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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  August 27, 2014 11:00am-12:01pm PDT

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ron brownstein, thanks very much for joining us. that's it for me this hour. i'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "the situation room." another two-hour addition. in the meantime, thanks very much for watching. "newsroom" with brooke baldwin starts right now. hi there, i'm brooke baldwin. thank you so much for joining me today. let's begin with this freed american, just absolutely overwhelmed with emotion, fighting back tears at some points when he spoke out publicly, first morning back home. here he is. this is peter theo curtis, reuniting with his family after being held hostage for nearly two years by militants in syria. the journalist offering a heart felt thank you to the hundreds of people who worked for his release. the relief you can see in his eyes and joy in his heart were a stark contrast to these grim images from his time in captivity, a nightmare that lasted some 22 months.
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curtis was held prisoner by al-nusra front, a syrian group with ties to al qaeda. curtis speaking today, says he'll tell the rest of his story later, once he spends time with his family, once he's bonded properly with his mother and family and recovered from this horrendous ordeal. >> first of all, i want to thank you all for coming out here this beautiful wednesday morning. in the days following my release on sunday, i have learned bit by bit that there have been literally hundreds of people, brave determined and big-hearted people all over the world working for my release. they have been working for two years on this. i had no idea when i was in prison -- i had no idea that so much effort was being expended on my behalf. and now having found out, i am just overwhelmed with emotion. i'm also overwhelmed with one other thing, and that is total strangers coming up to me saying
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we're glad you're home, welcome home, glad you're back, glad you're safe. great to see you. so i suddenly remember how good the american people are and what kindness they have in their hearts. and to all those people, i say a huge thank you from my heart. from the bottom of my heart. and now, look, i am so grateful that you are expressing all this interest in me. at the same time, i have to bond with my mother and my family now, and i can't give you an interview and i can't give you a talk back and forth. >> can you tell us what it feels like. >> all i can say to you -- in the future, i promise i will respond to your e-mails and i will be present and i will help you guys do your job. and i'm one of you and i know what you guys are going through. so i want to help you guys and i will be there, and i will respond. but i can't do it now. thanks very much. >> so he is heading home to
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spend much-needed time with his family. unfortunately, for several of the people you're seeing on the screen, the outcome is different. the middle picture, captured american journalist, james foley, he never got to come home. he was beheaded by isis militants. the gentleman on the far right, american steven sotloff, is still being held by that same terrorist group. so robert young peltin, let me bring you in, journalist, documentary film maker and author of "the world's most dangerous places" welcome back to the show. >> thanks, brooke. >> i want to get into your own personal ordeal being held hostage in colombia, south america. first, let me ask this. for these journalists going into incredibly dangerous places such as iraq, syria, afghanistan, what is the number one risk? >> well, in syria, it's obviously being kidnapped much there was a large group of journalists who all stayed in the same hotels, fired the same fixers and about the same time
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that al-nusra and isis came into being, there was a lot of interest in fining out if there were foreign fighters against them so there is a lot of paranoia on the fighter side and a huge rush of novice and freelance journalist so it led to a number of kidnappings over 2012 and 2013. >> but to me it seems everything i've read about syria, robert, also it's the variable of the unknown. u.s. doesn't have much intelligence there, perhaps that's part of the surveillance fleets, you know, overhead. wouldn't that be a huge disadvantage being held in a place like syria? >> well, you know, as you have seen from the impact, the death of mr. foley had, one person can change the foreign policy of an entire nation. so hostages have a huge value now in this asymmetrical warfare of terrorism. these groups which are funded by qatar and saudi arabia are also
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sort of splitting their allegiances. so they're keeping these hostages as sort of aces in the hole. you can see how they're being used differently. some are murdered, some are released and some you never hear from again. >> it was qatar from what i read that really did help secure curtis' release. but to you, robert, to your kidnapping in colombia, by the death squads in 2002, can you just share a little bit about that and the hardship and how did you survive? >> well, what you learn is when you're kidnapped is that you worry more about other people, because you're dealing with a situation hour by hour. but you start thinking about your loved ones and your friends and people that have no idea what's going on. they have no idea whether you're going to be murdered or set free. and luckily, the group that kidnapped me when they finally were able to get my name out to their leader, he remembered me from an interview i had set up. his name was carlos castano and he sent a strange press release to reuters saying i was being
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held for my safety. so he was able to mask his kidnapping and i was released along with two other people. but the situation in the middle east is much, much more serious. these people are held for years. they're used as propaganda tools. and it makes our coverage of conflict very, very difficult. >> what was your darkest moment when you were in colombia? >> the initial ambush in which the death squads jumped out of the bush, pointing weapons at us after they just killed a couple indians. my biggest fear was i was with two young people who probably weren't as experienced. and i felt very bad for their safety. so that was really my darkest moment. i occupy myself with storing food, seeing how long they let me go to the bathroom. there's a number of things you do to test your captors. and like i said, i was not held for years like these gentlemen were. >> one other american journalist, steven sotloff, he's
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being held. in fact, we saw him on his knees in a similar orange jumpsuit in that james foley video. and we have now heard from and seen sotloff's mother, ms. sotloff, made an emotional plea today for the release of her son. let me play that for our viewers. >> steven has no control over the actions of the u.s. government. he's an innocent journalist. i've always learned that you, the caliphate, can grant amnesty. i ask you to please release my child. as a mother, i ask your justice to be merciful, and not punish my son for matters he has no control over. >> robert, how do you think her plea could help or perhaps hurt her son's cause? >> sadly, i don't think it has any impact. you have to remember, the narrative of these islamic groups is as you see from the orange jump suits, a number of atrocities and inequities have been dealt to the islamic and
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public civilians in numerous countries. and so they're basically saying, look, we don't care. we don't have any mercy towards you. the other thing is that there is a dirty game being played. i mean, the gentleman that was just released who we know is michael curtis, is actually theo padnose, famous for going under cover in the mosques in yemen and these groups are paranoid so they don't know if they have a journalist or a spy or an aide worker. obviously, i -- let them go and conduct their business as journalists. but it's a very dangerous business. >> talking to someone who was kidnapped in syria later in the show and he came home and says that's it. he's finished. because of a lot of the polarization and the way americans even perceive some of these hardened, brazened journalists these days. robert young peltin, thank you for joining me.
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we are learning much more today about the man believed to be the first american to fight and to die for the brutal terror group, isis. he is douglas mccarthur mccain. he was just 33 years of age. had a child, was killed over the weekend in a battle with another terror group. this was just outside of aleppo, syria's largest city. doug mccain grew up outside of minneapolis in a suburb. he was raised christian, but converted to islam a couple of years ago. an old friend remembers he was a nice, quiet kid, had a big heart, loved playing basketball. mccain had a few minor scrapes with the law. his family is stunned. >> it's mind-blowing. it's crazy. i don't understand it. i don't even believe it. i'm in shock. like, i don't even know how to feel. my cousin was not a terrorist. he is not a terrorist. >> so the family is in shock. but i want you to take a look at some of the tweets from mccain's
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account. his bio, islam over everything. his tweets, joining you guys soon. quote, i'm with the brothers now, increasingly sympathetic with isis when you read what he's put out there. and that put him squarely in the sights of u.s. intelligence. and now we're getting word in addition to mccain there is a second american who may have been killed along with mccain on that isis battlefield. cnn justice reporter, evan perez, is joining me with more on that newer report, evan. how credible is this claim that it wasn't just mccain as an american, but a second american to be killed fighting for isis? >> brooke, the short answer is we don't know just yet. the american government says they're checking this out. obviously, something they're taking very seriously. this group, by the way, posted pictures of mccain and his passport and pictures of his body. so that's how officials were able to confirm that it is indeed the person that they thought. in the case of the second american, the alleged second american, they haven't done t t that, it appears. that is something the government
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is trying to check out. they know, for instance, there are over a dos dozen americans they believe have joined isis and fighting over there. among over 100 americans fighting, you know, in other groups in syria. so it's something that they're definitely taking seriously. >> all right. evan perez, thank you so much. still ahead, cnn speaks with two isis fighters who tell our own correspondent, it would be an honor to behead a nonbeliever. the interview is chilling. we'll play part of it for you coming up. also a story that's got a lot of people shaking their heads. a 9-year-old girl, she's got a ponytail and pink shorts a gun range accidentally kills her instructor using a powerful submachine gun. did the instructor break the rules? should she have been there in the first place? we now know whether there will be charges. stay right here. tthe will..., mobilizing to take on the world? you don't know "aarp." aarp and its foundation are taking on hunger
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you're watching cnn, i'm brooke baldwin. we have to talk about this arizona shooting. some people are calling it a freak accident. others a bad idea from the get-go. it has left one man dead and a little girl absolutely devastated. here's the story. a 9-year-old accidentally killed her shooting instructor monday with an uzi submachine gun. and sheriffs officials just announced there will be no charges. okay? no charges here. we're showing this video at the gun range to help you understand what happened. you see the instructor here giving this little girl a lesson. the little girl, by the way, lives in new jersey. >> okay, turn this leg forward. there you go, just like that. all right. go ahead and give me one shot.
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all right! >> so the mojave county sheriff's office says seconds after that clip, the girl pulled the trigger again and the recoil sent the gun up over her head where her instructor was standing, 39-year-old, charles baca, who was hit and killed. >> well, a 9-year-old gets an uzi in her hand when -- they're within the criteria is 8 years old to shoot firearms. we instruct kids as young as 5 and .22 rifles and they don't get to handle high firearms but under the supervision of their parents and our professional range master. >> i have lots and lots of chess jean casarez. let's begin first with what we know. we explained after the recoil went over her head and hit him, that's what coiled him. >> right. and let me add to that, because the ballistic expert i've been talking to is saying this is a submachine pistol. and when you pull the trigger,
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since it's automatic, the bullets come out one after the other. and the recoil, meaning it goes back when you shoot it. and she just lost control of the gun. it appears as though. but i think what's interesting is this outdoor shooting range. this is an outdoor shooting range near hoover dam, near lake mead, outside las vegas. they specialize in shooting machine guns and specialty weapons. so when you go there, as a family, and you take your child, you know what they're going to be shooting. >> this is the question that at least this was first on my mind, how can you have a 9-year-old girl -- i totally get it, guns rights, you can lawfully shoot a gun. but at 9? is she big enough, strong enough, tall enough? >> she looked pretty frail, right? and that would be for a gun expert. what you're driving at is there are weapons for children. there are guns for children. remember, bb guns? >> an uzi? >> but this is a submachine
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pistol. >> and so no charges. we just learned, no charges. >> we have just confirmed, there will be no charges at all in this case, according to the mojave county sheriff's department. it's going to be an investigation by osha now, which traditionally, brooke, is accidents in the workplace. and so this instructor, charles vacca, who died, 39 years old, we believe he's a young married man. he was an employee. and so this would be a classified as a workplace killing, shooting. >> so you covered a similar case back in 2006? >> there was a case in massachusetts in 2008. it was a gun show. and it was a little boy who was shooting with an uzi, the same thing. and he shot and killed himself. and the man that put together the gun show was charged, not his father, who was videotaping it. and by the way, somebody videotaped this little girl in arizona. we believe it may have been her family. but what was a shooting sportsman type event is now
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being videotaped. the reasons we don't know. but sometimes parents are proud of their children, right? >> i mean, 9 years of age, you are old enough to know what has happened and to remember that the rest of your life. jean casarez, thank you very much. just ahead, what drives young men, especially westerners, to join jihad? cnn speaks with these two fighters in syria and the chilling interview. do not miss that. also ahead, as president obama considers action inside syria, my next guest says the u.s. has no idea what's going on there. hear why. next.
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as president obama is now weighing his options for a possible strike, against isis inside of syria, my next guest says america knows very little about what's happening there. joshua keating wrote a piece for called, quote, we have no idea what's going on in syria. welcome. >> thanks, brooke. >> so let's begin with the president. we know he has plans on the table or has been presented with plans on what to do with syria. he's -- based upon everything we have seen, very analytical in iraq or afghanistan. has made calls based upon years of experience, u.s. has had on the ground. but what intelligence does obama really have in syria? how would he make that kind of call? >> well, from what we know, it's fairly limited. i think that's part of the reason why whatever operation that we are going to carry out in syria is beginning with these surveillance flights. i mean, in iraq, of course,
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there were 200 u.s. advisers sent a few weeks before air strikes against isis began. and, of course, as a country we have -- the u.s. military has a lot of experience fighting in. and, you know, when the u.s. carries out drone strikes against al qaeda targets in places like yemen or pakistan, it's generally done with at least the tacit acceptance of those governments. in syria, the situation is a little different. we're dealing with a hostile government that has pledged to defend its air space. >> you bring up those surveillance flights. here's my question to you. is that the signal that something is imminent, or that is the beginning of likely months of intelligence gathering before anything happens? >> yeah, my expectation is going -- would be this is going to move pretty slowly. i mean, what we have seen from this president is that he's very reluctant to get intervened -- to intervene in syria. we have seen that over the course of this war. but this is definitely the closest we have appeared to
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taking action in syria since last year when air strikes were threatened over the country's chemical weapons program. but you know, i think is there a growing -- we have seen this with a statement from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff this week. is a growing acceptance that there's no way to effectively turn back isis, unless they address both sides of the syrian and iraqi border. if we only attack isis on the iraqi side, they can simply melt back and regroup on the syrian side. so if we're really serious about turning this group back then operations on both sides of the border are going to be necessary. i think the question is how ambitious is this president really going to be about isis? >> sure. is the goal just to contain it or to permanently degrade its capabilities? >> well, from listening to you bring up chairman martin dempsey and secretary of defense chuck hagel, we heard from them saying it seems like more imminently the goal is contained and then long-term. isis militants or whateveretration of isis was in
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recent years has been there a long time. so you're saying it will be a while to evict them, destroy them, which ultimately seems to be the goal. but what about this, because we also heard from those two top brass at dod saying we know there was this covert operation to rescue james foley in syria. we found out about that last week, which, you know, unfortunately was unsuccessful. but that at least tells me, you know that u.s. has some sort of intelligence. you know, guys on the ground getting something out of syria. it's not like we haven't been there, period. >> sure. that's definitely true. and for several years now, we know there's been at least some cia effort to arm rebel groups within syria. these are the rebels who are fighting both against bashar al assad's government and against isis. there are a number of factions. and we have been working to sort of vet the groups that are receiving these weapons. you know, we don't know a lot about exactly how this program works and exactly how many
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assets are on the ground, whether they're in syria or operating out of turkey or another neighboring country. but, you know, i think it's certainly safe to say that -- and, you know, from what the statements we have heard from military leaders in the last few days, they don't feel quite comfortable launching a military operation yet and would like to gather some more information before a full-scale strikes are launched, if they ever are. >> which to your point will take a little bit of time, some months at least. joshua keating, thank you so much. i wanted to stay on syria. there is so much to talk about. just think about this. you have isis killing the rebels who are fighting against bashar al assad. the u.s. may try and kill isis. so both scenarios there would be support by assad, one of america's biggest enemies. we'll discuss assad's position currently, and more on our breaking news here. we're learning a cbc employee may have been exposed to ebola. those details coming up. you're watching cnn.
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and posted that brutal video online. so we asked cnn's atika shubert to get insight from a pair of young men, two of the foreign fighters in syria. >> reporter: the videotaped killing of james foley wasn't just a message to america. it was also a recruitment video for young men like these. >> my initial reaction personally was that this was a direct -- justified response to the crimes of the u.s. against the islamic state. >> reporter: we have spoken to abu ba car before, one of them british, claiming to be absolute believers in isis' medieval view of the world. do you personally believe in beheading and executions like this and would you actually partake in one? >> i would be more than honored to partake in execution like this. i hope god gives me that chance to do such a thing as the brother did with james foley. whether it be on somebody like
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james foley or a soldier of america. my hands are ready to do this blessed act. >> reporter: the muslim council of britain, for example, has come out condemning the killing of foley, saying it is brutal, and abhorrent and that anybody who follows this belief is misguided. what's your response to that? >> the council of britain, they are not muslims. they have always fought against islam with british government. they have tried to stop younger men going to afghanistan, iraq city, and they work in these so-called anti extreme projects. they are not muslims. so this reaction coming from them is not surprising. >> reporter: who are these young men willing to commit such brutality, despite worldwide condemnation? of britain's nearly 3 million muslims, only an estimated 4 to 500 have gone to fight in syria. roughly the same amount of muslims who are currently enlisted in the british army.
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british experts on radicalization paint a diverse picture of british muslim extremists. most are single men, under the age of 30. but a significant number are older and married with children. many are converts to islam, or are british-born muslims from immigrant families. many are also deepening their extremist ideology online. some have links to gangs and the criminal under world. but many are also well educated and from middle class families. so intelligence analysts say there is no one statistical profile or trigger that leads young men to such extremes. the last time we spoke, both insisted they would not return home. that has now changed. abu bakar in particular seems willing to come to britain and bring his jihad with him. >> there is no other choice but to come back and try to talk with the very -- with very reasonable message, then i will
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have to do that. so i am ready to take that step to come back, if the countries don't stop attacking us. >> reporter: any fighter bringing their so-called holy war back home is exactly what many western security officials fear most. atika schubert, cnn, london. >> all right. straight out of that piece, let me bring in christopher dickey, foreign editor for the daily beast based in paris. a treat to see you today in person. we were just talking as you were watching the piece, these young men saying they're converting to islam, they want to wage this war. and you were almost rolling your eyes. >> i was rolling my eyes. look, all this stuff about theca ran and it's lamb from those kinds of guys, it's crap. what they're talking about is i want to be famous. almost all terrorists, in fact, share certain things in common. and it doesn't -- islam is not one of the things they share. it was true of some in the irish republican army. it's been true with central
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america. it's been true in lots of places. >> what do they share? >> tnt, basically. testosterone. they're almost all young guys. some of these guys may be a little bit older. narrative. that's very important. they may not be oppressed. they may not have grown up oppressed. but they passionately identify themselves with some oppressed people. maybe their own, maybe somebody else's. and finally, theater. they want to project themselves on the world stage. >> they want the fame. >> they want this fame, they want to carry out spectacular acts, whether it's 9/11 or the beheading of an american journalist. >> you bring up james foley. there have been questions, as president obama has presented plans, how does the u.s. approach what's happening in syria? then possible war in the middle east, based upon a beheading. and the question is, as we were discussing briefly before you came on, and you said, yes, that beheading of james foley is the catalyst, potentially, to something bigger. i just want to play a little sound. this is from lee hamilton, a co
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chair at the 9/11 commission. listen to his perspective. >> what kind of resources are we prepared to put into the effort in that region to deter, to contain, to eliminate, to defeat isis? i've heard those verbs, those words used by everybody. we're all over the place in trying to describe what our policy is. that needs to be focused, and we need to make up our mind how we're going to deal with this threat, not just in the united states, as dan was talking about, but in the region itself. >> so he says we're all over the place. do you agree? >> we are all over the place. look, what's obama's first challenge here. it isn't really what to do about isis. it's what to do with the american people. the american people don't want to go to the middle east anymore. not at all. we saw that a year ago with the chemical weapons being used. >> right. >> wanted to do something and backed off because it was really clear that the american public was against it. so now look at the way he's
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framed the situation again and again. when we first started to bomb isis positions, it was, what, to protect americans in erbil, americans in baghdad. not american interests. american people. >> right. >> in those places. we didn't talk about with drawing those american people. but we did talk about defending them. so then you have an american journalist decapitated in this horrific film. that in a sense gives obama what he needs to push things forward against isis. of even if we're not very well prepared, even if we don't know exactly what we want to do. we do know isis is presenting a bigger and bigger problem, not only in the region, but potentially here at home in the united states. finally, what was the most successful line used by the bush administration when going on military adventures it went on? we need to fight the terrorists there so we don't have to fight them here. that was pretty much a lie. because, in fact, the risks have increased to us here as a result of what the bush administration
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did. but it's very convincing when the american people hear it. because what americans want is to not get engaged with the rest of the world. they don't want the world to come and attack them. >> no, of course not. >> clearly. this has to be cast in that light if the americans are going to do anything. >> chris dickey, come back. thank you very much. >> thank you, brooke. >> i really appreciate it. coming up next, what's happening in syria and the middle east. but police are calling it a case of mistaken identity when a mother was stopped by officers, handcuffed, held at kun point with her kids in the car and her vehicle didn't even match the description of the car these officers were looking for. did police go too far? we'll discuss that after the break. hi. i'm henry winkler.
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if the outrage against police in america couldn't get any worse lately, a terrifying incident that happened near
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dallas isn't making it better. police mistakenly pull the mother over at gunpoint, arrested her, as her children watch from inside of her car in fear. the woman's 6-year-old son seen on this dash cam video getting out of the car with his hands up, police say they were looking for a beige or tan-colored toyota with four black men inside. so how did they end up stopping this woman's burgundy maxima? david she canter with affiliate faa tells her story. >> let me see your hands! everybody stick their hands out the window! >> reporter: this is the moment that shook barber's belief that bad things do not happen to good people. her car, loaded up with small children. her hands above her head. then shackled in cuffs. moments later, her 6-year-old son ryan comes out too with his hands in the air. >> makes me angry all over again. >> reporter: how did this happen? well, it started with this 911
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call and a very clear description of a vehicle speeding down the highway, the driver possibly waving a gun out the window. >> it is going to be a beige or tan-colored toyota. occupied by four black males. >> i drive a nissan maxima that is burgundy red. >> reporter: no match. but after the suspect car sped far down the road, the 911 caller was now far back and thought the suspect was exiting the highway. and that's the very exit where police spotted camitra's car. >> the complaint that called in said the vehicle took that exit. >> come on back. >> what is wrong? my kids! >> hold on. >> they're 6 and 8 and 10 -- 9! what are we doing? >> come on over here. >> sir, what is going on? oh, my god. you're terrifying my children!
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>> we got a complaint of a vehicle matching your description and your license plate pointing a gun out the window. >> reporter: in less than a minute, the officers knew they had the wrong car. you can hear them deescalate. >> they look young to you? >> they do to me. >> gun down, gun down. >> come on back here, son. come on back here. you're all right. >> reporter: within moments, the officers are trying to calm the children's nerves. >> i'm scared. >> it's okay. >> are we going to jail? >> no, no one is going to jail. stop crying. it's okay. it's okay. >> everything is fine now. >> reporter: were they treated properly? was this a proper stop that they needed subjected -- >> for a call that a weapon was involved, yes. >> reporter: barber understands the officers were making quick decisions that night. nonetheless, she is still deeply troubled. >> i need you to make sure that you have all the facts, because
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it doesn't -- you can't just say, okay, i'm sorry, and then i'm over it. i can't. i mean, every time i listen to or hear or think about it, it bothers you. it's not -- you know, i can't just say okay, i'm fine. it's okay. it's not a big deal. it is. >> reporter: especially when you're 6 years old. >> cnn legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, mother. sunny hostin joins me. it almost raises the hairs on my arm just to see a 6-year-old raising his hands up and absolutely terrified. now, police say they were following proper protocol. can you just explain to me what we just saw? >> you know, i've got to tell you, as a mother, this is very difficult to watch. but they were following proper protocol. traffic stops are really one of the most dangerous things that police officers do. every day. and you'll find if you look at the statistics oftentimes they get hurt. they get hit by cars that are
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going by too quickly. they get gunned down that way. and so they take a lot of precaution. and courts actually usually support the police officers during traffic stops. so when you look at this, you look at a detention that really was less than a minute. they did ask everyone to put their hands outside of the windows. the guns were drawn. and they did put handcuffs on the mother. and that is troubling, of course. but given the length of time for the detention, i think it was probably proper police protocol. >> but if they're looking for a tan car, why did they pull over a burgundy maxima. >> of course, that's a problem. but if you look at some of the facts of the case, apparently the 911 caller said the car is about to get off the exit. and this car got off the exit. and oftentimes, late at night, quite frankly, happened so quickly. and a tan car may look like a burgundy car. so, you know, it's just so troubling to see it, are especially in the context of what we have been covering recently with ferguson and other police shootings.
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but again, it's such a balancing act for police officers. and i've got to tell you, from my vantage point, this is something the police officers deal with all of the time. and i don't see improper protocol here. >> okay. >> yeah. >> sunny hostin, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> i appreciate it. just ahead, a cdc worker possibly exposed to the ebola virus in west africa. now that individual, we're told, is back flown back to the u.s. the details on that breaking news ahead here on cnn. at the lexus golden opportunity sales event, you'll discover what happens when we cut corners. the corners of test tracks. where we engineered our most track-tested line of performance vehicles ever. the result: our gold standard of performance. and the only place you'll find it is at the lexus golden opportunity sales event. now through september 2nd. this is the pursuit of perfection.
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cnn "newsroom" is taking a closer look at the impact the heroin trade is having inside american cities. in "deadly fix" that examines how more and more states are seeing the shift from people using costly prescription drugs in favor of cheaper alternate forms of heroin. in fact, a spike in heroin overdoses has forced at least one state to declare public health emergency. here is cnn's deborah feyerick. >> coming up. side street. behind where you are at. >> yeah, but some -- >> reporter: it's just after dinner on an ordinary thursday night in chelsea, massachusetts. >> got a visual on the guy. the seller. >> they have the buyer. the buyer is -- he texted to say on the way. >> reporter: lieutenant david betts and his narcotics officers are gathering intelligence on a controlled drug deal. >> how much is it?
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>> it's five bags. five bags of heroin. >> reporter: chelsea is north of boston, just over the bridge across the mystic river. and like many other cities and towns across america, police here have seen demand for heroin s skyrocket. >> drugs, we hate to say, they're as american as apple pie. but they are here. they're not going anywhere. >> reporter: the growing epidemic is fueled in part by people increasingly hooked on prescription pain killers. people looking to heroin as a cheaper way to get high. people like marie. who grew up here and took her first hit two decades ago at age 16. we agreed to protect her identity. >> how often do you do heroin now? >> several times a day. like right now, i've already done two 40 packages today. >> reporter: do you have one supplier, do you have multiple suppliers? >> multiple. you always need multiple. you need your backup dealer. >> reporter: police here say the
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majority of drugs at 60% are sold in and around the public park by chelsea town hall. an endless flow of traffickers, suppliers, sellers and buyers. how do they find their way here into a place like chelsea? >> they almost have like a network of runners or suppliers and they'll send them out like delivery guys and say you go to chelsea for the day, you go to another city for the day. and they'll basically network like that. >> reporter: what's the most number of times somebody has been around? >> that i've seen? >> reporter: yeah. >> well over 200. >> reporter: back at chelsea police headquarters, the evidence room is nearly filled to capacity. >> these are all heroin cases and cocaine cases we've worked on. twister is the corner of a sandwich bag they will take. >> can i hold this up? >> go right ahead. >> reporter: a twist of heroin that costs a fraction of a single prescription pain killer. this batch of heroin is worth
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$300. you have the same amount of oxycontin or any of those drugs, what would it be? >> well over $2,000. >> reporter: police say that about half the people arrested here in chelsea for either selling or buying heroin, they're not even from here. they don't live in chelsea. they're coming from other cities and towns. >> we know certain communities are a lot more affluent and we'll ask, how did you end up here from, you know, a suburb of a million-dollar homes. and they'll say they got hooked on opiates. ran out of money. they're not available there. like they are here. >> reporter: and though she grew up in chelsea, marie says she wants to move first chance she gets, home to run from the addiction she calls a life sentence. >> you oded five times. did you ever once think, oh, why did i wake up? >> yes. every single time. every time i have oded, i woke up pissed off. i'm such a screw up, i can't even die right.
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like i'd rather be in the ground than continue with this. >> they're heading up there now. >> reporter: an endless cycle of drugs in small towns trying to stem the tide. >> do it all again. >> next, breaking news on cnn. the cdc says an employee may have been exposed to ebola. and that person is not only being flown back to the united states, but will be allowed to carry on with a normal life. we'll talk with elizabeth cohen how that will work, next. (vo) friday night has always been all fun and games, here at the harrison household. but one dark, stormy evening... she needed a good meal and a good family. so we gave her purina cat chow complete.
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and we continue on, ton of the hour, i'm brooke baldwin. you're watching cnn. we begin with this freed american overwhelmed with emotion, tight fighting back tears. peter theo curtis was held hostage for nearly two years by militants in syria. and just this morning, journalists in cambridge, massachusetts, offering thanks to the hundreds of people who offered help for his release. the relief in his eyes were a stark contrast to this, these grim images. he was held by al-nusra, a syrian group with ties to al qaeda. >> first of all, i want to thank you all for coming out here on this beautiful wednesday morning.