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NFL Controversy; ISIS Threat; Interview With State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf; Hillary Generating 2016 Election Buzz in Iowa; Rice Expected to Appeal NFL Suspension; Computer Security Hole Puts Kids at Risk

Aired September 15, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Are U.S. allies balking about joining military action? I will ask a top State Department official about that and whether some of America's most dangerous adversaries might secretly help the fight against ISIS. We will discuss that as well.

Plus, an NFL star responds to allegations of child abuse. He's being allowed to add return to the field, adding more fuel to the controversy over pro football and domestic violence.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

This hour, world leaders are vowing to defeat ISIS by any means necessary, after the third gruesome beheading of a Western hostage. A British citizen slaughtered on video like two Americans before him. Officials from more than two dozen nations held urgent talks today about the ISIS threat. And now we're learning about new offers to supply ground troops and airstrikes to support the U.S.-led war against these brutal terrorists.

We are our correspondents, our analysts, the newsmakers standing by to bring you the newest information about this global crisis.

First, let's go to our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, a senior U.S. military official tells CNN that more than one Arab nation has offer to take so-called kinetic action against ISIS. That is carry out airstrikes against the group.

Other Western nations also joining the fight, France agreeing to carry out strikes in Iraq, Australia sending eight combat aircraft. But even after a third beheading, that of British aid worker David Haines, for some countries, hard commitments of military support are coming much less easily.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): He is ISIS' third beheading victim in three weeks, Briton David Haines murdered for the world to see and, like Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff, by a British fighter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're even allies with America.

SCIUTTO: Who U.K. authorities say they have now positively identified.

DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We have to confront this menace. Step by step, we must drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL and what it stands for.

SCIUTTO: But even America's closest military ally has not committed to joining the U.S.-led military action against ISIS, the Obama administration's version of the coalition of the willing appearing if not entirely unwilling, at a minimum, uncommitted.

AARON DAVID MILLER, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: You have a coalition I would argue of the semi-willing, the disabled, the self-interested and the self-absorbed. It's really going to be difficult, it seems to me, to get everybody focused on the same page.

SCIUTTO: Meeting in Paris today, some 40 countries have offered at least some support in the fight against ISIS. But a far smaller group has made specific and public commitments to join military action.

Australia vowing up to eight FA-18 and 200 military advisers. France, surveillance flights and airstrikes over Iraq. Canada, 50 military advisers. Jordan, intelligence gathering. Saudi Arabia, training Syrian rebels on its soil. And Turkey, blocking both funding and the flow of fighters to ISIS.

This weekend, after a six-stop coalition-building tour through the region, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of private commitments for much more, including Arab participation in airstrikes and more surprisingly some countries offering ground troops, a step even the U.S. has ruled out.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're not looking to put troops on the ground. There are some who have offered to do so, but we are not looking for that, at this moment anyway.

SCIUTTO: Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey sees a region still on the fence.

JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: There is true international consensus and agreement that ISIS is a real problem that will have to be dealt with. But there's also particularly in the region great fear of getting too involved.


SCIUTTO: I have spoken to senior U.S. military and State Department officials who tell me that the ground troops Secretary Kerry was referring to will be so-called indigenous forces. That is Iraqi troops, Syrian rebels, the possibility of Iraqi Sunni tribes. No foreign country to this point offering to put their ground forces into a combat role and, Wolf, of course, that includes the U.S. BLITZER: That could be a serious problem if the goal is really to

destroy, eliminate ISIS. More on that coming up. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.

There's a new message today from the daughter of the British aid worker who was murdered by ISIS.

Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is joining us now live from Scotland with more on this part of the story.

Nic, what are you hearing?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, she lives in the town of Perth in the foothills of the Scottish mountains here.

We have been to Perth today. We talked to a local member of parliament and he told us that the people from David Haines' school there remember him when he was at school as somebody who wanted to be very helpful, who was always reaching out to help others. Today, his daughter, Bethany, who lives in Perth, spoke. She wrote on Facebook, and this is what she wrote about her father.

This is David's daughter, who lives in Perth. "I was really touched by the messages of support during this hard time. I know my dad would be really touched and grateful."

That's what she said. This is the first time we have heard from her and heard directly from her since her father's killing. A very brave message from a girl who is only a teenager. The parliamentarian we also spoke to said for the people of Perth, they feel they have lost something, that David was a hero of Perth, They respected him for his selflessness and for the way that he engaged and tried to help with humanitarian work, Wolf.

BLITZER: I know that the prime minister, Nic, David Cameron, he's talking tough on ISIS. Hasn't made any firm commitments militarily speaking yet. And a lot of folks in Britain are suggesting that he's distracted right now and he's dealing with the Scottish independent vote, which comes up on Thursday.

It's very, very close, as you know. You spoke to David Haines' family. What are they saying, the M.P. for the family, member of Parliament, about the connection, that there might be some sort of connection with what the prime minister is willing to say now and this independence vote.

ROBERTSON: Yes, this is a time where David Cameron doesn't want to upset anyone, doesn't want to create political waves by pushing through something that could affect the vote here in Scotland.

It's on a knife edge and it could go either way. When I talked to the member of Parliament who represents a constituency where David Haines worked, he's with the Scottish National Party. He wants independence. What he told me, it's very key because obviously it touches on the sensitivity of what David Cameron is avoiding dealing with this week. This member of Parliament, who wants independence, said he would deal with the ISIS problem in a different way to how David Cameron wants to tackle it. Listen to what he said.


PETE WISHART, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I think in Scotland, what we would want to do is make our own peaceful contribution, to have our own voice, and make sure that that is recognized, and that we could contribute and do something meaningful and substantial in terms of foreign affairs, always believing in role of the United Nations, working cooperatively with other nations similar size to Scotland.


ROBERTSON: Believing in a role for the United Nations at the moment, there's no indication that Russia would change its position on the Security Council, that there would be a resolution that would support action inside Syria.

So really what we're hearing from those independent-minded politicians here, Wolf, is that they don't want to support military action. So we can see really here why David Cameron isn't pushing this issue at this very sensitive time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Because that election, that result, the referendum could go either way on Thursday. Thanks very much, Nic Robertson reporting from Scotland.

Let's continue the conversation here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Joining us now, the deputy spokeswoman for the State Department, Marie Harf.

Marie, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Let's try to nail down. We're now reporting, Peter Bergen has reported that the British prime minister and other top British officials, they know the identity of this killer who killed these three Westerners, this ISIS killer. Without telling us the name, does the United States government know the name of the killer?

HARF: We're still talking to them. I know we have talked about this a lot on THE SITUATION ROOM.

But we are talking to the British about really nailing down who that was on the video, whether it was the same person on all three, whether that was indeed the person who killed, who murdered all three of these American and British citizens. It's a conversation we're still having, and believe me, when we know who did this for sure, we have pledged to hold them accountable for their actions.

BLITZER: Will you release the name when you know for sure?

HARF: I think that remains to be seen. Obviously, we will have that conversation with the British.

Sometimes, there are reasons not to, but we have attempted to be as open about the threat that we know and about who may have been behind this, obviously, working with the Brits on this.

BLITZER: The guy holding the knife certainly in all three of these videos released by ISIS, he seems to be the same individual. Is there still any doubt?

HARF: Well, that's one thing the intelligence community looks at. Obviously, they look for any clue, any shred of evidence in those videos to determine exactly who is responsible. They look at the voice. They look at the video. That's an ongoing process.

BLITZER: But you still say that it's not 100 percent?

HARF: We're still working on it.

BLITZER: You're still working that part of the story.

What about this report in a Syrian newspaper "Al Watan" that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is getting U.S. information through a third party to go after ISIS in Syria? Is that true?

HARF: Not at all. I can categorically reject that. We will not work with the Assad regime. We will not share intelligence with them. We will not coordinate with them, period, full stop. I don't want to be any clearer than that.

BLITZER: Even through a third party that the U.S. might have good relations with and that third party who then share that kind of information?

HARF: Even through a third party.

BLITZER: If you found out that that third party were sharing sensitive U.S. information, what would you do?

HARF: Well, we don't want to coordinate with the Assad regime. We have been very clear on that. We don't want to share intelligence with them at all, period. We have made that very clear to everyone.

BLITZER: And if you found out a third party were doing that, you would tell them to stop?

HARF: I can imagine we would tell them to stop.

BLITZER: In very strong terms.

HARF: In very strong terms.

BLITZER: What about Iran? This is a different situation, because the secretary of state is suggesting that maybe there can be some coordination with Iran in this war against ISIS.

HARF: Well, not coordination. What he's suggesting is that we're open to conversations with them.

We have already had a few on the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations that we had the last few months in Vienna where we talked to them about Iraq, because they know ISIL poses a threat to them as well. So we're open to having that conversation. We won't be coordinating with them either.

But they certainly have role to play here if they can support the new inclusive government in Iraq, if they can help support that government as it fights this threat. That's really what all of the regional players need to do.

BLITZER: You saw the statements coming in from Iran, the ayatollah and others saying they want nothing to do with the United States in this war against ISIS because of what the U.S. is trying to do against their ally, Bashar al-Assad.

HARF: Well, again, we have not offered to coordinate with them. We have not asked to coordinate with them. But we are open to having a conversation about this shared threat and about what we're doing, certainly, but, again, we will not be sharing information with them or working with them.

BLITZER: Give me an example of what you would do, the United States, in terms of Iran and this ISIS military option.

HARF: Well, we have been clear with Iran both publicly and privately that what it can do, what anyone can do, is help the new inclusive Iraqi government in Baghdad that's now up and running.

Any support should be to them and the Kurdish forces. The answer here is not militias or other organizations inside Iraq. We know Iran has a long history there. But what we really all need to do is support this new government. That's the message we're giving them.

BLITZER: Clarify what the secretary of state meant when he suggested there were some partners out there ready to provide ground forces, combat boots on the ground, as they say, to try to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

HARF: Well, he then went on to say that's not what we're looking at right now. Obviously, he was referring, first and foremost, to the partners we have on the ground, the Iraqi forces, the Kurdish forces and the moderate opposition in Syria. Those are the boots on the ground that we are supporting, we will continue to support.

Those are the partners whose capability we're really trying to build up as one small piece of this coalition. This is only one piece of the puzzle here, this military aspect of it. Obviously, a key piece, but just one.

BLITZER: And as far as the combat boots on the ground, as they say, what about the Sunni militias? Are they involved already? Have they been brought in against ISIS? ISIS, of course, Sunni-led. They hate the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. HARF: Well, I think one thing you have seen that's been very

encouraging is this new government led by Prime Minister al-Abadi come together and say they want to govern in a different way.

And part of that includes bringing in Sunnis who have been disaffected in different parts of Iraq to feel ownership of their government and their country, forming these local national guards that will be coordinated with the central government, so everyone is on the same page, all pushing back against ISIL. That's something they have already started doing.

BLITZER: Is the United Arab Emirates on board to provide airstrikes against ISIS targets?

HARF: A number of countries have pledged their support to this effort.

BLITZER: What about the UAE?

HARF: I think the UAE can probably speak for themselves and be clear about what they're going to do.

What I will say is broadly is that Secretary Kerry has been traveling all over the Middle East and all over Europe. Next week, he will go to the United Nations and really been putting every effort towards pulling countries together so they can contribute in any way they can -- that will be different for everyone -- towards this fight.

BLITZER: Because I think the UAE is ready. The question is Saudi Arabia, Qatar. I suspect they're not necessarily ready. Is that what you're hearing?

HARF: Well, we're having the conversation about what each country can do. But the military piece, again, it's only one piece. There's a lot these countries can do in terms of cutting off funding, private citizens, the financial networks, cutting off foreign fighters, really, a lot they can pushing back on this ideology of ISIL, standing up and saying these people do not represent Islam very clearly. Those are all things they can do to help and that we're asking them to do.

BLITZER: We will see what they do and those meetings next week at the United Nations will be very, very important. The president will be there as well.

Marie, thanks for coming in.

HARF: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Still ahead, the search for clues in a gruesome new ISIS beheading video. What sets this one apart?

Plus, Ray Rice, he is expected to appeal his suspension. Will he return to the NFL?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Growing fear for the life of a British man being held by

ISIS forces; 47-year-old Alan Henning is threatened at the end of the video showing the beheading of another Briton, David Haines.

Henning is father of two from Manchester. He was delivering aid to children in Syria when he was abducted by ISIS.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us. He's taking a closer look now at the grim video of Haines' murder.

Brian, does it contain new clues?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's a strong clue regarding when the video of Haines was taken. But on where it happened, it looks like ISIS may have covered its tracks since the previous videos were released.

Now, tonight, some of the burning questions pertain to who. Who is the British militant in these videos? Who knows about him? And who is going to do something about him?


TODD (voice-over): He's a menacing figure, all too familiar to us now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This British man has to pay the price.

AKI PERITZ, FORMER CIA OFFICER: This man has become the boogeyman that scares the West.

TODD: Shortly before the execution of British hostage David Haines, the ISIS militant in the video threatens Prime Minister David Cameron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your evil alliance with America which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the Haditha dam will only accelerate your destruction.

TODD: Aki Peritz, who examined every beheading video during the Iraq war for the CIA, says there's a reason the militant calls Cameron's government the lapdog of the Americans.

PERITZ: The British government actually isn't carrying out these attacks against ISIS. It's the Americans. And so he's trying to really link the two together, because those are who -- the hostages he has.

TODD: After Haines' execution, the militant threatens to kill Britain hostage Alan Henning. The reference to the Haditha cam bombing tells us when this video was made, within the past week.

As for where it was, ISIS is being more cagey. In the James Foley video, you can see structures in the background when Sotloff is displayed. In the Foley and Sotloff videos, specific topography is shown.

PERITZ: But in this Haines video, you can't actually see anything. All you see is sky and dirt.

TODD (on camera): Does it tell you they're trying to be more cautious about all this?

PERITZ: Absolutely. They're trying to be much more cautious in where they are shooting these videos. They don't want to actually give away their position to American and British intelligence.

TODD: CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen says British officials have told him Prime Minister Cameron knows this man's identity, but a British official told me they won't reveal it publicly. The official said that's for security and operational reasons.

PERITZ: They're running operations right now to try and figure out where he is, but others who are working with him. They may be working with his family to try and lure him back home.


TODD: Could there be a rescue mission for Alan Henning? Britain's foreign secretary has tried to downplay that possibility, today telling reporters about Henning -- quote -- "We don't know where he is" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What are you hearing, Brian, from analysts on whether the militant in the video is really the one who actually killed these three men?

TODD: That's a tough one to analyze. At some point in each video, Wolf, the man makes motions indicating he's doing it or he's about to do this, but then the video goes dark.

Aki Peritz says because of the weapon he displays and because of the fact that the militant doesn't have any blood on when he appears after the execution in a couple of these video, Peritz does not believe he's the killer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He doesn't believe he's necessarily the killer. Interesting.

All right, let's continue our conversation, Brian. Thanks very much.

Joining us, our CNN military analyst retired U.S. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.

Peter, you have reported that British officials, obviously including the prime minister, they know the identity of the individual, the British accented individual with the knife in all three of these videos. They believe it's the same person.

BERGEN: They know the identity, but they are not disclosing his name publicly for what they call operational reasons.

Now, what those operational reasons, I don't know, are. But they could be any number of reasons, one, gathering more information about him in England in a way that's less kind of dramatic. Two, if they really are going to -- obviously a rescue operation is something they must be contemplating, not wanting to tip their hands that they know exactly who this person is.

BLITZER: But if they already know, here our reporting, other reporting that the British know the identity, I don't understand what the difference is if they know the actual name is out there, as opposed to simply hearing the British government has learned the identity of this individual.

BERGEN: I'm just telling you what I know, which is they're withholding the name for operational reasons.

BLITZER: Does that make sense to you, General?



BLITZER: Explain why, because if they're watching us right now, Peter has done an excellent article on saying the British know the identity of the man with the knife. What is the difference if we actually say his name is John Smith or whatever his name is?

HERTLING: If you say that on a U.S. media network, it's immediately going to get to some of the Arab networks and they're going to pick it up not only from CNN but from others. It's going to cause a ripple effect.

BLITZER: But they're going to pick this up, too.

HERTLING: They certainly will, but it will be more prevalent I think in any of the --


BLITZER: So, operationally, how would that impact?

HERTLING: Operationally, every time you have a piece of intelligence, it can be linked to other intelligence.

I would suggest that even in this kind of an organization, ISIS, they're going to put intelligence pieces together and they may completely maneuver the hostages away from where they have them now. That may have been what occurred in the first rescue attempt. But any time you can keep key pieces of intelligence from your enemy, it's a good thing.

BLITZER: They seem so bold. The same guy, the three videos. Now they have threatened a fourth individual with beheading. They're just going on as if they're not worried.

BERGEN: Well, I don't think they are worried. General Hertling referred to the failed rescue operation. Militarily, it was a success in the sense that it was well-executed, but the hostages had been moved and they had been moved. We just heard the foreign secretary of Britain saying we don't know where these guys are. I'm sure that's true.

HERTLING: In that case, it could have been luck that they moved them as opposed to understanding the intelligence. So we have to prevent that.

BERGEN: Yes. And the Foley family said the U.S. government had some knowledge of his location for some period of time. They're claiming a year. I think that is unlikely, but it was certainly several months.

But General Hertling has mounted many of these kinds of operations. You have to be pretty certain before you go in, or certain enough that the hostages are going to be there.

BLITZER: And I assume if they know who the individual is, and we're hearing that the British know, and if the British know, the U.S. government almost certainly has been informed as well, they must be planning some sort of operation to kill this individual.

HERTLING: Well, I would suggest, Wolf, that they're planning all kinds of operations continuously, with any kind of new piece of intelligence, just like we saw in the hunt for bin Laden over 10 years.

Every time you get a new piece of intelligence, it allows you to do more things. As your analyst said, we have a lot of sky and dirt right now according to the films. But I would suggest there's a whole lot more that we know.

BLITZER: I suspect you're right on that. How many other Westerners are being held by ISIS? Do we know?

BERGEN: I think we know.

We're not reporting the names or the --


BLITZER: Not the names, but do we know how many?

BERGEN: We know there are other Americans, there are other Westerners.

BLITZER: Other than that, we're not reporting -- going beyond that. And for good reason, right?

HERTLING: Right. And Europeans across the board in Europe, as the jihadis have expanded their role, I think you will see quite a few captives that continue.

That's part of the issue too, right on the border where you have aides, as some of the recent hostages have been, reporters who want to get into the fight. Yes, there's significant --


BLITZER: There are others are being held. The French and some other Europeans, they are willing to pay ransom to get their guys out of there. The U.S. and Britain not willing to pay ransom. That's been an issue, obviously, as we watch all of this unfold. Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

HERTLING: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Just ahead, Hillary Clinton trying to make a comeback in Iowa. We're going to have a live report on her long-awaited return and what it could mean for the 2016 presidential race.

Later, another big controversy for the NFL -- a Minnesota Vikings player accused of child abuse. We are going to have new details on that and the league's response to domestic violence.


BLITZER: Hillary Clinton is generating a lot of 2016 buzz today after her return to a state that can launch presidential campaigns or kill them. That would be Iowa.

Last time Hillary Clinton was there, she suffered a humiliating defeat. That would be in the 2008 Iowa caucuses. She actually came in third behind Barack Obama and John Edwards. She came in third. So how would she do this time around?

Let's check in with our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's joining us now from Des Moines.

So how did she do over there, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, it depends who you ask. Some people thought that she was very thoughtful. Some thought the speech was low key. She was definitely careful, I think you could say. There was some humility. She had a couple of nods to President Obama. And if her goal was to do no harm, well, then she certainly achieved that.

But at the same time, she did nothing to dispel this notion that she will run for president.



KEILAR: Hillary Clinton --

CLINTON: I'm back!

KEILAR: -- throwing herself into the political fray for the first time in almost six years, stumping for Democrats facing tough re- elections in November and hinting that she's running for president.

CLINTON: It is true. I am thinking about it. But -- but for today, that is not why I'm here. I'm here for the steak.

KEILAR: But in the state that dashed her hopes in 2008, Clinton has lessons to learn from her last campaign.

(on camera): What does she need to do differently?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she just needs to connect with everybody more than she did before, especially Iowa.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think she really showed up as much as Barack did for us. He was here all the time.

RUTH HARKIN, WIFE OF SENATOR TOM HARKIN (D-IA): Certainly all of us want to see her as much as possible in this state.

KEILAR (voice-over): Ruth Harkin, wife of Senator Tom Harkin, bucked the Obama movement to endorse Clinton in 2007. She says she will encourage Clinton to visit often.

HARKIN: Iowans are pretty jealous about their candidates. So we have an opportunity to see a lot of people, and having contact with the candidates is pretty key out here.

KEILAR: After the Harkin steak fry, Clinton spent half an hour on the rope line, shaking hands and thanking people.

CLINTON: There's so much at stake in this election, and we'll both have something to say about that when we speak in just a few minutes.

KEILAR (on camera): Do you think you'll be coming back to Iowa again?

CLINTON: Well, we're going to do what we can.

KEILAR (voice-over): Clinton is working to reboot her infamously bad relationship with the press and, at the same time, hone her message if she runs.

CLINTON: Women should be able to make our own healthcare decisions. And that, believe it or not, equal pay should mean you get equal pay for equal work.

KEILAR: That riled up this crowd, though it was far from what Barack Obama inspired several years ago.

(on camera): Do you feel like people who supported Obama will transfer that to Hillary Clinton with just as much enthusiasm?

JAMES MIKLANIC (PH), IOW DEMOCRAT: That will never happen again. That was a one-time event with Barack Obama.


KEILAR: And there is still this question of how involved Hillary Clinton will be in the midterm elections. She is committed to do several fund-raisers for Democratic congressional candidates, including one on Friday for the DNC that is targeting women.

But it's really -- I guess the real question, Wolf, is how many candidates will she go out into these key states for and stump for? That's still unclear. Although we're expecting that it may be a handful, certainly less than her husband, President Bill Clinton, will be doing, and that obviously is in part to kind of keep some of that political tarnish off of her -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Fifty days till the midterm elections, but who's counting? All right, Brianna, thanks very much for that.

Let's bring in our "CROSSFIRE" host S.E. Cupp; our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger; and CNN political commentator Cornell Belcher.

I guess this -- from Hillary Clinton's perspective, this visit, first time in nearly seven years she's been to Iowa. Really kicks off, for all practical purposes, her campaign.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Can we just say what she wouldn't say, which is that she's running? She gave us no reason to think that she wasn't running. She said, "I'm back."

She -- but the question is, does she have a clear campaign message? And I don't think so yet. I mean, I think what you're hearing is a lot of income inequality: "I'm for raising the minimum wage."

"I am a woman," which she talks about a lot more than she did in the last campaign. But, you know, does she have a message? No. Is she running? Yes.

BLITZER: Very quickly, you both agree, she is running, right?

S.E. CUPP, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Of course she is. And actually, I think this coy flirtation is getting a little old. I mean, it was one thing to hold off for a couple of months, if not a year, because she wasn't ready. It's very clear she's running. And I don't know. I find this, "I'm thinking about it, "wait for applause line. It's just -- it's a little annoying.

CORNELL BELCHER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You can't say that you're running this far out, because --

CUPP: Yes, you can.

BELCHER: No, you can't. You can't say you're a candidate right now, because it comes with all the baggage of a candidate, and you can't start doing that two years out.

BORGER: What about the book tour?

BELCHER: You do things like the book tour. You do things like the Iowa --

CUPP: She's campaigning without campaigning.

BELCHER: Well, exactly.

BLITZER: But on the Republican side, we see a lot of Republicans. Chris Christie is going into New Hampshire in a few days.


BLITZER: Is he running?

CUPP: Chris Christie is going to be running against a very deep field. A lot of other people will be running. Hillary Clinton --

BLITZER: None of them are going to get --

CUPP: No, but if I'm Martin O'Malley or Joe Biden, I'm waiting for Hillary. That's the rule now.

BORGER: They think she's running. I mean, they have to assume she's running. That's not going to stop Bernie Sanders. He's bringing youthful enthusiasm to the race. But Bernie Sanders or --

BLITZER: Remind me, Cornell -- I covered it -- why she came in third in 2008 in the Iowa caucuses. I mean, narrowly behind John Edwards.

BELCHER: It's a couple things. This is a story, Wolf, is that once upon a time in the Obama campaign early on, our hopes was not to win Iowa. Our hope was, in fact, to come in a close third in Iowa so that we could raise money and continue to go.

But we invested heavily in the caucuses, and the caucus system is a special kind of system. You heard those women there saying, "We want to see her. We need to see her." You've got to be on the ground. You've got to invest in those caucuses and have grassroots in a way that you can't just drop $1 million in advertising in the caucus system and hope to win.

BORGER: Bill Clinton will be there. Bill Clinton will be there, I guaranty you, if Hillary is running. And you know, pretty good story. It wasn't so great in 2008, but will be a lot better.

BLITZER: This Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, he's toying with the idea of running, as well. Is that a serious thing? What's going on?

BORGER: I think for Bernie Sanders, it's a serious thing. And for Martin O'Malley, who's also thinking about running.

I think inevitability is never a good campaign. So -- so she could use some serious challenges. He's going to challenge her from the left, however, and that could -- you know, that could tarnish her a bit in a state like Iowa.

But --

CUPP: You've seen some of the folks like Bernie Sanders toying with this idea, as well, coming from a similar place, that six to eight years of Obama policy hasn't worked out for Democrats. And more Clinton won't either, that kind of message. I don't think Bernie Sanders is as series as someone like Elizabeth Warren coming out with that message. Or someone like Martin O'Malley coming out with that message.

BELCHER: Well, he has to qualify some of that.

Look, if you're going to challenge Hillary, you have to challenge her from the left which is what we did in 2008. If you're going to beat her, you're going to have to galvanize the grassroots left that's upset with inside Washington.

BLITZER: I want you to watch this ad, especially you, S.E. This ad. This is Alison Lundergan Grimes. She's running against Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. She's the Democratic nominee. Watch.


ALISON LUNDERGRAN GRIMES (D), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: Mitch McConnell wants you to think I'm Barack Obama. Mitch is the same guy who thought Duke basketball players were U.K. Or who's attacking me on coal after doing next to nothing while we've lost thousands of coal jobs. He even said it's not his job to bring jobs to Kentucky.

I'm not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal, and the EPA. And Mitch, that's not how you hold a gun.


BLITZER: And then she goes out and fires it.

CUPP: It is when you get a gun as a trophy.

BLITZER: Pretty good ad. That's a pretty good ad, right?

BORGER: Is she a Democrat, by the way?

CUPP: She is a Democrat. And not the only Democrat running very far away from President Obama.

Look, I love -- I love seeing a girl with a gun. I'm going hunting this weekend, in fact. But I think it looks a little desperate to lean back on such a small issue when there are so many other kitchen table issues that a lot of voters are going to be voting on.

BLITZER: Are you surprised to see her say "I'm not Barack Obama" and running away from Barack Obama?

BELCHER: in the South and a red state like that, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) run away from him. But what she's doing is sort of aligning herself culturally with where those voters are, and that makes all the sense in the world.

BORGER: Let me say that Barack Obama's popularity in her state is a whopping 29 percent.

BLITZER: His approval.

BORGER: Right, his approval.

BELCHER: He didn't carry Kentucky. No.

BORGER: Right. He did not. So it's -- you know, it's not a surprise.

CUPP: Kentucky voters are not as shallow as that ad makes them sound. They're not just going to be aroused politically by seeing some woman shoot a gun. They're looking at very serious issues, from Obamacare to the economy to foreign policy. And she's just not where Kentuckians are.

BELCHER: You know where Obama care is really working? In Kentucky. You know where a place where Mitch McConnell has been flip-flopping on the whole issue? Is Kentucky. She's around for a while --

BORGER: Let's see how well they do.

BELCHER: Interesting that right now in the polling she's in a dead heat with the guy who's the most powerful Republican in the Senate.


BORGER: The most expensive race in the country.

BLITZER: All right, guys, good discussion. Thanks very much.

Just ahead, a new twist in the NFL. Ray Rice is expected to appeal his suspension any time now. Stand by.

Plus, the computer security hole that could be putting kids, your kids, at risk.


BLITZER: Ray Rice is reportedly planning to appeal the indefinite suspension handed down by the NFL after a video surfaced for the former Baltimore Ravens running back, punching his future wife and knocking her out in that elevator video that all of us have seen by now.

Let's get some more now. Joining us, our CNN commentator, the ESPN senior writer, L.Z. Granderson, joining us from Chicago, and our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is joining us from New York.

L.Z., do you think Ray Rice's career is over or do you think it is possible he could appeal and actually make a comeback?

L.Z. GRANDERSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: He can definitely appeal. I think he should appeal, especially when you consider the fact that there are men on the field still who have been involved with domestic violence arrests in their past and they're still be able to get onto the field.

Will he be able to play this year? That's doubtful based upon all the heat and attention that's on him. But you can see him playing next season for sure.

BLITZER: So, Ray Rice, he can appeal his indefinite suspension, that's what we're hearing, probably will do. Explain how that would work, walk us through the process. JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's actually quite

complicated because you have a lot of different moving parts here. As I understand how the appeal would work, it would actually be the NFL players' union who would file the appeal and then they would say, under the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players, the league and the team can't punish one player twice for the same event, same offense.

And in this case, you had the NFL suspend him, and then the Ravens release him. There are some other possibilities for how the NFL could defend this decision, but this could get very complicated, very quickly. And I don't think anyone knows for sure how this appeal would go. I do think it is -- there's a very good chance that Ray Rice will be playing in the NFL again, whether it's this season, next season or somewhere down the line, I don't know. But he certainly -- almost certainly will have the chance to play again.

BLITZER: Let's talk, L.Z., about another star in the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson, he will practice this week, he can play next Sunday's game, despite facing a child abuse charge. Take a look at these TMZ photos showing the leaked police report alleging Adrian Peterson's abuse of his son. I don't think we have those photos.

But Peterson did put out a statement saying this. He said -- denying he's a child abuser, "I also understand after meeting with a psychologist that there are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate."

What do you think? Will he be able to play?

GRANDERSON: Oh, absolutely. This is -- you know, domestic violence revealed something very complicated in our culture. And I think that Adrian Peterson case is equally as complicated and nuanced. When you look at the statistics and you find out that when you look at the people in the South versus those in the North, way more liberal in terms of whether or not spanking is OK in the South versus the North. When you look at the education, people who tend to have a college degree view spanking as more bad than those who don't.

When you look at those factors and then you factor in Texas, and he talked about in that release having grown up in Texas, and this is the way he was raised, and how he's being judged by his peers, all of this makes for a very fascinating nuanced conversations about cultural differences and what is appropriate discipline and what the science says is the most effective way. But he certainly will be able to get back on the field.


BLITZER: I think we have, Jeffrey, those TMZ photos now. I'm going to put them up on the screen and show them to our viewers. You see the injuries that this little 4-year-old boy suffered. But go ahead, walk us through this.

TOOBIN: Well, I -- this is not a case about spanking. There is no question that spanking is legal in Texas and every other state in the Union. The issue is child abuse.

And the question is, is that kind of punishment of a child with a switch, with a weapon, is that child abuse, or is that reasonable discipline?

Now, under the law of Texas, if this case goes to trial, he can argue that under the standards of the community, his behavior was reasonable discipline. But I think, given those injuries, and apparently injuries to the boys' genitals as well, you know, this is not spanking. This is something very different. And you --


TOOBIN: -- can see why the prosecutors brought the case.

GRANDERSON: Well, Jeffrey, I think that if you were to show those photos to many people in the Washington, D.C., area right now or in Chicago right now, those photos will look very similar to the photos they experienced themselves growing up or their parents experienced growing up.

I'm not saying what he did was right. What I'm saying is that fans will be much more likely to embrace him because they understand the perspective he was coming from. And we as a nation needs to have a more nuanced conversation about discipline in this country.

BLITZER: We definitely do.

TOOBIN: You know, L.Z., I'm not sure this is about nuance. I mean, I think this is potentially abuse, and a jury, which is the voice of the community, a jury may ultimately decide whether this is something in that community that's going to be tolerated.

BLITZER: Jeffrey, we got to leave it there. L.Z., thanks to you. Important issues now being discussed.

Also coming up, how hackers could easily get ahold of personal information about your children. What if anything is being done to solve this problem and protect your family.


BLITZER: Now, a CNN exclusive: a gaping security hole in computer software revealed that could allow hackers to steal personal information about you and your family.

Here's CNN's chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper.


BRYAN SEELY, RHINO SECURITY LABS: Now, we're finding stuff that other people didn't see and it's playing in a national security arena.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brian Seely and Ben Caudill say they have discovered one of the biggest potential security holes of the modern era, one that can lead your data and that of your kids exposed to any hacker willing to find it.

SEELY: Within a couple of minutes, we found Social Security numbers, dates of birth, private student records, transcripts, grades.

TAPPER: Seely and Caudill are so-called "ethical hackers", using their computer skills for good, to identify vulnerabilities in applications and networks.

BEN CAUDILL, RHINO SECURITY LABS: We take that information, privately disclose it to law enforcement, to the relevant parties and then work to get those issues remediated.

TAPPER: This month, they found a weakness in Oracle software that the company discovered in 2012 and provided a patch was a provided for still remains a huge vulnerability to any customer that missed or ignored that news. Seely says at risk is the sensitive information from databases belonging to 20 government-related agencies, 100 schools K-through-12 and 50 institutions of higher learning, affecting hundreds of thousands if not millions of people, he says.

SEELY: You could completely steal someone's identity and assume someone else and take money out of their accounts. You could file legal documentation. You could take out business loans. The sky's the limit.

TAPPER: They also easily accessed the records of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

SEELY: That is a department that had records of parents, the children, the situation of the living environment of the child, things that the child had gone through. Yes, it's a little rattling.

TAPPER: In a statement to CNN, the department acknowledged not only that the records had been vulnerable but that they were breached. Quote, "The database has been shut down and testing has found a limited data breach affecting fewer than 30 individuals. Anyone whose information was compromised is being notified and credit monitoring, identity restoration services will be provided at state expense."

Seely and Caudill are working with the FBI to alert the dozens of organizations representing hundreds of thousands of files that are still vulnerable and help patch their security systems.

In a statement to CNN, Oracle said the issue was not because of a product defect but because of the configuration of how the security checks could be disabled. The statement went on, the patch that made the default setting secure, quote, "was issued as part of our regularly scheduled critical patch update customers know to apply every quarter. Oracle notified all of our customers directly that they should apply the patch."

SEELY: Could they call everyone? Probably. Might take a little while. But is it the right thing to do?

TAPPER: Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.



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