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THE SITUATION ROOM
Show of Force in Ferguson; New Criticism of Ferguson Police Tactics; American Journalist Beheaded by Terrorists; ISIS Beheads an American Journalist
Aired August 19, 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, a SITUATION ROOM special report.
City at war. Officials in Ferguson, Missouri, are pleading with protesters to stay home tonight just hours after ferocious street battles and dozens of arrests. In Ferguson right now, there's an army of police, state troopers and National Guardsmen. We are taking a hard look at their tactics and whether the massive show of force is necessary.
And a photographer on the scene hit by tear gas, he will explain what happened and share the painful and paralyzing experience that sent him falling to the ground.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: In Ferguson, Missouri, right now, a desperate appeal to stay off the streets and stop the violence that has consumed the city for 10 brutal days and nights.
Police are armed with tear gas and stun grenades that they used frequently overnight in response to attacks with bottles and Molotov cocktails; 78 people were arrested. Police and peaceful protesters are blaming the violence on what they are calling agitators from outside the area.
Funeral plans now are set for Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager killed by a Ferguson police officer. Services, we're learning, will be held on Monday.
We are watching a new police shooting incident not far from Ferguson. Saint Louis police killed a young African-American man today after authorities say that he pulled out a knife.
We have correspondents and anchors standing by in Ferguson. They are covering all of this breaking news, including Jake Tapper who will be joining me throughout this hour.
First, though, more breaking news we are following out of Texas. Texas Governor Rick Perry is about to be booked on two felony charges. The potential 2016 president will be fingerprinted and have his mug shot taken. Perry accused of coercing a public servant and abusing his veto power.
Let's bring in now CNN national political reporter Peter Hamby. He is here with us, as is senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns.
Peter, as we await the governor and we expect that he may be coming out in just the next few minutes, he is planning on speaking before he goes in to be fingerprinted, to be booked, to take his mug shot. He is speaking after he comes out, we have learned. Right? So what does that say about what he is trying to get out of this?
PETER HAMBY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is kind of the opposite of how Chris Christie reacted to the Bridgegate scandal, which was go into bunker mode for about a week.
Rick Perry is rather embracing this head-on. We were just talking about this before.
KEILAR: I'm sorry to interrupt you, Peter. He is arriving right now. We will turn our attention there to the Travis County courthouse and watch him walk up and speak to the crowd.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is nearing the podium where he expect him to make several public comments, then go inside and be booked. Here is the governor.
KEILAR: So that is Governor Rick Perry arriving. You are hearing local reporters give their reports. This is certainly not the normal arrival of someone at the courthouse there in Travis County, Texas, I can assure you. Let's hear what he has to say.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: I'm here today because I believe in the rule of law.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PERRY: I'm here today because I did the right thing.
I'm going to enter this courthouse with my head held high, knowing the actions that I took were not only lawful and legal, but right. And if I had to do so, I would veto funding for the integrity unit again. You think any governor, Democrat or Republican, would expect this important unit with jurisdiction over state officials be led by someone who lives up to the highest standards of conduct and personal integrity.
And this issue is far bigger than me. It is about the rule of law. It's about the Constitution that allows not just a governor but every citizen to speak their mind free of political interference or legal intimidation.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
PERRY: This indictment is nothing short of an attack on the constitutional powers of the office of governor. There are important fundamental issues at stake, and I will not allow
this attack on our system of government to stand. I'm going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being. And we will prevail. And we will prevail because we're standing for the rule of law.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KEILAR: All right, Governor Rick Perry there at Travis County, Texas, courthouse saying that he would have vetoed the funding for the public integrity unit again. This is really what is at issue in this indictment that a grand jury handed down.
He vetoed about $7 million or so in funding for the public integrity unit, which many Texas Republicans feel is sort of on a witch-hunt for them. He did that after the Democratic DA Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign as he wished following her DUI arrest.
I know that is a lot to handle, but that is the situation in a nutshell.
And, Peter Hamby, forgive me if I mistook that for a campaign rally.
HAMBY: It seemed like a big endorsement event or a campaign rally.
Again, the politics of this are so interesting, in part because they think they are winning this fight in the court of public opinion, as I was just saying. But also think about the state of politics in this very moment right now in the news. Congress is out of session. The president is on vacation. Hillary Clinton is on vacation.
Rick Perry's potential Republican rivals are also not doing any campaign events. So, look, Perry has the political lane to himself at the moment and he is taking this fight head on because he thinks he is winning this fight in the media. He thinks he is winning this fight in the Republican Party. That's why you saw him go at this so defiantly just now.
KEILAR: We are watching. We have a live shot here of him inside of this criminal justice center where -- what's going to happen here?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: OK, just walk you through it.
OK, it's a pretty simple procedure. It's a booking. He walks in, the sheriff's department essentially fingerprints him, photographs him. They walk him through something called an order of commitment and they present him with the personal recognizance bond that a judge has already signed off on. All of that information eventually goes up to the Travis County Circuit court clerk office and the process begins, Rick Perry fighting this indictment in the state of Texas.
KEILAR: So the other thing to lend some context, if you will, for us here, Joe, here is Travis County, it is a liberal enclave in a very red state. But we have seen politics really play out in the courts there in Travis County before. This is the very courthouse where Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader who stepped down. JOHNS: Texas hardball politics. That has happened before.
Tom DeLay, as a lot of people will remember, was the House majority whip, the Republican who was indicted by the very same office, the Travis County DA's office. Of course, at that time, it was a district attorney Ronnie Earle who did this.
KEILAR: A different one.
KEILAR: DeLay was indicted, he was convicted. He won out on appeal. But to this day, prosecutors in that state are trying to reinstate that conviction. So a long battle.
KEILAR: His conviction overturned.
JOHNS: And Tom DeLay is out of office.
KEILAR: Yes. And he is. It did take him down politically for sure.
Stand by, gentlemen, because I think we will be hearing more from Governor Perry here as he does leave the courthouse.
Let's go back now though to the breaking news in Ferguson, Missouri, as this town really prepares for another night of protests.
That's where our Jake Tapper is on the ground with the latest -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Brianna, police are trying to secure parts of Ferguson right now.
We had to move our CNN reporting location a little while ago because of that. The police presence here is massive. And it looked like a combat zone overnight when some of the most violent clashes broke out. People were tear gassed all around me.
And I got a whiff of it myself. Now, just about everybody in the city is afraid that it could happen again tonight.
TAPPER (voice-over): This afternoon, the people of Ferguson are cleaning up after one of the most dramatic and confrontational nights so far. Nine days after the death of Michael Brown, the protests started out peacefully, but that would not last long.
ADRIAN ANDERSON, PROTESTER: We have tried to set up a strategic peace plan so that the people could freely march and have their voices be heard.
TAPPER: Demonstrators and law enforcement agreed to respect one another, despite their tensions in the past.
(on camera): It's a two-way street. It is not just the police holding back. It is a very organized protest.
(voice-over): Earlier, Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson had been shaking hands while local law enforcement secured area stores and protected the marchers and citizens. But we were there as the movement stopped and crowds gathered, contrary to the plan.
(on camera): Somewhere, in the last 10, 15 minutes, the crowd stopped marching.
(voice-over): That friendly police presence grew intimidatingly large with guns drawn and gas masks secured in the biggest show of force we have seen. Their armored vehicles and raised firearms seemingly did more at that moment to antagonize the crowd than to calm it.
And while there were without question a small handful of protesters trying to provoke the police, their numbers were few at this intersection. And even after the crowd dispersed, that show of force remained.
(on camera): There is nothing going on on this street right now that merits this scene out of Bagram.
(voice-over): Now, it was a completely different story two blocks away, where several dozen demonstrators defiantly had set up roadblocks and were chiding police. Law enforcement told the group to clear the road.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to be subject to arrest.
TAPPER: But some protesters threw bottles and were clearly trying to incite police, who responded with this.
(on camera): They're throwing more tear gas.
TAPPER: Tear gas engulfing not just the provocateurs, but also members of the media.
(on camera): You all right, man?
(voice-over): This freelance photographer was knocked from his feet by a canister of gas that stung his eyes, throat and lungs.
Back on set, we suited up for protection.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our crew is being overcome. Are you guys OK?
TAPPER: This was to be the first night in a few days without a curfew, but as the gas dispersed, along with the crowd, those that remained were ordered to leave, including, eventually, members of the media.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just clearing out this area. It's not safe to be here anymore, OK?
TAPPER: Now, as we head into the 10th night of demonstration, hopes for calm remain.
CAPT. RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: This has to stop. It has to stop. I don't want anybody to get hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't need no National Guard. We don't need all of that. We don't need all of that. We need community volunteers to come out here and keep the peace.
TAPPER: Now, some local officeholders have asked that tonight be a night of quiet, with no protesting after dark, but already people organizing the protest say that is not going to happen. People are going to exercise their First Amendment rights.
And with that killing, completely separate and distinct from what happened with Mike Brown, that killing earlier today of an African- American man, 23, with a knife, by Saint Louis police, tensions are building up even more, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Jake Tapper, thank you so much.
Let's bring in now Anderson Cooper. He is also in Ferguson tonight.
Anderson, you spoke to Captain Ron Johnson about those agitators, as they're being called, on the ground. What did he have to say?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I did.
As you know, more than 70 people were arrested last night, several journalist, but a number, some -- more than 70 people in total, and the police are blaming what they say are outside agitators. I talked to Captain Ron Johnson just a short time ago. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: How much, in your opinion, is this about people from outside this community coming in and, as you say, agitating?
JOHNSON: I think a lot of it is. And when I say outside this community, let's know that I'm not just talking about people outside this state.
There are people from other communities within this area that are coming in and providing a lot of this damage and behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, only a small number of people actually arrested last night were from outside this state.
But as you heard Captain Johnson saying, they are defining agitators as people who are not from Ferguson, who don't live in this community, Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes. And we saw that. I think one in four people arrested are not, or at least who were arrested last night.
I know you have been talking to people there. What are they telling you and what are they expecting to see tonight?
COOPER: I think people aren't really sure what to expect.
Obviously, the shooting of this other African-American man, though under very different circumstances, from all of the Saint Louis police have released so far, has certainly added to the tension here today.
As Jake was reporting, there was a heavy police presence here in the main areas where there have been problems over the last several nights. I'm just a couple blocks away down in that direction from where Mike Brown was shot to death.
This is really the epicenter where many of the protests have taken place. We are about three hours now from nightfall. And it remains to be seen. Captain Johnson said he couldn't predict what was going to happen tonight. And I think a lot of people here, they are hopeful that what protests there are -- and there have been fewer protests throughout the area in this are -- what protests there are tonight will be peaceful. But that of course remains to be seen.
KEILAR: All right, thanks, Anderson. We will be checking back in with you.
Still ahead, Jake Tapper will be speaking with Ferguson's mayor, who tells people to come out and protest if they want, but not at night. Will that make a difference?
And are local authorities handling the tensions in Ferguson properly? Is it time for federal officials to take action? We have a panel standing by.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm Jake Tapper.
Police, politicians and some protesters say the violence in Ferguson is being triggered by small numbers of what they call outside agitators whom they accuse of mixing in with crowds of demonstrators.
In an effort to quell the violence, the city is now asking protesters to go home when night falls. But what about their First Amendment rights?
I put that question to Ferguson Mayor James Knowles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES KNOWLES, MAYOR OF FERGUSON, MISSOURI: We want you to come out and protest if that's what you feel. If you feel there's an injustice, I absolutely support every amendment and every part of the Constitution. And that's why we've said come out, come out and find a safe place to do it, but please disperse by nightfall. Now, I know that makes people feel like that we're not allowing them
the full free exercise of their rights. Of course, we're looking at what's happening after dark -- the people who have been infiltrating it.
We actually made this call a week ago and it fell on deaf ears. We've made it again today. I know we're being joined in by Captain Johnson and other African-American leaders.
Let's just have a night to cool off. Let's have a night we can completely separate those good people exercising First Amendment rights from those trying to co-opt this horrible situation into something to meet their own needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Of course, just a few minutes after Mayor Knowles told me that, two local religious leaders, or one actually from Washington, D.C., Malik Shabazz, and then a local religious leader, Pastor Mike, Brianna, told me that they had every intention of marching this evening, and the idea of a night of quiet was just not going to happen -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Jake Tapper, we will be checking back in with you there in Ferguson.
Let's dig though a little deeper on this now with CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN political commentator Donna Brazile.
Donna, you heard the mayor, the interview that Jake had with the mayor. What did you make of that?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he is trying to reestablish order.
He's trying to I guess inform his residents to come down, to essentially stay home. But, look, there's so much uncertainty still in the investigation. People are still angry because they haven't seen the incident report.
They heard much, if anything, in terms of the police officer who shot and murdered Mike Brown. So they want answers. And that's why they are protesting. I think the overwhelming majority of people who are protesting are out there because they have a real bone to pick with the mayor.
On the other hand, I understand the need to have peace, to have order, and to have a transition so that the family of Mike Brown can put their loved one to rest. But at the same time, they also want justice served as well.
KEILAR: Do you think, Jeff, that he's handling this correctly and also that the city is handling this correctly? They have done an autopsy, and we haven't heard the results.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, I don't think that they are handling this correctly.
This has not been -- you know, one of the things when you're dealing with protests is you have to have clear rules for people. You have to know what's permitted and know what's not permitted. And, you know, you have had at least three different law enforcement agencies in charge of these -- keeping control of these protests.
It is not a situation that lends itself to order. Now, there are also people out there who are intentionally trying to make the police look as bad as possible, who are provoking them, throwing rocks, throwing Molotov cocktails.
I have no sympathy for them. But it's the job of police to deal with bad people. And that's what they are not doing well.
KEILAR: Yes, they are supposed to be far better than obviously some of these agitators, as they are being called. Donna, let's talk about --
TOOBIN: I'll tell you, that's why they call them police, because they are supposed to be the good guys and they are supposed to deal with bad guys.
KEILAR: Donna, let's talk about some of the politics here. We heard President Obama. He spoke out about this first last week, Thursday. We saw some calm that evening in Ferguson. Some people wanted to draw sort of a cause and effect there.
But then we saw him speak yesterday. There was no calm last night. Can he have an effect here and is this his problem to solve?
BRAZILE: Well, he is the president of the United States of America, so he is the president of all of us. And clearly his words matter.
I believe his words have been very measured. He has tried to speak not just as commander in chief, but try to encourage us to wait for the investigation, to ensure that we are, you know, saying to the family of Mike Brown that he is sending Eric Holder, that an investigation will continue. The FBI is there.
I think that president is trying to do as much as possible, given the limitations of what anyone could do under these circumstances.
KEILAR: And you're familiar with the thinking of the White House. What do they think that his role is, that administration's role is in all of this?
BRAZILE: Well, it clearly the president is just trying to help local officials, state officials who are trying to do their job as well.
At the same time, he's also trying I think to ensure the public that there will be justice, that we will get the full story of what happened to Mike Brown. I think the president is doing the right thing. I'm not one who believes that he should do too much, because then he becomes the story, and then we're back into the politics and the polarization. (CROSSTALK)
TOOBIN: Brianna, just one of the things that always sort of mystifies me is that we have this idea that if the president just goes there, things will get better.
Remember, a few weeks ago, people were saying, why doesn't he go to the border and see for himself or why doesn't he go to Ferguson? People need to grow up.
TOOBIN: What is he supposed to do there?
KEILAR: Maybe he is not supposed to do anything. But, look, the attorney general is going. Eric Holder is going.
He said in an op-ed in "The Saint Louis Dispatch": "We understand the need for an independent investigation. And we hope that the independence and thoroughness of our investigation will bring some measure of calm to the tensions in Ferguson."
I'm not saying, Jeffrey, that President Obama needs to go to Ferguson, but certainly the attorney general is going to Ferguson. The administration obviously sees a role for the Justice Department and for Eric Holder to be there.
TOOBIN: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Donna.
BRAZILE: Well, no, but I agree, Jeff.
I really think it's a distraction.
BRAZILE: Because the president of the United States --
KEILAR: If he were to go.
We need to get to the bottom of this, the investigation. A child has been murdered. A family is grieving. A community is hurting. We don't need any more distraction and politics. The last thing we need right now is to politicize this, as if somebody is trying to get votes out of this. This is about a community that is hurting and a country that really wants to have some real clear answers.
TOOBIN: Well, just -- I think we need to draw a distinction here. The crowd control has been appalling, I think. This has been a big
law enforcement failure. The investigation of this death -- we know it is a tragedy. We don't yet know whether it is a crime. That may yet be successful. We may yet know what happened.
And I think the attorney general, who is in charge of the federal side of the investigation, it is good that he is showing how much the administration cares about that. That can still be salvaged as a success, this investigation. The crowd control, we can only hope to limit the damage.
BRAZILE: I agree.
KEILAR: There are so many different elements to this. And at the heart of it, a young man is dead, and we're trying to learn the facts of it. We don't have all of them yet.
BRAZILE: That's right.
KEILAR: Donna Brazile, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much.
Just ahead, more of the breaking news in Ferguson when we come back.
KEILAR: Tear gas, stun degrades, dozens of arrests. The tactics used by law enforcement authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, are coming in for fresh criticism.
Joining me now to discuss this, former Los Angeles police chief and current city councilman, Bernard Parks.
Councilman, thanks for being with us.
BERNARD PARKS, FORMER LAPD CHIEF: Thank you for the invitation.
KEILAR: And you -- so you were the chief of police for LAPD. But also, when you were the deputy chief, you saw firsthand the L.A. riots that happened following the acquittal of the officers in the Rodney King case.
PARKS: That's right.
KEILAR: You're using that experience -- what's going on here? What's being done wrong?
PARKS: Well, I think, as I mentioned earlier, what's going wrong is that early on in setting up this operation, there's too many jurisdictional operations that are inconsistent. There's been mixed messages that have confused the community. There's mixed messages that have confused the officers.
And so, you cannot run an operation as dynamic as this with a change in command midstream, ignoring the local police department, dictating issues from the state as far as a curfew and then no curfew. Military-type vehicles one day and none the next day. And then bring them back the third day. These are all the kinds of things that create basically misinformation and lack of understanding from the officers that you're asking to perform and certainly sends mixed -- mixed messages to the public that you want them to comply.
KEILAR: There's inconsistency. There's confusion. We're seeing that play out nightly, really, there on the streets of Ferguson.
When you see this kind of response, especially the very militaristic response from police, do you feel that fuels the aggressions of some of the crowd, or do you think that some of the crowd are there to make trouble no matter what?
PARKS: Well, I think every unusual occurrence that I've been on that is major, there's always people that are not a part of the equation that show up to create havoc. And so you have to basically apply for -- deal with that and understand and look at it in the sense of trying to separate them out to allow the legitimate protests to go forward.
The other issue, I think, that's clear, when you see the number of officers that are assigned, and they're all wearing different uniforms, it becomes apparent that they've not trained together so they cannot work as a cohesive unit. They're using different tactics.
PARKS: They're using different equipment. They're using different command. So those are all the kinds of things that you try to --
PARKS: -- eliminate when you're assigning personnel.
KEILAR: Thank --
PARKS: I think the real confusion are the criminal creating the havoc. Police are responding to it, and sometimes as we say in police work, things may not look pretty --
PARKS: -- because you're dealing with dynamics and responding.
KEILAR: They need to be better, for sure. Thank you so much for your time. Councilman Bernard Parks, former L.A. police chief.
And just ahead, we take you live to the city streets of Ferguson as the city braces for another night of protests.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: Breaking news tonight. We want to welcome our viewers from around the world to this breaking news coverage. An American journalist has been beheaded by ISIS terrorists. A video showing the horrific killing and its gruesome aftermath was released on the Internet a short while ago, along with a message to the United States to end its intervention in Iraq.
The victim was freelance journalist James Foley, who was kidnapped in 2012 while covering the war in Syria. In the video, he is seen kneeling next to a man dressed in black. Foley reads a message presumably scripted in detail by his captors that his real killer is America.
The video, which is obviously too gruesome for us to show you, then shows Foley's beheading.
After that, it shows another American journalist, also dressed in orange and kneeling. And that man is believed to be Steve Soltoff, a contributor to "TIME" magazine, who was kidnapped at the Syrian- Turkish border in 2013. The terrorist says his life is hanging in the balance, depending on what President Obama does next.
Let's bring in our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh. He is in Erbil in northern Iraq -- Nick.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, James Foley was kidnapped in November 2012, a comparative long time ago, when the Syrian civil war was underway near a town called Pathamad (ph) whilst coming out of an Internet cafe. It was unclear at that time who had taken him. And back then, ISIS, as it is now known, didn't really exist inside Syria and less so in its current form in Iraq.
So clearly, within the 636, if you count the days in which he was held in captivity, he changed hands within the underground functions as sort of Syria's kidnap business. There are a lot of Americans, it seems, held -- have been held at some point or other foreigners by various different groups that make up Syria's rebels at times. Some of them more criminal. Some of them moderate. And as time has gone by, ISIS, it seems, has moved into that particular market and taken some of those individuals to one side.
I've spoken to one American who actually escaped kidnap by Syrian rebels. More extreme variety. And he described how long periods were spent locked underground. He eventually managed to escape from that and described also the torture he suffered.
But in these circumstances, for James Foley's family, a horrific time. He was a better correspondent in many conflict areas, was briefly detained in 2011 in Libya by Moammar Gadhafi's forces. And as I say, then, detained and then subsequently it's not clear what exactly his path was, who held him until we'd seen this horrifying video today.
The orange jump suit, reminding many people of past videos people have seen emerging from Iraq during the times of the insurgency against the American presence there and, of course, it would be equally troubling for the other American journalists referenced in that video, to see him also in an orange jumpsuit.
A deeply troubling moment, I think, for many of the journalists who have been covering this conflict for quite some time, to have known that our friends and colleagues have been held by ISIS and then released, some of them. Some of them still held now, and many I think were worried that if U.S. intervention began against ISIS, who in the eyes of many observers are --
WALSH: -- a likely long-term threat to the United States' interests, and if U.S. military campaigns against them began, that those Americans held by ISIS may meet the kind of gruesome fate that it appears we have seen James Foley meet in this --
KEILAR: All right. Nick, Nick, I'm sorry to interrupt you. We actually have to go to the White House, where our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is standing by.
Are we getting reaction, Jim, from the White House?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, it is brief. But the White House says at this point intelligence community officials are trying to confirm that this is indeed the killing of journalist James Foley.
But let's go ahead and put a statement on screen if we have it. If not, I'll just read it, in terms of what the statement reads from this White House spokesperson, Caitlyn Haden out of the National Security Council.
It says, "We have seen a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen James Foley by ISIL. The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist. And we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available."
And Brianna, in just the last couple of seconds, I pinged them back to find out whether or not it has been confirmed. They're just not at that point right now. But one thing we should point out: President Obama has just landed on Martha's Vineyard to resume his vacation there. We are not expecting to hear from the president on this point.
But, of course, all of that could change. We've seen that over the last several days with this president on his vacation. It hasn't been much of one. He's been forced to come out in front of the cameras and talk about things that have been developing, not just in Ferguson but in Iraq as well -- Brianna.
KEILAR: James Foley is a journalist and he is also an American, more importantly.
Jim Acosta, thank you so much. Stand by for us as we continue our breaking news coverage of this.
I also want it bring in our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson, as well as national security analyst Peter Bergen.
Are you surprise bid this, peter?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Not really.
KEILAR: You're not. Why?
BERGEN: I mean -- well, there have been so many Americans that have taken by ISIS. ISIS is not a group that is very open to negotiations of the conventional kind. I mean, occasionally, we've seen an exchange, we saw an exchange for American prisoner of war with the Taliban. But that was conducted at the prisoner of war level.
This is a rather different kind of -- you know, kind of negotiating with al Qaeda. I can't think of an example offhand where as official matter, U.S. officials have sort of said, we're going to do a negotiation. Maybe they turn a blind eye, but it is policy not to negotiate, particularly with a group like al Qaeda.
KEILAR: Does it speak, Nic, to the brutality of ISIS here?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It speaks to their strategic view. They held these journalists, James isn't the only one. There are three other Americans, two British and one New Zealand. They've held other European journalists. They've hold them as bargaining chips.
Now, we don't know why the French journalists were released. We do know that the American government and the British government don't negotiate with terrorists and certainly don't ever pay ransom for terrorists. Again, we don't know why some of these other journalists had been released and what's going on behind the scenes there.
But this speaks to ISIS using these people as bargaining chips to try to get what it wants. And right now, it wants the United States off its back. The United States is showing itself in Iraq around, hitting ISIS targets there to free up that key strategic dam and ISIS is feeling the heat.
KEILAR: With air strike, yes.
ROBERTSON: With air strike and ISIS is feeling the heat. And this is the way they're gong to fire back. And if we continue in this thing, which we will, we can expect ISIS to continue to parade before us, this brazen, wanton, horrific -- there's no word to describe it, brutal, craven -- pick your word. It's horrible. But this is an unrelenting so far.
KEILAR: Nic and Peter, stand by. And we're going to be right back with you as we continue to cover this.
I want to bring in now Bob Baer, former CIA officer and CNN national security analyst, as well as Fran Townsend, former homeland security adviser to President Bush and CNN national security analyst.
And joining us on the phone is former CIA director James Woolsey.
Mr. Woolsey, as you look at this, the timing of this, why do you think ISIS chose now for this? AMB. R. JAMES WOOLSEY, CHAIRMAN, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE FOR
DEMOCRACIES (via telephone): I think the previous speaker was right. They are somewhat squeezed, I think, by an unexpected decision, unexpected on their part by President Obama to use force. He has backed down so many times on using force in Syria and elsewhere, I think they may have been surprised and are doing the best they can to retaliate.
I think it's really important that we are dealing here with theocratic totalitarian imperialists. They are of the view that we are the devil. They are of the view that they should control all aspects of their subject's life (ph) and they want an empire, and a caliphate in the Mideast.
And it's a different qualitatively different thing than dealing even with al Qaeda and certainly dealing with some of the other groups. It is much worse than terrorism. We are at war.
KEILAR: And, Fran, when you look at how this has been revealed and the fact that we know that James Foley has been missing for some time. He went missing in Syria in November of 2012. There was thought he might have been held by the Syrian government.
Now, ISIS, obviously, had him at some point. We've been talking about this, that in a way on sort of a black market, some of these journalists, captives, are traded almost as bargaining chips, right?
FRAN FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's right. Fundamentally, the terrorist is on the screen. I watch this horrific video, and he claims that they are a legitimate government, as Director Woolsey mentioned. They've declared their caliphate in the Levant and he claims that they are a legitimate government, but he is using what is out of the al Qaeda play book. We've seen al Qaeda videos of beheadings before.
And I think this is an indication that the strategy of military support and military action against ISIS is having an effect, because now they're reacting and they're trying to push back against that, and they want it to stop.
I mean, I think it is absolutely right that you can expect more of this. They will -- however many individuals they have in captivity, they will one by one bring them out because they're feeling the pressure of military action.
KEILAR: Bob, what are you expecting the U.S. government to do here?
BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The U.S. government's not going to give up in Iraq. It cannot afford to allow the Islamic state to establish itself. I think these strikes will continue, as the president said. The U.S. government will try to help take back Mosul with the Iraqis. It's clear that we're going to do something about Iraq.
And I think, as my previous speakers have said, ISIS is going to hit back at us. The question is: are they capable of hitting outside of Syria and
Iraq, for instance, in Europe or even the United States? Sources tell me that they believe that ISIS is here in this country, and they're unsure whether they can -- they actually have plans to do something, but it's a fear in the U.S. government, which in they're after it right now.
KEILAR: All right. Bob, stand by for us. Fran as well. Ambassador Woolsey as well.
We want to find out a little bit more about James Foley. You may not be familiar with him or with his family.
And CNN's Brian Todd is here with more on that. Tell us, Brian, tell us about him and his family.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, he had been missing, as we'd been reporting, since Thanksgiving Day of 2012 when according to an FBI notice at the time on the Internet, he was taken by an organized gang in the city of Banash (ph), Syria.
Now, according to the FBI, he was kidnapped after leaving an Internet cafe there. He had a translator at the time but the translator was later released.
In January of 2013, James Foley's family made a televised appeal, actually a couple of them at least, to his captors. They talked about the precautions he had taken and the kind of journalist he was.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN FOLEY, FATHER OF JAMES FOLEY: James is an objective reporter who has been working as a freelance journalist in Syria for over a year. He's passionate about giving life to stories of people within conflict areas.
MICHAEL FOLEY, BROTHER OF JAMES FOLEY: He's taken every precaution, you know, possible, you know, traveling -- trying to travel with the right folks. He's been through risk training. He had a locator devices, you know, everything you can imagine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Those, of course, televised appeals from James Foley's family in January of 2013. That last one was from his brother Michael Foley.
Now, various reports say that James Foley was from Rochester, New Hampshire. He'd been a freelance photojournalist in the Middle East and in North Africa. Also, while in Libya in 2011, he'd been shot at and taken captive by forces loyal to then-dictator Moammar Gadhafi. He was reportedly held by them for more than a month.
According to his family's Web site, James Foley was the oldest of five children. According to that FBI notice we saw on the Internet, Brianna, he would have turned 41 later this year.
KEILAR: That's horrific and it's so terrible, this breaking news that we're covering here.
Brian Todd, thank you.
Just ahead, stay with us for this breaking news. An American journalist beheaded by ISIS as the group makes new threats to America.
And we're bracing for another night of protests in Ferguson. The latest on the ground.
TAPPER: We're following two major breaking news stories.
We've just learned the horrific news that an American journalist has been beheaded by terrorists with the group ISIS. Stay with CNN for all the latest details and more coverage of that.
First, we're bracing for more protests here in Ferguson, Missouri. City officials make a desperate plea to residents to stay off the streets and, of course, to stop the violence that has consumed the city for 10 brutal day and nights.
Right now, what we're waiting to hear is what exactly is going the happen with this evening's protests. City officials had asked for no protests this evening. Community leaders and protest leaders have said that's not going to happen, but they would like the stretch of land on which the protest takes place five miles, extend it to five miles. They want that. They say that will help prevent the kind of showdown we saw last night between police and protesters.
We've been watching right now behind my back, Captain Ron Johnson meeting with some of these protest leaders, talking for quite some time. Presumably, we'll have some news to report later on that.
Back to you, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Jake. I imagine that you're expecting -- what are you expecting this evening? I know local leaders are certainly urging people for calm, but they must be concerned, especially with that unrelated killing of another African-American young man nearby that there is going to be more violence.
TAPPER: That's right. Tensions are high. We've already seen at least some protesters connect even if there is not a connection between what happened in St. Louis today with an armed young African- American man with a knife shot dead by St. Louis police.
We've already seen some protesters connect the two to the Mike Brown murders. So, we're expecting tensions -- Mike Brown shooting, we're expecting some tensions to continue and boil over although perhaps, although, hopefully, that won't happen, Brianna.
KEILAR: Hopefully, it will not. And, Jake, we know that you will be there watching and we'll be back with you tomorrow.
Now, remember, you can follow us on Twitter. Just tweet the show @CNNSitRoom. Be sure to join us tomorrow, in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always, of course, DVR the show, so you don't miss a moment.
I'm Brianna Keilar. Thanks so much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.