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U.S. Military Leaders in Day Two of Afghanistan Hearings; North Korea's New Missile in Early Stages; Japanese Business Community Reacts to Kishida's Victory; New Details in Sarah Everard's Murder; U.K. Petrol Crisis. Aired 10:08-10:45a ET

Aired September 29, 2021 - 10:08   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST: All right. You have been watching live coverage of America's top military brass, about to get grilled for a second day on

Capitol Hill over the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The U.S. Defense Secretary, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman and CENTCOM commander will be answering questions from a House panel about the

withdrawal timeline. Republican lawmakers, highly critical of President Biden's decision to stick to that August 31st deadline.

And we're connecting to all the angles of this story with our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, in Abu Dhabi today. We have also have

U.S. correspondent Kylie Atwood at the State Department in Washington.

So, Nic, it's interesting to hear the testimony coming through today and the big questions, you know, what happened during the month of August?

Why shutting down Bagram airport was strategic and why it was necessary to not get the evacuations going prior to the deadline. Answers for all of

those questions.

But do you think it's enough to justify the events of what we saw in August?


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think what we heard being laid out by General Milley was interesting and

intriguing, that the advice given back in November last year to president Trump and the advice that was then sort of pruned back, if you will, to,

no, we're not going to keep 4,500 troops there.

We want you to pull them out. A number of times that was changed and revised. That the advice seemed to then change the decision-making about

how many troops to pull out, when to pull them out.

So but what we heard from General Austin was from, Secretary of Defense Austin, was very, very clear, that, you know, as of April this year, they

understood that there would be a potential requirement to get civilians out of the country and had begun to plan for that, pre-deploy battalions.

He talked about having them available and being able to surge them in from the region when it became apparent it was necessary.

Was it perfect?

He said, no.

Will lessons be learned?

He said, yes.

What my big takeaways from Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense was this notion that the part of the problem with the Afghan forces was senior-level

corruption and the corrosive effect that it had on morale and troops. We sort of knew that.

But he also laid the blame very clearly for the failings of the Afghan military on president Ashraf Ghani saying it was, that the repeated change

of commanders was something that he couldn't understand and was, in effect, undermining the ability of the Afghan army to do its job, that the United

States has spent so much money and effort to stand up and create.

I think that was a detail that we potentially will hear more about, this laying the blame at the foot of the former Afghan president.

GIOKOS: So, Kylie, to bring you in here. We also know the question about keeping 2,500 soldiers on the ground and military presence on the ground

was basically contradicted by what we had heard from the president.

So this is interesting and, of course, what we had been hearing from these hearings is that they had a lot of options, a lot of scenarios were

discussed. They knew these tactical moves would have consequences.

But what does it mean, as we are getting, you know, deeper into what was happening behind closed doors, as these decisions were being made?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: Well, what we didn't hear yesterday quite clearly from top military officials is they had suggested,

as you say, that the United States maintain this presence of 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.

And President Biden, in an interview with ABC in August said he had not received that kind of advice. He couched it in saying that there wasn't,

you know, one definitive voice saying that. He said there was a split within the voices that he was hearing, the advice that he was getting.

So the White House is trying to say that he wasn't actually saying that he had heard those voices from the military saying that they should keep 2,500

troops on the ground. But it sure did sound like that in the interview.

And these military commanders made it very clear as to why that was the advice that they were giving. I think one of the significant things is that

they pointed to the Doha agreement, which was that agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban during the Trump administration as being something

that undermined the morale of the Afghan security forces.

That was one of the factors, of course, that made them less strong and made the U.S. military you know unsure of being able to pull out when the Afghan

military would not be able to rely on the U.S. in terms of both technology and in terms of physical support.

But it's also important to note that, you know, even though they were giving this advice, they did say they followed the orders of the president

of the United States in terms of the full withdrawal.

And you heard there from these top military officials calling the evacuation a logistical success but a failure when it came to strategy.

Right. We heard just there again General Milley there morning saying that the war in Afghanistan was a failure because now we're looking at a

situation where the enemy, the Taliban, are in control of Kabul.

And there will be a lot of questions I think, you know, Nic points out, there was a lot of blame in terms of president Ghani. But there were also

legitimate questions from these military commanders as to what exactly the U.S. missed here in their assessments.


ATWOOD: Because the assessments that they had of the intelligence was that this wasn't going to happen as quickly. There are some details that we

learned, such as the fact that the U.S. had pulled their support on the ground for some of those U.S. military folks to the Afghan security forces

about three years ago.

So trying to get a sense of the will of the Afghan military, there, was a little bit more challenging. Those were some of the things that I think

we're going to have to watch for them to dive into a little bit more deeply today.

GIOKOS: Nic, very quickly, the war was a strategic failure; talking about the possibilities of things fracturing into a civil war and what really

struck me is that the possibilities of an attack on the U.S. between 12 and 36 months from now, interesting messaging coming through.

Does this mean we are sitting in an uncertain period between U.S. and Afghan or Taliban relations?

ROBERTSON: One hundred percent it's an uncertain period, partly because we just don't know how the Taliban are going to rule precisely. We don't know

how that will sit with the population or if that will turn into an exacerbation of the existing civil war.

We do know they're having a fight with ISIS at the moment. That's the Taliban's major enemy inside the country. We don't know which direction the

Taliban are going to go in. That will affect the security of the country.

The worse the security is in the country, the better opportunity there is for groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda to rebuild.

And I think one of the points General Milley made there was that the only thing that the Taliban had agreed to with the United States, that they kept

their word on, was not to attack U.S. forces. So there is a huge breakdown in trust and he said a huge breakdown in what we can expect the Taliban to

do in the future.

GIOKOS: All right. Thank you very much, Nic Robertson and Kylie Atwood for those insights.

And ahead on the show -- confrontation at the petrol pumps. What the British government are doing to get gasoline into stations and why the

military is stepping in. Stay with us.




GIOKOS: North Korea appears to be joining the hypersonic missile race but South Korea says Pyongyang's advanced weapon seems to be still in the early

stages of development. It was launched into waters off the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday. CNN's Will Ripley brings us the details.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: South Korea is trying to downplay concerns, at least immediate concerns, about the threat from North Korea's

the hypersonic missile test on Tuesday.


RIPLEY: The missile that North Korea calls the Hwasong-8 was shown in state media for the first time.

Analysts looking at the image say it does seem to indicate a hypersonic missile in the early stages of development. And that's what South Korea is

saying. They say it will still take a considerable amount of time for this weapon to be deployed.

But the fact that North Korea now joins a very small handful of nations that actually have this technology, only Russia and China are known to have

deployed hypersonic missiles; the United States is currently testing and developing hypersonic missile technology, it shows just how far this tiny

impoverished country has come in their terms of their weapons development, despite increasingly tough international sanctions over its nuclear


Now what we know about this particular missile is pretty limited. North Korean state media says that it has a gliding flight warhead, which means

the warhead would detach from the rocket portion of the hypersonic missile and it could basically act like a hang glider as it moves towards its


What we know about hypersonic missiles is that they are defined as anything that can move faster than five times the speed of sound, roughly 4,000

miles an hour, around one mile per second.

But a lot of ballistic missiles also are known to travel at hypersonic speeds and analysts say the difference between a ballistic missile and a

hypersonic missile is that a ballistic missile travels on a set trajectory from point A through the air to point B, the target that makes it easier to

track and trace and potentially intersect.

Hypersonic missiles can be launched at a very fast speed and then sort of zigzag their way to a target, which makes it much tougher for missile

defense systems that are deployed in places like South Korea and Japan and the United States.

But at this stage, South Korea does say that their missile defense systems would be able to intercept this current version of North Korea's hypersonic

missile, which they're calling the Hwasong-8.

North Korea back in January said that this is one of the weapons that they're looking to develop and develop very quickly. And there were other

weapons on the list as well, including new types of ballistic missiles that use solid fuel solid fuel.

Of course, it's tricky because you can roll the missile out and launch it with very little notice. North Korea also looking to develop a military

reconnaissance satellite, new types of drones and even an intercontinental ballistic missile that could travel some 15,000 kilometers, more than 9,300

miles, putting it well within striking range of the mainland U.S. -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


GIOKOS: It appears the establishment is set to take the reins yet again in Japan after a tightly contested election and runoff. The country's ruling

party elected former foreign minister Fumio Kishida as its new leader today.

He defeated his opponent, clearing the way for him to become Japan's third prime minister in just 18 months. CNN's Selina Wang is following the

election results from Tokyo.

We know there has been a lack of enthusiasm from the public and business.

What do we need to know about Kishida and his plan for the country?

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kishida is a political veteran, a moderate liberal who represents stability. He served as foreign minister

under former prime minister Shinzo Abe. And he is largely expected to maintain the strategies of Suga as well as Abe.

He is inheriting a slew of challenges, a Japan that has dealt with multiple waves of COVID-19, a stagnating economy as well as rising tensions with

China. Now he campaigned on narrowing the income back, income gap, preserving and working on economic equality and spending billions to help

revive the Japanese economy from the pandemic.

But this was the most unpredictable leadership race in decades and this meant Kishida managed to pull through, despite having lackluster public

support. The vaccine minister was seen as the public's favorite. He is seen as this political maverick, who isn't afraid to speak his mind.

But ultimately, the party members went with what analysts called the safe and stable option.

GIOKOS: Yes, look. It's all about what the investor community and business community and so on think about a leader because that means the economy

could go in one way or the other.

Are we expecting a shift in policy?

And what is Kishida planning?

WANG: Well, the business investment community largely sees this as continuing the status quo. But the business community does welcome

Kishida's plan for a hefty economic recovery package. And the business community is also going to be scrutinizing how Kishida will be balancing

security concerns around China, with Japan's deep economic ties to the country.


TAKESHI NIINAMI (PH), CEO, SUNTORY: We should achieve great contact (ph), huge contact with China, even from back door. So we believe that

(INAUDIBLE) Beijing at some point to (INAUDIBLE) create a bigger relation with the president Xi. And we know the relation between the (INAUDIBLE)

China is independent (ph).


NIINAMI (PH): And the business with China is the capitalism. So business leaders have to talk to Mr. Kishida to convince that we should not rely on

the United States entirely. We should have good relations with China as well.


WANG: Like his predecessors, Kishida is in support of strengthen the alliance between the U.S. and China and working will allies to counter

Beijing's growing military influence. But it's unclear how long lasting Kishida will be in leadership.

The Suntory CEO says he is worried Japan will return to this period of revolving premierships; before Shinzo Abe, Japan trekked through six prime

ministers in just six years.

GIOKOS: Yes. Thank you very much for that update, Selina.

All right. Chilling new details are coming out about the last hours of Sarah Everard's life. Prosecutors are revealing how her killer tricked her

to get her into his car. We'll go live to London next.

Also ahead, thousands of women rally in Mexico City and other cities to call for access to safe and legal abortions. A live report coming up.




GIOKOS: Welcome back. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

A second day of congressional hearings on the United States' chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan is underway on Capitol Hill. Members of the

House Armed Services Committee are grilling the president's top military adviser, General Mark Milley.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the head of the Central Command, General Frank McKenzie. At the hearing moments ago, Secretary Austin he did

not think U.S. troops should stay in Afghanistan forever and that, there was no risk-free status quo option to keep them there.

Chilling new details are coming out about the final hours of Sarah Everard's life. They are emerging at the sentencing hearing for her

confessed killer, former London police officer, Wayne Couzens. A prosecutor said Couzens used his police warrant card and handcuffed to lure Everard

into his car. She was kidnapped by Couzens as she was walking home from a friend's house in March.


GIOKOS: A prosecutor says what happened was the deception, kidnap, rape, strangulation and fire (ph), absolutely horrifying. CNN Nada Bashir. She

has been following the sentencing hearing.

It's absolutely horrific details that we are learning and moments that were left in her life were, of course, very harrowing.

What else are you hearing?

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been horrifying to say the least in the first of this two-day hearing in the sentencing of former police

officer Wayne Couzens. These new and shocking details have been emerging about Sarah Everard's last few moments.

Just a few moments ago, we began to hear statements from members of her family and we expect to hear from some of her close friends, expressing

their sorrow and shock at the manner in which Sarah Everard was killed last March.

Just a few short moments ago, we heard from Sarah's mother addressing the court. I can read you a little bit of what she said.

"Sarah died in horrendous circumstances. I am tormented at the thought of what she endured. He treated my daughter as if she was nothing and disposed

of her as if she was rubbish."

These are the words of Sarah Everard's mother.

I can walk you through some of the very shocking details we are learning today from the prosecutor at this court hearing. We now know that 3couzins

stopped Sarah Everard as she was walking home from her friend's house in the evening and falsely arrested her.

We know that he handcuffed her and presented his police warrant card in order to do this. And we understand he may have also used the coronavirus

restrictions as an excuse for this arrest.

He had previously been on patrol, enforcing those coronavirus restrictions earlier this year. So that may have been a way in which he used to arrest

Sarah Everard and then take her into a private vehicle.

We do know from witnesses who spoke and gave a statement, that the thought he was an undercover police officer, carrying out an undercover arrest,

given the fact that he was in plain civilian clothes and was using a private vehicle, not a police car.

We also know some of the more chilling details of how she was murdered. We know that he drove her, raped her in a rural remote area and then strangled

before her body was burned and disposed of in green bags.

We also know now this new detail, that she was strangled with Couzens' police belt. The shocking details raise the questions whether enough is

being done to put law enforcement on police officers too assure people that these things don't happen.

But of course this will be shocking news not only for her family and loved ones but for the hundreds of women across the country that have rallied

against violence against women in the last few months and years.

GIOKOS: Thank you very much for those details. Much appreciated.

All right. British soldiers are about to be deployed in the next couple of days to help get fuel back into British petrol pumps, according to the U.K.

Bowles-Simpson secretary. A government source tells CNN, 150 tanker drivers are ready to go, if needed.

The U.K. is also launching a reserve tanker fleet driven by civilians to help. Thousands of petrol stations have run dry over the last few days

after a shortage of truck drivers triggered panic buying.

Prime minister Boris Johnson is urging people to fill their tanks, quote, "in the normal way, only when you really need it."

But it isn't clear if people are really listening to that advice. Our Anna Stewart is live in London.

Look, Anna, if there is anxiety about fuel shortage, we know what happens, people try to get their hands on something that is absolutely necessary and

that could be fuel to get around.

So what are you experiencing right now?

What are you seeing today?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is absolutely no doubt that panic buying has been a part of this story. There have been crazy reports

of jerry can sales, with some stores being up over 1,000 percent just in the last few days.

But the biggest problem is actually a shortage of truck drivers to get fuel from refineries and platforms to the petrol stations that need them. At

this stage, days into the crisis, whether it's critical for their work, taxi drivers, delivery drivers, first responders or at this stage people

need to get their kids to school.

They live in the countryside, they have no public transport, they need to get to a doctor's appointment, pick up a grandmother from hospital and so


It is now really impacting everyone. We are hearing from within the industry and also from the government that the situation is getting better.

Here's what the business secretary had to say this morning.



large queues but I think the situation is stabilizing. We are getting petrol into the forecourts. As I said yesterday, that was much by the

sales. So the situation of stock is stabilizing. And I think we will see our way through this.



STEWART: Add to that, the Petro Retailers Association said today just 27 percent of their members are currently out of fuel. That sounds like a lot.

Over a quarter of them. But that's much better than the 50-90 percent number we were given over the weekend.

The thing is, if this situation is improving, well, it's not improving everywhere at the same time, particularly in London. This is a petrol

station I have been reporting from for 24 hours.

Yesterday there was a big delivery, over 10,000 liters of diesel, 20,000 leaders of petrol. It ran out within 24 hours. There is huge frustration.

You can really see tensions are frayed outside some petrol stations; altercations, scenes of violence.

I can show you videos, one where a man pulled a knife on another driver. And you can understand why. Huge frustration. And even if this crisis is

easing, it isn't for everyone and just frustrations hitting a boiling point really.

GIOKOS: Absolutely. There has got to be enough fuel where people feel comfortable enough they don't need to try and stock up. Anna, thank you

very much for that update.

Still ahead, a day of action for women demanding access to safe and legal abortions in Latin America. We'll have a live report just ahead.

Plus a relative newcomer sends shock waves across the world of football. More on the stunning win over Champion's League powerhouse, Real Madrid.

Stay with us.



GIOKOS: Thousands of women have turned out in Latin American cities to call for access to safe and legal abortion.


GIOKOS (voice-over): These were the scenes in Chile on Tuesday. Just one of the organized marches organized for what activist groups call

International Save Abortion Day, Chilean lawmakers just agreed to debate a bill to decriminalize abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancies.


GIOKOS: That's a major shift for one of the region's most conservative countries. Demonstrators also took to the streets in Mexico City. At least

37 people were injured after police and protesters clashed in the capital.

This comes after a landmark ruling by Mexico's supreme court earlier this month, saying that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional.

Shortly after that decision, the government said women who were jailed for terminating pregnancies would be released.

Stefano Pozzebon is joining us now, live from Bogota, Colombia, with more on the protest.

I'm looking at the scenes coming out of Mexico and just hearing what we heard from the constitutional court.


GIOKOS: The supreme court saying that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional. That's a step in the right direction when it comes to

the, you know, the big movement women are asking for safe and legal abortions, they're not being penalized.

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Correct. It's perhaps a step in the right direction but still, not enough and an exception in a region

where most women are not allowed to perform an abortion.

And this is an issue that is widely felt all across Latin America that puts in common countries such as Chile, as you have seen, where it's one of the

most conservative countries in the region, where the Catholic Church sways an enormous amount of power and countries like Venezuela, where supposedly

the socialist government ruled for the last 20 years.

In both countries as well as in much of Latin America, most women are not allowed to perform or to receive an abortion except for very narrow medical

exemptions. The countries leading the way in liberalizing and defending reproductive rights of women across the region are Argentina and Mexico.

But if you take, for example, the case of Mexico, despite that ruling by the supreme court, that made history earlier in September, abortion is

still illegal in most of Mexico's states, bar the capital, Mexico City, and a handful of our states, Mexico's federation of states just like the

United States.

And a state legislature have to take the issue, take up the issue in their own hands. And it is an issue that is widely felt across Latin America,

widely debated at the center of the political agenda in many countries and will be up as, much as other countries in Latin America go back to the

polls and go back to elections. Abortion will be on the ballot.

GIOKOS: All right. Thank you very much for that update. The reality is that Chile is saying they will be debating the bill. So that's still a long

way away in terms of getting a resolution. Thank you so much for that insight.