Return to Transcripts main page

LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

U.N. Under-Secretary Addresses Failed Gaza Cease-Fire; CDC Director Talks About Ebola; Cease-Fire Shattered; Tipping Russia's Hand

Aired August 1, 2014 - 12:30   ET

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


JEFFREY FELTMAN, UNITED NATIONS UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: We know how to reach Hamas.

But the assurances that were there last night from the parties were assurances that not only we received but were also conveyed to others. We were on record as saying that we received all the assurances, but it was a -- we had shared assumptions by those that were involved that there were assurances from all parties including Hamas about honoring the cease-fire that began -- it was supposed to begin today at 8:00, and it was supposed to have lasted 72 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible).

FELTMAN: The secretary-general has -- spoke recently with the foreign minister of Iran. The secretary-general continues to talk to regional leaders. We think that there are a lot of actors, regionally and internationally, who can do their party in encouraging the parties to get back ton the cease-fire.

This is about saving lives. What we're trying to do is to stop the suffering, to stop the fear on both sides to save lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jonathan, then right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Feltman, for quite a while now, some journalists, including myself and others, have been trying to get to the real bottom of how many Hamas or Islamic jihad fighters have been killed in the conflict, and we -- those numbers have --

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to the U.N. under- secretary-general for political affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, doing a postmortem, in effect, on the collapse of this Mideast east cease-fire but holding out hope they can get parties back to the table.

We want to give you an update now on another story that we're covering very closely, on the Ebola virus, which is spreading, the WHO, the World Health Organization, putting out an alarming report that talks about how this virus is spreading more quickly than the response is able to respond to this.

We'll have more on that, right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.

In addition to our coverage of the Gaza crisis, we're following, very closely, the spread of the deadly Ebola viruses. One of the two Americans infected with this virus in West Africa may now have a lifeline, a plane specially outfitted with isolation pods has left the U.S. to retrieve at least one of the aid workers infected. The game plan, hope the patient survives the trip and can make it to a hospital for urgent care in Atlanta here in the U.S.

On the ground in Africa, the World Health Organization said Ebola is quote, "moving faster than our efforts to control it." If the situation continues to deteriorate, the WHO says the consequences can be catastrophic in terms of lost lives but also severe socioeconomic disruption and a high risk of spread to other countries.

The CDC backs up the WHO, saying the epidemic will continue to get worse and it will take at least three to six months to contain it. And the CDC issued its highest travel warning, a level three, for the countries most effected, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in West Africa.

Joining me now is CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Gupta, you read the WHO director-general's comments on this, "catastrophic," "unprecedented challenges," "these challenges are extraordinary," I mean, this is an alarming report. And they seem to be raising a real possibility of a spread to other countries now.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, there's no question it's the largest both in terms of numbers and in terms of scope. And obviously, a lot of people paying attention to it.

I'm joined by Dr. Tom Frieden. He's the director of the Centers for Disease Control. He did a tele-briefing on this very issue just yesterday.

And I want to ask you, Dr. Frieden -- thanks for joining us. I want to ask specifically about this medical evaluation to start. We know a plane left around 5:00 Eastern time yesterday on the way to Liberia to try and bring back these two American health care workers who have been infected with Ebola.

We understand the State Department oversees this sort of thing, but I'm curious as to who approved this, who looked at the risk/benefit analysis and approved this sort of medical evacuation?

DR. TOM FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL: The decision is really that of the organization that put the individual there. So Americans first, the organization that was providing care for Ebola patients in Liberia, made the decision and arranged for the medical evaluation. The individual is an American citizen, so he's repatriating with a disease.

Our role at CDC is to make sure that in the transportation and in the care, any risk infection to others is kept to the absolute minimum. And it's important to understand that you don't need a fancy special isolation facility for Ebola. Ebola is a deadly disease but we know how to stop it and we know how to prevent it from spreading.

GUPTA: Given the concern about Ebola, given the fact this strain of Ebola has not been in the Western hemisphere, let alone the United States, could you have said something no, not something you would authorize in your position as director of the CDC?

FRIEDEN: We do have the authority to quarantine and isolate people. Exactly what it applies in this situation we have to look at. We don't think it arose because of the way Americans first arranged it. We don't feel there was a risk of bringing the person in or hospitalizing them here.

In the past decade, we've had five people in the U.S. who came in and ended up having not Ebola but a related hemorrhagic fever, either what's called Lhasa fever or Marburg virus. In all those cases, they were cared for in hospitals and there was no secondary infection, no spread.

GUPTA: When you think about getting care in the United States versus Monrovia, it seems like several options.

I mean, they're getting the care they're getting now. You could have bolstered up the care they're getting in Liberia by flying in supplies or expertise, or they could have made the decision to come to the United States.

I mean, how do you weigh the risks/benefits of those various options?

FRIEDEN: Well, one thing we've traditionally said is that if someone has Ebola, the risk of medical evaluation may well outweigh the benefits of a higher level of medical care.

Medically, evacuation is arduous. A flight over the ocean is arduous. Someone who has Ebola may have delicate arteries and veins. That may lead to bleeding complications.

So travel itself may be harmful, and the idea that you can provide more care, you have to understand that for Ebola, really, the care is supportive, making sure people have fluids, blood transfusions, oxygen.

It's not as if we have a big difference in what we can provide here versus other places. That decision was made by Samaritans first. We want to support them in their decision.

GUPTA: Just to be clear, it sounds like there's nothing in particular that's going to be new or really different, that they're going to get in the United States, versus where they are.

If there were specific things they needed, it could have been flown there. This is purely because they wanted to bring them home to the United States is what drove this?

FRIEDEN: You really have to ask them. It was their decision. We are here to support the decision and to remember that I know it creates a fear in people, but I really hope that people's fear won't outweigh their compassion.

We have got a real challenge in West Africa. And what we have to focus on is stopping the outbreak there. We will be able to stop it. But it's going to take supporting people. And that means that if people who are working on that response get sick, we care for them.

GUPTA: One of the things, Dr. Frieden, that comes up, and you've been transparent about, is lapses at the CDC recently. There are lapses in hospitals as well with regard to infectious disease protocol from time to time. There's a human element to this.

Even with the best sort of intentions, what kind of assurances can you say for sure, you know, with regard to this patient or these patients that there won't be other infections, that these patients won't somehow in effect a health care worker?

FRIEDEN: Ebola is a virus that can be stopped. It can be stopped in the community by control measures. And it can be prevented in hospitals by meticulous infection control.

That means you really have to follow every one of the procedures carefully. Doctors Without Borders MSF has been caring for Ebola patients for many years in outbreaks. They've never had a death in one of their workers, so -- and that's in work in Africa without the kind of advance in infection control procedures we have here.

The stakes are higher with Ebola, but the risk is no higher. It's a virus easily inactivated with standard cleaning in a hospital. I think we fear it because it's so unfamiliar, but we shouldn't let that unfamiliarity trump our reason about the possibility, the likelihood, the availability of effective infection control in the hospitals throughout the U.S.

Ebola is a huge risk in Africa. It's not going to be a huge risk in the U.S.

GUPTA: Yeah, you know, and again it's clear the resources are more readily available in the United States. They're better.

But that human element, again, you're knowingly bringing a patient with Ebola into the United States, a virus that's that not been here. And if there is some sort of lapse in the human element, what -- how do you tell your neighbors?

You live here in Atlanta. How do you tell your neighbors and frankly people in the United States that we are a hundred-percent confident this isn't going to turn into something more?

Even if it isn't a mass outbreak, how can you tell people to be a hundred-percent confident that someone else won't die or get sick as a result of this decision?

FRIEDEN: Ebola does not spread by casual contact, and it doesn't spread by somebody who's not ill. It spreads when people get sicker and sicker and sicker. The amount of virus in their body increases, and so the risk is their health care workers who are caring for then and in the burial process.

Those are the two things that are driving the outbreaks in Africa, and we can prevent those rick risks from happening here.

GUPTA: The doctors at Emory, they're the ones caring for the patient or patients. Did you have conversations with them about this? Was there any hesitation?

Again, I understand that, you know, infectious disease protocols are well known, well documented, and implemented oftentimes very effectively, but we are talking about something that has not been cared for in this hemisphere of the world, this country certainly.

Tell me how those conversations took place and were there any reservations about this?

FRIEDEN: We have an ongoing relationship with Emery. We're, as you know, quite near to them, and one of the things we'll be doing is helping them and supporting them as -- if the patient does arrive as they care for him.

GUPTA: When you have several hundreds of people now leaving West Africa, coming back, you know, the Peace Corps volunteers are voluntarily leaving West Africa. You have many other organizations that are now bringing their folks back. How do we ensure that they are not unwittingly bringing the Ebola virus in

There is an incubation period between exposure to getting sick. They might not even know that they have been exposed to it and they could be on planes heading to the United States or other places around the world. What sort of safeguards do we have in place for that?

FRIEDEN: So, as you know, there are two Peace Corps volunteers who may have been exposed to Ebola and they are under observation. What we do with contact is ensure that their temperature is monitored every day for 21 days. That's the longest period of time someone has ever seen between exposure and illness. If someone begins to get sick, then they're rapidly isolated and tested so they don't continue another chain of transmission. Ebola doesn't spread from someone who's not sick. It doesn't spread by casual contact.

GUPTA: I'm always amazed - you know, the doctors, and you and I are both physicians, but this -- it's remarkable work to risk your own health to care for somebody else. The people who are aboard that plane and going to bring back these passengers or passenger, you know, they're at some risk from this, but also simply getting the passengers then from the airport to the hospital. There are various steps in all this. How is that going to take place? Once the plane lands, how are they going to get the patient to the hospital?

FRIEDEN: I'm not going to go through the details with you, but fundamentally what we'll ensure is that there is no risk of spread during the transportation process and then we'll be supporting Emory in their isolating the patient.

GUPTA: The - I mean the reason I ask, if they're going by ground or by air, just trying to give people a little bit of a sense, because there's so much concern here in Atlanta. And I think the - the people are better understanding how unlikely it is for this virus to spread person to person. But, still, how - what -- how do you give assurances, these are your neighbors, your colleagues as well, just simply getting the patient into the isolation unit. There's going to be several steps there.

FRIEDEN: I think people do have misconceptions that somehow may spill out or erupt, but I really hope that our fears, particularly our irrational fears, don't trump our compassion for someone who's fighting for his life.

GUPTA: The - just finally, Dr. Frieden, lots of people -- you issued a recommendation regarding travel yesterday, that nonessential travelers not go to West Africa. These three countries in West Africa. What sort of screenings are taking place, you know, at airports to try and mitigate or reduce the number of people who may, again, unwittingly, take Ebola around the world?

FRIEDEN: There are really three levels of defense to keep Ebola from spreading. The first and most important is to control it where it's spreading. If we don't do that, we're not going to be able to increase safety. That's the most important. Source control, basically.

Second, is working with each of the three countries which have completely committed to working with us to assure that people with Ebola or high-risk contacts don't leave. That's not easy because it requires them improving their response, identifying patient contacts better and screening at the airport. But we are undertaking that. In fact, we're sending a team - teams to each of the three countries to help them improve those systems.

And then third, understanding that even with the best of symptoms, it's possible that people come in and become ill. So we're informing and educating doctors in this country, how do you diagnosis, how do you test for, how do you isolate patients who may have Ebola? Here at our lab at CDC, we will do the testing. And that's available. And that information is decimated to doctors, health care systems and others in the health system in the U.S.

GUPTA: And, again, just finally, with regard to Dr. Brantly or Nancy Writebol, you have no reservations about one or both of those patients coming back to the United States with the Ebola virus?

FRIEDEN: There are really two questions. One is, can they travel safely, for their own health. And the second is, can we insure that the risk of spread during transit and in care here is kept to an absolute minimum. And that's something that's very important to do. And we will work closely with Samaritans First and with Emory to insure that that is done.

GUPTA: Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

FRIEDEN: Thank you, Sanjay. GUPTA: And, Jim, look, this has never happened before. It's historic in many ways. We've never had a patient with Ebola in the western hemisphere, let alone the United States. So some - you know, it's a little bit of interesting peek behind the curtain there at how some of those decisions were made, Jim.

SCIUTTO: No question. And also just to hear the preparations underway in case there are other people with the virus who don't know about it coming in on the many planes, traveling from that part of the world to this part of the world every day.

GUPTA: Right.

SCIUTTO: Great to have you on. Great to have the CDC director on as well. Thanks to Sanjay Gupta.

Now, we're going to go back to our other top story, the now defunct cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. We're going to have the latest headlines on that war and reaction from the United States just after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: Welcome back.

We want to get you caught up now with the latest in the Middle East. That 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire that the U.S. helped broker, it lasted less than two hours. Palestinian sources say at least 40 people were killed, more than 200 injured by Israeli shelling in southern Gaza near the Egyptian border. Hamas claims the attack, just 90 minutes into the cease-fire, was unprovoked.

Israel, however, says it was retaliating after a Hamas suicide bomber infiltrated an Israeli tunnel operation and detonated. Two Israeli soldiers were killed and one, says Israel, captured during the attack. Hamas just told us a short time ago, their spokesperson from Doha, that there was no Israeli soldier captured. Osama Hamdan calling that an Israeli story.

The White House, however, has called the reported attack on Israeli soldiers a, quote, "barbaric violation of the cease-fire." Secretary of State John Kerry added his voice to the condemnation of the Hamas attack on Israeli soldiers. Here's what he said. "The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today's attack which led to the killing two Israeli soldiers and the apparent abduction of another. It was an outrageous violation of the cease-fire negotiated over the past several days. Hamas must immediately and unconditionally release the missing Israeli soldier."

I'm joined now by global affairs correspondent Elise Labott.

Clearly the U.S. is lining up behind Israel on their explanation of what happened here. You know, you heard the Hamas spokesman deny to me -

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right. SCIUTTO: That they have the soldier. The U.S. saying, listen, you have the soldier, release him, this was a violation.

LABOTT: Well, a violation, Jim. And you've seen over the last couple of days that the U.S. has really increased its pressure on the Israelis to stop this operation because of the overwhelming death on the Palestinian side, particularly civilian deaths. I understand Secretary Kerry was very tough on Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept this cease-fire. Now that there's been this apparent violation, now that the U.S. has clearly lined up against Israel, I think that the U.S. is not outwardly calling for restraint from the Israelis, although certainly in private conversations they're saying, listen, we can't go overboard, we need to eventually get back to a cease-fire. But in this statement, Secretary Kerry said, it would be a tragedy if this outrageous attack leads to more suffering and loss of both sides of this conflict. And so clearly the United States is bracing for a really -

SCIUTTO: (INAUDIBLE).

LABOTT: Heavy handed response from the Israelis.

SCIUTTO: It's got to be a big ground operation. One, because they're looking for a soldier. That involves door to door searches. But also there's a retaliatory aspect to this, as always. He talks -- Secretary Kerry talked about it would be a shame if this led to, you know, losing an opportunity for (INAUDIBLE) -

LABOTT: Well, he's pretty much saying there's going to be a lot of dead Palestinians on the other side.

SCIUTTO: No question. But he also seems to be holding out some hope there that the peace process or the cease-fire talks can continue. The Egyptians still holding out that possibility. But clearly nothing's going to happen in Cairo this weekend as planned in light of what appears to have happened here so soon into the cease-fire.

LABOTT: Well, clearly, there's no false optimism here. But I'm speaking to Egyptian officials. I'm speaking to U.S. officials. They are hoping that this happened, that it's horrible, but that clearly that you do need to see some kind of political resolution at the end of this. Otherwise, there's going to be so much more killing on both sides. I'm told the Egyptians are not withdrawing their invitation, saying don't come, but they're saying, listen, if you're serious, if you're committed about stopping the violence, we are not going to talk to you until we see a cease-fire on both sides.

And you heard -- listen, you heard from the spokesman from Hamas, I think a willingness to try and tamp this down -

SCIUTTO: Yes.

LABOTT: Clearly saying, listen, this was unprovoked. We are not violating the cease-fire. We do want to talk.

SCIUTTO: Denying that they have that soldier. But in a word, if they have a soldier, can any talks continue?

LABOTT: I don't think so right now, but ultimately you saw what happened with Gilad Shalit, the lengths to which Israel is willing to bring back one of their own.

SCIUTTO: Right.

LABOTT: And so eventually they are going to need to talk. So I think the idea is from the Egyptians on the U.S. side, let's talk now.

SCIUTTO: All right. Well, let's hope for the sake of all involved.

To the other international crisis we've been covering in Ukraine. A Russian soldier having some fun on Instagram might be giving away information that his commanders would have liked to keep secret. This is the guy I'm talking about here. A sergeant in the Russian army who like his own image so much that he sends a lot of selfies to friends on the Internet. And here's the problem for sergeant selfie, he may not know that these pictures also give his exact location and some of it indicates he is on the wrong side of Russia's border with Ukraine.

I'm joined now by Laurie Segall, who's been looking into this.

Laurie, if this is true, I think we all know that, you post anything anywhere, it's got a locator indicator in there where exactly you are. And this would seem to be some proof that Russians are operating on the Ukrainian side of the border.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Jim, I mean, look, in short, it's all about geo-location (ph). Social media, we now know, offers more clues than we're aware of. This is no surprise. And these selfies were posted on Instagram while he was on duty. But the interesting thing here is Instagram has a feature called Photo Map. You're looking at it right now. Anyone can see where and when you post a picture when you have that function turned on. You can see here, he posted 32 photos on the Russian side of the border, two pictures from Ukraine.

And, Jim, we get very specific location data. I'm talking we know that he posted these pictures at the end of June and early July. Now, Photo Map is known to be very accurate, although, of course, there are exceptions. You know, in this case, he might have had no idea. It could have been a combination of having that feature turned on and him being unaware that his images were automatically being geo-tagged on the iPad.

Now, if you look at the selfies that appear to be posted from Ukraine, they seem pretty basic. He talks about night gatherings and sleepings. He always uses the #army. But, you know, when you look at it, being able to easily gauge that a Russian soldier, during this conflict, was posting from Ukraine is noteworthy, just given that the region is hotly contested. Obviously, there's a lot of finger-pointing going on.

Jim.

SCIUTTO: So, have Russian officials been reacting to this, denying it? SEGALL: You know, there has been a reaction. And one interesting

reaction is a lawmaker has come forward and said, hey, we need to stop, have our Russian military stop posting these social media images because we are understanding more that geo-location, oftentimes when people post something as simple as a selfie, they don't realize that they're actually showing their data. One user on VK (ph), which is the Russian version of FaceBook, actually posted a warning to soldiers. He posted a picture of a photo that was since deleted by another soldier that said something like, we're digging in Ukraine, which is obviously very sensitive. He deleted that, but this other user went on to FaceBook and says -- he warned everyone. He said, do not forget to turn off geo-location when you're doing your photos. So, obviously, very sensitive during these times of conflict.

SCIUTTO: Well, no question. It's interesting, actually when MH17 was shot down, there was a posting on Russia social media, the equivalent of FaceBook, by a rebel commander claiming credit for shooting down what he thought was a Ukrainian military airliner, which has been cited by U.S. officials as evidence that Russia - that was behind - or that the separatists were behind that attack.

Thanks very much for Laurie Segall.

And thank you for watching. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington, filling in today for Ashleigh Banfield. "Wolf," live from Jerusalem again, starts right now.