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THE SITUATION ROOM
25 Near-Simultaneous ISIS Attacks in Iraq; New Details on American Jihadists; Holder: 'I Won't Write a Book During Obama Years'; New CDC Ebola Guidelines Expected; New CDC Ebola Guidelines Expected; Graham Suspect Indicted in 2005 Rape
Aired October 20, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, 15 new ISIS attacks. Even as the U.S. drops bombs and supplies in a besieged Syrian town, ISIS launches a massive new offensive in Iraq. I'll talk to a top national security adviser to President Obama.
Ebola crisis. An urgent new effort to keep the deadly disease from spreading as dozens of people who had contact with the first U.S. Ebola patient are released from quarantine.
And new Virginia charges as police await test results on the remains found in the Hannah Graham search, the suspect is indicted in a separate sex assault case dating back a decade.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following two breaking stories right now. Air strikes set off shattering blasts on ISIS targets in Kobani today while U.S. planes were also dropping something else on the Syrian border town: desperately needed arms and supplies for Kurdish defenders.
But the terror group has now struck back with some 15 simultaneous attacks on Kurdish forces in northern Iraq.
And as authorities await forensic tests of remains found in the Hannah Graham search, the subject charged in that Virginia student's abduction has just been indicted in connection with a sexual assault that took place nearly a decade ago.
President Obama's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, he's standing by, along with our correspondents, our analysts and all of our newsmakers. Kurdish forces backed by U.S. air strikes, and now air drops of supplies are blocking a brutal ISIS onslaught against the Syrian border town of Kobani.
But suddenly ISIS has massed -- launched a massive new offensive in a two-pronged assault in Iraq. Kurdish officials report 15 nearly simultaneous attacks against their forces, including an attempt to retake the critically important Mosul dam.
Let's get all the very latest from our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Barbara, this isn't the only place where the violence right now is ramping up.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: That is correct, Wolf. The weather has been bad in Iraq for the last several days. It's cleared now, and conflict erupting again. More attacks.
CNN has learned that next on the to-do list for the Iraqi forces with the U.S. and coalition help is to move north to the oil-rich town of Baji in Iraq's oil-rich northern area. In fact, some Iraqi forces already on the move from Baghdad north to try and get to the town. This is an area where the U.S. now has begun airstrikes again in and around Baji. Four in the last 24 hours.
Well, we are told you are going to see a big push by the Iraqi forces to get up north there and try and begin to retake territory.
But don't feel too hopeful yet. This had been on the books about six weeks ago, and Iraqi forces unable to move, unable to make it happen. This is the first place Iraqi forces are trying to retake territory.
But we are also seeing, Wolf, west of Baghdad in Anbar province, Iraqi forces still holding on to a good bit of territory, still holding onto the all-important Al-Asad Air Base west of Baghdad.
But what you are seeing, Wolf, is what is not happening yet. And that is really rolling back ISIS forces in a significant way and taking back significant territory in Iraq. That still has to happen -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly does. Barbara, what about Kobani? The airstrikes, now U.S. air drops of supplies. Some are suggesting maybe this is mission creep, at least mission expansion. What are you hearing?
STARR: Yes, you know, whether you want to call it mission creep, mission expansion or just a little different kind of mission, it is different, Wolf. This is the first time the U.S. has made the decision to launch air drops of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to assist the Syrian Kurds in this area of Kobani.
Why is this so different? Well, you know, just several weeks ago, the news media was told, "We're not bombing in Kobani. It's just a spot on the map. It doesn't really matter." That has changed.
The U.S. now says Kobani is important, and they say here at the Pentagon, why is it important? Because ISIS is trying to get it so it's important to try and keep them from taking this piece of territory along the Turkish border. What has really happened is ISIS, for some reason, has decided to mass its forces in this region. It lets the U.S. and the coalition see them, and it is launching counterattacks, airstrikes against them.
But at the moment, still the fundamental problem, ISIS is advancing, at this point very difficult to see that they are losing significant amounts of territory on the ground. BLITZER: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thanks very
Turning now to a CNN exclusive. With ISIS on the move in Iraq and Syria, what about the problem of foreign fighters from this country? Our justice reporter, Evan Perez, is here.
You had an exclusive sit-down with the outgoing attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder. Give us a few of the details.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as Barbara just mentioned, ISIS is having a lot of success. One of its successes is being able to recruit westerners. Over a dozen Americans are fighting with ISIS. Here's some of what the attorney general had to say.
PEREZ: Can you give me your sense of where we are in trying to make sure that we can get an early read on American jihadists before they go and do something?
ERIC HOLDER, OUTGOING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Our estimate now is that there are probably about 12 people or so, about a dozen people or so, who are in the Syria/Iraq area. We have dozens of investigations that are under way about other people who have either gone or are planning to go.
So this is something that is a priority for us at the Justice Department and at the FBI, working in conjunction with our U.S. attorneys where we're trying to engage in preventive activities, as well.
PEREZ: You're one of the longest-serving members of the Obama administration, of the cabinet. There was some really strong criticism recently from Leon Panetta who led the CIA and the Pentagon. He called into question the president's ability to make decisions, especially on Syria. You were in some of those meetings. Did you see an indecisive president? How do you feel about the criticism that's been made?
HOLDER: I have to really disagree with his characterization of the president. The president is a deliberate person in an appropriate way. But he's also resolute once he makes up his mind.
So I think that what Leon said in the book is unfortunate, and frankly, I don't think it's something that a former cabinet member should do while the president you served is still in office. That's not something that I would even consider doing.
BLITZER: So, Evan, I take it he's not going to write a book in the next two years while this president is still in office? I don't know if you followed it up at that point, but he's obviously irritated with Leon Panetta. PEREZ: He's irritated, Wolf, and he feels very loyal to the
president. He's one of the few people from here in Washington who's managed to break into President Obama's Chicago inner circle that he brought with him here. You can see that he feels very strongly that Leon Panetta violated something with this book.
BLITZER: And it wasn't just Leon Panetta but other cabinet members, Bob Gates, the former secretary of defense, Hillary Clinton to a certain degree, less so than the others, as the former secretary of state. There's been a lot of criticism of some of the key decisions that the president made or didn't make.
PEREZ: Right. And I think what you hear there is they want to point out that the president made this very tough decision to go after Osama bin Laden and kill him, and that took some tough decision-making. So that's their response to Leon Panetta's criticism.
BLITZER: Evan, thanks very much. Evan Perez with that exclusive.
By the way, Evan will be back in our next hour with more of his exclusive interview with Eric Holder, the outgoing attorney general. You can hear what the attorney general has to say about the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, and whether the officer involved should be indicted. More of the interview coming up in the next hour.
BLITZER: Meanwhile, as the U.S. steps up its military campaign against ISIS and ISIS steps up its own onslaught, let's go in depth right now.
Joining us now from the White House, President Obama's deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes.
Ben, thanks very much for joining us. You want to weigh in, follow up on what the attorney general had to say about Leon Panetta?
BEN RHODES, OBAMA'S DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Well, Wolf, we've addressed this clearly. Secretary Panetta expressed his views in his book.
I guess what I would add to this is that the president has shown that he's willing to use military force, not just against Osama bin Laden but against terrorist targets in Yemen and Somalia and Libya. He'll use force when it's necessary. But we make no apologies for being deliberate about the use of force, particularly when it engages the United States in conflicts like in the Middle East.
After the last decade, I think the American people want a president who's going to think hard before making those decisions, who's going to ask the hard questions and then, when he does pursue a strategy, he makes sure he's drawing from the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan so that we're not putting our men and women at the same risks that they've been in this last decade.
BLITZER: What's the latest with ISIS right now? Because you see these, what, 15 simultaneous attacks against various Kurdish positions in northern Iraq right now, the U.S. clearly stepping up its efforts to try to help the Kurds in Kobani along the Syrian-Turkish border. What's going on?
PEREZ: Well, Wolf, when ISIL presents itself on the battlefield, that enables us to hit their targets. In Kobani what we've seen is -- your correspondent, Barbara Starr, put it well. This has been important to them. They have surged resources to Kobani. That means masses of fighters. That means heavy weapons. Those are targets that we can hit and we have been hitting.
What we decided to do is to provide a resupply of arms, medical supplies and food to the Syrian Kurdish forces fighting ISIL on the ground. Those resources came from Iraqi Kurds who stepped up to the plate to assist those who are fighting ISIL in Syria. We did that resupply. That will allow them to carry on the fight in Kobani. And then, of course, we've also resupplied the Kurdish forces in northern Iraq who are engaged in the fight with ISIL, as well.
BLITZER: So the Iraqi Kurds -- I just want to be precise on this -- then, they've crossed the border into Syria, and they're helping their fellow Kurds, the Syrian Kurds in Kobani. Is that what you're saying?
RHODES: What I'm saying, Wolf, is they provided the arms, the medical supplies, the food that our Air Force was then able to fly and air drop into Syria. So it's Kurdish supplies from Iraq, and we use our unique capabilities from CentCom, Central Command, to fly and air drop those supplies last night into Syria so that those Kurds fighting on the ground against ISIL in Syria are able to carry on that fight.
BLITZER: All right. I want you to stand by, Ben. We have a lot more to discuss. Many more questions about what's happening in Iraq and Syria and the region. Stand by. More with the president's deputy national security adviser as soon as we come back.
BLITZER: Back to breaking news, a massive new ISIS assault in Iraq. Fifteen nearly simultaneous attacks, even as the United States steps up its own military involvement in Syria.
We're back with President Obama's deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.
Ben, this Mosul dam that looks like the ISIS terrorists are making a major push against the Mosul dam. How worried are you that it could be lost?
RHODES: Wolf, we're focused on that target. We helped the Kurdish forces retake the Mosul dam. We provided air cover for their operations in the vicinity of the Mosul dam. We'll continue to do that.
What we've seen, of course, is ISIL over the last several months advance in different areas of Syria and Iraq. The difference now is when they seek to advance, they're met with U.S. airstrikes, coalition airstrikes, as well as forces on the ground who have our support with training, equipping intelligence and our -- again, our air force providing those airstrikes. BLITZER: Is the Iraqi military really doing anything?
RHODES: Yes, Wolf. What we've seen again is in the northern, the Kurdish forces regroup, go on offense. They've actually taken back some population centers from ISIL. Around Baghdad, we've seen the Iraqi security forces consolidate their defense forces.
What we're working with them now on in Anbar province and around Baghdad, is getting back into the fight. And so we have a joint operations center there helping them plan. We've launched airstrikes in Anbar, including in the last 24 to 48 hours. Iraq has a new minister of defense.
All that is going to allow us to work with them to get back into that fight so that the Iraqi security forces again are taking the fight to ISIL in places like Anbar province.
BLITZER: How worried are you about Baghdad, the capital, a city of 7 million people, especially that so-called Green Zone where the U.S. embassy complex and hundreds if not thousands of Americans are based right now? How worried are you that that could be shelled, that could be in danger?
RHODES: Well, first of all, Wolf, top priority is always the security of the American personnel. We've reinforced the security at that embassy. We launched airstrikes to create a bit of a perimeter around Baghdad. So we feel good about the security precautions we have in place.
In terms of Baghdad itself, Baghdad is not at risk of falling to ISIL. What we're concerned about is ISIL's presence in the environment around Baghdad, places like Anbar province. What we've seen for months now is they use their vicinity to Baghdad to launch terrorist attacks, things like the car bomb attacks we've seen in recent days. Again, not directed at our embassy but directed at certain neighborhoods in Baghdad.
That's all the more reason to help the Iraqi security forces go on offense in places like Anbar province, so we're pushing out that perimeter and again beginning to push ISIL out of the areas where they've sought to consolidate gains.
BLITZER: Do you know if there are Patriot air defense missiles in and around Baghdad or the Iron Dome system the Israelis used effectively during their war with Hamas? Are those located in Baghdad right now?
RHODES: Well, we don't have something along the lines of the Iron Dome, Wolf. What we do have is a lot of experience with securing our embassy facility and personnel from rocket attacks. This was a constant factor as we had, again, American forces in Iraq for so many years.
So there are various perimeters and defensive measures that we have in place around our embassy, around our facilities. It's different from the type of missile defense systems that you see with Iron Dome. But again, we take precautions to make sure that our people are safe, just as we're also helping the Iraqi security forces secure the city and begin to push back against ISIL.
BLITZER: You probably saw that report in "The Daily Beast," Ben, that some of the U.S. humanitarian aid that's being air-dropped, some of the aid that's being -- that's going in across the border, if you will, food, medical supplies, actually winding up in the hands of ISIS. What's your reaction?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, we feel very confident that, when we air drop support as we did into Kobani or Mt. Sinjar in Iraq to help the Yezidis or in Emerli, the town that was besieged, we've been able to hit the target in terms of reaching the people we want to reach.
We also have a significant humanitarian crisis in northern Iraq with many displaced people who need our humanitarian assistance. Across this entire theater of Syria and Iraq, the United States has provided enormous amounts of humanitarian assistance over the last couple of years.
It certainly would be the case that, as ISIL has been advancing may have come into places like Mosul that had been recipients of U.S. aid in the past. But what I can assure people is that, when we are delivering aid now, we focus it on the people we want to receive that assistance. Those are civilians in need. Those are forces that we're aligned with in the fight against ISIL, and we take precautions to make sure that it's not falling into the wrong hands.
BLITZER: I know the president spoke over the weekend with the Turkish president, Erdogan. Did the Turks -- are the Turks ready to allow U.S. fighter jets to launch strikes against ISIS from airfields in Turkey like Incirlik, a NATO air base?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, what we seem to date from the Turks again is offering to be a part of our train and equip program for the Syrian opposition.
In terms of military assets, it has not been strike missions into Syria but rather supporting other components of our military effort inside of Syria. We can use those facilities even as we're also using facilities in the gulf and aircraft carriers to launch other missions including strike missions inside of Syria.
Another important announcement that the Turkish government made today, though, is that they are working to facilitate the resupply of Kurds through their territory. We did the air drop last night that we discussed. What the Turks are discussing is allowing some Kurdish forces to come in through Turkey and resupply the Kurds who are fighting in Kobani. We believe that would be another step forward in the fight against ISIL.
BLITZER: But fighter jets, they're still not allowing U.S. fighter jets to launch strikes from Turkish bases, right?
RHODES: Right. We're not launching strikes from Turkey, but we're confident that we have the force posture in the region to carry out our missions in Iraq without using -- and in Syria without using bases in Turkey at this point. BLITZER: They just have to fly a lot further away from the gulf.
Turkey is much closer.
Let me ask you one political question before I let you go, because you know tomorrow, two weeks, midterm elections. And you're right there. You've been with the president since day one, Ben. Step back. How are the elections, the crucial Senate election, shall we say, impacting the decision-making process as far as this war against ISIS is concerned?
RHODES: Well, not at all, Wolf. Again, when you come in to work and you're dealing with issues like the campaign against ISIL or you're dealing with the effort against Ebola, these are issues that are walled off from politics.
Frankly, we have to deal with them, because they are national security issues for the safety and security and health of the American people. Obviously, it's a political season, and the president has been engaged on the campaign trail the last couple of days. But he's also been monitoring these situations.
And when he's in the situation room here at the White House in the Oval Office, that's what he's focused on. Not the politics but rather what can we do to get the job done?
BLITZER: We're always looking forward to visiting his Situation Room, and you're always welcome in our SITUATION ROOM, Ben. Thanks very much. Ben Rhodes, joining us from the White House.
Coming up, as dozens of people who had contact with the first U.S. Ebola patient are released from a quarantine, there's an urgent new effort to keep Ebola from spreading in this country.
And as Virginia police wait for test results on the remains found in the Hannah Graham search, authorities indict the suspect on new charges linked to a cold case -- cold case sex assault.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Following new developments in the fight to keep Ebola from spreading here in the United States. Let's go to CNN's Alina Machado. She's got the very latest. She's joining us in Dallas -- Alina.
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, 43 people here in Dallas County have reached the end of their monitoring period without any symptoms. This as the CDC continues to work on new guidelines.
MACHADO (voice-over): The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is setting new protocols for healthcare workers treating Ebola patients. The new measures are meant to help protect healthcare workers from getting the virus. DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND
INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I'm not going to go into the details, because we haven't finalized it yet, except to say that they're going to be much more stringent, on erring very much more on the side of safety.
MACHADO: Dr. Anthony Fauci added that, as was the case in Dallas, guidelines can only do so much.
FAUCI: But obviously, there have been some missteps. And the first one was someone coming to an emergency room and saying, "I'm from Liberia and I have a fever" and being let go. That's what I meant when I said inexcusable. That is not the CDC's fault. That's just human failing.
MACHADO: Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Thomas Eric Duncan was treated for and later died from Ebola, has issued an apology, saying in part, "As an institution we made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge."
Several nurses are rallying behind the hospital as two of their own, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, continue to fight the deadly virus. Vinson remains in Atlanta's Emory Hospital. Her condition is being kept private. But her family has hired a lawyer, because they feel the CDC misrepresented her actions in the days following her care of Duncan, saying in part, "Suggestions that she ignored any of the physician- and government-provided protocols recommended to her are patently untrue and hurtful."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, everyone.
MACHADO: Meanwhile, back in Dallas, the 21-day monitoring period for the 43 of 48 who came in contact with America's first Ebola patient is over.
CLAY JENKINS, DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE: There's zero risk that any of those people who have been marked off the list have Ebola. They were in contact with a person who had Ebola. And the time period for them to get Ebola has lapsed.
MACHADO: The group includes Duncan's fiancee, Louise Troh, and several of her family members.
MARK WINGFIELD, ASSOCIATE PASTOR, WILSHIRE BAPTIST CHURCH: They feel like this is a tremendous miracle that's happened that they've not come down to be symptomatic, given the close exposure they had early on. And this is a long-awaited day of celebration.
MACHADO: There are still dozens of healthcare workers who had contact with Duncan who will be monitored through at least October 29. There's also another group of people who had contact with the nurses. Their monitoring period will likely go through November -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Alina Machado in Dallas for us, thank you very much. Let's dig deeper right now. Joining us, Seema Yasmin. She's a former
CDC disease detective and now writes for "The Dallas Morning News." Also joining us, Gavin MacGregor-Skinner, an assistant professor at Penn State University Department of Public Health Sciences. He's an expert on public health preparedness.
Dr. MacGregor-Skinner, let me start with you. Quarantine had ended for many who came in contact with Mr. Duncan. But is 21 days really enough?
DR. GAVIN MACGREGOR-SKINNER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY: Yes, it is, Wolf, because based on the information and the data we have -- so we've known Ebola virus now since 1976. That's 38 years of experience we've had, 26 outbreaks. And as we deal with these outbreaks, we develop risk assessments, and we know that 21 days is really very conservative when it comes to an incubation period.
And again, today is a day of celebration. Not only are all these people in Dallas now served that 21 days, but also Nigeria has been declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization.
BLITZER: Dr. Yasmin, you agree?
SEEMA YASMIN, "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS": I do agree. There's certainly a sense of relief here in Dallas, Wolf, that these 43 individuals have been cleared and are now free to go on and live their lives. We have to say that the burden of evidence does show in science that 21 days is sufficient. It's what Doctors Without Borders have been using for 38 years. Many other organizations, as well, have found that most people exposed to Ebola become sick eight to ten days after infection. So 21 days is a good enough monitoring period.
BLITZER: Dr. MacGregor-Skinner, you point out the World Health Organization has now declared Nigeria, also earlier Senegal Ebola- free. How -- why have they been apparently more successful in containing Ebola than we have been in the United States, which is not yet Ebola-free?
MACGREGOR-SKINNER: It's very important, Wolf. We look at Nigeria. The Nigerian government invited my team from the Elizabeth R. Griffin Foundation, invited and paid for that team to go to Nigeria. When we got there, the Nigerians had a plan, an operational plan and a communication plan.
These new CDC Ebola guidelines, they're not news. They are the guidelines that Nigeria was using the day we arrived. In the operational plan, they did a needs assessment, a risk assessment and identified who and what to protect and how to protect it.
In the communication plan, they took a community engagement approach. They mobilized everyone in the community through a 1-800-Ebola help number, government Facebook, government Twitter, and a government website. And then they used SMS text messaging to push out messages to everyone in Nigeria to be more vigilant and to report early signs and symptoms for Ebola throughout the country. They also identified two hospitals, one in Lagos, which is a mega city
of 21 million people, and one in Port Harcourt to be the two regional centers for Ebola for the whole country so that all the hospitals that were going to get Ebola patients were sending Ebola patients to just two hospitals and that was able to allow them to focus on their training.
BLITZER: Do you know if Nigeria and, for that matter, Senegal have imposed a travel ban preventing anyone from the three West Africa countries from coming into Nigeria or Senegal?
MACGREGOR-SKINNER: No, they haven't, Wolf. And what's really unique about Nigeria -- and I just spoke to my Nigerian government colleagues today. Because we're celebrating. My team just had a cake with "Well Done, Nigeria" on top of the cake.
What they're saying now is that Nigeria can become a base of training for all those international experts and African experts and consultants that need to go to the three countries in West Africa. So we use Nigeria as a training, use their lessons learned, use their protocols, and use that as a launching pad to send people into Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
BLITZER: Do you know, Dr. Yasmin, why some people get Ebola, others don't get Ebola, why some people survive from Ebola and other people die?
YASMIN: We're certainly learning that some people seem to be exposed to the virus that have some type of immunity that protects them from becoming infected. We need to learn more about this.
In terms of why some people succumb to the infection and others don't, it's like with so many other illnesses, Wolf. There are many factors at play as to why one patient survives and another patient doesn't. We know that in the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, his diagnosis was delayed, and sometimes in Ebola, that does play a part. Quick diagnosis, quick isolation and treatment can save lives.
BLITZER: But in his particular case, he came back to the house with a high temperature; yet now we've learned all the people he was in contact with -- his girlfriend, so many others -- they are free and clear, right?
YASMIN: That's right. And that's so reassuring, that his loved ones and those 43 other people are clear of the virus.
We know, though, that nurses and healthcare workers who care for Ebola patients, they're really at most risk of becoming infected, much more so than the average person on the street who might pass somebody with Ebola. And that's because healthcare workers are on the front lines. They're coming into contact with people who are very sick with Ebola. That means they have a lot of the virus in their body. And they're coming into contact with infected bodily fluids throughout the day for many, many days.
BLITZER: Seema Yasmin, thanks very much. Gavin McGregor-Skinner, thanks to you, as well. We'll stay on top of this story.
Meanwhile, near Charlottesville, Virginia, we're now learning new details in the case of the missing University of Virginia student, Hannah Graham, including new chargers against the suspect. We're going live to Charlottesville when we come back.
BLITZER: Our breaking news: as authorities await forensic tests on remains found in the Hannah Graham search, the suspect charged in that Virginia student's abduction has just been indicted in connection with a sexual assault that took place a decade ago.
Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's joining us live from Charlottesville, Virginia, right now with more.
Brian, what's the latest?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight investigators are processing evidence from where human remains were found over the weekend.
And we have just learned that information from the Hannah Graham investigation helped prosecutors bring another case against suspect Jesse Matthew.
TODD (voice-over): Virginia law enforcement agencies tonight are putting more pressure on Jesse Matthew. The suspect in Hannah Graham's abduction in Charlottesville is now charged by a grand jury with sexual assault and attempted murder in a 2005 case in Fairfax City, two hours north.
RAY MORROUGH, FAIRFAX COUNTY COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY: The victim is grateful to the lead detective, who stayed in touch with her regularly over the course of nine years and promised her he'd never give up; and he never did. And I wouldn't expect less from him.
TODD: The indictment comes as law-enforcement teams work the crime scene outside Charlottesville, where human remains were discovered over the weekend. The state medical examiner will soon determine if it's the body of Hannah Graham.
A sergeant with the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Department, whose team made the discovery, said it was a skull and bones scattered across a creek bed, no hair or skin. The skull was intact. There was no crushing of the bones. The remains were not buried, and there was a pair of black pants found nearby.
SGT. DALE TERRY, CHESTERFIELD COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: I don't know how else to explain it other than something inside me told me just continue to look.
TODD: The remains were found about five miles southeast of where Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington's remains were discovered in January 2010 after she disappeared the previous fall.
A law enforcement source says DNA in the Harrington case provides a forensic link to Jesse Matthew.
Neighbors along Old Lynchburg Road told us they didn't notice anything unusual the night Hannah Graham disappeared, but they described the abandoned property where the latest remains were found.
MARY COTTLE, LIVES NEAR CRIME SCENE: It's three houses there are empty. Nobody's lived in them for quite a while. And it's just a real small house. And that's all I can tell you. It's a very small house, and it's right on -- practically on the side of the road.
CAROLINE BURNS, LIVES NEAR CRIME SCENE: It looks like a movie set for a horror movie. When you drive by it, you just always look at it and go, oh.
TODD: Now neighbors are simply trying to process the latest traumatic news in a case they've followed from the beginning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're so taken absolutely by surprise that this can happen next door.
TODD: We reached out to Jesse Matthew's attorney, James Camblos, tonight. He would not comment on the latest indictment of Matthew in Fairfax City, Virginia, or on the discovery of human remains near here -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much.
Let's dig deeper right now. Joining us, our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes, along with the investigative journalist, Coy Barefoot, who's been on top of this story from the very, very beginning.
Coy, let me start with you. Jesse Matthew, he's the suspect in the Hannah Graham disappearance. He's been indicted, you just heard from Brian, for this alleged 2005 sexual assault on a college campus where he was a student. His indictment states he's being charged with attempted capital murder, abduction, sex assault. What can you tell us?
COY BAREFOOT, JOURNALIST: So that case, that event took place, Wolf, on September 24, 2005, in a neighborhood just off of Germantown Road in Fairfax. This is just south of Interstate 66 in Fairfax, a suburb of Washington, D.C.
A 26-year-old woman was walking back from the Giant grocery store, her groceries in her hand. She was jumped. It has been reported that she was picked up and carried to the back of this neighborhood, where there is a wooded lot and a playground, a kids' playground. And it was in the dark there in the woods where she was brutally raped and nearly beaten to death. A passerby scared off the perpetrator, and she crawled to a house and
banged on the door for help. The police have said today that they believe that the DNA they found, the DNA of the perpetrator that they found on this woman in 2005 is the DNA of Jesse Matthew, who is in jail here in Charlottesville and is charged with the abduction of Hannah Graham.
BLITZER: And where does the Morgan Harrington case fit into all of this?
BAREFOOT: That's a great question. Let me explain that. The DNA that was found on the woman in 2005 in that rape and attempted murder is the same DNA that was later found on Morgan Harrington's shirt the night that she was abducted and murdered October 17th, 2009.
Now from a lawyer's point of view, the Fairfax case is a stronger case because the DNA of the perpetrator was actually found on the victim. In Morgan's case, that's tougher to prove because the DNA was found on her shirt almost nine miles from where her remains were found. But that is the connection. We know for a fact that the DNA in Morgan's case is linked to the DNA in Fairfax. That case now with which Jesse Matthew has been charged.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, I want you to listen, this is the Fairfax County Commonwealth attorney talking about the charges that were -- filed today against Jesse Matthew and asked if the Hannah Graham investigation played a role in what they discovered?
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAYMOND MORROGH, FAIRFAX COUNTY COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY: I would say sort of indirectly that case was of value to this department in conducting its investigation. Obviously law enforcement coordinates in situations like this and that was done here. But that's about all I could say about it. I couldn't be any more specific than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He says indirectly. But it sounds like a pretty direct connection there. Hannah Graham disappears. Then all of a sudden nine years later, they file these charges against Jesse Matthew.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. The reason for that, Wolf, is they collected the DNA in 2005, they collected DNA in 2009 in the Harrington case or shortly -- 2010 when her body was found, and -- but they had no one to compare it with. They look at the files of DNA records. There's nobody on file with that DNA. Once Jesse Matthew became a suspect in the Hannah Graham case and they get samples of his DNA and compare it to the earlier cases that were unsolved, that's where they get the match.
BLITZER: All right. We got a lot more to discuss. I want both of you to stand by.
Tom Fuentes, Coy Barefoot, more questions, more answers right after this.
BLITZER: To the breaking news. The suspect in the Hannah Graham case now indicted on charges link to a decade-old sex assault, as Virginia authorities wait for test results on remains found on the ground search.
We're back with our law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, along with CNN -- along with the investigative journalist Coy Barefoot, who's joining us from Charlottesville.
Coy, Jesse Matthew, what, he grew up only about four miles from where the human remains were found over the weekend in the search for Hannah Graham. What are you hearing about the remains that were located?
BAREFOOT: So this area is a very remote, rural part of Albemarle County. The parcel of land on which the remains were found is exactly 11.5 miles south of Charlottesville's Downtown Mall, which was the last location where anybody remembers seeing Hannah Graham on the early morning hours of September 13th.
This 2 1/2 acre parcel has two homes on it. One is a small home, small three-bedroom house that was built in 1983. And just across the grass from it is a small 600 square foot cabin. The remains were found in the woods behind these two structures, just inside the wood line in what's been described as a dry creek bed.
And Wolf, I can tell you the guys with whom I spoke who were out there, there's not one of them who doesn't believe that this is the -- that we are talking about the remains of Hannah Graham.
The remains, of course, are going to the medical examiner's office in Richmond. And a full autopsy and a positive I.D. will have to be done there to be sure that this is Hannah Graham. But police, of course, in Albemarle County and here in Charlottesville believe that after the longest, most extensive, most complicated search for any missing human being in the history of Virginia, that they believe they have indeed found Hannah Graham.
BLITZER: How long, Tom, does it usually take to make the DNA evidence conclusive result?
FUENTES: Well, the DNA can take a couple of days. But the dental takes a few minutes. So, you know, an investigator, the dentist with the records, with her teeth, will be able to make that determination very, very quickly. The problem for the delay right now is just that this takes a lot of time. They're going to be very meticulous in the examination of the remains because they're looking for the smallest piece of evidence which could have DNA or could have some other indication to indicate what caused the death and again link Jesse Matthew to it.
BLITZER: We know, Coy, that law enforcement called Hannah's parents over the weekend, told them they found these remains. What are you hearing about that conversation, how it went and how the family is dealing with this?
BAREFOOT: I have a source who told me, Wolf, that he was out there when Chief Longo took John Graham, Hannah's father, out to the site. And one can only imagine how gut-wrenching and horrifying a moment that must have been for John Graham.
I cannot confirm that Sue Graham, her mother, was out there. But I can confirm that John went out to the site Saturday morning. And of course, the announcement came later that day.
The whole town here, Wolf, is just caught in this mix of relief and sadness and anger as well, to think that whoever did this just dropped Hannah on the ground in the woods. It's just horrifying. It absolutely is horrifying.
BLITZER: Certainly is.
Coy, thanks very much. Coy Barefoot on the scene in Charlottesville.
Tom Fuentes, thanks to you, as well.
Coming up in our next hour, major new details about the fatal police shooting of a black teenager Michael Brown, and it's raising new questions about what happened that day in Ferguson.