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Obama Sends Warship to Persian Gulf; Missing Israeli Teens

Aired June 15, 2014 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the government really wants to do right now is bolster the population. It's really urging people to come out and join the fight, pick up weapons and go and help stop ISIS in their tracks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iraq is one of those places in the Middle East and Iran actually have something of a confluence of interest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden, this guy just sleeping woke up out of nowhere and started flipping out, and it got very, very aggressive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For us now, talking about winning a World Cup, you know, it's just not realistic.


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning on a Sunday and happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Happy Father's Day. I'm Victor Blackwell. Six o'clock here on the East Coast and this is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

Of course, the big story we're following this morning, the turmoil that's spreading across Iraq. The U.S. is sending in military might to protect American lives and interests.

PAUL: An aircraft carrier has been sent to the Persian Gulf. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the USS George H.W. Bush to that region, remember? Well, alongside it, a guided missile cruiser and the destroyer.

The Pentagon says this will give President Obama, quote, "additional flexibility" to safeguard Americans there.

BLACKWELL: Well, thousands of Iraqi volunteers have been lining up at recruiting centers to join their military's fight against radical Islamists there, the militants there and the militants have seized cities and towns north of the capital of Baghdad but the Iraqi government insists it's getting them back.

There were fears the militants who belong to the extremist group known as ISIS might enter and take over Baghdad this weekend.

PAUL: Take a look at this here. We want to break it down for you to make it easy. Those areas in red, those are the territories that are captured by ISIS. It stretches north of the Iraqi capital into Syria, as you see there.

BLACKWELL: CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is in Baghdad. He joins us by the phone, on the phone rather.

Nic, have the militants advanced or has this advance stalled?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It's slowed down, suddenly that's the case. The Iraqi prime minister says he was drawing a line in the sand in the town called Amarah (ph), an important city, about an hour and a half drive north of Baghdad.

Yesterday, just while we were walking in Baghdad, young men volunteered to join up these new militias, just as we were watching that, an order was issued to the Iraqi army in a town called Baqubah. That's about three quarters of an hour drive north of Baghdad, they were told to evacuate their base, take all their weapons with them, within an hour the ISIS fighters moved in. The Iraqi government had drawn a line in the sand. ISIS is fighting that line in the sand and is now taking control of the base.

That is about 45 minutes' drive north of Baghdad. That is a significant move. Also this morning, a car bomb in the center of Baghdad killing one person, wounding four others -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: All right. OK. What do you know about that car bomb? Do you know if that was somebody from ISIS, if perhaps they've infiltrated there in some way? And how secure do you feel Baghdad to be this morning?

ROBERTSON: Christi, this is a very bad line and I have trouble hearing you. I believe you asked how the people of Baghdad were reacting and are they concerned, and certainly there is a level of concern. There is increased security in the city. There is an amount of panic buying of food. People are not panicked but they're concerned. They're stockpiling cooking gas, the necessary commodities, water, these sorts of things, they're stocking up on because they don't know what's going to happen so a high level of concern here

BLACKWELL: All right. Nic Robertson live for us in Baghdad -- Nic, thank you very much and stay safe.

Now, as we were saying the aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush is in the Persian Gulf near the coast of Iraq.

PAUL: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered it to move to that new location.

White House correspondent Athena Jones has some details for us here -- Athena. ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning,

Christi and Victor. The aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush is now in the Persian gulf this morning. It's been accompanied by two other ships, a guided missile cruiser, the USS Philippine Sea and a guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxtun.

Now, the order by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to send these ships to the Persian Gulf was meant to provide the president with, quote, "additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq." That's according to a statement put out by pentagon press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby. Now, the president has been spending Father's Day weekend in California but asked his national security team to work all week to understand come up with a range of options to try to help Iraq push back this insurgent force.

Now, those options do not include U.S. ground troops but they could include airstrikes and this ship, the Bush, can be used for airstrikes. It can also use its helicopters to help evacuate Americans if needed and also to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance missions.

But the president is under growing pressure at home from some members of Congress who want him to act quickly to help Iraq. Senator Mitch McConnell put a statement on Saturday, calling on the admission to quickly help the Iraqi government before every gain made by U.S. and allied forces in the war in Iraq is lost.

Now, the president said he'll be discussing and reviewing the options his advisers present to him in the coming days -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: All righty. Athena Jones, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Chelsea Manning, the U.S. soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, who is convicted of leaking more than 700,000 pages of classified documents to WikiLeaks, says the U.S. military lied to the public about Iraq.

In a "New York Times" op-ed, Manning writes this, "As Iraq erupts in civil war and America contemplates intervention, that unfinished business should give new urgency to the question of how the United States military controlled the media coverage of its long involvement there and in Afghanistan. I believe the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance."

Now, Manning also takes aim at the government for branding Iraq's 2010 parliamentary election as a success. She writes, "Those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality. Military and diplomatic reports coming across my desk detailed a brutal crackdown against political dissents by the Iraqi ministry of interior and federal police on behalf of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki. Now, the detainees were often tortured or even killed."

Manning, who was convicted of espionage last year, is serving out a sentence of 35 years in prison and after her conviction, Manning revealed her desire to live as a woman.

Now, a judge granted Manning's request to legally change her name from Bradley to Chelsea last month.

PAUL: An Army general has been tapped to investigate the surroundings of the circumstances that surrounded the disappearance of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl. This is according to a CNN source, who declined to give the general's name until a formal announcement is made. But Bergdahl, who was held captive for nearly five years, is recovering at a San Antonio military hospital. But since his dramatic release, you know several soldiers from his unit have come forward alleging that Bergdahl is a deserter and he willingly left his outpost before being captured by the Taliban. It's not clear when investigators are going to question Bergdahl directly about that, though.

BLACKWELL: So, you remember that controversy last year involving reports that the internal revenue service targeted the Tea Party and other special interest groups. Well, now, the IRS says that they've not been able to recover subpoenaed e-mails from former official Lois Lerner because of a computer crash. Some Republican lawmakers question the credibility of that statement, and they call it, quote, "convenient." For their part, the IRS insists it made unprecedented efforts to produce all the documents needed for that investigation.

PAUL: What a frightening moment for passengers aboard a Las Vegas bound JetBlue flight over the weekend. The airliner was diverted after an unruly passenger flipped out in midair and started attacking people around him.

BLACKWELL: Here's how one witness described the chaos. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden this guy who was sleeping just woke up out of nowhere and started flipping out, and it got very, very aggressive.

I was so scared.


BLACKWELL: Yes, understandably.

Now, according to JetBlue, flight 2011 was diverted to Detroit in an abundance of caution, but continued on to Vegas after about two hours on the ground.

PAUL: According to the International Air Transport Association, incidents like these are happening more frequently. Last year, there were 8,217 worldwide, and that's nearly 3,000 more than in 2012.

BLACKWELL: Wow, 8,000?

PAUL: What are people dreaming about on the plane they wake up freaking out like that? BLACKWELL: Whatever it is, they should probably not do whatever

they did before the dream.

PAUL: I know. Yes.

BLACKWELL: This is a serious story, three teenagers on the West Bank, they vanished, and the Israeli prime minister is blaming a terror group. The question is, who, if anyone, took them?

As violence erupts in Iraq also, families who lost loved ones during the Iraq war, they are frustrated and we're hearing from them.

Later, we'll hear from the military widow of this man. He's known as the lion of Fallujah. He died fighting to defend the same cities in turmoil today.


PAUL: Thirteen minutes past the hour right now.

Israeli forces have detained about 80 Palestinians at this point after three Israeli teens disappeared from the West Bank.

BLACKWELL: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says they have abducted by (AUDIO GAP) terrorist organization.

Senior international correspondent Ben Wedeman is live from Jerusalem.

OK. So, after that assertion by the prime minister, has any group claimed responsibility?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just to update you victor, this morning the Prime Minister Netanyahu after a cabinet meeting came out and was much more specific. He said it is Hamas that is behind the kidnapping. This would indicate perhaps they've managed to extract more intelligence, more information from the approximately 80 people that they detained overnight, among whom are some fairly senior officials in Hamas which of course operates underground in the West Bank.

One additional bit of information, I just got off the phone with the spokesman for the Israeli army. They say they have called up a very limited number of relevant reservists as a reaction to these kidnappings, these alleged kidnappings.

Now, regarding claims of responsibility, there have been several notably not from Hamas, which called the prime minister's assertions stupid, but we have received several claims of responsibility, most disturbingly is this one, of course, which is from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Palestine branch.

This is the first time they've ever put out such a statement, and there are indications this may not be an all together legitimate claim, but it does indicate that people here, extremists here are watching events in Iraq as well -- Victor. BLACKWELL: Hmm.

PAUL: My goodness. OK, so what do you make of that, how do you find out how legitimate that claim from ISIS might be, and do we know if these three were specifically targeted for some reason?

WEDEMAN: These three specifically, it's difficult to say but certainly Israeli intelligence and security services are saying that their kidnapping does appear to have been done by professionals, people who knew what they were doing. They were hitchhiking at a round-about in the southern West Bank outside the settlement block of Gush Etzion.

So, beyond that the Israelis are ka carrying out a widespread search operation in the southern West Bank, as you said, they've arrested approximately 80 people at this point, and that operation is ongoing.

BLACKWELL: You know, Ben, you bring up the Palestinian branch of ISIS. Of course, we've discussed over the past few weeks the group moving from Aleppo and Syria, all the way now close to Baghdad.

How much of a threat is this Palestinian branch?

WEDEMAN: Well, first of all, when you read the language, it really doesn't use the same sort of terminology that is typical of Islamist groups. In fact, it looks like it's written by simply the usual, in the usual way that you would get from the Palestinian group.

So, I stress it's difficult to ascertain whether this is actually from ISIS or not. We do know that they have a certain limited number of followers, supporters in the West Bank, in Jerusalem and in Gaza, and, of course, the presence of such a group is a concern not just for the Israelis, but also for the Palestinians as well -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. But, of course, Prime Minister Netanyahu asserted that this was Hamas. As Ben reporting this morning, calling that assertion stupid.

Ben Wedeman for us -- Ben, thank you.

PAUL: Thank you, Ben.

BLACKWELL: Let's go now to the crisis in Ukraine, because the country this morning is in mourning as it lays to rest -- sorry, more unrest is flared there. Pro-Russia separatists are claiming responsibility for a deadly attack in eastern Ukraine.

PAUL: Officials say five people were killed and seven others were wounded when gunfire targeted border service vehicles yesterday. You see the video here, and you know Ukrainians are grieving 49 people who were killed when separatists shot down a military transport plane yesterday.

BLACKWELL: Thousands have gathered in Kiev's Independence Square, you see them there. The White House condemned the shooting and says it's deeply concerned about the situation there.

PAUL: Now, America's top diplomat spoke with Ukraine's prime minister by phone regarding the deadly shoot-down. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed condolences saying "Washington and its allies will raise the consequences for Russia if Moscow does not stop the flow of weapons across the eastern border with eastern Ukraine." He also urged Russia's foreign minister to make clear that Moscow is committed to peace.

BLACKWELL: Another high level phone call to tell you about, this between Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. The French and German leader reached out to their Russian counterpart yesterday, expressing concerns over yesterday's attack that left 49 people dead -- as we talked about -- and also they took the time to urge again a cease-fire.

PAUL: Happy Father's Day. Take your umbrella for that nice, you know, dinner or a lunch that you planned, brunch outside. It might not work out for you somehow.

BLACKWELL: Yes. But there's plenty of sun out there, too, some bright spots.

PAUL: Some people will be OK. Others, this is what they're dealing with. We'll get the full forecast for you in a moment.


PAUL: Good morning, love. Nice little way to wake you up there, rather than that beep of an alarm clock.

That's New York. I don't know that a lot of people are up just yet.

BLACKWELL: Yes, there was one guy up there.


BLACKWELL: Happy Father's Day to that guy.

PAUL: Happy Father's Day to him and all of you awesome dads out there.

You got mostly sunny skies and a high 81 today, at least in the big apple.

BLACKWELL: Yes, as we said, Father's Day, and whether you're having a barbecue, which really sounds good. I mean, it just sounds great.

PAUL: Yes. It's 6:30 in the morning.

BLACKWELL: Hey, roasted meat, there's no bad time. Let me just put that out there.

PAUL: Oh, somebody's going to make that more than it was meant to be.

BLACKWELL: You can also have a round of golf. It's good for you, too. Hoping you'll see some sunshine.

PAUL: Yes.

Jennifer Gray, what does the holiday forecast look like for us here?

BLACKWELL: Well, it's a little bit of a mixed bag. We have a possibility of severe weather across the plains, including places like Omaha. Also Chicago later today could see some pretty strong storms.

If you're in the Northeast, it's the place to be. Temperatures in the low to mid-80s, feeling very nice and we're also going to see a few scattered showers in the southeast but nothing major. This is where the focus today through Kansas City. You can see Springfield getting it pretty soon. We have severe thunderstorm watches out right now, no warnings at the moment.

Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Tulsa, you will all be in the bull's eye today for the possibility of damaging winds, large hail and isolated tornadoes, pretty much the same location for tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we could see worse weather, so we are in this two-day stretch mainly in the same spot for some troublesome weather across the plains. So, that front is going to make its way through. High pressure will stay in control across the Northeast, so your Father's Day forecast looking not bad in the Northeast, scattered showers down to the south, and we're going to see this thing time out as we go through the end of the day today into tomorrow.

So, severe storms today, high pressure in the east, scattered storms in the South, we'll see sunny and hot conditions in the west. Of course, it looks good on paper but we know the drought is dire out there.

We have some video I believe of the Shirley Fire, this is northeast of Bakersfield. We have 500 homes being evacuated and more than 800 acres burned. So, definitely a bad situation in southern California. Of course, we've been following it and we'll continue to do so.

In the meantime, you fathers have a happy Father's Day out there, especially in the Northeast. Enjoy it.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: All righty. Jennifer Gray, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Some pretty frightening moments on the highway this weekend in Georgia. Bus carrying boy scouts bursts into flames. >

PAUL: Also, his marines called him the Lion of Fallujah because of his unapologetic leadership during the Iraq war. His wife is speaking out now to discuss the escalating tensions in the Iraqi cities that her husband died fighting to defend.


PAUL: We have your mortgage updates. Rates rose this week. Here you go.


PAUL: Twenty-nine minutes past the hour right now on a Sunday, Father's Day no less. Happy Father's Day to you. I'm Christi Paul

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Our five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.