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New Day

Attempted Terror Attack in Jerusalem; Interview with Jen Psaki; Second Ebola Patient Coming to U.S.

Aired August 04, 2014 - 08:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome once again to NEW DAY, everybody. It's Monday, August 4th, 8:00 in the East now.

And we have breaking developments coming out of the Middle East. An attempted terror attack this morning. Israeli police say a tractor slammed into a passenger bus before the attacker was killed by Israeli police.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: This comes after the backdrop of an Israeli cease-fire. About two hours remain in it, but both sides say it is being violated.

Let's get to Anderson Cooper. He's in Jerusalem this morning, just a few miles from where the attack happened.

Anderson, what's the latest?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, AC360: Yes, good morning, guys. This occurred just in the last hour. You're seeing the video, a heavy piece of earth-moving equipment. It repeatedly slammed into a passenger bus about six times or so, trying to tip it over, finally tipping it over.

There was a police officer near the scene, responded, shot the driver of the earth-moving equipment vehicle, shot him dead. The driver of the vehicle now is said to be laying by the side of the vehicle according to Israeli police. There are conflicting reports about the number of injured. Right now, we believe three people have been injured, but again, these are early reports, but the driver who alleged to take place in what Israeli police call a terror attack, Israeli police are saying this is the alleged terrorist who has been shot by Israeli police. That person is laying next to the vehicle.

The exact motivation, we do not know much about the driver of the vehicle itself. Early reports are that the passenger on the bus, excuse me, the driver of the passenger bus was also injured, was taken to the hospital. The bus itself was said to be largely empty, so it certainly could have been a lot worse had there been more people on the bus.

We are trying to gather more details. This occurred in central Jerusalem about three or so miles from our area near some international hotels.

I should point out, this is not the first time that an incident like this has occurred. Back in 2008 and 2009, there were two incidents, one with a police car crushed and another civilian vehicle was hit as well.

But again, this obviously is adding to the tension here with about two hours until the end of this self-declared cease-fire or pause in the conflict by Israel. Hamas has not agreed to this. Israel says there have been at least three rockets fired into Israel in the five hours or so that this cease-fire has been in effect.

All of this, of course, just adds to the dramatic development to which we have seen over the last 48 hours here. This is a seven-hour cease- fire agreed to that Israel agreed to. Hamas gave no agreement to hold its fire, but Palestinian officials blame Israel saying that Israel fired an air strike shortly after the cease-fire began, some 20 minutes after the cease-fire began, killing one and injuring 30, hitting a family house. Israel disputes that and says rockets have been launched from Gaza, three rockets in all.

And this comes a day after the U.N. and U.S have the harshest criticism of Israel on record following another deadly air strike near a U.N. shelter.

I want to go to John Vause in Gaza with all the latest.

John, what are you seeing and hearing there?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Anderson, a different scene here in Gaza city. The streets have come alive over the last couple of hours, just two hours now in that humanitarian window which was declared by the Israelis as streets have been filling up and shops are back open. The children are back out playing on the streets.

It's also a chance for many people to head back to those neighborhoods which were hit hard by the Israeli military offensive. Many homes have been leveled and many people are now going through the rubble and are searching for the bodies of those who were killed. We understand a number of bodies, at least according to local reports here, have been pulled from beneath the rubble from those schools. Now, from those homes, rather.

Now, this is a limited unilateral pause in the fighting declared by Israel, but they said the military offensive will continue in parts of Gaza n particular down south, around the southern border town of Rafah. Those military operations are ongoing with the U.N. school was hit on Sunday. The Israelis firing the missile and at least nine Palestinians were kill there had.

And the reason why Hamas did not agree to this cease-fire, or at least one of the stated reasons, they say that this humanitarian window, well, it's just a diversion by Israel to take away from all of the international condemnation of what happened at that U.N. school in Rafah -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. John, we'll check in with you throughout the day.

I want to go to our Saima Mohsin who is standing by at the scene of what Israeli police are calling a terror attack in central Jerusalem.

Saima, what's going on? What's the latest?

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right. Anderson, let me talk you through the scene here. I just arrived from the other end of the street. This is the Mir Shalom (ph) area in Jerusalem.

As I came down, there was a huge crowd and then I saw this overturned bus. You can see it clearly is the number 291 that goes through this area. A digger right next to it. It's apparently, a man -- a young man was driving, he hit a car on his way to try to overturn the bus. He did manage to overturn that.

So, there were two police officers on patrol in this area at the time. They got into an encounter with the man and they shot him. Now, what I've been told by the police spokesman is that when there's a life- threatening situation, officers are permitted to shoot. And this man was killed. In fact, his body is still lying on the road behind me, Anderson, just next to the digger where he was shot dead. Apparently, paramedics did come, they say they tried to resuscitate him and he died right here at the scene.

One other person has been killed as well. That was a pedestrian passing by at the time. The bus was actually empty. The driver, the only person inside it, we are understand that he's being seriously injured.

But as you can see, Anderson, I'm going to step aside and let you take a look, there's a lot of police officers here, I believe there's 80 police officers and border police on site already. They acted very fast. And there are a number of fire crews here that are now going to try to clean this up.

But this has created a huge amount of attention. This is a rather orthodox neighborhood, a Jewish neighborhood here in the center of Jerusalem. There are huge crowds surrounding here. Families looking over from the tops of roofs of their balconies, and there's been a helicopter as well circling. That's because they are not only looking at this area but they are looking at all areas around here.

The police spokesman also told me they are now making inquiries in various other neighborhoods to try to prevent anything like this from happening again -- Anderson.

COOPER: Saima, do we know anything about the identity of this vehicle operator, the possible motive for this? I mean, it seems pretty obvious that police were quick to label this a terror attack. This wasn't, from the video we have seen, it wasn't just a mistake. This was multiple strikes by what looks like a backhoe against this bus trying to flip it over. I counted at least five or sticks streams, but have police released anything on the identity of the driver?

MOHSIN: They haven't, actually, Anderson. I did ask that from the police spokesman. I asked how he knows that this is a terror attack. And he said, well, this has happened in the past, particularly in Jerusalem. A couple of years ago, 2008 and 2009, consecutively, someone jumped

into a digger to try to overturn the police car, overturn some civilian vehicles as well. So it's happened before, but on this occasion, they simply don't know the answer. I asked him who the man that was in there that is now lying dead behind me, and they said they are still going through his paperwork to try to identify him and find out who exactly he is.

But they are labeling this a terror attack based on the assumption that this has happened before. And let's not forget the environment this is happening in, the ongoing military operation in Gaza -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Appreciate it, thank you very much. We'll check back with you on the scene.

Chris, let's go back to you in New York.

CUOMO: All right. Obviously, you are in the middle of the situation, Anderson. Bu the U.S. involved as well.

So, right now, we want to bring in Jen Psaki. She's a spokeswoman for the State Department.

Jen, you're there with us. Thank you very much.


CUOMO: Very tough words out of you and the State Department, big tough words, "I'm appalled. This is graceful", comes out of this State Department, talking about this latest attack of this U.N. shelter believed to be done by Israel. You say Hamas being nearby is not a justification for this.

The question becomes, what will you do about it?

PSAKI: Well, Chris, let me first say that there's almost no country in the world that has done more to protect and strengthen Israel security than the United States. That won't change.

But the sign of a strong relationship is being able to speak out and convey concerns when we have them. This is the seventh attack on a school. You've been following this closely. And what we need to determine with the international community is exactly the question you posed, where do we go from here?

Our objective hasn't changed. We want to see a cease-fire. The question is, who do we get there?

CUOMO: Complicating factor, you say this is wrong. You can't do this kind of shelling or targeted attacks. You are providing the weapons and artillery that allow these attacks to continue. Does that complicate a message of humanity coming from the United States?

PSAKI: Well, Chris, let me first say that it's not secret to anyone in the world that the United States and Israel have a strong security relationship and that includes providing them with equipment and supplies when it's needed. That's been ongoing. We also do an enormous amount of funding for the Iron Dome. We work with them and with their military.

But does that change the fact that when you a situation where innocent civilians are killed in Gaza, there is more that Israel can do to hold themselves to their own standard, and the United States of all countries has experienced this in places like Afghanistan. We are saying they need to hold themselves to their own standards and do more here in Gaza.

CUOMO: And then you get pushback on the other side, in two different ways. The first is columnist like Habib (ph) who we had on, Lee Habib, who says, you don't get it. You don't get it, Psaki. You're contextualizing this the wrong way.

Of course, they're going to take out civilians, civilians are hiding nearby. Don't make it look like Israel is doing the wrong thing. They're actually doing the least amount of wrong that they possibly could.

Is that a fair context of what we're seeing and as you know what we're not showing?

PSAKI: Well, Chris, you -- CNN has been reporting it, you have been talking about it, every day the world is watching as innocent civilians are killed, as children are having shrapnel pulled out of their back. I think we can all look here and make an evaluation that there's more that can be done.

That doesn't change the fact that we believe Israel has the right to defend itself. We want to do everything to support Israel's security, but we are looking at a devastating situation here in Gaza and there's more that can be done.

CUOMO: And then the other point of pushback. Prime Minister Netanyahu, don't second-guess me again on Hamas. Forget about what his tone is or what it wasn't. The words by themselves stand to the idea that the U.S. got it wrong in the last cease-fire negotiation.

You misread the timing. You misread Hamas as a two-headed organization. And you were talking to the wrong one.

Fair criticism?

PSAKI: Absolutely not. I'm obviously not going to speak to reports of leaked private diplomatic conversations, but I will say, Chris, that with every day that passes and every day that passed last week, more people were dying. And we have absolutely no regrets of working with both parties, with the Egyptians, with the Qataris, with the Turks to do everything possible to put in place a prolong cease-fire.

Now, clearly, there's more that we need to do to get back to a cease- fire so we can have a discussion and negotiations with the key issues that have been troubling both sides for a long time. CUOMO: Do you think the United States can do anything to end this

until Israel is satisfied it has gone far enough with the tunnels and what it sees as the demilitarization of Gaza, whatever the costs are, whatever the duration?

PSAKI: Well, it isn't up to the United States. It has always been up to the parties.

But, Chris, I think when you look at the situation you have on the ground, what we want and what we are calling for, what the U.N. called for, what the international community has called for is a prolonged cease-fire to have a negotiation about those key issues.

We support demilitarization. That's not an issue that can be addressed or worked out in the matter of 24 hours or 48 hours. It's something that there needs to be a longer discussion about.

So, that's the point we want to get to. The Egyptians have indicated they are willing to host it so let's get back to that discussion.

CUOMO: Any discussion or is impractical or unreasonable, you tell me, any discussion about saying, look, we'll give you these rounds, we'll give you these artillery, but they can only be used for certain things. Is that a reasonable way to limit exposure to civilians in Gaza?

PSAKI: Well, I think our statement yesterday sent a clear sign that we believe more can be done to limit civilian casualties, prevent civilian casualties, and we think again Israel should hold itself to its own standard. That doesn't change the fact that we have a strong partner with Israel, we are a security partner with Israel, and we'll continue to support them in that regard.

And at the end of the day, we don't believe -- we believe they have the right to defend themselves. We don't believe that the people of Israel should be living with the threat of terrorist attacks coming into their cities and towns every day.

CUOMO: I don't mean this to come across disrespectfully, but you tell me that the straight take on it is, given what you just said, when you use the harsh words, they seem kind of empty because the U.S. supports Israel almost unconditionally. You know why they are doing this. You know they are going to keep doing it.

So why even come out with a statement like that that kind of injures Israel, but you're not really going to do anything to stop the practice?

PSAKI: Well, Chris, with all due respect, I think you are oversimplifying the issue here.

The issue here is that Israel, we believe they have the right to defend themselves, and we understand that they can't, the people of Israel can't be waking up every day with terrorists coming in through tunnels, threatening their lives and threatening the health of their people. But at the same time as they are defending themselves, there's more that can be done to prevent attacks that are impacting civilians in Gaza.

This is something that we see in war zones around the world. This is not an ask or a standard that is uncommon, that a country like the United States or a country like Israel should hold itself to.

CUOMO: One last point, the demilitarization of Gaza, there are different points of weapons, ideas can be weapons, people can be weapons. You have a generation of kids growing up in Gaza now who are seen five wars in three years. Those kids are going to grow up with a very definite notion about how they feel towards Israel and frankly probably the United States.

What about that impact? How does that get controlled?

PSAKI: Well, Chris, I think that's a really important point you raised here, because one of the things that the Palestinian people, the people of Gaza, want to discuss is increased economic opportunity and access -- whether it's through Rafah crossings or other crossings, this is an issue that should be on the table. The United States has been a big contributor to not only humanitarian assistance but economic assistance, as has many in the international community.

But until the economic changes, we have seen it around the world, it's hard to see how the viewpoint changes and that why that needs to be part of the discussion as well.

CUOMO: Jen Psaki, we're going to be following this very closely. Thank you for answering questions this morning. Appreciate the opportunity to have you on NEW DAY.

All right. A lot of other news as well, let's get the headlines from Michaela.


Here we go: Iraq's largest dam and key oil field are now in control of Sunni militants. They also seized three more towns over the weekend in heavy fighting with Kurdish forces. By taking over the Mosul dam and Sunni fighters have the ability to flood major cities or withhold water from them in their bid to topple Iraq's Shiite-led government.

This morning, a team of international investigators and observers are back at the Flight 17 crash site in eastern Ukraine after pausing to assess security. They are now working on the scene focusing on recovering victims' remains. Investigators say shelling in the area was close but it is not clear where it was coming from.

Back here at home, firefighters are battling two raging wildfires in Northern California. Eight homes have been destroyed and a hospital in the path of the flames was evacuated. Officials evacuated three other communities in the area and say more than 700 homes remain in danger, 95 square miles of the national forest have burned as of Sunday night. California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over the weekend.

A U.S. Air Force plane crossed into Swedish air space to avoid Russian fighter jets last month. The U.S. military officials just disclosed this incident. The electronics surveillance plane was in international air space on July 18th, when it was approached by Russian jets. The plane flew into Sweden briefly before air traffic controllers told them to leave Swedish air space.

Interesting that this is just being disclosed now.

BOLDUAN: Exactly right.

CUOMO: Often the case. Often the case. You don't know when you need to know.

Let's take a little break on NEW DAY, so, breaking new details on the serum that may have saved the life of that American doctor who is battling Ebola. We have Dr. Sanjay Gupta and a doctor from the National Institutes of Health. They're going to answer the most pressing questions.

BOLDUAN: And one person is dead, many more stranded after dangerous mudslides are happening out west. Cars abandoned and children left waiting for rescuers as rescue are still happening right now. We're going to have the very latest coming from California.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back.

We have breaking details exclusive to CNN about the two American patients infected with Ebola and a secret medication that likely saved their lives. Dr. Brantly, he is now receiving treatment at an Atlanta hospital and has shown what some are describing is incredible improvement. Writebol, the other woman that will be -- the woman who will be flown back to the United States tomorrow.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is live this morning at Emory University Hospital. We should mention that Sanjay is on staff at Emory.

But, Sanjay, you were able to get new details, really extensive details on this serum, if you will. What are you learning?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it was quite extraordinary to hear the story of this serum, this experiment tall therapy stored at subzero temperatures being flown into Liberia expressly for the use of Dr. Brantly and Nancy Writebol as you just mentioned. What was particularly extraordinary, this is a medication that came in three vials that needed to be thawed out not by having heated and administered it, but just naturally thawed out and then given to the patients.

Originally, as we have been reporting, Dr. Brantly said let's give the medication to Nancy Writebol first, saying he was younger, more robust, that she would benefit from the treatment better, but at some point during that process, apparently his condition really took a turn for the worse. He started to develop labored breathing, and really, really was struggling. In fact, he as a doctor himself apparently told people close to the area that he thought he was going to die.

And at that point, the medication was actually administered to him instead. What is even more extraordinary again and these are details that are just coming to us, is that between 20 minutes and 60 minutes after he was administered the medication, his condition sounds like nearly reversed. Just completely changed around, his breathing became regular. He got a significant rash over his body that started to go down and he just improved really, really quickly. By the next morning even was able to take a shower before getting on the pre-planned medical evacuation jet ride back here to the United States.

But we have been hearing so many stories back and forth about an experimental therapy. We got more details now on how this all transpired and more details as well about what this therapy actually is.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating, what this therapy is. That's been a big question for everyone as we have been learning about the experimental treatment. You said that this is -- and we do know, Sanjay, from your reporting that this is the same experimental treatment that both of them received.

GUPTA: That's right. And first, it was Dr. Brantly and then, apparently, Ms. Writebol received it as well. It had never been used in a human being before. Never been used before, typically medications go through the clinical trial process where you show that it is safe, you show that it's effective and then it becomes more widely available.

This has never been done before, only in monkeys. So it was really sort of a Hail Mary here just to try to provide this type of medication at all. And again, we did hear that Dr. Brantly received it first.

It's essentially an antibody treatment, an antibody treatment, what's called a monoclonal antibody treatment. What they do is inject animals with the Ebola virus, those animals make antibodies which fight the virus, they take those antibodies out of the animals and create this medication. I'm simplifying a bit but that's the general principle behind these antibody medications.

And we believe that's was what Dr. Brantly was given and just how quickly his response was to this medication, I think it was quite extraordinary. Typically these things work over days and weeks but this was literally within an hour, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And often these kind of treatments are there's a lot of trial period before they are used on patients and to see such a dramatic turnaround, maybe this can be seen as a breakthrough.

Sanjay, stick with me. We've got the perfect guest to be joining us right now to talk about this. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Fauci, some of Sanjay's reporting also suggested representatives from NIH contacted these organizations to try to get in touch with these patients to offer up this treatment. What more can you tell us?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NIH: Well, the NIH is not offering the treatment up. This has come -- if it is the treatment that Sanjay is referring to, and again, I'm only getting this secondhand, if it's the monoclonal antibodies that we are talking about, which Sanjay correctly described, as something to block the virus, the original research on that has been supported by the NIH, but the actual procurement and ownership of the antibodies is not NIH. It's from a company who was able to get a very, very few doses that were around to get some of the doses to the patients involved, to the doctor and to Nancy.

So, that's the role of the NIH was in the original research. But we don't own those antibodies.

BOLDUAN: What's your understanding from the involvement on the part of NIH, of the risks associated with it? As Sanjay just reported, it has never been tested on a human being?

FAUCI: Well, apparently, obviously, when you have an emergency situation, a decision was made to get permission to wave the clinical studies. As Sanjay said, whenever you have something like this, you try it in animals. Apparently, the results in animals have been favorable but they have not gone into the clinical one phase clinical trials, which is what you want before it is widely distributed.

But because of the urgency of the situation, the decision was made by the physicians in charge and by the people there to go ahead and take the risk. And that's what they did.

And I want to just comment about -- I want to comment about our being careful, about having a response to an antibody that is so rapid because that sure could be impressive related to the antibody, but that's not generally the way antibodies work at such a rapid response. We better withhold judgment on how miraculous that was.

BOLDUAN: That actually was my next question for you, Sanjay said that he had heard between 20 to 60 minutes that the doctor's condition nearly seemed reverse but you offer a bit of caution on that.

FAUCI: I do. I do. I think we've got to be careful. I hope that's the case, but, you know, having worked with administering antibodies to people for a really long time, that would be distinctively unusual, not impossible. We need to continue to follow that. You can be certain that there will be studies in the future on those antibodies so that we can learn more about them.

BOLDUAN: Obviously, it's impossible to know at this point because he's under quarantine and receiving special treatment at Emory, but could something else be a part of that? He received this experimental treatment and then you see this remarkable turnaround.

Let's bring Sanjay in on this, Dr. Fauci, to continue that conversation. What do you think, Sanjay? You got this serum he receives as experimental treatment. You see this remarkable turnaround, you can't deny the images of Dr. Brantly walking off the ambulance himself.

GUPTA: Yes. No, I think what really struck me and I'm curious to see what Dr. Fauci thinks, obviously, you do want to be care in describing how rapid, for example, someone's improvement is, but he's a doctor himself, Dr. Brantly. Shortly beforehand, he was described as being in grave condition. He himself said he was going to die, that's how he phrased it himself, Dr. Brantly.

Given this medication, his situation reversed almost as described but also objective signs. He had this very profound rash that was over the trunk of his body, which is something associated with Ebola. That started to go down as well. It was described as almost being able to see something happening.

Whether it was the medication, it certainly seems like the medication, but also that one of the doctors that was taking care of Brantly described this as miraculous.