Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
1,500 More Troops to Iraq; Interview with Chris Van Hollen; Obama Talks Cooperation with Congress; Violent Clashes Follow Vehicle Attacks; Top Contender for Attorney General Revealed; Probe Leads FBI to Diplomat's Home; Former North Korean Bodyguard Speaking Out
Aired November 7, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, HOST: Happening now, breaking news. Troops to Iraq a dramatic expansion of the U.S.-led war on ISIS. Some 1,500 additional American personnel will be deployed.
What role will they play?
Spy probe. A veteran U.S. diplomat finds herself at the center of a real life drama right out of "Homeland" with her security clearance pulled and her home and office searched.
What are investigators looking for?
Bodyguard boot camp -- North Korea's extreme training program is revealed, as the man who protected Kim Jong Il for a decade speaks out for the first time.
What was the former leader really like?
Wolf Blitzer is on assignment.
I'm Brianna Keilar.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: We're following breaking news. President Obama authorizing more troops, seeking more money for the U.S.-led war on ISIS. Up to 1,500 more American forces will be deployed to Iraq, where vast regions of the country are now under terrorist control.
Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen is standing by to talk about this with us, along with our correspondents and other guests.
CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, beginning our breaking news coverage.
Give us the latest -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this is a substantial expansion of the U.S. military presence in Iraq. We talk about doubling the number of U.S. troops there from about 1,400 with this additional 1,500. But, in fact, it's 10 times the number of military advisers since those first 300 were sent in in June.
But it's also an expansion of where these troops are placed in Iraq. To this point, U.S. military advisers have been confined to here, in Erbil, in Kurdistan in the north, and in Baghdad.
But in the announcement today, the Pentagon says they will set up two additional operation centers outside of Baghdad in Erbil. The locations that have been discussed are, one in Anbar, one perhaps north of the capital in Taji.
But in addition to that, there are several are more sites in the north, the west and this central part of Iraq, where you're going to have U.S. advisers, as well as coalition advisers embedded with other brigades, 12 brigades, nine Iraqi and three Kurdish forces.
They will not be combat troops. But with this expansion of where they're going to be based around the country, they're certainly going to be closer to combat and closer to danger than they've been before.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Iraqi forces in battle against ISIS, encouraged by recent Iraqi successes against the terrorist group, including the retaking of a key border crossing with Syria. Now the president is authorizing another 1,500 troops, doubling the number of U.S. forces on the ground. And the orders will put them closer to the front lines, adding two operation centers in more volatile areas beyond Baghdad and Erbil, and in several more sites around the country to train Iraqi and Kurdish brigades.
Their role is not changing -- advise, assist and train. But it is a major expansion of U.S. boots on the ground.
To finance the expansion, the president is asking Congress for nearly $6 billion to support the fight against ISIS, including $1.5 billion to train and equip Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
The president was briefed on the Pentagon's request ahead of his meeting today with Congressional leaders.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got to make sure that our efforts against ISIL are properly funded. And so that will -- there will be an opportunity for Secretary of Defense Hagel to brief us on the progress in our campaign against ISIL.
SCIUTTO: To date, the cost of the air campaign
Against ISIS has already totaled more than $700 million -- the price tag of more than 800 airstrikes and more than 2,000 bombs and rockets.
Top Republicans still not ready to sign a check sight unseen.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY LEADER: They said they were going to make a proposal, so we'll have appropriations look at it and they're going to present to members. So we'll see.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
SCIUTTO: Speaking to reporters a short time after the White House announcement, senior administration officials say that this is not mission creep because, they say, the mission is not changing. That mission remains training and advising Iraqi forces, not a combat role.
But certainly here you have U.S. military action and forces that have substantially expanded over these last several weeks, and the goals, as well. Because, remember, this started as an operation that was meant first to protect U.S. military advisers and embassy personnel in Erbil and Baghdad, as well as the Yazidi people, who you'll remember, who were trapped up on Mt. Sinjar in the north. It expanded then to degrading and defeating ISIS, not only in Iraq, but the air campaign now expanding into Syria. And now in Iraq, Brianna, greatly expanding both the number of troops and their physical presence around the country.
If it's not mission creep, it is certainly mission expansion.
KEILAR: Yes. And many Americans won't see the difference, for sure.
Jim Sciutto, thank you so much.
We want to get more on this breaking news with CNN White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski -- Michelle, tell us what you're picking up there.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna.
Well, senior administration officials just told us that they're not going to set a cap on the number of troops sent to Iraq. That's going to have to be assessed moving forward. But they did say they don't see the need for more on the horizon, at least.
And we know that the details of thins plan were discussed today here at the White House between President Obama and Congressional leadership.
And initially, we are hearing some bipartisan support for it. We heard that from the number two Democrat in the House; also, House Speaker John Boehner, who said he welcomes the plan, although he added that normally a commander-in-chief will draw up an authorization for the use of military force, send it over to Capitol Hill, try to drum up bipartisan support for it so that it gets passed.
He urged the president to do that.
The White House says that is what they want to do, that the authorization they've been working under in this is more than a decade old. There are two authorizations. They pertain to al Qaeda and defending Iraq from back then.
Now, they -- the White House actually wants to revise or repeal those authorizations. But because those are the ones that exist, it's been kind of legally convenient for the White House to operate under them and work quickly against ISIS. But they said one of the top orders of business moving forward with this new makeup of Congress is to come up with that new authorization, get bipartisan support for it, something that is more closely tailored to ISIS -- Brianna.
KEILAR: So, Michelle, they're saying they don't see the need for more than this amount they want now. But at the same time, they said that when they were first talking about having just hundreds of advisers there.
So what do they say when, you know, there are concerns...
KEILAR: -- about mission creep?
KOSINSKI: Yes, that's a great question. You heard Jim say -- they're saying the mission hasn't changed. Well, they also expanded on that, saying that, look, this is going to be something that is based not on, you know, something that we didn't account for before. But they said that this is a reaction to progress. I mean that's their public take on this, that they are reacting to the Iraqis taking the fight to ISIS in a more organized way, and that the administration now wants to invest, build on that momentum, and, with the Iraqis, take this fight to the next level -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, thanks, Michelle.
Let's get more now with Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
He's joining us here in the studio.
And what do you think about this?
Aren't you worried about -- if it isn't mission creep, by definition, because the mission is the same, it's getting much bigger.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, I do worry about it. And that's why I support this, but with one very important caveat, which is Congress needs to act and pass a resolution or revise the earlier resolutions that are on the books to make it crystal clear that this is only for the purpose of training Iraqi and Kurdish forces and not allowing these U.S. forces to be engaged in combat in any way.
We want to avoid another Iraq War 2.0. I would also, Brianna, want -- I want to distinguish this administration request from their separate request to train Iraq -- the Syrian rebels, the so-called Syrian rebels in places like Saudi Arabia. I have very serious concerns about that separate request that was made previously and will have to be renewed probably before the end of this year.
KEILAR: Do you think Congress -- when we're talking about this -- this request that may be coming or -- or this plan, if it were to be a request before Congress, will Congress do that?
VAN HOLLEN: Well...
KEILAR: Will Congress take this action?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I'm not sure, because you have people like Senator McCain, who is on record very vocally saying he does not want to restrict the ability of U.S. forces to engage in combat against ISIS, whether it's in Iraq or Syria.
KEILAR: And on the left, you have Democrats who don't want to touch this with a 10 foot pole.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think you've got Democrats who are going to want to have a very lively discussion about this. But Democrats certainly want to make sure that we take action to stop ISIS. I mean ISIS clearly a threat. They're a particularly virulent extremist group.
So I think you saw a fair amount of support for Democrats from, for example, the president's action to provide air support to Iraqi forces.
But, yes, we firmly believe at the end of the day, this is the Iraqis' responsibility, to take this fight to ISIS within Iraq and push them out. We can provide training and some equipment...
VAN HOLLEN: -- but we shouldn't be in that fight as combat.
KEILAR: So you support this, the idea of limiting the role so that it's not a combat role.
But hasn't the U.S. done this before, training Iraqi troops to try to take on an enemy of the U.S., an enemy of Iraq, to no avail, other than the loss of U.S. lives, thousands of them, and so much money, so many taxpayer dollars?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I was, and am, a strong opponent of the war in Iraq, because we were involved in a combat mission that I didn't think it was our business to be in. What is different this time is the president has been successful in piecing together the political underpinnings for this. We had to get Prime Minister Maliki out of there because he was ruling Iraq not as a Iraqi national leader, but as a Shia strongman. And that alienated the Sunnis and opened the door to ISIS.
So now that we have a more united Iraqi government, I think there's an opportunity to provide more cohesion with the Iraqi forces in their training. Still, that is their job in terms of fighting ISIS. It's not ours. And Congress needs to make that clear, regardless of who the executive may be, because you never know how long this will...
VAN HOLLEN: -- will go on.
KEILAR: But you trust the Iraqi government right now? VAN HOLLEN: I don't trust the Iraqi government. But I do trust the U.S. military to provide the best training possible. And, you know, we -- they talked about maybe not having a cap. I think we need to look...
KEILAR: But if -- if you don't trust the...
VAN HOLLEN: -- at the sides...
KEILAR: -- if you don't trust the Iraqi government, then but you're saying it's good because there's this, you know, a political step in the right way and this is obviously a government that can better govern and be more inclusive when it comes to the military, how do you expect that this is any different now, training of Iraqi forces, who, you know, when ISIS came in as a threat, many of them laid down their weapons and ran away?
VAN HOLLEN: Sure. Well, look, what I -- what I trust the Iraqi government to do is recognize that ISIS is a threat. I mean ISIS is a mortal threat to the Iraqi government. So the issue is not whether they want to get in this fight. The issue is whether they're properly organized and equipped to get in this fight.
And that's where I think the U.S. can be helpful. And we can also be helpful in making it clear that our support only comes with the understanding that the Shia militias who have actually undermined the ability to try and have -- bring -- bring the Sunni parts of Iraq into a more nationalist unit, a more nationalist unity, that that's had not part of this equation.
KEILAR: Why is this happening now, I mean, noticeably, three days after an election?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think it's happening now, because you finally do have in place the different components of the Iraqi government. They only...
KEILAR: You don't think this has anything...
VAN HOLLEN: -- relatively...
KEILAR: -- to do with the fact that it's after the election instead of before it?
VAN HOLLEN: No, I'm not -- I'm not sure how this would have played politically, actually, whether it would have been a plus or a minus. So I don't -- I don't think so. I think that you finally had the Iraqi government come together. You had a Sunni defense minister named. That was really important to try and achieve that national unity.
And now you need to provide the training. But, again, I do worry about mission creep. Absolutely. And Congress needs to act. I mean Congress needs to take responsibility one way or another for its part of the strategy.
KEILAR: You have confidence, it seems, that it will work better this time, training Iraqi troops.
Do you think that the president will be asking for another military authorization?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, he's indicated that he's going to ask for another authorization to use military force. In fact, the one on the books that he's operating under now is...
KEILAR: That we heard Michelle talk about.
VAN HOLLEN: That's right.
KEILAR: That, yes.
VAN HOLLEN: That's from 2001. That was the original authorization to go into Afghanistan against al Qaeda. And that is the way the president it -- and I understand his legal argument -- is very broad. It would actually allow the president to send U.S. combat forces not only into Iraq, but into Syria. So that's where the law stands now. I think it's important that Congress acts to narrow the authority of the executive so that we do not get dragged into another Iraq War.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman, stay with us.
We're going to continue this conversation after the break.
We'll have more.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
KEILAR: President Obama authorized the deployment of up to 1,500 additional U.S. forces to Iraq to help in the war on ISIS. The terrorist onslaught was high on the agenda as the president held a lunch meeting with Congressional leaders looking for common ground in the new Republican-controlled political landscape.
CNN chief Congressional correspondent Dana Bash has more on that meeting. What happened, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, I'm told the House speaker jumped right in, saying to the president's face what he said before the cameras yesterday, that John Boehner's bigger and more conservative House caucus will probably not let the president get big things done in his last two years in office if he acts without Congress on immigration.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I want to thank...
BASH (voice-over): Breaking bread bipartisan style in the old family dining room of the White House,, the president struck a conciliatory tone for the cameras. OBAMA: The American people just want to see work done here in
BASH: Unclear how much that helped the bib lettuce and crusted sea bass go down for Republicans. GOP sources tell CNN House Speaker John Boehner warned the president not to use his executive power to start fixing the broken immigration system, Boehner telling Obama it will hurt chances for immigration legislation and make it hard to get anything done.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), MAJORITY LEADER: If more executive actions are taken, that will make it difficult for us to always work together.
BASH: CNN is told the spirited immigration discussion took up about 30 minutes of the two-hour lunch with the president pushing back, telling Republicans it is within his power to let some illegal immigrants stay legally, saying those who are hurting have waited long enough.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The president has the authority to act by executive order on immigration. It's in the law. But it's also in the precedent of other presidents.
BASH: The president woke up this morning with strong backing on that from "The New York Times" editorial page, urging him to help illegal immigrants now: "Do it. Take executive action. Make it big."
Despite staunch differences on immigration, CNN is told bipartisan leaders did discuss areas of agreement.
MCCARTHY: We shouldn't miss this moment. I think this election sends a message to both parties.
OBAMA: I am not going to judge ideas based on whether they're Democratic or Republican. I'm going to be judging them based on whether or not they work.
BASH: There is good reason to be skeptical. Anything can get done. We've heard bipartisan rhetoric before when the president came into office.
OBAMA: I don't expect 100 percent agreement from my Republican colleagues, but I do hope that we can all put politics aside.
BASH: After the 2010 midterm drubbing...
OBAMA: The spirit of trying to work together.
BASH: ... Republicans have made the same ill-fated promises.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: There's no particular reason why we can't find areas of agreement.
BASH: No reason, except the partisan politics that stopped compromise so often before. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BASH: Now we're told that there was also extensive discussion about the government response to Ebola, the fight against ISIL and the need for the newly elected Congress in January to pass a new authorization of military force for the growing mission there -- Bri.
KEILAR: It is a long list. Dana Bash, thank you so much.
Let's bring back now Democratic congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.
I want to talk to you about immigration, the president making it clear that he wants to take unilateral action. Do you think that it's a bad -- I mean, should he do this, considering what -- how voters have spoken at the polls?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: I think, Brianna, that what voters said at the polls we should let the process of democracy work, and the fastest way to resolve this issue would be for the speaker of the House, John Boehner, to allow the House to vote on a comprehensive bipartisan bill that's already passed the Senate more than a year ago.
We've heard Republicans talk a lot about how Harry Reid was blocking votes. We haven't even been allowed a vote in the House on that bill. So if Speaker Boehner would allow that vote to come up, I think it would pass. But he could certainly then, you know, say the president won't need to move forward on executive action.
So I think that's one way to resolve this issue. Unfortunately, Speaker Boehner refused to even allow a vote in the House. And that bill goes away at the end of this year. When you have a new Congress come in, all the work that was done by the Senate, it's wiped off the books. You've got to start from scratch.
KEILAR: Doesn't it -- I wonder, though, the president saying that, that is something that -- and on the flip side, you have Republicans saying that they want to repeal Obama care, but you have President Obama saying that "I'm going to take unilateral action on immigration." That's not a White House saying we want to find common ground. Same with Republicans. This does not bode well.
VAN HOLLEN: I guess, Brianna, just you know, getting back to the vote. I mean, common ground, it seems to me, the principle of cooperation, would mean put it up for a vote, Mr. Speaker. Right? Put it up for a vote. It passed the Senate, bipartisan basis. Put it up for the vote. So what the president said is, if you're not going to allow democracy in the house to work its will, I am going to use my powers, to the extent that I have them, within the extent of the law.
KEILAR: You're say that you think the message from Tuesday was let the process work? The fact that so many Democrats stayed home and didn't even cast a ballot, do you think that is a message to Speaker Boehner to put this up for a vote?
VAN HOLLEN: I think the message was try to end the dysfunction in Washington. What better way to end the dysfunction on this particular issue than allow democracy to work its will. And let the House of Representatives, Republicans and Democrats alike, vote. If Boehner wants to vote no, so be it.
KEILAR: But isn't -- isn't the message from Americans, this is the makeup of Congress that we want for our government to come to decisions. I mean, shouldn't -- should these issues then wait until this new Congress -- this new Congress, you know, this is a lame duck. This new Congress doesn't come in until January. Isn't the message that we want these folks to work together? We want this White House to work with a Republican Senate and a Republican House to answer these pressing questions.
VAN HOLLEN: I think the message sent was we want the process to work for the country. And one way, in my view, to allow that process to work was allow us to have another vote. I mean, that's what the people's House is supposed to do. That is what it's designed to do.
And again, if it's defeated, it's defeated. I think it will pass. And what's really upsetting here to a lot of people is that I think Speaker Boehner doesn't want to bring this to a vote, even though it will pass. Because it will pass, even though you still have a majority Republican House.
KEILAR: This is a vote on easing restrictions, on some who are in the country illegally. Republicans want to obviously have other parts of immigration reform. They want -- they're concerned about border security. They don't trust the White House to act the way they want. Obviously, that's why Speaker Boehner doesn't want there to be a vote. Isn't that within his right as the speaker, with Republicans in the majority of the House?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, the Senate bill has a huge border security provision. I mean, it was so large that people like Senator McCain at the time said this is overdone. We've got too much fortification of the border.
But that was done in the Senate to address those very concerns that were raised. We need to make sure we have absolute border security to the maximum extent possible, and then at the same time, we provide a pathway for legalization ultimately citizenship. So that is part of the Senate bill.
What's happened is in the intervening, you know, 15 months we've seen zero action from the House.
So look, I think the president has said all along that he's going to take executive steps to the extent he's allowed to do it under the law. I do fear -- you are hearing voices from some Republicans saying that they might use the appropriations process to actually shut this down. And that would actually mean shutting down the government. I certainly hope we can avoid that, because the current funding for the government expires December 12. So we're going to have to renew that funding.
And if Republicans decide to use that as an opportunity to say, "We're not going to provide any funding that would allow the president to use his executive authority for this purpose," you could have a pretty big confrontation right out of the box. I hope that's avoided.
KEILAR: I want to ask you about Obamacare, because the Supreme Court will hear another legal challenge. This is on tax credits, on the subsidies that a lot of Americans under Obamacare get to help them pay for their health insurance. Speaker Boehner has also said that -- and we've heard this from the senator -- Senate-majority-leader-elect, Mitch McConnell, I guess you could say, they want to vote to repeal Obamacare.
Separately, this Supreme Court challenge, that must embolden the speaker, from your perspective.
VAN HOLLEN: I don't know what impact it's going to have on the speaker. Clearly, the fact that the Supreme Court took this up raises more uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act. A big piece of it, as you say, this has to do with the subsidies that would be available through the federal exchanges. Not the state exchanges.
KEILAR: For those -- for those states generally governed by Republican governors who chose not to set up a state exchange and they're using the federal exchange.
VAN HOLLEN: That's exactly right. So I don't know what impact this will have on the speaker and Senator McConnell's decisions with how to move forward. My guess is they will continue to do what they just said they will do.
They're getting a lot of pressure from their right to start early on to try to repeal and roll back the whole of the Affordable Care Act. So we'll have to see what they do now.
KEILAR: But the Supreme Court, if it rules against the subsidies, that would gut Obamacare, right?
VAN HOLLEN: It would do severe damage. There's no doubt about it. Now, that decision will not come for quite some time. And so in the meantime, the question is, you know, whether Republicans decide to go through the show of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act which the president has been very clear he would veto.
KEILAR: It could be June, and Republicans will have months at the helm before then.
VAN HOLLEN: There you go.
KEILAR: Congressman, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.
And coming up, North Korea's bodyguard boot camp. We'll hear from the man who underwent had this extreme training and wound up protecting Kim Jong-Il for a decade.
Plus, a real-life spy drama straight out of "Homeland" with a veteran U.S. diplomat in the starring role.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is something is wrong?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, the opposite. I've got some good news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Tension boiling over in Jerusalem where violent clashes have broken out after a series of vehicle attacks on pedestrians.
CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is there, and, Nic, this was a very key test date today, wasn't it?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Tensions have been building across the week. You have that vehicle attack killing two people on Wednesday. You have today Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque in the Sanctuary Temple Mount, a key contested area that's been part of this spike in tensions. Today security very high.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Clashes continuing after nightfall. This one in east Jerusalem. Palestinian youths burning tires, throwing firecrackers at Israeli Police.
Earlier, riots reverberating through the Shuafat neighborhood, a Palestinian refugee camp. According to Palestinian medical sources at least 30 people were hit by Israeli Police rubber bullets.
This neighborhood home to Ibrahim al-Akri, a member of Hamas. The man whose actions this week helped spike tensions when he drove his van into Israeli border guards at a Jerusalem trans stop. He was shot and killed at the scene Wednesday as he attacked police with an iron bar.
Friday a second person dying of injuries sustained in that attack. A 17-year-old Israeli religious student, Shalom Ba'adani.
Security tight all day. Much focusing on the lightning rod of the current violence. The Al Aqsa Mosque and the noble sanctuary revered by Jews as the Temple Mount. The rabbi shot last week for pushing rights for Jews to pray there now reported by his family to be regaining consciousness and communicating with them.
Across the West Bank, protests rumbled on. Repercussions of the rabbi's shooting, of tensions at Al Aqsa Mosque. Of the van attack. Each event fueling the next.
Apparently unconnected to that chain of discontent, discord among leading Palestinian political factions. Ten homes of Fattah Party officials destroyed by bombs in Gaza where Hamas remains dominant. So far unexplained.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ROBERTSON: And while those underlying tensions about access to the noble sanctuary to the Temple Mount, well, they remain unresolved and you still have members of the Israeli Knesset who were pushing for access for prayers there. This is far from resolved at the moment -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And, Nic, things were so intense that the prime minister of Israel called the king of Jordan. This is significant.
ROBERTSON: It is. The king of Jordan withdrew his ambassador from Tel Aviv in the past couple of days over the -- what is seen as the damage at the Al Aqsa Mosque when Israeli Security Forces were there earlier in the week. There were protests there. There was damage done. That's why the king of Jordan withdrew his ambassador.
And what Prime Minister Netanyahu was doing today was reassuring the king that nothing will change in the status quo agreement which says that while people of other faiths other than the Muslim faith were allowed to go to the Al Aqsa Mosque and pray, while people of other faiths, Jews, Christians, can go in that area, the Temple Mount, the noble sanctuary area. They cannot go there to pray.
That status quo will remain. That was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's message to King Abdullah. Obviously this is very tense and it does very much appear the Israeli government trying to really tamp things down right now -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Nic Robertson, thank you so much.
And still to come, a spy story that sounds like it's straight out of the hit TV series "Homeland." But the woman whose home has been searched by the FBI isn't an actress. She's been a top U.S. diplomat.
Also, learning to take an ax to the stomach. We have a rare and frightening glimpse at what it takes to get to the top inside of North Korea's bizarre and brutal military.
KEILAR: Sources are telling CNN that President Obama is expected to announce his choice for the next attorney general soon and it is likely to be an historic pick. What does that mean soon?
CNN justice reporter Evan Perez here to tell us.
What are we expecting?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, we know that Loretta Lynch is the expected pick for attorney general. The president -- likely to make that announcement when he gets back from his trip to Asia which he leaves for Sunday. And as you mentioned, this is a historic pick. She's a -- the first African-American woman to serve in this job and, you know, she's a longtime prosecutor inside the Justice Department, very popular inside the department.
Not very well known, not even in New York where she sometimes is overshadowed by Preet Bharara across the river in Manhattan. But, you know, she's done a lot of things including serving in the Clinton administration in the same job and since 2010 under President Obama.
KEILAR: So you would say she's not terribly controversial, right?
PEREZ: She's not going to be controversial which was frankly a problem with some of the people that the president was looking at including, you know, his former White House counsel. And so -- and Tom Perez, the labor secretary. So now that the president has to deal with a Republican Congress, you know, this is a safe bet. This is somebody who is coming from outside and doesn't have any of the Washington baggage that a lot of cabinet nominees will have.
KEILAR: She really is going to have her work -- assuming it is her, which we expect.
KEILAR: She's going to have her work cut out for her. We've had the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson and there is -- there is really a list of other things, right?
PEREZ: Right. Exactly. Everything including helping the president explain some of his decisions, for example, the airstrikes in Syria. There's the Justice Department produces the legal rationale for those things, the NSA, for instance, the NSA reforms, and obviously the Michael Brown situation. She handles in the 1990s, oversaw prosecution of some police officers in New York involved in brutalizing Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant.
That case was a huge deal at the time. And so that's going to be a key thing that's going to help her guide whatever comes out of the Justice Department in the next few months.
KEILAR: All right, Evan Perez, great report. Thank you.
We also have some new details in a story that sounds like a plot twist from this season of "Homeland." A longtime U.S. diplomat considered an expert on Pakistan now is part of a federal investigation that could involve spying.
Here is CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott with us now.
This is a -- this is downright weird and pretty fascinating.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Yes, we're talking about Robin Raphel, a very well-respected and well-liked person at the State Department, a longtime foreign service officer who retired and came back to the State Department. She's been working on Pakistan for many years, Brianna.
U.S. officials are being very tightlipped about what they're looking for but it has shocked her colleagues and neighbors who saw that FBI raid of her house and office.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ROBIN RAPHEL, FORMER AMERICAN DIPLOMAT: We look forward to achieving great things.
LABOTT (voice-over): She's been a veteran American diplomat and she has been a better ties with Pakistan. Now Robin Raphel finds herself part of a counterintelligence investigation shocking her co-workers.
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We are aware of this law enforcement matter. The State Department has been co-operating with our law enforcement colleagues on this matter.
LABOTT: FBI agents searched Raphel's home and sealed her office at the State Department where she was an adviser on Pakistan. Her security clearance has been pulled and her contract has not been renewed.
Such investigations typically involve passing sensitive information to a foreign government. She was married to Arnold Raphel, who was U.S. ambassador to Pakistan when he was killed in 1988 along with President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq in a mysterious plane crash believed to be an assassination attempt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. I can't say no to this.
LABOTT: And while it may sound like the plot ripped from the TV show "Homeland" where the spouse of the U.S. ambassador is accused of spying, officials stress this is an ongoing investigation and no charges against Raphel have been filed.
CHRIS SIMMONS, FORMER COUNTERINTELLIGENCE SPECIAL AGENT: It can be very crippling. It can compromise collections systems that we spent years and millions of dollars building.
LABOTT: A spokesman for Ambassador Raphel says she has not been told what the investigation is about or whether she's the target, but she is cooperating with authorities. Quote, "I think Ambassador Raphel's nearly 40 years of experience at the highest levels of U.S. diplomacy speak for themselves," Andrew Rice told CNN. "And this will soon be resolved."
Raphel was a CIA analyst before becoming the State Department's top official on South Asia and also served as the U.S. ambassador to Tunisia. She retired in 2005 but returned to work for Richard Holbrooke, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's adviser for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
RAPHEL: I'm personally very committed to this mission because I first came to Pakistan in 1975 and worked at the USAID mission. So I've watched this country over the years, and I've watched the relationship and I have a great deal of regard and respect for the people of Pakistan.
LABOTT: Now U.S. officials are saying very little about this investigation, and there is a wide range of potential concerns here. Anything from just taking home sensitive documents she shouldn't have to the more serious sharing of classified information with a foreign government. U.S. officials tell our Evan Perez there is no sealed indictment so clearly investigators don't have enough evidence to bring charges.
But, Brianna, it's a very serious investigation which officials say is ongoing.
KEILAR: Yes. And so many questions. And we'll be following them with you, Elise Labott. Thank you so much.
Still ahead, more details on this afternoon's major breaking news. President Obama doubling the number of U.S. troops heading to Iraq to help stop ISIS.
And next a glimpse into the bizarre world of North Korea's military elite where breaking tiles with your head is just one way of toughening you up.
KEILAR: We're getting a chilling new glimpse into the secret and brutal world of North Korea's ruling family. A bodyguard to Kim Jong- Il is speaking out about the former Supreme Leader's reign of terror and how his son Kim Jong-Un is even crueler.
Here's CNN's Paula Hancocks.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Not for the weak hearted or weak headed. This is boot camp for North Korea's military elite. Ultimate discipline, strength of body and mind over matter. Basic qualifications to protect those at the top.
Lee Young-guk was bodyguard to the late Kim Jong-Il for 10 years just before he took over as leader of North Korea. He says he went through very similar training.
(On camera): Why is this important to be able to break tiles with your head? Why does this matter?
(Voice-over): A hand gun doesn't win a war, he tells me. Tae Kwan Do serves nothing but the spirit. It's being used to develop loyalty. They're trying to make think that by training like this they can beat the U.S. military.
Lee says his training was also ideological, brain-washing him to make him believe Kim Jong-Il was a god and he had been born with the sole purpose of protecting him. He described what he refers to as the two faces of the former leader.
When he's happy, he says, he will give gold bars to people. When he's not, it doesn't matter how loyal you are, he could kill you in an instant. His advisers were too scared to tell him the truth about the country. Sometimes they'd even run away when they saw him coming and hide in the grass. To survive, he says, they'd flatter him.
Lee says Kim Jong-Il was cruel. He sent one senior official to a concentration camp for once using his private elevator and ashtray. The official died there according to Lee. But hears his son, Kim Jong-Un, who he met many times when he was a small boy, may be even more brutal. Kim Jong-Un ended up killing his uncle, he says, who even Kim Jong-Il would not kill. As power was handed down to the third generation, it became crueler. Kim Jong-Un has created loyalty, but it's fake, it's based on fear.
After he was caught trying to escape North Korea in 1994, Lee was sent to the infamous Yodok political camp. He says he survived five years of starvation and torture just so he could tell the world what his former boss was really like. A man who experienced the two extremes of North Korean life and survived to tell the tale.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
KEILAR: We have breaking news straight ahead. Up to 1500 more American troops being deployed to Iraq to help the war on ISIS. We'll get new details from the Pentagon press secretary Real Admiral John Kirby live.
And law enforcement braces for a grand jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown. But it's not just Ferguson Police concerned about possible violence.
KEILAR: Happening now, breaking news. A significant new expansion of the war against ISIS with hundreds of additional boots on the ground in Iraq. The Pentagon's top spokesman joining us live.