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New U.S. Airstrikes, Airdrops in Iraq; NASCAR Driver Investigated in Deadly Crash; Obama: No Timetable for Airstrikes in Iraq

Aired August 10, 2014 - 07:00   ET


NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: -- is the resting place or supposedly the resting place of Noah, so let us hope it doesn't become the resting place for too many more Yazidis.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Nadia Bilchik, thank you so much.

BILCHIK: Thank you.


BLACKWELL: Next hour of your NEW DAY starts now.


PAUL: Good morning to you. I hope the day has been good to you so far. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Seven o'clock here on the East Coast, 4:00 out West. This is NEW DAY SUNDAY.

PAUL: We want to start with you in Iraq, as we were just talking, U.S. war drones, or warplanes rather and drones I should say, they have carried out another series of airstrikes against ISIS fighters in the northern part of the country now.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Iraqi officials say 16 members of the terror group were killed in those strikes. ISIS has been targeting members of, as we said just a moment ago, the Yazidi religious group near the town of Sinjar, forcing tens of thousands of refugees into the mountains in fear for their lives.

Now, on Saturday, President Obama made it clear the military action could go on for months.

PAUL: Let's talk about the humanitarian aid, though, here, because three cargo planes escorted by U.S. fighter jets dropped about 3,800 gallons of water and more than 16,000 ready to eat meals last night. Just a short time ago, as well the British Royal Air Force made its first drop but a U.N. official says that's not enough for the estimated 40,000 minority Yazidis that are hiding from ISIS fighters on that mountain.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk more about this crisis with Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

PAUL: We're also joined by CNN global affairs analyst and contributing writer for "The Daily Beast", Kimberly Dozier.

Thank you all so much for being with us.

You know, Kimberly, I want to bring up an article that you wrote recently or co-wrote in "The Daily Beast" last month. You said that ISIS is emerging as such a major draw for the new generation of jihadists that it's challenging the old al Qaeda leadership for prestige, personnel and funding.

How strong do you believe ISIS truly is?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, intelligence officials say it is one of the scariest developments they have seen in a decade. ISIS is becoming a major draw for militants across the region, and now that the U.S. is targeting them with airstrikes, unfortunately, this means they graduated to the militant big leagues. They have become powerful enough to be a threat to the Great Satan as the U.S. is referred to by jihadist groups.

And we're seeing the results of that. They are becoming a draw for more and more young men across the area.

BLACKWELL: General, we heard -- we have heard, rather, over the past couple days concerns about mission creep, actually since the advisers were sent in. Congressman Keith Ellison articulated that moments ago. We had an expert on this morning, Sujar Gohil (ph), who said that that's something we should watch for as this mission changes.

Is mission creep inevitable here as this goes on for months?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Victor, we're going to have to continue to reassess over and over again. I keep hearing this term "mission creep" and I don't think it's been defined quite well. There's a lot of people who are afraid of it and they don't know what it is.

But I think General Austin has a very good view of what's going on in northern Iraq. He has been the guy placed in charge of this. He is very familiar with the area. He spent many years of his life in Iraq.

So, I think the directives by the president now as he restated yesterday has very firm constraints and restraints on the military options, and again, this is a situation that cannot be won by the military alone. There's got to be other aspects of this -- diplomatic piece, the economic piece, the international messaging piece, all of these things are part of the power which will eventually resolve this situation. It can't be military alone.

So, that's a long way around answering your question. I'm sorry for that but you just can't define mission creep very easily in this situation. We will continue to -- I'm sure the military and the government will continue to reassess on a daily basis what's going on and the protecting of American citizens and the stopping of humanitarian disasters are the two things on the mind of the military commanders in the area.

PAUL: You know, one of the things that has come up a lot in the last week or so, a lot of people asking how much did President Obama, the administration, the intelligence community, know about is' strength early on? And the president addressed that yesterday when he was asked, did you underestimate this group and he said that ISIS did move more rapidly than they had expected.

So, Kimberly, my question to you is how much confidence do you put in the intelligence community moving forward based on what we know?

DOZIER: You've got to look at it from their perspective. They were studying ISIS in Syria, before ISIS crossed the border in an area of ungoverned space that was being pretty much unwatched, then they joined with members of the former Iraqi military, their intelligence and their top generals. So, that has strengthened is added to their ability to move like an army.

They've also picked up weapons from Iraqi army depots that they've overrun. So, that's why you've got their strengthening force, they're getting stronger as the weeks go on.

Now, with U.S. airstrikes we hear that they are becoming one of the most popular groups in the area so they're getting new recruits among the Sunnis in Iraq and beyond.

So, you're only going to see this pick up pace. But one of the things that they may have made a mistake on, strategically mistake on, is giving the U.S. this example of these Yazidis, this ethnic group caught on a mountaintop. That made it pretty much easier for the White House to explain to the American people here's a black and white clear case of people in need that we can help. And now they put in place a situation of airstrikes that could go on for quite some time. We could be seeing this the next year or so and that will strengthen Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground.

BLACKWELL: General, help us better understand the resources that ISIS has. I mean, we know these airstrikes are coming from the FA- 18s. But if additional resources are sent to Iraq, do they have anti- aircraft weaponry? What do they have?

HERTLING: Well, I don't want to go into the operational considerations for two reasons. First of all, we don't want to tip our hands, and secondly, I don't know them all.

But I think as Kimberly mentioned, we knew a lot of what was going on. Recently retired last week, Lieutenant General Mike Flynn briefed Congress on this back in January, saying that ISIS was growing in strength.

But I think talking to what Kimberly said, their primary resource is people. They have co-opted a lot of the Sunni tribesmen early on. But I think you'll begin to see splits now that they have continued with such horrific actions. And it's not only against the Yazidis but some of the films that are coming out, of Vice Media now, showing multiple large scale genocide, murders of former Iraqi security forces which they are very proud of.

Some -- some of these young men that they are killing and putting on films are sons of the tribes of northern Iraq, and I think while it was a marriage of convenience early on, with some of the Sunni tribesmen, the former Baathist, this group is even too rough for them. You're going to continue to see splits, but at the same time, you're going to see a lot more jihadists join from other parts of the world.

This is an extremely complex situation. And again, the military part of this is only one way to solve it. There's got to be a formed government effort in Iraq to address this, and as I said during the last hour, there's also got to be some Islamic leaders standing up and saying we have to stop this kind of violence. We need those kind of leaders to stand up beyond the grand ayatollah, others leaders that need say stop this. This is madness.

PAUL: Yes, there's even allegations that CNN has not confirmed but allegations of some horrid brutality against children by ISIS as well.

So, we thank you so much, General Mark Hertling and Kimberly Dozier, for being with us.

BLACKWELL: Thank you both.

PAUL: We need to get to some breaking news in the racing world this morning as well. Popular driver Tony Stewart was in a deadly accident. This was on a dirt track in Upstate New York.

BLACKWELL: Yes, sheriff deputies say Stewart hit a driver who exited his car during the race and was there on the track.

"Bleacher Report's" Rashan Ali is here with more.

Rashan, we now have video of the actual incident. Walk us through what we're seeing.

RASHAN ALI, BLEACHER REPORT: OK, so we do want to warn you that the video could be disturbing so we did edit it a little bit.

So, as Tony Stewart spun out fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr., this on the 14th lap. Kevin Ward Jr. was very upset about it and got out of his car, started walking toward Tony Stewart's car there and we stopped the video shortly before he was clipped.

And he was then thrown down the track. He was taken via ambulance to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Just 20 years old. He started racing go carts when he was 4 years old.

Ontario County, New York sheriff had this to say.


sprint car exited the car, walked into the track. Came down into the racing area -- this is while the race was under a yellow flag. A first sprint car swerved to avoid the driver of the car that had walked down into the track. A second sprint car operated by driver Tony Stewart age 43 of Columbus, Indiana, struck the operator of the sprint car that was on the track.


ALI: So, as you can see from the video, Kevin Ward was walking toward Tony Stewart's car.

A spokesman has released this following statement, "A tragic accident took place last night, during a sprint car race in which Tony Stewart was participating, Tony was unhurt but a fellow competitor lost his life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. We're still attempting to sort through the details and we appreciate your support."

So, that is where we are that the time.

BLACKWELL: And you know it's difficult as the sheriff there said that the first car tried to avoid him, right? So, we don't know because of the framing of the shot, did Tony Stewart also tried to avoid --

PAUL: Did he even see him?

BLACKWELL: Did he even see him? I mean, it's night, he's wearing a black suit. Also you see this is the video, we're seeing again, that the car again slides out, he gets out of the vehicle.

PAUL: That alone is making me nervous watching this, right?

BLACKWELL: And one car avoids, right. Tony Stewart you see, is he attempting to avoid?

ALI: Well --

BLACKWELL: We can't tell. Because we don't see what happens before that. We can't see if he slid.

So, there are some questions. Hopefully, there are other angles to get better answers about, the seconds before this accident.

ALI: Yes. The sheriff in this case is asking for video from anybody that can provide additional information. So, obviously, an ongoing investigation. Much more to come.

BLACKWELL: And we'll follow it. Rashan Ali, thank you so much.

ALI: You're welcome.

PAUL: Thank you so much.

Well, a protest that came close to rioting after police shot and killed an unarmed teenager.

BLACKWELL: Tensions very high this morning in this St. Louis neighborhood, where guns were fired during the investigation.


PAUL: There is outrage in St. Louis community this morning after an unarmed teen was shot and killed by police.

BLACKWELL: Witnesses say 18-year-old Mike Brown was with a friend yesterday when he was shot. And the police there, the county police chief actually has acknowledged this shooting.

PAUL: But the family's demanding answers here saying that the shooting was unprovoked. A reporter with our affiliate KMOV is going to clue us in here.


DORIAN JOHNSON, VICTIM'S FRIEND: We wasn't causing harm to nobody. We had no weapons on us at all.

CORY STARK, KMOV REPORTER: Dorian Johnson says he was walking home from a convenience store with his friend Mike Brown. They were walking on the street when a Ferguson police officer from his vehicle told the boys to get out of the street. Johnson says they kept walking, causing the officer to confront the boys, first from his car, then got out of the car firing a shot. Johnson says him and Brown were scared and ran away from the officer.

JOHNSON: He shot again, and once my friend felt that shot he turned around and put his hands in the air and started to get down but the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and he fired several more shots.


STARK: Instantly, hundreds gathered angered and saddened by what they call a complete overreaction by the officer. Now, a family is demanding answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You took my son away from me. You know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate.

You know how many black men graduate? Not many. Because you are bringing them down to this type of level where they feel like I got nothing to live for. They are going to try to take me out anyway.

STARK: The crowd became more angered, someone firing shots. No one was hurt, meanwhile Brown's body laid in the street for hours.

CHIEF THOMAS JACKSON, FERGUSON POLICE: The shots being fired were close to the scene so we needed to make sure that the crime scene was safe. That's why we called for additional officers so that we could safely without conflict move everyone back far enough. STARK: Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson says the St. Louis

County Police Department is handling the investigation into the officer shooting and says as standard procedure, the officer has been put on paid administrative leave.

JACKSON: We do want this investigated fully and that's why we asked for the outside help to do that.


PAUL: My goodness. Thank you to Cory Stark from our affiliate KMOV for the report there.

So, the mother of an 8-year-old who was tasered by police has filed a lawsuit now. Officers were called to a home in Pierre, South Dakota, last year, after the child grabbed a knife and threatened to hurt herself.

The lawsuit says when the four officers arrived, the little girl refused to drop the blade. That's when the suit alleges an officer fired a taser hitting the girl in the chest. The suit says the force filled her 70-pound body with electricity, lifting her off the ground and throwing her against the wall.

So, mom is suing the city. The police chief at the time says the officer's moves actually helped save that girl's life.

You know, for the president who campaigned on getting us out of Iraq, you cannot argue that President Obama is now in a bit of a predicament.

BLACKWELL: Yes. The U.S. has dropped bombs on is militants and now, the president says there is no timetable, actually says maybe not weeks, probably more like months. How long this operation will last?

PAUL: First, though, we're going to have more on that. But let's check in with Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a look at what's coming up on "SGMD" in just a few minutes.

BLACKWELL: Good morning, Sanjay.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Christi, Victor, people e-mailing me questions about the Ebola outbreak. So, we're going to bring you some answers. Plus, an incredible rare look inside of Gaza emergency room. And also, the latest on a federal bill that could legalize some strains of marijuana.

See you in just a little bit, at the bottom of the hour.



PAUL: Twenty-two minutes past the hour. And there you see the commander-in-chief took to the links on the

first day of his two-week vacation here. The first family out in Martha's Vineyard for some R&R. The president's golfing buddies Ahmad Rashad, Ray Allen, and a cousin of White House Valerie Jarrett.

BLACKWELL: But the president also had some tough decisions about Iraq last week despite his campaign promise he would end the war there. He ordered airstrikes against ISIS militants attacking religious minorities.

PAUL: CNN's Erin McPike has details.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi and Victor, in a lengthy exchange with a press on Saturday morning, President Obama made clear that the current situation in Iraq will be a long term challenge.


MCPIKE (voice-over): As the first family begins its Martha's Vineyard vacation, President Obama is refusing to set a timetable for how long U.S. military action in Iraq will need to continue.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think we're going to solve this problem in weeks, I think this is going to take time.

MCPIKE: U.S. airstrikes destroyed some is arms and equipment hoping to stop the militants' advance on the northern Iraqi city of Irbil. The U.S. also has dropped food and water to thousands of a minority group stranded on Mt. Sinjar.

OBAMA: The next step which is going to be complicated logistically is how do we give safe passage for people down from the mountain.

MCPIKE: The broader problem, how to contain or destroy the mounting terrorist threat from ISIS, complicating the issue, concerns from some Democrats such as Congressman Keith Ellison. "I am weary of mission creep and possibility of being further embroiled in a situation that has no military solution, he said, urging the president to seek congressional authorization if military operations continue.

And others like House Speaker John Boehner approving the current actions but accusing him of lacking a long term strategy for handling the terrorist threat in the region.

OBAMA: There is no doubt that their advance, their movement over the last several months has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates and I think the expectations of policymakers, both in and out -- outside of Iraq.

MCPIKE: The president insists he won't send American troops to battle on the ground in Iraq again and says a solution will only come when Iraq form as government that shares power with minority groups.

OBAMA: This is going to be a long term project. MCPIKE: But with no end in sight, could this cost American

taxpayers more in the future.

OBAMA: We'll have to evaluate what happens over time.


MCPIKE: Now, both the admission that ISIS presents a larger threat than the U.S. government and the Iraqi government originally anticipated, and that there is no timetable here, could provide ample fodder for his critics in the coming weeks -- Christi and Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Erin McPike there at the White House -- thank you.

MCPIKE: Listen, I just want to let you know that we are still gathering some information about that tragic death on the racetrack this morning.

BLACKWELL: We'll have more for you at the top of the hour.

But, first, "SANJAY GUPTA, M.D." starts after this quick break.