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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Details on Failed Hostage Rescue Attempt; Police Pull Back in Ferguson
Aired August 21, 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: Also this hour, police pull back after nearly two weeks of tension and violence in Ferguson, the governor giving new marching orders to the National Guard.
And inside a failed rescue, dramatic new details about attempts to save the American journalist who was beheaded by ISIS. The Pentagon's top spokesman is standing by.
We want to welcome our viewers in the states and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off tonight. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: This is beyond anything that we have seen. So we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is you take a cold, steely, hard look at it and get ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Breaking news this hour, a chilling new warning from the Pentagon chief about the threat to the United States and the world from ISIS, amid growing concerns that the terror group may have sleeper cells inside the U.S. We will have more on that ahead.
First, breaking news out of Ferguson, Missouri. National Guard troops deployed to help keep the peace now are under orders to begin withdrawing. The governor says the situation on the ground is improving after nearly two weeks of unrest. Just hours after Eric Holder's visit to Ferguson, the attorney general is promising that the investigation into the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown will be fair and independent.
Michael Brown's mother tells CNN Holder made her feel reassure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESLEY MCSPADDEN, Mother of Victim: The words come directly from his mouth, face to face. He made me feel like one day I will, and I'm not saying today or yesterday, but one day I -- they will regain my trust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: We have correspondents and newsmakers standing by as we cover the breaking news out of Ferguson and around the world.
First to CNN's Jake Tapper. He is going to be joining me throughout the hour -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Brianna, the federal and state investigations of Michael Brown's death are just now beginning, really. And now there's new scrutiny of a different deadly face-off between police here in Missouri and a young African-American man.
There's new video of that shooting and it's only adding to concerns about police tactics in the state and frankly across America.
TAPPER (voice-over): Since the shooting death of Michael Brown 12 days ago as well as the police shooting of another African-American man in Saint Louis on Tuesday, there has been a new focus on when police are supposed to use deadly force when they believe they're facing a threat.
BILL JOHNSON, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF POLICE ORGANIZATIONS: The general rule of thumb everywhere in the country is keep firing until the threat is stopped.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shooting people down like dogs in the street.
TAPPER: New video released late Wednesday showed the final moments for a 25-year-old man who the police chief says was behaving erratically and holding a knife. Kajieme Powell is seen here on Tuesday in a convenience store surveillance tape. A 911 call from the store said he stole small items.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got drinks and doughnuts.
TAPPER: Minutes later, another call to 911.
CALLER: A young man in some Khaki pants and blue hooded shirt.
TAPPER: This time describing a weapon.
CALLER: He had a knife in his hands.
TAPPER: Authorities say he then stepped towards police holding a knife and the police shot and killed him.
(on camera): The whole deadly confrontation takes fewer than 20 seconds. Powell standing here tells the police officers to shoot him, to kill him. Then he makes his way up here to the parking lot where he begins to make his way directly towards the police officers. It's at approximately this spot where he is shot and he lands and stumbles down on to the ground and lies dead here.
The question is just how far was he from the police officers, what kind of threat did he pose to them? And this is where our amateur sleuthing falls short, because we do not know where exactly Powell was standing when he was shot and we do not know the exact location of the officers. But just to give you an idea of distances here, we believe he was shot somewhere around here, and this tape measure is 16 feet long.
(voice-over): Sixteen feet may seem far, but for police, even that distance may not be enough, not enough to feel safe. There is no hard and fast rule, but some officers use 21 feet as a rule of thumb. If someone with a weapon is within that distance, they can get the officers before the police can stop them.
JOHNSON: You can be 10, 15, up to 20 feet away and close within just a second or two. That's all the time an officer has to react.
TAPPER: The deaths of both Brown and Powell have had members of the public asking, why don't the officers shoot to wound, aiming for the legs or the hands?
JOHNSON: The officer has to shoot at what he's most likely to hit and that's going to be the center of the person, the center mass of the person and unfortunately working up into the person's head.
TAPPER: You may not like these protocols, they might seem wrong to you, but this is what many officers are taught. The question, of course, do these regulations, among other factors, lead to further distrust between some communities and the police?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wonder why these young men run from them. Because they're scared. They're scared of what might happen.
TAPPER: Officers, of course, are fearful too citing FBI statistics that 27 police officers were killed in the line of duty last year.
JOHNSON: People go out there with the mind-set that police are out there hunting down civilians or killing unarmed men because it's somehow something they do or enjoy. That's just a sick thought. But it's an inaccurate thought.
TAPPER: Brianna, earlier, I asked the police chief for Saint Louis why did he initially say that Mr. Powell had his knife in the air? He said that was because the initial first testimonies from witnesses, not the officers, said that the man had the knife in the air. But the officers never said that. We have a lot of questions for him and we will have a lot more coming up -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Jake, we will await that. Thank you, Jake Tapper, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Joining us now, an attorney for the Brown family. Anthony Gray with us now.
Mr. Gray, thank you so much for being with us. ANTHONY GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN: Thank you
for having me.
KEILAR: Definitely. And today follows the big day yesterday, where Attorney General Eric Holder came to Ferguson, he met with the Brown family. How important was that for them to have that meeting and sit face to face and talk to the attorney general?
GRAY: Well, I think Lesley said it probably better than I could. It seemed to have had a very soothing effect on her. It came across to her as being genuine and reassuring. And at this hour, while she's trying to bury her child, I think it came at a very appropriate time.
KEILAR: There is a federal criminal civil rights investigation that is under way right now. Are you expecting that there will be charges coming from that investigation when it comes to officer Wilson?
GRAY: Well, you know, I fully expect for there to be charges based on what the witnesses have consistently said across the board. I don't know how any investigation can discount all of the consistent key eyewitness testimony that has been given regarding the incidents of that Saturday afternoon. So me personally, I expect to see charges to be brought in this case.
KEILAR: Did you feel like you got that -- did the family feel like they got that sense coming from the attorney general?
GRAY: Well, I don't know if they got the sense that charges will be filed. I do feel that they got the sense that whatever is done in this investigation, they have some hope that it would be fair, that it would be thorough and that it would be transparent. I'm pretty sure that they would live with the results even if they don't like them.
KEILAR: Some legal experts have said there may not be federal charges against the officer, but what you might see happen is kind of a broader look from the Justice Department at the Ferguson Police Department and really sort of setting up benchmarks that the department would need to hit, a sense that obviously there's a cultural problem there in the police department.
I imagine the family agrees that that should be done. But would that be enough for them?
GRAY: I don't know if anything would be enough, other than resurrecting their child back from the grave.
I do think it's a positive step in the right direction. Obviously, there's an environment there that fostered the kind of reaction and conduct that officer Wilson took on that day. And it seems to be way more systemic than just one incident on a Saturday afternoon. So I welcome a probe into the Ferguson Police Department that could probably get to the root of that.
KEILAR: Yesterday, Michael Brown's mom, Lesley, went for the first time to see her son's body. Tell us how important it was for her to do that and just how emotional it must have been.
GRAY: Well, the emotional part, I can only liken it to this. Just imagine if it was your own child. Whatever feelings you would have about your own child, you can transfer those to Ms. McSpadden and multiply times 10. It brings about a sense of closure and at least gets her one step closer to closure and for all of those reasons it was helpful.
KEILAR: All right, Anthony Gray, thanks so much for being with us. Really appreciate it.
GRAY: Thank you so much for having me.
KEILAR: And let's head back now to Ferguson, Missouri, where Jake Tapper is -- Jake.
TAPPER: Thanks, Brianna.
Calls for a special prosecutor to investigation Michael Brown's death are gaining momentum. Protesters delivered a petition today with 70,000 signatures demanding that the local prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, be removed from the case.
Critics claim he's too close to police. They question whether he would be fair because of his record. Let's talk about this investigation and other new developments with Missouri State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat. She joins us now. She represents parts of Ferguson.
State Senator, thanks so much for being here.
First, let's get your reaction to the shooting video of Kajieme Powell in Saint Louis. Does it raise any questions for you?
MARIA CHAPPELLE-NADAL (D), MISSOURI STATE SENATOR: Absolutely.
I had several of my constituents call me and tell me about the shooting when it happened. And then I started getting pictures of the area in which this person was shot. And then last night, I saw the video. And I was quite appalled by that video when I saw that after the gentlemen was shot so many times, the police officers literally put on handcuffs on a person who had been shot multiple times.
I was really concerned about that and hopefully the investigation will show that, you know, that was uncalled for. I know that those officers are on unpaid leave, which is definitely for that community a good thing, as opposed to the officer in Ferguson who is still on paid leave.
TAPPER: I was down at the area of the shooting, the Tuesday shooting today. I'll tell you I heard concerns from local businesses that there were going to be recriminations against them, that looters, that criminals, that angry protesters were going to take it out on their stores, take it out on them personally even, because this young man with a knife who was behave erratically, that they, you know, some people from that area, including a local alderwoman, I believe, called the police.
That must be a horrible feeling to think, here is this disturbance, I'm calling the police. Forget the shooting for one second. They fear being held responsible by elements of the community.
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Well, here's what I will tell you. In July and August, I was campaigning in that area for a local candidate. That area abuts my district, my Senate district.
And the people in that community are extremely close. You have several generations of folks. I think it is a legitimate concern of those business owners to be targeted because of the Ferguson experience. But what I will tell you is that there's a lot of calm in that community yesterday, as opposed to what has been happening in Ferguson.
And I realize, and I think they realize, that it was important for the mayor to come out and bring calm. I think that they tempered everything down as much as possible, so that they would not have a Ferguson part two.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about the decision by someone you're not -- I would say it's fair to say you're not a huge fan of Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. He has decided to order the withdrawal, slow and deliberate, but the withdrawal of the Missouri National Guard. There have been two nights of relative peace. Was that the right decision?
From the very beginning, this community felt as though they were being intimidated by police. Rightfully so. We were talking about Saint Louis County.
TAPPER: As I say this, we point out that they're actually packing up behind us. This Humvee is actually leaving. I don't know if they're taking their TripTik with them. But anyway, go on. I'm sorry.
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: This community from the very beginning was intimidated and harassed by Saint Louis County police officers. And I think by having multi-law enforcement agencies here on the ground, it's really an unfortunate situation.
TAPPER: You don't think that's been good to have lots of different law enforcement?
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Oh, no, no, not for this community.
TAPPER: But you thought it was good when the Missouri State Highway Patrol came in and Captain Ron Johnson, right? CHAPPELLE-NADAL: Absolutely, I did. But at the very beginning,
we had three law enforcement agencies initially. We had Saint Louis County, Ferguson, as well as Highway Patrol, even on the first three days where we were being tear gassed, and I was victim of two of those incidents.
We had all of those three entities available. Fortunately, the governor said, hey, you got to take a step back, Saint Louis County and we want to have some of our Highway Patrol here on the ground. I will tell you two things changed in this community for the better. One, we do have Captain Johnson and the community loves him, as I have mentioned before. And number two, we had Eric Holder.
As I was on the ground this morning protesting with my constituents, they were very happy. They were telling me stories about he was so down to earth and how they really confide in him to do the right thing. They're really appreciative that he here was on the ground talking to them, different from the governor who has not been at ground zero.
Eric Holder was courageous enough to be with the very peaceful people that I have been with for a long time now.
TAPPER: It is entirely possible that the grand jury will not hand down any sort of verdict against officer Darren Wilson, that they will find it to be a clean shooting. What happens then? What do the people of Ferguson do?
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: We're at round one again. And I hope that doesn't happen. But we're going to have to prepare our community
TAPPER: Packing up the water, by the way. You see the National Guard leaving as we speak. I'm sorry. Keep going.
CHAPPELLE-NADAL: We have to prepare ourselves for that.
And it's always been one of the options that's out there. And I just hope that this community stays peaceful. I was in McDonald's for lunch today, West Florissant, and I was talking to one of my constituents who said, hey listen, if you think Ferguson was bad a week ago, just be prepared for the entire city to have looting.
And that's what a constituent said today. And it was unfortunate. Now, as you know, if looting happens across the city and across the region, there's no control. In Ferguson, you have control and hopefully that won't happen. But what this community wants is real transparency. All of the evidence that needs to come before the jury needs to come before them. And we just have to hope for the best.
TAPPER: All right. Senator, thank you so much.
As we see, the National Guard leaving, bringing their water with them -- Brianna, back to you. KEILAR: All right, Jake. Thank you so much. You're seeing it
happen right there in Ferguson.
Still ahead, video you have not seen before of a police officer threatening protesters in Ferguson with a rifle, a semiautomatic weapon. We have more fuel for our discussion of police officers who may be crossing dangerous lines.
And ominous new warnings from the U.S. military about the threat from ISIS after the beheading of an American. The top Pentagon spokesman will join us just ahead.
TAPPER: Welcome back to CNN. I'm Jake Tapper in Ferguson, Missouri.
I want to bring in my colleague Don Lemon now. He just spoke with the Democrat governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, a short while ago.
Don, what did he tell you?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we are actually at Weldon Spring, at the police, state police headquarters.
He -- very emphatic about a number of things, Jake. What he said is, this is not a complete withdrawal of the National Guard from Missouri. He's calling it a gradual drawdown. He says the situation appears to be getting better, so gradually the National Guard will be removing themselves from Missouri, not removing them all immediately.
And also he said we are still under a state of emergency. Missouri is still under a state of Missouri. He wanted to make that straight. But also we talked about whether or not Attorney General Eric Holder visiting here yesterday, meeting with him, if that had anything to do with this decision about the National Guard and here's what Governor Jay Nixon said. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: It was 100 percent my decision. We're the state of Missouri. I have declared a state of emergency. While I listen to folks, make no mistake those are decisions that I am responsible for. And while I will listen to folks' advice about them, I'm making them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was something. Again, that's the most animated -- one of the times he got the most animated during the interview. And also when I said, did the White House know about your decision to bring in the National Guard, he said listen, again, that was 100 percent my decision. I don't call the White House at 3:00 in the morning to get decisions as to what I should do in thank state.
It's a wide-ranging interview that we will have tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on "CNN TONIGHT" with the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon -- back to you, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Don, thanks so much.
We're getting now a new look at a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, who was suspended for threatening and cursing at protesters as we pointed a rifle straight at them. Take a look at the new video of the incident obtained by CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My hands are up, bro. My hands are up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hands up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kill you. Get back. Get back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to kill him. What's your name, sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: I want to talk more now about that and more with CNN law enforcement Tom Fuentes, as well as HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson.
So, Joey, you're looking at these videos. What do you make of them and how does this I guess change the case at all?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Unfortunately, you have a situation where tensions, Brianna, are all right heightened, where you have people at the boiling point, where you have people expressing their views, as is their constitutional right to do so, who are out in the public.
And certainly you would suspect and expect that everybody behaves accordingly, certainly protesters doing their part to act in accordance with the law. And you don't want that to be incited. So whenever you see law enforcement, who's trained for stressful situations, and I get the fact that they're out there and I get the fact that understand that they are very tense situations.
But you don't want it to be exacerbated. You don't want fuel to be flame to the fire. It's already combustible. So when you see this happening, Brianna, it's certainly you shy away from. And rightfully and appropriately this officer apparently has been disciplined or apparently at this point he's not on the street which is where he does not belong.
KEILAR: Yes, I believe he is suspended at this point.
Tom, you're watching this. From a law enforcement perspective, how dangerous is it to have someone, to have an officer with that weapon losing his cool?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Very dangerous. I agree completely that it was inappropriate. He was acting out of line. The police commanders quickly recognized it, relieved him of duty, got him off of the street, had other officers usher him away very quickly.
What he did was not appropriate at all.
KEILAR: Will his career recover from that? Or would your expectation be that that is seen as he's not someone for the job to be on the street?
FUENTES: I think his career as a peacekeeper in crowd control is probably going to be greatly hindered by that type of behavior and loss of control and loss of cool.
I don't know what department he's from. You have kind of an all- star team of police that are out there.
KEILAR: Yes. It was the Saint Ann Police Department, which spoke to just how many jurisdictions there were working there.
FUENTES: We don't know what kind of training they get or what he was prepared to do when he got out there. Unfortunately when an incident goes for a long time, you do have a problem of trying to rotate people in and out, whether it's commanders or whether it's the line officers on the street.
And unfortunately we have had cases where it can be too much for too long, too high of a stress and an individual might break bad, as this officer did.
Joey, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, he is speaking out about the shooting in Ferguson of Michael Brown. He served in the Clinton Justice Department in the Civil Rights Division. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I'm sick of it. I'm sick of, I'm sick of unarmed black men being shot by police. I'm sick of the lawlessness on the streets. I think everybody is tired of when are we going to get through with this kind of, this kind of thing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: What do you make of that, Joey, about what he's saying?
JACKSON: You know what happens, Brianna? Because it speaks to the larger issue here. Yes, we're now focused on Missouri and rightfully we should be because it's a perceived injustice. Of course, a grand jury will evaluate that evidence to determine whether there was an injustice and information was a crime. If so, it will move forward. But I think what happens is, this
is not only isolated to Ferguson. It's a discussion that is being held in a broader area like throughout the country. And I think that what the governor is speaking to is the frustration and the issue whenever you see someone, anyone that's shot dead, it becomes problematic. When you see another African-American male who is, obviously it becomes very concerning by law enforcement.
KEILAR: Stretches far beyond Ferguson.
Joey, thanks so much. Tom, thank you.
And just ahead, inside that failed attempt to rescue hostages held by ISIS terrorists, including the American journalist who was beheaded. We have dramatic new details.
And the top Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, standing by to talk to us live.
KEILAR: A grim and chilling new warning today from the Pentagon about what it calls the imminent threat posed by ISIS. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel summing it up by saying the U.S. needs to, quote, get ready.
Just days after the group revealed its brutal execution of American hostage Jim Foley, Hagel says ISIS is, quote, "as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we've seen."
This comes as we're getting new details about the unsuccessful U.S. commando raid to rescue ISIS hostages, including Foley.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been looking into that.
What can you tell us, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel acknowledged it straight up. The Pentagon revealed the secret raid, because they believed the news media was about to report it anyhow.
STARR (voice-over): It was July 4th weekend, a daring nighttime raid just outside the city of Raqa (ph) in northern Syria, a stronghold of ISIS. U.S. Special Forces were sent into danger, because the intelligence showed the target was a likely location where the hostages were being held, a senior U.S. official tells CNN. But it was not certain. The intelligence failed.
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: Intelligence doesn't come wrapped in a package with a bow. It is a mosaic of many pictures, of many factors.
STARR: The mission was unprecedented.
HAGEL: In a situation where you're going into a country which is fraught with danger, which is potentially going into a city that's controlled by a nefarious and horrific force like ISIS, the risk levels go up considerably.
STARR: It began under cover of darkness. Several dozen elite commandos from units like Army Delta Force and the Navy SEAL Team 6 landed in specially equipped radar evading helicopters. They quickly made their way to a building where they were told James Foley and other American hostages were being held. No one was there.
A firefight broke out with nearby militants. Several of those militants were killed. The U.S. team got back to their helicopters and left.
The operation, including the helicopters, similar to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Fighter jets patrolled overhead. Syrian radars were jammed. Team members moved to block nearby access roads. The entire mission lasted about two hours.
Now, questions about whether the lives of the other hostages are at risk from the administration's revelations.
HAGEL: It's the responsibility of our government and our leaders to do all we can to take action when we believe there might be a good possibility, a good chance to make a rescue effort successful.
STARR: One former Navy SEAL says you cannot underestimate the risk now posed by going public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's highly unusual, because it compromises our capability to do this again and to do it successfully. It makes it that much harder.
STARR: U.S. officials say a number of options about what to do, how to deal with ISIS, are now under review. That could include expanded air strikes in Iraq and maybe even air strikes across the border in Syria, now that there has been the first military mission inside this country.
But these officials also emphasize all of this are -- is just options, ideas. No decisions have been made -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Barbara, thank you so much.
And let's take a closer look now at the ISIS threat. Joining me now, Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.
Thanks for being with us.
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Thanks for having me. KEILAR: The first question I have for you: how much greater is
the threat from ISIS now? And what is the possibility of an attack on U.S. soil by ISIS?
KIRBY: The threat that ISIL poses, not just to Iraq but to the region grows, I would say, week by week. I think Secretary Hagel was very clear about that. They do have aspirations to attack western targets. They have taken hostages and, as we've seen, tragically, they've murdered one of them right on camera.
They do have aspirations to broaden their reach, broaden their scope. And it's an apocalyptic vision that this group has. And so I think we would be imprudent if we weren't thinking about that and thinking about how we might deter and defeat that.
KEILAR: Capabilities different than AIM.
KIRBY: They're well-resourced. They're well-led. They're well organized.
KEILAR: They have a lot of money and safe haven.
KIRBY: They do have a lot of money. Well, they do have a lot of money. They have safe haven, not just -- everybody is focused on the safe haven they allegedly have in Syria. They have places in Iraq where they've established safe haven, as well. So this is a dangerous group, and it's one that we are working very closely with Iraqi forces to help defeat.
KEILAR: And for our viewers, ISIL, ISIS, we're referring to the same thing when we use...
KIRBY: The same group. At the Pentagon we refer to them as ISIL.
KEILAR: ISIL. In (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
You hear Secretary Hagel saying get ready. Is he preparing Americans for further involvement in Iraq than we're already seeing? We have limited air strikes right now. Will there be more? Is that what this is about, preparing the public that the U.S. will go further?
KIRBY: I don't think he was trying to speculate about future operations in Iraq necessarily. Those operations continue. We're going to continue to conduct air strikes there in keeping with the mission we've been assigned. I think what he was trying to refer to was to make sure people understand that that the threat by this group, as I said before, grows and gets bigger week by week. And their aspirations grow in size. And I think we just all need to be mindful of that.
KEILAR: Will there be other operations? Is there a possibility of other special operations to try to rescue not only Steve Sotloff but other American hostages who are being held by ISIS? KIRBY: I certainly wouldn't talk about specific operations that
may or may not come in the future. Obviously, we want to try to preserve as much secrecy as possible.
But again, as Secretary Hagel made clear, we have an obligation to make the attempt when we can. We have an obligation to protect and to rescue American citizens that are -- that are being held hostage. That's a responsibility that we in the military take very seriously.
KEILAR: Admiral Kirby, explain to us why -- why did U.S. officials put details out about this failed raid? Because we just heard here in THE SITUATION ROOM on our show from a former Navy SEAL who said he sure wishes they hadn't. And we know that there are a number of folks, Special Ops Forces, who are downright ticked off that that information is out there. They think that it puts their lives at risk.
KIRBY: We're not happy about it either. I wish we didn't have to have talked about it at all. Let me remind you that the operation happened in mid-summer, and there wasn't any discussion of it. This was not something that we wanted to do. It wasn't something that we revealed just unanimously. This was something that we felt we had to do, because several media outlets were starting to get the information and were going to publish anyway.
So all we did at the very ending was try to provide some context to those stories and to try to ask for their forbearance in not revealing so much information.
Some of the stories, I think, were responsible in that regard. Others had more detail than we're very comfortable with. And I tell you, we're not happy about it either.
KEILAR: Talk about some of the public pressure, perhaps, that may have played a role in this. There was a lot of criticism from people who were close to Foley. They said that the U.S. knew where he was and the U.S. didn't get him. Was there pressure from the public, wondering why isn't the U.S. doing more that led to this disclosure? Or was it just, as you say, because other information was going to come out?
KIRBY: It was because we knew there were several media outlets that had the information and were going to publish. And all we tried to do was put some context to that, knowing that they were going to go anyway. That's what caused us to do it. That's what forced us to do it.
KEILAR: The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, which is led by an Obama administration appointee, said today that the Pentagon broke the law -- an anti-deficiency act is the law they stated -- by exchanging those five Taliban detainees for Sergeant Bo Bergdahl. They say that Congress wasn't informed properly of the fact that there was an expenditure to do this. What happened?
KIRBY: I think secretary Hagel testified to Congress on this very matter not long ago. And he admitted that we probably could have done a better job keeping Congress informed. Absolutely. But we also believe that it was lawfully done, lawfully conducted, and this was a judgment that was shared with the Justice Department.
KEILAR: Do you not trust Congress if you share information with them? I've heard, you know, privately you hear a lot of administration officials who say if you tell Congress, it's as good as public sometimes. Did that factor into it?
KIRBY: No. Not at all. We trust Congress. We respect their oversight. We respect that. Secretary Hagel was a senator. Nobody gets that more than he does.
There was not -- this wasn't an issue of trust. This was, as we testified to earlier and as we talked publicly, this was really an issue of timing and concern about Sergeant Bergdahl's life and having to move quickly.
KEILAR: A lot of topics you covered with us today. Thanks so much, Rear Admiral John Kirby.
KIRBY: Thanks for having me.
KEILAR: Appreciate your time.
KIRBY: Nice to be here.
KEILAR: And just ahead, we are looking closer at the shocking ISI video, searching for clues about the group's strategy. And stand by for the latest on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.
KEILAR: We're monitoring the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.
But, first, this breaking news story. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the threat from ISIS is now greater than al Qaeda. The warning comes just after the terror group released a brutal video showing the murder of American James Foley.
CNN's Tom Foreman has been examining that video for clues about ISIS. He's joining us now.
What did you find?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are a lot of tools in there and we know so much more about the circumstances of James Foley's murder and that video than we did 24 hours ago. And that is a measure of how energetically intelligence analysts worldwide we're scrutinizing this groups and this incident.
FOREMAN (voice-over): We now know the U.S. forces tried to rescue Foley and other American hostages earlier this summer, but could not find them. We know too that ISIS said it wanted $123 million in ransom for Foley, and we know much more about his executioner on the video, in part because of that man's voice.
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.
FOREMAN: The masked man does not speak Arabic but English, and analysts say he sounds as if he's from the south side of London. "The Guardian" newspaper suggested he is part of the cell of Brits who went to fight in Syria and now handle foreign hostages for ISIS.
Analysts are trying to match that voice with other known recordings of ISIS terrorists like this one in 2013.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you when they are slaughtering our children and our fathers?
FOREMAN: But the voice may also be a warning, a call to arms for sleeper cells in Western nations.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: This kind of video, that energizes these kind of people and it may inspire some to carry out copycat type of strikes in Europe. I think there's doing to be real concern about that in the days and weeks ahead.
FOREMAN: The terrain and weather appears similar to what is found in much of the stark desert in Syria. That may not help much now but it could prove useful if other leads point to the same area. The clothing worn by Foley mirrors the orange fabric of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.
CRUICKSHANK: That's obviously sending out a message to their support base, tit for tat, you treated our prisoners badly in Guantanamo and this is now what we're doing in return.
FOREMAN: And what about the audience? Analysts say the video was clearly aimed at White House, suggesting if he air raids against ISIS don't stop, another captured journalist Steven Sotloff will be killed.
When Nicolas Henin who was also an ISIS hostage last saw Sotloff --
NICOLAS HENIN, JOURNALIST/FORMER ISIS HOSTAGE: He was doing as good as he could, according to the consensus.
FOREMAN: But his fate is now highly uncertain.
FOREMAN: So what we have right now is a race against time, to see if ISIS can be weakened further by airstrikes and to see if intelligence forces can figure out more about where Sotloff is being held, ultimately to see if those who killed James Foley can be brought to justice, Brianna.
KEILAR: Tom Foreman, thank you so much. Let's turn now to the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence
Committee, Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia.
First, I want -- I know that you were listening, Senator, to our interview with Rear Admiral John Kirby, the spokesman for the Pentagon. I know you paid very close attention to what we heard today from Secretary Hagel.
How are you reacting to the administration talking about what the threats are from ISIS and do you agree with the assessment?
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Well, I'm a little disappointed that Secretary Hagel would say the U.S. better get ready for ISIS. I mean, come on. We've known for weeks that ISIS wants to attack the United States. Now, they're doing it, by carrying out this atrocious murder yesterday.
And, you know, we've made a real effort to slow down ISIS in the last week, but frankly, that should have been done weeks ago. These are the meanest, nastiest folks in the world today. And we have an obligation to protect our people on the ground in Iraq, and, we should have been taking out ISIL weeks and weeks ago with air strike.
More importantly, Brianna, I subscribe to the theory that my friend General Jack Keane has said, and that is the president should show leadership here. He should convene all of the leaders of the neighboring countries to Iraq, including Iraq, and let's get those folks together and say, look, we'll provide the air cover, we'll provide the weaponry. These folks are going to be a menace to your country unless we rid your country of these people. You put the troops on the ground to take them out and we'll provide the support to you.
That would be real leadership on the part of the president here.
KEILAR: What more needs to be done? How involved do you think the U.S. needs to become in targeting ISIS or ISIL as you and certainly the administration refer to it, and how do you see the public responding to that?
CHAMBLISS: I think the public is obviously not in support of American boots on the ground. And I think this can be handled without that.
But I think very clearly the airstrikes are having a very positive impact from the standpoint of taking out the leadership of ISIS, as well as taking out a lot of their equipment. We need to step up our game on taking out weaponry, equipment, as well as ISIL personnel. And we know who the leaders are, we know where they are.
Abu Bakr was on our radar screen for years now. He was too extreme for al Qaeda. That just tells you how extremist he is.
So, I think it's incumbent on the leadership at the Pentagon as well as the leadership of the administration to really come forward and get outside of the Mosul, Tikrit, Baghdad corridor. Go where ISIS is in other parts where they're trying to establish this caliphate.
And let's take it to them in a very strong way and make sure they understand you don't do to an American what you did to Mr. Foley. We're coming after you. You better not do it again. If you do it again, we're just going to be stronger in opposition to you.
KEILAR: Senator, can I ask you? If you were to get more involved than that, then you would expect that Congress would have to vote on that. I mean, do you think that Congress would even go ahead and authorize that? Is that -- is that even possible that it's a reality heading in the direction you're talking about, widening the strikes beyond just the targeted airstrikes that we're seeing?
CHAMBLISS: Well, the president has the authority under the Constitution to defend Americans. And we have Americans on the ground in Iraq who are threatened by ISIL. I think you can probably take as much action as he thought necessary to protect those Americans who are on the ground, but I will tell you also I would look forward to a debate in the United States Senate over this issue. This is not going to stop in Baghdad if we don't stop ISIL now. This is going to continue on to American soil eventually.
The time to stop it is now. The place to stop it is on the ground in Iraq.
KEILAR: The Obama administration released information about what was really ultimately a failed operation to try to retrieve Jim Foley and other hostages. Do you thing that information should have been released?
CHAMBLISS: Well, I got a phone call the day the mission was going down, explaining to me what was going to happen, and got a call the next day telling me that when they got on the ground, that the hostages were not there.
They obviously had been there. I don't consider this an intelligence failure because gathering intelligence inside of Syria today is very, very difficult. They did a good job of figuring out that the hostages were there at some point in time.
But this was a covert action. I simply don't understand why the White House is even acknowledging covert actions. We carry out covert actions from time to time in secret because they're very sensitive, they're very dangerous missions and they're missions that these brave men and women have to undertake from time to time and the more we put their life on the line, the more dangerous it becomes and the less likely we're going to have success.
KEILAR: And we've heard that tonight. Senator Chambliss, thank you so much. Let's head now to Ferguson, Missouri, where Jake Tapper is -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Brianna.
Just ahead here in Ferguson, Missouri, the National Guard is starting to withdraw. Will that make a difference tonight? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm Jake Tapper in Ferguson.
We are all waiting to see what tonight will bring. Obviously, the last two nights have been relatively peaceful, relatively calm, but the governor did announce that the National Guard will be slowly leaving this area. We're awaiting news to see what will happen with that. We're also waiting to see the reaction of the -- or the release of the video of that shooting in St. Louis on Tuesday. Will that affect the crowd?
So stay tuned for more coverage of that, Brianna.
KEILAR: Thank you, Jake. I'm Brianna Keilar. Thanks so much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.