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Pentagon: Last U.S. Military Planes Have Left Afghanistan, Every Single U.S. Service Member Is Out Of The Country; American Citizen Remains In Afghanistan, Desperate To Leave Alongside Afghan Families She's Helping; Jefferson Parish, Louisiana President On Search & Rescue Mission. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 30, 2021 - 21:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: This will be in history books.

Pentagon just put it out. They say, "The war has ended." Army Major General Chris Major General Chris Donahue, Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne, boarding a C-17, to depart Kabul, lifted off at 11:59 P.M. Local, just before the clock struck midnight.

So, that means it's August 31st, in Afghanistan, right now, right? Remember that date, arbitrary, set by the Biden administration. It's about 5:30 in the morning, there now.

The Taliban knows the United States is gone, and is celebrating with gunfire.





CUOMO: Now, the government can tell us that the war has ended. And they can put out the picture of the last soldier. They say. But we all know, it isn't over, OK? Two reasons.

Now, what we do know that is true is that America has lost the last clear chance to cut a different deal, or to maintain a force in Afghanistan, until everyone is out, or to reclaim the Bagram Air Base, to secure exits, and to keep an eye on one of the most, if not, the most fertile terror spots in the world.

So, you can say this has ended. But it's certainly not over. Two reasons.

First, the immediate, as many as 200 Americans are still there. And look, I have never trusted the numbers, not because I'm cynical. I'm just being skeptical, from a practical perspective. I don't know how they know how many people there are on the ground. And they have said themselves, even at the White House level, that they can't be sure. So, they say 200, 100, 200.

Americans are still on the ground, who wanted to get out, and couldn't, an unknown number of families, who believed America, when they were told that they would be saved, if they worked with U.S. troops, are also still there.

The concept of "No man left behind" is centuries old. And it is a concrete commitment that inspires loyalty. Do we still believe in that commitment? The President and his Secretary of State say, "Yes."

They point to an unprecedented evacuation that freed over 120,000. And that was something. And it was something impressive. We've never done anything like it before. Yet, why did it have to happen? That's something that must be in the analysis as well.

And on top of what the President says, the Secretary of State says, "Those who were left behind, we'll still get out, even without U.S. troops being there," even with them being in the grip of one of the most barbaric groups in the world.

Here is the Secretary of State.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: If an American in Afghanistan tells us that they want to stay for now, and then in a week, or a month, or a year, they reach out, and say, "I've changed my mind," we will help them leave.

We've worked intensely to evacuate, and relocate Afghans, who worked alongside us, and are at particular risk of reprisal. We've gotten many out. But many are still there. We will keep working to help them. Our commitment to them has no deadline.

We will hold the Taliban to its pledge, to let people freely depart Afghanistan. The Taliban has committed to let anyone with proper documents leave the country, in a safe and orderly manner.


CUOMO: You learn in this business that things have to be repeated, can't just say things once. So, for the record, Biden didn't get us into this situation, OK? Many presidents have a hand in what should be blamed, if you want to look at Afghanistan, as a failure.

Certainly, the most recent iteration was Trump deciding to negotiate with the Taliban, OK? That absolutely undercut the confidence of the government and hastened the decline. And there is no question that while Biden was dealt a bad hand, he played his cards poorly, as well.

So, that's how we got here. But "Going forward," is going to be the true tale of the tape. And the idea of what the Secretary of State just said, it's just hard to believe. Why? Because the Taliban is not our friend. It is an oppressive regime. It's not about cooperating. They are in control.

And now, thanks to you, they are much better-equipped. How much of what America left behind or, for the Afghans, does the Taliban now have?


How many of the half a million assault rifles, machine guns, and pistols, the tens of thousands of armored vehicles, the dozens of planes and choppers, how much of that stuff are they going to be using now, to spread their perverse form of religion?

Here's them. Look at them, checking out a hangar, at the airport, after we left, and the choppers left behind.


CUOMO: America can't count on these people any more than those left behind can right now count on America. So, that's the first reason it's not start over, because we got people still there.

The second reason is because this war is not over. The war is a war against terror. Terror is not one group in one place. It is an idea. And terrorism exists. And Afghanistan will likely be a breeding ground, once again.

So, how safe will we be at home, now that "The war" is over? Does anyone think about why we haven't had another 9/11 in 20 years? Do you really believe that being on the ground, in Afghanistan, wasn't part of why we didn't have another 9/11?

The White House said today, we're not going to allow terrorists to grow and prosper in Afghanistan. Easy to say. But how? How, if you're not there?

Targeted airstrikes, we just saw it, went after that guy from ISIS-K. OK. But is that what safety is about? What about Intel? With no boots on the ground, and the rise of ISIS-K, and who knows what else, and who else, how will America know what she needs to know?

Listen to what a senior ISIS-K commander told CNN, a little over two weeks ago, just days before Kabul fell.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: With U.S. forces, out of the country, and the Taliban, potentially in control, do you think that will make it easier for you to expand?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, this exists in our plan. Instead of currently operating, we have turned to recruiting only, to utilize the opportunity, and to do our recruitment.

But when the foreigners and people of the world leave Afghanistan, we can restart our operations. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Think the next time you see that cat, he'll be in shadow? Remember, that group attacked last week, and killed 13 American heroes.

President Biden will address the nation tomorrow. He cannot really be expected to tell you how they're going to get the rest of the Americans, and the Allies, out of Afghanistan.

But here's the question for him. Can President Biden reassure you that you will be just as safe here, at home, without America, being in Afghanistan?

To the better minds, former CIA Counterterror official, Phil Mudd, and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis, who served two combat tours in Afghanistan, and is now a Senior Fellow with Defense Priorities.

Welcome to both of you. Good to have you.


CUOMO: A momentous occasion to be sure. What it means is what we will discuss.

So Phil, let me start with you. What does the day mean? And can President Biden say to America, tomorrow, "We can keep you just as safe, here at home, without being in Afghanistan?"

MUDD: No, he can't say that. But I've also heard people talk about this, in terms - in Intelligence terms, as a disaster. I would disagree with that heartily as well.

Look, you've seen some of the collection, in the past few days, when there were strikes, both outside Kabul and inside Kabul. I'm going to bet that a lot of the collection that led to those strikes will continue afterwards.

Some of that is remote. That is stuff like drones and intercepted communications. I expect drone operations to continue. I do not believe you will see an absence of U.S. Intelligence officers, in Afghanistan, in the coming months and years.

I expect cooperation, from some of our friends there, some of the contacts that we had, when the Soviets were around. Some of those warlords are still around. I guarantee you. They want to talk to the Americans, because those warlords don't like the Taliban.

Another clue, the Americans are moving to Doha, Qatar. Qatar is one of the countries with a closest relationship with the Taliban. Why are we moving there? Because, we're going to, use, the Qataris, diplomatically, and, I hope, in other ways, to gain access to Afghanistan. So, it's friends. It's overflights. It's things like visits to people, who are close to us. I'm not saying it's going to be easy. I think it will be harder. I don't think you can argue that we're safe. But I also don't think it's a disaster, Chris. We'll figure something out.

CUOMO: Well just because it's not a disaster, Phil, doesn't mean that this was the right move, and done the right way. There's a lot of space in between.

But you do pick up on a good point, a couple actually, which is just because they say "No boots on the ground," Colonel, doesn't mean "No shoes" either, right?

You can have Intel people there. You can have different operatives. Just because it's not an official U.S. military presence, doesn't mean the United States is not going to be there. So, the government's having a little bit both ways.

But sir, thank you for being on the show. And what does today mean to you?

LT COL DANIEL DAVIS (RET), SERVED TWO COMBAT TOURS IN AFGHANISTAN, DEFENSE PRIORITIES FELLOW & MILITARY EXPERT: Well, I'll tell you, just on a personal level, at first, it's a really sobering time.


Because all of these places, whether it was Bagram, or Kabul, or a number of these other places, Mazar-i-Sharif, where I spent a lot of time, on the ground, and now then to see that the Taliban is in complete control of all of that, and everything that we did, all the investments that we've made, all the blood that we've spilled, is literally for nothing.

And the reason why that's so egregious to me is because I've been trying to tell people, from well over a decade, since 2010, I said, "If we don't make these significant changes, we will lose the war." None of those changes were made.

But the worst part is that our senior leaders, at various levels, knew that it wasn't working. And instead of being honest about the situation, to the American people, they hid it, so that we continued thinking it was working. But all that did is lay the foundation for this disaster that has unfolded here now.

CUOMO: One more point for each of you.

First, Colonel, is it fair to say that it has come to nothing, when we haven't had another major foreign terrorist attack, since 9/11, and one part has to be the presence in Afghanistan?

DAVIS: Well see, I actually argue pretty vehemently that it had nothing to do with the troops in Afghanistan.

Look, I was there, when there was 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops. And there were vast section of the country, in 2011 that we had no acknowledgement in at all. We had no power, no influence in.

So, if the Taliban owning a piece of terrain was going to open it up, to the Taliban, or to al Qaeda, or any other group, it would have already happened, years ago. And then what about Syria? What about Iraq? What about Pakistan, all these other places, Somalia, where there's plenty of opportunity?

But we have to defend against those places as well. And we do, for the very reason you pointed out there, because we have Intelligence capabilities. And we have kept ourselves safe. So, I don't think this makes us any less safe.

CUOMO: Phil, what is your take on what the Colonel just said? And what do you make of the suggestion that the United States should have kept Bagram?

They should have kept a force there. They should have kept that site. And they could have used it for these exits, obviously, but they could have used it, just as a position in control of a place that can get very deadly very quickly.

MUDD: Boy, I'm going to say, I love the U.S. Army. I don't think we could. I was at CIA. I was Deputy Director of Counterterrorism. We couldn't have done it without them.

And that is, in the beginning, we didn't know everywhere al Qaeda was. We didn't have a lot of time. And without the taking of geography, I'm not sure you could have just used Special Forces, of the CIA, to moving into Afghanistan, and eliminate the networks that were there, quickly enough.

We thought the next 9/11 was happening. I thought we were losing, Chris. Until about, I'd say 2004, 2005, I thought we were losing. So, I would agree with this assessment today. But in terms of taking us back, to when we started, man, we were in deep trouble.

In terms of Bagram, I don't buy it. Look, I've flown into Bagram. It is a long way to Kabul. There is a lot of territory.

When you're driving along that road, what that territory means is every time you get into a car, you might get hit by an RPG, you might get hit by something else that the Taliban, or somebody else, some rogue Taliban element, or ISIS-K is throwing at you.

Every scenario people come up with, "Why don't we have a stay-behind U.S. force?" well, the Taliban took the country over. Where are you going to put that thing?

So, every scenario people come up with, including Bagram, I'm going to tell them, let's have a conversation, because there's a different scenario. I'm going to tell you, it's worse, Chris.

CUOMO: Let me end it with this. On 9/11, I lived it. I lost people there. 11 days later, I got engaged.

Because I was so convinced that this was the new normal, and nothing was guaranteed, and the next day could be horrible. And if anybody had told me, it wouldn't happen again, for 20 years, I would have thought they were off their meds.

But Phil, on the Intel side, Colonel, on the Military side, whether you want to take credit or not, as an American, I am very grateful that guys like you, and the women, and all the staff, and all the people, and the Allies, 20 years, there hasn't been another major attack.

And I think the gratitude has to come first, even though I know there's a lot of disappointment.

Stop shaking your head, Phil. Take the "Thank you."

MUDD: No, I just - I'm with you.

CUOMO: Just take it.

MUDD: Thank - thank you, U.S. Army. They saved us. Thank you.

CUOMO: Shaking his head, he won't even take a "Thanks," Colonel! This is why I need you to come on in this show more. This guy can't even take a "Thank you."

MUDD: I'm looking at you. And--

CUOMO: That's why I got to balance him out.

MUDD: I'm looking at you dressed in there--


MUDD: --Chris Cuomo cadaver collection. I'm like, "Man, I got to get off here!"

DAVIS: He's a good man!

MUDD: "I can't take it anymore."

CUOMO: I only dress this way. It's because it's how I feel on the inside.

Phil Mudd, thank you very much.

MUDD: All right, take care.

CUOMO: Colonel Davis, Daniel Davis, thank you for being with us.

DAVIS: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you for your service to the country. And I hope we get to continue having you and your perspective on this show.

DAVIS: My pleasure.

CUOMO: God bless and be well. DAVIS: Good night. I appreciate it.


DAVIS: I look forward to more of this.

CUOMO: Absolutely. Be well, Colonel.

So look, one, I believe that you should see today. You don't have to care what I say. But don't forget how safe we've been, and for how long, OK? Who knows how it's going to pan out with us not being there? Who knows if we even can stay out? Who knows?


But 20 years, OK, nobody - look, I'm old enough to remember. I lived it, in real-time. Nobody in this city, nobody in this country, would have ever believed something like that would never happen again. And it hasn't happened for 20 years. That has to mean something. All the blood, all the treasure, that didn't come for free.

Now, what's the rest of the story? The people who haven't gotten out. I have one of them. She didn't want to leave, when we talked to her, last week. Why? Because there were too many people, she felt she couldn't live, if she didn't try to help these other people have a life as well.

What is her situation now? She's on the phone. Hear it for yourself, next.









BLINKEN: We believe there are still a small number of Americans, under 200, and likely closer to 100, who remain in Afghanistan, and want to leave. We're trying to determine exactly how many. We're going through manifests and calling and texting through our lists. And we'll have more details to share, as soon as possible.


[21:20:00] CUOMO: So, from the theoretical, and the political, to the reality. I want you to meet our guest. You've heard her on this show before. "Sara," we're calling her. It's not her real name.

One of the many left behind, a U.S. citizen, a former interpreter, for the U.S. military, and someone who is still committed to helping the people, who've been left behind, by the U.S. military, and government, to get out. She has been trying to leave, but only if she can get these families out, who've begged for her help.

Just to remind you of how she got to where she is today, listen to this.


VOICE OF "SARA," AMERICAN CITIZEN TRYING TO LEAVE KABUL, AMERICAN CITIZEN STILL IN KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: Just very sad to see the women, they have to kiss my feet. It's heartbreaking. And I can't leave them behind. I have 19 kids, in my house, and two of them are disabled. I feed them. I take care of them. I can't leave this country.

Chris. I can't leave. I can't leave these families. They were there with us. They were, just like I did. And I can't leave them behind.


CUOMO: Now, Sara is joining us from the phone in Kabul.

Sara, do I still have you?

"SARA": Yes, sir. Hello, Chris.


Now, we were talking, before we came back out of the commercial.

But let's pretend we weren't, Sara, so everybody can hear the same details you already relayed to me. How do you feel on the ground there, now that the United States is gone? Is the mood shifting?

"SARA": I just found out that they left. And I was just silent for a little while.

And I just went walk around the rooms. And I saw the young kids are sleeping. And they have no clue what happened this morning that the last flight is gone, and we are left behind. It's heartbreaking to see that.

With all this, what's going on, no one heard us that we are in danger, and we need to be safe. It's just heartbreaking. I don't know - I just don't even know what to say to you.

And what - whoever was trying to help me and support me, even they did not tell me that the flight is - this is the last flight. So, I still had hope that we will leave. If not all of them are kids, some kids, and some mother, who had disabled kids, I had hope for them, at least they can leave.

But for past 48 hours, we were all, 37 of us, were on the street, going from gate to get, because they were - the State Department was giving me the instruction to follow. And I was doing that. We went gate to gate, places to places.

I failed to do that, because, yesterday, I was in front of MoI, and we had the chance to get in. But it was a lot of people there. But I started controlling the whole crowd.

I asked the crowd, "If you guys want to go to States, you guys have to allow me to talk to the military." So, all the crowd pushed back. And I was the only person I was in front. I also sent the video. You can show that to the world, what I did.

And I just went there by myself. And I took six of the SIV kids, with me, with one of the guy, who I pretended that he's my husband, with six kids, so I can pass all the checkpoints of Taliban.

I left all the family behind, in my house, And I went by myself to the airport, to see if I can make it - get out of here, so I can go to States, maybe I can start working, and home, and help those people, who I left behind.

But I went with six kids. And there's three checkpoints. Taliban asked me who are they? So, my pretender husband told him that "She's my wife. And these are my kids. And we're trying to go to - we're trying to go home."

We didn't tell them we're going to the airport, because as soon as we tell them, we're going to the airport, they wouldn't allow us to go anywhere. So, we just told them that our house is on other side, and this is the only road that we can take us there.

So, we made it (OFF-MIKE) to reach to the gate that the State Department told me to go to. And I went there, and they told me all - they told me that "Make sure you have your umbrella with you. They will recognize you. Make sure you have a secret code."

I said "OK, that's fine. I'll have that." "And just get to the gate." I said "OK."

Now I got closer to the gate. And they just throw, a gas, I don't know how to say that, the tear gas, or whatever, they put that.

And then I was keep messaging them. I said, "Hey, if they're putting this gas, I cannot get in." They're like "Well they're putting the gas, for you, so you can get in, closer to the gate." I said "Fine."

So, I got closer to the gate. And I knocked the door, and I used that secret word that they asked me to give. I had the umbrella really high, up high, so they know that it's me. But nothing worked.


And then I finally got closer to the gate, and I saw the tower fill up, with all the American soldier, and some civilian, who had that civilian clothes on, and I start shouting "Hey, I'm an American. Please leave - open the gate. I'm here to go home." So, they didn't hear me.

And they throw another gas. And I was knocked out for like - for like maybe 15 minutes--

CUOMO: Jesus!

"SARA": --I was knocked out. And I lost all the young kids. I did not even know where the kids were. And I have a picture of one of the bullets actually, the gas bullet hit one of the kids, and he's hole - were ripped. So, that did not help. Then I told the crowd--

CUOMO: So, what happens now, Sara, like now that they're gone? They say, "We'll keep working with people there" that the Taliban has said that people can leave, if they want to leave, and the airport will be open. Do you believe any of that?

"SARA": I don't know anymore, what to believe anymore. I don't believe in anybody anymore. Because they've been fooling me, for past 10 days, back and forth, back and forth, stories after stories.

I know, I have a group of people, who are supporting me, and helping me, and they are working very hard to, for me to leave this country. But the only thing is I don't have one specific word to say, "OK, Sara, you're clear! Go."

And I've been doing this. And I don't know what to believe anymore. I'm completely like, speechless. I don't know what to say. But I just can't believe no one told me that this is the last flight, you know? And this--

CUOMO: What is your biggest fear now, Sara?

Now look, all I control is what we do on the show, and the phone calls that we can make. And as I've said to you, more off television, than on, I will keep telling your story.

I will call anybody, who you tell us, you're working with, to help understand the logistics, of how you get out, and the other people. That isn't going anywhere that commitment, but that's all we control.

And until we figure out, how you're going to get out of there, what is your biggest fear now?

"SARA": Am I safe? Now the question is my life. Am I safe? Are these people are safe? I don't even think they are safe because they will be - they're in my house, because now they are more targets than ever before because they are living in my house.

And I'm an American. I'm a former interpreter. I worked for 14 years. And what is next for us? We just smell the death. I'm afraid to let them go out, or myself to go out. There is 37 of them in my house right now. And what is next move for me? I have no idea. But I never felt like this. I went to so many different missions with military, so many different missions, in different provinces. I never had that heartbeat, like I have it today, this morning, when they told me the American left. They left us to whom? To those people, who they were always wanting to kill us?

And now, I'm by myself here, with 37 people. This is my fear that if American could not help me, when they were on the ground, how will they help me now, when there no one is here? That's my question.

CUOMO: Well, that's our question also.

"SARA": Is anybody is going to come rescue me? That's my--

CUOMO: And the President's supposed to speak on it.

"SARA": Is anybody is going to come rescue me?

CUOMO: The President's supposed to speak about it yesterday, but - tomorrow.

"SARA": Is anyone - anyone is going to rescue me now?

CUOMO: But Sara, listen, I don't want to keep you on the phone either, because I understand that you don't have all the time, to be on the phone. I know you got a lot of different things going on.

We will stay in touch. I will talk to you every day. And we will figure out what's going on. And obviously, I'll reach out, not on television, but I'll reach out to--

"SARA": But, sir?

CUOMO: --the people that you're working with.

"SARA": Chris?

CUOMO: Yes. Last word to you.

"SARA": Chris, please allow me to mention one more thing, please.

CUOMO: Please?

"SARA": I know it's time. I asked - a few of my friends went to Qatar. And they're reporting to me about what's going on there. They told me 7,000 people are right now, are undocumented. They never worked with U.S. military. And they made it to the - to the Qatar.

And those people, who are really qualified, and I was screaming day and night for them, fighting for them, showing them their approval of SIV, and they are still here with me. This is what breaks my heart that--

CUOMO: Sara?

"SARA": --our government system is so broke that they put so many people on aircraft.

CUOMO: Shoot! Listen, I mean, we've been hearing this--

"SARA": Chris? Chris?

CUOMO: --by the way that they - who did they get out? Were they the right people? Were they not? We're going to be hearing these stories.

Sara, your connection is breaking up. I'll call you after the show. And we'll loop back with each other, and figure out what the next step is for you. Stay safe. You understand that place, and how to keep yourself safe as well as anyone.

"SARA": Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: So, I'll talk to you right after the show. Thank you for talking to me. And please keep up your hope, OK?

"SARA": Thank you. You too.

CUOMO: Thank you. We're doing.

"SARA": We need prayers.

CUOMO: You need more than prayers. You need help with logistics, and a way out, and we'll do whatever we can. All right, so God bless, stay safe. But I'm going to do more than pray.


All right now, look, Sara is not the only person like that there, OK? People stayed. They took risks to help others. And now, they're stuck. That's the reality. Would you let her stay there? Would you have left? This is a hard time.

I want to turn to one of the heroes of a secret evacuation effort that helped save hundreds of Afghans, the so-called "Pineapple Express." Have you heard about this? Next.








CUOMO: All right. Did you hear about this dangerous secret mission, last Wednesday, in the cover of night? 500 Afghan allies, and their families, brought to safety, at the Kabul airport, through an underground network, called the "Pineapple Express."

So-called shepherds, or former Special Ops forces, and CIA comrades, worked with military, inside the airfield, who defied orders, by leaving airport perimeters, to pull in people, flashing pineapples, on their phones.

Jason Redman was part of the mission.

It's good to have you on PRIME TIME. I appreciate you, brother. Tell people why you had to do this.



And the reality is this administration, this government, made a promise to not only the American people, but made a promise to the amazing Afghan allies that we worked with.

I mean, these individuals, who had worked side-by-side with us, who had sacrificed, who had placed themselves, in harm's way, who, for 20 years, had frequently saved our lives.

And when the government made this abrupt pullout, there were so many of them, just like Sara, talked about. Everything she talks about, we can validate. I mean, we were witnessing it, not on the ground, but virtually, through all these individuals, we were seeing it.

And Scott Mann - Lieutenant Colonel Scott Mann is the Founder of the TF Pineapple, and came up with this idea, to bring out one guy, and they successfully did it.

And then, everybody else said, "You know, what? We have individuals." And we said, "This isn't right. We need to honor this promise, honor the promise that this administration made to these people." And that's what we're doing. We are now committed to this.

We've gotten out over 650 Americans, Afghan veterans, allies, interpreters, numerous VIPs. And we are continuing to do it. We've had to make a shift now, obviously, with the U.S. government pulling out. This is going to get much more difficult.

CUOMO: So, what is your biggest concern, going forward?

REDMAN: It's just like Sara talked about. We've got a lot of individuals. I mean, we know for a fact that there's at least, from what the State Department is putting out, over 200 American citizens.

We're in contact with a lot of them. So obviously, they're our highest priority, is to figure out how to get them out.

Next to them, we have thousands upon thousands, of amazing Afghans, I mean, individuals who were promised, who were promised that, through our Special Immigrant Visas, that we would bring them, to the United States, and give them a new life. I mean, many of these individuals are more Americans than some of the American citizens we have. I mean, they have done so much for us. And that's why we said we're going to honor that promise.

So, moving forward, we really need the support. We need the support of the American people. We need you to go lean on your political leaders.

For us, there'll be a time to point fingers. But Task Force Pineapple, we're not interested in that. We're focused on getting these people out, you know? It doesn't matter. It's not a Right issue. It's not a Left issue. It is we are not going to leave anyone behind. And that is our goal.

This situation on the ground is incredibly dynamic. We already know that there are atrocities that are occurring. We've gotten reports from our families of rapes. We've gotten reports from our families of assassinations and killings.

And now, we are up against the clock. And we've got to work and figure out how can we do this? So, I really hope we lean on our political leaders. We want to work with you. We want to try and help get these people out.

CUOMO: So, let's do this. First of all, thank you.

Second, in the break, I'll give you my number. You tell me what information you want me to give people, about how they can help, how they can help with your efforts. If you want, I can hook you up with Sara, and see if there's something you guys can do, on your side, to help her.

But, former Navy SEAL, I would expect no less of someone like you. But I know there are a lot of people involved in this. And you're just one. But I appreciate you for doing it, Jason Redman.

And all I control is my word and this platform. And I promise I'll do what I can to help. And I'll be with you. I'll be with you in the break, to talk to you about it, Jason.

But everybody else, let's take a quick break. And then when we come back, I want to update you, on what's happening with Ida. We're just starting to learn how much pain there is in this country. You'll see for yourself, right after this.









CUOMO: Two crises.

First, I know you guys were moved by what Jason Redman's doing, and how scared Sara is. I feel you. Thank you.,, that's how you can help what they're doing with the Pineapple Express. As I get information, I'll give it to you.

It's the crisis abroad. I can't believe it either. I can't believe that that's where we're left, in terms of how to get people out of that country. I just I can't believe it. But that's where we are. And we'll see who steps up, and who doesn't.

Now, the crisis at home, Hurricane Ida, we're just starting to learn how horrible it is going to be down there. Forget about the anniversary of Katrina. It's about what's happening right now, and what it's going to be like, for weeks, and months, for people in Louisiana, and elsewhere.

Jefferson Parish, specifically, evacuees are being told to stay away, while rescues go on. You can see why. Take a look.




CUOMO: I mean, look, remember, you've learned this. But we have to kind of re-acclimate ourselves, each time.

This water goes away, but everything that was wet is now ruined, OK? And homes underwater, some fortunately are built up there, right? In fact, a lot of them are. But they can still get wet. Things still have to be done before they could be habitable.

A woman handing over a baby to rescue teams, this is the reality there again. We're hearing the reports. I'm sure you are too. People trapped in attics, people trapped on roofs. Power could be out, for weeks, in hot, humid, wet conditions.

Cynthia Lee Sheng is the President of Jefferson Parish. She's joining us now.

I know you were out all day, surveying. What do you want people to know? First, let's start at home. How are you? How's your family? Is everybody OK?

CYNTHIA LEE SHENG, JEFFERSON PARISH, LOUISIANA PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thanks for asking, Chris. Yes, I got my family out early.

I was warning and telling everybody to get their families out, and my family got out as well. So, it's good to be able to work, and knowing that your family is safe, and everybody here, who's working, really got their family out, so.

CUOMO: What are you seeing?

LEE SHENG: So, two things - well, lots of things going on.

I was able to get to the Lafitte area. This is the area, where the Mayor called me, and said, Mayor Tim Kerner, "I think water is rising." We knew people were stuck, all night, in their attics, as the water was rising.


So, our teams, I'm so proud of our first responder teams, our Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, our firefighters, Louisiana National Guard. They went out as soon as daybreak happened. I mean, as soon as they had any light, they had a strategy.

Last night, they rescued 27 people, and tonight, over 100 people, so. And it's not an easy rescue. It is way into, liken it to a swamp. I mean, you have to go in way deep. The water comes out that area for about a mile.

It is - I hope - I hope we can get some cameras on there, and the footage on there, because you can't appreciate how much water it is, if you don't know what it looked like before, to see how far the water has come out of that area.

CUOMO: How much of that community--

LEE SHENG: So, there a lot of boats now (ph).

CUOMO: How much of the communities in and around the Parish, do you think have still not been contacted?

LEE SHENG: Well, I think the people, who were able to get out their house, and ask for help, they got out.

Believe it or not, there's a lot of people still in there. I mean, the boats were going back and forth. And they were just waving to us. And they're going to stay. So, it's going to be another dark night for them. But they didn't want to leave their home, pre-storm, and now, they don't want to leave their home either, so.

But they're - the teams stopped for the night. Obviously, it's evening. And they're going to resume again tomorrow. But they were able to get out a lot of people, and anybody definitely asking for help, they've been--

CUOMO: Are you getting a handle on how many people didn't make it?

LEE SHENG: No. I know there was one fatality. And then I'm hoping that number stays the same. But Chris, I think until the water recedes, and until--

CUOMO: Yes, you don't know.

LEE SHENG: --they go into every home, we're not going to know where we are.


LEE SHENG: But I'm hoping it stays with one fatality.

CUOMO: Right now, is there anything you need that I can put out the word out - the word out for?

LEE SHENG: Well, the State's working for us. We need to get the people out of here. Obviously, we're telling our people not to come home. And then, the people here, it's not modern day amenities that we have.

We have no electricity. We have very little to no telecommunications. We have low water pressure, so we don't have clean drinking water. Our sewer system is going to be very vulnerable. We're going to start having sewer backups. So, we're having a lot of issues. It's hot. There's no air conditioning. The stores are closed.

So, we're surviving now. But it's going to be a rough time. So, we don't want our citizens to come back. And actually, some of the people, who rode out the storm here, are probably going to leave.

CUOMO: You know how to get us. You let us know what you need. You let us know if you're not getting the resources, from the State, or what the Federal is supposed to do, and whatever it is. And we'll get after anybody that you need us to.

Cynthia Lee Sheng, be safe. Thank you for what you're doing for your people.

LEE SHENG: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, we'll be right back with Lieutenant General Russel Honore. You know him very well from Katrina. He understands the situation, some context you need to hear, next.









CUOMO: Now, I shouldn't have been so quick to say, "Forget about the Katrina thing." Of course that matters.

16 years ago, like to the day, I, like many people, was on the ground, in Louisiana, after Katrina. And I was there for Rita. And I think the biggest thing to remind you of is, it wasn't horrible right away, OK?

Remember, the levees broke, down there. And then it was about time, and saturation, and people can't get out. And there was looting. And there was disease. And it was horrible. And it was about dirty water, and having to get people out, and people being forgotten.

Now, this time, most levees held up. But there is still going to be a long road ahead, I'm telling you. There're more than a million customers in the dark tonight. And it's hot. And it's humid. And there's water, all over the place. And I'm just telling you, people get sick, so fast, in these conditions.

And, keep in mind, this is a state that is already sick, right? I mean, it's been hit very hard by COVID. In Louisiana, 88 percent of the ICU beds are already full, and nearly half of them are full with COVID patients. Mississippi, Florida, have the highest COVID case rates, over the past week.

More than 5,000 National Guard members are working the search and rescue. Look, we know we got the best of people. And we know that the best of ourselves come out in this situation. But remember, we don't even know how bad this is going to be. And it's going to be weeks and months.

You know Lieutenant General Russel Honore, from leading the first Army's response, back then. He joins us now.

Always a pleasure, sir.


CUOMO: Just quickly, give people a sense of why they're going to have to keep their eyes, on that part of the country, for days and weeks to come?

HONORE: Well, right now, the focus has to be on, I think, the fact that the grid is broke. It was broke by Mother Nature.

And no electricity to critical infrastructure, they're trying to put generators in there. That requires fuel. Most of the fuel supplies drained in a couple of days. Even the Police Department's going to have trouble getting gas. So, that is a key denominator.

With the grid broke, the major internet provider, AT&T is broke, and people can't communicate. If you can't communicate, you can't coordinate. Several of the 911 systems are down, because the storm broke it. The network is down.

That being said, Chris, I heard more people talking today, about looting, than an evacuation. We need to plan an evacuation of this area. You can't maintain a million people, without clean drinking water, and sewage systems working, and with streets flooded, in some cases. We need to be getting, and getting the word out, because FEMA will have the capability, where you can get a hotel voucher. That message, need to get out.


But you know what, Chris? The people who really need to be hearing this, they don't have electricity. Many of them don't have a way to power their phones up. And if they're lucky, they might have an old- time radio, and then it might get this message.

But the people, who really need to know what's going on, are not listening to this message. So, I hope the leadership is listening, and they're able to pass information, to people, as they're rescuing them, or pass them in the street, and tell them--

CUOMO: I hear you.

HONORE: --"Hey there's an evacuation."

CUOMO: They got to do the job. But they have to have the infrastructure.

We'll stay on the story. And General, I'm going to come back to you for help, on this. And I appreciate you. Russel Honore, stay safe.

HONORE: Good evening.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.


CUOMO: They say the Lord doesn't give you more than you can handle. We're sure testing that right now. Just got off the phone, one of my pals, stuck in Louisiana, just trying to keep his wife from coming back home. It's a lot of trouble.

And you are very lucky to have "DON LEMON TONIGHT," on his big show, because he understands that part of the country, as well as anybody.