tv Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield CNN August 29, 2014 9:00am-10:01am PDT
while because you don't want to impact the discussions other the cr that could trigger a budget shutdown? >> i don't have an update in terps timing. you did hear from the president yesterday, where he reiterated his strong commitment to take action within the scope of his authority to solve or at least address so many of the problems that are created by our broken immigration system. there is legislation that has passed through the senate as we know that would have addressed so many of these problems in a way that would have had substantial benefits for our economy. unfortunately, we've seen republicans in the house engage in a political strategy to block legislation. the president is disappointed that house republicans have pursued this political strategy. the president is resolved to use as much authority as he can muster within the confines of
the law. hoping that house republicans will come to their senses at some point and pass a piece of legislation that will be more impactful and will supersede any sort of executive action he might take. the president is determined as ever to takes that kind of action on his own, simply because house republicans have blocked the ability of congress to try to solve this problem. okay. jim. >> josh, getting back to that comment, we don't have a strategy yet, we know that the president was talking about a strategy for isis in syria. but having said that, would he have liked to have that one back? >> i want to care fly one thing. what you described. the president was talking specifically about military options for countering isis in syria, there are a number of things that we've already done to -- as it relates to the broader situation in syria to confront some of the challenges there. the united states, as we've discussed many times in this room, is the largest single
donor of humanitarian aid to syria in terms of dealing with the terrible humanitarian situation that has been caused by the violence in syria. we've seen significant numbers. millions of people who have been displaced by the violence there. the united states has been engaged in an effort to support the moderate syrian opposition. there are a range of ways in which that support is provided. there's also some diplomatic support that's been provided to them. so there already has been some work under way in syria to try to address some of the challenges there. but the president was candid about the fact that the pentagon and -- is still reviewing options that may be available to him. military options that may be available to him to counter isil in syria. >> when you're the president, words matter. just getting back to that first question, does he wish he had articulated that sentiment differently? >> well, jim, he was asked a very specific question.
he was asked a question about -- well, let me finish this. this is important. he was asked a very specific question about whether or not the president would seek a congressional authorization before ordering any sort of military action in syria. and the point the president made was that's putting the cart before the horse. the president hasn't yet laid out his specific plan for military action in syria. and the reason for that is simply the pentagon is still developing that plan. he's still reviewing them. it would be putting the cart before the horse to talk about what sort of congressional authorization would be required for a plan that hasn't even been put in place yet. >> i don't mean to belabor it but the fact that you came out so quickly and tried to explain what the president had to say suggests that what he said was not what he intended to say. or are you saying the rest of us took it the wrong way? >> well, i think -- i think what -- >> do you know what i mean?
>> yes, i do know what you mean. the reaction was not in response to the president's comments, it's in response to the way it was being reported. i don't mean that to sound as a criticism of you all doing your jobs. you all have an important job to do. but we do believe that it's important for people, both you and your readers and viewers, to understand what message the president was trying to communicate and what strategy he has already laid out for confronting isil, and what decisions remain to be made as it relates to military options available to him in syria. that is not a critique of the media, that is just an observation that we didn't listen to the president's news conference and go formulate a strategy for responding. we listened to the president's news conference, watched your reporting and recognized that if we wanted people to have a very clear understanding of what the president was trying to communicate, that we needed to engage you directly to do that. >> getting back to prime minister cameron's comments, he
said this is not some foreign conflict thousand, s of miles fm home. he seemed to take a tougher tone with respect to isis than the president did yesterday. a lot people observed that the president's comments yesterday were not really in line or in sync with the urgency expressed by secretary hagel, joint chiefs chairman dempsey, who described it as, you know, beyond anything we've ever seen. talking about isis and syria that you can't really take care of the isis problem without dealing with syria. what do you make of that? is the president on the same page as his cabinet when it comes to dealing with isis? >> i think the more important observation is the cabinet is on the same page as the commander in chief. i am fully confident that's the case. >> there's no debate inside the situation when it comes to striking isis immediately in syria? >> i don't think debate is the way i would describe it. i'm not going to be in a position of providing a detailed readout of a private meeting between the president and his
national security counsel. but you've been -- you've had the opportunity now to observe the president's leadership style. and you recognize that the president is interested in hearing the unvarnished assessment of his senior advisers. that's true when he's talking to the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or the secretary of defense about our military strategy strategy. it's also true with our communication strategy. so the president is interested in eliciting the unvarnished opinion. it wouldn't be helpful to the president of the united states if everybody sitting around the table had exactly the same opinion. >> your opinions -- >> i'm not reading out the meeting but i am in position to convey to you that the president is determined to get the unvarnished assessment of the -- of the professionals who surround the table with him as he makes important decisions. i have no doubt. and if you do, then you should go ask each one of them about whether or not they're on the same page as the commander in
chief. i am confident that they are. okay. justin. >> back to your answer on immigration, you said there was no update on timing, so i just wanted to read back to you that back earlier this month, you said that you expected to review it end of summer, and that you anticipated the president would act on those recommendations shortly after receiving them. the president said he intended to adopt the recommendations without further delay, both of which would indicate that you're going to get these recommendations before the end of summer and act on them before the midterm elections. so my question to you is, is that still what we should be operating under? >> well, i don't -- you know, the president got asked a specific question about immigration yesterday -- >> about timing -- >> i think what he did answer was, if you'll allow me to offer up my own view on this, he answered the most important part of the question. which is does the president --
is the president still committing to taking action warehouse republicans won't? and the president is as determined as ever to make sure that he is going to use all the elements of his authority within the confines of the law to address some of the problems created by our broken immigration system. there's an easy solution already at capitol hill. it has strong bipartisan support across the country. the president is disappointed that republicans have chosen to pursue that strategy that may in the minds of some republican political strategists be in their best partisan political interest, but it's not in the best interest of the country. that's why the president's determined to take the kinds of steps available to him to try to address this challenge. now, a secondary legitimate question is wahat's the time frame for that. i don't have any additional information to share with you about what that time frame is. >> according to a senior administration official, you
guys are considering splitting off the recommendations so you'd implement things that are more palatable to republicans running in vulnerable races, then push off some of the broader sweep things that we've certainly heard the interest groups coming in here discuss, until after the midterm elections. i'm wondering if you can talk at all about whether that's something you're considering or whether you expect, you know, when the president comes out and talks about immigration that we're going to hear him fully lay out everything that he plans to do. >> well, i guess i'd say it this way, to borrow a phrase used in a different context yesterday, that's putting the cart before the horse. the president hasn't received the final recommendations from his attorney general and secretary of homeland security. for what options are available to him. for acting unilaterally to address some of the problems of our broken immigration system. those speculating about how those recommendations might be implemented are a little ahead
of themselves. >> -- being sort of spoken about by senate democrats who are running in races, your decision, when you make the choice about when or how or if to implement these recommendationings? >> well, justin, what i've seen, as i mentioned earlier, is a conclusion reached by house republicans that is in their political interest to do something that's not in the nation's interest. and that is to pass comprehensive commonsense bipartisan immigration reform legislation. that's unfortunate. it's house republicans who are making politically motivated decisions right now. the president is focused on trying to solve problems. what the president would like to do is to have a legitimate fact-based debate about this current condition of our immigration system. >> you've been watching a white house press briefing. the press secretary josh earnest addressing reporters. a massive headline that came out after the president addressed the nation live yesterday, and
that was, we don't have a strate strategy. josh earnest trying to mitigate that somewhat. his answer, instead, this was about putting the cart before the horse in terms of the president seeking congressional approval and authority for any kind of action in syria. so he's trying to tamp down and do some damage control. our jim acosta valiantly trying to get the answer, was he trying to get a do-over on that expression, because words matter. i want to take you to the pentagon. a lot of live briefings going on right now. the pentagon is answering reporter's questions live. >> -- on ukraine, could you sketch out the picture on the ground there as best you could in terms of what the latest movements of russian forces, tanks of forces into ukraine, what numbers, and the degree to which that represents an escalation of their involvement and whether you consider this an
invasion. >> okay, there's an awful lot there, bob. i'm not going to try to detail in great specificity what the russian armed forces are doing. that's really for their defense to speak to. it's their military. we don't have a perfect view of everything they're doing. that said, as i have said many times, we have continued to see them build up their capabilities along that border. we have continued to see them advance weapons systems, some very sophisticated, into eastern ukraine, in support of the separatists. as i've said, just earlier this week, that we have long believed that russian forces, military forces have been a part of that movement. facilitating the movement and helping the separatists use, if not using it themselves, in support of separatists. we've seen this continue to build and build and build. now you've seen nato come out with some imagery recently that has shown not only laid bare
those facts for everybody but talked about how in the last couple of weeks that effort has intensified. as the ukrainian armed forces have gotten more capable and been able to retake territory in eastern ukraine. we believe that has helped foster moscow's intention to intensify these efforts. so it's a continuation of what we've seen all along. whatever verb you want to put on it, waver you want to call it, it's just, again, an intensification of the same behavior that we've been seeing russian do now for several months. so our position hasn't changed. we continue to look for way, to support the ukrainian armed forces and border guards. we continue to look for ways to reassure our nato allies and partners. and we continue to call for russia to stop escalating the tension there. >> looking for ways to support ukrainian forces, are you
preparing any new initiatives? are you considering training inside ukraine or anything of that nature? >> i'm not aware of anything specifically inside ukraine, bob. we have had a 20-year-plus relationship with the military of ukraine and that will continue it and we believe it is in some measure helped with their own professionalism and organization and command and control capabilities. simply the association with us and the training opportunities that we've had. i don't have anything specific to announce today in terms a new exercise. we are continuing, and i think there were press reports about yet another exercise we're doing, i think in poland, coming up here. when we talked about the fact we were going to look for ways to make the training regime more aggressive and more comprehensive in europe, we meant what we said. no, i don't have anything particular to announce today. yeah. >> two questions, do you have a cost of the iraq operation so far that you can share with us?
secondly, regarding the options that president said yesterday he had asked secretary hagel to develop, can you just care fly for us how those options are different than the options that were under development or were developed before following the arrival of the advisers or the assessors in iraq? >> let me get the cost one, and i'll do the best i can with the second one. if i don't get the nuance right, stop me. it has varied since the beginning of mid-june. on average, it's costing about $7 million per day. that's based on the snapshot of the operations that have occurred as of the 26th of this month. as you might imagine, it has -- it didn't start out at $7.5 million per day. as our up tempo, as our activities have intensified, so too has the cost. but roughly right now it's about
$7.5 million per day. that's being funded out of the overseas contingency operations fund for 2014. we're well within our limits for that regard. we think we've got it covered in term, of '14 funding -- [ inaudible ] right, since our operations began, since our activities in iraq have begun in mid-june. that was the first war powers resolution. so since the beginning. now, again, when we first-aided some security personnel in and around baghdad, that wasn't costing us around $7.5 million. that was the average since the very beginning. i don't have a daily figure for you like every day. changes every day. >> -- total for -- >> we can add it up for you. roughly $7.5 million per day. i didn't bring my calculator up here for you -- we can figure
that out for you. >> accurate way to -- >> if you're looking for a total, that's probably a good way to thumb nail it from about june 16 to today, roughly $7.5 million per day. again, it's not like it's been $7.5 million every single day. it didn't start out that much. it's on average. that's about the cost. so you've got to be careful here with the -- with how you characterize the total dollar figure. again, it's being supported through our overseas contingency funding. we're well within the limit, we need for 2014. you had a second question on options. you guys know this. that this is a planning organization. and the discussion of plans is a process. it's not something that we haven't been thinking about. for quite some time. remind you that the situation on the ground there is very fluid. so too do the kinds of plans
working on them. there have been and will continue to be discussions both here in the pentagon, and across the river with the state department and the white house about what options could look like. when we get to a point where we're ready to have a more -- discussion about that -- >> options he's trying to develop are trying to combat isil in iraq and syria, is that right? >> the president yesterday was talking about options in syria. those are the plans and the options that he's looking for. it's important to remember, we've been operating inside iraq
from a humanitarian perspective and obviously from the perspective of conducting air strikes. nothing's changed about those missions. we continue. we're up to almost 110 air strikes total since they began. so the discussion of operations in iraq continues because the operations in iraq continue. >> just to clarify, you say you always have options on the table. >> what the president was referring to yesterday was planning options inside syria. now, i'd be less than truthful if i said to you we hadn't been thinking about that before yesterday. being we have been. we've talked about that. but two points. one, we're not at the point, you know, where we're prepared to have a more fullsome discussion about what those are with the commander in chief. number two. this is not a small point. that the commander in chief, hagel, chairman dempsey, have
all said that whatever the options are for syria, it's not just going to be military. it can't just be military. there's not going to be a military solution here to the threat that isil poses. it's got to be a more comprehensive regional -- it's got to factor in other elements of power than just military. while we certainly for our part have to work on what those options could look like, there are other parts of our government that are working as well. on options that they might need to pursue in the future going forward. >> how contingent are your options, on overflights for syria, for gathering intelligence -- >> requires knowledge of the situation on the ground as the best you can get it. i mean, we always want to have as much information as you can possibly have. i think you can expect, tony, without getting into talking about specific hypothetical or future operations that whatever
options we prepare and what -- are prepared to conduct will be reliant upon getting and obtaining and analyzing the best information as you can on the ground. >> point here, back in june, when the congress and a lot of the public was asking what the united states can to blunt the momentum of isil in iraq, dempsey was clear at the time saying we don't have a complete picture yet, this is going to take a while. is it fair to say your gathering a complete air picture, a ground picture of isil in syria may take several weeks before you're comfortable enough having this fullsome discussion you're talking about? >> i don't think i'd be prepared to put a specific time line on it. i just don't think i'd be prepared to do that. it wouldn't be prudent for me to do that. as said, any time you're going to conceive of, prepare for military options, anywhere in the world for any number of missions, you're going to want to get as much information as you can. the taxpayers would want to
expect us to want to do this thing, if we get asked to do anything in syria, to do with it as much information as possible. again, i wouldn't speculate about how or when or how long. >> a lot of the public's going to be worried about u.s. flyers going over there and possibly getting shut down. can this be done from the iraq border or the southern turkish border, kind of peering into syria and standoff capabilities? >> well, again, without talking about potential future operations or speculating, so what i'm about to say is not validating the premise of the question, which is that we definitely will conduct strikes inside syria or that we are -- are or will conduct surveillance one way or the other. there are many ways in which we gain situational awareness. some of that requires the use of air assets. some of it doesn't. i think i'll leave it at that.
yes. >> having accurate information about isis capabilities, could you confirm if isis militants have now drawn capabilities? we're seeing this, reports mentioning this morning. >> if isil has drones of their own? >> yes. >> i've seen a press report here, spurious report, but i have nothing that would back that up at all. >> just quick, yesterday, president obama said some states in the region are am bill lent about dealing with isil. some of them are financing isil. could you elaborate on that? do you have more information? can we say now some gulf states are on one hand facing isil and the other hand are financing them? >> no, i'm not going to elaborate on that. not at all. tom. >> the president said yesterday there's no strategy yet for isil. talk about going ahead. pentagon's role here in
developing that strategy. presumably, the secretary's going to talk about this in turkey and nato with the partners. so talk a little bit about the way ahead. what are the plans you're looking at? what do you hope to achieve? talk about, you know, training moderate rebels. there's talk of the pentagon having a greater role in that effort. and training in assist mission in iraq eventually. would that be part of the strategy? >> if i try to answer that question in every aspect as you asked it, i'd be basically -- you've asked me to lay it all out in a press conference. i'm sure you guys would greatly appreciate that and would make your jobs a lot easier and mine pretty much nonexistent. i i'm, i think the way i would think about this, tom, and the president said this pretty well yesterday, that this is really about degrading isil's
capability to operate and to continue to conduct the sort of brutal violence that they have been doing inside iraq and the threat that they pose to the region. so if you take it from that perspective, that that's kind of where you're going, there are many ways to do that. not all of them are military. i can't speak for those. let's just talk about the military. ways you can do that. some of the military ways you can do that is the way we're doing it inside iraq now, which is through the use of air strikes. you can certainly hit them. we have been. i would, you know, at -- i would tell you we're hitting what we're aiming at inside iraq. we know inside iraq, we're having an effect on their ability to operate. we're being disruptive to their own operations. to their command and control. to their ability to move around. so you can have an effect in that way. in the pentagon, it's called kinetics. which is a fancy word. it means you're having a
targeted precise effect. we can do that. there are other ways that you can from a military perspective try to disrupt and degrade their ability to operate through humanitarian assistance, through advice and assist. one of the things, you mentioned it, trying to move forward on a train and equip program for a moderate syrian opposition. we hope to get that for fiscal year 2015 so we can move out on this. there's a lot of hurdles that remain to be leaped in terms of getting us there. you've got to have a moderate opposition you can rely on. you need at least one willing partner in the region. there's a lot of work we need to do. but there are -- inside the military component of military power, there's lots of things we can do that don't all include
air strikes. if we've learned nothing, and you guys have been covering this longer than i have in the pentagon, 13 years of war, if we've learned nothing over 13 years of war, is you can't completely eliminate extremism anywhere through simply kinetics. through air strikes alone. while we must be ready for that option, and we will be prepared at the appropriate time, that alone is not going to be the answer. >> if there is to be one in iraq, you've been assessing that for quite some time now. most people have -- >> one of the options -- >> -- how degraded the iraqi army is -- is it some sort of train and assist down the road or is that uncertain yet? >> it's entirely possible that the assessment teams could move to more of an advisory mission. that hasn't happened yet. but that's certainly a possibility going forward. we just haven't, you know, reached that level yet.
that decision hasn't been made yet. that's certainly an option. i would also tell you, you know, we still have that two joint operation centers. one in baghdad. one in erbil. they continue to support, advise and assist. there's some advising going on through the joint operations centers. we just haven't placed teams out with units at a brigade level or higher which is the thought. that's still very much under active consideration. you're right. that could be part of a stitched together, more regional approach here. if you're doing that, potentially doing that in iraq. which would require sort of an aquip and advise sort of thing to a moderate opposition. all those things are certainly military options available and all those things are certainly being considered. but, again, i wouldn't get ahead of what -- actually where it's going to get down to. >> -- mentioned disrupt and degrade isil but foot not destrs that the plan, disrupt and degrade? >> those were my words. i don't make policy here. the president said yesterday
that -- he used the word degrade isil's capabilities. i think that's where i'll leave it. i'm not going to elaborate on the president's comments. barbara. >> you said a minute ago that the pentagon, the joint chiefs not ready to go back to the president with options yet. still working on them. and he said yesterday he hadn't heard back and he was waiting. but just last week, hagel, right there, said isis was a threat like nothing we've ever seen, we have to be ready for it. this building has talked about it being imminent. clear up the confusion for the american people. is this urgent or isn't it? fundamentally, what is taking the pentagon so long? because you're always ready. if you had to strike today, would you be ready? what is taking so long? >> the question presupposes that we're not doing anything as it is, barb -- >> i'm asking why -- >> well -- >> why are you not ready to go to the president? why is he saying that he is still waiting for you? >> let me try.
the question presumes we're not doing anything, that there's no sense of urgency in the pentagon. you're and i both know that's not true. we've upped our military presence in the persian gulf. we have conducted nearly 110 and maybe 110 but by the time i'm talking to you air strikes in iraq. this building and the united states military shares the same sense of urgency over the situation in iraq and the threat that isil poses. there's no doubt or debate about that. we the secretary talked about them being like nothing we've ever seen, some people have taken that to mean in terms of size and scale of a homeland attack what he was referring to is that this was a group that doesn't behave like any other terrorist group we've had to deal with before. they're not simply killing, murdering and maiming. they're grabbing ground and infrastructure. i'm getting there. i've just got to get warmed up
here. but we all share the same sense of urgency. when the president spoke about exploring further planning options, he was referring to the potential for military options inside syria. which we haven't done. and we are working on those kinds of options for him. we have been. so that's why -- >> specific question right there, why are you not yet ready with military options for syria? why is the president still waiting? why are you not ready, given everything that secretary hagel -- >> planning is an intertive process, bash. it's not like -- the question is it's some sort of binary thing where we get ordered to do it and there's the binder and we got it turned in on your due
date. the situation on the ground constantly changes. it's very fluid. you do military planning in real time, especially a situation like what's going on in iraq and in that region, because isil changes over time. the threat changes other time. we continue to work on it. planners down in tampa and planners in the pentagon continually refine and change and update planning options for potential military activity. it is an ongoing effort. when we as a government -- wait, when we as a government are ready to have that discussion, we'll have that discussion -- >> why should isis think anything other than you're just not ready? all this does is take any message away from anything that's been said in washington for the last few days -- >> why don't you ask some of the ones getting hit from the sky about how seriously we're taking the threat? >> in syria, why should isis
think you're anything but not ready to deal with them? >> i think that anybody who has knowledge of the united states military knows we're ready, we're ready all the time. that doesn't necessarily mean that the planning process is complete or that decision, to do anything have been made. but that we are ready shouldn't be in doubt by nobody, nobody. our friends, our enemies, our potential adversaries. >> have a follow. >> yeah. >> is the pentagon on the same page as the white house in terms of the threat posed by isis? >> yes. next question. >> as we continue to follow the press secretary, the rear admiral john kirby at the pentagon, relentlessly being asked by our own barbara starr what is taking so long in terms of the pentagon presenting the president with these so-called options for action against isis inside syria. the rear admiral, quite clear about it, or perhaps not quite clear about it, depending on how
you look at it. it is an entiretive process, meaning things change on the ground, things are fluid on the ground. also that suggests there's nothing going on currently. although they certainly aren't making clear what is currently ongoing in terms of american actions in syria. focusing instead on what american actions are inside iraq to counter isis threats. as the president said, to degrade their capability. there's so much nuance in these statement, clearly with isis ramping up its threat. when we come back, we're going to take you to baghdad. a lot of analysis not only on what's happening with isis and syria and iraq, but also what's happening in ukraine and how the russians seem to be downplaying all of it, if not denying it. outright. back after this. [ woman ] the cadillac summer collection is here.
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a british terrorist recorded on that video. it was clear evidence not that anymore was needed that this is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore. the ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of iraq and syria is the threat to our own security here in the uk. >> well, as you may know, the united states retired its color coded threat scale a few years back. but right now, the national terrorism advisory system is posting no active alerts. the department of homeland security, however, just issued a statement on the uk's decision to raise the threat level. our cnn aviation correspondent rene marsh joins me from washington. i feel like we were getting some mixed messages today and maybe you can clear this up. the tsa earlier suggesting there's really been no change. then the department of homeland security coming out.
how are they different? what's happening? >> the tsa told us from their point of view, from their security posture, things remained business of usual. of course, as we go into the holiday travel weekend, we know there's going to be an increased presence of security. here in the united states, the threat level has not been raised. that's pretty much what the department of homeland security has said in their statement. so far the department of homeland security in their statement just a short time ago said they have no specific credible threat. that there's no direct threat from the united states. that the department of homeland security over the past several weeks has taken a number of steps to enhance aviation
security at overseas airports with direct flights to the united states. back in july, where we did this story about people who may be flying from overseas and coming on flights to the united states, if you weren't able to power up your cell phone or your mobile device, you were not going to be able to take that device on to the flight. the reason for that, is they were receiving intelligence some of these terror groups were looking for new ways to create bombs. we do want to point out, that is still in effect. that is what dhs is talking about in this statement here about steps they've already taken in the past couple of weeks. ashley. >> well, this other part of the statement that some of the security measures would be visible to the public understandable makes for a fascinating conversation. thank you, appreciate it. some jihadists die fighting
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civil war is about to surpass 3 million people today. that's according to the united nations refugee agency. if you actually put that in a relative scale, it is half of all syrians. half. isis has captured large swaths of northern and eastern syria for what it says is the new islamic caliphate. "the washington post" report, citing unknown sources, that at least four hostages held in syria by isis were water boarded. that includes the person on your screen, journalist james foley, beheaded by isis. isis says it executed 250 syrian soldiers wednesday at an air base in the northeastern city of raqqah. you can see these images isis posted online. it shows the soldiers being paraded through the desert. they're all in their underwear. they're apparently working to
their executions. cnn cannot independently confirm the claims or the authenticity of these videos. want to turn now to some other developments in the battle against isis. remember the fort t. hood soldi nadil hasan? he reportedly now has said he wants to join isis. in it, hasan says, i request to be made a citizen of the islamic state. it would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don't compromise the religion of almighty allah to get along with the disbelievers. he signed his letter with his name and the approachation s.o.a., meaning "soldier of
allah." the family of this man says he was killed over the weekend in syria. friends of the minnesota father of nine are trying to figure out what caused him to join the fight and travel there. america's not the only country where isis is recruiting soldierings. the cbc in dad da report these two brothers from calgary have joined the islamic extremist group. they're gregory and colin gordon, believed to be fighting in syria. the brother's parents have told the cbc they are deeply concerned for the safety of their children. and as the isis threat increases in the middle east and elsewhere, fears of home grown terror right here in america also growing. the fbi scrambling to track down potential jihadi recruits after reports of more americans joining extremist groups. joining us right now is a former jihadist who was recruited in canada to join the fight and then recruited others himself.
he is now a securities operative. thank you so much for joining us. can i just ask you, when i read about you, i was sort of alarmed to see that as you were growing up, you were sort of living a very american life. that you were befriending cheerleaders. and that you were quite happy. how did anything change so drastically that you yourself would become a jihadist? >> first of all, thank you for having me. one thing we need to be aware of, we may think the person is integrated. but internally the person is undergoing serious identity conflicts. that's exactly what was happening with me it as you describe it, very cliche life, but inside, i was torn as to which side am i supposed to be on. you know, does being western mean i'm necessarily not muslim. these were the conflicts. which pointed me into the direction of extremist thinking.
>> i can understand the philosophical, you know, questions you might have, which side am i on, but what i can't understand is the violence and hatred. as you yourself have mentioned in former interviews and writing, you were never discriminated against. there was really nothing for you to hate about your life and the people you grew up with and your fellow citizens. how could you have developed enough hate to want to kill the people that were effectively your fellow citizens? for me, the direction i took, the violence came a little bit later. the profile is different across the board. for some people, they begin with ideology, then they get into violence. for some, they start off with the violence predisposition. it could be because they grew up in an abusive household. they have a precriminal or criminal background. then they tack on the ideology to justify what they're already
predisposed to. for me, like you said, i didn't have a reason, or so i thought. when i eventually had this identity conflict beyond the normal philosophical questions, there was a focus. for me, it was, i have to become religious. i have to become very religious because i had been living a very irreligious life. the group i had gone with, it's an apolitical group. they don't talk politics at all. i traveled with them to india and pakistan. while i was in pakistan in quetta, i had a meeting, a chance encounter with the taliban. i was just walking the local neighborhood with a local fixer so to speak. and i came upon this group of about seven or eight guys. and i sought to convey to them our views with the group, which is to bring about change in the world, you have to be more observant.
but they held aloft their ak-47s and they said, no, this is the way you bring about change. so when i got back from pakistan in 1995, in september, they had taken over afghanistan. and i took that as a validation of their world view. look, indeed, change had come. and it could only be achieved through violence. and so that's the political violence aspect. but then you take it to an even greater degree. now, now, how do you select an outgroup to dehumanize that group and so after i got involved with another group of people who were politically violent or had politically violent views, now you start to tack on the ideological or the ideologically specific indoctrination into hating the west. >> well, i'm certainly hoping that now that you have shaken off these ideologies, you've
been able to provide extraordinarily valuable information for those trying to fight against this kind of sort of cultish recruitment behavior. thank you for being with us, i appreciate your time. >> cheers, thank you very much. so how does one fight an enemy that is highly motivated, very adaptable and will do anything within its power to defeat, say, you? that's a challenge that isis poses. as it swoops into iraq and syria. we're going to dig deeper on the strategy to fight the terror group ahead. ugh. heartburn. did someone say burn? try alka seltzer reliefchews. they work just as fast and are proven to taste better than tums smoothies assorted fruit. mmm. amazing. yeah, i get that a lot. alka seltzer heartburn reliefchews. enjoy the relief. wouldn't it be great if hiring plumbers, shopping online is as easy as it gets. carpenters and even piano tuners were just as simple? thanks to angie's list, now it is. start shopping online from a list of top-rated providers.
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laptop of doom. effectively maybe a treasure trove of documents. like a 19-pange document on how to develop biological weapons. including some friendly advice. quote, use small grenades with the virus and throw them in enclosed areas like metros, soccer stadiums. other training material like videos of osama bin laden, videos on stealing cars, lessons on how to travel in disguise. i want to bring in austin long, a former analyst to the multinational force in iraq and also u.s. military. and a member of the salsma institute of war and peace studies. thanks very much for coming in. very alarming to see a headline. laptop of doom. it's not like we haven't found
this kind of evidence before. effectively, it's one thing to research and write volumes of rhetoric. so what should americans be making of this? >> you're absolutely right to stress about how anybody can write about how to weaponize the beubonic plague. it's actually more difficult than i think this document would lead you to believe. >> we've been hearing that for 13 years. ever since 9/11, the biggest fear is what if someone drops a dirty bomb in times square. we've heard the same thing. it's very hard to weaponize these kinds of biological agents. however we are 13 years later. isn't it possible that the training and the savvy could be that much better and we could be that much closer to seeing this as reality? >> it's possible. if you look at even experienced folks with biological agents, this was a guy who worked for the army on infectious diseases,
he had a hard time weaponizing it. it's certainly possible, but it's difficult. >> not to suggest this laptop hasn't been around for a few months, it was found back in the wintertime, but do you think there's any connection possibly? >> there could be. i think more likely it's just the realization of the number of britains and other europeans that have gone to fight and could be coming home. >> is there any concern in the fact that sure al qaeda's been trying to do this but isis is a lot better funded than al qaeda and seemingly a lot more powerful in recruiting all sorts of people, perhaps very schooled and educated people? >> that is a concern, particularly with the number of westerners flowing into iraq and syria. al qaeda has not been as fortunate in recruiting westerners. whereas now, with folks coming from europe, some of them could be better educated. might be a better -- >> apparently this fella, the owner of the laptop, was university educated in chemistry, of all things, from
the university in tunisia. thank you for being with us. thank you, everyone, for joining us. my colleague brianna keilar is sitting in for wolf and she starts right now. hi there, i'm brianna keilar in washington, wolf blitzer is on assignment today. the terror threat poised by isis. well, it's raising alarm bells all over the world. britain is raising its threat level to severe. prime minister david cameron warning just hours ago that isis poses a danger deeper and greater than the country has ever known. >> we need to tackle that ideology of extremism head on, at root, before it takes the form of violence and terror. that means challenging the thinking of extremist ideologues, identifying the groups in this country that push an extremist