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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
ISIS Claims Second American Killing; U.S. Continues Airstrikes in Iraq; Interview with Senator John McCain; CDC Issues Dire Ebola Warning; Remembering Steven Sotloff
Aired September 2, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us. At the end of an especially brutal day that may not be over yet. Once again the butchers known as ISIS have put out a video claiming to show the murder of an American captive. Once again a family here is devastated. Once again an American president on route tonight to perhaps the most important global moment of his presidency, with Eastern Europe on the brink, is challenged directly and personally challenged by a knife-wielding thug.
And just as in the killing of journalist Jim Foley last month a new video apparently showing journalist Steven Sotloff features that same masked man with a British accent carrying out an ugly ritual in the name of god and retribution.
"I'm back, Obama," says the killer.
Tonight what President Obama is doing about it and doing about ISIS. There was a new airstrike. The 124th so far. Also the people in both parties saying that despite that airstrike and advisers in Iraq, despite coalition building in the region and counterterrorism at home, the president is not doing enough.
We'll pay close attention, as well, to Steven Sotloff himself, just 31 years old from South Florida who lost his life so early in a career built on bringing the world into our lives so we could better understand it as hard as that can be at times like this.
A very full night starting with Jim Sciutto on the video and on the new airstrikes.
So, Jim, I know you watched the video today. I did not. I just chose not to look at it. You said one of the things that stood out was how calm Steven Sotloff was.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: He was throughout uttering that statement almost certainly under duress, which he must have had a very good idea might be his last words but even up to the chilling moment when the knife went to his throat he was calm, he was stern face, and I don't know what combination of just steely nerves and mental preparation makes that possible, but I saw that in that video.
And, you know, Anderson, I made the same decision you did with the Jim Foley tape. I've seen a lot of these, as I know you have as well. And we know their intention is to scare and terrorize people so often you wonder why, you know, allow yourself to be terrorized, as well. But I'm glad I watched this in part because that demonstration of strength that I saw from Steven Sotloff.
COOPER: This video is really presented as a direct challenge to President Obama.
SCIUTTO: No question, one of course, they killed an American so that's a direct challenge to the president, to the American people, but also it's titled. It's called "The Second Message to America," the first being, of course, the beheading video of Jim Foley. But also the killer who we believe or at least looks like the same killer, the same executioner as in the Foley video, even said, he addresses Obama directly.
He says, "Obama, I am back," and threatening the U.S. and U.S. interests as a result of the airstrikes that President Obama has ordered against ISIS.
COOPER: Do you know in the -- in the first video there may have actually been two different people here. The person who actually addressed the camera and then the person who actually killed Jim Foley appeared somewhat larger and appeared to have a different knife than in the other video. Is there the same editing in this video?
SCIUTTO: It's hard to tell. There is certainly editing and even like the first video, it's interesting, they take out, they edit out the most gruesome part. They don't show the actual beheading. They show the run-up to it then they show the aftermath. They don't -- in both the Foley and the Sotloff videos, that's the case but because of that editing and this is one reason why U.S. officials are reserving judgment before they call this credible is because there are so many places here where things could have been messed around with.
COOPER: And airstrikes continued today in Iraq?
SCIUTTO: They did. As you mentioned, more than 120 now. The target tonight, ISIS vehicles again around the Mosul dam, which has been a key battle ground there, a key piece of infrastructure in the country. Inside Iraq, though, not inside Syria. And of course that's the decision the president has to make now but U.S. officials certainly showing that a beheading like this is not going to change their decision making, at least to this point on airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.
COOPER: Jim Sciutto, appreciate it. Thanks.
Much more now on the video itself and the clues that Jim Sciutto says that it may contain. And for that we turn to our Karl Penhaul.
Karl, you know, I was alluding to Jim, talking to Jim a little bit about, a little bit. Comparing the video of Steven Sotloff to the video of Jim Foley, what were you able to find out in terms of the killers?
KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly we're looking at that accent, that very distinctive accent by the apparent executioner. Now intelligence experts we understand in the U.S. are trying to look at that and compare those accents. We've run this video by CNN forensic -- linguistic forensic specialist and he says he believes that the killer, judging by his accent is the same person, that that is a multi-cultural London accent. He also of course appears to be the same general size and built.
And also he had that phrase from him, "Obama, I'm back," he certainly wants us to believe that this is the same executioner in both videos -- Anderson.
COOPER: There is another captive, I understand, in the video released today, David Haines. What do we know about him?
PENHAUL: Yes, we see him at the end then there is a banner that comes up saying, "David Cawthorne Haines," in parenthesis, and says that he is British. We know very little about him. That is not necessarily a surprise. We know that ISIS is holding a number of hostages but neither the families and nor authorities have released much information about some of them. Preferring to believe that perhaps by trying to deal with the situation, manage the situation in silence, without publicity, that that will give these people a better chance of survival but it seems quite clearly now that ISIS seems intent on dragging them out one by one and killing them.
But the fact that this latest hostage is a Briton, that the executioner appears to be British is now giving a world of problems for Prime Minister David Cameron. He's got to decide what to do and he's holding an emergency meeting with his committees tomorrow -- Anderson.
COOPER: Karl Penhaul, appreciate that.
And the video surfaced on the day that saw U.S. airstrikes in Somalia targeting leaders of the terror group al-Shabaab and ongoing action in Iraq against ISIS as we mentioned. The question now -- and we'll hear from Senator John McCain, obviously a critic of the president on this, shortly, but the question gloom, what now? What's next? What if anything should be done differently and at what cost?
Let's dig deeper now with chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour and Philip Mudd, former senior counterterrorism official at the CIA and the FBI.
Christiane, I mean, obviously a horror for the Sotloff family. Does this video, this killing, this murder, does it change the calculus for President Obama?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it clearly steps up the pressure, Anderson. You know, Syria and ISIS have been sort of left on the backburner for a long, long time. Obviously they came out of the blue for many people and see so much territory in Iraq. And there has been some response by the U.S. There have been airstrikes. They have met with some success.
But it is not a global strategy. There is not a coherent plan to attack ISIS not just in Iraq but also in Syria, which is where they breed, which is there they have their safe haven, which is where they can withdraw to and replenish and --
COOPER: In fact, the president has said that there's not a strategy for dealing with -- in Syria.
AMANPOUR: And I asked the deputy assistant secretary of state, Brett McGurk, who is the expert for Iraq, Iran, in that area, and he said the president now and the U.S. government is trying to gather a coalition. Then he said stay tuned because this is what we're trying to do.
Obviously, though, time is of the essence, and these people have shown not just by murdering our colleagues but by the catalog of brutality, the ethnic cleansing that Amnesty International says, the mass executions that the U.N. has documented. The enslavement and recruitment of young children, women and girls and boys, to work and be on the front lines and be sex slaves and just such a broad litany.
I guess the question, though, really is has ISIS been empowered or disempowered by the airstrikes so far? The Kurds have managed to push them back from the Mosul dam but again Syria is the nexus.
COOPER: So what do you think about that? Has -- I mean, is there some any concern you have that they want a bigger reaction by the U.S.? They want direct attacks by the United States that it in fact emboldens them, that it makes them seem unpar with the United States?
PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, FBI AND CIA: I think that's the message of the video. The reason you have the person in the video addressing the president directly is he wants to portray the organization as an entity that's not just a terror group that kills people but it's a group that can almost guarantee or force a response from the White House because they are murdering American citizens.
They want to up their game among recruits in places like Western Europe, among fundraisers in places like the Middle East to say, hey, we're not just ISIS. We're the people who get global coverage when we talk to the president of the United States.
I think going back to 9/11, al Qaeda did then think it was a good idea 13 years ago to draw the U.S. in because to a fight because they thought the U.S. would suffer the same fate the Soviets did. They thought we were soft and that we would bleed to death in engagement with Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Obviously, it didn't work out that way. I don't think these guys want us back but some of them on the fringes may think if we come back, they can take us.
COOPER: It certainly seems, Christiane, that Britain is reassessing how to deal with the huge number, hundreds according to some reports, of British citizens who -- who have gone over to fight in Syria.
AMANPOUR: Absolutely. Look, 500 or more British citizens have gone over and the word is that some 20 or more are escaping authorities and going to Syria despite the ban on these people going to Syria. The same for the United States. Hundreds from the United States have gone over and there are thousands of foreign fighters who've gone over from Europe, the United States and countries in the region.
There is a huge fear, of course, we've been reporting it for the long time of this blow back.
AMANPOUR: That it's not just mayhem in the region but it is potentially a -- you know, a precursor to attacking either Europe or U.S. homeland, the mainland, or as a precursor targets that belonged to Europe and the U.S. around the world.
COOPER: And even --
AMANPOUR: Embassies and other such things.
COOPER: I mean, I think about the British soldier who was beheaded on the streets in England.
AMANPOUR: That too. That too. You know, Fred Kagan, the military historian, has written and it -- posed a fundamental challenge to the civilized world. Either we allow this Islamic State -- they call themselves Islamic State because they have a state. Al Qaeda never had a state. They have a state that they have carved out, a massive piece of real estate with four million people living under their control, building armies, threatening the region, threatening us.
And they have something that al Qaeda actually never did have, which is this amount of hardware, this amount of money. And he says -- Kagan -- you're either going to confront them and defeat them, or by not doing so you are de facto accepting a terrorist state in the heart of the most valuable piece of real estate in that area that has so many ripple effects and implications for all of us.
COOPER: You know, Phil, I've been thinking about this a lot since you and I talked the last time and you've spent a lot of your career looking at these guys, looking at these kind of guys, tracking them, following them, both the CIA and the FBI. Part of what I think is interesting about a group like ISIS is you can have people popping up in the United States, in Western Europe, who aren't necessarily ones who have actually gone over there but are just ideologically motivated.
I mean, the same way that we saw people inspired by Anwar aw-Awlaki, by its sermons on YouTube, people could be inspired by this propaganda beheading videos and you can have lone wolves in the United States or elsewhere kind of aspirationally committing acts of terror in the United States or elsewhere even if they haven't fought in Syria.
MUDD: Anderson, it's interesting you say that. That's exactly what I saw at the FBI when you watch TV shows, you have this impression that there is a small dedicated cell of people. Somebody who's the explosives guy, somebody who's the finance guy. That's not what I saw in real life for 10 post 9/11 years watching these guys.
What you get is a cluster of people who are angry. They might be 17, 18 years old, maybe up to 30, 35, 40. Often there's an older brother or father figure who starts stepping them down a path to radicalization. They sort of step out of the community and say the community isn't extreme enough. We need to do something. They start to watch videos. This is where the Internet comes in of, for example, killed babies, raped women.
And what begins as a big cluster slowly over time gels into just a couple of people who say hey, everybody in the community talks but we're going -- we're going to do somebody about it. That's what I saw and that's what you might get here.
COOPER: Phil Mudd, appreciate it. And Christiane Amanpour as well. Good to have you here.
As always a quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR. You can watch 360 whenever you want.
Just ahead in this hour -- we're on for two hours tonight. Could action not taken in Syria have prevented ISIS from getting such powers? Senator John McCain thinks so. You'll hear from him next.
COOPER: Breaking news now from our Jim Acosta where President Obama has just authorized sending approximately 350 U.S. military personnel into Iraq. That's 350 service members. That's in addition to the service members who we'd already sent, the 500 or so. The mission, beefing up security this time at the embassy and other diplomatic facilities in Baghdad.
That is just in tonight. Already several hundred American military advisers are in the ground in northern Iraq, helping Iraqis and Kurds take on ISIS and also the embassy in Baghdad.
Today's murder tape specifically mentioned a battle for a dam near Mosul and the continuing airstrikes that seem to have ISIS playing defense at least in some parts of the country. As we mentioned, a moment ago, though, some believed it might not have come if President Obama had pushed harder for U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war or kept troops in Iraq.
Even now, President Obama says he's still working on a strategy on ISIS in Syria. He's been taking a lot of heat for that comment and more from lawmakers, including Senator John McCain.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I was astounded when the president of the United States said that the world has always been messy and it's been accentuated by social media. That means that the President Obama is either in denial or overwhelmed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Senator John McCain on "Face the Nation" on Sunday. He joins us here tonight. Senator McCain, I want to get your reaction to the execution of Steven
Sotloff because when Jim Foley was killed, you said it should serve as a turning point in terms of urgency for U.S. action against ISIS. How do you see his death?
MCCAIN: Well, our prayers are with the Sotloff family and we grieve, all of us grieve for the tragic loss of their son. I had hoped that the president would realize that this kind of barbarity only brings home the nature of the enemy we face and the scope of it. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case. The president continues to talk about messy times and social networking. The president is either in denial or overwhelmed, I'm not sure which.
COOPER: I've heard analysts say that part of what ISIS hopes to achieve with these executions, the release of these videos is to go to the U.S. into some sort of larger response. Could a more forceful U.S. response actually play into their hands?
MCCAIN: I don't see how that's possible. They are now the largest, richest, most powerful terrorist organization on earth, and they do -- according to all of our intelligence people serve as a threat to the United States. British have obviously taken the threat more seriously than President Obama has and the slaughter goes on.
COOPER: You advocate putting U.S. Special Forces advisers on the ground to assist with military action against ISIS. I know you say you do not want to see those -- ground combat, you know, personnel engaged in combat. Is that possible, though? I mean, isn't there a very real possibility that there is going to be mission creep, that no matter what, one thing leads to another when you have U.S. personnel on the ground in harm's way, you have to protect them, and it can very easily become a combat role?
MCCAIN: Well, right now I'd like to point out that the president says that the reason why the troops we have are there and the airstrikes we're launching is one for humanitarian reasons as ISIS again traps people in humanitarian crisis or protection of American troops. So that's what apparently he has no goal and he has no strategy and therefore he's not going to have any -- coalition until he is able to assemble that.
Yes, there is some support troops that are needed there, but certainly not the combat units in direct combat. If we give the Peshmerga the weapons they've been asking for, by the way, it would also be very helpful to reconcile with the Sunni and go after ISIS wherever they are. The majority of their forces are in Syria now, at least a lot of their equipment is in Syria, not in Iraq.
COOPER: Do you believe the killings of Jim Foley, of Steven Sotloff is an attack on Americans? Do you believe that ISIS right now poses a direct threat to the United States of American?
MCCAIN: I believe they pose a direct threat to the United States of America because I believe the director of National Intelligence, head of the -- the secretary of Homeland Security, the whole list of our intelligence people. Does that mean an immediate threat? Do they have a specific threat? I don't know that. But I know that they are dedicated to attacking the United States. That's why Mr. Baghdadi when he left Camp Bucca, our prison in Iraq said I'll see you in New York. I mean, is there any doubt in anybody's mind that they have to be not just contained but defeated?
COOPER: And when the president says that he wants to get other regional actors involved in this, is that something you also support?
MCCAIN: I certainly support it. But what is his goal? Right now he says his goal is humanitarian protection and humanitarian crisis, aiding them, and protecting American troops. That's not a reason to build a coalition. And also you have to lead coalitions. America must lead, not just -- we're not all equals. We lead, they follow. That's been history ever since the end of World War II.
But to not have a goal and a strategy to implement those goals is not very appealing to anyone to join a coalition.
COOPER: Senator McCain, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
COOPER: Mr. Obama has obviously come in criticism from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein this weekend and former California Congressman Jane Harman earlier tonight. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE HARMAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSWOMAN: Well, I think it's time for him to say more and do more. I'm sad he ducked questions on his way to the airplane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Some perspective now. Let's bring in political analyst David Gergen, whose watched and held more than one president who faced trouble like this, and Gloria Borger, who's reported on it as well.
And, David, you just heard Senator McCain. I mean, do you agree with his criticism of the White House here, saying that more needs to be done specifically U.S. airstrikes on ISIS targets inside Syria?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Certainly more needs to be done. I do believe, Anderson, that the president should not be stampeded by the beheading today as horrific and brutal as it was into making a decision in the next 24 hours. He's meeting now this week with NATO allies in Wales. Very important meeting.
To go to John -- Senator McCain's point, I think John McCain was right in saying, what he needs to do is to lead the alliance and that he continues to go into these meetings with a sense of what his goal is and the options that he wants to consider and then talk with the allies to see if they can reach a consensus what NATO will do.
He's got has two crisis right now in NATO. One is in with ISIS and the other is with Putin and the Russians in Ukraine. And he needs to come out of these meetings with a much clearer sense that he can take to the world about what NATO and what this concert or alliance of the willing is willing to do in both Ukraine and very importantly with ISIS.
COOPER: Gloria, how do you see the president and what he's done? I mean, Senator McCain says his comments about the world being always a messy place and that we just know about it more basically because of social media. Senator McCain says he's basically -- simply overwhelmed.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think there is a tendency on the part of the president to kind of say, look, if we step back and we wait, then others will fall in line and lead along with us. I think in a perfect world, that might be the case, but that usually does not occur. Senator McCain said that it's up to the United States to lead and I think the allies are actually waiting for the United States to lead.
So I think the president does, as David said, have to present some kind of a strategy to the NATO allies and then I think after he comes back from his trip, as Jane Harman said, he needs to talk to the American public and he needs to make it clear whether he thinks this is a direct national security threat to the United States and what he intends to do about it.
We've seen his ambivalence. We understand his ambivalence. His ambivalence is the American public's ambivalence. Nobody wants to put boots on the ground there. But the public, I think, needs to hear from him about the danger and the next step.
COOPER: But, you know, it's interesting, David, I mean, President Obama's -- the way he sees the role of the United States in the world, it's obviously in stark contrast to the way President George W. Bush saw it and that's why President Obama became the president. That's why he got elected.
But, David, at a time like this, it feels like there is this quick drumbeat of the president should do more and that style, people turn against him.
GERGEN: Well, you know, it's -- what's been striking about the drumbeat is it's increasingly coming from Democrats. You know, you just had Jane Harman on and we even heard from Senator Feinstein a couple of days ago, and so it's a bipartisan pressure. I think the reasoning facing the pressure is not only these beheadings, the horror of them, but the fact that he doesn't seem to have a strategy and he confessed, I don't have a strategy and he said it doesn't seem to be engaged in trying to come up with one, you know, and pushing forward, as if he's reactive.
And this is one example, Anderson. Unlike Libya, I do not think he can get from here to where we need to be by leading from behind. You know, he can do that, you can do that sometimes, but in this situation, the United States has to be the lead nation. We have to be -- we have the capacity. We pay 75 percent of the cost of NATO. This is basically an American-
led alliance and we ought to be now stepping forward, and saying, hey, guys, this is what we have to do. Come with us. Come, Miss Merkel. Come with us in France, and come with us -- Britain is ready to go. But he's got to put this alliance together.
I think he's going to stop off now in the Baltic and give assurances that we're not going to let Putin take over the Baltic. That's fine. But more importantly has to do with Ukraine and ISIS.
COOPER: And Gloria, I mean, certainly the Libya operation is -- right now is not the greatest example for the president to use about, you know, his view of how the U.S. should kind of have a coalition.
BORGER: Right, and -- but that -- you know, that is his view. You know, this was a president who says, I was elected, you know, to end wars, not to start them. And so his whole sort of theory of the game is that you don't do anything without a coalition and if you hold back, the -- you know, the coalition will form. Well, burden sharing hasn't really worked. We do need to lead here. I think he is getting some push from Congress.
People understand, Anderson, why he wants to be cautious because everybody is still reacting to George W. Bush and the cowboy in George W. Bush so they understand and they appreciate, I think, the president's caution, but at a certain point, they want to hear more. They want a strategy, and I'm told that, you know, he'll have a couple of press conferences this week when he's abroad and that perhaps -- you know, last week I was told this week, this week I'm told well maybe when he gets back, he will speak to the American public but nothing of course --
COOPER: And -- and David, you're in agreement he's got to do more, he's got to lead more.
GERGEN: Absolutely. And I do think yes, he campaigned to get us out of wars, but his first and most important responsibility as commander- in-chief is to protect the security of the American people and we know jihadists are likely to be heading toward Britain. That's why they raised their security alert.
We're going to be next. There are going to be jihadists over there, and ISIS continues to build like this, we're going to see people coming into this country who are going to threaten the lives of Americans and he's got to do more for us, not just for the people of Iraq.
BORGER: Well --
BORGER: And I think what he's trying to do is get his intelligence community to build that case that he can then take to the American public sooner, rather than later.
COOPER: David Gergen, Gloria Borger, thanks very much. GERGEN: Thank you.
COOPER: As always you can find out more on this story at CNN.com.
Just ahead, an unexpected and extraordinary meeting. CNN's Will Ripley given access to the three Americans being held in North Korea. Each man had just five minutes to talk. What they told him ahead.
COOPER: Welcome back. Something very unexpected happened while most Americans were wrapping up the long Labor Day weekend. CNN is just one of the Western news organizations given access to three Americans being detained in North Korea, Jeffrey Fowle, Kenneth Bae,, and Matthew Miller. Now the meeting was a complete surprise and as Will Ripley and his team was driven in a van to the capital city Pyongyang, purportedly to meet a high-ranking government official. Instead, when they arrived, this is what they found.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Bae, Will Ripley with CNN. Hi. It's good to see you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that was Kenneth Bae shaking Will Ripley's hands. Mr. Bae is serving 15 years at a labor camp. North Korea claims he was part of a Christian plot to overthrow a regime. We'll meet the -- all three -- Will met all three detainees. Each was given just five minutes to speak and North Koreans officials monitored and recorded the interviews.
Will Ripley joins me now.
So take us through how these interviews came about because, I mean, I was surprised to learn you had no idea you were going to see each of these three Americans.
RIPLEY: Yes, I mean, when we had asked to speak with these detained Americans at the beginning of our trip, we were told it would be impossible. So we were two hours north of the capital having lunch during a sightseeing tour that was government controlled when government minders pulled me aside. They were shaking and they said that we needed to go right now back to Pyongyang.
I was nervous. I didn't know what was happening. We grabbed our gear and we got in this van and drove to an area of the capital that we'd never seen before off the regular route, up to this non-descript building and it was only when we're standing at the front door that they told us we wouldn't be speaking with someone from the government but we will be talking with the three Americans who are being held in North Korea.
COOPER: And the three men, they never -- they said that they had never met each other before but you believe some of their statements sounded very similar?
RIPLEY: Yes, you know, they were kept in separate rooms just feet away from each other but said they never seen each other, had never spoken, didn't know much about each other at all and yet, their talking points were remarkably similar, that they were guilty of their crimes and apologized profusely to North Korea, that they were being treated humanely.
They all emphasized that point and that they wanted help from the United States government in the form of a big name, special envoy to come and try to work out a deal to secure their release and their trip home.
COOPER: And North Korean officials, I mean, they were present for the interviews. Did they put any conditions on you, what you could ask?
RIPLEY: Absolutely. Yes, not just the time limit but we couldn't stray beyond those topics that I mentioned. We were told that if we -- if we broke the rules, if we asked about things that were not agreed upon ahead of time, that the consequences would be severe. They mentioned our flight scheduled the next morning out of Pyongyang here to Beijing. They said if we didn't -- if we didn't follow the guidelines, there'd be a good chance we wouldn't be on that flight.
COOPER: How did the three Americans seem to you? I mean, Kenneth Bae looked like he was having some trouble with his back. And I know he's complained about back issues as well as other medical issues.
RIPLEY: Yes. Certainly, he's been in and out of the hospital but he's at this labor camp. I have to say all three of them for the most part, though, looked pretty, pretty good. Kenneth Bae has lost some weight. He's saying trouble sleeping at night. But the others are staying at hotels right now as they wait to go on trial.
Anderson, you've interviewed former prisoners in North Korea, you know the reports of tens of thousands of people in these gulags, you know, starvation, having to eat rats, being tortured, being executed. Those are clearly not the conditions under which these Americans are being held and it seemed that North Korea was eager to show that to the world, trying again to get the attention of the United States at a time when they really don't have a lot of bargaining chips.
They're not very powerful politically. Nobody is paying attention anymore when they do these repeated missile launches. And their biggest benefactor, China, right here where I am, relations with them are strained right now as well. So they really, I think, view this as an opportunity to try to send a message to the U.S.
COOPER: Were any of the Americans surprised to see you or did you get a sense that they had been told in advance and perhaps even prepped?
RIPLEY: They -- I don't know if they were -- if they were prepped ahead of time but it certainly seemed that way when Jeffrey Fowle was sitting there with handwritten notes that he kept kind of nervously referring to and all of their talking points were so similar. I would imagine, I don't know for a fact but I would imagine they got
a similar discussion just like we did before the interview where the rules were laid out, as well as the consequences.
COOPER: It's fascinating stuff. Will Ripley, great job. Thanks, Will.
Kenneth Bae's worsening health is a source of great concern obviously for his family, his diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney stones. He's been held in North Korea for nearly two years. His sister Terri Chung joins me now.
Terri, I mean, I was wondering when I saw this video about what you saw in this video, of your brother. It's the first time you've actually seen your brother in a long time. How did he look to you?
TERRI CHUNG, KENNETH BAE'S SISTER: He didn't look too well to me at all. And he doesn't look like himself. He's lost a ton of weight. And, you know, he looks like he's under quite a bit of strain.
COOPER: You've been able to speak to him on the telephone, I think, four times in the last two years. Did he say anything in this interview that was different than what he's told you before?
CHUNG: I think the message was the same. Reiterating that, you know, it has to be a U.S. government intervention that's going to bring him home.
COOPER: And I know he referenced his back pain, tingle, trouble sleeping. You've always been very concerned about his health. I mean, you and I have talked before and you've always brought this up.
CHUNG: Yes, and I'm really concerned that despite his poor health, he's back in the labor camp and doing eight hours a day, six days a week labor and, you know, that is the last thing he needs. He needs to be back home, getting the medical care he needs, not working in a hard labor camp. So we are tremendously concerned. In the last letter he talked about some new ailments that we never even heard before like lung and liver problems that he didn't have before. So we're really concerned.
COOPER: In the interview, your brother asked the U.S. to send an envoy as soon as possible. Saying that's the only hope he had. Has the U.S. government told you anything about the possibility of sending an envoy? What's your communication like with the U.S. government on this?
CHUNG: They tell us they're working on something behind the scenes but we're not privy to the details.
COOPER: How often do you have contact with the U.S. government and -- I mean, is it an ongoing dialogue?
CHUNG: We are in regular contact with the State Department, but again, there's -- most of the time they've got nothing to report.
COOPER: Does it help --
CHUNG: It's been months without any news of Kenneth.
COOPER: Does it help to see a video like this?
CHUNG: You know, we are certainly hopeful that perhaps the signals and opening and readiness for dialogue by the DPRK officials but, you know, we've been down this road before and until, you know, Kenneth has touched down on U.S. soil, I don't think we would rest easy.
COOPER: Yes. Well, Terri Chung, thank you for being with us. And we wish you the best. Thank you.
Just ahead, a dire warning about the out-of-control Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Top U.S. health officials says that time is running out to get the epidemic under control. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the latest.
COOPER: A dire warning today about the Ebola outbreak has become a full pledged epidemic in West Africa. The head of the CDC said that time is running out to get the crisis under control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TOM FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: There is a window of opportunity to tamp this down but that window is closing. We know how to stop Ebola. The challenge is to scale it up to the massive levels needed to stop this outbreak.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The World Health Organization warned that as many as 20,000 people could become infected before the outbreak is contained. More than 3,000 have already been sickened, more than half of those have died. Dr. Kent Brantly barely beat the odds. He's the American physician who was airlifted back to the U.S. for treatment after contracting Ebola in Liberia.
Tonight on NBC News, he described how close he came to death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. KENT BRANTLY: I don't think they ever said, Kent, I think you're about to die, but I felt like I was about to die, and I said to the nurse who was taking care of me, I'm sick. I have no reserve, and I don't know how long I can keep this up.
Yes, I thought, I'm not going to be able to continue breathing this way and they had no way to breathe for me if I had quit breathing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: And now another American missionary doctor, working in Liberia, a friend of Dr. Brantly, as it turns out, has been diagnosed with Ebola.
Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me now.
So, Sanjay, this other American doctor infected, he wasn't actually even treating Ebola patients.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So this is a little bit of a mystery. Exactly how did he contract this? What we know is he was working for the same organization where Dr. Brantly was working so they came underneath that same umbrella. But as you mentioned, he was actually working in the obstetrics ward with pregnant women, not in this isolation ward taking care of Ebola patients.
So as soon as he got sick, as soon as he started to have symptoms, he isolated himself. It sounds like he's pretty doing well. But yes, how exactly did he get it? They're going to have a little press briefing tomorrow about this. Maybe it will shed some more light on it. Hopefully they will because that's going to be a very important question to answer -- Anderson.
COOPER: Some very tough words also from the director of the CDC that we just heard. I mean, the message certainly seems to be that things are only going to get worse, at least for the near term.
GUPTA: You know, Anderson, there's hardly been any details that have been given about what the plan is. We've heard that and I heard -- I heard Dr. Frieden's comments today. They echoed almost exactly what he said a month ago in front of Congress, you know, and during his congressional testimony. They need more resources. They need more technical expertise. They need a more unified approach.
You know, I don't know what that means frankly and I think that, you know, some of the specifics now are really, really important. What is a global unified approach really mean? And you know, unless you have those specifics, I think it's harder to understand how this is going to be contained ultimately.
COOPER: There is also cases of, you know, nurses now going on strike because they're not being paid well. They don't have enough protective gear. I mean, the fact that we're well into this outbreak and there is still places where protective gear is an issue, I mean, was this just under estimated, this outbreak?
GUPTA: You know, I was there in April, just a couple of weeks after the first patient was officially diagnosed, and even during the time that I was there, the case numbers tripled. You had the World Health Organization on the ground. You had MSF, Doctors Without Borders on the ground, the CDC was on the ground. There were -- the health ministries of various countries were engaged. They saw the same things everybody else did.
Why we say now so many months later that this is officially out of control. Call it under estimating, call it, you know, whatever you want. But the fact that there are still no details, the fact that every time we hear from an official it just as things are getting worse, we know how to control this. But things are getting worse. You know, at some point, I think it's really important for the details to emerge, what exactly is happening on the ground and what is this going to look like?
Because look, just the public relations campaign alone is becoming very concerning. You know, I think it's worrying people to hear almost two separate things. We're going to contain this. It's going to happen but things continue to get worse. They're out of control.
COOPER: You and I talked last week with Dr. Anthony Fauci. They're starting clinical trials of an experimental Ebola vaccine that's going to start this week. That's at least a little bit of good news, not that it's necessarily going to help people in this outbreak.
GUPTA: Yes. Right. It's going to take some time for this to go through the scientific process by the end of the year, it will take just to determine if this meets safety standards. After that you've got to go through a larger trial, more people in several countries to determine if this is in fact effective. It won't be available for this outbreak is what we keep hearing and there is good news and bad news in there.
The good news is that also means that hopefully the outbreak will be over by the time a vaccine like this is ready. The bad news is the vaccine is not going to be part of the strategy. But I will say, Anderson, again, you and I have traveled through some of these places, in central, western Africa, some of them are remote areas. Even if you have the perfect med or the perfect vaccine, figuring out who needs it, figuring how to get it to them, that's a huge obstacle, as well -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, also, I mean, I was just in Congo two or three weeks ago and there is another outbreak there of a whole different strain, again, just incredibly concerning.
Sanjay, thanks very much. Appreciate it.
GUPTA: You got it.
COOPER: Up next, more on ISIS' claims it has killed a second American Steven Sotloff. Tonight we remember the 31-year-old freelance journalist from South Florida. Friends says he knew the danger reporting overseas but it's what he loved to do and nobody was going to stop him.
COOPER: ISIS claims it's followed through on its threat and has killed a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff. The 31-year-old Florida native, who described himself on Twitter, says stand-up philosopher from Miami. Of course he was a lot more than that. A son, a brother, fearless reporter.
Randi Kaye reports.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Honest, thoughtful, courageous, that's how those who knew Steven Sotloff described him. The 31-year-old freelance journalist had travelled the world reporting for various publications. In Libya, he wrote an article for "TIME" magazine, a firsthand account from the guards who witnessed the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi. He spoke with CNN about it in 2012.
STEVEN SOTLOFF, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: There was no protest. They were armed with AK-47s, RPGs, they had blast demolitions, you know, for -- explosives for blast fishing. They had grenades.
KAYE: Sotloff loved journalism from an early age. He revitalized his high school paper, majored in journalism at the University of Central Florida. He grew up in South Florida with his parents and younger sister.
Besides journalism, his other love was the Miami Heat. June last year, he tweeted, "Is it bad that I want to focus on Syria, but all I can think of is a Heat finals repeat?"
After college, Sotloff began taking Arabic classes and writing freelance. Sometimes taking chances. In Egypt when a friend warned him not to meet with the Muslim Brotherhood, he went anyway, writing in the "World Affairs Journal" that he "headed straight to the lair where he believed I would be devoured."
In Syria, Sotloff's reporting focused on the human side of the conflict. Syrians displaced waiting seven hours in line for a bag of pita bread. In 2012, Sotloff wrote, "It's not bombs that are killing refugees, it is lack of medicine and proper sanitation."
Even when he feared for his life, he kept on reporting.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was concerned that he had been on some kind of a list, and this was about the time that ISIS first turned up, first started showing up. And he felt that he had angered some of the rebels, he didn't know which ones, by taking footage of a hospital in Aleppo that had been bombed.
KAYE: Steven Sotloff was apparently looking to leave Syria soon, move home and attend graduate school.
BEN TAUB, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST: He told me he had one last story that he was working on. He didn't tell me what it was. And he said that this was kind of the end. He was a little bit tired of it all.
KAYE: Tired and perhaps something more.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He had the same fear that all of us had, working in Syria. The paranoia, the fear, the uncertainty.
KAYE: A friend fondly remembering him on Twitter wrote this, "At a smoky cafe in Cairo. Tapping on his keyboard, sharing contacts and smiling widely. The last time I saw Steven. A wonderful soul. Rest in peace."
Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.
COOPER: We'll have a lot more on Steven Sotloff in the next hour of 360. Plus our breaking news, President Obama has now authorized extra security for Baghdad's airport -- excuse me, Baghdad's embassy, some 350 U.S. troops are going to be deployed. This as the U.S. launched a new airstrike against ISIS in Iraq. We have the new developments from Anna Coren in Irbil.