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THE SITUATION ROOM
Ebola Fears; ISIS Beheading; Crisis in North Korea?; County Police Replace Ferguson Cops at Protests
Aired October 3, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Ebola fears, a patient showing possible symptoms now in the Washington area as the White House seeks to reassure nervous Americans.
Biohazard. A specially equipped crew arrives at the Dallas apartment where the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. stayed and where four people are currently quarantined.
An ISIS beheading. A grim new video appears to show the murder of a British hostage and threatens the life of an American.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off this evening. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We're following two breaking news stories this hour, The apparent beheading of British hostage Alan Henning by ISIS shown in a gruesome new video that also threatens the life of an American hostage.
Also spreading concern about the Ebola virus in the U.S. with new reports of people showing symptoms possibly associated with Ebola in the Washington, D.C., as well as the Atlanta areas.
An NBC cameraman in Liberia with a confirmed case of Ebola will be flown to Omaha Monday for treatment. And then in Dallas, growing concern about the quarantined family of the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S.
We're using CNN's global resources to cover the breaking news with our correspondents and our guests.
A hazmat team is now at the Dallas apartment where the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. stayed and where four people are under quarantine.
CNN's Martin Savidge is on the scene for us.
Martin, you actually have been able to observe these crew members going in and out of this apartment.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Correct, Brianna. It's been an interesting scene as it's developed throughout the
day. The good news is that the four people who are in quarantine are said to be in good health and showing no signs of Ebola. That's the best news of all, because it means that they also are not transmitting the disease in any way.
The cleanup, it's taking longer than thought. Maybe not a bigger surprise here. Many people thought it's taken days longer just for the crews to show up as they have.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Tonight, as hazmat teams begin cleaning the apartment that Ebola patient Thomas Duncan stayed in, Duncan's partner and her three relatives who have been quarantined inside will soon be moved to another location, according to the Dallas County fire marshal.
ZACHARY THOMPSON, DIRECTOR, DALLAS COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: The family has been monitored. There's no outbreak. And so therefore, everyone should ease their fears.
SAVIDGE: The state of Texas says it's now monitoring 50 people who were in contact with Thomas Duncan. And while none has shown symptoms, all must now check their temperatures twice a day.
Today, the CDC reissued Ebola guidance to all U.S. hospitals, calling for increased vigilance, telling doctors to ask patients where they have traveled and telling hospitals to isolate anyone who shows symptoms of the virus and has visited an affected country in Africa.
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: We recognize the concern that even a single case of Ebola creates on our shores. But we have the public health systems and the public health providers in place to contain the spread of this disease.
SAVIDGE: Officials say they also are preparing for the arrival of yet another American with Ebola, Ashoka Mukpo. A cameraman NBC News hired in Liberia earlier this week tested positive late Thursday. The 33-year-old is scheduled to return to the U.S. Sunday.
DIANA MUKPO, MOTHER: There's the honest fear that he becomes sicker before we have a chance to transport him. That's the big concern that we have right now.
SAVIDGE: Mukpo was in Liberia filming a story with Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC's chief medical editor.
DR. NANCY SNYDERMAN, NBC CORRESPONDENT: He and I were working in a workspace when he told me that he wasn't feeling well. He had joined us 72 hours earlier as an independent journalist, and had been in the hospital -- had been in the country two weeks prior to that. So my suspicion is that he was infected before we met him.
Everyone here is hyper-alert. No one shakes hands. There's no hugging. I do believe that our team, we are at very, very, very low risk.
SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, back here in Dallas, officials are still trying to clear up red tape, red tape that's been a hindrance.
For instance, they are going to clear the believed contaminated items out of that apartment, Brianna, but they will get it in the parking lot. Right now, it's not clear how or who will transport it away. And authorities will not say where. The other thing, those four quarantined family members, they are expected to be moved, but again officials have not said where they're going -- Brianna.
KEILAR: They are inside that apartment as the crew is working to clean it out. Martin Savidge there on the scene, thank you so much.
There also is concern about Ebola here in the nation's capital. A patient who recently traveled to Africa is at Washington's Howard University Hospital. That hospital says the symptoms could be associated with Ebola.
Let's turn now to CNN's Erin McPike for the latest on that.
Erin, what can you tell us?
ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, what I can tell you is that security has been extra tense around here this afternoon, as we await the results of a test to see if that patient does, in fact, have Ebola.
Howard is not naming that patient. They're simply saying that the patient has shown some Ebola-like symptoms and recently traveled to Nigeria. I also say though that Howard University's president sent out a campus-wide e-mail earlier today saying that, as you know, Washington, D.C., is a major gateway for international travel, and so they're taking all suspected potential cases very seriously, but he called this particular patient low-risk, although I would out that there was another potential suspected case also today in nearby Rockville, Maryland.
But that was dismissed. The test results came back negative and that patient has some other illness. We are still waiting for the results of this test. But I would say that in both of these cases, both hospitals have said that they very worked closely with the CDC to monitor those individuals and are following all the infection protocols very closely, Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes. And they are erring certainly on the side of caution. Erin McPike, thank you so much for that report.
This afternoon, top officials at the White House offered new reassurances about the federal government's response to the Ebola outbreak.
Let's get more from CNN's senior medical -- actually, you know what? Pardon me, that is not Elizabeth Cohen. Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
He's at the White House.
This was sort of a show of force that we saw there in the Briefing Room, Jim, a number of top health officials with the Obama administration trying to tell Americans that this is going to be OK.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna.
And as you know, all this week, White House officials have been trying to calm a lot of jitters across the country because of this Ebola outbreak in West Africa and this first case here in the United States, but to no avail. So the late Friday news conference, you have seen those before, Brianna. This was led by the president's counterterrorism and homeland security director in terms of responses to those types of threats.
Lisa Monaco, she said that the American public should have confidence in the U.S. health care system's ability to stop this from becoming an outbreak in the U.S. And Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was over at the National Institutes of Health, he said that it would be extraordinarily unlikely that there would be an outbreak here in the U.S., although he did say that there's still a chance, he thinks there could be another chance of a U.S. case of Ebola happening in the coming days.
But since there were no initiatives really announced here and no new measures that are being announced here by the White House, Dr. Fauci was asked why this press conference was held in the first place.
Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: Now that it's in the United States, the concern is that I don't ever like to see people get sick and people suffer and die.
But as a medical professional who has witnessed and experienced the whole 38 years since 1976, I never say I'm not concerned, because that's interpreted as taking something lightly. I take nothing lightly. But I'm convinced by what we have all said today that the system that's in place, with our health care infrastructure, would make it extraordinarily unlikely that we would have an outbreak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Another thing that Dr. Fauci said during that news conference is that an Ebola vaccine is being tested over at the NIH as we speak. They should have the first results from the first phase of that vaccine being later on in November or December and that there could be a trial period over in Africa of that vaccine in the first quarter of next year.
The other thing they talked about here at this press conference, Brianna, is whether or not there would be a travel ban affecting those countries in West Africa. They said once again, Brianna, no plans for a travel ban. They said that would be counterproductive in terms of this Ebola response -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes, or if maybe there would be a delay from the granting of visas to the time of travel. No answer on that either.
Jim Acosta at the White House, thanks so much.
Let's get more now from our CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.
You were also listening to that press conference, Elizabeth. That was really it. There is not going to be an outbreak very likely, that's what we heard. But there could be another case, but clearly officials not wanting Americans to be too alarmed here.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, Brianna, I think it's actually pretty clear that there will be other cases.
This was just sort of the classic nightmare. I actually spoke on this show about this in early August. I said the nightmare is that someone who is infected with Ebola but is not yet sick boards a plane to the U.S., gets here and becomes ill. That's exactly what happened.
There's that incubation period, so it's possible that that can happen. I think what was interesting about that press conference is at the end, Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, said this is all about execution, execution, execution.
Or to put it in sort of my words, I guess I would say the devil is in the details, right? So I think that's part of what has Americans concerned is some of these details, some of this execution hasn't gone so well. The hospital let a patient go home who has a travel history to Liberia, is Liberian, is clearly Liberian, and has a fever. How in the world can that happen?
It took a very long time to get those towels and sheets out of that apartment. All of these details, all of this execution really needs to be more finely tuned because we will be seeing other cases.
KEILAR: It seems in a way, Elizabeth, talking to CDC officials or even listening to these administration officials, when they talk about the fact that lessons have been learned from this Dallas case, it's almost -- there's almost like a sheepishness in sort of acknowledging that this was a mess-up severely on the case of local health officials in Dallas.
COHEN: Yes. I think it's -- I'm actually sort of in the way glad to see that they have acknowledged that and glad to see lessons can be learned.
I'll tell you, Brianna, what disturbs me the most is the reaction by the hospital. On Jake Tapper's show, the lieutenant governor of Texas said, hey, the wrong screen popped up in the electronic medical records, so we didn't see his travel history. It's bad luck.
Blaming this on bad luck is really problematic. It's been problem in hospitals for a long time that little pieces of information get lost. A test result gets lost. The fact that someone is allergic to a medicine gets lost. In this case, an important fact, the travel history was lost. That's not just bad luck, that's because things aren't as well organized as they should be and hospitals need to own up to that and need to fix it.
KEILAR: Yes, they sure do. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.
To find out more about ways you can help in this worldwide fight against Ebola, go to CNN.com/impact.
We have more breaking news ahead, the apparent beheading of a British hostage by ISIS and the chilling threat to the life of an American.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We have breaking news here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the White House just releasing a statement from President Obama on this ISIS claim that it beheading Alan Henning, a British hostage.
I just want to read what we have here, President Obama condemning this, what he calls a brutal murder.
And part of the statement reads: "Standing together with our U.K. friends and allies, we will work to bring the perpetrators of Alan's murders, as well as the murders of Jim Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines to justice. Standing together with a broad coalition of allies and partners, we will continue taking decisive action to degrade and ultimately to destroy ISIL."
I want to bring in now CNN's Brian Todd.
You were working on this story and really, at this point, the president here condemning this murder. But you also have a process where administration officials are trying to verify, exactly, that this video is authentic.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And they say right now there is no reason to doubt that it is authentic, Brianna, but they're examining it very closely on both sides of the Atlantic, because each of these videos gives them more possible clues into the location and just other pieces of information about ISIS that are crucial.
As Brianna mentioned, U.S. and British officials responding with outrage tonight over this video. British Prime Minister David Cameron saying just a short time ago that Alan Henning's murder -- quote -- "shows just how barbaric and repulsive these terrorists are" -- end quote. Lisa Monaco, assistant to President Obama for homeland security,
says, this is just another example of ISIS brutality. The video, to recap, released by ISIS just a short time ago showing the apparent beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning.
In the same video, the terror group threatens the life of American aid worker Peter Kassig. Kassig was captured a year ago on October 1 on his way to Eastern Syria. A U.S. intelligence official tells CNN tonight that U.S. intelligence is very aware of this videotape, looking into it, examining it for clues, as it has with the other ISIS videotaped execution videos.
This U.S. official says there's no reason to doubt tonight to believe that this videotape is not authentic. The official had no comment on the threat to Peter Kassig. To recap on Alan Henning, he is a taxi driver from near Manchester, England.
He was part of a team of volunteers that traveled to Syria in December 2013 to deliver food, water, ambulances and other supplies to people affected by the civil war there. He was abducted the day after Christmas by masked gunmen. That was according to other people in his aid convoy.
Last week, the British Foreign Office released an audio file of Henning pleading for his wife. His wife also made a public plea for ISIS to spare his life, her appeals also joined by voices of Muslim leaders around the world, and even some jihadist groups have weighed in, appealing to ISIS to release him.
If the authenticity is confirmed, as we suspect it will be, Henning will be the fourth Westerner to be beheaded on camera by ISIS. This summer, ISIS beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, gruesomely showing their killings in videos posted online.
The then group claimed its first British victim, aid worker David Haines. That was according to a video that appeared online on September 13. Alan Henning appeared kneeling in that latest video with an ISIS militant standing by his side. Brianna, these families are all in agony tonight. You have to be feeling for the family of Peter Kassig tonight, given the sequence of events.
KEILAR: Yes, we certainly are.
Brian Todd, thank you for your report.
I want to get reaction from the U.K. That's where CNN's Karl Penhaul joins us live from.
Karl, Alan Henning, this is someone who is known to be a big- hearted taxi driver, a father. This is someone who went to the region just trying to help people. What are you hearing there in Britain?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Brianna.
This beheading will certainly infuriate his friends. A couple of weeks ago, I was up there in his hometown in Northern England. And you're right. They know him as the taxi driver with the heart of gold. He did not have to be in harm's way. He wasn't even a Muslim.
But he saw the suffering of the people of Syria and decided to go with Muslim friends and Muslim neighbors. It was the fourth aid convoy he had gone on down into that area.
And in fact when the convoy came to the Turkish-Syrian border, convoy organizers said, who will volunteer to go into the danger zone? Alan Henning was one of just 10 men that decided, yes, we will go into the danger zone because that's where we are most needed. These are the consequences. He was kidnapped and now he's been killed.
KEILAR: Karl Penhaul, thank you so much.
I want to bring in now CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd, as well as CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.
Phil, let's talk about the timing here. This is the fourth Westerner who has been killed since August. What is this about right now? Is this about the British Parliament vote?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think this is about ISIS trying to engage, believe it or not, in a conversation, not only with the West, that is Europe and the United States, but a conversation with potential recruits.
You will note in every one of these videos they start with the defense. It's not their fault from their perspective. That's what they're trying to tell recruits. It's the West's fault for intervening. It's the Parliament's fault for voting. So they're trying to justify what they're doing as they go out and prove to potential recruits in Europe and the United States that they are the baddest guys on the block. It's been consistent in every video.
KEILAR: The other thing I think that's striking here and really gut-wrenching, Peter, is that there was an audio file put out of Henning's voice. Obviously his family has been pleading for his life. Why put out that -- why did ISIS put out that audio file? What was the point of that?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, what's the point of the whole enterprise here?
If the idea is to try and put pressure on the United States and Britain to do less in Syria and Iraq, this has backfired spectacularly. In fact, public opinion only changed on the issue of really taking strong action in Iraq and now potentially Syria as a result of these beheadings. So it's a tactical victory for these groups which is going to lead to their long-term or medium-term defeat. The whole thing doesn't make any sense.
KEILAR: And that is the thing. It was the beheadings that really -- you see ISIS trying to say, you know what? We don't want you taking strikes near the Mosul dam, going ahead, starting with the beheadings. Jim Foley was first.
And then it completely turned American opinion in favor of intervening in a way that it was not there before.
BERGEN: That's right. You look at the public opinion polls. Support for airstrikes is incredibly high. Support for boots on the ground is very low. But, yes, When historians write the history of this, James Foley beheading is going to be sort of the beginning of the end for ISIS.
KEILAR: I wonder, Phil, this -- unfortunately these videos from ISIS have become formulaic. At the end of this video, we see an American aid worker, Peter Kassig. ISIS threatens his life.
This is also someone who went to the region trying to help. Is there anything the U.S. can do here?
MUDD: I don't think there's much. I don't want to comment obviously on other hostages, but the point is -- believe it or not, I spent my life trying to look at the world through the eyes of the adversary.
They believe their own propaganda. They believe we're in the wrong. They believe they're in the right. They believe they're inspired by God, so while this looks like wild propaganda to us, they believe it all. One more point, picking up on what Peter said, because I think he's dead on. This makes perfect tactical sense from the adversary's perspective.
They're now seen as the biggest guys around the world in the world of counterterrorism, terrorism, insurgency. They're seen as the recruiting ground for vast numbers of recruits in Europe and the United States. I have never seen anything like this in terms of the waves of Westerners coming.
But, strategically, you cannot win an insurgency if you're an insurgent group if you alienate the local population. And beheading Westerners, but also beheading and raping locals is eventually going to lead their demise, because the locals will say, enough. Tactically, it makes sense. Strategically, this is a tremendous blunder.
KEILAR: They have filled a void, in a way, certainly in Iraq, and now the question is, will that void be filled differently? Will ISIS not really have a toehold there?
I wonder, Peter, I think the question now is that we have seen this happen so many times, are we going to keep seeing this happen and how many Western hostages does ISIS have?
BERGEN: Well, we know there are two Americans being held by ISIS at least. There's another -- yes, there's a limited number of other Westerners. We're not going to see this forever if they continue killing people.
Unfortunately, they do have two other American hostages. They do have a British hostage. There are nationalities that are public. Unfortunately, we can continue to see some of this.
KEILAR: All right, Peter Bergen, thank you so much. Phil Mudd, thank you as well for your insight into this.
Just ahead, there are new concerns that a dangerous power struggle is under way in North Korea, as leader Kim Jong-un is missing now for weeks.
And breaking news out of Ferguson. After weeks of vocal criticism from protesters, Ferguson police are being replaced on the streets. We have details.
KEILAR: There are new concerns tonight that the regime in North Korea is growing unstable. As supreme leader Kim Jong-un remains missing from the public spotlight, some are saying the young dictator is no longer in control. CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this.
What did you find?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Brianna, last week, North Korea said their leader was suffering from, quote, "discomfort," and he's missed some important government events recently.
Tonight, a new and disturbing claim about Kim Jong-un's hold on power. I've spoken to a prominent defector who says Kim is being controlled from behind the scenes.
TODD (voice-over): He's not been seen in public for almost a month. After being filmed limping, there are reports he's in poor health. Now a prominent defector tells me North Korea's volatile young dictator, Kim Jong-un, is not in charge, that he's a mere puppet.
Who controls the government?
JANG JIN-SUNG, NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR (through translator) (via phone): The power holders in North Korea are a group called the Organization and Guidance Department.
TODD: The Organization and Guidance Department, OGD, a shadowy, old-boy network tied closely to Kim's father, the late Kim Jong-Il. Word that the OGD is in control comes from defector Jang Jin-Sung, who spoke to me on the phone from South Korea. Jang was an insider, a propagandist for Kim Jong-Il who defected almost a decade ago. He says he's got highly placed sources inside the regime who he's spoken with in recent days. The Organization and Guidance Department handles surveillance, the appointments and purges of top leaders.
KERI GAUSE, NORTH KOREA LEADERSHIP EXPERT: It keeps the files on everyone. And that definitely makes it a very powerful and dangerous organization.
TODD: And Sang Jin-Sung says, while they were loyal to his father, members of the OGD don't trust the younger Kim. JIN-SUN (through translator): They are calling the shots. And
not the words of one man they do not know. Basically they're no longer loyal to the ruling king's word.
TODD: North Korea is one of the world's most closed societies. CNN has no way to confirm these claims. But Kim's absence does raise questions.
(on camera): If that group was in charge, would this regime be on the verge of collapse or bankrupt?
GAUSE: It would be, I think, in a much more serious shape. Because then you would have power struggle as being the basic dynamic behind the regime, as opposed to conducting foreign policy, domestic policy and other things.
TODD (voice-over): But U.S. intelligence officials cannot confirm the credibility of the defector's claims. Analyst Jonathan Pollack says, at most, there's likely been some powerful maneuvering to influence Kim but not to strip power from him.
JONATHAN POLLACK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: This is a top-down system. There is no No. 2. It is a royal system, a dynastic system, predicated on the idea of there being a Kim, dare I say a next of Kim, able to wield authoritative power from the top on an unquestioned basis.
TODD: But Pollack says the appearance of Kim Jong-un from public view is a real mystery and one that draws concern. He says, if Kim Jong-un has gout or a weight problem, or maybe a problem with his ankle, which have all been reported, then at least the regime would show him sitting at his desk, giving orders. But for almost a month now, no traces of him, Brianna, not even a propaganda video of him sitting down. So that's what's really raising concern here.
KEILAR: Do we -- and what is the latest on his health right now?
TODD: The latest reports were that he's had a weight problem, that he might have diabetes. This runs in his family. Gout runs in his family. That possibly his weight problem contributed to the problem with his ankles. He's had some medical attention for that. Of course, it's impossible to verify, and he is nowhere to be seen.
KEILAR: Brian Todd, thank you so much for your report.
Let's dig a little deeper now on this. Joining us is Professor Victor Cha with Georgetown University. He is a former member of President Bush's National Security Council, and he is the author of the book "The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future."
When you look at this, Victor, that Kim Jong-un has been out of the spotlight entirely for all of this time, what's your reaction?
VICTOR CHA, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, it's not unusual, Brianna, that he's been out of the spotlight. I mean, there have been other times where he has been missing.
What's different this time is that it's a longer period. I think today basically marks one month that we haven't seen him. And the fact that he missed the Supreme People's Assembly, the major gathering of the party that provides, at least to the public inside of North Korea, demonstrative proof that he's in charge. Because that's the picture where he sits, in the center of this big auditorium and raises his hand, and then everybody else raises their hand. It's a sign of authority. And for him to be missing there, to me at least means it's something more serious than a broken ankle or gout.
KEILAR: So you think it's probably a serious health issue? What do you think about this speculation that there could be this power struggle between Kim Jong-un and this group of sort of the old guard that were loyal to his father?
CHA: Well, Brianna, I think there are two theories out there. One now -- one is this idea that he is in ill health, probably from weight issues and also from the stress of running a country, which is pretty stressful.
And then the other is that there is this usurping of power by the OGD. This is a view that you sometimes hear from European diplomatic personnel that are stationed in North Korea. Some evidence of this are pictures, propaganda pictures we see of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, that are unflattering pictures that show his girth or that show the back of his head. These are apparently all signs by the OGD that they are in control more than this young fellow is.
The thing with North Korea is, we just don't know which of these stories is true.
The one other thing we know for sure is that, within the military, there's been a lot of turnover. At the chairman, at the vice chairman of the joint chiefs, at these sorts of management levels in the military, there's been a great deal of turnover, which is a sign that there's some internal flux. There's fluidity in the situation inside the country when it comes to this power transition.
KEILAR: There are so many rumors. North Korea is obviously paying attention to the a lot of the coverage that this is getting. What do you think the next move will be from North Korea?
CHA: Well, I think the most important thing is that they will react, I think, to reports like this, I think, in the western press. The elite do monitor the western press.
And if they see this and all the speculation, the first thing they're going to want to do, if it's possible, is to get the North Korean leader back out on stage. As Brian said, if it's a broken ankle, at least sitting down at a table or something.
But if they don't respond, it will increase the speculation that there truly is something wrong with him or something happening in terms of the power situation within Pyongyang. KEILAR: And as you look at this, you talk of this flux in
government that appears to be going on. Certainly, you know, that's sort of a general, I think, diagnosis of what's happening here. What does that mean, Victor, when you're talking about North Korea's nuclear program and concerns about that program?
CHA: Sure, I think it raises a great deal of concern. If -- if this guy is no longer in play, and we don't know that, but let's say he is, he is no longer in place, there's no clear line of succession.
We don't know who comes next. We can't even pick the people that we think would be the next in line for power. If there's an internal power struggle, we don't know the security of the nuclear weapons, the security of the missiles, and it can be manifested in terms of conventional military acts against the south, either -- either intentionally or inadvertently that can then trigger greater prices on the peninsula.
So stuff that happens inside of North Korea can certainly affect folks on the outside in very bad ways.
KEILAR: Yes, and that's why we're watching it so carefully. Victor Cha, thanks so much. Victor is the author of "The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future."
And just ahead, a brewing battle in Ferguson. But it's not on the streets. Media outlets are fighting the local police for documents. We are investigating the exorbitant price that officials are demanding for public records. And digging on why, weeks after the shooting of Michael Brown, we still know so little about that August day. Our panel is standing by live to weigh in. We'll be with them in just a moment.
KEILAR: We have breaking news out of Ferguson, Missouri. St. Louis County police officers are taking control of security at all Ferguson protests, replacing Ferguson City Police after weeks of fierce criticism from protesters.
The transfer means the county police will be in charge of any arrests and filing any charges.
Meanwhile, tonight it appears a fight is brewing between some media outlets and the city government. Ferguson is apparently trying to set exorbitant prices for government records that may shed more light on the shooting that left unarmed teenager Michael Brown dead and sparked weeks of protests. Here's CNN's Sara Sidner.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The documents, including e-mails about Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, were requested by CNN, the Associated Press, and other news organizations to try and help the public understand exactly what happened the day of the controversial shooting. But today, in a response from the city, CNN was asked to pay a
$2,000 deposit before the city would agree to even begin searching for the records, saying, quote, "There is a tremendous amount of work involved with researching whether records exist which are responsive to your request, analyzing the records, redacting the records if necessary and any copying or duplication that will be needed."
Under state law, cities are allowed to charge media outlets for the reasonable cost of finding and copying records.
TONY ROTHERT (PH), LEGAL DIRECTOR, ACLU MISSOURI: We have a very good law on the books that requires openness.
SIDNER (on camera): Is Ferguson following that law?
ROTHERT: And Ferguson is really going out of its way to find any way not to make records easily accessible to the public, which is exactly the opposite of what needs to happen.
With the unrest and the lack of trust, really what Ferguson should be doing is going out of its way to make records possible, to make information available to the public. They can make records available. They're just choosing not to. And that's troubling and contrary to, you know, what the sunshine law is supposed to encourage.
SIDNER (voice-over): Since the shooting and protest in August, there has been controversy over police records pertaining to Brown's shooting. The day Officer Wilson shot Brown, the Ferguson police department broke its own policy when its officers failed to file an officer involved shooting incident report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to have to back up.
SIDNER: The department later inflamed tensions when it waited a week to release the name of the officer involved in the shooting, and when it did, it also released video of what it said showed Michael Brown committing a robbery. Protesters saw that as a blatant deflection tactics. Now eight weeks on, the protests, though much smaller, continue every night, and the mistrust between police and many in the community grows.
Overnight, Thirteen people were arrested while demonstrating. And tonight, people here say if the grand jury decides not to indict Officer Darren Wilson, things may get much worse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there's not an indictment, excuse me French, hell is going to break loose.
SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Ferguson, Missouri.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get more now with our panel. John Gaskin of the NAACP, we had CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, who is also a former FBI assistant director. John, why do you think that these documents are so difficult to
JOHN GASKIN, NAACP: Well, there could be a possibility that they have something to hide. You would think with all of the unrest within the city of Ferguson, within St. Louis as a whole, you would think that the best way to try to move forward, to try to ease some of that tension, would be to be as transparent and lawful as you can be.
And so, to hide documents, to put up extra hurdles for networks like yours to get access to those documents, to bring this type of information to the public eye, I think -- I think that's a problem and that makes people very concerned, makes me concerned, it makes our organization concerned to believe that they have a lot of information, a lot of information that they are trying to withhold from the public, because they're fearful of public reaction, I'm sure.
KEILAR: Yes, I mean, it does seem that that may very well be the case, gentlemen, and you look at this, and we heard Sara Sidner's report. This is legal, but come on, right?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, government agencies are rarely enthusiastic about complying with Freedom of Information Action request.
TOOBIN: You know, Tom's FBI, I've had my own battles with the FBI about trying to get information from them. I mean, it's difficult.
But this is absurd. And it only encourages exactly what John said, which is it suggests that there is something to hide in these documents, and it basically convinces the world that the Ferguson Police Department is a Mickey Mouse operation that is trying to just fight everybody about everything instead of acting like an organization that wants to -- that's proud of what it stands for.
KEILAR: What's the point, Tom, if -- I mean, eventually we assume that these things are going to come out. So, what is the point of throwing up an obstacle of essentially, you know, putting out there that there has to be a $2,000 retainer before they even get started on these documents?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. I think John has a point that whatever they release, whatever it indicates, will probably be inflammatory and lead to some trouble on the street, no matter what it says. I think that that's probably in the back of the mind of the people of Ferguson to withhold the records or delay it or stall tactics or whatever.
But let's face it, this is not the Library of Congress. It's going to take about five minutes to pull those records out. So --
KEILAR: That's a good point. FUENTES: So, yes, I think it's deliberate to obstruct releasing
anymore information which could be either appropriately or inappropriately received.
KEILAR: Is there any argument to be made that there should be legal proceedings that are able to continue at this point and perhaps putting some of that information outside of that sort of makes it difficult in terms of public opinion?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, courts some -- sometimes people -- government agencies say we're not releasing the records because they are the subject of a criminal inquiry. There are sometimes exceptions under the law.
But here, all they're saying is give us $2,000 before we even starting to look, which is just absurd. And so, instead of making reasonable arguments, they're just thumbing their nose at CNN, at "The A.P.", at everybody, which just leads more people to make bad assumptions about this police department.
KEILAR: Is that normal, Tom, that idea of -- I mean, I definitely heard that there are copies, there are man hours that are put into this. But the idea of give us money before we're even going to start as sort of a down payment, is that something that happens?
FUENTES: I don't know. I was involved in the investigations, not with record management. So, I'm not sure if it's normal or if it's abnormal.
TOOBIN: The FBI doesn't do it.
FUENTES: But no matter what they're doing -- I mean, they're going to need another PR firm the way they keep going about things.
KEILAR: Yes. They certainly do.
All right, gentlemen --
TOOBIN: At a minimum.
KEILAR: Yes, at a minimum.
All right. Stick with me. John Gaskin is joining us from Missouri. We have Jeffrey Toobin and Tom Fuentes with us. We're going to be talking more about this when we come back.
We'll be talking about major change in policing in Ferguson. This is a really big deal. St. Louis County coming in instead for the protests. What impact will that have? We'll discuss it.
KEILAR: Let's get more now on Ferguson, Missouri, with our panel.
We have John Gaskin of the NAACP, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and we have CNN law enforcement Tom Fuentes. He's a former FBI assistant director.
And, Tom, you make a good point about what is happening now. You have security being transferred from Ferguson police to St. Louis County police, and this seems to be rife with problems, right?
FUENTES: It does, because in the immediate aftermath of the shooting incident, Ferguson police only has two non-armored Humvees from the military. So, they didn't bring out the military equipment that caused trouble. That was the St. Louis County. That was their gear that came out there, and the SWAT teams and the snipers on top of the armored cars.
And all of that, that caused so much of the issue that that equipment was brought out and put right in front of the protesters, instead of hidden in a more discrete manner, and then after four or five days, then the governor shows up and puts the Missouri state patrol in charge, Captain Ron Johnson.
TOOBIN: You know, this also raises one of the policy issues that's raised by all of this, which is why are there so many small police departments around St. Louis. Is that a productive use of law enforcement? The failure to have a sort of centralized force, which might be more diverse than say the Ferguson police department, is I think one of the precipitating factors is why people are so angry about this whole situation.
And instead of consolidating, to have these small police departments is not a recipe for success.
FUENTES: Most people -- if I could interrupt one second. Most people are not aware, in the United States, there are 18,000 separate police agencies and this goes back to the Founding Fathers. The fear wasn't efficiency of law enforcement, it was tyranny. And that is why all law enforcement is local, even down to the little towns. We grew up watching Andy of Mayberry.
And that's an example of small departments because law enforcement is controlled by the local government and the police and the local towns people and that's why you have all of these tiny departments all over the country.
KEILAR: Yes, but we've seen certainly some of the inefficiency of that.
I wonder, John, what is your reaction, what is the reaction of folks there on the ground when they're finding out that the very police department that really is -- I guess where we saw so many of the bad images in the early days of the protest, they are now in charge of security detail for Ferguson protests?
GASKIN: Well, I was just listening to what tom said regarding when the protests initially started and the images you saw on TV and in the press, I hope this is not adding insult to injury in this particular situation because let's just be transparent about this. Many people in Ferguson, especially protesters and people in the community, do not have much confidence in the Ferguson police department, police in general.
And so, this weekend will really tell us where people within that community are sitting on this and it is my hope that the St. Louis County Police Department will do a much better job than the Ferguson police department has -- the Ferguson Police Department has done in terms of dealing with protesters and especially in terms of communication. I think that is where many of the lapses have occurred, is communication.
KEILAR: I wonder what you think, John, about this lawsuit. You have more protesters joining this lawsuit against the really -- against the use of force by police. What is their hope and do they realistically think that they are going to be able to get something out of this?
GASKIN: Well, in terms -- now keep in mind, I am not an attorney. But many are --
KEILAR: We have one though.
GASKIN: Absolutely. And many people are joining in on that lawsuit and I think that they certainly do have some credibility. You all have seen the images, you've seen the hog ties, you've seen the rubber bullets being used, you've seen the teargas, and you've seen the way in which American citizens have been treated throughout this entire process. And so, that raises many red flags and it's very concerning.
KEILAR: And final word to you, Jeffrey, do they have a case in this lawsuit?
TOOBIN: Well, their claims overlap with what the Justice Department is investigating. So, I think we'll know more about the validity of those claims when the Justice Department announces what it's going to do. That is the main investigation and that's going to be the main case, if there is one. So, that's the thing I think to keep an eye on.
KEILAR: We will be keeping an eye. Jeffrey, thank you so much. Tom, thank you. John Gaskin, thank you so much for joining us.
And remember that you can follow us on Twitter @CNNSitroom. You can tweet the show and be sure to join us on Monday in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can watch us live, or certainly the DVR the show so you don't miss a moment.
Thanks so much for watching. I'm Brianna Keilar in THE SITUATION.
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