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THE BRIEF WITH BIANCA NOBILO
California: Reagan Presidential Library Evacuated Due To Fire Danger; Pentagon: We Are Under No Illusions ISIS Will Go Away; Pentagon Releases Images Of The Baghdadi Raid; Pentagon: We Believe Baghdadi Fired From His Hole During The Last Moments; Rising Sea Levels Threaten Hundreds Of Millions. Aired 5-5:30p ET
Aired October 30, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thank you for watching we'll see you tomorrow.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Tonight on THE BRIEF Hurricane-force winds are whipping up wildfires in California as firefighters scramble to
control the flames. New revolutions in the impeachment inquiry, what happened two weeks before that infamous phone call with Ukraine's
President? And the letter of solidarity we'll speak with one of the British MPs supporting the Duchess of Sussex.
Live from London, I'm Bianca Nobilo welcome to the show. Things could get even more dangerous in the coming hours with several major wildfires
burning across the U.S. state of California. One fire is threatening the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library which is near Los Angeles. The flames
are being driven by powerful hurricane force winds. That's making it difficult for many people trying to get out of the fire zone.
Now, take a look at this map. You can see a big portion of the state is at immediate risk. Here's a look at how strong those winds are as they push
through the area and spread the flames. The situation is so intense, officials have issued have an extreme red flag warning for the first time
And here's another look at the fires. These images that you're looking at now come from the International Space Station more than 400 kilometers
above us. CNN's Bill Weir is in Simi Valley where the situation is changing by the hour. Bill, what does this extreme red flag warning mean and what's
the situation around you developing? Is it getting even worse?
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, it is - if to use the war metaphor, there are surprise attacks because this - these winds
that come howling out of the mountains this time of the year are sending embers in every direction. You can't see it through the smoke but on the
other side of the hills was the Reagan Library. We spent the morning there watching that fireproof, earthquake proof library and museum get tested.
The flames moved so fast you literally could not outrun them. Thanks to these 60, 70, 80 miles an hour bursts and unlike other disasters, may be a
coastal disaster or a quake in one little area, these fires affect so many lives even for people who don't. Let me give you an example. Let me spin
around show you the rarest of sights, an empty Southern California freeway.
Evacuation zones you imagine they are getting bigger and bigger as these fires spread, and there's also power outages because there are so many
vulnerable lines in these wild urban interfaces that they spark other fires which burn more land which put more wires at risk. This is a new normal in
Since Ronald Reagan was Governor of this state, Bianca, the wildfire season has increased by 2 1/2 months. PG&E the big electric company in the
northern part of the state, 15 years ago 15 percent of their lines were in vulnerable areas and now it's 50 percent and growing. So it feels like
today California is catching up with this new reality.
NOBILO: Bill Weir in Simi Valley, thank you. Right now, U.S. officials are giving an update on last weekend's raid that killed the Leader of ISIS.
Let's go straight now to that Pentagon briefing.
GEN. KENNETH F. MCKENZIE JR., COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: --back to the staging base. Following collection of the formal DNA analysis,
Baghdadi's remains were buried at sea in accordance to the law of long conflict within 24 hours of his death. While the assault force securing the
remains they also secured whatever documentation and electronics we could find which was substantial.
The assault force then left the compound and returned to their helicopters with the two detainees that I have already mentioned. And for the forces
safely off the objective, U.S. forces employed precision standoff munitions to destroy the compound and its contents pardon me. Let's go to the next
So what you will observe our U.S. Standoff munitions striking the compound those that you may have seen before and after pictures of the compound it
pretty much looked like a parking with large potholes right now. The operation was exquisitely planned and executed. It demonstrates the
unanimous states global reach and our unwavering commitment to destroy ISIS.
Leader suggests us and to protect America and others from people like Baghdadi. The mission was a difficult, complex and precise raid. That was
executed with the highest level of professionalism in the finest tradition of the U.S. military. Since there is a significant interest in military
working dogs, I wanted to provide a little background information on this fine K-9. Next photo, please. And actually let's go back a moment.
Before I actually go to the dog I would just like to show you the before and after pictures of the raid compound. You can see the way it looked
MCKENZIE: You can see the way it looks before and you can see the way it looked afterwards. Pretty clear that the success of the standoff munitions
that we employed ensured that it would not be a shrine or otherwise memorable in any other way it's just a matter of piece of ground. So let's
go to the dog picture.
U.S. Special Operation Command Military Working Dogs are critical members of our forces. These animals protect U.S. forces, save civilian lives,
separate combatants from noncombatants and immobilize individuals who express hostile intent. This dog is a 4-year-old veteran of - program and
has been a member of approximately 50 combat missions.
He was injured by exposed live electrical cables in the tunnel after Baghdadi detonated his vest beneath the compound. I will also note he has
been returned to duty. Finally, I would like to address the DNA analysis that was conducted to confirm Baghdadi's identify. The final slide, please.
As you can see, the Defense Intelligence Agency conducted the analysis and compared DNA from the remains taken from the compound and with an own file
sample taken when Baghdadi was at Camp Bucca Prison in Iraq in 2004. The analysis showed a direct match between the samples and produced a level of
certainty that remains belonged to Baghdadi of one and 104 Septillion which is certainly beyond a shadow of a doubt.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge that despite Baghdadi's death, we will not forget the victims and the atrocities he directed in his part
since 2014. U.S. Central Command remains focused on enduring defeat of ISIS and will remain vigilant against all terrorist organizations in the region
who threaten the United States, our partners and our allies.
I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the professionalism men and women who made this a success. This was a true inter agency effort. So
I commend our partners across the U.S. government. The individuals who planned and conducted this mission are quite professionals, focused on
their mission above glory of recognition. And committed people, that did hard risky work and they did it well. I have a few minutes to answer
questions. Mr. Jonathan over to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leta?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: General McKenzie, with the death of Baghdadi, can you just give us a sense of what the U.S. Counter ISIS fight is going to look
like? Are you seeing leaders start to emerge and just as related, the troops are now moving into Derasar? Can you tell us how they're going to
supplement that counter ISIS mission and explain about how they're going to be protecting the oil?
MCKENZIE: Sure. Let's start with ISIS. ISIS is first and last an ideology so we're under no illusions that it will go away because we killed
Baghdadi. It will remain. Suspect at highest levels they'll be a little disrupted and it will take them some time to re-establish someone to lead
the organization and during that period of time their actions may be a little bit disjointed.
They will be dangerous we suspect they will try some form of retribution attack. And we are postured and prepared for that. But we should recognize
that again since it's an ideology you're never going to be able to completely stamp it out. And in fact our definition of long-term success
against ISIS and other entities like ISIS is not the complete absence of that ideology, but rather its existence at a level where a local security
forces wherever in the world it exists can deal with it.
There's no international connective tissue. There is no ability to attack our homeland and local forces perhaps with training and some assistance
perhaps without those things is going to be able to suppress those entities as they go forward. We don't see a bloodless future because unfortunately
this ideology is going to be out there. But we think there's a way to get to the point where it's going to be less and less effective over time.
So the second part of your question was about Derasar. What we want to do is ensure that ISIS is not able to regain possession of any of the oil
fields that would allow them to gain income going forward. We have got forces there at Derasar that is we have brought in some reinforcements
there. We'll await further decision of the U.S. government how that plan is going to look in the long term.
I don't want to get ahead of the Secretary Defense in describing that but as if right now we have secured the oil fields at Derasar generally east of
the Euphrates River in the vicinity of Conico and Green Village for those of you that follow the details on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General, could you confirm that Baghdadi - in his final moments the President said that he was whimpering and crying in his final
moments. And also could you give us any better sense - you talked about the substantial electronics recovered from the site. Can you could elaborate a
bit on what that?
MCKENZIE: Sure. So let me start with the second part. No, I can't tell you anything about what we took off the site. You'll appreciate that. We're
going to exploit that and we expect it to help us going forward. So, now about Baghdadi's last moments I can tell you this. He crawled into a hole
with two small children, and blew himself up while his people stayed on the grounds.
MCKENZIE: You can deduce what kind of person it is based on that activity. So that would be just my empirical observation of what he did. I'm not able
to confirm anything else about his last seconds. I just can't confirm that one way or the other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there reinforcements that any other ISIS personnel try to approach that position and was there fire that was exchanged? There
was footage of a white van that was riddled with bullets right next to the scene.
MCKENZIE: Sure. There were no other ISIS forces in the area. We are completely confident of that. He had been out there for an extended period
of time hiding. There were other militant groups in the area that probably did not know he was there. Once they saw the helicopters land and began to
operate, they began to flow toward it.
So they were not flowing to reinforce him, but they were flowing to work what they thought was perhaps a Turk military operation, perhaps a Russian
military operation perhaps an American military operation they didn't know. So the white van that you talk about was one of the vehicles that displayed
hostile intent came towards us and it was destroyed in addition to the video that I just shared with you of the fighters on the ground that were
addressed by the gunships.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible).
MCKENZIE: You know we don't. Out there it's going to be hard enough. We used the figure of about 10 to 15, but we really don't know for sure and I
don't know that we're ever going to know that because we won't go back out there and count.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, you mentioned that you staged from within Syria. Was there anything about the changes on the ground in the last two to three
weeks with the U.S. pulling back forces with Turkey coming across that caused you to accelerate this operation or change the timing of this
MCKENZIE: Jennifer, absolutely not. We chose the time based on a variety of factors, weather, certainty, linear data, a variety of things like that.
And while it might have been convenient to use bases there, the United States military has the capability to go almost anywhere and support
ourselves even at great distances. So that was not a limiting factor. We struck because the time is about right to do it then given the totality of
the intelligence and the other situations - and the other factors that would affect the raid force going in and coming out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a general - a couple of quick clarifications. So you said that there were I think six individuals killed on site four women
and two men is that right?
MCKENZIE: That's correct.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did any of the individual's fire at the American forces as they were entering the compound? And also is there any other
information you can give us about how the tunnel was detected? How far underground Baghdadi was and do you know the rough ages of the children
that he took down there with him?
MCKENZIE: So I would tell you we believe that the ages of both children he took down with him were under 12 years old but that's about all I can tell
you about that. I can tell you that we believe Baghdadi actually may have fired from his hole, in his last moments. The other people that were
engaged on the objective were behaving in a threatening manner with suicide vests approaching the raid force.
That causes you to make some decisions particularly when they don't respond to Arabic language commands to stop warning shots in the progression of
escalation, you know, that our special operators are so very good at.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is the tunnel detected? Was it open or was it--
MCKENZIE: So as we looked at it, as you would expect, we had an opportunity to study this pretty carefully. We came to the conclusion we should expect
possibly a tunnel feature there. So that was the first thing that we took a look at. And then the interrogation of people on the objective allowed us
to gain a better appreciation of where it might be.
Then as you know we just have a variety of things I can't go into, one of them being the working dogs that are very good at scenting humans and going
after them when they're not immediately obvious. That's sort of how we came to that conclusion. The key thing is you know we actually established
physical security around the compound, got the noncombatants off and that gave us time to work the problem.
You're always worried in a situation like that that the house might be rigged. So you have to pay attention to that. There are a variety of things
that the raid force commander has to balance on the ground. I think they did a remarkable job of doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have just been given notice that the White House is going to start shortly so we're going to get in a couple more questions in
our respect for - we're going to cut it short. So we go over here, Ryan?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: General, can you talk about any support that the SDF provided to this operation?
MCKENZIE: So yes, I can.
NOBILO: CNN U.S. Correspondent Alex Marquardt is following this Pentagon briefing from our Washington Bureau. We're also joined by the CNN Military
Analyst Cedric Leighton, who is with us via Skype and CNN's Sam Kiley joins me now from the Turkish/Syrian border to analyze what we just heard.
Cedric Leighton, I'll start with you. So we heard that a description of the operation itself - in fact, the standoff munitions were used to access the
compound that working dogs played a large role, some about the actual targeting of Baghdadi himself. What stands out to you from what you have
just heard? Anything particularly out of the ordinary as far as these types of military operations go?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Bianca, actually no, this was a textbook example of how the special operations forces operate and they
integrated their capabilities with the weapons capabilities that both the army and the air force have including those joint standoff munitions that
General McKenzie mentioned in the briefing.
These weapons can be used to - as the name implies over a greater range than standard munitions can be and the way they're used also shows that
they're really dependent on very accurate intelligence. So what they did was they used accurate intelligence to provide accurate targeting
information to the pilots so that they could then hit the target the way they needed to.
This was something that I think - you know, the analysis of special operations forces becomes a critical feature and will probably be an
operation that will be studied a lot by other special operators, both our friends and our adversaries.
NOBILO: Sam, you're on the Turkish/Syrian border as Cedric was talking about. The human intelligence played a huge role here. The interrogations
was mentioned as a key part of how they gathered the information as to where this compound was, who was going to be there. What do we understand
about where the U.S. got this information from?
And also, Sam, this question of timing because obviously with the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, it looks as if the timing is a little peculiar here,
but those at the Pentagon briefing maintained it was because they had sufficient intelligence now to move forward.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think if we take the intelligence issue first Bianca, there's been a number of different
groups claiming to have been critical in building the jigsaw puzzle, the map that led everybody or led the United States forces to Bashira Village
(ph) in Northwestern Syria, Idlib Province very much unexpected location.
In Iraq a number of people have told CNN that they had intelligence that led to a courier and his wife who gave them information about his broad
whereabouts. We've also heard from the Syrian Democratic Forces that they have claimed to have had a spy on the ground that claimed the underpants of
Mr. Baghdadi which were used to positively identify him as a target at that location and even claims unsubstantiated that perhaps that individual was
actually airlifted out by the United States.
There will be inevitably a bit of claim and counterclaim on this and equally a degree of smoke thrown out particularly by the Americans to
protect the intelligence assets that they probably want to use in future operations and indeed another leading member of ISIS has killed the same
day near Jarablus in an air strike again that the Syrian Democratic Forces claimed to have supplied intelligence on that.
So in questions - to answer your question about the timing, the military and I've spent an awful lot of time in Afghanistan around them will not
take too many considerations when it comes to politics what they're most interested in is getting the right conditions for an operation. So I don't
think it was necessarily tied too tightly to the Turkish invasion but clearly that would have upset some planning.
NOBILO: Alex Marquardt, you were following that Pentagon briefing. Talk to us about how the description of the last moments of Baghdadi tallies with
what we have heard from the President.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Well Bianca, there are a number of new details in the briefing. Of course this was an operation that
the Pentagon and the Trump Administration are very keen to tout. And it's being chalked up as one of the President's biggest Foreign Policy National
And so what the Pentagon did here just now the General who's in charge of CENTCOM which of course covers the Middle East is painted a much fuller
picture. To answer your question, one of the major corrections that the Pentagon had issue just now from some of the initial reporting was the
numbers of the people inside the house.
We just heard General McKenzie there say that as the delta forces went into that compound, there were six people who were killed four women and two men
who were acting towards those forces in a threatening manner and had suicide vests. As for Baghdadi himself, General McKenzie did say that they
did anticipate a tunnel structure being within that compound and sure enough as the operation got under way Baghdadi fled down into that tunnel.
It was initially reported with three children. General McKenzie just said it was just two Baghdadi then blowing himself up killing himself of course
as well as these two children which the Pentagon is now calling a murder/suicide.
MARQUARDT: That's one of the new details that came out just now in that briefing Bianca. Not to get too gory but there were some body parts that
were removed from the scene in order to positively identify as best they can that this was indeed Baghdadi.
And what was interesting, Bianca, is that the Defense Intelligence Agency that carried out that analysis compared it to generic material, DNA
material that they had from the time that Baghdadi had been held by the American forces in Iraq at Camp Bucca and they said that those results came
back guaranteeing certifying with one in 104 Septillion chance that this was not Baghdadi. So that's close to 100 percentage you can get General
McKenzie was saying. Bianca.
NOBILO: Alex Marquardt, Sam Kiley and Colonel Cedric Leighton thanks to all of you for joining us to analyze what we've just heard from the Pentagon
there. Well, THE BRIEF will be right back after a short break.
NOBILO: On the eve of a critical vote laying out the next phase of the U.S. impeachment inquiry, more key witnesses are confirming accounts of the
Trump Administration's months long effort to pressure Ukraine for political favors. Two State Department employees are testifying behind closed doors
One says that she learned in July that White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had placed a hold on the U.S. military aide to Ukrainian on the
orders of President Donald Trump. The second witness is detailing concerns that Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump's Personal Attorney, was becoming an
"Obstacle to official U.S. policy on Ukraine".
And we have just learned that there could be a blockbuster testimony next week if John Bolton agrees to cooperate with the inquiry. Congressional
investigators have invited Mr. Trump's Former National Security Adviser to appear November 7th. The vote tomorrow by the full House of Representatives
will allow for public hearings and a top U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor is reportedly willing to repeat his explosive private testimony. THE BRIEF
will be right back in just moments.
NOBILO: It sounds like all of the worst parts of a disaster movie. Houses under water, whole cities submerged but this isn't a movie it's a real-life
warning and it could be life changing for hundreds of millions of people. A staggering new report on the climate crisis is sounding the alarm. Saying
rising sea levels nearly triple the previously estimated area and populations under threat. As Chad Myers explains most of those at risk are
CHAD MYERS, CNN WEATHER EXPERT: Bianca, this is not about sea level rise, this is about the land being lower than we first thought. Now, the old
measurements were from the space shuttle going around and measuring now what it thought was the land surface the elevation. At times it was
actually measuring rooftops or treetops. Not the land below it.
So now we expect 300 million people to get a coastal flood once a year because they are lower than what the original elevation told us that they
were. These numbers are now much more accurate and they are much lower by two meters across the globe. So we know the sea is going up between half a
meter and almost two meters as we progress up into 2100.
But we didn't know was that the land was actually lower so how much lower? We'll take a look at Calcutta. This is what we knew was going to flood now
this is what we think is going to flood because of the new elevation maps that have been put out. So if we go to Ho Chi Minh City, we go to Vietnam,
here's what we knew was going to flood but here's now what's going to flood.
So this is significant space and where people actually live very close to the water. 70 percent of them come from China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam,
Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines and Japan. And that's where we are right now. Something else that this thing pushed ahead to 2100 as the water
continues to go up. 2 million people - 200 million people will be below high tide by that time. That's just incredible. Bianca?
NOBILO: Chad Myers there, that's THE BRIEF. I'm Bianca Nobilo. And "WORLD SPORT" is up next.