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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Details of Michael Brown Shooting; Ray Rice Video Sent to NFL in April; Awaiting Presidential Address on ISIS; Interview with Rep. Peter King
Aired September 10, 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 from Washington, thanks for joining us. A big night here and on two other fronts as well.
President Obama an hour away from announcing a major new military effort against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Also tonight, new allegations that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may not have been telling the truth about this video when he says that no one at the NFL had seen it before Monday.
And also a AC 360 exclusive video you will not see anywhere else that shows two new witnesses to the Michael Brown killing. Their immediate reaction is striking, caught on tape, and could provide new details on what happened on that street that lit the spark in Ferguson.
Three stories people will be talking about tomorrow as we wait for the president, we start with Ferguson and a 360 exclusive that in the words of our Jeffrey Toobin could change everything.
We've obtained new video that shows the immediate aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting at the hands of Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Now this tape shows two new eyewitnesses and their the spontaneous reaction after Michael Brown was killed.
What's important about these witnesses, neither of them is from the neighborhood, neither has strong ties to either the community or to Officer Wilson. They simply happened to be where they were and saw what they saw.
Randi Kaye has the exclusive and exclusive video. We do want to warn you some of the details are graphic.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just after 12:00 noon, Ferguson, Missouri, the men you see in this exclusive cell phone video hear gunshots. They are about 50 feet away from Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson.
The unidentified person recording this video captured the witness' reaction during the final moments of the shooting. Both men were contractors working in the area. They did not want to be identified. The man on the left in the pink shirt told CNN they heard one gunshot. Then about 30 seconds later a second shot. He says he saw Michael Brown staggering. Then he says Brown put his hands up and said, OK, OK, OK. The witness told us the cop didn't say get on the ground. He just kept shooting.
That same witness described the gruesome scene saying he saw Michael Brown's brains come out of his head. Again, reiterating his hands were up. Watch how he motions on the video.
The video, these witnesses say, was taken shortly after the shooting ended. If you look closely you can see a police officer in the distance beginning to put up crime scene tape. Both men told us by the time it was over there were three officers on the scene. But only one involved in the shooting.
Another voice is also heard on the tape. The contractor in the green shirt told me that voice belongs to a man he did not know who pulled up alongside them yelling this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was no (EXPLETIVE DELETED) threat at all.
KAYE (on camera): That same contractor in green also told me that he saw Michael Brown running away from the police car. He said Brown put his hands up and that the officer was chasing him. He also said that Officer Wilson fired another shot at Brown while his back was turned.
(Voice-over): The contractor in the pink shirt also shared this. That a second officer who arrived later to the scene also drew his weapon. He said, "The one cop was the one who shot him. Then I saw the other officer pull a gun out but he did not shoot."
That same worker described how Brown staggered dead after the second shot, 20 to 25 feet to the ground. Explaining, "He was like a walking dead guy."
Keep in mind these men don't live in Ferguson and don't know the Brown family. But their account does square with what other witnesses have said. The woman who took cell phone video of Brown's body lying in the street also told CNN that Brown was shot from behind. Just like the contractor in the green shirt says.
PIAGET CRENSHAW, WITNESS: While he was running away from the officer trying to get away he was getting shot at.
KAYE: This witness told Anderson that he did not see Brown's hands up perhaps because he was running outside to the scene. But he did see Brown turn around before being fatally shot.
MICHAEL BRADY, WITNESS: By the time I get outside he is already turned around facing the officer. He -- he has his arms like under his stomach and he was like half way down like he was going down. And the officer lets out about three or four shots at him.
COOPER: Randi Kaye joins us now live.
So what did these contractors do next? KAYE: Well, Anderson, they wanted out of there. The contractor
wearing that pink shirt, he told us that they were the only two white people out there on the scene so he told his co-worker they had to, quote, "get the hell out of there before things got ugly." Now he said that it was starting to get ugly right as they were beginning to leave. He said people were lining the street, they were gathering there.
But also he told us this, that they talked to that officer that we showed you who was putting up the crime scene tape, before they left they spoke with him, and he told them that they were leaving Brown's body uncovered in the street, as saw it, for evidence and putting up the tape to keep people away. That's how according to these witnesses the officer explained that decision -- Anderson.
COOPER: Randi, just for clarification, did they see the confrontation at the police car? Did they hear a shot there?
KAYE: No, neither one of them saw that -- where that whole confrontation started. They couldn't see the police car. They didn't see the beginning of this event. But they did see it end, they did see the officer chase him, they saw him with his hands up as we showed you in that piece, but they didn't actually see Brown going down. They said that it was behind the building. But what they did see was certainly quite graphic.
COOPER: All right, Randi, appreciate that.
Joining us now is legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Sunny Hostin, both former federal prosecutors, and Neil Bruntrager, general counsel for the St. Louis Police Officers Association.
Jeff, what do you make of this video?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, just to be clear. We need to hear from all the witnesses. And then everyone -- and the grand jury can make up their own mind.
COOPER: And we don't know how many other witnesses are out there who have not talked.
COOPER: We do not know.
TOOBIN: Correct. And you know, we spoke -- we've heard from several. But these two witnesses describe what seems to me to be a cold-blooded murder. Shooting -- shooting someone who has their hands up, who is moving away, potentially in the back, that is just murder. And if that is borne out by all the other witnesses Darren Wilson is in a world of trouble to put it mildly.
COOPER: Sunny, when you hear the guys in the video saying that Michael Brown was no threat that he has his hands up, it does seem to corroborate what we've heard from other witnesses who have come forward. SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, of course it does, Anderson.
And I've been saying this from the very beginning. All of the witness -- you know, eyewitness accounts really are connected. They're all saying the same thing, they're saying that he was running from the police officer and that his hands were up.
I don't know what other witness testimony at this point or account we have to hear. The bottom line is, having your hands up is the universal sign for surrender. Law enforcement officers are trained with that. You know, armed services are trained in that. And so I guess I'm just so surprised that from the very beginning of this story, from the very, very beginning everyone was questioning the eyewitness accounts of the people in the neighborhood.
I don't really understand why now there is this game changer. Why now you have two white witnesses that are somehow not connected to the community and now they seem to be the more credible witnesses. It is really befuddling to me, quite frankly, because now we have six, seven, eight witnesses saying the same thing.
COOPER: Well, I mean, Sunny, one of the witnesses who came forward before was the young man who was with Michael Brown.
COOPER: And also had a record of lying to the police. So I think that's why some people would question his credibility. There was another witness who was very credible in what she said. And when I interviewed her she was wearing a T-shirt that made her clearly where her sympathies lay, very clear. I think that's what made some people question this.
HOSTIN: But --
TOOBIN: If I could just add one point, the -- what makes this so extraordinary is you have the cell phone video which is practically contemporaneous, so it's not a matter of their being white, although frankly, you know, the fact that it is both white and black witnesses I think will be significant, but you have practically in real time someone discussing what they saw. And that's just good evidence.
COOPER: Neil, let me bring you in here. I mean, A, what do you make of the timing of this video? What do you make -- I mean, what do w you make of what you're hearing?
NEIL BRUNTRAGER, ST. LOUIS POLICE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION: Well, there's a couple of things. The timing, of course, is very, very important. When I saw it, one of the first things I noted, of course, was the location of the police cars, as you look at the video. There is a police car that's all the way on the left of the screen. It's got its lights on and you see the officer who's out rolling the tape. So the scene is being secured. It's well after the shooting. And again, that's really important because what you have is conversation that's occurring after the fact -- (CROSSTALK)
COOPER: You say well after the -- you say well after shooting, what do you mean? I mean, how quickly --
BRUNTRAGER: Well --
COOPER: Did they put up the police tape pretty quickly?
BRUNTRAGER: It's hard -- no, well, they're supposed to. But again it's a big scene. And if -- I've looked it, I went online and looked at the photographs that were taken. It's a big scene. There was a lot of area that they had to cover. Both from Officer Wilson's car all the way up to where the car is that you can see in the video. That's a lot of ground to cover. And again, there were a lot of things that have to happen before you do that.
But job number one is supposed to be to secure that scene. So I'm going to say probably --
COOPER: We're told -- sorry, we're told that this was taken some three minutes after the shooting.
BRUNTRAGER: That would sound about right. So, again, it's after the fact. The other thing is --
TOOBIN: Three minutes?
HOSTIN: Come on, Neil. Are you serious?
COOPER: Wait --
BRUNTRAGER: Yes. I am very serious.
COOPER: Let him finish and then --
BRUNTRAGER: I'm very serious, and I'm very careful about not rushing to judgment, Sunny. I'm very careful about making sure that you look at everything before you make conclusions. And so what you also have to look at is where they're standing. And if you look at their location where the videographer is and where the two contractors are they can't hear the beginning of this because they can't see it.
BRUNTRAGER: They're vision is going to be limited --
HOSTIN: Is it you're suggestion, Neil, that they didn't see what they saw?
BRUNTRAGER: No, my objection --
HOSTIN: Is that your suggestion?
BRUNTRAGER: My objection is like every lawyer would do, and I assume you do, too, Sunny, is to make sure that they do in fact see what they claim they saw. And the location of the videographer would suggest that not the entire incident was available to them. They couldn't have seen everything. So, again, you also have to look at the distances. From where I was able to determine they were, I don't think it's 50 feet. I think it's probably closer to 100 or more feet from where the actual shooting would have occurred.
HOSTIN: So you're suggesting that they did not see what they are saying that they saw?
BRUNTRAGER: I'm suggesting -- I'm suggesting that you are leaping to a conclusion without having heard everything. I agree with Jeff.
HOSTIN: Are they not credible?
BRUNTRAGER: With Jeff.
HOSTIN: Are they not credible?
BRUNTRAGER: We don't have all the information. You've got to have the forensics, you need to know where the shell casings are. I want to see what happened in that car.
HOSTIN: What about what these witnesses are saying?
BRUNTRAGER: All of those things are relevant. These witnesses -- and again --
HOSTIN: Are they not credible?
BRUNTRAGER: I haven't read or I haven't seen what these witnesses are saying, and I'm taking what Anderson says as the truth. But again I've looked at this video. You see the man raise his arms like this. What does that mean? Is that the same thing as this? I don't know that.
TOOBIN: But, no, but --
BRUNTRAGER: That's exactly what the trial is about.
TOOBIN: But Neil, he was -- he spoke to Randi Kaye, and Randi Kaye said the -- and he said the reason he's raising his hands is he's saying this was what Michael Brown was doing when he was shot. So I don't think that was mysterious.
BRUNTRAGER: All of these witnesses or witnesses will have to be interviewed by everyone. They're going to have to be presented to the grand jury.
TOOBIN: No doubt about that.
BRUNTRAGER: And they're going to have to consider all this information. I'm not saying disregard them, I'm saying that we will judge their credibility by all of the evidence, not by one statement and certainly not by a 15-second video clip.
COOPER: OK. Neil Bruntrager, Sunny Hostin, Jeff Toobin -- Jeff, stick around, I know up next, there is a potentially game-changing development surrounding the tape, the Ray Rice tape, the one NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just yesterday told CBS the league never saw until Monday. It never had possession of it all.
Well, tonight the Associated Press is reporting that a law enforcement official says the league was given the video back in April. Stay tuned for that.
And as always make sure you set your DVR so you can watch 360 whenever you -- you like. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. President Obama to speak to the nation about 44 minutes, we're obviously going to have complete coverage of that coming up soon.
But first, another development tonight in the Ray Rice story. The development that goes straight to the credibility of the National Football League. When TMZ Sports on Monday posted this video of Rice punching his fiancee back in February, knocking her out, the league was quick to say that this was the first time they had seen the video. Never mind for a moment that officials had already seen video from seconds later of Rice dragging her unconscious body across the floor of the elevator or that they'd already seen the police alleging he hit her.
And never mind that armed with that knowledge the most the league did was suspend Ray Rice for two games. Never mind all that. The league commissioner, Roger Goodell, said the league made mistakes but it never ever, ever had the video and saw it for the very first time when TMZ posted it on Monday.
Here's what he told CBS "This Morning's" Norah O'Donnell just yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORAH O'DONNELL, CBS' "THIS MORNING": Did you know that a second tape existed?
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: Well, we had not seen any videotape of what occurred in the elevator. We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video but we were never granted that opportunity.
O'DONNELL: So did anyone in the NFL see this second videotape before Monday?
O'DONNELL: No one in the NFL?
GOODELL: No one in the NFL, to my knowledge. And I have been asked that same question, and the answer to that is no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Didn't see the video. Never got the video. That was last night, as I said. Tonight there may be a reason to doubt that answer.
Miguel Marquez is working the story. He joins us now.
So what more have we learned about this AP report?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, ripples of doubt are becoming waves of doubt at this point. The AP saying, and I'm quoting, an anonymous law enforcement source says that they shared the video with the NFL, it's because they wanted the NFL to know about the video and see it before they made their punishment decision regarding Ray Rice.
Now the reporter for the AP says that he was allowed to listen to a voicemail from the NFL to this law enforcement source that in it was a female voice from the NFL who thanked him for sending the videotape along and also said you're right. It's terrible. So clearly there is a growing question, somebody in the NFL had that videotape. Whether or not Goodell knew about it, it's not very clear.
The AP also saying that the law enforcement source didn't know beyond this person he gave it to whether or not anyone else had seen the tape -- Anderson.
COOPER: Now this -- this law enforcement source according to the AP was not actually authorized to send the tape to the NFL, but did nevertheless, because they thought the NFL should see it before making a decision about what happened to Ray Rice.
Do we know who it was sent to at the NFL?
MARQUEZ: We don't know, other than this female voice that the reporter was allowed to hear. He saw the -- the phone that it came in on with the time stamp on it from the NFL offices. From April 9th. So we know by that time -- just after Ray Rice had been charged with assault, a felony assault by the grand jury, had been charged late March. So we know that they knew about this -- that somebody at the NFL knew about this video at fairly early basis.
The NFL releasing a statement very quickly, clearly, that AP had been on to them and called them about it. And Brian McCarthy saying, we have no knowledge of this, we're not aware of anyone in our office who possess or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it -- Anderson.
COOPER: And finally, the original police report, it actually spells out what happened inside that elevator, correct?
MARQUEZ: This is the most amazing thing of all. You didn't need the videotape really. If you look at the complaint summons that was filed, this was everywhere. It was in the "Baltimore Sun" and the "New Jersey Ledger." It was -- it was reported everywhere. Literally says in here, "He's striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious," which you don't have to look very much farther than that to know what was going on there.
I do want to point out that the press release that was released by -- by the Atlantic City Police later on made no reference to the fact that she was unconscious only saying here that both Mr. Palmer -- Miss Palmer and Mr. Rice refused any medical attention as no injuries were reported by either party.
How you go from unconscious in one, to no injuries in the other is another question that's out there -- Anderson.
COOPER: Miguel Marquez, a lot of fast-moving developments. Thank you.
Back now with Jeff Toobin, and joining us, "UNGUARDED's" Rachel Nichols and on the phone, ESPN NFL analyst, Louis Riddick.
Rachel, this certainly seems to raise big questions about the credibility of the NFL, certainly Roger Goodell.
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST, UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS: Yes, huge, hugely damaging. And look, it's gone from bad to worse. It was bad last night when Roger Goodell went on television and said it would have been, quote, "illegal," for the NFL to get the video. We've had dozens of lawyers disputing that. There's all kinds of ways the NFL could have gotten the video including from Ray Rice's lawyer who the casino had since said they were freely telling everyone they had the video. So that information was even available.
But then it gets so much worse after this AP report. Miguel was talking about what was a clear electronic chain that the reporter witnessed. Meaning there is a stamp on that voicemail describing the phone number at the NFL offices that the voicemail came from. The time and the voicemail where it said I have seen the video, and you're right, it's terrible. So clearly, someone had seen the video.
This is a huge problem, and not just for the public. We now have NFL players coming out against this because Roger Goodell is either flat out lying about having seen the video or he is admitting to gross, gross negligence that this was in his office and he didn't see the video.
I want you to take a listen to Saints' quarterback Drew Brees. Remember, this is a former MVP, a Super Bowl MVP. He is considered a leader among players. This is what he had to say today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DREW BREES, QUARTERBACK, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Everyone, we're all held accountable for actions as players. Certainly every owner should be held accountable for his actions, every -- the commissioner should be held accountable for his actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP) NICHOLS: And you've got to remember that Drew Brees and the Saints were the subject of the bounty scandal a few years ago that Roger Goodell came down so hard on them. In fact the punishment was considered too harsh eventually, part of it was lifted. And during that time, several in the Saints organization said yes, there may have been this bounty situation going on, but we can show very clearly that we didn't know about it. And Roger Goodell made a big fuss at the time of saying that ignorance is not a defense.
He punished people who, even though he admitted didn't know about it, he said they should have known about it.
NICHOLS: And when he suspends players for PEDs, and they said I didn't know it was in my system, he says ignorance is not a defense. We'll have to see if the same things apply.
COOPER: Right. The performance enhancing drugs, what PEDs is.
Louis, if this report is true, I mean, it is hard to believe that someone in the NFL office would have seen the tape and not take it further up the food chain, you know, if not to Goodell's office, at least further up.
LOUIS RIDDICK, ESPN NFL ANALYST: Yes, it's very, very hard to believe. You know, at the core of being a leader, the core of leadership is two C words that come to mind, and that's credibility and competency. And both of them are under attack right now.
The credibility of the commissioner's office as far as whether or not you can believe what he is saying is true and then the competency of, you know, in terms of well, the tape was there and someone had it, and you're still saying you didn't see it. Then that's gross incompetency. Because as Rachel just pointed out if ignorance is not an option and is not a defense, then -- I mean, you can't get away from it. You can't run from it.
What I said last night was this, you know, funny how this is coming out now and, you know, assuming that all these reports were true. There were ways, they were always ways and there are always be ways for NFL security and the member club to get ahold of this kind of information if they really want to get ahold of it. And that's the troubling thing about this.
I mean, now you hear the Ravens, you hear some people down there saying Ray didn't lie to us when he told us exactly what had had happened that night. To a team, never lie. Well, you know, that's even more troubling to me because OK, if he told you exactly -- again, we don't even need to get there, did they say the tape, who saw the tape? Who didn't see the tape?
He told you exactly what happened. And still, people were pushing support for the guy. People were applauding the fact that he only got two games, everybody was ready to move on, he's about to come off (INAUDIBLE) this week, and now this tape just blew everything up. So --
COOPER: And to me --
RIDDICK: It is an awful, awful situation.
COOPER: And, Jeff, I mean, again, Ray Rice's attorney had the tape. So that was another avenue for the NFL to go down to. I have a hard time believing that Roger Goodell would be so foolish as to lie in an interview that no one in the NFL had this tape if he actually knew somebody did. Because, I mean, it is such an obvious thing if you say that point blank and somebody can easily leak that information.
You said this calls out for an independent investigation?
TOOBIN: I do. I mean, at this point, the best the NFL can say is we're not evil, we're just incompetent. Now that is not a very good place to be.
NICHOLS: We're just very incompetent.
TOOBIN: Right, and you know, last year, there was a -- a scandal in the Miami Dolphins involving bullying. And the NFL brought in Ted Wells, a very distinguished New York lawyer, to do an independent investigation. He did a good job. They have to bring in Ted Wells or someone of equivalent stature to look at this top to bottom because no one can or should trust the NFL at this point.
They have to let someone look at everything that happened here, tell the truth, and then let the chips fall where they may. And the NFL may say look, you know, Roger Goodell has made us billions of dollars as owners, and we don't care about anything else.
NICHOLS: Remember the Buffalo Bills in this week about to be sold for $1.4 billion. This is a team that's won one playoff game in more than a dozen years. The money is still coming in so the league, despite this, the coming is still being made by Roger Goodell under his stewardship. This is going to be very sticky.
COOPER: Jeff Toobin, appreciate you being on. Rachel Nichols, Louis Riddick, thank you so much for calling in as well.
For more on the story and others, of course you can go to CNN.com.
Coming up, tonight's other major story. President Obama, just a little more than half hour away from addressing the nation about his plan to fight ISIS terrorists. What he can -- what we can expect, what he plans to say and what he needs to say, next.
COOPER: Welcome back, President Obama is going to address the nation about 30 minutes from now to explain the threat that ISIS presents and lay out his strategy how to fight them. We'll have full coverage tonight. But first, a few notes on the timing of the speech. Exactly one year ago tonight, the president spoke to the nation from the White House as he will again tonight to say he would not be asking Congress to approve airstrikes on Syria instead pursuing a diplomatic path over Syria's use of chemical weapons.
Tonight's speech also comes on the eve of course of the 13th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks. And a new CNN/ORC poll shows that Americans are increasingly concerned about another attack on U.S. soil.
Fifty three percent said acts of terrorism in the United States around September 11th were likely compared to 39 percent who said that in 2011. A lot to get to tonight.
CNN chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is standing by on Capitol Hill. Let's start with senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. So what are we expecting to hear tonight from the advance word on the speech?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it's not going to be a long speech, less than 15 minutes. But the message will be clear, the president has decided to order airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria.
That is apparent in a couple of excerpts from the speech released by the White House earlier this evening. The president will say, we will put it up on screen. "This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground."
Now the president will present the airstrikes on ISIS, as part of a larger strategy that involves building a global coalition including Arab partners like Saudi Arabia to assist Iraqi forces and Syrian rebels on the ground that will take the fight to the terror group.
But one thing the president will make clear, he is not putting U.S. combat troops on the ground in Iraq or Syria. Aides to the president had said repeatedly that this is not going to be another Iraq war.
And also, Anderson, because the speech comes the day before another 9/11 anniversary. It's important to point out the Obama administration says ISIS does not pose that kind of threat to the homeland. The mission the president will lay out this evening is intended to make sure ISIS never becomes one -- Anderson.
COOPER: And arming and training Syrian rebels that is part of the strategy?
ACOSTA: That is right. This is something the president has been asking Congress to do for several weeks. The idea is similar to what we are seeing in Iraq now with U.S. military personnel working with Iraqi forces to locate ISIS targets.
The administration is looking to duplicate that somewhat in Syria with the moderate opposition. Of course, the tricky part is vetting that moderate opposition. At this point as you might imagine, Anderson, that part of the mission is a work in progress.
COOPER: Yes, certainly. Jim Acosta, appreciate that. Let's bring in Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. The president is asking for some authorization from Congress, but specifically what does he want?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He wants legal authority to do what Jim was talking about, to arm and train Syrian groups to fight ISIS on the ground. Now, the reality is, Anderson, that this has been going on in a covert way.
But the administration wants to bring it out in the open to have the Defense Department run it and control it for a lots of reasons I'm told. The biggest is to send signals to the allies in the region that the U.S. is there to help.
And that perhaps that will bring some of the allies that the U.S. needs along to do as well like the Saudis, for instance. That is one of the big reasons why the president said he needs it and needs legal authority to do so.
COOPER: A, does it look like he will get what he is asking for? And B, does the president not feel that he needs to ask for a buy-in from those on Capitol Hill for a bombing campaign? This is an open-ended essentially open-ended campaign -- I mean, you could say it is going to take three years. But you know, we're still fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
BASH: He says he doesn't need that because he has the authorization that was already put into place. There are a lot of people here on Capitol Hill in both parties who disagree with him. They would like to give that authority. But for now that seems to be off the table.
When it comes to this particular request it is unclear if he will get it and more importantly when he will get it. I talked to countless lawmakers who say that they probably will do it. But here's the catch and people who out there who don't love Congress are going to love this one.
They're going home in about ten days to two weeks, and the president wants to do this now. So he is pushing, making calls to get this done as part of the bill to fund Congress because Congress has to do that before they leave. So we'll see if he gets what he wants in the next couple of weeks.
COOPER: All right, Dana, appreciate the update. Thanks very much.
Again, the president's speech about 25 minutes from now. What does the president need to say tonight? What can we expect? We have a great panel assembled, CNN chief national correspondent, John King, chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, Vali Nasr, Dean of John Hopkins School in Advance International Studies and Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.
John, let me start with you. It is interesting to hear from the White House in these advance excerpts of the speech that the president is framing this much like U.S. actions in Yemen and Somalia, not framing this like U.S. actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that is because of the great skepticism after Iraq and Afghanistan, the American people have looked at protracted military engagement overseas. The upside to that is the president is saying no boots on the ground.
This is going to go on for several years, but it will not go on for a decade. It's not going to go on for a dozen years. That is what the president is saying. So that's the upside. The president using that analogy.
But some of his critics are already seizing on that, saying that is proof he doesn't take this seriously enough because this is bigger than Yemen or Somalia. ISIS has now risen to not quite al Qaeda pre- 9/11, but they have territory.
They have sophistication. They have military might. So that will work both ways, I think. He wants to assure the American people from his perspective. This is not George W. Bush's Iraq war. But again the critics are saying, Mr. President, we think you are late to this fight.
COOPER: Let me bring General Hertling on this, because, I mean, General, when you hear the president comparing it to actions in Somalia and Yemen, if the president is promising no U.S. personnel in combat on the ground.
I mean, for a real air campaign particularly in Syria, don't you need -- if it is a long-term campaign, don't you need, if it's a long term successful campaign, don't you need American personnel, forward spotters and the like?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ: You need some personnel, Anderson. It doesn't necessarily have to be Americans, but there has to be American control and advisory bodies there too. I think the president compared it to Yemen and Somalia and others because it is a combination of a lot of these things.
It's much more complex than Iraq ever was. There are borders that we didn't have to consider within Iraq. There is a civil war going on. So this takes what we did in Iraq which by the way was extremely complex, the most complex kind of counter-insurgency that you will ever find, and multiply it by 100. This is very tough.
COOPER: So you think this is going to be from a military standpoint more complex than the war in Iraq?
HERTLING: I do. Much more complex because you're talking about an international border between two states. You're talking about one state that is involved in a civil war where you literally have a star wars bar scene of actors that you're not sure who the good guys are and who the not so good, and who are the terrible guys.
You have a government in Iraq that is trying to build up on the other side of the border, which will still is going to have some complexities with the Sunni tribal mates.
You have a religious conflict. You have people selling guns across the border. You have those who were coming from other states joining in as Jihadis, so yes, Anderson, I don't think it could get more complex than it already is.
COOPER: And Gloria, for a president who campaigned on ending wars, I mean, this is the last thing he had planned to do.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: And by the way, they don't call it a war, it is a counterterrorism campaign.
COOPER: Well, they can call it whatever they want. This is an open- ended military campaign.
BORGER: But to the last point this is a very complex operation. The president's challenge tonight is to say to the American people, by the way, two thirds of whom now support some kind of military action. There has been a sea change in American public opinion because of the beheadings that Americans have witnessed.
And he has to say to the American people we are going to do something about it. We are going to be effective, but we're going the lead. We have a coalition and this is not open-ended. And that is really hard to do --
COOPER: Does it surprise you how the American people have turned? I mean, there was no interest in being involved in Syria for years, I mean, all the horrific videos that emerge, and within a two week period where Americans are savagely beheaded in very choreographed propaganda videos there has been this radical change?
VALI NASR, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, I think because the administration deliberately downplayed Syria on Iraq for a very long time. They tried to turn Syria into some kind of a humanitarian disaster. They said it is tragic but not really a vital national interest.
We don't have a dog in this fight. Even if Assad uses chemical weapons, we don't have a dog in the fight. And in Iraq, they said everything is fine. In a way the president never stood up to argue what is happening in Syria and Iraq matters to us.
And in ironic way, ISIL has done that with those beheadings. ISIL has made the case why Iraq and Syria matter. They sort of has jumped over the president and changed the narrative. Now the president is actually kind of catching up to what happened.
BORGER: It's kind of poked a sleeping giant here, right? They've crystalized American public opinion.
COOPER: To those, there are a segment of the American population that says look after 9/11 there was this rush into the war in Iraq. You know, everybody -- a lot of people, very few voices were raised publicly against the war although there were demonstrations against the war. But there was a drum beat pushing this thing forward. And based on intelligence that was not correct, is there a concern that here again is this drum beat here.
BORGER: But this is where the no boots on the ground part of all of this comes in. Because it is the skeptical public and it is people who say we don't want to get involved in another protracted war. It is easier to start something than it is to control it.
COOPER: We see it in the Middle East.
KING: There are profound doubts about the president, some of it of his own making, where he said he didn't have a plan yet, some of it in Syria, so as he lays it out, if you listen to the general. Here is the challenge for the president going forward.
He says it will take several years. He is relying on the Free Syrian Army. He thinks you will train them and get them up to speed to help on the ground. There are a lot of them saying really, he is also relying on the Saudis again to do something.
And how many times in the last five years have we said the Saudis are promising to do something and then a week or a month or a year later, we are saying whatever happened to that.
COOPER: General Hertling, the Free Syrian Army so-called we have seen they have suffered tremendous losses on the battlefield not only against Assad's forces but against ISIS. We have seen generals from the Free Syrian Army and allegedly moderate militias going over to Islamist side.
HERTLING: Well, Anderson, one of the things that we take -- it is one of our mantras in the military is that we live by uncertainty. There are going to be changes. The only thing you can be sure of wherever you fight is that you can't pronounce the names of the city you're fighting in.
That is the only thing you can be sure of. Everything else changes. So we have to have the ability to react to uncertainty. And just like we saw a force in Iraq that we trained and supplied and equipped and brought leaders to, we might do the same thing in Syria.
And that is why I'm a firm believer as I know many of my military colleagues are is that we need to go slower. Build the intelligence in this. Get the right people on the ground that we're supporting. That may take time.
It doesn't satisfy the American population right away, but it is the right thing to do whenever you put America's sons and daughters into harm's way. And that is what we're considering right now.
COOPER: It doesn't suit some cable news anchors, but it is the right thing to do. General, appreciate you being with us. Thank you tonight. You can respond in real time to the president's address by using Microsoft's bing pulse technology, go to bing.com/cnn and have your voice be heard. We'll show you the results live as vote in the 9:00 p.m. hour after the president's address. Now, just ahead, should President Obama actually get approval from Congress before he acts against ISIS? I'll speak to Congressman Peter King next.
COOPER: Welcome back. We are about 13 minutes away or so from the president's speech. Joining me now is Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, who is a member of the Homeland Security Committee.
Congressman, thanks for being with us. First of all, what specifically do you want to hear from the president tonight?
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: First of all, in general terms, I wanted him to say that our goal is to destroy ISIS. That is a very severe threat to the United States, our interests in the Middle East and the homeland security.
And that he will do whatever is necessary to ultimately destroy ISIS and beginning as quickly as possible. And that obviously the other point that is he will try to get as many allies as he can. And he will work with the Kurds, the Iraqi army and that he will try to bring as many of our Middle East partners in this as possible.
But at the same time, that ultimately I think we have to accept the fact this will be long and protracted. He can't let the American people think this is one where we're going to do bombing and just get out. This is going to be long and difficult.
COOPER: Should Congress be asked to sign off on this?
KING: I think ultimately Congress should. First of all, I would vote. I mean, assuming the president says pretty much what I just said then I would certainly vote for a resolution. As a practical matter I think too much time has gone by already.
I think the president should have done this a while back. So I would urge the president to start doing whatever he feels he has to do now, as far as the air attacks in particular. And then I would say Congress over the next several weeks, or after the election if they want we should come back and adopt the resolution, ratifying what the president is doing.
Because this is going to go on for quite a while. It is OK with me if we have to wait a month, six weeks, before we have to ratify it. But we should go on record and support what the president is doing because this is going to go on for the next several years.
COOPER: Do you have any concerns about arming, the training, the Syrian opposition forces?
KING: Yes, I am on the intelligence committee. I know that efforts have been made on that and are being made. And it is not always successful. It is difficult, hard to vet who is who in that area. And to be relying on them as a major fighting force I have questions about.
So I know tomorrow we're getting a briefing and General Dempsey will be there. I think that will be one of the main questions that General Dempsey and the other military leaders are asked is how successful we think this will be.
How long it will take. We have to make sure that we're not going to be putting weapons into the hands of al Qaeda or other jihadist types.
COOPER: But if we are wanting to effect change within Syria if it is not the Free Syrian Army or moderate opposition forces, the only other alternative would be either the coalition or U.S. military personnel. Is there any situation where you would support the military personnel on the ground in Syria?
KING: If that became ultimately, yes, yes, I don't think we would use the Special Forces for operations. I believe we would have them imbedded with the Iraqi army to coordinate their activities with the Kurds.
But I would say that in Syria itself, it would be far better and effective if we can get Arabs on the ground. And obviously working with the Free Syrian Army, how long will it take? It has to be more than several thousand if they're going to be effective.
COOPER: Congressman King, appreciate your time. Thank you. We'll be watching the president's speech in 10 minutes from now.
Before the president speech, we're going to talk to our panel, we're asking long-time Washington residents what they expect to hear. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We're now just minutes away from President Obama's address on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. He will outline his plan on destroying ISIS.
As we've said in a speech exactly one year ago tonight, President Obama said he would not be asking Congress to approve airstrikes after Syria's use of chemical weapons. His exact words, America is not the world's policeman.
Joining me now is senior political analyst, David Gergen and chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper and also political commentator, Donna Brazile, and Newt Gingrich, co-anchor of CNN's "CROSSFIRE" and former House speaker.
David Gergen, let me start with you. You said on the program a week and a half ago, the administration needed to articulate its position on the issue of ISIS. What does he need to say tonight?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think he needs to be very clear that if his mission is to destroy ISIS. I think what he is going to do. We need to understand coming out of this, how he is going to use air power. He is going to say we'll use air power in Syria as well as Iraq. That is very important. We need to know about American troops. You know, the phrase has been used so far, no boots on the ground. Interestingly tonight, the president used a new phrase.
He says it would not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. That sounds to me -- I may be reading too much into it, Anderson. But it sounds like he is leaving room to put a fair number of troops in who can be special ops, who are not fighting and helps the fighters in a fair number of Americans there.
Finally, I would like to hear more about the comparison, doing what he is doing now in Somalia and Yemen. Somalia and Yemen have been going on for years and years. They have been very small operations, special ops type operations. They have not achieved a whole lot. We still have a lot of terrorism there.
COOPER: Speaker Gingrich, there is a lot of complication from a military standpoint than the war in Iraq was.
NEWT GINGRICH, CO-ANCHOR, CNN'S "CROSSFIRE": I think the idea that success is going to be defined as Mogadishu is crazy. If we're not out to defeat the Islamic State and find a way to help, for example, the Sunni Arabs in the west in Iraq. We gain control of their territory then this could go on for 50 years.
I think Somalia is a disaster. Yemen is teetering on being a disaster. For the president to cite them as success stories, I think is pretty frightening to any knowledgeable person.
COOPER: Jake, it is interesting. Right now there is a lot of American support behind this in the wake of the beheading videos. But as the speaker said this is an open-ended military campaign. There is no end in sight to this.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, he will have to explain exactly what the military strategy is, beyond the airstrikes in Iraq, which have been limited to protecting American citizens and also engaging in humanitarian aid.
What is he going to do in Iraq? Will he expand the targets? Will he expand the mission there, obviously going into whether or not he is going to do airstrikes in Syria, and I think David is on target too. The question about no boots on the ground, repeated as a mantra, no American soldier is going to die.
These are risky missions and there will be boots on the ground in the sense that there will be American soldiers on the ground, maybe they're not in traditional artillery or combat roles.
But they will train, advise, provide intelligence, they will be doing recon and be imbedded with other Iraqi troops. So I think the president needs to explain to people this is not without risk.
COOPER: There is already 500 advisers on the ground. There will be hundreds needed for an ongoing need for military operation. DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I think the president needs to make clear to the country that he is going to treat ISIL or ISIS the same way he treated al Qaeda. He will not give them a safe haven. He made that clear with the 150 airstrikes, preventing the genocide on the mountain in Iraq.
He's helped the Iraqi army reboot itself so that they can fight ISIL on the ground. We have to make sure they don't go back to the method that fuelled ISIS campaign, the ISIL campaign inside of Iraq.
COOPER: You're also dealing with a civil war in Syria, everybody just stand by for a moment.
If you're just joining us, we're coming up on the top of the hour, President Obama's address to the nation expected to lay out the strategy on ISIS and Syria and Iraq. We expect him to speak for about 15 minutes. We'll devote the rest of the hour to the implications. I'll turn things over to Wolf Blitzer.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, thanks very much. The president speaks on this on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Thirteen years, two major wars, one continuing battle against terrorists.
We've seen Osama Bin Laden killed. Hussein topple thousands of Americans die in battle. Our lives have changed over the 13 years.