Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Deputy Charged in Fatal Tulsa Shooting; New Audio Captures Police Shooting Aftermath. Aired 5-6:00p ET
Aired April 13, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, manslaughter charge. Video shows the shooting of an unarmed man by a law officer who thought he was reaching for a stun gun but ended up firing his real weapon with deadly effect. Now that deputy is facing charges.
Adrenaline pumping. A stunning new recording captures the aftermath of the Walter Scott shooting as the officer charged in that case reacts to what just happened. But there's new criticism of a second police officer. Why some want him fired and indicted.
Russian aggression? A jet fighter jet intercepts a U.S. spy plane, and the Pentagon is now firing back with angry words after the near collision. What's behind the growing number of these incidents?
And ready for a road trip. With Marco Rubio about to announce his own presidential candidacy, Hillary Clinton launches her White House run by heading cross country to Iowa.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following major new developments in two fatal police shootings of unarmed African-Americans. Our breaking news as shocking video shows the final moments of a deadly encounter between officers and a fleeing suspect in Oklahoma.
The reserve deputy who pulled the trigger says he thought he was using a stun gun, not his hand gun. Now he's been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
And a new recording captures the moments after the police officer Michael Slager fatally shot Walter Scott in South Carolina. We hear Slager has been charged with murder, talking seemingly lightly about how his adrenaline is pumping, and there's now growing pressure to charge another officer who arrived on the scene.
Our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're standing by with the latest developments. So let's begin with this new manslaughter charge in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene -- Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, those charges, criminal charges, filed just a short while ago here in the city of Tulsa, and the attorney for Robert Bates, the 73-year-old reserve deputy accused in this shooting, says he is remorseful for what has happened.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Just moments before he was shot...
ROBERT BATES, DEPUTY: Oh, my God. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh -- (EXPLETIVE DELETED) oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He shot me!
LAVANDERA: Eric Harris was captured on surveillance video appearing to sell a .9 millimeter semiautomatic pistol and ammunition to an undercover sheriff's deputy.
ERIC HARRIS, SUSPECT: It's a Luger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A Luger?
LAVANDERA: Moments later Harris spots a swarm of undercover agents and runs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop right there.
LAVANDERA: A deputy tackles Harris. That's when 73-year-old reserve deputy Robert Bates shouts that he'll use his Taser.
LAVANDERA: But the Tulsa County sheriff's office says Bates instead grabbed his gun and pulled the trigger.
BATES: I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED) he shot him. He shot him!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop fighting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) -- (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
ERIC HARRIS, SUSPECT SHOT BY POLICE: Oh, he shot me. He shot me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you hear me? (EXPLETIVE DELETED) -- ran!
HARRIS: Oh, God. Oh, he shot me. I didn't (EXPLETIVE DELETED). He shot me, man. Oh, my God.
LAVANDERA: And even as he lay dying the officers taunt him.
HARRIS: I'm losing my breath. I'm losing my breath.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) your breath. Put his hands back.
LAVANDERA: A retired police officer named Jim Clark has been brought in to review the fatal incident.
SGT. JIM CLARK (RET.), TULSA POLICE: You can train someone as much as you can. And you train in every area that you can, but in times of crisis, sometimes training is not going to take you through the scenario.
LAVANDERA: With the video released questions turned to why Bates, who is an unpaid certified reserve deputy, was on the scene in such a sensitive and high-risk sting operation.
DANIEL SMOLEN, HARRIS FAMILY ATTORNEY: Mr. Bates lacked, really, any kind of training, that Mr. Bates had been a Tulsa Police Department officer from 1964 to 1965 one year and never passed his probationary period.
LAVANDERA: Smolen says that Bates was afforded opportunities within the task force due to his significant and long-standing financial support of the sheriff's department.
SMOLEN: He could do anything he wanted to. You heard the sheriff's department say, like any other officer could do, but he could do it with no training. And he could do it just with total access. I mean, cart blanche freedom to do what he wants to do. That's incredibly dangerous to a community.
LAVANDERA: A sheriff's department spokesman tells CNN this afternoon that it still stands by the deputy's actions, but the D.A.'s office makes clear they see it differently, charging Robert Bates with second-degree manslaughter.
[17:05:11] LAVANDERA: And, Wolf, the sheriff's department we spoke with late this afternoon, they still support Deputy Bates. They say that he had gone through extensive training and had reached the highest level of the deputy reserve program and that he could have -- was very well inclined to be in that situation. And that wasn't anything out of the ordinary and that he had done that, worked in that environment many times before -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera, that's a shocking story indeed. All right. Thanks very much. More on that story coming up.
Let's turn now to the fatal police shooting in South Carolina. There's a gripping new audio recording of the moments after the police officer, Michael Slager, shot Walter Scott. There's new controversy about the actions of a second police officer who arrived on the scene. Our Brian Todd has been piecing all of this together.
Brian, what are you learning?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight the controversy in North Charleston is growing, and the trouble is spreading to at least one other police officer. The second officer who arrived on the scene is now under intense pressure.
And there's new audiotape of the officer who fired the fatal shots, Michael Slager, and what you hear him doing has outraged people inside and outside the law enforcement community.
TODD (voice-over): In the harrowing moments after Walter Scott is gunned down, police are desperately trying to process the scene. Tonight, for the first time, we hear the voice of the man who fired the fatal shots. Officer Michael Slager, in new dashcam audio, is apparently heard speaking to a senior officer about what's next. The senior officer advises Slager to go home, wind down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the time you get home, it'd probably be a good idea to jot down your thoughts about whatever happened once the adrenaline stops pumping.
MICHAEL SLAGER, FORMER POLICE OFFICER: It's pumping. Oh, yes, oh, yes.
TODD: Slager's apparent laughter is an outrage to one law enforcement veteran.
MELVIN TUCKER, FORMER FBI AGENT AND POLICE CHIEF: That disturbs me greatly. This is a very serious thing, the worst possible thing you can do, take another person's life. So I as a professional law enforcement person, very disturbed over that.
TODD: Another law enforcement expert says take into account the stress of the moment.
DANIEL KATZ, FORMER DEA FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR: He more than likely understands he's done something wrong and has got a problem. So I think that's his nerves releasing somehow, and I wouldn't read much into the laughter.
TODD: Tonight, the first officer on the scene after the shooting is also under intense pressure. Officer Clarence Habersham is apparently seen in the amateur video, tending to Scott's wounds. Under scrutiny is this moment, when Slager, returning to where Scott's body lies, appears to be seen throwing an object next to the body. It may or may not be a Taser. Habersham appears to be just a couple of feet away, but nowhere in Habersham's initial police report does he mention this moment.
The National Bar Association, a group of African-American attorneys and judges, is calling for Habersham to be fired and indicted, saying, "Officer Habersham deliberately left material facts out of his report."
Former FBI agent Melvin Tucker says action should be taken against Habersham if he saw Slager drop that object.
TUCKER: I think that the failure to do that indicates there was more loyalty to Slager than there was loyalty to the ethics of the profession.
TODD: Some believe the criticism of Officer Habersham at this early stage of the investigation is unjustified.
DAVID KATZ, FORMER DEA INSTRUCTOR: We don't know, No. 1, where he was looking. Other things on his mind. Responding officers coming, ambulance on the way. So we have no way of knowing whether he, in fact, saw any actions that Mr. Slager was taking.
TODD: Now, we reached out to the attorney for Officer Clarence Habersham and to the North Charleston Police, seeking response from all of those entities to the new allegations against Habersham. The attorney did not get back to us. The police said they would not comment, citing the investigation.
South Carolina's Law Enforcement Division, which is handling this probe also did not respond. Officer Michael Slager's attorney did not respond to the criticism of his apparent laughter right after the shooting -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And there's a second new audiotape, Brian, that has now surfaced right after the shooting. Right?
TODD: Again, captures a little bit of emotion right afterward, Wolf, yes. The second audio taken from dashcam video from inside a patrol car captures a phone call between Slager and someone who CNN believes is his wife. He tells her, quote, "Hey, hey, everything is OK. I just shot somebody. Well, he grabbed my Taser." He says yes a couple times. And he says, "He was running from me. I'm fine" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Another major development, Brian. Thanks very much.
Let's go live to South Carolina now. CNN's Martin Savidge in North Charleston, where the pain is still deep. The outrage is apparently mounting. Martin, is the family of Walter Scott looking to see the second police officer who arrived on the scene, do they want him investigated, maybe even charged?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At this particular time that they say no. They are comfortable with the fact that it is under investigation by state law enforcement. In other words, the oversight body that is looking into the entire shooting incident. And they will wait and see what those investigators come forward with when it comes to the second officer and whether or not they should be indicted on charges.
[17:10:10] There were some protesters here who said that definitely there should be an officer indicted over this matter, but in the community overall, it seems right now it's a wait-and-see attitude, Wolf.
BLITZER: And the police community in North Charleston where you are, Martin, have they responded to the arrest, the murder charge of that fellow officer?
SAVIDGE: There are few that are really opening or talking publicly about their feelings. However, those that have been quoted in other areas have said that they're deeply troubled by what they've seen. We already know that the chief of police says he was sickened by the video. We know the mayor has been very sympathetic towards Walter Scott's family.
The only people that seem to be supporting the officer right now are, of course, his mother and his wife, and his second attorney. Remember, his first attorney also stepped away from the case. So it would seem that many in law enforcement right now are backing off from any kind of support when it comes to Michael Slager.
BLITZER: And what about the protests there in North Charleston? What have they been like?
SAVIDGE: Well, they're on a daily basis. In fact, there's one that's just starting to warm up behind us now. They've been peaceful, all of them, and primarily, they have been people giving their own statements and their own accounts of times that they've suffered at the hands of local law enforcement.
But last night, there were some new reinforcements that have now arrived. Those who protested in Ferguson, Missouri. And it seems that the attitude may be changing, going from what had been simple demonstration to what now in the organization say will be resistance -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Martin, thank you. Martin Savidge reporting from North Charleston, South Carolina, for us. Joining us now, Cedric Alexander. He's the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement executives. He also serves on President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Cedric, as usual, thank you very much for joining us. Let's talk first about that shocking development in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that reserve deputy, 73-year-old Bob Bates, now facing second-degree manslaughter charges.
Let me play the tape once again. Watch this.
I don't think we have that tape right now. So we're not going to play it, but we've seen it just before. Supposedly, he thought he was using a Taser instead of a handgun, and he shot and killed the suspect in this case. What do you make of it?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, PRESIDENT, NOBLE: Well, the whole scene is going to be troubling, and it's going to raise a number of questions, Wolf, in regards to the procedure itself.
Certainly, the officers were working within their right in terms of making an arrest. But once they've got a hands-on subject, something very clearly and very tragic went wrong.
Now, this could be a training issue. Of course, taking into account that is a very high, stressful time for everyone that's involved. But anytime someone is shot, even accidentally in an incident such as that, it certainly creates a great deal of pause, particularly in the climate that we're in at this very moment.
The other thing that's rather disturbing to me about that whole piece of footage is that even after the victim was shot, there was an appearance of absolutely no concern to his well-being, even after they determined that he was shot. And you saw that, and you heard it, quite frankly, through much of the verbal conversation that took place on that video.
BLITZER: I think we have that video. Let me see if we can play it right now. Watch this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop right here. (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roll on your stomach, now!
BATES: I shot him. I'm sorry.
HARRIS: Oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED), oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED), he shot me. He shot me!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, stop fighting!
HARRIS: Oh, he shot me. He shot me. He...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hear me? Put your hands behind your back! (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Pretty disturbing. Even after he shot, you saw what was going on.
The investigators brought in to take a look at this case says Bates -- he's the reserve deputy, if you will, the 73-year-old, not a -- not a paid police officer. That he hadn't done anything criminally wrong. But the sheriff's department is still standing behind Bates. The sheriff's department recommended not pressing charges.
But in this particular case, as you know, the district attorney has decided now to move forward with the charges of second-degree manslaughter charge. Do you think that's appropriate?
ALEXANDER: Well, I mean, what's going to be appropriate in that community is going to be based on what the investigative bodies in this case, the D.A.'s office, determine as being appropriate. And I'm certainly not going to question what they do or not do.
I think the important piece is that this is still an ongoing investigation, and I think a number of factors need to be taken into account, but if that's the position that the D.A. takes at this point, then he or she certainly reserves the right to do so based on the evidence that has been presented to them.
[17:15:18] BLITZER: And what worries you is that in the aftermath of the shooting, they really are still pounding away. They're not really trying to do anything to save his life. Right?
HARRIS: Well, that's what it appears to be, but of course, Wolf, you and I are not there. And I've been in situations or similar to this before. And many of us who have been in a profession for a period of time know were be very challenging, but here's a man who has been shot. And it's very clear to everyone that he has been shot.
But some of the language and footage there is somewhat, I think, disturbing. And this all could go back to training and hopefully more training than just attitude.
BLITZER: It's not just in Tulsa, as you know. It's North Charleston, South Carolina, the shooting of Walter Scott there initially labeled a traffic stop gone wrong. That was before the video of the shooting emerged, that horrific video that we all have seen by now.
Do you believe these charges, the murder charge against the police officer, Michael Slager, would have gone forward if that video didn't exist?
HARRIS: Well, one thing is very evident here, is that we do have the video. The video certainly tells a story, a great significant part of that story that is going to be very important going forward.
And here again, in the state of South Carolina, the law enforcement there, along with the D.A.'s office, felt it was appropriate. They had probable cause, obviously, in order to affect an arrest. And, therefore, that's going to be respected from where I am, regardless of the decision that they've made.
So, therefore, based on everything we see, we clearly see something wrong here in South Carolina. That was just disturbing and shocking to all of us inside the law enforcement community and outside, as well, too.
BLITZER: And now there are calls for some sort of serious investigation of a second police officer there who arrived on the scene.
Cedric, I want you to stand by. I want to pick up this conversation with you. We have a lot more to discuss. We'll take a quick break. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: We're back with Cedric Alexander, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. He also serves on President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Cedric, the murder charge against the police officer, Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina, from what you've seen on this cell-phone video following the shooting, is this were your department, would you also issue charges potentially against the second police officer who arrived on the scene after the shooting, Officer Clarence Habersham?
ALEXANDER: Well, I think it's important to remember that the officer that came up, Habersham, obviously came up as backup to Officer Slager. So I think what has to be determined, in all fairness, one involved, Wolf, is there needs to be an ongoing investigation to make some real determination as to what was some of the language that was used at that scene and what was meant by it.
And I think that's not going to be determined by the video that we see or the short piece of footage that we're listening to, but it's going to require some further investigation in all fairness to that officer, to that department and to that community overall.
BLITZER: Fairness is clearly important. What about...
ALEXANDER: Very important.
BLITZER: Yes, certainly. What about the new exchange of the audio that we just heard? You can hear the police officer, Michael Slager, responding to a senior officer, laughing about the adrenaline pumping after the shooting? In fact, let me play that for you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By the time you get home, it's probably be a good idea to kind of jot down your thoughts about whatever happened, once the adrenaline stops pumping.
SLAGER: It's pumping.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. Is that odd? Because he seemed to be, Slager, laughing off the shooting just a little bit of this unarmed man, Walter Scott, shot him five times in the back, and in the ear.
ALEXANDER: Well, that officer's overall behavior is somewhat questionable and concerning to all of us.
I wouldn't -- as one of your guests, they stated earlier, I wouldn't read a lot into it. Everyone was probably very stressed during that moment. Sometimes, a quick laugh as such, as inappropriate as it may appear and is, quite frankly, sometimes that's just anxiety that may just be playing itself off.
But I think overall, when you look at the entire piece of footage from the time that the shots were fired up until the time he walks towards the body, we saw very little concern, emotion or help being offered to the victim at that time.
So if you put it, and you compartmentalize it that way, none of it looks, feels or is perceived as being someone that is trying to provide some help, even after he shot and killed the victim here. BLITZER: Do you believe race was a factor in the shooting death
of Walter Scott?
ALEXANDER: Well, let me say this: I don't know what was in the head of Officer Slager. I hope race was not. But I can't tell you definitively that it wasn't. I can only hope that, in today's policing, that we have advanced ourselves with all of our officers way beyond that. And hopefully, that is not the case, but I don't know what's in the head of that officer.
BLITZER: Most police office, almost all of them around the country, are decent, hard-working; they want to protect us. We need their protection. They play a critically important role.
But there are so many of these cases now that emerge, and now that there's cell-phone video and dash camera video, body camera video, we're seeing a lot more of this. How do we train specifically -- let me rephrase the question. How do you and your colleagues train police officers to make sure these kinds of incidents do not recur?
ALEXANDER: Well, I think we have to go just beyond training. I think training is a very important part of it, being able to utilize modern technology and that's afforded to us is very important, as well, too.
But what is critically important here is, we have to make sure from the onset that we're hiring the right people, Wolf, and we're training the right people and personalities for this job. This is a guardian position, and we're here to protect and to serve. But the community has a responsibility, as well, too, to work closely with police.
But I think we have to recruit a lot more carefully as we move forward into the 21st century. And as we recruit better and we train better, hopefully, we see less of these incidents across the country.
BLITZER: And maybe if local, state, federal authorities pay better, you'll get better people wanting to serve, as well. Just a thought.
I've got to leave it there. Cedric Alexander, the president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. Thanks very much for joining us.
ALEXANDER: Thank you for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
When we come back, we'll shift gears on national security. Other law enforcement experts are standing by. There's new evidence that terrorism could be on the rise. We're going to ask them if it's realistic to capture suspected terrorists for trials in the United States, instead of using drones to target them for killing on the battlefield.
Plus, a frighteningly close call has the U.S. complaining about a Russian jet fighter's flagrant disregard of standards for safety and professionalism.
BLITZER: An American is now jailed and accused of being an al Qaeda operative was once seen by the U.S. government as a possible target for assassination by drones. That report in "The New York Times," underscores the growing controversy over what to do with terror suspects. Capture them or target them for killing on the battlefield?
[17:31:41] Joining us now, CNN counterterrorist analyst Philip Mudd. He's a former CIA official. Also, our national security analyst Peter Bergen; our law enforcement Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director. And our intelligence and security analyst Bob Baer is also a former CIA operative.
Bob, is the strategy of capturing these terror suspects bringing them back to the United States for trial, rather than simply using a drone to kill them, is that a realistic strategy for the government to pursue? Because we know, until recently, the goal was to simply kill these people.
BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I'm for bringing them back and putting them on trial for no other reason than to expose the inanity of their arguments and political naivete, and the violence. :et the world know who these people are.
Of course, those you can't get to, you have to disrupt them with drones and assassinations. So there's two classes of people. Often these people, when you bring them back you can bring them around to talking, especially when they're faced with life in prison.
BLITZER: And potentially get some useful information in the process.
Phil, how much can the U.S. trust some of the local partners for this kind of information? Say Pakistan or some other country says we have good information. There's an American who's a terrorist. You can go out and use a drone and kill him?
PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: If you're running these operations against Americans, you cannot use foreign intelligence to target an American for a drone operation. If you're developing intelligence about whether somebody poses a threat and that individual is an American, you've got to use your own stuff.
The other side of that coin, though, is can you trust the foreign government's intelligence that says, "We've identified the location of this individual well enough to pick him up"? I'd say, and I've looked at this case in the paper today. I say that's a huge risk. Every day you sit there and say, I'm hoping or gambling that that foreign service can pick this guy up is a day he has a chance to plot against America. It's a huge cost benefit.
BLITZER: You've actually -- correct me if I'm wrong -- you've been in the room where these decisions have to be made, to send out a drone, a Hellfire missile and assassinate...
MUDD: Don't get me in trouble, Wolf.
BLITZER: Kill someone. Would you ever hesitate in that kind of decision-making process if the intelligence, you believe, is good?
MUDD: You hesitate on the front end. That is, if we're looking at the legal premise and the intelligence premise to target someone, is -- did the intelligence reach a threshold, and are we confident enough that the person we've identified on the ground is actually the person that we're hearing on a phone or that we're talking to an informant about?
Once you've reached that threshold of confidence that the person is involved and conspiring against America, and that it is who you think it is, you've got to lock and load.
BLITZER: Does it make any difference if it's a U.S. citizen or a non-U.S. citizen? The terror suspect?
MUDD: That depends who you ask. In my view, it does not. I'm in the minority here. If you decide that someone is an imminent threat to America -- that is, they're training people to target operatives against New York City, and if you decide that you cannot capture that person, it's not clear to me why you say, if that person's a Pakistani or Yemeni, that's hugely different than whether they're American. If you wait and sit on that case and somebody dies, it's the same problem. You can't take that risk.
BLITZER: What's better: to kill a suspect on the battlefield, Tom, or bring that suspect back to the United States for trial?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there are cases where you can make an argument one way or the other.
From my view, you know, I travel all over the world running FBI international operations and being on the board of Interpol. And we preach, we're the United States; we stand for the rule of law, except when we don't want to and do things we want to do.
[17:35:08] And the second problem with the drone attacks is, for every one of these guys we take out, we have taken out innocent men, women and children, which causes entire villages, extended families and regions to hate us, and then that reduces their cooperation with us and with their host government. And so there's a down side to drones that are very serious either morally and the long term.
BLITZER: You want to quickly weigh in, Peter?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. I mean, there's a reason that popularity of the United States stands around 10 percent, close to zero in Pakistan. It's because of the drone program.
So in this particular case, there was an American citizen who wasn't deemed to be an imminent threat to the United States, and he was captured in Pakistan. He's been in the United States for some period of time. He's clearly been interrogated at great length.
And this is the way the government works. And by the way, they government is not supposed to just willy-nilly kill people. That's supposed to be the option of last resort, not of first resort.
BLITZER: Well, they say it is last resort. They don't say it's willy-nilly. They give it a lot of consideration before they go ahead and give that order to kill someone...
BERGER: Right. But as a practical matter, we have tended to kill suspects, and within -- dead men don't tell tales. And so we gather huge amounts of intelligence from people that we bring into custody and put on trial.
BLITZER: That's another matter. You're right about that.
Bob Baer, I want to show you and our viewers some ISIS propaganda video that's just been released, showing the destruction of literally thousands of years of archaeological sites in Nimrod. This is a major archaeological -- destination. People have been going there for a long time just to see what's going on. You see what's going on. ISIS has gone in there, chainsaws, with bulldozers. And they're simply destroying these places with significant religious significance, as well. What's going on here?
BAER: Well, Wolf, what we're seeing here is, this is -- this whole idea of destroying all graven images, comes out of Saudi Arabia. Wahhabi Islam. This has been exported by Saudi Arabia since the '70s.
I mean, these people even destroyed even old Mecca medina, thinking they were graven images. They represented them. They will cut down trees, the Wahhabis, because pagans worship them. So you see this bloody-minded cult, which I think is deviant from Islam, going after these sites.
And it's not just in Iraq. They're going after them in Libya. They're going after them in Syria, anywhere they can get to them. But that's just emblematic of how bad this movement is and how destructive it is and the reason we need to go after it really hard.
BLITZER: But just to be precise now, you're not blaming the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this brutality that's going on in Iraq?
BAER: Well, I do indirectly. Historically, they -- they exported this philosophy to Pakistan, to al Qaeda, to Yemen, all the way around the Middle East. This goes back to the Iranian revolution in '79, when they thought their version of Sunni Islam would save the kingdom. I think it got out of hand, of course, but they're certainly not behind the destruction of these archaeological sites.
BLITZER: No. Phil, what do you think?
MUDD: Look, this is pretty basic. If you're a member of ISIS, you're saying there is no God but God.
We look at these sites and these museums that have these kinds of statues, for example, as history. They view these as graven images, as Bob said. In other words, images that you could worship. Since there is no God but God, they've got to destroy these images, because there's a prospect that someone might view them as religiously significant. I understand what they're doing, but it is primitive.
BLITZER: All right, guys, we've got leave it on that note, but don't go too far away.
Still ahead, we have new details about a scary incident that has the Pentagon complaining about what it calls a Russian fighter jet's fragrant disregard of safety.
And we're also standing by to bring you the breaking political News: Marco Rubio, he's getting ready to make it official. He's running for president of the United States.
[17:43:37] BLITZER: Vladimir Putin's Russia is making some new trouble for the United States. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's got the details. Pretty disturbing stuff.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. These close encounters in the sky, they've been skyrocketing in the last year. The Pentagon watching them very closely. U.S. diplomats protesting very loudly to no effect, and they continue happening.
The latest kind of aircraft, an American surveillance plane that was -- had a very close encounter, dangerous encounter according to U.S. officials, with a Russian fighter jet.
At the same time Russia now threatening an arms sale to Iran, which could greatly reduce U.S. military options in the event that nuclear negotiations with Iran fail. This is the missile here. The S-300. U.S. officials protesting this very loudly today, as well.
SCIUTTO: These powerful Russian surface-to-air missiles may soon be in the hands of Iran. Moscow lifting its ban on selling the missiles to Tehran with days of progress in the west's nuclear talks. U.S. officials responded quickly with alarm. Secretary of State John Kerry raising it with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Russia understands that the United States certainly takes very seriously the safety and security of our allies in the region.
If this sort of arrangement were to move forward, it would raise serious concerns and even could potentially raise sanctions concerns.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): Russia is a partner to the nuclear talks with Iran. However, Washington and its allies fear that Iran could use the missiles to shield nuclear sites from potential airstrikes if negotiations fail. And above eastern Europe, another high-flying U.S./Russia encounter. This time as a Russian fighter jet intercepted a U.S. reconnaissance plane.
The U.S. RC-135-U was flying over the Baltic Sea in international air space when a Russian SU-27 fighter flew so close, says the Pentagon, and to quote, "flagrantly disregard international standard of safety and professionalism."
The fly-by, say former U.S. commanders, are more than showboating but a calculated guess of the American response.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They're going to see what kind of professionalism the pilots have, they're posturing to show strength. They're attempting, I think right now, to intimidate eastern European countries because they've been doing that for the last couple of weeks. They're showboating for the Russian public and they're also doing it because they can right now. No one's stopping them.
SCIUTTO: We want to give you a sense of just how often, how widespread these close encounters are. Look at the map here. This is the number of places around the world, not just in Europe but over here in Asia. Off the North American coast here, in the north up along Alaska, even as close as you can get to California here as well. This happening all over the last year, just to give you a sense of the numbers.
In Europe alone, there have been 400 close encounters with NATO aircraft and Russian aircraft. That's just in this area here, and that is up four times in the span of 12 months.
This is something, Wolf, that, you know, through the last several months, Pentagon officials have spoken about frequently to me. They say that they watch these very closely and they are genuinely concerned about how close those Russian pilots get because they're worried about them hitting each other. Having an international incident where one plane takes down another plane. You can imagine what a serious incident that would be between U.S. and Russia now.
BLITZER: You can only imagine how bad it would get after that. Let's hope it never happens.
Thanks very much, Jim Sciutto.
We're standing by for the breaking news. Republican Senator Marco Rubio is about to make it official, he's running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. We're going to bring you his announcement from Miami. That's coming up live.
Also a surprise customer at a highway restaurant. It's presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. She's on a road trip to Iowa.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [17:51:51] BLITZER: In just a few minutes Republican Senator
Marco Rubio will announce he's joining the race. We're standing by to bring you his speech live.
Also breaking now newly announced Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is on the road to Iowa and surprising potential voters along the way.
Let's get some more on the road trip. Our senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny has more on this part of the story -- Jeff.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, that picture we just saw over there, she's stopping for lunch in Ohio at a chipotle restaurant. It's not exactly the scenes we've seen here in a lot of times but look, Hillary Clinton is trying to drive home the point from the very beginning this will be a different kind of presidential campaign. More biography, less drama, more focus on voters. She's starting it out meeting them one by one.
ZELENY (voice-over): In a van nicknamed Scooby, Hillary Clinton is heading to Iowa for her first campaign stop, hitting gas stations along the way, taking time to meet people like Chris Lern, a Penn State student who shared his pictures with CNN. She's trying to shed a bit of her celebrity and trying to build a connection with middle- class Americans.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion. So you can do more than just get by. You can get ahead and stay ahead.
ZELENY: With this campaign video, Clinton officially jumped into the presidential race on Sunday offering the first glimpse of why she wants to be president.
CLINTON: That's why I'm hitting the road to earn your vote. Because it's your time, and I hope you'll join me on this journey.
ZELENY: Climbing into the back of a van for a 1,086-mile road trip from her home in Chappaqua, New York, headed for Monticello, Iowa. Passing through key battleground states of Pennsylvania and Ohio as well as her home state of Illinois before reaching Iowa. She is still haunted by her third place finish in 2008.
Diana Phoenix still remembers standing in line to see Clinton back then. She ultimately supported Barack Obama and now has questions about how much of a middle-class champion Clinton actually is.
DIANA PHOENIX, IOWA VOTER: Ties to Wall Street, some of the (INAUDIBLE) I buy and the standpoint I read that she has voted that have not been as strong on keeping the banks in line and lending.
ZELENY: When Clinton arrives in Iowa on Tuesday, she'll see that the 2016 campaign is already well under way. Democrats like former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb have already been working the state. On the Republican side, the field is even more crowded with each hopeful trying to make a name for himself at Clinton's expense.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in the power --
ZELENY: At a campaign stop today Senator Ted Cruz led the charge.
CRUZ: President Obama and Secretary Clinton have had their chance. Their policies do not work.
ZELENY: For now at least Clinton is ignoring all of her rivals as she makes her return out to the campaign trail. The family's most celebrated politician Bill Clinton will not be at her side but still provides irresistible fodder for "Saturday Night Live."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This election is about you. I don't want to hog your limelight. I am leaving. Look at me go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bye. I'm gone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
ZELENY: Now the Democratic activists in Iowa I talked to today say they are ready for Clinton to come to the state, but they have a long list of questions to ask about her vision and just what she would do as president -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A lot more on this story coming up, Jeff, thanks very much.
Just ahead, Marco Rubio jumps into the race. The Florida Republican is about to formally announce his 2016 run. We'll bring it to you live.
BLITZER: Happening now, Rubio's running. The Florida senator launches his Republican presidential campaign moments from now. Why does Marco Rubio saying he's uniquely qualified for the job? We'll bring you his speech live.
Second-degree manslaughter. New charges against a deputy after another shooting caught on video. He says he thought he was using his stun gun, not an actual gun. How did it happen?