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Pregnant Woman Killed In Gaza City Airstrike; Dozens Demonstrate At Turkey Bombing Site; Nine Thousand Plus Rally For Sanders In Colorado; Reports Call Death of 12-Year-Old Boy at Hands of Police Reasonable and Justified; Former Investigator Says Benghazi Panel Is Trying to Derail Hillary Clinton's Presidential Bid. Aired 6- 7:00a ET

Aired October 11, 2015 - 06:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news, violence escalating overnight in Gaza and Israeli air strike brings down a house and killing a pregnant Palestinian woman and her 3-year-old daughter.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Thousands turning out to see Bernie Sanders with two days until the first Democratic debate here on CNN and Sanders seems to be giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money.

BLACKWELL: New this morning, a major decision in the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Two separate reports conclude the Cleveland police officer was justified in shooting.

PAUL: First, I want to welcome you and thank you so much for being a part of our morning here. We want to begin with breaking news and show you this video that we are just getting in. It's the aftermath of an air strike in Gaza.

Among the dead, a Palestinian woman who was pregnant and her 3- year-old daughter, this as violence escalates in the Middle East. But, again, we are grateful to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Thanks for being with us this morning.

The images that we've been getting in overnight from Gaza and Jerusalem as you saw there just striking. When you see people rushed from the scene of an air strike and it demonstrates how severe the violence there is escalating.

This was the scene after the air strike. We told a pregnant woman, a 3-year-old child. Nine other Palestinians were killed during border clashes with Israeli soldiers.

Israeli officials -- Israel officials report that a police officer was injured just hours ago when a Palestinian woman set off a car explosion near a checkpoint. The officer is expected to survive.

The fighting and killing comes in the wake of protesters of restrictions by the Israeli government on a holy site known as a temple to Jews and Muslims.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is live in Jerusalem with the latest on today's violence. Erin, what is the latest there?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Victor. Well, it's a kind of incident people here have been really worried about. It happened this morning near an Israeli checkpoint in the west bank.

Israeli police noticed a suspicious car. They say that the 31- year-old Palestinian driver from Jericho inside was looking very nervous. They pulled her over.

As she got out of the car, police say that she detonated a device inside the car, causing an explosion, which severely injured her, as well as lightly wounded an Israeli police officer.

We asked them how they know that she was the one who detonated the device. They said they weren't able to release those details at this time. But she is now currently in a hospital with treatment.

They say the car had Israeli license plates and they say it was on its way to Jerusalem. Then overnight in Gaza, Israeli air force say they targeted two Hamas weapons manufacturing facilities.

Gaza city fire saying that one of the bombs dropped in a field and nearby building collapsed as a result. Inside that building a 35- year-old pregnant Palestinian woman and her 3-year-old child, both were killed. Three injured.

Israeli military say that the strikes were in response to a rocket that was fired from Gaza towards Southern Israeli. That rocket overnight having been intercepted by the iron dome and the second rocket fired in recent days.

This is all, of course, part of a wave of violence that we have seen of late. Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was calling both the Israeli prime minister, as well as the presidents of the Palestinian authorities saying that the United States is committed to helping to stabilize the situation.

BLACKWELL: All right, things escalating there far too quickly. Erin McLaughlin, thank you so much. We'll continue following this story and check back with you throughout the morning. Thank you.

PAUL: Another breaking news story we are following in Ankara, Turkey. Nearly a hundred people are holding a demonstration near the site of yesterday's twin bombings. The government has declared three days of mourning there, 95 people were killed and 246 others wounded. The peace rally involved, among others, a pro-Kurdish group.

CNN's senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is live from Ankara. Arwa, can you tell us what's happening on the ground there because it seems like there has been some instability there again today?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, earlier in the day, a group of MPs and members of the pro-Kurdish opposition party were trying to get to the site of the attack to lay down some red carnations.

[06:05:12] Initially there were some scuffles between them and police who were trying to cordon the area off. There have been demonstrations throughout the day.

We are in front of the where the bodies of those who died are now being released to the families after autopsies were performed. You see vehicles that are meant to be carrying people to their funerals, their final resting place.

And around this, understandably, of course, people very somber and people still in shock. A lot of them overcome with emotions as they wait to bury their dead. This is the deadliest single attack in Turkey's modern history the last 90 years.

And the country is reeling from it, but also a lot of great concern that this is going to cause more tensions. What is already a very polarized society between the government of the president here whose prime minister came out and said this attack was an attack on the state.

And on the other side, the various different oppositions parties who are blaming the government for the violence for failing to protect the people and you see moments like this one of people trying to comfort each other.

Everyone's emotions are just so raw at this stage, Christi. Everyone is trying to come to terms with the kind of violence, trying to understand why it is that this has happened to them, searching for answers.

Answers that at this stage the government is really unable to provide on. No claim of responsibility just yet when it comes to who was responsible for this attack, but as I was saying, a lot of questions and a lot of very raw emotions.

PAUL: Arwa Damon, we appreciate you bringing us the latest from the scene there. Thank you so much.

We want to bring in naval intelligence officer, Naveed Jamali, now. Let's talk about what she was saying. No claim of responsibility. Are you surprised by that, first of all?

NAVEED JAMALI, NAVAL INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: No. I think it's a very complex issue in large part because of the Kurds. We saw Secretary of Defense Carter announce a few days ago after pulling the plug on the Free Syrian Army, he was backing the Kurds.

And frankly the Kurds have had a huge amount of success in fighting ISIL, but a problem with Turkey and that you have the HPD which is part of the protest who want to include a peaceful integration and then you also have separatist.

So the PKK who are fighting, who have helped fight ISIL in Syria, very much want to have their own state. It's putting us and Turkey at the crossroads.

PAUL: So Naveed, the prime minister, said that Turkey was warned about suicide bombs and arrested two suspects the past three days and yet you look at what happened there were still two suicide bombings there yesterday.

What does that tell you about the strength or the organization or the group behind this? Do you think it is ISIS or do you think this is more internal in terms of the struggle between the Kurds and the Turkish government?

JAMALI: You know, it's too early to say. Look. If it was ISIL, I'm surprised that they wouldn't have taken responsibility for something.

PAUL: Right.

JAMALI: That is a signature of them. I have to say that this seems like internal strife. This is right before the elections. You have two camps here. You have one that says let's integrate. Let's move forward as a democracy with the Kurds being representing government and you've another camp that says we want our own autonomy, we want our own state.

PAUL: Is Turkey that vulnerable, do you think, to ISIS and do you think the fact that Turkey, you know, which has avoided much of ISIS it seems in terms of attacks thus far, the fact that they kind of shifted their stance and that they are allowing the U.S. to launch air strikes from Turkey, is that contributing to this as well, do you think?

JAMALI: Yes. Not only that, but, you know, the Turks also allowed the Kurds from Iraq, the Peshmerga to come and help in the seize of Kobani so that was a major source of tension and quite a bit of civil unrest when Kurds from Turkey wanted to go and actually help their fellow Kurds in Syria.

This is also a major problem. They also have a problem with refugees. It's the fact that we have NATO, the fact that they are somehow being forced to either implicitly support the Kurds is not necessarily something that everyone in the government supports.

PAUL: All right, Naveed Jamali, thank you so much for the analysis. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: All right, just two days until the big debate between Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. There is a shift here in strategy from one of these camps. What can we expect on debate night?

[06:10:03] PAUL: A CNN exclusive for you. A former congressional whistle-blower charges the Republican-led Benghazi committee of a politically motivated investigation that targeted Hillary Clinton, he says, the fallout of that ahead.

BLACKWELL: The controversial decision in Cleveland, not to charge the rookie police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice. What will the grand jury say? A full panel weighs in ahead.


BLACKWELL: Two days until the first Democratic debate on CNN. Five candidates you see here will be on stage in Las Vegas. Tuesday night will be the first time that Americans will see the top two candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders facing off, and the other three there on stage together.

Take a look at this huge crowd in Boulder, Colorado, for Bernie Sanders, which was Saturday, 9,000 people came out to cheer him on that's after 13,000 the night before and he is heading to Vegas as well.

So let's bring in CNN politics senior reporter, Stephen Collinson. The analysts say they compare Sanders' rallies to that of a rock concerts and the Clinton crowd to those of a lecture. These crowds have to be helping him, right?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Certainly. There is a real contrast between the events that Bernie Sanders is doing, observe in big sports arenas with loud and enthusiastic crowds than what Hillary Clinton is doing. Democrats in the Clinton campaign have been surprised by the progressive wave that has been building behind Bernie Sanders.

[06:15:06] One caveat, though, is that, you know, during campaigns, crowds can be deceptive. It's true that Bernie Sanders has been getting huge crowds. He is matching Hillary Clinton in fundraising and a lot of his money is coming from small donors.

Big crowds don't necessarily, on Election Day, translate into big votes. We have to be cautious at this stage, but clearly a sign Bernie Sanders is doing better in this race and a lot better than people had expected.

BLACKWELL: Yes, let's break that down because you talk about money and support. Let's look at the money first. It had been said that Clinton was a fundraising juggernaut. You cannot beat her when it comes to the dollar.

Third quarter numbers here. Sanders raised almost as much as Hillary Clinton. She raised 28 million. He raised 25 million as you said from small donors. Break down the significance here.

COLLINSON: Yes, if you raise a lot of money from small donors you generally get smaller amounts of money. That means donors can continue to contribute over and over again until they reach over the limit of 2,000.

With Hillary Clinton she is tapping richer donors and that means they tend to max out their contribution more quickly so that means you have to keep finding more and more donors.

Most of her fund-raising so far has come from the sort of Democratic establishment donors. She did events over on the west coast, for example, where there is a lot of Democratic money.

I think one of the things she will be hoping at this debate is that she puts in a good performance and taps the Democrats and able to widen her support and raise money from the small donors as well.

BLACKWELL: Because she is the one with something to lose here essentially. Any frontrunner going into a debate typically does, has something to lose. Sanders has to introduce himself in many ways to people who have not been to one of these huge rallies.

COLLINSON: That's true. A lot of Democrats have only seen Bernie Sanders in one of these rallies. He is not an established national figure like Mrs. Clinton.

At the same time, she puts on a strong debate performance it could remind a lot of Democrats -- remember, she got 18 million votes in the 2008 Democratic primary why they liked her in the first place.

In 2008 the first cracks in her campaign happened in a debate on an answer on driving license for undocumented migrants in New York. So there is always a potential for a smaller, less well-known candidate to wound the frontrunner in one of these debates.

BLACKWELL: All right, Stephen Collinson, thanks so much. We will continue the coverage all morning.

Also remember the first Democratic presidential debate is this Tuesday, October 13th, two days away at 8:30 Eastern, only on CNN.

PAUL: Iran says it has successfully tested a new long-range missile. What does that mean about a threat to the U.S.?

Also could Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl be closer to avoiding prison? The military officer who oversaw his hearing is recommending that he does not do any time behind bars. Our military expert is weighing in on that.



BLACKWELL: Breaking news, at 21 minutes after the hour now. This one is out of Afghanistan. A suicide attacker targeted a convoy of foreign troops in Kabul this morning. Afghan officials say seven people have been injured in that attack. Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter.

PAUL: Also new this morning, a potential development in Iran's closely watched weapons program. State-run media reporting Iran has successfully test-fired a new long-range ballistic missile. It is the country's first long-range missile that can be precision-guided before it reaches its target. Earlier this year, the U.S. described Iran's missile program as a threat to the region.

BLACKWELL: Back here in the U.S., the controversial report that says a rookie officer shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, remember this story, the report says that the shooting was justified, two reports. We will analyze this case straight ahead.

PAUL: Also the fallout over the Benghazi Committee's investigation of Hillary Clinton. A whistle-blower charges it's a politically motivated investigation that targets her specifically. We have an exclusive interview ahead.

But first, this week's culinary journey takes us to Scotland to meet Chef Helen Deross, who traveled there for local food tradition. Here is your look.


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chef Helen Deross has traveled to Edinburg to learn about a Scottish favorite. Her journey continues in the kitchen of fellow chef and friend, Tom Kitchen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My goodness. Then this is the (inaudible), which is the national symbol of Scotland.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: The making of the (inaudible) is just the beginning of the tradition. The dish is the centerpiece of (inaudible) on January 25th, a celebration of Scotland's national poet.

A lot of suppers have been held in his honor over 200 years and Helen is about to get her first taste of the ceremony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen! Going to ask you please stand! And welcome the Haggers.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Robert Burns immortalized the Haggers in his 18th Century poem addressed to the Haggers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. The Haggers! Fear for your owner! Like some distant hell and your pen will help him pay a bill.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: With a dramatic rendition of the poem, the toast master plunges the knife into the Haggers and slices it open.


PAUL: A little bit of theater with your food there! Watch the full show at We will be right back.



BLACKWELL: Coming up on the bottom of the hour now. Breaking news out of the Middle East where the violence there has escalated overnight. What you're seeing right now is the aftermath of an alleged Israeli air strike in Gaza.

Palestinian officials say a pregnant woman and her daughter, 3 years old, were killed in this bombing. Israeli's military say it was targeting Hamas weapons facilities.

Also Israeli officials are also reporting a police officer was injured just a few hours ago when a Palestinian woman set off a car explosion near a checkpoint.

The fighting comes in the wake of protests over restrictions placed by the Israeli government on a holy site. We will have a live report at the top of the hour.

Politics now, just two days from the first Democratic presidential debate is right here on CNN and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders may be telegraphing some punches.

During a rally in Colorado, he touted his vote against the war in Iraq back in 2002 put where Hillary Clinton voted the other way. We will see if Sanders brings it up when the two meet face-to-face on Tuesday night.

He has been reluctant to go after Secretary Clinton directly and we will much have more on the debate throughout the morning.


PAUL: You know the video I'm sure you're going to remember when you first saw it because it shocked most of the nation when it came to light. Police pulling up to 12-year-old Tamir Rice, this is in a Cleveland park. One officer drawing his weapon and firing. And within two seconds of arrival, all of this happened. Someone had called 911, remember. Reporting a guy with a pistol. Now that officer's actions are being called tragic, reasonable and justified. In two newly released expert reports about Rice's death. Nick Valencia is following this story.

What exactly did this reports find, Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. These reports, two of three reports released last night, independent of the Cuyahoga County prosecutors that actually commissioned these reports as they prepared to bring their findings towards the grand jury. These two independent reports concluding that the shootings death of 12-year old Tamir Rice was a reasonable one. One of these reports done by a chief deputy in the Denver area, prosecutor in the Denver area asked Lamar Simms and they concluded in their reports that Officer Loehmann, of course, he is that officer that fired that fatal shot towards Tamir Rice, that Officer Loehmann believed that Rice posed a threat of serious physical harm or death, was objectively reasonable as was his response to that perceived threat.

Let's take you back to November 22nd, that night there in the Cleveland area in Ohio. It was about 3 p.m. when 911 received a call about a guy at a recreation center pointing a pistol at people. That caller also telling 911 dispatch that the individual was probably a juvenile and the gun was probably fake. Going off the information that they had when police arrived at the scene, within two seconds they opened fire, fatally shooting 12-year old Tamir Rice as he reached towards the right side of his waistband. These reports saying that that was enough of a perceived threat to justify the shooting.

Now, again, this is not about whether it was right or wrong of the officer according to this report, just about whether or not it was objectively reasonable that they did this. It turns out, of course, that Tamir Rice was 12 years old and that that gun turned out to be a fake.

Writing in their report, this is a former FBI agent who was one of those that released this report last night saying, that the weapon in question was an air soft gun, is not relevant to a constitutional review of Officer Loehmann's actions. Of course, ultimately it's going to be a grand jury that decides whether or not to bring criminal charges against the officers involved in this shooting. We are hearing as well from the family attorney of Tamir Rice saying, releasing a long lengthy statement to the media, part of that reading, "to get so called experts to assist in the whitewash when this world has seen the video of what happened, is all the more alarming." Goes on to say, "These hired guns all pro police" talking about those that wrote these reports, dodged the simple fact that the officers rushed Tamir and shot him immediately without assessing the situation in the least." Certainly, a dramatic video. It's a story that captured the nation's attention and one that we will continue to be following as these grand jury proceedings continue. Victor, Christi.

PAUL: All right. Here Nick Valencia, thank you so much for breaking it down for us.

VALENCIA: You bet.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk more about these reports and the legal case ahead. CNN law enforcement analyst former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes with us. And HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson with us as well. And Nick just went over the facts of this case, no need for us to rehash. I want to go, specifically, though, to a quote from a report to you, Tom, first, in which they say that Officer Loehmann's belief that Rice posed a serious threat of physical harm or death was objectively reasonable and that is response to that perceived threat was as well. Your response to that.

TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think the difficulty here, Victor, is hard to argue what an officer might believe when he gets there. The video looks bad. And in hindsight, we know it was not a real gun and he was 12 years old. The victim Tamir was 12 years old, but that's not what the officers know when they arrived at the scene. They are getting dispatched - the dispatcher didn't relay all of the information that was in the call to them. And so the officer, all they know is they have a subject with a gun and when they arrive, it appears that that's true, that they have a subject with a gun. And, you know, when someone reaches in and someone draws a gun, there's not a lot of time for detailed assessment. These are split-second decisions and I think that that's what was happening here. What is unusual about this case is the prosecutor's office saying, normally a grand jury proceeding and investigation is supposed to be secret, but we are going to open this wide open and make at least some of the investigation transparent. So here you have two independent bodies, the prosecutor and the former FBI legal instructor doing, you know, a report on behalf of the prosecutor to see what they say and they are applying the strict legal interpretation that was it reasonable for the officer to fear being possibly shot with a person with a gun?

BLACKWELL: Hey, Joey, how about those two elements? We have seen recently over the last 18 months as it relates to a police shooting some unorthodox methods as it relates to these grand jury proceedings.


And what will be the role of these reports in the grand jury process?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely. Good morning, Victor. Good morning, Tom. You know, two important things to consider. And that's the first that you mentioned is the grand jury. These are reports, and, as a result of that, they will go before the grand jury and grand jurors will have a number of questions in terms of the reasonableness of the officer's actions, what specifically occurred, what the constitutional and legal requirements are. And remember, in a grand jury they are not there to determine guilt or innocence. They are merely there to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that a crime was committed and did these officers, Loehmann who shot or Garmback, the one who was the driver, did they commit any types of crime? And it's not unanimous decision, it's a majority of the grand jurors. And so, yes, they will hear information in terms of, you know, experts testifying before them, what were the procedures, what were the protocols. And the second issue to keep in mind is that we are talking about reports of experts. And being in this field for a long time, I can tell you that you can get an expert virtually to corroborate, you know, whatever point you're looking to establish. And so there will be varying points, I think, that will be brought forward.

BLACKWELL: Let me jump in here, because we want to read something from the attorney who represents the family that says any presentation to a grand jury without the prosecutor advocating for Tamir as prosecutors do for crime victims every day is a charade. And I want to jump in at that point. Because you said that you can get an expert to say anything. We should expect that the family's attorneys then will hire their own expert to argue the inverse of this?

JACKSON: Well, the problem is that you don't, as a particular victim's attorney, you don't have the opportunity to go before the grand jury.

BLACKWELL: No role in this process. Yes.

JACKSON: The grand jury can decide whoever they want to hear from. And so, you don't necessarily get to go in. And now, at the time of trial, certainly there will be people who will be combating these reports. And you know, as lawyers, what happens is we don't argue what the law is, right? That's not what we make our living. That is what legislatures do. They create the law. But what you make arguments is on the facts. And I think the facts will be was the officers' conduct reasonable? What do the procedures underlying responding to a dispute say? Do you keep a safe distance? Do you keep cover? Do you have a duty to warn? What specifically do the procedures in that locality say? In looking at the reports they were absent. I didn't see anything about the protocols pertaining to officers, only generic statements regarding whether the officers acted reasonably and these reports, they concluded they did.

But the other issue, Victor, will be not necessarily whether the officer's actions are intentional. Officers are there to protect and preserve life, of course. But was there some negligence involved? Did they fail to perceive a risk that something like this can happen? Were they reckless? Did they consciously disregard the ...


JACKSON: So, all of those things, I think, will go before a grand jury.

BLACKWELL: Quickly to you, Tom. One of the findings in one of these reports was that it's irrelevant that this was an air soft gun and not a gun that is traditionally more lethal. Do you agree with that?

FUENTES: Absolutely, yeah. You know, I faced that myself on two occasions when I was a street police officer. These guns look -- you know, you can be an expert and I was a firearms instructor and from ten feet away, you can't tell that it's not a real gun. So what they are basically saying in the reports, I read that also, is that that is not relevant if the gun looks like it's real and it's reasonable for an officer to suspect that it might be real, that's all you have to have in that case. And that also they went on to say about Tamir's age that a 12-year-old can pull the trigger, run a real gun and kill people and it happens all the time, unfortunately, on many of our city streets in this country.

So I think that that is the part of it that is so, I guess, heartbreaking is everybody, in hindsight, knows it was a 12-year-old boy and it was not a real gun, but the question is what did the officers know or reasonably know, reasonably believe at the time when they instantly faced that situation?

BLACKWELL: And there have been many concerns about ...

JACKSON: Were the steps that they took appropriate in light of that?

FUENTES: Exactly right.


BLACKWELL: What information was relayed from the dispatcher to the officers when they got to the scene? How much did they know, based on what that initial 911 caller provided. Joey Jackson and Tom Fuentes, thank you both.

FUENTES: Thank you, Victor.

JACKSON: Thank you.

PAUL: Next, a CNN exclusive. A former congressional whistleblower accuses the Republican-led Benghazi committee of a politically- motivated investigation targeting Hillary Clinton.

Also the U.S. and Russia holding a fresh round of talks on safe flight operations in Syria. This, of course, as Russian air strikes are continuing.



BLACKWELL: New this morning. A CNN television exclusive, a former investigator is accusing the Benghazi committee of targeting Hillary Clinton. Major Bradley Podliska says the Republican-led congressional panel is trying to derail her presidential bid. His claims come days before the panel gets ready to hear Mrs. Clinton's testimony and nearly four months after he was fired from his job.

PAUL: And four Americans including two U.S. diplomats were killed in Benghazi, Libya, when militants attacked that American diplomatic compound September 11, 2012. CNN's Chris Frates has the details for us. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Christi, a former staffer with the House committee investigating the Benghazi attacks. So, the panel's probe has become a politically motivated inquiry targeting former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. It's an explosive charge sure to resonate on the campaign trail as Clinton runs for president. Major Bradley Podliska, an Air Force reserve intelligence officer says that after news broke earlier this year that Clinton used a private e- mail server, the Republican controlled committee set it sites almost exclusively on Clinton.


Podliska says he was fired as a committee investigator, because he resisted pressure to focus on Clinton, and because he took military leave. He says he plans to file a law suit over his firing, and ask the court to give him back his job with back pay. Podliska a self- described conservative, tells CNN's Jake Tapper in an exclusive television interview that what was a broad probe into the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, became a "partisan investigation."


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What do you say to any viewers out there who think that you might have an x to grime, that you are only talking because you were fired?

MAJOR BRADLEY PODLISKA: They say earlier, I have a conscience, there is wrongdoing here, and I think it needs to stop. And I do not want the investigation. And I want the investigation to be refocused back to its original purpose. The victims' families are owed the truth. Hillary Clinton has a lot of explaining to do. We, however, do not need to shift resources to hyper focus on Hillary Clinton. We did need to de-emphasize and in some cases drop the investigation on different agencies, different organizations and different individuals.


FRATES: A spokesperson for the committee said in his statement that Podliska's claims are transparently false. Podliska at his statement says it was terminated for cause, including for trying to put together a hit piece on administration officials including Clinton. The statement said, "Thus directly contrary to his brand new assertion, the employer action was terminated in part because he himself manifested improper partiality and animas in his investigative work." Victor, Christi.

BLACKWELL: All right, Chris Frates, thank you so much. Of course, top Democrats we are hearing are calling for the Benghazi investigation to end. They are calling it a shame. And the Clinton campaign released this statement. I'm going to read it here. "These are explosive allegations. These Republican whistleblower's account from inside the Benghazi committee may provide the most definitive proof to date that this taxpayer-funded investigation has been a partisan sham from the start."

PAUL: A CNN senior political analyst David Gergen says right now, no one knows, if Major Bradley Podliska's claims are true or if he has been lying of Benghazi committee because he was fired from his job. Listen to this.


DAVID GERGEN: We can't tackle - if he's an honest whistleblower or just employee trying to get revenge because he was fired? He was fired back in June. Why are we now - why is he now coming forward, almost on the eve of hearings, they are coming in about ten days now. It sounds literally on the eve of the Democratic debate.


BLACKWELL: Well, you can decide for yourself. Catch more of Jake Tapper's exclusive interview with former House-elect committee staffer Major Bradley Podliska. That's on "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper, 9 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

PAUL: Well, could Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl avoid going to prison altogether? That is what a military officer who oversaw his hearing is recommending. We are going to hear from our military experts.

BLACKWELL: Also, an update on breaking news that we are covering this morning. Unrest in Turkey, right after yesterday's deadly bombing. 95 people killed there yesterday. More unrest today. We are going to get the details on that right at the top of the hour.


[06:51:57] PAUL: Well, 51 minutes past the hour right now. An accused Army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl could be close to avoiding a prison sentence altogether. The officer who oversaw Bergdahl's hearings last month recommends that he not do any time behind bars. Also, he recommended the lowest level of disciplinary action. Bergdahl went AWOL, remember, from his Army unit in Afghanistan in 2009, was captured by the Taliban and was released in a controversial prisoner swap last year, later then charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Joining me now to discuss the developments, CNN military analyst, the Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General, thank you for being with us. What is your first thought, when you hear this? He should not do prison time? Is that a universal thought amongst military people?

MAJ. GEN. MARK HERTLING, U.S. ARMY: Well, first of all, it's not the correct thought, Christi. Let's clarify what actually is happening. What you - what we have all read about over the last 24 hours is this is the defense counsel's interpretation of what the staff judge advocates said. There is nothing that has been announced from the official officer who actually did the preliminary hearing. It's called an article 32 in the military. So this is, I think, the defense attempting to influence the commanding general General Abrams who has asked his staff judge advocate to look at some things regarding the future disposition of the case. So, this is not a formal arrangement yet. This is, again, the defense lawyer's interpretation of what he would like people to see.

You know, in these kind of cases, a little bit different than civilian law. The commanding general of an organization, in this case, General Abrams, will ask his staff judge advocate's advice on disposition of a case, facts for consideration, seriousness of the offense, the strengths and weaknesses of the case and, more importantly, different again from the military from the civilian world, the effects of good order and discipline before that general officer refers a case to a court's martial. So, that is what is occurring right now.

PAUL: So, what do you think a decision like this, how might it affect people who are currently serving in Afghanistan or elsewhere?

HERTLING: Yeah, if you don't understand the intricacies of the judicial system in the military and most soldiers truthfully only know a small part of that, they are going to get a little riled up, truthfully. They are going to think oh, Sergeant Bergdahl is - there is political influence, which is not the case. They are sweeping this under the rug which hasn't happened yet. There's been a lot of effort put into this. What is really going on is the commanding general Forscom is trying to find the best way and the most appropriate way to try this young soldier based on the facts and the intricacies of the case. So, yeah, there is going to be a lot of talk about it. You already see this on the Web, about oh, boy, it's political involvement, it's being swept under the rug. That's not the case just yet. The commanding general of forces command has to decide what he is going to do next and he has several options.

PAUL: And that has not been decided yet. We want to point out, again, this is just a recommendation. [06:55:03]

PAUL: General Mark Hertling, we always appreciate your insight. Thank you, sir.

HERTLING: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And we are going live to Las Vegas ahead of the first Democratic debate. Of course, it's right here on CNN. What can you expect? Are some of the candidates telegraphing some punches? Also hear how these candidates are preparing for the big stage.

And a controversial play last night during the Mets/Dodgers playoff. It cost the Mets their star shortstop, but you've got to see the video. If you haven't seen it, it's trending on Twitter. But prepare yourself because it's hard to watch.


BLACKWELL: Oh, here it is. Controversial play during last night's Mets/Dodgers playoff game. Not only did the Mets lose the game, they lost their star shortstop. Ruben Tejada, to a broken leg. Well, Chase Utley tried to break up a double play with an aggressive slide.

PAUL: Ouch. That play is sparking lots of debate and outrage on social media. We want to know what you think. First of all, CNN sports anchor Coy Wire is here to break it down for us.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, we can't wait to hear what you guys think. Let's take another look at this play. Because it's just so - It's so crazy how this happens. Let's take a look. It's in the seventh inning. Mets are actually winning at this point, 2-1. Dodgers one out. Runners on first and second and Tejada with a chance to turn a double play and end the inning. But as you mentioned, Victor that slide by Utley is hard, it's late, it prevents the throw but it breaks Tejada's leg. So, on top of losing Tejada for the rest of the playoffs the Mets end up losing the game, the Dodgers went on a four-run roll in that inning and would eventually win the game five to two. Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly supported his players, and he's just playing hard. A lot of people on social media saying this is dirty. We want to know what you think.