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FBI Investigates California Mosque Fire; Trump Launches First Attacks against Ted Cruz; DHS Searching for Missing Afghan Trainees; Texas Border Controversy. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 12, 2015 - 08:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and thank you for sharing your Saturday with us. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Always a pleasure and we're starting this hour with the race for 2016. Donald Trump campaigning in South Carolina today and this comes after that stop in Iowa where new polls show that at least one that he's falling behind Ted Cruz here in the key primary state. Trump addressed the new numbers, listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, we're leading in most of the polls. We're leading in every poll. No, every poll, except Iowa, though, is one poll. There was one poll, Monmouth, what the hell is Monmouth? Explain it. I don't like Monmouth. You know why I don't like it? They always treat me badly also.


BLACKWELL: Well, as Cruz surges, Trump is making his first attacks against the Texas senator, not only taking jabs at his religion, but also questioning Cruz's ties to big oil back in Texas.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is following the Trump campaign this morning joining us now. So give us the highlights of what we're hearing from Donald Trump.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, this is a big first for Donald Trump, very clear he's not happy with Ted Cruz right now, as you said, for the first time really setting him in his sights, going on attack against Ted Cruz.

We saw in Des Moines last night him question first and foremost Ted Cruz's appeal among Evangelical voters. This is a big and important voting block that both candidates are going after so really Trump questioning whether Cruz can win those voters.

That is key to Cruz's ascension and doing well in Iowa, also Trump really going over most pointedly Ted Cruz over his support of ethanol subsidies.

This is something that Ted Cruz has been potentially had some controversy in the past, doesn't go over well with Iowa voters, and Cruz has had to explain his vote for that. Donald Trump last night went after him. Here's more of what Trump said.


TRUMP: But with the ethanol, really, it's -- he's got to come a long way, because he's right now for the oil, but I understand it, oil pays him a lot of money, he's got to be for oil, right?

The oil companies give him a lot of money so -- but I'm with you. I'm with everybody. I'm with everybody. Look, I'm self- funding, I have no oil company. I have no special interests.


SERFATY: This is a big issue, of course, to Iowa voters. As you heard there, Trump really going over Cruz's opposition to them in the past, something that is very popular with Iowa voters, so Trump really hoping that voters can hold on to that argument.

Of course, all of this critique comes at an interesting time that comes while Cruz is making big gains in Iowa, perhaps making Donald Trump nervous, also after Cruz made some comments at a private fundraiser in New York really questioning Donald Trump's judgment and readiness to be commander in chief.

Cruz, for his part, has said at least publicly he's going to stay away from criticizing Donald Trump. He said yesterday he does not want to get into a cage match with Trump so it will be interesting to see how this continues going forward -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right, he is in South Carolina today, we'll see what we hear from Donald Trump. Sunlen Serfaty, thank you so much.

PAUL: Let's talk about this with CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston. We see this poll, Mark, in Iowa where Trump is falling behind cruise, but the "New York Times"/CBS poll, Trump is far ahead there, 35 percent to Cruz's 16 percent. Help explain to people what is that gap because it's a significant one there.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It is significant, and it's a very good question because it can be very confusing. Very simply it's this, Donald Trump is being seen nationally several times a day being interviewed by television networks, including our own, getting his own message out, trying to build support for his campaign.

[08:05:11]We are seeing that nationally so that's why you see his support build and certainly stronger than what we're seeing in Iowa, even though he is doing well in Iowa.

In Iowa, the voters in Iowa have an opportunity, Christi, to meet the dozen or so candidates seeking the nomination and in many cases get to meet them personally, they have more of a familiarity with the other candidates in the race.

So when you're looking at the state polls versus the national polls, that's the reason why. In some cases we see that in New Hampshire, as well, Chris Christie in New Hampshire, for example, doing better, the candidates are up there having one on one time with voters -- Christi.

PAUL: We heard Sunlen talk about how Ted Cruz doesn't want to get in a cage match with Trump and there were a lot of analysts saying you don't want to get into a trash talking match with him, because he is t king of it. Do you think a Trump one-liner really can derail somebody's -- another candidate's perspective and any kind of, you know, momentum that they may have built up?

PRESTON: Well, it's not so much the one-liner when Donald Trump attacks you, it's when the candidate who is being attacked then responds to Donald Trump and then sets off a fury of angry tweets or comments from Donald Trump, which only emboldens many of his supporters.

Now Ted Cruz, though, you have to give him credit for this, because even when Donald Trump says something critical of him, Ted Cruz says something nice about Donald Trump and in many ways if you follow the old adage, Christi, that you keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

That's what Ted Cruz is doing because he's banking on Donald Trump's candidacy to fizzle out and he is hoping those supporters will go to him in the end of this primary battle -- Christi.

PAUL: He did make these statements during an event calling into question Trump's commander, his judgment, rather, if he were commander in chief. Let's listen to this.


SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I like and respect both Donald and Ben, but I think in both instances, and particularly look at Paris, look at San Bernardino, it's given a seriousness to this race that people are looking for who is prepared to be commander-in- chief.

I think the people run as who they are. I think gravity will bring both of those campaigns down. I think the lion's share of their supporters come to us.


PAUL: You see these poll numbers now in Iowa, is there any chance Cruz's position might be starting to take some shape here?

PRESTON: Well, it's unclear at this point, even though we are getting close to the Iowa caucus, but what Cruz was smart to do and in the comments he was giving to supporters behind closed doors, that was a leaked you want audiotape that the "New York Times" obtained.

Not only did Cruz talking about Donald Trump, he is talking about Ben Carson, who has a pretty good, strong evangelical support in this race right now, so what Cruz is trying to do is not publicly go out and attack Donald Trump by the likes of John Kasich who's doing so or Jeb Bush.

What he's trying to do is to temper it and publicly say nice things about Donald Trump, but in the end he'll say that the voters have to make the choice and he thinks that he is that choice.

PAUL: Mark Preston, appreciate the breakdown, sir, thank you.

BLACKWELL: There are also these discussions that are happening right now amongst the GOP leaders, the growing concerns that none of the presidential candidates will win a majority of delegates in the upcoming primaries and caucuses heading into Cleveland, which could cause a brokered convention next summer.

Our Jake Tapper sat down with the frontrunner, Donald Trump and they talked about the possibility. Listen.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "STATE OF THE UNION": What do you think about the idea of the brokered convention, when Dr. Ben Carson heard about it, he got very upset, said it sounded like people in power in the Republican establishment were trying to subvert the will of the voters.

TRUMP: Well, you know, I watched what Ben said, I agreed with him 100 percent and wrote him a note, I thought it was excellent, and frankly, he may be right. I've been hearing about these closed door meetings and I don't like that, that wasn't the deal I made.

I signed a pledge, but it was supposed to be honorable so we're going to find out, if it's that way, they are going to have problems, but I hope it's not going to be that way. I hope it's not going to be that way.


BLACKWELL: Watch more of that interview with Donald Trump tomorrow starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Meanwhile, be sure to stay tuned, because in our next half hour we'll talk about this upcoming CNN debate and Trump's strategy moving forward with the co-chairman for Trump's national campaign.

PAUL: Breaking news on the Paris negotiators from more than 150 countries close to a final agreement on climate change this morning. It took 20 years of hard work to get to this point and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned, quote, "We must protect the planet that sustains us, but for that we need all hands on deck," unquote.

[08:10:04]CNN's senior international correspondent, Jim Bittermann, is there in Paris. Jim, what are you hearing this hour about a possible vote this morning? JIM BITTERMANN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, it's more what we're seeing. We just got this from the folks at the United Nations, this is a 31-page draft agreement that the various delegations, 195 delegations, will be looking at this afternoon.

And about an hour and a half from now they'll be asked whether they approve. It's then up to any dissenters to stand up and say, no, we don't approve. Otherwise, the president of the conference will gavel the agreement to acceptance.

So it's an interesting equation, interesting approach here, in which countries will have to actually be visibly against it in order to be ruled out. Of course, also down the line gives a country the possibility saying, well, we never voted for it, didn't vote against it either.

So it's an interesting way, interesting approach which could lead to ambiguity down the line. Also in these 31 pages there's a lot of ambiguity, as well, but the goal is there.

The goal is there to keep global climate change, climate warning, to less than 2 degrees over the course of the century, 2 degrees from the industrial revolution, temperatures of the industrial revolution and even beyond that to try to get to 1.5 degrees in Celsius I'm talking here.

In any case, to get to those benchmarks over the next few years, and to do that, they've got to come up with some real commitments by the various members and countries here, including the United States and China notably to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions -- Christi.

PAUL: All right, Jim Bittermann, appreciate the update, thank you.

BLACKWELL: A friend and neighbor of the San Bernardino terrorist reportedly admitted to having built the bombs with these killers before the massacre, but he says it's not the ones that were used in that attack. Talk more about that.

Also ISIS sympathizers, more could be lurking in the U.S. but officials don't have a clue, don't have a specific idea how many are here so what is being done to track and monitor the potential threat?



BLACKWELL: We've got new developments on the San Bernardino terror attack more than a week after 14 people were killed by Tashfeen Malik and her husband Syed Rizwan Farook. Investigators have learned that one of the neighbors allegedly built pipe bombs with those two killers.

But Enrique Marquez who bought the rifles used in the massacre claims that he had nothing to do with the devices built for the couple's deadly attack.

Now this comes as dive teams are searching for evidence in a lake the couple reportedly visited before the attack. Officials say they are hunting for a hard drive that might have been removed from the home in an attempt to hide their tracks.

Now the attacks in San Bernardino are adding urgency for the U.S. to identify and track down potential terrorists in the U.S., and many analysts and counterterrorism officials will tell you that lone wolf style attackers are some of the most difficult to identify.

Our Polo Sandoval has more on the hunt for us -- Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, good morning. Those lone wolf attackers are very difficult to track because they don't often pop up on the radar until they become operational and as we've seen in recent weeks that oftentimes too late.

But I'll tell you what has officials here in the U.S. is particularly concerned is this level of ISIS or support for ISIS here in America. One study now suggesting it's reached an unprecedented level.


SANDOVAL (voice-over): There is no telling how many ISIS-inspired operatives may currently be in the U.S. There are, however, the numbers. The FBI reporting it has some 900 active cases where they are looking at potential ISIS sympathizers.

Pair that number with figures published by the George Washington University earlier this month showing at least 300 Americans and/or U.S.-based sympathizers that actively promote ISIS on social media and spread the terror group's propaganda.

Seventy one people have been arrested by U.S. authorities for so-called ISIS-related activities, 56 of them this year alone, the most terrorism-related arrests since 9/11 according to the G.W. report.

Ahmed Mohammad El Gamal (ph) is one of them, the Arizona man is charged with helping a New York college student get ISIS training in Syria, his case among dozens making their way through federal court systems across the country.

The figures reflect the constant struggle for U.S. officials to track down extremists already in the country. The efforts were not enough to thwart last week's ISIS-inspired attack in San Bernardino, California. Investigators continue digging into Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik's past.

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We believe they were inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. We're working hard to understand exactly their source of their inspiration.

SANDOVAL: The U.S. facing its greatest terrorism threat since 9/11, a sobering statement from the FBI. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SANDOVAL: And U.S. officials have previously estimated that at least 250 Americans have actually traveled abroad to join some terrorist group. Out of those only a few dozen actually joined the ranks, Victor.

About 20 of them have actually died in the fighting, but what this does is essentially adds more perspective to these numbers that are constantly changing, Victor, as U.S. authorities try, try, to stay a step ahead.

BLACKWELL: And trying to craft a strategy on how to stop these self- radicalized individuals. Polo Sandoval, thanks so much.

PAUL: Terrorism expert, Sajjan Gohel, joining us now, the international security director of the Asia Pacific Foundation, a counterterrorism think tank. Sajjan, thank you so much for being with us.

We know that one of the major obstacles here, authorities say, is this encrypted communication and it really thwarts them from being able to track terror suspects. What's the remedy, if at all, that can be overcome?

SAJJAN GOHEL, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTOR, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION: It's a very difficult challenge, Christi, because as you mentioned, the ISIS-inspired terrorists are being guided online as to how to communicate without attracting attention from the authorities.

There are a number of programs, new media platforms that are used to hide and mask their communication strategies, some are so advanced even the authorities are finding it difficult to basically break them open and find out what level of communication, who they've been talking to, what strategies are being devised. This is an uphill treadmill for the authorities, I'm afraid.

PAUL: There's this new poll showing Americans are more fearful of a terrorist attack now than any other time since September 11th. Take a look at this, 78 percent believe an attack -- 79 percent believe an attack is very or somewhat likely to happen in the next few months. Do you think this is in reaction to San Bernardino, or was San Bernardino a real wake-up call for the U.S.?

[08:20:00]GOHEL: Unfortunately, San Bernardino is very much part of a calculated strategy by ISIS to encourage lone wolves, or as I prefer to call them, self-starters, to carry out attacks on the name of the group, operate independently, but hit countries repeatedly over a period of time.

The fear that Americans are expressing is echoed in the United Kingdom, people here also expect and feel that a potential attack could happen in the next few months. I'm afraid this is the environment scenario we're facing, potentially worse than what we had post-9/11.

With al Qaeda there was a system, some feeling the authorities were able to predict and disrupt, here it's spontaneous and sporadic.

PAUL: Sajjan Gohel, appreciate your insight as always, thank you.

GOHEL: Pleasure.

BLACKWELL: All right, coming up this hour, the mysterious disappearance of two Afghan trainees from a U.S. base. Why homeland security is now involved. Do they pose a threat?

Also, investigators searching for answers about the mosque fire in California. They try to determine if this was retaliation for the San Bernardino massacre.


PAUL: Death toll at a hospital in Afghanistan hit by a U.S. bombing strike in October has now reached to 42. This is according to Doctors Without Borders.

BLACKWELL: The United States has acknowledged military members accidently targeted the hospital because they thought Taliban fighters were shooting at them from inside. Taliban was actually firing from another nearby site.

[08:25:01]In Kabul, Afghanistan, the Spanish government says a second police officer has died after a suicide attack against the Spanish Embassy. Taliban fighters hit the compound with a car bomb and gunfire just after nightfall. Afghan officials say all the attackers were killed in a furious gun battle.

PAUL: In Saudi Arabia, women are casting ballots for the first time. More than 130,000 women have registered to vote in the male-dominated country. Also a first here, nearly 1,000 women are actually running for local offices, which was unheard of a few years ago.

BLACKWELL: Still to come, a new poll is not sitting well with Donald Trump. Now he's launching an assault on the man threatening his run for president, at least in the Iowa caucuses.

Plus, an immigration battle heating up in Texas, the federal government temporarily moving hundreds of undocumented teenagers into the state, despite what state leaders have to say about it.

And faith threatened by flames. A California mosque torched as Muslims prayed inside, forced to then pray on the street and now the FBI is investigating.


PAUL: It's 29 minutes past the hour. We're following a developing story out of California. Sheriff's deputies along with the FBI are investigating a mosque fire near Palm Springs. They believe it was, quote, "an intentional act."

BLACKWELL: This apparent arson follows another attack at the same mosque a year ago. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[08:29:53] BLACKWELL: The security guard for the mosque says he saw the fire from miles away.

RAY BREWSTER, MOSQUE SECURITY GUARD: I pull up to the intersection, I turned left and there's a huge plume of smoke -- a mushroom cloud.

BLACKWELL: Witnesses and police said someone threw some incendiary device at the mosque around noon Friday. The fire burned the front doors and spread to the lobby before firefighters put it out. Everyone got out safely, and mosque members were forced to pray on the streets outside.

ABDULLA SALAAM, MOSQUE MEMBER: Did you see the brothers over there praying on the outside? That's one of the obligations we do. We pray. We do our prayers. Do it over here on the dirt, not on the rug, but that's what we do. We do pray, we get a little -- a positive message, then we go back to work.

BLACKWELL: This attack comes a year after someone fired several shots into the same mosque. That shooter was never caught.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were at a mosque, I'm sure you can imagine, or any church really, but a mosque, it's in the back of your mind.

BLACKWELL: The Riverside County supervisor compared the fire bombing to what happened in San Bernardino last week an hour west of the mosque.

JOHN BENOIT, RIVERSIDE COUNTY SUPERVISOR: If, in fact, as it appears a potential act against this church for reasons because of the religion, I would think that was terrorism. And terrorism is terrorism, no matter whether it's like we saw in San Bernardino or someone who reacts -- they are both terrorists.

BLACKWELL: California Congressman Paul Ruiz called for the fire bombing to be investigated as a hate crime.


BLACKWELL: And according to a report from the council on American Islamic Relations, CAIR, this has been a record year for anti-Muslim acts with more than 60 cases of harassment or vandalism reported.

Donald Trump is campaigning in South Carolina today, and this comes as Trump makes his first attacks towards Senator Ted Cruz. The GOP front runner questions Cruz's ties to big oil, also addresses Cruz on his religion.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, I think we're going to do, you know, we're doing really well with the evangelicals. And by the way, again, I do like Ted Cruz, but not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba in all fairness. It's true, not a lot come out, but I like him nevertheless.


BLACKWELL: Let's talk more about this and, of course, more. We have Sam Clovis with us, co-chairman and policy adviser for Trump's national campaign. Sam, good to have you with us.

SAM CLOVIS, ADVISER FOR TRUMP'S NATIONAL CAMPAIGN: Thanks, Victor -- how are you today?

BLACKWELL: Very well, thank you.

I want to start with what we just heard from Mr. Trump. Why is he invoking Senator Cruz's ethnicity and why is he pondering about the number of evangelicals coming out of Cuba?

CLOVIS: I don't know that that's really anything other than just the elbows that come out at this time of a campaign. It's been going on since Mr. Trump came into the campaign and a lot of the other candidates. If you notice, that Mr. Trump and Senator Cruz have been very respectful of each other and I think that, you know, you're going to find a little bit of this back and forth.

I do think that as people rise and fall in the polls, you start to see different behaviors from individuals out there, so I don't look at this as anything other than politics.

BLACKWELL: All right. Well, let's go on to this rise and fall you're talking about. The new Monmouth poll out showing Senator Cruz -- and again, this is the only poll, but let's talk about it. It shows Senator Cruz up five points, 24 over Trump's 19.

CLOVIS: Right.

BLACKWELL: What does he have to do? What does your candidate have to do to hold on to Iowa because we've seen a surge from the senator in the last couple of weeks?

CLOVIS: Well, you know, Senator Cruz, you know, is a remarkable individual and I don't think there's anything that we should be surprised at this. He's had a very steady operation out here, frankly, in Iowa as you know, we all know each other. We get along very well.

And we know the operatives from all of the campaigns because when you come to Iowa, you have to hire the best people. And Mr. Cruz -- Senator Cruz, has hired some really good people.

I think that what you find, though, is what the turnout's going to be. This always comes back to Iowa, people aren't familiar with the caucus process, realize that it all happens on one night where everybody shows up at 7:00 p.m. The doors close, you come in, you get registered, you get checked off, you sit down, you listen to speeches, and you write the name of the person you support on a piece of paper and you hand it in. Nothing more dramatic --

BLACKWELL: And then you've got to argue for it.

CLOVIS: What's that?

BLACKWELL: Then you've got to argue for it if you're a candidate and get over a viability threshold. I think our viewers know the process.

CLOVIS: The Democrats actually -- the Democrats do that, the Republicans do not. The Republicans just go on a pure straw vote.

B1; Let me get to the comments we heard from Senator Cruz as it relates to gravity, and gravity bringing down your candidate, also bringing down Ben Carson, as well. He says his strategy is to smother you with love, give you a big bear hug, then wait for you to come down. Is he playing Donald Trump?

[08:35:11] CLOVIS: Well, I do think if you take a look at how different candidates have tried to deal with the Trump phenomena, which frankly has never been seen in American history as far as political history goes, I do think that Senator Cruz is probably this is one of his tactics.

Other candidates have tried to confront Mr. Trump head-on, that hasn't worked very well. So I think that this may be a different set of tactics we see from Senator Cruz.

Like I said, the proof is in the pudding. We'll see what happens on February 1st. And we're very confident of our ground game here in Iowa. We have the best man in the United States running it, and very sure of what his capabilities are. And then we're going to move on to New Hampshire and South Carolina, and I think we're going to win both of those.

BLACKWELL: Quickly before we go, there's, of course, the controversial plan that was put forward by Donald Trump to ban Muslims from coming into the U.S. until, he says, the government can figure out what's going on. There's been criticism, to say the least, from around the world about that plan.

You're the policy adviser, how does Donald Trump work with who are typically security partners around the world when he's being excoriated by the leaders of these countries and their petitions to keep him out of the country. How does he balance that if these leaders don't even want to meet with him?

CLOVIS: Well, I think that there's the opportunity that we have is, again, the proof will be in the pudding. Next November when Mr. Trump wins the election, then we'll start the process of going out and arranging opportunities for then President-elect Trump, then President Trump to go out and meet with these people.

There are larger issues at stake rather than this retreat and hue and cry for political correctness and the opportunity to pile on and do some of the other things. And I'm not denigrating anyone. I just think that there's the possibility and potential here for people to be able to be fearful of political correctness and multiculturalism that caused a lot of these individuals and leaders to retreat to this. Now, when it comes to mutual defense and operations and receiving American foreign military sales and protection and all the other aspects that America offers the world, I think behind closed doors you're going to find a lot of mutual respect and there will be people there to take care of this and it will work itself out.

BLACKWELL: All right. Sam Clovis -- thank you so much for joining us this morning.

CLOVIS: It's awfully early, Victor -- thank you.

BLACKWELL: I know it is, but we appreciate it.

CLOVIS: Thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Sure. Christi.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: It is awfully early if you're not sitting in bed right now.

Still ahead, two Afghan nationals being trained at a U.S. military base are missing and the Department of Homeland Security wants to know now where they are.

Plus, a border controversy brewing in Texas -- the federal government moving hundreds of teens from Central America to that state, and state leaders are none too happy.


PAUL: 41 minutes past the hour.

The Department of Homeland Security has joined the search for two military trainees from Afghanistan who are AWOL from Moody Air Force Base in South Georgia. Both of these men were nearing the end of their year-long training. They were due to return to Afghanistan soon.

CNN military analyst retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling joining us now. Should we be concerned -- General?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I don't believe we should, Christi. This is an interesting dynamic, which takes place more than a lot of people know, where foreign officers and noncommissioned officers come to the United States, get a look around, they see the niceties of the west, and they want to stay.

Both of these individuals have been training in the United States for over two years. They had some language training in San Antonio, and then they've had a year's worth of pilot training on the A-29 Super Tucano airplane, which they are taking back to Afghanistan with them.

And I think what you've seen is they are at the very end of their training, now they want to stay. They don't want to go back to their homeland.

PAUL: Ok. So you don't think they are a threat to the U.S., but what legal threat might there be to them?

HERTLING: And that's an important point to make. I don't think they'll be a legal threat to the U.S., but you can never put that aside. There always is a possibility that these individuals might be doing something.

I don't think that's the case, but the legal threat to them is when they are found and collected up and sent back to their country, they could go into jail. I'm certain that they are going to be kicked out of their military.

But I'm also concerned, as all military guys are when they lose elements of their command and don't quite know where they are, that they might also be hurt. They left the base Friday before a weekend, everything was ok. So the very fact that the base personnel don't know where they are, it could be an AWOL, or they could be hurt somewhere. So I think that's of concern, as well.

PAUL: You said that this is somewhat common, or it has certainly happened. What kind of steps do the military take to prevent people from disappearing just when it comes time to go home?

HERTLING: Well -- and I'll talk from my own experiences in Europe when I was commanding in Germany. We used to have all different kinds of nations come into our training bases in Granwohr (ph) and conducting training. Most of them were stationed in barracks. We like to give them free reign of not only the barracks, but the outside communities. The Germans were happy about that.

But sometimes they would go downtown and find, you know, the pleasures of the west, as it were, but, you know, really you tell the host nation, in this case the United States and Homeland Security, when you have allied or foreign officers training just to make sure that they are aware of them.

The city of Valdosta knew about this. I'm sure most of the population around Moody Air Force Base did not pay attention to it until these individuals went AWOL. But when they did I think the police department were immediately informed and started the search.

There's an acknowledgment that they are there, but not much else beyond that. And most of the foreign nationals that are training in the United States or in overseas bases are given free reigns of not only the base but the local community.

PAUL: All right. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling -- always appreciate your insights, sir. Thank you.

HERTLING: Thank you -- Christi.

[08:44:55] BLACKWELL: All right. A border controversy brewing in Texas -- a local official is saying the federal government is forcing his city to house 700 undocumented men, women and children from Central America.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:48:45] PAUL: A border controversy brewing in north Texas this morning. The federal government has moved hundreds of undocumented teenagers and 200 adults from Central America to the Dallas suburbs. They've been staying near the U.S.-Mexican border.

Now for the next three weeks they'll be put in temporary housing and in Waxahachie and Rockwell local officials are concerned some of them might try to run away.


SHERIFF JOHNNY BROWN, ELLIS COUNTY, TEXAS: We do have security in place. The sheriff's office will be in charge of security on the outside of the buildings. We know we're going to have approximately 700 children that will be brought in, in stages at this point. They will have plenty of staff here to take care of things.

My thing is, I want to make sure the citizens of Ellis County know that this is under control and we have everything secure and they have no fears at this point.


PAUL: Let's talk to Paul Perry, he's the commissioner in Ellis County. Commissioner Perry -- thank you so much for being with us. I understand that you feel like this was forced upon you. I want to quote you here, you said, "We didn't solicit this. We didn't agree to it." What is your biggest concern?

[08:49:52] COMM. PAUL PERRY, ELLIS COUNTY TEXAS: Well, our biggest concern right now is security as well as potentially if the federal government does not follow through on its promises to pay for this. And it's all taxpayer dollars doing this.

My concern would be the impact to the local budget if some of this links financially; if we become responsible for something we are being told right now we're not.

PAUL: So those are some of -- I know you said you had some trust issues with the federal government. You don't trust them to live up to their obligations. There have been too many failed promises you say and historically they've let your state down. How so?

PERRY: Well, I think it's a reasonable comment. I mean you don't have to look any further than Social Security to see that the federal government frequently changes its mind on its obligations.

PAUL: I want to talk about who these kids are, because you said security is a concern and I understand that you've been told some of these kids are orphans. We did talk to Andrea Helling of the Department of Health and Human Services and she --

PERRY: That's not what I've been told. That's been a rumor. No one officially has told me that these are orphans.

PAUL: Ok. I'm sorry -- what have they told you? PERRY: They have told me that they are ages, I've heard two

statements -- I've been told they're ages 13 to 17, I've been told they're ages 12 to 18. What I observed last night on the news is some fairly large-statured young people walking down a road with their possessions in their hands and all that I saw were male.

PAUL: You saw them to be male. Again, I just wanted to let you know Andrea Helling of the Department of Health and Human Services gave us a statement saying, "These children are often victims of traffickers or suffer from other forms of harm during the journey they have undertaken."

Do you see these kids as a threat in some way? There might be some people who hear that statement from HHS and think why can't we help these kids?

PERRY: Well, I think helping people in bad situations is one thing, however, I'm a former magistrate. You know, I've seen juveniles in trouble. Evidently, these young folks come from backgrounds that would cause me to wonder, do they have habits, do they have affiliations? Have they learned skills that might impact them for a lifetime or certainly while they are young?

PAUL: So how much heads-up did you have that they were going to be coming to Texas?

PERRY: I was called by my county judge about 9:40 Tuesday morning. And then I received a follow-up phone call from Congressman Joe Barton about 12:40 to 12:50. And both were helpful, but that's not enough notice. And I don't think that they had much more notice than that.

PAUL: You mention that you were a magistrate, and you have said what you see and what you're told isn't always what you get -- is that fair to say?

PERRY: That would be fair to say.

PAUL: So, obviously, that doesn't speak very well for the U.S. system here. Are you concerned at all or asserting that the federal government either lies about the people that are coming in or about what's happening. Or do you think that the government just is ill- equipped to gauge what's really happening and who's coming in?

PERRY: Well, I know how government sometimes works. You gave me a statement by an official a minute ago from HHS. I know that that spokesman may not know what the story is.

PAUL: Ok. Well, we will certainly continue to follow this. We wish you the very best of luck, as I know that you feel your resources are thin and hopefully you can take care of your communities there, as well as the people that are coming in, though you feel your hand is forced.

Thank you so much, Commissioner Perry -- we appreciate your voice on this.

PERRY: You're more than welcome. Thank you.

PAUL: Thank you.

And we're going to have more on this story coming up today at 10:00 a.m. -- Victor.

Also at the 10:00 Eastern hour: a war of words, Donald Trump taking on Ted Cruz as new polls threaten his run for president -- at least the Iowa caucuses. What he's saying about his newfound rival.


PAUL: The 2015 CNN Hero of the Year thought she was taking a year off from college to travel the world. But Maggie Doyne's life took quite an unexpected dramatic turn.

BLACKWELL: Yes, just 28 she is now a mother to nearly 50 children in Nepal helping educate hundreds more. Michaela Pereira sat down with her just moments after she won that $100,000 award.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, the 2015 CNN Hero of the Year is Maggie Doyne.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When you heard your name said on the stage --

MAGGIE DOYNE, CNN 2015 HERO OF THE YEAR: From Anderson Cooper's mouth.

PEREIRA: From Anderson Cooper's mouth -- what went through your mind?

DOYNE: Just joy -- just pure joy and gratitude.

PEREIRA: What does it feel like?

DOYNE: I'm proud. I'm proud that I took that step, and I'm happy for the kids. This is really for them. They are the ones that have had the hardest stories and the struggles and have overcome so much.

PEREIRA: What do you want people to know about the children of Nepal?

DOYNE: There's hundreds of thousands of girls who are not enrolled into school. There are many orphan children as a result of civil war and disease and starvation. And I can't do it alone. We all have to do it together.

PEREIRA: How will this money help you do that?

DOYNE: I'm building a brand new school and I'm going to take in more kids. It's gas in the tank, it's, you know, remembering what this is all about and why we do it, so I'm taking this back to Nepal and for Nepal and for my kids and I'm just going to keep going.

PEREIRA: We're terrifically proud of you, young lady. DOYNE: Thank you.

PEREIRA: Keep on doing it -- ok.

DOYNE: Thanks -- Michaela.


PAUL: Pretty remarkable. You can watch the moment she won and the entire "CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE" program tonight at 8:00 Eastern.

[09:00:03] BLACKWELL: All right. We'll see you back here at 10:00.

PAUL: "SMERCONISH" starts now.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish. Here's what we learned this week.