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History Of Pancreatic Cancer In Carter's Family; Iraqi Troops Battle ISIS For Key City; Odierno: U.S. Should Consider Embedding Troops; U.S. To Raise Flag Over Embassy In Cuba; FAA: Pilot Drone Sightings Skyrocket In 2015. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired August 13, 2015 - 16:30   ET


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: He's had bilateral knee replacements recently. He's had a lot going on. I think it's going to be more of a question of his physiology.

What I've read and you're read the same statements, Jim, is that he plans on undergoing treatment. What exactly that treatment is, what the options are going to be, I think that still remains to be seen.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: It's great of you to mention that, because as we know, there are a lot of great survival stories in cancer. Dr. Gupta, thanks very much for lending your expertise.

The World Lead, ISIS claiming it was responsible for a powerful blast in the capital of Iraq, Baghdad. More than 35 people killed, nearly 100 others hurt.

Now the word that the terror group may be on another deadly rampage and targeting other major Iraqi cities. The U.S. is leading an effort right now to stop those attacks. The latest from the Pentagon right after this.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jim Sciutto in today for Jake Tapper. Topping our World Lead today, Iraqi Security Forces struggling to take back the strategic stronghold of Ramadi from ISIS terrorists.

[16:35:06] This comes as ISIS takes responsibility for a massive truck bomb at a vegetable market in Baghdad. More than 30 people were killed. Dozens more injured.

Let's get right to CNN's Barbara Starr. She's at the Pentagon. So Barbara, you looked at Ramadi. It's been weeks since ISIS took it over. It's not far from the capital of Baghdad. Why has it been so difficult for those Iraqi Security Forces that the U.S. is backing with air strikes and so on in training, why has it been so hard for them?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It has been hard. You know, Ramadi is a must-win for the Iraqis to prove they can boot ISIS out of there. But for the U.S., very strategically, it is also a must-win.

The Obama administration has to show that they can get Iraqi forces back into the field fighting and get them to take Ramadi back. What have they been up to for the last two and a half months? Well, they've been circling the city, trying to cut off ISIS supply lines into the city.

These Iraqi forces struggling a bit, we are told today, because while they've had some success, basically the northern approaches to Ramadi still very much opened an ISIS resupply line.

ISIS is still after all this time able to come down from these northern routes, from Mosul down into Ramadi and resupply fighters and weapons in the city. And unless the Iraqis can really cut it off, they're not going to be able to get Ramadi back -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: It doesn't bode well for Mosul either in the north. We were both there yesterday as the outgoing Army Chief Staff Ray Odierno seemed to send the message that in his judgment, airstrikes may not be enough to defeat ISIS.

Not just opening the door, but even almost putting his imprints on putting U.S. boots on the ground. What was your take-away from that yesterday?

STARR: You know, you've seen him in Iraq over the years as I have, a guy who served several tours in command. This is not just any army general, even though he's retiring, top general, knows Iraq for the last over a decade, 15 years or so. And General Odierno really opened the door to a fundamental change in U.S. strategy. Have a listen.


GENERAL RAY ODIERNO, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: I believe if we find in the next several months that we're not making progress that we have, that we should absolutely consider imbedding some soldiers, see if they would make a difference.

I absolutely believe that the region has to solve this problem. The U.S. cannot solve this problem for the region.


STARR: Military power, General Odierno went on to say, is never going to be enough to solve the problem and defeat ISIS not military power alone -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Never. Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon for us. Here to talk about these developments in the war with ISIS. I want to bring in the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Ed Royce. Thank you, Chairman Royce for joining us today. Appreciate you taking the time.


SCIUTTO: Let's talk first about Ramadi because you know, this is a classic test case of whether, or if and when Iraqi Security Forces are going to be able to take back any significant ground from ISIS. It's not looking good in Ramadi.

John Kerry after Ramadi fell said it was going to be days by the time that Iraqi forces could take it back. It's weeks and now they're digging in. What does that say about the U.S. strategy?

ROYCE: It's partly the U.S. strategy in terms of deference to the Shia-led government in Baghdad here. As you know, the Kurdish forces as well as the Sunni tribes on the ground that both seek to be armed in order to fight against ISIS.

They cannot get the approval forces as well as the Sunni tribes on the ground that both seek to be armed in order to fight against is cannot get the approval to have the weaponry they need, the mortars, the artillery and so forth.

So as a consequence, what you see instead is Baghdad sending in Shia militia. You can see how that goes on -- goes over there in Sunni-led Ramadi and in the neighboring Anbar Province, the province that Ramadi and Fallujah are in.

This is again a problem of Iranian influence having so much influence on the government in Baghdad. The Shia government is still dictating terms and saying no to arming those who are actually fighting ISIS.

From the Sunni tribes with the equipment they need and arming the 180,000 fighters in the Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces that are fighting ISIS. They cannot get the weapons on the ground and you hear a lot from them about that in protest.

SCIUTTO: Weapons is one thing, but you just heard the outgoing army chief of staff endorse, in effect, putting more U.S. troops on the ground. Ground control, as they can call it, air strikes. Maybe some forward deployed advisers.

This is something that you hear from several of the Republican presidential candidates as well. But that's not exactly a huge number of troops. We're not talking about 140,000 on the ground as during the Iraq occupation.

[16:40:07] Would that be a game changer on the ground? There are a lot of problems. You mentioned it. Iranian influence, there are a lot of problems, would a handful of U.S. forces actually change the calculus on the ground?

ROYCE: Well, in terms of the fighter planes flying out of Canada, they use special ops, who were forward spotters, and by having those forward spotters, they're able to hit their targets more easily. Three quarters of our planes over there return without dropping their ordinance at all.

But there's a secondary problem, and that is for the United States, unlike the British as I understand it, or the Canadians, we run all the decisions through Washington. They have to approve on hitting the targets.

So often, by the time the pilots are out of fuel, they complain that they have to return. I think you'd have to change the dynamics and allow the pilots and allow forward observers to call in the air strikes, but the decisions have to be made there.

Not back in Washington. You can't wait as they're flying over these targets and missing these targets, and then dropping all of their coordinates. So I hear a lot of complaints.

So you'd have to change that as well as doing what the Canadians do, which is, you know, use special operations on the ground or you could use Kurdish forces as spotters perhaps on the ground for -- and link them up with the fighter pilots.

But again, the fighter pilots have to be able to make the decisions. They have to believe able to hit targets.

SCIUTTO: Before I let you go, is the air campaign failing?

ROYCE: Well, it's a stalemate. I'm going to use General Odierno's words there. It looks today like a stalemate and that is why I think you've got to, again, get the armaments to the Kurds. They are fighting without mortars, without artillery.

The same thing for the Sunni tribes that are fighting ISIS and I think in allowing Baghdad to put those prohibitions on, and micromanaging the efforts of our air power over there, I think we are actually setting back the chance to degrade ISIS.

We should have hit them on the ground when they were first going over the border from Syria. They took 14 cities, every time over a period of a year, the administration made the decision not to use air power against ISIS when it would make a real difference on the open road, when we could have prevented them from taking these cities. And that kind of attitude has to change. We have to use air power effectively.

SCIUTTO: And that air campaign now coming up on a year old. Congressman Ed Royce, thanks very much for joining us.

ROYCE: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Turning now to Cuba, where preparations are under way for tomorrow's historic visit by Secretary of State John Kerry. For the first time in more than half a century, an American flag will be raised above the U.S. Embassy on the communist island nation. But not everyone will be kicking up their feet and celebrating with a fine Cuban cigar.

Let's get right to CNN's Patrick Oppmann. He is live in Havana. Patrick, you're standing there over where this historic flag raising is going to take place. What can we expect to take place there tomorrow?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jim. And a lot of work is still being done. It looks more like a construction site right now than an embassy. They're doing the final preparations, getting that flagpole ready, getting the stage ready.

But tomorrow morning, we expect Secretary of State Kerry to land here in Havana, the first secretary of state to visit Cuba, the highest level official from any administration to visit Cuba since the Cuban revolution.

He'll come here to the embassy behind me. He'll speak to a select crowd of dignitaries and Cuban officials, we expect as well. Raise the flag. Have a series of meetings and then be out of here within 12 hours.

But by this time tomorrow, Jim, you'll have the U.S. flag, we expect, flying high over the Cuban capital, first time we've seen that in 54 years, a historic day.

SCIUTTO: Now I've got to ask you, Patrick, because I've been to Cuba a number of times and I know that just to right of where that ceremony is going to take place, the Cubans put up a number of flagpoles to block out the front of the embassy. What's going to happen there?

OPPMANN: Absolutely, Jim, and as you know, there's so much history. Used to have signs, billboards all around this embassy talking about the crimes the U.S. has committed against Cuba and this is one of those signs of protest.

This was built to block out electronic tick hear the U.S. put up to get the news out to Cuba, and break the information embargo here. The Cubans responded by putting up all these flagpoles dedicated to Cuban martyrs.

So while there has been a change in tone, a new respect still some signs of the difficult path between these two countries exists.

SCIUTTO: It's incredible. You have the one little flagpole with the U.S. flag, but still all those other ones there that have been there for years. That won't change tomorrow. CNN's Patrick Oppmann, thanks so much from Havana.

[16:45:08] Be sure to tune in to THE LEAD tomorrow. Jake Tapper is going to broadcast live from Havana. That's 4 p.m. Eastern Time right here on CNN.

The National Lead, they are a dangerous distraction for pilots trying to get you to your destination safely. Now the alarming report about just how often drones get in the way of passenger planes.


SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. In national news, a scary new report that shows just how quickly drones are filling our skies and getting too close to passenger planes.

CNN aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh joins me now. Rene, we've heard a little bit about this. The FAA has been warning about this, but also talking about firefighters?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDEN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, we are seeing a lot of issues not just with the pilots, but firefighting efforts out west as well with their choppers.

We're talking about drones that are in the skies by the hundreds. They are flying dangerously close to these passenger planes and the number of close calls reported has more than doubled, and tonight, both the FAA and pilots are expressing concern.


[16:50:06] MARSH (voice-over): Tonight, the FAA is sounding the alarm about a dramatic spike in the number of close calls between pilots and drones. So far this year, pilots have reported more than 650 drone sightings compared to 238 in all of 2014.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: We were on the final range about 800, 900 feet was our altitude, 100 feet below us was a drone.

LES ABEND, COMMERCIAL PILOT: It absolutely is an unnecessary risk. You know, we -- especially during the approach phase, we're busy up there in the cockpit. One of the last things we're going to expect is a drone encounter.

MARSH: Despite FAA rules that forbid flying above 400 feet near commercial planes or near an airport, hundreds and hundreds of drone operators have gone rogue.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: We almost got hit by a drone just to let you know up here.

MARSH: Yesterday, a medical helicopter en route to a hospital in Fresno, California took evasive action to avoid a drone. Firefighters battling wildfires last month in California were forced to ground operations because of unauthorized drones.

In recent weeks, drones spotted flying dangerously close to multiple jetliners flying through some of the busiest air space over New York and New Jersey.

ABEND: Well, the FAA needs to step it up from the standpoint of certainly let's publicize to the folks that are buying this kind of equipment, this drone equipment, that there are penalties, there are fines, there's possible jail terms.


MARSH: Although the FAA has said it could be catastrophic if one of these drones strikes an airplane engine or the windshield of a cockpit, it's worth noting no testing has been done at this point to see what kind of damage this could actually do.

SCIUTTO: We see what damage birds can do so something to watch. Thanks very much, Rene Marsh. The Pop Lead, the music of the 1970s, punk, funk, disco, hard

rock, and more, how did the sounds of that decade influence pop culture today? We have a member of the legendary band, Earth, Wind and Fire in our studio to discuss. That's right after this.




SCIUTTO: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Clearly the favorite part of the show for me, our Pop Culture Lead today, the '70s -- that decade's musical battle lines were drawn between genres or you tossed a black leather jacket over your Ramons t-shirt.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A double-header with the White Sox. They had a disco demolition night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to fill them up real good!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this mini riot, they ended up playing the second ball game. People were starting fires, ripping things up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to say disco did not suck. Disco was a revolutionary force.


SCIUTTO: Joining me now is Verdine White. He helped create the band, Earth, Wind, and Fire, which is playing just outside of D.C. This happens tomorrow night. Thank you so much for joining us like I said, highlight of my show, highlight of the week maybe.


SCIUTTO: So, the disco era you could say -- it's 40 years ago, which I hate to say, because I grew up in the '70s. But God knows, it still has an effect today. It's getting sampled all the time by Jay-Z, Missy Elliott. How does it feel to have been such a core part of one of the core bands that led this transformation?

WHITE: Well, we were very fortunate to be around at the right time and the right place. And of course, you talked about disco music. Prior to that, we had great records by Marvin Gay. We had our album "That's The Way of the World." We had Michael Jackson. You had the Eagles. So you had a lot of different types of genres of music, which led up to disco.

SCIUTTO: Do you think people -- when I say kids today. I'm going to feel like my dad. But kids today, they weren't alive then, but you think they can still have an appreciation for it? Is it all just people like me and my parents or do you see young people as well? WHITE: It's five generations. People bring their children, their grandchildren. We started affectionately with the eight track and so now we go all the way to eight track.

SCIUTTO: There's no more eight track.

WHITE: We go through all the different genres of technology as well. So people are able to have great conversations about a special time in American music.

SCIUTTO: So there are haters out there. There are always haters out there with the disco movement. You might see them at home dancing to it. What do you say to the anti-disco movement?

WHITE: I just say, you know, we were there and we had a lot of fun. It was a lot of great music, great fashion, and bell bottoms, platform shoes, afros.

SCIUTTO: Some of it came back.

WHITE: I'm still wearing them now.

SCIUTTO: I see that.

WHITE: So it was a great time.

SCIUTTO: What do you want to say to folks who didn't live through it and might say today, well, disco, man, come on or that's the way I would look at Frank Sinatra when I was a kid. What do you say to folks who don't get it or haven't seen it or haven't been bit by the bug?

WHITE: I would say check it out, every music has its time where people love it. For those that were there, just like myself and us and the band, we had a fantastic time. And it was great for American history, too.

SCIUTTO: No question. It is part of history, right?

WHITE: It sure is.

SCIUTTO: Pretty in white. I know everybody is going to be fighting for the chance to take pictures with you.

WHITE: We'll do some selfies.

SCIUTTO: Thanks for joining us and good luck.

WHITE: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: Great to have you on. For our viewers, you can watch "The Seventies From Disco to Punk and Everything in Between" tonight here on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

That's it for THE LEAD today. Tomorrow, Jake Tapper returns. That's going to be live from Havana, Cuba.