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Police Identify Las Vegas Shooting Suspects: Report: 57,000 Vets Waiting 90 Days+ For Care; House Briefed on Prisoner Swap with Taliban; The Battle for Clippers Ownership; Kerry Backs Arming Syrian Rebels

Aired June 9, 2014 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jake, thanks very much.

Happening now, cop killers manifesto. Police identified the extremist couple who gunned down two police officers in cold blood and left a swastika on one of the bodies before killing a civilian. So what's behind their strange costumes and radical rants?

Missing airliner reward. Flight 370 relatives make a dramatic bid to raise millions to help find the plane as investigators try to narrow a vast new search area.

And a CNN exclusive. The NBA commissioner breaking his silence, saying Donald Sterling's departure is not yet a done deal.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're getting shocking new details on the bloody rampage in Las Vegas which took the lives of two police officers and a civilian. Police have now identified the shooters as Jerad and Amanda Miller, a married couple who held extremist anti-government views. They left a swastika on the bodies of the officers before crossing the street and killing a civilian. At that point, the couple died in an apparent suicide pact.

Let's go straight to national correspondent Kyung Lah. She's in Las Vegas with the very latest -- Kyung.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the details here are chilling. The crime itself as well as the people behind this murderous killing spree. An angry, anti-government husband and wife team.


JERAD MILLER, SHOOTING SUSPECT: Well, here we are, outside of Indianapolis.

LAH (voice-over): Thirty-one-year-old Jerad Miller, narrating a cross-country trip that began in his home state of Indiana.

J. MILLER: Amanda is driving for her first time. LAH: With his wife Amanda, the couple would eventually wind up here in Las Vegas, where authorities say they opened fire on two police officers, killing them before shooting to death another man in a Wal- Mart store.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cops are coming; the cops are coming. Everyone get out, get out, get out.

LAH: Now the events of that day are becoming clear. Police say the Millers, whose Facebook page showed their love of the Joker, walked into a CiCi's Pizza and shot 31-year-old Igor Soldo once in the head. Before his partner, 41-year-old Alyn Beck, could react, Jerad Miller shot him once in the throat.

The couple then fired more rounds before pulling their bodies out of the booth.

ASST. SHERIFF KEVIN MCMAHILL, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA: Where they placed a Gadsden flag, which is a "Don't Tread on Me" yellow flag, on the body of Officer Beck. They also drew a swastika on top of his body.

LAH: After pinning a note on Officer Soldo, declaring a revolution and shouting that, the Millers went across the street to a Wal-Mart, immediately firing a round, telling patrons to get out and that police were on the way.

Customer Joseph Wilcox didn't run. He was carrying a concealed weapon and confronted Jerad Miller.

MCMAHILL: Upon completing that action, he did not realize that Amanda Miller was with Jerad Miller and passed her directly. As soon as he began to confront Jerad Miller with his firearm, Amanda Miller removed her firearm and shot him one time in the ribs area, where he immediately collapsed.

LAH: After exchanging gunfire with police, the rampage came to an end when Amanda Miller shot her husband and then herself.

J. MILLER: I just want you to know that I love you so much and I hope that you will come visit me in jail.

LAH: In this YouTube video, Jerad speaks to his wife, apparently days before going to jail. His criminal record includes strangulation and criminal recklessness for pointing a firearm.

He said on Facebook, that record got him kicked off Cliven Bundy's ranch during a recent standoff with the government.

MCMAHILL: We believe that they equate government and law enforcement with fascism and those who support it with Nazis. In other words, they believe that law enforcement is the oppressor.


LAH: Now, we went to the apartment complex where Jerad Miller lived with his wife. Very few people there had not heard him spout his extremist views, something he shared openly with people. A neighbor, in fact, yesterday saw him and his wife departing from their apartment complex early in the morning, carrying two duffle bags, filled with weapons and artillery. Wolf, she did not call police.

BLITZER: What a heartbreaking story that is, Kyung Lah. Kyung Lah is in Las Vegas. Thanks very much.

Let's get some perspective now from Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the organization which tracks extremist and hate crimes. What do you make of this couple, Mark?

MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, they're quite something. You know, I think that they did, or at least he did attend or was at the Bundy ranch standoff and very much was a part of that movement, the patriot movement, the movement that thinks that the federal government is up to no good, that it is trying to force us into a one-world government and so on.

One thing I don't think they were was white supremacists. The swastika, I think, almost certainly was to say that the police are Nazis. When you look at their writings, particularly his writings on Facebook, he goes on and on about police being fascists, about them being Nazis and so on, but aside from that, there's certainly nothing about, you know, the Jews or other kinds of white supremacist views. It's about the government, about wanting to lay down his life for liberty. You know, just a day before the shooting began, his very last post said words to the effect of a new day is dawning, you know. We can only hope that our sacrifices will be worth it.

BLITZER: Any indications that this is part of a broader group?

POTOK: No, we haven't really said anything like that. Part of a broader movement, yes. But there's nothing to suggest, certainly, that we're seeing that there's a larger group involved in the violence or even that these two were members of one group or another. You know, and I think that is...

BLITZER: How unusual -- I was going to say, Mark, how unusual -- I'm sorry for interrupting -- is it for a husband and wife to be part of this kind of a deed?

POTOK: It's fairly unusual but not unheard of. I remember a husband/wife team that murdered a police officer in Alabama about 10 or 12 years ago who are part of the same movement.

I also remember a father and son team, the son being only 16 years old, who murdered two police officers in West Memphis, Arkansas, back in 2010.

But it is quite unusual, and what may be more unusual is how extremely violent the woman, Amanda Miller, in particular, seemed to have been.

BLITZER: In the last few weeks -- and you know this a lot better than I do -- we've seen these kinds of anti-government extremist incidents at the Jewish community center in Overland Park, Kansas. Only last Friday, a shooting at a courthouse outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and now what has happened over the weekend in Las Vegas. Is there some sort of pattern going on here, or are these just random, isolated events?

POTOK: Well, you know, it's hard to say what is isolated and what is part of a pattern. One thing that I think is pretty clear, Wolf, is that the Bundy standoff, in which the BLM and federal law enforcement backed down at the point of weapons was seen as a massive victory by the patriot group.

I think that very large numbers of people. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands or even more people, saw what happened at the Bundy ranch as a huge victory against the federal government and perhaps a kind of opening shot in the war that they all wished for and weighed for with the government.

I think it's entirely possible that the Millers, in fact, saw the Bundy standoff as very important, and it might have pushed them over the edge to actually start to murder people.

BLITZER: You've been studying these kinds of hate crimes for a long time. Is there a rise in this anti-government violence that we're now seeing?

POTOK: Yes, I think there is. I'm not sure I could prove it statistically, but since Obama appeared on the scene in the fall of 2008, we've seen a very dramatic uptick in these kinds of things.

You know, one of the more remarkable things, you were mentioning several incidents that happened recently -- is that this has even spilled over into Canada.

At the end of last week, a gunman in Canada, a very unusual thing, armed to the teeth with semiautomatic weapons, actually murdered three police officers in New Brunswick. And he was a guy who was all about the Second Amendment, sounded rather like some of the people in the patriot groups here in the United States. You felt the government was trying to take its weapons away, and the people needed to die as a result.

BLITZER: Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, thanks very much. Appreciate, always, your contributions.

Other news we're following: stunning new developments in the Veterans Affairs scandal, which recently led to the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

A new internal audit just released shows that tens of thousands of veterans are waiting for health care. Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, first broke this story. Drew is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

This report, this audit is stunning.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And it's the V.A.'s own report. That's why these numbers are a bit staggering. But just take a look: 57,000 veterans on waiting lists more than 90 days now, vets who can't get seen at a V.A. facility. Another 64,000 who signed up for V.A. health care in the last 10 years. They have never even had an appointment.

But what's worse, Wolf, is the fact that the lying about the wait times is indeed systemic. According to this report, in many cases it was encouraged by supervisors trying to cover up the fact that these wait time were so bad.

He also -- the audit also gives us a glimpse of how these secret lists were created. And a quote here from this report. It says, "Pressures were placed on schedulers to utilize unofficial lists or engage in inappropriate practices in order to make waiting times appear more favorable." Wolf, those unofficial lists are exactly what our sources call the secret lists that have been so well-publicized recently.

BLITZER: So is a criminal investigation, a formal Justice Department/FBI investigation now under way?

GRIFFIN: We do know that the Office of Inspector General is getting some cooperation with the Justice Department. All of this material is being reviewed.

What we don't know is whether or not the Justice Department is moving forward with it.

I want to share with you a letter that we just got which was sent last week to Eric Holder on behalf of 21 senators. A bipartisan group of senators who absolutely want the DOJ involved. They say that "Evidence of secret waiting times, falsification of records, destruction of documents and other potential criminal wrongdoing has appalled and angered the nation and impaired the trust and confidence in the Veterans Health Administration." They do -- these senators do want criminal investigations and perhaps criminal prosecutions of V.A. employees who, it's alleged, lied about these wait times.

BLITZER: Lied in order to get bonuses to show they were doing a good job.

GRIFFIN: That's absolutely the allegation, to bump their performance review so that it could be one part of how they would get money at the end of the year, bonuses. Bonuses which are now canceled for this year.

BLITZER: Drew, thanks for your reporting.

Up next, administration officials are going behind closed doors up on Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the prisoner swap that freed Bowe Bergdahl and five Taliban detainees. Did the U.S. negotiate with terrorists or not? I'll ask an expert.

Plus, Flight 370 relatives now trying to raise $5 million to help find the airliner, and they're doing it in a rather dramatic fashion.


BLITZER: On Capitol Hill right now, House members are getting a closed-door briefing on the prisoner swap that freed Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl and five Taliban detainees.

We're also learning more about Bergdahl's condition and his captivity. Doctors say Bergdahl is improving. A senior officials says he wants to be recognized by his old rank, private first class, which he held when he went missing.

A Taliban source denies Bergdahl was abused or kept in a cage after a brief escape, and the FBI is investigating threats against Bergdahl's parents, who have not yet spoken with their son.

Let's get more from our chief national security analyst -- correspondent, I should say, Jim Sciutto, who is here with us in THE SITUATION ROOM -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I spoke with David Rohde, a journalist, as you remember, who was held in Afghanistan himself by the Taliban, in Pakistan in 2008 and 2009. He told me he's been in touch with Bowe's parents, who have found all these stories and accusations surrounding their son, quote, "heartbreaking."

It's understandable, especially because some many of these stories have yet to be investigated, let alone confirmed. U.S. officials repeatedly and cautioning patience, but in the meantime, Americans are hearing vastly contradictory accounts of who Bowe Bergdahl really was.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Today, military doctors at Landstuhl say his health is improving, but in the days since his dramatic release from the Taliban, the Pentagon, fellow soldiers and Afghans have presented two vastly contradictory portraits of Bowe Bergdahl.

Deserter or good soldier? The first dispute arises from the circumstances of his disappearance. A military investigation found he had wandered off base more than once.

Still, Afghan witnesses told CNN that the morning he was taken, he was forcibly abducted, beaten as he resisted. While some of his platoon mates allege he may have been trying to contact the Taliban.

EVAN BUETOW, BERGDAHL'S FORMER TEAM LEADER: I heard it straight from the interpreter's lips, that he heard it over the radio. And at that point it was like, this is kind of snowballing out of control a little bit. There's a lot more to this story than just a soldier walking away.

SCIUTTO: Were troops killed during the search for him? In the massive manhunt that ensued after he went missing, fellow soldiers say six troops were killed.

The Pentagon says there is no such evidence.

Then there is his behavior during captivity. Collaborator or survivor? Military officials tell CNN he attempted escape more than once, was held in a cage and physically abused. A Taliban source told CNN he sometimes played soccer with his captors, was allowed to celebrate Christmas and Easter and even chose his own food. But U.S. officials have not been able to confirm this account.

DAVID ROHDE, KIDNAPPED BY TALIBAN: You want to humanize yourself so that the guards will start to trust you, so that when they stop watching you so closely, you can try to escape.

SCIUTTO: A friend of the Bergdahl family and former Marine is pleading for time.

CAPT. MATTHEW HOH (RET.), U.S. MARINE CORPS: And that's why I'm concerned about, you know, is that all the facts aren't out and this rush to condemn him.


SCIUTTO: For hostages, humanizing yourself may be a necessity. It establishes contact with the captors, and it also makes it less likely -- more likely, rather, to treat humanely and, frankly, less likely to kill you. It also may be good strategy.

David Rohde told the story, Wolf, of how his translator, local translator who helped him escape, he played soccer with their captors. That built trust. The captors let him leave the compound occasionally, which allowed him to get the lay of the land, which helped them when they finally climbed over that wall and escaped and found their way to a Pakistani military outpost. So that kind of relationship, having some relationship with the captors, has value and may even be necessary to survive.

BLITZER: Jake, stay with us. Because I want to bring in a leading expert on the Taliban, who happens to be in Washington right now, Michael Semple. He spent many years in Afghanistan working for the United Nations and the European Union. He's with the Institute for the Study of Conflict Escalation and Social Justice at Queens University in Belfast.

Michael, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: You understand the Taliban about as well as anyone. These five detainees that the U.S. released are now in Doha, Qatar. Are they terrorists?

SEMPLE: No, they're not. They're not terrorists. They came to prominence in the Taliban movement before the counterinsurgency and before they -- the Taliban got locked into its current terrorist campaign. They were figures inside a movement which was fighting a bloody civil war inside its country. This is different from being terrorists.

BLITZER: Did they give cover to al Zaharie, to bin Laden, Ayman al- Zawahri in Afghanistan? Did they allow them to operate and plot and plan the 9/11 attacks on the United States? SEMPLE: The fatal mistake which the Taliban movement, particularly

its leader, Mullah Omar, made was exactly this. And I was there at the time. I saw this happening.

BLITZER: These five guys were involved in giving that -- making that kind of fatal mistake, as you call it?

SEMPLE: No, they have no part in that decision-making. It wasn't this kind of democratic organization where you stick your hands up and say, "Yes, this is a good idea. This is a bad idea. They were not part of the decision making. They were part of a movement whose leader had made that mistake.

BLITZER: So Mullah Mohammed Omar made that decision, and they supported that decision?

SEMPLE: It was the kind -- it's the kind of movement where you can't say, "Excuse me, I don't like this." This is the kind of a movement where, as soon as the leader took a decision, everybody else had to fall in line.

BLITZER: That was it. So do you believe they will now, after a year Qatar, go back to Afghanistan, Pakistan, join up with the Taliban? Or the Haqqani Network, which you yourself regard as a terrorist organization?

SEMPLE: First, I'd like to say that that the deal which has kept them off the streets kept them in Qatar for at least a year, is the best way that this release has been handled. I think that will be -- they even these men themselves would rather be in Qatar, kept away from the conflict, rather than subject to peer pressure, being forced back into the ranks of the insurgency.

Who knows what's going to happen over the next year. If the insurgency is still continuing, and they are sent back to Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Taliban are still fighting a war, they will have to be part of it.

BLITZER: Jim, you heard the secretary of state, John Kerry, tell our own Elise Labatt over the weekend -- she had that exclusively interview with him -- that the U.S. will follow these guys. will monitor these guys. And he strongly implied that, if necessary, if they go back on the battlefield, they could wind up dead.

SCIUTTO: That's his contention. I think the U.S. Is going to do their best to track these guys down. I think experience shows that's difficult once they are on the ground in a country like that.

But the U.S. is well-sourced there. They will still have 9,000 troops on the ground at the end of the year. That's certainly a possibility, and I'm sure it's something they'll do their best to do.

BLITZER: Is there a real difference between the Afghani Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban? I raise the question because over the weekend, we saw that horrible Pakistan Taliban attack on the airport in Karachi, killing a lot of people. SEMPLE: Absolutely. That was wanton terrorism. The Pakistani

Taliban movement is a different organization. It operates differently. Of course the Afghan Taliban has been engaged and has used terrorist tactic, particularly the Haqqani network has over the past few years but there's a certain -- the Afghan Taliban movement has some political goals which the Pakistan Taliban movement doesn't seem to have.

BLITZER: Why would the Haqqani terrorists, who were holding Bergdahl for five years, release him to the Taliban, who in turn released him to the United States?

SEMPLE: You've come to the heart of the matter. They clearly came under pressure from the other people in the movement. And I think it's a case of the tail starting to wag the dog, that the Haqqanis saw an opportunity to become more important, to get more status inside the Taliban movement. They're basically an obscure border clan which, because of patronage and backing, has become a lot more important in Afghanistan and its insurgency, and now they start to look respectable inside Taliban movement, because they delivered something that nobody else in the movement was able to.

BLITZER: I know, Jim, you've been questioning a lot of U.S. officials, and they say they have no evidence that Qatar or the Taliban paid off the Haqqani with money or something else. You're not hearing anything contrary to that, are you?

SCIUTTO: No, I am not.

BLITZER: Are you hearing anything that maybe they were paid off with a lot of cash to free Bergdahl?

SEMPLE: I think the politics and status if you follow terrorist organizations around the world, this is a common theme. The opportunity they get to show themselves as the people who were delivering inside the Taliban movement is more important to them than any money.

BLITZER: Michael Semple, thanks very much for coming in.

Jim Sciutto, thanks to you, as well.

When we come back, the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver opening up in an exclusive interview with CNN's Rachel Nichols for the first time since banning Donald Sterling from the league. Just ahead: Why he says the Sterling saga is not over yet.

Plus, a bizarre new online video from the families of the missing Flight 370 passengers. We'll have the details; that's coming up.


BLITZER: Dramatic new video from the families of those lost on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. And it's all part of a brand-new online fundraising effort to help them determine what happened to their loved ones. Let's bring in our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, who's got the details.

What's going on?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this really speaks to the distrust here. These families do not trust the officials involved in the investigation, and now they're taking matters into their own hands, launching a crowd-sourcing website in hopes of raising millions of dollars and getting a whistle blower to come forward.


MARSH (voice-over): Five million dollars for help finding the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing triple-7. Families of the passengers launched a fundraising campaign with this video, including dramatic music, suggestions of incompetent and government cover-ups.

SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF MISSING FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER: There's a very real potential here that somebody knows something that they haven't brought forward, probably because they're afraid of repercussions.

MARSH: The families also plan to use the money to hire private investigators, since some don't trust officials.

DANICA WEEKS, WIFE OF FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER PAUL WEEKS: We just think someone knows something. You know, there's been so many -- so much contradiction information coming from the investigation.

MARSH: Investigators say they're confident the missing plane went down along this arc where it last connected with an Inmarsat satellite. The problem: That stretches more than 1,600 miles, roughly the distance between Washington, D.C., and Mexico City. The unknown variables, keep to unlocking where the plane went down. Speed, fuel and altitude. Multiple Australian teams are now re-evaluating those to narrow the search area.

JAILANI JOHAR, MALAYSIAN DEPUTY COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER: Our path is to finalize the arrangements regarding this nucleus (ph) or the search operation with our (UNIDENTIFIED MALE).

MARSH: The Bluefin-21 focused on 329 miles. The new search area will cover 23,000 square miles and is almost certain to include areas farther to the south, but investigators say no final decision will be made for up to two weeks.


MARSH: The search will be done by private contractors. They won't be selected until August, and once they are selected, they have 300 days to search that area.

BLITZER: Right now, no search is going on?

MARSH: Nothing at this point, because they want to line up who is going to be the best company to do the search, so they're in that process now.

BLITZER: Rene, thanks very much.

Joining us now is Andy Pastor, The Wall Street Journal. He's been doing some major reporting on what's going on. Your last report, Andy, suggesting that maybe they're looking into the wrong place. Are they back at square one? What's going on?

ANDY PASTOR, WALL STREET JOURNAL: We've just passed the three-month anniversary for this crash. And I would say they 'e not back at square one, but it's a worse sign that many of the basic assumptions that Rene referred to are on the table and are being reanalyzed, maybe refined, perhaps chained. And so that shows this is a very complicated search.

It's an unforgiving search, but it shows that they're trying to do it in a more comprehensive, organized way, perhaps, than has been done in the past to combine the satellite information with some of the other assumptions, really guesstimates to try to get at the best likely location, most likely location for the aircraft.

BLITZER: When you speak with your sources, Andy how confident are they that they're on to something and they're not onto much?

PASTOR: Well, I would say that the investigators and many of the investigators who looked at the satellite data, believe that the theories and the basic calculations of the satellite connections with the aircraft are correct.

But we have to put this in some perspective. Tens of thousands of square miles to be searched and, in fact, the Australians are going to ask forbids along this arc that they mentioned but only 25 miles on each side of the arc so even where they think the plane may have gone down based on previous accidents, especially the Air France 2009 crash.

Then chances are that nobody will ever find that aircraft. And so the margin for error is very small. The areas are huge. And it's worrisome, to many people who look at it, that some of the basic assumptions still appear to be up in the air.

BLITZER: Very much up in the air. Andy Pastor of "The Wall Street Journal," thanks very much.

When we come back, the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, says the Donald Sterling saga isn't over yet, even though it appears a deal is in the works. We have details on an exclusive interview with our own Rachel Nichols. That's next.

Plus, undocumented children, crossing illegally into the United States. Coming up at the top of the hour, we have detail on what the Obama administration is now calling a truly humanitarian crisis.


BLITZER: The NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, is breaking his silence. He's speaking exclusively to our own Rachel Nichols. It's the first television article since banning disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league over that now infamous rant. And while it may seem likely that Sterling is going forward with the deal, Silver said he's not 100 percent yet certain.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN: Well, the board of the governors still has to approve the sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer, but basically, what does it feel like to be out the other side of all of this?

ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: I don't have any feeling about it yet because it's not done. Donald Sterling still has a billion-dollar lawsuit filed against the league, against me personally. I'm not so worried about that because I can't afford it. But there's still a last issue of Donald Sterling, Donald dropping the lawsuit and resolving the issues with his wife.

NICHOLS: And his lawyer has said that they had to do that. But are you in a "I'll believe it when I see it" mode?

SILVER: Absolutely. I've been there with him before. He's almost sold his club several times over the years. And there were incidents in the league when he was right there at a closing and at the last minute decided not to sell. And until he signs that document, we still have a pending litigation with him.


BLITZER: And Rachel Nichols, the host of CNN's "UNGUARDED," is joining us from New York, along with CNN anchor Don Lemon and our CNN legal correspondent, Jeffrey Toobin. So what do you make of that? Is it just that he's a little overly cautious? Do you think this is going to be a deal, Rachel? What do you think?

NICHOLS: I'm not sure you can be overly cautious with Donald Sterling. I think he's being smart. Donald Sterling's lawyer has said, "Hey, we agree to this." Shelly Sterling has assured Adam Silver that, "Hey, we agree to this." And that and a quarter will buy you a phone call or a cup of coffee, maybe. Until you get the piece of paper in writing saying, hey, this lawsuit has been withdrawn and all of the paperwork is signed up off on, I wouldn't believe it either. And it's just interesting to hear the commissioner of the NBA say it, saying, "Hey, everybody, hold your horses, we've got to wait until all of the t's are crossed and I's are dotted because, hey, we've dealt with this guy before.

BLITZER: Yes, and Don, I know you've been skeptical of this deal with Donald Sterling from the beginning. What's your take?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, my take is a quarter, Rachel is not buying coffee from a Starbucks, because it costs a lot more than a quarter. So I don't know where she's going, but I'd like to find out.

Listen, I've said all along, Wolf, you guys have -- you know, you've been listening to me. I don't trust him. So, you know, he still has the billion-dollar lawsuit and which doesn't go away, I think, until the deal is inked. And he is -- he's wishy-washy, he's changed his mind a couple of times. I don't believe it. Until that document is signed, I'm with Adam Silver and with Rachel and probably with everyone else on this panel, then I will believe him. Until then, I won't.

BLITZER: How long do you think it's going to play out, Jeffrey?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, it will probably be several weeks, but count me on the less skeptical side. This deal is done. I don't doubt that there will be some drama and negotiations, but Steve Ballmer is going to own the Clippers.

Now he's going to own them by the time the season starts next year. This -- this controversy is over. I don't blame Adam Silver. He's being a real lawyer, but let's be realistic. This is over.

BLITZER: It's not over until it's over, as they say. Let me play another clip, Rachel, from your exclusive interview with Adam Silver, the commissioner of the NBA. And you asked him some tough questions about why the NBA didn't they go after Donald Sterling for previous allegations of sexual harassment, among other things. Listen to what he told you.


SILVER: I don't have a good answer for that, only to say that I wasn't at the league during that time, so I don't want to run from it, but maybe there's just a different standard in today's society. I can't even say that we were ever even having that discussion. It doesn't come to our attention that way and it may have been beyond our authority.


BLITZER: He seemed also to suggest social media now is playing a much more significant role in all of these things. What's your take?

NICHOLS: Well, he does have a point. Look, the public mushrooming reaction that happened through social media and then therefore was fed upon us through more traditional social media created more of a call to action. It got players more energized to do something.

It also spreads information a lot more quickly. We all got to see the past lawsuits, the discrimination lawsuits about the apartment buildings that he owned and the sexual harassment allegations against him. We could punch up on our computers and call up the videotaped depositions of women saying what he had said and done with them and discrimination allegations in the past.

And what I said to Adam is, look, you had all of these witness statements and could you not have investigated them like you investigated this tape? Just because Donald Sterling had the money to settle these cases without findings of fault and make these cases basically go away doesn't mean that there was nothing wrong here.

And he was great about considering that possibility and saying, "Hey, it's a different time now, and we're happy about the action that we took at this time."

But he considered the possibility that maybe they should have done more in the past and, you know, you like -- you like someone leading the league who is at least taking some responsibility, having accountability, and being honest. And I think that's what people respond to so well with Adam Silver, is that he is candid; he's honest. He's not just putting up a P.R. front, and he's doing it again.

LEMON: But, Rachel, Rachel, that was all public knowledge. All those lawsuits are public knowledge. If you wanted to, you could get -- you know, go see depositions. If the media wanted, they could do FOI request, Freedom of Information. They could have done that. But I -- what it sounds like he's saying, and maybe he's right, is that just either the public or the media, or whatever was happening in L.A., everyone was kind of lazy and they really didn't care about it until there was a public outcry that came from this.

They just could not, you know, get around. And so if it hadn't been for social media, I think it's right, maybe there wouldn't be a nationwide or a worldwide reaction to it but people there in Los Angeles certainly knew about Donald Sterling.

NICHOLS: Yes. And absolutely. And he brought up the fact that even Magic Johnson has said hey, we should have paid more attention as players to Elgin Baylor when he brought his discrimination suit, even though again that suit was dismissed. The fact that Magic said, hey, as players, we didn't pick up that rallying cry as well as we should have. It's a different time now. Players now can talk to each other through social media and texting in a way maybe they couldn't 10, 15 years ago. And they can create more of a consensus.


NICHOLS: I think we're seeing that power now and it's impressive from the players' side.

BLITZER: So, Jeffrey, Jeffrey, is there a different standard now?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think there absolutely is a different standard. That even people who are involved in private businesses as the L.A. Clippers is, are public figures and they are expected to maintain a certain basic level of humanity and decency in their conduct. And that video and I think we can --

NICHOLS: Imagine that.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, that's different. I mean, it is different than the way things used to be. I mean, a lot of owners of things have felt, that look, I can do whatever I want, and you know, the fact that you had a combination of a racist audiotape that everyone could listen to combined with, as Adam Silver said earlier, I thought with admirable candor, we are a league that is 75 percent African-American with almost all white owners. So we have to be especially sensitive to issues like this and he was. And he did. And they threw him out. BLITZER: Rachel, what about his wife Shelly? She was not banned for

life from the NBA. What, if any role, will she have in the future with the Clippers under the new owners?

NICHOLS: The players certainly don't want her to have any role. She certainly wants to have a role. So we're going to have to see a little bit more how the details play out. The Board of Governors has not approved the sale yet and they haven't approved the condition of the sale yet either. That's something you remember.

I completely agree with Jeffrey, there's no question that they want him on their team, they want him as a partner, they will approve his ownership, but they have to approve the entire thing and we'll have to see over the coming month how that all plays out.

BLITZER: And Don, there's no indication whatsoever that the NBA would back away from this ban of Donald Sterling for life. Have you or any of you heard anything along the lines that they might give him a pass down the road?

LEMON: No. No one knows what's in the contract, right, specifically the details of this contract between Steve Ballmer and the NBA. But I doubt that that -- anything like that would be in it. I was surprised, actually, when we reported last week or someone reported that they were looking at Shelly Sterling as having a sort of ownership emeritus, owner emeritus role. I think the players would be completely against that, as Rachel said. They're completely against it.

The players and the fans, most of them, and the country, completely against the Sterlings having anything to do with that team. So I have not heard that they would, you know, they would get rid of the ban or anything like that.

NICHOLS: And Wolf, Adam did reiterate, there is absolutely no question, the lifetime ban, the $2.5 million fine, those are staying. They would not be rescinded under any circumstances.

BLITZER: Yes. He's out.

TOOBIN: He's out.

BLITZER: OK. All right. Guys, thanks very much.

A couple of important programming notes for our viewers. You can see Rachel's exclusive interview with the NBA commissioner Adam Silver on her program "UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS." It will air this Friday night, 10:30 p.m. Eastern.

And you can also catch a lot more of Don Lemon later at 10:00 p.m. Eastern on his program "CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON" which we watch whenever it is on.

All right, Don. Thanks very much.

LEMON: Thank you, Wolf. BLITZER: Rachel, good work as usual. Jeffrey, thanks to you as well.

Up next, a CNN exclusive, the Secretary of State John Kerry says the Obama administration finally supports arming Syrian rebels but as the destruction grows more appalling, is it already way too late?


BLITZER: Syria's brutal civil war rages on. Is it too late for the U.S. to help even the odds?

Our foreign affairs reporter Elise Labott reports.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER (voice-over): The Obama administration is moving closer to openly arming Syria's rebels, hoping to turn the tide in the bloody three-year civil war.

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Secretary of State John Kerry backed a move in Congress to train and equip moderate opposition forces.

(On camera): Sounds like you're supportive of arming the rebels now.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I am supportive -- I am supportive of the proposal that came out, the president I believe is, of the proposal that passed the Foreign Relations Committee which is in the --

LABOTT: Which is to arm the rebels.

KERRY: Which is to do that, that's correct.

LABOTT (voice-over): U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, resigned earlier this year in frustration telling CNN's Christiane Amanpour --

ROB FORD, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA: I was no longer in a position where I felt I could defend the American policy. We have been unable to address either the root causes of the conflict in terms of the fighting on the ground and the balance on the ground. And we have a growing extremism threat.

LABOTT: And in her upcoming book, Kerry's predecessor, Hillary Clinton, writes she along with former CIA director David Petraeus and former defense secretary Leon Panetta all favored arming moderate rebels. But were overruled by President Obama.

Two years later, Kerry says the U.S. is now prepared to step up its military involvement to weaken President Bashar al-Assad's resolve.

(On camera): You yourself have said we're not going to change this equation on the ground until Assad sees that he's starting to get bruised a little bit.

KERRY: Yes, we haven't. LABOTT: And these arms are the only way that's going to do that. You

know that.

KERRY: Elise, there are a series of steps that we have been taking to do exactly what you just described.


LABOTT: But Wolf, even if this proposal makes it through the full Senate where it has a good deal of support, it wouldn't happen overnight. Administration officials say they still need to work through the logistics, where it would be based, how it would work and what allies would take part, but it still would clear a real hurdle for the administration to go ahead -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Elise, thanks very much.

Up next, young children caught crossing the U.S. border detained under very disturbing conditions.