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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  November 8, 2014 12:00pm-1:31pm PST

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hello, everyone. you're in the cnn newsroom. i'm poppy harlow. breaking news right now on cnn. president obama calls this a wonderful day for two american families. matthew todd miller and kenneth bae are no longer detained in north korea. they are free. and on their way back to the united states right now. they had been held for two years and was sentenced to 15 years hard labor. miller is believed to have sought asylum in north korea earlier this year. now these two are out, they leave no more americans in north
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korea. the coordination, the negotiation, the face-to-face visit, to north korea, from a senior official. erin mcpike joins us from the white house. this is such great news for the families, for these two men. and also, it looks like a big win for the obama administration. do we have background on this yet? how long officials had been working on this? >> reporter: we do know. it wasn't all that long. we found out about it out of the blue this morning. that's what a lot of people are saying, that it happened very quickly. we found out after about 10:00 a.m. or so this morning. we do know that on wednesday, james clapper, the director of national intelligence was supposed to be speaking in new york, at an event. that was canceled due to scheduling conflicts. now, we know why. the obama administration sent him to north korea to secure the release of these two detainees, poppy. >> i also know that the obama
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administration, very quickly, came out this morning and said, there was no quid pro quo. nothing was given to the north koreans, in exchange for these detainees, right? >> that's right. we heard that from the state department, to be clear about this. the white house has not said much. president obama did make brief remarks when he was asked this morning. and i think we have those comments. let's play them for you now. >> it's a wonderful day for them, the families, and obviously, very -- i appreciate it. director clapper is doing a great job on what was, obviously, a challenging mission. >> as you mentioned, no quid pro quo. the state department and other administration officials are saying that north korea did not get anything in exchange for this. if they want to have a better relationship with the west,
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well, that's to come. some are saying, though, that this release signals that north korea is willing to talk to the west. and they did not send secretary of state john kerry. instead, sending james clapper because north korea did want a high-level official but not the nation's top diplomat. that's what the white house wanted. not to sent a high-level diplomat. but an other official to secure this release. but there had been no diplomatic relations with north korea since the bush administration. that's an important thing as we go forward, when a diplomatic relationship could begin after this event, poppy. >> a very -- still, though, a very high-ranking official with clapper going. just give me a sense of what people there in washington are saying, erin, in terms of the timing. this comes just after jeffrey fowle, another detainee, in north korea, was released. why now? >> that's a good question. we're trying to learn more about the timing of this. again, it happened very quickly.
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i can tell you that we have heard from a couple of republicans on social media. you'll be talking to nick valencia about that. but we heard from texas senator john cornyn who said, this is great. thank you to james clapper for securing the release. >> thank goodness. you can imagine what these two men feel like and what their families feel like. they're in the air now. they should be landing in a few hours. erin mcpike at the white house. thank you. after years of worry, fear and doubt, kenneth bae's family finally getting ready for a very joyful reunion. they know that bae had struggled with his health issues. they talked a lot about the strain he was under. i want to bring in elise. you've been on the phone this morning when this news broke. i want to get your sense of, if you have anything to add why this happened now? why this was prompted so suddenly. >> reporter: yes, poppy.
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i want to read you. we got this statement from kenneth bae's family. elated that kenneth bae is coming home. very worried about him. and this family has been outspoken on social media, everywhere, making sure that no matter what has been happening with north korea or the other detainees, that kenneth bae, was never forgotten. the family says it is finally happening. kenneth bae is coming home. words cannot adequately express our relief and gratitude, that kenneth is coming home. we have been waiting for and praying for this day for two years. this ordeal has been excruciating for the family. but we are filled with joy right now. and why now, poppy? that's the good question. it does seem as if north korea wanted to, you know, send a message that they're looking for better relations with the international community. they let jeffrey fowle go a few weeks ago. and you know, a lot of people have talked about whether this had to do with this human rights report from the gianunited nati that came out the other day.
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widespread human rights abuses. starvation, torture, execution, long periods of sleep deprivati deprivation. really awful things. north korea has been on a charm offensive, trying to present a more reasonable face of the regime. we really don't know. >> and i wonder, on that point, elise, what you think this signals, in the broad picture for u.s./north korea relations. as far as you have, as far as we know, no more americans detained in north korea. it hasn't been that way, now, for the two years since kenneth bae has been there. and much further back, in the history of the strained relations between these two countries. >> reporter: today, the state department is saying, this isn't going to change things in our relationship. north korea knows what to do to have a better relationship. and that's address the concerns the international community has over their nuclear program.
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that's dealing with the human rights situation that's detailed in this report. that's having better behavior on the international stage. i will say, a few weeks ago, when jeffrey fowle was released, secretary of state, john kerry, said, listen, it would be an extraordinary gesture for the north koreans to release kenneth bae, if they, indeed, want better relations with the international community. so, to release -- if they release kenneth bae and the u.s. does not do something to kind of mark this, and at least make some kind of overture towards some kind of dialogue this, really doesn't send an important -- it sends a negative signal to the north koreans, i would any, about the usefulness of letting these americans go, if they're not really going to get any bang for their buck. the north koreans, are master negotiators and the kings of brinksmanship. >> jim sciutto made an interesting point. this is a get for the north koreans to have such a high-ranking official, like
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james clapper, being the one to go over and secure this. it's not secretary of state john kerry. that is a very big, powerful name. also, the fact that jim sciutto made the point that, you know, we -- we don't know what north korea's going to do next. we don't know if they have another american potentially detained or may. that's important. >> it is important. americans, there are travel warnings, many travel warnings from the united states, not a good idea to go to north korea. you can very likely get arrested. you know, you need to be very careful. americans are still going there and traveling on the tour groups and these tour groups are not very well-organized in making sure that americans know what they can and can't do. it's very possibly another american goes to north korea and finds himself arrested. is it a get for the north koreans? sure. they asked for a cabinet officials and they got a cabinet
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official. the u.s. didn't want to send a message that said, this is -- my sending john kerry, this would be an opening in diplomacy. this would have larger implications for the relationship, as we discussed. and also, a lot of the talks have involved intelligence officials. it kind of did make sense to send someone in the intelligence community. james clapper. it's a get for the north koreans. but if they're not going to get anything going forward, i would say that that's a very small victory for them that they're not going to be able to take to the bank very long. if you remember, when president clinton went there, if you saw the pictures that came out of the north koreans, it's possibly we see one with james clapper, there weren't a lot of smiles and handshakes. if the north koreans are able to use this as propaganda, it's not going to go very far. i think they're looking for more. >> elise, thank you very much. you've been working your sources on this all morning. appreciate the reporting for us. but good for them they are coming home. we'll be back in just a moment.
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one man has negotiated with north korea since the 1990s to help free americans detained there. i'm talking about former new mexico governor, bill richardson, who served as u.s. ambassador to the united nations. he went to north korea last year to try to get kenneth bae released. five years ago, he was considered a potential envoy for the release of two american women. that role ultimately went to former president bill clinton. governor richardson joins me on the phone. thank you for being with me, sir. we appreciate it. >> glad to be with you. >> this must be a very joyful day for you, too. someone who has spent time going back and forth to north korea,
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working with the negotiators there. you have a unique perspective. i wonder what you can tell me about the minds of the people that are negotiated with to make this happen. last year, you tried to get this done. and they wouldn't release kenneth bae. >> that's right. there's been a change, obviously. there's a new leader in north korea, jim jong un. and i think he has realized that he's got to be more open to the united states, the west. i think this release happened for two reasons. one, he wants to send a message of having a dialogue with the united states. and secondly, north korea was being attacked very strongly at the united nations, on human rights ground threats that take them to the international criminal court. i think kim jong-un made a decision to get the americans out, without too many conditions. a presidential envoy, perhaps. but it's a very good step. it's good. i was briefly involved in this in the past.
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but as you said, i wasn't able to get kenneth bae out at the time. he had just been detained. kim jong-un was new. this is a joyous day for the families. and i have to give the administration credit for starting a new channel with clapper, the intelligence guy, besides the normal diplomatic channels. >> do you see this as north korea signaling that it is ready to have the nuclear talks with the united states? and what is your big picture assessment of this? >> well, the united states has said to north korea, you can't start talking to us unless you're ready to reduce your nuclear weapons. so, north korea, i don't believe they budged on that. but what i think has happened is, the united states and north korea have separated the humanitarian issue, the release of these two, that would lead, perhaps, to a -- not a warming. but an understanding that now we
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start talking about nuclear weapons. either the u.s. directly with north korea. or south korea, japan, the six-party countries that have negotiated with north korea. this is good. we want to reduce tensions in the peninsula. this country has nuclear weapons. it has missiles. they're hostile. this is a good first step in getting people back to talking. >> and we have to remember that there are still south korean citizens detained in north korea. others detained in north korea, even if no americans are at this point in time. you spoke with the people that negotiate this in north korea. to be a fly on the wall, to hear what james clapper said, to get these two men freed. can you tell us what your experience was like doing that? >> well, i think what happens is there's one person who makes
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this decision, kim jong-un, the leader. he probably authorized this. but had the foreign ministry and the security people negotiate these releases. so, fly on the wall, they can talk all they want. it's up to the new leader. and the new leader seems to be looking at the west. this is a second release in a month, without too many conditions. and that's a good sign. but he makes all the decisions. and maybe what he's doing is saying, come and talk to me. and let's see if we can moderate tensions. what north korea desperately needs is food, energy, sanctions relief. they're hurting. >> i wonder what you make of the timing. do you have any sense of why this happened just a month after jeffrey fowle was released, with 30 minutes notice, that he was going to be a free man? >> yes. the two reasons, one that north
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korea's feeling the heat of this very intensive campaign by many countries at the u.n., to send kim jong-un to the international criminal court. they want to reduce that threat. and improve tension, improve, get tension reduced. and secondly, the fact that this is an american -- these are three americans released within a month, is basically saying to the u.s. to say, we're ready to do a humanitarian release for you. what are you going to do for us? and maybe the price is going to be just talking, a dialogue. so, this is good. >> and the administration saying, definitively, or hearing from the state department, there was no quid pro quo in this. but very good news, as you said. so many people happy to see these two men free and coming home. governor bill richardson, appreciate you joining us this afternoon. thank you. >> thank you. our very own will ripley spoke to kenneth bae, matthew
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todd miller and jeffrey fowle, a few months ago, in north korea. they met at a pyongyang hotel. they were given five minutes to talk. they asked the u.s. to win their release. and look at what happened today. will ripley joins us live from tokyo. i remember watching your interviews, glued to them. it was fascinating to all of us. you had almost no notice that you were going to interview the three of them. what can you tell me about what they said to you and your reaction to this news today? >> well, it's interesting, poppy. it seems like all of these pieces have now come together here, just over two months later, with these three americans who, when i met them, were in very dire straights in pyongyang, unsure of what their future was going to hold. whether they would be, perhaps in prison, labor camps for years to come. jeffrey fowle back with his family in ohio. and matthew miller and kenneth
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bae on the way to be reunited with their families. it's remarkable. but the north korean government at that time, took advantage of the fact that cnn was in the country, covering a different story. we made the request to speak with these detained americans. we were told it would be impossible several times. we had little notice. we were driven to this area. we spoke with them. and the north korean government wanted to use these men to send a message to the united states government that they were ready to talk. and now, we have seen how that has all played out. certainly, a lot at stake right now, politically, for north korea. the timing, for a lot of different reasons, was right for them. >> and we heard governor bill richardson addressing that. you have this damning u.n. panel report coming out, talking about multiple instances of torture, within north korea, et cetera, and that doesn't play well on the international stage. at the same time, will, one big concern has been kenneth bae's health. his family has reiterated, that
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he has not been healthy while he's in this labor camp. you're the one most recently with him. what can you tell us about his health? >> yeah. i had only seen him on television, just like most of the world. and so, when i saw him in person, i was taken aback by how much weight he had lost. he was losing his hair. he had just gotten out of the hospital when we spoke. and he talked about his failing health, and the conditions in the labor camp he was working. better than the ones laid out in the united nations report, talking about torture and executions and people not having food for days. that was not the situation for kenneth bae or the other detained americans. but the grueling hours were taking a toll on his health. and it was apparent that his situation was more desperate. it could be that his health has continued to fail. we'll find out more once he's checked out by doctors in the yilts. perhaps north korea saw this as a situation that could get worse. certainly, they would not want to be in the position, with all
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of the scrutiny they're under, to have an american fall ill or perhaps in their custody. >> it was fascinating to watch you interview them. we're glad they're all now free men. thank you so much, will ripley, live from tokyo. a string of bombings rocking baghdad. coming up next, the details on the latest terror attacks and why the president is sending more u.s. troops to iraq to fight i.s.i.s. when heartburn comes creeping up on you... fight back with relief so smooth...'s fast. tums smoothies starts dissolving the instant it touches your tongue ...and neutralizes stomach acid at the source. ♪ tum, tum tum tum... smoothies! only from tums.
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in baghdad, today, vivid reminders of the volatile situation that exists across iraq. those images of a shiite neighborhood, rocked by a powerful pair of car bombs. police say seven people died in this attack. a short time later, two more car bombs, elsewhere in the capital, claimed 11 lives. nearly 50 people were wounded in those attacks today, alone. this, of course, comes against the backdrop of the violence that president obama has authorized an additional 1,500 u.s. troops to iraq. the iraqi government says the
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deployment has been late but welcome. but the troops will not be engaging in combat operations. >> the notion that the united states should be putting boots on the ground, i think would be a profound mistake. >> these american forces will not have a combat mission. we will not get dragged into another ground war in iraq. the american forces that had been deployed to iraq do not and will not have a combat mission. i won't commit our troops to fighting another ground war in iraq or in syria. >> or senior national correspondent has more on what this increase in u.s. grund forces is supposed to accomplish. >> reporter: the addition of 1,500 u.s. troops in iraq, almost doubles america's presence there. they are not meant to be in a combat role, but rather, continuing to advise and assist the iraqi force and the kurdish peshmerga. and also, providing america with
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increased eyes on the ground, when it comes to coalition air strikes. these troops are going to potentially be based, perhaps, in al anbar province. some of them, at least. and also, potentially, to the north and in two key areas where i.s.i.s. has significant control. al anbar province, is sunni and has been al qaeda's key stomping ground. we look at iraq's history, it was the sunni tribes that allowed for the tide to turn against al qaeda. and those sunni tribes are going to be vital if i.s.i.s. is to, in fact, be defeated. that's one of the main reasons why the u.s. and others are putting a lot of pressure on the iraqi government led by shia prime minister, to reach out to those sunni tribes who, at this stage, remain fairly weary of the government in baghdad. when we're talking about i.s.i.s.'s long-term defeat,
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there is the realization this cannot be military alone. there has to be a political effort alongside it. >> arwa, thank you for that. and the pentagon saying, this is in line with their mission. reiterating not boots on the ground, technically. these are advising forces for the iraqi military. we'll be watching very closely. coming up next, a flurry of social media activity, as kenneth bae and matthew miller, make their way back to u.s. soil. we'll look at what people are saying online about that. on this week's "parts unknown," anthony bourdain goes to where he began his career, in massachusetts. >> i hadn't been working for a while. i was a deadbeat. and he comes home from work and says our dishwasher didn't show up for work today. you're our new dishwasher. i put on the apron and didn't
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farxiga can cause serious side effects, including dehydration, genital yeast infections in women and men, low blood sugar,kidney problems, and increased bad cholesterol. common side effects include urinary tract infections, changes in urination, and runny nose. ♪do the walk of life ♪yeah, you do the walk of life need to lower your blood sugar? ask your doctor about farxiga and visit our website to learn how you may be able to get every month free. welcome back, everyone. i'm poppy harlow in new york. thanks for joining me. there are no americans detained in north korea. that's after today's surprise release of two u.s. citizens. one of them held for two years. matthew todd miller and kenneth
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bae are flying towards the west coast right now, after north korean officials allowed them to leave. and their release was initiated by the north koreans, who asked for talks with a high-level official. james clapper threw to pyongyang. and now, the two men are free. a u.s. senator from kenneth bae's home state of washington has been working closely with his family, since his arrest two years ago. patty murray wrote on twitter today, i'm thrilled kenneth bae is finally coming home. his amazing family has kept pressure on for a long two years and never lost faith. senator murray talked about the negotiations on cnn a short time ago. listen. >> an amazing day for all of us that have been working on this, because of the persistence and the insistence and strength of kenneth bae's family, who have worked so hard for the last two years to make sure no one forgets kenneth. this is a case that we have -- he is from our state. it's a case we've been working on for a very long time.
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i have met with the family personally. his sister has -- terri, has just been the most passionate, articulate person i have ever met. and i met with her and talked with her numerous times throughout this. and i think why we're here today is because terri just would not give up and would not let any of us give up. >> there have been a lot of other elected officials reacting to this news out of north korea. joe biden spoke out in the last hour. nick valencia is moderating that and more. >> a lot of excitement stateside and beyond. you're hearing from elected officials, that the two americans are from, california and washington. vice president biden taking to social media a short time ago and putting up this tweet here. it says, welcome home, kenneth bae and matthew miller.
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we're grateful for the tireless efforts of earn who helped them return to their families. you talked to patty murray a little while ago. she is thrilled about the release, including lawmakers, charlie rangel. releasing a statement urging the north korean government to release if two americans. he tweeted a short time ago, as well, calling for the release, saying i'm pleased that north korea did the right thing in releasing kenneth bae. the state department also weighed in a short time after that news became official. let's get to that tweet, guys. the state department says, welcomes the release of u.s. citizens, kenneth bae and matthew todd miller, from the dprk. that's the tweet from the state department. so many played a role in this. and the washington lawmakers that are taking to twitter on their social media pages, to congratulate the efforts to get these two americans back home. we understand they're on their way back home. we heard from representative, so
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happy for kenneth bae and his family, who waited two, long years for this day to come. welcome home. you watching at home or listening, you can tweet poppy. or myself at cnnvalencia. and we'll try to get your tweets and comments on the air. >> it's good to hear they're coming home. thanks, nick. appreciate it. >> you bet it. coming up next, american jeffrey fowle was released a couple of weeks ago. total surprise. flew home free from north korea. he talked to cnn exclusively. hear what he had to say about the release of his fellow detainees. for over a decade,
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nexium 40 mg is only available by prescription. talk to your doctor. for free home delivery, enroll in nexium direct today. if you're just joining us, really good news for the two families who have been waiting for their loved ones to be released from north korea. kenneth bae had traveled to north korea many times without incident before. he was arrested. our paula hancocks filed this report, after he received a visit there from his mother. >> reporter: an emotional embrace, for a son she feared she might lose. she has been allowed to see her son, kenneth, just once, during captivity in north korea. >> my heartbreaks when i saw him with the hospital garment in a con nined in a small space.
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>> reporter: bayh has been hospitalized, suffering from a number of illnesses, including diabetes, heart problems and back pain. he was arrested in 2012. bae was operating a tour group out of china, visiting north korea well over a dozen times. tried and sentenced to 15 years hard labor the following spring, his official crime, hostile acts to bring down the government, and planning religious activities. bae was filmed admitting to these crimes from his prison cell. >> translator: my wish is that the u.s. government will help me return home as soon as possible. >> reporter: a former mission tear, bae's christian beliefs would not have been welcome in a country that's officially atheist. bae is a father, a son and a brother, in every photo, he is smiling. a very different man seen here, working eight hours of hard labor a day, for three months,
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before his health deteriorated and he was hospitalized. >> kenneth is a father of three, an american citizen, who is there legally, working to provide for his family as a tour operator. he had no ill-intentions ever. and he has not tried to overthrow the government. >> that's paula hancocks reporting from seoul, south korea. it's difficult for anyone to imagine what it must be like to be incarcerated, detained from your family, friends, everything. but jeffery fowle was living that nightmare with little hope of coming home, until just over two weeks ago. then, unexpectedly, he was freed. he spoke with our pamela brown, today, by phone, about this surprise release of his fellow detainees, the two americans, kenneth bae and matthew miller. >> i'm sure they're elated at the prospects of being reunited, coming home, getting back to things american here. i'm happy. there's a lot of emotions going
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through their mind. that happened to me three weeks ago. >> when you all were held prisoner, did you interact much? did you have a relationship with them at all? >> with the other two americans? >> yes. >> i was given very little information. i never saw them. never had any kind of contact with them whatsoever. >> despite that, i'm curious if you felt any sort of guilt or remorse when you found out you were released, you were coming home, and they were staying behind in north korea. what did that feel like for you? >> yeah. i was -- >> did you wonder why? >> yes. i didn't realize i was getting released until a half an hour before we took off. it was -- hit like a ton of bricks. >> wow. >> were you wondering why me? why are they letting me go and not them? >> yes. very much so. on the ride to the airport, i didn't know anything about their status. and i was hoping they would be on the plane, as well. but i got there, and they said i was the only one coming home. and i was upset by that.
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i was happy. but i was upset they weren't coming with me. i was the last one to be detained. kenneth bae or matthew miller should have been released before i was. >> one of the big questions when you're released like this, what the process is like, coming home, adjusting to life back in america. what has it been like for you? >> for me, it's been relatively simple. i was able to get my job back. i was terminated back in september. but the city i work for has reinstated me, fortunately. i'm grateful for that. so, the things are falling back into place pretty well for me. kenneth bae's been gone two years now. and it might be more difficult for him. since he was living in china before his ordeal. i'm not sure what his reentry procedure or matthew miller's, for that matter, will be like. >> what advise would you give them, jeffrey? >> someone asked me back a
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couple weeks ago. everyone telling me to keep the faith. that's what got me through my ordeal of six months. not lose faith in god. and have faith i will eventually come back home. and that has come true for all three of us. we're all going to be back home, which is great. great news. >> what was that like for you, when you stepped foot on american soil after being over there? what was that feeling like? >> it was fantastic. my family was there waiting for me on the tarmac at the wright air force base. and it was great being reunited with them after a long separation. >> wow. they are all now going to be home. coming up next in the newsroom, president obama picks loretta lynch to serve as the next attorney general. will her confirmation turn into another battle between democrats and republicans? we'll see. huh, fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.
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loretta lynn might become the first african-american woman to run the justice department. president obama explained why he picked her to replace eric holder as attorney general. >> loretta might be the only lawyer in america who battles mobsters and drug lords and terrorists and still has the reputation for being a charming
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people person. and that's probably because loretta doesn't look to make headlines. she looks to make a difference. she's not about splash. she's about substance. >> let's get a closer look at who loretta lynn of is, her qualifications for this high profile post. erin mcpike joins us live from the white house. it's interesting because a lot of people are saying that this is really a noncontroversial pick. that she should smooth saily through the senate confirmation at the same time you've got this lame duck session and you've got republicans like ted cruz saying the confirmation should wait until the new congress is sworn in. >> that's right. first we should point out that loretta lynn of has twice been confirmed by the senate. that was in 2000 and 2010 to be u.s. attorney in new york. but i want to play for you a little bit of what she said this morning when president obama announced her as his pick to be the next attorney general. listen here.
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>> mr. president, thank you, again, for the faith that you've placed in me. i pledge today to you and to the american people that if i have the honor of being confirmed by the senate, i will wake up every morning with the protection of the american people my first thought. >> reporter: as you mentioned, also republicans are saying they want to wait until the new congress convenes in january before they begin to hold confirmation hearings and then hold that vote. but the obama administration does believe that she will make it through very quickly, and mitch mcconnell, ted cruz and others are saying, please wait. we'll have to see what they do but, of course, president obama is headed tonight to asia and it may be next year before this confirmation vote is held. >> yeah. we'll see. you know, erin, i want to talk a little bit about who this woman is. you know, she has been lauded as incredibly successful in fighting everyone from gang members to drug lords to taking
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on the big banks here in new york. she went to harvard law school. harvard undergrad. what more do we know about her? >> well, one of the things that president obama said today as he was announcing her, he talked about prosecuting terrorists and also her work in the prosecution of cybercrimes. all of these things will be important if she is confirmed as attorney general. she does have long relationships within the justice department, and that will be important since she is a washington outsider to come in to the justice department and be able to work with attorneys throughout the country and all of the staffers at the justice department in these final two years of the obama administration. >> and she may jump right into the very high prophylcivil rights investigation in ferguson, missouri, in the killing of michael brown, and that will be interesting to watch as well if she is confirmed. erin mcpike, thank you very much, appreciate it. coming up next we'll introduce you to one of the cnn heroes who is putting a song in the hearts of some very
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each week we're shining a spotlight on the top ten cnn heroes of 2014 as you vote for the one that inspires you the most. we want you to meet arthur bloom. >> music is my earliest memory. i never decided to be a professional musician. it's just what i've always done. ♪ and it feels great to play music, but it's also a mechanism for healing. >> we were on a normal morning patrol walking down a road. i'd never been hit by an ied before. it felt like i got hit by a wrecking ball. i sat up. my legs were completely gone. what happens if you don't quite get killed and you don't quite survive, you're somewhere in the middle. i was a shell of a man. who i was was gone. >> let's take it right before the melody comes in. our organization helps wounded
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warriors play music and recover their lives. ♪ we match the injured troops with professional musicians who come visit at walter reed medical center and work with them on music projects learning music, writing, performing. ♪ your journey >> we'll try to incorporate a little more metal. i'm not a music therapist, i'm a musician. but by injecting music into this space, we can inject life. >> something survived that horrible injury in afghanistan, and that was my ability to play the guitar. arthur and his program changed my outlook on what is possible. ♪ rock me momma >> music has no stigma, folks i work with, when they do music, there's nothing injured about the way they do it. it's just good music. ♪ momma rock me >> remember to vote for cnn's
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hero of the year. all right, coming up new developments in the release of americans kenneth bae and matthew todd miller released from detention in north korea. "cnn newsroom" continues right now. hi, everyone, welcome, you are in the "cnn newsroom." i'm poppy harlow joining you live from new york. two american citizens one of them held in north korea for two years are on their way home. that's todd miller and kenneth bae were set free today. until a few hours ago they were still the only americans still detained in north korea. miller charged with committing hostile acts against north korea earlier this year. bae faced the same charges. he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. we're told the north korean government reached out to the u.s. for a high-level u.s. official visit before handing the two men over. erin mcpike joins us live from the white house. this is great news.
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their families elated, no doubt. these men on a plane as we speak back to the west coast. but let's talk about who secured this. high-level official, you have james clapper u.s. director of national intelligence. do we have any sense how he did this? >> well, poppy, first we want to say that we have heard over and over again from state department officials today that there was no quid pro quo. in other words, there was nothing given to north korea in exchange for the release. north korea did signal, however, that they wanted a lot of attention from the united states. they wanted a high-level official to come over to north korea and do this. and it was james clapper who was collected by the obama administration to be the presidential envoi to secure their revelease. we know on wednesday he was supposed to be in new york for a speech before the council on foreign relations but that was abruptly canceled and then he was, of course, in north korea to secure the release of these two men. i want to play for you a little bit of what president obama said
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today when he was asked about this. listen here. >> it's a wonderful day for them and their families. obviously we're very grateful for their safe return. doing a great job on what was obviously a challenging mission. >> now, poppy, we also hearn le today that members of congress in the past few days have been briefed on this. sometimes on these missions members of congress are not briefed beforehand, but in this case they were, poppy. >> what are people saying in washington right now, erin? i know it's early, early stages. about the timing of this, why it happened right now. >> generally what we're hearing is that north korea is looking to have a better relationship with the west. again, the state department keeps stressing that nothing was given in exchange. but there could be diplomatic
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relations in the future, of course, as you know, the white house and the united states have not had diplomatic relations with north korea since the bush administration. that could all change. but north korea has to signal more to the u.s., poppy. >> we'll be watching, but it is great news for them and their families, for this country. thanks, erin, appreciate it. u.s. officials say there was no quid pro quo, no deal made for the detainees you heard erin says. that north korea contacted the u.s. government out of the blue and urged the obama administration to send a high-level cabinet official to discuss the two detained americans. i want to bring in elise lavin, our state department correspondent. you've been talking to your sources all morning. i want to talk about kenneth bae's family. what are they saying? >> basically, poppy, they are thrilled saying -- issuing a statement a short time ago saying kenneth is coming home
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and we're so happy he's coming home, very grateful to the u.s. government and to the swedish government for helping and after two years this family has been very outspoken. really making sure that kenneth's name was not forgotten on social media. there was a #bringkennethbaehome. this family elated they'll be seeing him. a lot of concerns about his health. and basically the u.s. has been talking to north korea for several months about trying to get these american detainees home but, you know, the actual calls, they didn't know when they would come, when the north koreans called to ask to say that they would want to see a cabinet-level official home they didn't know that if james clapper got on the plane that he would actually be sure be bringing kenneth bae and matthew todd miller home. i want to read a statement from the state department issued earlier today, we're grateful for james clapper who engaged on
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behalf of the united states in discussion with the dprk authorities about the release of the two citizens, dprk a shorthand for north korea. we also want to thank our international partners especially our protecting power the government of sweden for their tireless efforts to secure the freedom of mr. bae and mr. miller. the department of state reiterates our strong recommendation against all travel by u.s. citizens to the dprk and that's the rub, poppy. the concern is that if more americans were to travel to north korea and you have a lot of these missionaries, a lot of religious people that try to go to north korea, pros tepros tilltizing and such, do not go to north korea. >> it's a very good point. also the timing, i want to talk about the damning u.n. commission report that just recently came out talking about horrifying atrocities. torture, et cetera, in north korea. what can you tell us about the
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report? and do you think that had something to do with the timing here? the image that north korea was trying to shake? >> well, this is a widely anticipated report that was issued last week detailing just widespread abuses by the regime as you said, torture, starvation, imprisonment, execution, and the damning part is that it referred the regime -- it didn't refer but recommended that the regime be referred to the international criminal court and you've seen in recent weeks the north koreans on this so-called charm offensive, sending out diplomats across the globe trying to present this kinder, gentler fames of the regime. a lot of people think it could have something to do with it because they wanted to show they were more reasonable, that they were more -- that you could do business with them. we don't know exactly why they decided to let them go but certainly the u.s. is saying it is a good move. i will say, though, is this going to be an opening between the u.s. and north korea. the united states says no. the north koreans have to handle, you know, issues related to the nuclear program.
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have to address this -- these human rights concerns. >> yeah. >> i think the north koreans are looking for the u.s. to say that this is going to open up a chapter in better relations, pop poppy. >> we'll be watching. we'll see what happens. want to get more information about the other american detainee freed matthew todd miller. he was facing six years of hard labor in north korea before he was suddenly freed today. our kyung lah is on the phone with more information. i think it's important because we've heard so much about kenneth bae because his family has been so outspoken, they've come on cnn multiple times to talk about this, especially his sister, but we haven't heard much at all from matthew todd miller's family. >> we've heard nothing from the family and that's been very intentional. when we've gone to the miller home in bakersfield and we've been there repeatedly, there is always a sign, a pink sign, very visible, from the street, saying that they do not want to be bothered by the press. now, over the years we've seen one of two reactions.
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either the kenneth bae reaction of they want to talk about it, they want to keep the pressure on, they want the dprk which monitors programs like cnn, they want them to know that kenneth bae is wanted home. in the case of matthew miller, it's a much more curious case. because there's some curious lead-up into what led up to his imprisonment. he went there according to his tour company did not tell the tour company that when he got there he intended to tear up his visa. and he said that he wanted asylum in north korea according to the north koreans. so, we don't know what sort of mental state this young man is in. what we do know about him, poppy, is that, you know, people in the neighborhood describe him as an average california kid. he studied abroad. he was there in south korea visiting his brothers in the military and they were hoping he could come home so they could figure out exactly what's going on with this young man, poppy? >> thank goodness he is coming
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home, but we only really know, then, what the north korean government has said. they're the ones that said he came and tore up his visa and wanted asylum in north korea but we know when he spoke with us a few month the ago he said he clearly wanted to come home and back to america. how much can we trust the words of the north koreans are saying about him? >> it's the her mimit kingdom fa reason. when will did ask him why he was there, did he tear up his visa, he didn't want to talk about it. we know it's something sensitive. we don't know if the north koreans are telling the truth. we don't know yet if his family will let us talk with him. they haven't released a statement. as far as we know they're going to continue to try to be as private as possible. >> right. and we know that even kenneth bae's family who has been very outpoken right now is saying to the media, to the public, saying we need some time, privacy right now and, of course, we're giving
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that to them. thank you. appreciate it. kenneth bae's two years in detention has finally come to an end. >> condition in labor camp is i'm working eight hours a day, six days a weeks. >> as kyung are just saying our will ripley had exclusive access to talk to the three detainees at the time just a few months ago. he joins us next live to talk about that. [ female announcer ] we help make secure financial tomorrows a reality
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two americans once trapped in a nation ruled by a reclusive dictator are now free and they are on their way home. north korea released ken 19th bae and matthew todd miller and they are expected to arrive on u.s. soil tonight.
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bae struggled with health problems. miller had been detained since april and our sources at cnn tell us that north korea contacted the u.s. government out of the blue and asked for a cabinet-level official, a high-ranking official to come talk. that official turned out to be u.s. director of national intelligence james clapper. he made the last-second trip to secure their release. our will ripley spoke with kenneth bae, matthew todd miller and jeffrey fowler just a few months ago when they were being held in north korea. he met them at a pyongyang hotel. they each asked for the u.s. to help him win their release and will ripley joins me live from tokyo. it is must be amazing to have been with them just two months ago and now they are free. let's talk about kenneth bae because his health was really in focus. his family saying he was not doing well. how was he when you were with him? >> reporter: i was struck,
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poppy, when i saw him in person because i'd only seen video clips of him previously and he had lost so much weight. and another thing that i notice it didn't show up well on camera but there were chunks of his hair that were falling out, there were long pieces but a lot of bald patches on his head. i didn't know what was going on with that, but he was very tired. he seemed very worn out. two years in north korea, it certainly is an exhausting place for a lot of different reasons. mentally and physically. the fact that inspite of his declining health he had just gotten out of the hospital but he was at a labor camp doing agricultural work six days a week. he talked to me about his health conditions. >> i'm working eight hours a day, six days weeks and working agricultural work to other hard labor that is required to do havery every day. i have sleeping disorder and
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back pain and i am not doing so well. my hands get numb and i have tingling hands and so it's been very difficult sleeping at night and i was working in the field every day. >> reporter: and certainly if his health was continuing to deteriorate that would make kenneth bae a liability for north korea if he were to get more seriously ill, so certainly a top priority right now in addition to reuniting him with his family will be to have doctors check him out and get him better. >> you can believe his wife and his three children are just absolutely elated along with the rest of his family. will, what about the young, 24-year-old matthew miller? i want to hear what you think about him, because there's been a lot of talk about why he was there in north korea. what did he say to you? >> reporter: well, he didn't talk about his reasons for entering the country, tearing up his visa, seeking asylum.
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north korea believed he went there to try to witness for himself the human rights abuses that the united nations has accused north korea of in a scathing report. the report that came out earlier this year and then an official report just within the last few weeks. but while his health was okay, physically he was all right, i noticed he was very nervous. he didn't answer a lot of questions. it seemed as if he was afraid he was going to say the wrong thing. we were being watched the entire time we did the interview, people were recording us. here's what matthew miller told me. >> my situation is very urgent. it's very soon i'm going to trial and i directly be sent to prison. i think this interview is my final chance to push the american government into helping me. >> so it's your final chance. what do you want to tell them? that you haven't already said? >> that i need help and they need to quickly make movement
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because there's not much time. >> reporter: and shortly after this interview he was found guilty and sentenced to hard labor for the crimes committed in north korea, poppy, with but now he along with kenneth bae on the way home to -- back to his family. >> that's wonderful news. will ripley, thank you. the woman chosen by president obama to take over the justice department from eric holder while explain why loretta lynn of will make history if confirmed as attorney general. turn the trips you have to take,
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no african-american woman has ever been u.s. attorney general, so if loretta lynch is confirmed by the senate she will certainly make history. president obama explained yesterday why he believes -- today, rather, why he believes she is singularly qualified to lead the justice department. >> it's pretty hard to be more qualified for this jonathan
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loretta. throughout her 30-year career she has distinguished herself as tough, as fair, an independent lawyer who has twice headed one of the most prominent u.s. attorney's offices in the country. she has spent years in the trenches as a prosecutor, aggressively fighting terrorism, financial fraud, cybercrime, all while vigorously defending civil rights. >> loretta lynch's resume is impressive by just about any had account. u.s. senators certainly thought so. the first two times they confirmed her as one of 93 u.s. attorneys. our senior washington correspondent joe johns takes a look at some of the high-profile cases that have really defined her career. >> reporter: as united states prosecutors go in the state of new york the harvard educated loretta lynn of has flown under the radar. >> you're regretting these mike placements right about now, with aren't you? >> reporter: cnn legal analyst jeffrey toobin worked with her as a junior prosecutors in
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brooklyn in 1990. >> she has made her name as a workhorse, not a show horse. she is someone who tried cases as a junior prosecutor. ran the long island office and then was promoted to be the u.s. attorney for all of the eastern district of new york. it's a job that is not terribly glamorous especially compared to the u.s. attorney in manhattan. but it's a job that she has done twice. >> reporter: that's right, she's held her current job twice. first appointed by president bill clinton in 1999. at that time she presided over the infamous luima case, an immigrant woman sexually assaulted by a new york police officer. one of her firhires doesn't seer as a partisan lawyer. >> she's not partisan. she doesn't care if people are republicans or democrats, she cares about getting the jock done. >> reporter: lynch did a brief
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stint at the new york office of hogan & heartson the same firm that john roberts left when he was appointed to the supreme court and she served on the board of the federal reserve bank before returning to the u.s. attorney's office this time appointed by president obama. what she's best known recently is an investigation of citigroup mortgage securities and the indictment of u.s. congressman michael grimm. >> michael grimm made the choice from upholding the law to breaking it and in so doing he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken. >> reporter: joe johns, cnn, washington. new information on air strikes in iraq coming into cnn right now. details after the break.
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talk to your doctor. for free home delivery, enroll in nexium direct today. the u.s. military is not confirming if the leader of isis was at a gathering targeted by coalition air strikes in iraq yesterday. here's the latest from colonel patrick ryder director at public affairs the u.s. central command. i'll read you in full the statement. i can confirm that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of air strikes yesterday evening in iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of isil leaders near mosul destroying a vehicle convoy consisting of ten isil trucks. we cannot confirm is isil leader abu al baghadi was present. the groups increasingly limited freedom to maneuver, communicate
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and command. of course, we'll have a lot more on this at the top of the hour. but right now on monday we got word that the popular co-host of "car talk" died from complications of alzheimer's. he was 77 years old and alzheimer is the sixth leading cause of death in the united states and it's the only one that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed down. our dr. sanjay gupta recently got a very rare look inside a small village he says should be the future of what dementia care looks like. "sanjay gupta, m.d." starts right now. welcome to hogavey. it's a little village minutes from downtown amsterdam. at first glance it looks like any other small dutch town. but look closer. it's not. outsiders aren't allowed here. and evee