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New Day Saturday

Hurricane Ida Whips Cuba, Spins Towards U.S. Gulf Coast; U.S. Conducts Airstrike Against ISIS-K Planner; Georgia School District Return To Remote Learning Amid Surge; CNN's Clarissa Ward Talks With A Commander Of ISIS-K, Terror Group That Says Its Behind Deadly Kabul Attack; Officials Warn Of Possible Threats To The U.S. After Kabul Attack; Republican-led Texas House Passes New Voting Restrictions. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired August 28, 2021 - 07:00   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome to your NEW DAY. I'm Phil Mattingly in for Boris Sanchez.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Phil. I'm Christi Paul. We're tracking Ida, the Category One storm, expected to rapidly strengthen today. It's closing in on the Louisiana coast this morning and mandatory evacuations are in place, the latest on the track and potential impacts of coming up.

MATTINGLY: Plus, breaking news out of Afghanistan overnight as the U.S. retaliates against ISIS-K for that suicide attack that killed 13 U.S. service members what we're learning about that airstrikes and the evacuations still ongoing.

PAUL: And also Delta's danger. Troubling new details on just how contagious the now dominant variant is. One state reports its highest coronavirus case count since the pandemic began.

MATTINGLY: Plus, the Texas House approves that draft of new voting restrictions after democrats returned to the state breaking gridlock over the issue. Could that controversial bill soon be headed to the governor's desk?

Good morning, and welcome to your NEW DAY. It's Saturday, August 28th. Christi, I'm struck by just how significant the news is right now. How important so many stories are in particular to.

PAUL: Yes, it is. It is a little frightening to say the least. There's a state of emergency right now right along the Gulf Coast that we have to talk about.

MATTINGLY: Yes, and the U.S. gearing up for what looks like a monster storm heading towards the coast of U.S. with a direct eye on the Louisiana. Hurricane Ida has already entered the ghost warm waters as a Category One storm. PAUL: The thing is it could spin into a dangerous category for just before it makes landfall that's expected to happen tomorrow. And what's so significant here this is 16 years to the day that Hurricane Katrina just devastated Louisiana. This is what Hurricane Ida looked like when it struck Cuba. Just yesterday. This is a storm that smashed into the island twice before moving toward the U.S. and what's significant is it didn't deteriorate even when it was overland.

MATTINGLY: It's part of the reason one of the major reasons the National Weather Service's warning This is going to be a life altering storm for many people. That's a direct quote one major concern that makes this storm particularly dangerous. There is nothing in its path to keep it from getting stronger. New Orleans Mayor shared this urgent warning.


MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL (D-LA), NEW ORLEANS: This is the time to take action, lower lining areas outside of the protection system, mandatory evacuation, voluntary evacuation for all others.


PAUL: CNN Meteorologist Allison Chinchar is tracking the storm. I know this is going to be a major event as they're calling it now people need to take it seriously. I was struck by your reporting that this thing did not seem to deteriorate at all over Cuba because that is unusual.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is. It is -- I mean, it's always one of those things you always know when, when a storm goes over a body of land, it's going to weaken a little bit. Sometimes it weakens a lot. Sometimes it's just a little bit but that's generally what these storms do. This did the opposite. We actually saw it go from a tropical storm into a Category One hurricane as it was going over Cuba.

That doesn't bode well but it's already this strong as it's going into the Gulf of Mexico, where conditions are going to be even more favorable for strengthening than it's already undergone sustained winds right now 80 miles per hour gusting up to 100. The forward movement is to the northwest at 16 miles per hour.

Now, when I say there's not really anything in the way to prevent this storm from becoming a Category Four or even potentially a Category Five, we're talking about warm sea surface temperatures, very limited shear, the only thing that could be working against it is if the forward speed. This thing picks up because then it has less time to strengthen.

The thing is this storm is actually expected to do the opposite. It's expected to slow down a little bit, especially right before it makes landfall, which is why we have this storm not only anticipated to become a major hurricane which is category three or higher. But all the way up to category for strength and unfortunately that's what it's going to do right before landfall. Rapid intensification is when the storm strengthens 35 miles per hour

or more in less than, than 24 hours time period. The water is very warm in the Gulf of Mexico, not just bathwater, you're talking jacuzzi water, very warm, very big fuel for these storms. Storm surge is going to be probably the biggest threat that we have along the coastline. 10 to 15 feet here in the pink seven to 11.

This purple that does include the city of Biloxi again, those outer bands Phil and Christi will begin today. So, I really hope you've already had all your preparations made, because tomorrow, waiting until tomorrow to do them is going to be too late.


MATTINGLY: No question about it, Allison. I know you're going to be busy. It's enormously consequential moment. Thanks so much. Please keep us posted.

PAUL: Thanks, Allison. So let's talk to City Councilman Daniel Lorraine. He's from Louisiana's Lafourche Parish. Councilman, we appreciate you being here. Thank you so much. I know that you live right along that area where the hurricane is expected to sit. What can you tell us about the status of evacuations right now and what residents are doing?

DAVID LORRAINE, LAFOURCHE, LOUISIANA CITY COUNCILMAN: Yes, ma'am. We have a mandatory evacuation set for 5:00 am the smallest, which some people will leave, and some will not. As you know, when you have to leave, it takes money. And not everybody has funding you know, but we'll do the best we can. Most people will probably leave.

And we're located about 20 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. And the Port Boucher, which everybody's familiar with in the whole United States produces 15 to 20 percent of all oil and gas comes through Port Boucher. And the storm is predicted to hit about 20 miles west of oil we are at. It's terrible in Parish and we're going to hope for the best. But in South Lafourche, Lafourche Parish, we have a levee system.

It's probably the best levee system in the state of Louisiana. We have never had a levee break since 1985. Since one was here. But this is a very dangerous storm 140 mile an hour wind, Ida. She means business, and I hope you know that nobody gets killed or not. And everything turns out to be the best, but we'll put it in God's hands.

PAUL: When we say and when you say that there are mandatory evacuations, what has the Parish done specifically to help get people out of the way?

LORRAINE: But we have different agencies emergency preparedness, we've done everything we can to evacuate nursing homes and people that are sick that you know, you got a lot of people in this area that know each other, almost everybody knows each other and everybody helps out the parishes, you know, stay on top of things, and we're doing the best we can.

PAUL: So, I understand that you are from the area, your wife and daughter have evacuated. But you are not going to do so what is your reasoning for that?

LORRAINE: This is the first time that I will not evacuate my wife and daughter and my two grandkids. We'll be heading up north this morning. And I decided me and my son in law decided to stay about 20 miles, 10 miles from where I'm at more to the north. And we'll be staying there and I'm staying because, you know, I feel that they just need to be in the area.

And I know they are going to be safe also. So, the main thing that we were looking for or watching out for is water and winds, I think you're going to get a lot of winds on this one, according to what the reports we'll be getting. But as any lab you can break, as long as all levees, don't break, we're going to be all right.

PAUL: And that's, that's what I wanted to ask you about. I -- that's what I wanted to ask you about. Because in Katrina, the disastrous moments of Katrina were very much in part because the levee system broke. I know you say that the levee system there is, is very solid, but what gives you that confidence?

LORRAINE: What gives me the confidence of all the work that they have done, and they've been working on this for about 30-35 years, ever since I've been a councilman? Well, before I was because I've been on the council for 38 years. And you know the people that put up the money, taxes, and they do their best they work on. The levees failed in New Orleans. The levees never failed in South Lafourche.

PAUL: We hope that that is certainly the case for you this time around. Daniel Lorraine, please take good care of yourself and your son in law. We are thinking of all of you in that area and wishing you the very best.

LORRAINE: Yes, ma'am. I appreciate it. Thank you and we put everything in God's hands.

PAUL: Amen. Thank you so much, sir. We're obviously -- this is one of the stories we are staying on a next hour. In fact, we're talking to the director of New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness office. Not that about what the city can expect, how it's preparing for the storm.


MATTINGLY: One major story down there now to another major story that's really involves the world Afghanistan. The U.S. taking aim at the group believed to be behind the deadly terrorist attack in Kabul. Military says the US carried out a drone strike that killed an ISIS-K planner in eastern Afghanistan. ISIS-K is claimed responsibility for that attack at the Kabul airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and at least 170 others.

Now President Biden vowed to retaliate morning quote, "We will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay." But despite that warning, the President's national security team says another attack on Kabul is likely and the U.S. is racing to evacuate Americans from Afghanistan ahead of that Tuesday, August 31st deadline to withdraw from the country. Our correspondents are covering this story from every angle.

PAUL: CNN's Arlette Saenz at the White House with the latest in the Biden administration: Nick Paton Walsh in Doha, Qatar with an update on evacuations from Afghanistan. We want to begin with Arlette. We, we do know about these airstrikes. But what do we know about how it happened about the warning that another attack in Kabul is likely do they anticipate this other attack could also be from ISIS-K?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these airstrikes ordered by President Biden is just the latest sign that he is intent on finding and tracking down those perpetrators of that terrorist attack that killed 13 U.S. service members and dozen more Afghans. Now, the details regarding the strike are very limited. It was ordered by President Biden and a spokesperson for Central Command said that it targeted an ISIS-K planner. It was conducted over the horizon and with an unmanned airstrike.

That suggests that it was done from outside of the country and that it was done via a drone. We are still waiting to hear more details about the planning that went into this airstrike. But it all columns as the President has been warned by his national security team that another terror threat in Kabul around Kabul is likely in the waning days before the U.S. troops draw down from Afghanistan on August 31st. Take a listen to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talking about what the President was told yesterday.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The national security team and the President met with this morning, advised the president and vice president that another terror attack in Kabul is likely and they are taking maximum force protection measures at the Kabul airport and in surrounding areas with our forces as a result.


SAENZ: Now, President Biden will meet with his national security team again today as he does has every day. This week they will talk about the situation at the airport the threats that could be posed against U.S. forces and Afghans as well as those evacuation efforts. Yesterday, the State Department said they had around 500 Americans who wanted to leave the country that officials were in contact with to try to facilitate that happening. But right now, officials repeatedly have warned that this is the most dangerous part of the mission yet, Phil and Christi,

MATTINGLY: Urgency and very real anxiety at the White House. Arlette, thanks so much for that reporting. The White House is in a race against time right now to wrap up evacuations from Afghanistan.

PAUL: CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is with us from Doha. Nick, first of all, let us know what you're seeing there regarding the evacuations. And secondly, do we know any specifics regarding this likely attack in Kabul?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's deal with the likely attack. I mean, yes, there is the possibility that we may see another bid to try and hit the airport. Again. That's clearly what U.S. officials are worried about because ISIS gay have shown their capability to do that as a result. We are I think, at this point, couldn't satellite images and witness reports on the ground seeing a greatly diminished number of people around the airport.

So, some good news there potentially. And I'm also sure that U.S. Marines will be keeping themselves as far inside those blast walls as they can without certain exceptions here, but the things are moving very fast inside the airport at this stage. I understand from a source familiar with the situation on the airport that the sort of U.S. staff on that airport processing evacuations will reduce down to what they call a skeletal crew in the next 24 hours, that will again massively taper the number of evacuations they're able to do.

They have said the White House and Pentagon persistently that they will evacuating till the end of this operation. But the question is do you have the staff on the airport to process the new individuals as they arrive? There appear to possibly still be hundreds of local embassy staff. That's Afghans that worked with U.S. diplomats in the embassy who are still trying to it's understood to get to the airport.

That may have changed over today. That was certainly the case as of this morning and on top of that, as well, remarkably, it does appear that limited individuals' small numbers of people who are managing to get or being pulled through the phrases for gates at the airport. So, also to the staff on the airport still receiving untold tons was the phrase of requests from SIV applicants, other Afghans, people they would love to help but people who they realize there's simply very little they can do.

4200 evacuated between 3:00 am and 3:00 pm yesterday, that still extraordinary but certainly not the pace we were seeing days ago. It does appear that window for this evacuation is closing fast.

PAUL: Nick Paton Walsh, we so appreciate you being there and bringing us the latest. Thank you.


MATTINGLY: And joining me now to discuss the threats posed in Afghanistan is CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen. Peter, as many of you know, has written extensively about terrorism in the Middle East, including his latest book, "The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden." Peter, thanks for joining us. I want to start kind of with the latest right now.

Obviously, President Biden authorized that unmanned air strike last night against an ISIS-K planner in eastern Afghanistan, one of the things you always heard about ISIS-K from U.S. officials was how difficult they were to track. They operated very underground.

They're a diffuse network, obviously, with the release of so many from prison over the course the last couple days. That's complicated factors. What does it tell you that the U.S. was it seems able to identify at least one individual tied to the group involved in this attack?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's interesting that it took place in Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan, this is really where ISIS came. First came to power several years ago, it's sort of been a stronghold for them. I imagine the intelligence that was used to carry out this strike is not something that was developed yesterday, given the fact that ISIS has long had a presence in that particular province. But it does also raise the issue.

You know, going forward. You mentioned that the intelligence on this group is not easy to, to develop. And it's a relatively small group, you know, the estimates are between 1000 or 2000 fighters going forward, as we draw down from as the United States draws down from Afghanistan, you know, will we have the intelligence assets to carry out the kind of strike that happened in the last 24 hours? To me, that's a, that's a big question.

MATTINGLY: I actually wanted to get a little bit of that, because it's something it's a question I've been posing to U.S. officials, you know, I've been told by officials that in the lead up to the suicide attack on Thursday that they did have intercepts, they had communication intercepts that were fairly precise, not in terms of where exactly and who, but that they knew a suicide bombing via a suicide vest was a very real possibility. That's strong intelligence right there. No question about it. They've also been unequivocal about the threat that still remains does that -- is it easy to maintain when you pull an entire personnel presence out?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, you're reporting about the signals intercepts is interesting, because I mean, clearly, and Jim Sciutto, of course, reported, before the attack, that there was pretty a strong threat stream coming in those signals intercepts, we're going to be able to the United States will be able to maintain whether we're in Afghanistan or not, because that's all by the National Security Agency or other types of agencies.

But what we will lose on the ground is any kind of, you know, intelligence assets, who might be able to identify particular people. And, you know, the CIA had a pretty large presence in Afghanistan, that's entirely gone. And, you know, the nearest really big U.S. military base is now in Doha, where Nick is reporting from, or just outside, though, and that, you know, that's all over a thousand miles away.

So, I mean, however, you, however, you slice this, we're certainly losing the United States is losing capacity to understand what's going on, on the ground. The signals intelligence will remain and of course, that's very important. But our ability to see what and understand what's going on in Afghanistan is decreasing with every day.

MATTINGLY: There's about a million things I want to ask you about. But the one thing that I've really been struck by in the last 10 days, but particularly the last three or four is just the integration between U.S. personnel and Taliban personnel, the communication, the coordination. You know, I asked Jen Psaki bout this yesterday at the press briefing, and she made clear like, this is a necessity, right?

They don't want to do this. This wasn't their, the option they would have appreciated. But they have to given the facts on the ground. What's your sense of, you know, how this actually came to be and how risky this is, in these final days to be so tied to the Taliban for pretty much all security outside the perimeter?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, they own the land. I mean, they own -- so I mean, it's not like the United States has much of an option going forward. You know, the interesting question, Phil, is, you know, which countries will recognize the Taliban, you know, in the past when they were in power, they have three countries that recognized them.

Right now, no country has come forward to recognize the government. In fact, there is no government because the Taliban is trying to form a government. It will be interesting to see who the real power is. I will say that I think the military leader of the Taliban, who is also the deputy leader, so Raja Connie, who has a $5 million reward on his head as a designated foreign terrorist, is really kind of one of the main powers in all this.

And he, the Haqqanis continue to hold an American hostage Mark Frerichs. And, you know, it's not like this is a bunch of people who are, I would say, you know, upright citizens. So that's the real power behind the Taliban for the moment. The United States is dealing with the Taliban because there's no other choice. But once we leave, it will be interesting to see kind of what the U.S. government attitude is to the Taliban and vice versa.


MATTINGLY: Yes, plus allies, the post August 31st Afghanistan is just such a fascinating piece that stuff to focus on given everything that's happening pre-August 31. Peter Bergen as always, invaluable insight. Thank you very much.

BERGEN: Thank you.

PAUL: Still, to come, disturbing news on the COVID surge, cases and children are rising as schools reopen and estates student mask mandate ban is struck down. We're back in a moment.



MATTINGLY: Even with climbing vaccination rates, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are skyrocketing. Florida, the epicenter of this latest surge has reported more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day period since the pandemic began.

PAUL: Can you believe that? I don't think anybody thought we'd see numbers like that. At this point, hospitals across the country are being stretched thin. They're running out of ICU beds because of the surge.

And in Georgia specifically, official say a lot of hospitals have declared themselves on diversion, meaning they're requesting ambulances to transport patients to other facilities. And as these cases increase more Georgia school districts are going back to remote learning in Bibb County, which is the largest county in Macon.

Um, some schools there are on a synchronous learning; that means the teachers are recording lessons from the classroom for their students who are learning virtually from home. So, Superintendent of the Bibb County School District, Curtis Jones is with us now. Superintendent, so good to have you with us. First of all, how is that asynchronous learning working for you right now?

CURTIS JONES, SUPERINTENDENT, BIBB COUNTY: Well, good morning, and thank you for having me here. It's going pretty well. I teachers learn to use asynchronous learning last year. And this is an opportunity for them to do it again. We did not hope that we had to do it this soon. But we're going to continue to monitor it and see how it goes.

PAUL: I know that the strategy you have and the contact tracing, it's got to be meticulous, it's got to be cumbersome for you. I know you've got a mask mandate. You've got daily temperature checks upon entering the building, the volunteers need to be needs to show proof of vaccination and that you're notifying parents whose child was in a classroom with someone who tested positive that is a lot to take on. For a school system. How do you do you feel the weight of that? Are you do you feel like you are able to sustain something like that?

JONES: Well, I'll be honest, it's difficult. Our teachers are doing a great job of trying to pull all that together. And nurses are even doing a superhuman job. Every day, they're tracking students finding out who's tested positive, talking to parents doing their version of contact tracing, and then entering that information into our data system.

And we just have behind the scenes, a lot of people trying to pull the data together. I'll be honest, yesterday, probably spent three hours in the morning just talking to principals about each classroom that had more than three students who were positive to determine if we needed to close a school, a classroom or grade level. And so it is difficult, but technology is making a little bit easier. And as we do it more and more, I think we're starting to get better at it. But it's new for us.

PAUL: What is the criteria you use then to close the school?

JONES: Thank you. So, we started out looking at the classroom. We believe that this year we're trying to make sure Coronavirus does not spread inside of schools. So, we look at a classroom to see if two or more students have tested positive within a 14-day period. If that's true, then we look at see where are they sitting, talk to the principal talk to the teachers. And we try to see if we believe that there's a spread from one to the other. We look back 14 days and then we look forward to see when students may return. OK, we do the same thing for the grade level as well as the school.

PAUL: Let me ask you real quickly. Have you been able to thoroughly identify any of the learning, academic learning gaps that you're left with after 2020? And, and what is your hope for making sure kids get back up to speed?

JONES: I appreciate that. So, we've been in schools since the second of August, we took the first two weeks to screen all of our students to see where they were. And we've compared to where they are now with their cohorts from two years ago. And so we have some idea about what that deficiency is. Students have received individual reports. And now we're going to take time to start putting together plans for each one of those students and set goals. Currently we think they're probably about four or five months behind.

PAUL: Superintendent Curtis Jones, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us wishing you every good thing as you move ahead in this.

JONES: Thank you, Christi.


MATTINGLY: Coming up next, a closer look at ISIS-K, the group claiming responsibility that deadly Kabul attack. Top officials warned more attacks could be imminent. We learn more about this ruthless terror group.



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: U.S. officials have warned of acute and specifics possible threats to U.S. personnel following this week's deadly terror attack at the Kabul airport.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): The attack killed 13 U.S. service members, dozens of Afghans. ISIS-K says it's responsible for the blast.

In the new exclusive interview, CNN's Clarissa Ward spoke with an ISIS-K commander who's fought with them for four years.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two weeks before the attack, just days before Kabul fell to the Taliban, we were in touch with a senior ISIS-K commander who said the group was lying low and waiting for its moment to strike. Words that turned out to be eerily prophetic.


WARD (on camera): So, this commander has said that he'll do an interview with us at a hotel here in Kabul. And he says it's no problem for him to get through checkpoints and come right into the capital.

WARD (voice-over): To prove his point, he let us film his arrival into the city. Abdul Munir, as he asked to be called, is an ISIS-K commander from Kunar, the heart of the terrorist group's operations. He agreed to talk on the condition that we disguise his identity.

In a Kabul hotel, he told us he's had up to 600 men under his command, among them Indians, Pakistanis, and central Asians. Like many of his foot soldiers, he used to fight with the Taliban but says they've fallen under the influence of foreign powers.

ABDUL MUNIR, ISIS-K COMMANDER (through translator): We were operating in Taliban's ranks, however, these people were not aligned with us in terms of belief. So, we went to ISIS.

WARD (on camera): Do you think they're not strict enough with their implementation of Sharia?

MUNIR: You see, they can't present one example where they have been forced fixed Islamic law punishments, where they have cut off the thief's hand, have stoned to death an adulterer, have stoned to death a murderer. They cannot enforce fixed Islamic law punishments because they are under other people's control, and they implement their plans.

So, we do not want to implement someone else's plans and we only want to enforce Sharia. If anyone gets along with us on this. He is our brother, otherwise, we declare war with him whether he is Talib or anyone else.

WARD: So, have you carried out public executions, suicide bombings, things of this nature?

MUNIR: Yes, I have too many memories where I was present myself at the scenes. One memory is that the Pakistani Taliban had come to the (INAUDIBLE) District, and during the fighting, we captured five people. Our fighters became overexcited and we struck them with axes.

WARD (voice-over): It's that chilling brutality that made ISIS-K a primary target for U.S. forces.

In recent years, airstrikes and Special Forces operations have ruthlessly targeted the group in Kunar and Nangarhar.

WARD (on camera): Has your group engaged in any fighting with U.S. Special Forces?

MUNIR: Yes, we have faced them on many occasions. We had close combat with them too. They used to land in (INAUDIBLE). In Kunar, they carried out airstrikes. We have faced them a lot in firefights.

WARD: Are you interested ultimately in carrying out international attacks?

MUNIR: This point is higher than my level. I can only give you information about Afghanistan.

WARD: With U.S. forces out of the country and the Taliban potentially in control, do you think that will make it easier for you to expand? MUNIR: Yes, this exists in our plan. Instead of currently operating, we have turned to recruiting only to utilize the opportunity and to do our recruitment. But when the foreigners and people of the world leave Afghanistan, we can restart our operations.

WARD (voice-over): That moment has now come, as the world saw all too clearly on Thursday. A brutal attack on an already battered country and the threat that is not going away as U.S. forces complete their withdrawal.


WARD (on camera): Abdul Munir would not comment on whether the group was interested in pursuing transnational attacks. But he did say that he hopes with the withdrawal of U.S. forces that potentially they might be able to try to establish a caliphate like the one Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi established in Syria and Iraq.

Now, most terrorism analysts say that ISIS-K is at least five years away from potentially being able to launch international attacks. But this bloody attack on the airport certainly raises very real questions about the Taliban's ability to control groups like ISIS K, and whether Afghanistan could once again become a safe haven for terrorists.

Clarissa Ward, CNN, Doha.

PAUL: Kim Dozier, CNN global affairs analyst and contributor for Time Magazine, with us now.

So, Kim, after listening to that report, I want to -- I want to kick off where she just left off, or Clarissa just left off. What is your level of confidence the Taliban can keep ISIS-K from becoming what that commander said they hope to be?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (on camera): Almost no confidence that they can keep ISIS-K from growing. And the other complication, as pointed out in Clarissa's reporting, is that, that group being in existence robs the Taliban of anyone who gets angry with their moderation.

U.S. officials have been working on Taliban officials in Doha for two years now to try to teach them how to run a modern government and to try to convince them not to declare an Islamic Emirate, to have women in high positions of governance.

Some of the members of the Taliban have been considering doing things like that, especially those who have lived in Doha, Qatar, where there's a woman in a very high position at the foreign ministry, they send their girls to school. But other parts of the Taliban have been in the ranks, in the field fighting, and they are far more of the hardline Islamist brand that believes women must say hidden.


DOZIER: And every time the Taliban tries to do something moderate, they are going to be accused, as that ISIS commander said, of kowtowing to foreign powers. That means they're probably going to declare an Emirate, and at the very least, initially, launch what we would consider more of a theocracy, and less of a participatory Islamic system.

PAUL: Based on the expediency that the Taliban took over territory in Afghanistan, and then looking at that interview that Clarissa just had with the commander, what do you think is the biggest threat to the US? ISIS-K, Taliban?

DOZIER: Well, that al-Qaeda is still in the mix, too. There are several hundred al-Qaeda fighters in parts of Afghanistan, who are married into the Taliban.

And now that the borders are open with Iran, where there's still a top al-Qaeda cell there of some of the future leaders of the movement, they can coalesce and start planning attacks on the west, I think ISIS-K will, for a time, have to consolidate within Afghanistan.

But, you know, the Taliban has got to install a government. It said that its young fighters are untrained. It's got to teach all of its fighters how to be policemen, things that they have never done before. And it's got to convince some of the former Afghan bureaucracy to stay and do their jobs.

And you could see from the amount of people fleeing the airport, that's not fleeing to the airport, that's not going so well. So, this is going to be a really unstable security situation for a long time to come.

PAUL: One of the things that's so striking right now is that, as of today, we are exactly two weeks from the 20th year observance of 9/11. I heard an analyst yesterday, predicting what we are going to see on that day on 9/11.

He said, there could be scenes of a Taliban flag flying on top of the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. There could be Taliban providing American tanks or equipment through the streets.

If something like that happens, Kim, what is the consequence? What is the implant or the significance of those images coming out of Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of 9/11?

DOZIER: The message to the Arab world is that the U.S. retreated, and the message to us serving troops and veterans is that they failed no matter how many times we tried to tell them that this effort -- and their commanders tried to tell them that this effort was worth all of their loss.

PAUL: Kim Dozier, I always so appreciate -- we all appreciate your insight and your knowledge to this, and sharing it with us. Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.



MATTINGLY: The Republican-led Texas House approved new voting restrictions Friday, after months of partisan infighting and delays.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has the detail.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Phil and Christi, Texas Democrats have spent the summer trying to block the passage of what they described as one of the most restrictive voting bills in the country.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): But in the end, it wasn't enough. These Democrats staged two different walkouts from the Texas Legislature, even travelling to Washington, D.C. to lobby congressional Democrats to support a federal voting rights bill.

The bill here in Texas does a number of things which includes banning drive-thru early voting that restricts early voting hours. There are new restrictions on mail-in voting and protections for partisan poll watchers.

Republicans say this is all about protecting the integrity of the ballot box here in Texas. But Democrats say that Republicans are going to come to regret this vote.


REP. SENFRONIA THOMPSON (D-TX): And if you think that you're winning today by the things that you are put in this bill, let me give you a prophetic statement: You will reap what you sow. And you know what? It won't be years or decades from now. It will be sooner than you think.

LAVANDERA: The elections bill here in Texas passed the House of Representatives on Friday. It now heads back over to the Senate where they will do some hammering out of some differences for the final language of the bill. And then, it will very likely be sent to the governor's desk.

And Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican here in Texas says he intends on signing that bill.


LAVANDERA (on camera): And meanwhile, Democrats say they will continue to lobby congressional Democrats to push for a federal voting rights bill to combat these different types of bills that have been passed in several states across the country. Phil and Christi?

PAUL: Ed Lavandera, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.


PAUL: Look at your screen. That is one beast of a Hurricane Ida. Louisiana is facing a direct hit from this. What is being dubbed the potentially catastrophic hurricane? We have all the details for you just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PAUL: To sweet treat, but does honey have any health benefits? CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard takes a look in today's "FOOD AS FUEL".

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER (on camera): It's not just for sweetening your tea or drizzling on top of toasts. Honey might just have some health benefits too.

One clinical trial from back in 2010 found that a half teaspoon of honey did a better job than common cold syrups, and easy nighttime coughs in young kids with upper respiratory infections and helps them sleep better too. But be careful, honey should not be given to children under one year old.


HOWARD: Now, another interesting find some case studies show that honey has antibacterial properties. These introduce an enzyme called glucose oxidase to honey when they harvest nectar, and this enzyme can generate hydrogen peroxide.

Honey is also naturally acidic. So, voila, you have a recipe for anti- microbial properties.

Of course, more research is needed to see just how much of a benefit there is. And a final note of caution, honey is sweet, and so, it can affect your blood sugar levels. So, remember to enjoy in moderation.