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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke; Death in Custody; Suicide Bombings in Beirut. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired November 12, 2015 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: A bomb in the air and now bombs on the ground.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Breaking news: ISIS claiming responsibility for killing dozens in twin suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon. Is there a time or a place ISIS cannot attack?
Plus, surveillance video showing police Tasing a man at the door of a hospital and pulling him away. He later died in custody, but what really killed him?
And more than 100 women now telling a drug company, hey, you're paying to raise my kid after you made a mistake with our birth control pills.
Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We have some breaking news in our world lead today, sirens blaring in Beirut as two suicide bombers blow themselves up within minutes of one another. Now ISIS says it is behind the twin attacks that killed at least 41 people and wounded more than 200 others.
CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto has the latest.
Jim, if ISIS did in fact kill all these people, how significant a development is that?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It's big. It shows them expanding their reach again beyond Iraq and Syria, this the deadliest attack in Lebanon by any group in two years, and could have been much worse, reports that a third suicide bomber's explosive belt only partially detonated.
It is a harsh defeat as well for Hezbollah's security. It had stepped up that security after attacks in recent months, and clearly failed here.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The blast struck during the height of rush hour, coordinated, powerful and deadly, rocking an open area market just south of Beirut. The Lebanese news agency reports two suicide bombers blew themselves
up within a few hundred feet of each other. This man said he was praying when the blast blew a door right over his head. The victims carried by bystanders over rubble from damaged buildings and rushed to nearby hospitals.
TAMARA QIBLAWI, REPORTER: The twin suicide bombing went off. The area is mostly empty. It's been cordoned off by the army. Otherwise, there's a lot of shattered glass on the street, a lot of blood. And it's really just a scene of chaos and carnage.
SCIUTTO: Within hours, ISIS claimed responsibility. This neighborhood is a stronghold of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria, ISIS' sworn enemy there.
MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: ISIL doesn't think of itself as having borders. Let's remember, while you say ISIS, I say ISIL, they say I.S., the Islamic State. And they see themselves as trying to establish as a caliphate, which means an Islamic government covering all the areas where Muslims live today in the world. And so Lebanon is just going to be seen as another battlefield.
SCIUTTO: We know that ISIS has sympathizers inside Lebanon and has attempted other operations there before, including kidnappings across the border from Syria. These attacks today come on the same day of a renewed offensive against ISIS in Iraq, that involving Kurdish Peshmerga, but also with U.S. support.
TAPPER: Jim, should we view this as is expanding into another country outside of Iraq and Syria, as we just heard in the piece?
SCIUTTO: You should certainly, and kind of in a different way because it's almost an expansion of the war inside Syria, because you have Hezbollah on one side that's been supporting Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah of course based in Lebanon, and ISIS fighting Assad in Syria, and now ISIS in effect taking a shot at Hezbollah across the border there, but also again showing its ability to project terror attacks outside of its home base in Iraq and Syria.
Got the Metrojet crash, looking like that was an ISIS attack, and then you have these suicide bombings today.
TAPPER: All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks.
And joining me is Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee. He was also a Navy SEAL commander in Iraq at SEAL Team Six, completing more than 370 missions.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
REP. RYAN ZINKE (R), MONTANA: Always a pleasure to be with you.
TAPPER: ISIS is claiming responsibility for these bombings in Beirut that killed at least 40 people, hundreds injured. What is the significance of this?
ZINKE: Well, ISIS is not down and out. ISIS is flexing its muscle.
If it's true that ISIS brought down the Russian plane, and if it's true that ISIS conducted suicide bombings in Lebanon, you know, they're reaching out to Hezbollah, attacking Hezbollah, Russia and remain in the game. And ISIS remains incredibly dangerous.
And I think, for our position, we should revoke passports for U.S. citizens there. We should secure our southern border. I think that's important. There's a lot of things we can do, arm the Kurds unilaterally, you know, in concert with Turkey. But there's a lot we can do and should do.
TAPPER: We should also point out, of course, that ISIS has been conducting horrific terrorist acts in Syria and Iraq for years.
But striking a major tourism spot such as Sharm el-Sheikh, which you just alluded to, bringing down the plane potentially, and now perhaps this -- horrific suicide bombings, two of them, in an international city like Beirut, this is putting innocent people in harm's way, innocent people from outside the war zone. I mean, this could really involve other countries in the fight, theoretically.
ZINKE: Well, and you look at what ISIS probably has in their arsenal. They have used mustard gas. I believe those reports have been true.
In Mosul, the university, it's likely they had their hands on radioactive material. That could be a dirty bomb. So ISIS has the capability of inflicting grave harm. And, as you say, they're not afraid to use it, in Lebanon, going -- Hezbollah. You have the different groups in a backdrop of Shia vs. Sunni, ISIS vs. al Qaeda, you know, you have competing terrorist organizations.
Unfortunately, I don't think we have heard the last from ISIS. They continue to push the envelope and go further and further.
TAPPER: Well, do you think ISIS has eclipsed al Qaeda at this point? Is ISIS the biggest terror threat in the world?
ZINKE: Well, certainly two rivalries, both of them are evil. I think ISIS probably has done more recruiting recently. You see they're very active in social media.
You see that they're likely response will be for beheadings in Afghanistan. And their global reach I think is expanding. Obviously, our air operations alone has not been successful in stemming the tide of ISIS. And the unfortunate part is, I think we will see a continuing expansion of ISIS, although I think it's positive that the Kurds along with U.S. air operations is going into Sinjar.
So there are some things that we are doing correct, but I think that at the end of the day, we haven't done enough to assure our allies that we're in the fight. TAPPER: Congressman Ryan Zinke, thank you so much. And a day after
Veterans Day, thank you for your service, sir.
ZINKE: Thank you. And God bless.
TAPPER: From Lebanon to Iraq now, where a major offensive is under way to retake a key northern city from the bloody hands of ISIS. U.S. forces now providing critical air support for the more than 7,000 Kurdish troops taking the fight to the terrorist group.
The city of Sinjar, a strategic stronghold, was captured last year and serves as a vital ISIS supply route between Iraq and Syria. Residents there have been forced to flee. CNN cameras, of course, capturing heart-wrenching moments of desperation from last year, as dozens, dozens of innocent civilians battled to board a military chopper as they fled. They were escaping near certain death.
Right now, Kurdish Peshmerga forces in control of a number of villages in the area, as well as a major stretch of highway, but the intense fighting in Sinjar itself has only just begun.
CNN senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is embedded with Kurdish forces on the front lines near Sinjar.
Nick, what exactly are U.S. troops doing to assist in this fight? Is it limited to airstrikes?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are told that they are not down on the ground in the front line.
And that pretty much tallies what we saw ourselves. Looked pretty hard, didn't see mysterious U.S. presence within the normal Peshmerga troops we saw. They seem to be up in the hills actually directing the airstrikes, as far as we can tell.
Today, at about 9:00 -- sorry, yesterday night at about 9:00 now local time, we saw the first moves in. It lit up the sky, frankly, coalition airstrikes, one after another, and then a large trail of Peshmerga. We followed their moving around to the west of that city. They were trying to move in, in very large numbers, strike their way into the city center, but above all, as you mentioned, Jake, take that vital Route 47 that runs straight through the heart of Sinjar.
Yes, it's symbolically important that it's reclaimed from ISIS to kind of set back the damage done to that ethnic group, the Yazidis, who they captured and many of them enslaved last year when they swept into that town.
But it's strategic. It's vital. It runs between Mosul and Iraq, one ISIS stronghold and the capital of their self-declared caliphate, Raqqa, in Syria. Today, we saw them move in, take that road. A lot of heavy resistance from ISIS further out west, that was met by very powerful coalition airstrikes.
But then they managed to gather the numbers, the Peshmerga, and move towards the city center, digging huge trenches across that highway, putting very large earth berms, making it pretty much unusable. But ISIS, they're still in the city center. We just don't know how much fight they have left in them, Jake.
TAPPER: Nick, describe for us, if you can, what the conditions are like on the ground there.
WALSH: It's extraordinarily cold. Very open spaces. A lot of airpower being used.
I think that kind of visibility we have seen with the clear skies today has really helped the coalition pinpoint the strikes we saw. I mean, there were times when, frankly, you would hear a thud every few minutes or so.
The city center itself of Sinjar, there seem to have been some very thick fires lit by ISIS, perhaps to obscure their movements. There were four huge plumes of smoke that covered, blackened much of the city and the sky itself during today.
And then another remarkable thing too, sort of mushroom clouds you hear that are not airstrikes. They come from car bombs that ISIS is trying to use. They used to be extraordinarily successful when we saw them being used in Kobani, but the Peshmerga have a new tactic. They seem to have missiles, many call them MILAN missiles, perhaps given to them by Western governments.
That lets them take out these suicide bombers as they drive towards them at a safe distance. That's a change. That's given them an advantage on the ground and it seems to translate into real success on the highway. Whether they can take the dense urban center of Sinjar in the days ahead, that's a different question, Jake.
TAPPER: Nick Paton Walsh embedded with Kurdish fighters, thank you, my friend. And stay safe.
In our money lead, more than 100 women saying they unexpectedly got pregnant after a birth control mixup, and now some want the contraceptive maker to pay for the costs of raising their children -- that story coming up.
[16:15:17] JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Our money lead now: more than 100 women are now suing a pharmaceutical company for the costs of raising their children including in some cases college tuition. Why? Well, they say the company screwed up with their birth control pills, resulting in pregnancies that they had been trying to prevent.
Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now.
Elizabeth, what exactly happened here? How did these women get pregnant if they were on the pill? ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, they were
on the pill, but they were kind of on the wrong pills, Jake.
Here's what happened: so birth control pills are arranged in packs and usually what you do is for a number of weeks, you take pills that have hormones in them. And then there's often a week that's a sort of vacation week and you're taking a week of placebos, of sugar pills, that have nothing in them.
Well, these pills were misarranged and so women were sometimes taking placebos when they should have been taking hormone pills and vice versa. Well, that does not protect against pregnancy.
TAPPER: What is the pharmaceutical company saying in response?
COHEN: The pharmaceutical company sent us an e-mail, Jake, and here's what they had to say. "Endo has been able to confirm only one blister pack that manifested a defect and was sold to a patient. Patient safety is our top priority."
TAPPER: Are civil suits like this, Elizabeth, ever successful?
COHEN: Now, I asked a legal expert about this and here's what she said, Jake. She said that they are sometimes successful. For example, she knows of cases where men had vasectomies that didn't work but didn't know they didn't work and their wives got pregnant. And the couple successfully was able to hold the company liable.
However, getting them to pay for all the costs of raising children, of raising that child including college education, you know, that could be tough. That doesn't always happen.
TAPPER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much.
TAPPER: We're just getting details right now about an arrest of a U.S. Secret Service agent who allegedly sent pornography to someone he thought was a teenage girl. It wasn't. That breaking story next.
Plus, Donald Trump with a brand new attack against Ben Carson over his temper. What did Trump just say about Carson in a brand new interview? That's coming up.
[16:21:43] TAPPER: We have some breaking news just into THE LEAD.
According to sources, a uniformed Secret Service agent was arrested for sending nude photographs to someone that he believed was a 14- year-old girl. It turns out it was not a child on the other end of the computer. It was a sting operation.
Justice correspondent Pamela Brown is here with details.
Pamela, what are you finding out? PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is a recently unsealed
criminal complaint in Delaware, Jake, involving a Secret Service officer who was based at the White House according to this criminal complaint. And he is now been charged with attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor. He believed allegedly according to this criminal complaint, that he was corresponding with a 14-year-old female when it was a detective with the Delaware state police, and the criminal complaint alleges that he was sending lewd naked pictures of himself to the person he believed was a 14-year-old girl and sending lewd communications.
And let's take a look at a couple of those. In one of the communications, he talks about wanting to meet up, discussing sexual contact and meeting up with each other saying -- asking that we believe is a 14-year-old, "What would make you more nervous riding on the motorcycle with me or having sex with me?" And then he goes on in another conversation saying, "May seem like a small thing in the grand scheme, but I would take immense pleasure in pulling those shorts off your hips and down your cute little legs."
Again, this criminal complaint says he believed he was talking to this 14-year-old. And it says, Jake, that some of the communications actually happened from the White House while he was on the job. In fact, it talks about how he was sitting in the booth checking IDs and how he was bored, according to the criminal complaint.
He turned himself in on Monday. He waived his Miranda rights, this complaint says, and admitted allegedly to officers that he did this and that he thought he was talking to a 14-year-old girl. It also says he's been stripped of his badge and gun. And he's been placed on administrative leave.
We have reached out to the Secret Service and we're waiting to hear back -- Jake.
TAPPER: Disgusting story, Pamela.
BROWN: It really is.
TAPPER: You're also following for us this other story questions into a man's death in police custody after he was tased. The family now suing. What can you tell us about that?
BROWN: Well, this is a disturbing story. When you look at the video, it shows the handcuffed man being tased by police multiple times. Though it's unclear exactly how many times he was actually hit with that taser.
The autopsy says he died from cardiac arrest stemming from cocaine use, but the family disputes that and places the blame squarely on police.
BROWN (voice-over): An investigation remains open tonight into the death of Linwood Lambert, the 46-year-old man who died while in police custody. It started with 911 calls about noise at this hotel in South Boston, Virginia, in May 2013.
POLICE OFFICER: We're going to take you to the emergency room. I'm going to get you looked at make sure you're good to go.
BROWN: Once at the hospital, police video shows Lambert kicking out the patrol car window. He runs straight into the emergency room doors. And the officers start tasing him. Lambert admits he's on drugs.
LINWOOD LAMBERT: I just did cocaine, man.
ART RODERICK, FORMER U.S. MARSHAL: Obviously the scenario changed from a mental health observation to one of custodial.
[16:25:00] I mean, once they placed him under arrest then they started following procedures based on a typical arrest scenario.
BROWN: Officers take Lambert from outside the hospital to the police station. By the time they arrive he appears to be unconscious. An ambulance was called, but Lambert could not be revived. His family has filed a $25 million lawsuit alleging, quote, "The officers' conduct constitutes murder saying excessive force and negligence contributed to his death."
The South Boston police department and the three officers involved have denied these claims. A statement from their attorney says in part, quote, "We are vigorously defending the case. Our position is reaffirmed by the reports of two independent well-qualified experts in the field."
While taser logs appear to show the officers pulled the trigger at least 18 times in a span of 30 minutes with one of the officers using a taser 15 times. It's unclear how many times Lambert was actually struck.
RODERICK: It is a common practice for multiple officers to fire their taser because you need the darts to correctly seat into the person's body. Every time you use that taser, every time you zap somebody with that taser, you're going to have to redeploy it. You're supposed to -- you have to give a reason why. There has to be a reason why you continue to use that taser.
BROWN: While Lambert's autopsy, quote, "revealed three punctures suggestive of taser barb sites," the medical examiner ruled the cause of death an accident from, quote, "acute cocaine intoxication" following Lambert's psychotic symptoms and violent behavior.
BROWN: None of the officers involved has been charged in the two and a half years since this happened. And the prosecutors told me today that she is still reviewing this case.
Today, there was a court hearing about the word murder in this civil suit. The defendants are asking for that word to get struck or voluntary removed from the lawsuit. Of course, Jake, we will be keeping an eye on this case.
TAPPER: All right. Pamela Brown, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
In our politics lead today, Donald Trump taking on Dr. Ben Carson today in an interview with our own Erin Burnett. What did the co- Republican front runner say about his rival's, quote, "pathological temper"? That's next.