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Mass Shootings Renew Debate Over Domestic Terrorism Resources; 8chan Founder: Web Site Admins "Callous" & "Don't Seem to Care," Amid Outcry It Promotes Hate; Honoring the Victims & Heroes of El Paso & Dayton Shootings; Stocks Spooked as China Defied Trump, Halts U.S. Agricultural Purchases & Drops Value of Currency. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired August 6, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:33:05] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR & NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This weekend's mass shootings left 31 people dead and exposed what critics say is a glaring lack of strategy in combatting domestic terror.

Lawmakers and officials telling CNN there's no cohesive plan for dealing with the problem. And in addition to the logistical challenges, a very limited set of tools to identify and disrupt domestic terror plots before they are carried out.

One senior FBI official also says that despite the uptick in domestic terror cases, Congress and the executive branch have been slow to react.

Former FBI supervisory special agent and CNN law enforcement analyst, James Gagliano, joins me now.

The president said that, and I'm quoting, that "Whatever they need to combat domestic terrorism," that's what he would give law enforcement officials, agents.

What do they need?

JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Let's talk about it from this perspective. We talk about an event like this in the law enforcement realm as the boom. Left to boom are all the pre-incident indicators, the pre-attack indicators, the things that happen that go into preparing and planning for the event.

Right of boom is now the aftermath, how do we go forward with the prosecution and how do we change our laws to try and fix this and make sure it doesn't happen again.

From the left of boom perspective, that's where the problem is.

Right of boom, this guy is going to go away for life and there's a great possibility he's going to get the death penalty.

But how do we change the laws pre-boom, left of boom, to make sure that we are attacking this from the same way that we attack it with ISIS and groups like that? HILL: You bring up such a great point because, in this country, based

on the laws that went into effect after September 11th, international terrorism is approached differently. There's no domestic terror charge as we know.

But you could be in, let's say, an ISIS chat room and be charged. You could be in a white supremacist chat room and not be. So the change has to come from a legal perspective.

The FBI Agents Association, just this morning, saying we continue to urge Congress to make this a federal crime. What would that change for you in terms of that left of boom that you talk about?

[11:35:04] GAGLIANO: So that's where it gets complicated because this debate runs smack into the First Amendment and the protections we enjoy there and the Fourth Amendment, which protects us from illegal searches and seizures, meaning there has to be probable cause for the government to be able to do that search.

After 9/11, the Patriot Act handled that. You and I were talking about Section 802. Not to get too wonky about it now. But we talked about that. There's a provision in there for domestic terrorism. But because these are Americans, they're not having conversations online ostensibly with people from foreign countries, we're a little more limited.

Should that be changed? Absolutely. But people are going to be concerned, would this be a reflexive move, just like they look at the Patriot Act as being too overbearing 10 years after 9/11, 20 years after 9/11. So it's something we have to be cautious about.

HILL: I always appreciate seeing you, my friend.

GAGLIANO: Thank you.

HILL: Kate, back to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Erica, thank you so much.

James, thank you as well.

The online message board where the El Paso suspect posted his racist screed has been a sounding board for other mass murders bent on spewing their hatred where they kind of post -- have posted just before they go on attack. Why the founder of one message board, known as 8chan, says shutting down the site won't stop the hate from spreading, though he wants it down.


[11:40:54] BOLDUAN: Minutes before the gunman opened fire at the Walmart in El Paso, Texas, it's believed he took to the Internet. Police investigating a four-page screed posted on the anonymous message board called 8chan.

The author's writing filled with hate toward immigrants and Hispanics, talk of a, quote, unquote, "invasion of Texas." The author also writing, quote, "I'm probably going to die today."

This isn't the first time 8chan has been connected to a mass shooting. An account believed to be connected to the mosque shootings in New Zealand posted on that same site. And minutes before the synagogue shooting in Poway, California, the user, who identified himself as the suspect, posted hate speech there as well.

After this weekend's shooting, that message board was pulled offline.

And 8chan's founder, who is no longer associated with the site, now says that it should remain and should be completely shut down.


FREDRICK BRENNAN, FOUNDER, 8CHAN: I changed my mind because of the way that they're administering the site. That's the main reason that I've changed my mind. If they continue to operate it as they are operating it, it is going to cause affects way beyond 8chan on the Internet, on U.S. law even, because they're so callus and they don't seem to care at all.


BOLDUAN: What is the role of message boards like 8chan? What can be done about them?

Joining me is Drew Harwell, a technology reporter for the "Washington Post," who has been following 8chan, whose reporting, as I mentioned, I've been following very closely.

Drew, thanks for being here.

Can we just start from a place of, what is the point of 8chan?

DREW HARWELL, TECHNOLOGY REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: It is an anonymous anything-goes message board where it seems like millions of people tend to go and find a community where they can talk about video games or anything else.

But the most important and most popular part of 8chan is this politically incorrect board that is just a haven of, you know, the worst, most racist, most sexist, most hateful things you can imagine online.


HARWELL: And you know, they have a community there.


HARWELL: And people have a community there and they feel like, I can be celebrated by having these views, and so you see shooters like these three this year find a refuge there.

BOLDUAN: That's the one thing. It's not just the anonymous postings. It's the cheerleading that also happens, and how they then talk about how they can spread the hate, spread and celebrate the hate that these people post.

So 8chan is down now. Will it -- will taking it down stop the worst of the worst from getting online? Of course, as one goes down, does another pop out? How many other 8chans are out there?

HARWELL: Well, 8chan itself was a spinoff of another hateful site. And I think closing one Web site is not going to solve the problem of extremism and hateful people online. It's going to crop up elsewhere.

But it makes it harder. It adds one extra level of friction. And it disrupts a community of people who were going onto 8chan and knowing that this is a place where I can find other people who are just as spiteful and corrosive as me.

So I think every extra step that is taken in this way, you know, further distributes that and further disrupts that cause. But this is a much longer problem than any one Web site.

BOLDUAN: And it's a much bigger conversation. I've realized how little I know about how the Internet actually works when I started reading your reporting. It was taken down in the end by a business that provides the key hardware for what these Web sites need.

Other than relying on private businesses to step in here, is there anything that government regulators are considering or even can do?

HARWELL: That's a great question. There's considerations, but we value the First Amendment in this country in a way that we have sort of long protected these Web sites that allow hateful things to go online. And there's an anxiety there among some regulators in going too far and overstepping the bounds and maybe hitting other Web sites that aren't 8chan as part of that law.

But I think there's something that can be done to say this is the line we want to draw. This is hateful content that is clearly leading to people's lives being taken.

[11:45:02] We need to punish companies that allow too much of this extremist thought to be going out there unmoderated. And maybe there are things we can do to support these companies who are taking a tougher stance on these. Companies like the ones that helped take down 8chan.

So I think we're starting to see some momentum about where regulators and lawmakers can put their foot down and say enough is enough. These Web sites are clearly causing harm. And it's just -- it's gone way too far.

BOLDUAN: Being ignorant of it is no longer OK. The companies, once these private businesses are aware of it, they are saying -- at least some of them, that it goes absolutely against their standards and they're not going to stand for it.

But I'll speak for myself included, not understanding it is no longer OK, because it still can hurt you, hit you and kill you, what we see coming out of these Web sites and these message boards. Drew, thank you for your reporting. I appreciate it.

HARWELL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: We're going to turn away from the hate now, to the love and the heroism. We are hearing extraordinary stories from victims who survived the El Paso shooting, including the story of one man killed while shielding his wife and daughter from the killer inside the Walmart. His daughters are now speaking out, next.


[11:50:14] HILL: As the shaken community here in El Paso mourns the loss of now 22 lives, there's also some hope to be found in the emerging stories of selflessness and survival.

Christopher Grant is among those who put others before himself. When the shooting started, he actually tried to draw the gunman's attention.


CHRISTOPHER GRANT, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: To deter him, I started just chunking balls. I just started throwing random bottles at him. I'm not a baseball player so one went this way, one went that way. One went right towards him. That's when he saw me and just started -- and I ducked. I was behind the chips. So I ducked and he just boom action boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, started firing off rounds at me. I was like, oh, my god, this guy is shooting at me.

People were praying in Spanish. Por favor, no. No. Por favor, no. They were on the ground and he still just shot them in the head. I mean, they're praying in Spanish. I mean, I'm from El Paso and I know Spanish and they are praying, "Please, please, don't shoot me." And he had no remorse for their lives at all.


HILL: CNN national correspondent, Sara Sidner, is here with me now.

Sarah, you also spoke with another family who talked about the heroic efforts of one of their own. But they're breathing at the same time.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are breathing. They lost a couple, a mother and father of three children. The Jamkowskis talked to me about that couple. They talked to me about their daughter and son-in-law.

And the mother that is grieving now, who has lost her daughter, who has lost her son-in-law, said something remarkable to us. She said that she forgives the shooter. This is 48 hours after they found out that their loved ones had been killed and she was able to say, look, I forgive him because I want to show more love than hate.

But when she started talking about her daughter, in that moment, she realized that she couldn't just call her. This is how she responded to that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We pray a lot. And we have a lot of family and friends. The church is broken. Your mind is broken. I go to call her and you forget that she's not there.


SIDNER: All that pain.

The entire family sat down with us at their home yesterday and they talked about just who these two young people were that had these three young children. All three of them now missing a mother, missing a father and stepfather.

And their youngest daughter -- I will not forget this. Their youngest daughter, a 5-year-old, she said that she understood that her parents were dead. Her mommy and daddy were gone. She also said she wondered if the shooter was going to try to kill her. And 5-year-old Skyland is dealing with this and trying to understand as a 5-year-old. And she has that fear.

The family is like, we are going to have to try and teach her not to be afraid while they themselves have the same kind of fear.

HILL: It is impossible to imagine what they are going through. And yet, the reality is there are far too many families in this country who actually do understand that pain.

You also spoke -- heard from the family of David Johnson, another heroic moment there. These are the stories that really give people the hope that they need in these moments as we look at all of this pain.

SIDNER: It is. Whenever you have a tragedy like this, you always find those people who are trying to do good, even in the face of hatred.

David Johnson was out there with his wife, Kathy. They were shopping for their 9-year-old granddaughter. You know, the grandparents taking the kids out for that back-to-school shopping. We've all been there, right? And they were just trying to get some clothes that she had her eye on and the shooting started.


KIMBERLY JOHNSON, DAUGHTER OF DAVID JOHNSON: From what we've been told, like what my mom said, was that he pushed them down, my niece and my mom, and he --


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "A.C. 360": Your dad pushed them both down.

JOHNSON: Yes. He covered them and he got shot.

COOPER: When there was shooting, he got on top of them?

STEPHANIE MENENDEZ, DAUGHTER OF DAVID JOHNSON: He pushed them and made them hide. I could have lost my daughter. I was so close to losing her. But because of him, she's still here. And my mom. My mom is still here. And if it wasn't for him -- his legacy will be forever, forever with us. He was just a hero.


[11:55:19] SIDNER: Imagine that 22 families are going through these same things, are feeling that deep sorrow.

And what I find remarkable is that, when we sat down with the Jamkowski family, they found it in their heart to forgive. They said, this is our thing, this is what we believe in, and we have to even, at the worst possible moment in our lives, we have to show that love will conquer hate.

HILL: And that is a remarkable show of strength as well.

Sara, appreciate it as always. Thank you, my friend.

Kate, we'll hand it back to you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much, Erica.

In your conversation with -- in your conversation with Sara just then, I am just wondering why families have to be so strong, so resilient and stand up to so much. It's just remarkable.

Thank you guys so much for bringing that to us.

Still ahead for us, we'll turn back to some of the breaking news we were watching just yesterday. We know that stocks may be rebounding from their worst single day drop of the year. But this is the next round in the trade war with China. This goes back and forth between the U.S. and China. We'll have much more on what that means, next.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back, everybody.

Yesterday was the worst single day for U.S. stocks in the entire year. What's behind all of it? At its core, it's the trade war with China. The latest move is China is now barring companies from buying U.S. agriculture products.

It also dropped the value of its currency to its lowest level against the dollar in more than a decade, which prompted Washington to label China a currency manipulator.

Today, stock markets are struggling right now to recover. You see the Dow right now as the trade war sees absolutely no end in sight.

CNN's Alison Kosik is joining me now from the New York Stock Exchange for more perspective on exactly what we're looking at.

Alison, what are you hearing today?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Kate, this is exactly what a trade war looks like and this is sort of what everybody was sort of worried about when you see one side take one action, the other side retaliates.

We saw that triggered when President Trump announced the final tranche of tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods going into effect September 1st. that originally happening because the Chinese pulling back on making those agriculture purchases. Something very crucial to Trump, crucial to his -- politically crucial to getting him re- elected. That's why you saw Trump come out with that announcement about those new tariffs.

The problem is we saw China go ahead and fight back hard, devaluing the yuan. Then we see the U.S. hitting back, calling it a currency manipulator.

It's exhausting and no end in sight -- Kate?

[12:00:06] BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

Alison, thank you so much for that. We're keeping a close eye.