Return to Transcripts main page
Erin Burnett Outfront
ESPN: Rice Told Goodell He Punched Fiancee Months Ago; CIA: 20,000 TO 31,500 ISIS Fighters in Iraq & Syria; Interview with Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia
Aired September 11, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Breaking news, ESPN reporting that Ray Rice personally told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell months ago that he punched his now wife. That is not what Goodell said this week. He said what happened was, quote/unquote, "ambiguous." What is the truth?
And CBS forced to make major last-minute changes to its NFL show tonight. Why Rihanna's opening song has been pulled?
And late tonight, a new CIA estimate just out tonight showing the number of ISIS fighters could be three times what the U.S. said just days ago. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin OUTFRONT tonight with breaking news, the NFL tonight in major damage control. The commissioner and the league's credibility are now on the line.
The newest revelation tonight, ESPN reporting that Ray Rice told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in June that he punched his now-wife. But this is what Roger Goodell said this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: When we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Obviously, if he had been told by Ray Rice that he had punched his now wife in the face, that would not be ambiguous. This reporting is on top of an AP report saying the NFL received the video of Ray Rice assaulting his now wife in an elevator months ago.
That tape has caused outrage across the nation. And the reporter who broke that story has seen a longer version of the elevator video, one which includes audio. He is my guest tonight and we're going to speak to him in just a moment.
But first, I want to go through at the fast moving developments as these headlines are breaking just so quickly here to this hour. Two of the most respected owners in the league, the New York Giant's co-owner, John Mara and Pittsburgh's Steelers' owner, Art Rooney, issued a joint statement late today promising a thorough investigation to determine if an NFL official ever received the video of the elevator incident.
CBS making last minute changes to its Thursday night football open. Abuse victim, Rihanna, was scheduled to tick off the pre-game act. That has now been called off. And all of this as calls for Commissioner Roger Goodell's resignation are starting to grow even from inside the league.
Miguel Marquez has been following the story. And Miguel, this ESPN report is incredibly damaging, if true, because the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said something that would be the complete opposite of it, just days ago.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is possibly damaging. It is a little unclear from the reporting. If you look through that entire article this relates to a June 16th meeting in which Rice, his wife, two reps from the players' union, Ozzy Newsom, the GM of the Ravens and the president of the Ravens were all in the meeting.
There were five different accounts of what Rice told Mr. Goodell during that meeting. Four of them said that he -- that Rice admitted hitting his wife and the fifth said that Rice slapped his wife.
And I also say it is unclear because the owner of the Ravens, Steve Bisciotti said earlier that he believed that Rice had -- that Rice had told him that he had hit his wife, but it was an open-handed slap and she was aggressive with him and drinking.
And that all of the damage was caused when she fell in the elevator and hit her head on the railing. It is not clear how much weight we can give to this at the moment because I think what Roger Goodell was responding to in that CBS interview was the fact that it wasn't clear what led up to the point where she fell.
If you go through the entire interview, he's very clear that he's concerned seeing her brought out of that elevator. The other thing is you don't even need any of that because as we've pointed out before, the summons that was made publicly available and reported everywhere after the February 15th incident, it says that he hit her, rendering her unconscious in plain English.
So the fact that he wouldn't have known that he hit her, either from Rice's own mouth or from the police who were on the scene, just doesn't seem credible.
BURNETT: No, it doesn't. And certainly the word ambiguous, whether it was a slap or a hit also seems strange to me.
OUTFRONT now, Rob Maaddi, the AP reporter who broke the explosive story of an NFL executive that was sent the elevator video back in April. So Rob, I want to go through this so everyone can understand exactly what you know because it's very significant.
You released a story that has rocked the NFL because you say a law enforcement official sent a video of Ray Rice punching what was then his fiancee to an NFL executive months. You say there is a 12-second voice mail from an NFL office back
in April, on April 9th confirming that the video arrived and you say a female voice says thanks, and quote, "Your right, it is terrible."
Now the NFL, of course, Rob has said they have no knowledge -- those are their words -- no knowledge of this, but are looking into it. So tell me what you make of that and exactly what you know.
ROB MAADDI, "ASSOCIATED PRESS" REPORTER: Well, at this point, what we know is what I'm reporting is that the law enforcement officials sent that tape to an NFL executive in April. He got confirmation on April 9 in that voice mail from an unidentified female.
So we know that an unidentified female opened the package, viewed the tape and confirmed receipt of the tape. However, we do not know if she then passed it on to the intended recipient or if anyone else at the NFL in that league office saw it.
BURNETT: Right. And that obviously is very crucial. And also what more do you know, Rob, if anything about the female voice on that voice mail? Was it an executive? Was it an executive's assistant? Obviously her role could be very crucial in determining what you said, which is who else might have known about the video?
MAADDI: Yes, Erin and I can't speculate as to who it is. I don't know who it is. My source did not know who it is and I believe that is why the NFL has launched this investigation to try and get to the bottom of it and determine who it was who intercepted or took control of that video.
BURNETT: Now let me be clear here. Your reporting shows that the video was actually sent to an NFL executive. And this woman is the one who then responds to it. You know who that NFL executive is.
You're choosing not to release it for fear that could reveal your source in law enforcement and people would be able to figure out your source. But what can you tell us about this executive, how high up, for example, was this individual?
MAADDI: I appreciate you asking that question and I really can't divulge any further information about the executive.
BURNETT: All right, so you can't tell us anything, but you are very comfortable with the use of the word "executive", someone very senior and in authority.
MAADDI: Absolutely. And I've had conversations with the NFL. This is not a story that we report overnight. This is something that we worked on for days and hours and this is something that is very credible and we are very confident in.
BURNETT: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as you know, has been on camera this week and responded to some of this. And there is now a lot of questions about what he meant when he said it that everyone is trying to get to the bottom of. He said that the league did not see the tape before Monday. So
again let me be clear. Your reporting is that on April 9th, there was a voice mail from the NFL confirming that this tape indeed did arrive at the NFL.
You don't know who might have seen it at that time, but we have Roger Goodell and I'm going to play it here, telling CBS News that the league did not get the tape until this Monday in September?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know that a second tape existed?
GOODELL: Well, we had not seen any videotape of what occurred in the elevator. We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. But we were never granted that opportunity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: When he takes it further and says we assumed there was video, we asked for the video, but we weren't granted the opportunity and you are reporting that the video was in the NFL offices, what do you make of his answer?
MAADDI: Let's remember that this video was sent unauthorized and unsolicited, so my source, my law enforcement official sent it unsolicited to the executive and it was an unauthorized copy. He could not do this.
So that is why this is a very sticky situation. And let's be clear, we never said that Roger Goodell viewed it and he may never have viewed any video. We don't know that.
All that we know and all that my source knows is that this unidentified woman and everybody is trying to figure out who is the woman? Who is the woman who saw it and has the voice on that voice mail that I heard.
BURNETT: And you have seen video, not just that the video that we have been showing here on CNN, but video from the incident that is longer, includes more time and also includes audio. What can you tell us? What did you hear? That is the crucial thing, what did you hear?
MAADDI: The video that I saw was slightly longer. I believe it was audio enhanced. It was very muffled so I can hear a voice. Not Ray Rice's voice. Another voice in the background saying, she's drunk, right? Ray Rice does not respond whatsoever.
And the voice also said no cops. Obviously cops came and obviously Ray Rice did not claim she was intoxicated. So he did not respond at all. I did not hear him and I could not identify that voice.
BURNETT: And you couldn't identify the voice. And speaking of identifying the voice, I just want to be very clear here because with your reporting obviously. The significant report that the video arrived at NFL offices and this woman called to confirm receipt on April 9th, do you know anything about her?
I mean, can you be sure that she worked for the NFL? That indeed this video, even if the executive didn't see it, that it reached that office? Is that something you are sure of?
MAADDI: The phone call that the woman made came from the NFL building and NFL office numbers. That is the only thing that I can be certain about.
BURNETT: All right. And you have confirmed that so you know it came from inside of that building?
MAADDI: Correct. I saw the number.
BURNETT: And Rob, when you just heard the report now that we're also reporting here from ESPN saying that there were sources in the room, four of whom said Ray Rice told Roger Goodell that he hit his wife, one of whom said he slapped his wife. And that that happened months ago. Obviously this week he said that his understanding of what had happened at that time was ambiguous, does that surprise you?
MAADDI: You know, Erin, again, I can't speculate. I can only tell you what I saw and I know and I heard and report on the facts I have in this case. I believe there will be different things coming out every single day that so many people are trying to report and dig things up and find things out. So we live in a world where any kind of news will not surprise anybody.
BURNETT: And when we talk about this video, the video that you're talking about, you know the call originated inside of the building. You know it was a female voice and you are not exactly sure who she was.
When she comments that it was, you're right, it's terrible, is there an assumption being made, just to be clear here, the assumption is that she's referring to this exact video that was sent, right? That is an assumption?
MAADDI: That is in reference to the note that was attached to the video with the note saying that this is terrible, you have to see it.
BURNETT: But you are sure that it is related to this video. There is no chance it could have been related to anything else?
MAADDI: My law enforcement official sent only that video.
BURNETT: Only that video. All right. Well, Rob Maaddi, thank you very much. We appreciate you are taking the time. Obviously a significant report there from Rob in terms of that video, which he said arrived at NFL offices and there was a female who confirmed receipt of the specific video on April 9th.
Of course, the NFL said it did not see that video until Monday of this week. Up front now, former NFL player, Don McPherson, host of CNN's "UNGUARDED," Rachel Nichols, and CNN legal analyst, Mel Robbins. Good to have all of you with us. Rachel, let me start with you.
As you heard Rob there go through his reporting and exactly what he knows. It was very clear and open about what he had, when you listen to that, how damning is that to the NFL in your view?
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST, "UNGUARDED": It is very damning because here is the thing, under the standard that Roger Goodell has set, it doesn't really matter if he saw the video or not when we are talking about this specific instance.
Sure, if he bald faced lied on CBS and said he didn't see it and it turns out in the course of the investigation that we find out through e-mails or witness testimony that he did watch it, I think he will probably lose his job.
But even if that didn't happen, it shouldn't really matter under these standards he has set. Roger Goodell has said over and over and over again to players and to teams, ignorance is not a defense.
We can look at a very specific case. When there was that scandal a few years ago, the defensive coordinator was organizing these bounty pools and the head coach said he did not know anything about it and Roger Goodell suspended that head coach for a year.
For a year he took him away from his team and he said ignorance is not a defense. Players drink a milk shake and it has a banned substance in it, this is something over the counter, but it has some sort of ingredient that is a banned substance.
And these players' money gets taken away from them. They are suspended for six games because ignorance is not a defense. I want to know if he saw the tape. But now that I've heard the report and the interview you just did, I just don't know if it matters so much under Roger Goodell's rules.
BURNETT: And Don, what do you think about that? Because not only is Rob Maaddi's reporting, ESPN is reporting that Ray Rice had a meeting with Roger Goodell back in June and he said he hit his then-fiance. Four people say hit and one say slap.
The commissioner this weekend in an interview said it was ambiguous at the time. Maybe there was ambiguity, but it doesn't appear from the report from ESPN that there was any ambiguity on the fact that he struck his wife?
DON MCPHERSON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: The problem that goes back to the meeting where Roger Goodell said there is ambiguity, is that that meeting was not about figuring out how about to bring justice to this situation. This is to figure out how do we help to resolve the situation?
When you have the woman in the room, a member of the -- the Ravens organization, Ozzy Newsom in the room, you are not there to adjudicate the issue. What you are trying to smooth this over. So it comes out ambiguous. And what we got out of it, is she's saying we got into an altercation. BURNETT: And there is a point there where she did accept responsibility.
MCPHERSON: Which, by the way -- that is domestic violence investigation 101.
BURNETT: Yes, of course, maybe that is why Roger Goodell is saying what he said.
MCPHERSON: So you set it up for it to be ambiguous.
NICHOLS: And Erin, the idea that they interviewed Janay Rice and in a meeting with Ray Rice sitting next to her and with several officials from the Ravens' organization sitting there as well, I don't understand how anyone thought that what she was then going to tell them wouldn't be under some sort of influence or duress. It is crazy they could be deciding, we listened to her.
BURNETT: Rachel just said there I think Rachel just put it so beautifully. That is absurd. You think she is going to sit there with all of those people and say -- and say anything other than what she said, which is, I'm sorry for anything I did. Please fix it.
MEL ROBBINS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Erin, you just nailed it. Of course, again, anybody that has seen the video, put yourself in Janay's shoes. You are going into a meeting with the commissioner of the NFL, your husband and everybody else there and say, yes, 100 percent responsible, he cold cocked me across the face and pushed me around like a piece of luggage on the floor.
No way. She doesn't want to be responsible for him losing his career. So that was a horrible situation. But I can explain the ambiguity and I believe -- and Don just put it out there and the owner of the Ravens came out and was very forth right and said we made a mistake here and my bad, I actually had a vision of what happened as being more mutual.
And so I think they probably all left that meeting because of the way it was conducted thinking and having that fiction in their mind. And I want to address one more thing that Rachel said about the fact the players are starting to become outraged and that Roger Goodell has a certain type of rule, which is ignorance isn't a defense.
Well in this case, the players don't fire him. It has got to be the owners and the executive committee has the authority under the bylaws and the constitution if they can get 3/4 of the 32 owners to approve it.
BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to all of you. Next, Ray Rice's close friend joins me. He said he is very much in love with his wife and trying to repair their relationship. What does he make of what's happening to Ray Rice.
And Rihanna, an abuse victim herself canceled from tonight's pre- game show. Plus previous reports put the number of ISIS fighters to 10,000
and now a CIA estimate breaking tonight says the number could be as much as three times higher.
BURNETT: Breaking news, new evidence tonight the NFL commissioner is not telling the whole truth about when he first learned Ray Rice knocked out his now wife in an Atlantic City elevator.
Here's what we know according to ESPN. Rice revealed to Roger Goodell in June that he had hit his then-fiancee. That contradicts what Goodell told CBS about that conversation Rice this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOODELL: When we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Is these inconsistencies that has forced the NFL to enlist the help of a former FBI chief to investigate the league's handling of the Ray Rice case. Questions are already growing though about who is leading the investigation. Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Even before it gets underway, the investigation into the investigators of the Ray Rice scandal already raising eyebrows. Overseen by two NFL team owners, John Mara of the New York Giants and Art Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers, can Robert Mueller lead a thorough and independent investigation?
In a statement, Mueller's law firm would only say he has extensive experience handling sensitive investigations, including his service for over a dozen years as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He is a partner at Washington's Wilmer Hill. It has deep connections to the National Football League.
The current president of the Baltimore Ravens, Richard Cass, was a partner in the same firm for 31 years. Wilmer Hill lawyers help negotiate lucrative TV and other deals with the NFL and several of its employees have taken jobs with NFL teams.
The investigation is expected to focus on several questions, including did NFL staff try to obtain the elevator video? Was the video ever delivered to anyone at the NFL, and, if so, what happened to it once it was inside NFL offices.
Questions about what happened in that elevator and how the NFL got it so wrong. Raven's owner, Steve Bisciotti, spoke about the assumptions he made as the scandal unfolded.
STEVE BISCIOTTI, BALTIMORE RAVENS OWNER: We love Ray Rice and so we have a tendency to hear what we want to hear and see what we want to see. And so the misdemeanor, the explanation that she hit him -- he hit her with an open hand, the facts that she had -- was aggressive, I was picturing a -- I was picturing her wailing on him and him smacking her and maybe her head was this far from the wall and with her in a variation dropped.
MARQUEZ: The stakes for the Ravens and the NFL enormous. Tonight's Ravens-Steelers game is the first of a series of Thursday night NFL contests on Network TV. CBS paid $275 million to simulcast eight Thursday night games.
In a nearly awkward coincidence, CBS was set to open the show with a video by Rihanna, a victim of domestic violence herself at the hands of her ex, Chris Brown. CBS pulled the video hours before kickoff.
As a new NFL venture and season gets underway, many fans looking beyond the game, hoping for answers. Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: And we want bring in Craig Carton, he is a friend of Ray Rice. Just spoke to Rice on Tuesday, one day after the surveillance tape from the elevator was made public? You spoke to him today, is that right?
CRAIG CARTON, CHILDHOOD FRIEND OF RAY RICE: Yes, we texted back and forth today.
BURNETT: So what did he say?
CARTON: Well, listen, he committed a horrendous crime against his wife, the mother of his child. He knows it. He takes ownership of it. He's not proud of that moment. He has to do a lot of work to repair his image. He has let a lot of people down, namely his wife and daughter and himself.
And he is committed to do that. And there is the Ray Rice who needs to go to counseling and figure it out and then separately over here is Ray Rice the football player.
BURNETT: So what is his reaction to the suspension? This key report -- you are saying you knew that he told Roger Goodell months ago what happened, that he told him that he hit his wife months ago.
CARTON: Listen, he told everyone that asked in a position of authority, from the NFL to his bosses with the Ravens of what he did. He took ownership of the despicable act and tried to make it right. Ray Rice did something horrendously wrong.
But the NFL's reaction to it and how they have vacillated back and forth of what the punishment should be and what they did and don't know is wrong. And Ray Rice was wrong and he may never play football again.
BURNETT: Is he OK with that? CARTON: I don't know. He said he's focused on his wife and child and being a family guy and righting the wrong. Football is secondary to all of that. No one disputes that what he did was wrong and then the way the NFL has handled it which has become keystone cops.
BURNETT: Let me ask you about his wife. She had a statement on Instagram and she regrets what happened in the elevator, and I quote here, just know that we'll continue to grow and show what real love it. And people can grow through lots of things, but domestic violence is a horrible thing.
And a lot of those that are victims stay with their abuser and try to stay together and make excuses. And there is an epidemic in this country and she has unwillingly become the face of it.
CARTON: She has. And there is part of me who is upset about it, and other woman who come on the show and said how Janay is and how ridiculous it is to stay with him. CNN has chosen to play the video over and over and over again. ESPN did it frame by frame.
If people really care about Janay Rice, stop showing the video. What is the point of showing it? We've all seen it. You guys have shown it 50 times in the last 5 minutes. And ESPN does play-by-play on it. And if people care about it, and I hope they do, because she's the victim of domestic abuse, stop playing it.
BURNETT: What do you think will happen to Roger Goodell?
CARTON: I think if they can prove that Roger Goodell saw the video, the second video.
BURNETT: So do you think he needs to see the video to know after what Ray Rice telling him.
CARTON: No. It is a lie. Two separate things. No one needs to see it and here is why. It doesn't change the fundamental facts of the case. He admitted it to everybody in the room.
BURNETT: He told Roger Goodell.
CARTON: You saw the second video.
BURNETT: But you are saying that is not enough to have him not be a commissioner.
CARTON: It is not public opinion that will fire Roger Goodell or get him to resign. The owners have to come together and they have been steadfast to him. And the video, if you care, stop showing it.
BURNETT: And here is the only thing I will say about that because it is awful it is one person. If no one had shown the video, no one would be talking about this or be aware of it and no one would know. Ray Rice would still be playing. It has gotten a national conversation talking about it and it's own hash tag about why they stayed. Doesn't that say it? CARTON: It doesn't need to be showed any more. We're aware of it. And three days later and now we're showing it and it is gratuitous and it should stop.
BURNETT: All right, well, Craig, I really appreciate you coming and talking to us. Craig Carton.
And OUTFRONT next, new estimates that ISIS have three times the number initially put out there and the secretary of state tonight tells us the United States is not at war.
Plus, it is possible to fight the terror group without American boots on the ground?
BURNETT: Breaking news: there could be as many as three times the number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria than U.S. officials previously thought. According to the CIA tonight, there are now up to 31,500 ISIS fighters. The previous number bandied about for these past few days even but for weeks is 10,000.
This comes as the United States begins the hunt for terror targets in Syria. The United States flying its first surveillance flight there as part of the president's new campaign against the terror groups. There are nearly 500 more American troops on route to Iraq this evening. That brings the president's total to 1,700.
And the U.S. has already conducted 154 airstrikes in Iraq. Yet, today, Secretary of State John Kerry told our Elise Labott that this is not war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Is the U.S. at war with is. It sounds from the president speech that we are.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that's the wrong terminology.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Jim Sciutto is in Washington.
And, Jim, what have you learned?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Erin, this is a pretty sobering assessment to say the least. Doubling, tripling the estimate of fighters along -- fighting along ISIS, the CIA saying because ISIS has been recruiting better in large part because of the battlefield success and it shows the intelligence gaps on the ground in Iraq and Syria.
It happens as the U.S. embarks on what many commanders and former commanders, and I've spoken to a lot of them, tell me will be a long and difficult fight. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
SCIUTTO (voice-over): The fight against ISIS is the latest chapter in a long American war against Islamic extremists. But it brings its own particular challenges, each of them problems that had kept the president from launching a broad campaign until now. With military action inside Syria, the U.S. is plunging itself into a brutal and confusing civil war. ISIS is the enemy today but so ISIS' chief rival, Bashar al Assad.
America's allies on the ground both in Syria, the moderate Syria rebels, and in Iraq, the Iraqi army, are unproven forces, neither has made any significant headway against ISIS on its own.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The rebels haven't proven to be a cohesive unit and they are not very moderate and sometimes they make league with groups like al-Nusra, which are dedicated of fighting against.
SCIUTTO: And into this confusing war, the president is sending an additional 475 U.S. military advisers to Iraq, raising the total number of U.S. forces there to 1,700. They won't be in combat but will face risk -- in the air and on the ground, and the president's pledge to limit that risk by limiting out combat, greatly limits the effectiveness of air strikes.
COL. PETER MANSOOR, U.S. ARMY (RET): An air campaign can be highly effective if you have targeters on the ground, embedded with the combat units.
SCIUTTO: On the home front, military action that many believe will last years will cost billions of dollars, disrupting if not destroying the president's attempt to shrink the Pentagon budget.
MANSOOR: It will be up to Congress to come up with the resources to make sure that the U.S. military is not encumbered by lack of funds, lack of resources.
SCIUTTO: At stake, U.S. security at home and abroad. U.S. officials now estimate ISIS has anywhere from 20,000 to 31,500 fighters, up from an earlier estimate of just 10,000, including 2,000 Westerners, among them, about a dozen Americans.
The fear that those Western fighters are being encouraged to carry out terror attacks when they return home.
SCIUTTO: A U.S. official tells me that tonight, U.S. surveillance aircraft are in the air above Syria, gathering intelligence for those airstrikes that the president has ordered. I'm told if there are targets of opportunity they will take them. But as far, Erin, as a broader air campaign, that is not imminent.
BURNETT: Jim Sciutto, thank you.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
BURNETT: Well, joining me now is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. He's a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Senator, the secretary of state says the word "war" is the wrong terminology. What do you say to that?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Well, Erin, I'm not sure what the definition of war would be then. I know we're dropping bombs. I know that we're over there, we're engaged, we've been able to push them back or coordinating efforts with the Iraqi army and the Kurds. And so we're still engaged. We're engaged.
BURNETT: Why do you think this administration, that the secretary of state and the president are so afraid of that word?
MANCHIN: I don't know. Here's the thing. We know that ISIS is a threat. We all see a rising threat there that needs to be stopped if it can, immediately. And I'm for -- and I applaud the president on his speech last night. I think he laid out a plan, he was very resolved and I appreciate that also.
But I have a problem going in and asking for money to train these rebels, which we can't identify and we haven't been good at identifying who they may be. The weapons we gave them, if they're going to be use against us.
I think there are people that can do a better job at that. And I think the Saudis and Arab nation should be more involved in that.
I'm all for using the airstrikes. I'm all for the air support, and using the tactical support we have and doing everything we possibly can, with our drones and things of that sort.
I'm not for boots on the ground. I'm not for getting in. When we get in, we're not good at getting out. We seem to be pulled in and it is a perpetual war for 13 years and it's ongoing.
BURNETT: Because the United States is so set on not putting boots on the ground in significant numbers, since there are already 1,700 there, but the president said he will not put combat troops in, there then becomes this reliance on, as you said, arming rebels -- rebels who for several years have been unable to define, who is a quote, unquote, "good rebel", who is a, quote-unquote, "bad rebel", to use simplistic terms. The intelligence on the ground on those rebels are such that U.S. intelligence did not even know where Steven Sotloff and James Foley were being held. When they went in to rescue them, they weren't there.
So, is it possible that this rush to arm the rebels is coming from a dedication to not putting U.S. troops on the ground? And if so, is that a mistake?
MANCHIN: Well, the bottom line is we spent 12 years, we built up an Iraqi army, we clothed them, we fed them, we armed them, we trained them, 200,000 strong. And we see what we have today. They turned and ran. OK?
With that being said, what makes you think we'll be even more successful? When are they going to show the will to defend themselves and fight for themselves and the bottom line is, we should be worried about the attack to America and we should be attacking any way, shape and form any threat to America or Americans.
Thinking we're going to build up another rebel army that's going to go out and take care of business, which they haven't done yet and haven't showed a will to do, is not something I'm buying into right now.
BURNETT: It really is a threat to the United States and you don't think that the local troops and the rebels, if the U.S. trains them, have the ability. Is it a very difficult reality that if the U.S. thinks this is a threat that the only troops capable of fighting and winning could be American troops?
MANCHIN: Basically what we have is we have our special ops, are the best in the world, as you know. We have all of the -- we have the best military in the world and we have the best air force and the air power that we have.
We can use whatever it takes to defend America if it's an imminent threat, directly. Should we stop them? Absolutely, we should stop them. But there has to be buy-in that wants to stop them also, not just from America, but this is a threat to the human race all over the world. I mean, these people are the most barbaric as far as we've seen in a terrorist organization. And they can't be accepted by anybody.
So, you mean you're telling me the Muslim world over there doesn't have concerns, the Muslim world over there, the Arab world, if you will, and the Saudis, the UAE, and the Egyptians and the Jordanians? All of them should have the same concern the rest of the Western world. Where is the U.K.? Where is the French?
Let's find out. We don't know yet, Erin. I want to find out if they -- if they are concerned or if their level of concern is as high as ours.
BURNETT: All right. Senator, thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time tonight.
MANCHIN: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: The senator not sure what the definition of war would be since John Kerry is trying to say this is not war.
OUTFRONT next, ISIS is being called the single biggest threat to American interest at home and abroad. Is the truth is being stretched to make a case for war?
Plus, Apple banking heavily on the new watch. Did the online jokes spell bad news for the tech giant or not?
BURNETT: Breaking news: the CIA believes there may be between 20,000 to 31,000 ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria. Those numbers are about three times larger than the ones previously put out.
Let's go to our panel, Bob Grenier was a CIA top counterterrorism officer during the second Bush administration. Daniel Benjamin was the State Department's most senior counterterrorism adviser during President Obama's first term.
Al right. Let me start with you, Bob. What do these numbers mean and what do you make of the fact that they have so suddenly changed?
ROBERT GRENIER, FORMER CIA COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER DIRECTOR: I don't quite know what to make of it frankly. First of all, let's remember, there is a big disparity in the numbers here, 20,000 to 31,000. That's over 50 percent shift there.
GRENIER: So, that's number one.
Number two, if I were sitting back to my old chair, I want to know, first of all, what is the fidelity on this end? Could we know the answer? Not a whole lot, otherwise.
BURNETT: It wouldn't be a big range if they really knew.
GRENIER: But secondly, I would like to know to what extent do we have a breakdown on these numbers? Now, how many do we think are committed Islamic state members in Iraq and Syria? People who are -- if you're permanent members of the organization, how many of them are foreign fighters that have come into the area to join the fight and there has to be a recent upswing in those numbers.
But most importantly how many are Iraqi tribesmen and militia fighters that are simply joined --
BURNETT: Well, along for the ride in a sense?
GRENIER: Well, along for the ride because they think this organization could help them in their fight against the Iraqi government. Those are the ones we want to peel away from the organization.
BURNETT: And that is, when you're talking about the difficulty in getting a real number, and a real number is important, Dan, in terms of what this group is capable and interested in doing. What is your view here? You said the public discussion about ISIS is, quote- unquote, "a farce." When you hear numbers that are so unclear, what do you think?
And it looks like our shot popped out the second I asked that. When we get him back, I'll ask the question. I'm sorry. So, Bob, back to you. I want to ask you about the combat troops
situation here also, I don't want to miss a moment to ask you that. The president was categorical about this, that he's not going to put combat troops. It might may sense when you talk about the numbers, they're so uncertain about it, who the United States is going to be fighting. But he has already put in 1,700 U.S. troops.
Here is what John McCain said to the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Tell the American people the truth, Mr. President. Those young men and women are going there and they're going to be in harm's way and they're going to be exposed to combat. Tell the American people the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What do you think? Did the president tell the American people the truth? Can he do this without more combat troops? There are already 1,700.
GRENIER: Well, see it all depends on how you define these people and what they're actually going to be doing. Now, when we talk about combat troops we're talking about conventional forces, people taking the lead in the fight, an invasion force if you will. Obviously, that's off the table. The president is not talking about that. Nobody is proposing that.
I think the question is how do we use these people? These 1,700 people are going to be behind the lines. They're providing support, training, assistance with equipment. The key issue is whether or not these people are going to be on the front lines in harm's way.
I think that in limited numbers at least they should be. As far as we know right now they won't.
BURNETT: So, Dan, I know we have you back here. Let me ask you that crucial question here. You said the public discussion about ISIS is a farce. There are some who say look, look, this is a drum beat, that the president has been pushed into this. This is not fair to describe ISIS as such an immediate threat to the United States. What do you think?
DANIEL BENJAMIN, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR: Well, I think there is a lot of clarification that is required and there are an awful lot of people who are speaking without a lot of facts to base their claims on. The notion that has been aired on television that there are sleeper cells all over America, there is absolutely nothing to base that on. The notion that they're coming into Texas, as the governor of Texas suggested. There is nothing to base that on.
When we talked about the number of fighters I think Bob got it right. A lot of these people are riff-raff who are caught up in the fight as ISIS expands territory. So, there needs to be a look at what the nature of the group is and what the nature of the threat is.
BURNETT: All right, thanks to you. We'll have you back.
And, next, Jeanne Moos with Apple's high tech timepiece and how it's being tossed around.
BURNETT: Spend $350 on an Apple launch or DIY it?
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do you know what time it is? It's time to bash the Apple watch.
Sure, we're all salivating to have one, never has a watch looked so sensual. But that has not stopped people from piling on. BuzzFeed snickered that everybody made the exact same joke, strapping apples on wrists, others turned it into faces, even carved a watch out of an apple.
And those who were not strapping on apples were taping on iPhones. Ricky Gervais just tweeted he saved himself 350 quid.
Comedy Central joked that the Apple watch finally allows users to ruin two devices when they reach into the toilet to retrieve their iPhone.
Although the Apple watch won't help you communicate with your dog -- some of what it can do was perfect for parody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can share your heartbeat for some reason.
MOOS: Ellen DeGeneres tweeted, "So excited for the Apple watch, for centuries we've checked the time by looking at the phones". It was parodied in various languages.
Even celebrities joined in the mockery with Mia Farrow tweeting, but I already have a watch.
One comedy Web site imagine someone asking, hey, bro, you got to time? Yes, it's hang on, just a sec. No, not the spinning pinwheel.
(on camera): Maybe it will be a dud, or maybe some day we'll make fun of all the people who made fun of the Apple watch.
(voice-over): Fashion designer Chris Benz tweeted, "iWatch is the new Segway." Ouch.
BURNETT: So, will you buy it or not? Let us know always on Twitter.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: Tomorrow, OUTFRONT, he commanded all forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and headed the group that took out Osama bin Laden and al Zawahiri. Tomorrow, our exclusive interview with retired General Stanley McChrystal on ISIS, the strategy to destroy it and more. That's right here tomorrow OUTFRONT, our exclusive conversation with the general.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight. Anderson begins right now.