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NASCAR Driver Investigated in Deadly Crash; New U.S. Airstrikes, Airdrops in Iraq; Pope Prays for Peace in Iraq

Aired August 10, 2014 - 08:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning at 8:00. It is so good to have you company on this Sunday morning. I'm Christi Paul.


PAUL: We want to begin with some breaking news.

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart involved in a deadly accident. This was on a dirt track in Upstate New York. And sheriff deputies say Stewart hit a driver, who had exited his car during the race, in other words the driver had gotten out of his car, he was standing on the track, and we're getting some new information about it all this morning.

BLACKWELL: Yes, just a short time ago we obtained video of the crash. Of course, we have to warn you, what you're about to see is disturbing. Stewart and that driver, they collided during the race. You see he kind of hits the wall, that's the driver who was killed. A few seconds later, Kevin Ward got out of his car a few seconds later, here he is and appears to go to confront Stewart when one car drives by, you see a blue car drive by and then we're freezing it right when Stewart hits this man because it's just far too graphic.

PAUL: Right, right.

"Bleacher Report's" Rashan Ali with us now. And joining us on the phone, NASCAR commentator and radio personality Dallas McCade.

Rashan, I want to start with you because I understand you've got some brand new information?

RASHAN ALI, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes. It was up in the air whether he would race today at Watkins Glen, New York. He was slated to start 13th. It has been confirmed by his team, Stewart-Haas, he will race today and he's going to have a press conference at 1:00 p.m. Eastern before he races. So, that is the latest from his team.

PAUL: So, Tony Stewart is going to get in the car. He's going to race today.

BLACKWELL: I wonder what the response will be to that.

Let's go first to that. Dallas, what is your response that Tony is going to be behind the wheel today?

DALLAS MCCADE, RADIO PERSONALITY (via telephone): Well, I got to tell you, I'm not surprised that he's going to race. Maybe this is his way of dealing with it, because a lot of the drivers, when they're in the car, they're in their zone and I'm sure he is dealing with a lot of grief at the moment, and maybe just maybe this is his way of dealing with it.

PAUL: OK, that's a food way to put it because I know a lot of us are sitting here thinking, I don't know that I could get back in a car.


MCCADE: Yes, and you never can say what you would do in a situation until you're in that situation for sure.

PAUL: Right.

MCCADE: And just knowing him and you know, the accident is absolutely tragic. There is no doubt about that.

PAUL: You've seen the video, Dallas. What was your first thought?

MCCADE: I've seen the video and I got to tell you, I've seen it happen many times on, you know, a NASCAR track on a sprint cup track. Carl Edwards, I could think of several instances when drivers -- you know, you're in the heat of the moment, you're racing, and you're racing hard.

And this was on a dirt track and I'm telling, dirt track is different than asphalt track as far as how slick the track is.

PAUL: Sure and maneuvering.

MCCADE: The cars they were racing very, very fast, dangerous little cars.


PAUL: But, Dallas, are you telling me that people get out of their cars?

MCCADE: Oh, yes, it's happened, yes. Oh, gosh! Yes.

PAUL: And get onto the track like this?

MCCADE: Yes, and you know, it's all in a moment of anger, because you're racing good and you think, someone puts you in the wall, and you automatically think oh my gosh, they did that on purpose.

But it's not. It's racing. That's what racing is, and the accident that happened when Tony, you know, when they went into the wall when he put Kevin into the wall there between turn one and turn two, that was just racing. The fact that he got out of the car was that temper flaring, which has happened many times in the world of racing.

PAUL: Wow.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Rashan, we know that we're going to, expected to hear from Tony Stewart but already heard something from his people.

ALI: Yes, we do have a statement that was released by Tony Stewart's camp saying, "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 appreciate your understanding during this difficult time."

So, this young guy Kevin Ward Jr., just 20 years old. You go to his Web site, he started racing go karts at the age of 4. So, really has a passion for racing.

And from what I understanding from the NASCAR world, from the racing world, this is a sport where you carve your own way. You don't join a team, like you would on football team or basketball team for organized sports. You carve your own way and he was doing just that.

PAUL: It's you and you alone going to make your name.

ALI: It's you and you alone. Yes.

BLACKWELL: All right. Rashan Ali, thank you so much. Dallas McCade, thank you for offering insight as well.

MCCADE: Absolutely. Thank you, guys.

PAUL: Thank you, Dallas.

BLACKWELL: All right. Now to Iraq. Just a short time ago, during his weekly address at the Vatican, Pope Francis says he is incredulous and dismayed by the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. Look at this video.

PAUL: I almost can't. I honestly, hearing the cries.

BLACKWELL: The terrorist group ISIS has been targeting Christians, also other minorities, forcing thousands of them to escape for their lives.

PAUL: So many of them -- I mean we use desperate in a word that's probably overused. This is, you're seeing its true definition here, food, something to drink, is so desperate for them. The U.S. and Britain have been helping by air dropping ready-to-eat meals and water, but obviously, there's so much that still needs to be done.

BLACKWELL: We're joined now by Douglas Ollivant. He's the senior national security fellow at the New America Foundation and was head of the planning team behind the 2007 troop buildup in Iraq, most people simply know it as the surge.

PAUL: Yes. So, Douglas, when you see what's happening there, do you believe another surge is needed in Iraq? And who should head that?

DOUGLAS OLLIVANT, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I don't believe another surge is needed in Iraq and I'm not excited about the idea of putting U.S. ground troops on, on the ground in Iraq again.

But what we have here is a humanitarian crisis that is relatively easily fixed. We've got everyone in one place. They're not intermingled with combatants. This is not like Syria, where it's a great humanitarian crisis but they're in the middle of the combat zone taken would make it difficult for to us do something in many places in Syria.

These people are in one place, the combat ants can be kept away. They seem -- they clearly have places where we can drop the supplies. This seems to be something we can do something about.

BLACKWELL: So, in your piece for, you say that airstrikes work to protect Irbil, to protect Baghdad. But what about taking back Mosul and the other cities that they've taken? Will airstrikes work? You say you're not excited about ground troops, but will they be necessary to take back that territory?

OLLIVANT: Ground troops will be necessary to take back that territory but I don't think they'll be United States ground troops. The Iraqis are going to have to do this for themselves.

As I say in that piece, air power is really good against stopping ISIS or any group from continuing to attack, people who are attacking our uniquely vulnerable to air power. You can picture it, like you've seen cars on a freeway in your airliner window, you can look down and see them, they're easy to identify.

That's something air power does very well. If people are holed up in the defense in Mosul or Fallujah, air power has trouble finding those people and if they do, the possibility for collateral damage is very high.

BLACKWELL: But you say Iraqis have to do this themselves to take their territory back. The reason they haven't is because in many cases, the Iraqis just laid down their arms and --

PAUL: And ran.

BLACKWELL: -- in some way surrendered, ran from ISIS.

OLLIVANT: Right. We're still trying to sort through exactly what happened in the north, how much of this was poor leadership, how much of this was people abandoning, how much of this was possibly deals being cut with some of the Baathists. We have no idea what happened in the north yet, and why the Iraqi army dissolved like that.

That said, we have two fairly reliable forces, the Shia majority forces around Baghdad and the Kurdish forces in the northeast, and that's why while what's going on in the north is really exciting, the action is still in Baghdad. We need to get a government formed in Baghdad to bring all three of these groups back together, because these places aren't going to be reclaimed, until all three of these groups, Kurds, Sunnis and Shia come together in one government and are willing to work together to push ISIS out of Iraq. And then, we can help with some air power.

PAUL: You know, the president was asked yesterday if they underestimated the strength and the power of ISIS, and he said is did move more rapidly than we had expected. How much confidence do you have in our intelligence community to really know what is going on within this ISIS faction, and what kind of power might they have behind them?

OLLIVANT: I think everyone underestimated is. Friend and I wrote a piece about ISIS just four weeks before they're moving to Mosul. We were watching ISIS pretty closely. I think we were perhaps more aware than most people of what was going on and even we were shocked by what they did just three or four weeks later moving into Mosul.

So, this is an extremely competent force. They're extremely well-trained. They have a lot of equipment. They have a lot of money. They're ideologically motivated.

There's a lot of capability in ISIS and we should not underestimate them and what they can do. They're not supermen but they're extremely confident.

BLACKWELL: And very likely, some have already done that and to their turmoil are doing it now.

Douglas Ollivant, thank you so much for offering some insight.

OLLIVANT: Thank you, too. Have a good morning.

PAUL: You, too.

BLACKWELL: You, too.

The operation will continue -- strong words today from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He warns the deadly and bloody conflict in Gaza is far from over.

PAUL: And an unarmed kid described as friends and family as a good kid was shot by police and killed. And they are demanding now the family and friends answers because they contend this shooting was unprovoked.


BLACKWELL: The bloodshed and the deadly rocket strikes have now slowed in Gaza, at least this morning. But a dangerous war of words is brewing between Israel and Hamas.

PAUL: And this could kick it all back.

BLACKWELL: Yes, 35 days into this conflict and just two days after the short-lived cease-fire crumbled, Israel's prime minister is now warning that the crisis is far from over.

This is what he said, here is a quote, "The operation will continue. This will go on for a continuous period of time." He also said this, "We need to relate to this with steadfastness and unity until we completed the mission."

PAUL: In response, Hamas just posted the following statement on its Web site, it says, quote, "Netanyahu's comments that the military operations will continue in Gaza bear full responsibility for the failure of the Cairo talks and all the consequences that come along with that," unquote.

BLACKWELL: Hamas has also given Israel an ultimatum to come to the table and meet their demands or prepare for an escalation of violence. According to Palestinian officials, Israeli air strikes have killed at least 10 in Gaza since Friday.

All right. Back here in the U.S., there's outrage in a community in St. Louis this morning after an unarmed teen teenager was shot and killed by police.

PAUL: Witnesses say 18-year-old Mike Brown was with a friend when he was stopped by police, this happened yesterday, and apparently he was told to walk on the sidewalk. Well, after a heated exchange, Brown was shot, even after he reportedly stopped and raised his hands in the air.

BLACKWELL: Now, according to family and friends, Brown was spending the summer with his grandmother, and the teenager's mom describes her son as a good kid and says that he did not deserve to die.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He don't bother nobody. My son just turned 18 and graduated from high school, he don't bother nobody. They told me how many times my son was shot, eight. You're not god. You don't decide when you take somebody from her. If that was the case, I brought him here, I should have took him from her, that was mine, that belongs to me.


PAUL: Now, officials say it took hours to collect evidence and remove Brown's body because of protests going on during the investigation. County detectives say they do plan to release more information about the shooting later today and as soon as they do, we'll certainly pass it on to you.

Well, after centuries of living in Iraq, Iraqi Christians and other minorities as you know are running for their lives, trying to escape ISIS. BLACKWELL: OK, so many of them are atop Sinjar mountain. What

do they do now? Where can they go? We'll try to get some answers next.


BLACKWELL: Twenty minutes after the hour now.

President Obama says he will not put a timeline on the U.S. mission in Iraq, saying the campaign against ISIS will be a long-term project.

PAUL: Let's bring in anchor of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION", Candy Crowley. She is talking with Senator John McCain this morning.

Good morning, Candy.


You know, one of the things -- sorry, go ahead.

BLACKWELL: Go ahead, go ahead. You go ahead and take it.

CROWLEY: I was going to say one of the reasons we had -- we are having McCain on is that he has called the president's actions maybe possibly worse than nothing, a pin prick. You know, Republicans are pushing extremely hard for more, citing this big danger from ISIS to U.S. shores. I asked him, because we had to do this a little earlier, whether he felt as though the president really was carrying through.

He thought the worst thing that could happen was that the president would threaten and then not do it, but now we've seen three, as far as we know, bomb attacks on ISIS targets, and I wanted to find out whether he changed his mind about whether it was worse than nothing.

PAUL: Hmm. All right, well, it will be interesting to hear from him on that, as he has been obviously a strong critic.

BLACKWELL: Yes, certainly he and Senator Graham and Ayotte.

Candy, thank you very much.

Make sure you stay with CNN. You certainly want to see this interview.

PAUL: Yes, you do.

BLACKWELL: Catch Candy right here on "STATE OF THE UNION" at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

Well, as religious minority flee from being massacred by ISIS militants in Iraq, Pope Francis prayed for peace during his weekly address at the Vatican this morning. Here's what he said, "The news out of Iraq leaves us incredulous and dismayed. All of this gravely offends God and humanity. Hatred is not carried in the name of God. No war is made in the name of God."

PAUL: The pontiff is also sending Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his personal envoy to Iraq.

Let's bring in CNN religion commentator, Father Edward Beck.

Father, thank you for being with us.


PAUL: Do you have -- when we first heard he was sending the cardinal to Iraq, in all honesty one of the first things we thought was, what about his safety? Do you have any fears in that regard?

BECK: Well, I do, Christi, because as we all can see it's an unsafe region. When you have Islamic militants going door to door and from what we understand, spraying ends on the door of Christians meaning Nazarene. And unless they convert or pay a tax, we're told, they are going to be killed, exterminated. So, they are fleeing.

These are modern day martyrs, who say where is the martyrdom in Christianity today? They're given the choice. You can become Islam, denounce your faith and you can live, and they are refusing to do that.

So the pope has sent this envoy to give moral support and we understand hopefully some financial support. But you wonder, what can one person do in the midst of such terrorism?

BLACKWELL: Do we have an answer to that? After is he safe, beyond observe and report back to the Vatican, what are we expecting Cardinal Filoni to do?

BECK: Well, Victor, I think it does shine the spotlight on this situation, and it's coming from the pope now, too, a man of peace. And this is pure barbarism.

And so, I think what the pope is doing by sending this envoy is saying, we as a world community, we as a faith community, this cannot be who we are. We must stand against this.

And so, I really think it is symbolic but I'm hoping with the attention it's being given, maybe there's some relief that can be given. I mean, not only Christians, the Yazidi, whom you have been reporting about as well -- I mean, they didn't even give the option to them of paying a tax. They have to convert or they're going to get killed. I mean, It's sheer barbarism.

We as a world community, as a faith community, cannot stand silent in the face of this. This is the pope's action right now. Perhaps, there will be more if there can be.

PAUL: What do you think of the silence of Islamic leaders who say that they stand for peace, and the fact that they have not, we haven't heard a lot of them speaking out against ISIS. BECK: I really don't understand it. I think part of the trouble

that the Islamic community faces is that there is not a unification of thought, and you have these extremists, these fundamental extremists who believe that the Islamic state should be everywhere, and they will not stop until that happens, encroaching, it doesn't matter who they kill in order to get there. We need moderate Islam people to say this cannot stand, this is not who we are.

If you look at the Koran, if you read what is this faith, it is a peaceable faith. You cannot hijack it in the name of terrorism for your own heinous ends.

BLACKWELL: We've certainly heard some moderate Muslims speak out. We also need to hear from the leaders there, the political leaders in the region, the Arab League and others, to support the effort to take out ISIS.

Tell me, what do you think will be the larger global response here militarily? We've seen France and the U.K. offer humanitarian report, just a few seconds. Do you think there will be military support as well?

BECK: I think people are so loathed right now to get involved in another crisis, especially in Iraq. Iraq is kind of a dirty word now around the world after the prolonged war there.

So, I understand the humanitarian outreach first, but some would say that this is a justified war. You know, there is a Catholic theology that says a just war. If this oppression has every other avenue has been taken, negotiation, but you cannot negotiate with somebody and your life is in danger and the life of others, you have the right to strike militarily.

Now, I understand the reticence. However, when so many lives are at stake and being killed, can this be considered then a just war? Some would say yes.

BLACKWELL: All right. Father Edward Beck, thank you for speaking with us this morning.

BECK: You're welcome.

PAUL: We appreciate it.

Lot of heavy news this weekend. Go hug the people you love and make some good memories this weekend.

BLACKWELL: "INSIDE POLITICS WITH JOHN KING" is up after a quick break.