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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; ISIS Threat; Ferguson Police Chief Speaks Out; Ferguson Police Chief Says He Won't Step Down; FBI Most Wanted Suspect Eric Frein Captured
Aired October 30, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: bomb maker plotting, a terrorist, an explosive genius now believed to have survived U.S. airstrikes in Syria, while a new ISIS is revealed in neighboring Iraq.
Breaking news, the police chief speaking out. The embattled head of the Ferguson, Missouri police talks to CNN about reports he's on the verge of stepping down. Will he yield to calls for his resignation?
Critical race. An alligator wrestler could hold the future of Congress and the United States itself in his hands. Will his contest throw the entire election into chaos?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: And we're following the breaking news out of Ferguson, Missouri, where the police chief Tom Jackson has just spoken to CNN about reports that he's going to resign over the police shooting death of Michael Brown.
Also, hours after an ISIS massacre of dozens of Iraqi prisoners, an even greater horror is discovered in a mass grave containing the bodies of hundreds of Sunni fighters slaughtered by the terrorist group. We're covering those stories and much more this hour, with our correspondents and our guests, including the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Let's begin though with our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, what's the latest you're hearing?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is a slaughter unfolding just to the west of the capital, Baghdad, 400 Sunni tribesmen who had taken up arms against ISIS killed in just the last 48 hours. While today Pentagon officials spoke of encouraging progress against ISIS by both Kurdish and Iraqi forces, they acknowledge that Iraqi forces in Anbar province are incapable of coming to the aid of this key ally.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, saying Iraqi forces in the area are in purely defensive positions, and that even with the ability to call in U.S. airpower and that airpower on its own would be ineffective because the coalition doesn't have the intelligence or reconnaissance necessary to carry out strikes to protect this group.
Here's what Secretary Hagel said when I asked him about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Here you have a group that is literally risking their lives, right, in a way that the coalition is frankly desperate for, and yet no one came to their aid except an airdrop of meals.
CHUCK HAGEL, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: This is just another but one of many daily dimensions of what's going on over there. The brutality of ISIL and what they're doing has to be stopped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: On Monday, the U.S. airdropped humanitarian aid to allow meals to those Sunni tribesmen. That was at the request of Iraqi forces, but there was no military action to rescue them.
And, Wolf, as you know, these Sunni tribes are essential to the fight against ISIS. You want Sunnis in the area challenging extremist Sunnis of ISIS, so you have really all of Iraq fighting them, not just the Shiite-dominated government and Shiite-dominated militias around Baghdad.
BLITZER: Yes, but those moderate Sunnis, you need them, but if they will not get the backing, they will be slaughtered by these ISIS Sunnis. This is a horrible situation that is unfolding right now.
There's also some indications of some serious potential infighting within the Obama administration about what to do.
SCIUTTO: Well, it's interesting, because Secretary Hagel was asked about this as well today. He acknowledged an essential disagreement with the administration on Syria policy, saying he sent a two-page memo to the White House saying we have to make an essential part of our strategy in Syria, the U.S. strategy in Syria confronting not just ISIS, but the regime of the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, and that is still an open question.
What's interesting about this as well is that what you have here, there were some unnamed sources in Washington, imagine that, saying that Secretary Hagel and Secretary Kerry were in some way out of the loop, and by talking about this memo to some degree, you hear the secretary saying, I'm very much in the loop. In fact, just the other day, I was challenging the president on this key issue of policy.
It was actually funny in the press conference, because General Dempsey also said, I don't know where anyone is getting the sense that I'm not close to the president. He said he spends more time with the president and Secretary Hagel than his wife. (CROSSTALK)
BLITZER: Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Jim Sciutto, thanks very much for that.
Meanwhile, there's also growing some concern about a terrorist bomb making genius now believed to have escaped U.S. airstrikes in Syria and is seriously feared to be actively plotting against the United States homeland.
Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is working this part of the story for us.
Pamela, what are your sources telling you?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're learning that David Drugeon is believed to be one of at least a dozen Khorasan leaders still alive, according to intelligence officials we spoke with.
He poses a double-barrel threat. He's extremely skilled at making easily concealed bombs and he is adept at recruiting Westerners to join jihad.
BROWN (voice-over): He's the French jihadist U.S. intelligence officials say could pose one of the biggest threats to the U.S.; 24- year-old David Drugeon is an explosives expert and a key member of the terrorist group Khorasan, a collection of former al Qaeda operatives who are still actively plotting against the U.S.
Drugeon was one of the main targets when the U.S. sent 47 Tomahawk missiles on several suspected Khorasan sites in Syria last month. But U.S. officials say there's evidence Drugeon escaped the strikes.
SETH JONES, SENIOR POLITICAL SCIENTIST, RAND CORPORATION: Does not appear to be the case is U.S. strikes against Khorasan have fundamentally destroyed the network. Senior officials continue to live in Syria, continue to become involved in plotting in both Europe and the United States.
BROWN: According to French media reports, Drugeon once worked on behalf of French intelligence and then defected while in Afghanistan.
He eventually made his way to Pakistan and is believed to have traveled onto Syria in the last two years.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: In Pakistan, he became skilled at making explosives. He had contact with a number of al Qaeda leaders there.
BROWN: U.S. intelligence sources say Drugeon is adept at making easily concealed bombs, the kind of bomb that could be hidden in packages and shipped on commercial flights, similar to the printer cartridge bomb found in a cargo plane in 2010 built by al Qaeda and Yemen's master bomb maker, Ibrahim al Asiri. Khorasan's efforts to blow up U. S. -bound flights led to increased
security measures at overseas airports this summer. Recently retired director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olsen, said Khorasan still poses an imminent threat to the U.S.
MATTHEW OLSEN, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: We saw that they were looking to test explosives. So, they were in, you know, the advanced stages of plotting. And again, they had both that intent and what we saw that capability that put them into this -- nearing an execution phase of an attack.
BROWN: As a Westerner, Drugeon is also believed to be heavily involved in facilitating the movement of fighters back and forth from Europe and in planning attacks in Europe. And the big concern here is that he's helping to lure foreign fighters with Western passports to smuggle bombs on to U.S.-bound airplanes, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's all very, very disturbing.
Pamela, thanks very much. Pamela Brown reporting.
Let's dig a little bit deeper.
Joining us, the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Mayor Giuliani, thanks very much for joining us.
What advice do you have? For example, your hometown, New York City, what can you do to prepare for what officials here in Washington are calling a potentially, potentially imminent, imminent plot from this al Qaeda group Khorasan?
RUDY GIULIANI (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Well, of course they can do more, but New York has been ready for this since the attack of September 11.
And both Mayor Bloomberg and now Mayor de Blasio have built up through the two police commissioners Kelly and Bratton probably as good a defense against all possibilities that you could have. So I'm sure they're going to re-heighten their efforts.
I'm sure they're going to be a lot more careful, if you can be, about what's coming into New York. They're consistently doing exercises and tabletop exercises, playing out what would happen if there was a bombing to try and keep it as contained as possible.
So no assurances, but I think I'm pretty comfortable saying that New York City is about as prepared as any city in the world for, God forbid, something like that happening. BLITZER: Because one thing I know officials are worried about
are the airports. Are they secure enough? Especially because some of these terror groups have some new technology from Yemen's master bomb maker, this guy Ibrahim al-Asiri, and they might be able to get a bomb on a plane. That's something I'm sure you're worried about as well.
When I was mayor, my big fear was always cargo, because we know that passengers are searched very, very carefully. Even there, there have been a few mistakes. But the cargo is another matter, because so much cargo comes in, particularly to Kennedy Airport.
But when you get a threat like this, an imminent threat like this, all of a sudden the cargo gets searched even more carefully. So I'm sure they're doing everything they can. New York City is without question the number one target. But so is Washington and so is Chicago and so is Los Angeles.
You can't predict these people. Usually, they do what you don't think they're going to do.
BLITZER: And what really worries officials now, Mayor, is not what happened necessarily 9/11. That was a highly choreographed, orchestrated plot that was implemented by these 19 hijackers and they had a lot of support.
What they're worried about is this lone guy, a lone wolf, as he's called, inspired, if you will, by these terror organizations to go out and self-radicalize and blow up something. How do you prepare for that?
GIULIANI: Much harder.
I remember way back when Chris Christie was the U.S. attorney in New Jersey discussing with him the Fort Dix almost attack. They were self-generated jihadists who were going to attack Fort Dix and were caught right in the act through an FBI sting operation.
So this lone wolf thing, the guy at Fort Hood, the people in Boston, this has happened to us, this is very hard to detect, because they don't communicate as much. They're not traveling the way some of these other people are. They're not trying to bring bombs in. They already have things here, so you're not going to pick them up at the airport.
And, frankly, we have much less intelligence about them, because they're not part of a network that we may have been lucky enough to infiltrate. So this is the nightmare of I think every major police commissioner, mayor and of Jeh Johnson at the Department of Homeland Security. You just do the best that you can.
Here you have to rely on very, very good local policing. This is where you have to rely on a police department that you have trained to look for the precursors of terrorism, something that I know Bill Bratton is very, very familiar with, because he, in part, helped develop some of these things. So all of this is no guaranties. What I can tell people is that everything is being done that can possibly be done.
BLITZER: Bill Bratton, the New York City police commissioner. I think that lone wolf fear is one of the reasons that Jeh Johnson, the secretary of homeland security, raised the threat level at nearly 10,000 federal buildings here in Washington and around the country.
Mr. Mayor, I'm going to ask you to stand by. We have a lot more to discuss.
BLITZER: We will continue with the breaking news coverage right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Mr. Mayor, we are going to have more on ISIS, the terror threat. But let me ask you a few other questions right now, specifically Ebola. Where do you stand on this debate over these forced quarantines, if you will, for individuals returning to the United States, New York City, for example, who were engaged in dealing with Ebola patients over there? Should they be required to be quarantined for 21 days?
GIULIANI: Well, Wolf, I faced something similar to this with the West Nile virus that broke out in New York first.
And, actually, at first, CDC didn't recognize it as West Nile virus and it was the New York City Health Department that found the doctor who discovered the West Nile virus. And we had to make decisions about spraying the city. People were very annoyed about it that they were being interrupted, it might be dangerous.
And we actually had a court case over it. It seems to me we have to go with the science here, right? And, believe me, if this is not true, then what I'm saying is not correct. But if in fact there is a 21-day incubation period, in other words, if I have been exposed to Ebola and then for 21 days it is conceivable that I could contract Ebola and therefore I could give it to someone else, it would seem to me that a 21-day quarantine period should not only be required.
As a medical professional, I should want to do it. Why the heck am I going to Africa trying to cure people of Ebola and then coming back and putting people at risk that they might get Ebola in the United States? So it seems to me the 21-day quarantine period should be built into the whole commitment.
So if I make the commitment as a doctor or a nurse or a soldier to go to help, then there should be a 21-day phase-down period. It should be made as comfortable. It should be made as nice as possible. If the nurse has some complaints about the way she was treated, that's unacceptable. She should be treated like a hero, rather than treated like some kind of a criminal.
But the 21-day should be built into the entire commitment. If I'm wrong, if it's a seven-day incubation period, then it should be seven days. Or if it's 10, it should be a 10-day period. But Governor Cuomo and Governor Christie and Governor Quinn and Governor Scott and a whole bunch of them who have used this 21-day period up, they didn't make it up. That's the number they have been given by the scientists.
BLITZER: The way Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey, for example, handled this nurse who came in, did he handle it the right way or the wrong way?
GIULIANI: He handled it the right way. He handled it the only way that the scientific information would allow him to make that decision.
Look, as I said to you, I'm not sure I'm right. I hope they know they're right. Is it a 21-day incubation period? If it is a 21-day incubation period, then they should be incubated for 21 days in as nice surroundings as possible, where they have plenty of things available to them, where they're treated nicely and fairly.
And maybe part of this is because, and I don't want to make this political, but I really am very disappointed about the amount of information the administration had about this disease before it broke out. This was not a case -- I wrote a book about leadership and relentless preparation.
This is a case of not being relentlessly prepared. They should have known in advance that there was a 21-day incubation period and that should have been built into the contract of each one of these people that goes there. We shouldn't discover this as we're going along. We should know this in advance. Ebola has been around for decades, so there's no reason for us to be playing catchup now. Unfortunately, we are.
BLITZER: Let me ask you a quick political question, speaking of Governor Christie of New Jersey. He had an interesting exchange with a heckler yesterday. I'm going to play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: So we will see.
Now, listen, everybody, what we need -- yes, good. And there's been 23 months since then when all you have been doing is flapping your mouth and not doing anything. So, listen, you want to have the conversation later, I'm happy to have it, buddy. But until that time, sit down and shut up.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You ran for the Republican presidential nomination. Here is the question. Can you be that blunt out there on the campaign trail?
GIULIANI: Maybe we need that after a period of time in which we have a president who can't seem to make a decision, you know, where you have a president who had no plans for ISIS, who thought ISIS was the J.V., who seems to have had no plan for Ebola.
Hey, they're improving now, but they certainly sure took a long time. Maybe we sort of follow that with somebody who has a decisive personality, and maybe that is somebody Putin would pay attention to, as opposed to the president we presently have.
And I haven't selected a candidate yet. I'm a big supporter of Jeb Bush also and a whole bunch of the other Republicans, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, and I left out probably a few other friends, Mitt Romney.
So -- but I don't know. Maybe the American people will be looking for something different. They might be looking for a more decisive person in the White House, and there's no question. I don't think even if you're an Obama supporter, there's no question that this president suffers seriously from being behind the curve on almost everything.
BLITZER: Well, with somebody like Chris Christie, who has got obviously a lively temperament, is he somebody as a president of the United States though that could deal with ISIS, those kinds of issues, given that lively temperament?
GIULIANI: Maybe they would be afraid of him, like they were afraid of Ronald Reagan. Remember all those months that the Iranians held the hostages, and then the first day Ronald Reagan was in office, when they took a look in Ronald Reagan's eyes, they set them free.
Maybe it isn't so bad if some of our enemies around the world are afraid of our president, and don't hear for the first time when a president speaks, I'm not going to put boots on the ground. The minute you tell me you're not putting boots on the ground, I kind of figure I might get away pretty easy.
BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York, I take it you like Chris Christie, but you like a lot of these other Republican presidential candidates as well. All right, thanks very much for joining us.
GIULIANI: Thank you.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now.
Joining us, our CNN counterterrorism analyst the former CIA operative Phil Mudd, CNN military analyst retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling and CNN global affairs analyst retired Lieutenant Colonel James Reese.
Phil, what do you think this new -- this notion that there's potentially right now an imminent threat from these al Qaeda-related groups to the U.S. homeland?
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think you have to word out of potentially.
If you look, for example, at Khorasan, a group we have been talking about for some time now, when you get shadowy intelligence information about a group like Khorasan, typically you're going to have limited knowledge of the extent of the plot itself and limited knowledge of the extent of the plotters.
You're not going to know who all of them are, so when you take one shot in Syria and start to judge whether you have eliminated that plot, the answer is going to be no. There are too many plotters across too many countries. And what we know is they're looking at cities like New York and Washington. So, if it's not disruptive, they will come after us again.
BLITZER: Well, what about that, Colonel Reese? Because, as you know, the U.S. launched 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles against these Khorasan in Syria. We now know a lot of those leaders survived. Those airstrikes, did they accomplish anything?
JAMES REESE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Wolf, what they did is they took a shot. What that shot did, even according to the analysts today is, when I heard someone said 99.5 percent that these guys slipped out, they took a shot.
But that shot made them scatter. And we have got a high-value target cell that's watching these people, and they are doing everything within the intelligence community to get these targets lined up, so then we can move operationally on them, whether it's by our tier one forces or by other assets we can.
But people are watching these and really working day and night to target these folks.
BLITZER: General Hertling, what is your response to these reports now? We have confirmed them, and even Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed them that he sent a pretty tough memo to the White House in recent days expressing concern about the Syria strategy, suggesting that it needs a sharper view of what to do with the Bashar al-Assad regime.
It's not unusual that there's disagreement within any presidential administration, but he seems to be pretty concerned there's a lack of clarity right now.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Wolf, I would say any time you have a senior leader giving those kind of memos, I actually see it as a very good thing. That's what we pay our senior leaders to do is to continually assess and reevaluate.
From what I saw of the memo, we have one line from it which basically says, hey, we need to take a closer look at what we're doing with the Assad regime. That could mean hey, boss, we have really got to do certain things differently. We have got to take a different approach. We have reevaluated some of the intelligence. We may have seen that our strikes against ISIS is actually helping other things, allowing Assad to go after the Free Syrian rebels.
So I think there are a series of things that that memo could have meant, that one line from a memo could have meant. I have been on the receiving end of a couple of those kind of memos that said, hey, boss, let's take a closer look how we're doing business.
BLITZER: There's a lot of concern, especially the moderate Syrian rebels, that the U.S. is launching strikes against ISIS in Syria, but doing nothing to go after Bashar al-Assad's regime.
There's one school of thought over there suggesting maybe the U.S. is reluctant to go after Bashar al-Assad's military because there's a lot of Iranians that have come over to help the Bashar al- Assad regime and the U.S. doesn't want to kill a lot of those Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces, for example. Have you heard that?
MUDD: I have not heard that.
But if I was sitting in the White House -- and I suspect people in the White House are thinking about this already -- that would not be a key concern. The reason is pretty simple. Back when we had forces in Iraq, you had the Iranian Revolutionary Guards providing assistance to rebels who were fighting us, improvised explosive devices. Now they're supporting the Syrian president, who is an international pariah.
If they get caught in the line of fire in Syria because they're supporting Bashar al-Assad, I would say, hey, that's part of the game. If I were an Iranian, I would suspect I would recognize that that's a risk today.
BLITZER: The same, Colonel Reese, as far as the Lebanese Hezbollah group? They're supporting Bashar al-Assad's regime as well. Would that be a deterrent from the U.S. going in there and trying to knock out some of these positions, out of fear it could kill some of these Lebanese Hezbollah guys?
REESE: No, Wolf, I really don't think it does. I think the problem though is right now is, we need to take out Assad. General Hertling and I talked the first night of the bombing that this is the center of gravity we believe that has to happen.
The problem is, Assad goes out tomorrow, there's a huge sucking noise right in the middle of the Levant right there. Who goes in and takes over? That becomes a critical aspect right now that I don't think anyone in Washington can answer.
BLITZER: Do you have an answer to that, General Hertling?
HERTLING: I don't, Wolf, and that's the critical question. We have had a little bit of experience over the last 10 to 12 years about taking out regimes and not having an adequate replacement.
Jim and I talked extensively about this. The political dynamics of this, the ramifications of replacing a regime is a whole lot tougher than just taking out the leader. How do you build a government up after this, and is there dramatic change after that, that is actually either better or worse? All questions that I think are in the political realm.
BLITZER: And just take a look at what's going on in Libya right now. The U.S. led a coalition to get rid of Gadhafi, but Libya, for all practical purposes, is run by a group of terrorists right now, an awful, awful situation there.
All right, guys, thanks very much.
More breaking news coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM. The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri, speaking to CNN about reports he's going to resign over the shooting death of Michael Brown. And we will also get reaction from our panel, including our justice reporter, Evan Perez. He first broke this story right here on CNN.
BLITZER: We've to the breaking news. The police chief in Ferguson, Missouri now denying reports he's on his way out, following the controversial shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager killed by a white police officer, an incident that triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests. Still a lot of tension over there.
Our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is joining us now from Ferguson. Jason, I know you had a chance to sit down and speak with the police chief, Thomas Jackson. Tell our viewers what he told you.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, he's under a lot of stress; he's under a lot of pressure. You can imagine, especially given what has happened here over the past few weeks.
He said basically what he's been doing is he's been relying on friends and family, supporters, such as the mayor and also the city manager. All of them supporting him. And he's saying, Wolf, at least for now, he wants to stay on the job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE DEPARTMENT: No, I'm going to say and see this through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Yes, very quickly saying he wants to stay; he wants to see this through.
I also asked him about Attorney General Eric Holder's comments. As you know, Attorney General Eric Holder coming out and basically saying there is a need now for wholesale change in terms of leadership here in Ferguson. I could tell when I asked him about this, he was irritated. He chose his words very carefully. Listen to what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: I'm just confused. A little frustration that he did come in town. He didn't meet with anybody from the city, or the police department or the city or our neighborhood associations, and he drew conclusions. We have a lot of good stuff going on, so I think he needs to be a little more specific.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: So despite there appears to be pressure coming from Washington for folks such as Tom Jackson to step down, Jackson says he feels an obligation to stay here. This is a community, Wolf, as you know, that he grew up in. He wants to stay and finish the job -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jason, thanks very much. Jason Carroll on the ground for us in Ferguson.
Let's get some more now. Joining us, the community activist John Gaskin; our justice reporter, Evan Perez; our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin; and our law enforcement analyst, Tom Fuentes, the former FBI assistant director.
John Gaskin, you're there in Missouri. You just heard what the police chief, Tom Jackson, said. He says he's not ready to step down. What's your reaction?
JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVITY: Well, I've spoken to several community leaders and a number of protestors, and many people feel as though he should step down.
Since the very beginning of the unrest, people have called repeatedly for him to step aside. They've asked for his resignation. Several major community groups have also asked for his resignation. And so I stand with them on this matter. Chief Jackson needs to step aside and allow fresh leadership to come in and allow the St. Louis County Police Department to come in and take over the police department there and really start from scratch so that they can begin healing the relationship with the community.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, a lot of people think this situation in Ferguson has been mishandled from the very beginning; this police chief should have stepped down weeks ago. What is your analysis?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, not everything was mishandled. The fact that the body lay in the street for four hours, that's Missouri law. The chief of Ferguson had nothing to do with it.
He was at fault for not going in front of the people and saying why it was laying in the street four hours, what the requirements were of the law and evidentiary procedure. So that's true.
It's interesting, you know, that they're wanting St. Louis County to take over. It's actually St. Louis County that had the response that the people were so upset with, the militarized equipment out in front of the people, the people with sniper rifles pointed at the crowd. That wasn't Ferguson; that was the county police. Ferguson has two military vehicles who are not -- that are not up-armored. They're HUV Humvees, so it's like having two SUVs in the fleet. Not armored vehicles.
So a lot of this -- yes, he has become the face of it, as you would expect. Chief of police.
BLITZER: You brought the story, Evan, that this police chief was on his way out. Now there's been a whole bunch of others following your lead. What are you hearing right now?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, whatever the Ferguson police chief is saying for public consumption, the fact remains he's part of these negotiations with local officials, congressional officials, state officials and federal officials are also involved. And, you know, right now part of the discussion is his severance and the transition to new leadership.
The fact remains that the future of the Ferguson police will be without him, and whether he decides to go willingly or whether he's forced out, he is going to have to step aside.
BLITZER: Where does the federal government come into all this right now? And the state and local authorities are on the scene over there in Ferguson. It's clear that, if there's no indictment of this white police officer, there could be some serious tensions over there.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: There could be serious tensions, and there could be some sort of federal civil rights lawsuit. A civil case, as opposed to a criminal case.
BLITZER: But that could take years.
TOOBIN: It could certainly take years. Well, it wouldn't take years to begin. It might take years to resolve itself.
But the federal government does have some options here in terms of going to court. The federal government can't fire the chief of police. That ultimately is going to be up to the Missouri authorities. But the federal government has the entire Justice Department mobilized to see if there have been civil rights violations in this community, and presumably, they're going to come out with some announcement or a case relatively soon after the criminal situation is resolved.
BLITZER: And in the meantime, John, as you know, there have been a lot of leaks out there, and I wonder how the community is reacting to all these leaks. Some of these leaks trying to suggest that the police officer was, in fact, justified to go ahead and shoot this teenager.
GASKIN: Right. Well, at this juncture, many people within the community are really focused on -- focused on preparing for what could happen with the announcement. Many people in the community are very concerned of what the reaction will be from people there in the community. They're very concerned about what will happen to many of the schoolchildren that are at school when this announcement, whether there is going to be an indictment or non-indictment, comes down.
But the fact of the matter is, people within the community feel as though justice could potentially not be served in this particularly situation, and many are concerned.
BLITZER: The forensic pathologist hired by Michael Brown's family to take a closer look, that raises questions about the reports that Michael Brown had gunshot residue on his arms or whatever. They're saying that could have been dirt. Could there have been a mistake of that nature?
FUENTES: I don't think so. I think the difference could be they didn't have the same equipment or the sophistication of equipment that was used in the FBI autopsy that was done, and they didn't have the clothing.
So the clothing could have absorbed gunshot residue at close range. And much of the residue that comes on the body has to be found, is not visible to the naked eye and needs an electron microscope. I don't know if they had that type of equipment or not. So we just don't know how sophisticated that examination was compared to the government.
BLITZER: If there's no indictment of the police officer, Evan, and tensions escalate, the federal government is going to have to try to do something.
PEREZ: Well, yes. Exactly. And as Jeff points out, they're still doing a civil rights investigation. They're also at the same time doing a pattern and practice investigation at the department. So their goal is long-term to reform the police department and get a better relationship between the police and the community.
BLITZER: All right. We'll stay on top of this. Obviously, these next several days will be critically important. Guys, thanks very much.
We'll take a quick break. More news right after this.
BLITZER: Survivalist, as he likes to be called, has been captured.
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. One aspect is that he's been leaving debris in various places. They've been able to follow along the way where things that he's eaten, discarded cans and other items, including a gun and ammunition.
Also, if he's living off the land and killing animals to eat, at some point, he's making fire to cook them and they're using high tech equipment with infrared lenses to look down and look for heat signatures on the ground. Often, that's difficult because of bears and other animals in the woods as well as people. But if you're making fire, that would be an intense light and flame that the sensors above could detect.
BLITZER: The manhunt has been intense, as you well know, for six weeks this guy has been out there. Are you surprised it's taken to long to find him?
FUENTES: Not really, because it was still -- the woods had heavy foliage and it wasn't that cold. But now, the winter is approaching, the nights are getting cold, the leaves are fallen, so it's easier to see down in between the trees. I thought that about now, it would be a lot better tracking weather, a lot easier to track him.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This was heading to a situation almost like Eric Rudolph, who was on the lam for months in -- mostly in North Carolina. He was the person who did the 1996 Olympic bombing and a series of other horrific crimes.
The fact that it only took six weeks is actually good news compared to what it might have been in the Rudolph-like station.
BLITZER: State - Pennsylvania state police investigators say that based on what they know, their investigations, Frein had prepared and planned extensively for months or maybe years to go out there and kill law enforcement officers.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right. He was very smart, Wolf, in the way he was evading capture. There were brief periods where he would use a cell phone. By the time police were able to track that down, he was gone. So, it's a very big relief for law enforcement, Wolf.
BLITZER: At least 400 law enforcement officers, we're told, were searching for Frein, Tom, including members of your old agency, the FBI, the U.S. Marshal Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Explosives, as well as local and state law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania. And they timely have him right now.
FUENTES: Right. And it would take that many. I mean, you could walk in dense woods within two feet of a person and not see him, not realize it if you went that close. So, to be able to go through that kind of an environment and locate him was very difficult.
As Jeffrey mentioned, in the Rudolph case, he got to a point where he couldn't live off the land. He was going in the town at 2:00 in the morning and going through dumpsters looking for food and a rookie police officer spotted him doing that and was able to apprehend him.
PEREZ: So, it's very interesting to see. It's very rugged area. This is northeastern area, the Poconos is over there. So, that's one reason why it's been so difficult to track him down. It's very difficult terrain to maneuver. TOOBIN: And it's incredibly dangerous for these officers and
agents who have been looking for him, because after all, what this guy does is kill law enforcement officials. That is his stated desire apparently. And so, the fact that they were exposing themselves in the woods and looking for this guy is just a tremendous relief to have him in custody.
PEREZ: Wolf, they were even worried about Halloween, you know, because, you know, they had to cancel school a few days for fear that children would be at risk here. So --
BLITZER: Because he was a character, 31 years old, young man, he claims that he fought with Serbians in Africa, studied Russian and Serbian language, according to the FBI. He claims he was part of a simulation group to re-enact Cold War era European conflicts. He started wearing a Mohawk-type haircut, something -- just part of his appearance, if you will. He had a lot of craziness going on, but he was clearly, Tom, a very, very dangerous guy.
FUENTES: Just cunning, like a wild animal.
PEREZ: And anti-cop.
FUENTES: And because of that rifle that he had with the scope, he didn't need to do hand-to-hand combat. He could kill an officer at 500 yards away with that rifle, that happen to be crossing a road or in a clearing, where he would have the cover of the forest and the officer would be exposed. So, this could have been so much worse.
BLITZER: And what so worrisome, he was a skilled marksman.
PEREZ: He was a very skilled marksman. The way he killed these officers, they never saw it coming.
BLITZER: All right. I want everybody to standby. We're going to have much more.
The Pennsylvania state police, they now say they have captured Eric Frein, who was on the run for six weeks in the Poconos, in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Much more on the breaking news right after this.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: And let's follow the breaking news in Pennsylvania.
After some six weeks of searching, a suspect of the FBI's top ten most wanted list has been captured. Eric Matthew Frein is the suspected September 12th ambush killer of a police officer, a state trooper in Pennsylvania. He shot two police -- he shot two state troopers, one of them dead. The other one injured.
We're following the breaking news here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Once again, our justice reporter Evan Perez is joining us,
together with our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and our law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, the former FBI assistant director.
We were talking, Jeffrey, what happens now to this guy? He's going to need a lawyer. There's going to be a proceeding. This is going to go on and on. Presumably, if he shot and killed a state trooper in Pennsylvania, he would be eligible for the death sentence.
TOOBIN: Right. Pennsylvania has -- it does have the death penalty. And given the circumstances here, it's at least possible that the federal government could prosecute him as well, and there's a federal death penalty as well.
I don't want to get too far ahead. But certainly given the magnitude of this crime, and apparently premeditated murder of a law enforcement official, that would certainly be eligible for both the death penalty in Pennsylvania, and in a federal prosecution.
But, the key fact is, just to state the obvious, he's not going anywhere. He's not going to get out on bail. And the federal government and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania can sort of who is going to prosecute him when.
BLITZER: And the court will give him a lawyer fairly quickly.
TOOBIN: Yes. Well, we'll see if he made in statements that will be interesting. He certainly would have been given his Miranda rights once he was arrested. But he may, especially given the vehemence with the -- he expressed views in the past, he may have made statements to the people who arrested him as well. That's something --
BLITZER: You say that he won't have any trouble finding a lawyer.
TOOBIN: Absolutely not. He's absolutely a very reviled figure. But certainly when there's a death penalty possibility on the table, there is, especially in a big state like Pennsylvania, there's usually no shortage of people who are willing to defend and try to keep someone from being executed.
BLITZER: Evan, you covered the Justice Department. The federal government, they've been very interested in this manhunt for six weeks.
PEREZ: That's exactly right, Wolf. That's the reason they put him on the FBI's most wanted list.
Now, we're hearing from law enforcement officials that he was captured without incident, so that's an indication that, you know, despite all this manhunt, they managed somehow to surprise him, Wolf. BLITZER: Without incident. So, that's good that they got him.
He's alive. And for whatever reason, there's going to be lengthy procedure going after him.
FUENTES: Yes, and we're going to want to hear the details of the arrest. But, you know, this could be an indication of the police discipline that here's somebody that is gun down and killed one of their own, wounded another one of their own. And when they had the opportunity, they took him alive. They took him into custody without incident, and now, he'll face prosecution.
BLITZER: Is there any indication he was acting in collaboration with anyone else? Was this an isolated guy who hated police and wanted to shoot and kill them?
FUENTES: Well, that's actually what made it difficult, Wolf. It doesn't look like anyone knew what he was up to, what he was planning to do. But he certainly looked like he planned it, as you said, for some time and so that's the reason he was able to evade capture. He didn't tell anyone. He didn't leave behind very many clues as to what he was up to.
BLITZER: When the FBI put someone like this on the top 10 most wanted list, that usually has -- not always -- but usually has a benefit.
FUENTES: Well, it does. The first benefit is it's an automatic $100,000 reward to anyone that provides the information that leads to the arrest or capture. In this case -- unless, it's a police officer that does the arresting, but if a private citizen helped in the capture of him or provided information or call the police to come get him, they're in for the $100,000 reward for it.
But more importantly, it's just the publicity, not only nationally but worldwide if he had managed to leave the country, it helps facilitate putting the word out worldwide that we're looking for him.
BLITZER: Let's not forget the victims in this particular brutal killing. Frein, 31 years old, suspected, accused in the September 12th ambush, and it was an ambush shooting that left Corporal Bryon Dickson dead, one of the state police officers, and trooper Alex Douglass wounded outside the Pennsylvania state police barracks in Blooming Grave. It was a deliberate, allegedly, a deliberate assassination attempt.
TOOBIN: Indeed. And the courage of the officers who were searching for him all this time, exposing themselves to someone with a high-powered rifle, a skilled marksman, who could have taken down any of them at any time. So, while we remember the ones who have been lost, it's also a good day to celebrate the officers who saved the community.
PEREZ: And one of the interesting things is that because of the fear he would target some of these police officers that was searching for him, Wolf, they did a lot of the search only during the day. At night, he basically had the woods to himself.
BLITZER: And he had pretty sophisticated equipment. He's a survivalist. So, apparently, he had been training for this kind of operation for years.
FUENTES: Right. It sounds like he dug holes in the ground that he could crawl into to stay warm, and to evade the infrared searching equipment. So, that would be looking for the heat signature of his body in the dark, in the woods, through the trees. And so, he did a number of things that made it difficult.
But as I said, you know, with winter approaching, he have to use fire at some point to eat or rummage in town.
BLITZER: We're also now told, Evan, he was armed when he was captured. There was at least one firearm with him when authorities found him, captured him, and he's now in police custody. Once again, the breaking news, Eric Matthew Frein, 31 years old, the suspect in that deadly Pennsylvania cop ambush, is now captured by police.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.