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New Details on Delta Force Raid; Interview with Dirtiest Cop in NYC's History; Pope Francis Canonizes Two Palestinian Nuns. Aired 6:30-7a ET.

Aired May 17, 2015 - 06:30   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: We have some new details about the U.S. raid that killed an ISIS commander identified by U.S. officials as Abu Sayyaf. The operation we know was led by the U.S. Army's Delta Force and had been in the planning stages apparently since March.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Pulling from all of our sources on what happened there, here is how it all went down.


BLACKWELL: The ground operation was led by the Army's Delta Force, who entered the target area on Blackhawk helicopters and a V22 tilt rotor Osprey. After landing, about two dozen commandos scrambled off the aircraft, which then took off but hovered overhead. During a firefight, ISIS fighters defended the multi-story building from inside and outside positions, but special forces were able to get close to the building and blow a hole in its side. They went in, encountered ISIS fighters, and there were more gunshots and reports of hand-to- hand combat. The ISIS combatants apparently tried to use human shields, but U.S. troops managed to kill the fighters without hurting the women and children.

ISIS commander Abu Sayyaf was killed in the raid but Delta Force was able to capture and lead with his wife Umm Sayyaf and an another Yazidi woman whom they rescued along with collected communication gear.


BLACKWELL: Let's bring in CNN military analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. Good to have you back, General. We talked a lot, obviously, after the kill of Osama bin Laden about the S.E.A.L. team but let's talk more about the Delta Force. What do we know?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I won't tell you much, truthfully, Victor. This is an extremely secretive unit. It's technically called the First Special Operations Detachment Delta, but everyone knows them as Delta Force. Their numbers, I know their numbers but I'll tell you it varies between 800 and 1,200 soldiers. They are the Army's component of Joint Special Operations Command, so you have the S.E.A.L.s from the Navy, the parajumpers from the Air Force, and Marines Special Operations Detachment, and then you have Delta. They are the oldest of the special operators. They were formed in the 1970s, and they go through an extremely challenging and difficult selection process. You can't even apply to Delta until you've had about two and a half years in the Army. You go through an initial screening, which lasts several weeks. And then if you're selected, and many are not, you go through what is called an operational training course, OTC, which lasts about nine months in duration. The dismissal rate from that OTC is extremely high, and more are dismissed than make it into the team. And they basically do operations in counterterrorism, direct action missions, which are the kinds of things we saw yesterday, and hostage rescues and raids.


Hostage rescue is way down the list of their operational requirements.

They were formed in the 1970s to cover a gap and they were built on the British SAS model with more of a focus on operations than anything else.

BLACKWELL: It's interesting you started this by saying we will not tell you much, but you have told us a lot about Delta Force I'm sure a lot of people didn't know. We were searching this morning for some of the more profile operation, the hunt for Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi president. There was that Iranian hostage rescue attempt in 1980 which was not successful, and I think what most people remember is a Black Hawk down back in 1993 in that mission. There aren't many missions that are publicized.

HERTLING: Right. Exactly right. In fact, what I'd suggest is there have been hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of Delta Force missions in the last several years that no one knows about. In fact, you might meet a guy at a party or on the street who is a Delta Force operator, and he will never tell you, hey, I'm part of Delta. It's just not done.

I had an individual going back to the selection process, I had a good friend who applied for Delta when we were both young captains back in the '80s. He came back from the selection criteria, said he didn't make it and he didn't know why. They don't even tell people why they don't make the force. They have what is called relaxed grooming standards, so they don't look like a soldier. In fact, that could be a detriment for their selection. If they do things like a soldier or if they say "hooah" a lot or give away the fact they are in the military, that might be something that would cause them not to be selected.

So this is an organization, they call themselves the quiet professionals. It consists of more than just the operators. There is also an aviation detachment, and, truthfully, I had some e-mail exchanges last night with some of my friends who were very upset about the release of the data on this raid on Abu Sayyaf, because they said, hey, this is not what Delta does. We don't tell people that we just conducted an operation, and they are a little upset that the media has gotten a hold of this.

BLACKWELL: I think it's pretty interesting you think there is a chance I'll go to a party and there is a member of Delta Force there. We are going to different parties, General!

HERTLING: They are all over the place, Victor. They could be right next to you and you'd never know it.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, thanks for the insight.

HERTLING: You got it.

BLACKWELL: Also tonight, CNN takes a unique look inside ISIS. Who are they? What do they want? Fareed Zakaria hosts "Blindsided," how ISIS shocked the world, tonight at 7:00 right here on CNN tonight.

PAUL: I'll be looking at people at my parties now.

Just days into her Senate campaign, a California congresswoman is already on the defense. Up next, hear the comments about American Indians that now have Loretta Sanchez literally running away from reports.

He went from being one of New York's finest to New York's dirtiest cop. What did Michael Dowd say about his criminal empire and his time behind bars? We are sitting down with him, ahead. Stay close.




REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ, D-CALIF.: I'm going to his office, thinking that I'm going to go meet with blah, blah, blah. Right?


PAUL: So California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez there facing criticism this morning after mimicking a racial stereotype of Native Americans, and following look what happened, she was seen running away from TV cameras as she attended some other events.

BLACKWELL: Sometimes when we say running away, they are not literally running. She was literally running from reporters. The man who filmed Sanchez says many saw that gesture as insensitive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was shocked and appalled she would make the disparaging comments about Native Americans that way. It's just very un-democratic.


BLACKWELL: Sanchez entered the Senate race just two days ago.

PAUL: Turning now to the race for the White House in 2016. 11 GOP presidential hopefuls attend Iowa Republican Party's Lincoln dinner in Des Moines to pitch themselves, to pitch their ideas. Here is the thing, there were so many candidates, there apparently wasn't enough time for everybody to finish their speeches. CNN's Sara Murray was there.

SARA MURRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Victor and Christie. In a word, the night was crowded. Nearly a dozen Republicans took the stage at last night's Iowa Lincoln Day dinner, trying to make a mark, trying to set themselves apart in front of all of these Iowa voters. As you can imagine, there were plenty of jabs against Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton, and there was a little bit of friendly fire, too, as some of these Republicans went after one another. But perhaps this moment best encapsulates the night.


CARLY FIORINA: When I think about the vision of this country --


MURRAY: That is former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. She was in the midst of riling up this crowd, but she reached her ten-minute mark, the music played, and she was hustled off the stage. That is what happens when you have a deep bench of Republicans. Things get a little chaotic. Everyone wants a spot on stage, everyone wants a chance to leave their mark. It's definitely going to be a tough, tough job for the Republican National Committee to decide which of these candidates will land a coveted spot on the Republican debate stage. Christie and Victor, back to you.

PAUL: That hurts. We are like what? They did what?

BLACKWELL: At an awards ceremony, I've already won something. I have an Oscar. You play me off, I can go home. She is still trying to win something! Give her an opportunity to finish the speech!

PAUL: I know.

BLACKWELL: That's too much.

PAUL: We are just both shocked by this too.

BLACKWELL: You might be shocked by what you see next. A man who took an oath to serve and protect, but, instead, Michael Dowd ran a criminal network while working as a New York City cop. I sat down with the man some call the dirtiest cop in New York history about the life on the police force and how it's changed after prison.



BLACKWELL: There are good cops. There are bad cops. But there is only one Michael Dowd. He is the so-called dirtiest cop in New York City history. Back in the '80s and early '90s, this gangster in cops clothing ran a cocaine fueled crime network in Brooklyn, stealing drugs and guns and money from common criminals, and charging drug dealers thousands for his protection. Dowd confessed to breaking hundreds of laws and served 12 years in prison. But now he is out of prison. And for the first time, opening up about his story in a new documentary "The Seven Five." Now I spoke exclusively with this officer-turned-criminal about his time in the 75th Precinct and life after prison.


MICHAEL DOWD, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: My mother is still in pain over it after all these years. And, you know, every time I see a police officer, I feel I can't even approach them and say hello. You know? I want to be a normal human being and citizen again. And it's very difficult to say hello to a police officer after you've dishonored the badge that he gives his heart and soul and blood for on a daily basis.

BLACKWELL: For the police officers who know your story, how do they respond or react to you?

DOWD: You know, it's a mixed bag. Some are still angry at me and some understand the dynamics, first of all, the dynamics of what took place was in the 1980s. It was crack infested Manhattan/Brooklyn/East New York, and it was a different era, and there is no excuse for the behaviors as inappropriate and much maligned. But the fact is that it happened. We told the story. And many officers sort of have some empathy for it, but not necessarily sympathy.

BLACKWELL: Back in '83 you testified there was an us versus them attitude, police versus the public. Do you think that still exists?

DOWD: Well, I don't think it exists to the same degree as it did back then. And the public back then, it wasn't necessarily the public. The public was basically the scourge on the streets at the time was the local drug dealers in every single precinct throughout the city. It was scandals upon scandals, and, you know, officers young, 20-year- old police officers given a gun and a badge had to go out and protect these communities, and very naive, and succumb to these temptations, and here you have a person like myself, who was not given to do these things, but was very easily swayed by the temptations on the street.

BLACKWELL: You also said that a Michael Dowd could not exist today. A cop as dirty as you were in the '80s couldn't exist today.

DOWD: Yes.

BLACKWELL: If you were -- if you had to wear a body camera back then, could you have gotten away with it?

DOWD: No. I think body cameras should be on every police officer.

BLACKWELL: Expound upon that.

DOWD: Excuse me?

BLACKWELL: Expound on that. Why?

DOWD: Listen. Because most police officers are always doing the right thing, and it's the ones that are doing the wrong thing that we catch these glimpses or flashes of or even in some cases it's just perceived as wrong.

But the fact it would actually help the police departments if they had cameras on, because you'd be surprised how hard the officers are working and how difficult of a position they are in every time they go to confront, i.e., a suspect or even an individual who may turn into a suspect. I mean, if the officer had a camera on him a couple of days ago when he approached the individual, you might actually seen when he was shot -- not that we want anyone to be shot -- why it happened, how it happened. There would be training lessons on a daily basis to keep both officers and the civilians safe.


BLACKWELL: Our thanks to Michael Dowd.

"The Seven Five" opens at theaters nationwide this month. We will be right back.



BLACKWELL: New this morning, the pope canonized two Palestinian nuns during a ceremony in St. Peter's Square. Mariam Baouardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, are being recognized for their work with the poor, and reportedly the first Arabic speaking Catholic saints. This canonization comes just days after the Vatican formally recognized Palestinian statehood, and the day after Pope Francis met with Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas.

PAUL: We want to talk about this with CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen. John, good morning to you. Also of course he is the author of "The Francis Miracle." John, we know during their meeting, Pope Francis called Mahmoud Abbas as we just said, an angel of piece. And kind of wondering what the reaction has been to that comment.

JOHN ALLEN, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Good morning, Christie. Happy Sunday to you.

Predictably, the reaction on the Israeli side and among Israel's supporters in other parts of the world, has not been particularly good. They, of course would not look on President Abbas as an angel of peace. Instead, they would see him as someone who is part of a system among the Palestinians that continues to create tensions with Israeli and continues to violate security agreements and so on.

This is part of a bigger picture, of course. The Vatican recognized Palestinian statehood actually in November of 2012 this week -- and that was under Pope Benedict XVI. This week, they signed their first bilateral agreement with what they are referring to as the state of Palestine, and that bit of diplomatic verbiage also has not gone down well with the Israelis.

Now, look. The politics in the Middle East tends to be a zero-sum game. If something helps the Israelis, it's seen as hurting the Palestinians and vice versa. The Vatican is trying mightily not to play that game. They want to support both the legitimate security interests of Israel and the sovereignty rights of the Palestinians. Obviously their efforts to strike that balance this week have been sort of a mixed bag.

PAUL: Right, they are trying to stay neutral. But can the pope really have any influence over the conflict, do you think?

ALLEN: Well, I mean, this is a pope in Pope Francis who recently paved the way and has been acknowledged by doing so by both the presidents of the United States and Cuba in terms of making it possible to restore relations between these two countries.

Now, Pope Francis did last summer try to bring -- he did bring the Israeli and Palestinian presidents together for a peace prayer in the Vatican gardens, but, of course, that gesture, as evocative as it was, came just a couple of weeks before Israeli and Hamas went to war in the Gaza strip. So how effective he is going to be in trying to bring these two countries together remains to be seen, but I think everyone would acknowledge this is a pope who does pack some diplomatic punch.

PAUL: All right. John Allen, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

ALLEN: Sure.

PAUL: Thank you for starting your morning with us. We certainly appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: We got much more ahead on the next hour of your "New Day," and it starts right now.

PAUL: A major ISIS commander killed in a dangerous raid by U.S. special forces in Syria. New details this morning on how the capture of a man the U.S. calls a key figure went down.

BLACKWELL: Amtrak ordered to beef up its security on the tracks at the site of a deadly derailment in Philadelphia. New speed controls are being installed as it prepares to restore full service in the northeast.

PAUL: It's Sunday. I know you want to be outside, but there are severe storms.