Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

New Airport Security Measures; Battle for Baghdad; Storm Fears; Tim Howard Mania Explodes in the USA; White House Pay Gap Holds Steady

Aired July 2, 2014 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news: airports on alert for terror. Advanced screening measures are in the works and will take effect in a matter of days. We will tell you where and why.

Plus, a new hurricane warning -- Tropical Storm Arthur is gaining strength as it churns off the East Coast. We have a brand-new forecast of the storm danger as the Fourth of July celebrations begin.

And the battle for Baghdad. Will Iraqi troops stand and fight as ISIS closes in on the critical airport or will the U.S. be dragged into combat? CNN takes you to the front lines. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Brianna Keilar and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KEILAR: We are actually following two breaking stories this hour, the holiday hurricane danger on the East Coast, a new hurricane warning in effect here, plus the breaking news. The Department of Homeland Security just announced new action in response to growing concerns that terrorists are building new bombs that can get past airport screeners.

Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is here with details.

Tell us about it, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, you can get a sense from how fast they are acting, but also that there are specific cities, specific airports to mind to just how urgent this is. These changes will be taking effect very quickly within the coming week.

The new screening measures will affect overseas airports with direct flights to the U.S., primarily we're told in Europe and the Middle East. This is based on new intelligence that terrorists are further refining explosive devices to avoid detection by current screening methods using, for example, fewer metal parts.

We are told it is unlikely to affect what passengers can take on flights, for instance, laptops, but passengers will see a few things, additional screening of shoes and electronics. They will see additional screening for explosive residue, those swab machines we are becoming familiar with. The passengers may also see additional screening at gates and they also see additional random screening where sometimes passengers are taken aside for additional interview.

Brianna, this has been an ongoing concern for some time. U.S. counterterror officials watching the bomb makers as they constantly refine their technology to get past our screening methods. I have been told by U.S. intelligence officials that new intelligence came in, in the last several weeks that identified a vulnerability and now DHS is acting today to address that vulnerability.

KEILAR: Identifying the vulnerability.

And so foreign airports obviously, this must be very much a concern for the U.S. government.

SCIUTTO: It is, for sure. This is a place where the TSA doesn't operate. Right? TSA doesn't do the screening overseas. It does have representatives there who work with security officials in those airports and they can make these recommendations and so on.

But I was speaking with Michael Chertoff today. He was the DHS secretary under President Bush, and he said one challenge is that often in these countries they don't have are the resources we have. It's something they have to deal with. But that said, they do -- and Tom Fuentes as well -- they have long-running relationships with these countries. They have been able to communicate these kinds of warnings before.

KEILAR: Let's talk about a little bit more about this.

Tom Fuentes, CNN law enforcement analyst, here with us as well. CNN national security analyst Bob Baer joining us on the phone.

Tom, this is interesting, because Jim is saying it is a vulnerability that's been identified, it's not an imminent threat. And yet at the same time we are seeing these increased screenings kicking in next week. That's pretty quick, right, when you're not talking about an imminent threat? Or am I wrong.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think what they have heard is that members of AQAP have communicated to each other that, hey, the vulnerabilities that have been there all along are still there. Why did we stop? Why don't we keep trying?

The efforts in 2009 with Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, to carry PETN on the aircraft bound for Detroit. Some of the other ones recently, the printer cartridges that were sent later. I think they are looking at that not a lot has changed and if they don't step up security on the inbound U.S. flights, there will still be a good way to get material on board.

KEILAR: Bob, you worked for the CIA. When you look at something like this, what kind of intelligence leads to a move like this?

BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Brianna, first of all, Tom is absolutely right. We are very vulnerable with these bombs. I mean, they use a particular kind of explosive called PETN.

It can be poured into the sides of suitcases. A pound of it, even in the center of an airplane, is enough to bring an airplane down. It is very hard to defend against. On the other hand, the good news is there's just a couple of bomb makers can actually make these things effectively and get the detonators right and get them on airplanes.

Unfortunately, some of those people had been in Iraq prior to 2003. There are some rumors they are back in Iraq. The real fear is that if we are drawn into a conflict in Iraq they would be even more motivated to one of these bombs on a plane heading to the United States.

KEILAR: That's really the concern. Right? This is for flights that concern coming to the United States from Europe and the Middle East. Are those the areas we should be most concerned about?

BAER: I think absolutely. From the Middle East, there is no secondary check. It would be easy to get one crossing the Atlantic.

But on the other hand, I have been assured by people who made up the mock bombs, my former colleague, that they could get them through U.S. security as well. They are very, very sophisticated. You have to have a thorough nitrate test to catch one of these. Even then you could check one in and as long as a passenger accompanied the bag you could still get it on a flight.

KEILAR: Do you think, Jim, we will be seeing an expansion of the regions that they are looking at for this possible threat?

SCIUTTO: At this moment, I'm told it's really about Europe and the Middle East, it's not other areas. And I think they will always make an effort to focus their resources where they can. If this is the area that's worrying them right now, they will try to focus attention on it.

KEILAR: We are seeing the U.K. get in line here with how the U.S. is wanting to do some increased screening. Does that make us think the threat could be bigger or you don't think so?

FUENTES: I don't think bigger, but big enough, more than big enough.

And the other issue for the Europeans are that they don't require a visa. If you're traveling on a European passport, you don't need a visa to enter the United States. That makes it easier for someone who is radicalized from a European country. If they get the training in Yemen and are able to do and willing to do it, they have an increased capacity to get on planes and come here that others don't from other parts of the world.

The other issue here is that al-Asiri, the principal bomb maker for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen is creative and innovative. Most bomb makers are not. If they successfully make a bomb and they have got all their fingers and toes after it goes off, they don't change the recipe. He does. He's tried using bombs in body cavities, his own brother, for example.

KEILAR: His own brother.

FUENTES: His own brother. He engineered the printer cartridge, the underwear bomb. All of these things are innovations that you have not seen other bomb makers attempt. And yet he is still there. That makes them so dangerous, because he could have come up with a new method that we don't even know about yet.

KEILAR: Thank you so much, Tom Fuentes, Jim Sciutto, Bob Baer, for explaining all of that to us, very helpful.

And now to that severe weather danger along the East Coast, and Tropical Storm Arthur is almost a hurricane and new hurricane warning and watches are in effect for parts of North Carolina, but the threat of stormy weather extends farther south and north. Americans obviously are preparing right now for long Fourth of July weekend that they were hoping for some beautiful weather for.

Millions of people heading to the beach. They have holiday celebrations that could be affected by these heavy rains and the winds and these deadly rip currents. That's very key here.

CNN's Rene Marsh is in Kill Devil Hills on North Carolina's Outer Banks.

It looks beautiful there, right, Outer Banks, but already I imagine people are starting to think about taking precautions.

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Brianna.

I can tell you just about an hour ago, all of our cell phones lit up. We got an extreme weather threat alert. So the warnings are definitely in effect. We can tell you we are about four hours into a voluntary evacuation in one county, Hyde County. That's happening now.

But you can see behind me people are taking it all in now because just in a matter of hours, this will all change. We will be talking about really massive waves, rip currents, as well as a storm surge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't plan on a hurricane over the Fourth of July.

MARSH (voice-over): Tropical Storm Arthur threatening to deliver fireworks on its own. Captured on radar and from space, it's barreling up the East Coast and gaining strength, in its path, beach towns like Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully, it will just bounce off and keep going back to sea.

MARSH (on camera): And if it doesn't?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe we will head inland.

MARSH (voice-over): Arthur battered Florida shores as a tropical storm. By Thursday, it's expected to morph into the season's first hurricane, clocking in as a Category 1. Coastal North Carolina is preparing for a hit.

MCCRORY: Projections right now indicate it will brush the coast and affect primarily the Outer Banks, but, as we know, there is always the possibility that this could change.

MARSH: A coastal state of emergency declared in the Tar Heel State and voluntary evacuations ordered in at least one county.

With the sun still shining, Arthur's threat isn't enough to make visitors staying at the water's edge uneasy just yet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that's what we're expecting, great weather.

MARSH (on camera): Despite the forecast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Despite the forecast. You know, they can be wrong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARSH: So you hear there a little bit of optimism from people here along the coast.

But the governor here of North Carolina put it best and it's worth repeating. Do not put on the stupid hat. They want you to take precautions. They say even if the storm doesn't hit the coastal area directly, there is still a concern again of those storm surges, of course, of the rip current. So they just want people to be smart about this -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Be smart. Err are on the side of caution. Rene Marsh for us in Kill Devil Hills.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

KEILAR: Let's get a check now on storm preparations in North Carolina.

Bill Rich is the manager of Hyde County joining us now.

We really want to get a sense, sir, of -- he's joining us by Skype, I should say.

What's being done there to prepare?

BILL RICH, MANAGER HYDE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: We have been meeting for two days with our emergency service people and getting expert advice.

We have issued a state of emergency for Hyde County, all of Hyde County. At this point, we have issued voluntary evacuation for the island of Ocracoke, which is part of Hyde County. We have to get on and off Ocracoke by ferry only. That's the only way we can do it.

The ferry service works with us through the state. We will be running ferries all day and all night long on demand. They run every 30 minutes. We could evacuate the entire island within probably 15 hours. We will continue to watch this and if we have to go from voluntary evacuation to mandatory, then we will make that decision.

KEILAR: Are people following the suggestion pretty well, do you think?

RICH: Yes.

I think the voluntary evacuation certainly alerted them to the risk and the danger. Some of them are making the decision now. The next step would be mandatory where all visitors would have to leave the island if. Residents will stay.

KEILAR: How do you decide whether to go to mandatory vs. voluntary?

RICH: Just like the report you just had. We will look at the 8:00 report and see how it changed from 5:00 and we will have a decision after 8:00.

KEILAR: We are actually looking at a picture now, live pictures coming to us from Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. You can actually see in this sort of the phenomenon that's the sandbar.

There is a young man with a surfboard and he's standing out on one. At what point -- because there is a concern these could break. At what point do you say to people it's time to get out of the water?

RICH: We already have. We have closed the beaches and we have closed all of the camp sites and they, all of those people, all the campers had to evacuate. That was mandatory. That was through the National Park Service.

So the beaches are closed.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: And some of the other beaches like the ones we are looking at in to areas?

RICH: Yes, all of the Hatteras seashore beaches are closed as well. They will be chained off as of 9:00 tonight.

KEILAR: OK. So really that's when the concern start, these folks that we are watching are OK?

RICH: Absolutely. The concern actually starts at 9:00 tomorrow night.

KEILAR: OK, good. Certainly good to give yourself sort of a buffer of comfort there.

We heard from the governor that he's been in touch with FEMA. Really ready to secure any resources that might be needed after this storm passes. Are you certain that you have the resources you need right now ahead of the storm?

RICH: Yes. Yes. We have been in touch with FEMA and all our -- and our emergency management backup. We are certain.

KEILAR: All right, thank you so much, Bill rich, the Hyde County, North Carolina, manager. We really appreciate your time.

RICH: Thank you very much.

KEILAR: One of the nation's most famous Fourth of July celebrations is being moved up a day to avoid being rained out by Arthur. Chad was right. It could affect things up in that area. This was just announced, that the Boston Pops fireworks spectacular will be held tomorrow instead of Friday. So take note for that.

Still ahead, CNN goes to the front line in Iraq, where Shiite fighters are defending the Baghdad Airport, the all-important airport as ISIS militants close in. Two U.S. generals are standing by to share their insights into the situation in Iraq right now and whether Iraqi forces can be trusted to stand and fight.

Are Obama White House aides getting fair and equal pay? We are investigating the salaries of men and women and whether the president is practicing what he preaches.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Right now, ISIS fighters are moving closer to the northwestern edge of the Baghdad Airport. That's very bad news. Defending the facility is a top priority for U.S. troops on the ground and for the Iraqis who are battling to hold on to the capital city.

CNN's Arwa Damon got an up-close look at the fight on the outskirts of the airport. She was escorted by Shiite fighters. She is joining us now from Baghdad.

Tell us what you saw, Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of what the Iraqi forces are have to resort to is the use of may be considered to be unconventional militias, especially along the very critical front lines.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON (voice-over): We find the front line about 25 kilometers from Baghdad's airport. These Shia fighters are with the Abalfazl Al- Abbas Brigade. Many of them are hiding in the open field in front of us.

(on camera): You can see them in the distance. You can see them in the grass.

(voice-over): Mortars fired by conventional Iraqi forces thud in the distance. That's where we are told the ISIS positions are.

(on camera): The sounds of the mortars that we are hearing are outgoing.

And this village, they moved into it at dawn about a few hours before we arrived. And we can see their men that are at their current front line, just over there.

(voice-over): At 5:00 a.m., we began creeping into just the edge of the orchards. Battalion commander Abu Mou'Amal Al-Lami says: "Our special forces entered first, just with knives."

These men are experts in unconventional guerrilla warfare. Al- Lami was trained as a special forces officer under Saddam Hussein. He then became a member of one of the Shia militias that fought the Americans, but he won't tell us which one with.

In fact, many of the men are now applying skills learned from attacking U.S. troops. And they are fresh off the battlefield in Syria, where the brigade was formed by Abu Ali Al-Darraji. He was in Syria with his family applying for asylum in the west when the Syrian revolution took a sectarian turn.

"Our holy shrines are a red line," he says.

Fighters from Iraq flooded in to protect the Syrian Shrine of the prophet's granddaughter, Sayeda Zeinab, sacred for the Shia. The brigade grew in strength, battling alongside the Syrian regime's tanks against the rebels.

"We returned to Iraq about a month-and-a-half ago," Al-Darraji tells us. "We knew that ISIS would be planning on coming to Iraq."

Now wearing Iraqi military uniforms for these hardened fighters, deployed to one of the fiercest front lines, it is a battle to the death. After overrunning an ISIS position, they show us what little the ISIS fighters left behind.

(on camera): Sixty-millimeter mortar round that they found with them. This is a scope for an anti-tank weapons system that they also found.

Pumped by their successes, they dance. "Where are you, ISIS, today? We will damn you," they chant.

But it is perhaps this country that's already damned. Al-Darraji still plans on applying for asylum in the West some day. Once the Shia shrines are safe, he says there is nothing more to keep him here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: And, Brianna, the reason why he feels that way is because he believes that the Iraqi politicians are going to be unable to form the kind of national unity government that's going to be needed to ensure Iraq's long-term stability and success.

KEILAR: And they sure are struggling to do that now. Arwa Damon, thank you so much from Baghdad.

Well, one of the biggest concerns for the U.S. right now is will Iraqi forces stand and fight if ISIS militants make a direct attack on Baghdad? And we are getting new information on that from inside the Pentagon.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

What are you hearing, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, I think it's not a surprise that U.S. military advisers' very preliminary assessments are that the Iraqi forces will fight.

But you just saw in Arwa's report how complex the battlefield is. There are already questions this time around, is the U.S. intelligence on Iraq any good?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): The Iraqi air force striking in what it says are ISIS targets. Iraqi ground forces on the move, tanks and troops heading toward provinces overrun by Islamic insurgents. Preliminary intelligence reports from U.S. military advisers in Iraq say the Iraqis will stand up and fight.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Everything that we see indicates that they will fight, that they will defend Baghdad.

STARR: But U.S. advisers for now are not going patrols or anywhere near Iraqi combat positions. They are staying at Iraqi headquarters around Baghdad.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET. ), FORMER AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: It would be like staying at the Pentagon and assessing the health of the U.S. military just from the U.S. Pentagon. It's impossible to do that.

STARR: So, is the latest intel on Iraq any good?

LEIGHTON: When you only deal with the headquarters level, you will never get the true picture and quite frankly, it's in the interest of the Iraqi forces at headquarters level to lie to their American counterparts.

STARR: Even protecting Baghdad airport, a top priority will take Iraqi troops. It's the only way to evacuate thousands of Americans out of Baghdad in a crisis, but there are only 300 U.S. troops there.

U.S. arms could help. This week, 100 hellfire missiles delivered to the Iraqis, fighter jets from Russia now flying over Baghdad, as well. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki says there will be amnesty from those who fought the government unless they killed Iraqi forces.

But the prospect of sectarian war still looms large. U.S. intelligence reports increased presence of Iranian Quds Force personnel coming into Iraq to train Shia militias.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: And what else is not happening in Iraq right -- well, for the foreseeable future? No U.S. military advisers on their way to Northern Iraq, as originally planned, because, of course, that's territory that ISIS holds right now -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Barbara Starr, stay with us for the next segment that we are doing.

We want to bring in lieutenant general Mark Hertling. He's CNN military analyst and he was also the top U.S. commander in Northern Iraq, which just Barbara spoke about, during the troop surge. Also with us, the former CENTCOM General Anthony Zinni.

And first to you, General Zinni.

The Iraq army has collapsed in many of these areas. I think a lot of Americans look at this and they say, what's going on? The American troops were spending years trying to train these folks. Why aren't they able to fight back?

GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI (RET.), FORMER CENTCOM COMMANDER: I think there's several reasons.

I imagine the state of morale has not been very high. The equipping of the army was slow in coming. They didn't see themselves as fighting for their homes. I think it will stiffen around Baghdad, for several reasons. I think there may be some elite units that will stand up.

And certainly the Shia militia know they are fighting for their religious sites and homes. And so I think the stand around Baghdad will end up being a better show than they did in the north.

KEILAR: General Hertling, you have some really including insight because you were actually in Baghdad for 15 months from 2003 to 2004.

I know you had some very close relationships with some of the division commanders there who are not Shia. They were Kurds, they were Sunni. And then you started to see what? You started to see them pulled?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Brianna, what I would say is the division commanders I had very strong relationships with were in the north.

We had five divisions that we were working with. We had two Kurdish commanders, two Sunni commanders and a Shia commander. Soon after we left, those commanders were pulled, they were replaced. I think what General Zinni said is any time you have an organization that has poor and toxic leadership -- and I think we have seen that over the years since the U.S. has left in the replacement of very good commanders -- the organization loses its fabric and falls apart.

That's what's happened in the north. The soldiers haven't been supported by the government. Some of the tribal leaders have told them to quit fighting for the government, which they don't perceive as on their side. And I think that's generated some of the problems in the north.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: Sorry. Go on, General. Go on.

HERTLING: Now, in Baghdad, you are going to have a very different story, because I think you have organizations closer to the flagpole.

You do, as General Zinni said, have commando units and some Iraqi special operations forces. But it's going to be tenuous on the western side of town. The neighborhoods around the Baghdad Airport are Sunni neighborhoods: Gazalia, Mansour. Those are places that were promised to Udi Hussein when he was still in power. And a lot of military leaders retired there. So that's a huge Sunni neighborhood. There's going to be some be good support for ISIS and the Sunni revolutionaries in that area.

KEILAR: Now that's very alarming. And Barbara, I know you have a question.

STARR: I do. And I want to put it to General Zinni. I mean, the U.S. military, for years, has been working at training troops in Iraq, training troops in Afghanistan. But if you're U.S. -- if your Special Forces can't get out on the ground, can't walk the ground and see the actual troops out there, can this advisory mission really work? What can it really accomplish? How do they know flat out that the Iraqis aren't lying to them?

ZINNI: Well, I think that you're absolutely right, Barbara. You need to get out with the units on the front lines. And that's what our Special Forces are expert in doing.

The teams need to be out there to get an assessment of not only what the Iraqi military is and what they can and can't do, what is the situation, what is the mood, as Mark said, in the villages and in the neighborhoods.

And the point about being up in the north, I'm surprised we're not in Kurdistan. That's in the north. And certainly, the Peshmerga will fight. I think we ought to think about surrounding ISIS in Jordan, in the Kurdish areas and even along the Saudi border. No one wants to see this thing metastasize and move into those areas. And that's where we've got to get these eyes on the ground and to get an assessment as to how we can contain this.

But I would make one other point. It isn't a matter of just military capability. This government -- Maliki's government had better deliver something that the Sunnis can look to and be willing to resist ISIS so that they have a government they can believe in after this.

KEILAR: Can you imagine a situation, Barbara, where there would be -- as the general mentioned -- troops surrounding ISIS?

STARR: Well, you know, I mean, this is a political decision, certainly, for the White House, for President Obama to make about whether he wants to send groups into the Middle East. I think every president in history that has done that has found it to be problematic.

So I guess my question goes back very quickly to both General Zinni and General Hertling. Does the Pentagon need to take a bit more risk and have those Special Forces get out there and do their job? Because if they're going to stay in Iraqi brigade headquarters, it's hard to see what they're really going to accomplish.

HERTLING: I'll answer first (ph).

ZINNI: The answer from my point of view is yes. And I certainly defer to Mark, who's been on that ground and worked it and knows it better than anybody else.

HERTLING: Well, and I'd also suggest, Barbara, it's a great question, but I think some of these Special Forces and Special Operating Forces that are part of this advisory group, their initial mission was to feel this out. Let's get an assessment. Where are things?

And the fact that Iraqi generals in command in Baghdad may be lying to them. These guys have been around for the last ten years, dealing with these guys. They know when the flag needs to be -- needs to be thrown on some of the things that are being said.

They are likely in some of the Kurdish provinces, I would think. In fact, some of the embassy officials have been moved up to Erbil. So I think we've got some very close connections with the Peshmerga and with the Asief (ph). We had that when I was in the north.

And so I think we're getting some -- probably -- probably getting some very good intelligence from the Kurdish forces and from the Kurdish government. At the same time, we're concerned about Baghdad. Giving Mr. Maliki the time to pull his forces together, possibly make those right political moves.

If those moves aren't made, if there's not more inclusion, it doesn't matter how many forces you put on the ground. It's not going to make a difference. We had 160,000 there for almost ten years. And without the constant pull on the politicians to do the right things, we won't get the kind of mission completion that we're looking for.

KEILAR: General Zinni, I'm wondering, when you look -- and I know that perhaps you think the U.S. maybe should have been in Iraq longer than it was. What do you think things would look like now if there were troops and they'd stayed longer? ZINNI: You know, I was out there in 2008. As a matter of fact,

I visited Mark's unit up in the north. On the ground, as long as we were there, the United States, you know, we were building the kind -- at ground level the kind of military, the kind of hope into the villages that I think was necessary.

But everybody told me if Maliki doesn't follow up on this, if he doesn't reach out, if his government isn't inclusive, if he doesn't share power and the distribution of resources down to the provincial and district levels, this will all collapse.

And you could say American troops should have stayed longer. But you weren't going to hold things together if eventually we didn't change...

KEILAR: Well, so...

ZINNI: ... or Maliki didn't change.

I think what has to happen now is to rethink the structure of this government. You know, the Kurds, for all practical purposes, are autonomous. The Shia areas in the south are -- are much their own masters. I think that there's going to have to be some brokering of autonomy or semi-autonomy, especially in the Sunni areas, to put them up on an equal par with the other -- other two. If that doesn't happen, you're just going to see this chronic problem repeating itself time after time.

KEILAR: And it would mean -- and perhaps we're already seeing that -- an end to Iraq as we know it.

General Hertling, General Zinni, thank you so much. Thank you, as well, to Barbara Starr.

And just ahead, Jerusalem on the brink. A Palestinian teenager is killed. And ager and mistrust boil over in the old city streets.

And later, the rise of a new American sports hero. Goalie Tim Howard captures a wave of new followers. How high can he go?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: As if tensions in the Middle East aren't high enough, they were driven even higher in Jerusalem today with the discovery of a Palestinian teenager's body in a forest. His death, a suspected act of retaliation for the killings of the three murdered Israeli teens buried yesterday.

And as news of this spread, fresh clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces erupted. CNN's Atika Shubert and her crew witnessed one such clash while on the air earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Things are very tense at the moment. In fact, I'm going to spin the camera around very briefly here. Ooh, excuse me. There's a lot of police trying to disperse us here. Sorry for all that noise, but it seems that they just let off a stun grenade near us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And Atika Shubert joining us now from Jerusalem. Tell us more about what you saw, Atika.

SHUBERT: Well, we were in the neighborhood of Shuafat (ph) in north Jerusalem, and that is the exact spot, actually, where that young Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khdair, was reportedly forced into a car, abducted, and, it's believed, killed. Now, his body was later found about an hour later.

And his family is still in that area. In fact, his family home. And that really became the center point for a lot of the clashes we saw. So it was a pretty chaotic scene with a lot of Palestinian residents throwing stones, using slingshots, and responding, from the Israeli police, with stun grenades and teargas.

And unfortunately now, it's almost coming up on 24 hours since -- since that young teenager was abducted. And we've had clashes all throughout the day.

KEILAR: And Atika, tell us a little bit about what you're expecting to happen tomorrow.

SHUBERT: Well, tomorrow we are expecting the funeral. We've been told that Israeli police are conducting a full autopsy on the body, but then that they will be giving that back to his family. So we're expecting extremely high emotions, more tensions, and unfortunately tonight, even -- even now it's about 1 a.m. in the morning. We're still getting reports of violence spreading to other neighborhoods in Jerusalem. So we could be in for another day of violence tomorrow.

KEILAR: And we know you'll be watching. Atika, we'll be checking in with you tomorrow.

And coming up now, the Tim Howard -- well, Tim Howard really taking the U.S., certainly the world by storm. Team USA's record- setting goalie reflects on his stunning performance in Brazil yesterday and soaks up his new celebrity. Will we see a lot more of him?

Also ahead, President Obama signed the Fair Pay Act to close the gender pay gap. Is the White House practicing what it preaches? We will find out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: The ride is over, but it wasn't over before Team USA electrified the nation with its World Cup dreams. The Americans lost to Belgium 2-1, but they certainly did hold their own. And Tim Howard has emerged as the guy to watch after yesterday's match where he executed a stunning 16 saves. Howard spoke this morning with CNN's Chris Cuomo about his

record-setting performance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM HOWARD, GOALKEEPER, TEAM USA: You know, I think sometimes as a goalkeeper you just feel in rhythm. That was -- I felt like that for most of the season. And, certainly, in the last couple of weeks, I have felt good. The game has slowed down for me. I'm seeing things much earlier. My reactions have been very quick.

So, yes, it felt like that. I'm also very weary in those moments, knowing that when the big bad wolf is knocking at the door, that he could at any time enter. So, I was worried that the levy would break. So, just trying to organize it as much as I could which is why my voice is gone. And make the saves I was capable of making.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And joining me now to talk more about Tim Howard and how he's just really taken, I guess, the U.S.'s imagination by storm -- Rachel Nichols, host of CNN's "UNGUARDED."

You -- we talked about this, Rachel. Even though the U.S. lost in this game, it was such an amazing performance by this goalie.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN'S "UNGUARDED" HOST: Yes. A historic performance, 16 saves, not just history-making for an American, which is the context we usually talk about soccer, because we just can't compete on the world stage with history-making performances, but Tim Howard did. This was the best performance by a goaltender in a World Cup of anyone from any country in nearly 50 years.

What makes it even more amazing to me, Brianna, was that he did this with the Tourette's syndrome he's been so open about. Now, the stereotype of Tourette's syndrome is that people swear uncontrollably. That only affects about 10 percent of Tourette's sufferers, 90 percent are like Tim Howard, where it's just uncontrollable physical movement, twitches, things like that.

And, unfortunately, those come out more when you are under stress like -- I don't know -- one of the biggest games of your life? So, Tim Howard was very open after the match talking about how his Tourette's was acting up a little bit more and the way he controlled it is when the ball was in the Belgian end, he would sort of let his body go, do what it wanted to. And then, when he was facing shots he was able to employ that body control.

So, amazing to me that he was able to put in the performance he did when his body wasn't necessarily listening to him. And then coming out and talking about it afterward. He said it was important to him to bring it up, make sure kids out there, other people with Tourette's know that, hey, you can do absolutely anything with this condition. And after seeing him, I can't argue, right?

KEILAR: And that's what I love about him so much, is that he's such an inspiration to so many kids who are battling Tourette's syndrome. You know, he's become a celebrity. It's amazing. He has the celebrity status now, right?

NICHOLS: Yes. I mean, how do we judge anything these days, right? The Internet. So, the Internet has gone crazy for Tim Howard. One of my favorites was you go to the Wikipedia page of the secretary of defense, which is usually a photo of Chuck Hagel in there. Somebody replaced it with Tim Howard's picture.

And you got to give Chuck Hagel credit. He thought this was funny, too. So, today, he actually called Tim Howard. He talked to him, told him, thank you for defending our country. He told him, hey, you put in the work, you could be the real secretary of defense one day.

And he wasn't the only politician to get in on the act. President Obama called Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey, the striker, to tell them, thank you for representing our country, not just on the field but representing it so well off the field as well.

And the, of course, everybody else had to get their say in, too. We have Mount Howard instead of Mount Rushmore. He was on the dollar bill being "In Tim we trust." So, there's a little bit of that.

And then, there's also, what else can't Tim Howard save? So, there are memes of him saving Ned Stark from "Game of Thrones". Valerie Jarrett, the president's adviser, actually posted her own meme which I love. Here is Ned Stark. Valerie Jarrett posted one where he was saying Zoe from "House of Cards."

So, you got to like the inside politics angle as well. Everyone is getting on the act, Brianna.

KEILAR: It would have changed the whole plot line of that show.

NICHOLS: Exactly.

KEILAR: You know, points to Hagel, though, because he made the call holding a soccer ball. So, that was certainly to be noted.

A lot of people are better wondering what's ahead, now that they know who Tim Howard is. What is he going to be looking for?

NICHOLES: Yes, well, you know, he's 35-years-old. So, going into this World Cup, the perception was hey, this is Tim Howard's last go, he's given a ton of service to the national team, this is probably the last time we'll see him in a World Cup. He'll still play for his Premier League team, Everton, and maybe on some national games.

Then, all of a sudden, this thing goes crazy and Tim says, you know what, he is really energized by this young team, so he's going to take some time to think about it and, frankly, he has been any energized by the fans and the report as well.

Here's a little bit more from the interview he gave to CNN earlier today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD: We've felt it down here. We seen all the highlights, and all of our friends that sent those videos and we've seen YouTube, and all the bars and the restaurants and the parks have been sold out. So, it's been special and that's been a part of this amazing journey, playing at the World Cup is special, but also being able to captivate the imagination, the hopes and dreams of a nation, is really certainly a part of that ride.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NICHOLS: Amazing, right, to think that all of the people out there have maybe influenced Tim Howard to stick around. We'll have to see.

Brianna, for now, though, he says he will take it easy with his family and get a few more tattoos. That's all he's going to decide.

KEILAR: I don't think there is room.

All right. Rachel Nichols, thank you so much.

And just ahead, pay day at the White House. President Obama promised to close the gender gap. Six years later, we find out if the administration is living up to that under its own roof.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Closing gender pay gap has long been important to President Obama. The Fair Pay Act was the very first legislation that he signed into law as president in 2009. And now, new statistics show the divide between what men and women earn on average at the White House, itself, may still need a little bit of work.

CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski is joining me with details.

So, the White House is maybe not living up to the details?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brianna, pay is not bad here at the White House, including by gender. They have pay grades by title, male or female, everyone working with each level is making exactly the same. Where this got confusing and a little strange is that when you take this as average as the White House repeatedly uses to push for more pay equality in America and apply that to the White House -- yes, there is also still a wage gap right here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI (voice-over): It's one of President Obama's top agenda items. You hear (ph) it just yesterday.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's make sure women earn pay equal to their efforts. KOSINSKI: And back in April, this --

OBAMA: The average full time working woman earns just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.

KOSINSKI: Well, that's been one tricky statistic that's the U.S. on average. But it doesn't explain is the fact that more women hold lower paying jobs in a number of fields. For the highest paying roles, the field of applicants in many fields is predominantly male, for a number of reasons, including choice.

And those fields include the White House where more women hold lower paying positions and where if you use the same average used in a lot of the rhetoric, then the White House pay gap has women earning 88 cents to the dollar. And that hasn't changed in six years.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I wouldn't hold up the White House as the perfect example here. There is no doubt that there is more that we could do to approve our record here at the White House, when compared to the pride detector, our record stands pretty strong.

KOSINSKI: However, when you look at equal pay for equal work, which has been the real push behind the White House's efforts, the White House itself seems right on Target. Top tier assistants to the president, male or female, Denis McDonough and Susan Rice and Josh Earnest and Jen Palmieri, all earn exactly $172,200.

Another groupings of employees by job also have the exact same say pay rate, male or female.

Again, over all, more women do hold the lower-paying jobs.

(on camera): To be more specific, if that average doesn't necessarily represent equal work for equal pay, is it really fair to say that in America, it's 77 cents to the dollar, female-to-male?

EARNEST: Again, what I would say is there are a variety of metrics that can be consulted to evaluate whether or not -- whether or not equal work leads to equal pay.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI: So, the White House doesn't want to back off from using that statistic, even though at times when explaining the White House wage gap, it seems to contradict a value of using that average in America at all -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Michelle Kosinski, very interesting report. Thank you.

And that's it for me. Thank you so much for watching. I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.