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U.S. to Send Up to 450 More Troops to Iraq; U.S. Citizen Killed Fighting in Syria; Manhunt for Escaped Killers Expands to Vermont. Aired 5-6:00p ET

Aired June 10, 2015 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: U.S. troop expansion. More American boots will soon be on the ground in Iraq. If the mission hasn't changed, why are additional troops heading into the war zone?

Door to door. Police step up the search for two escaped murderers who may have headed towards Vermont. Did a prison employee have a change of heart about helping them?

Shocking allegations emerging now from a source familiar with the investigation. Amtrak mystery, the passengers train's engineer wasn't calling or texting on his phone, so what caused the deadly high-speed crash?

And naked celebrities: new details about the theft of nude photos of stars leaked online. How the FBI finally tracked down the apparent source.

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

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: The breaking news, the hunt for two escaped murderers spreading from a rugged area of New York to Vermont. Police say they're looking behind every tree for the fugitives, who are considered extremely dangerous. And the governors of both states have just warned the public to be very, very careful.

Also breaking now, the White House says up to 450 more U.S. troops will be sent to Iraq to train and advise Iraq's military. An official now says the goal is also to have U.S. troops train Sunni tribal fighters to rise up against ISIS. I'll speak with Senator Tom Cotton of the Intelligence and Armed Services Committees. And our correspondents, analysts and guests, they're all standing by for full coverage.

But let's begin with our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. Barbara, what's the mission now?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know, Wolf, a bit of confusion about all that. Because we've heard for weeks that they want to training more Iraqi fighters to get into the fight against ISIS. Here at the Pentagon today, however, the focus was on something

called advise and assist. What does that mean? Trying to help the Iraqi fighters get more organized, teach them how to watch campaigns but not necessarily train new fighters right away to, you know, learn how to hold a gun and go out in combat.

So a bit of confusion, but it does seem that they are going to focus more on looking also at the Sunni tribes. They have to get the Sunni tribes involved in the fight in Anbar province. That is now the top priority. Forget Mosul. Forget going to the north. It's all about going west into Anbar province, getting the Sunnis to join the fight there, key to pushing ISIS out. But the question is can they really get the Sunnis to join the fight? Because, of course, those Sunni tribes very skeptical about the Shia-led government in Iraq -- Wolf.

BLITZER: How exactly, Barbara, are they planning to get the Sunnis there in the Anbar province, how are they planning to get them to take up the fight?

STARR: Well, you've got to look at the map. It's really interesting. The U.S. troops are going to go to a new location called the al Taqqata Air Base. This is near Ramadi. This is the heart right now of the combat zone.

The Pentagon says they're going to engage in outreach to try and get the Sunnis to basically come into the fold, but this now opens the door to U.S. troops going out in Anbar province, once of the most dangerous places in Iraq, trying to reach out to some of these Sunni tribes in these towns and villages up and down Anbar province.

If it does come to that, even if they think the Sunnis are going to come to this air base, this is an area of extreme combat risk right now. It is going to be an area where these U.S. troops are going to need a lot of protection -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So the immediate focus is Ramadi, the Anbar province, Barbara, but only a few weeks ago, the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs, General Dempsey said, "You know what? Ramadi not necessarily all that strategically important." The Baiji oil refinery, for example, elsewhere, now that was strategically important. Has there been a change of heart at the Pentagon?

STARR: Right now, it looks, Wolf, like everything the White House and the Pentagon announced today is focused on Anbar province: 450 troops going to this base, to this location now that has been identified. Advise, assist, get the Sunnis, try and get them to come into the fold.

But what you are underscoring, Wolf, is the key point. Iraq's problems now getting security, pushing ISIS out. It is really across the country. They have to prioritize. They don't have enough troops in the Iraqi forces to do it all, so right now a shift of priorities. Get Anbar taking care -- try and get Ramadi back under control. Continue to fight in Baiji at the same time. And what about Mosul? That could be months off now -- Wolf. BLITZER: Not -- into next year, Mosul might not even be

addressed. Thanks very much, Barbara, for that.

So far, the Iraqi military has not performed especially well in combat against ISIS. Can more U.S. trainers and advisers make a real difference?

[17:05:03] Let's bring in our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto. What are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, U.S. officials believe they can make a difference. Crucially, to that question Barbara raised, they say they have a commitment from Sunni tribes in numbers to take on ISIS with this U.S. help, and is the key to the fight which to now has been Shiite-dominated in the country. But no one, to be clear, is claiming an immediate payoff.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to start by...

SCIUTTO (voice-over): U.S. troops on the ground training Iraqi forces in urban warfare. Soon the U.S. will add 450 trainers and support teams to the 450 trainers already on the ground, an effort to turn the Iraqis into an effective fighting force after a series of debilitating losses to ISIS.

One year after the terror group swept into Iraq almost unchallenged, the battle remains at best a stalemate on the key urban battlegrounds, Ramadi, the largest city in western Iraq, lost to ISIS in late May. Baiji, home to a key oil refinery, still contested. And Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, now an ISIS stronghold. Plans by Iraqi forces to retake the city, delayed indefinitely.

Few expect the new U.S. trainers will change the battlefield dynamic quickly.

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: The Islamic State is still on the move. Yesterday they were attacking around Baghdad. They're on the move in Syria and everywhere else. I don't see this stopping, and we need a change in the strategy. Four or 500 more trainers is a start, but it's not enough.

SCIUTTO: In Washington, the president's move failed to satisfy Iraq hawks or doves. Some Republicans see half measures.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's a step in the right direction, but as the president admitted the other day, he has no strategy to win. And what -- this is another tactical move.

SCIUTTO: Some Democrats see mission creep, a new risk the trainers are positioned closer to ISIS's front lines.

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: This is exactly how Vietnam started. And if you don't think you're putting them in harm's way, then you're not living in the real world. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: This also gets to the question of changing priorities. You'll remember, Wolf, just a few weeks away when I was in the briefing room when the chairman of the joint chiefs, General Martin Dempsey, said that Ramadi was not a key location in the country, whereas places like Baiji were with that oil refinery.

Now clearly Ramadi is the largest city in western Iraq, is a priority after it's been lost to ISIS forces, this key debilitating loss, by -- for the Iraqi security forces with this increased deployment of U.S. forces there.

It gets to the question, what is important? Which of these cities is key? This one wasn't a month ago. Now apparently, it is to the tune of 450 additional U.S. troops.

BLITZER: And as you know, Jim, it wasn't that long ago, a few months ago, that the U.S. military Central Command was suggesting the efforts to regain Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, that could be a spring offensive, which would be right now, sort of wrapping up, and now we're hearing that offensive may not take place even until next year.

SCIUTTO: It was interesting. When I went to Iraq end of last year, talking to commanders on the ground, they said at least months away. Then as you got to the beginning of this year, they said earliest in the fall, but very likely could fall to next year. Here we are in June, Wolf. I think it's far more likely it's delayed till next year. You're not going to see any immediate action, particularly with the performance of Iraqi forces in recent weeks.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting for us. Thank you.

Joining us now is Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. He serves on both the intelligence and Armed Services Committees. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Army officer.

Senator, thanks very much for joining us.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Good afternoon, Wolf. Good to be on with you.

BLITZER: Thank you.

You heard Barbara Starr report from the Pentagon about this new plan to deploy another 450 U.S. troops to Iraq to start training, assisting, advising Sunni forces in the Anbar province. Is this a good idea?

COTTON: Wolf, it's a step in the right direction, but the president still doesn't have a strategy. He's simply throwing a few hundred more troops at what was already an arbitrary troop level, without changing the strategy. He acknowledged that just a couple days ago. Something he had said last August, as well. It frankly reminds me a little bit of what I saw in Iraq as a lieutenant in 2006, when we were clearly losing the war, and the president was sending a few more troops, but he wasn't changing strategy. It was only when the surge didn't just add troops, but changed strategies that we were able to put ourselves on the path to victory in Iraq.

BLITZER: So what needs to be done, Senator?

COTTON: Well, first, the president needs to lift the arbitrary cap that he has on troop levels in Iraq and led our commanders engage in the military decision-making process. I think that they will come back with substantially higher recommendations for troop levels, not heavy mechanized troops, not hundreds of thousands of troops like we had in Iraq at the height of the fighting, but rather specialized skill sets.

Forward air controllers to make our airstrikes more effective, Special Operations sources to help train the Iraqi forces.

Battalion-level advisers, which is something that his own undersecretary of defense, Michele Flournoy, just recommended recently. And in addition, we'll just fix intelligence assets, as well, that the Iraqi army lacks. This will all be a substantial shift from the president's current path, but they'd also give the Iraqi army the tools they need to help fight the Islamic State.

BLITZER: These would be combat forces, and they would be on the front lines. They would obviously be at severe risk. Do you worry about that?

COTTON: Wolf, I always worry about our troops when we put them in harm's way, but I worry also that the Islamic State is rampaging across Syria and Iraq. They're setting up franchises all around the world, places like Libya. They're constantly trying to attack western interests. They're trying to attack us at home in the United States.

And the United States is the only country in the world that has some of the capabilities needed to help the Iraqi government, to help the Sunni tribal leaders in western Iraq and help the Kurds in northern Iraq defeat the Islamic State, which is critical to protecting American lives.

BLITZER: But if the Iraqi military isn't showing the will to fight, if the Iraqi government is so divided, they don't have the capability to do it, why can the United States, why should the United States go in there and do what Iraqis really should be doing?

COTTON: Wolf, we wouldn't be doing what Iraqis should be doing. We would help them achieve what they should be doing. I saw this in Iraq in 2006. I saw it in Afghanistan, as well, later.

Many of these local fighting forces are capable of fighting, but we have unique capabilities that we can provide that are force multipliers. We also get incredible boost of morale and confidence when we provide those assets and they seeing our Special Operations forces there advising them at the battalion level. Or they see forward air controllers making their airstrikes much more effective. Whenever you're fighting in Ramadi as an Iraq soldier,, and you

don't have those kind of assets and the Islamic State is driving in Humvees with explosives bigger than the Oklahoma city bombing, of course it's going to have an effect on their morale.

BLITZER: And those Humvees, U.S.-made Humvees that they took from the Iraqi military.

Senator, stand by. We have much more to talk about, whether or not this entire operation could even be won militarily. Much more with Senator Tom Cotton, when we come back.


Nor Tom Cotton also served combat tour in both Iraq and Afghanistan s senator, I recently have phone with three four-star general, a four-star admiral. They all told me this fight against ISIS really can't be won when it's all said and done, it has to be up to the Iraqi people. Do you agree?

It can't be won only militarily, but there is a military component to it. We have to help provide security to the local population. Again, we saw this in a surge in 2006, '07 and '0823 the local civilians don't believe that the government and U.S. Forces there at the time can provide that security, then they're going to regrettably side with al Qaeda and Iraq.

If you contrast northern Iraq where the Kurds live and somewhere the Sunni tribes live, you'll see a good example. In northern Iraq, the Kurds are largely hostile to the Islamic State and they've mostly been able to beat back their advances. The Islamic State hasn't advanced.

But in Anbar where you have Sunni tribes that oftentimes are choosing between Iranian-backed Shiite militias or the Sunni Islamic State, that's not a very good choice, they will choose sometimes the Islamic State. What we would like to have them do, though, is to support the Iraqi government, because the Iraqi government with our assistance can provide security to them.

BLITZER: Well, if the Iraqi military doesn't show a will to fight as the defense secretary, Ash Carter, recently suggested, should the U.S. simply pack up its bags and leave?

No, unfortunately, Wolf, we can't pack up our bags. If we were to do that, the Islamic State would continue its rampage across the Middle East and might even be able to conquer Baghdad and raise the caliphate flag in one of the ancient homes of caliphate. And that would simply provide them more safe haven, more resources, more abilities to strike U.S. forces, installations in the region, and ultimately, to attack America right here at home.

So we have to win this fight against the Islamic State. That's the president's stated goal, was to destroy the Islamic State. He's simply not providing the resources needed to achieve that goal. BLITZER: When you went to Harvard Law School, you graduated, you

had a lot of obviously lucrative career opportunities ahead of you, but you decided to join the United States Army. You were deployed to Iraq in a combat role. I guess the bottom-line question, knowing what you know now, what has gone on in Iraq, would you do that again?

COTTON: Wolf, absolutely, I would leave my law practice and join the Army again if I had the chance. It was one of the great privileges of my life to be able to lead my fellow Americans in combat in defense of our freedoms and defense of our safety and security.

Of course, like all veterans who serve there, I'm heartbroken when I see places like Fallujah, and Ramadi and Mosul, where I had friends who served, where many Americans lost their life, fall to the Islamic State. But that just means in my mind that we have to redouble our effort to make sure that we don't squander the victory that we had in hand just a few years ago in Iraq, and that we commit to defeating the Islamic State.

BLITZER: What do you say to the families of the 450 American troops who are about to be deployed to this dangerous area; the 3,000 other U.S. troops who are there right now?

[17:20:06] COTTON: Well, I say that they are -- and their loved ones serving, they're in my prayers and the prayers of Americans across the country, and they are fighting in a noble effort. I think that we need to send a few more troops there with more specialized skills. The president has not yet committed.

But the 450 troops who are going there are going to Iraq, not just to fight over a piece of land, but to protect a way of life, our way of life right here in America, and I'm grateful for them, as all Americans are.

BLITZER: Senator Tom Cotton, thanks very much for joining us.

COTTON: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, the manhunt continues into Vermont. The governors of both states say the prisoners are very dangerous, and they're warning the public to be very careful.

And the Amtrak mystery deepens. The passenger train's engineer wasn't texting or speaking on his phone, so what caused the deadly high-speed crash?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's get back to the breaking news and our top story. Up to 450 more U.S. troops will be going to Iraq to train and advise Iraq's military on the front lines. A U.S. official says the goal is to train these Sunni tribal fighters, as well, to try to rise up against ISIS. Joining us now, our CNN counterterrorism analyst, the former CIA

counterterrorism official Philip Mudd; our national security analyst, Peter Bergen; and our global affairs analyst, Colonel James Reese a former army Delta Force officer. You say not all will be involved in training Iraqi forces. Would you expect them, though, to end up on the battlefield on the front lines, really combat forces, for all practical purposes?

COL. JAMES REESE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Wolf, let's not kid anybody, where they're going in the Habbaniyah area there between Ramadi and Fallujah, they're about as close to the front lines as you can be.

And I would expect that, as they're getting now, there will be -- there will be attacks with indirect fire. And once the Americans get there in that location, ISIS will try to want to do some attacks on them.

But anytime when we're trying to send in forces, you can't go up. There's 400 trainers going on. Because there's a big tail that comes behind that. So probably almost half of that is going to be a force that's there for force protection, security, logistics, a head course element, so maybe about 50 percent of these folks become trainers to deal with the next element and iteration of Sunnis coming through there.

BLITZER: The colonel makes a good point, Peter. Because what worries me is that these forces, U.S. troops who are heading to the front lines for all practical purposes, they're going to be dependent on the Iraqi military to protect them, and I'm worried about that Iraqi military, as the defense secretary says, they have haven't shown a great will to fight right now.

And as you know, ISIS terrorists who are there on the front lines, they would like nothing better than to capture an American soldier or two. They've got -- they've got them as their targets.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Sure. ISIS's sort of world view, they actually want, you know, western troops to come, because they believe that that will be part of the end of times, which the vanguard is ushering in, this end of times, and there will be a final conflict between the west and Islam in which they're the vanguard troops.

This, like -- for them confirm what is they believe to be a serious Islamic prophecy. So, you know, of course in reality it's not going to be helpful for them to have western American troops there advising, really, in Anbar as the plan seems to be.

BLITZER: But if it happens, Phil, if they do capture an American soldier or two or whatever, and start you doing propaganda video with this individual...

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I think you have to have one aspect of that. At this point in the time, the fight for Baiji, for example, as we've seen Shia militias, I think what ISIS would try to say, this isn't just the government versus us, this is the Shia fighting the Sunnis, and look who is in with that Shia government force. That's the Americans. It's us versus them, and the Americans have a black mark on their back.

BLITZER: Colonel Reese, you just returned a little while ago from Iraq, you saw what was going on firsthand. The U.S. now says they will be providing weapons not only to the regular Iraqi military, but to the Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces who are friendly to the United States, as well as some of those Sunni tribes. But -- and it's a very important but, all those weapons still have to go through the Iraqi government in Baghdad. Is that still a good idea?

REESE: Well, Wolf, it may not be a good idea, but it's the idea and that's what has to be. We can't do -- we can't just go out there and unilaterally side with a different faction out there. Like Phil just said, we've got to work the process. We have to work the diplomatic process.

But let me make sure everyone understands this thing. The Kurds are very good at this and they're very good soldiers, and they want the information. But remember, we've got British soldiers up there. We've got Australian soldiers up there, all right? And they -- those countries, too, are also feeding into the Kurdish forces also.

So sometimes we start to look through the straw, and everyone is just looking at the U.S. as the big player in the field, but there's other large coalition elements up there, helping the Kurds out.

BLITZER: Peter, the State Department today confirmed that a Massachusetts native, 36-year-old Keith Broomfield, was killed in Syria fighting ISIS -- a Kurdish -- the Kurds say he was a martyr. He was killed near Kobani. What do you know about this, if anything?

BERGEN: Not much. We've seen a number of westerners and some Americans volunteer to fight with the Kurds. They're doing it for ideological reasons. They're opposed to ISIS. There's nothing -- I mean, there is something call the neutrality act, which technically, Americans aren't supposed to get engaged in conflicts we're not party to.

So, you know, I mean, on a very technical issue, these people could be charged with defying the neutrality act in some way, but of course, we are arming the groups that they're fighting with. So, you know, there's not much -- there's no appetite for the government to go after these people for this kind of operation.

BLITZER: There seems to be, Philip, a very fascinating development in Libya right now. We're getting these reports that ISIS fighters are fighting al Qaeda fighters. There seems to be a real war developing between al Qaeda and ISIS. What do you make of this?

BERGEN: It's sort of like what we're seeing in Syria. Believe it or not, despite the fact that ISIS shares some ideology with al Qaeda, al Qaeda does not want to join the caliphate that Baghdadi -- that's the leader of ISIS -- says he's creating.

Their view is, "Wait a minute. We didn't sign up to join your fight."

ISIS has carried that ideological fight not only into Syria, but into Libya. And I think there's a great risk there. They're not only taking over cities, but as they take over these cities, they're getting embroiled in fighting with groups that say, "We don't want to sign up with you. If you try to keep moving, we're going to fight." This is a recipe for factional fighting like we've seen in Syria.

BLITZER: Colonel Reese, a lot of people would say let them fight each other, al Qaeda and ISIS, to the death. We hate both al Qaeda and ISIS. Let them fight each other to the death, if you will. What do you say?

REESE: Absolutely, Wolf. I mean, if those two want to fight it out and they want to do it down in the deep desert of Libya, absolutely, go for it.

BLITZER: All right, guys, we'll stay on top of this story. We're following the breaking news, obviously. Thanks very much, Colonel Reese, as always. Phil Mudd, Peter Bergen.

Coming up, there's other breaking news we're following, as the manhunt for a pair of dangerous escaped killers, that manhunt expanding now from New York into the neighboring state of Vermont.

And later, the mystery deepens. Investigators rule out a leading theory about what may have cause the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia. So what are they looking at now?


BLITZER: News in the manhunt for a pair of escaped murderers. Just a little while ago, officials announced the search is now expanding beyond New York state and into the neighboring state of Vermont. The governors of both states say their police forces are working together, and they've called on the public to report any suspicious activity. Hundreds of searchers are on the case right now.

Brian Todd is joining us. He's got more on what's involved in this massive manhunt -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight we're getting a real sense that this manhunt is growing more intense, more stressful for law enforcement, for residents in the surrounding areas and for these fugitives. We've spoken to former U.S. marshals who've been through this. And they're giving us an inside look at how these killers are trying to elude capture.


TODD (voice-over); Investigators believe Joyce Mitchell, who worked in the prison's tailor shop, planned to pick up Richard Matt and David Seat after their escape, but according to a source familiar with the investigation, Mitchell changed her mind at the last minute and was a no-show for the convicted killers.

(on camera): She doesn't show. What now for these guys?

ARTHUR RODERICK, FORMER U.S. MARSHAL: Well, I mean, they're obviously in panic mode. Their plans aren't going the right way.

TODD (voice-over): Tonight as the search expands, we're getting new insights from former U.S. marshals on how the manhunt is unfolding. What are the techniques Matt and Sweat could use to elude captures?

RODERICK: They'd either lose weight, gain weight, grow a beard, shave, cut their hair short, color their hair. There's multiple ways to change their appearance. They're probably looking to break into some houses, change their clothing, get new gear.

MATT FOGG, CHIEF DEPUTY (RET.). U.S. MARSHALS: They might be dressing like women at this point in time.

TODD: Escapees have been known to go to the extreme, even getting plastic surgery.

Survival skills are essential. Eric Rudolph, wanted for the 1996 Olympic Park bombing and the bombing of abortion clinics in the south, hid for five years in the mountains of North Carolina.

Former marshal Matthew Fogg tracked Bernard Welsh, a fugitive for six years who killed a Washington area doctor while on the run.

FOGG: Welsh was the type of guy that could really charm you very easily. And that's what we've noticed about him. So the bottom line is he would meet -- and he a girlfriend. She didn't know anything about it.

TODD: To draw fugitives in, marshals have to be creative. They get in touch with relatives, romantic partners, former lawyers of the fugitives. Richard Matt and David Sweat could still be moving together. What's the stress of this manhunt doing to them?

RODERICK: I'm sure they're arguing. They're both psychotic in their own right. They each have their own way of doing things. They could be fighting over which way to go.


TODD: But the stress isn't just on the fugitives. Former marshals tell us every law enforcement official involved in this search is working long hours, and every hour that goes by adds more stress. In the back of every law enforcement official's mind, the desire to catch these killers before they hurt someone again, Wolf. They are really under pressure.

BLITZER: You've been speaking with a lot of experts. What are the most common mistakes these kinds of fugitives often make that wind up their getting captured?

TODD: It's fascinating to fact to these marshals about this. They're telling us these fugitives often slip up by contacting

relatives, people they know on the outside. They say a lot of these people may be getting surveyed by law enforcement. So if they contact them, that may be a way to get to them.

We're also told sometimes if they steal a car, well, someone could report the car stolen. They could trace the license plate. They're looking for just that one break. If they contact someone, if they try to steal a car, just one break where they can trace these guys. We're going to see if they get that break.

BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks very, very much.

At this afternoon's news conference, officials said that at least another 450 officers in New York and Vermont are now looking for the escaped murderers. They're following more than 500 leads.

Let's get some more on the expanding manhunt. Our national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is joining us from just outside that maximum-security prison. What's the latest you're seeing and hearing, Jason?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, New York State Police, Wolf, as you can imagine, are redoubling their efforts, retracing their steps, knocking on every door, looking behind every tree, doing whatever they can to try to find these men, retracing their steps, following up, as you say on hundreds of leads, including one lead that leads them to believe that perhaps these men discussed a plan to head to Vermont.


GOV. PETER SHUMLIN (D), VERMONT: We have information that suggests that they thought New York was going to be hot, Vermont would be cooler, in terms of law enforcement, and that a camp in Vermont might be a better place to be than New York.


CARROLL: Investigators are also operating on the theory, Wolf, that these two men may have had as much as several hours of a head start.

New York's governor saying, look, they've got to follow up on all the leads, including questioning the prison employee, Joyce Mitchell, who worked here who knew these two men.

She, as you know, was questioned this past weekend. There were allegations that she tried to help these two men orchestrate their escape.

Earlier this afternoon, I spoke to her daughter-in-law, Paige Mitchell, who told me, quote, "It's appalling to me. I'm totally disgusted that anyone would think that she would knowingly help them. She would never want to help a criminal. She would never want a criminal near her family." Again that's Paige Mitchell. She also said that her mother-in-

law in no way provided any power tools to these men. She also told me you heard this discussion about whether or not she may have tried to help them on the outside. When I asked Paige Mitchell about that, she called it, quote, "outrageous."

One final quote from her, Wolf. She said her heart was in the right place. She was trying to do something nice, and it backfired -- Wolf.

BLITZER: She has not been arrested. And is she cooperating with law enforcement?

CARROLL: She is cooperating somewhat with law enforcement. That's what we're hearing from sources, but again when I spoke to Paige Mitchell, she said that after she was questioned by law enforcement, that was right after she'd actually gotten out of the hospital this past weekend after admitting herself for nerves. She says much of what is out there, in fact she said 95 percent of what is being reported about her mother-in-law, she says, is simply not true.

BLITZER: Jason Carroll outside the prison there. We'll stay in close touch with you. Thank you.

Coming up, there's a new clue, and it's just been revealed as investigators try to pin down the cause of that deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia.

Also breaking now, new information about the suspects in the theft of nude photos of prominent celebrities, including movie star Jennifer Lawrence.


[17:47:51] BLITZER: Now the National Transportation Safety Board is ruling out a leading theory about what caused that deadly Amtrak passenger train derailment in Philadelphia. Eight people died, 200 people were injured when the train ran off the tracks while trying to round a curve at more than 100 miles an hour.

CNN's Rene Marsh has more on the investigation. What are you learning, Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, tonight it is a major breakthrough. Investigators can now take one theory off the table, but that only deepens the mystery surrounding why the train accelerated when it should have been slowing down.


MARSH (voice-over): The NTSB says 32-year-old Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian was not talking or texting on his cell phone when the train jumped the tracks in Philadelphia in May. Investigators appear to be struggling to understand why the train accelerated as it approach the turn, going from 70 miles per hour to over 100. More than double the speed limit before the crash. Investigators have found no problems with the track's signals or the train.

PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: They've eliminated, you know, most of the what we call the low hanging fruit. Now they're going to have to zero in on the behavior of the engineer.

MARSH: Today on Capitol Hill, the NTSB cautioned their analysis of Bostian's cell phone is not done yet.

THO "BELLA" DINH-ZARR, NTSB VICE CHAIRMAN: There are 400,000 pieces of data involved in the analysis, and because of the extent of that, things like use of an app or other use of the phone has not been determined.

MARSH: There's still no explanation for what caused the shatter pattern on the windshield. The FBI says it was not a bullet. It's unclear if it was hit by some other projectile.

The late-night crash left eight people dead and more than 200 injured. Government-mandated technology called positive train control was not installed on the tracks at the time. It could have prevented the crash.

JOSEPH BOARDMAN, AMTRAK CEO: We will have positive train control on the Northeast Corridor Section by December 31st.

[17:50:00] MARSH (on camera): But some would -- to push you a little bit, some would say Congress says you have to have it by December 2015. Why isn't it done now? Was it an issue of cost?

BOARDMAN: It's -- no, it's a time issue and also a cost issue.

MARSH (voice-over): Unlike Amtrak most commuter and freight train companies will not meet the end-of-the-year deadline.

DINH-ZARR: For every day that passes without PTC, we run the risk of another deadly and very preventable, PTC preventable accident.


MARSH: The bottom line this could happen again because that technology has not been deployed everywhere just yet. This really comes down to money. The technology costs billions to install and millions to maintain annually. As for the investigation into what caused the crash in Philadelphia, it could be a year before we have a definitive answer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Rene, thanks very much.

Also breaking now, new details about the suspects who may be responsible for stealing celebrities' private nude photos and posting them online. The thieves broke into hundreds of online storage accounts including one set up by the Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence.

CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown is with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM. What happened? PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, federal

investigators have zeroed in on a Chicago man but they are also investigating several other people. Law enforcement official tells me that these are a series of unconnected guys, conducting relatively unsophisticated hacking and then trading the pictures online.


BROWN (voice-over): New developments tonight in the hacking and leaking of stolen female celebrities' private photos and videos. Pictures of stars such as Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Anna Kendrick posted online last summer. According to newly unsealed court documents, federal agents searched this Chicago home last fall looking for evidence linked to the case. A month after the stolen photos were leaked the FBI says it tracked the source of the hack to an IP addressed linked to 30-year-old Emilio Herrera.

RON HOSKO, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: This looks like a fairly straight path to the offender. There's ways of masking IP addresses and essentially anonymizing (PH) yourself so that you can carry out the attack in an easier manner and get away with it. That did not happen here.

BROWN: According to the search warrant, Herrera's IP address was used to access 572 individual iCloud accounts and those accounts were accessed more than 3200 times from his IP address over the course of more than a year. Apple's iCloud feature automatically keep users' photos in the Cloud online. Agents say they seized several computers, cell phones and storage drives from Herrera's home. Law enforcement officials tell CNN they believe Herrera is part of a network of people who trade the pictures online.

HOSKO: A low level, unsophisticated, almost teenage prankish act.


BROWN: It's important to note, no arrests have been made in this case. We have not been able to reach Mr. Herrera.

Now Apple began looking into the hack when their reports first emerged. CNN reached out to the company again today. And we have not heard back -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll stay on top of this story as well. All right, thanks very much for that, Pamela Brown, reporting.

Coming up, more American boots will soon be on the ground in Iraq. Another 450 U.S. troops. They're now heading into the war zone to train Iraqi forces and tribal fighters. Will the mission stop there?

And the hunt for two escaped murderers, extending from New York state into Vermont. As the governors of both states are now warning the public to be extremely careful.



BLITZER: Happening now, more U.S. troops. President Obama sends hundreds of reinforcements to Iraq. Can they help turn around a dangerous loss to ISIS? I'll ask an Iraq war veteran, former Navy SEAL commander who now serves in Congress.

Expanding manhunt. Officials warning that two murderers who busted out of a New York prison may be in another state right now. Stand by for breaking news on the search. And the female prison worker who's been questioned as a possible accomplice.

Fire bombs, authorities step up the hunt for criminals who set Baltimore ablaze during the riots. Tonight local police are revealing exclusively to CNN why they're weary of making arrests even as Baltimore's violent crime rate soars.

And mansion murder secrets. Documents just unsealed reveal a bloody baseball bat that may have been used as a weapon. We're getting new information about the investigation right now.

[18:00:07] We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.