. isis communications are also being monitored. but now, the u.s. needs to get
realtime intelligence. it will be tough. one of the type of drones used, sources say, a global hawk like this. it can fly at up to 60,000 feet and is especially equipped to gather targeting information on fixed and mobile targets. exactly the type of information on isis the u.s. wants. washington will not acknowledge if drones have penetrated syrian airspace. a move that would violate syria's sovereignty, u.s. officials say. but once the intel is in hand, would u.s. bombers have to cross into syria to strike? perhaps. one option, b-1 bombers flying at high altitude dropping precision bombs. but many say airstrikes alone will not defeat isis. snee these isolated military actions could result in more difficulty. the president needs to put together his national security
team, department of defense, and put together a plan. >> and there is the law of unintended consequences. u.s. airstrikes against isis inside syria could actually benefit syrian president bashar al-assad whose forces are also battling isis. wolf? >> very complicated strange situation, i must say. barbara, thanks very much. while president obama's vowing to punish isis, u.s. and british investigators are scrambling to identify the terrorist who beheaded the american journalist james foley. british officials continue to say they are close to doing that. let's check in with senior national correspondent nick paton walsh. he is joining us from london. what's the latest there, nick? >> remarkably little information since we heard the ambassador to the u.s. saying they are close to finding the killer. but some forensic experts say if you look at the video there is a clear edit between the speech given in the haunting english accent and the execution and the
potential that the actual physique of the man giving the speech and man who appears to carry out the murder is in fact very different indeed. but many are looking now to work out quite how that british accented killer emerged from british society. and i spoke earlier on today with a number of individuals who, in many ways, support the extremist idealology that fostered isis. >> given your faith and given the united states has attacked the islamist state, do you consider yourself at war with the united states? >> u.s. is at war with me and everyone around the world for the last ten years. >> if you attack someone, you should expect to be fought against. not condoning it. but if you drop a become on someone, do you think he are going to be like, thank you. >> sovereignty belongs to god. they are the head of the islamic state. on the other account, you have those people, sovereignty and
supremacy belongs to man. at the head of that camp is barack obama. >> that is a minority opinion but it does have a constituency here in the united kingdom. these are people who all said they would surrender their british passports for a safe chance to live in what they refer to as the islamic state. that's the syria iraqi state now controlled and they are clear they have military action taken by the u.s. over the last decade. wolf? >> nick payton wolf, is working his sources. thanks, nick. now, the u.s. response. joining us, marie harf, thanks so much for coming in. >> thank you for having me. >> what do we know, what did you know, the united states government, about douglas mcarthur mccain who died over the weekend fighti ing along si the isis terrorist. >> we are providing any
assistance we can. we don't have any details we can share at this time out of respect for the privacy of the family. but we he know there is perhaps up to a hundred that have gone to sir why to join groups there are that fighting. this is the latest example of that and it is something we are concerned about. >> so the state department still feels a responsibility to assist the family of someone who actually became a terrorist and started fighting to kill americans, if you will, and all sorts of others, as part of an isis group. is that normal procedure? >> we have reached out to the family. once we knew about the situation. this is standard procedure we do for families like this. in this case, thankfully, there haven't been that many. but broader picture here, wolf, we are very focused on is the threat there are americans that have gone to fight with isis or nsra and have american passports and might come back to the united states. in the worst case scenario, and try to promote their ideology here. that's a threat we are focused on right now.
>> does the state department know how many other americans might be like this guy who leaves the united states. converting from christianity to become muslim, to go over there and start working with the terrorist group, or al qaeda, if you will, or isis? >> we know of several dozen be possibly up to a hundred who have gone to syria to join the fight there. that's all of the extremist groups. not just isis. it is smaller splinter groups as well. it is a threat we are tracking. we are also focused on other westerners. whether it is british citizens, others that might have a passport that co-allow them to travel somewhere else from syria and promote ideology in the west. >> so maybe a hundred, do you have their names, passport numbers. do you have that kind of specific information? >> we tried to get as much information as possible for any americans that might have gone overseas to join terrorist organizations. unfortunately, we've seen this in other organizations as well. whether it is al qaeda.
aqap in yemen. it's threat we are very focused on. we try it gather as much information as possible to prevept this threat of them returning home. was this guy, douglas mcarthur mccain, on a u.s. government watch list? >> we don't always make those public about what we know and don't know. can i check in ninto that. that appears to be the case. we don't post what we know and don't know. >> you say about a hundred, in syria, or are they all actually moving from syria into iraq? >> we judge up to a hundred may have gone to syria to join extremist groups. we don't know how many cross the boreder from syria into iraq. that is something we are very focused on. as you know, we are taking action against isil inside iraq already. >> you might take direct action against isis, or isil, whatever you want it call it, in syria as
well. the u.s. president authorized surveillance lights look over at the potential targets. how close is the u.s. now to launching airstrikes against isis or isil targets in syria? >> well, the president hasn't made a decision yet. the defense department maintains a plan of options and has presented those to president. >> what openings -- >> we are having a constant conversation inside the administration about what options could be necessary to go after isis. whether it is syria, iraq, anywhere they train. we're not restricted by geographic boundaries here when it comes to protecting american citizens. the president hasn't made a decision yet. the last point i make is there is not a military solution entirely to the isis problem. we have to take the fight to them. we are doing that in iraq. we need to cut off their funding. have a government in iraq who can come together and push them out of iraq. all of these pieces need to be a
part of the strategy in the long-term. >> i want it play for you what the president said almost one year ago when he was considering launching airstrikes against targets inside syria. listen to this. >> while i believe i have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, i know that the country will be stronger if we take this course and our access will be even more effective. we should have this debate. rs because the issues are too big for business as usual. >> i know, meeting with your boss, secretary kerry, a couple times today. does the president believe, based on everything you heard, that he needs congressional operation before launching airstrikes inside syria? >> i don't want to get ahead after hypothetical on a decision that hasn't been made. we've been consulting with congress on this. we've been very clear about the importance of that. well continue toing that. obviously we will do so as we get closer to making decisiones about how to fight isis
long-term. the situation last fall was a very different one. we were talking about looking at syrian regime targets in the aftermath of their use on chemical weapons. we have also said that the president maintain escapebility to act very quickly if american lives, if american personnel are at risk. that right isn't shined in the constitution and that has guided so much of what we do recently against isil. >> this is hypothetical, but you can answer if you want. if the president requires airstrikes in syria, would the u.s. coordinator at least inform the syrian government, president bashar al-assad, what it is doing. >> we will not coordinate with the al-assad regime, period. the answer to isis is not the bashar regime. we won't work with them to root out this threat. we will take actions that we reserve the right to take, to protect our people against isis. >> the president said today the
u.s. should support moderate operation elements, forces be, rebel groups inside syria. does that mean providing them with actual weapons? >> well, we've had this conversation for a long time. we've increased our support. having senator reid on earlier, talking about conversations we have with congress. the president made a request for the -- >> training is one thing. what about giving them tanks, armored -- >> training or -- >> so you give them weapons? >> so the president presented to congress a proposal to train and equip the moderate opposition in syria. we are working with them on that right now. we need congressional action to put that into place. we need to continue our support. >> for that specific defense department proposal -- >> and a vote in the house and senate? is that what you are seeking? >> we are seeking authorization from congress. we are working closely with them now. i think we share the goal to
increase support to moderate opposition. one reason we have done this in such a careful way is that there are a number of groups operating in syria and we need to vet the people we are giving assistance to so it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. >> as it did in iraq when all of the weapons the u.s. provided to iraqi military wound up in the hands of isis. can you do the same thing as far as moderate elements in syria. they could lose the weapons and some other group could get them. >> that's always a possibility we try very hard it guard against. that's why we vet people we give weapons to. that's why we vet people we provide assistance to. but it is always a challenge. we believe we need to support the moderate opposition, not fighting isis but also the assad regime. >> does the united states government know the identity of the terrorists who executed james foley the american journalist? >> we are working very hard with our british counter parts right now. we can't, at this point, come
out and say exactly who we think that is. we are all working very hard to identify that person. we said he is a british citizen. we have many tools at our disposal to do that, and hopefully we can do that. as the president and secretary said, well hold this person accountable. we will hold the people accountable who did this. >> and the identification of the person who beheaded james foley, since then, has there been a final conclusion. we know the british and u.s. government are very close. they would share that information with you. >> absolutely. we are working on this together. we don't have information at this point to share about who we think this might be. but as that time comes and we're able to do so, i'm sure we will have that conversation. . >> i know you don't want it share the information but as a matter of, do you know, do you believe you know the identity, without sharing a name or anything, does the british government and u.s. government as a result of what british government is doing, because you are cooperating closely, know
the identity of this killer? >> we can't say for certain yet who this person is. we are looking very closely to see if we can do so. that work is ongoing. >> do you know where the body is of james foley? >> we don't have details on that to share. obviously we would want james foley to be returned home to his family so he can be given the proper burial and all of that back here. but we don't have details on that at this point. it is a very tough challenge. >> the other men can freed over the past couple days was taken into custody, i believe, bit united states embassy in tel aviv. is that correct? >> correct. personnel met him in goal line heights. he was handed off to u.n. personnel who facilitated the hand-over. they brought him to u.s. government personnel. he was then brought it tel aviv and will soon be returning home. >> you say soon, is he going through hospitalization now? what's going on? >> he is having medical evaluations done. >> in israel? >> in tel aviv. >> he is still there?
>> as far as i know. i could check on that. he appears to be in good health but being captive in a terrorist organization takes a toll. he will soon be reunited with his family. >> did the qatar pay money to nusra? >> we made it very clear we don't support anyone paying ransom and just have been very clear about our position on that. and the qataries again they did not do so. >> do you believe there are individuals in qatar that finance el nusra, this terrorist organization? >> we are very concerned about private citizens in qatar who might fund nusra, who might fund isis. when our citizens are held captive overseas, reaching out to any country, over 200 countries, who may have influence, leverage, contacts
whob who may help us get our people home and in this case, theo curtis should come home. >> are they now on their way to israel? >> i don't know where they are fal fa. you saw the news today about a cease-fire that we hope the stop rockets coming into israel. we are very focused on helping them defend themselves. >> marie, thank you for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> a newly released audio recording. what clues could it contain in the moment? furgason police officer opening fire on michael brown. fresh round of protests on the ground in ferguson. we are taking a closer look at what is next. i was just looking at your credit report site.
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fbi pouring over an audio recording. a ferguson man who lives now by was video chatting with a friend when he heard gunfire. in the tape you hear a quick series of shots then a paul, then another round of shots. cnn cannot independently confirm its authenticity, but we know the fbi is now investigating. protesters meanwhile marched today as crowds demanded justice for michael brown. let's bring in our panel, cnn anchor don lemon. jeffrey toobin. and cnn law enforcement analyst tom fuentes, former assistant director of fbi. tom, let me play a clip.
try and listen to this. >> you are pretty. you're is fine. just going over some of your videos. >> so you're an fbi guy, so you understand what's going on. what's your analysis when you hear six shots, pause of about three seconds, then another four shots? >> my first, you know, response to that would be that possibly the officer is firing shots, then stops when maybe he thinks that michael brown is going to surrender or give up and something changes then and he resumes fire. most police officers fire pistols that have a 15-shot ka pass knit them. if you fired one shot in the car which witnesses have said happened and the forensic investigation would show that definitively, that still leaves 14 shots in the magazine that officer could fire without reloading. and witnesses would see reloading. that's a definitive step to
eject the magazine, put in a new one. >> can you do that in three seconds? >> yes. but people two see that. they would see him reloading, getting ready to resume fire. most uniform police officers carry a 15-shot capacity pistol. >> you're a former federal prosecutor, jeff. let's say it's authentic, that audiotape we just heard, is that admissible as evidence in court? >> i think so. i don't see any reason why it wouldn't be admissible. i'm not sure what it proves. it is a pause, not a long pause. you know, an incriminating version of that would be that even though he paused, and even though michael brown had been shot, he kept firing. that would be an incriminating version of interpretation of that. an alternative view, tom outlined, that he was just assessing the situation and michael brown kept coming at him, so he fired again. so i don't think that this tape
proves a lot one way or the other. but it certainly is relevant evidence that grand jury and prosecutors and investigators are going to want to consider as they try to look at all of the evidence. in the case. >> don, you're back in new york now. but you spent almost the last tw weeks there in furgason. when you heard this audio tape, you reported it first, tell us what went through your mind. you've been studying it over the past several hours. >> well, i sat there with my producer and we listened to it. he couldn't hear it. i said, you can't hear it right after he says, you're pretty, listen. then finally, he says, oh, my gosh, yes, i can hear it. we immediately called because we got that tape from a source so we immediately tried to find the attorney. and we got in touch with the attorney and what's interesting about that, wolf, is that i called the attorney and got someone in our office on the phone at the exact time that they were being interviewed by the fbi. so once, you know, the fbi is
involved and we got to confirm the fbi was involved, then you know, it became relevant because they are looking into it. they think this may make a different in the investigation. >> if this were a fen phony tape and you show up with the tape with the fbi present, that could be a crime if you are trying to fool someone with a fake audio of gunshots. >> absolutely. that would be a crime. but the other question here is if this witness just now is coming forward to the fbi with the tape, you know, you would think that person would be aware of everything that's happened in ferguson for the last two weeks -- >> i can explain that. >> go ahead. >> here is what happened. the person had seen us out in the field, cnn. they gave the tape to a cnn producer thinking that it was my producer. somehow it did not get to me. he was concerned about his identity being out there. he did not want people to know who he was. so after i didn't contact him because i didn't get the tape,
he went to a friend, i think a roommate, who is an attorney, who happens to be that attorney. and they explained what happened and the guy said, i don't want to be identified. i'm concerned about my safety. and i'm concerned about my identity being out there. so it was this weird confluence of events that led me to them and then them coming on to do it. but listen, the guy did not want to be identified. he does not want publicity. he was involved in a chat with many red-blooded americans do. hi, hundroneyhoney. send a selfie. whatever. he was embarrassed. i don't see why, because many people do that. that's what happened. he was trying to get in touch with someone he thought was an authority figure. but most people don't just know how to pick up the phone and call the fbi. once he got in touch with the attorney then the ball started to roll. >> you want to add something? >> yeah. i wasn't going to question that. i was going to say, here two
weeks later with everything going on in ferguson and the pos importance of the investigation, have you this come to the attention of the media -- >> i think there is more out there. >> what i'm trying to say, don, is there could be other people come forward yet, that have not been located, that may be sitting on it for the same reason. s sitting on more evidence. >> a lot of people are nervous to come forward. they are worried about police and authority. and they don't want to be a part of the media. >> i just want to show that this underlined why the october deadline that the prosecutors in the missouri prosecutors have established, shows it's hard to do this quickly. this is a complicated investigation for a very quick event. there may be other tapes out there as don has said, and it's important to integrate it all. there's lots of scientific evidence that tests that need to be done, evidence collected.
people need to wait and to draw any final conclusions before all the evidence is in. >> good point. jeffrey toobin, don lemon, tom fuentes. i will have a full report later tonight. 10:00 p.m. eastern. here on cnn. just ahead, more on breaking news. an american killed while fighting with isis terrorists inside syria. account u.s. track citizens who are being recruited by the terror group? former director of cia and nsa general michael hayden is here joining us in "the situation room." we have a lot to discuss, gentlemen. thankses very much. ♪ so nice, so ni-i-i-ce ♪ sweet, sweet st. thomas nice ♪ so nice, so ni-i-i-ce ♪ st. croix, full of pure vibes ♪ ♪ so nice, so ni-i-i-ce ♪ st. john, a real paradise ♪ so nice, so ni-i-i-ce
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let's get back to breaking news. a young american killed while fighting with isis in syria. the man's uncle tells cnn he traveled to syria to fight as a jihady even his family was surprised, devastated by what wound up happen ppg we are joined by the former director of the cia and nsa. michael hayden, principal now with the chertoff group in washington, global security and risk management advisory firm. thanks, general, for joining us. >> thank you. >> we've been hearing this number of a hundred americans now fighting with various terror groups along side terrorists in syria. some with el nusra, some with isis, does that number sound
realistic to you? >> it sounds about right, wolf. this force is best explained in multiples of 10. 10,000 armed individuals. about a thousand from the west. about a hundred from the north america. so yeah, it sounds about right. >> and did you accept this notion that the u.s. knows who these hundred americans are that the u.s. government has their names, passport numbers, stuff like that? >> i would never accept that notion. look, the government's working very hard on this. i know some of the people are doing this. they are doing the best they can. but it'll be irresponsible to claim that we have this nailed, we know exactly who these people are. >> the great fear is that 1 or 2 or 10 of them might leave syria, go to turkey, get on a plane back to the united states. >> come back with their american passport, enter the united states, be motivated and trained to do evil here in the homeland. >> how good would you say, without providing sensitive information, is u.s. intelligence? what is actually going on inside
a group like el nusra or inside isis right now? >> tough target. very, very tough target. you have national tactical means, imagery, national intelligence. you want penetrations, you want human sources. that's very hard to do. i would think that my old agency is trying to work that through our friends in the region. the iraqis, saudis, jordanians, to get the best on the ground information we have. but this is always a really tough thing to do, wolf. >> is this isis a direct threat -- i keep asking this question, but i'm anxious for your thought from the u.s. homeland security. is it a threat to the united states? >> here is the way i would describe it. no question, the will and capacity to be a local threat. i think now they have the will and the capacity to be a regional threat. i think they have aspirations to be a global threat.
now look, we've underestimated these groups in the past. we lacked imagination prior to 9/11. christmas bomber, we knew al qaeda was up to something. we just didn't nail that it was a nigerian in an airplane over michigan. this threat is coming at our peril, we underestimate it or think it is somewhere in the distant future. >> would the targets inside syria over iraq make a difference? >> it does make a difference. doesn't make a difference to the lone wolf who gets on the plane in istanbul and flies to united states but it begins to degrade this group's overall capability. beyond that, we have seen this with al qaeda in pakistan border region. make them worry about their own survival rather than the freedom to operate. you treat this like an insurgency.
you try to do three things against an insurgency. one is, decapitate it. take care of the leadership. number two, deny it safe haven. then number three, try to change the conditions on the ground that created it. that number three takes a very long time. but i think we're now at a point where we've got to begin to do number one and number two in order to prevent their coming at us in a very dangerous way. >> when i heard the president earlier in the day at the american legion speech warn terrorists who kill americans like the american journalist james foley, the united states will take direct action against you. direct action is sort of code phrase for a targeted killing or assassination. they will try to kill these guys. >> yes. but not just in retaliation, wolf. not just as punishment. we've got take these folks on to prevent them to do these things to american citizens.
>> as preventative, take drones or whatever, kill these people, targeted assassination, if you will. >> my view is that is where we are heading. my view is that is where we need to look. >> every one of these isis leaders or isil leaders, they should worry that the united states is trying to kill them. >> i hope they are worried. we have policy and legal question to work through before we take on that kind of campaign. that's why it is important for the president to engage the congress and engage congress as quickly as possible. >> how good is syrian air defense? >> i this i we give it too much credit. israelis conducted an airstrike before this air defense was degraded in any way, and they got away with it without any syrian reaction, let alone casualties. >> they are using f-15s and f-16s in an operation like that. thank you very much for coming in. >> thank you. a staging new report on wait types at the v.a.
has anyone been held really accountable? buildings were raised, rocket fire was exchanged. peace. at left a cease-fire, seems to be holding, between israel and hamas in gaza right now. we're going to gaza for the very latest. wait, are you running full adobe photoshop on a tablet? yep. but it's not just a tablet, it's really a laptop. it's a surface pro 3, with a touchscreen. well it can't be as fast as my mac. sure, it can. and it is. but you probably can't plug anything into it. i have a usb mini display port. plug away. and this is my favorite -- it's the kickstand. so you're saying it does more than my mac? well technically, you said it. ♪ ♪ well technically, you said it. ♪
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you could even get a discount when you add a car. call liberty mutual for a free quote today at see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance. breaking news over at white house. let's go straight to our senior white house koerpt jim acosta. what the latest? >> reporter: wolf, it's about this apparent american jihadi, douglas mcarthur mccain who died fighting for isis it appears, in syria. the white house is saying, and i've been talking to sourcers earlier, wolf, who have been saying they were aware of this man's travel overseas. i'll just read you a quote.
from the nse spokesperson here at the white house. she says, we're aware of u.s. citizen douglas mcarthur mccain's presence in syria and confirm his death. we continue to use every tool we possess to disrust and dissuede those from traveling to jihad and engage in violence in return. the problem identified by white house officials of people with western passports who go back and forth between the united states and the west and these isis battlefields and have the potential to come back and cause damage on the home front and that's why senior beneficial administration says the battle against isis will not be limited to geographic borders. it was a speech designed to deal with two threats. one abroad, the other closer to home. >> rooting out a cancer like isil won't be easy and it won't be quick. >> reporter: the president prescribing for airstrikes in iraq, perhaps in
and vengeance for the killers of mernl journalist james foley. >> our message to anyone who harms our people is simple -- america does not forget. our reach is long. we are patient. justice will be done. >> but the veterans in the audience were also looking for answers to what's ailing the v.a., as in the scandal first reported by cnn that officials at the agency's hospital in phoenix and others around the country were cooking their books to hide long wait times for patients. >> we're going to fix what is wrong. we're going to do right by you and we're going to do right by your families. >> reporter: the v.a.'s inspector general found inappropriate scheduling practices are a nationwide systemic problem at the department. of the 3400 patients reviewed in phoenix over a year period, the report noted six deaths after long delays. but the i.g. acknowledges we're unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely
quality care caused the deaths of these veterans. >> i think it is pretty clear that veterans suffered and died while on wait lists. veterans were harmed as a result of these practices. i think that's criminal. >> reporter: to fix the v.a. president obama is ordering new standards for veterans care, protection for whistleblowers and improved mental health services. kay hagan got a peck on the cheek from the president after she complained his administration wasn't doing enough to fix the v.a. but the v.a.'s new secretary bob mcdonald insisted reform is already happening that will change the agency for good. >> if we feel that serving veterans, we fail. they're our only reason for being. >> reporter: not surprising that ig report is already becoming mired in politics. the republican chair of the committee accused the v.a. of trying to cover up the agency's problems and his democratic counterpart in the senate said
he was relieved there was no direct connection found between the delays and the deaths. it doesn't matter what that ig report says. both sides on capitol hill will be arguing over this one for some time. >> jim acosta with the latest from the white house. thanks very much. our senior investigative correspondent drew griffin was there in charlotte for the president's speech today. broke the story of the wait times at v.a. hospitals months and months ago. so what was your impression, what was your reaction to this report that finally came out today, drew? >> well, it details and confirms a lot of what we have been reporting and our sources have been telling us on the ground in phoenix took place there. a long list, wolf, of terrible things that happen to the veterans in phoenix as they waited to get a timely appointment at that facility. the majority of patients the investigators reviewed were on all sorts of different lists. waiting lists, official lists, secret lists, lists held in drawers and this is what they found out. they reviewed, as jim was
alluding to, 3400 patient files including the 40 who did die on the waiting list. they found 28 instances where patients were adversely affected by what they call clinically significant delays in care. six of those patients died. there's something new, though, that we didn't know about, wolf. 17 cases for other kinds of problem in treatment not associated with delays and of those 14 patients died. they can't say directly that the delays in care are what caused these deaths, but you have 20 veterans out in phoenix who died because of substandard care. while they don't exactly link them, they have some chilling, chilling cases in these reports. let me go through a couple of them. patient number three, here's a guy that waited nine weeks after doctors found a massive lump on his chest before he was finally given a biopsy. of course the biopsy determined he had cancer. he dies. another patient, patient number four goes to a v.a. emergency
room four times for four different things. eechl time he was there, wolf, they noted he has very high blood pressure and he needed an appointment to a follow-up. he never got the follow-up. he died. those are the cases outlined in this that the inspector general says, even though there was delay in care on these, we can't determine if the delay in care is what caused it. >> eric shinseki was caused to rese resign, but has anyone been fired yet? >> we're told that 30 people across the country have been disciplined. that means either removed from their positions or they resigned or they are on administrative leave. oddly enough, the woman in phoenix who ran the phoenix v.a. is still on administrative leave, means she's home getting paid. wolf? >> drew griffin reporting for us. thanks very much. just ahead scenes of celebration in gaza. in israel two parties announce an unlimited cease-fire. but will peace hold?
why pay more for less? call today for a low price on speeds up to 150mbps. and find out more about our two-year price guarantee. comcast business. built for business. we're keeping a close watch on a new cease-fire between israel and hamas that took effect just a few hours ago. and unlike recent cease-fire, all of which have failed, this one has no expiration date. an egyptian official tells cnn israel has agreed to ease the plockade on gaza, open the border crossings for more humanitarian aid to pass through and to extend the fishing limit off the coast to six miles. hamas agrees, promises not the launch rockets and missiles into israel. both sides will resume indirect negotiations in the coming weeks in cairo for some sort of
long-term agreement. let's see if this cease-fire can hold. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. i'm bofl blitzer in "the situation room." erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next breaking news. an all-american man turned jihadi who died fighting for isis in syria. now growing fears about the other americans answering the call for jihad as well. president obama makes a promise to protect the american people from isis. surveillance flights now under way near the syrian border. are air strikes next? and alarming new audio allegedly from the michael brown shooting now being analyzed by the fbi. what a pause heard amid the rapid gunfire might tell us. let's go "outfront."