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THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Airstrikes Follow Beheading of American; Obama Vows Justice for Murdered American; U.S. Weighs Sending More Troops to Iraq; Attorney General Holder Visits Ferguson; Officer Suspended for Threatening Protestors; Protests in Ferguson Continue to be Tense; War Returns to Israel, Gaza as Talks Fail
Aired August 20, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Happening now, a SITUATION ROOM special report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: The president lashes out with cold fury, vowing justice for an American murdered by ISIS terrorists.
Direct threat -- with ISIS now targeting Americans, the U.S. launches a fresh round of air strikes and considers sending more troops to Iraq.
And visit to Ferguson -- Attorney General Eric Holder meets with all sides and gets a firsthand look at a city shattered by violence and protests.
Wolf Blitzer is off.
I'm Brianna Keilar.
You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We're following two breaking stories this hour. America's top law enforcement official is now in Ferguson, Missouri. Attorney General Eric Holder has meetings with police and the family of slain teen, Michael Brown. And he's getting a briefing on the federal investigation into the fatal shooting.
And President Obama vowing to seek justice for an American brutally beheaded by ISIS terrorists, as the U.S. carries out a fresh round of air strikes at insurgent targets in Iraq and weighing sending in even more troops.
Our correspondents and guests are standing by with full coverage.
And we begin with CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara, give us the latest.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, a fresh round of U.S. air strikes against ISIS positions in Iraq. The State Department asking for 300 more military troops on the ground in Baghdad for security. And the U.S. considering exactly now what threat ISIS does pose to Americans.
STARR (voice-over): U.S. and British intelligence experts are scouring every frame of the gruesome video showing the murder of James Foley for clues about who killed him. President Obama offering condolences and tough words as commander-in-chief.
OBAMA: When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what's necessary to see that justice is done.
STARR: But before any next steps, intelligence experts have work to do.
First, Washington and London are analyzing the British accent in the voice of the killer.
PHILIP HAMMOND, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Well, we're very concerned by the apparent fact that there's a -- that the murderer in question is British. And we are urgently investigating, agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, and then to see if we can identify the individual in question.
STARR: Does the accent indicate where he might have come from?
Are there cell phone intercepts matching the voice?
Could he once have been held at Guantanamo Bay?
Experts are looking at the terrain in the video to see if it matches satellite imagery from Iraq or Syria.
Until now, ISIS has not made attacking the West a major priority. But now, a direct threat. The killing of James Foley said to be retaliation for U.S. air strikes. The executioner saying, in part --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.
STARR: The intelligence community worried about what will happen next.
Philip Hammond, British foreign secretary:
HAMMOND: It's not clear whether the leadership will now pivot toward attacking the West. There's certainly a lot of concern that they could. They have the capability to.
STARR: The administration, for now, not likely to expand military action in Iraq. And air strikes against ISIS inside Syria are unlikely given Syrian air defenses and the lack of intelligence about where ISIS operatives are precisely located.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I do think the administration is not likely to change their strategy as a result of this. They are going to be very careful not to have the mission creep so much that we get fully entangled in Iraq again.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: U.S. officials readily acknowledge they are studying ISIS top to bottom -- what motivates them, how prepared they are for a next round of attacks and what their next plans may be -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Barbara Starr at Pentagon.
If the brutal execution of
Jim Foley was meant to get the United States to back off in Iraq, well, ISIS may have miscalculated. President Obama reacted today with barely controlled anger and disgust. And he vowed to seek justice.
CNN White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, was in the room when the president spoke.
This was -- you could feel the president, even just watching on TV, Michelle, emoting here, being very heated in his response.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. The words and the tone were remarkable. And yesterday, ISIS sent this ugly message to the US. Well, this was the president's response -- a strong, condemnation of ISIS' killing of James Foley, of its actions prior, its bankrupt ideology, as he put it, calling ISIS a cancer that needs to be stopped before it can spread. And along those lines, making it very clear that the U.S. is not letting up in its intense pressure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.
ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. We will be vigilant. And we will be relentless. And we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: So how clear is it that the U.S. is not backing down, as Secretary of State John Kerry also said today?
Those 14 air strikes just today again in the area of Mosul Dam -- Brianna.
KEILAR: We're hearing, Michelle, from Jim Foley's parents.
What did they say today?
KOSINSKI: Yes, you know what, that was interesting, because the president clearly did not want to mention Steven Sotloff, the "Time" journalist also in ISIS' hands, whose life now hangs in the balance, obviously not wanting to answer ISIS' demands in this way, or possibly make the situation any worse than it already is.
But the Foley family did mention him by name, asking his captors for compassion to spare his life and the lives of others in captivity.
And they also spoke to James Foley's character.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANA FOLEY, JIM FOLEY'S MOTHER: Now, we just pray that Jim's death can bring our country together in a stronger way and with the values that Jim hold dear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Held dear.
FOLEY: Held dear. Sir, Jim would never want us to hate or be bitter. And we cannot do that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut that thing off.
FOLEY: And so we are just very proud of Jimmy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: Now, they've been trying for two years, working with their state senators, to try to get anyone's help they could, really, to secure James' release.
And we just heard from the National Security Council today, saying that they had used every tool at their disposal to try to find Foley, bring him back, that they also tried to gather any information they could. But they didn't want to get into what they called intelligence matters about what threats that the administration might have known about or when -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And, Michelle, after the president gave his statement today, which I think many people felt the tone he struck was really right where it should be, but after doing that, he went golfing. He is on vacation, after all.
But is the White House concerned about an optics problem here? KOSINSKI: So far no word from them directly. But I will say it surprised us, also. I mean when President Obama left the room after those powerful words, it seemed like the whole room was kind of in that pall, the seriousness of the situation, to the point that, you know, when President Obama leaves and doesn't take any questions, pretty much every journalist yells out a question. And everybody had one ready, because we talked about this afterward. But no one said a word.
It was like his tone kind of put a damper. It didn't seem right to yell anything out.
And then when we heard that he had immediately gone golfing, it was just -- you know, just kind of surprising, not that it means anything in the tone or the reaction, but just a surprise, especially since what happened early on in the Iraq crisis -- and I think it was Senator John McCain who said that Obama was golfing while Iraq burned -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Michelle Kosinski there on Martha's Vineyard.
Let's dig deeper now.
Joining us to talk about this, CNN national security analyst, Peter Bergen, and former NCIS special agent in charge, Robert McFadden.
He is now the senior vice president at the Soufan Group -- to you first, Peter.
We just learned from the CEO of "Global Post," which had employed Jim Foley, that the family had been given an email, they'd gotten an email from his captors saying that they may kill him, threatening to kill him.
And we learned from the CEO something that we certainly didn't know publicly before, which is that he said the government had known for some time of Foley's whereabouts.
So if they knew where he was, assuming they know where Steve Sotloff is as well, right?
What -- what possibly could be done here in a reaction to this threat against his life?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think if you pause that statement a little bit, they may have known for some period of time the location of Jim Foley and the other prisoners. The prisoners may well have moved.
But clearly, you know, why does the U.S. government want to find these folks?
They must have a contingency plan, a joint special operations command, to rescue them. And at this moment, where the life of these hostages, the three Americans, is in much graver danger than it was just a week ago, the calculous must begin to shift, which is, do we know where the hostages are?
Who is holding them?
What is the opposition likely in the place they're being imprisoned?
Is a operation even remotely possible to be successful?
These are the questions that must be -- the White House must be considering right now.
KEILAR: It's a very complicated situation.
Robert, one of the things we're looking today, it appears these air strikes come in reaction to what we saw yesterday, just the horrific images of the killing of Mr. Foley.
Is it a possibility that the U.S. -- and this is a concern of many Americans -- may be drawn into an open-ended conflict in Iraq?
ROBERT MCFADDEN, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, NCIS: Well, I mean it's always a possibility. The administration has been quite clear since it sent the advisers. And then the forces of ISIS and some of the allies of opportunity were getting too close to Erbil, where the U.S. consulate was, large numbers of U.S. personnel, civilians and advisers.
So it's been very consistent that that's been the goals. But when you have a situation, for example, like Mosul Dam, which is so important for the infrastructure with -- for Iraq and so much of a threat, you can see where quite plausibly, naturally and necessarily that the air campaign would expand to support the forces that take something like the Mosul Dam back.
KEILAR: When you look at ISIS, one of the very scary things is that they have a lot of money; they have territory, so they have safe haven; and there are a number of Western fighters who have European passports, some who have American passports.
What is the threat here to the West, to Europe, to the U.S.?
How operational is ISIS in terms of being a threat to the West?
KEILAR: Robert to you.
MCFADDEN: Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, it's just something that, quite simply, just cannot be ruled out. I mean research that we've conducted and published within the last month, the throughput, or at least the number of foreign fighters known to be in Syria and Iraq, at least 12,000. There's not that number there now, but still in the high numbers.
So that part of it -- what they do, what they're motivated by and what they come home for, is just something that's going to be an extraordinary challenge for security services and allies for some com -- some time to come.
Now, if you look at -- it's groups like ISIS, the inspiration from -- comes from al Qaeda and al Qaeda-ism. We have to -- we should note that going back to its beginning, when al Qaeda leaders spoke about what they and the organization was going to do next, it wasn't said in a vacuum. It was something to be taken very seriously.
So I agree with the previous assessment, that this could be a very important transition or pivot point, depending on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the other leadership of ISIS says about where it's going next.
KEILAR: All right, Robert and Peter, thank you so much to both of you for joining us.
MCFADDEN: Thank you.
KEILAR: Next, Attorney General Eric Holder gets a firsthand look at Ferguson, Missouri, meeting with community leaders, police and the family of slain teenager, Michael Brown. Will Holder's visit make a difference? We'll be getting reaction from Michael Brown's family, the NAACP and a top law enforcement official.
KEILAR: Our breaking news: Amid ongoing protests, the wheels of justice begin to turn in Ferguson, Missouri. Behind closed doors a grand jury today started hearing evidence in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, shot by a police officer 11 days ago.
Missouri's governor is standing by the county prosecutor, who is accused of critics -- by critics of siding with police in previous cases, and the federal government is stepping up its role. Attorney General Eric Holder is in Ferguson, getting briefed on the Justice Department's investigation.
Let's begin with CNN national correspondent Jason Carroll. He is on the ground in Ferguson. What's the latest, Jason?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, you mentioned the wheels of justice, you are right, they are turning, but not fast enough for some as demonstrators continue to clash with police overnight.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After 12 days of protests in Ferguson, attorney general Eric Holder arrived here today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing, sir?
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: You are the man.
CARROLL: Holder is now overseeing a federal investigation into the death of Michael Brown. He has a team of 40 FBI agents working the case.
In the meantime the state's own investigation continues. A grand jury convened today to begin hearing evidence. Police say Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown in self-defense after Brown grabbed for the policeman's gun. New video has emerged where an eyewitness could be heard reacting to what he saw.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next thing I know he's missing, started running and kept coming towards police.
CARROLL: But other eyewitness accounts say Brown did not rush towards police.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He felt the bullet graze his arm, and he turned around and was shot multiple times.
CARROLL: Critics of prosecuting attorney Robert McCullough say he may be biased in favor of law enforcement. McCullough's father was killed while working as a cop, and his mother was a police clerk. He wanted to be an police officer himself, but lost one of his legs due to cancer. McCullough is holding firm.
ROBERT MCCULLOUGH, PROSECUTOR: I have no intention of walking away from the responsibilities, the duties that have been entrusted to me by the people of this entire community, and I understand that there are some that they don't think I'm suited for this case. What I'm trying to convey to them is that I've got that responsibility. I'm not walking away from it.
CARROLL: Police and protesters continue to clash, nearly 50 people arrested overnight, though the demonstrations were mostly peaceful. Captain Ron Johnson says a turning point has been reached.
CAPTAIN RON JOHNSON, MISSOURI STATE POLICE: I think our community is turning against the criminals that are trying to project this community in a bad light.
CARROLL: Local residents are hoping for an end to the violence. Deborah Jones lives about a block from the demonstrations, and she sits in fear as each night approaches.
DEBORAH JONES, RESIDENT: We're right in the middle, you know? And people, you know, they just need to, you know, cease this.
CARROLL (on camera): How long do you think you can continue to live like this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope they get everything resolved soon. You can't -- they need the person to justice so these people can start to heal and this can calm down, quiet now, because this neighborhood is really suffering.
CARROLL: Well, those here in the community know that last night there were no shootings, no Molotov cocktails being thrown, and no tear gas being used. That was the first time in at least the past several days that that has happened.
Captain Johnson basically saying he felt as though, Brianna, it was a different dynamic out here, and he's certainly hoping that tonight makes a difference, as well -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Relative calm. Jason Carroll, thank you so much in Ferguson for us. Attorney General Holder has been meeting with all sides there in Ferguson. NAACP board member John Gaskin was among a group of community leaders who spoke with Holder, and he's joining me right now.
John, thanks for being with us, and take us inside of this meeting that you were in. What was your message for the attorney general, and what did he tell you?
JOHN GASKIN, NAACP BOARD MEMBER: Well, first of all, thank you for having me. His message to us, I think, was quite effective. It -- it really shows that the protesters that have been protesting peacefully have gotten the attention of national and federal officials, and him being here makes a strong statement.
He had several members of his field team here on the ground with us along with several people that work for the FBI, and from what I gathered there was a lot of good energy in the room. A lot of questions, but he made a very bold statement. He kind of reflected on the civil rights movement and how we have an obligation to protect civil rights here in America and how it's an American issue, and it should be on the American agenda, obviously.
KEILAR: You say -- when you say, John, that there -- you said there were questions. Are those questions he was asking you or were those questions that you and others posed to him?
GASKIN: There were questions that others posed to him. For example, where do we go from here? How long will this take?
Some of the answers to those questions were that we must be patient moving forward. That they want to do a very thorough, transparent job. They don't want to do a rush job, but they want to move as expeditiously as possible, and that's something that we can certainly understand.
One of the things that he stressed is communication in looking at a long-term plan, how we can move the community forward and how this can be used as an example for community policing and how to deal with -- how to deal with police departments and law enforcement in a proper way, in which it can be used as a national example, and I thought that was great.
KEILAR: Yes. Certainly, what's going on in Ferguson in terms of distrust and police needing to make inroads is something that needs to go on in other communities, as well. John Gaskin, thanks so much for giving us a sense of what happened in that meeting.
GASKIN: Thank you. KEILAR: Well, St. Louis County police say that they have relieved an
officer of duty, and they're suspending him indefinitely after he threatened protesters last night and pointed a semiautomatic assault rifle at them.
CNN's Don Lemon is in Ferguson with the latest.
Don, it's surprising at this point that this would happen, isn't it?
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It is surprising, and what's even more surprising is that you're going to see the video right now of that confrontation. And I want to warn our viewers, there are some very strong language in this video. We've done our best to bleep it to cover that language, but it is very graphic. You're going to get an idea of what it is. So again, a warning, and then I will explain exactly when this occurred and what happened afterwards. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My hands are -- my hands are up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up. Hands up! (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Get back! Get back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to kill him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's trying to kill me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So in that video the officer says -- the peaceful protesters, this is according to the unified forces here, says, "Look, this guy has his gun pointing at people, and the officer says, "Get back or I'm going to F-ing kill you." And then they asked -- he says it several times, and then they ask the officer his name. And he says, "My name is Officer Go 'F' Yourself," and it continues on, you know, with that a little bit afterwards.
But here's what they said. This happened Tuesday shortly before midnight when the incident occurred, and that is a St. Ann municipality police officer. St. Ann municipality police officer.
And according to the unified forces here, they said that this does not represent any of the officers in the area. Obviously, they do not condone this. This officer has been suspended indefinitely and has been removed from his duties here.
And even before that, the man who is in charge of this operation, Captain Ron Johnson, told us that he wasn't having any of this. This officer is done. He has nothing to do with these operations anymore.
But again, you see the video and you hear the very graphic language and the officer pointing a semiautomatic loaded weapon at a peaceful protester, telling him he was going to "F"-ing kill him -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And you see, Don -- you hear some of those protesters. They are goading him in some ways, but at the same time, that's sort of -- that's part of it. That's what a police officer has to be prepared to deal with and not in a way that they escalate the situation.
LEMON: Absolutely. At almost any public event that you go to, there's going to be some rowdiness, whether it's a parade or celebration or whether it is a protest happening in downtown Ferguson.
Police officers are often taunted, but it is not a police officer's position to point a loaded semiautomatic weapon at someone and threaten to kill them and then, when asked the name, saying, "My name is Officer Go 'F' Yourself." It's just not conduct that anyone would deem becoming to any officer. And again, he has been relieved of his duties, suspended indefinitely. And the people in charge say he has nothing to do with this. He is done.
KEILAR: Is part of this, Don, the issue that there are so many jurisdictions, and perhaps they're getting different kinds of guidance and dos and don'ts about how to handle this kind of situation?
LEMON: Listen, that could be a problem, but not with that.
LEMON: That is just a problem in itself. No officer should be doing that. That has nothing to do with guidance. If you have any sort of training as a police officer, even as a civilian, as a lay person.
LEMON: I know that. Anyone would know that. That is not proper procedure.
KEILAR: Yes. It seems like a pretty basic idea.
All right. Don Lemon in Ferguson, thank you.
And coming up, we'll have more coverage of the breaking news in Ferguson. We are looking at the police tactics as those fresh allegations surface of that officer threatening protesters with a rifle.
KEILAR: Our breaking news: Attorney General Eric Holder on the ground in Ferguson, Missouri, meeting with all sides there, and telling them that the eyes of the nation are upon them.
Let's go in depth now on the situation in Ferguson with CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Robert Driscoll. He is former deputy attorney general who worked in the civil rights division.
So, Bob, you have a tremendous amount of personal expertise when it comes to what's on, on the ground there. But there is a very high bar, isn't there, for a civil rights investigation like this?
ROBERT DRISCOLL, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Oh, certainly.
For a case like the Brown case, the government would have to prove not only that the officer used excessive force, but the officer intended to deny Brown his civil rights. So, the bar is going to be extremely high.
KEILAR: So, when you look at cases where a civil rights investigation has turned into charges, it's different than a case like this, right?
DRISCOLL: If you look typically at the cases that have been brought successfully by the department over the years, a lot of them have been prison cases, where a prisoner is beaten, or cases where there has almost been a flat-out assassination by an officer or something when there is no question that the officer is acting intentionally to harm somebody.
DRISCOLL: These type of cases, a split-second decision in some kind of fracas, I think the bar will be very high.
Of course, there are still a lot of facts to be investigated. But I think people's expectations shouldn't get out ahead of this case until all the facts come out.
KEILAR: But, Jeffrey, when you're talking about expectations, the attorney general going to Ferguson, is he raising expectations that the federal government will hand down some type of charge here?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think so.
Eric Holder, as well as the president have been very clear that what they are doing or trying to do is conduct a very fair, extensive, transparent investigation, but they haven't promised any indictment.
The irony here is that I think there is a great deal of trust for Eric Holder and the Justice Department, but the easier case to make would be through the state of Missouri, where essentially just excessive force could be the basis for a prosecution.
But the African-American community, at least many prominent people there, don't trust the state prosecutor, Mr. McDonough, who -- McCulloch, who has the power to bring that case. So that is something that is just a very awkward setting for this -- for this particular investigation.
KEILAR: And we are expecting the attorney general to meet with Michael Brown's family shortly. I want to mention that.
Jeffrey, if the federal government doesn't bring charges against the officer here, Darren Wilson, in relation to the civil rights investigation, what other options are there?
TOOBIN: Well, then the state could bring charges. Just looking at this case in the abstract --
KEILAR: There's no other federal option or --
There's just the department -- U.S. Department of Justice covers the waterfront as far as federal charges are concerned. The state of Missouri, through the prosecuting attorney, is the representative, at least for now, unless he gets recused. Those are really the only two options for criminal cases.
Now, there will certainly be a multitude of civil cases for money damages flowing out of this case. But in terms of whether Darren Wilson goes to prison, the only options are the United States Department of Justice and the state of Missouri.
KEILAR: But what -- in terms of the federal government, Bob, are there other options in terms of looking at, not just this incident, but perhaps the culture of the Ferguson Police Department?
Attorney General Holder has the option to have the special litigation section do a so-called pattern and practice investigation of either the entire Ferguson department or the -- .
KEILAR: Is that what you would do if you were in this position?
DRISCOLL: It's certainly something I would look at, particularly where the community appears to be complaining about broader issues than this particular case.
In addition to this, where certainly the community wants an outcome, the community has problems with policing in general in that area. And so I think they're probably looking already at Saint Louis County and at Ferguson and other law enforcement agencies to see if there is a pattern and practice case that could be brought which would deal more with policing reforms generally, and not have anything to do with this specific case of Michael Brown.
KEILAR: And they could force police in those areas to change?
DRISCOLL: Yes. They would enter into a consent decree that would be enforceable by a federal court, which would change the practices of the police department and put in different rules and restraints on officer conduct. That was done in Cincinnati and Los Angeles, for example.
KEILAR: All right, Bob, thank you so much.
KEILAR: Sorry, Jeffrey. Go on.
TOOBIN: Well, I just wanted -- the pattern and practice cases are civil. They are not criminal cases.
KEILAR: Not criminal.
TOOBIN: So Darren Wilson or anyone else could not go to prison if what the Justice Department does is a pattern and practice case.
KEILAR: Yes, looking more hopefully towards -- I guess systemic change in a way.
All right, Bob, thank you so much. Jeff, really appreciate your perspective on this.
Coming up, heavy-handed tactics or an appropriate response? We're taking a closer look at the police's use of force on the ground in Ferguson.
And over 100 rocket attacks already, as peace talks collapse. The situation in the Middle East is unraveling again.
KEILAR: We are following the breaking news in Ferguson, Missouri, where police have been accused of heavy-handed tactics and escalating tensions.
But others defend authorities, saying they face looters, large crowds and Molotov cocktails.
And joining us now to discuss, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, as well as CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes.
Commissioner, you are in the unique position of giving advice to Saint Louis authorities who are dealing with law enforcement here. What are you telling them?
CHARLES RAMSEY, PHILADELPHIA POLICE CHIEF: Well, I don't know if I would go so far as to say I have given them advice.
I did have a conversation last Friday that was arranged by Director Ron Davis of the COPS Office, who asked if I would participate in a conference call with officials in Ferguson, Missouri. I have not had any conversation with them since then regarding anything that has taken place in Ferguson..
KEILAR: But what did you tell them, Commissioner? Pardon me for interrupting you, but what did you tell them? I'm curious.
RAMSEY: Well, we talked about communication. We talked about the need to de-escalate the situation.
These are very difficult situations to handle. And if you do have a flare-up because of looting or anything that's taking place, as soon as you can, you have to try to de-escalate. De-escalation has to take place on both sides. No one benefits from this thing just constantly spiraling out of
control. So you do need to have very tight command-and-control with a real sincere effort to try to de-escalate, but also strong communication with both the public, as well as the media.
KEILAR: Yes. And we have seen some of that lacking on both fronts.
Tom, when you look at last night, it was relatively -- there were still many arrests, but there was relative calm, compared to the nights before that. What do you a tribute that to? Is that policing, or is this just a one-off?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it might be a one-off. We will find out tonight.
But I -- at the time, I attributed it to many of the protesters went home earlier and allowed the police then to deal directly with the hooligans that showed up to cause trouble. And what I have been saying is that I think some of these hooligans have used the good people of Ferguson and the good protesters, have used them as human shields, intermingle with them, so that when the police have to deal with the bad people, they have to go into the crowd.
FUENTES: They have to run a vehicle into there. And that just antagonizes everybody and creates violence.
So, I think that -- that, in a way, you want the protesters to be able to safely express themselves.
FUENTES: But, you know, you -- in a way, you also want them to kind of get out of the way and let the police --
KEILAR: So the hooligans can be sort of revealed to the police.
I want to get your perspective on this YouTube clip that we have been playing. Last night a protester shot video of a police officer directly threatening him. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got the gun pointed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My hands are up, bro. My hands are up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up. Raised and pointed. Raised and pointed at (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up. (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back. Get back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to kill him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he trying to kill me? OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name, sir? (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: All right. So an officer not only cursing there at some of the protesters who are admittedly goading him yet still he is pointing his weapon at them, he is obviously not behaving as he should. He was relieved of duty. He was suspended. The St. Louis Police Department saying that, "The unified command strongly feel these actions are inappropriate and not indicative of the officers who have worked daily to keep the peace."
Commissioner, to you, is that last part true? Is this a one off or is this indicative of some of the officers who are there supposedly to keep the peace?
CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE CHIEF: Well, it's not indicative of the officers that are there. The chief did absolutely the right thing, relieved him very, very quickly. I think that's why you have to really pay close attention to your personnel when you have situations like this that go on over a period of time. Nerves get frayed and so forth.
I don't know this officer, know nothing about him at all, but that kind of behavior is absolutely inappropriate, uncalled for and severe discipline ought to be taken.
KEILAR: Are you seeing, Tom, a systemic cultural problem in the policing in the area?
FUENTES: I wouldn't call it systemic. I think there's been disagreements of whether initially they brought out too much military equipment that maybe should have been -- should have been held back in a staging area. The officers that are on top of the trucks pointing sculpt rifles into the crowd, that's inappropriate any time. There are other optical devices to be looking into a crowd that aren't attached to a rifle.
FUENTES: So that wasn't a good thing to see that but then when the police backed off and were kinder and gentler in the middle of last week, we ended up with looting and the accusations that the police did not do anything to stop the looting when those store owners were begging for help and that could be long-term damage to Ferguson.
FUENTES: If those businesses aren't protected, if they leave, what happens in the community, the people that don't have cars.
KEILAR: Yes. FUENTES: That want to be able to walk to the corner store. If those
stores are gone, that's going to have a long-term --
KEILAR: Does it become -- does it become an economic desert? And we'll talk more about that.
KEILAR: Tom, thank you so much. Commissioner, really appreciate you being with us, as well.
Now just ahead, we have the latest on two major breaking news stories, stand by for the latest developments on the situation in Ferguson and the threat from ISIS.
But first, breaking news from the Middle East where new rocket fire is raining down on Israel and Gaza. We have details.
KEILAR: We are monitoring the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. But first, this breaking news. Rockets are flying in the skies over Israel and Gaza once again as peace talks between Israel and Hamas fall apart.
CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is on the ground in Gaza City.
Frederik, what are you seeing from your vantage point there?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. Well, there was a lot of rocket fire going from Gaza towards Israel. The Israeli Defense Forces are saying that more than 200 rockets were fired towards this territory. And I can tell you especially in the evening hours, there were just barrages going out. And it wasn't just a lot of rockets that were flying. It was very heavy rockets. There were some that apparently flew all the way to the Tel Aviv area.
There were a lot of intercepts by the Iron Dome Missile Defense System. And also a lot of Israeli airstrikes in retaliation for that. It really seems as though the Israeli war planes were trying to suppress a lot of those rocket firing positions. But certainly it was a day when there was a lot of firing going on. A lot of action here on this battlefield. And right now it doesn't seem as though a cease- fire is in anyway imminent -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Why did it fall apart?
PLEITGEN: Well, that's a very good question. I mean, certainly it seems as though both sides were very far apart. In the end what it comes down to is Israel's security concerns versus the concerns of the Palestinians. They want all the border crossings to be opened. The Israelis say they have some major security concerns with that. And then what happened is you had this escalation when rockets flew over from Gaza towards Israel. Israeli warplanes then struck those positions. And there was one incident where the Israelis apparently tried to
target the head of Qassam Brigade. That's Hamas's military wing. His name is Mohammed Deif, and -- the Qassam Brigade said that the Israelis failed to do that but they killed his wife and his son, and since then the barrages have just gotten a lot worse.
And tonight the Qassam Brigade announced that as of tomorrow 6:00 a.m. they want to shut down Ben Gurion Airport with their rockets. They've warned all international airlines from flying in there. So certainly another big threat there as well even though the Israelis say their Iron Dome system should be able to keep rockets away from that area.
And tonight there was a speech by Benjamin Netanyahu where he warned Israelis and prepared them that this could be a very long campaign. And certainly we know that Israel's army is still amass at the border and they've recalled 2,000 reservists that were already being let off and told them to come back on duty -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And that threat is something that carriers as well as other nations that support those carriers will be taking a look at.
Fred Pleitgen in Gaza City, thank you.
Coming up, we are going live back to Ferguson as the small town braces for potential new protests tonight.
And President Obama promises justice against ISIS. The U.S. unleashing new airstrikes on the terrorist group. Stand by for the latest on that.
KEILAR: Happening now a SITUATION ROOM special report.