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Iraq Under Attack; Soccer Star Behind Bars; Showdown in the Amazon

Aired June 22, 2014 - 07:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Seven o'clock straight up on a Sunday. You got plenty of time this morning. Relax. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Folks on the West Coast, you had even more time, it's 4:00 a.m. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

PAUL: We do want to begin this morning. We start with news out of Iraq. Islamist militants have tightened their grip on that country. They sieged a strategic border crossing and three other towns in the tenuous western part of the country there.

BLACKWELL: These four towns include al-Qim along with its boundary with Syria. Now, they also flank a highway that connects Syria to Baghdad. An asset that could aid in any effort by militants to lay siege to the Iraqi capital.

PAUL: Iraqi officials say the group Islamic States in Iraq and Syria controls 70 percent of the western Anbar province this morning, and most of Euphrates River Valley.

BLACKWELL: Meantime, thousands of Shiites have been -- they heeded a call by a powerful Iraqi cleric to rise up in a show of force against ISIS.

PAUL: Less than three hours ago, we know Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo, his first stop on a swing through the region we understand will include Iraq, Kerry has met with Egypt's foreign minister. His trip as some 300 military advisers are due to arrive.

BLACKWELL: Iraqi officials say Sunni tribes are supporting ISIS in the west, and the latest town to fall to the militants is just 62 miles outside of Baghdad.

PAUL: Nic Robertson joins us now from the Iraqi capital.

Nic, what is the situation now and how is the city reacting to news that the militants are getting so close at this point?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, it made the city more nervous and on greater edge, al-Qim on the border with Syria has fallen allows the ISIS rebels to essentially link their safe havens inside Syria with about a 4-hour drive down highways to the western outskirts of Baghdad. That's what it does.

The military here is saying the army in al Anbar, which is now 70 percent under is control, they say the army went through a strategic withdrawal, what we're hearing from security, Iraqi security officials inside al Anbar province is that the tribes fighting with ISIS went to the army and said put down your weapons, take off your uniforms and go home. That's the only way we can make you safe.

So really, the army is on the back foot in al Anbar retreating from there, still they hold a tiny part but it seems that is intent on taking the whole of that province, and therefore advancing much closer in a stronger way to Baghdad -- Victor and Christi.

BLACKWELL: So, Nic, what are the expectations ahead of Secretary Kerry's upcoming visit to Iraq?

ROBERTSON: Certainly Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki will be looking for a quick turn around on airstrikes, there is no indication that's about to happen quickly. And the overall outside hope and expectation and hope of many politicians here is that Secretary of State Kerry can impress upon Nouri al Maliki that he needs to make way for other political leaders to step up and form a government. There is a constitutional timetable for that, about 60 days from now approximately, for when there should be a new prime minister announced.

And the assessment is Maliki doesn't have the numbers to get the job. But getting him to go quickly so the airstrikes could take place, so that there could a new government, that is going to be the real challenge for him here.

BLACKWELL: All right. Nic Robertson there for us in the Iraqi capital -- Nic, thank you.

PAUL: Yes. For analysis, we want to bring in Lieutenant General David Deptula. He's retired from the air force. He's the air force's top senior official in the intelligence community and was the principle attack planner during Desert Storm.

BLACKWELL: So, General, good to have you back with us. We know that Secretary of State John Kerry will head to Iraq soon and we have the team of 300 advisers heading in as well. If you can tell us, what you expect these advisers will be doing. It's such a vague term, military advisers. Do you think it's enough?

LT. GENERAL DAVID DEPTULA, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): Well, first, let me preface my remarks, Victor and Christi, with a restatement of the obvious, that is this is an exceedingly complex environment that is not going to be solved with the application of military force, particularly by an outside party. The way to solution is through garnering a political settlement where the government essentially becomes more representative of all of the parties that exist there in Iraq. That's part of why this set of Sunni revolts have arisen that Maliki has basically led an exclusionary government. Back to the issue of the advisers, you know, frankly, the benefit

will be to garner greater information about just what is the situation on the ground among the different sects, to be able to ascertain what are the appropriate moves going forward. What they will be specifically doing is to be determined, but I would tell you their primary role is to gain greater situational awareness so that the president has a better idea of what moves might be appropriate next.

PAUL: Now, I mean, you were involved in the air campaign during Operation Desert Storm as we said. Do you think targeted airstrikes are the appropriate answer this time around or is there too much risk since as we understand it, there are no singular structures necessarily to target here.

DEPTULA: Right. The issue, though first, Christi, is airstrikes to accomplish what?

PAUL: Right.

DEPTULA: What is the desired strategic outcome? And then, how can military application contribute to that outcome? So it's not that they are going to be: (a), solution. You've got a military element here, you got a political element here. As I mentioned last week when we chatted, you could, in fact, identify three principle military objectives that one might plan around. The first one being to halt any further movement of the ISIS forces on the ground, the second may be to force them to be removed from the towns and cities it captured. And then the third one may be to eliminate them or neutralize them as effective fighting force.

Which one of those objectives are selected is going to dependent upon the political conditions to restabilize the region. And quite frankly, that means that Prime Minister Maliki has got to go and got to go soon.

BLACKWELL: You know, part of the reason the White House says there were no forces left in Iraq after the withdrawal was because there was no status of forces agreement. There still is no status of forces agreement, no visiting forces agreement. Do you have any significant concerns about what that means for the 300 who are going in and potentially any who go in after?

DEPTULA: Well, first I'd make any insertion of U.S. military force conditional on a status of forces agreement. It's not something to be negotiated in this particular case. If the Iraqi government is requesting our assistance, then we should offer them -- hey, sign this to assure protection of our citizens and forces, and we'll consider it. Not the other way around.

PAUL: All righty. Lieutenant General Dave Deptula, thank you so much. We appreciate your insight as always.

DEPTULA: Thank you.

PAUL: By the way -- sure -- CNN is going to have more on the American response to the Iraq crisis at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here this morning on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley, her guest Senator Rand Paul and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

BLACKWELL: I want to get this in, we just received this. I'm going to read it, it just came in. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, came out against U.S. intervention in Iraq, claiming that Iraq can take care of facing off against ISIS forces on their own. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday during a government meeting that Iran strongly opposes U.S. military Iraq action in action according to the report from the IRNA news agency, he believes that the government and religious authority in the country have to put an end to this fire.

So again, the supreme leader in Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei, says the U.S. should stay out, let Iraq handle its own business. I wanted to get that to you, as soon as we receive it.

PAUL: All righty. A former Olympian sits behind bars this morning after an arrest for domestic violence. We're going to tell you which soccer star Hope Solo is accused -- what she is accused of doing.

BLACKWELL: Also, in the showdown Sunday in the Amazon. The U.S. takes on Portugal in the World Cup. You're going to be watching? I know you're going to be watching.

PAUL: You know I am, with my girls.

BLACKWELL: We've got the scoop on the Team USA chances, that's next.


PAUL: Twelve minutes past the hour.

A little over a week ago, U.S. national women's goalie Hope Solo riding high, had just set an American record shutting down France in a game in Seattle. Well, let's say the tide has turned.

BLACKWELL: Yes, things have changed. Now, she is in a jail cell.

Nick Valencia has more on what happened. Nick, good morning.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Victor and Christi.

According to a police report, soccer star Hope Solo was arrested at about 1:00 a.m. in Kirkland, a Seattle suburb. A male caller called 911 around 1:00 a.m., saying that a female in a residence was assaulting people and they couldn't get her to stop or get her to leave. An officer eventually arrived on the scene and found what appeared to be an intoxicated Hope Solo, that according to a police statement.

After some interrogation and investigation they saw visible injuries on Hope Solo's 17-year-old nephew and on her sister. It was eventually determined that Solo was the primary aggressor in the assault. She was arrested and booked on two counts of domestic violence.

She has a court date on Monday -- Victor, Christi.


BLACKWELL: All right. Nick Valencia, reporting for us -- thank you, Nick.

BLACKWELL: All right. Team USA, they can get their ticket to the next round of the World Cup tonight.

PAUL: You know it. CNN Sports Kristen Ledlow has a preview of the big game for us.

KRISTEN LEDLOW, CNN SPORTS: It's going to be big, hours away from a potential date with destiny. Now, if the Americans win tonight's game, they can qualify for the knockout stage in the World Cup, but it's not going to be easy. Team USA's star Jozy Altidore is out with a hamstring injury, while captain Clint Dempsey will play despite a broken knows.

Now, a name you might have heard, Portugal super star Cristiano Ronaldo is also hurt. He's struggling with a knee injury but he's expected to play. Hurt or not, he is arguably the best player in the world.


KYLE BECKERMAN, TEAM USA: Completely focused, we're going to have to know where he's at, at all times, when we're attacking that's going to be when he is most dangerous because, you know, you lose a ball and the next thing you know it's in the back of your net.


LEDLOW: And get your popcorn ready. Game time, 6:00 p.m. eastern. Now if Team USA advances they may want to avoid this guy. Check out Argentina's Lionel Messi, saving the day for his team. In extra time, this incredible goal to beat Iran, 1-nil.

Now, how good is he? Just to put it on perspective, before the game, Iran's captain asked Messi for his shirt during the handshake.

And brotherly love went out the window during yesterday's game between Germany and Ghana. Brothers Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng faced off against each other on opposite sides. Now, they are half brothers born in Berlin to the same father. Jerome plays for Germany, while Kevin-Prince went to Ghana for a little bit more playing time.

But neither one went home sad. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Back to you guys. A big one.

PAUL: It has to hurt.


PAUL: Nobody got bragging rights.

BLACKWELL: At least no one lost. That's something.

PAUL: I'm fans for them. I bet you --

LEDLOW: It's not how brothers work.

BLACKWELL: Yes, I get it, I get it. I get it.

PAUL: Christie, good to see you. Thank you so much.

LEDLOW: Good to see you. Thank you, guys.

BLACKWELL: Hey, we've got new information this morning on this ongoing search for Flight 370. We know that authorities in Australia, the officials are telling CNN they are about to announce a new search area in the Indian Ocean. We'll get more on this in a moment.


PAUL: All right. New information this morning on the search for the missing Malaysian plane. Australian authorities announcing a new search area this week to look for Flight MH370.

BLACKWELL: Yes, this map shows where they are searching or at least where they were searching earlier.

More than three months after Flight 370 disappeared, searchers found no trace of the Boeing 777 or the 239 people aboard.

Will Ripley joins us on the phone now from Tokyo. Will, do we know yet where this new search area will be in relation to the previous areas?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Hey, Victor, we really don't know specifically where this new search area will be. Although if this independent group that came out with their report last week is anything close to what the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau will be announcing, then we expect the search area could be hundreds of miles south, along this arc, this arc that came from all of the satellite data, the analysis of the airplane's trajectory, fuel consumption, all of that sort of thing.

We know that this international team of experts based in Canberra had been going over the computer data, going over the models, trying to figure out if they believe that the search zone was in the right place, and so what we're expecting to be announced on Wednesday is that the search zone will be shifting, possibly to the south. This will be in line with what those experts, the doubters, so to speak, were telling CNN where they pointed to five separate computer models that were placing this missing plane in a tight cluster of spots in the southern Indian Ocean. Now, ironically, this is much closer to the area that searchers

were looking at originally before those pings which have now been discounted threw everybody off. This is closer to the area where there were the satellite images, talking about possible debris fields, all of that kind of thrown out when the area shifted north, now we could see it shifting south again as the search continues for this plane and the 239 people who are on board.

PAUL: You know, Will, there was -- there were so many resources available on the onset of this crisis. I'm wondering who is going to be conducting this search and how much -- how many resources do they have now this far out?

RIPLEY: Well, this new search area doesn't change the general game plan, Christie, which is the game plan all along, that private assets were going to be brought into the revised search area in August. So the team was going to give themselves some time to go over the data. We're told that process is almost complete.

When they announce the new search zone, they are going to bring in private contractors with equipment that can search the deep water more quickly, more efficiently than the Bluefin-21 which was searching for quite a while and didn't find anything. So, the question now is going to be specifically where are these resources going to be deployed? Is it going to be in this area further to the south?

One thing has stayed consistent, though, Christie and Victor, that they still believe this plane went down somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean, but as you guys know it's a huge area. They are trying to pinpoint. It really is, though, still an educated guess.

BLACKWELL: Yes. No sign. Not even as much as a seat belt or piece of luggage, piece in the plane. Will Ripley reporting for us on the search for Flight 370. Thank you, Will.

PAUL: Thanks, Will.

BLACKWELL: Some other stories we're following this morning, a body has been found in Mt. Rainier, Washington, three days after a hiker went missing. Officials say the body will be identified by the coroner but they have suspended the search.

PAUL: The search for Karen Sykes (ph) that is, she was out hiking when she encountered snow and apparently went ahead. Her hiking partner stayed behind and reported her missing when she didn't come back.

BLACKWELL: This Florida couple fell off their boat and had to tread water for 14 hours to survive.

PAUL: They actually drifted, right?

BLACKWELL: Overnight without life jackets.

PAUL: Thankfully, a group of friends out on a fishing trip made the catch dare we see of a lifetime. Certainly for them. They spotted the couple at sea, they pulled them to safety and, oh, goodness, what a good thing.

BLACKWELL: Yes. You know, good thing that these guys were in the right place at the right time because the couple was apparently mildly hypothermic, suffering from cramps, as you would imagine, 14 hours, also dehydrated.

PAUL: But we're told that apparently they are both going to be OK, which is a good news.


PAUL: So make sure obviously you stay with us, Steve Couch is one of those rescuers and he's talking to us live in the next hour about this rescue at sea.

BLACKWELL: All right. It may be summertime. But -- at least here in the U.S. But let's talk about the South Pole. They are celebrating the start of winter with a frigid polar plunge.

PAUL: You should not pay me, I'm just saying.

BLACKWELL: I'd do it.

PAUL: I know. Well, then let's send you there and let's get video of it. What about this? Would do you this? Men, who says they can't rock heels? They have not seen these men yet.


PAUL: All right. So, you probably are feeling the heat of summer right now, right? But look at these guys. The Australians are jumping into icy Antarctic waters to celebrate the winter solstice.

BLACKWELL: I'd love to do it one day. I really would. The biggest holiday of the year for the research staff there at the station on the southern continent.

PAUL: You go right ahead.

BLACKWELL: I think it would be fun. I think it would be fun. Let's do it.

PAUL: I'll leave that to you.

It's going to be warmer here, obviously, in this case.

BLACKWELL: What about you, Karen? I mean, would you jump with me?



PAUL: Thank you.

MAGINNIS: No way. All right. Well, we've got a lot of rainfall to tell you about, especially

across the Midwest where kind of the bull's eye from southern Minnesota into Iowa and Nebraska, areas that can ill afford to see another two to four inches of rainfall because rivers and streams are filling up across this region and the blowup of thunderstorms contributing even downstream from these areas.

Over the next three to four days. And one of those areas is at Minneapolis-St. Paul where the river is expected to crest about on Thursday. Omaha, you've gotten blasted this morning with thunderstorms and lightning.

What about the rainfall across Chicago? We've got pictures there. Power outages, to thousands of people, between one and three inches of rainfall fell and winds were gusting up to around 60 miles an hour. It looks like Chicago, you could see scattered showers and storms.

Just to show you some of the totals in Joliet, 2 1/3 inches of rain. Now, in St. Louis, they soared to 94 degrees. It's not a record, but still very warm. Still have the soupy atmosphere contributing to the thunderstorms in the southeast and Midwest.

Back to you guys.

PAUL: All righty, Karen, thank you.

You know, some people have trouble walking in heels.

BLACKWELL: Yes. I mean, if you're one of them, take a look at this must-see moment.


BLACKWELL: That's choreographer Yanis Marshall doing more than walking in heels.

PAUL: Amen to that.

BLACKWELL: They are doing those moves in heels. Video has more than 3 million views on YouTube.

PAUL: Which may be some consolation for them. They got axed from the "Britain's Got Talent" show. They got 3 million views. They got nothing to complain about.

BLACKWELL: I think what they do there is they actually do the routine, they teach other people to do it. It's pretty good.

PAUL: Let's call them (ph).