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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Military Coup Underway in Turkey, Unclear Who Has Control; Pres. Source: Turkish President Back in Istanbul; Turkish President Calls on People to Go into the Streets; Multiple Explosions Heard Near Turkish Parliament Building; Explosions Heard in Istanbul, Ankara During Attempted Coup; 84 Dead, 50+ Critical in France Terror Attack; Attacker Identified as 31-Year-Old Man from Tunisia. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired July 15, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:18] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening.
If you've been watching CNN for the last several hours, you know our breaking story tonight, our lead story, a military coup underway in Turkey, one of America's closest NATO allies. It is frankly hard at this hour to get a clear read on exactly what is happening on the ground.
Clearly, there are thousands on the streets, some of them called outdoors by the president after military forces attempting the coup declared martial law and for people to remain indoors. A curfew was put into effect, but as you see, people are in the streets.
Just moments ago we witnessed a tense confrontation, and you see it there, protesters facing down a tank, soldiers firing weapons in the air. We've seen confrontations and classes around the night and already we've seen bloodshed.
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COOPER: That occurred at the base of the bridge between a European and Asian Turkey, loud explosions heard in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. A Turkish warplane reportedly shooting down a helicopter, some of the coup plotters were using. Tanks and troops from the second largest military base in NATO -- excuse me, the second largest military in NATO out in force, Turkey's elected president's whereabouts unknown at this hour, though he promised to return to Ankara.
And as you can see, there are casualties and we do not know how many people had been wounded or killed and we want to be exceedingly careful about everything we report tonight.
We want to bring you everything we know, with an understanding that there could be a whole lot happening that nobody has a complete handle on. No one has the entire picture yet, only pieces of it. We'll be hearing in the next two hours from people on the ground, veteran observers and the world reacting and responding.
But, first, joining us by phone from a hotel overlooking the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul where a large explosion was just heard, Kat Cohen, an American who was stuck in Istanbul, saw it happened.
Kat, explain to me what you saw, what you heard.
KAT COHEN, AMERICAN TRAPPED IN ISTANBUL (via telephone): Well, we are on lockdown right now in the Four Seasons on the Bosphorus. We can see the bridge. And we went outside. I'm with my boyfriend. He's a professional photographer and he was photographing and videoing what was going on.
And we heard the bomb about ten minutes ago right near the bridge. Everybody jumped up from this little outdoor area, went inside. All of the lights were just shut down and we were hearing gunshots, helicopters overhead and we just had fighter pilots go over us.
COOPER: The bridge itself -- I don't know if you were able to get a look at it or if you can get a view of it, but I assume the military were in control of that bridge, is that correct? Or at least had blocked it off?
COHEN: Yes. Well, we can see the bridge from here and we were, frankly, lucky to get back to the hotel because we were out having dinner in another neighborhood, and luckily, I have a security guy from New York. I'm from New York City and texted me when everything happened, we immediately paid the bill, went out, we could not get a taxi. We couldn't get an Uber and we couldn't get a car, we called the hotel, the Four Seasons, they couldn't get a car out to us and jumped into a civilian car and took us as far as he could go.
And we walked in the streets with people, and everybody is walking the streets, and because there was a curfew set and people were running to try to get back and we luckily just made it back to the hotel.
COOPER: The bridge -- the bomb, though, that occurred. Do you know if it was close to where the military was? Was it close to where civilians were? Do you know?
COHEN: Well, from what we can see I'm out on the Bosphorus and the bridge is to the left of us, it sounded like it occurred on the Asia side. We're on the Europe side right near the bridge. Very, very close.
COOPER: And are you seeing, are there flames or anything like that or is there any aftermath to it?
COHEN: Yes. I mean, as soon as that happened, we heard two fighters jets just overhead and all of the lights got shut down in the hotel and it got dark out here.
COOPER: And have you had any communication? I know the embassy, the U.S. embassy has told people not to get to the U.S. embassy, to basically stay where you are and monitor local broadcasts.
COHEN: Correct. We were told -- I've been in touch with a bunch of people in the States and everybody said stay where we are.
[20:05:06] You know, do not leave. We have not been able to contact the embassy. We can't get through. I have some people to contact the State Department to let them know we're here because we are supposed to leave tomorrow morning.
COOPER: Well, Kat, I appreciate talking to you. We will continue to check in with you. As you said, you should just stay where you are. Be careful. Kat Cohen, thank you.
Joining us now is CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto with more on what is now a full-fledged national security crisis.
I mean, for the last hour it's you, I, everybody has been watching and we've seen thousands of people in the streets in Turkey more than that, now, along the fighting and the gun fire. What else -- do we know exactly what the status of this military attempt is?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, let me tell you, speaking to U.S. officials, they don't know for sure yet. They're not ready to pronounce the successful or unsuccessful. But the indications recently have been that the coup has failed for a number of reasons. One, you have official sources there now, for instance, the national intelligence unit announced a short time ago that the coup has been defeated, but you see other evidence of that and you're beginning to see images of the soldiers being arrested by police units.
We saw really remarkable images --
COOPER: Jim, we should just point out to the viewers the police is an organization, a force which Erdogan, the president, has really been able to put his people in and kind of taken over. The military has been more in conflict -- particularly, more junior officers and a lot more senior officers have been replaced by Erdogan.
SCIUTTO: It's a good point. The police force is more loyal to Erdogan. The military, if not disloyal, some there questioning, particularly more recently that many of the country and see as frankly, undemocratic.
So, early on in this, I was speaking to people on the ground in Istanbul and they said, look for Erdogan to mobilize the police to counteract the coup plotters and that's exactly what we saw. But really, the more powerful force, frankly, Anderson, we're looking at those pictures now are the people because remember, the military imposed martial law a couple of hours ago. It imposed a curfew, but all those people that you're seeing on your screen there, they defied that curfew and that's something that Erdogan said when he made the statement. He said go out in the streets and give your answer to the coup plotters.
And that's, in effect, what you saw there. The people did not seem to heed the call of the coup plotters, and as that has been repeated elsewhere, you've seen it in a number of other cities and that's the sign that this coup, and we don't know for sure yet, certainly, but a sign that this coup maybe be failing. COOPER: We should point out, Erdogan is not universally popular in
Turkey. I mean, he has been democratically elected, but basically with a slim majority of the vote.
SCIUTTO: No question. Listen, I know journalists in Turkey, hard- working journalists who have been fired from their jobs because they criticized the government. You have media operations shut down there by Erdogan because they were seen as disloyal but not just the media. Opposition figure, as well.
This is a leader and I'll tell you that even Western leaders have an uncomfortable view of his moves not just those perceived as anti- democratic, but those perceived as anti-secular. He is an Islamic leader and he has taken many moves that in the past were not seen as acceptable in Turkey, and it is a country that the military has defended and seen as its role to defend a secular government and he has the perception that he's moved that government in a more -- I'm not saying Islamist extremist direction, but I am saying in an Islamic direction that some of the country have not been comfortable with.
COOPER: You know, Jim, traditionally, in a coup, a coup requires great planning and the fact that they were able to pull this off and surprise just about everybody is notable. But the fact that they did not actually take Erdogan into custody, whether they attempted, couldn't find him, I believe he was on vacation at the time.
I mean, traditionally that is one of the first steps that is attempted in a coup to try to take the prime minister and try to take the president into custody.
SCIUTTO: That's right. They weren't able to do that and it is possible and the reports were that he was on vacation on the coast of Turkey or on the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea that that may very well have been the time to attempt this coup because he was not in a major city in Istanbul or in the capital of Ankara. It's possible that was by design.
And I'll tell you, Anderson, from early on this was -- a remarkable show of military force. Tanks in the street.
COOPER: Jim, I know, I just want to show, this was a scene we saw earlier and it gives a microcosm of the situation. You have protesters there, pro-Erdogan protesters, I assume -- heading toward soldiers who are firing in the air.
[20:10:02] The soldiers essentially are faced with the proposition of they actually shoot into the crowd or do they not? And if they don't, the protesters know that they can just keep approaching and that's exactly what has happened in this scene and this is not live. This occurred shortly before we went on air and you see the soldiers walking back and the protesters continue to approach and they engaged with them. They talked with them. Everybody is yelling, but the soldiers are not firing into the crowd.
And in the end, Jim, that is perhaps what makes the difference between weather the protesters will win or not, if these -- I mean, we don't know the strength of this military coup, whether it is junior officers as Erdogan's government is saying or whether it goes deeper than that.
SCIUTTO: You're right. It doesn't appear that the military that was involved in this coup was willing to take the step of firing on the people. Now, there are reports and we've seen injured people. There were reports of some firing into the crowd and there were also reports of gun fire at the presidential palace in Istanbul and government buildings in Ankara, the capital.
But what you haven't seen is widespread. We haven't seen if we want to look back 25 years, a Tiananmen Square situation in Beijing, the military firing into the crowd with hundreds dead and perhaps that was why the coup failed because the people overpowered the military.
COOPER: And again, the idea that the coup has failed and that is largely come coming from the military -- a military intelligence unit? Is that correct?
SCIUTTO: Well, it's coming from a number of government officials we spoke a short time ago with the senior adviser to the prime minister. He said that they're getting things under control. They hope to have things under control across the country --
COOPER: Pro-Erdogan, obviously, given --
SCIUTTO: Pro-Erdogan, exactly. They have an axe to grind in this. They want to show stability, but we have seen images of soldiers being arrested by police and we've seen images of crowds like this going into the state broadcaster and taking it back from soldiers who had entered the state broadcaster before. So, you have isolated examples where the military has lost out.
COOPER: And to that point that Jim has made and we have just learned that the Turkish state broadcaster TRT, which as Jim said was taken over by the faction of the military that attempted coup is now back in government-controlled, pro-Erdogan control.
CNN's Barbara Starr is also joining us now. She's monitoring developments from the Pentagon.
The Obama administration, were they at all prepared for something like this to happen or were they caught off guard?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I have to say, I don't think there was any indication anyone in Washington tonight was prepared for this. For hours, we talked to officials across the city and officials at NATO and everybody continues to say even now they are monitoring it, and it's very cautious monitoring at the moment, Anderson, because I think there's a real sense of instability that they see in Turkey tonight and they're not sure what to make of it.
This rapidly, regardless of whether the coup succeeds or fails has become a national security crisis, and why is that? Because Turkey is such a close ally in the war on terror.
There are about 1,500 U.S. troops in southern Turkey at a base called Incirlik. They fly missions out of there every day, even tonight, against is in Syria. The U.S. wants to see that continue and they want the Turks to crack down on the border to keep ISIS from Syria coming into Turkey and potentially moving on into Europe and plotting more attacks. They want the Turks to crack down on terrorism.
But here's the big problem. If the Turkish military, government- controlled military is not in full control of the country, if there is a coup, it becomes a very difficult matter of policy for the U.S. to stick it out with the Turks. They don't do business with the countries where there are coups and things are taken over by force, where there is not a democratically elected government.
We'll have to see how it all plays out, but the decision tonight in Washington, support the Erdogan government and try and ensure that they can try and maintain some stability because Turkish politics aside, the big get for the United States, keep access to those bases and keep the Turks as an ally in the fight against ISIS -- Anderson.
COOPER: This was another one of those very tense scenes we witnessed more than an hour ago. A military vehicle, I believe it is a military vehicle because there are some police units that look like military, trying to get through the crowd and at times some in the crowd punched at the vehicle and punched at some of the soldiers, and then they started to kind of let the vehicles go through, the soldiers holding up the Turkish flag.
Barbara, I mean, the U.S. has 1,500 troops stationed in Turkey. Do we know what their status is tonight?
[20:15:01] STARR: Well, we checked a short time ago. We are told that the base at Incirlik that we're talking about, that everything is secure, that there are no problems, that those airstrikes continue, but it's a big but. If the government in Turkey cannot reassert control fully across the country, all of these have to be reassess, because while the Pentagon says they're looking at it, behind the scenes, they have already begun looking at some planning scenarios if they had to send additional U.S. troops into Turkey to protect the U.S. military at the base or had to send marines to the embassy to protect that U.S. installation.
And what about all of the U.S. citizens that tonight are in Turkey with the Istanbul airport still shut down, how do you get them out of there? How do you get those Americans back home?
STARR: Whether the coup continues on or not, this is a big mess for Washington tonight, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, we talked to one American woman at the Four Seasons, but we've also heard from others who said they couldn't get back to their hotels where they were staying.
Barbara Starr, thank you. Jim Sciutto, as well.
Joining us from the streets of Istanbul Hakan Gurkan. Also in Istanbul, by phone, freelance journalist, Alev Scott. Hakan, first of all, if you can tell us where you are, what you're seeing around you.
HAKAN GURKAN, COUP WITNESS (via telephone): Hello, Anderson. Right now, I am very close by to the prime minister's office with a group of, I guess, 200 people. People are panicking, but at the same time, they're trying to help the police forces which are not many, and they're building barricades to the roads and everyone are talking the soldiers are coming.
COOPER: So, obviously, the people you're with are pro-Erdogan, pro- government individuals.
GURKAN: Yes. For the last couple of hours most have been calling people to come out and I guess they just like came after their prayers.
COOPER: We've also heard a number of mosques exhorting people to go into the streets to back up the government.
GURKAN: Yes. I can say I'm the group of people like that. Any time there is a prayer call from the mosque, people are clapping and shouting.
COOPER: The Turkish government is saying that the coup is over. Does that seem likely? Again, I know your vantage point is just your vantage point, but from where you are now, do you see soldiers still on the streets?
GURKAN: Well, I haven't seen any soldiers today, but I've been hearing gunshots like every 15 minutes, continues right now, which is after 3:00.
COOPER: So, the gunshots continue even at this late hour?
GURKAN: Yes. Yes. Sometimes you hear guns and also gunshots and the warplanes and the helicopters continue to maneuvering on the top of the city.
COOPER: There have also been reports that people are panicking and trying to get money from banks and trying to stock up on food. It's obviously the middle of the night. Have you seen that?
GURKAN: Yes. Right after midnight, I was walking around and I've seen many people panicking and running to the stores and buying anything possibly they could, mostly bread and water, also bakery stores and a lot of people are outside. And ATMs, of course, many of the ATM machines, people are running to get some cash.
COOPER: Hakan, stay on the line. I want to bring in Alev.
Obviously, Alev, if you can tell us where you are and what you're seeing.
ALEV SCOTT, JOURNALIST: I'm 200 meters from Taksim Square. There were soldiers and police and it was tense, but no gun shots yet. I live right here Taksim Square, and since then, I've been watching it unfold from my terrace and hearing the gun shots and hearing the bridge getting shot and being taken over by military vehicles (INAUDIBLE)
And it's been keeping up. It's pretty silent now but it's being --
COOPER: As far as you can tell, is the -- is the military which were behind the coup, are they still on the bridge?
SCOTT It's hard for me to tell. I've been looking at the bridge with binoculars, but I'm not entirely sure. I do have a friend currently at the airport which was seized by the army at the very beginning of this, and he says there have been scenes of supporters of Erdogan surrounding the neighborhoods in southwest Istanbul shouting support for the president and they confronted the army and the soldiers there who have been waiving their guns in their faces, but no shots were fired at the airport and very much a show of support for the president, at least in that particular scenario.
[20:20:08] COOPER: Yes, we've seen a lot of video earlier, particularly, from the airport, and as you say, a lot of people what looked like hundreds at the very least streaming toward the airport. Hard to tell who they were supporting, but you were saying from the person on the ground, there were Erdogan supporters there which certainly jives the call from Erdogan for people to go into the streets.
We have heard shots fired throughout Central Istanbul. So, do you continue to hear shots at this hour?
SCOTT: I can hear them right now. (INAUDIBLE)
At first they sounded like fireworks and then they are pretty obvious that they were (INAUDIBLE)
COOPER: Hakan, if you are still with us. The faction is unhappy with Erdogan. How does that translate to the streets and to the public? What sectors of society do not support him?
GURKAN: Well, right now with this group of people I'm with, the action by the military is not the action by the Turkish army. They think that this is a secret organization or a group of soldiers and they try to be against the soldiers. They're trying to protect the police.
COOPER: And the police are more aligned with Erdogan, in support of Erdogan?
GURKAN: Yes. Definitely.
COOPER: Alev, in terms of the mood of the country, was it surprising to you that it developed the way it did as quickly as it did. If someone told you yesterday that a coup was about to take place, would you have believed them?
SCOTT: I would have been surprised and the consensus that Erdogan has been fairly successful in bringing the army together in the past few years in particular. (INAUDIBLE) constitutional changes and very strategic hiring of army chiefs and a whole lots of ways. So, in fact, boasted that Turkey is free, I think he said that around the time (INAUDIBLE)
So that's very much been his line that he's brought the army under control and he's in charge, everything's fine. So, I mean, yes, it's definitely surprising. (INAUDIBLE)
COOPER: Yes. I mean, previously, he's accused a number of military officers who are trying to planned a coup, arrested them, send them to prison.
Alev Scott, I appreciate it. Hakan Gurkan, as well. Be careful.
Joining us now is former NATO supreme commander, retired General Wesley Clark, also CNN's Ivan Watson who has deep experience reporting from Turkey and lived in Istanbul.
Ivan, first of all, what is your sense of what is happening on the streets right now?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Clearly, a power struggle and we are still waiting to see which way it goes in the end. Things do not look very good for the coup plotters at this stage.
I think what this underscores, Anderson, is how far, sadly, Turkey has sunk in the last few years. I mean, it was just four or five years, it was being promoted as a model of stability, an example of democracy to the broader Muslim world.
Right now, just a few weeks ago, you had a triple suicide bomb attack carried out against Istanbul airport. That following several other ghastly ISIS suicide bomb attacks in different cities around the country, you have a raging civil war going on in parts of the southeast of the country, between the Turkish state and guerillas from the largest ethnic minority in the country, the Kurds.
And now, you have clearly this eruption that has just taken place in a society that was already very, very polarized, primarily over Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself, the president of the country who's ruled the country for some 15 years, and has won election after an election with staunch support from conservative working-class sectors of the society. Those same sectors that are likely out in the streets expressing their support for their leader -- Anderson.
COOPER: Obviously, we are watching this very carefully. I mean, it does seem to reiterate what Ivan has just said that the balance may be tipping towards supporters of Erdogan and certainly just the sheer numbers of people who have come out in the street.
I also want to introduce tonight former FBI supervisory special agent Ali Soufan, and also on the program tonight, former director of the central intelligence, James Woolsey, who is joining us.
I appreciate it. Secretary Woolsey, if I can start with you, what do you make of what
JAMES WOOLSEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE: I was very surprised to see this. I spent about six months in Turkey a little over a year ago, and there were tensions, but I thought that this was quite surprising --
COOPER: Because Erdogan had taken -- you thought he had more control of the military?
[20:25:02] WOOLSEY: Each time, each event more or less produced an increase in his authority and he was very resolute about it.
COOPER: They're claiming this is basically junior officers and low- level people and a lot of the troops on the streets look very young. Do you buy that?
WOOLSEY: It could be true. It could be true. The older officers that were more or less in the Ataturk tradition, a number of them were moved out, some several years ago, I think.
COOPER: Ali Soufan, does it seem to you that this coup is succeeding?
ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: It doesn't seem like it. It looks like the coup doesn't have the support of the top military brass and the chief has been rescued by the security forces and the police and especially the paramilitary police that appears to be very loyal to Erdogan, seems to be taking back public squares along with protesters.
COOPER: By the way, I'm just learning from a presidential source that apparently President Erdogan has actually landed back in Istanbul which is obviously -- the fact that he was not apprehended at the start of this coup, I mean, that's sort of coup 101. You try to imprison the president and imprison the prime minister in order to gain real control. The fact that he's able to get back to Istanbul is very telling.
SOUFAN: He told his people to go use social media, which is ironic.
COOPER: Yes. You said Facetime.
SOUFAN: Yes, exactly. He told people to take over the airport. And they did, they did take over the airport. The intelligence service, and MIT, which is extremely strong and they get more and more power especially because of the war in Syria seems to be with the paramilitary law enforcement agencies and you're going anti the coup, and most of the top military brass, they don't appear to be supporting the coup.
So, it doesn't -- it doesn't look good, but it's going to be an interesting time because the President Erdogan said something very interesting. He claimed the coup on a parallel state. When he says "parallel state" he means Fethullah Gulen who actually is residing in Pennsylvania at the Poconos.
COOPER: He has a whole network of schools.
SOUFAN: They do services and schools all over the Muslim world and he was one of the big supporters of President Erdogan early on, and they clashed when President Erdogan started to develop a policy which is kind of viewed by some as neo-Ottoman policy.
So, now, if President Erdogan is back, even though the president of the United States and the U.S. government always supports and in this case also, they supported a legally elected president, now, the situation is how this situation will be between Erdogan and between the United States when it comes to Gulen being in Pennsylvania, especially that he said that he's behind it.
COOPER: General Wesley Clark is also with us.
General Clark, what do you make of what you have been witnessing over the these last several hours?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Lots of mistakes by the coup executers and we don't know who they really are yet. They're not identified.
COOPER: Mistakes such as?
CLARK: Not arresting the president. Not shutting down the internet. Not being able to block the social media, of not having sufficient troops with sufficient power to intimidate protesters.
I mean, the thing about these coups and certainly, we're not encouraging it, we're discouraging it, and history shows that if you're going to execute one of these coups you have to really mean it. I mean, going back to Panama in 1989 when a man walked in on Dictator Noriega and after a couple of hours Noriega talked him into giving up the pistol and he shot him because the guy who executed the coup didn't really mean it. So, in this case, I think all the indicators to me look like it's not successful. Now what we're not hearing as much about is Ankara.
So, if -- if the coup has total control in Ankara, has shut down the meeting and controls the institutions of government then it's only a matter of time before they can handle Istanbul. They'll have problems in rural Turkey because that's where the bulk of the supporters for Erdogan are. It's the middle of the night over there and we won't know much until the sun comes up.
COOPER: Director Woolsey, that raises an interest point and probably an important one -- the fact that Erdogan according to the source has now returned to Istanbul. He has said previously that he was going to go to Ankara.
Does that tell you something?
WOOLSEY: Yes. I think that's a big move, making it look like he's going to succeed. COOPER: When, in fact, Ankara may still be in the hands of the coup
WOOLSEY: I think this is one thing and it's not a happy situation and things may turn very sour, but there is one positive aspect, at least one that I want to share.
[20:30:12] Turkey is a prosperous and progressive place with its workforce. I was there for six months and every time you turn around downtown, you run into another building crane. There's high- technology companies, there are people who are well educated to be employed doing useful things. You compare Turkey with a country like Saudi Arabia or much of the rest of the Middle East, and it's fundamentally just different. Even in spite of some of the cutbacks on the Ataturk reforms. And I think -- I think we need it and we need to work with it and we need to have it work with us. In both diplomatic jobs and intelligence jobs, I've been stunned by how cooperative and helpful my Turkish colleagues were.
COOPER: Does that though -- I mean do we know what happens after this? I mean does this make the government move even in a more of an Islamist direction? I mean, obviously, these coup plotters are going to be dealt with pretty severely by Erdogan. He's already said as much, you know. You -- Director Woolsey, you were saying that, you know, he's been gradually able to take over more and more of the military. This certainly seems to be the final straw.
WOOLSEY: Yes, it does.
ALI SOUFAN, FORMER FBI SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: Yeah, you know, I believe so and I think, you know, Erdogan is probably a very controversial figure inside Turkey, but he is a very popular figure especially in rural areas and in middle Turkey. His conservatism is very appealing to many Turks so -- so he's going to get ...
COOPER: Sorry, let me -- I've just been given some information. Apparently, soldiers, pro-coup soldiers have arrived at the offices of our sister network CNN Turk. These are images from CNN Turk. It is not clear to us how long CNN Turk is actually going to be able to remain on the air. We are getting this in -- the soldiers are now actually in the offices of CNN Turk. Again, it's a sister network to CNN and again, we're not sure how long their images are going to continue to be broadcast. Is that office -- Charlie (ph), is that office in -- where's the location of that, do we know? That's in Istanbul. OK. So that's just another piece of -- so for those who are saying -- yeah, actually, Ivan Watson, if we could bring you in on that. You've obviously been to CNN Turk. What does that tell you?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the first apparent target, one of the first targets of the coup plotters was to go after state television, TRT, which frankly is not terribly popular in Turkey, and we've since learn that that has since gone back into the hands of the government. What didn't make sense was the fact that the coup plotters did not go after private television news networks like our sister network, CNN Turk, like NTV. That all remained on air and that broadcast, President Erdogan's message on his cellphone calling for his people to go out into the streets. So at this late hour, for soldiers to be showing up at the headquarters of the Dogan News Agency, which owns and joint operates CNN Turk, it seems a bit late in the game to be -- trying to show up at that place. And it raises concerns for the safety of our fellow colleagues and journalists at that headquarters at that network right now since they've issued that warning saying that they may be forced off the air in the next 5 to 10 minutes or so. Anderson.
COOPER: Director Woolsey, a coup like this, at what level of preparation does -- I mean, it's, you know, it's a -- there's a lot of moving parts to something like this. You've got to keep it secret. You've got to have enough confederates to -- who have enough troops at their disposal who are going to be loyal to them. So, it's not something that can be planned, I mean, this has been planned for quite some time now.
WOOLSEY: Well, I think with coups as with military operations, the plans never survive the first part of the operation. They all -- you have to be flexible enough to change your tactics as you're going through and it doesn't sound like these coup plotters have that kind of flexibility.
COOPER: General Clark, does that seem true to you as well?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: It does. But, again, we don't have a complete picture of what's on the ground. So, we don't -- we're hearing from Istanbul, we're not hearing from Ankara. And this will be a sort of a classic dilemma for the coup plotters. It may be that they've completely taken over Ankara and that's why we're not hearing anything. And Erdogan would fall back to Istanbul and he would try to use Istanbul.
COOPER: And Gen. Clark, the importance of Ankara, just to our viewers, that's obviously the capital of the nation, the seat of government. I assume the greatest amount of military resources are there, is that correct, or military intelligence?
CLARK: I think yes, that's where the headquarters is and that's the seat of government.
[20:35:00] And if you were, especially if this is done by junior military officers, maybe that's where you would think the power is. But, of course, Istanbul is the real power in Turkey aside from the government ministries. And so, of course, Erdogan's going to go there but he is very controversial in Istanbul.
Now, this is the middle of the night so his supporter is throughout. Now, what we've seen over four or five years, six years of demonstrations against some of Erdogan's policies by different groups in Istanbul. And so, we don't know what's going to happen when the sun comes up and other people come on the streets.
COOPER: Yeah, I mean, again ...
CLARK: One thing is clear is ...
COOPER: Go ahead, sir.
CLARK: Yeah. One is clear, that the military, the scenes we've seen where the military was told to enforce a curfew, they haven't been able to enforce the curfew. And instead, Erdogan's call to go to the streets has been answered. But, we don't know what the staying power is here and it's still too early to call based on the information we've got here publicly.
COOPER: Yeah, I mean, Ali, again, he raises really excellent points. It's very easy to look at huge crowds in the streets and think, "Oh, that's the vast majority of people." If you look at, I mean Erdogan was elected with a slim majority and in a lot of places, he's not very popular.
SOUFAN: He's not and even in Istanbul, he is not very popular in some areas where he's popular in other areas. Remember, we're saying that he's back in Istanbul, he's back in Istanbul. Well, Istanbul is his hometown. He is from Istanbul. He used to be the mayor of Istanbul and he started his political career in Istanbul. So he has a base of support and his traditional base of support has been in some areas of Istanbul, not necessarily in the western areas but mostly probably in the eastern areas. So, he's going back home. This is where he's from. His house is in Istanbul and that's why it's important for him to go back to Istanbul.
COOPER: Yeah, sorry. Go ahead, Ivan.
WATSON: Anderson, I think it's important also to point out that the leaders of the main opposition political parties in Turkey have all also come out basically disagreeing with the coup attempt, condemning it, in addition to a number of government ministers and a number of top generals. So, you have this very strange position where there's clearly some faction in the military that is -- has made a major power play involving fighter jets, involving apparently helicopters, troops on the grounds in different cities. But, they don't seem to have the support of not just of course Erdogan's AKP, it's ruling AKP party, but also the three main opposition parties that have been completely at odds with Erdogan during his more than 10 years in power.
COOPER: And an important point to make, CNN Turk anchor is reporting soldiers have entered the CNN Turk building. As we said in the Dogan media center, "We don't know how much longer we can continue our broadcast." About 5 or 10 minutes ago, they entered the CNN Turk. Anchor said, "We will try to continue our broadcast until the last moment." That is the message we got. Our producers are saying you can hear chaos behind the anchor while the anchor was saying that.
Director Woolsey, if it does become a situation and as dawn comes, perhaps things will become clearer and perhaps others will come out into the streets in support of coup plotters, we don't know. But if it is the situation where anchor is held by coup plotters Istanbul is not, I mean those are -- that's a difficult situation not only for Turkey but also for the U.S. to deal with.
WOOLSEY: It is. It makes it very hard for us to figure out how to ... COOPER: I mean it's a NATO partner.
WOOLSEY: It is. It's a NATO partner and for many years it was a very fine NATO partner. It's gotten a lot more complicated in the last decade or two. But I think, also, we have real reason to want things to go well for the Turks. We need them in that part of the world. We need their ability to deal with Syria and the problem with Iraq. We need the stability they can bring and it is frustrating for many of us who have worked with them to have seen some of the arrests of our journalists and the sorts of things that have occurred over the course of the last several years. But as I said, compared to almost all of the rest of the Middle East, there is at east this long-term sense of hope, I think, that many of us have about Turkey.
COOPER: By the way, that banner, that's from CNN Turk. It reads on the bottom in Turkish, "CNN Turk broadcast about to be cut." So that's basically a message from the newsroom of CNN Turk. They feel they're about to be cut off the air. I've also just --while the director was talking, just gotten some reports, multiple explosions have been heard both in Ankara and in Istanbul.
[20:40:02] We don't know the exact location of those explosions. We did hear from an American who was at the Four Seasons Hotel, who heard at least one explosion on one of the bridges over the Bosphorus. That was just before we went on air.
I'm also getting more information right now that members of the Turkish parliament are hiding in shelters in parliament according to Reuters.
Again, regardless of what the military council has said that this coup is over, it may not be as clear cut as that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay tuned, we have time.
SOUFAN: Yup. Absolutely.
COOPER: I mean, obviously, General Clark, this is CNN Turk apparently being taken off the air. We're actually watching that happened. All right.
CLARK: But Anderson ...
WATSON: Anderson ...
COOPER: Sorry, Ivan, go ahead.
CLARK: If you were to put ...
COOPER: Sorry. Ivan Watson, go ahead.
WATSON: Anderson, not long ago we had incredible images of Erdogan's police force, his own government shutting down another opposition T.V. station while it was on the air and now we're having this scene kind of replayed with this military faction apparently doing this. I think there's a couple of points to really keep in mind here. The military is a largely conscript army. Every Turkish male over a certain age has to do his military service. So while there may be a group of supporters for this attempted coup, presumably within that -- those hundreds of thousands of people, some of those people also voted for Recep Tayyip Erdogan and for his government, which has enjoyed about 49, 50 percent support at the polls.
Big questions about whether the rank and file troops would support this move. And I've spoken with a U.S., a career Turkish Navy officer who's on vacation in Turkey when this all blew up, and he said, "I couldn't believe this is happening. My friends and I are watching this on T.V. We don't know who has carried out this attempted coup." And he was suggesting that -- he just was baffled by it. So clearly, this is not something that has spread out to all branches of Turkey's quite large military forces, Anderson.
COOPER: General Clark, I want to let you come in here, but it is just a bizarre scene. We're seeing the -- I mean we all hear about T.V. stations being taken over during a coup. They're actually broadcasting live and sending out a message live on television saying, "We've been taken over and we're about to have our transmission cut."
General Clark, your comments and we'll take a break.
CLARK: Yeah, I was going to say -- it's exactly right. The Turkish military is conscript. And if you can look at the record of coups and interactions in recent years, if you can look at Tiananmen in China in '89, if you can look at Russia's former Soviet Union in '91, if you can look at Panama in '89, whenever things go wrong, if the military really means it and they're willing to kill their own people, the insurrection is crushed. That's what happened in Tiananmen Square.
On the other hand, the military in Russia wouldn't attack Boris Yeltsin and the supporters. And so, the 1991 coup fell apart in Moscow and we witnessed it on television for those of us that were, you know, around then and watching television. I happened to be at the time an army one star, I was out at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin and I remember seeing it very clearly on television saying, "My goodness, what's going to happen?"
It really is, at some point, and it does come down to can these coup plotters really control their own forces and will the forces take action against the Turkish people?
COOPER: Also, I think, and correct me if I'm wrong, sometimes it also depends on where the forces are from. If memory serves me, I believe the Chinese' military brought in forcers from outside Beijing. That's correct. Yup, outside Beijing who would be more willing perhaps to actually fire on people there. They had been told, you know, these people are going against the regime.
We're going to take a short break. Our coverage continues in a moment.
COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:48:09] COOPER: We are monitoring breaking developments out of Turkey minute by minute, things seem to be changing. Recently, I've received a word from a source, a presidential source that the Turkish President Erdogan has landed in Istanbul's Ataturk Airport. His exact location is not known right now.
Back with Alev Scott who just heard several loud sharp bangs from her hotel room or from her apartment over looking -- excuse me, her hotel room overlooking the Bosphorus Bridge -- excuse me, her apartment.
Alev, explain where you are because I'm clearly haven't gotten it right and what you've just heard.
ALEV SCOTT, JOURNALIST: So I'm just about 200 meters from Taksim Square in my apartment, which is on the top floor, and it's -- it overlooks the Bosphorus. I've been seeing stuff happening on the bridge. And right in the past few minutes, fighter jets have been flying extremely low over my apartment to the point where, you know, I thought it was an explosion and it was some kind of sonic boom and it sort of blew my windows in, but I don't think it was a bomb. It's just very confusing at the moment.
COOPER: Is there any way to know the fighter jets, whose side they're on?
SCOTT: It's difficult to know. It's very difficult to know. I'm trying to follow things happening on social media, obviously. I think -- I heard a report that they were trying to shoot down the fighter jets. So I don't know, I've -- as in the government was trying to shoot down the fighter jets, which presumably part of this attempted coup. So I don't know with what they are fighting them down or they're shooting them down. I don't know how the army has been divided or really what's happening but there -- yeah, there's a lot of confusions.
COOPER: Yeah, and I would be very cautious about any -- just for our viewers about any of that information. There was also an earlier report that a fighter jet had shot down a helicopter that was being operated by coup plotters.
[20:50:03] So again, they seem to be contradictory reports. And as we all know, eyewitness reports are often contradictory, and in these early hours are -- and literally early hours in the morning, difficult to know.
Alev, we'll continue checking with... Cooper: Yeah. And I would be very cautious about any -- just sort for our viewers about any of that information. There was also an earlier report a fighter jet had shot down a helicopter that was being operated by coup plotters.
COOPER: So again, they seem to be contradictory reports. And as we all know, eyewitnesses' reports are often contradictory and in these early hours, and literally early hours of the morning, difficult to know.
Alev, we'll continue checking with you.
Jeff Kell is at the Istanbul airport, Ataturk Airport when explosion was apparently heard. He joins us via phone. When was the explosion? What was it like?
Jeff, this is Anderson. You're on the air. Can you hear me? Obviously, lost contact with Jeff. We'll try to get him back.
That is the airport that as I said, the President Erdogan is said to have flown back into just recently according to a presidential source. Not clear if he is still at the airport. It's also the airport where, after he went on FaceTime, broadcast on CNN Turk, calling people to go into streets. We saw a large numbers of people. And there you see the video from earlier this evening of people streaming toward the airport ostensibly it seems in support of President Erdogan.
That airport had been in the control of the mutinous forces but not clear at this point exactly who controls that airport, if there was explosion there.
Back with Jim Sciutto, also Barbara Starr from the Pentagon correspondent, all of us monitoring this situation as well.
Jim, I mean, with reports now of explosions both in Istanbul and in Ankara, but we don't know the details on any of them, it's just -- it's frankly unclear what the status of this coup is?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. And I've been in touch with U.S. officials and they've been very reluctant early on to pronounce this a coup. Then they came around, they've used the term uprising, and then later, to say that the coup with any definitiveness is over. And now, you hear of continued at least flights by planes because I've seen, to be honest, Anderson, I've seen -- some people say they thought there were explosions and others then say that they might have been sonic booms ...
COOPER: Right. Alev was just saying that as well.
SCIUTTO: Exactly. But even though you have the President now flying back to Istanbul, there are still signs that the rebel soldiers might control things in other parts of the country, including the capital, Ankara.
So even if the coup plotters might be losing ground in Istanbul, it's possible that elsewhere they can still -- this is a big country. And I think as we're watching this, it's easy to focus on what we see in Istanbul but there -- it's a country of 70 million people, lots of different cities. What's not clear is what is the status of the coup plotters in other parts of the country? And I'll tell you honestly because U.S. officials are telling me honestly they don't know for sure. And they're still assessing.
COOPER: And Barbara, and we should point out, we just saw CNN Turk saying that the -- that rebel soldiers in support of the coup had entered the building, had -- and that they are in fear of being taken off the air. And that's a picture of the studio there. No one broadcasting, clearly?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. You know, this is a very unsettled situation, to say the least. So everyone out there who's saying, oh, the coups failed, this coups succeeded, the government is back in charge in certain areas, I endorse what Jim just said.
For the United States tonight, here is the security crisis. It is not clear who's in charge in Turkey. And the streets do give us some clues that, you know, coup plotter tanks, possibly aircraft, guns, troops, still out on the streets that we see and we don't know what we are not seeing in other cities.
So from a military equation, how did they get there? Did they just drive their tanks of their bases? Did they just get in potentially in helicopters or aircraft? This was something that took some organization, some plotting ahead of time. They knew that they were going to be able to get off their bases, this situation, far from over, Anderson.
COOPER: And again, this scene from earlier but again, look, this is a military vehicle and there's crowds of people stopping it in its tracks, throwing water bottles, trying to hit the vehicle, yelling at military personnel.
And we're going to -- obviously continue to follow this breaking story out of Turkey. We're on throughout all the next hour. But I do want to get quickly to an update out of Nice, France, the heart of the French Riviera in mourning after the deadly terror attack. The weapon, a tractor trailer of a killer's path covered in 1.3 miles along the Promenade where people were walking after watching Bastille Day fireworks.
Tonight, the death toll stands at 84, though that number could rise. More than 200 people were injured. We now know 52 of them in critical condition according to France's President, many of them children.
At least two Americans were killed, the father and his 11-year-old son, Sean and Brodie Copeland from Texas. Also Nicolas Leslie, a UC Berkeley student studying abroad in Nice is missing. While more on them in a moment.
[20:55:09] As for the driver of the truck, he's been identified as 31- year-old Tunisian, a French citizen of Tunisian origin. We're learning more about him. Showing you this photo now but we'll only do that sparingly.
Frankly, the only reason we're showing it is because police intelligence officials are trying to gather as much information and are looking for as much information as they can of him.
For the latest, let's check in with Clarissa Ward and CNN Terrorism Analyst, Paul Cruickshank both in Nice. What do we know about the person behind this? How it happened and whether or not there were any connections to others?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think at this stage, Anderson, you know, it's a really sort of muddled picture that is coming together here, because in essence, this appeared to be and was declared a terrorist attack but what authorities appear to be finding is very little linkage between the attacker and any known terrorist group. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility. Authorities here have said that he was known two security services but only in the context of having a criminal record of essentially petty criminal violations.
What's more, we're hearing French media reports that he was not particularly religious, that he was barely a practicing Muslim, that he did not attend the mosque, that he was more interested in bodybuilding.
And also, French media reports that he was a deeply troubled personality. So it's possible at this stage that you're talking about someone who was psychologically disturbed, potentially fitting more into the model of perhaps what we saw with Omar Mateen in Orlando, although even in that situation, I would say, there were more indications that this was religiously motivated.
COOPER: Paul, any more details that you're learning?
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Yeah, just to amplify what Clarissa was saying that the mental health of the attacker really looming large, looming increasingly large this evening. His father was interviewed in Tunisia. He described his son having multiple nervous breakdowns in which he would be furious and break a lot of things.
We've also had people who lived in the same building as him in Nice described how when his wife left him. He went into such a sorrow rage that he actually defecated all over the place according this French media reports. And also attacked the stuffed toy of his own child in a complete frenzy.
So, this gives you a little bit of a picture being built up of his psychological frame of mind. No definitive evidence yet from the investigation that he was motivated by radical ideology. That has clearly been the working hypothesis. But they've yet to flash that out.
COOPER: Paul Cruickshank and Clarissa Ward, we'll continue checking in with you in the next hour of "360" as well.
I want to take a short break. Next, the extraordinary event, I want to bring you up-to-date and bring you back to Turkey. The coup unfolding, a military coup attempt under way, chaos on the streets of major cities, conflicting reports about who is actually in control of the country? We'll take you there next.