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ISIS Shows Refinery Attack, Closes in on Kay City: Putin: 'There Are No Russian Troops in Ukraine'; Gyrocopter Pilot Charged with Violating Airspace; Tulsa Deputy's Training Records Missing; Marijuana Revolution. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 16, 2015 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:11] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: ISIS closes in. Could U.S. airstrikes keep the terrorists from seizing a key Iraqi city? As terrified residents flee, an urgent call for reinforcement.
Al Qaeda's air base. The terror group, which has repeatedly targeted the U.S. from the air, captures an airport in Yemen. Will this boost the odds of a successful attack on America?
Security threat. Shocking new video of the gyrocopter flying past the Washington monument on the way to a landing at the U.S. Capitol. Could the pilot's dangerous stunt serve as a model for someone with a deadly intent?
And missing records. The Tulsa deputy who fired his gun instead of his stun gun may not have been properly trained in the use of firearms. Were local officials ordered to falsify his training documents?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Terrorists tighten the noose. ISIS releases dramatic new images of its assault on Iraq's largest oil refinery, showing off heavy weapons, a ground attack and even aerial surveillance by a drone.
ISIS is also closing in on a major Iraqi city. Local officials say coalition airstrikes have slowed the advances on Ramadi, but they're sending out urgent appeals for help as thousands of panicked refugees flee. Top Pentagon officials suggest that Ramadi, less than 70 miles from Baghdad, may indeed fall and may fall soon.
And in Yemen, al Qaeda's deadliest affiliate, which has tried repeatedly to attack the United States from the air, has now captured an airport, which could possibly give it a base to carry out its goal of hitting American interests.
I'll speak live with the White House deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes. He's standing by. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're also standing by with full coverage.
So let's begin with our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. He's over at the Pentagon. The battle for Ramadi has intensified. What's the latest you're hearing?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. Hearing both today from the defense secretary, Ashton Carter; the chairman of the joint chiefs, General Dempsey. They say that in Iraq, the trend lines are positive, both for the situation on the ground and capability of Iraqi security forces.
But in the case of Ramadi, the largest city in western Iraq and Anbar, conceding that it may very well fall to ISIS and then making the case that it's not strategically important. The chairman of the joint chiefs calling it just bricks and mortar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: I would much rather that Ramadi not fall but it won't be the end of a campaign should it fall. We've got to get it back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: To be clear, Ramadi does not have a key oil refinery like the city of Baiji. Chairman of the joint chiefs General Dempsey saying that that's where the focus on Iraqi forces is now to keep Baiji from falling into ISIS hands, but it's hard to see how Ramadi falling to ISIS would not be at least a major symbolic victory for ISIS.
As you said, Wolf, 70 miles from Baghdad, the capital of the Sunni heartland, the largest city in Anbar province. This would be a loss. It could be a very visible loss for Iraqi security forces.
BLITZER: Yes. Awkward phrase. Bricks and mortar. A hundred and fifty thousand people have already been forced from their homes. They are homeless right now. The images of people fleeing an area that ISIS potentially could control. It's awful. Whether or not it's strategically important or not, there are a lot of people -- people's lives are at stake right now. Let's go to Yemen for a moment, Jim. Some of the worst fears are being realized there, as well as al Qaeda. AQAP, the worst of the al Qaeda affiliates right now from the U.S. perspective, apparently taking over an airport. What happened?
SCIUTTO: That's right. They took over an airport in southeastern Yemen. And this is just the latest of the territorial gains. Again, you have a failed state. You have a major terrorist group. AQAP, controlling territory, much as you have a terrorist group like ISIS controlling territory in Iraq and Syria. And I pressed the defense secretary on this. Because you no longer have U.S. Special Forces on the ground. The U.S. embassy is closed, and you no longer have a stable partner government. I pressed him on how this cannot -- reduce a counterterror pressure on AQAP and what it means for the safety of Americans at home. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHTON CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: If we don't have a stable government, as is the case in the current circumstances. We have to use other means to protect ourselves, and that's what we're doing.
SCIUTTO: ... other means compensate without, for instance, U.S. Special Forces on the ground, a listening post in the capital, Sanaa, cooperation with the existing government. It's just hard to imagine -- for people at home to imagine there's the same control and response capability?
CARTER: I repeat, it's easier if there's a government with which we can cooperate in existence in that country. We're not going to find that all the time in all places in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: Easier for sure. To be fair, the U.S. was able to conduct an airstrike earlier this week, which AQAP said killed one of their senior leaders. But going forward, I've heard consistently, Wolf, from U.S. counterterror officials concern that there will not be the same counterterror pressure on AQAP going forward. That gives them greater capability that increases the risk for terror attacks against Americans including the possibility on the homeland.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Sciutto at the Pentagon, thanks very much.
With the world's -- with the world demanding answers about Russia's sale of advanced missiles to Iran, its aggression in Ukraine, the brutal stifling of internal descent, Vladimir Putin held a town hall session today. Brian Todd was monitoring what was going on. Brian, what did he have to say?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A town hall meeting with 142 million people, Wolf. Tonight Vladimir Putin is basking in his popularity with Russians. No doubt crowing inside the Kremlin over another of his famous Q&A sessions, broadcast throughout the country, who took shots at America, saying the U.S. needs vassals, not allies.
And the evening was full of defiance and patriotism that have become Putin's trademarks.
TODD (voice-over): A production worthy of a Super Bowl halftime show. A dramatic, highly choreographed four-hour live television event with a studio audience, and moderators, and multiple cameras and roving microphones in remote locations, all piped in to Putin, unplugged. A Q&A session, in which the Russian president heard his people out and made a bold assertion.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): There are no Russian troops in Ukraine.
TODD: A comment U.S. officials immediately rejected. The questions, and those who asked them, were hand-picked, even some about the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Any chance of finding out who ordered this horrible death? PUTIN (through translator): It was tragic and shameful. The question
about whether we can find the people who carried out the killing, I don't know, or if there were such contractors.
TODD: His critics say he had a hand in Nemtsov's killing. His government denies it.
MARSHA GESSERI, AUTHOR, "THE MAN WITHOUT A FACE": So it's a very dismissive answer that basically says that the Russian police, the law enforcement, Secret Services, are all beyond reproach. And as for himself, well, stuff happens. It's kind of shameful.
TODD: Putin defended Russia's delivery of a powerful missile defense system to Iran, which the U.S. opposes.
PUTIN (through translator): The U.S. delivers far more weapons. It is not a threat to Israel at all. It is a defensive weapon.
TODD: Analysts say Russia has been helpful to the U.S. and its allies in the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. Is Putin now turning on America regarding Iran?
STEVEN PIFER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Russia's tried to position itself as a the good cop to the American bad cop. They have had a very different relationship with Iran than the United States has had. The United States has had no diplomatic relations with Iran since 1979. Russia has.
TODD: And Putin does this Q&A every year. Analysts say it's a way of building his immense popularity inside Russia. But do the Russians not see through this?
GESSERI: For most people, there's no reason to say, "He's a dictator. He should really be acting like the American president," because they have no idea what things are like in other countries. Russia has become extremely isolated.
TODD: The range of questions and Putin's answers was extraordinary.
On one hand, the Nemtsov killing in Ukraine. On the other, one woman asked Putin to persuade her friend's husband to let her get a dog on her birthday. His response, quote, "I can't order anything." Then he said, "So let's just ask Boris, please, be kind, to buy your dog -- buy your wife a dog."
Wolf, it got a little bit bizarre, and I think this man Boris is under a little bit of pressure tonight to buy his wife a dog.
BLITZER: Certainly is. But there was a really blunt question on the tension in Ukraine.
TODD: That's right. It's on a lot of people's minds there. This came from a person who lives near the border with Ukraine and said, "We are afraid for our children. Will there be a war?" Putin's answer, quote, "It is not possible." That's what he's saying
to his people right now, you know. But his actions sometimes really belie those words.
BLITZER: Yes. Three hours, whatever.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Brian, for that.
Let's go in-depth on all of this. Joining us, the deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes. Ben, thanks very much for joining us.
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Ramadi first. "Bricks and mortar," that was an awkward phrase we heard from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. There are hundreds of thousands of people, their lives are at stake if ISIS were to take over. A hundred and fifty thousand refugees already. What's going on over there?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, it's obviously of enormous concern as a major population center in that part of Iraq. I think what the chairman was saying is you have strategic assets like the Baiji oil refinery that we've supported to the Iraqi security forces in taking and holding. But we obviously have a concern about Ramadi.
That's why we're taking action through air strikes in the vicinity of both of these places and working with Iraqi security forces to provide them with additional support. And I think what we see now, Wolf, is ISIL having been pushed ouch out of Tikrit and having been put on the defensive in some areas. They're seeking to try to show that it can go on the offensive in other areas, and we're going to have to respond to that.
[17:10:03] BLITZER: ISIS, as you know, is moving in the city of Ramadi. So many American lives were lost there when the U.S. was involved in that war after 2003 and 2005, 2007.
Why isn't the Iraqi military, after all of these years, more than a decade, hundreds of billions of dollars the U.S. poured in there, left behind the most sophisticated weapons for them. Why isn't the Iraqi military capable of protecting their own people?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, remember that Ramadi is in that area of Anbar province in western Iraq where ISIL has been very active for several months now. They've been posing a threat to Ramadi. This is as they've been able to take areas like Mosul in the north, Fallujah, where there has been enormous American sacrifice.
And what we saw, Wolf, are these are the predominantly Sunni areas of Iraq. And there was a breakdown of trust between the Iraqi security forces and those communities.
What we do have now is a more inclusive Iraqi government. A prime minister who has reached out to those Sunni tribal communities. We are working to reinforce Iraqi security forces to make sure that they're multi-sectarian units and they're bringing in the Sunni tribes in the defense of their communities. That's a long-term plan. And the short term, what we need to do is push ISIL out of areas like we have in Tikrit, but also try to reinforce the defensive areas like Ramadi that, of course, have many thousands of Iraqi lives at stake.
BLITZER: Was the U.S. surprised by this enormous ISIS capability, several thousand ISIS fighters taking over a huge city like Mosul, a city of nearly 2 million people, now moving in in Ramadi. Did this come as a surprise to the U.S. intelligence community?
RHODES: Well, yes, what's happening in Ramadi now I think is in the context of an ongoing conflict in that part of Iraq, where we've seen ISIL push out of some areas. And we've seen them try to show that they're going to go on the offense in other areas, and we're going to deal with that. And I'm confident that we have the coalition and the capabilities to deal with that.
I think, Wolf what we said candidly, we were surprised by. It's a point you made previously, which is that the Iraqi security forces, back when there was the original ISIL advance into Iraq back in the summer, you saw the Iraqi security forces fall back very quickly from areas like Mosul, like Fallujah and around Ramadi, which is an area that has been threatened for some time now.
What we've been trying to do with getting trainers on the ground, we're getting additional equipment to the Iraqi security forces, and with airstrikes is try to create the space for the Iraqi security forces to regroup, but also, very importantly, to have a more inclusive political process in the country so that those Sunni communities are not disaffected from the government in Baghdad, but rather they're working together.
BLITZER: All right. And stand by for a moment. I want to continue this conversation. Ben Rhodes, President Obama's deputy national security advisor. We're going to take a look at al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen right now. They've got an airport under their control. What is going on? Stay with us.
[17:17:09] BLITZER: We're back with President Obama's deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes, who's joining us live from the White House.
Ben, AQAP, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, that's seen as the greatest terror threat to the U.S. homeland now. These terrorists aspire to commandeer planes, attack U.S. aircraft, individuals. Now they've actually gotten control of a major airport in southern Yemen near the city of Mukalla. It's the same city where hundreds of inmates were freed earlier this month. How much of a threat is this to the United States?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, AQAP has been an ongoing threat to the United States since 2009 when President Obama took office. The fact of the matter is, what we've seen out of AQAP is aspirations to attack the American homeland. We've been able to deal with that through pressure on AQAP and its senior leadership. And even now, with all of the chaos in Yemen, we're able, if we need to, to take direct action against AQAP targets, if we see intelligence that will allow us to disrupt plots.
Over the years we've been able to see many AQAP leaders removed from the battlefield. We're going to watch this situation very carefully and, if we need to take action, again, we have the capability to do so.
BLITZER: But you don't have the same capability you used to have when you had a friendly government in charge over there, when you had a U.S. embassy, when you had U.S. military personnel on the ground. Now you have to do everything from Djibouti or other places outside from aircraft that are based elsewhere. Right?
RHODES: Well, in terms of direct U.S. action against terrorist targets in Yemen, that has been with air power in the past. That will continue to be the case as necessary.
It is certainly the case, Wolf, that it is better if there is a more stable political environment in the country. We've had within Yemen multiple transitions over the last several years, and right now we have a much more chaotic situation with the conflict that is under -- that is undergoing there with the Houthis advancing south and with our Gulf partners, with our support, taking action against that particular threat to Yemen's internal stability.
What we have to be mindful of is any effort by terrorists like AQAP to take advantage of that vacuum -- and we're going to be very vigilant to watch for that, and we're going to take whatever actions are necessary to disrupt terrorist plots against the United States.
BLITZER: Speak about the Russian president, Vladimir Putin while I have you. The ink isn't dry. There isn't even an agreement yet with Iran on its nuclear program, but Russia now says they're going to sell these S-300 air defense missiles to Iran, pretty sophisticated stuff. They say this is a terrorism deterrent. Sanctions haven't supposedly been eased, but they're going ahead with it anyhow, to which you say...
RHODES: Well, Wolf, first of all, we have been concerned about this system. We have been for some time now. It's been delayed. They've chosen to go forward with the delivery of the system. It is a defensive system. In that respect, it's not a violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, but we do think it's a negative step by Russia.
[17:20:06] At the same time, we do not believe that this should affect the negotiation towards preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Russia has been at the table of that negotiation with the P5+1. So we believe, again, we can get the framework that was agreed to earlier this spring locked in by the end of June. That can achieve our objectives of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Russia did take this counterproductive step. We raised our concerns.
Frankly, the Russian economy has taken severe hits from the sanctions that the U.S. and E.U. have put on Russia. And so they may have felt like they needed additional revenue, but we've made our concerns known and will continue to do so.
BLITZER: Let's talk about security right here in the nation's capital. Yesterday, we saw a gyrocopter flying over the National Mall. Look at this image. I don't know if you can see it right now. It's pretty scary stuff. How worried are you about security, air security, let's say, here in Washington, D.C., around the White House and the U.S. Capitol?
RHODES: Well, Wolf, it's an area of concern. We had, you know, an unmanned aerial vehicle come into the White House complex recently, as well. And what I can tell you is the FAA, working with the Secret Service and the Capitol police are looking at what additional security measures can be taken to protect key landmarks around Washington, like the Capitol, like the White House.
At the same time, we have a nationwide effort with the FAA to try to put in place clear rules of the road as we look toward the future where there are going to be more and more use of private drones like this that can allow for our security and protection of our civil liberties, even as we know the technology is proliferating.
BLITZER: But you agree with me? It was pretty alarming what happened yesterday?
RHODES: Well, look, Wolf, yes. Anytime you have this type of unmanned aerial vehicle flying through the Capitol, you know, that poses a potential threat and a potential risk. In this case it did not appear to have a hostile intent. But just as when we had something come into the White House grounds, these types of incidents cause us to sit down, have the relevant authorities -- FAA, Secret Service, Capitol Police -- look at what additional security measures they may need to adapt to evolving technologies.
BLITZER: Yes. This was a manned aircraft. One man.
RHODES: Yes, yes.
BLITZER: And that aircraft, indeed the drone that flew onto the White House grounds, that was unmanned. I remember when I was a White House correspondent back in the '90s, a plane actually landed on the South Lawn of the White House and actually got right up to the White House.
Are you guys secure over there? Are you worried about the president's security, the first family's security right now?
RHODES: No. We're confident in the security we have here. We have confidence, you know, despite many of the incidents that have been reported on, the Secret Service does do an extraordinary job every day. It's a difficult job.
So we're confident in security. But, look, there's no such thing as perfection, and we need to stay one step ahead of these evolving technologies, whether again, it is the type of unmanned drone that came in here or the type of gyrocopter that we saw -- and that's a new term for many of us -- approach the Capitol grounds yesterday.
And again, I think what we just have to do is make sure that, in terms of our own security procedures and protocols, we're trying to stay one step ahead of these technologies, rather than allowing them to penetrate our defenses.
BLITZER: Yes. I hope so. All right. Ben Rhodes, thanks very much for joining us.
RHODES: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Ben Rhodes is the deputy national security advisor to the president.
Coming up, the man who landed his gyrocopter at the U.S. Capitol has now been charged with violating national defense airspace. Stand by for new video of this shocking stunt.
Also, shocking new developments in the investigation of a reserve deputy who mistakenly shot a man with his gun instead of his Taser.
[17:28:04] BLITZER: Breaking now, the man who landed his gyrocopter in the front area of the U.S. Capitol is out of jail. He'll be allowed to go home to Florida.
In court this afternoon, a federal magistrate ordered Douglas Hughes to be placed in home detention until he returns to court next month.
Today "The Tampa Bay Times" released new video of Hughes flying along the National Mall, past the Washington Monument on his way to the U.S. Capitol building. He faces fines up to three years in prison on charges of unlawfully operating an aircraft eligible for registration, and violating national defense airspace.
Let's bring in our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh. She has much more on what's going on -- Rene.
Reporter: Well, Wolf, I spoke to a former government radar engineer, who says no one is watching these small, slow-flying targets. They're all fixated on the potential of something like a huge jetliner.
NORAD admits that detecting this sort of low, slow-flying aircraft is very difficult. So tonight there are concerns about the security of the nation's airspace over the nation's Capitol, and what can be done to fix those vulnerabilities.
MARSH (voice-over): Tonight, new video shows the mailman in his gyrocopter flying east across the National Mall, past the Washington monument, heading straight for the U.S. Capitol. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not good, people.
MARSH: The critical question at the center of multiple investigations: How did this gyrocopter fly through what's supposed to be highly protected and restricted airspace?
RICK CASTALDO, FORMER FAA RADAR SURVEILLANCE ENGINEER: The military's mission seems to be optimized towards finding large aircraft with missiles, not smaller aircraft. Today, we're not prepared for that.
MARSH: Douglas Hughes took off from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, traveling nearly 100 miles into restricted airspace. The trip took roughly two hours.
The FAA, Secret Service, Capitol Hill police and homeland security monitor radar for this hypersensitive airspace around the clock.
[17:30:05] When there's an incident, the monitoring agencies are supposed to communicate in real time on a conference call. Any potential threat is assessed. Then NORAD steps in. Scrambling either a military jet or a Coast Guard chopper, and can shoot down an aircraft if necessary.
So how did they miss this? Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says because it actually flew under the radar. The gyrocopter on average flies comfortably at 50 to 100 feet, although it's capable of flying higher. At that altitude it's out of reach of most radar detection. A clear vulnerability.
RICK CASTALDO, FORMER FAA RADAR SURVEILLANCE ENGINEER: I've said that a number of times that it'd be pretty simple to take a home-built aircraft down the river, make a left turn over the Lincoln Memorial and fly it up the mall. It wouldn't be the first time it's been done.
MARSH: In January, a drone crashed on to the White House lawn, and in 1994, a small Cessna flying low and out of radar's reach came down outside the White House. No one tried to stop that one either.
MARSH: Well, the argument is, these hypersensitive radar would essentially trigger countless false alarms detecting things like birds. But one expert said integration of other sensors like noise monitors that could pick up the propeller signature of a gyrocopter is a potential solution. That, experts saying, the government needs to think outside of the box -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They certainly do. And this is -- could be a wake-up call for a lot of folks.
Rene, thank you.
Let's bring in the former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes. He's our law enforcement analyst and CNN justice reporter Evan Perez.
Evan, Doug Hughes, he's the gyrocopter pilot who did this stunt yesterday, he potentially faces some serious jail time.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. He faces up to three years, Wolf, for these charges most likely. And in addition to some fines, which are likely as well. Now, you know, the issue for the government is to try to figure out how to treat this very seriously to discourage anybody else from doing this, but at the same time, you know, not give him anymore platform for his message which is -- you know, he's trying to deliver some kind of political message.
BLITZER: His political message was to -- all the money that's in politics right now.
BLITZER: He thought he would deliver 535 letters to members of Congress and that would have an impact, maybe it will, maybe it won't.
There is technology, though, that can sort of monitor low-flying, small aircraft like this, but what? It's not used?
PEREZ: Well, it's not used. I mean, the government says that it's just not -- it's just not practical. They say that it's something that they can't really do to -- it's really difficult to counteract something like this. Frankly, you know, they just don't have an answer for it right now.
BLITZER: They've got to do something, though, Tom, right? Because this potentially, this guy, he was in dangerous -- as we all know now with hindsight, but a bad guy could have been dangerous?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, could be, Wolf. And right now what the message is to the whole world is look at this gap, look at this vulnerability. You're flying above the ground, so you can't set up a roadblock. You don't have to worry about a truck bomb or something like that. And then you're not a giant jetliner flying toward the capitol. So you're doing the in-between -- coming in flying at 100 feet and you could have a small squadron flying in like that. If there's no method to detect them, then there's certainly going to be no method to prevent it.
BLITZER: The other thing that's so disturbing, this guy for two years or so was advertising what he wanted to do including in the days leading up to this, and the Secret Service investigated. They questioned him a couple of years ago and this took everyone by surprise.
FUENTES: Well, I guess he should have threatened to join ISIS.
BLITZER: And then he would -- people would have known what was going on. It's a pretty dangerous situation.
All right, guys, stand by. We've got more to discuss.
Coming up, the Tulsa reserve deputy as he's called who fired his gun instead of his stun gun may not have been properly trained at all. So what happened to his training records? And as yet, another state legalizes medical marijuana. Our own Dr.
Sanjay Gupta, he's standing by to give us a closer look, an advanced look at his new documentary on what's called the marijuana revolution.
BLITZER: There's an extraordinary new twist in the fatal shooting by a Tulsa reserve deputy as he's called who fired his handgun instead of a stun gun. The "Tulsa World," the newspaper, did a reporting that local sheriff's office employees were told to forge Robert Bates' training records and three who refused to were assigned to other duties. The sheriff's office denies the allegations but the sheriff himself concedes his office can't find the gun certification records for Bates.
Let's discuss what's going on. Joining us, our CNN law enforcement Tom Fuentes, once again he's a former FBI assistant director. The criminal defense attorney, HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson, and 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, what's your reaction to these reports and do communities really need to be concerned about these so-called volunteer reserve officers who go out on the streets and obviously this is an extremely dangerous situation?
CEDRIC ALEXANDER, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Yes. Absolutely. Everyone should be concerned.
[17:40:01] I think the important piece here is, Wolf, is the -- they really need to find those records, if there ever were records, but they certainly need to prove there are some records of training and some certification, which is so essential to this case because if those records are not produced, it just continues to create this cloud of suspicion and certainly does begin to separate and create some extreme concerns for communities across this country and for police officers, such as Mr. Bates there.
BLITZER: Because, as you know, there are a lot of reports out there in Tulsa, he was a rich guy. He gave a lot of money to various police organizations. Helped the sheriff take trips, stuff like that, and as a result, for his own fun he wanted to be a reserve deputy, but we see it was a deadly -- it was a deadly mission in this particular case. I assume you've worked with these kinds of people before over the years, right, Cedric?
ALEXANDER: Well, I've worked with a lot of people over the last 38 years of my career, and served in a number of departments across this country as well, too, but the important thing is here, if you're out on those streets doing that type of work every day, you certainly need to meet some certification and qualification in order to have the arrest powers in order to be able to use your weapon, because it goes beyond him just being a civilian that's out there. He's actively taking part of a case, such in this case, a gun sale,
illegal gun sale, and that certainly has a lot of potential and threat to someone being injured.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, someone is dead as result of what happened.
BLITZER: Out there in this particular case.
So, Joey, let's turn to that very disturbing dash cam video from Arizona. The police say the officer who intentionally ran down this man, probably saved his life, but Mario Valencia's lawyer calls this obvious excessive use of force.
Here's the question. Does Valencia have a case?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Wolf, the answer to that question in my view is no. And let me explain why. I think when you evaluate this case, you have to look at the facts and then you have to look at the law. And the issue is whether or not that person who was run over, do they pose a significant risk of death or serious injury to the police officers or others in the community. If you look at the lead-up to what occurred, and that's him being run over, it -- the answer to that question is absolutely yes.
You're talking about a person who robbed a convenience store, engaged in a home invasion. Went and stole a rifle, in addition to ammunition. A person who obviously unlocked the trigger on that rifle by virtually firing a shot in the air. Who pointed the rifle at himself and others. In addition to that, Wolf, he's going into a neighborhood that certainly could be populated, more densely than the neighborhood there.
So if he is allowed to continue, who knows what can happen? And so on that basis, if you look at the video just by itself oh, it's troubling excessive use of force, but when you look at the facts that led to the officer's actions, I do not think that his attorney has a case at all.
BLITZER: All right. I want all of you to stand by because we have more coming up.
Also, other news we're following including new gains in the fight to legalize medical marijuana. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta standing by to preview his eye-opening new documentary.
And new video shows ISIS terrorists storming a major oil refinery in Iraq. Is there any hope Iraq's army can stop that? We'll speak live with Senator Lindsey Graham, he's standing by in THE SITUATION ROOM.
[17:48:00] BLITZER: Tonight Georgia is the latest state to legalize some types of medical marijuana. Republican Governor Nathan Deal signed a new law allowing patients including children with medication resistant epilepsies to receive in-state treatment. Nearly half the states now allow medical marijuana.
In a CNN.com op-ed today our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta writes this, "We should legalize medical marijuana. We should do it nationally and we should do it now."
This Sunday, Sanjay's new documentary "WEED THREE" looks at what he calls the marijuana revolution including the political fight to change federal marijuana laws.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: This bill that we're introducing seeks to right decades of wrong and end unnecessary marijuana laws.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): March, 2015, Democrats Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Republican Rand Paul, have just proposed the most audacious marijuana legislation in our lifetime. If it passes, it would create a fundamental change in the way the United States views and treats marijuana.
BOOKER: Our drug laws in this country as a whole need a revolution of common sense and compassion.
GUPTA: For starters, it would do something scientists have been begging for -- reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to a much less restrictive Schedule II controlled substance.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: Once you make the class of drugs Schedule II, you can then research it and find out what are the medical impacts and when can you use it? When does it make sense? So that's what's necessary here. It's so simple.
GUPTA: The bill would also mandate more farms to grow research-grade marijuana and allow greater access to it for those in need, including veterans, who would, for the first time, be able to get a prescription for medicinal marijuana from the VA hospitals.
BOOKER: Let's stop the pot hypocrisy. We now have three presidents that have admitted to smoking marijuana. People here in public office all throughout the Senate have said, hey, I've smoked marijuana recreationally. How much of a hypocrite do you have to be to say that I broke American laws using pot as a recreational thing and that I'm not going to support this idea that as a medicine for severely sick people that they shouldn't be able to access this drug?
BLITZER: Sanjay's joining us now.
Sanjay, excellent work as usual.
GUPTA: Thank you.
BLITZER: You call this one of the most audacious pieces of marijuana legislation. Why is that? GUPTA: Well, effectively, it would legalize medicinal marijuana. I
mean, it would re-schedule it from a Schedule I to a Schedule II. Schedule I means there's no accepted medicinal use. Schedule II says there is accepted medicinal use.
That's a big deal, Wolf. It would also free up dollars for more federal research, it would allow Veterans Administration hospital doctors to prescribe this medication for veterans.
As you know, Wolf, there's a big posttraumatic stress veterans and marijuana study that is starting up now. So these are big, sweeping things. Nothing this big has happened in the last 40, 50 years, Wolf.
BLITZER: So who else would be most impacted if this were to pass?
GUPTA: Well, you know, there's a lot of patients who are going to enter these trials. You know, over the last few documentaries now, Wolf, you've met some of them. First of all, I should say these patients are typically patients who have already tried everything that is out there to be offered to them.
So children with epilepsy have tried all the various anti-seizure drugs, people with these chronic pain issues have tried the narcotics, everything. You got people who have had MS who are trying various types of muscle relaxants and then with PTSD they have been on anti- anxiety meds, anti-depressants, sleep meds and they don't work. So these are the people who are looking for another option and probably would have the most impact on them but also scientists and lots of other people who've been trying to do this work for years.
BLITZER: What about the use of medical marijuana to Alzheimer's? What do we know about that?
GUPTA: Well, there's a growing population of people who are using it to try and treat the symptoms of Alzheimer's. You know, the -- sometimes the disorientation, the agitation, the difficulty with sleep, things like that. What we know is there's lots of research going on, on Alzheimer's and marijuana. It's at the more laboratory basic science level right now. But what they're seeing is that THC from marijuana can stop those plaques that are the telltale signs of Alzheimer's from growing.
It could be the anti-inflammatory effect of marijuana. They're not entirely sure, but that's how they believe it can work longer term. And they -- you know, they're putting a lot of efforts behind exactly that type of research right now.
BLITZER: And remind our viewers, Sanjay, because you've personally seen patients have a better life because of medical marijuana, right?
GUPTA: No question, Wolf. No question. And let me say that, you know, we show these stories in the various documentaries but they're emblematic of so many more people. You know, it's not just one child with a rare disease. It's so many other countless other children who could also be affected. It's not one man who's suffering from PTSD. It's so many others. I've seen -- you know, I saw the little girl that you met as well,
Wolf, Charlotte, who -- she was having 300 seizures a week. Nothing had worked. She started taking these medications and she was down to one seizure a month. I mean, she wouldn't have survived, Wolf. And now she's having one seizure a month and is living a much more normal life.
Someone who has PTSD that is so tragic and so terrible that there's nothing he can do. You know, 22 veterans kill themselves every day in this country. For a lot of them the medications simply don't work and they're out of options. One of the gentlemen in our upcoming documentary was in that exact boat. He was almost one of those 22 veterans a day. He's alive and he's doing so much better now because of his use of cannabis and the ability to control some of his symptoms of PTSD.
These are stories but again they're emblematic of more and the studies that are proving this are now under way.
BLITZER: You're doing really important work, Sanjay. Thanks on behalf of all of our viewers out there. We really appreciate it.
And to all of our viewers, please be sure to watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's special report, it's entitled "WEED 3: THE MARIJUANA REVOLUTION." It premieres Sunday night 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.
And following Sanjay's special report at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN, CNN debuts "HIGH PROFITS." It's a new series looking at a couple's quest to become marijuana moguls. Here's an exclusive look at the new trailer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're parasites. They've got no contribution to the society. They are preying on our community and our kids. This is going to end badly. We've got exactly $100,000 in cash back in his car. I bet there's guys right there in that prison for doing just what we're about to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want the Breckenridge Cannabis Club to be a household name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a pioneering a new industry. We're going after every resort town in Colorado. This plan is brilliant. This is a big boy operation now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are not the Amsterdam. We're Breckenridge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely unbelievable to us that has happened so quickly.
[17:55:02] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's when the town erupted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All hell could break loose.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we have an image to protect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The powerful elite has definitely put the pressure on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone is playing everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're going to have a target on their back. That is a real threat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's $2 billion to be had next year. I plan to take more than my fair share.
ANNOUNCER: "HIGH PROFITS" series premieres Sunday night at 10:00.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM it may be the strangest 911 call ever. You're going to hear the desperate appeal for help from the baggage worker who was stuck in the cargo hold of an airliner as it took to the sky.
[18:00:02] BLITZER: Happening now, ISIS blood money.