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Congress Battles Over Bergdahl Swap; Hillary Clinton's New Book Hits Store Shelves; Poll: Deteriorating Security in Mosul as Iraq Falls Apart; Majority of Black Americans Think O.J. Simpson Guilty.
Aired June 10, 2014 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The answer to that question, it's something that everybody's trying to answer. And what the speaker did today was compare the lack of notification on this to the active engagement that the administration had with him on Osama bin Laden. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Six months before Osama bin Laden was taken down, I was briefed on this. I was briefed multiple times over the course of the six months. I was given a head's up several days before this happened. And so this idea that - that they couldn't trust us to not leak things is just not true. And it wasn't just me. There were other members of the leadership who were well aware of the planning and the activities that were going in to this effort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, Wolf, what was really different, my understanding, based on multiple conversations with people who were involved back then, there was a concerted effort to bring in Congress, into the fold, the fact that this bin Laden raid was going to happen. But there's a big difference, and you know this. There was no controversy over getting the most-wanted man in the world, bin Laden. This is something the speaker himself in a written statement last week admitted they had given a general idea to Congress on back in 2011 and 2012 and there was resistance. So that clearly might be a big reason why they didn't tell Congress.
BLITZER: Well, they didn't tell them. There was division in the Obama administration about going on this specific mission as far as bin Laden was concerned. The vice president, the secretary of defense at the time, they thought maybe it wasn't the right -- they all wanted to get bin Laden. Everyone on the Hill wanted to get bin Laden. The details of the operation, there were some division within the White House, within the Obama administration.
Here's the question that a lot of people are asking. If 70 or 80 or 90 officials in the executive branch of the government, the Obama administration, knew about this, a bunch of officials in Qatar knew about it, if a bunch of Taliban leaders knew about it, a bunch of top Haqqani network terrorists knew about it, they all knew what was going on, but the White House, they didn't thing they should notify Dianne Feinstein or Carl Levin or John Boehner or any of the relevant key leaders of the Congress?
BASH: That is what's really burning up members of Congress. I was outside the briefing last night, a close-door briefing of all House members, where they learned that 80 to 90 members of the administration knew at least something about this raid. And it still has got legs, this concept that they did, and yet members of Congress weren't trusted.
And Democrats, too, are saying this is just ridiculous, especially since, some point out rightly so, that many of the leaks come from the administration, not from Congress.
Having said all that, you are seeing a little bit more pushback from Democrats on behalf of the White House today than you have in the past about the fact that there maybe wasn't enough time. There was just a day or two as these details and it is deal came together before it actually happened.
BLITZER: It's a serious issue.
BASH: It is.
BLITZER: I'm sure there's a lot of second -- hand-wringing going on right now in the administration. Maybe they should have notified some members of Congress about this deal, even though they anticipated there would be opposition.
BASH: They should have.
BLITZER: Dana, thanks very much.
Up next, Hillary Clinton's new memoir hits store shelves today. Gloria Borger, Brianne Keilar, they are standing by to talk to me about their take on the new revelations in the book.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. I want to update you on the breaking news we've been following. A school shooting near Portland, Oregon. Police say one student was killed. The shooter, who apparently acted alone, is also dead. It's not clear how the shooter died. Classes in session at the time. No exact word on how many people may have been injured. Authorities say a semiautomatic weapon was involved. The area was secured. The situation was contained about an hour after the shooting. We'll keep you updated as we get more information.
Moving on to other news, very different news, news involving Hillary Clinton's new book. It finally hit the book shelves today. The stores have it. Secretary Clinton signed copies of "Hard Choices" at a book store in New York City just a little while ago. She's already been making the rounds on television as her book tour shifts into overdrive.
The question many are asking, is this a warm-up for a 2016 presidential bid. Hillary Clinton talks about presidential politics, her personal life and more in her book and in TV interviews designed to promote the book. "Hard Choices" begins with her loss to President Obama back in 2008. It chronicles her tenure as secretary of state.
Today on ABC's "Good Morning, America," she talked about an issue critics have seized on, the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I believe that there were systemic problems within the State Department. And clearly, if we had known that earlier, perhaps we could have done some changes that would have prevented -- at least hopefully could have prevented what happened. But I've obviously thought about this long and hard. And the security issues around this attack or the attacks we had when my husband was president or when President Reagan was in office, you learn from them. You can't always predict. You can't always sit in an office in Washington and say, well, we think this, this, and this will happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar; and our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Gloria, how is she handling the Benghazi issue?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think she's giving a CEO answer and walking a fine line here. It's too hard. The first is, as the CEO, at the State Department, she says, I take responsibility for it, but I was not the person making security decisions. That happened -- you know, that responsibility was people below me. As secretary of state, I can't always be on top of all of these things. But in the end, she did take responsibility.
Secondly, what she's trying to do politically is turn it around on the Republicans. She uses the phrase, you know, "we shouldn't be playing minor league ball," which I -- is that a line that might have been written by a guy, I don't know.
But playing minor league ball, meaning that they're playing petty politics with a very large issue that we need to -- that we need to get the end to, so she turned it around.
BRIANNE KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Isn't it interesting how she's bringing up attacks that happened under her husband's administration?
KEILAR: It reminds me of when she was talking about her concussion. She said, remember, Paul Ryan told me he's had three. She's widening out the criticism and saying I'm not the only one that this has happened under. BLITZER: I want to play another clip, once again from the interview
this morning. She was asked to follow up on the comment she made earlier, in a first TV interview, about the Clintons being dead broke when they left the White House. Here's the follow-up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We understand what that struggle is because we hade student debts, both of us, we had to pay off. We've had to work. I had a couple jobs in high school. He had lots of jobs. So we have a life experience that is clearly different in very dramatic ways from many Americans. But we also have gone through some of the same challenges as many people have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So, Brianna, is this clarification likely to quiet the critics on this specific issue?
KEILAR: I think she has a little latitude in this. When you look at polls, most Americans think she understands their problems. I think this was better than what we heard last night. But I don't think it's great. I think she can do a better job. I think she has an argument to make. But you kind of hear her talking more in platitudes. She's not talking about specifics in a way -- what she needs to do is connect to people who are struggling, and there's so many, and she needs to do it and I don't think she's all the way there with this argument.
BORGER: She could have said, my husband went out and made money like other ex-presidents have done, but she didn't that. What she's trying to say is we weren't born rich, OK. We spent our lives in public service. We weren't born into money. And so when we got out of public service, we decided it was time for us to make some money. You can argue how much is enough and all those other questions. You can also say, look, Bill Clinton earned a lot money giving speeches but he started the Clinton Global Initiative, which one would argue has done an awful lot of good in the world. So I still think there's a bit of refinement on that. But why not come back and say, look, we didn't have a pot of money to come back to because we weren't born that way.
KEILAR: Which would have been a very good opportunity to connect with people. She was middle class, poor.
BLITZER: And now we all have a copy of the book. So light reading, 600 pages, whatever it is.
BORGER: Pictures. Pictures.
BLITZER: A lot words.
(LAUGHTER) We'll read it.
Guys, we'll continue our conversations. Thanks very much.
An important programming reminder. Hillary Clinton will join us next week for a very important town hall meeting. "Hillary Clinton, a CNN Town Hall Live," comes your way Tuesday, June 17th, 5:00 p.m. eastern, with a replay at 9:00 p.m. eastern that night.
Coming up right after the break, Iraqi security forces flee as terrorists launch a major offensive against the second-largest city in Iraq. The country of Iraq falling apart. We're going to go in-depth with national security analyst, Peter Brookes.
BLITZER: On "This Day in History," the Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab numbers came to an end. Israeli forces launched a surprise attack, capturing all of Jerusalem, the West Bank of Jordan at the time, Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, from Egypt. The war ended when the United Nations issued a brokered cease-fire.
Let's turn now to Iraq and the deteriorating security in the country's second largest city of Mosul. Militants with the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria are now believed to control the city's airport, TV stations, major government buildings. The gunmen also freed about 1,000 prisoners. Civilians, by the tens of thousands, they are now fleeing the city.
Peter Brookes is a senior fellow for national security at the Heritage Foundation. He's also a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, former officer of the CIA.
Peter, were you an officer or analyst?
PETER BROOKES, SENIOR FELLOW FOR NATIONALS SECURITY, HERITAGE FOUNDATION & FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE & FORMER CIA OFFICER: I was an officer.
BLITZER: You were an officer. All right.
So let's talk a little bit about Iraq. This is heartbreaking. The United States spent 10 years there. We assumed that Iraq would emerge a peaceful stable democracy after the hundreds of billions of dollars the U.S. invested, the 4,500 U.S. troops killed, tens of thousands who came home without arms or legs or burned, post traumatic stress, and look at this disaster. We just heard Hillary Clinton in her new book saying she regrets she voted to authorize the war in Iraq at the end of 2002. Was that whole war a disaster?
BROOKES: No, not at all. And --
BLITZER: What did it accomplish?
BROOKES: First of all, this is just a snapshot. It's a very disappointing snapshot. But this is not the -- (CROSSTALK)
BLITZER: Mosul is the second largest city in Iraq.
BROOKES: I agree. I agree.
BLITZER: I was there with General Abizaid, 2005. Things seemed to be moving OK. Even then, he told me there was a potential of terrorists coming in from Syria and there's no guarantee on any of this.
BROOKES: I think the Obama administration could have done more to consolidate the gains of the surge. When the Bush administration left in 2008, this country was much more stable than it is today.
BLITZER: But it was always going to be --
BROOKES: Nothing's inevitable.
BLITZER: The American people did not want to stay in Iraq.
BROOKES: We still could have provided intelligence. We could have provided weaponry. They could have bought weapons from us, logistics, training. We got completely out in 2009.
BLITZER: Once the U.S. leaves Iraq, just as the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, you know it's going to be -- they're going to go back to the Shiites, the Sunnis, the Kurds. In Syria, you see the civil war going on there. Don't you think what's going on in the region, irrespective of U.S. involvement, would have happened under any circumstances, given the centuries of the tradition of what's gone on in that part of the world?
BROOKES: Tradition is especially hard about the future, right? We don't know. We can't go back and revisit it. We went in Iraq in 2003 --
BLITZER: That was a blunder because there was no weapons of mass destruction.
BROOKES: We didn't know that at the time.
BLITZER: That was a major blunder on the part of the Bush administration.
BROOKES: No, I'm not conceding that. They believed there were weapons of mass destruction.
BLITZER: Right, they believed --
(CROSSTALK) BROOKES: I think the real blunder is when the Obama administration got out in 2009 and left the Iraqis on their own. We lost all those gains.
BLITZER: But you don't agree with Hillary, you don't agree with Hillary, who now says it was a mistake to authorize that war --
BROOKES: No, we won't know that for years --
BLITZER: -- knowing what -- knowing what we now know, knowing that the major reason for going in --
BROOKES: I'm not going to convince you.
BLITZER: No, no, no.
I'm just saying --
BROOKES: But the fact is, we won't know.
BLITZER: She raises the issue here, very movingly.
BROOKES: That's the thing. And she's part of the problem where Iraq is today. She's part of the problem where Iraq is today. She was part of that national security team that decided to pull the United States out completely without any help to the Iraqis, and now that power vacuum has been filled by ISIS out of Syria. And Syria's also part of the problem, too.
BLITZER: But you know Nouri al Maliki. He's totally aligned with the Iranians right now.
BROOKES: I do not blame it all on the Obama administration. I'm not.
BLITZER: Nouri al Maliki, he didn't want to give the U.S. military forces the immunity from prosecution. As a result, the U.S. pulled out.
BROOKES: That could have been further negotiated. I agree. And his governance has been a problem.
BLITZER: You can't blame the Obama administration for that.
BROOKES: And what about Syria. These people are flowing over from Syria and the Obama has not dealt with Syria at all.
BLITZER: I leave you with this.
If you had to vote, knowing what you know now, if you had to vote to go to war against Saddam Hussein would you still have voted yes?
BROOKES: Wolf, we can never do that.
BLITZER: No, I'm asking you.
BROOKES: We can never do that.
BROOKES: Because if I know what I know now, I would vote differently. You can't ask me to do that. Hindsight is 20/20. And that's why Secretary Clinton has.
BLITZER: So you're saying, with hindsight, it was a blunter?
BROOKES: I think, at the time, they believed what they were doing --
BLITZER: -- said with hindsight, it was a mistake?
BROOKES: No, I didn't. You said that.
BLITZER: You said you wouldn't have voted for it with hindsight?
BROOKES: I didn't say it. I said I wouldn't vote because I can't vote without knowing what happens today. You see what I'm saying? We can't go back and change it, if we would have voted or not. The fact is that Hillary Clinton is saying this based on what she knows many, many years later.
BLITZER: Obviously, we're all smarter with hindsight.
BROOKES: Exactly. That's my point.
BLITZER: Peter Brookes, thanks for coming in.
BROOKES: Thanks for having me.
BLITZER: Just ahead, 95 million people watched O.J. Simpson as he fled from the police, wanted for murder. 20 years later, attitudes about Simpson's guilt have changed. We'll assess what happened over these past 20 years.
BLITZER: It's been 20 years since that infamous low-speed chase involving O.J. Simpson and A.C. Cowlings. And this white Ford Bronco, millions of people watched as police pursued Simpson along the highway after he was charged with the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. Fast forward to now. In a new CNN/ORC poll, shows a majority of black Americans now think the murder charges against the former football star were, in fact, true.
Kyra Phillips takes a look back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, we can only pray they can pull this off in a safe measure.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Distraught, with a gun to his head, O.J. Simpson is on the run, and threatening to end his emotional pain with a bullet.
TOM LANGE, DETECTIVE, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Just throw it out the window. Nobody's going to get hurt.
O.J. SIMPSON, ACQUITTED OF MURDER: I'm the only one that deserves it.
LANGE: No, you don't deserve that.
LANGE: You do not deserve to get hurt.
PHILLIPS: Detective Tom Lange is on the phone, hoping to prevent O.J. from committing suicide.
(on camera): Was that gun loaded?
LANGE: Oh, yeah. It was a real gun, real bullets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is now a public safety issue.
SIMPSON: I love everybody. I'm trying to show everybody that I love everybody.
LANGE: We know that. And everybody loves you, especially your family. Your mother, your kids, all your friends, A.C. Everybody does. Don't do this.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Lange is doing all that he can to try to keep things from escalating.
LANGE: What if he shoots himself? Cowlings? How about one of these dummies running up to the car? What he says really doesn't matter. What I say doesn't matter. As long as he doesn't shoot somebody.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): How did you know what to say?
LANGE: I didn't.
PHILLIPS: It was just you and your gut.
LANGE: Yeah. Basically. Some people kept putting little notes in front of me. But I don't have time to read all that crap. So just whatever kind of came up. And I figured family. The biggest sociopath in the world doesn't mean he hates his family.
BLITZER: Kyra is with us now.
You had a chance to speak with A.C. Cowlings. How did that go?
PHILLIPS: This is a man everybody has wanted to talk to for decades. I went back to a source of mine from 20 years ago, I said, "By chance, do you have a phone number"? He gave it to me and said, "Don't tell anyone where this came from." Called him up. He is still adamant. So many people became celebrities, analysts, wrote books, Wolf. A.C. would not give me anything. He was angry that I called him. He said, "I am an old man, leave me alone. I am never talk about what happened in that Bronco."
BLITZER: Did he tell you why he wants to remain silent?
PHILLIPS: It's interesting. That's the mystery. That's what everybody wants to know. This was a guy that was found with $9,000 in his pocket. He was driving the Bronco. He's in this car as O.J. has a gun to his head. He's screaming, "O.J., O.J., put the gun down"! He's trying to talk him about it, and becomes a mediator, Wolf, between police and O.J., when he finally turns around and pulls into his driveway. And we'll never forget that standoff. It took hours to get out of that car.
BLITZER: All of us will remember it, 20 years ago.
PHILLIPS: You were in the White House.
BLITZER: I was the White House correspondent for CNN. I was on the North Lawn of the White House watching that chase saying to myself --
PHILLIPS: We'll never forget it.
BLITZER: We'll watch tonight.
Be sure to watch this special report tonight, "O.J.'s Wild Ride: 20 Years After the Chase." Kyra has done amazing work on this. It airs 9:00 a.m. eastern and pacific.
We'll be right back.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: House of Representatives has just voted unanimously to approve legislation that would allow veterans experiencing long wait times at V.A. hospitals to go ahead and get some health care from doctors at non-V.A. medical facilities. The measure similar to a proposal in a broader V.A. reform bill in the Senate that could be voted on later this week. We'll stay on top of these stories for you.
We could also see some history in the markets today. Take a look. You see the Dow Jones right now, it's down almost eight points, 16,935. Yesterday, was its ninth record close of the year.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. Eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM."
NEWSROOM with Pamela Brown starts right now.