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France's Euro 2016 Challenges; Obama, Biden, Warren Endorse Hillary Clinton; Warren Blasts Trump for Calling Judge Biased; Tel Aviv Closed to Palestinians Except Medical, Humanitarian Reasons, Friday Prayers; Debate on Brexit Heats Up; U.S., U.K., France Warn of Possible Terror Attacks During Euro 2016; U.S. Outlines Attacks Launched by Former Gitmo Prisoners; A Look Back at Ali/Frazier Match. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired June 10, 2016 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:08] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour --
SESAY: Hello, and welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause.
The third hour of CNN NEWSROOM, L.A., starts now.
The Euro 2016 football championship is set to start in Paris in the coming hours with Romania hosting the host nation France, 24 national teams, 30 days, 10 venues. The French officials are ready for the festivities despite a terror threat.
SESAY: A suspect in the Brussels terror attacks claimed his cell plans to target the tournament. But that's not the organizer's only problem. The country is also facing labor strikes, flooding and fuel shortages ahead of the matches.
For more on Euro 2016 and how France is handling these challenges, we're joined by CNN Jim Bittermann in Paris.
Jim, The tournament is just hours away from kicking off but it comes amid this national state of emergency, national fuel shortages, floods and all the strikes and other problems. This is a massive test for French officials.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the French say, it's the whole package, it's been delivered to them. But with all the different disasters that are taking place here, not disasters, but difficulties. The garbage strike. Last night, I was in a restaurant, Isha, and it was a smelly result I could detect because of the garbage strike. Half the city is not getting garbage pickup this morning. The transportation strikes likely to give some problems because to get
to the stadium there are two main commuter rail lines and both are on strike with less trains than normal running and the problem is after the match, the officials are urging the supporters and people with tickets to get there as early as three hours ahead of time. But the real problem will come after the match, getting people out of the stadium and not having them gathering around and waiting for trains.
And security is the major concern and 90,000 people have been saying over the last few days, have been mobilized to help take care of security.
There was a bit of a test last night here. They opened the Paris fan zone which can accommodate 90,000 people. A lot were there last night. It was a test for security and for the fans. Here's what some of them had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After everything that happened during the year we decided to have fun. It's something we have been waiting for a while now. We hope it's good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came by train from Germany. There was police on the train and on the gates there was police and I feel really safe here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BITTERMANN: So the French are putting on a brave face, as the say her, or a stiff upper lip, as they might say in Britain. But they are trying to make the best of the situation and keeping their fingers crossed -- Isha?
SESAY: That's the real question, isn't it, Jim, the French love their football. Are people going to be able to have fun amid the talks of security and rings of steel around stadia and fan zones?
BITTERMANN: Once they get inside -- the agents of security are going to do their best to keep things light and not to be too serious about things but they have a serious job. Once they get inside the fan zones and the stadium, I think they will be able to have a good time.
But it's going to be difficult. One of the things we saw even last night, in Marseille, there were punch ups between police and British fans and some local Marseille residents. There is a history down there of trouble between British fans and the Marseille population. And so, that is going back to 1998 when the World Cup was here. There was a bit of a punch up and tear gas and some arrests. It's the kind of thing that could happen anywhere in the country. It also could be soccer hooliganism that could cause problems. A lot of different variables in this equation and this is a month-long tournament -- Isha?
SESAY: A month-long tournament.
Jim, try and enjoy it if you can. And wishing France the very best.
Jim Bittermann there in Paris, thank you
White House hopeful, Hillary Clinton, is celebrating three of her biggest endorsements to date.
[02:05:06] SESAY: It doesn't get much bigger than this. U.S. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and key progressive Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren also endorsing her.
Details from Michelle Kosinski.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to congratulate Hillary Clinton --
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A presidential endorsement in the form of a slick campaign video released on Twitter.
OBAMA: I know how hard this job can be. That's why I know Hillary will be so good at it. I don't think there's ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.
KOSINSKI: Just yesterday, the White House wouldn't call her the presumptive nominee. In less than 24 hours, what a difference.
OBAMA: I'm fired up and I can't wait to get out there and campaign for Hillary.
KOSINSKI: The president unleashed, hitting the trail on Wednesday with Clinton in Wisconsin.
Trump's reaction was fast and furious. "Obama just endorsed Crooked Hillary. He wants four more years of Obama but nobody else does."
And Hillary Clinton responding, "Delete your account."
For the Democrats right now, unity is what they are look for and that's the picture they are careful to project. Bernie Sanders meeting with the president, vice president, top Democratic Senators. They wanted to hear him out, find out how he envisions staying engaged and rallying his supporters ultimately for Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Warren also endorsing Clinton tonight.
Still, after his long, private discussion with the president in the Oval Office, Sanders said he's not leaving the race just yet.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I), VERMONT & DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will, of course, be competing in the D.C. primary, which will be held next Tuesday.
KOSINSKI: Hitting his points hard.
SANDERS: Donald Trump would clearly, to my mind, and I think the majority of Americans, be a disaster as president of the United States. It is unbelievable to me -- and I say this in all sincerity -- that the Republican Party would have a candidate for president who in the year 2016 makes bigotry and discrimination the cornerstone of his campaign.
KOSINSKI: No endorsement from him of Clinton here, but he laid out his path forward, joining forces.
(on camera): That right there is key. Sanders says he expects to meet with Hillary Clinton soon and talk about how they might work together towards that unified Democratic goal of defeating Donald Trump. The White House wants his many supporters. But you hear from many of them, "Bernie or bust." They're not sure they can support Hillary Clinton. So many Democrats now feel that Sanders' own voice is going to be crucial in ultimately rallying those supporters to Hillary Clinton's side, as will be the president's voice. And remember, he is so influential among younger voters.
Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the White House.
VAUSE: As she is throwing her support Bernie Sanders, Senator Warren was unloading on Donald Trump and his criticism of a U.S. judge.
SESAY: Trump says U.S. district judge, Gonzalo Curiel, is biased because of his Mexican heritage. Curiel is overseeing a lawsuit that alleged that Trump University was a multi-million scam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Trump also whined that he is being treated unfairly because the judge happens to be, we believe, Mexican. And when he got called out, he doubled down by saying, I'm building a wall. It's an inherent conflict of interest.
He has personally, personally directed his army of campaign surrogates to step up their own public attacks on Judge Curiel. Trump is picking on someone who is ethically bound not to defend himself, exactly what you would expect from a thin-skinned racist bully.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: For more, CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein, is with us now.
Ron, let's talk about President Obama's endorsement.
VAUSE: He recorded it two days ago. It was slickly produced. So clearly, this is in the works and something that Obama has been wanting to do for a while. RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It felt that way. It
felt like he was waiting to do this, waiting for the final days of the primaries. Hillary Clinton emerges from the primaries with a 3.7 million vote lead among the Democrats in all the primaries and caucuses.
And I was struck in this statement from the president how much he emphasized how tough the job was and how prepared she was. The Democrats see the contrast in temperament and experience as one of the core assets from Hillary Clinton in this campaign, kind of the offset to the desire for change and the sense that she might represent more of the status quo than Donald Trump, who, if nothing else, he is change.
[02:10:13] SESAY: The president eager to get out on the campaign trail.
SESAY: Tell us what he brings to the race.
BROWNSTEIN: The first thing he brings, whether or not -- however close or far away the nominee runs from the incumbent president, the incumbent president is on the ballot with him. If look, 88 percent with Ronald Reagan, 88 percent of the people who disapproved of Ronald Reagan voted Democrat. In 2000, 88 percent of the people who disagreed with Bill Clinton, voted Republican. In 2008, about two- thirds of people who disapproved of Bush voted for Obama. He is on the ballot no matter what. The most important thing he can do for her is something he is already doing. And his approval rating is rising. Over 50 percent makes it tough. The other thing he can do is rally his coalition, particularly young people and African-Americans. And I was at the White House Correspondent's Dinner when he went after Donald Trump. I don't think you will have to twist his arm to get him on the trail.
VAUSE: You mentioned Donald Trump is doubling down on the strategy of trying to mobilize white voters. There was polling done by the "Washington Post" that compared Mitt Romney in 2012 and the states that he lost and Donald Trump. Let's look at Ohio to start here. In 2012, Romney got 55 percent of the white vote. And Trump will need 58 percent. And if he loses Hispanics and college whites, that goes to 61 percent. If we look at Florida, Romney back in 2012, it was 64 percent. Trump will need 67. And then Pennsylvania, again, Romney lost that state with 56 percent of the working-class white vote. Trump needs 61 percent if he is to win that. And if he loses support, that goes up to 64 percent. And these numbers are across the field in a number of states. They go way up.
BROWNSTEIN: That's right. So basically, as I said before, Mitt Romney won a higher share of white voters than Reagan in 1980, and he lost. The minority share has increased two points every four years. If Donald Trump doesn't lose ground with minority voters he has to do better. He may have to do that with one hand behind his back. He has the risk that the same racially polarizing rhetoric that drives away minority voters and could lead to a deterioration of his support with minorities makes it tougher with college-educated whites, who view that as an unacceptable kind of discourse from a potential president, and accept the idea that America is becoming a more diverse, tolerant and inclusive country. So if Donald Trump may be in a situation, and polling suggests he is in a situation where he has to improve his vote among whites while losing ground to Romney among the white collar whites, that requires you the have heroic gains among the last third of the electorate. But blue collar whites, white collar whites and nonwhites will be one-third, one-third, one-third of the voters.
SESAY: Ron Brownstein, appreciate it.
VAUSE: Appreciate the analysis.
BROWNSTEIN: Good to be here.
SESAY: Time for a quick break now. We have new information about Wednesday's terror attack in Tel Aviv. Up next, how authorities caught one of the gunmen and why they have closed off a West Bank city.
Plus, why a million people have signed a petition asking to remove a California judge from the bench.
[02:17:35] VAUSE: Israeli authorities say passage from the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be allowed to Palestinians only for medical and humanitarian reasons and to attend Friday prayers at the mosque in Jerusalem.
SESAY: Officials had frozen some 80,000 entry permits after Wednesday's mass shooting in Tel Aviv, the Israeli forces say passage will be allowed for humanitarian and medical cases.
VAUSE: Phil Black is live in Jerusalem with more.
Phil, the situation with the freezing of permits, the 83,000, who does this apply to? All Palestinians are not allowed in Israel apart for a few exceptions, medical and humanitarian reasons?
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The permits apply to people who have jobs in Israel and may travel for medical, family, religious reasons. The government is saying there will be no movement between the Palestinian territories and the West Bank or the Gaza Strip into Israel and that will be in place until Sunday. There are a couple of exceptions, medical, humanitarian reasons. The Israeli government is also saying that those who want to travel into Jerusalem to attend Friday prayers at the mosque will be allowed to the so as well. It's unclear how that will be enforced over the course of the day.
And that's interesting. We're in Ramadan, and it's the first Friday prayer session of Ramadan. It's a point of tension and a situation that the Israeli authorities usually respond to with a very high security presence. So we'll see how that pans out over the coming hours.
In addition to the general restrictions over the West Bank we are seeing a strong security response around the town in the southern West Bank town. We are seeing military operations there. Homes were searched and people were arrested there. There are blockades heading into that town. Yesterday, people were allowed to come and go on foot but vehicles were not allowed to come and go. There is a blockade around this town of 120,000 people.
The view, the feeling expressed to us by many people there is that that is an example of collective punishment where the entire town is being punished because of the actions of a handful of people who may have been involved in those attacks in Tel Aviv -- John?
[02:20:11] VAUSE: And, Phil, so far, there has been praise for the attacks by Hamas and Islamic jihad. Could these two gunmen have been acting independently?
BLACK: It's possible they were act independently. There has been a recent trend in violence here over the last six months or so, attacks in the West Bank or Israel, not by groups or known groups not with any sense of organization but by individuals, motivated to act by themselves often with knives, sometimes with cars. There have been shootings as well. But the overall theme has been attacks that are more primitive, less sophisticated, so-called lone-wolf attackers. This event in Tel Aviv was different. There was planning and coordination. It was more than one person and guns were involved. There had to be planning here. But it is possible it was a small group of people who took it upon themselves to act in this way.
VAUSE: Thank you, Phil Black. Phil Black live this hour from Jerusalem.
Also, on Thursday, hundreds attended a funeral for one of the shooting victims.
Erin McLaughlin was there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the funeral for Edo Ben Hari (ph), his wife's final good-bye, a family in shock. His brother- in-law describes the 42-year-old as the glue that kept their family together.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a man of men's. A man of men's who was a wonderful person. He is my brother-in-law. But he is my brother. I married to his sister for 27 years. And 27 years, he sit next to me at Friday Sabbath dinner. Not tomorrow.
MCLAUGHLIN: Ben Hari (ph) was a father to two teenaged sons. When he was younger he served in the Israeli military. Wednesday evening gunman stormed the restaurant where he was having a dinner with his wife.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of running, he turned to the perpetrator, stood face to face with him. And the second bullet was faster than he was.
MCLAUGHLIN: His wife, a special needs teacher, was injured, shot multiple times. She left hospital to attend her husband's funeral.
MCLAUGHLIN: Hundreds were there. Community in tears as his body is lowered into the ground. One death of many, the latest in a wave of violence since October.
Thursday, Israeli official announced that 83,000 Palestinians are not allowed into Israel from the West Bank for Ramadan and none are allowed in from Gaza.
Ben Hari's (ph) family says that the freeze will not make a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So they will punish the Palestinians, deny them of some work permissions. But it won't solve anything unless there will be out-of-the box thinking, strategic thinking, major steps. But it won't help at all.
MCLAUGHLIN: With three other Israelis killed, more funerals to come.
Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Israel.
SESAY: The World Health Organization wants couples living in Zika hot spots to delay getting product but did not say how long.
VAUSE: It was to clarify language the WHO released last week. The WHO says couples returning from Zika-affected areas should wait eight weeks to try to conceive, even if they don't have symptoms. There are at least 50 countries where Zika is circulating.
SESAY: Outrage is growing over what many are saying is a lenient sentence in a California rape case. And more high-profile people are weighing in.
VAUSE: A petition to recall a judge, Aaron Persky, has more than one million signatures. He gave a former Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner, a six-month prison sentence for sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster.
SESAY: Turner could serve only three months if he shows good conduct.
The case has got the attention of Vice President Joe Biden addressed the victim on "Buzzfeed" saying -- VAUSE: "I am filled at furious anger that this happened to you and
that our culture is so broken that you were ever put in the decision of defending your worth."
And the wife of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio led a reading of the victim's statement. And she was joined by star Cynthia Nixon and other celebrities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[02:25:15] CHIRLANE MCCRAY, WIFE OF NEW YORK CITY MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: We all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to put an end to rape. Today, we stand in solidarity with everyone who has been the victim of sexual assault. And say loudly, and clearly, that it is never OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Despite the backlash, it could be hard to get the judge pulled from the Bench. The process is complicated. Neither the prosecutor nor the country's chief public defender supports the measure.
SESAY: Coming up next for our viewers in Asia, CNN's "State of the Race" with Kate Bolduan.
VAUSE: For everyone else, stay with us.
Ahead, British politicians tussle over the U.K.'s future in the European Union.
SESAY: Plus, U.S. officials tell CNN about the number of former Guantanamo detainees who have launched attacks against Americans. The chilling details, straight ahead.
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN International, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
[02:29:49] SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay.
The headlines this hour --
[02:30:51] VAUSE: You can feel it. We are getting closer. We're getting closer to that U.K. vote on whether to leave the European Union. Campaigners from both sides sharpening their rhetoric.
SESAY: London's former mayor, Boris Johnson, and Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, went head to head Thursday in a heated debate.
CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, reports from London.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This is the first time the Leave and Remain campaigns have gone face to face. It was feisty. It was fiery. And Boris Johnson came in for criticism, a common criticism that he is really in this just running for the prime minister's office, David Cameron's job.
NICOLA STURGEON, FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY: Johnson is asking people to trust his word. He's making claims and vote the way you want him to vote. I'm simply asking him if he's telling the truth tonight about the protection of what, was he not telling the truth when he said he wanted to get rid --
BORIS JOHNSON, FORMER LONDON MAYOR: I'd say --
STURGEON: The thing is, Johnson is not --
STURGEON: This election is only interest in David Cameron's job.
ROBERTSON: That issue came up a couple times and did get laughs from the audience. But Boris Johnson coming back strong. His message, take back control from the European Union, take control on migration, taxation. And he says Britain spends half a billion dollars a week, paid to the European Union. Get out of the European Union, get that money, and spend it on services like health service in Britain.
Now the Remain campaign, Nicola Sturgeon, saying that is a lie. That figure, of course, painted on the side of Boris Johnson's referendum bus.
JOHNSON: I'm very struck by the way they do this because there's a member of that panel whose complained about the Remain campaign and said it's miserable, negative and fear based, and fear based campaigning of this kind starts to insult people's intelligence. Now, that was Nicola Sturgeon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nicola Sturgeon.
STURGEON: I have to say --
STURGEON: Well, let me respond.
JOHNSON: I agree with that.
STURGEON: At least it's not driving around the country in a bus with a giant whopper painted over the side -- JOHNSON: It's not.
STURGEON: -- of that bus.
ROBERTSON: Across the whole two hours of the debate, there were points scored by both sides, there were laughs from the audience, both sides seemed to win some support on some issues. But one lady in the audience asked, how should we be able to trust you. She said both of you, both sides, you are trying to shout and get the great sound byte. It wasn't clear whether one side landed a knockout blow. It didn't seem to be that way. It's not clear how many people's minds they persuaded. But this is by far the most feisty debate so far.
Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
SESAY: All will be revealed.
VAUSE: Told you the rhetoric was heating up. It was feisty.
SESAY: It was very feisty.
SESAY: Sure there will be a lot more of that in the days ahead.
VAUSE: Two weeks to go.
Now, Buckingham Palace has released a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.
VAUSE: U.K. photographer, Annie Liebovitz, captured the smiling couple. The photo is celebration of the queen's 90th birthday. That was back in April. Prince Phillip, though, turns 95 on Friday.
SESAY: A nice picture.
VAUSE: Happy birthday.
SESAY: Still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, France gears up for Euro 2016. Coming up, why some countries issued travel warnings for the European football showdown.
[02:37:52] VAUSE: The start of the Euro 2016 football championship is almost here. And in the coming hours, France will open the tournament with the home team battling Romania. But the U.S., U.K. and France, itself, have warned of possible terror attacks. On top of that, Ukraine says they arrested a French national who was planning attacks during the event.
For more, let's talk in Raffaello Pantucci, in London. He's the director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute think tank
Raffaello, thank you for being with us.
RAFFAELLO PANTUCCI, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES, ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE: Thank you.
VAUSE: How big of a target is this tournament? And how difficult is it for the authorities there to try to secure the place?
PANTUCCI: Well, I think that clearly, a large event like this that's got the world's attention is always going to be a target. Terrorists want to do something that has a big splash and impact. You want a lot of people watching. An international football tournament, football being a sport that lots of people enjoy and lots of people watch is clearly a very large target for them. On top of that, we have it in a country that have suffered a number of attacks in the past year and is in the cross hairs of terrorist groups from Islamic State to Daesh to others who are interested in or involved in the far right. It's a big target and clearly something that is of great concern.
In terms of securing a sporting event like this, it is always very difficult. When you are dealing with a big event like this, you have a lot of people there. It is the excitement and pleasure of the experience, having the large crowds cheering the team on. But that makes them a more attractive target. You have a captive audience and a large target base. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of things for security agencies to keep on top of.
SESAY: Yeah, indeed. And that's one of the things that has been pointed out. This undertaking involves multiple agencies and groups and private security companies, police, other European counterparts that is it a co-production. Is that something that gives you confidence or raises concern the fact that they have to be this kind of collaboration?
[02:40:18] PANTUCCI: This isn't the first time we have had a large event involving multiple security agencies. It's not unprecedented in that regard. A number of these events have gone off in the past without any problem at all. But we have seen them with attacks against them. The concern here is the picture we've seen in Europe in the past year, which is one of an escalating threat that touches on a lot of parts of the European Union, at a moment where not everyone has the same capability to focus on these threats. A lot of work is going in to get everyone up to the same standard. But as we saw with the attacks last year and this year, there are networks that are transnational within the European continent and that is not matched with the capabilities across the union.
VAUSE: Raffaello, there is also industrial action ongoing in Paris. There is the flooding in some parts. And of course this terror threat as well. And 2.5 million people descending on the country. When you look at all that together for the security forces, how difficult is this? How many balls are in the air right now?
PANTUCCI: For the security agencies their attention is on the security threats be it terrorist risks or in terms of rioting and hooliganism. This is soccer at the end of the day where the supporters have got in fights with each other. But that's not unsurprising for them. I think we are looking at the social questions in France, again, these are not without precedent in France. Here in the United Kingdom people joke about the French strikes as a regular feature of civil society there. I think the French authorities have managed these sorts of things before. I think the real concern is looking at the terrorist threat in particular and the targeting and the intent and desire to target large events in France and in particular the World Cup coming from terrorist groups. That has to be one of where the priorities lie. There will be inconveniences for people on the ground. I don't know if it will spill over into security threats as well.
SESAY: Raffaello, we must not forget the hooliganism problem. When you throw that into the mix how much does that complicate things? How significant is that in your view?
PANTUCCI: Hooliganism is a threat. We have clearly seen football fans or individuals who have support these teams and are dedicated to them and there is usually an unfortunate hard core who will resort to violence. We saw rioting in the World Cup last time in France. And we saw, you know, particularly rioting in Marseille where the British fans got out of hand when they team was playing there. This is not unprecedented. But a lot of work has gone in to deal with the problem of hooliganism. It is not uniform across the union. But the member states are trying to police their fans. So there is a lot of cooperation behind the scenes in that regard. But it is another complicating factor for security agencies who are dealing with a very elevated terrorist threat in particular.
SESAY: Raffaello Pantucci, it's so good to have you with us. Thank you for the insight. Appreciate it.
VAUSE: Thank you.
PANTUCCI: Thank you.
SESAY: Now we're learning more about the number of detainees released from Guantanamo Bay Prison who have launched attacks against Americans.
VAUSE: And some U.S. lawmakers see the death toll as further reason to abort President Obama's plans to close down the prison.
CNN's Jim Sciutto has more.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They were freed from the notorious Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, only to pick up arms against the U.S. once again, killing Americans overseas.
A U.S. official tells CNN that an estimated 15 freed Gitmo detainees released before 2009 went on to attack Americans in Afghanistan. The number of Americans killed in those attacks is in single digits.
SCIUTTO: The threat was first brought to light during testimony on Capitol Hill this March.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER, (R), CALIFORNIA: How many lives have been lost by those terrorists who went back to their terrorist activity?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, there have been Americans that have died.
[02:45:02] SCIUTTO: The U.S. has been aware of the high recidivism rate of released Gitmo detainees for some time. In the most recent report, of the 676 released detainees, as of January, 118 have returned to the fight and 86 are suspected of returning. That is nearly one out of every three released.
But as the "Washington Post" reported, this is the first time that U.S. officials confirmed that freed detainees targeted and killed Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want anybody to die because we transferred detainees. However, it's the best judgment and the considered judgment of this administration and the previous administration that the risk of keeping Gitmo open is outweighed, that we should close Gitmo.
SCIUTTO: One consistent challenge comes from foreign governments losing track of the former detainees.
However, the political challenge is clear for President Obama, who vowed to clear Gitmo days after he first assumed office.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I order Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.
SCIUTTO: Opposition on Capitol Hill and within the Pentagon since then has delayed closure by years. This new information likely to provide more ammunition to critics just months before his presidency ends.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: People on the Hill and people in the American public are going to look at this and they are going to say, the minute you release someone, no matter what the statistics are, the risk is too great and the fact they killed Americans is the most damning of all.
SESAY: That was CNN's Jim Sciutto reporting there.
VAUSE: A short break. When we come back, thousands of mourners are paying their respects to a legendary athlete. Why one man says Muhammad Ali was so much more than the greatest boxer of all time.
[02:50:47] SESAY: Hello, everyone. Muhammad Ali was honored Thursday at an Islamic prayer service. Civil rights leader, Reverend Jesse Jackson was among thousands of mourners in Louisville, Kentucky.
VAUSE: Ali's casket will be driven through the city on Friday before a private burial. The procession will pass by the house where he was born. 14,000 tickets have been given out for Friday's public memorial.
And you can see CNN's coverage for "The Greatest," on CNN, starting at 6:45 p.m. tonight in London.
Ali and one of his toughest rivals, Smoking Joe Frazier, had faced each other twice before their fight in 1974 in the Philippines. They each won once.
SESAY: Andrew Stevens looks back at the rematch for the ages with a fan who got to know the greatest personally.
ALI MUHAMMAD ALI, BOXER: I'm dancing and moving. In my glory. In my glory. Smoking Joe Frazier.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR (voice-over): When Muhammad Ali arrived in the Philippines in October of 1975, he was already a household name in this boxing-mad country. Thousands of fans turned out to welcome him and thousands more just to watch him train.
One of them was a young Rony Macalinto (ph), a hard-core fan, who just wanted a signature on his prized possession, a collection of newspaper clippings about Ali.
But Rony (ph) got a whole lot more.
RONY MACALINTO (ph), MUHAMMAD ALI FAN: It is an experience I cannot forget, one of the most memorable experiences in my life.
STEVENS: Rony (ph) ended up not only meeting with Ali in private but spending the afternoon alone with the boxer, the two of them watching movies.
MACALINTO (ph): We were sitting on the carpet while watching the movie. And in between he would stand up and get some cookies, some juice, and he would be offering me or serving me. Imagine the heavyweight champion at the time serving me with biscuits and juice.
STEVENS: He didn't get to the fight but watched it on television, a brutal encounter won by Ali and now regarded as one of the greatest bouts ever in boxing.
MACALINTO (ph): We turn around because of the blood blasting from the mouth.
STEVENS: Rican Trinidad (ph) was a journalist who watched the fight ringside. For him, the fight was not about the sport so much as the politics. The dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos had been in power for three years and the country was under martial law. Marcos himself had been key to getting the fight staged in Manila.
RICAN TRINIDAD (ph), JOURNALIST: It was a pledge, the misdeeds of martial law. As far as the world audience was concerned.
STEVENS: But to a young fan, the memories are not of politics or of the fight, but of Muhammad Ali himself.
MACALINTO (ph): I would always remember him as a very humble and humble man. He -- a man of humility and a man with a heart. My encounter with the greatest, a very great man, really the greatest heavyweight champion of the world.
STEVENS: Andrew Stevens, CNN, Hong Kong.
SESAY: Very special memories.
Muhammad Ali's legacy spans the world, and even has a spot in the White House.
VAUSE: U.S. President Barack Obama gave a live tour of his Ali memorabilia. He got to know Ali after the boxer developed Parkinson's disease.
VAUSE: Mr. Obama says his identity was shaped by what the heavyweight accomplished. He showed off a signed pair of Ali's gloves kept in the White House dining room ever since he moved in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It's self explanatory. Why it would be important for me to have these here? Because although, I don't know how good of a boxer I am, I have had to slug it out a little bit here in Washington. And there have been times where I've been the underdog, just like the champ. There have been times where I got beat up a little bit and had to come back. And that's the resilience of -- that's what these boxing gloves represent to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[02:55:11] VAUSE: The president also leafed through a book with iconic pictures of the champ given to him by Ali.
You get all the good stuff when you are the president.
SESAY: Yes. But you never get a good night's sleep again.
Earlier in the week, Mr. Obama taped a performance for "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon.
VAUSE: And a few hours ago, and it was the second time that the president slow jammed the news. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW: When Republicans gave him lemons, he made so much lemonade Beyonce called him Baracky with the good hair.
OBAMA: There will be no third time. I can't stay forever. Besides daddy's got a Hawaiian vacation booked in about 223 days.
But who's counting?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Who's counting?
VAUSE: I think he is.
SESAY: He just might be. Very cool.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.
VAUSE: And I'm John Vause.
The news continues next with Natalie Allen.