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Ground Offensive to Push ISIS Out of Iraqi City; Obama Calls for Global War Against ISIS; Interview with Joe Manchin; Ground Offensive to Push ISIS Out of Iraqi City; Obama: 'West Not at War with Islam

Aired February 19, 2015 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Happening now, breaking news.

Taking on ISIS -- we're learning about a major operation in the works right now to recapture one of Iraq's most important cities from the terrorists.

What role will U.S. forces play in this critical new offensive?

ISIS leader revealed -- we have new details about the self- proclaimed caliph of the so-called Islamic State, his surprising former career and his turning point to unspeakable brutality.

Did the U.S. miss clues that he would turn into a terror mastermind?

Killer cold -- two thirds of Americans in the grip of life- threatening weather. Temperatures as much as 45 degrees below normal from the Canadian border down to the Gulf of Mexico. Which major U.S. cities bracing for the worst?

And super cut?

North Korean's Kim Jong-un makes a dramatic change, sporting a new look that caught the world by surprise.

Is it more about power than style?

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. A major new offensive against ISIS now in the works. We're learning the U.S.-led coalition is getting ready to launch a major operation to seize Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, from terrorist control. And this offensive will move beyond airstrikes. We're told it will include ground troops taking on ISIS militants.

We're covering all the angles of the breaking news with our guests, including Senate Armed Services Committee member, Joe Manchin, and our CNN correspondents.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, she begins our coverage.

What are you hearing from your sources about this new offensive against ISIS positions in Mosul?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've just had a briefing from a U.S. military official who revealed some extraordinary detail about what is incoming in the next couple of months to try and retake Iraq's second largest city. This official telling reporters the offensive to take Mosul now scheduled for April or May, if everybody is ready to go. That's pretty specific information.

It will include 20,000 to 25,000 Iraqi ground forces, including Peshmerga forces that will try and cut off any ISIS escape routes north and west of the city. The big question, of course, what role, if any, will U.S. troops play on the ground. Still to be decided is whether U.S. -- a small number of U.S. troops will assist in targeting, helping those Iraqi forces target. It's not at all clear that recommendation will be made to the president. It's not clear if they would have to go on the ground near the city or stay in some headquarters. All of this to be decided.

But the person who may be watching all of this the most closely, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS who, by the way, was last seen in Mosul.


STARR (voice-over): He was an office worker who might not get a second glance when this picture was taken after U.S. forces in Iraq captured him as a suspected insurgent. Today, he is perhaps the world's most wanted terrorist.

Here's Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, not seen since this video last year in Mosul. The leader of ISIS, the group responsible for brutal killings across Iraq, Syria and now Libya, the slaughter of U.S. hostages and a Jordanian Air Force pilot. One U.S. official tells CNN he is, quote, "a psychopath."

The U.S. may only now be beginning to understand him.

MICHAEL WEISS, CO-AUTHOR, "ISIS: INSIDE THE ARMY OF TERROR": He wasn't an insurgent in the initial phases of the U.S. occupation. He became one.

STARR: He was born Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri in Fallujah, according to his U.S. detention record, obtained by CNN. Captured in February 2004 and held Camp Bucca in Southern Iraq. It's believed he became increasingly radicalized there, before being released in December of that year.

Did the U.S. miss the clues that al-Baghdadi would turn into the mastermind of ISIS? WEISS: A lot of people were processed and run through the U.S.-

run prisons who, for all intents and purposes, did not seem to pose a credible threat. And then, of course, they became masters of terror.

STARR: The U.S. intelligence community's personality profile of al-Baghdadi suggests he is headstrong, a religious zealot with an apocalyptic end of days vision, but also a savvy leader who broke with al Qaeda to become his own man. A U.S. intelligence official tells CNN al-Baghdadi's religious credentials, experience as a senior leader and dense network of relationships propelled him to ISIS' top spot in 2010.

But as he now hides from U.S. airstrikes, al-Baghdadi may be running a risk.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: The mystery surrounding Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. Strength because it's allowed ISIS to create a myth around him, able to project him as this religious leader with serious Islamic credentials. But weakness, as well, for al-Baghdadi, because there's so little known about him that there's very little for his supporters around the world to get excited about.

STARR: For now, U.S. intelligence says al-Baghdadi relies on trusted lieutenants and allows local commanders to make decisions.


STARR: Now, this personality profile says Baghdadi has probably been married a couple of times, has children. But it likens him to a mob boss, using brutality and terror to get what he wants -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, good reporting.

Thanks very much.

Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto -- Jim, retaking Mosul certainly would be very difficult. This is a city, as you well know, of nearly two million people. It would almost certainly require house to house battles.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No question. This would be unlike anything that's been seen since the start of the coalition campaign against ISIS. To date, any military operations, of course, by coalition forces connected from the air, on the ground, what little we've seen with Kurdish forces, Iraqi forces, have been in smaller towns like al-Baghdadi, underway right now, Ramadi, both in Anbar Province, as well as areas around Erbil, the Kurdish areas in the north. But no city this size. Mosul the second largest city in Iraq -- urbanized, tall buildings. I've been there a number of times. And it's estimated 1,000 to 2,000 ISIS fighters in there. And perhaps with this in mind, the idea of an upcoming coalition-led Iraqi ground force invasion on -- coming forward.

This is what ISIS released today. They released a training video showing the training that their forces are underway, inside Mosul, perhaps to repel an attack just like this one. In addition to seeing folks like this out in the field, you saw other ISIS fighters rappelling from buildings, etc. Giving an indication of the kind of fighting that those Iraqi forces will face.

BLITZER: As important as Mosul is, ISIS also continues to expand across the region right now.

Show our viewers what's going on.

SCIUTTO: That's right.

Well, first of all, it's expanding inside the country. Another video released today by ISIS -- and, again, this is a propaganda video -- but showing their recruiting. This is a new graduating class, as it were, of ISIS fighters, again in Anbar Province. Look at how young of -- young some of them are. They look to be just teenagers.

But it shows that even with this campaign going on, the enormous pressure they're under, the thousands of ISIS fighters that are being killed, they're still able to attract fighters in numbers. A combination of money that they pay them, just their success in the field, but also, we're told, many of them taken under duress, under threat, saying, you know, either you join us or we're going to kill you.

But also now, we're seeing their footprint expand to Libya. And this is not a light footprint that we're seeing here, just a handful of fighters coming over to the ISIS side.

In central Libya today, a convoy 70 vehicles long going through the town of Sirte. This lasted 10 minutes, eyewitnesses told us. This is a major ISIS presence now outside of Iraq and Syria. This is in Libya. And, of course, we've talked, Wolf, before about how you're seeing them in places such as Yemen and even Taliban fighters in Pakistan and Afghanistan rebranding themselves as ISIS.

So this is becoming regional problem, not just an Iraqi-Syria problem.

BLITZER: It certainly is.

All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you.

President Obama, meanwhile, is calling on Muslim countries to step up their role in this war against terror, while emphasizing the West is not at war with Islam.

Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta -- Jim, so tell us the latest, what the president is saying.

JIM ACOSTA, HOST: Wolf, President Obama tried to isolate some of the root causes for the rise of ISIS. And he called on Muslim and Arab nations to do more to counter what he dubbed "terrorist lies."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA (voice-over): With ISIS posting yet another propaganda

video online filled with young faces bent on destruction, President Obama urged leaders from the Islamic world to develop an effective counter message -- and fast.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie. And all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility to reject it.

ACOSTA: At a summit on preventing violent extremism, the president said the U.S.-led coalition would continue pounding ISIS with airstrikes, but he argued that Arab and Muslim nations must take aim at the underlying reasons for radicalism, from income inequality...

OBAMA: That feeds instability and disorder and makes those communities ripe for extremist recruitment.

ACOSTA: -- to the lack of democratic freedom.

OBAMA: When peaceful Democratic change is impossible, it feeds into the terrorist propaganda that violence is the only answer available.

ACOSTA: But critics of the president's message point out some of those countries in need of change also happen to be the monarchies and oil-rich states in the president's coalition.

AARON DAVID MILLER, WILSON CENTER: It's only a hop, skip and a jump to U.S. allies. And in that case, well, to be very clear, Houston, we have a problem. There is almost no one in this region that is immune from the notion that the way to get at ISIS is to fundamentally transform these authoritarian regimes.

ACOSTA: Jordan's foreign minister acknowledged the region must do more.

NASSER JUDEH, FOREIGN MINISTER OF JORDAN: It is all about education, education, education, opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.

ACOSTA: The president also blamed the rise of ISIS on Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad for waging a bloody civil war against his own people and on Iraq for failing to be more inclusive of Sunni Muslims, who flocked to ISIS.

But he neglected to mention his own policies as part of the problem, his quick military pullout from Iraq in 2011 or his reluctance to arm Syrian rebels.

The president did pay tribute to the heroic actions of Muslims in France who tried to stop the terrorists in their attacks in Paris last month as a lesson for the rest of the world.

OBAMA: We're all in the same boat.


ACOSTA: And senior administration officials say don't expect any more big announcements or new programs to come out of this summit. The White House had hoped that the summit would be about a more inclusive message to the Islamic world. The question, though, is whether any U.S. allies or enemies like ISIS were really paying attention -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta at the White House.

Thanks very much.

Let's dig deeper on all of this.

Joining us, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

He's a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

Let's get right to the questions.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D), VIRGINIA: Thanks for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: You heard.

Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent, saying the U.S. is getting a better picture of this ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, how he operates.

Here's the question. So far, 2,000 U.S. and coalition airstrikes, more than $1 billion spent. This guy is still walking around someplace.

So why hasn't the U.S. and its partners been able to take him out?

MANCHIN: I don't know whether our intel has not been able to infiltrate, whether they've not been able to get the proper intel in or just basically not being involved.

But the bottom line is, is putting more ground troops is not what I have subscribed to, not what I would recommend. And I think we were told by King Abdullah that that wouldn't be something they needed. They just need our support to get the weapons to them and make sure we could accelerate that, that they weren't held up with red tape so they could do the fighting.

It's time for all of that region of the world to do the fighting. They need to get their people engaged. They have well trained people, or whether it be in Turkey or Saudi Arabia. They've got the potential for ground troops to go do their job. And they could help us with this intel that we need, too. They blend in a lot better than American soldiers are going to blend in, I can assure you.

BLITZER: You heard, also, Barbara Starr report that the U.S.-led coalition is planning a major new ground offensive to try to go into Mosul. That's the second largest city in Iraq, a city of nearly two million people, mostly Iraqi ground troops, obviously Peshmerga Kurdish fighters will go in there.

What can you tell us about this new offensive that's supposed to begin as early as April?

MANCHIN: Well, we know the Peshmergas are tremendous fighters. They are willing to fight and die for what they believe in and their country and protecting their people.

The Iraqis are yet to be tested, I guess, to see if they really really stay into the fight and fight to the end in order to take back their own country, if you will. And they're needing prodding from us. And we're giving the prodding.

But basically, they've got to do the aggression on the ground. We're giving them the technical and tactical support they need and from our air and all of that. The training, we've retrained them I don't know how many times. And we've rearmed them I don't know how many times. So it's time for them to show they can do the job.

BLITZER: Six months ago, when these ISIS militants came into Mosul, you know what the Iraqi Army did. They were in charge of that city. They simply abandoned their positions. They left their armor. They left their tanks. They left all of their weapons. And they ran away as quickly as they possibly could. And ISIS took over that city.

Here's the question on this part of the story.

Do you have greater confidence that they're ready now to go in a house to house battle against these ISIS troops that control Mosul?

MANCHIN: I have confidence in the troops that we have there, the American troops there, to make that evaluation.

How we missed this evaluation, or I want a report, being on the Armed Services Committee, who missed the evaluation on our first pullout of Iraq, knowing that with Maliki that the Sunnis were not going to engage.

We should have known that. And with the Shiites, as he was building and putting his friends in places that basically isolated the Sunnis, we should have known that we were in a very volatile situation, that this could happen.

Who misjudged that?

Who didn't take or heed that information, Wolf, is what we should know, not to repeat that. And who can give us the information that, basically, these people are ready to do the job? Are they expecting the Americans to pick up and do it for them?

You know, you were talking about the underlying problems. How many of these people over there really are true believers, these terrorists, these Islamic terrorists, fanatics, radicals, barbaric. How many are actually fighting because they are true believers? How many are fighting for a paycheck? And the root cause would be find an economy? How can we build an economy? How can the Arab nations build an economy to give people a paycheck for other than trying to kill each other.

BLITZER: I want to take a quick break for one quick question. Did President Obama at the end of 2011 make a major blunder by pulling all U.S. troops out of Iraq?

MANCHIN: Who was giving him information? I don't know that. And I would like to find out who basically made that recommendation. If they made a recommendation on their evaluation of the troops' stability, that the Sunnis were prepared and would fight, and there wasn't animosity between the Shiites and Sunnis, and we should expect this to happen, how did they get up and be deciphered at the White House? That, I haven't had that information. We need to find that information before we have this next surge, if you will, and seeing if the Iraqis can handle this themselves or they're going to depend on us to move in and have to do the work for them. I would like to know that before this April comes. I'll assure you of that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, there were advisors saying don't do it, keep U.S. troops there. But he is, after all, the commander in chief. He wanted those troops out of there, especially because the Nuri al- Maliki government wouldn't give those American troops immunity from prosecution. As a result he said get out of Iraq.

Stand by, Senator. We have a lot more to discuss.

MANCHIN: Absolutely. OK.

BLITZER: There's other news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Much more with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia when we come back.


BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, a U.S. military official telling CNN a major operation to retake Iraq's second largest city from ISIS could begin as soon as April. Up to 25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces trained by the United States will try to oust ISIS militants from Mosul. That's a city of nearly two million people.

We're back with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He's a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Senator, let me ask you about President Obama's remarks today at this White House summit on countering violent extremism. You heard the president say yesterday and today that the U.S. is not at war with Islam, that this is a war -- a war with a perversion of Islam. The president refusing to call it radical Islam or Islamic radicals. He's staying away from that phrase. Do you agree with the president?

MANCHIN: You know, I don't. I mean, it's pretty simple in the language we speak in West Virginia. It is what it is. The bottom line is, you know, we have a Muslim population

throughout West Virginia. They're beautiful people. And we get along great, all of us. Interdenominational, they all work together in church and the faith. But with that being said, there's radicals in all groups. And when you have a radical person who hides behind a religion, whether it be Catholicism or whether it be protestant or it be Islamic, it is what it is.

So to say that you have radicals that are Islamic hiding behind their religion, then you would hope that all those wonderful people in that religion that believe in that religion would rise up against that and help us rid these horrible people of the barbaric actions they are taking against humankind.

So I don't see that we're instigating anything or causing any other division. It is what it is. These people claim to be Islamists, under the Islamic religion, taking it to the extreme, doing these absolutely, absolutely horrific barbaric actions and deeds against human beings. It's something that we can't comprehend, and it's something that the good Muslim people of this country and around the world shouldn't tolerate. We're hoping they'll rise up against it.

BLITZER: Let me ask you about some comments that the former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, made about President Obama supposedly not loving America. Let me read to you what Giuliani said.

He said, "I do not believe -- I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn't love you, and he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country."

I want you to react to what Giuliani said.

MANCHIN: Well, the one thing I agree with former Mayor Giuliani, that he was right. Republican shouldn't have said it. It was a horrible thing to say. You know what? We can agree to disagree, but we should be respectful. The president is our president, whether you agree or not, whether you're Democrat or Republican, liberal, conservative, we should all pull together. This is a horrible fight we're in.

These crazy Islamic terrorists, barbaric as they may be, we have to fight and make sure we protect the homeland. And you can't divide the homeland and protect it at the same time. So someone of his stature, I would hope that he would have a better control of himself than to say something such as that.

BLITZER: Would you like him to apologize to the president of the United States?

MANCHIN: I just think that, basically, you know what? Everybody gets so sensitive on these. We're in a tough profession here. The political profession today, it's a contact sport, Wolf. We understand that. So I don't think the -- he should be apologizing to the people he's got all stirred up. He should say, "I shouldn't have said it. I misspoke. I'm sorry." OK?

But then we've got to get together here and pull together. The president has a way of approaching things. Sometimes I agree; sometimes I disagree. But I'm always going to be respectful of the president, no matter who that person may be. And I would hope that the former prosecutor, U.S. attorney, former mayor, would do the same.

BLITZER: Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

MANCHIN: Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

We have much more coming up on the new ISIS threat. Also coming up, nearly 200 million people in the United States facing very dangerous, potentially record-breaking cold.

And later, a new outbreak of a treatment-resistant super bug that health experts are now calling a nightmare bacteria. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is standing by to tell us what's going on.


BLITZER: We'll have much more ahead on today's developments in the war on ISIS but for about half of the United States right now, very important story to share with you.

Just outside your front door, freezing, extremely dangerous blast of bitterly cold air covers 30 states tonight. Low temperature records could be shattered throughout the eastern half of the U.S.

Our meteorologist Jennifer Gray is at the CNN Severe Weather Center with more.

It's bitter cold out there, as you know, Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is very cold. You know, Wolf, we're seeing some of the coldest air we have seen in decades.

Where is it coming from? Believe it or not, Siberia. This is called the Siberian Express. It starts in Siberia, heads straight over the poles and just invades the country. And like you said, about half of the country under very, very cold temperatures, well below normal. Some areas, 40 and 50 degrees below normal.


GRAY (voice-over): The Siberian air mass is gripping the eastern United States, wreaking havoc. And disrupting lives from Chicago to the Deep South. 185 million people are feeling the deep freeze. Thirty states have wind chill warnings and advisories posted through Friday. Major cities are recording historic lows, including Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville.

Single digit lows as far south as Alabama and Georgia, even Florida is under a freeze warning and some crops there are in peril. Farmers are watering their fields to serve as a protective layer.

Tennessee remains in a state of emergency. The weather-related death toll is highest there, including people who have died from hypothermia.

Advice from doctors across the country?

DR. JOSEPH TAGLIAFERRO, METROHEALTH MEDICAL CENTER, CLEVELAND, OHIO: Kind of having a plan when you go -- before you go outside will help anyone who is kind of exposed to this cold air.

GRAY: In Massachusetts, it took a front loader, a boat and emergency crews to rescue these two dogs and their owner. Further south, residents of Tangier and Smith Islands in the Chesapeake Bay trapped by the surrounding ice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She needed formula. She didn't have enough formula. She was just born a week and a half ago and didn't have enough.

GRAY: With the sustained frigid temps come incredible scenes like this. Niagara Falls frozen.

With schools closed, many children are making the best of it. And the ice fishing is good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got a 20-pound lake trout, biggest one I ever caught.

GRAY: But most?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can only stay out here for a few minutes before your face starts to freeze.

GRAY: Are ready for spring.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's bad. It's bad. I don't know what else to say. I mean, I just hope it breaks soon.


GRAY: Yes, spring is just about four weeks away. That is going to be a happy day for a lot of people. We did shatter records across a bunch of the east this morning. Of course, in Kentucky, we could see temperatures go even lower before midnight so that means the records could be even more dramatic.

Current wind chill out there right now feels like one degree in D.C., three in New York, five in Boston, 12 below zero in Detroit. That will be your actual morning low tomorrow. D.C., your morning low around four. Charleston, 20. Atlanta at 16. So we could break more records as we go through tomorrow morning.

In Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, as far south as Key West breaking records, and of course, a broken record here, we are looking at another winter storm. This could impact a lot of areas that were impacted earlier in the week, that ice that brought down trees and power lines around western Tennessee, that does include Nashville, you could get hit with another round of ice.

And keep in mind a lot of people in these areas with temperatures in the single digits and teens woke up without power this morning. And so more ice on the way as early as tomorrow. It's going to linger into Saturday. Push up the East Coast by Saturday night, looks like New York's going to be mainly rain. Boston is right on that wintry mix line. Could see a little bit of snow but a wintry mix as well. So we are worried about extra weight of course on top of those snow- covered roofs.

So, Wolf, this is far from over. It's going to be a big mess as we head into the next two days.

BLITZER: How cold did you say it is in Nashville, Tennessee?

GRAY: Yes. This morning, they woke up in the single digits. Of course temperatures are going to dip back down again, could be even colder tomorrow morning.

BLITZER: Wow. Cold all over the place.

All right. Thanks very much, Jennifer. We'll stay in touch with you as well.

Coming up, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us with what all of us need to know about the latest outbreak of a new super bug that experts are calling a nightmare bacteria.

And something is very different about the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Take a look at this picture. Experts say his new haircut is actually meant to send a message.


BLITZER: More than 100 people may have been exposed to what experts at the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, are calling a nightmare bacteria. The so-called super bug germ spread at a prestigious medical center right here in the United States.

Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, how deadly is this bacteria?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is -- this is a pretty bad one. They used this term super bugs, Wolf, and what they are really saying is this is an incredibly tough bacteria to treat because it is so resistant to antibiotics. In fact, this particular bacteria known as Klebsiella is resistant to a class of antibiotics these are called carbapenems.

So these are -- these are a particular class of bugs now that sometimes make these things that can fight off antibiotics. They've really evolved to be able to protect themselves against many of the treatments. So that's what makes them so difficult, Wolf. So difficult to treat.

BLITZER: Officials say, Sanjay, that maybe 100 patients, maybe even more, may have been exposed. Is this super bug contagious?

GUPTA: It does not appear to be contagious. A really good question. Not something that spreads through the air or spreads easily by any means. The way that they seem to have contracted these infections is through a procedure known as an ERCP, it's a type of scope procedure designed to specifically look at the pancreas and the gallbladder to some extent.

So they believe these scopes were used, that they had been cleaned the way that they were supposed to be cleaned, but that that cleansing process didn't do the trick and these bacteria as a result were able to infect other patients. That's the working theory right now. It doesn't appear that there was an infection breach protocol -- protocol breach but this is what they're looking at right now. I think it's 179 patients, Wolf, that are going to be tested.

BLITZER: Yes. And apparently these scopes, correct me if I'm wrong, they may not be possible to disinfect. Is that right?

GUPTA: Well, that is the information that's just coming out. In fact, the FDA just released a safety memo specifically about these scopes. What it appears to be is the scope itself has a little mechanism that allows part of the scope to move back and forth, an elevator mechanism. It's that mechanism that they worry the bacteria could sort of be trapping underneath that but even when the scope is sterilized, that particular area of the scope wasn't getting cleaned adequately.

The FDA has put out a potential fix for that problem. But, Wolf, you may be right, this may be a situation where those scopes cannot be used more than once for some reason or they're going to have to create a disposable scope of some sort to use instead.

BLITZER: And the real danger, correct me if I'm wrong, is in hospitals, right?

GUPTA: The real danger is in hospitals and even more than that, during these specific procedures. Again, these ERCP procedures. People who hear the word scope and think I have had an upper scope because I was worried about reflux disease, this is not that, or people who have this colon cancer screenings, it's not that kind of scope either. This is a fairly specialized scope that usually is looking at the gallbladder or the pancreas.

BLITZER: Let's talk about cholesterol because there are some new U.S. dietary guidelines now showing that a lot of what we assumed was the case as far as cholesterol may not necessarily be the case. Update this important information for our viewers.

GUPTA: Yes. And I want to make sure I contextualize this right because people are going to hear news like this and think it's a free pass to do whatever they want to do. What -- let me show you these dietary guidelines, Wolf, just to

give you an idea of what this entailed. These are the scientific bases for the guidelines. They come out every five years, 572 pages. In there they talk about the fact that cholesterol in and of itself will not be considered a nutrient that is of concerned for overconsumption. And that was the headline that grabbed everyone's attention. We don't have to worry about cholesterol anymore.

But what they're really saying, Wolf, is that if you look at cholesterol in the body, the vast majority of it is in fact produced by our bodies, 85 percent is produced within the body. And only about 15 percent of our cholesterol is from what we consume. So that's the point they're really making, is that you -- the consumption part of it doesn't add to the cholesterol as much as our own bodies do.

It's not to say that if you don't -- if you have a high cholesterol it shouldn't possibly still be treated depending on what the number is, but that the eating of it probably doesn't contribute to the overall number as much as they thought in the past.

BLITZER: Well, that's good to know. Good important information for all of us.

Sanjay, thanks very much.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting.

Coming up, North Korea's leader changes his looks and experts say it's a calculated move to send a threatening new message.

Stand by.


BLITZER: The North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has changed his look and experts say his new haircut is meant to send a very definite message.

CNN's Brian Todd is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with more on what's going on -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, at first look, it appears like this is just a 32-year-old experimenting with his hairstyle but analysts say Kim Jong-Un is being very calculated in this new look and it's not so benign.

Tonight we have new details on how this look is part of a broader effort by the dangerous North Korean leader to project his power.


TODD (voice-over): A bold transformation from last year's stylish flop cut to an extreme flattop.

Kim Jong-Un presides over a large political meeting in North Korea brandishing a new hairstyle that's getting a lot of attention. Analysts say this is a calculated look.

JOSEPH DETRAIN, FORMER SPECIAL ENVOY TO NORTH KOREA: Kim Jong-Un wants to project the image of his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung. Kim Il- Sung was viewed and is viewed by the people of North Korea as a great revolutionary. He gave them independence. He fought against the colonials, he fought against Japan, he fought against the United States in the Korean War and South Korea.

TODD: Kim has recently been ratcheting up his projection of power. His message to his people that he'll take on America. A South Korean news agency reports Kim has visited several military units over the past couple of months. Telling them, be ready to fight.

And recently, he reportedly conducted the first test of a new ballistic missile intended to be launched from a submarine. It's an ominous maneuver. Analysts say when North Korea figures out how to outfit submarines with missiles, they could move undetected.

RICHARD FISHER, INTERNATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND STRATEGY CENTER: North Korea may be able to launch surprise nuclear missile strikes, surprise strikes against American forces in Japan or South Korea, sneak up on our bases in Hawaii, or if they make it to American ports, launch nuclear missiles against American targets.

TODD: The Pentagon won't comment on the latest missile test. And a new level of concern that North Korea isn't all bluster anymore. The Sony hack, a massive cyber attack that the company is still reeling from, thought to have been ordered by Pyongyang, showed this regime can and will hit Americans where they leave.

Human rights advocates say Kim Jong-Un's acting aggressively on another front as well. Expanding a program of sending North Korean workers abroad. According to human rights groups, those workers toil in factories, logging camps, build statues for dictators in Africa and are forced to send virtually all of their money to Kim and his cronies.

GREG SCARLATOIU, COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA: Dispatching North Korean workers overseas is meant to earn the regime the hard currency it needs to stay in power. And to help pay those who maintain the Kim regime in power.


TODD: Analysts say they need the hard currency more now because Kim Jong-Un's economy is bankrupt. His regime relies more and more on the smuggling of heroin, counterfeit American dollars, fake Viagra, and weapons to bring in cash. The proceeds of much of that are also thought to go straight into the pockets of Kim and his aides -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us. Thanks very much.

Let's get some more now, some insight from columnist Gordon Chang. He's the author of the book "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World."

Gordon, this new hair cut, what's going on here? What's your analysis?

GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": Well, there's a couple of things going on here. Kim Il-Sung for a short period in his life had this trapezoidal haircut. But it was not as exaggerated as Kim Jong-Un's. So there's something else at work. And I think it's -- you know, there's some powerful figures who are so isolated, so divorced from reality they become weird. This is like Michael Jackson.

The difference is, if you told something to Michael that he didn't like, he'd fire you. If you say something to Kim that he doesn't like, he executes you, which is what happened to that four- star general who went missing in November.

BLITZER: So is it simply a matter of him trying to project his grandfather's image to the people of North Korea? Is that your analysis?

CHANG: Yes. And clearly, you know, this is something that he had some surgery done at the time that he became North Korea's supreme leader. You know, he also -- first of all, he looks like his grandfather to start out with. But there were some enhancements that did make him look even more like Kim Il-Sung. The idea was that you've got a young guy. He's got a problem in terms of legitimacy. So you connect him with the grandfather who is still revered in many parts of North Korea.

BLITZER: You say he's had facial surgery? Is that what you're suggesting?

CHANG: Yes. They did some nips and tucks. But they didn't really have to do that, because he has a facial structure which is very similar to his grandfather. Looks more like his grandfather than his father did. So this is really interesting. But, you know, what they want to do was to actually enhance it. And that's why you see this haircut, which is going along the road, again, to making him look like Kim Il-Sung.

BLITZER: And what about list father? Because -- he doesn't necessarily want to look like his father. He wants to look like his grandfather.

CHANG: Right. You know, people have been saying his eyebrows, which have been really cut back, are sort of like his father's. And that's true. But I don't know if that's an attempt to link himself to his father, who is not held in the same regard in any North Korean circle like his grandfather. I think that's just Kim Jong-Un being weird with his eyebrows.

BLITZER: What -- what is the bottom line as far as U.S. analysts are concerned from this new look? Does it really mean much? Or is it something designed for domestic opinion in North Korea?

CHANG: Well, you know, I think it's primarily domestic opinion. But it also says to us that this guy really is very much on his own, which means that he could really be dangerous on his external behavior because I'm not so sure that he's in touch with reality on certain things, which means that he can actually miscalculate American intentions and American resolve. And then he could start to use some of his weapons, especially if he becomes desperate.

BLITZER: Gordon Chang, thanks very much for joining us. We'll stay on top of this story in North Korea especially if Kim Jong-Un actually gets ready to leave the country for the first time as leader of North Korea and actually goes to Moscow for that meeting in a few months.

Thanks very much for joining us.

CHANG: Thank you.

BLITZER: Coming up, ISIS rapidly expanding its reach beyond Iraq and Syria. We're talking a closer look at the terrorist's new propaganda video.

Plus one secret evidence from the raid to kill Osama bin Laden now goes public revealing some surprising new details about al Qaeda tactics.


BLITZER: Happening now, attacking ISIS. The terrorists release new propaganda video from inside Mosul. We're now getting the first detailed information about a major new ground offensive to liberate Iraq's second largest city.

Al Qaeda secrets. Evidence seized in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden now is public. Revealing surprising new information about the terror group's tactics.

Police respond. We have new reaction from Ferguson, Missouri, to the possibility of a federal lawsuit against the police force after Michael Brown's death and rioting.

And doubling down. The former New York City Mayor Giuliani, he's standing by his stunning suggestions that President Obama does not love America.

Michael Weiss, co-author, "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror":.