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New Case Of MERS Identified; How Can The U.S. Help Missing Girls?; GM Has Recalled 11.1M Vehicles In 2014

Aired May 15, 2014 - 16:30   ET


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: What the medical community is doing, the CDC has extraordinary surveillance capabilities. You just mentioned correctly the airport situation now where they are posting alerts for people to do what they can do to avoid washing hands, they are getting crews to report anyone from certain airports who might, in fact, have a fever of 100 or more, who has a respiratory illness.

From a scientific standpoint, we are already doing things like screening drugs. We have the virus. We are able to grow it. We have it completely characterized. We're developing a vaccine for it and we're looking for drugs that we can screen that might be beneficial for people who might be infected and we're already in the process of targeted drug development.

So there's a lot of activity going on very similar to what we did during the SARS. Outbreak several years ago. In fact, we wound up developing a vaccine for the SARS virus that we never had to use. We put it in early trials. Those types of progression even though we don't think the general public should be concerned. The CDC, WHO, are following it very carefully.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Is there fear that this could become -- MERS could become like SARS or something even worse?

FAUCI: Well, Jake, I wouldn't say fear. That's a word that has a lot of different connotations. I would say that there is concern to stay alert that this might happen. There certainly is a possibility that it will develop the capability of spreading more readily from person to person. It hasn't done that yet. It might not ever do that and the molecular configuration of the virus doesn't suggest that it's doing that.

So what we really need to concentrate on are very strict hospital infection control practices because we've seen in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, that there have been many cases now that have been due to close connection either by a health care provider or family member. So good, typical infectious disease control is probably the most important thing that needs to be done right now.

TAPPER: Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Coming up, SEAL Team 6, they've been called on to find and kill Osama Bin Laden and rescue Captain Philips from some pirates. So why are they not being sent in to find the hundreds of hostage schoolgirls taken by terrorists?


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The World Lead now, it has been more than a month since the night that hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls were loaded on to trucks at gunpoint by the radical Islamist terror group, Boko Haram. The only sign that the girls might still be alive is a video showing some of the students in an undisclosed location wearing hijabs and being forced to read the Koran allowed. Ninety percent of those girls are reportedly Christian incidentally.

Yesterday, Nigerian's government rejected Boko Haram's demand that they free imprisoned members of the terrorist group in exchange for the hostages. The international community and the U.S. government have agreed to help Nigeria find these girls, but right now quite frankly there are no easy options.


TAPPER (voice-over): The way to help the more than 220 schoolgirls still being held hostage in Nigeria seems obvious, bring back our girls with force.

SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I would like to see Special Forces deployed to help rescue these young girls.

TAPPER: Beyond the hash tag activism online, Susan Collins and John McCain are calling for boots on the ground.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think that the people of Nigeria would welcome a rescue of these young women.

TAPPER: McCain recently told "The Daily Beast," he would send in troops regardless of what, quote, "some guy named Goodluck Jonathan thought." That's Goodluck Jonathan, the president of Nigeria. The message from the Obama administration is more cautious, but nothing has been ruled out.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: There are no plans for a U.S. military operation right now. You have to remember, Nigeria has armed forces, armed forces, that we have helped train in counterterrorism now for the last couple of years.

TAPPER: Those calling for special operations might have victories on their mind. The triumph of SEAL Team 6 and the Bin Laden raid. The blockbuster rescue of Captain Philips from Somali pirates. It might make it seem like a simple decision. (Inaudible) talked to Africa, hatch a plan and send in a SEAL Team 6 group. Easy right? It's anything but. Several questions remain. Where are the girls? How do you get them out?

Might they be killed at the first sign of U.S. troops or any troops? Could this lead to a longer term commitment in the area? History has shown rescue missions involve significant risk an uncertain success. There is, just in Africa, the Black Hawk down incident in Somalia where 19 U.S. soldiers were killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Iran rescue and eight Americans died because of insufficient planning.

TAPPER: The U.S. operation to free American hostages in Iran in 1980 ended tragically for the team and the captive Americans remained held until the following year.

ADMIRAL JAMES L. HOLLOWAY III, RETIRED CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS: It really failed and, in our view, mainly because of bad luck and unforeseen circumstances.

TAPPER: As of right now, U.S. drones have been added to a team of more than a dozen American advisers and military officials in Nigeria trying to find the girls. And as the world urges action, the U.S. must weigh the options and the consequences of intervention.


TAPPER: Let's bring in Retired General Carter Ham, the former head of U.S. forces in Africa. General, thanks for joining us. A U.S. military team has been sent to advise the Nigerian government on how to handle this. There are U.S. drones in the area and other intelligence resources. What would you need to know as head of Africom, in your previous gig, before green lighting a rescue mission?

GENERAL CARTER HAM (RETIRED), FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. AFRICA COMMAND: Jake, the most important thing to remember is that this primarily the responsibility of the Nigerian government and perhaps now the responsibility of neighbors countries if the girls have, indeed, at least some of them, been moved across porous borders. The U.S. has an appropriate principles, I think, that we seek Africa challenges and the U.S. helps the way we can. I think we're seeing that play out in Nigeria today.

TAPPER: That's fair enough. Although, Amnesty International did report that they warned the Nigerian government of the raid, something like four hours ahead of time. The Nigerian government wasn't able to do anything about it or wasn't willing to do anything about it so I think there is reason to request whether the Nigerians could do a rescue operation like this s that fair?

HAM: Well, I certainly understand that there are those who question that and certainly the allegation made about pre-knowledge of the attack, worthy of an investigation. But right now, the Nigerian government, I believe, and the other countries to include in the United States who are assisting Nigeria are wholly focused on the first problem, which is find the girls. And that's got to remain the urgent priority right now.

TAPPER: Let's assume that the girls are found and let's assume that the Nigerian government were to ask the U.S. I'm going to give you a lot of assumptions right now and let's assume that President Obama and the public were all willing to do this. OK? I guess one of the biggest questions is, would Special Forces be able to go and rescue these girls without Boko Haram just turning around and slaughtering them at first sight of a U.S. soldier?

HAM: Jake, you've asked a multiplicity of ifs strung together. The United States has an extraordinarily accomplished special operations forces that can accomplish and have demonstrated obviously that they can accomplish these very sensitive missions. This one is significantly complicated by the lack of infrastructure in the region, by what I suspect is the dispersing of these girls into multiple locations, probably into multiple locations. So it's a highly complex issue but, again, it's got to begin with the intelligence work to find where they are being held.

TAPPER: One soldier I spoke to, a friend of mine, said that he would, quote, "smoke these guys in a heartbeat" about Boko Haram, but he doesn't see any national security reason to do so. What do you think?

HAM: Well, I think Boko Haram, in my view, it has been a problem in Nigeria. Nigeria is an important partner for the United States. Certainly as they have become increasingly violent and now broadcast on the international stage how horrifically violent they are. They are a destabilizing influence, an important region of Nigeria and increasingly more broadly across west and Central Africa.

So if left unaddressed, the problem just gets larger and again in my view, I think Boko Haram certainly has stated -- their leaders have stated that they aspire to attack the United States. The United States persons and interest, I don't believe they yet have capability to strike the homeland, but they certainly are destabilizing the region and that's not in our best interests.

TAPPER: General Carter Ham, thank you so much. Hope you come on the show again.

In other world news, hopes dwindling in Turkey as rescue workers hurry to free as many 120 miners still trapped more than a 1,000 feet below ground. The vigils have now started to turn into mass funerals, body after body being burried, a stomach turning 283 lives lost. Turkish officials took to the streets to express their outrage booing the prime minister when he offered condolences to the families of the miners. An aide was on camera beating a protester. The aid tells the Turkish media that he regrets losing his calm. Rescue operations will continue overnight and into Friday.

Coming up next, 3 million more vehicles have been recalled by General Motors, some of which are too dangerous to drive to the dealership for repairs. We'll tell you which models are affected and what to do if you own one.

And fighting war in the future. Robots designed to think and kill on their own? Should it be legal? That's coming up.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Money Lead now. Don't start your car. We will give you a tow. That's what General Motors is telling 477 people whose trucks, the company says, are too dangerous to drive only a month after CEO, Mary Barra, got dragged in front of Congress to answer questions about a massive recall. She may be suffering from deja vu related whiplash today as GM announced this morning it needs to fix even more broken cars.

The 2.7 million more vehicles are being recalled for problems with everything from faulty wiring to not being able to steer. Joining me now from New York, CNN Money correspondent, Poppy Harlow. Poppy, good to see you. This morning's announcement runs the total number of vehicles GM has recalled in the United States up to 11.1 million just this year, an astounding number. Tell us which cars are impacted in this recall?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Sure, and when you look globally, Jake, it's 12.8 million vehicles. There's a huge number for GM. Let's run through this because if this is one of your cars, you're going to want to know, first of all, the bulk of this recall, 2.4 million vehicles, we're talking about four different makes and models. It's the 2004 to 2012 Chevy Malibu, the 2004 to 2007 Malibu Max, 2005 to 2010 Pontiac V6 and 2007 to 2010 Saturn.

What they have found is that the taillight, the brake light will go off on its own without hitting the brakes or if you hit the brakes it will not go off. It's been tied to at least 13 accidents, two injuries, no deaths. A real key here is that GM disclosed today they have actually known about this problem since 2008.

They issued a warning to dealers, but have been in talks with the government with the regulator since and have denied now today to actually recall it, tell the customers about it, not just the dealers. The other part, the smaller part of the recall, it is about 300,000 vehicles, a Corvette, Chevy Malibu, Cadillac CTX and a small part of this is some trucks, 477 trucks.

They are the ones that GM is saying, do not drive these trucks. We're going to pick them up from you. The Silverado, Sierra and Tahoe. The issue is that GM says there is a steering problem that could be very severe, could cause an accident. It hasn't yet, but they noticed this in the plant. Do not drive it, they will come pick it up.

Big picture, Jake, this follows a recall 26.6 million GM vehicles because of the ignition switch problem that, as you know, has been tied to at least 13 deaths and that's what caused Mary Barra to be called in front of Congress and why the DOJ and federal regulators are investigating. This is in addition to the headache that GM has been going through.

This is a total shift. This is a company that says we are being proactive and getting out in front of this because they didn't before that. They did not tell people about the ignition switch recall for a decade -- Jake.

TAPPER: A real black eye for GM. Poppy Harlow in New York, thank you.

When it sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie "Robots" designed to kill on their own, except this is a real concern being debated right now by the United Nations. That story, next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Buried Lead now. The United Nations, right now the world body, is holding the first international convention on whether to allow lethal autonomous weapons systems, known as killer robots, machines that are able to select and engage targets without a human being, being at the controls. This is not the type of stuff that only exists in IMAX 3D and there is real fear about what would happen if they become aware.


TAPPER (voice-over): The Jetson's gave us a dream of a robot design to help.

ROBOT: I should have all of the answers for you in about 10 minutes.

TAPPER: The terminator gave us the nightmare of a machine designed to kill and in some ways, this future is here.

ROBOT: Thanks for the tips.

TAPPER: In Geneva, the United Nations is holding its first ever convention on lethal autonomous weapons systems, also known as killer robots.

PETER W. BERGER, AUTHOR, "WIRED FOR WAR": We're living in an incredibly important moment when it comes to the history of weapons and war. Now we're having to compare weapons by their intelligence, their autonomy. That's something new that we haven't measured before.

TAPPER: Machines like these developed by the Pentagon still require human direction and can also take the brunt of physical risks on the battlefield. Unmanned drones have enabled U.S. pilots to remotely strike pilots as far away as Afghanistan. Both South Korea and Israel have operated semiautonomous lethal semirobots near their borders. But what happens when robots can control themselves entirely, including lethal actions? And who is responsible for those actions?

BERGER: The human decision may be something that is made hours, days, weeks, months beforehand and that's the part that is truly complicating in terms of not just the politics of this, but also the legal, the moral, the ethical side.

TAPPER: Movies like "The Terminator" show Hollywood's version of uncontrolled and dangerous, but proponents of real military technology argued that current laws of war would apply to so-called killer robots. This week, the U.N. discusses whether they should be restricted in any way, as with booby traps or causing unnecessary suffering for combatants. They do not want to give it the chance. Using this spokesbot for any future kill functions should be prohibited out right.

BERGER: We're certainly not there in the world "The Terminator" yet, but technologies are starting to do more on their own. The software programming may be the important decision and that's a part that we are really not equipped well to deal with.


TAPPER: They discuss how laws for human may apply to these robots. Kind of creepy. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Mr. Blitzer.