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THE SITUATION ROOM

Secret Service Shortfalls; Fear in Ferguson; Ferguson Bracing for Grand Jury Report; Secret Service Blunders Revealed; Obama, GOP Ready to Fight on Immigration; Obamacare Consultant's Shocking Remarks

Aired November 14, 2014 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, bin Laden's killer. The former Navy SEAL who says he took out the world's most wanted terrorist is speaking out about the operation and the fallout. Why is he going public with this story now?

Cell phone spying. U.S. law enforcement reportedly using small planes to scan thousands of cell phones, possibly yours. Why is so much data being collected and what's being done with it?

Fear in Ferguson, the city, the region, the country all bracing for a possible violent backlash as a grand jury decides where to charge a police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown. How will the panel reach its conclusion?

And stunning missteps, new details of Secret Service shortfalls, mistakes, blunders, all of which allowed a man with a knife to get inside the White House. How could so many things go so wrong in one night?

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jake Tapper and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following multiple major stories this hour, including new revelations of the government spying on cell phones from planes. Also some new details about the unbelievable blunders by Secret Service agents that resulted in a knife-wielding man running deep inside the White House. We're also following developments in Ferguson, Missouri, tensely waiting to learn whether officer Darren Wilson will be charged in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.

We have our correspondents and our guests standing by to cover those stories and much more.

But, first, my interview with the remarkable former Navy SEAL who says he fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden. He's speaking out here.

And I sat down with him just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: Before you walked into that room on the third floor where you

thought Bin Laden was, what went through your head?

ROBERT O'NEILL, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well, there were two of us left on the stairs going up. We knew we had to go up there because they were doing something, we assumed rigging explosives, vests to blow themselves up. So, when we went up, my thought wasn't of, we're about to shoot this guy and be heroes.

My thought was, we're going to blow up, let's get it over with. And we went up there to do that, but with the thought that, you know, we will die if he blows up, but he will die, too, and that is worth it.

He was not surrendering. He was sort of moving and just based on the level of threat of him not surrendering and the likelihood of him having a vest, I shot him twice in the head. He fell on the floor. I shot him one more time and I killed him.

TAPPER: What did it feel like?

O'NEILL: The sense was recognition of, first of all, an I.D. of him and he is a threat. And then I had to shoot him. And it wasn't the first time I had done that on a target before. This wasn't the first target I had been on. At that point, he was a target. I recognized the threat, I recognized the individual we were after, which was Osama Bin Laden, and I engaged.

At that minute, it was just, it felt like that was the first -- the initial threat that I had to take care of, and then there were more threats. Threats are just potential unknowns.

It wasn't until more SEALs were in the room and the room was cleared that I had a moment of pause.

And I talked to a friend of mine in the room, and he came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder, and I said, "What do we do now?" and he smiled and said "Now we go find the computers." And I said, OK, I'm back, I'm back. That was quite a thing that just happened.

Then we took him up to Bagram, and they were just going to do more tests on him to confirm.

The president wanted to know, you know, everything that had gone on, the numbers -- they wanted to have the numbers right before it was reported and be 100 percent certain. And then once it was, we were standing there watching a flat-screen TV, watching the president address the nation and the world.

TAPPER: So, you were next to Bin Laden's body watching Obama talk about it?

O'NEILL: A number of feet away from him, yes. Well, I heard him say -- I had a breakfast sandwich in my hand and I heard him say, tonight, I can report to the United States and to the world that the United States conducted a mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden. I heard him say "Osama Bin Laden," and I looked at Osama Bin Laden and I thought, how in the world did I get here from Butte, Montana?

TAPPER: But I solicited questions from troop friends. And he says, why can't he shut the hell up and be a quiet professional like SEALs are supposed to be? What's your response?

O'NEILL: My response to that is, again, there are some things I'm not talking about. This one I think is so important for the families. It's so important historically. It's so important that -- I mean, more versions of -- not -- more -- different parts of the story that were seen that I didn't see, I think it's important historically for this to get out there. You know, this is a mission that's very important.

TAPPER: But the Pentagon is, I'm sure, watching every word that you are making publicly. Are you concerned about a prosecution, about them taking issue with you for violating, in their view, the nondisclosure agreement?

O'NEILL: That does concern me, and if it comes up, I will address it. Right now, like I said, I think I did this in a way that doesn't violate any tactics or rules.

TAPPER: Do you think you're a hero?

O'NEILL: I think I was part of a team full of heroes.

TAPPER: Before you left on the mission, you reached out to your family.

O'NEILL: Yes.

TAPPER: What did you tell them?

O'NEILL: Well, I called them and just sort of said goodbye and thanks for everything sort of, in not so many words to each one of them. I called my father last. And they could tell something was weird, but I didn't tell them I was going overseas.

They thought I was training in the states, but I called them at some point and they didn't -- I knew they would find out in a matter of hours, because what we were about to do is going to end a number of ways, but they would know what it was.

TAPPER: And you had messages for your kids?

O'NEILL: Yes, I was writing letters, and we're talking like, you know, this is, we know we're going to be dead soon and tears hitting the pages and you're not writing to your 5-year-old kid, you're writing to your 28-year-old kid, saying, sorry, I can't be there for your wedding and I wish I was.

It was a noble cause. Just stuff that I couldn't give the letters to one of my brothers because they were going to be dead with me.

TAPPER: Well, it's an honor to meet you, Rob O'Neill. And on behalf of my viewers, thank you for your service, thank you for your strength.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Let's dig a little deeper now CNN global affairs analyst retired Lieutenant Colonel James Reese and CNN counterterrorism analyst and former CIA operative Phil Mudd.

Phil, let me start with you. Your reaction to the Robert O'Neill interview?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Boy, I guess the first reaction I have is that, as a former CIA official, for the rest of my life, I have to go through nondisclosure process with the CIA whenever I write anything.

So I looked at what he said and went through a filter not of whether it was important or interesting, but whether I thought he was putting himself in jeopardy with the Pentagon by saying what he said. I don't think he did for a very specific reason.

My definition of a security breach is when you give the adversary an advantage. There may be debates within the special forces community about whether what he did was appropriate, whether it violated a code of honor. That is a separate question. Jake, the question I have, whether he told anything to al Qaeda that would help them. I don't think he did.

TAPPER: Lieutenant Colonel Reese, I'm sure I don't have to tell you there are members of the military, especially officers, who do not think that Rob O'Neill should be talking. Some of his defenders say, hey, Secretary Panetta wrote a book, the Obama administration cooperated with the film "Zero Dark Thirty."

Why shouldn't the guy that actually pulled the trigger get a moment in the sun?

JAMES REESE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Jake, I agree, there is a double standard unfortunately.

And I know. I retired from the Delta Force, sat side by side with SEAL Team Six guys most of my military career. But what we have to realize at that level is there's a double standard and that's the bottom line. I think Phil hit it right on the mark.

He absolutely says -- I agree with exactly what he says. I think what a lot of these guys have to do is, they have to though go through the NDA process themselves. I think what the DOD needs to do is, we need a better policy. When these type of operations are going on, we plan for everything, but we have to start looking and planning for a public relations aspect and how we're going to do that and decide who is going to talk and make that part of the plan.

TAPPER: Let's turn to some other news.

Phil, I want to turn to a big development in the fight against ISIS. U.S. officials say they believe that ISIS and al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, the al-Nusra Front, have begun cooperating in their efforts to fight the Free Syrian Army. Those are the moderate rebel factions that the U.S. is helping. This seems rather significant, Phil.

MUDD: Sort of.

But I would say let's hold on for a minute here. I want to watch this movie for a while. And here's why. You can see what's going on here. We start bombing al-Nusra Front and ISIS and what do they say? Let's stop fighting each other, there's a bigger threat here, that's the Americans. So let's join together.

The problem with this story is, Jake, is that the leadership of these organizations despises each other. I'm not sure how much of this is actually operationally significant. Probably some. And how much will endure, the leadership these groups have? I think with the leaders they have now, unless these leaders die, there's still going to be some animosity between these groups.

TAPPER: Lieutenant Colonel Reese, this news comes as we're learning that the White House is recalibrating its strategy in Syria, to include a political element, one that would aspirationally at least remove Bashar al-Assad from power.

Do you have any concerns that that might create a power vacuum or it would be easier for ISIS or al-Nusra to claim power in Syria?

REESE: Jake, the second night of the bombings right on "CNN TONIGHT," we talked about we thought the center of gravity on this whole issue was Iraq, Syria and the Levant was Bashar Assad. We have to have some type of policy in what we're going to do and we have got to figure a way to get out of there.

Yes, there will be a sucking sound. If we drop a bomb on Assad tonight, there will be a huge sucking sound coming out of Syria. But we have done this before. We have the ability and we have got the history to bring different governments together, the Sauds, the Kuwaitis, the Emiratis, and help them figure out, because this is their issue.

This is an Arab issue on that side of the world, and we should be just coaching and teaching and mentoring them how to hopefully fix this problem.

TAPPER: Phil, ISIS released an audio message that claims to feature a message from the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. There are a lot of questions right now whether al-Baghdadi was hit and wounded in an airstrike or maybe even killed. Do you think this audio message gives us any clues or establishes definitively that he is alive?

MUDD: I suspect he was alive.

As an intelligence professional, one of the rules you can take away is the longer you don't hear that he's dead, because somebody is going to leak it if he's dead. Somebody is going and say, hey, our leader is gone. The more likely it is that he's alive. I think he might have been wounded. I don't know. But I don't think he's dead. Interesting thing about this tape, Jake, I don't think this tape is a

message of strength. It has not been a good month for ISIS. They have not succeeded obviously in Northern Iraq. They have been hit in Syria. I think he's trying to get out to persuade people that ISIS is what it was in the summer, when it had the element of surprise and it had the Iraqi security forces on their heels. We are not in that same place today. The Iraqis are now fighting harder.

I think he's trying to say, don't worry, I'm still here. We can still carry the fight forward.

TAPPER: Lieutenant Colonel Reese, what do you think? What is your take on this audiotape from ISIS?

REESE: Yes, I agree with Phil 100 percent. Through our history now, doing this for 14 years, what I do believe is he's been injured. The reason I say that is because they're not showing him. So I think they put an audiotape out there to let his people know, hey, I'm out here, don't panic.

But like Phil said, this has been a rough third quarter for ISIS, so they're trying to gain their strength back. But I think he was injured on that last hit.

TAPPER: Interesting.

Lieutenant Colonel Reese, Phil Mudd, thank you both so much. Appreciate it.

Still ahead, a secret U.S. government program that reportedly uses small planes to spy on cell phones here in the United States.

Plus, the growing tension in Ferguson, Missouri, as a grand jury decides whether to charge the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: We're learning new details of a secret government spy program that reportedly uses small planes to spy on cell phones, perhaps yours.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown is working this story for us.

Pamela, what are you finding out?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we know that law enforcement has used controversial equipment for years that simulates cell towers in order to locate a criminal.

Now we're learning U.S. Marshals Service uses equipment that has the capability to pull cell phone data from an entire city, according to "The Wall Street Journal."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BROWN (voice-over): The U.S. Marshals Service puts special devices on small Cessna planes as a way to locate criminals, according to "The Wall Street Journal." These devices dubbed dirtboxes are supposed to trick cell phones into thinking it's a cell tower.

DEVLIN BARRETT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": The system is designed to pick up a ton of data, because it's looking for a needle in a haystack. But to find that needle, it has to actually, for a brief period of time, look at every other piece of hay in that stack.

BROWN: The special equipment in the planes scans thousands of phones. When it finds a target's phone, the equipment locks on and uses the information to find a suspect's location.

CHRIS SOGHOIAN, ACLU: The advantage of the drone, airplane or helicopter is that they can just search a much larger area much faster, and thus, necessarily get information about a huge number of innocent people.

BROWN: The device is similar to this commonly used cell site simulator known as a Stingray. Government officials say it's intended to be used with a defined, legally authorized purpose in serious violent crimes.

CNN has learned that the technology was used in the capture of El Chapo Guzman, the former head a notorious Sinaloa cartel and one of the most wanted men in the world.

SOGHOIAN: This is a military technology originally designed for the intelligence community and Special Forces that has trickled down bit by bit to law enforcement, and eventually, the state and local law enforcement agencies, too.

BROWN: In a statement, the Department of Justice would not confirm the existence of the technology but says any investigative techniques which the Marshals Service uses are for the apprehension of wanted individuals and not to conduct domestic surveillance or intelligence- gathering.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: And the Department of Justice official also says the Marshals Service does not maintain any databases for the purposes of retaining cell phone information of the general public, though it's unclear how quickly their data is deleted -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Pamela, thank you so much.

Let's get more on this with CNN justice reporter Evan Perez, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director.

Jeffrey Toobin, let me start with you, the very basic question, is this legal?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It almost certainly is. Remember from the Edward Snowden revelations, the Supreme Court has

said that you and I don't have an expectation of privacy in the numbers we dial and the durations of the calls. This is not a program, just like the program Snowden disclosed, where they intercept what anyone is saying on the phone.

They are simply disclosing what numbers are being dialed and what phones are being used. As far as I'm aware, that is legal.

TAPPER: And, Evan, do we know how it's being used? For instance, is it only for very serious offenses? Is there any delineation of when it can be used, this technology, and when it can't?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: They're looking for people like Chapo Guzman, people who are very serious criminals.

The Marshals is usually looking felons that are on the run. As Jeffrey points out, this is not something that is gathering up the communications of these people. But the problem is and why people get scared is that in trying to find this needle in the haystack, they are scooping up a lot of data on the locations of other people.

And the potential for abuse is there. The question is, how do you make sure the data is removed from the government system so that it's not abused? That's the big question.

TAPPER: Tom, you think that maybe we're making too big a deal out of the potential for abuse. You think this is a good program and that it's not being misused.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it's been mischaracterized and exaggerated what this program is doing.

It's tracking. When they're up there, they're looking for a specific bad guy's phone number and seeing if it's transmitting. If they find that, then they know where that person is within a few feet on the ground. So it's a locating device.

The 50,000 other phone calls that are going past, that are streaming past them are just ignored. So they're not only not even not intercepted, which is for sure none of these calls are intercepted, but they're not kept because there's no useful data in it. They're looking for specific people using a specific phone that is transmitting a specific number.

This whole thing, "The Wall Street Journal" article characterized it as snagging a large number of Americans. That's absurd. That's ridiculous.

TAPPER: But what's happening with all these other phone numbers? They are not just like disappearing. They are being vacuumed up.

FUENTES: But they're worthless. It's telling that airplane and the device in it that that person or that phone, not even the person, but that phone is walking down the street down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. Well, by the time anybody would even look -- why would they look at all the people in Washington, D.C., walking around? If they don't find the one person they want, they're tracking...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: I think most people know by now that -- it's been in movies, it's not exactly a big secret, that you can locate a cell phone as it's being used. The police have ways of locating it.

The only difference here really is that it's being done with a plane.

FUENTES: Exactly.

TOOBIN: But that doesn't make it any less legal.

PEREZ: And as Pamela pointed out, they already have these devices called Stingrays which are used by cops to drive around in vans to try to triangulate the location of somebody they're looking for. They have to know someone they're looking for.

I think the government looks at this and says you have more spying done on you as you walk down the street down Pennsylvania Avenue than you have with this.

(CROSSTALK)

FUENTES: And another example where this was used, in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation, we know where the one victim was carjacked. And he ran across the street and he told the police, the two guys just stole my car. It's the same technology they used. The phone in his car was being triangulated. And that's who they tracked the bombers. And that's how they were able to make a...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: There's no potential at all to listen in on these calls?

FUENTES: No, none.

TAPPER: None whatsoever.

FUENTES: Not in this device.

TAPPER: Is there any potential at all for abuse? You were talking about the potential for abuse. What is there?

PEREZ: Civil libertarians point out, and the government is very much secretive about this stuff. They even try to destroy the records when they lend it out to local police departments.

So the government doesn't even try to tell people when it's being used in these cases. That's what gives people the -- frankly, they are scared.

TAPPER: Jeffrey, the data doesn't go away. We trust law enforcement will dispose of it, but it's not like while they're looking for calls, all the other numbers go away. You say, Tom, they're worthless, but they might not be worthless, because maybe somebody is looking for another number and they can access -- somebody in law enforcement is looking for a number and they can access that database.

TOOBIN: Right.

You always have to be suspicious when there is a large quantity of data that is sitting in the government's hands, because people could start to rummage through it for other purposes.

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: It has happened. But as far as we're aware, certainly as far as I'm aware, there's been no accusation that that was done in this circumstance.

(CROSSTALK)

FUENTES: But all that data would tell you is, that phone was at that location. That's it.

So that's no different than what Evan was mentioning earlier. If you have video coverage of somebody walking down the street, how long is that kept? In a convenient store, if somebody goes in, like in the Philadelphia abduction case, where they had video of that guy using the victim's ATM card, trying to use the victim's credit card at a grocery store, video cameras on the street, everybody complaints about all the video cameras. She would be dead without that technology.

TAPPER: You have to get a search warrant for this? You have to get a court order for it?

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: No. No.

TAPPER: No, you don't?

TOOBIN: No.

PEREZ: The government tries to say in most cases they need a search warrant because they're looking for specific people.

The problem is when they use it for wider searches and how they destroy that data, because they do say they destroy the data regularly, but the problem is, how long is that? We don't know a lot about this, because the government is so secretive about it.

TAPPER: What oversight is there, Tom?

FUENTES: One of the reasons for being secretive is that they don't want guys like Guzman that are billionaires...

(CROSSTALK) FUENTES: They know they're using it, but they don't want him to know, guys like him, to know the technology to go to the company to learn how to defeat the specific machinery being used or equipment being used.

That's really -- it's not so much the technique that is a big deal. It's what they're using to implement the technique that is the bigger deal.

TAPPER: OK. We will have to leave it there. Thank you so much, Tom Fuentes and Evan Perez and Jeffrey Toobin.

Just ahead, watching and waiting in Ferguson. The grand jury report could come at any moment. A look at the tension, the preparations and more coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: A rally is planned at the Saint Louis Airport at the top of the hour for the parents of Michael Brown.

They're returning to Missouri from Switzerland, where they testified to the United Nations about the police shooting death of their son. And we are awaiting, of course, the grand jury report on Brown's death. It could come along any day now, with the decision about whether or not they are going to charge the officer who shot Michael Brown.

Preparations are in place in Ferguson and beyond for a possible violent backlash.

Let's get more with CNN anchor Don Lemon; community activist John Gaskin; and staying here in the studio with me, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

John Gaskin, I want to start with you. What are you hearing about the timing of when a grand jury announcement might come?

JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Well, Jake, it could come any day now. Everyone is waiting on pins and -- pins and needles, excuse me, and we're just waiting on when Bob McCulloch will make the announcement on what the grand jury's decision will be. We're waiting every hour, because it could come any hour, any day now.

But I don't think it will come this weekend. It could, but we're just waiting. And as we wait, Ferguson is very calm. St. Louis is very calm. But people are also planning what the reaction will be, what their efforts will be around direct action and protesting, especially within the communities, such as Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood, which is in south St. Louis where Vonderrit Myers was killed. So there will be a lot of reaction to whatever the decision is.

TAPPER: Don, we've -- you and I have both spent a lot of time in Ferguson. There's obviously a lot of tension between law enforcement and many members of the community, a lot of mistrust. Are there any individuals or agencies in the greater Ferguson area that could serve as some sort of mediator between police and the community?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Could is one thing, yes. But anyone doing it? No. I would think the best organization to probably be someone from one of the churches, some of the clergy members could help out. But as you have seen on the ground there, Jake, a lot of the people who are there, a lot of the protesters, a lot of the people who are upset are younger people.

So it would be great if some of the activists who came in from around the country -- some people call them outsiders. Whatever you want to call them, some of the rappers, what have you -- if they could serve as a mediator. But I think the consensus is that they're too one sided and they're too, you know, adamant about, you know, the guilt of the officer, right, and not working with the other side.

The best person who's doing it now is Officer -- is Captain Ron Johnson. It's tough to do, though, when you are a member of the police department. But they brought him in, Jake, as you know, because he's from the community, and he's also -- so he knows the community, but he's also a police officer. He knows both sides.

TAPPER: John, what do you think? Are there any good mediators on the ground?

GASKIN: Well, I think Don is right. You've got many of the older people that are very level-headed, that understand both sides of the conversation and have connections with law enforcement and the elected officials that can give many of the young people the opportunity to have a seat at the table and have some dialogue about that.

But I think Don is exactly right. You've got many young people that are very upset, that are very passionate about this. This has been a very passionate driven -- driven issue now.

I think probably one of the best people to do that would be somebody like Captain Ron Johnson, reaching out through people like State Senator Maria Chappelle, Antonio -- Antonio French, the alderman from that area.

I think working with people like that, that have a connection with protesters and organizers, I think they can make some serious headway. But it will take some effort.

TAPPER: Jeffrey Toobin, the grand jury has heard testimony from almost everyone involved in the shooting. Officer Darren Wilson testified before the group in September without an attorney. The pathologist hired by the Michael Brown family, Michael Baden, he testified yesterday for multiple hours. What is the holdup, do you think?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is a very weird way to conduct a grand jury investigation. Most times prosecutors decide, "Look, I want to get an indictment. I'm going to present the minimum amount of testimony I need to get an indictment."

This is simply throwing every single piece of evidence before the grand jury, and it is certainly a way -- and again, we don't want to prejudge this -- for a prosecutor to throw up his hands and say, "Well, it's not my responsibility. It's the grand jury's responsibility." That's not how it works in the real world, usually. Usually, prosecutors make up their minds and use the grand jury to work their will.

If McCulloch comes back and says, "Well, I had nothing to do with it. It was simply the grand jury's decision," that will be a somewhat misleading statement. You know, this is -- this is not a -- the ordinary way a grand jury is being used.

TAPPER: But it's obviously a very politically charged case. I suppose he's trying to figure out a way that he can negotiate, making sure that everybody believes that all the evidence was provided.

TOOBIN: Right.

TAPPER: Even if an indictment does not come down.

TOOBIN: Exactly. He can say, if there's no indictment, "Look, the grand jury heard all the evidence." But the fact is...

TAPPER: Even this hired pathologist from the Brown family.

TOOBIN: Correct. But the fact remains that grand juries, by and large, do the will of the prosecutor. And if there's no indictment, you can be pretty sure that means the prosecutor didn't want one. And if there is an indictment, that means the prosecutor does want one. They are a convenient way to pass the buck, these grand juries, for prosecutors. But by and large, these are decisions made...

LEMON: Jeffrey, couldn't it be the prosecutor didn't have any choice, that the evidence will point to one direction or the other? I think everybody has been jumping to such conclusions on this. If it goes this way, then this means that. If it goes that way, then that means that.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And that's fully appropriate, if the evidence doesn't support an indictment. All I'm saying is that decision is really the prosecutor's, not the grand jury.

TAPPER: I want to just interject for one moment. The parents of Michael Brown, we're awaiting word, and we could hear from them at any moment, and we will bring that to you live.

I want to play a clip of St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar. This is from an interview with local station KSDK, responding to the criticism from Michael Brown's family's lawyers, that the Missouri governor, Jay Nixon, should have specified in his remarks earlier this week that violence from police will not be tolerated as well if protests get heated again in Ferguson. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF JON BELMAR, ST. LOUIS COUNTY: I would think that some of this, I think, is an overreaction. Look -- take a look at the professionalism and the bearing that these police officers, represented by all agencies, have demonstrated. I'm proud of what they're doing. And I just hope that we can continue to allow people to have a voice but to be as safe as we possibly can doing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: John Gaskin, I want to get your response to this, because...

LEMON: Jake, the premise of that is not true. He did -- Jay Nixon did talk about that in the press conference. He said that, No. 1, there should not be any violence. But he said he would also look at violence on the police side. And I don't think the premise of that is correct. Maybe Jon Belmar didn't realize, but I remember from watching the press conference that the governor did talk about that. Listen, I'm no fan of the way the governor handled this. He should have been there. But I think the premise is wrong: the governor did talk about the police.

TAPPER: John Gaskin, I want to get your reaction to criticism that Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri, was too specific in criticizing the community of Ferguson and not -- and not equal in his criticism, because obviously, the police have been criticized, as well.

GASKIN: Well, I do agree with Don to some extent. Yes, Governor Nixon did speak regarding holding law enforcement accountable and keeping a very close eye on what their tactics will be.

But the reaction from many people within the St. Louis community was that there was a lot of focus put on the protesters. And as we know recently, for the vast majority of the story, the protests from protesters had been peaceful; they've been calm.

Now, at the very beginning, you had many people that are very afraid of what type of tactics and what type of weapons, what type of equipment will be used on protesters, especially peaceful protesters, within the community. Many people are fearing, you know, what kind of heavy artillery will be used.

Will we see armored trucks again? Will we see snipers? That is a major, major concern, and I think they should have that concern, especially from what we saw back in August.

TAPPER: John Gaskin, Don Lemon, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you so much.

Just ahead, how the Secret Service dropped the ball -- multiple balls, really -- on the night a man with a knife ran inside the White House.

Plus, the battle over immigration reform. Can congressional Republicans stop President Obama from acting alone?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: You might call it a comedy of errors if the stakes were not so incredibly high. It seems everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong the night that a knife-wielding man jumped the White House fence and ran inside the executive mansion. And much of the blame appears to lie solely with the Secret Service.

CNN White House correspondent Michelle Kosinski has new details. Michelle, what are you finding out?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, you know, it's surprising to read. This is just a brief summary of the investigation, but it is crammed full of a perfect storm, a tragic comedy of shortfalls and mistakes that all happened on this one night in September.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI (voice-over); While Omar Gonzalez made his historic fence jump and run across the White House lawn, the scene around him, among the Secret Service, seemed to tumble between confusion and cluelessness.

The big problems, communications; officers on the radios all at once, unintelligible. And a wrong setting on those radios prevented the command center from actually telling everyone what was going on.

And then the individual issues. The canine handler on his personal cell phone, not listening to his radio. He didn't know there was anything wrong until he saw an officer run past his van.

But even the inanimate plants made for trouble that night. The officers chasing Gonzalez lost him in the bushes. They didn't think it was possible for anyone to run through them, but he did.

One officer assumed the White House doors were locked. They weren't.

And the emergency response team, it turns out, because they weren't trained on it, were unfamiliar with the layout of the White House.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee responded to all this.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: Their core mission is to protect the president of the United States. And that's where I think they're failing right now. And that's what is so unacceptable, not only to Congress but to the American people.

KOSINSKI: That list of mishaps just keeps going. Inside the White House, the emergency alert alarm had been muted. The officer at the door tried to stop Gonzalez several times as he barged in and walked around. But he was bigger than she was and it didn't work. She reached for her baton but accidentally grabbed her flashlight, giving this all a sad Keystone Kops aspect that has gotten a lot of attention including in Congress.

REP. JOHN MICA (R), FLORIDA: Have you ever heard of these guys? This is -- it's not very costly. You can subscribe, but that can be installed.

KOSINSKI: But at the heart of a lot of these embarrassments seemed to be deadly serious institutional problems that that night shown a big spotlight on -- inadequate staffing, training and sharing of information.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI: You know, you read through this and it just starkly reinforces that feeling of thank goodness this guy didn't have a gun or worse. But if you want to look at the whole thing optimistically, at least this triggered a deep look inside what needs to be changed and the Secret Service says it is working on that -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Michelle Kosinski at the White House -- thank you so much.

Just ahead, the looming political war over immigration reform -- the stakes, the threats, the potential fallout. But first, this "Impact Your World".

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIKE SCOTTI, U.S. MARINE: My name is Mike Scotti. I'm a former Marine who fought as part of the initial invasion in Iraq in 2003. I just happened to have a video camera with me, and I videotaped what was going on.

(GUNFIRE)

SCOTTI: The car ran a roadblock, and the Marines had no choice but to light it up. It turned out to be a father and his baby girl.

When I first got home, I went down a hole. I started spiraling down and went almost all the way.

The first couple of months was garden-variety depression, and then I started becoming angry. You're angry that your friends are getting killed or wounded over there. And angry that the country you sacrifice for sometimes seems to forget it's fighting a war.

You start having thoughts, what am I going to do, am I going to kill myself? Join up, go back to active duty, go back to the war and try to get myself killed?

When it started to come together as a film, and it was a rough cut, and I saw other veterans see the film, and I watched them watch it, it really started to click for me, this wasn't just my story, this was everybody's story, every veteran's story.

What you experience over there can feel like it's impossible. You live in a sort of limbo where everything gravitates towards uncertainty, chaos and disorder.

I realized there was a lot of people sad or suffering or keeping these feelings inside of them.

The advice I would give to veterans, call your buddies. You write about it, do something creative. If you think you need help, ask for it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Facing the reality of a Republican-controlled Congress, President Obama said he will go it alone on immigration if he has to. His opponents are determined to stop him. How far will they go to stop him?

Let's turn now to CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

This is going to get nasty.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. It already is.

Republicans on Capitol Hill described to me this way, they believe the expanded house Republican membership believes they were elected to be a check on an unpopular president. So, it is a GOP mandate, they believe, to push back on the president changing immigration laws but they are just not sure the way to go about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BASH (voice-over): Presidential fighting words for Republicans on immigration, from his trip half-way around the world in Asia.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would use all of the lawful authority that I possess to try to make the system better. And that's going to happen.

BASH: That is going around Congress and issuing an executive order allowing millions of undocumented immigrants to stay legally. Republicans are united in imposing the move, calling it a declaration of political war.

REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA: There are a lot of people on our side thinking he is trying to bait us into some sort of fight. You know, we're trying to be --

BASH (on camera): Are you going to take the bait?

COLE: Well, you know, are we going to fight this? Yes.

BASH (voice-over): But there's no GOP consensus on how to fight it, far from it. Some want to use Congress' main constitutional weapon, funding the government to stop the president's immigration policies.

REP. JOE PITTS (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We'll look at things like using the power of the purse.

BASH: But many Republicans are resisting, since the last time they used government funding to stop an Obama policy, it spiraled into a government shutdown.

COLE: I personally think that's just a losing strategy. It certainly didn't work with Obamacare. BASH: Another GOP idea, take the president to court for executive

over-reach.

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: What we should do is engage in litigation.

BASH: But proving abuse of power is tough. Republicans are already trying to sue the president on Obamacare and having trouble even finding legal counsel to push it.

Beyond the power struggle --

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: This president is clearly out of bounds on this issue.

BASH: And the open question is how did it come to this? Why haven't House Republicans tackled illegal immigration legislatively?

(on camera): It hasn't happened for six years or even four years since you've been in charge?

REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: Well, maybe the time is right. So, let's see what happens?

BASH: Exit polls from last week's election show a majority in favor of at least some legal status for undocumented immigrants, but most House Republicans face a different dynamic, representing conservative districts. In fact, three quarters of House Republican districts have Latino voting populations of less than 10 percent.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: And the thing to keep in mind is there is a healthy group of Republicans, even those without Latino populations who do want to find compromise in immigration. I talked to many of them today who said they thought now it was finally the chance to convince their fellow Republicans to come along but, Jake, their hope for that, they say, will be simply blown up by any presidential executive order.

TAPPER: Dana, stay with us.

Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, editorial director of the "National Journal".

Ron, is there going to be a government shut down?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Boy, you know, this is two things colliding. They do not want to do a government shut down. They have been as clear as they possibly could on that. They are feeling enormous pressure to use any means necessary to stop this.

Look, this is a momentous choice for both sides. I think the president, the die is cast. I think he feels he has to do this. He has promised it to a core Democratic constituency, which has turned out in big numbers in 2014. They need them to turn out in 2016, and it's also something that he believes is important and I think he correctly analyzes that he is very unlikely to reach an agreement with Republican congress, despite what some of the members said to you. Every newly elected Republican senator who was -- not a single one of them endorsed a pathway to citizenship. I think it's unlikely they'll have a deal.

Republicans, obviously, feel enormous pressure from the base to fight this but they also face the reality, that the Hispanic vote is growing, and in 2016, if they continue to struggle to the extent they did in 2012, that will make it tough to get to 50-plus-1 of the national general election.

TAPPER: So, give me the odds on the shutdown over this, 50/50?

BROWNSTEIN: Less.

BASH: I agree.

TAPPER: It's less than 50?

BASH: I agree it's less than 50/50 because even those -- let me just give you one example. There was one Republican member who high I saw high-fived another because they shut the government down last time. Yesterday, he told me he doesn't want the government to shut down.

TAPPER: Yes, I believe Cory Gardner, the newly elected senator from Colorado, said it would not be mature, even though he was something of a conservative in the House.

BASH: Yes.

BROWNSTEIN: And, look, they are looking toward 2016 as well. The reality is they are shutting down the government to prevent legal status. I mean, that would be a very -- not only the shut down, but the statement.

BASH: Yes, the only thing I will say to contradict what I just said about the fact that I don't think it is possible, is that we all thought Republicans were going to suffer from the shutdown. And what happened?

TAPPER: Not at all.

BASH: They took over the Senate and they expanded the majority of the House. So, they don't have a lot of incentive for not doing it just politically.

BROWNSTEIN: Can I speak to one other point? This is I think one really good example of how the choices of the Republican Congress are going to shape the choices of the Republican presidential candidates in 2016.

If the Republicans kind of go to, you know, go to the mattress to try to stop this, I think every Republican presidential candidate will feel enormous pressure to say that the first thing they will do is repeal President Obama's executive amnesty and once they do that, whatever else they have to say about immigration, they're going to be facing an uphill push with Hispanic voters.

TAPPER: Let's quickly turn to another subject. Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of Obamacare, all these videos come out from 2010, 2011 of him telling classrooms full of people, basically that the American people were -- because they're so stupid, in his view, they were hood-winked in this bill, which he obviously thinks is a good thing, and they were able to misrepresent parts of it to get it to become law.

Ron, do you think this actually could affect the Supreme Court pending decision on Obamacare? Could it like affect the waters at all?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, I think the Supreme Court decision is operating at a higher altitude than this. I think that what this does is -- as something inevitably would, it provides more oxygen for those in the Republican Party who want to continue pushing for repeal. I mean, I think this changes the dynamic inside the GOP in Congress and kind of pushes them toward a more aggressive stance.

And something else might have done that, but this is certainly pretty high octane on that front.

TAPPER: Dana, the one that I broke today was about him talking about how this Cadillac tax was misrepresented to the American people. A, it's obviously going to be a tax on them, not on the insurance companies.

BASH: Yes.

TAPPER: And, B, it's obviously going to affect all employer-based programs, not just these high end ones, as was presented.

Are Democrats saying anything to you about this, or Republicans?

BASH: Democrats are very quick to say, I don't think the voters are stupid, because that was the one part of what he said that resonated the most. The specifics are incredibly important, like what you're talking about that you broke today about the Cadillac plans. But when you come down to it, if you really focus on this sort of academics of what he said, it is true that in every bit of legislation that they write on Capitol Hill, you know this, they write it in a way so it has a chance of surviving any kind of legal challenge.

And so, the question of whether it is a tax or not a tax, which is at the core of what he said, that's debatable. The whole issue politically is calling the American people stupid.

TAPPER: I agree.

BASH: Don't do it.

BROWNSTEIN: Ideology, and 10 million people already in it. That is a big weight on the other side.

TAPPER: Remember, you can always follow us on Twitter. Just tweet the show @CNNSitroom. Be sure to join Monday in THE SITUATION ROOM. Watch as live or DVR the show, so you won't miss a moment.

Thanks very much for watching. I'm Jake Tapper in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"EBOF" starts right now.