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THE SITUATION ROOM
Britain Raises Terror Threat Level; Joan Rivers Hospitalized; Cop Resigns After Threatening Ferguson Crowds; Google Running Drone Delivery Tests
Aired August 29, 2014 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Calling it quits. We will have the latest on a police officer caught on video threatening protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, with an assault rifle and angry words.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is on assignment. I'm Brianna Keilar. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
KEILAR: Breaking news, a new warning that the danger of a terror attack by ISIS is now severe. Britain has raised its threat alert to the second highest level.
Prime Minister David Cameron says his country faces a greater and deeper terror threat now than ever before. His alarming remarks are raising questions about President Obama's response to ISIS and whether the threat level in the United States should be raised.
We have correspondents, analysts and newsmakers standing by to cover breaking news in the United States and around the world.
First, though, to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She is at the Pentagon.
What are you hearing, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, as so many Americans get ready to travel on this Labor Day holiday weekend, why is it that London is so worried about a terrorist threat and Washington is not?
STARR (voice-over): Two leaders with very different public messages on ISIS, British Prime Minister David Cameron announcing the threat level is raised to severe in the U.K.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet. STARR: President Obama not ready to commit to fighting ISIS with
airstrikes in Syria, but Britain clearly feeling the pressure that ISIS could strike it at home. The new warning means an attack is highly likely.
CAMERON: The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the U.K.
STARR: Particularly worried because it was a British voice on the tape showing the murder of American journalist James Foley. An estimated 500 people have traveled from Britain to fight in Syria and Iraq, along with hundreds of other Europeans.
U.S. and European security services believe ISIS fighters are back at several locations in Europe, but those cells may not be under direct ISIS orders. Officials won't say where the cells are. U.S. officials say they don't believe there's a cell in this country, but are tracking about a dozen Americans fighting for ISIS overseas.
Just this week, two American ISIS fighters were believed killed in Syria.
MIKE BAKER, PRESIDENT, DILIGENCE LLC: I think our European allies feel a greater sense of urgency. I think they feel as if the threat is closer to home right now, and, for us, it's more of a distant issue.
STARR: For now, the U.S. plans no changes. The Department of Homeland Security says it's unaware of any specific credible threat from ISIS. Some analysts say, however, this is not the time to sit around and wait for what may be an inevitable attack.
BAKER: We need to understand that this is a threat now to our homeland. And we have to start designing a game plan to defeat them as quickly as possible.
STARR: U.S. counterterrorism and law enforcement officials will tell you that they are watching Americans who may have traveled to Syria and come back, Americans who may have some declared loyalty to ISIS. One of the biggest worries, however, is a lone wolf-type attack. It is one of the most difficult threats to detect -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Someone inspired by one of these groups. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.
Let's go now to Britain. This is where that new terror alert is in effect right now.
CNN's Karl Penhaul hold is in London.
Karl, British officials really seem to be taking the threat from ISIS very seriously. How worried are they? KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, raising that
threat level, that's the highest it's been for the last three years in Britain.
So, certainly, they are taking it seriously. What that threat level means is that a terror attack is highly likely. When we questioned though Prime Minister David Cameron and asked him, is there is a specific threat, he said he had no intelligence to suggest that there was a specific or any imminent threat either.
Now, of course the concerns all stem from the number of Britons that are traveling to Syria and Iraq and joining jihadi groups, particularly ISIS, and the threat that they will then return and bring that brand of Islam back to Britain and of course carry out some terrorists attacks. But, as I say, no suggestion that that is happening right now.
But Mr. Cameron was very clear when he said that he had to fight that threat both in Syria and Iraq and on the home front in Britain as well. Let's listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What we're facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before. In Afghanistan, the Taliban were prepared to play host to al Qaeda, a terrorist organization.
With ISIL, we are facing a terrorist organization not being hosted in a country, but actually seeking to establish and then violently expand its own terrorist state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PENHAUL: Now, in terms of what he's going to be doing in Britain, well, Mr. Cameron said he would be going to Parliament at the start of next week and putting some specific measures there. That could include withdrawing the passports of Britons who have traveled to conflict zones to fight for jihadi groups.
He could also put travel bans in place on those planning to get out there and fight the jihadi groups. And what the police have told us in the last few hours is that they will be stepping up a presence at public facilities in Britain, at the train stations, at the airports, and also we could see armed police patrols on British streets and that is somewhat unusual.
Britain, we're not used to seeing police with weapons in their hands -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Karl Penhaul in London, thank you.
Britain's new terror alert is adding to the pressure on President Obama to go after ISIS in Syria, as well as in Iraq.
The president is getting a lot of heat for his admission that he doesn't have a strategy yet for expanding U.S. airstrikes to Syria.
Let's go now to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
A lot of fallout from what the president said yesterday, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna, and no apologies from the White House here after the president's comments yesterday -- quote -- "We don't have a strategy yet" when talking about whether or not he wants to strike ISIS targets in Syria.
I went back and forth with White House Secretary Josh Earnest on this point. And Earnest said during the White House briefing today, Brianna, that the president did not misspeak, that it was the media that misinterpreted what he had to say. And we went further down this road, talking about that comment and here's how Josh Earnest reacted to my question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: When you're the president, words matter. And just getting back to that first question, does he wish he had articulated that sentiment differently?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He was asked a very specific question about whether or not the president would seek a congressional authorization before ordering any sort of military -- military action in Syria.
And the point the president made was that that's putting the cart before the horse. The president hasn't yet laid out a specific plan for military action in Syria. And the reason for that is simply that the Pentagon is still developing that plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, on that point, the Pentagon press secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, was asked whether or not the United States is prepared to strike ISIS targets in Syria, and he said to our Barbara Starr -- quote -- "I think that anybody who has any knowledge of the United States military knows that we're ready."
And so this raises this question, Brianna, as to whether or not there's a debate inside the president's Cabinet as to the wisdom of striking ISIS in Syria and how soon and how hard. I asked Josh Earnest about that and basically asked him whether or not the president is on the same page as his Cabinet and Josh Earnest shot back that it's the Cabinet that's on the same page as the president.
Whether or not there was a debate leading up until yesterday inside this administration, the White House is saying publicly that debate has ended -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Yes. And privately we're hearing a different story, which often happens as well. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you. I want to get another perspective on the ISIS threat now and
President Obama's response to it.
We're joined now by the former U.S. Ambassador to Syria and Iraq Ryan Crocker.
Ambassador, thanks for being was.
RYAN CROCKER, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: You advocated in a recent article in the "The New York Times" for airstrikes. But I wonder -- you actually said in this article, you said degradation of ISIS could allow the secular opposition to gain some momentum.
But how is that possible to have airstrikes that help the rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad without in a way helping Bashar al-Assad from relieving some of the pressure that ISIS is putting on him?
CROCKER: Well, Brianna, the first thing is to get our priorities right.
I do believe we should launch airstrikes. They should be heavy and they should be immediate. But this is not the take side in a Syrian civil war. This is to protect our own national security. I think Prime Minister Cameron said it pretty well and speaks for conditions in the country as well as in the U.K.
There can be secondary effects. ISIS has probably done more damage to other elements of the Syrian-Sunni opposition than it has to Assad's forces. So a degradation of ISIS, in addition to the most important point, which is keeping America said, could change the chemistry, the mix politically and militarily on the ground in a way that could benefit more moderate opposition and could make a political settlement between that opposition and the Assad regime possible.
There are Alawites out there who stand with Assad because they feel they have no choice, but they are not very happy with the way he's conducting his campaign.
KEILAR: I wonder, we were all watching the president speak yesterday. Other countries were watching the president speak. No doubt ISIS was also watching what he said yesterday. To ISIS, if they're watching him say we don't have a strategy yet when it comes to ISIS in Syria, what would ISIS leaders think of that? What is their reaction, do you suppose, as they hear that?
CROCKER: Well, I have no insight into the minds of...
KEILAR: I guess my point is, do they take that as a -- do they take that as a positive for them? Do they feel like they are sort of winning in a way by hearing something like that? Or does it not -- is that not part of it? CROCKER: I would think that they are likely to feel that the
pressure is off, at least for the time being, and they can get on with planning more complex and longer-term operations, which is why I think, as I said earlier, that we need to move quickly to develop that target set inside Syria and then we need to execute some pretty strong strikes while keeping up the pressure in Iraq as well.
This is al Qaeda version 6.0, Brianna. They're like nothing we have ever seen before, as some of other commentators have pointed out. We need to move. We need to move forcefully and we need to move now.
KEILAR: We try to understand the president's thinking as he is making what is a very difficult decision. This is such a complicated, difficult problem. Earlier this month in an interview with "The New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman, the president cited a lesson to be learned in Libya.
He said he acted decisively, the U.S. launched airstrikes. They were successful in removing Gadhafi, but then the situation there didn't get any better. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The day after Gadhafi is gone, when everybody is feeling good and everything is holding up posters saying, thank you, America, at that moment, there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that didn't have any civic traditions. Right?
You have had a despot for 40 years in place. There are no traditions there to build on, unlike Tunisia, where there was a civil society and that's why they have been more successful in transitioning. So that's a lesson that I now apply every time I ask the question, should we intervene militarily? Do we have an answer the day after?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Do you think that's a good question, Ambassador, and do you think that perhaps the president is haunted by Libya?
CROCKER: Well, I hope he's not haunted. Certainly, there are lessons to be learned from Libya.
You always have to be thinking about the day after. You always have to be aware that there are probably no purely military solution to any of the problems that we face out in that region.
But we know we have got an enemy, a very determined enemy who, as the British prime minister has said, is likely to start moving west. I don't think we have an alternative to swift, decisive military action to degrade ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. Give them no safe place to plan further attacks.
Then you have to see what can be done politically, forming a new government in Iraq that is inclusive that brings the Sunnis back in, very important. We're probably the only outside power that can play a decisive role in that process. We need to do it.
Inside Syria, we need to see what the effects of military action is. It's hard to imagine that we could have a worse situation if we launched strikes against ISIS than the situation we have right now where they're free to consolidate their gains and plan new operations.
We just need to get going and we need to understand that military action and political action are intertwined. We need to be ready to reassess if we do take action and it does degrade ISIS to see what opportunities that may provide to finally get a political process started in Syria.
KEILAR: Ambassador Crocker, thanks so much for lending your expertise to the conversation. Really appreciate it.
CROCKER: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: Now, still ahead, the terror threat for Americans during this busy holiday travel weekend. Stand by for the latest from the Department of Homeland Security.
Plus, new fallout from the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, involving a police officer who threatened protesters with a rifle.
And we will go live to the hospital where Joan Rivers is being treated after she suffered cardiac arrest during a medical procedure.
KEILAR: Our breaking news this hour.
The threat from ISIS is now considered so great that the U.K. has raised its threat level to severe, with the announcement, the U.S. secretary of homeland security revealed the U.S. considers the threat serious as well, taking a number of steps to enhance aviation security overseas.
CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh has details here.
What exactly does that mean?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, you know, the fear is that Westerners fighting for ISIS overseas could fly back home. Today, the U.S. says it's actively tracking known foreign fighters who travel in and out of Syria. But the problem is the unknown fighters.
And a scan of this threat is growing.
MARSH (voice-over): As Britain raises its terror threat level to severe, the U.S. says it's working to track foreign fighters who travel in and out of Syria and the U.S. is continuing enhanced aviation security measures at overseas airports with direct flights to the U.S. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We now have to make sure our mobile phones
and laptops, they can see that it's charged.
MARSH: Since this summer, flyers from Middle East and European bound for the United States have had to power up all electronic devices to prove they weren't explosives. Intelligence had suggested terrorists were developing more sophisticated bombs to avoid airport screening.
In the U.K. today, a clear sign that they are worried about foreign fighters returning.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We are stopping suspects from traveling by seizing passports. We're barring foreign nationals from reentering the U.K. We're depriving people of citizenship.
MARSH: The U.S. is striking a similar tone after two Americans were killed fighting for ISIS in Syria this week.
JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We have the prerogative at the State Department in coordination with law enforcement authorities to revoke passports when it comes to a point where somebody is working with a terrorist organization or posing a threat to the American public.
MARSH: The government's no-fly list and law enforcement watch lists are updated and sent to TSA in real time as threats develop, but it's not a perfect system.
MONER MOHAMMAD ABU-SALHA, SUICIDE BOMBER: When I went back to Florida.
MARSH: Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha grew up in Florida. He flew to Syria, trained as a jihadist, then returned to the U.S. He was able to fly again overseas, not to be seen again until he blew himself up in a suicide attack in Syria.
STEWART VERDERY, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: We know something about somebody, they're going to be questioned. The real concern is the sleeper cell, somebody that hasn't -- it has kept them -- they're under the radar.
MARSH: The 14 million Americans taking to the sky this weekend may see heightened security already in place because of the busy Labor Day travel. But more security is being considered, and not all of it will be visible.
EARNEST: I don't anticipate at this point that there are -- that there's a plan to change that level.
MARSH: Well, the U.S. no longer use as color coded terrorist threat system. They stopped that in 2011 because it was just confusing and ineffective. The system used now posts alerts on the DHS Web site and sends it out to the press and social media when there's an elevated threat -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Rene, thank you so much.
Let's dig deeper now. Joining us is CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen and as well analyst Bob Baer, a former CIA officer.
So, Peter, we're seeing the U.K. raise this terror threat. What all does that entail?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think David Cameron spoke to that in terms of the kinds of measures they're going to take. It seems like an abundance of caution. The British have 500 people that have gone to Syria. There's no way you can track 500 people.
British officials say we just cannot track that number. Luckily, the number of Americans who have gone is significantly smaller and U.S. law enforcement has much more resources than British law enforcement.
KEILAR: Someone will fall through the cracks? That's the thought.
BERGEN: Well, inevitably. A lot of these people are going to Syria on a one-way ticket. You just had Abu-Salha on the screen. He committed suicide in Syria. He did come to the States, but he went back to Syria and he died. We have the guy from Minnesota over the weekend who also died.
Often these are one-way tickets. And also you're also finding good people going there who have no idea what they're doing end but in a war zone. We have a woman called Nicole Mansfield from Flint, Michigan, who got killed in Syria last year. So, yes, it's a problem. But it's not always a guarantee that these people will even come back.
Bob, raising this threat level, you get the sense that this has been done for a reason, that there must have been some kind of reporting that prompted this, but that we're obviously not privy to that. Will we become privy to that at some point, do you think?
BOB BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Brianna, let me say, first of all, that neither this president, the White House, nor 10 Downing Street want to go to war in Syria. But nobody wants a war in Iraq.
There's no will to spin everybody up. When they talk about a threat, I take it seriously. And when they talk about ISIS being better equipped, more capable with technology, of getting around airport security, I also believe that.
I also believe they have the intent to do harm and they will do harm to us if in fact we have to go into Syria and bomb them or bomb them more in Iraq. There's just the will to do it and they have the capability. Starting on that basis, I would say we're getting closer to an attack.
But predicting it is almost impossible because, frankly, from what I have seen, we have got no sources in ISIS to tell us what their plans and intentions are. We couldn't find Foley's location in that rescue attempt. We're not inside that group and that's really the problem.
KEILAR: This is a big travel weekend for Americans and certainly the threat, it seems to be a little focused -- it seems to be grander at this point in the U.K. than it is in the U.S., but there are still a number of people who have gone from the U.S. who are traveling to fight for ISIS. Is there anything that Americans as individuals can do when they are out traveling on a big weekend like this or any other time?
BERGEN: They should enjoy themselves.
KEILAR: And they can't worry about this?
BERGEN: Yes. It's like, everybody should get a life. Yes, the U.K. have put the level of threat out. But they have done it before and nothing happened. This is what governments are paid to do. They're paid to worry about their citizens. That doesn't mean that the citizens need to be in a constant state of worry.
KEILAR: If you are hearing -- Bob is saying, there aren't people inside of ISIS who are giving great intel that can sort of let us know what's going on.
BERGEN: It's a fact that we launched a special operations on July 4 at the place where the prisoners were being held. We had pretty god intelligence about the place they were held. The fact is they had been moved three weeks earlier.
BERGEN: Yes, the general point I think Bob is making is true, but the fact is that we do have intelligence to some degree.
KEILAR: Is that why we're seeing this threat level increased?
BERGEN: I think, look, David Cameron has a huge problem. One of his citizens killed a citizen of his closest ally and did it on video. He has to take charge of this. He knows there are other Brits that are part of this hostage group, right, the so-called "Beatles."
You have got other American citizens. There's the possibility of more executions going forward. And, by the way, there are also other citizens that they can't describe who are a part of this hostage group. He has an enormous problem and he needs to be shown to be doing something right now.
KEILAR: That's part of it, Bob, that the prime minister needs to be proactive and really just kind of come to terms with the fact of what a problem this is and get ahead of it? BAER: Well, I think it's the unknown that worries people,
because if they say there's not a problem and something happens, they have got political, you know, catastrophe for them.
Remember, before 9/11, we ignored all of the warning signs and neither London nor Washington intend to do that again.
KEILAR: There were general warnings, right, in a way, Peter, not specific when it came to 9/11, but general that the idea of flying planes into buildings may be a possibility or had been floated out there by extremists?
BERGEN: There were multiple warnings by the CIA, by Bob's colleagues, very precise warnings, strategic warnings about a threat in the summer of 2001 emanating from al Qaeda.
As a policy matter, they were not paid sufficient attention to. The CIA actually gave almost a perfect strategic warning of al Qaeda planning a major attack in the summer of 2001. By the way, we have nothing like this right now. We have General Dempsey saying there is no evidence of any kind of plotting on the homeland security. We have had Jeh Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, saying very much the same thing. We have had Rear Admiral Kirby also saying the same thing all within the last 48 hours.
So, I think we need -- a little bit of perspective is needed here.
KEILAR: All right, great for that perspective. Thank you, Peter Bergen, as well as Bob Baer. Thanks for being with us.
And just ahead, President Obama is cracking a joke about that now famous or infamous tan suit. Stand by for that.
Also, a police officer threatening to kill protesters in Ferguson and pointing his weapon in their faces, we have just received word on his employment status.
And legendary comedian Joan Rivers is hospitalized after she stops breathing. We have the latest update ahead.
KEILAR: We're following the breaking news. The U.K. raising its threat level to severe. Prime minister David Cameron made the chilling warning today in a stern speech.
Back in the U.S., Republican critics are seizing the moment to hit President Obama harder after he said yesterday, an air strike on ISIS in Syria, quote, "We have no strategy yet." Here's Senator Rand Paul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: If the president has no strategy, maybe it's time for a new president. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Joining us to discuss this, CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, CNN political analyst Josh Rogan, a senior national security correspondent at "The Daily Beast" and retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. He is a CNN military analyst and a former commander of the U.S. Army Europe. He also worked on war planning at the Pentagon during 9/11.
Question to you first, Josh. You're hearing about some dissension kind of in the ranks of the president's cabinet. Where are we seeing the divisions here when it comes to how to move forward tackling ISIS in Syria?
JOSH ROGAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. When the president went to the podium yesterday and told everybody that we were doing (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Syria, that came as a surprise to a lot of people inside the administration. But preparing options for the expectation that something was going to happen all week long.
So in the State Department, there was a lot of people who have advocated for doing more in Syria for a long time. That includes Secretary of State John Kerry. In the military, it's a split but there's an agreement that in order to defeat ISIS, if that's what we're trying to do, it has to include Syria. And in the intelligence community, there's actually two separate assessments.
The office of director of national intelligence believes that we can't Free Syrian Army. Therefore, we can't really strike Syria with help on the ground. And there are others, operators especially in the CIA, who believe we definitely can work with the Syrian army.
So it's totally split. There's only really one vote that matters. That's President Barack Obama. He hasn't made up his mind yet. He's given us no set time line as to when he will. So all the rest of the people who think we need to confront ISIS or do something -- will have to wait.
KEILAR: He was tapping the brakes yesterday.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Totally.
KEILAR: You saw that where he wanted to make it clear that he's not moving forward imminently on something here.
KEILAR: What -- as he's thinking about this, what are the other factors in play?
BORGER: Well, look, he's listening to divided advisers, obviously. I have a little bit of deja vu here. Go back to a year ago, almost exactly at this time, where John Kerry got out in front of the president. Joe Biden got out in front of the president with questions on Assad after chemical weapons. The president had drawn the red line. And then he took that walk
around the Rose Garden with his chief of staff and came out, I'll remember, on a Saturday and said, "No, we're not going to do anything now." He doesn't want that...
KEILAR: He didn't have Congress's help.
BORGER: That's right. He said we're going to go to Congress, and then, of course, Congress wouldn't give it. So he -- he doesn't want that to happen again. That was not a good political moment for him, and it wasn't a good leadership moment for him. So she tried to tamp everything down yesterday and said, "Wait a minute. We don't have a strategy," meaning, "I don't have a decision."
KEILAR: And General, you -- I mentioned back when you were a one-star, you worked on war planning at the Pentagon during 9/11. So you have the perspective, certainly, about trying to target a terrorist threat. Why not launch air strikes in Syria and why launch air strikes in Syria?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, I would say don't launch air strikes in Syria until you get more details.
A strategy is not all about launching air strikes. There are many things that go into a strategy.
You mentioned my time on the joint staff. I arrived about a month before 9/11 as the chief war planner of the J-7. And remember, after we were attacked at 9/11, it took a long time before he had conducted an attack in Afghanistan to counter al Qaeda.
This takes a lot of -- the strategy President Obama had for Syria before was it's a civil war. We don't want to get involved. With the expansion of ISIS into other areas, that strategy is evolving. And I think that's what he meant yesterday. He's looking at different way to address it.
And just because it came from Syria, the hostage taking came in from Syria, doesn't mean we have to strike immediately in Syria. I think too many people are too quick to say we've got to pull the trigger in Syria.
KEILAR: Yes, but how if not strikes immediately, how much time does he have to think about this and to gather those details, as you say that he should?
HERTLING: Well, I think there are many options he's likely been presented by General Marty Dempsey, and he's considering all of those options as well as the diplomatic and the informational and the economic route. You don't have to immediately strike in the country.
There could be the potential of, hey, do we block ISIS at the border between Syria and Iraq while we continue to help Iraq? Do we contain them in Syria and hope to bring them down piecemeal? Does it become a war of attrition or are we looking into a war of annihilation? These are all considerations that any decision maker on strategy has to take into consideration.
KEILAR: And it sort of goes to the point a lot of people are asking. What is the president waiting for here?
ROGAN: First of all, I think that this border between Iraq and Syria that the president needs to make sure he takes very seriously doesn't exist for ISIS. They move freely back and forth. So it's increasingly irrelevant on the ground.
But the big question that we're all getting to here is what is the strategy in Syria? If we're not going to strike, then how do we fix that problem?
What Josh Earnest said today is that we're driving support from the moderate opposition and pursuing a political process. Both of those efforts are failing. There's no one who can say that there's a political process in Syria that's active. And there's no one who can say that the moderate opposition is not very close to being annihilated by ISIS and the regime.
So without any movement on those two things, as a political, not military strategy, we can't expect that the situation is going to get any better.
BORGER: You know, there's a political component here, too, which is the question of whether the president would go to Congress, when he could go to Congress.
I mean, you've got an election coming up in 60 days, and the White House -- I spoke with the senior administration official yesterday, saying they're not exactly sure about what kind of support they would get out of the Congress.
Privately, people are saying to them, "You know what? We really don't want to take a vote right now to authorize..."
KEILAR: Sure. It's the midterms, and I'm hearing a lot of Democrats say he needs to talk to the American people. It's a shuffle, if you will.
BORGER: He might get more overt support from lots of people in the Republican Party, including the leadership with Congress in the Republican Party. But I think his Democrats are very, very wary about this, and they're reflecting his own ambivalence, quite honestly.
ROGAN: And the president knows that if he want to actually strike, that he won't go to Congress, because it's a rabbit hole, right? When he struck Libya, he didn't go to Congress. When he did go to Congress, he didn't strike Syria.
KEILAR: It was a debacle. I mean, it was a debacle a year ago.
So I want to end on this story before we go. The elephant in the room which has kind of come out during -- in THE SITUATION ROOM today, the tan suit.
KEILAR: The president made a joke...
BORGER: What color are you wearing?
KEILAR: You are not wearing the tan suit, but the president made a joke about it today in his DNC fundraiser. He was taking off his jacket, and he said, "The tan jacket was cooler."
But he's even -- Peter King hit him on this, saying that tan suit wasn't serious enough for what he was talking about.
BORGER: Oh, come on. That is absolutely ridiculous. And now, by the way, now that President Obama has worn it, tan suits are suddenly going to become cool. So I expect Josh Rogan to show up tomorrow in a tan suit.
ROGAN: I won't be wearing one, Gloria.
HERTLING: I will not be wearing a tan suit tomorrow.
KEILAR: All right. I don't know, General. I think you can pull it off.
All right, General Hertling. Thank you so much for being with us.
Josh, Gloria as well. Thank you.
And just ahead, it was a video that outraged people across the country, a Missouri police officer threatening protesters, pointing his assault rifle at them. We have an update on his status on the force.
And delivery by drone. A big name in the tech world is stepping up to make the science fiction real. Stand by for details on that.
KEILAR: There are some major news out of Ferguson today. Remember this guy?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My hands are up, bro. My hands are up.
OFFICER: I will (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kill you. Get back!
(END VIDEO CLIP) KEILAR: Well, that incident occurred 10 days ago during
Ferguson's tensest evening. We've just learned that that officer, a police lieutenant from nearby St. Ann, has resigned after 20 years of service.
And joining us to discuss, CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes. He's the former assistant director of the FBI.
Are you surprised, Tom, that it took this long for this to happen or is this just something that sort of plays out in bureaucracy?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: This long, you mean to happen late --
KEILAR: Ten days, yes.
FUENTES: Actually, I thought that was a little bit soon, because with all the police unions and everything today, it might have taken a long time and he might not have lost his job. But, you know, from the standpoint of a police executive, you don't want people like that on the street that lack self discipline and self control. You know, we trust or officers with the weapons, with needing the judgment, of life and death, which the whole case is about in Ferguson.
And to have somebody come out and display that he doesn't have that control and came out close to pulling the trigger and killing those people is absolutely unconscionable. You can't have that.
KEILAR: Yes, he was overtaken by the situation.
FUENTES: You can't have that.
KEILAR: It can't happen.
FUENTES: You don't get to be that way. Police officer, I don't care how long you're out there or what the situation, you don't get to lose your temper or lose control. It's just the way it is.
KEILAR: We saw this happening to varying degrees in Ferguson. When you look now -- we've got the benefit of a few weeks now past the protests that went on for some time. Are there long lasting lessons here that are going to be taken away that police departments across the country are going to be using to instruct their officers?
FUENTES: There will be many discussions along police executives starting in the beginning with the -- even outside the shooting itself, but starting with the deployment of the military-looking equipment. It's not that a police department should not have that equipment. They should and they need it. They've been outgunned many times for decades.
But that needs to be used properly and it wasn't. They brought it out too soon. The image of the officer on top of the one of the trucks with a scope rifle looking at the crowd, that's absurd.
(CROSSTALK) KEILAR: There's other ways to look at the crowd.
FUENTES: That's why they have vernaculars. That's why they have night vision. You don't do that.
KEILAR: That's why I wonder what you think about this St. Louis county police, the chief, he recently defended the way that officers used the military style equipment in the protest, which is exactly what you're saying wasn't done the right way. I mean, is that --
FUENTES: Well, it's not just me. There are police --
KEILAR: Many people. You represent so many people that feel the same way. Was that tone deaf?
FUENTES: I think it could be. But, you know, looking at the situation he's trying to make the decision. It could have been the other way. He could have not brought out the equipment or not had it close enough at hand and you could have had a riot where people were killed, and he didn't have the equipment to quell it.
So, you know, there's judgments. There's a lot involved (ph) as to what occurs. The police can only be so reactive. They have to be prepared for every outcome.
And, you know, to look back and say maybe it was too strong of an initial presence of that equipment and those officers, you know, that's easy to do now. But it could have been the other way and he would have been, you know, just crucified if he had not had the equipment out there and people would have died if control was lost.
So, it's a tough business and that's why we have people in those jobs to be make those kinds of judgments.
KEILAR: Tom Fuentes, thank you so much. Hindsight is 20/20.
KEILAR: Appreciate you being with us.
FUENTES: Thank you.
KEILAR: It is the next frontier of delivery -- drones, those small unmanned aerial vehicles could soon be flying through your neighborhood shipping goods. Who's behind the latest project? It's Google.
And CNN's Athena Jones is here with more on the tech giant's new venture.
Tell us all about it, Athena.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. The folks at Google X have been working on for the two years.
And it's a super secretive bunch. These are the people behind the self-driving cars and Google Glass. And this team has been working on something they say could change the way society works.
JONES (voice-over): Hear that? It's the building buzz of potential business by drone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I order some dog food for my dogs, please?
JONES: And now, backed by a rock tune rift, Google has announced its latest aspiration, a drone delivery service for anything from dog treats to first aid kits.
ASTRO TELLER, CAPTAIN OF MOONSHOTS GOOGLE (X): Project Wing aspires to take another big chunk of the friction of moving things around the world.
JONES: Moving things around, mainly products to paying customers, is something companies like Google are looking to streamline. It might seem like a strange move for Google which has built its empire around searches, maps and advertising.
ALEXIS MADRIGAL, THE ATLANTIC: What they want to do is have the world work like the Internet, right? They want all these little autonomous pieces out there working on your behalf.
JONES: Google is no stranger to innovation and expansion like its driverless car prototype. "The Atlantic's" Alexis Madrigal was given exclusive access to the Google team behind the secretive drone project. He says Google wants to transform the world, quickly delivering medical supplies and goods to people in hard to reach places.
MADRIGAL: The postal service changed society. FedEx overnight delivery changed society, same day delivery changed society. So, don't we think that being able to get you a package in two minutes would also change society?
JONES: This time, Google is actually a bit behind. Amazon introduced their prototype last December. And Domino's Pizza tried their own DomiCopter drone in June of 2013.
The coast guard already uses drones for surveillance on ice sheets in Alaska. Real estate agents are using them to show homes and they were even used to survey after an earthquake struck Napa, California this month.
But widespread use is likely years away and the slew of important safety, privacy and technical issues have to be addressed first. The Federal Aviation Administration is set to draw up rules to fully integrate drones into the international air space by September 2015. Perhaps that's one reason Google tested its system in Australia. (END VIDEOTAPE)
JONES: Another big question here is, are we ready for this? Privacy and safety issues aside, are we looking at a future where delivery truck drivers don't have jobs and we have thousands of drones flying around the cities? That's something a lot of people may find hard to imagine. Of course, there are others who are going to say, I'm ready, bring it on -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Pretty cool and pretty scary. Athena Jones, thank you so much.
And just ahead, Joan Rivers' daughter is asking for prayers for her mother after she apparently suffered from cardiac arrest. We'll go live to the hospital where she is being treated, next.
KEILAR: Joan Rivers' daughter says her mother's condition remains serious this hour, after her heart apparently failed and she stopped breathing during a medical procedure.
CNN's Miguel Marquez is out Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York where Rivers is being treated -- Miguel.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brianna, the family is also saying that she is resting comfortably but folks who know her say that they saw no sign that this was coming.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The 81-year-old comic legend remains hospitalized in stable condition after she stopped breathing from cardiac arrest suffered during a throat procedure Thursday morning. In a statement, daughter Melissa says her mom is resting comfortably and adds, "My mother would be so touched by the tributes and prayers that have been received from around the world. Her condition remains serious but she is receiving the best treatment and care possible, we ask that you continue to keep her in your thoughts and we pray for her recovery."
Just Wednesday evening, Rivers was performing at New York's Laurie Beechman Theater, and had 24 live shows scheduled through November. That's in addition to her show on E!
JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: And the legs go on and on and on like Gwyneth Paltrow when someone asks her about kale.
MARQUEZ: And promoting her jewelry on QVC.
Born in New York in 1933, Rivers iconic career started in the late '50s and took off after her debut on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson in 1965.
JOHNNY CARSON, THE TONIGHT SHOW: Is this the same dress that you wore -- was this '65? RIVERS: February 17, 1965.
People call you Lucille or Lucy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lucy.
MARQUEZ: In 1983, she was named the show's permanent guest host.
A few years later, she became the first woman to host her own late-night show.
She has been breaking barriers and the rules of etiquette ever since.
RIVERS: She goes oh, my father molested me. My father molested me. Take a good looked a yourself, darling. Let me tell you something, you should be thrilled if that man paid any attention at all.
If I want to talk about it, then it's right to talk about it. And I purposely go to areas that people are still very sensitive and smarting about.
MARQUEZ: But for now, a serious turn for a woman who says she never wants to stop making people laugh.
RIVERS: I think I'm working the best I've ever worked now. The only time I'm truly happy is when I'm on a stage.
MARQUEZ: And now, a show has been canceled for tonight. There are other shows scheduled for September. Those venues are not canceling them yet, hoping that she will be there to keep them laughing -- Brianna.
KEILAR: We sure do as well. Miguel Marquez, thank you.
And "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.