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THE SITUATION ROOM
White House: Targets Identified in Syria; Ambassador Speaks Out about Foley Execution; New Witness on the Michael Brown Shooting
Aired September 11, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, battle plan -- the U.S. begins flying surveillance missions over Syria. And the White House says targets have, indeed, been identified. I'll talk with the president's national security adviser, Ambassador Susan Rice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANE FOLEY, JAMES FOLEY'S MOTHER: As an American I was embarrassed and appalled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Jim Foley's mother speaks out. Her son was brutally executed by ISIS. In a CNN exclusive, she says the U.S. didn't do enough to save him.
And new Ferguson video -- witnesses say they watched as Michael Brown was shot with his hands in the air.
We're going to get reaction.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news. On this 9/11, America finds itself in a new war against terrorists. This time, it's the brutal Islamist group, ISIS, which has slaughtered thousands on a bloody rampage across the Middle East and has brutally beheaded two Americans.
President Obama has laid out his strategy for destroying ISIS. It includes expanding airstrikes into Syria. Officials say U.S. planes are already carrying out surveillance there and targets already have been spotted.
Arming and training rebels -- now the Obama administration is selling that strategy to Congress and to America's allies, even as it gets ready to carry out the new battle plan.
Our correspondents, our analysts, our guests, they're all standing by for full coverage. Let's begin with our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski -- Michelle.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf.
Well, we just heard the president's strategy. Today, the White House says it is reviewing targets inside Syria. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that airstrikes are imminent. What the White House is doing now is trying to get Congress on board. That is looking somewhat promising, with some wavering there. The same in trying to gather international partners on this.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): On this September 11th, the president and first lady remember the victims of terror from the time that launched America's war on it.
Now a new chapter has opened.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not hesitate to take action against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
KOSINSKI: Today, the White House says based on its recent expansion of intel gathering, multiple new targets have been identified.
(on camera): Are you talking about targets in Syria at this point?
JOSH EARNEST, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has gotten guidance about targets that are available and would be critical to denying ISIL a safe haven, both in Iraq and in Syria.
KOSINSKI: Are there many of them in Syria?
EARNEST: I wouldn't characterize the guidance the president has received from his military planners.
KOSINSKI (voice-over): Those targets, for now, under review with the Pentagon and national security team. Today, Secretary of State Kerry, in the Middle East, secured the support of Arab leaders, taking a key question from CNN's Elise Labott.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is the United States at war with ISIS?
It sure sounds, from the president's speech, that we are.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that's the wrong terminology. What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation. And it's going to go on for some period of time.
KOSINSKI: But plenty of questions persist. Only weeks ago, President Obama said this about arming and training the Syrian rebels.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's always been a fantasy. What was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth.
KOSINSKI: But now that's part of his plan. The White House says after more than a year of U.S. assistance, those rebels are far more organized and strong.
Critics like Senator John McCain are still not convinced, sparring with former press secretary, Jay Carney.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm astounded that Mr. Carney should say that the Free Syrian Army is now stronger. In fact, they've been (INAUDIBLE)...
JAY CARNEY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that's not what I said, Senator.
CARNEY: I said...
CARNEY: If I could, sir, what I said...
CARNEY: -- is that we know a great deal more about...
MCCAIN: Oh, come on, you knew about it.
CARNEY: -- of the opposition.
MCCAIN: Come on, Jay. We knew all about them then, you just didn't choose to know. Your boss is the one that when the entire national security team wanted to arm and train them, that he turned them down.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
KOSINSKI: You know, it was interesting hearing today from the U.K., the US's closest ally. First, the foreign minister said let me be clear, there will be no British airstrikes in Syria. But then the prime minister's office said, oh, well, wait a minute, not anything is off the table yet, everything is being considered.
But the White House says that it is encouraged by what it calls "robust international support" for the president's plan, including, it says, in the Middle East -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski at the White House, thank you.
So did the president convince Congress of the merits of his new ISIS strategy?
Does he even need a go-ahead from Congress to carry out his battle plan? Let's turn to our chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash -- Dana, will the president what he wants when it comes to training Syrian rebel forces?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm told that in a private meeting this morning, House Republican leaders were actually pushing the rank and file to give the president that authority he needs.
But that is just one small part of a larger new military mission that Congress so far is not weighing in on.
BASH (voice-over): Taking ground troops against ISIS off the table is a mistake, says House Speaker John Boehner.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: An F-16 is not a strategy. And airstrikes alone will not accomplish what we're trying to accomplish.
BASH: Despite that tough talk about the president's strategy, Congress is punting on its own role.
(on camera): Why not be much more active and have a vote to give the president authority to have a Congressional marker on this, if this is an incredible threat?
BOEHNER: I do believe it would be in the nation's interests.
BASH (voice-over): Boehner often blasts the president for going it alone, but argues here it's the president's prerogative to ask for Congressional approval. And the White House says it has all the power it needs to battle ISIS with a 13-year-old authorization, passed after 9/11, to confront al Qaeda.
BOEHNER: The 24 years that I've been here, the president of the United States would request that support and would supply the wording of a resolution to authorize this force. And at this point in time, we've not gotten that request.
BASH: But some in both parties aren't buying that.
REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: We're the legislative branch and if you're standing there saying the president ought to ask for it, well, he doesn't have to ask for it, do it.
REP. MICHELLE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Each one of us represent over 700,000 Americans. And it's important that we have, rather than just one person making all the calls, that's not the way that our government was designed.
BASH: Even some Democrats facing tough re-election battles in just seven weeks want to weigh in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I didn't come here to take the easy votes. (END VIDEO TAPE)
BASH: Now, others still would rather not take a dicey vote like this, on military action, particularly. Some vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, where it could flip to Republican control in November.
That's not to say, Wolf, that Senate Democrats won't do this, but probably not until after November's election.
BLITZER: All right, Dana, thanks very much.
And joining us now from the White House, the president's national security adviser, Ambassador Susan Rice.
Ambassador, thanks very much for joining us.
I'll start with a simple question, is the United States at war right now with ISIS?
SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Wolf, as the president said very clearly last night, we are going to do what is necessary to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. And so that's going to entail a comprehensive approach.
On the one hand, as the president made clear, we'll be involved in sustained airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq, and to the extent necessary, in Syria. We'll also be building up the capacity of partners on the ground -- Iraqi security forces, our Kurdish partners and, also, with the support of Congress, we hope the moderate Syrian opposition.
So we will combine that with a political strategy in support of inclusive and representative governance in Iraq. We will also support the Sunni elements inside of Iraq to take the fight to ISIL, since they are the ones most directly affected by the ISIL terrorism.
And so this will be a political, diplomatic, as well as military strategy. It will involve partners in a broad coalition from the countries in the region who met today in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with Secretary Kerry and pledged to support this effort, to partners in Europe and Australia and others in the West. It will be a broad coalition to deal with the threat that ISIL poses.
BLITZER: It sounds like a war to me.
Is it fair to call it a war?
RICE: Well, Wolf, I don't know whether you want to call it a war or a sustained counterterrorism campaign or -- I think, frankly, this is a counterterrorism operation that will take time. It will be sustained. We will not have American combat forces on the ground fighting, as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is what I think the American people think of when they think of a war.
So I think this is very different from that. But nonetheless, we'll be dealing with a significant threat to the region, to American personnel in the region and, potentially, also to Europe and the United States. And we'll be doing it with partners. We will not be fighting ourselves on the ground, but we will be using American air power, as we have been over the last several weeks, as necessary.
BLITZER: You point out, to the extent necessary -- those were your words when you referred to U.S. air strikes against ISIS targets inside Syria, is there really any doubt that that would be necessary, given the enormous amount of land that they control, not only in Iraq, but in Syria?
That's really their -- their base, their refuge.
RICE: I think in all likelihood, Wolf, that will be the case. But what the president said is we will take the fight to ISIL where we need to and there won't be any safe haven. And he's been very clear that we're -- we're not so concerned about borders or about -- we're concerned about degrading and destroying ISIL.
So I think that it suggests that, in all likelihood, that will be necessary.
BLITZER: But it's not 100 percent, is that what you're saying?
RICE: Well, Wolf, I think the point is that we will act in Iraq and Syria as is necessary, with the advice and guidance of the commanders on the ground. Ultimately, the decision is going to be taken by the president. But we'll do what's necessary in that theater to deal with the ISIL threat.
And I anticipate since it is a threat that evolves and moves across -- across this now very porous border, that, as the president said yesterday, it will require action in Syria, as well.
And in any event, as you know, we're also seeking greater resources and authority from Congress to increase our support for the Syrian opposition.
BLITZER: You know there was criticism of the president's reference, making the comparison to this operation that's now going to expand against ISIS to the long-standing U.S. counterterrorism operation in Somalia against Al-Shabab, in Yemen against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
A lot of folks are saying that's a comparison of apples and oranges. Those are a bunch of terrorists down there, but they don't control a -- a major army with sophisticated equipment, largely U.S. captured equipment, or a military officer corps with experience.
Is that a fair comparison?
RICE: The re--- the basis of the comparison is as follows. It's the nature of our strategic approach. In Yemen, as well as in Syria -- in Somalia, the United States has engaged in airstrikes to attack al Qaeda targets, whether Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Syria -- in Yemen or Al-Shabab in Somalia.
And on the ground, we have worked with partners. In the case of Yemen, with the Yemeni military, which we have advised and assisted and helped to equip, and in Somalia, with the Somali national forces as well as with the African Union force, now 20,000, that the United States has funded and helped train and support.
So we will be working with partners on the ground and we will be striking from the air, just as we have done in Yemen and Somalia.
Now, the tempo of our strikes, the intensity, in all likelihood, would be greater in Iraq and Syria.
But the fact of the matter is, this is different from the previous wars in Iraq and from Afghanistan in that there will not be American forces on the ground fighting on the ground. This will be with partners and U.S. air power, and, indeed, a coalition that is unprecedented, where we'll be building support from countries in the region, as we discussed, those who met with Secretary Kerry today in Jeddah, as well as European partners and others.
So all of us will be involved in a multi-faceted effort to build partner capacity on the ground and to strike as appropriate from the air.
BLITZER: I -- I know our time is limited, but I just got this in. Our own Anderson Cooper just completed an interview with James Foley's mother, Diane Foley. And she's heartbroken, obviously, and totally understandable, just as the Sotloff family is heartbroken.
She's not blaming the Obama administration or anything, although she is telling Anderson that maybe more could have been done.
Let me play a little clip, because I want you to have a chance to respond to this very distraught mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOLEY: As an American, I was embarrassed and appalled. I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance, you know. And I...
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: An annoyance to the government?
FOLEY: Yes. And they -- yes. And it wasn't -- it didn't seem to be in our strategic interests, if you will. I was appalled as an American. Jim would have been saddened. Jim believed until the end that his country would come to their aid. I pray that our government will be willing to learn from the mistakes that were made and to acknowledge that there are better ways for American citizens to be treated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Ambassador Rice, I just want to give you a chance to respond to this -- to this mother. RICE: Well, Wolf, I've gotten to know Diane Foley well. And she and I have met on a number of occasions when I was ambassador in New York and here in Washington at the White House. She's an extraordinary woman. She did an amazing job on behalf of her family and with her husband and -- and other children, to do everything possible, leave no stone unturned, to try to bring Jim home safely.
We're all heartbroken that that was not possible. But I and others in the U.S. government worked very hard with Diane Foley and her family to try to be supportive, to try to provide what information we could. And, of course, as you know, the president ordered a very daring and very well-executed rescue operation when -- on the only occasion we had what we thought was fresh and we hoped actionable intelligence about the whereabouts of Jim Foley and the other hostages, unfortunately, they were no longer there.
But I think that effort, which involved hundreds of American personnel in a very sophisticated effort underscores the importance that we attach to doing everything we possibly can to bring Americans in captivity back home.
BLITZER: I know you did. You tried very, very hard, and unfortunately, they -- these ISIS terrorists, they executed two Americans, and we're all saddened by that.
Ambassador Rice, thanks very much for joining us.
RICE: Thank you.
BLITZER: James Foley's mother, Diane Foley, speaks exclusively to Anderson about the horrific nightmare. "AC 360" tonight, 8 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.
Up next, by targeting ISIS in Syria, would the U.S. end up on the same side as Iran?
And a new Ferguson video is revealed. Witnesses say they watched as Michael Brown was shot with his hands in the air. We'll get reaction.
BLITZER: Let's get back to our breaking news. U.S. surveillance aircraft now flying over Syria. The White House saying targets indeed have been identified inside Syria. Top administration officials, though, seem reluctant to call this new campaign against ISIS a war.
Joining us now, our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, and Robin Wright, the distinguished scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Ladies, thanks very much for joining us.
So they're refusing -- you heard Secretary of State Kerry refusing to call it a war. Counterterrorism operation. Susan Rice, the national security -- they don't want to call it a war. What's wrong with calling this a war on terror? Or they used to have a war on drugs, war on crime.
BLITZER: This is, for all practical purposes, a war on terror.
BORGER: Right. Look. They're trying to distinguish this in every way they can from Iraq, from Afghanistan, talking about how there are no boots on the ground here.
This president's quite a reluctant warrior, as we know from watching him over the last months. The speech he gave last night was not a speech he ever expected to give or wanted to give. He didn't want to leave a legacy of conflict in Syria to the next president and in Iraq to the next president. He -- his narrative is ending wars, killing Osama bin Laden.
So what they're trying to say this is more Somalia. This is more circumscribed like Yemen. This is not a war. It's a counterterror operation.
But Wolf, as you've pointed out, it's a matter of semantics and spin. This is dangerous. The president said there are risks. So, call it what you will, it's a war.
BLITZER: We also heard that -- a little clip from that interview the president gave a month or so ago to Tom Friedman in "The New York Times" when he said arming the moderate Syrian rebels, in his words, "always has been a fantasy." What's changed over the past month?
ROBIN WRIGHT, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE: Absolutely nothing. And that's the problem. I think the president was quite specific when it came to what the United States is going to do in Iraq. But the problem is there was nothing about what happens next. Phase 2 of what is a war and does involve going across the border into Syria, something the United States has been reluctant to do now for three years.
The problem is, who do you arm? The rebels have not proven effective, either in fighting, whether it's the Assad regime or ISIS. They haven't been very effective at all in ruling local territory that they have taken charge of. They are predominated by exiles who don't necessarily represent the people inside the country. There's a real danger that we're getting into when is not only open-ended but very poorly defined.
BLITZER: And the president's asking for $500 million to Congress to appropriate funding to arm and train these moderate Syria rebels. A month ago, he said to Tom Friedman, "The idea we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth..."
BLITZER: "... and they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, backed by Hezbollah, that was never in the cards."
I think what changed, though, Gloria, is the two videotapes...
BLITZER: ... of two American journalists being beheaded.
BORGER: Yes. Look, absolutely. First of all, that shifted American public opinion tremendously. Suddenly, Americans saw these videotapes, and they said, "Wait a minute. This means that my country is in in danger. I've seen two Americans beheaded."
And if you look at the recent "Wall Street Journal" poll, 47 percent of the country now believes that we are less safe than we were before the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.
So the country has moved. And the president followed, and we've seen him sort of back into this, you know? First he said it was a humanitarian effort and an effort to protect American personnel in Baghdad. And now he's taken it to the next step, because I think there's the sense what other choice do they have?
And talking to people at the White House, they don't believe any of these choices are perfect, as you point out, because they understand the risks, particularly in Syria and with the uncertainty of who these rebels are and Assad.
BLITZER: Robin, you're a real expert on Iran. You've written books on this subject. Where does Iran fit into all of this and Iraq against ISIS and Syria against ISIS. Where does Iran fit in? Because you know, there are a lot of people out there saying maybe the U.S. should cooperate with Iran on this issue.
WRIGHT: Well, 35 years after the confrontation between the United States and Iran over the American embassy seizure, the fact is we actually share a very important foreign policy objective now. The Iranians are more even worried about ISIS than the United States is, because they are bordering Iran. They are -- they have redefined politics in the region, deepening a sectarian divide between the Sunnis and the extremists on one hand and the Shiites on the other. And they're afraid that, not only the region but the world gets into -- sucked into what is a sectarian war.
And so the Iranians have a very, very strong desire to make sure that the world stands up together. They will de facto be an ally in the campaign against ISIS. And this is actually quite important in trying to better relations, not necessarily with the United States but in healing some of the deep wounds between Iran and some of the Sunni regimes in the Persian Gulf.
Secretary Kerry was in Saudi Arabia today and trying to mobilize an opposition to ISIS to get the Sunnis to stand up. But in this one, this is where Saudi Arabia and Iran are actually standing on the same page, at least.
BORGER: But the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. And this is something that the -- this is a line the administration has to walk, right? WRIGHT: But the United States desperately needs every ally...
BORGER: That's what I was going to say.
WRIGHT: ... it can get, and Iran is in the region and has enormous influence in Iraq.
BORGER: But that's what I was going to say. We seem to have -- this is what's so difficult for the administration, because they're talking about being part of a coalition. They're trying to lead a coalition, but it doesn't yet seem to be a large coalition of the willing at this point. And that's very difficult for them, because they're not where they want to be.
BLITZER: All right. Gloria, thanks very much.
Robin, thanks to you, as well.
Still ahead, the secretary of state, John Kerry, he's speaking to CNN. He says the U.S. is not at war with ISIS, and we're going to ask him to explain.
Also, a new witness to the Michael Brown shooting. We have details of the exclusive video and how it could impact this case.
BLITZER: We're today learning new details about that exclusive video obtained by CNN showing the shock and confusion as a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri. The video shows a new witness saying Brown had his hands up in the air when he was fatally shot.
CNN's Randi Kaye is joining us. She has more.
Randi, what's the latest on this exclusive video?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you know, I mean, we have heard from at least six or seven eyewitnesses on the shooting but this exclusive video is the first I guess what you call a really raw look at how people reacted when they saw what was happening.
As you'll see on the video, these two construction workers are visibly horrified, one is especially angry. Watch.
KAYE (voice-over): Just after 12:00 noon, August 9th, Ferguson, Missouri, the men you see in this exclusive cell phone video hear gunshots. They are about 50 feet away from Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson.
The unidentified person recording this video captured the witness' reaction during the final moments of the shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had his (EXPLETIVE DELETED) hands in the air. KAYE: Both men were contractors working in the area. They did not
want to be identified. The man on the left in the pink shirt told CNN they heard one gunshot. Then about 30 seconds later a second shot. He says he saw Michael Brown staggering. Then he says Brown put his hands up and said, "OK, OK, OK." The witness told us the cop didn't say get on the ground. He just kept shooting.
That same witness described the gruesome scene saying he saw Michael Brown's brains come out of his head. Again, reiterating his hands were up. Watch how he motions on the video.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, he was going like this.
KAYE: The video was shot by someone who lived in a ground floor apartment nearby. He went to grab his iPad to take the video just after the shots rang out. Witnesses say the video was taken shortly after the shooting ended.
If you look closely, you can see a police officer on the right side in the distance beginning to put up crime scene tape. Both men told us by the time it was over, there were three officers on the scene but only one involved in the shooting.
Another voice is also heard on the tape. The contractor in the green shirt told me, that voice belongs to a man he didn't know who pulled up alongside them yelling this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was no (EXPLETIVE DELETED) threat at all.
KAYE (on camera): That same contractor in green also told me that he saw Michael Brown running away from the police car. He said Brown put his hands up and that the officer was chasing him. He also said that Officer Wilson fired another shot at Brown while his back was turned.
(Voice-over): The contractor in the pink shirt also shared this. That a second officer who arrived later to the scene also drew his weapon. He said, "The one cop was the one who shot him. Then I saw the other officer pull a gun out but he didn't shoot."
That same worker described how Brown staggered dead after the second shot, 20 to 25 feet to the ground. Explaining, "He was like a walking dead guy."
Two shots. That leaves the number of shots we've learned about through the autopsy report. And other audio recordings of the incident unaccounted for.
But their account does square with what other witnesses have said. The woman who took cell phone video of Brown's body lying in the street also told CNN that Brown was shot from behind. Just like the contractor in the green shirt says.
PIAGET CRENSHAW, WITNESS: While he was running away from the officer trying to get away he was getting shot at.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KAYE: Now, after the shooting, the contractor in the pink T-shirt told us that they were the only two white people out there on the street so he told his co-worker they had to, quote, "get the hell out of there before things got ugly and, Wolf, he said that it was starting to get ugly as they left. People were lining the street.
BLITZER: Have these two guys been interviewed by authorities?
KAYE: They have. They have since spoken and given statements to both the police and the FBI and again, Wolf, what they told us, I mean, does seem to be in line with some of these other statements given by the people who live in Ferguson, what they told police and, again, you know, remember, these guys, they're white, they were just in Ferguson doing a job that day. They have no horse in the game as far as we can tell through our vetting process, which is why some of our legal experts say what they apparently witnessed -- a man with his hands up being chased down by a police officer -- could really be a game changer in this case.
BLITZER: Randi Kaye, excellent reporting. Thanks very much.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and our CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, a former assistant director of the FBI.
Jeffrey, you say this new video changes your understanding of what happened to Michael Brown. Explain.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it changes my understanding of what prosecutors have to work with. His -- their testimony, the two contractors, is not inconsistent. In fact, it's very consistent with what the other witnesses have to say.
What makes it so significant is this video which is a real time, in effect acting out of what these witnesses saw. And, you know, and they clearly did not know they were being videotaped so the fact that they are raising their hands and saying, he was shot with his hands up, that is extremely incriminating evidence against Officer Wilson.
It's important to emphasize the prosecutors are going to have to look at all the evidence. Not just these two witnesses. All the evidence together but certainly these are very incriminating witnesses against Officer Wilson.
BLITZER: Tom, what do you think?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think that what they say is incriminating but looking at this video it's not. The yellow tape doesn't go up on the trees and get posted around a crime scene within 10 or 30 or even a few minutes of a crime happening or an event happening. That takes a long time so to me the fact that the yellow police tape is already going up and being installed around that scene tells me that that video is taken minutes, several minutes at least, after the event had happened.
BLITZER: So it wasn't like contemporaneous? FUENTES: No.
TOOBIN: Well, actually, yesterday, these witnesses said it was about three minutes after the -- after the shooting that the crime scene tape started to go up so, you know, Tom's right that it's not contemporaneous. I mean, it's not immediately as the shooting is happening. But three minutes if that's the case, that's pretty short.
BLITZER: Is it possible the tape could be up within three minutes?
FUENTES: I doubt it but, you know, I'll concede that it could have been, but, you know, the first emphasis of the officers arriving there would have been to try to see what assistance they could render, you know, as far as the body on the ground and Wilson himself, the officer standing nearby.
Yes, they would start putting tape up to try to keep the crowd back but maybe three minutes, maybe five or 10. But the other aspect of what these witnesses say is that they heard the shot and then -- but they didn't see it. They didn't see what happened to start the event which is critical in this whole situation and then they say it was about 30 seconds until more shots were fired. I think other witnesses have placed that time a lot closer together than 30 seconds.
BLITZER: But even if something happened before, let's say Michael Brown did something to, you know, endanger or threaten this police officer, once his hands are in the air, he shouldn't be shot again, right?
FUENTES: No. That's true. That's true.
BLITZER: That's what these witnesses say they saw his hands in the air.
BLITZER: And they say he was then shot.
FUENTES: Right. And that aspect of it is consistent with what other witnesses have said but again, you know, as far as the timing of the whole thing and what, you know, what they were seeing at the beginning of this thing, it's not quite the whole story.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, is there any doubt this videotape would be admissible in court?
TOOBIN: I can't imagine how it wouldn't be admissible. I suppose the defense, if there is a trial, Officer Wilson -- could argue that it's too late after the fact. They're trying to just bolster their witness. But I think it's in -- it's close enough to a contemporaneous tape that if the credibility of these two witnesses are challenged, as they certainly will be, the prosecution would be able to introduce the tape at least in rebuttal to say, look, this shows that their story has been consistent from the very beginning.
BLITZER: But there's a different standard, though, for being admitted if part of a grand jury investigation, right?
TOOBIN: Certainly admissible for the grand jury. Grand jury does not have anything like the strict rules of evidence that goes before an actual trial. And the prosecutor has said he's going to put all the evidence in front of the grand jury so it is without a doubt clear that this tape and these witnesses, their statements, will be before the grand jury that decides whether to charge Officer Wilson.
If there's a trial, then the admissibility issues become more complicated but certainly there's no -- no doubt it will be before the grand jury.
BLITZER: Yes. That's what I thought.
All right. I want both of you to stand by. There's more to discuss.
Is there another side to the story that's not being told? We're going to talk about that when we come back.
BLITZER: Let's get some more now on the video recording obtained by CNN showing a new witness to the Michael Brown shooting, saying the unarmed teenager had his arms up in the air.
Our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is still with us, as is law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, the former assistant director of the FBI.
Tom, how common is it for a month later for new video all of a sudden to surface like this?
FUENTES: I think it's not -- it's a little bit long as far as the amount of video that would have come out by now, you know. And this whole video, you know, it may be that this has been hidden or they had already given it to the authorities a while back and come forward but it has been a long time for this suddenly now to come out publicly and for them to -- I assume it was them that wanted this to be in the hands of the media and shown on television.
BLITZER: We don't know, Jeffrey, if there's other videotapes that may be out there, audio recordings, the law enforcement authorities may have that. They haven't been released to the public, right?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. The authorities are under no -- no obligation to disclose what evidence they receive. In fact, it's their practice not to disclose it. It certainly is of no benefit to them. You know, as for this tape, I don't really think it's significant that it's been a while since the crime. The video speaks for -- it's a crime, if it's a crime, I should add that, the -- you know, the video speaks for itself as far as it shows every sign of being authentic and we can argue about what it means but the fact that it came out now as opposed to a couple of weeks ago I don't think is particularly significant.
BLITZER: All the witnesses, almost all of them, who had spoken out publicly, Tom, they back up this contention that Michael Brown had his hands up in the air but there may be other witness that we don't know about, just like there may be other audio or videotape that we don't know about who may have a different eyewitness account, right?
FUENTES: That's right. There could be others that we're not aware of completely and some aspects of what this witness says, at least are a little bit let's say unusual to say that -- to put the terms that he was a dead man walking, staggering for 25 or 30 seconds, that sounds -- that's a little bit more melodramatic than what the other witnesses which claimed that this happened much quicker. That there was a shot. The officer chased him down. Shot him again. He turned around. Hands up. Shot him.
You know? The whole event, the first time you hear it from the other witnesses, it sounds like maybe it took 10 to 20 seconds. This event sounds like it's going on for half a minute or longer. What -- you know, and the way he describes it to me is a little concerning, though.
BLITZER: All right.
FUENTES: Dramatic, Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll have more on the story later.
All right. Jeffrey Toobin, Tom Fuentes, guys, thanks very much.
Coming up, the Secretary of State John Kerry is speaking to CNN about the president's plan to destroy ISIS but the secretary says this is not a war.
And can the U.S. really defeat ISIS without reinforcements on the ground? I'll ask a senior Syrian opposition adviser.
BLITZER: Americans are pausing to remember the 9/11 terror attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people 13 years ago today.
In New York, a bell marked key moments, including the collapse of the second tower at 10:28 that morning. In between, the names of the victims were read.
At the Pentagon, a giant flag was unfurled at dawn. It's a tradition that began spontaneously the day after the attacks when firefighters put a flag on the building. Later, a private ceremony was held for families.
And despite rain, several hundred people came to the field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Flight 93 crashed as passengers tried to overtake the terrorists. President Obama spoke at the Pentagon ceremony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Beginning tomorrow, there will be teenagers, young adults, who were born after 9/11. It's remarkable. While these young Americans did not know the horrors of that day, their lives have been shaped the day since. A time that has brought us pain but also taught us endurance and strength. A time of rebuilding, of resilience and of renewal.
What gives us hope, what gives me hope, is that it is these young Americans who will shape all the days to come. Thirteen years after a small and hateful minds conspired to break us, America stands tall and America stands proud.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The president also led a moment of silence at the White House.
Coming up, the U.S. recruits a number of Arab allies to join the fight against ISIS. But is it a war? Secretary of State John Kerry speaking to CNN.
And in (INAUDIBLE) the ISIS threat, President Obama uses another counter terror campaign as an example. But did he pick a bad example?
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, U.S. military aircraft on the move. They're preparing for strikes against ISIS terrorists in Syria.
We're learning more about the first steps with President Obama's war plan.
Plus, some criticisms on the president's response to ISIS brutality from the mother of James Foley, one of the Americans beheaded by the terror group. She's speaking exclusively to CNN.
And we go live to Ferguson, Missouri, for reaction to the new video. It shows a witness to the Michael Brown shooting just moments later, saying the teenager had his hands up when he was killed by a police officer.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.