Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama: "Taking Every Possible Step" for Security; France Investigating Radicalized Transit Workers; Russia: Deploying Advanced Missiles Near Turkey; Interview with California Congressman John Garamendi; Interview with Marc Morial. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 25, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:05] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now:
Show of force. As Americans take to the sky or hit the road for the holiday. Police are flooding airports and train stations amid fears that the bloody attacks in Europe will be repeated in this country. And in a rare carefully worded statement, President Obama urges Americans to keep their Thanksgiving plans. Is there cause for concern?
Terror hunt. With European capitals on alert after the slaughter in Paris, Belgium authorities are now searching for ten -- repeat ten suspects. And France has put radicalized transit workers under scrutiny. Are terrorists trained abroad now at large in Europe?
Planned provocation. Russia says Turkey intentionally shot down its fighter jet and it's deploying sophisticated missiles nearby now in Syria. Will the U.S. be caught in the middle of a showdown between a NATO ally and Vladimir Putin?
And call for calm. After a night of protest, Chicago's mayor urges residents to keep the peace after a stunning video shows a deadly police shooting.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news. With European capitals on high alert amid new revelations that another attack was barely averted in Paris, President Obama says it's understandable that Americans are worried. But as security is stepped up in this country for the holiday, the president is urging people to go about normal activities. He says every possible step is being taken to keep Americans safe.
And on this new development in the fight against ISIS, as two of the terror group's foes are now fighting among themselves, accusing Turkey of a planned provocation in the downing of one of its fighter jets, Russia is now deploying an advanced missile defense system inside Syria, close to the Turkish border. A rescued Russian pilot says his jet did not enter Turkish air space
and did not receive any warnings from Turkey. But Turkey's military has released what it says is a recording of the warnings sent to the Russian warplane.
I'll speak with Congressman John Garamendi of the Armed Services Committee. And our correspondents, analysts and guests will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
After terror attacks the left Europe staggering, President Obama says every possible step is being taken to keep Americans safe.
Let's go to our justice correspondent Pamela Brown. What's the latest, Pamela, that you're hearing?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the concern tonight among U.S. law enforcement is that a homegrown violent extremist will be e emboldened to act out in the wake of the Paris attacks. With so many Americans traveling for the holiday today, President Obama urged calm, saying while there is not a specific or credible threat in the homeland, people need to stay vigilant.
BROWN (voice-over): Tonight as Thanksgiving travelers stress the U.S. transportation system and ISIS operatives remain on the loose in Europe, the president flanked by his national security team made a rare appeal to Americans telling them to carry on with their holiday plans.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now, we know of no specific and credible intelligence indicating a plot on the homeland. And that is based on the latest information I just received in the Situation Room.
BROWN: Despite those assurances, sources say law enforcement remains on heightened alert, ramping up security at airports and train stations.
JEH JOHNSON, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: There is a reinforcing of existing security measures. And it should be obvious to the public that there's a heightened presence in places like here -- like Union Station here, at airports, other places, other public events.
BROWN: As the U.S. offers a show of force, in Europe, police are out in force. Belgium authorities say they are searching for ten people suspected of being a, quote, "terror threat". Key among them, this man, Mohamed Abrini. He was last seen in a car two days before the Paris attacks. Abrini was spotted with alleged Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam. CNN has now learned counterterrorism authorities in Europe knew Abrini was in Syria last year but lost track of him.
Tonight, CNN has learned Paris police are now focused on that city's transit system after learning one of the terrorists who attacked the Bataclan Theater had been a bus driver until 2012. For the past two years, the French have been investigating transportation employees who may have been radicalized. CNN has learned just since January, 50 employees at Paris' main airports have been denied access to the tarmac and aircraft allegedly after accusations they had become too radicalized.
JUSTIN GREEN, AVIATION ATTORNEY: Security's only as good as the people doing security.
BROWN: CNN has learned in the past week alone, French airport police conducted searches at several companies whose staff work at the airport.
[17:05:03] BROWN: And DHS announcing today it is launching a bigger public awareness campaign, "If you see something, say something". This is in partnership with Westfield shopping centers because, Wolf, a terrorist going from flash to bang so quickly now with little to no warning, officials say the public's help is more important than ever especially during a holiday week like this, wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly is. Pamela, thanks very much.
Now to the dangerous situation that's brewing after Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane. As the two sides trade accusations of what really happened in the skies over that Turkish-Syrian border, Russia's now deploying sophisticated missiles nearby.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr's following all of this.
Barbara, there's a major dispute over the warning message that Turkey supposedly gave those Russian warplanes.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Definitely, Wolf. A he said/he said situation here.
Now, the Russians contend their pilots never got any warnings before they potentially according to the Turks entered Turkish air space. The Turks say the Russians were in that air space for 17 seconds and they gave them ten warnings as they entered and as they were in that 17-second window. The Russians say it didn't happen.
The Turks responded today issuing some audio recordings of the radio calls that they say they made. Have a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unknown air traffic position to Humaynim 040. This is Turkish air force speaking on guard, you are approaching Turkish air space. Change your heading south immediately, change your hear heading south.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
STARR: Now, you know, the Russians are still contending that this was a pre-planned provocation. They very firmly believe that basically the Turks were lying in wait for them. BLITZER: As these tensions are clearly rising between Turkey and
Russia, the U.S. is encouraging de-escalation. But is that really happening?
STARR: Well, you know, the U.S. is. You're absolutely right. The U.S. position is Turkey and Russia need to settle this and not cause more tensions in the region.
That said, the Russians clearly are putting more capability into their bases in Syria. Moving specifically this advanced, very advanced anti-air missile system known as an S-400 into their base in northern Syria at a place called Latakia. This gives them the capability, if you will, to exercise a good deal of control over a lot of Syrian air space.
The question is what is the Russian intention? Is it to provoke the Turks? Is it to take any action against U.S. pilots?
Right now, U.S. officials tell me they don't see any hostility from the Russians. But look, nobody knows what Vladimir Putin may plan next. All of this being watched minute by minute -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, a lot of people didn't anticipate that Turkey would shoot down a Russian warplane along the border either. Let's hope it calms down. Thanks very much, Barbara, for that.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning that Turkey's downing of that warplane will have very serious consequences.
Brian Todd is here with us. He's taking a closer look at the fallout.
How dangerous could this get, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very dangerous, Wolf. Vladimir Putin is under pressure to respond strongly to this. And tonight, we're told by officials here in Washington there is real concern over Putin's unpredictability. Now, what is predictable is his anger.
TODD (voice-over): The images of his bomber plummeting from the sky. And if one of his pilots being shot at as he parachuted down --
TODD: -- have left Vladimir Putin furious.
In a meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah just after the shoot down, Putin seemingly tries to exude the subtle body language his KGB training might have ingrained. But he's consistently abrupt with the questioner.
He keeps looking down, often avoids eye contact, and appears to be seething.
Putin calls Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane "a stab in the back by terrorist accomplices" and vows serious consequences.
PRES. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIA (through translator): We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today.
TODD: Vladimir Putin is not known to back down. And tonight, analysts warn he's under pressure to respond strongly.
ANISSA NAOUAI, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, RUSSIA TODAY: There are some Russians who feel like Russia's response was very soft.
STEVEN PIFER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Erdogan, they're a lot alike. They both have big egos. They both seek to portray themselves to the public as strong men who have a tough guy image, and they're the kind who are less likely to back down than they are to escalate.
TODD: Putin's also unpredictable. His invasion of Ukraine, his deployment of warplanes and ships to buzz nearby rivals indicate he could push this crisis to a dangerous place.
What could Putin do to retaliate? Analysts say he could use oil as a weapon.
NAOUAI: Putin's next move is probably going to focus on the energy markets and perhaps ties with Turkey. Turkish oil market is highly dependent on Russia, will suffer because of it.
[17:10:02] TODD: But it's his potential military aggression that's scaring leaders from the Middle East to Washington. Putin is moving anti-aircraft missiles which could hit planes over Turkey to a base inside Syria.
Experts say Putin could bomb the Turkmen, ethnic Turks who live inside Syria and are allies with the Turkish government.
A U.S. official tells CNN there's concern tonight for the safety of American pilots flying in the area who could be caught in a crossfire.
PIFER: The Russians for example have now said that their bombers are going to be flying with fighter escorts. You know, one could imagine without too much difficulty even by mistake, a dog fight involving six or seven Turkish and five or six Russian planes.
TODD: Now, Steven Pifer says an incident like that could escalate this into a broader conflict or could be a wakeup call to avoid more hostility between Putin and the Turkish side. Now, Russian official we spoke with the idea Russia provokes is misleading. And he says they're only moving those anti-aircraft missiles to the base in Syria as a precaution to protect their forces -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, there's also concern tonight that to retaliate, Putin could escalate tensions between the Turkish President Erdogan and Kurdish factions thAt Erdogan's been fighting against. What's the latest on that? TODD: A real concern tonight, Wolf. Analysts believing now Putin, it's possible he could allow a Syrian Kurdish group that Erdogan has been fighting against. It's called the Democratic Union Party to open offices in Moscow, that Putin maybe could even give them weapons. That would really incite President Erdogan, something to watch for tonight.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting. Thanks very much.
Joining us now, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California.
Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
I want to get to the discussion of what Russia and Turkey may be up to in a moment. But quickly your response to what President Obama said today. He was very clear that there's no specific credible intelligence, he said, of a terrorist plot -- those were his words -- to the U.S. homeland.
But how high is that threat level potentially to the homeland right now?
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, we used to have the amber and then orange and then red. Now we have these words.
I think it's in all of our interest to be very aware -- aware of our surroundings, aware of what's going on. Be aware of what's going on in our neighborhood or in our apartment building. And see something, say something.
I think that's where the president was taking this homegrown, some sort of an individual who is troubled or perhaps radicalized or just crazy engaged in some sort of activity. I think that's really the concern that all of us have.
As to a plot emanating from ISIS, the intelligence is probably correct about that. But nonetheless, all of us ought to be aware. We ought to be looking over our shoulder.
BLITZER: Explain this, if you can, a lot of viewers have asked me this question. ISIS releases these sophisticated propaganda videos that specifically say we're going after Times Square, or Herald's Square in New York City where Macy's is or going after the White House or Washington monuments and their track record and what they say they're going to do is pretty good.
Why isn't that considered a specific, credible threat?
GARAMENDI: Well, it's more than just a video. You're going to have to have the people there, you have to have the communications, all of those things. And that's where they come down to credible, the word credible.
Nonetheless in all of those areas you'll notice heightened police activity, other kinds of security going on. Because the local police as well as the federal government is aware that those are targets and therefore hire security in those areas. The same as you've reported earlier in all of the terminals, airport terminals, bus and train terminals. So, all of those things are the most likely targets.
But once again the most likely is a homegrown terrorist, possibly could be somebody that came in on a visa waiver out of Europe. But that's probably something that we would know about.
BLITZER: Somebody who might have been inspired by these ISIS videos --
BLITZER: -- on social media.
I know that's a huge concern right now.
Congressman, we have more to discuss including this latest rift or battle -- whatever you want to call it -- developing between Putin and Erdogan in Turkey. Much more right after this.
[17:18:57] BLITZER: Welcome back.
We're joined once again by the Democratic Congressman John Garamendi of California, member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Congressman, I'm going to show you an animation, show it to our viewers as well, of what the Russian warplane did. This is the border. Take a look at this between Syria and Turkey. There's a small little sliver, less than two miles at the southern tip there that Russian plane, if you believe the Turks, they went through that little area in 17 seconds, that was it.
Here's the question: Was Turkey justified in using an air-to-air missile to shoot down that SU-24?
GARAMENDI: I guess it depends whether you're a Turkish or a Russian. At this point, both would say certainly Russia say no and Turkey would say yes.
BLITZER: But what do you think?
GARAMENDI: I'm not in a position to answer that question.
The thing that we do know is, this is not good at all in the effort to get after ISIS. We have to have all of these countries heading in the same direction, working in the same goal of doing away with ISIS.
[17:20:02] And this is clearly a very, very serious diversion from that, what really needs to be done here.
And neither Erdogan or Putin are fools. They're very smart. They are certainly strong, but they're not foolish. And they, I think, understand that it's not in the interest of either country to see this escalate.
Certainly, Russia wants to push back. They want to have recognition that they were wronged and they may never get that.
But at the end of this -- or everyone at the beginning of this process: who is the real enemy here? Is Turkey going to be invading Russia? No, not really, not at all. But ISIS is a clear threat to Russia.
BLITZER: Certainly is. It's a clear threat to the whole world. I would go even further than that.
As you know, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov he said this looked from Russia's perspective, very much his words, like a planned provocation. And the Russians now say there will be serious consequences to what Turkey did.
What do you expect Russia will do now to retaliate, if you will? They may have been irritated at the Turkish government for bringing down that plane, but I think they were more irritated at those ethnic Turks inside Syria who shot and killed one of the pilots as he was parachuting from that downed warplane?
GARAMENDI: Well, they certainly should be. I mean, that was horrendous. That was certainly uncalled for and frankly it's a war crime.
But beyond that is Turkey responsible for those Turkmen that were in Syria that shot at that pilot? You know, that's a connection that's going to be very difficult for Russia or anybody else to make.
However, this is a very dangerous part of the world. Now, the United States does have a memorandum of understanding with Russia with regard to their airplanes, both America and Russia flying within Syria, but not within Turkey.
So, what we need to do here is to -- everybody take a step back and say what is our real goal here? Is our goal to fight amongst ourselves? Or is our goal to deal with the Syrian civil war, get that negotiated and those are the negotiations that are going on in Vienna. And then get ISIS.
Now, that's a common goal of all three of these countries, United States, Russia and Turkey.
So, keep in mind the price. Keep in mind the goal. These kinds of incidents are terrible. They're certainly disruptive. But they cannot become a game changer. And the end game itself.
BLITZER: Here's what a U.S. officials and analysts have expressed concern to me about. Now, I'll run the scenario by you, Congressman.
BLITZER: That Russia now retaliates against those ethnic Turks, the Turkmen, as they're called, inside Syria for killing that Russian pilot as he was parachuting down. The Turks have warned the Russians don't go after their fellow Turks in Syria. If the Russians start bombing those positions big time, will the Turkish F-16s and other warplanes go after those Russian planes even if the Russian planes don't invade Turkish air space?
GARAMENDI: Neither Erdogan or Putin are fools. They're smart men. They know what the consequences are for any action. And I suspect certainly Putin is a chess player and he's thinking about the second, third, fourth move out there. And Erdogan is probably too and certainly their advisers are.
And while Russia clearly would like to have some sort of revenge, if you will, to create a war situation or a hot war with Turkey is not within either countries' interests and certainly isn't in the United States' interests. So, we can't be diverted.
And so, I'm certain the United States diplomatic and military leadership are talking to both parties and say, listen, we've got a much more important goal here than to fight amongst ourselves. There may be some sort of retribution. Maybe there will be a payment. There certainly should be from it'd seem to me that there can be something worked out here in which both countries can save face and move back to the core mission.
BLITZER: Let's see if they can calm things down. But a lot of people are concerned. Everyone is very, very nervous right now.
BLITZER: Congressman Garamendi, thanks very much for joining us.
GARAMENDI: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, European cities, they're on high alert right now as a massive manhunt continues for suspects in that deadly Paris terror attack.
Plus, outrage in Chicago over a teenager shot 16 times by a police officer. That officer charged with first-degree murder. Tonight, city officials are anticipating protests. And they are urging calm.
[17:29:20] BLITZER: Our breaking news, with European capitals on high alert after the Paris terror massacres as the search is stepped up for the suspects including the driver for the fugitive Salah Abdeslam, our senior international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is here with us. He's been watching what's going on.
Nic, it's now known Salah Abdeslam driver, Mohamed Abrini, was in Syria last year but authorities didn't know when he returned to Europe. What are you finding out about this?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, he was spotted caught on CCTV camera at a gas station two days before the attack driving a car from Belgium to France presumably en route to the attacks. It's not clear the full journey of the vehicle, but he was with Salah Abdeslam at the time.
[17:30:00] This is why he's recognized as his driver. His whereabouts now unknown. How did he slip back into Europe? This is the emerging question now for many of these suspects. We know that six of these men who were involved in the attack had been to Syria.
The soft borders of Europe seem to indicate the answer because that's what we're hearing from the politicians now that they need to firm that up. But precisely how he got in, that's not being explained.
BLITZER: And what also isn't being explained, the "New York Times" is reporting this, and I want to be specific. The mayor of Molenbeek, this area outside of Brussels, he received a list that says of suspected Islamic militants, terrorists, living there a month before the Paris terror attacks including the Abdeslam brothers and Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the so-called mastermind or ringleader. They were all on the list, but what, nothing was done about that?
ROBERTSON: What the mayor has said is that this was something that was beyond -- I believe it's a lady, beyond her control. What we know from, you know, the nature of Molenbeek itself to go in as a mayor, to try to find these people or with city hall officials would be a joke in a way.
Having been into that neighborhood before, knowing how hard it is even as a journalist to go in and operate there, you get swarmed by crowds of angry young men. They don't want you in there. They control parts of the neighborhood. It would be even with those names, it would be very difficult. There are neighborhoods there in Brussels where there are known Islamists. I've done stories on them for number of years, going back to, you know, a decade with al Qaeda radicals who are recruiting in those neighborhoods as well.
They don't want you in there. There are common criminals in there. So the police when they do go in to raid, need to go in and force with riot gear on occasion. So the fact that the mayor had a list of names, it's quite possible to see how she couldn't really progress with that list of names to go in and tracking these people down. It would have required more information, more precise information to know that it was necessary to go into a community that was going to be openly hostile to large numbers of police and to make it worthwhile.
BLITZER: Nic, stay with us for a moment.
I also want to bring in our counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd, a former CIA official. Also, joining us, Julia Ioffe, contributing writer for the "New York Times" magazine, a columnist for foreign policy as well, and our CNN contributor Michael Weiss. He's the senior editor of "The Daily Beast," co-author of "ISIS Inside the Army of Terror."
Phil, it's almost two weeks. Abdeslam is still missing, still at large. What does that say about -- there's a huge manhunt underway in Europe right now, in France, Belgium, elsewhere, this guy is still at large. PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA OFFICER: That's right. It tells me a couple things. First, you get two questions when you start acquiring information. That information is all these people who are being brought in for questioning and all the digital information, cell phones.
The two questions are, is there a thread of information from those people that suggest there's a following attack? And the second is, where is this guy?
After two weeks, they must have raided or at least looked at every location he was familiar with. So you got to step back and ask yourself, Brussels isn't only a place he's familiar with, it's a place, it's an avenue for recruits back into Syria.
Did he take that recruitment path early on after the attacks? Is he gone already?
BLITZER: Michael, what does it say about this small town outside of Brussels, Molenbeek, that so many Jihadists apparently emerge from there?
MICHAEL WEISS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I was just going to say, Nick, kind of hit the nail on the head, didn't he? You had this district in a European capital, or just outside of one, that resembles some of the most scrupulous areas in Beirut or Baghdad.
I mean, known Islamist who had been recruiting for originally al Qaeda, now for ISIS, a terror watch list handed to the mayor which includes what two or three of the suspects who have now perpetrated or said to perpetrated this horrible atrocity in Paris and there's simply nothing we can do about it.
Europe has got a significant crisis on its hands, Wolf. I mean, I've mentioned before I lived in London for three years. There are areas, you know, in downtown or Central London that very much, you know, resemble Molenbeek. Sort of, you know, places where police are fearful to tread. And local mayors run the areas as though it was some kind of thief out of the third world.
So I think Europe is -- this is sort of going to be a wake up call. If these guys are living amongst, you know, our own population, if they're recruiting, if they're building bombs, if they're traveling back and forth from Syria and then sort of using apartment buildings in these cities as safe houses, this is going to be a colossal task for counterterrorism, you know, personnel. But also for policymakers, right?
I mean, what does this say about the domestic politics in a country like Belgium? And indeed in a country like France.
BLITZER: Julia, you would think that the whole world would be united right now, single focus get after ISIS, destroy ISIS right now. The Russians, for example, you're an expert on Russia, they lost a commercial airliner with 224 people supposedly an ISIS affiliate in Sinai, in Egypt responsible. You would think that that would pull the Russians together with the Europeans, with the U.S., everyone else and focus in on ISIS right now. But, unfortunately, that's not happening.
JULIA IOFFE, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: Well, it's what the Russians are trying to do very, very much. If you'll notice by the way that the Sinai plane crash, the Russians for weeks were denying that it was a terrorist attack or trying to muddy the waters. And then right after the Paris attacks they said, hey, that was actually terrorism. We're in the same boat with you. We're victims of terrorism. Let's fight together.
Let's forget Ukraine. Let's forget Crimea. Let's do this together. And, actually, they've been in the Russian media, if you look at how the shoot down of the Russian plane in Turkey was covered. It's that the Turks are trying to fracture the coalition that's been formed between NATO and Russia to fight ISIS. This is how they're spinning it at home.
BLITZER: And so standby. Everyone standby because there's real concern, this friction between Turkey and Russia could escalate big time. Much more with our terrorism experts when we come back.
[19:40:36] BLITZER: Our breaking news. There are rising tensions over Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet over its border with Syria. Russia says there was no warning. Turkey has released an audio of what it calls multiple warnings.
Now Russia says it's deploying sophisticated surface-to-air missiles near the Turkish border.
We're back with our experts Julia. Putin has a lot on the line right now. How far do you think he's willing to go?
IOFFE: I don't think he's willing to go this far, but so far it's coming up aces for him. He's played the situation masterfully. NATO and the -- Brussels, NATO, the U.S. have thrown so much cold water on the Turks in the last 24 hours or 36 hours. Saying you guys have to calm down. You could have escorted the plane out. You didn't have to shoot this down. And Russia can say, look, we're a reasonable partner in the fight against ISIS. Let's not let the Turks derail this. Let's work together.
Again, let's forget Crimea and Ukraine. And let's focus on the threat -- the problem at hand, which is going after ISIS. So, so far this has only brought him into closer cooperation with the west. It's what he wants.
BLITZER: What do you think, Michael Weiss? You've been doing a lot of digging into this part of the story, the tension between Turkey and Russia right now.
WEISS: Well, you mentioned earlier, will Russia start bombing the Turkmen. In fact, Wolf, they were bombing the Turkmen before the jet was brought down. This is I think one of the central motives for why Turkey responded so aggressively. There's another component, though, that's worth mentioning. Yesterday, it wasn't just a Russian SU-24 that got shot down. The search and rescue helicopter that the Russians had sent to look for their pilots crash landed and then was sat on a helipad and was blown up with a TOW anti-tank missile.
And the rebel group responsible for that is called the First Coastal Division. Well, guess what, the First Coastal Division is backed by Turkish intelligence and the CIA and the TOW anti-tank missile they got came from the United States.
So this has become -- it's beyond just the Turkish-Russian, you know, sort of skirmish or confrontation. NATO has been drawn into it. And, I mean, Julia's quite right. You know, they're up there throwing cold water on it so it doesn't escalate.
Behind Putin's rhetoric, too, I think -- I know he said that Turkey is an accomplice of terrorists. This is a stab in the back. He's not just talking about Turkey. He's talking about the west. He's talking about the United States, which he thinks is going down this erroneous path of backing a Muslim insurgency group to unhorse his client in a secular dictator Bashar Al-Assad.
So I think, you know, this is all about how do we kind of lower the temperature on what Russia might do next. And to be honest with you, I actually think Erdogan is not done yet. I think he's going to escalate. There's reports that he's very serious now about imposing a safe zone in northern Syria. He will absolutely back the Turkmen to the hilt with more weapons, logistical support, you name it.
BLITZER: These Turkmen as you note, Phil, and as our viewers know, these are ethnic Turks who live inside Syria. Russia has been pounding them. They oppose the Bashar al-Assad regime. Russia supports the Bashar al-Assad regime. I could easily see this fight escalating big time.
MUDD: That's right. But the Turks stepped in it today. Look, here's the problem, the Turks have said tactically we had a penetration of air space and we have a responsibility to defend ourselves. Those two in my mind are not connected.
The answer, the solution to long-term peace in Syria partly goes through Moscow. And now we've given Moscow with NATO, the Turks in particular who try to draw NATO in and given Moscow an excuse to say we can't trust you guys if you're going to shoot down one of our aircraft.
So the Turks are saying we can shoot them down because they violated air space. NATO is saying don't we have bigger fish to fry here. I think this is a tough situation for NATO.
BLITZER: NATO is invisible, though, right now. They're M.I.A. You wrote an article on CNN.com. This may be the biggest crisis that NATO is about to face.
ROBERTSON: It is. I mean, Turkey has tried several times over recent months to draw NATO closer into the situation because of escalations along the border with Russia, because of other issues.
You know, we even -- NATO even supplied missile systems along the border within the past couple of years to help the Turks out. Right now, though, when you're looking at a coalition, which remember back to September last year in Wales, NATO summit, leaders all stood there and said we're going to double down on tackling ISIS.
We're going to increase our intelligence sharing. We're going to do -- we're going to confine them and contain them. That really hasn't emerged and evolved at all. And this was the narrative coming from those leaders.
[17:45:01] BLITZER: Let's not forget this is the first time a NATO ally, Turkey in this case, has shot down a Russian warplane since the early 1950s. During the whole height of the Cold War, that didn't happen. It has happened now in recent days.
Guys, stay with us. Much more on this story coming up.
Also coming up, the city of Chicago on edge tonight after officials release video of a police officer shooting a teenager 16 times during a confrontation.
BLITZER: We're following a breaking news. Protesters flooding the streets of Chicago right now. All in response to the shooting of a young black teenager by a while police officer.
[17:50:05] Officials have released the dash cam video of the confrontation which clearly shows the officer, Jason Van Dyke, firing 16 bullets at the teen, killing him.
For more on the breaking story, we're joined now by the presidency of the National Urban League, Marc Morial.
Marc, thanks very much for joining us.
MARC MORIAL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE: Wolf, thanks for having me.
BLITZER: We went back and checked the "Chicago Tribune" the day after Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old, was fatally shot by this police officer October of last year. The story says Chicago police shot and killed 17-year-old boy in the Southwest Side after the teen refused to put down a knife, authorities said.
Here's the question, without that dash cam video, would there have been a first-degree murder charge filed against Police Officer Van Dyke?
MORIAL: There would have been another cover-up, Wolf, and I think that the anger and the angst you see has so much to do with how this case was handled by the Chicago Police Department and the United States attorney, or rather the states attorney in Chicago, and I think the problems of the Chicago Police Department are long standing. One fact that really stood out for me was that in less than 1 percent
to 2 percent of the cases where citizens filed a complaint against the Chicago Police Department was the officer ever disciplined. So there is a systematic problem there in Chicago and the protests which have been ignited by the handling of this case, I think have been building up for many, many years in the great city of Chicago.
BLITZER: In that same "Chicago Tribune" article, the police officers or representatives of the police union said McDonald was shot in the chest. They never mentioned the fact that he was shot 16 times including while he was lying on the ground there in the street. We now know that some of the statements made by police on that day after are directly contradicted but we all see the dash cam video right now.
So here's the question, with some local residents say they don't trust police, you understand why they say that. Is there truth in that?
MORIAL: Well, I think that what we've seen in this case, which once again, we've seen it in many of the other high-profile cases we've seen was there was an effort to spin the story or really, Wolf, to tell a false story about what occurred, and but for the dash cam and we can see that this young man seemed to be walking away from those police officers, but for the dash cam and but for the pressure from the community and from the courts, that video may not have been released.
So I believe that the trust is broken there in Chicago and it's up to the leadership of Chicago to take the steps to rebuild the trust. The trust cannot be rebuilt without systematic police reform in Chicago and that's why today the Chicago Urban League asked the Justice Department to initiate a pattern and practice investigation, which I think is the first step and I would hope that not only community activists but the leadership of Chicago would go along with that necessary independent review. Something is broken. That young man did not deserve to die.
BLITZER: Have you gotten any reaction to that request, that recommendation from the Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel?
MORIAL: Well, the request coming from the Chicago Urban League today and there's been no responses as of yet but I truly believe in this instance, Wolf, if you look in this pattern, John Birch torturing people and then being exposed years later. This incident, the failure of the Chicago Police to discipline its members. The high rate of violence in Chicago, over 400 murders, over 2,000 shootings, this is a crisis, and I say to people that police community relations go hand and hand with public safety.
And it's difficult to have poor relations between the police and the community and have a safe city, so this is an important time for Chicago. We want people to be peaceful in their protests but one must understand that these problems have been building up over time and it's going to take not only an appeal for calm but it's going to take systematic changes there, I think, to bring about the type of healing that that great city desperately needs. BLITZER: They certainly do. And we're showing our viewers, by the
way, Marc, some live pictures from the streets of Chicago right now. Protests continue, peaceful protests, let's hope as you say they remain peaceful.
I'll leave our viewers with this thought. A new CNN poll found that 64 percent of Americans believe racial or ethnic tensions in America have increased in the last 10 years. That's a disturbing number right there.
Marc Morial, as usual, thanks for joining us.
MORIAL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, Russia says Turkey intentionally shot down that warplane and it's deploying advanced surface-to-air missiles right now nearby in Syria. Will the U.S. be caught in the middle of a showdown between Vladimir Putin and a NATO ally?
[17:55:13] And with European capitals on high alert after the slaughter in Paris, the hunt has now stepped up for fugitive suspects. Is America, though, facing this same kind of threat?
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news, America on alert. President Obama makes a rare statement on national security reassuring Americans there is no specific and credible terror threat over the Thanksgiving holiday, but as the president calls for calm, law enforcement across the country stepping up security. Is a lone terrorist the greatest danger facing the U.S. right now?