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THE SITUATION ROOM
Interview With Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer; Tension in Ferguson; Battle Against ISIS; Terror in Jerusalem; Senate Fails to Approve Controversial Pipeline; Drone Shortage Threatens War on ISIS
Aired November 18, 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, a gruesome terrorist attack in Jerusalem just got even more deadly. Israel is vowing to respond with a heavy hand. The Israeli ambassador to the United States is standing by to join us live.
Plus, drone shortage, new concerns that the U.S. military doesn't have enough of the critical weapon in the fight against ISIS.
And the Missouri governor denies he is preparing for a war on the tense streets of Ferguson. But the FBI is openly warning that violence is likely when a grand jury decision is announced soon.
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: Let's get right to the breaking news tonight.
Five people are now dead from a grisly terrorist attack in a synagogue Jerusalem. We learned just a little while ago that a wounded Israeli police officer has died. Three Americans are also among the dead. They were rabbis who were slaughtered with butcher knives and a gun by two Palestinian attackers who were killed by Israeli police at the scene.
President Obama is calling the attack horrific and the FBI is now joining the investigation. The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, he is standing by live, along with our correspondents, our analysts. They're all following the breaking news.
Let's begin with our senior correspondent, Ben Wedeman. He's joining us from Jerusalem -- Ben.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf.
Well, the latest is that we heard from the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that the houses of these two Palestinian assailants who come from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber will be destroyed, and also the houses of other Palestinians who have been involved in attacks in recent weeks on Israelis. Israel is going to also beef up security in and around Jerusalem.
Of course, the problem is, Wolf, that these are -- these appear to be lone wolf attacks, that these are individuals who don't have any clear affiliation with groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
It is not quite clear why they decided a certain moment, a certain point in time to launch these attacks, which makes it doubly difficult for the Israeli intelligence services to try to stop any attacks from happening.
Now, complicating the situation is the rising anger of many Israelis at these attacks. Just a few hours ago, right below our bureau, I saw at least 200 young Israelis chanting for death to the Arabs, death to the terrorists. That's the sort of march we saw, I saw back in June following the news that three Israelis who had been kidnapped in the West Bank were subsequently murdered.
And just hours later, some Jewish extremists went out and kidnapped and killed a young Palestinian from East Jerusalem. So the Israeli security forces have two tasks at hand, to try to prevent further attacks and try to prevent passions on the street from boiling over -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What has been the Palestinian reaction to the killing of these rabbis at the synagogue and now the death of this Israeli police officer as well?
WEDEMAN: Well, Hamas for its part down in Gaza was quick to praise the attacks as what they said they revenge for the killing of that Palestinian bus driver who was found hanged in his bus late Sunday night, even though the Israeli police as well as the hospital sources say it was a suicide.
But we were speaking with the family yesterday. They said that it was a murder and, therefore, that situation once more contributing to the deteriorating situation here in Jerusalem -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And what about the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas?
WEDEMAN: Yes, sorry.
As far as Mahmoud Abbas goes, he did -- after having a phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, did come out with a statement saying he condemns all killings, no matter who is behind them. He did go on, however, to condemn the continued entrance of Jewish -- members of the Jewish faith into the Temple Mount, or the Haram al-Sharif, as it's known to Muslims.
So there's still lots of tension as a result of that statement coming out of the Palestinian president -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem, thank you.
President Obama says there is absolutely no justification for attacks on innocent civilians. He is urging both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to try to lower tensions right now.
Let's bring in our global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott. She has more on the U.S. response -- Elise.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Obama administration has been concerned for months about the growing tensions and increased violence between Israelis and Palestinians that Ben just mentioned.
And today, while condemning today's terrorist attack, Secretary of State Kerry, who just met this weekend with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas in Jordan, called on both leaders to redouble their efforts at calming the situation. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Our hearts go out to all Israelis for the atrocity of this event and for all the reminders of history that come with it.
This is -- simply has no place in human behavior, and we need to hear from leaders who are going to lead, lead their people to a different place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LABOTT: Now, Kerry is in agreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu here that the attack was in part the product of incitement by the Palestinian leadership. He called on President Abbas to condemn the attack, which he did.
But Secretary Kerry also called for a halt to what he called the Israeli intrusions on these holy sites, U.S. also urging Israel to use restraint in its response, not to demolish any Palestinian homes as retribution, believing that will only continue the cycle of violence, the U.S. really worried that Jerusalem could be a powder keg right now, Wolf.
BLITZER: Does the administration, the Obama administration believe that the tensions now in Jerusalem and elsewhere are the result of a breakdown of the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, which, as you know the secretary of state tried desperately for about a year to get going?
LABOTT: Well, U.S. officials are completely clear. Nothing justifies the type of horrific violence that we saw today.
But the U.S. is looking at a bigger picture here. This attack comes on the heels of this violence in June that Ben mentioned, that summer war with Hamas. There has been increased settlement activity over the past several months, settlers taking actions against Palestinians as well.
Now, Wolf, there has been a lot of criticism of Secretary Kerry for all his peace efforts and the breakdown of the process. Even though talks failed, there was very little violence during the nine months of negotiations. And Secretary Kerry has warned that a breakdown of the peace process would lead to another intifada.
And over the weekend, the Jordanian foreign minister, when he was meeting with Secretary Kerry, warned about the same, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Elise, thanks very much, Elise Labott reporting.
Joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for joining us.
First of all, what do you think of the Obama administration's response to this horrific terrorist attack on the synagogue in Jerusalem?
RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Well, we appreciate the strong statements made by both Secretary Kerry and President Obama condemning it.
We wish that we would hear such a statement from President Abbas. He condemned it and at the same time he accused Israel once again of trying to invade the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which was a total lie. He is spreading this libel, which is creating an environment of incitement, which are allowing these attacks to happen.
I want to correct one thing that your reporter said. People ask, is this part of the problem? Is part of problem the breakdown of the peace process? Remember, Wolf, you have been covering this conflict for a long time. In the mid-1990s, we had buses blowing up. And people said at the time that was because the peace process was actually moving forward.
Now they're saying that the reason why Jews are being massacred is because there is not a peace process. It has nothing to do with the peace process. It has to do with the fact that you have in Palestinian society people who want to murder Jews.
And they're now in an environment where people are encouraging it. Hamas is celebrating in the streets of Gaza. Abbas is not condemning these types of acts. He is fueling the fire.
BLITZER: What would you like to hear from the Palestinian Authority president?
DERMER: Well, how about stop your government -- end your pact that you have made with a bunch of terrorists?
Right now, President Abbas is sitting in the same government with the terrorists who are celebrating the savage murder of Jews in a synagogue. How about he ends his pact with Hamas? That's starters -- for starters.
The second thing that he might want to do is stop using the media that he controls, the schools that he controls, the mosques that he controls to incite against Jews, to incite to violence and terrorism, and spread a lie, as if we're trying on destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is false. And he has to stop and the world has to hold him accountable.
BLITZER: Is there a dialogue? Do you have any -- the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority leader, including President Abbas, is there is a dialogue of sorts, that you guys are discussing any of this directly?
DERMER: Well, we have ways to communicate. We don't have the political dialogue, because once President Abbas made the decision to make a pact with an unreformed terror organization, the political talks stopped.
And I think it is important for the world to send a very strong message after this attack to President Abbas, end your pact with Hamas and you have to go into peace negotiations with Israel.
What is he doing? He is not only staying with Hamas. He is also seeing from a lot of European governments that they will recognize a Palestinian state. So, the only message that the world is sending to Abbas is, do what you're doing. Stay in bed with these terrorists. Continue to incite against Israel and we will give you everything you want. A different message has to be heard from the international community.
BLITZER: We have the video of Palestinians, Hamas supporters in Gaza celebrating what -- you see it right there. You can that there's not just a few. There's a lot of them celebrating what is going on.
Here's the question. And I was in Jerusalem for much of July, when the war was going on between Israel and Hamas in the aftermath of those three Israeli teenage boys who were killed on the West Bank.
Are we anticipating, are you anticipating, should the U.S. anticipate an escalation, another serious round of war fare between Israel and Hamas?
DERMER: Listen, we hope that doesn't happen.
I think they were delivered -- we delivered them a very, very heavy blow the last time around. We hope they won't go back and fire rockets at Israel, because we're going to have to do what we will do to defend ourselves.
But if we want to prevent this from escalating, the international community has to stand very strongly and send a very clear message to President Abbas. Remember, when President Abbas made this pact with Hamas, most of the world applauded, most of the world said this was a step forward to peace.
Now, you see what you see on the television screen here. Do you think it is a step forward for peace that President Abbas has reached out to an organization whose members dance when you have got Jews butchered in a synagogue? Is that a step forward to peace? If that's the message that Abbas continues to hear, you are not going to see any change in the situation on the ground.
If he hears a different message from the international community, then maybe you will begin to change the corner.
BLITZER: This Palestinian bus driver who died, the prime minister of Israel in a speech today, he said he committed suicide. The Palestinians think he was killed by an Israeli. What do you know about this? What's the evidence that you have that he committed suicide?
DERMER: We have a pathologist's report.
It is not a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact. He committed suicide. But, of course, the Palestinians use this to incite against Israel and to try to get more and more people to go and attack Jews. And this has to stop. There has to be a clear response from the international community against it.
If the international community would spend a 10th of the time that they spend condemning Israel for building apartments in Jerusalem focusing on the problem of Palestinian incitement, we would be a lot closer to peace today.
BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, I want to you stand by. We have more to discuss, including next Monday's deadline for an international deal with Iran to end its nuclear program. I know Israel has strong thoughts on what is going on right now.
The ambassador of Israel to the United States, Ron Dermer, is standing by, more questions right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.
We're talking about the breaking news. A fifth person has died from the terror attack at a Jerusalem synagogue.
And we were mentioning earlier, Mr. Ambassador...
DERMER: It's a Druze police officer.
BLITZER: A Druze, but he's an Israeli citizen. He's an Israeli police officer who is a Druze, not Jewish, in other words.
DERMER: That's right. And they have contributed a great deal to the security of the country, both in serving in our army and also in our police forces. And our condolences go to the family and to the Druze community.
BLITZER: Four rabbis, three of whom are dual U.S.-Israeli citizens, one British-Israeli citizen, plus an Israeli Druze police officer, all killed in the course of this terror attack on this Jerusalem synagogue.
DERMER: And three more people in hospital in critical condition.
BLITZER: Three more. And do you know who they are?
DERMER: Yes. But we don't want to put their names on that.
DERMER: ... their families.
BLITZER: But they're Israelis?
BLITZER: More Americans?
DERMER: I'm not sure if there are more Americans.
BLITZER: The FBI is involved in this investigation?
DERMER: Yes. Once you have an American citizen who has been killed, the FBI usually will get involved. And, in fact, I don't know if people know this, but Palestinian terrorists have killed more Americans over the last few months than ISIS has killed Americans.
We have more Americans who have been killed by Palestinian terrorists, Hamas and other terror groups, than ISIS have killed over the last few months. So remember this is a fight that we're in together. This is not just a problem for Israel. It is a battle against terrorism. And what you see in Hamas, Hamas is the Palestinian version of ISIS.
There are many theaters where this fight is happening. You have a rising tide of militant Islam throughout the region. It is happening with is. It's happening with al-Nusra in Syria. It's happening with Boko Haram. And it is happening in Israel with the Palestinian terror groups. And it's important for us to stand together and to fight it.
BLITZER: I spoke with Micky Rosenfeld, the spokesperson for the Israeli national police, earlier. And he said there is no indication this was a coordinated plot. These were two individuals who just on their own may have been incited, may have been inspired, but they went into that synagogue and killed those rabbis.
Is that your analysis as well?
DERMER: Well, we don't know if an organization actually gave director orders to these specific individuals, but definitely a climate has been created which basically pushes people to do these types of actions.
You just saw in the pictures you showed of people in Gaza dancing in the streets. By the way, they were dancing in the streets in Gaza when the Twin Towers went down on 9/11.
BLITZER: By the way, the pictures we...
BLITZER: They are celebrating in Gaza, Hamas supporters. They were handing out candy.
BLITZER: We have some still photos we can show our viewers. There you see the pictures of those two terrorists who were killed by Israeli police. They got axes. And you see them handing out candy.
The earlier video, by the way, that we showed was from last week. They were celebrating something else. But it is still pretty gruesome when you think about what's going on.
DERMER: And these terrorists were celebrating also -- the same people who are celebrating the murder of Jews in a synagogue were celebrating the murder of 3,000 Americans on 9/11. These are the same people. It's the same type of fanaticism. And that's why we have to stand together to fight it.
BLITZER: When you hear Palestinian leaders saying that this was a normal reaction to the Israeli oppression of Palestinians, you say?
DERMER: I say that's a joke.
And an Israeli -- a Palestinian leader who would make such a statement should not be given any quarter for his grievances anywhere in the world. He should be sent a very clear message. And this is the message the international community should send President Abbas.
If you stay in a government with a bunch of terrorists, we don't want to see you in our capital. And we're not interested in your grievances. However legitimate you may think they are, we're not interested because nothing justifies terrorism.
You know, Wolf, the Nazis had a lot of grievances. They were very upset about Versailles. They were very upset about World War I. They were very upset about their economy. No one cared, because people said nothing justifies Nazism. That's the approach we have to have here as well.
Nothing justifies terrorism. It doesn't really matter what their grievances are. You can't have people go into a synagogue and kill people standing in prayer shawls, murder Jews in a savage way and have people dancing in the streets. This is a huge problem and the world has to stand together to confront it.
BLITZER: What about the prime minister? He announced in a statement earlier today that Israel was now going to go up and blow up the homes of these two Palestinian terrorists who went into this synagogue. What's the point of that?
DERMER: Well, it has deterred these types of actions in the past.
Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience with it. And these types of actions, by exacting some price from the families, hopefully will reduce these attacks in the future. A lot of people say, well, this will encourage just more attacks. You have to confront terrorism.
You're battling ISIS and a lot of people say, well, that will just create more terrorists. No, you have to confront terrorism. The worst thing that you can do is to do nothing. We have to confront it. It takes a long time, this type of confrontation. But the thing we need to do in confronting is we all, all countries have to stand together in this battle.
BLITZER: This is happening, what, only a few days before the deadline for the international community, the P5-plus-one, as it is called, the permanent members of the Security Council, the U.S. and Germany, are supposed to reach some sort of deal with Iran to end its nuclear program.
They may need another extension though of a few more months. Is Israel OK with that?
DERMER: Well, it is not a deal to end the nuclear program.
It's a deal that essentially would leave -- I hope it doesn't happen, but what it looks like they're going to do is to leave Iran's nuclear program essentially in place. We were hoping that the sanctions, very tough sanctions regime that was put on Iran would be dismantled only when the nuclear weapons program was dismantled.
That's not what's on the table. Right now, what's on the table is to heave Iran essentially as a threshold nuclear power a short distance away from the fissile material necessary for a bomb, to put them -- basically park them maybe a few months, maybe up to a year away, and then to dismantle the sanctions.
We think that's a very bad deal. We hope it won't happen. We hope that the international community will stand very firm, because the last thing you want to do is allow the fanatics, the likes of which you saw in the streets of Jerusalem today -- and all these fanatics, they share the same global ambitions.
They could be Sunni fanatics. They could be Shia fanatics. The last thing you want to do is give them nuclear weapons, because then they will running around the region and the world not with axes and guns, but with nuclear weapons. That's the greatest danger to our common future.
BLITZER: Ron Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for joining u.
DERMER: Thank you. BLITZER: Just ahead, a sudden shortage of a critical anti-terror
tool. Does the United States have enough drones on win the war on ISIS?
Plus, new video apparently showing the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown involved in another confrontation.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's go right to Dana Bash, our chief congressional correspondent.
The Senate vote on the future of the Keystone pipeline, Dana, tell our viewers what has just happened.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What just happened is, it was one vote short, Wolf, one vote short for Mary Landrieu, the Democrat from Louisiana, to get what she wanted, which was 60 votes, which would have been passage for Congress to go around the president and authorize the start of construction for the Keystone pipeline.
This is a big disappointment to say the least for Mary Landrieu, but also other supporters of this Keystone pipeline. But it has been a very, very divisive debate and a volatile issue. In fact, just after the vote was gaveled closed and it lost, there were some protesters inside the Senate chamber in the visitors gallery. This is what happened.
And, Wolf, this is actually illustrative of what we have heard about all day today. There have been groups of protesters going around to Democrats' offices, mostly conservative Democrats who were planning on voting with Mary Landrieu, with all of the Republicans to start construction of this pipeline.
It really did divide members of the Senate, on one side those who think that making this pipeline, starting construction from the north to the south, is important for jobs, is important for keeping the gas prices low in this country, and then on the other side you had Democrats, enough Democrats to defeat this that said that this is terrible for the environment. And they don't believe the studies that Mary Landrieu and others put forward saying that the environment won't be hurt.
But that's where it comes down. Politically, Landrieu is the last senator who is still out there, hanging out there about her fate. She has a recount -- excuse me -- a runoff next month. And she was hoping that this would help seal her fate, that it would help her show the voters back home that she has power in Washington.
But she was not able to get there, just one vote short, despite the fact that she really, really pushed and pulled, an impassioned plea to her fellow Democrats to help her do this. She wasn't able to.
BLITZER: But even if -- even if it would have passed, there is no guarantee she would have defeated Bill Cassidy...
BLITZER: ... her Republican challenger, on that December 6 runoff.
All the polls showing he is considerably ahead right now, right?
BASH: They are showing he's ahead. But I will say that I've been down in Louisiana where Mary Landrieu has pulled off wins in runoffs when nobody thought she could.
One other point I'd like to make, I can almost hear the sigh of relief from 16 blocks away down Pennsylvania Avenue, because if this would have passed, if Mary Landrieu and other supporters of this would have gotten their wish, it would have handled on the president's desk and forced him to decide whether he wanted to veto or sign this. And given everything he has said in the past about the Keystone Pipeline and the way he wanted to proceed, he probably would have had to veto it, which would have -- pit him against other -- others in his party. It was something that the White House simply didn't want to have to deal with. Now they don't have to.
BLITZER: Dana, it's going to be a short-lived victory, a sigh of relief, as you point out, for the White House. Because in early January, the Republicans will have an impressive majority in the U.S. At least 53. And if Landrieu wins [SIC], 54 Republicans. They probably will have no trouble picking up a few Democrats to get to that 60-vote threshold. And at that time, in January, maybe as early as January, Mitch McConnell, the incoming Republican majority leader in the Senate, he says this is going to come up for a vote very early.
BASH: Absolutely. He's promised that it will come up very early. Because they argue that this is a classic example of how Congress can work together, because there is bipartisan support, even though obviously, most Democrats in the Senate at this point oppose it. And then it is going to put this issue on the president's desk, once the Senate passes it.
The difference is the president will be in a position of vetoing a bill coming from a Republican Congress, as opposed to vetoing something that is very important to a fellow Democrat who wants re- election. So the politics of it will be a little bit different then.
BLITZER: And the supporters of the Keystone Pipeline once again not getting the 60 votes they need. At the final roll call, 59 in favor, including 14 Democrats joining all of the Republicans to support the Keystone Pipeline. Forty-one opposing the effort. We'll see what happens in January when the Republicans are the majority in the Senate.
Dana, thanks very much.
Let's move on to other important news we're following. They're among most important anti-terror tools in the U.S. military arsenal, but now we're learning there may not be enough drones -- drones to keep up with the growing terror threat.
Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He's looking into this story for us.
Jim, what are you finding out?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is what the new head of air combat, the man General Herbert Carlisle put it this way: "We, the U.S. veterans, have more mission than money, manpower or time today." It is a reminder that the U.S. is now engaged in warfare to some degree in at least half a dozen countries. And that favorite weapon of war in those conflicts has never been in higher demand.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Today U.S. warplanes strike another ISIS target from the air. The U.S.-led air campaign depends on intelligence, much of it supplied by pilotless drones. Eyes in the sky because no boots on the ground.
But now military commanders express growing concern that the U.S. is running short on drones, compromising the campaign's chances of success.
MICHAEL VICKERS, UNDER-SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INTELLIGENCE: Particularly in the area of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and particularly because of the fight now in Iraq and Syria. And there just is not enough of that capacity to go around right now.
SCIUTTO: And here's the reason. The U.S. military is now carrying out both surveillance and air strikes against potential terror targets in several countries at once. From Iraq and Syria to Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan and Pakistan.
VICKERS: I won't go into the specific shortfalls, but we're concluding we're going to need more going forward than we might have thought a year ago.
SCIUTTO: Today in Iraq the Iraqi military scored a rare success, recapturing the crucial oil refinery at Baiji, under siege by ISIS for months.
And the U.N. envoy for Iraq told the Security Council that the new Iraqi government strategy of enlisting Kurds and local tribes in the fight against Islamists is yielding results.
The strategy is bearing fruit, Nikolai Ladenov (ph) told the council. Here in the U.S., however, the threat from ISIS is becoming clearer.
The FBI raided the home of a Virginia woman, Heather Kaufman, who allegedly tried to arrange travel to Syria for an undercover agent who claimed he wanted to fight for ISIS.
SCIUTTO: Now, with those essential drones, the challenge, say American commanders -- and this, I suppose you could say, is always the challenge of combat -- how to prioritize.
Now looking forward, the drawdown in Afghanistan will free up some of these air resources, but Wolf, another factor is, of course, it is budget season in Washington. You're going to have commanders pushing for as much equipment as they possibly need going forward. Because they've been given so much to accomplish. They're making their argument for what they need going forward.
BLITZER: A major shortage, potentially, and a critically important weapon. Thanks very much for that. Jim Sciutto reporting.
Let's dig deeper now. Joining us, our CNN national security analyst, the former CIA operative Bob Baer. Our CNN global affairs analyst, Lieutenant Colonel, retired James Reese, and CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank. Guys, thanks very much for joining us.
Bob Baer, you heard Jim Sciutto's reporting on this U.S. drone shortage. Is the U.S. overstretched right now when it comes to drones and surveillance?
BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Wolf, it has to be. You just look at the geography. Sub-Saharan Africa. Libya is falling apart faster than we ever thought it would. We still have the war in Pakistan and Yemen and Iraq and Syria, of course. And it was just -- this war has gone so fast that, of course, our technology has not kept up with it, enough drones and enough drone operators and analysts.
This came as a surprise to everybody, and there's no way to plan for this. And this is what we get. So yes, no doubt in my mind we're short on drones and operators and analysts.
BLITZER: Well, Colonel Reese, what do you think? How much of it's a tactical problem. Is this potential drone shortage in the war? The U.S.-led air war, for example, that's involved -- that's going on right now against ISIS?
LT. COL. JAMES REESE (RET.), CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I'll tell you. This is not a new problem. One of the problems tactically is our commanders and our folks on the ground are addicted. They're really addicted to ISR, UAVs, what I call visual intelligence or visint.
The addiction is we have to do everything now with some type of platform up that's giving those eyes on, especially when we have no human on the ground. The lack of significant other intelligence assets out there. So it's been a problem for years as we've gone through the war. We've got new platforms put out there.
But like Bob said, we're spread across. Some of the issues are where we launch these platforms from. Having enough legs or fuel time to stay up. It's just a constant aspect by CentCom and the other pro- Coms (ph) to make sure that they can have all the assets and the air support guys on the grounds.
BLITZER: Stand by for a moment. We're going to have much more going forward. We'll take a quick break. More on the terror threat right after this.
BLITZER: We're back discussing the ISIS terror threat with our expert panel. Our CIA national security analyst, former CIA operative Bob Baer; our CNN global affairs analyst, retired Lieutenant Colonel James Reese; and our CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.
Paul, you've been reporting extensively on ISIS's expansion, including into Libya. Libya, a country that the U.S. and others got rid of Gadhafi a few years ago. It was supposed to become a very peaceful democracy. That hasn't exactly worked out. Terrorists there are in charge. And now you're learning that ISIS is expanding, not only in Iraq and Syria; into Libya, as well. What are you hearing?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Wolf, this is an extremely concerning development. ISIS is now in complete control of Darnah, a major town in eastern Libya, just 200 miles south of Crete across the Mediterranean. Concern, as well, that they're expanding in eastern Libya, taking advantage of political chaos to expand westward up the coast to Benghazi, even as far as Tripoli.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, helped orchestrate this takeover in eastern Libya by sending a top aide to Libya a couple of months ago to help build the group up there. The Libyan jihadis pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last week and he welcomed them into the ISIS fold.
And what's helped them take over is the return of up to 300 Libyan jihadis. Veterans of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, who've come back and are outgunning other groups in the region, Wolf.
BLITZER: And Bob Baer, you remember, and I remember, and our viewers remember just a few years ago the U.S. was launching dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles against Moammar Gadhafi's forces inside Libya. They got rid of Gadhafi. It wasn't supposed to turn out like this by any means, was it?
BAER: It's actually unthinkable, Wolf. I didn't predict it myself. And listening to Paul, you know, the speed at which ISIL moved into Libya is just amazing. The Libyans were telling me this a couple months ago. And frankly, I didn't believe them; but now they're there.
And as Paul said, they're in Darnah. They've almost got another capital. They've gotten training in Syria and Iraq. They're coming back and using those skills against what's left of the Libyan government, which frankly, is almost nothing.
BLITZER: It's become basically a terrorist state right now.
Colonel Reese, is it too far-fetched to expect that U.S. airstrikes, as they were going on in Iraq and Syria right now, could be expanded to go after ISIS targets into Libya?
REESE: Yes, Wolf, I do believe we can go after them. Especially, you know, with the high value targets. If this is part of ISIS leadership that Baghdadi has pushed down there, we definitely have folks that are looking at this. And if we can identify it, we've known this for quite a long time. And my fear is that Libya could actually become worse than Syria. Because right now, it's lawless. And it's a safe haven for any type of terrorist organization to get in there.
BLITZER: It is right next door to Egypt, to Tunisia. Paul Cruickshank, talk a little bit about what's going on in north Africa right now? As you point out, not really far from Italy, from southern Europe. This is a real, real potential disaster.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: The Europeans are very, very concerned about this. Derna is just 200 miles south of Crete. The Europeans are worried about ISIS training camps in the Derna area. They are believed to have half a dozen training camps on the outskirts of the town. Also, bigger facilities in the green mountains between Benghazi and Derna, where that training operatives from across North Africa.
The Egyptians are very worried. They're worried about the ISIS affiliate in Libya and the ISIS affiliates in Egypt are going to start cooperating. They're worried about weapons flowing from Libya to Egypt, strengthening this group in Egypt. (INAUDIBLE) which pledged allegiance to ISIS last week. They're also concerned that this group in Egypt could start targeting Western tourists in retaliation to U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, Wolf.
BLITZER: It's hard to believe, but I've heard in recent weeks, some U.S. analysts say to me, it's hard to believe as I say, that the U.S., the rest of North Africa, the world, would have been better off with Gadhafi in charge in Libya than what's going on right now. As bad as Gadhafi was, it's even worse now. That's what some analysts have said to me.
All right, guys. Thanks very much. We'll monitor all of this very, very closely.
Just ahead, new video surfacing involving a Ferguson, Missouri police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. Standby, we have details.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FERGUSON RESIDENT: Sir, I'm not going to take a picture. I'm recording this incident, sir. Do I not have the right to --
OFFICER DARREN WILSON: No, don't.
FERGUSON RESIDENT: -- to record?
OFFICER WILSON: No, come on.
FERGUSON: Sir, you just allowed me --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: A new video has surfaced allegedly showing Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed Michael Brown involved in another confrontation, threatening to arrest a man that was recording him.
CNN's Sara Sidner is joining us from Ferguson. She's got more.
So, what is the latest there, Sara?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, the city won't confirm to us officially that is indeed Darren Wilson but they did send us an incident report from back in 2013, October 28th, to be exact of a citizen named Michael Armond (ph) who has basically been contacted, come into contact, with Mr. Wilson. Basically that contact Armond has said he posted online. The contact and confrontation between him and Officer Wilson back in 2013, complaining of his treatment by Officer Wilson, who, as you know, is the officer who is responsible for the killing of Michael Brown and that killing has created three months of protests.
Let me let you see the video that was posted online by a resident who came into contact with Officer Wilson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FERGUSON RESIDENT: What's your name, sir?
OFFICER WILSON: If you want to take a picture of me one more time, I'm going to lock your ass up.
FERGUSON RESIDENT: Sir, I'm not going to take a picture. I'm recording this incident, sir. Do I not have the right to --
OFFICER WILSON: No, don't.
FERGUSON RESIDENT: -- to record?
OFFICER WILSON: No, come on
FERGUSON: Sir, you just allowed me --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SIDNER: Now, that resident was arrested on other charges. And again, the city said because of the quality of that video, it cannot confirm to us that that is indeed Officer Wilson.
We talked to the ACLU about what was said by that officer. The ACLU saying, look, they can't say whether or not it's Wilson, but they can certainly say this, that what was said, that the officer basically said, I can arrest you for recording video of me, was absolutely improper and a violation of that citizen's rights -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Sara Sidner in Ferguson -- thanks very much.
Let's get a little bit more now. Joining us, the community activist John Gaskin, our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and our justice reporter Evan Perez, who is joining us from Ferguson right now.
Evan, you have some new reporting about a U.S. Justice Department panel that started the review the initial police response following the Michael Brown shooting. What can you tell us?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: That's right, Wolf.
You know, as Ferguson gets ready for the grand jury to come back with its decision on whether to indict Officer Wilson, there is a new review panel from the Justice Department that has been down here to take a look at the 16 days, the 16 days that followed the shooting of Michael Brown and how police handled all of those protests and some of the disturbances we saw on the street. They're going to look at everything from the way they handled the arrests, crowd control, to even handling of the media.
As you remember, there was a lot of criticism, including from the Justice Department, from the president, from Attorney General Eric Holder of the heavy-handed police response. So, that now is going to be examined.
And the timing is obviously very interesting, given the fact that now we're waiting for the grand jury to make its decision, perhaps in the next week or so, Wolf.
BLITZER: Is this panel, Jeffrey Toobin, just another effort to appease, to reassure an outraged community? Or do you think there could be real consequences as a result of this review?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, there could be real consequences. A federal civil rights investigation is no joke. There is the possibility of federal criminal charges against Officer Wilson. There is also the possibility of some sort of collective action against the local police department.
Now, this Justice Department has prosecuted a lot of police departments and entered into settlements with Cincinnati, with New Orleans, where they pledged and made specific efforts to try to treat their minority communities better. That is certainly a real possibility coming out of this case.
BLITZER: All right. John Gaskin, as you know, the Missouri governor, Governor Nixon introduced the Ferguson Commission as it is called earlier today. The group has been tasked to study the fallout surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown and at today's news conference, the governor said he is preparing for peace, not war, as we await the grand jury decision.
So, you are there and you are in Missouri, what is it feeling like on the ground?
JOHN GASKIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Well, many people are waiting to see what will happen. Key word -- waiting.
I've talked to some school leaders as well as some community activists -- other community activists and many people are very concerned, regarding the governor calling a state of emergency. They feel as though it's presumptuous, it's premature, it is alluding that there could be violence, alluding that protests will go in a direction we don't want them to. I hope he would have a little more confidence in the citizens of Ferguson and would hope that the greater character of the greater Missouri will come out throughout this situation. But it is a bit early to call a state of emergency.
The commission, obviously, was installed today, and so many have a lot of questions regarding what the power of the commission will be. They are looking for measurable robust solutions. And so there are very big question marks surrounding the commission in terms of what their par will be and if the governor will listen to their recommendations and bring about some real wholesale change.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, as you know, the FBI issued a bulletin on November 14 urging law enforcement to be vigilant ahead of the grand jury decision, just as it is about to be made public. The bulletin states, let me read it to you and our viewers, "The FBI assesses those infiltrating and exploiting otherwise legitimate public demonstrations with the attempt to insight and engage in violence could be armed with bladed weapons or firearms equipped with tactical gear gas masks or other bulletproof vests to mitigate law enforcement measures."
Is this bulletin surprise? Should it be expected?
TOOBIN: Well, I think given what happened, it's not a surprise. Law enforcement has to walk a difficult line here. Clearly, in August when this all happened, Governor Nixon, the Missouri law enforcement community was not ready. They were not prepared.
So, they need to prepare this time. But do they overprepare and look they're expecting trouble and in that way incite trouble?
I think given all that's going on, it makes more sense to prepare, perhaps overprepare, but not provoke. And that does appear in a general way that what the state and federal authorities are doing. But we'll see, obviously, once the grand jury comes back.
BLITZER: That could be any day now. According to the FBI, the warning was issued based on previous protests, not due to on going threats to officers right now. How would you describe the National Guard and the police force presence in Ferguson, Evan, right now?
PEREZ: Well, Wolf, I think they are mindful of the criticism that they are getting ready for war. So, you don't see a lot of presence. Behind me, you know, there's a lot -- the businesses are open. People are on the streets. Obviously, it is very, very cold here so that is maybe keeping down some of the foot traffic. But, you know, I think a lot of the presence of the National
Guard and the additional resources that have been sent in are sort of behind the scenes. They are away from Ferguson because of the -- they are mindful of not showing too much to incite people to try to cause problems. But, you know, obviously, they are monitoring Twitter and they are monitoring social media, they know some groups are preparing to deploy here as soon as there is a grand jury decision and they are preparing to cause some trouble. So, they want to be prepared but not show too much right now.
BLITZER: And, Jeffrey, very quickly, is there ever a good time for this grand jury announcement to be made?
TOOBIN: Beats me, Wolf. I don't think there is any playbook for how to handle this. I think it is just a matter of preparing the community, preparing law enforcement and trusting that people will protest appropriately.
BLITZER: Jeffrey Toobin --
TOOBIN: If they have anything to protest.
BLITZER: Yes, well, we'll see what happens. Let's hope it remains calm.
John Gaskin, Evan Perez, guys, thanks very much.
Remember, you can follow us on Twitter. Tweet me @wolfblitzer. You can always tweet the show @CNNSitroom.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.