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CNN NEWSROOM

Cease-Fire Broken; Issa Holds New Hearings; Air Turbulence Linked to Climate Change

Aired July 17, 2014 - 09:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A cease-fire between the Israelis and Palestinians did not last long. The Israeli military says Hamas fired mortars into Israel just two hours into a planned five-hour cease-fire this morning. It comes as the Israeli military faces criticism for the killing of four little boys who were playing on a Gaza beach Wednesday. Anger is deepening in Gaza and Palestinians have taken to the streets -- they took to the streets, actually, just hours after the boys' deaths to protest and to mourn.

Now, to talk about this is Mark Regev. He's the spokesman for the Israeli government, and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, now a CNN military analyst.

Welcome, gentlemen.

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good morning, Carol.

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Good morning.

Mark, I want to start with you and I want to start with this beach attack. I know Israeli officials were investigating. Where does that investigation stand?

REGEV: You got to do it thoroughly and it can't be done in a day, but the preliminary results are as such that there was a tragic misidentification of the target. We didn't want to kill those four boys. That was not our intention. Not even say the opposite is true, had we known that that missile was aimed at four young men like that, we would have not sent the missile. We don't target civilians. We do not target children. That's our policy. We just don't do it.

COSTELLO: So are you saying, Mark, that Israel thought these little boys were terrorists running away?

REGEV: There was an identification in the same immediate vicinity of a legitimate Hamas terrorist target. And it appears there was some sort of misidentification, though the investigation still has to go its full length.

Look, we've expressed sorrow. We've expressed regret. We didn't want to see those four boys dead. And every time this sort of thing happens for us, it's an operational failure and we have to investigate why did -- what went wrong.

We are in a very complex combat environment because Hamas is shooting rockets at our people. You know the last -- since this operation started, about 1,500 rockets have been fired at Israeli cities by Hamas, and the other terrorist groups in Gaza. They're barraging our open areas trying to kill our people. We're acting to defend, what's our problem, that they are shooting out of urban areas. They store their rockets, they store their missiles, their other command and controlling urban areas inside mosques, in schools, in playgrounds, and we're trying to be as surgical as is humanly possible in this very difficult combat environment.

The people of Gaza are not our enemies. The terrorists shooting the rockets are.

COSTELLO: General Hertling, Hamas is using citizens, including children, as human shields. So how does a - how do you avoid such tragedies?

HERTLING: Well, I think the Israeli military has done everything they possibly can to avoid those tragedies. But truthfully, Carol, this is - this is combat. It was a tragic event yesterday with the four boys, but bad things happen when you have conflict like this.

I think the targeting procedures done by the Israeli defense forces, both their air force and their drone systems has been excellent. Their iron dome system has worked incredibly well, although even that has just a greater than 90 percent probability of kill, as we call it in the military. So when you're firing that many rockets over 100 a day, as they are doing into Israel, there are going to be some mistakes. And fortunately for Israel, none of the rockets, or very few of them, have landed in a populated area. That could change at a moment's notice. The iron dome might not work once and suddenly you'll see tragedy on the Israeli side, too.

So I give the Israeli government credit for their restraint. I give the Israeli military high marks for the way they're conducting these operations as surgically precise as they can. But still, I remind again, this is combat and bad things happen.

COSTELLO: Well - well, but I must point this out, Mark, that Human Rights Group say 70 percent of the people killed in Gaza were civilians, 40 of them children. Is it possible, in such a tiny area, with more than 1 million people crammed in, with nowhere to go, that as -- you just can't be surgical because civilians are going to die?

REGEV: You're right and it's a real challenge, and it's a real dilemma on one hand. They're shooting rockets deliberately, as you've said, using Gaza civilians as a human shield and so you can't allow them to continue to shoot rockets. On the other hand, you've got to be as careful as you can be in a difficult combat situation. You have to try to take out those rockets.

Now it's difficult. It's a challenge. We're trying to deal with it as best we can. But let's be clear, there is no equivalency because Hamas and the other terrorists are shooting their rockets indiscriminately, barraging our cities, trying to kill as many civilians as possible. And for them, every time an Israeli is injured or killed, it's a huge victory they celebrate. For us, we're trying to be as surgical as is humanly possible in a difficult combat situation and if innocent people are killed, for us it's a mistake. It's an operational problem. We have to find out why it happened. We are not targeting the people of Gaza. So there's no moral equivalency here between us and Hamas, I want to be clear about that.

COSTELLO: Mark Regev, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, thanks to both of you.

HERTLING: Thank you, Carol.

COSTELLO: Coming up in the next hour, we'll hear from the other side. We'll talk with the executive director of the Palestine Center. I'm back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: "The Washington post" calls it subpoena-palooza. The nearly 100 subpoenas issued by Darrell Issa since he became House Oversight chairman three years ago. Issa has broke everything from Benghazi to Bank of America, but his latest target is in a very familiar place, the White House. Issa says Hilda Solis, the former labor secretary, broke the law as a member of the president's cabinet. Issa says this voicemail proves Solis was illegally using her office to raise funds for President Obama's re-election.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILDA SOLIS (voice-over): Hi, this is Hilda Solis calling. Just calling you off the record here. Wanted to ask you if you could help us get folks organized to come to our fund-raiser that we're doing for Organizing for Americas for Obama campaign. I wanted to ask you if you might help contribute or get other folks to help out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Now, the White House, of course, says it did nothing wrong and will not allow the target of Issa's subpoena, political director, David Semus (ph), to testify, citing separation of powers. Let's talk about all of these subpoenas. Sally Kohn is a CNN political commentator, Crystal Wright is an editor and blogger for conservativeblackchick.com.

Welcome.

CRYSTAL WRIGHT, EDITOR, BLOGGER, CONSERVATIVEBLACKCHICK.COM: Thanks.

COSTELLO: OK.

KOHN: Nice to see you.

COSTELLO: Nice to see you too.

So, as a matter of fact, Congressman Issa is holding a hearing right now on the Justice Department's response to the IRS, a worthy topic. But at some point, because there have been so many hearings without any real results, does it matter anymore, Crystal?

WRIGHT: Well, I would agree with you that nearly 100 subpoenas is a lot. But let's remember, this president has said repeatedly that he doesn't respect Congress. He treats Congress like a running joke. He's going to go around Congress every opportunity he gets. And frankly, Carol, he's also abused executive order and doesn't honor the Constitution. And I think on this specific case with respect to Hilda Solis, the former labor secretary, who, in 2012, you know, when I listen to that voicemail, she violated the Hatch Act (ph). And I think that Darrell Issa is well within his legislative authority to subpoena Mr. Semus and demand explanations because, remember, this White House doesn't really have a good history of respecting the law leading up to re-elections. We saw what happened with the IRS targeting conservative groups in 2010, leading up to the midterms and we saw --

KOHN: Oh -

COSTELLO: Well -

WRIGHT: Wait a minute. You know, in -

COSTELLO: Well, let -- let me say this -

WRIGHT: We're here at 2014. We're leading up to what's happening again, midterm elections.

COSTELLO: Well - well, let me say this, on the subject of Issa's subpoena power, the ability to force someone to testify, in case you don't know what that is. Keep in mind, according to "The Washington Post," from the 1950s to the 1990s, the oversight committee did not issue a single subpoena. Not one.

WRIGHT: Yes, but Harriet Miers (ph) was subpoenaed in 2007.

KOHN: Not one (ph). And, Carol -

COSTELLO: Let's -

WRIGHT: Harriet Miers, President Bush's White House counsel, was subpoenaed in 2007 to answer, and she was compelled by a higher court to honor the subpoena from Congress to answer questions about the firings of the U.S. attorneys, was she not?

COSTELLO: But at some point - and at some point, Sally, because so many --

KOHN: That is - that is true. And the important --

COSTELLO: Hold - hold a minute. Let Sally answer this question.

WRIGHT: Go ahead, Carol. Yes.

COSTELLO: At some point, when you issue so many subpoenas, and nothing really happens, does it become like a witch hunt? Do people pay attention anymore, Sally?

KOHN: Witch hunt is the perfect term for this? Look, there are a couple of important details people need to know. When Harriet Miers was subpoenaed, that was after there was credible evidence of wrongdoing. Darrell Issa has been using the subpoenas in order to try and dig for things that so far don't exist. He hasn't actually -- this is according to "The Washington Post," he hasn't actually produced a shred, a shred of actual wrongdoing evidence to compel any of these subpoenas. Moreover, he has issued more subpoena than any of his three predecessors in this job and he's done so without any debate or vote of his committee. He just unilaterally is issuing these subpoenas. So unlike Cheryl (ph), who's asserting all of these opinions, opinions about how the White House has done this or done that, none of which have been founded, Darrell Issa we actually know is circumventing traditional process, going above and beyond all of his predecessors and issuing these subpoenas as witch hunts. That is a fact.

COSTELLO: Well, Crystal, the problem -- I don't know if it's a problem but something was illustrated yesterday. You can determine what it is when I tell you what it is. Issa began this hearing, he recited his opening statement, he allowed the ranking Democrat to recite his opening statement and then he abruptly ended the hearing and he didn't allow any of the witnesses to testify.

Why would that happen, Crystal?

WRIGHT: Well, look, I'm not in Mr. Issa's head. I mean, you all might think because I'm a Republican I am, and I also think we should quote -- "The Washington Post" is a great paper but it's not an authority. It's a journal, it's a piece of journalism.

Back to answer your question, he ended the hearing from what I understand because Mr. Semus did not show up. He said hey, I ain't coming. I don't have anything to answer to, and again, I think what's interesting about this, and we can agree to disagree, Sally, is that this president, one minute he's exerting separation of powers, right, and that's what Mr. Semus said, hey, the White House is separate from Congress, separate from the judiciary. And the next minute he uses his executive order like he -- like a roll of toilet paper, right? Executive order here, there. You can't have it both ways.

COSTELLO: Sally, last word, then I have to go.

KOHN: Well, OK, so first of all, let me apologize for calling you Cheryl instead of Crystal, my bad on that one.

WRIGHT: That's OK. That's all right.

KOHN: And the second thing is, I think Darrell Issa owes the American people an apology. Look, he's no longer just a congressman. He is a metaphor for a Republican Party that is determined to find something to attack this president on. I'm glad Crystal brought up the lawsuit. The House Republicans are suing President Obama even though --

WRIGHT: I didn't bring it up but you did. That's OK. KOHN: Fewer executive orders -- fewer executive orders than any other

president in history. This is just the lack of proportionality, the determination to criticize this president no matter what, without facts, to just use their public office and our taxpayer dollars to go after the administration instead of doing the hard work of the American people.

WRIGHT: Well, I agree with you -- I agree with you on one thing.

KOHN: I think people are fed up with it.

WRIGHT: Well, I agree with you on one thing, Sally. Like I find that -- I'm troubled that Chairman Issa and Lois Lerner pleading the Fifth, I think we can all agree there's a lot there, an e-mail showing that she did know about the targeting, but I'm troubled by the fact that he's had all these subpoenas, all these hearings from Benghazi to the IRS to Obamacare and we have had nothing to change, so I agree with you on that. I'd like to see results and some actions rather than just grandstanding hearings.

COSTELLO: All right, I got to leave it there. We all agree on something, yes.

KOHN: Nice note to end on.

COSTELLO: Sally Kohn, Crystal Wright, thanks so much.

I'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: If you noticed your last flight was unusually bumpy get used to it. Scientists say climate change is making the air more turbulent. Case in point, the South African Airlines flight. Rough air sent passengers flying across the cabin, some even hit the ceiling. Twenty people were seriously injured on that flight from Johannesburg in South Africa.

CNN's George Howell has more for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Been on a flight like this lately? A recent study may have you reaching for the seatbelts suggesting we could see more turbulence in the years to come as a result of climate change. And after the ups and downs I experienced on this flight, I decided to look into it.

(On camera): OK. So we're flying from Boston to Chicago and it's one of the bumpiest flights I've been on ever.

What do you think?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My stomach actually physically hurts from the flight being so choppy. DR. PAUL WILLIAMS, ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTIST: We'll never be able to say

that one particular person's flight experience which was bumpy has been caused by climate change. Of course we can't. What we can say is that as the climate changes the odds of encountering turbulence on your flight are increasing.

HOWELL (voice-over): Dr. Paul Williams says climate change is not only heating up the bottom part of the atmosphere, but the computer models show increased carbon dioxide levels are also changing the temperatures and wind speeds in the jet stream. His research focuses in on Transatlantic flights, specifically addressing what's called clear air turbulence, occurring high above the clouds, and passengers are starting to feel the difference.

WILLIAMS: Those jet stream wind shears are becoming stronger because of climate change and that, I believe, is causing the atmosphere to become more turbulent and that is causing airplane flights to become bumpier as a consequence.

HOWELL: It's something we seem to hear about more and more, like this recent flight from Johannesburg to Hong Kong. At least 20 passengers injured, two seriously. Pilots say they're experiencing more turbulence over the skies in the U.S. in recent years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The incidence of turbulence encounters is increased. It may be counterintuitive but statistically the incidence of injuries as a result of that is decreasing.

HOWELL: Hoff credits technology for the decrease in injuries with turbulence below the jet stream, better radar systems warning pilots of rough air at lower altitudes but higher up along the jet stream Williams says clear air turbulence can't be detected. He predicts the frequency of reported clear air turbulence to double by mid-century and an increase in intensity of the shaking by 10 to 40 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every flight that I get on gets choppier and choppier and it's just been really the last month of flying.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: So that flight that I was on, you know, it was the sort of thing where you almost want to think twice about even asking for a glass of water without having it spilled all over you. It was a very uncomfortable flight, Carol, but here's the thing, I spoke with another atmospheric researcher about, you know, this link, this possible link to climate change and turbulence and he found the study very interesting, very insightful but did point out that, of course, it will take more data.

It will take more time and broader studies to determine conclusively what's happening, but still he said this is an important study. He found it important, that it could be rough news for all of us.

(LAUGHTER)

COSTELLO: You're not kidding. I hate turbulence. George Howell, many thanks.

I'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Happening now in the NEWSROOM.

TARIQ KHDEIR, AMERICAN TEEN BEATEN BY ISRAELI POLICE: Hello, everybody.

COSTELLO: Back home. Tariq Khdeir beaten by Israeli Police back in America this morning.

KHDEIR: I can't wait to go back and be with my friends and go fishing.

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COSTELLO: In the end three people are dead and now there are questions over who really shot one of the hostages.

And, a case of she said/she said. A female Yahoo! exec sued for sexual harassment.

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COSTELLO: The alleged victim reveals her side of the story in a CNN exclusive.

And meet the nation's most honest politician.

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Let's talk. Live in the CNN NEWSROOM.