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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  October 6, 2015 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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foreman. thanks so much. don't get a shinsplint out there. >> see you. >> that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning you over to one, mr. wolf blitzer in a place we like to call "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now -- illegal strike in the u.s. is accused of a car crime for the deadly air strike on a hospital in afghanistan. the pentagon admits a mistake, pledges a thorough investigation and orders new training for troops. after 14 year of war in afghanistan, aren't there already rules of engagement there? hostile skies, russian air strikes, new calls for a no-fly zone. will that lead to a showdown? >> rising rivers more dams at risk in south carolina where there are fears the flooding will even get worse. as the death toll climbs, residents are warned the situation remain very dangerous. eye of the storm.
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a ship with 33 crew members aboard, including 28 americans, disappears in the middle of a hurricane. searchers find a massive debris field. can they find any survivors? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." already, facing a bloody upsurge by the taliban, the u.s. is accused of a car crime after a deadly strike on a hospital. addressing concerns about the way the war's going, general john campbell says the air strike was a mistake, and he's ordered new training to prevent future incidents. but he also hints the u.s. may need to keep more troops in afghanistan for a longer period of time. russia stepping up its air war in syria. and there are new signs that may be preparing for action on the ground, not against isis, but prop up the syrian regime. as tensions mount between moscow
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and the west. president obama's now under greater pressure to come up with new options. i'll speak with senator corey gardner, foreign relations committee, and correspondents, analysts and guests will have full coverage of the top stories. the fallout from the deadly u.s. air strike from a hospital in afghanistan. pentagon correspondent barbara starr. >> a short time ago, defense secretary ash carter issued a statement expressing deep regret for the attack against the hospital but not yet a full blown apology. general campbell, the top u.s. commander on capitol hill today, saying it was a mistake. but there have been conflicting reports about what happened at the hospital. listen to a bit more of what general campbell had to say. >> on saturday morning our forces provided close air support to afghanistan at their request. the decision to provide aerial fires was a u.s. decision made within the u.s. chain of
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command. a hospital was mistakenly struck. we would never intentionally target a protected medical facility. >> but, doctors without borders and you talked to them earlier, you know this, doctors without borders who runs that hospital says they do not buy it, that they had warned the u.s. of their exact location for months when the attack started, it lasted 30 minutes. they called up, they tried to get the strike called off. but it went on for some time. all of this coming, campbell facing questions about the u.s. troop presence in afghanistan. most of the 10,000 troops scheduled to come home at the end of next year. general campbell now raising the very real possibility because of the overall security situation, the taliban, al qaeda, and isis are on the rise in afghanistan. that some u.s. troops will be staying longer. >> do they believe over there at the pentagon if the u.s. were to keep 5,000 troops in afghanistan
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in the long run that would make a difference given the less than perfect performance of the afghan military and police? >> the hope is that at least that would give them the capability to continue with some of the training advising and assisting. there is also some very quiet discussion, could they get more nato countries to offer up some troops? that politically may be very difficult for those allies to do that. not ideal. but well aware that certainly president obama, congress, not likely to authorize a substantial increase in the u.s. presence. >> barbara, thank you. russia stepping up its air campaign in syria. isis doesn't seem to be the main target than comes amid concern that russian troops had heavy weapons, used to pretech the regime of ba sar al assad.
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are russia headed over a showdown over syria. >> the white house is left with few options as russia is escalating military campaign inside syria. the administration is warning moscow that it's making a big mistake in its intervention in syria. but the president appears to be untable to stop it. >> both the u.s. and nato pointing 0 mountaining evidence that russia is all in in syria. top officials say, moscow's deployed ground forces into syria and has violated airspace of a nato partner, turkey to carry out air strikes. >> i'm also concerned that russia is not targeting isil but instead attacking the syrian opposition and civilians. >> reporter: the war of words is ramping up as well. u.s. officials are furious that russian bombers appear to be hitting syrian opposition groups backed by the cia. moscow, emphatically claims it's targeting isis. the white house is accusing
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russia of trying to shift the balance of power in syria, striking outside isis and syrian government-controlled areas and into rebel territory. >> i don't think president putin is playing chess. he's playing checkers. >> what point does the president say to putin, cut it out? >> the president has made quite clear russia should not be interfering with the 65-member international coalition that is seeking to degrade and ultimately destroy isil. >> reporter: moscow agreed for another round of military-to-to military talks with the u.s. but it will be tough for both sides to come off hardening positions. >> this approach is tant amount to pouring gasoline on the fire of the syrian civil war. >> reporter: president obama, who has told his team he will continue to support the syrian opposition, is coming uncriticism from all sides
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including 2008 rivals, hillary clinton -- >> we should be putting together a coalition to support a no-fly zone because i -- look, i think it's complicated and the russians would have to be part of it. >> reporter: and john mccain. >> i think we should have more boots on the ground, not a lot but we better do something. >> reporter: as the presidential veteran group seen here in this white house video, he's atment he's not launching new wars. >> right now, if i was taking sadder advice of members of congress, we'd be in seven wars at a time. i'm not exaggerating. >> just last week, president putin said he was ruling out use of ground troops in syria. now the kremlins saying a volunteer force may be fighting. as for hillary clinton's call for no-fly zone, the white house has repeatedly said the president does not favor that.
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>> joining us now, corey gardner of colorado a member of the senate foreign relations committee. thanks for coming in. let's talk about afghanistan, bombing of the doctors without border hospital in kunduz city killing a lot of people, medical personnel, patients, children. the executive director of the doctor without borders organization tell me they consider this to be a war crime. >> we have three concurrent, separate investigations taking place. an investigation by the department of defense and this is a tragedy. it is a tragic accident as secretary of defense stated today. it will be investigated by the united states. it's going to be investigated by afghanistan government and investigated by nato. all three concurrent investigations are taking place and we should wait and see before we do anything else to have results of the
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investigations. >> doctors without borders, that's not enough. you need outside independent investigation and international investigation as well. should the u.s. cooperate? >> u.s. is cooperating. >> outside of nato. nato's directly involved. >> we need to complete the department of defense investigation. what if there's a united nations investigation? would that be appropriate for the u.s. to coop raitt international investigation outside those who already inside. >> i'd be interested to see the results. let's complete the investigations. we will be fully transparent and which we will hold people accountable as appropriate like the secretary of defense said today. this is truly tragic. we have to find the result of the investigation. >> doctors without borders repeatedly provided to nato, u.s., coordinates and the hospital, the only hospital, was located within a day or two before this attack.
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who whoever was responsible should they be held accountable and punished? >> secretary of defense said people will be held accountable for this. that can only happen after a complete investigation to find out what happened. general campbell testified before the armed services committee. talked about retraining that will take place on rule of engagement and that's critical. a number of things have happened, whether it's somebody created an incident accidentally, a car accident, proper accident, involving property, retraining occurs regularly. >> this is what's shocking to me, correct me if i'm wrong, retraining occurs routinely, for 14 years, this is the longest war in u.s. history, 14 years since october 7, tomorrow, 2001, u.s. has been engaged in combat and afghanistan and all of a sudden u.s. needs to retrain troops about appropriate engagement rules, rules of
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engagement? it's shocking the u.s. has to do this at this late stage. >> retraining has occurred over the past several year. the first year our program has been in place, leaving it to the afghan security forces. this is a new year in terms of what the role of the afghan forces is going to be and how the united states is going to work. we'll have this investigation, find out what happened. bottom line, this highlights even more the decision by the white house on what they are going to do with troop levels, as the taliban become more and more emboldened to take action against afghan security forces that may or may not be up to the pace that they have to be in order to defend, protect the country. it is going to be be more of a challenge for us and that's why i'm concerned about the troop levels. >> the president wants almost all u.s. troops out by next year. now reports 5,000 should remain. >> i don't think we can decide a
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withdrawal on a political time frame. that's what we saw in iraq. this march i was in iraq. but the question is, we have to not adhere to a political time frame -- >> do you want troops to remain in afghanistan? >> i think we have to have troops in afghanistan to make sure we don't have the implosion that we saw in iraq. when we had a political withdrawal, to meet a political prom sis on a political time frame in iraq we saw what happened. we cannot allow the same thing to happen in afghanistan i'm have spoken to general campbell in kabul who expressed concern, today before the armed services committee and afghanistan we do not create a critical withdrawal of troops that result in a catastrophe. if we had foreign relations policy from the president that was about leading instead of following we wouldn't be in the situation in the first place. >> talk about syria, no-fly zone
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being proposed. the u.s., 10,000 troops there, 4,000 nato tripes, not working well in the fifth largest city in afghanistan in condukunduz c. all of the troops run away. >> the taliban are reading the news as we are. about the president's decision. >> there are still 10,000 troops. >> they want to withdraw to 5,000. they know what the president's plan is, that is to leave afghanistan. we cannot create the same vac tomb we created in iraq. let's make sure we avoid mistakes of the past. >> i hear what you're saying but it's very depressing after 14 years, ten of billions of dollars the u.s. spent training afghan military personnel, police, still not capable of keeping the peace, fighting
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taliban. sill need troop there's after 14 years. >> this is the first time they've been in the train advice assist mode. >> i want to talk about syria. it's not a pretty picture either. more with senator corey gardner. (vo) what does the world run on? it runs on optimism. it's what sparks ideas. moves the world forward. invest with those who see the world as unstoppable. who have the curiosity to look beyond the expected and the conviction to be in it for the long term. oppenheimerfunds believes that's the right way to invest... this big, bold, beautiful world.
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welcome back. here with senator corey gardner, member of the senate foreign relations hitty. would you support a u.s. imposed no-fly zone in syria. >> i think that's the direction we will be going to provide protection to the people of syria. >> what if russians say we're not complying? we have our own missions, we're going against terrorist targets, whether isis, those fighting regime of assad. >> i think you brought up a good point. russia firmly owns actions of the assad regime they have targeted syrian rebels that we have trained and the next barrel bomb dropped out of a helicopter will be on the laps of the russians as they prop up the regime. the coalition, allies need to make it clear, this no-fly zone, humanitarian zone is an important element going forward. we won't take a backseat to russia in the middle east, in syria as they prop up a
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murderous regime. >> what happens in the russians say we're not going to comply with the u.s. imposed or whatever imposed no-fly zone? does that set stage for confrontation between the u.s. and russia? >> goes back to whery we're here, we have had a policy of leading from behind. that potential conflict is there because we have an administration that has failed to fill in the vacuum in syria, allowing a vacuum -- >> the russians are deeply involved, not only air strikes, sending in troops, weapons, tanks. trying to prop up the regime of al assad. >> that's right. they own the actions of the assad regime. and people question whether or not they have -- whether targeting isis. be clear what they've done. 19 of the air strikes that they have done, 17 targeted areas that were held by rebels as well, syrian rebels some of which we have trained. 17 of the 19 targeted areas that
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had rebels also fighting isis. only two of them targeted isis-only areas. >> talk about north korea. a lot of us concerned about what could potentially happen october 10 thr, a few days from now. give the time change, october 9 h. here in the united states, 70th anniversary of the founding of the so-called workers party in north korea. on a day like that they do something expositive, potentially launch some missile. what are you hearing? >> exactly what we're hearing. look at arc of foreign policy of administration, the administration's policy of strategic patience has been a strategic fall ire. a few days away from a rocket launch, they'll say they're launching a satellite, bottom line it's the same technology that will be used to launch a ballistic missile, and they're going to do it despite numerous sanctions. strategic patience allowed them
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to develop 20 nuclear warheads in five years we anticipate north korean regime to possess 100 nuclear warheads. our policy's a failure. myself and senator rubio introduced sanctions regime that will mandate sanctions, force the president to deal with congress, put in place cyberprotects and protect human rights against the atrocious acts of the regime. >> already under enormous sanctions what happen additional sanctions. >> more passive sanctions. right now the strategic patience policy allowed the administration to cherry pick sanctions including a couple last week extended against two proliferato proliferators. what our legislation calls for mandatory sanctions unless the administration comes to us securi secure national security wavers. this puts in place a policy the united states will use to
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respond to north korean cyberactivity. they believe it's an asim mettic tool against the united states. they've been developing their program, ingij nized, not relying on outside capabilities. we need something new. our legislation will do that. >> we'll see what happens friday, october 9th in the united states, october 10th in north korea. thanks very much for coming in. corey gardner of colorado. the latest on south carolina's flooding emergency. major highways, rail lines blocked. more dams threatened. also, startling revelations from the mother of the gunman in mass shooting at an oregon college.
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kept the supermarket shelves stocked. made sure everyone got their latest gadgets. what's up for the next shift? ah, nothing much. just keeping the lights on. (laugh) nice. doing the big things that move an economy. see you tomorrow, mac. see you tomorrow, sam. just another day at norfolk southern.
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and temperamental television... in one. welcome to the moment no one's been waiting for. the fastest internet and the best tv experience is already here with x1. only from xfinity. south carolina officials are preparing shelters and ready to order new evacuations as floodwaters pour across the state, threatening to breach more dams. 14 people in south carolina, 2 in north carolina, died as a result of unprecedented rains and flooding. we're standing by to speak with south carolina congressman james clyburn, his district has been hit hard by the flooding. cnn's boris sanchez has the latest from south carolina. >> reporter: in the aftermath of
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described as a gun 1,000 years flood, crews are moving fast to try to repair devastated south carolina. a massive rebuilding effort that could cost more than a billion dollars. residents still not in the clear. flood waters overwhelming dams near charlesson, the storm itself has passed, more evacuations are expected. >> you can see where the water is covering over that road right there and cars are trying to go through it. >> reporter: some roads are starting to reopen, many still shut down, including major section of i-95, remain desolate, lanes packed with traffic now empty, with transportation officials inspecting overpasses and bridges for safety. >> we would like to get it open as fast as we can because we want to make sure it's safe before the motoring public get
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back on. >> reporter: the cost is immense and getting it reopened will not be easy. >> people taking a part in this, we want to make sure it's safe but it's a task. >> reporter: governor nikki haley warning residents to not take risks. >> people are starting to go around barriers. this is not safe. we are doing those protect you. >> reporter: waters recede and authors calculate the financial toll, the loss of life is staggering. and as crews get to areas previously under water. they fear the death toll could rise. >> what i saw was disturbing. and it is hard to look at the loss that we are going to have. but everything will be okay. >> reporter: boris sanchez, cnn, manning, south carolina. >> democratic congressman james clyburn of south carolina, district includes many areas affected by the floods. thanks for joining us. if you spoken with president obama, vice president biden, in the aftermath of the historic
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floods? >> i have not. offices and staffs have been in touch but i have not spoken with them personally i'm want to thank president obama, though, governor haley issued a verbal request two days ago and within one day president obama responded, positively, and i spoke a couple of hours ago with secretary johnson, jason johnson, homeland security. and he is coming here on friday morning. we've talked about the various forms of disaster relief that can be gotten for people. notice that your reporter, who is in manning, that's one of the counties that's been approved for public assistance but has not been approved for individual assistance. but it's very hard hit. and it may be because county
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officials aren't used to this kind of stuff and therefore i don't think they've done the paperwork that needs to be done. so, my satisfy is working with them now, trying to make sure that the paperwork gets in so that the individuals in these counties requeget the relief th need. two other counties, berkeley and sumpter. we're working with all three. by the time the secretary gets here on friday, we want to present him with these written requests. >> we have heard, congressman, this could be a billion dollars, maybe a whole lot more to repair, to restore some normality. ever seen anything like this in your state of south carolina before? >> no, i was here for hugo. i remember, as a child, diane. i remember hazel. nothing like this. hugo was nothing like this for south carolina. we had a lot of vegetation torn
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up, farming, trees. but we are talking about dams, about 10, 12 of them. we're talking about 14 lives have been lost. nothing like that happened with any disasters that i've experienced in my 75 years. >> what kind of estimates in terms of damage, the cost, how much money do you think you're going to need? >> oh a billion dollars will only get us started. when washing away the earth and dams, we've got to start mitigation, i've instructed staff that do good for disaster relief, both on the public side and the private side. but let's stop talking about mitigation. what we need to do to restore the dams, repair the bridges, we're getting a good lesson why
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we ought not ever vote against relief for other communities. i remember having the argument with some of my colleagues, when sandy struck new jersey and new york, and they're voting against disaster relief for those people. now it's our turn in the barrel and i would hope those representatives do not hold that against us because we are going to need pretty big requests for assistance from the federal government. >> you voted, i take it, for that relief for hurricane sandy in new jersey and new york, right? >> absolutely. i always vote for this kind of leaf for the communities. >> i asked the question, congressman, because yesterday i spoke with your senator, lindsey graham, he opposed, voted against relief at that time. but he's seeking support for financial assistance from the federal government for south carolina right now. i wonder if you think there's
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going to be enough votes in the senate and the thousand pass this kind of legislation. >> well, i sure enough hope so. i hope this is a real good lesson for all of us. we cannot, as i said to someone earlier, this may be a natural disaster, but this is an unnatural condition for our constituents to be in. so, we have to remember, we saw katrina down in louisiana, mississippi. we see -- saw sandy in new york and new jersey. we now have whatever name we want to put on this. everybody gets their turn in the barrel. and so we ought not ever deny assistance to communities because we never know when our number's coming up. it just came up. i would hope that nobody holds it against us.
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>> one final quep your family, your house, friends, are they okay? >> my family's okay. my house in orangeburg county, where i was, when the rain started, suffered significant damage. we left there on sunday evening and i hope it's still there when we return. >> good luck to you, congressman. good luck to all of the folks in south carolina right now. we know you're going through a really difficult period. appreciate you joining us. newly revealed internet postings from the mother of the oregon college gunman. his knowledge of firearms and mental disorder. the mystery disappearance of a ship carrying more than two dozen americans yp did it stay in the path of a major hurricane? name of my parents and my grandparents. i was getting all these leaves
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and i was going back generation after generation. you start to see documents and you see signatures of people that you've never met. i mean, you don't know these people, but you feel like you do. you get connected to them. i wish that i could get into a time machine and go back 100 years, 200 years and just meet these people. being on ancestry just made me feel like i belonged somewhere. discover your story. start searching for free now at (vo) wit runs on optimism.un on? it's what sparks ideas. moves the world forward. invest with those who see the world as unstoppable. who have the curiosity to look beyond the expected and the conviction to be in it for the long term. oppenheimerfunds believes that's the right way to invest... this big, bold, beautiful world.
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new revelations about the gunman who killed nine people at an oregon college before he took his own life. she kept numerous firearms in her home. her writings revealed both she and her son struggled with asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. let's bring in our cnn law enforcement analyst, tom fuentes, jeffrey toobin, and dr. lisa van susteren,
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psychiatrist. are there resources available to paef parents? assume they believe something is wrong with an adult child and weapons around, what can they do? >> not a lot, frankly, unless they're sophisticated and have a lot of money typically. sometimes social services are there for them. but oftentimes these are not available to them. and frankly, the real question is, though they may be there, try getting people in to actually take those services seriously and benefit them. that's the real crux of the issue. >> are there legal ways to deal with this, tom? because it's clearly a problem. we haven't just seen it in oregon but elsewhere as well. >> we have had so many parents complain how difficult it is to get help with a child but once a child becomes an adult, there's little, if anything, they can do. they can't access medical records they can't have them committed. they can't make them take their medicati medication if they're assigned to it.
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second issue, leave 14 guns laying around, that's a different story. the issue of what a parent can do, getting mental health services to a child is a difficult situation. >> legally speaking if you haven't adult child, serious mental issues, serious problems with 14 guns in the house, is that parent potentially legally liable for criminal action as a result of what takes place? >> almost certainly not. the legal system has enough difficulty reconstructing what happened in the past. but we really don't hold people responsible for predicting in the future the general harm to the world. obviously, you know, common sense should reign here, they shouldn't have access to guns, they shouldn't have been around. it's a legal matter, legal to have guns in the home. this person was not under any direct supervision or
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requirement not to have access to guns. so legally, i don't think there's anything here. >> there is this concept, though, of assisted outpatient treatment and in fact all but five states in the u.s. do have a requirement that those people who are thought to be dangerous to themselves or others and in need of treatment can be required to undergo treatment. now it's often not put into -- put to use but nonetheless, there are laws in place. >> it's always difficult for any parent to go to law enforcement, the fbi, or local law enforcement, state law enforcement, and say, i think we have a problem with my son or daughter, usually it's a son. >> as lisa mentioned, how would they be able to say he's going to commit a murder if they don't see the postings, if they don't hear that from -- >> there are indications of potential violence. >> indications of problems but to what extent? that's where the difficulty comes. a parent in denial.
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>> parents don't want to think of their children as being violent and it sounds like this mother may have been hiding the fact that he was violent in a larger sense, maybe -- and my words may sound hollow -- it may be she was trying to connect with him in his violence by participating in gun buying and maybe even taking him to target practice so he'd focus on inanimate objects. parents we're expecting them to have an emotional intelligence they may not have they do tragic things that contribute to the violence. >> asperger's is what they call a neurodevelopment disorder. no scientific evidence showing asperger's has any greater tendency towards violence than average people. >> the important thing is that we don't have a diagnosis about this woman, tossed around and diagnoses are thrown around. the real issue, this is what we have to look at, more guns, more violence. the states with stricter gun
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laws have a lower incident of violence. when you have kids like this who seem to have a diminished sense of empathy who seem to have very little self-control, aggressive demeanor, dressing in combat, et cetera, clearly these are people who should not allowed to have guns in their hands. >> putting aside the legal issue, the moral issue of simply saying, i'm going to put these guns in a suitcase and put them in a different house because i'm uncomfortable with my son around these sorts of guns. that is probably not a legal obligation we can impose on people. but just as a sense of common decency, god knows it would have been the right thing to do here. >> as she put in her postings, my guns are loaded, my magazines are loaded, i'm ready for the unwanted visitor, this kind of threatening thing. she was not about to give those guns away or put them somewhere else or lock them up. >> and we know what happened. >> this young man had no
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friends, totally isolated close with his mother. sitting in the house, she had major issues, apparently, if you believe the postings. and there were 14 weapons in the house. >> yes. this is the point, we are assuming that parents are going to be full of common sense and looking out for society and protecting their children well. and the fact is, we can't count on that and that's why we have to have what i think most of us feel is a more rigorous attempt to keep these guns out of their hands to begin with. >> the factual parallels, particularly to sandy hook and the killer there, are so chilling and so extraordinary. another circumstance where nobody did anything in advance, and legally, nothing was done or could have been done. >> a mother trying to bond with her son, take him to the range, she's the first person he kills. she was his first victim before he went to the school. >> sandy hook. >> hopefully we'll learn those
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cargo ship with 33 people on board, 28 of them americans, disappeared in the middle of hurricane joaquin. searchers have found a massive debris field, but can they still find any survivors? cnn's rene marsh is here in "the situation room." what are you finding out? what are they saying? >> well, although the coast guard is saying that this ship most likely sank to the bottom of the ocean, we do know that this search for survivors is actively still under way. we also know that families are
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holding on to hope that there are actually survivors. so far, we know they have found a damaged lifeboat, life jackets, cargo containers and one body, but the 32 other people still unaccounted for. of course, we know that the ship, it lost power, they lost propulsion, and it was simply no match for those 50-foot waves as well as 140-mile-per-hour winds. >> this was a category 4, even a category 5 hurricane, joaquin. do we know why the pilot, the captain attempted to go through this hurricane at that time? >> well, we've heard from the owner of this cargo ship. and this person essentially says that the captain had this plan, a plan to go around this storm, go around the hurricane. but when that propulsion system failed, the ship was essentially out there and at the mercy of the elements. it was being tossed around. and just, they simply did not stand a chance. we do know that on board these ships, there is equipment to send them up-to-date weather
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conditions, specifically coming from noaa. so, they should have known what the weather conditions were. we know that at 5:00 p.m. last tuesday, according to our own cnn weather unit, that the forecast showed that this was going to change to a hurricane-strength storm, and it would be in the same area as the path of this ship. and we know that three hours later, despite that forecast, the ship did leave, according to so, part of the investigation is going to be into the decision-making process. how much information did they have about the weather conditions and who was a part of the decision-making process to go ahead anyway? >> and we know the ntsb, the national transportation safety board, is on the scene. this investigation will take a while. let's hope they find some of these people and some survivors. rene, thanks very much. coming up, russian air strikes in syria not aimed at isis, bringing new calls for a no-fly zone, but with russian boots on the ground, should the u.s. put its own troops in syria?
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a war crime, the deadly u.s. air strike on a hostel in afghanistan condemned by an aid group as a violation of humanitarian law. and on capitol hill, the commander in charge grilled by lawmakers. i'll talk to the senator who led that hearing, john mccain. alliance of evil? russia's rapid military build-up in syria shines a spotlight on vladimir putin's alliance with that country's ruthless dictator, bashar al assad.
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why is putin coming to his aid now and what does he hope to get out of their complex relationship? major breaches, multiple dams failing as record flooding washes across south carolina. the death toll from the disaster is climbing tonight amid growing fear floodwaters haven't yet peaked. i'll talk to the mayor of the state's capital. and will he or won't he? speculation raging tonight about whether vice president joe biden will jump into the 2016 white house race, potentially turning it upside down. and now he's answering allegations he used a personal tragedy for political gain. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." there is damning, new condemnation tonight on the u.s. air strike on a hospital in afghanistan that killed more than 20 people, including doctors and children. the commander of u.s. forces in afghanistan now is calling it a
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mistake. the international aid group doctors without borders calls it a war crime. we're also following the escalating crisis in syria, where russia's sudden military intervention is now complicating u.s. efforts to fight isis. and tonight we're also learning the united states is taking a closer look at implementing a no-fly zone. and here in the united states, we're watching the disaster unfolding in south carolina, where record flooding is now blamed for at least 14 deaths and multiple dam failures in that state. and there's also fear the worst may still be to come in some areas. we're covering all of that and much more this hour with our correspondents and our guests, including senator john mccain. he's the chairman of the senate armed services committee, also a member of the homeland security committee. he's standing by live. but let's begin with the new fallout from that deadly u.s. air strike on a hospital in afghanistan. our pentagon correspondent, barbara starr, is working the story for us. barbara?
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>> reporter: wolf, there are still conflicting reports about exactly what happened. the top general testified today he wants investigators to get to the bottom of it, but he has also taken a very significant step. in the aftermath of the attack on the doctors without borders hospital, a stunning military order from the top u.s. commander. >> i've directed the entire force to undergo in-depth training in order to review all of our operational authorities in rules of engagement. >> reporter: that order and acknowledgement that something went wrong. rules of engagement spell out when and how the u.s. military can conduct air strikes, like the ac-130 gunship that hit the hospital. doctors without borders says the u.s. knew it was a hospital, they were under attack for 30 minutes, it could not have been a mistake. >> until we're told otherwise and until we see an independent investigation, we will presume that this was, in fact, a war
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crime. >> reporter: did this violate u.s. military rules? >> even though the afghans request that support, it still has to go through a rigorous u.s. procedure to enable fires to go on the ground. >> but there was no american forward air controllers on the ground. >> sir, we had a special operations unit that was in close vicinity that was talking to the aircraft that delivered those fires. >> reporter: if the u.s. knew it was a hospital, did reports of taliban firing justify the attack? >> we would never intentionally target a protected medical facility. >> reporter: standards for air strikes, at least initially, do not appear to have been met at the hospital. military rules require u.s. troops are at risk, contrary to initial reports, u.s. troops were not fired on. when the u.s. is going after al qaeda. here it was the taliban. when afghans are about to be overrun. here, the afghans were trying to retake the area.
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campbell said the overall security situation in afghanistan is still so uncertain, he needs to revise his recommendations about a troop reduction. >> we have to provide our senior leadership options different than the current plan that we're going with. >> reporter: it remains to be seen how many of the 10,000 troops now in afghanistan will remain after the end of next year. but with the taliban, isis and al qaeda on the rise, it is still very much an open question. wolf? >> barbara starr at the pentagon, thank you. doctors without borders, the group that ran the hospital, says it presumes the air strike was a war crime, calling it an inexcusable violation of international humanitarian law. our cnn international diplomatic editor, nic robertson, is on the ground for us in the afghan capital of kabul. nic, what's the reaction you're hearing there? >> reporter: well, doctors without borders are now saying,
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they're giving more detail as to why they make this claim of a war crime. they say the staff on the ground at the hospital that night, remembering, again, this is a large compound with many buildings in it, that they heard the aircraft circling overhead, then it came and put fire on one of the buildings, the intensive care surgery building, that it circled around a few more times, then came back again and put fire on the same building and did that again, went, circled around a few times, came back. this is over this long period of 30 minutes, 45 minutes. came back and put fire on the same building again, leaving untouched the other buildings in this big compound. and it's that reason, because of the repeated, retargeting of a single building, given that their forward air controllers have to run coordinates each time there's about to be a strike, they have to be run, they have to be checked. so, they say this repeated process means it couldn't, therefore, have been a mistake, because it happened so many times. that's what they're saying, wolf. the effect is that all u.n.
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agencies, all non-governmental agencies, international and afghan, have pulled out of kunduz now. there is very, very little in terms of humanitarian support for the people that remain there, wolf. >> is the afghan government taking responsibility, too? did they provide bad information to the u.s.? >> reporter: you know, the afghan government really isn't speaking out about who provided which piece of information. the health ministry is calling, like doctors without borders, for an independent investigation. they say that all health care workers in afghanistan are now afraid. i've talked to the mp from kunduz. she's been forced out of her home. i've talked with people from kunduz there. they feel let down by the government, because they feel that the army ran away. they feel that the taliban were let too easily into the city. but the bottom line is here, wolf, and i talked to this mp member of afghan parliament from kunduz and the people of that city. despite the fact that the hospital was hit, apparently by u.s. fire, they still say the army right now, the afghan army,
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the afghan people, need the support of the u.s. military. they say, please, avoid civilian casualties, but we continue to need that support, wolf. >> nic robertson in kabul for us. think nic, thank you. sources inside the obama administration are telling cnn the increasingly complex war in syria has top officials discussing the possibility of implementing what's described as a no-fly zone over at least parts of that country. our global affairs correspondent, lisa abboelise abbott, is here in "the situation room." what have you found out? >> well, you know that the u.s. is looking for ways to increase its involvement in syria in terms of trying to get leverage on the ground. the russian involvement, the military intervention, has really caught the u.s. off guard. there's a lot of desire to help ease the humanitarian burden on the ground. i understand now there is increased talk about a possible no-fly zone, some safe zones in syria, particularly in the north, to help protect the syrian civilians on the ground
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there, try and defend them not only against isis but against syrian air strikes, these horrible barrel bombs. i understand secretary of state john kerry revisited this idea. you know, it's been an idea long discussed, but u.s. officials have voiced concern about implementing such a thing. i understand now secretary kerry has asked for new options, asked his staff to develop this idea. i wouldn't say it's gaining a lot of traction within the administration, but there are increased calls on trying to not only help protect those civilians, but also to increase the leverage with the russians, wolf. you know, right now, the russian air force has really dominated the skies. the u.s. says it's continuing to launch air strikes in that area against isis, but clearly, the russians have the advantage now. >> would the u.s. do this, if they do a no-fly zone, alone? or would nato allies, other countries, allies of the u.s. get involved? >> well, i think it's still just one of the options being discussed. i think that you've heard calls by turkey and also france for a
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no-fly zone. certainly, the u.s. would need extra help in the area. there's talk about trying to ask the british and the australians for help. but right now, i think it's just in the infancy stage. you heard president obama last week talk about this, these type of ideas being half-baked because it's really a lot of concern about how would you implement it, what type of resources, how would you vet the rebels and refugees that would get into that area? but you'll note that former secretary of state, hillary clinton, john kerry's predecessor, also has come out in favor of the no-fly zone. so, i think it's still an option being discussed, but clearly there's more talk about it. >> and the president was blunt, saying hillary clinton's idea of a no-fly zone, it's one thing to say it as a presidential candidate, another thing as president to implement that potentially very dangerous operation. elise, thank you. russia is rejecting calls for a no-fly zone in syria, where the kremlin's sudden build-up is putting a spotlight on the
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alliance between vladimir putin and the syrian dictator, bashar al assad. brian todd is taking a closer look at the ties between these two men. brian, what are you finding out? >> wolf, there is real concern tonight that vladimir putin is doubling down in syria, escalating his military presence, deploying ground troops. it's prompting serious questions over just how invested putin is in bashar al assad. we've got new information tonight on the alliance between putin and assad and the initial communication which led to the russian deployment. it was a letter, a personal overture from bashar al assad to vladimir putin, which opened the door to russian forces entering syria. that's according to syrian and russian officials. a request from an embattled dictator to his ally, which now threatens america's already shaky strategy against isis. >> the dangerous factor in the assad/putin alliance and the russian intervention in syria more broadly is that it's putting a lot more fuel on an already raging fire. if assad comes on strong now with a new offensive backed by
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russian material, russian troops, russian pilots, russian planes, a lot more people are going to die. >> reporter: it's an alliance dating back to the cold war, when the soviets gave arms and support to syrian dictator hafez al assad, a man every bit as brutal as his son. but analysts say the personal relationship between bashar al assad and vladimir putin is far from friendly. >> actually, president putin was very angry with president assad after the most recent peace talks between syrians in moscow in april. during those peace talks, assad and his delegation were extremely rigid and actually went against the expressed wishes of putin. so, he was angry about that. >> reporter: why is putin so invested in assad now? analysts say putin needs warm-weather ports and bases on the mediterranean and wants to counter america's moves in the region, but this is also about putin projecting his relevance and strength, admitting to cbs's "60 minutes," it's something he takes pride in. >> they see these images of you, bare-chested on a horse, and they say, there is a man who
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carefully cultivates his image of strength. >> translator: you know, i'm convinced that a person in my position must provide a positive example to people. in those areas where he can do this, he must do this. >> reporter: but how could betting on bashar go south for vladimir putin? >> if i was vladimir putin, which, thankfully, i'm not, i'd be very worried about footage coming from syria of russian pilots potentially being kidnapped or burnt, such as happened to a jordanian pilot not all that long ago. >> reporter: now, if something like that happens, don't look for whatever personal connection there is between these two men to hold. a u.s. intelligence official is telling us putin's involvement in syria is his chance to be at the center of the world stage, but if bashar al assad's failures threaten to trip him up, this official says, vladimir putin may be inclined to push assad out and support someone else as syria's leader.
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wolf? >> brian, how is this involvement by the russians in syria actually playing back home for vladimir putin? >> well, russian media, wolf, which dares not cross vladimir putin, is, of course, very positive in its coverage of this, but analysts say putin has to be careful. there's one independent poll in russia which shows that most russians are opposed to russia's military involvement in syria. if putin commits too heavily to ground troops in syria, he's going to get some serious brushback at home. it's going to remind russians of the blood bath that their troops went through in afghanistan in the '80s. they do not want a repeat of that, wolf. >> but it's also true, brian, that it's not just russia has supporting bashar al assad. bashar al assad, the syrian dictator, he's got extensive support from iran, extensive support from hezbollah in lebanon. he's got sort of a coalition of support that's helping him in this battle not only against isis, but against these u.s.-trained rebels, if you will. >> he's got that coalition, wolf, but again, these countries are invested in him now because he offers them some semblance of stability in the region.
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and again, if it goes south, you know, bashar al assad on his own in this conflict, he has lost territory, he has lost a lot of troops. you know, his leadership on the battlefield is in real question here. vladimir putin may not have too much patience, and neither may iran going forward, if he continues to lose ground. >> brian todd reporting for us. thanks very much. let's get more on all of this. republican senator john mccain of arizona, the chairman of the senate armed services committee and member of the homeland security committee, is joining us live from capitol hill. mr. chairman, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> we'll get to the situation in syria in a few moments. first, you chair this important armed services hearing today on the situation in afghanistan. the u.s. commander, john campbell, the general there, he said the bombing was a mistake, but doctors without borders, who ran that hospital in kunduz city, they are now saying this was a war crime committed by the united states. what do you say? >> i say that's ridiculous. i say that, unfortunately, one of the tragedies of war is that
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things like this take place, and our hearts are with all the families of those that were killed or injured. the taliban had taken kunduz. they were fighting back. this is fogga war. and war crimes, as i understand it, a war crime is something that is intentionally done. there is no evidence whatsoever that this was an intentional attack. and i hope that when we look at the massive war crimes that are being perpetrated by others, including bashar al assad, including vladimir putin, that we would focus some of our attention on them. >> we know there's going to be a u.s. military investigation, and nato investigation and an afghan government investigation. doctors without borders say they want an international investigation as well, maybe by the u.n. or some other international entity. would you favor that? >> of course not. i would not submit the united states armed forces men and women of the armed forces to an investigation by the u.n. or any
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other international body. our record is very clear of finding out, assessing responsibility, and i'm proud of it, and i don't need any help from anybody outside the united states of america. >> here's what worries a lot of people. general campbell in your hearing today, he said he's going to order new rules of engagement for the u.s. military operating in afghanistan. now, this war is the longest war that the u.s. military forces have engaged in combat in, 14 years to the day tomorrow. why, all of a sudden, is there a necessity for new rules of engagement? >> well, one of the reasons may be is that we no longer, because of the president's precipitous and unnecessary drawdown, that we don't have forward air controllers that are there on the ground, which gives you the most accurate targeting of weapons on a target. obviously, he didn't say he was going to change the rules of engagement. in the light of anything like this, you always want to review
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the rules of engagement to make sure that this kind of thing can never happen again. it's fog of war, wolf, and it's terrible and it's tragic, but the taliban are the ones that initiated the attacks into kunduz, not the united states of america or the men and women who are serving it. >> senate yorks we have more to discuss, including what's going on in syria, russia's involvement. please, stay with us for a moment. we'll take a quick break. much more with the chairman of the armed services committee, john mccain, when we come back. just like eddie, the first step to reaching your retirement goals is to visualize them. then, let the principal help you get there. join us as we celebrate eddie's retirement, and start planning your own. who knows, one of these kids just might be the one. to clean the oceans, to start a movement, or lead a country. it may not be obvious yet,
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more fuel on an already raging fire, that's how one expert describes russia's sudden military intervention into syria's bloody civil war. tonight, sources in the obama administration are telling cnn top officials are discussing the possibility of implementing a u.s. no-fly zone over parts of syria. we're back with republican senator john mccain of arizona. he's the chairman of the armed services committee. what do you say, senator, in the face of syrian/russian close cooperation now? how do you deal with vladimir putin? what can the u.s. do? >> i think we have a variety of options, some of them laid out by general petraeus before the
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armed services committee a week before last, and among them are a no-fly zone, no more barrel bombs, set up a buffer zone, do a real, legitimate train-and-equip that fights against bashar al assad as well as isis. one of the classic failures in recent history was they were training -- dod was training these young men to go in and fight only against bashar al assad -- excuse me, against isis, and not bashar al assad, while they're being barrel bombed by bashar al assad. the degree of immorality that i have hardly ever seen. and of course, we need to understand that the russians are trying to achieve a goal of a major role in the middle east, protecting their base, and also now bringing iranians in to fight on behalf of bashar al assad as well. it's escalating, and the united
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states secretary of state says it's an opportunity. the secretary of defense says it's unprofessional. and the beat goes on and the deaths go on. it's unbelievable. >> do you support this no-fly zone over all of syria or over parts of syria? >> i would start with parts of syria in order to maintain a buffer zone and a place where refugees could be and all that. i would certainly start with a no-fly zone and take down -- i would also, as general petraeus recommended, wherever they are, i'd take out the barrel bombing. it is horrible what the barrel bombs have done, as you know. >> would russia -- what if russia doesn't cooperate? because they're launching air strikes, as you know, in various parts of syria right now. what if they say they're not party to this no-fly zone? >> i'm sure they would say that, and we would go ahead and act. we're the strongest nation in the world. russia is intervening and killing our moderate free syrian army folks. the moderates are the ones that
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are being struck by vladimir putin, and we are sitting by and watching it. and a recent leader of the free syrian army says we've been abandoned by the united states. we've got a huge credibility problem here that we're going to have to rebuild as well. what is the morality of training young men, send them into syria and then not protect them from attacks of the russians and bashar al assad? >> but if the russians don't cooperate, what you're suggesting, senator -- correct me if i'm wrong -- potentially, u.s./russian military engagement, that potentially could lead to a u.s./russian war. >> if the russians didn't cooperate in the balkans when we took on milosevic, if the russians didn't cooperate in the cuban missile crisis, if the russians didn't -- at some point, the united states of america has to act. and by establishing a no-fly zone and a buffer state, it's not the united states that's at
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fault here, wolf. at some point, you have to tell the russians that they're not free to act however they want to, whether it be in ukraine or pressures on the baltic countries or moving in antiaircraft artillery and missiles. by the way, isis has no air force. and act with impunity. there has to be a point where we say, look, here's -- we've got to protect these people, we've got to stop the barrel bombing, and you've got to stop it, russia. >> so, you're saying that the u.s. should potentially, potentially could go to war with russia -- >> no, i'm not -- >> -- over what's going on in syria. >> of course, i'm not saying that at all. it's the russians that have moved in there. it's the russians that are killing the free syrian army. i mean, it's the russians that are backing bashar al assad, who has killed 240,000 of his people and driven millions into exile, refugee status. it is the russians that are
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working with the iranian revolutionary guard and killing people as we speak, my friend. it's not the united states of america. and we have to say we are establishing this no-fly zone and we are going to stop the barrel bombing. that's what the united states should say and can say, and it does not and will not lead to war with russia, nor has any other time we have stood up to russia, led to it, because that's not what this bully and thug vladimir putin is all about. >> let me ask a couple of political questions -- >> and the other option -- >> go ahead, senator. >> and you keep saying war, wolf. where do we stop? where do we draw the line then? what, do we just do whatever you want? is this -- we don't -- that's not the united states of america, my friend, and i believe that most americans would back a no-fly zone just as secretary clinton has said that she backs. go ahead, please. >> all right, now let's talk about your friend, lindsey graham.
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let's say he -- i know you endorse him for the republican presidential nomination, but let's say he doesn't get it. who would your second choice be? >> oh, i think there's a number, wolf, who are good second choices. many of them are good governors, successful governors, good people who have good records of service, both in the senate and other ways. i could rattle off names, which i will, and i'll leave out one, and then they'll be all mad, okay? kasich, christie, bush, jindal. there's a whole lot, but i just want to say, again, i'm in with lindsey until the end. he's my man and i believe in him, and i love him. >> what about marco rubio? >> oh, marco, yeah. i'm sorry, i left him out. very bright, very articulate, very good on national security. i think he's going to be a real player here. >> you know, he's coming under some criticism, serious
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criticism, from donald trump from jeb bush, for missing all these senate votes. you ran for president as a sitting united states senator. do you think senator rubio's missed votes should disqualify him or raise questions about his credibility? >> well, i'd leave it up to his constituents to make that decision, but let me say that when i ran, twice, lost, i was able to convince my constituents that i was running and that i was going to miss votes. i think if you do very badly and miss votes, they may make a different judgment, but i think at the end of the day, because i did well, that most of my constituents were kind of proud. >> and the other name you didn't mention is donald trump. i take it you're not a fan. >> well, you know, he, again, keeps saying that we'll let them fight it out, and the russians aren't attacking our free syrian ar army. i just wish that he would ask the pentagon for a good briefing
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so that he would have a good -- or maybe call up someone he respects, like general petraeus or general keen or one of these people, and get a good, in-depth briefing so he would have a better understanding of the situation. i just don't think he has that now. >> senator mccain, thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. just ahead, hillary clinton on the offensive as everyone waits to see whether vice president joe biden will jump into the race. and record flooding claiming more lives in south carolina. we're just getting confirmation that yet another dam has just failed. we're live in the disaster zone.
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we're following the breaking news out of south carolina. look at these live pictures coming in. emergency officials just confirmed an 11th dam has failed. record flooding in the state is now blamed for at least 15 deaths in south carolina. and even though the rain has stopped, the water in some places is still rising. let's get some more on the disaster. the mayor of columbia, south carolina, steven benjamin, is joining us once again. mr. mayor, what's the latest update on the flooding conditions in your capital city of columbia? >> well, wolf, the rising waters are starting to abate. of course, that which fell in the upper part of the state was
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down to the midlands, but places like the area behind me that once looked like a small lake, are almost back to normal. but obviously, the roads that they covered for a significant period of time have significantly deteriorated. so, behind our number one priority of preserving human life and making sure that our folks enjoy some quality of life -- shelter, food, water -- we're spending a great deal of time assessing the strength of our existing infrastructure and making sure that people and product can move across them safely. >> how careful do you need to be of the floodwaters continuing to move to what's called the low country? you're clearly not out of the woods yet, are you? >> sure. we are encouraging people to be as careful as possible. the last two nights, obviously, we've had a curfew and we're having a curfew one more time, but it's later, midnight to 6:00 a.m., to keep people off of the roads. certain things that are obvious to us during the daytime while the sun's up are not as obvious at nighttime.
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so, we're trying our best to make sure we keep people off the roads, protect them from themselves until we have a better chance to assess the challenges before us. >> are you getting enough aid from the federal government? >> wolf, we've had incredible support at every level of government, from the federal government, state government, the governor's been helping us and leading along with our general with the national guard, and great local participation. our police department along with our fire department and our sheriff's department yesterday searched 1,800 homes, evacuated 350 people, using resources of every level of government. we're working together, and that's the only way you can get through this type of 1,000-year tragedy. >> steven benjamin is the mayor of columbia, south carolina. mr. mayor, good luck to you and to all the folks throughout columbia and throughout south carolina as well. thank you. >> wolf, thank you for your attention. just ahead, hillary clinton is out with her first national tv ad, and she's going on the offensive. is she now distancing herself
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we're now exactly one week away from the cnn democratic presidential debate in las vegas, and tonight the front-runner, hillary clinton, is airing her first national tv ad as her campaign faces an increasingly strong challenge from senator bernie sanders and the uncertainty of a possible white house bid by the vice president, joe biden. our senior washington correspondent, jeff zeleny, he's in iowa where the clinton campaign is moving forward. >> thanks to all of you! >> reporter: hillary clinton back in iowa today and finally playing offense.
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>> wow! >> reporter: she's taking to the airwaves, seizing on house republican leader kevin mccarthy's suggestion the committee investigating the ben zazi attacks is designed to bring down her candidacy. >> everybody thought hillary clinton was unbeatable, right? but we've put together a benghazi special committee. what are her numbers today? >> republicans have spent millions attacking hillary. >> reporter: it's her first national campaign ad taking on republicans, but not overlooking the democratic race that's tougher than she imagined. with bernie sanders catching fire with liberals and vice president joe biden waiting in the wings, clinton is trying to hold on to her claim as the democratic front-runner. >> now i'm back on the campaign trail. >> reporter: day by day, she's putting more distance between her position and president obama's. she's saying yes to a syrian no-fly zone. she's saying no to the keystone xl pipeline, and she's speaking out forcefully against u.s. deportation. in an interview with telemundo,
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she outlined one of her biggest splits with the president, saying "i think we have to go whack to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer." but it's vice president biden who's captivating the party's interest as he nears the decision about the 2016 race. biden kept out of public view today, holding his weekly white house lunch with the president, but speculation about his political future raged. in iowa today, those lining up to see clinton had biden on their minds. >> competition is always good, and that's his choice. so, he needs to decide that. >> reporter: but several democrats hope biden stayed on the sidelines. >> i'm pretty satisfied between hillary and bernie. i like both of them. >> reporter: few people are eagerly awaiting an answer more than clinton, but today she played it cool. joking about her star turn on "saturday night live." >> you know, i have been trying out different possible careers, and you know, i kind of like the
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bartending idea. >> reporter: now, she drew cheers and applause from that line today. she's trying to project an image of calm. just a few minutes ago, wolf, she actually announced to a group of iowans here that she has sent personally signed letters and copies of her book "hard choices" to every republican candidate, but it is the democratic field which is causing her campaign so much uncertainty. i am told tonight that one of the super pacs supporting her presidency, correct the record, is doing opposition research on vice president biden, should he get in the race. so, wolf, this could be a very, very messy primary, should that happen. >> should that happen, key words. thanks, jeff zeleny in davenport, iowa. let's dig deep we are with dana bash, gloria borger and our special correspondent jamie gangel. jamie, this is a critical period for the vice president right now. >> absolutely. look, we're hearing that he's going to make a decision in the next week or two. the fact of the matter is, he has to make a decision quickly.
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he has to file in november. and every day, if he's going to run, he's missing time raising money, he's missing time putting his ground game together. so, look, dates have been floated, and then we've blown by them before, but he's got to do it quickly. >> you saw this story, gloria, in "politico," suggesting that biden himself leaked word of his son's dying wish, beau biden died a few months ago of cancer, that beau supposedly on his death bed told his dad, i want you to run for president of the united states. the vice president is categorically denying this "politico" story, saying it's categorically false and the characterization is offensive, that he leaked this for political purposes. what are you hearing? >> even inside biden world, people who are allies of joe biden believe that now he's finally lost control of his own story, which is never a good thing to do. he -- people don't vote for president out of sympathy.
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they vote for president because they think you're going to be a strong leader. and i was told today that there is now an awful lot of pressure on joe biden, even more than there was a day ago, to make a decision about running, not only because of early filing deadlines in states like new hampshire and texas and michigan, but also because of the party and because for his own reputation. they don't believe he can string it out any further. and so, even internally, there have been private meetings. as jeff was saying, he met with the president today. we don't know what occurred at that meeting, but i do believe he's got to do it quickly. >> but to answer also your question, just off of gloria's reporting, the idea that joe biden would be the person to call and give information about his son is so potentially devastating on so many levels, but first and foremost because he is supposed to be sort of the original, authentic candidate. and for him to look so
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politically craven is the worst thing for him, which is why they've pushed back so hard on this. >> yeah, they're pushing back as hard as they possibly can, calling it offensive and everything else, because they understand the damage it could do. >> ladies, stand by for a moment. i just want to remind all of our viewers that cnn will host the first democratic presidential debate one week from tonight, october 13th, in las vegas. much more on what's going on. on the republican side of this race for the white house, when we come back. just like eddie, the first step to reaching your retirement goals is to visualize them. then, let the principal help you get there. join us as we celebrate eddie's retirement, and start planning your own.
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>>. >> marco rubio is the republican presidential candidate right now in the spotlight. he may be finding it hot. facing serious criticism for missing votes while campaigning for president including one vote today. chief political correspondent dana bash is still with us. >> if you go back in recent history and look at senators running for president, john kerry, john mccain, barack obama, hillary clinton, they all missed votes, but now in this cycle, marco rubio missed more than any senator running for president and his opponents are slamming him for it. marco rubio missed many senate votes but this one was almost a political disasters. for a while it looked like republicans would need rubio's help in beating back a
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democratic filibuster of a military funding bill. >> senator mark rubio. >> reporter: he was hundreds of miles north on the presidential campaign trail. >> there are times you are not going to be there. we have canceled events and traveled across the country to make votes if we can make a difference. >> reporter: rubio didn't cancel today's trip to new hampshire and lucky for him after high drama, a 15-minute vote dragged out for 1 1/2 hours. so many democrats broke ranks that rubio's absence did not cause an embarrassing republican defeat since ted cruz was presiding in the senate. to be sure, cruz's attendance record is hardly stellar. he missed almost as many votes as rubio. and challenges balancing a presidential campaign and senate day job is hardly new. during a two-month stretch of the 2008 campaign, then freshman senator barack obama missed many more than rubio is now, nearly
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80% of votes. still, rubio's rivals are using his missed votes as an attack line. his former mentor jeb bush regularly hits him on it, telling voters senators should only get paid if they show up for work. >> everybody works to provide for their families. why is it that people miss votes in the united states congress in a rampant way? if they miss a vote there should be a deduction in their pay. >> got the worst attendance record. i've got to vote. >> rubio is not going to be negotiating with the kind of people you have to negotiate with to turn this country around. >> reporter: that as trump insists he's in this for the long haul. >> i'm leading every poll, every state. i'm not going anywhere.
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>> sources say rubio regrets missing votes, but they say it's just not practical for him to travel the country running for president while being in washington. rubio is not running for re-election in the senate and sources privately insist he is not going to pay a price with republican presidential primary voters for missing senate votes. >> we'll see what happens. we'll talk quickly about dr. ben carson. he is doing really well in the polls on the republican side. but he said this and it's causing a buzz out there earlier today on fox. >> not only would i probably not cooperate with them, i might stand there and shoot me. every attack him. he can't get us all. >> talking about what happened in oregon the other day when shooter came into those classrooms and started killing all these people. he says, in effect, i guess, the implication is he is blaming them. they should have been more responsive. >> it sounds like he is blaming
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the victims. whether he intended to do that or not, who knows? this is just one more instance of dr. carson being a new presidential candidate who just talks and doesn't really understand the consequences of it as he is doing it. it hasn't hurt him so far, not with the republican primary voters. in a general election campaign this could be a huge problem. he also, by the way, criticized president obama for planning to go to oregon on friday to console the families of victims. some would argue, i would argue that's part of the job of being president of the united states. >> what are you hearing about jeb bush because sources are saying there's all sorts of stuff going on right now. >> well, they are feeling a little bit better because the nbc/"wall street journal" poll for new hampshire had him at 11%. not 7% or 8%. we are also hearing that he feels as if the other guy's in
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his lane. not the three outsiders, not trump, carson and fiorina but kasich, christi, they are not raising a lot of money or getting traction. the other thing making them happy, their new best friend donald trump who is going after rubio. trump retweeted this picture of rubio as a child saying don't let a boy do a man's job and says he sweats all the time and sent water bottles over to him. i am sure the bush people love that. it doesn't hurt them. >> if you're rubio, a real challenge. >> absolutely. talking about the lanes which is so critical when you're looking at the landscape of this republican field. marco rubio is absolutely in jeb
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bush's lane. not only in his lane but somebody they worry could really be probably the biggest threat. they worried about that for a long time which is why inside bush world they were so angry marco rubio decided to run, especially after jeb bush announced his can't system it wasn't just personal but political. >> this morning on the "today" show, rubio offered another position on illegal immigration. whether some could stay, get green cards. you see described as various flip-flops. >> he is between the primary and general election. he's seen the trouble his support for immigration reform got him in when he was in the senate. he doesn't want to go back there again with primary voters. he understands what happened to mitt romney. remember when mitt romney called for self-deportation? that was a problem. he is trying to kind of walk this fine line and it's trouble for him. >> we'll stay on top of this for all our viewers.
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thanks very, very much. remember, you can follow us on twitter. join us in "the situation room" tomorrow. erin burnett "out front" starts right now. "out front," the top u.s. general says the u.s. needs a new plan to stay and fight in afghanistan saying al qaeda and isis are on the rise. the oregon shooter and his mother bonded over a love of guns. should she be held responsible for his massacre? new details what happened to the missing cargo ship. why did it sail into the path of a massive hurricane? we have the answers tonight. let's go "out front." good evening, i'm erin burnett. "out front" a dire warning about isis. the top u.s. commander in afghanistan says isis and al qaeda are g


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