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tv   CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin  CNN  May 25, 2015 11:00am-12:01pm PDT

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i'm brianna keilar here in washington. for our international viewers "amanpour" is next. for our viewers in north america, "newsroom" with brooke baldwin starts right now. you're watching cnn. i'm brooke baldwin. thank you so much for being with me here on this memorial day. i want to begin with this developing story we're following. several threats being made against incoming airline flights to the united states. in fact at one point the air force scrambled two f-15 fighter jets to escort an air france passenger jet heading into new york's jfk airport. a caller apparently warned a chemical weapon was on board. let's talk about all this. jean casarez is here with me in new york. none of these threats have been credible, correct? >> no and we want to get that out, but it's still a developing story. there were multiple calls of threats in regard to airliners
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that were in the air today. once again, nothing has been deemed to be credible at all. but the north american aerospace defense command is confirming with cnn that in regard to the air france flight 22, they issued two f-15 fighter jets to escort it into jfk where it landed at 10:17 without incident. now, that plane has not been cleared yet, but what we understand is passengers were on board for about two hours. they didn't really know what was happening. but the fbi has just issued a statement to cnn. we want to show everybody. it does say, out of an abundance of caution, air france flight 22 was escorted to john f. kennedy airport by u.s. air force fighter jets following a phone threat. the plane has landed and has deboarded. there were no incidents or hazards reported on board. this flight by either the passengers or its crew. the plane has been cleared. more we're learning from american airlines. they were alerted earlier today
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by authorities of a threat to american flight 131 from birmingham england, to jfk. the airline was originally told the flight would be moved to a remote location upon landing. it was not. once again, that threat has not been credible. >> just bizarre and noteworthy there have been these multiple threats around the at the same time. jean casarez, thank you so much. meantime a declaration here of disaster across parts of texas. this after a line of storms from the gulf to the great lakes has dumped record rainfall there. three people have died. two in oklahoma including a firefighter, who was swept down a storm drain. 12 others are also missing in one texas county. much of the storm really released all this rain here in central texas. cities of san marcos and wimberley. it started saturday with torrential rainfall and sunday the madness unleashed.
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>> oh my god. oh my god. stay back! [ bleep ]! oh my god! stop stop stop! >> he needs to get out! >> [ bleep ]! >> oh my god. oh my god. >> oh my goodness is right. it's incredibly frightening to watch this suv trapped in these fast rushing flood waters. the driver, who was still inside, unable to escape. thankfully though, bystanders were able to save him. that storm was so intense, it collapsed, look at this a
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bridge gone. hundreds of homes have been damaged. officials describe streets with only one or two homes left standing. the national guard dispatched black hawk helicopters to help people trapped in cars and on rooftops. we're going to talk to a father who was rescued later in the show. adding to the misery in houston, an ef-1 tornado hit the city with 100-mile-an-hour winds. it devoured an entire apartment complex. now hundreds are homeless. and this word of caution from authorities. >> it's not over. the rain is still here. the long-range weather forecast shows there will be showers probably the rest of this entire month. so we can never let our guard down. we've got to always be vigilant. >> let's go straight to ed lavendera there in texas. that was a river? obviously mownow it's a river to your right. what are you seeing? >> reporter: well, this is the
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blanco river you see. normally a river that winds peacefully through the central texas town here of wimberley. as you take in the scope of the damage that's been caused by the flood waters here from one side of the river all the way to the other, where the river crested more than 40 feet above its normal stages here along the blanco river. right now there are search and rescue teams. you can kind of make them out in the distance down below where we are, going up and down the banks of this river. as you mentioned, brooke there are 12 people missing, believed to be part of a weekend gathering of people who had come here to celebrate memorial day weekend. all of this ending in what could very well be a tragic situation, given that there are 12 people believed to still be missing. search and rescue teams are going up and down the banks of this river here looking for those people and those efforts will continue in the coming hours. really there's a great deal of damage assessment going on. it's just a staggering sight to
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see when you see these massive trees that have been uprooted and pushed down river by these flood waters. you really get a sense of just how strong and powerful the current was as the water started rising very quickly here saturday night into early sunday morning. so many people just overwhelmed by the situation, given just how intense these rising flood waters here. nearly 400 homes, brooke wiped away off their foundation because of these flood waters. >> these pictures ed. and let me take you back and follow up with the 12 people missing. i was reading that 12 could include small children. it's this large a number because it's a holiday weekend. so what was this family friends gathering? >> reporter: right. several families had gotten together which is very common in this part of central texas. people coming together enjoying spending weekends along the riverbanks. there are many popular rivers people come and celebrate these kinds of weekends at. so it wasn't uncommon to have
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these kind of gatherings here. but obviously, you know, very scary situation right now for those family members as emergency officials here say they're looking for 12 of them. as you mentioned, some of them could be small children as well. >> thinking about these communities today. ed thank you so much. next here on cnn, war of words. america's defense chief says iraqi forces had no will to fight against isis in the fall of ramadi. now iraq is responding as its forces surround the city. we have much more on that. also a police officer fired shots into a car. two unarmed people inside. you see all the bullet holes here. now he's acquitted in their deaths. why his lawyer's decision before the trial impacted his fate. and 28 people shot in baltimore, 7 of them killed in a weekend of violence. you're watching cnn. we'll be right back.
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female announcer ] stay strong, stay active with boost. boy: once upon a time, there was a nice house that lived with a family. one day, it started to rain and rain. water got inside and ruined everybody's everythings. the house thought she let the family down. but the family just didn't think a flood could ever happen. the reality is floods do happen. protect what matters. call the number on your screen or visit the website to learn more. you're watching cnn. i'm brooke baldwin. right now iraqi forces are standing by ready to battle isis
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to take back the city of ramadi. all of this comes as defense secretary ash carter makes a statement to cnn that up until now seems to have only been uttered in the back rooms of the white house, saying ramadi fell because iraqi military forces did not have the will his word the will to fight. this is what he told our pentagon correspondent barbara starr in an exclusive interview here on cnn. >> the iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. they were not outnumbered. in fact they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. and yet, they failed to fight. they withdrew from the site. and that says to me and i think to most of us that we have an issue with the will of the iraqis. >> now in a move that seemed to counter what you just heard we are now hearing from vice president joe biden, just called the iraqi prime minister thanking him, quote, for the
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enormous sacrifice and bravery of iraqi forces over the past 18 months in ramadi and elsewhere. joining me, colonel peter man peter manseur. thank you so much for your service. >> thanks brooke. >> we know iraqi forces are preparing to battle right around the perimeter of the city of ramadi. if you have the defense secretary saying these, you know fighters didn't have the will last week what would make today any different? do you really believe iraqi soldiers have what it takes to regain control of this city? >> i think if the secretary of defense reconsiders his comments what he really meant is they weren't well led. if you have well-led formations that are well trained, then they'll have the will to fight. this is a problem with the iraqi army. a lot of the combat commanders were dismissed by al maliki the
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predecessor to the current prime minister. it's going to take a while for that leadership team to be reassembled and for these formations to be retrained. >> but do you really think they have a while, sir, given what's happening, the state of play in iraq? >> we have to come to the determination that this is going to take years to play out. this war will not be over in a matter of months. the difference twowith those formations a lot of them are shiite militias. they're being advised by iranian advisers. they're stiffening the resolve of these formations. this is why i think in the end that u.s. trainers of there will have to accompany the formations that they're training into combat to stiffen them and stiffen their resolve. >> so am i hearing you saying essentially the u.s. will take on a greater role in terms of training again these forces? >> i think that if we want to destroy isis that we'll have to.
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now, whether we do so or not is going to be up to the president and the congress. and i'm not sure that president obama wants to take that step but there is some indications that they're looking at the strategy. they see the current strategy is insufficient to achieve the goals they've set. we'll see what comes next but i think what comes next is more trainers down to the battalion level, and that will have to accompany -- american forces will have to accompany these formations into combat. >> i think there's also another piece of this discussion which is, you know we don't often talk about -- you have the coalition war on the ground but then you have the religious and tribal factions that really so divide this country, right. it's sort of like clan tribe, nationality. and so do you think -- how would the fact that so many of these soldiers colonel, are sunni impact this fight given the fact this government is shiite and perhaps there's not a lot of trust there? >> actually it's the reverse problem.
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most of the soldiers are shiite. they're fighting in a province that's almost entirely sunni. so when they take over portions of the province let's say they retake ramadi there's a high likelihood that they'll alienate the population on the ground as they did in tikrit can looting and perhaps murders as well. so i think one of the things that we have to work with the iraqi government to do is to get more sunni fighters into the security forces and to reignite the tribal rebellion that did so much to destroy the predecessor group to al qaeda in iraq. >> iraq's prime minister said he was surprised, his words, by secretarycarter's remarks to barbara starr, saying perhaps he had bad information. i read a statement regarding vice president joe biden's conversation with the prime minister this morning thanking the iraqis for their bravery, especially in ramadi. what do you make of what the
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vice president said colonel, and the timing of all this? >> yeah well the prime minister of iraq has to support his forces. and even if they did retreat from combat in ramadi he's going to support them, and he's not going to say, yeah you're right, they do lack the will to fight. and i think the vice president's comments are diplomatic cover-up for what was a small rift in the relationship perhaps between the united states and iraq. but this will be papered over and we'll move forward. the real key now is how to stiffen the resolve of the iraqi army and get it to be better led and better trained so that it can retake ramadi and other cities in anbar province. >> but it will have the will with the leadership, you say, that is so so lacking. colonel peter mansoor, thank you so much. >> thanks brooke. coming up next calm in the streets of cleveland. we'll take a look at this case. the controversial verdict. obviously not calm here over the
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weekend, prompting protests and more than 70 arrests saturday sunday. also ahead, a rare look from the front lines of the fight against isis. cell phone video captures one of the last fire fights before the city of ramadi fell. more of that right here on cnn. ♪ no artificial flavors, colors sweeteners preservatives, and no artificial smiles. because clean dressings, taste better. ♪ we got the new tempur-flex and it's got the spring and bounce of a traditional mattress. you sink into it, but you can still move it around. now that i have a tempur-flex, i can finally get a good night's sleep. when i flop down on the bed, and it's just like, 'ah, this is perfect." wherever you put your body it just supports you. like little support elfs are just holding you. i can sleep now!
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a lot of people in cleveland are asking how can a police officer fire 15 shots into a car with these two unarmed people inside and then get acquitted after their deaths? that's precisely what happened saturday when this judge here announced the officer was cleared of all charges in the deaths of timothy russell and melissa williams. the shooting has come to be known locally as 137 shots, as in the number of times the officer and his 12 police officers fired into this car.
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the shots were fired at the conclusion of this high-speed chase, a chase that began when russell's car backfired, a noise that officers say they thought was actually a gunshot. the verdict came to a city already on edge. while most of those protesting were peaceful police did arrest about 71 people over the weekend. dozens of people at one point blocked a highway in protest. so criminal defense attorney and cnn legal analyst danny sa have a lows is with me to talk about what's over the weekend. the first thing is the officer requested a bench trial. so no jury just a judge. why? >> bench trial, waiver trial, judge-only trial. understand these are exceedingly rare in the criminal justice system. they give us a rare opportunity. why? because unlike a jury that simply votes guilty or not guilty a judge has to show his work. and that means that we now have a judicial opinion where this judge analyzed the case.
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instead of just saying not guilty he had to announce his opinion and explain his work explain how he arrived at the not guilty. it's a fascinating look into an area that really isn't delved into very often in the criminal context. and that's police brutality. we have many many many cases of civil cases alleging police brutality. but it's much rarer for a police officer to be prosecuted. so this bench trial is a glimpse into the way a case like this is analyzed. >> do you think the climate we're in do you think we'll see more bench trials involving police officers? >> as a general rule brooke defendants and defense attorneys are terrified of bench trials. it's simple math. if you only need one person to vote not guilty your odds are better with 1 out of 12 jurors than they would be with 1 out of 1 judges. that's just sort of the conventional wisdom. it's not mathematically proven. and the reality is there's substantial support for the idea
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that where a case involves issues of law, like this case did, kaucausation was a hot issue. the justification of using deadly force was a legal issue. sometimes defendants decide they want a judge to deal with the legal issues. i know, brooke there's a question you really want to ask, which is in this climate, could this have been a strategic decision to get out of a jury pool that this defendant perceived as hostile and into that of a judge? yes, it could have been a strategic decision. and if that is his right, a defendant's right, you may see that decision being made. but believe me it goes against decades of the general idea although unproven that judges are harder on defendants than juries are. >> okay. walking through some of the issues we know this case hinged on two key issues. that the officer feared for his life and that they couldn't prove, prosecutors couldn't prove those 15 shots he fired were the ones that killed the two inside the car.
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>> isn't it fascinating? in fact the judge concluded that at least one of his shots caused the fatal wound. but he could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the other shots weren't fired, the other fatal shots, i believe there were four total, were fired by other officers. so for that reason in a way, because you have only one defendant charged, this is not a conspiracy those additional bullets helped the police officer. if he had been there alone -- >> the additional bullets helped the police officer? >> isn't that strange? yeah the additional bullets helped him. for those of you saying hey, if he caused one fatal wound, that should be enough. the best example i can give is that if brooke shoots danny and then half an hour later in comes wolf and shoots my dead body well wolf caused a fatal wound, but it didn't -- he didn't cause the death. so that's the issue of causation. because this judge couldn't could who actually caused the
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death, therefore there's no causation. it's a tricky legal issue. >> okay. danny, thank you so much. i appreciate it. next we'll pivot and talk about baltimore. 28 people shot over the weekend there during a month where the city has seen the most homicides in eight years. the number of arrests dropping in the city. is there a connection? let's explore that. plus we'll speak with a cnn producer and photojournalist who was wounded by an ied in the city of ramadi during the iraq war. he wrote a really poignant piece on this morning. we're going to hear his reaction to the ringing in his ears both literally and metaphorically all these years later. stay here. many wrinkle creams come with high hopes, but hope... doesn't work on wrinkles. clinically proven neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair with the fastest retinol formula
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in the city of baltimore, there's been a surge of violence. a record number of homicides have been reported over this holiday weekend. city leaders are calling it disheartening. all of this comes just weeks after parts of the city were torched in the wake of the death of freddie gray and the police indictments that followed. let me bring in cnn's national correspondent suzanne malveaux. >> just awful for the people in baltimore. baltimore city police are now operating on high alert because this deadly, murderous three-day holiday weekend. since friday 28 people have been shot seven of those have died. also another alarming statistic, authorities are now saying at least 33 people have been killed in baltimore this month. and according to "baltimore
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sun's" update as of today it might be as high as 35. this is the first time this city has had 30 homicides in a month in almost eight years. so the mayor, mayor stephanie rawlings-blake as well as the police commissioner have come out, addressed the residents to be calm. people want to know what is going on. >> it is disheartening that we're seeing such an increase in violence especially when you think about the progress that we've made. we've come too far to have this type of setback. >> law enforcement, public safety and the community will persevere over this small number of bad guys carrying guns pulling triggers killing people in our community. >> so brooke if you look at the list of shootings, where and who is being targeted, it is alarming. the shootings are taking place throughout the city so we're talking about the western region, the northern region. the police commissioner says some of the shootings taking place in the eastern district is
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related to traditional gang violence. >> i know that when you're looking at all these numbers, we're also learning that the arrest rateds are going down while the number of shootings are going up. could this at all be connected with the freddie gray death, the officers who were charged, any sort of hesitancy or the chilling factor from police? >> sure brooke. that's something that a lot of people suspect. but actually my colleague miguel marquez, he talked to a police officer who said it is true that some police officers feel they no longer have the support of the police commissioner or the city's leadership. so they're doing what he calls passive policing, the very least required to protect the community. only responding to 911 calls, not engaging the community any further. and here's what he told miguel. i want you to watch this. oh i'm told we don't have the sound. essentially, what he tells miguel is that they feel they don't have the backing of their leadership, so they're not going to put their officers at risk.
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they're not going to put themselves at risk. they're going toch each other's back. and they're afraid that if they go out and do something, they might get in trouble if they are considered doing something too aggressive. so they are responding to the 911 calls, but they're not going out and doing the traditional community policing they've been doing in the past. this is very disconcerting to folks in the community. so what are they doing? there was a group of residents over the weekend that marched, calling for peace. they went to city hall. also brooke we expect tomorrow morning a pastor who was close to freddie gray's family jamal bryant that he's going to be out there as well because he says that the police department is no longer engaged with the community, and they've got a problem because they don't have the necessary funding for the baltimore public schools and summer is coming. the kids are going to be out. he says if we don't address this now now, it's going to get a lot worse. >> i'm so glad miguel talked to an active police officer. we need to continue doing so in
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baltimore. suzanne malveaux thank you very much. coming up next here on cnn, video captures some of the final moments before the iraqi city of ramadi falls into isis hands. i'll talk with someone who was nearly killed while documenting the war there some years ago. his account of how ramadi turned from relative calm to the city under siege, as he calls it. also fighter jets scrambled amid a series of threats made to flights midair. we have an update on that. stay here. you're watching cnn on this memorial day.
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now you have these conflicting claims. they're now surfacing over what
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happened when this key city of ramadi fell. defense secretary ash carter said the iraqi forces showed no will. but someone who was in ramadi says he disagrees. here's cnn's senior international correspondent arwa damon. >> reporter: the chaotic final moments captured on a cell phone. come on fight, a voice shouts. this one of the last fire fights with isis before ramadi fell. a body is seen in the dirt behind one of the berms used for cover. the man who gave us the videos was one of the soldiers there, wounded in that final battle. there were three ieds that took out two humvees and killed five. then they came at us with two bulldozers raked with
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explosives he remembers. his contingent he says numbered around 140, spread out in smaller units along the vast terrain west of ramadi. he was in this armored personal carrier, reloading ammunition. one soldier calls for a heavier weapon. a warning that isis is approaching from another direction as well. then they came at us with big gun trucks surrounding us from four directions. there should have been a force to our rear but they weren't there, he says. his commander radios for air support. moments later, cries of "no ammunition no ammunition." and the unit receives orders to withdraw. he is bitter and angry. though wounded he wanted to keep fighting. just two weeks before the fall of ramadi he says his unit
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captured an isis position killing six, he claims. two corpses seen torched in this video. another seven, he says were detained. four of them foreigners. under interrogation a captured isis fighter described their surveillance and bold tactics. he recalls the fighter saying you flash a light at the tower. we know there are only 28 soldiers and in five-hour reationsre rotations and a lack of ammunitions it. if the soldiers don't fire at us we crawl and plant the bomb. he bristles at the accusation that the iraqi army doesn't have the will to fight. he wants to join the militias. the failure is with the military higher ups, he says who gave the orders to retreat and allowed supply lines to fail and front lines to collapse. arwa damon, cnn, baghdad. >> the fall of ramadi much more
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than a tactical loss for american troops, who fought there and for journalists who covered the war. hearing the news that ra mamadi is now in isis hands. gabe you were working as a photojournalist. you wrote this really poignant piece on we wanted to have you share this story with everyone else. can you just begin with me take me back. it was what christmas of '04 you were traveling with our pentagon correspondent at the time. what happened? >> we were on a patrol with a gulf company. we had been sent out there by the esteemed kevin flower who was a baghdad bureau chief at the time. he wanted us to do stories about holidays and the troops. you know try to bring up morale type stories.
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any assignment there, as we all knew was going to be a difficult one. we were out on a patrol with the marines. on our way back we were hit by an ied just outside the gates of hurricane point. it was a combat outpost. i believe it was an old palace complex on the west side of town. you know i have to say that while writing this it just reminded me of all the times the guys in this convoy and many other patrols for all those years went out daily and survived ieds and in many cases did not survive them. i talked to many marines during my time in anbar province as an imbedded journalist. i would hear stories about guys who had been through 20 25, 30 ied attacks and survived. so i felt really -- i felt incredibly lucky to have made it through that one and made it
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through, you know -- >> you say you feel lucky, but you also wrote had that vehicle been a couple feet to the right, what? >> yeah, that would have been it for us. we were really lucky. the explosion, the force of the explosion went off just to the right side of the vehicle. had it been right underneath us -- and we were in the back of what they call a high-back humvee. it was a truck humvee. we were in the bed of a truck. we weren't enclosed in it which is why we felt a lot of the force of it. but it probably would have, you know flipped us over. it could have torn the vehicle in half. it was a powerful powerful explosion. the marines i talked to later who were in the vehicle behind us, you know they said that we just -- that we were extremely lucky to have made it. it was a really close call yeah. >> thank goodness, you know you were all okay and able to tell the story. you talk about your ears
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ringing. literal ears ringing. i don't know when your ears stopped ringing, but then you sort of jux thata juxtapose that with this proverbial ringing as far as the fighting goes. it's become louder and louder especially now that you're watching the news on our network and this place that you covered where now the city is in isis' hands. >> yeah no it's -- as a result of that ied, i didn't say anything about it at the time to chris because i didn't want to worry him and didn't want to worry anybody, but my ears were -- i'd been concussed. i feel the effects of that to this day. so when i heard about ramadi falling back into the hands of a group like isis, the forbearer of al qaeda in iraq had been driven out after a lot of toil and a lot of hard work by many people so it was really
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unbelievable to me. maybe not unbelievable but very, you know disappointing. because i know the people of ramadi had been through a lot. not just to talk about the unbelievable sacrifices of american troops there, guys who had, you know, been around and had the privilege of being welcomed into their fold for a time. but the people of ramadi just the people the people living day to day, they had to go through all of that for so many years during the u.s. occupation. they finally turn a corner and then years later to see it all fall apart, it's just -- it is heartbreaking. >> i talked to a mother last week who lost her son in ramadi. just to see what's happened now, it is incredibly difficult and personal for a lot of people including you. thank you so much for sharing your story. i'll make sure i tweet the link out so people can read what you wrote on >> really quickly, on a memorial
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day, my experience is one thing as a journalist. but the guys out there who didn't come home this is a very important day to me because there were guys -- all of us at cnn who did time in baghdad, we spent time with a lot of these guys and a lot of them didn't come home. all due respect to those families. >> absolutely. on a day like today, we must be mindful. gabe thank you. coming up next, reunited with the soldier who rescued her. my next guest was only 36 days old when this soldier helped her escape. they're reunited, after this quick break.
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there is an ancient rhythm... [♪] that flows through all things... through rocky spires... [♪] and ocean's swell... [♪] the endless... stillness of green... [♪] and in the restless depths of
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human hearts... [♪] the voice of the wild within. on this memorial day, i want to tell you a special story about a retired american soldier
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witnessing the graduation of a now-teenager he helped rescue from iraq back in 1996. she says she really wanted lieutenant colonel greg to be there to watch her walk across the stage. she tracked him down. this was a reunion some 18 years in the making. >> i'm happy you tracked me down. >> so am i. >> i wouldn't miss this for the world. >> the last time they saw each other, i'm thinking lava didn't quite remember it because she was 36 days old. her mother though definitely remembers this. the back story is she was actually on saddam hussein's kill list because she was targeted for being kurdish. the united states agreed to help her get out, but when she arrived at the border an iraqi official would not allow her to leave with her daughter. that's when lieutenant colonel stepped in and through a simple name change at the border helped secure lava's escape. lava and her mother join me now.
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welcome. lava congratulations on graduating. >> thank you so much. >> thank you for having us. >> lava let me begin with you. obviously you put some effort into finding greg. can you just -- the moment a couple days ago when you finally got to hug him, to say thank you, what was that like for you? >> it was a lot of mixed emotions going on. it was a lot of excitement and nervousness mainly. but it was a really good feeling. >> what did you tell him? >> i thanked him a lot for being able to make it out and for coming and remembering me. >> because he did, all these years later. he remembered you. as a mother can you just take me back 18 years ago and what that felt like as you were trying to leave and someone suddenly tells you, well you can't take your daughter. >> yeah i was working with american organizations. because of that, i end up in a kill list. america decided to evacuate us
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through the operation pacific hichb heaven. at that time i was pregnant with my daughter. when i got to the daughter, i already had her. they told me, you can leave, but your daughter cannot leave, because she's not on the list. i said i'm not leaving without her. so he said you can toss her to somebody to deliver to your family if you don't have any -- you know but you cannot take her to the united states. so we end up getting out of the bus and going back home. so he came in to check what's going on. we told him, they're not going to allow our daughter to pass. so he said what's her name? i gave him her name. he said no her name is not lava anymore. her name today is greg. today she's going to go to the united states. if i have to i'll give her my passport and she's going to use it to travel. >> so he was essentially saying use my name, i'm willing to give you a passport just so you can leave with your daughter. >> yeah he put his hand on my
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shoulder and told me not to worry, today she's going to be greg. if i have to she's going to go to the united states and i'm going to be here in here place. >> oh my goodness. 18 years ago, i'm shooure that feels like yesterday. the lieutenant colonel talked to us. here he is responding to the e-mail you sent. >> i couldn't believe it. i had no idea where they were or how they were faring or anything else. hadn't heard or seen them or communicated since that day we got them across the border. to get the e-mail and when lava said this is from baby greg and explained how she had my name for all these years and her mother told her the story for all these years, then she wanted to find me. i was, one, amazing she could find my name because i wasn't wearing a uniform, and then two, it was just so rewarding
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that they're doing so well. it just -- not only did it make my day, but it made my year and my career in the military. >> made his year made his career in the military. ladies i mean to hear that and to see his face it almost seemed like he was surprised, you know lava that you took the time that you knew the story, and wanted to find him. >> yeah i mean i always heard the story as a child, so i knew i wanted to try and find him or at least thank him for everything he did for my family. but him being there was a lot better than i could have ever imagined. >> i can't imagine. he also talked about the challenges you all faced escaping iraq and starting a new life here in the u.s. here he is again. >> for them to come to america, if you think about it when they left iraq in the circumstances they did, with poor english
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skills going to a country they don't know not even knowing where in the country they're going to end up no job. their sole worldly belongings in one suitcase and with a little baby. that takes courage to do that. absolutely a brave couple. then to come to america and embrace america, the community of buford embracing them and to see them doing so well. awaz has a master's degree in i.t. lava graduating from high school and going on to further education. it's just a fantastic feeling they're goingdoing so well and america has given them the opportunity to do this. >> i'm watching you, awaz watch him. this is 18 years later. still very emotional for you. >> it is. i mean he saved us that day. i have a big, you know, depth of gratitude to him and to u.s. i don't think it's ever going to
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go away. because every day is like, you know reminds me of what he did. every day i see my daughters growing up here and embracing life here and achieving her goals. it's a reward. gratitude to him and what he did to all of us. >> that's so wonderful. at a time, a perfect stranger. thank you both very much. >> thank you for having us. >> thank you. and we continue on. top of the hour. you're watching cnn. i'm brooke baldwin. we're following this developing story here. the fbi is looking into a series of threats made against multiple passenger jets all heading to the united states. one anonymous caller claimed a chemical weapon was on board this air france flight. the plane landed safely at new york's jfk airport, escorted by two f-15 fighter jets just as a precautionary measure. it has now been cleared. no real threat detected. jean casarez has been looking into all these