On this "Face the Nation" broadcast moderated by Ed O'Keefe:
- Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards
- Senator Lindsey Graham — Republican, South Carolina
- Jake Sullivan — White House national security adviser
- Mayor Sharon Weston Broome — Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Dr. Scott Gottlieb — former FDA commissioner
Click here to browse full transcripts of "Face the Nation."
ED O'KEEFE: I'm Ed O'Keefe in Washington. And this week on FACE THE NATION, a trifecta of catastrophes faces the nation and President Biden. Breaking overnight, Hurricane Ida is now an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm and expected to strike the Gulf Coast later today, with winds topping one hundred fifty miles an hour, and potentially devastating double-digit storm surge in at least three states. The forecast for damage, grim.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: You know, Ida is turning into a very, very dangerous storm.
JOHN BEL EDWARDS: This would be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit anywhere in Louisiana since at least the 1850s.
ED O'KEEFE: We'll tell you where Ida is headed and hear from Louisiana's Governor John Bel Edwards. Then, the dire situation in Afghanistan. With just hours to go before the Taliban's get-out-of-the-country deadline, the threat of more attacks on the Kabul airport remains high. Back home, that country mourns the thirteen American service members killed in Thursday's suicide bombing attack at the Kabul airport.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.
ED O'KEEFE: The President is already making good on that promise. A U.S. drone strike killed two ISIS leaders involved with the airport bombing attack. Will there be more retaliation against ISIS-K? We'll talk with the President's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Finally, the Delta variant continues its rampage. Former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb joins us.
It's all ahead on FACE THE NATION.
Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. As we come on the air this busy Sunday morning, Hurricane Ida is threatening the Gulf Coast, likely hitting mid-afternoon, exactly sixteen years to the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall. And the terror threat, meanwhile, in Afghanistan is still extremely high as the U.S. continues airlifts to evacuate the last remaining Americans. President Biden is in Dover, Delaware, this morning for the dignified transfer of the remains of those thirteen Americans killed in the Kabul airport suicide bombing last week. That bombing also killed more than one hundred seventy Afghans. Plus, the COVID Delta variant continues to spread, particularly among children. We'll get to that later. But we begin this morning on Louisiana's Gulf Coast with Hurricane Ida. CBS News' Omar Villafranca begins in New Orleans. Omar.
OMAR VILLAFRANCA (CBS News Correspondent/@OmarVillafranca): Ed, good morning. At last check, there were about thirty thousand people who were without power as we're starting to see the outer bands of Ida hit. We're seeing some gusts, a little bit of rain. We're also seeing some last-minute preparations. You see this box behind me here. The hotel is getting ready to put up a giant flood wall here. The final preparations as this storm inches towards Louisiana's coast right now. Now thousands of people weren't taking any chances. They started evacuating days before clogging the roads and highways out of New Orleans. There was a run on gasoline, people filling up their cars but also their canisters for their generators. There was a run on food as well as people were just trying to hunker down and get ready what could be a rough ride here in Louisiana. Now this storm, Ed, will be one of the biggest tests for the city's levee system after Katrina. And that levee system had a price tag of more than fourteen billion dollars. So we'll have to see how it holds up. But right now, people are just getting ready for the big storm to hit the Big Easy.
ED O'KEEFE: An expensive load test ahead. Omar, we thank you. Stay safe.
We want to go next to CBS News' Mireya Villarreal who's in Houma, Louisiana, where the hurricane's expected to make landfall imminently. Mireya, good morning.
MIREYA VILLARREAL (CBS News Correspondent/@cbsmireya): Hey, good morning, Ed. Though, this is a Gulf community, we have about thirty-three to thirty-four thousand people in and around this vicinity. Right now, as cliche as it sounds, this is the calm before the storm. We do have some rain coming in right now. Strong winds overnight as some of the bands kind of hit this particular community. But really we're expected to take the brunt of the storm in three to four hours. As of right now, all the major roadways in and out of these communities are closed down. There are ways to get out if absolutely necessary. But for the most part, people are being told to stay off the roadways as of right now. Businesses have been shut down. They are boarded up, many of them. As of-- and-- and then just to kind of give a prediction of what we've-- what we've been seeing, we-- we talked to some of the people here at the hospital. A lot of their critical patients were ambulanced out of this area and north, just to make sure that they stayed safe. People that I've spoken with that are staying in the same hotel as us have said, we have never lived through this kind of storm. Predictions right now, the team-- between ten and fifteen feet of storm surge, between fifteen and twenty inches of rain, and that is where the biggest concern comes in for a lot of these communities along the Gulf Coast. The amount of flooding that they will see is unprecedented, is what a lot of these local leaders are saying. Again, people have stayed inside. The hope is that they keep inside, if they've decided to stay in their homes. And more than anything, they're hoping that Ida moves quickly through this area.
ED O'KEEFE: Mireya, thank you. Stay safe. We know you have a busy day ahead.
We want to turn now to CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli, who's in New York. Jeff, this one is moving quickly.
JEFF BERARDELLI (CBS News Meteorologist and Climate Specialist/@WeatherProf): It is moving quickly. It's going to make landfall in about an hour and a half or so. And to put it into perspective, for the folks that are watching us from this area, you've been through many hurricanes. You have never experienced a hurricane this intense in terms of wind. This is going to cause catastrophic damage. If you're riding this out in your home, you want to be in an interior room, away from windows, and you want to have a mattress nearby so that you can pull it over yourself and your family if your structure is compromised. Take a look at the storm. It doesn't get more classic than this. It is just literally an hour, an hour and a half, from making landfall. Right now, it has winds of a hundred and fifty. It's very close to becoming a Cat 5, is a strengthening storm at landfall. As you can see, it's probably going to be making landfall, the eyewall in about forty-five minutes or so, and then the eye in about an hour and a half. Take a look at the wind gusts that we expect to see. One hundred and forty-two miles an hour possible in Grand Isle. We're going to see wind gusts to ninety-plus in New Orleans. In addition to that, forty-five-foot waves offshore. When they crash on shore, this will lift the water, push it in. Twelve to sixteen feet of storm surge. And then on top of that, as much as fifteen to twenty inches of rain. This is a life-threatening situation, and you have to take every precaution you can to save life and property.
ED O'KEEFE: And, of course, this is moving north throughout the rest of the day into tomorrow. So this has become a big threat to the rest of the country, as well. Jeff, we'll get back to you a little later.
But we want to go now to Governor John Bel Edwards, who is at the Louisiana Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness in Baton Rouge. Governor, good morning to you. We've set the table, so give us a sense now. Is your state ready for this? And did enough of your residents get out of the way ahead of the storm?
GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-Louisiana/@JohnBelEdwards): Well, Ed, first of all, thank you very much. I'm happy to be on with you so I can speak to the state. Primarily, we'll know whether or not people evacuated. It-- it appears that hundreds of thousands of people took the opportunity yesterday to leave, especially in those low-lying areas in the southeast Louisiana along the coast. Those that are not protected by our much-enhanced hurricane and storm risk reduction system, the one that you mentioned a while ago, where there's been about a fourteen-billion-dollar investment since Hurricane Katrina over the last sixteen years, all of our modeling shows that-- that the most populous parts of southeast Louisiana inside that system are going to be protected from storm surge. We still have wind threat and rain threat as well. But it's really south along the coast. We think an-- an awful lot of people did evacuate, but this is a very difficult storm. As you mentioned, it's going to come in with-- with sustained winds of over a hundred and fifty miles per hour when you get to a Category 5 storm at a hundred and fifty-seven. So, there's-- there's virtually no difference between a very, very strong Cat 4 or a-- a Cat 5 storm. And-- and so, we-- we are absolutely doing everything that we can now to-- to get people to-- to take those last-minute steps. But, really, we asked people to make sure that when they went to bed last night, they were prepared to ride out the storm and that they would go to bed where they intended to ride out the storm.
ED O'KEEFE: So bottom line, that fourteen-billion-dollar levee system should hold.
GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Yeah. Well, that-- that's all of our modeling shows that. We feel very good about what's inside hurricane risk reduction system. We have lesser systems of protection built along the coast where the levees aren't as high and they're not as fortified. And we're very concerned there. And-- and this would be a tremendous test of those systems. And, quite frankly, it's going to be the strongest test we've had yet for the current hurricane and storm risk reduction system itself, as well.
ED O'KEEFE: Understood. Yeah. Let me-- let me ask you, you know, your states, about forty-one-percent fully vaccinated from COVID-19. You have one of the highest hospitalization rates when it comes to the pandemic among states in the union. And most of the major hospitals weren't evacuating patients ahead of this storm. Are they going to be all right as this storm passes over?
GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Well-- well, this is going to be a real challenge, too. The-- the good news is and it's-- it's relative is that over the last ten days, we've been able to reduce our net inpatient centers by about five hundred. Most of that in southeast Louisiana. So, we did create just a little bit of additional capacity. But evacuating these large hospitals is just not an option because there's not any other hospitals with the capacity to take them. Now we were able to evacuate over twenty nursing homes, some rehab facilities and behavioral health facilities and those sorts of things. But when you think in terms of-- of hospitals, it's just not possible. So, we know that they have been working extremely hard. They all have generators. They all have the fuel on hand and-- and the extra food and the things that they're going to need. But, quite frankly, the wind, we expect, will cause power outages across much of southeast Louisiana. It's impossible today to say how long the-- the power will be out. And that begins to test your systems--
ED O'KEEFE: Sure.
GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: --whether it's the opportunity to deliver water to the hospitals. You can't run a ventilator without electricity. And I will tell you, our federal partners are leaning very far forward in terms of having additional generators in or out and-- and so forth. This-- this is a major, major storm. It's going to test us in ways that we've not been tested before, for a lot of reasons. But-- but this COVID situation is certainly one of them.
ED O'KEEFE: Sixteen years since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, Ida is on your doorstep. Governor Edwards, our best to you. I have a feeling we'll be talking again later in the day, later in the week here on CBS with you. We appreciate your time.
GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Thank you, Ed, and we invite the prayers of the country.
ED O'KEEFE: You've got mine, for sure. FACE THE NATION will be right back--
GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS: Thank you.
ED O'KEEFE: --in one minute. We've got breaking news on the situation in Afghanistan. Stay with us.
ED O'KEEFE: We want to turn now to the situation in Afghanistan, where the U.S. military is racing to complete its withdrawal by Tuesday under an extremely high warning of additional terror attacks there. CBS News foreign correspondent-- senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata is in Doha, Qatar, this morning. Charlie, good morning.
CHARLIE D'AGATA (CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent/@charliecbs): Ed, good morning to you. This morning the U.S. State Department warned Americans once again to avoid going to the airport. If you're there, leave immediately, citing new credible threats after that drone strike against ISIS militants.
CHARLIE D'AGATA: They're bracing for the possibility of another terrorist attack as one of the largest airlifts in American history enters its final and most dangerous phase. ISIS retaliation for this, purported to be images of the aftermath of the Hellfire missile drone strike the Pentagon says killed an ISIS planner and a facilitator in Eastern Afghanistan.
(Man #1 speaking foreign language)
CHARLIE D'AGATA: New eyewitness accounts have emerged after the ISIS suicide bombing at the airport, accusing U.S. and Turkish forces of opening fire on the crowd after the explosion.
MAN #2: He wasn't killed by Taliban. He wasn't killed by ISIS. U.S. Army started shelling.
MAN #3: How can you be sure?
MAN #2: Because of the bullet. The bullet went inside of his head. Right here, near to his ear.
CHARLIE D'AGATA: The Pentagon acknowledged the possibility that some people may have been shot by U.S. service members. An investigation is underway. Remaining American forces at the airport are now beginning to head home themselves. The U.K. was the last of European coalition flights and forces to wrap up their own evacuations, the final plane out taking off yesterday. The White House says more than a hundred twenty thousand people have now been evacuated, including fifty-four hundred Americans. With the window now slamming shut at the airport, hundreds of thousands of desperate Afghans have been scrambling to the border with Pakistan, terrified of life under Taliban rule.
CHARLIE D'AGATA: And we're getting late word this morning of explosions in Kabul. We understand it appears to be a U.S. airstrike on a suspected ISIS suicide vehicle that was headed toward the airport. Ed.
ED O'KEEFE: Charlie, thank you.
We turn now to CBS News national security correspondent David Martin, who has more on that attack in Kabul this morning. David, good to see you. What do you know?
DAVID MARTIN (CBS News National Security Correspondent): Well, of course, car bombs are a huge threat to the airport, because a car bomb can carry much more than that suicide bomber who killed thirteen on-- on Thursday. So, they had indications that there was a vehicle loaded with explosives, and they conducted an airstrike against that vehicle. And they got secondary explosions, which would indicate that, in fact, there were explosives on that vehicle. So this-- this appears to have been what the U.S. military calls an imminent threat to the airport.
ED O'KEEFE: And we got them before they were able to get there, it would look like.
DAVID MARTIN: That's what they-- they think.
ED O'KEEFE: Okay. You-- you have learned more about what happened on Thursday at the airport, and-- and then a lot of questions about why so many service members might have been in one area that would have caused them to die. What have you learned?
DAVID MARTIN: Well, it kind of makes you grind your teeth, because that gate where the explosion occurred was due to be closed. And they kept it open because British troops, who were based in a hotel several hundred yards away, had decided they were going to go back to the airport as part of their pullout. So the gate was kept open longer than planned. The suicide bomber got there first.
ED O'KEEFE: Wow.
DAVID MARTIN: And he was wearing twenty-five pounds of explosives.
ED O'KEEFE: Which you've pointed out is more than a suicide bomber in these situations would normally wear, which is what caused so many to die.
DAVID MARTIN: Yeah.
ED O'KEEFE: We've seen the retaliatory strike that occurred Friday night. Did they get who they wanted?
DAVID MARTIN: They got who they wanted. I don't think they think for a second that they knocked ISIS out of the-- the game. They're looking for more targets. The President has said there will be more strikes, but you've got to find the targets first. After that Thursday night strike, I bet you a lot of ISIS senior leaders have thrown away their cell phones.
ED O'KEEFE: Sure. Because that way, they won't be found. How much more difficult is it going to be to conduct these kinds of missions once we're out on Tuesday?
DAVID MARTIN: You know, the way you take down a terrorist organization is with raids. Night after night after night, seizing cell phones, seizing laptops, exploiting all the intelligence on there. And then doing it again. You know, in-- in two days, there are going to be no troops on the ground in-- in Afghanistan, so we're going to lose that capability to conduct those night raids.
ED O'KEEFE: You've covered all twenty years of this war in Afghanistan. You've walked the halls of the Pentagon for all of it. What's the mood been like over there the last two weeks or so?
DAVID MARTIN: I mean, you know, it just wasn't supposed to end this way, the President out at Dover today for thirteen dead. I mean, you look at it. When we went into Afghanistan, the primary threat was a terrorist attack. And now we're leaving twenty years later, and the primary threat is a terrorist attack. The difference is that in 2001, we were worried about another attack on our homeland. Today, we are worried about an attack on our troops in Kabul, thousands of miles away from the U.S. So maybe that's what we got out of twenty years or more.
ED O'KEEFE: Hard to think. Well, look, David Martin, we're so pleased you were here. Thank you for continuing to cover this.
And we'll be right back with Senator Lindsey Graham. Stay with us.
ED O'KEEFE: We turn now to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. He's in Clemson, South Carolina, this morning. Senator, thank you for joining us. I know you are no fan of how the President is conducting this withdrawal but give us a specific sense of what you would have done differently.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-South Carolina/@LindseyGrahamSC): Yeah. Well, number one, I wouldn't have withdrawn. I would have kept the counterterrorism forces on the ground. Your reporter indicated that when we have people on the ground working with indigenous forces, that's the best insurance policy against another 9/11. I would have held the Taliban to the conditions set out in the agreement with Trump. But let me tell you where I think we're at. This is a catalyst-- catastra-- just a fair beyond my ability to describe it. It's been a very emotional couple of days for all of us. The parade of horribles are about to unfold. We're leaving thousands of Afghan allies behind who fought bravely with us. We're going to leave hundreds of American citizens behind. The chance of another 9/11 just went through the roof. These drone attacks will not degrade ISIS. The number of ISIS fighters have doubled. We've turned our back on our allies who's going to help us in our-- in the future. And we set the conditions for another 9/11. I've never been more worried about an attack on our homeland than I am right now. And we did not end this war. President Biden said that he wanted to take this-- Afghanistan off the plate for future Presidents. He's done the exact opposite. For the next twenty years, American Presidents will be dealing with this catastrophe in Afghanistan. This war has not ended. We've entered into a new deadly chapter. Terrorists are now in charge of Afghanistan.
ED O'KEEFE: Let me-- let me just have you clarify one thing you said, "We're going to leave thousands of Americans behind." State Department believes it's only a few hundred.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: No. Hundreds of-- hundreds Americans.
ED O'KEEFE: Okay. I just wanted to--
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Hundreds of Americans behind. Yeah, I'm sorry.
ED O'KEEFE: I wanted to make sure you didn't know something we didn't.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Hundreds of Americans will be left behind.
ED O'KEEFE: Understood. You've talked about propping up--
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: No, no. Yeah.
ED O'KEEFE: Yeah. You've talked about propping up some former Afghan government officials as a new provisional government that the United States should recognize.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Right. Yeah.
ED O'KEEFE: How would that work? And would that require us having a far greater presence in the country?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Good question. First thing we need to do is not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. This was a coup d'état. Boris Johnson said don't recognize the Taliban. You don't want to recognize a terrorist group who takes land by force. So we have the vice president under the constitution of Afghanistan and Panjshir province. He has a resistance force. We can provide humanitarian aid. We can provide military assistance. I'm not suggesting we have troops on the ground, but that can be an evacuation site for the future. The last thing you want to do is legitimize this terrorist takeover of Afghanistan. We're going to have hostages left behind American citizens. Our counsel, the Biden administration, do not legitimize the Taliban, do not recognize them, because if you do, you're going to put Americans at risk all over the world because other terrorist organizations will say, aha, the best way to get America's attention and legitimacy is to kidnap some Americans or people who fought with America. We're in a very dangerous situation in Afghanistan. And I worry about the consequences of how we deal with Afghanistan can affect our footprint all over the world.
ED O'KEEFE: Sure. In your view, what kind of consequences should the President face for the decisions he made on Afghanistan?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Well, did he get good advice and turn it down? Did he get bad advice and take it? What the hell happened? Whose decision was it to pull all the troops out? Was it good advice, ignored? I just don't know. I think he should be-- be facing a lot of consequences here, because the one thing he wanted to do, and he's a decent man, it's not about him being a decent man, is he wanted to end the war in Afghanistan and make sure we didn't have to deal with it in the future. He's done the exact opposite. General Biden's fingerprints are all over this. He's created the conditions for ISIS to flourish in Afghanistan. They've doubled the number of troops available because of the jailbreak. A terrorist organization called the Taliban is now in charge of the country. The likelihood of an attack on our homeland is through the roof. It was medium a month ago. It's got to be high as hell right now.
ED O'KEEFE: Right.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: And you cannot break ISIS's will through drone attacks. You've got to have people on the ground hitting these people day in and day out. You can't do it over the horizon. He deserves a lot of accountability for this. And I'm sure it will be coming.
ED O'KEEFE: Senator, one thing, one word I don't hear you using is one you were using before the attack on Thursday, and that is you called for his impeachment over Afghanistan. Do you still feel he should be impeached--
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah, I think--
ED O'KEEFE: --over this?
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Yeah. Yeah, I think it's dereliction of duty to leave hundreds of Americans behind enemy lines, turn them into hostages, to abandon thousands of Afghans who fought honorably along our side, to create conditions for another 9/11 that are now through the roof. Yeah, I think he's been derelict in his duties as Commander-in-Chief. I don't think he got bad advice and took it. I think he ignored sound advice. And this is Joe Biden being Joe Biden. He's been this way for forty years, but now he's the Commander-in-Chief. He's not a senator. He's not the vice president. These are Commander-in-Chief decisions. I think the best you could describe him as dereliction of duty at the highest level.
ED O'KEEFE: Senator Graham, an erstwhile friend of this-- of the President, obviously, disagrees with him on this. We appreciate your time this morning. Good to see you. And we'll be right back.
SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM: Thank you.
ED O'KEEFE: We'll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Trust me. Stay with us.
ED O'KEEFE: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We spoke earlier with President Biden's national security advisor, Jake Sullivan. And we began by asking him about the threat to Americans outside the U.S.
JAKE SULLIVAN (White House National Security Adviser/@JakeSullivan46): Well, Ed, first of all, it is something that we are very closely tracking, whether there are any threats to the U.S. homeland or to U.S. interests anywhere else in the world. What the intelligence community has assessed to date is that the relevant terrorist groups in Afghanistan do not possess advanced external plotting capabilities, but, of course, they could develop them. And that is something that we need to be very focused on. What we have proven over time in other countries, Ed, is that we are capable of suppressing the terrorism threat, including external plotting capabilities without a large permanent presence on the ground. We have done that in places like Libya and Somalia, places like Yemen. And we will do that in Afghanistan as well as we go forward.
ED O'KEEFE: Is there any possibility after Tuesday that some kind of retaliatory attack on ISIS-K will involve sending U.S. personnel back into Afghanistan?
JAKE SULLIVAN: The President does not intend to start a new war in Afghanistan. He intends to end the one after two decades. That being said, he also is going to talk to his commanders about whatever set of tools and capabilities they need to get the people who attacked and killed our troops at the Kabul airport and to make sure that we are degrading and debilitating the group, ISIS-K, that conducted this attack. So, yes, we will continue to take the kinds of over-the-horizon strikes like we did over the weekend against the ISIS-K facilitators and plotters. And, yes, we will consider other operations to go after these guys, to get them and to take them off the battlefield.
ED O'KEEFE: In plain English, "over the horizon" means from somewhere else, right?
JAKE SULLIVAN: Over the horizon means from outside of Afghanistan without keeping thousands of troops on the ground in the middle of another country's civil war.
ED O'KEEFE: Got it. There are a few hundred Americans left this weekend in Afghanistan that the State Department is aware of that want to get out of the country. Will they all get out by Tuesday?
JAKE SULLIVAN: What we are doing right now, Ed, is working one by one with those individuals and their families to direct them to a rally point near the airport to come into the airport and to get on the planes and go home. There are those Americans, though, Ed, and this is important, who have chosen thus far not to leave Kabul. Maybe they've lived there for many years. Maybe they have extended family there. Our message to those Americans is that after August 31st, we will make sure there is safe passage for any American citizen, any legal permanent resident. And, yes, we will ensure the safe passage of those Afghans who helped us to continue coming out after the 31st of August.
ED O'KEEFE: But how are you going to do that? And doesn't that mean relying on the Taliban?
JAKE SULLIVAN: This isn't about reliance. This is about ensuring that we use the leverage we have available to us, and it is considerable, to hold the Taliban to its commitments. The Taliban have both communicated to us privately and publicly that they will allow for safe passage. We're not just going to take their word for it. We've rallied dozens of countries from around the world to stand with us in saying to the Taliban that if they do not follow through on those commitments, there will be significant consequences. And the leverage we have, the economic leverage and the other forms of leverage we continue to possess, we believe will be effective in ensuring that we can get out other people who want to come out after the 31st of August.
ED O'KEEFE: Economic leverage I get because you can squeeze a country's official with sanctions all you want. But if you're pulling all your U.S. military equipment out of there, if you're pulling out all, if not most of your diplomatic personnel out of there, what on Earth kind of leverage is there left?
JAKE SULLIVAN: You just identified economic leverage, which I wouldn't put off to one side. We are talking about Afghanistan's relationship with the international financial system, its access to any kind of reserves and resources. That is a significant source of leverage. The United States is rallying the international community in a united way to ensure that the commitment on safe passage is not just a commitment to us, but to everyone else. And then we, obviously, retain a variety of capabilities that are both not economic and not diplomatic that we could bring to bear in the event that American citizens are somehow held at risk in Afghanistan going forward.
ED O'KEEFE: Does the U.S. plan to leave State Department personnel in Afghanistan after Tuesday?
JAKE SULLIVAN: Our current plan is not to have an ongoing embassy presence in Afghanistan as of September 1st, but we will-- in-- at least a permanent presence. But we will have means and mechanisms of having diplomats on the ground there, be able to continue to process out these applicants, be able to facilitate the passage of other people who want to leave Afghanistan. And over time, depending on what the Taliban does, how it follows through on its commitments with respect to safe passage, how it deals with the treatment of women, how it deals with its international commitments not to allow Afghanistan to become a base for terrorism in the rest of the world, we can make further determinations about both diplomatic presence and other issues as we go. But the onus will be on the Taliban to prove out its commitments and its willingness to abide by the obligations that-- that it has undertaken and that are imposed upon it by international law.
ED O'KEEFE: Jake, you're someone who's known the President a long time. You work alongside him every day. They call the presidency the loneliest job in the world. How has his morale been in recent days?
JAKE SULLIVAN: I would describe the President's approach to this in recent days in one word: focused. He is laser-focused twenty-four hours a day on protecting our forces there and getting this mission complete, getting these folks home safely and then executing the retrograde in a professional way.
ED O'KEEFE: Does he still have full confidence in his entire national security team?
JAKE SULLIVAN: Well, that's obviously a question for you to ask. And, you know, that is something that, from our perspective, is your job. Our job is to execute. Our job is to get this mission complete. And right now the President is looking to his entire national security team to make that happen, to take this next critical, dangerous period where we face acute threats as we speak, minute by minute, hour by hour from ISIS-K to ensure our troops have the protection that they need and to ensure they have what they are required-- what-- what is required to be able to carry out the rest of this mission.
ED O'KEEFE: The whole goal here was to get U.S. military forces out of Afghanistan by September 11th. Whose idea was it to use 9/11 as the deadline?
JAKE SULLIVAN: When the decision was taken by the President to draw down our forces in Afghanistan, and he took that decision back in April, we had an impending May 1st deadline at which point the Trump administration had negotiated the removal of all American forces from the country. The President asked his commanders, how much time do you need to be able to get out of Afghanistan in a way that you feel will protect the forces and allow you to execute a drawdown that also protects our allies as they were coming out? And they gave him a timetable of one hundred and twenty days, of four months. And that is what has guided his decision making about coming out of Afghanistan from the start, has been the tactical advice of his commanders on the ground, and that is how we will ultimately bring this mission to a close.
ED O'KEEFE: So they didn't explicitly say 9/11. They said four months. And you guys all looked at the calendar and realized 9/11 was there and said, okay, let's try to do it by then?
JAKE SULLIVAN: What we said was that the mission would end before the twentieth anniversary of September 11th. That is what the administration laid out. And it was based on a hundred-and-twenty-day timetable as briefed to the President by the commanders who felt that that was the appropriate timetable to try to execute the drawdown and the completion of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan.
ED O'KEEFE: Part of why I asked this, I know you don't oversee everything, you're in charge of national security, but this summer there was the July Fourth deadline in the hope of declaring independence from the pandemic. There's this 9/11 deadline where now the Taliban, essentially, is going to be back in control of Afghanistan on the twentieth anniversary. Has there been any conversation about perhaps not using dates on a calendar to set White House policy anymore?
JAKE SULLIVAN: Ed, I've got to tell you, right now what we are thinking about all day and all night, including every single hour of last night, is how do we protect our forces at the Kabul airport against imminent threats from ISIS-K? And how do we get those remaining American citizens and others out of the country? That's what I am focused on. That's what we're trying to accomplish here. And we are going to keep our focus on that until we get the job done.
ED O'KEEFE: And we appreciate you taking some time to talk to us about all of that. Jake Sullivan, national security adviser to President Biden, thank you very much.
And we'll be right back.
ED O'KEEFE: We turn now to America's COVID crisis. More than ninety thousand Americans are hospitalized right now with COVID-19 nationwide. Most of those cases are related to the Delta variant. CBS News Senior National Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports from Atlanta.
MARK STRASSMANN (CBS News Senior National Correspondent): Today's double-trouble along the Gulf Coast has a nickname, COVIDA, a mash-up of COVID and Ida, the approaching hurricane's punishing winds and rain and evacuees sheltering inland spreading the virus. But this pandemic already has a first circle of misery, and it's Florida, with another bleak week ahead. Florida's averaging more than twenty-one thousand new cases a day, and the death toll keeps climbing. Caseloads buckle hospitals. Under the gun, Governor Ron DeSantis and his disdain for vaccine and masking mandates, a state court overruled his threat to withhold state funding from schools that imposed mask mandates. Contrast his approach with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, alarmed and getting tough. This weekend she reinstated mask mandates indoors and outdoors, regardless of vaccination status.
WOMAN: Welcome Tilda Turner [ph].
MARK STRASSMANN: More schools across America will reopen this week. Educators have reason to be edgy. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than one hundred eighty thousand children tested positive for COVID between August 12th and August 19th. Some of those cases have dire outcomes. The Delta variant can kill kids, including a boy in Houston.
DR. DAVID PERSSE: This was a previously totally healthy child who contracted COVID and-- and died.
MARK STRASSMANN: Without better masking and vaccination rates, a leading forecasting model has a grim prediction--another hundred thousand COVID deaths in America by early December. The good news--vaccines are sharply up, almost a million more shots every day. Ed.
ED O'KEEFE: Mark, thank you.
We go now to former FDA Commissioner Doctor Scott Gottlieb, was also a member of the Pfizer board and the author of a new book, "Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic." It comes out next month. Doctor, good morning to you. We mentioned your associations with Pfizer, and my understanding is you have a little more information on the future of the vaccine for children.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB, M.D. (Former FDA Commissioner/@ScottGottliebMD): Well, Doctor Fauci was on TV this morning talking about the potential for an authorization this fall. Pfizer is going to be in a position the company I'm on the board of, as you mentioned, be in a position to file data with the FDA at some point in September and then file the application potentially as early as October. So that'll put us on a time frame where the vaccine could be available at some point, late fall, more likely early winter, depending on how long FDA takes to review the application. Historically, they've taken four to six weeks to review these authorizations, as well as how much long-term follow-up data FDA requires on the kids in the clinical trial. If they require a longer-term, median follow-up on the kids enrolled in the clinical trial, it could take longer to get to an authorization, but the-- but the a-- agency will be in a position to make an authorization, I believe, at some point, late fall-- fall, probably early winter. And probably they're going to base their decision on what the circumstances around the country, what the urgency is to get to a vaccine for kids.
ED O'KEEFE: So, there's a possibility around the holidays, then at the end of the year, beginning of next year, that children down to age five at least could be getting shots.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: I think that's right. So if Pfizer files the application at some point in October, that puts you on a timeline that it could be available, authorized at some point in November, late November, maybe early December. So that, again, puts you on a timeframe that you could start rolling out these vaccinations before the end of the year.
ED O'KEEFE: Got it.
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: The data on kids two to five is going to be available in November.
ED O'KEEFE: So, they could have it then by early next year then that's all good news because, obviously, there are a lot of parents about to send kids back into school. Some are already back in school. And there's growing concern, especially in the Northeast, that the infection rates could spike as school reopens in those states. I mean, what advice do you have for anxious parents at this point as they prepare to send the kids back?
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Yeah, what we're seeing in the south is very concerning, an epidemic that coursed its way through the adult population is now coursing its way through children, particularly as they re-enter school. There's three hundred kids a day being hospitalized around the country for COVID. And you look at some of the school districts down the south, Tampa, as of August 10th when they reopened school, has ten thousand kids have already been diagnosed with COVID. Other districts are seeing similar effects. I think, as we head back to school here in the Northeast, schools need to look at what's happening in the south and take adequate precautions. I don't think that we should be going into the school year, lifting the mitigation. That may have worked and probably did work last year to control outbreaks in the school setting until we have firm evidence on what works and what doesn't. I think we have to throw everything we can at this challenge of trying to keep the infection from becoming epidemic in the school setting. This Delta variant is very contagious. It spreads easily in that environment. The two best things that schools could be doing right now is frequent testing. Twice a week testing is very effective, and there's a lot of resources that have been made available to local school districts to do that. And also keeping students in geographic pods, social pods, so not letting students intermingle with the entire student body but keeping them in defined pods probably by their classroom. Those two elements alone, according to the literature, are probably the two most effective steps schools can be taking. And then using masks and improving ventilation is also going to be very important. And, finally, getting kids vaccinated, about fifty percent of kids who are eligible to be vaccinated have been vaccinated. So, there's still a lot of work we can do there, getting parents more information, trying to encourage parents to vaccinate their children.
ED O'KEEFE: We always appreciate you joining us on a Sunday morning, especially sharing that news about vaccinations and the hope for children, more children, younger children getting the shot soon. Doctor Gottlieb, as always, thanks for joining us. And--
SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Thanks a lot.
ED O'KEEFE: --and we'll be right back with an update on Hurricane Ida with the mayor of Baton Rouge, Sharon Broome. Stay with us.
ED O'KEEFE: We want to go back to tracking Hurricane Ida, which is about to make landfall in Louisiana. CBS News meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli is tracking the storm. Jeff, an update just came out a few moments ago. What can you tell us?
JEFF BERARDELLI: Yeah, so the storm still has winds of a hundred and fifty. May, eventually, reach a hundred and fifty-five before landfall, literally just shy of a Cat 5. This is really the strongest storm to impact this area in terms of wind intensity in modern history. So anybody there, this is the strongest storm you will ever experience in terms of wind. Although the surge won't be quite as strong as Katrina, the wind will be more catastrophic. And it's a strengthening storm at landfall, which means it has that momentum and inertia to really power through and create plenty of damage and power outages inland. That's a look at the radar. As you can see, the eye wall is literally about ten miles away from the coast right now. So the eye wall is going to come on shore in about forty-five minutes or so. All right. You know the big elephant in the room is how does this compare with Katrina? So let's talk about that. This storm has winds of a hundred and fifty miles an hour. Katrina had winds of a hundred and twenty-five. Katrina was a weakening system. So the winds with this system are much more intense than Katrina. And it will cause a lot more catastrophic wind damage. However, because Katrina was out in the Gulf of Mexico for two or three days, it was building up a mountain of water. And so when it pushed on shore, it pushed all that water onshore with twenty-eight feet of storm surge. This one is likely to have about sixteen feet of storm surge as it moves onshore. But you can see those winds, hundred and forty-two mile an hour wind gusts this afternoon in Grand Isle. And as we head into New Orleans, well over eighty, maybe ninety mile an hour wind gusts. It's a dangerous one. Again, be inside your home, away from windows. And have a mattress ready to put it on top of you and your family to protect you in case your structure were to collapse.
ED O'KEEFE: Jeff, I appreciate that you put those two storms next to each other, because what you're basically telling us is that this new storm has got a lot more wind behind it, whereas Katrina had a lot more water.
JEFF BERARDELLI: That's right. Exactly. But this is going to have a lot of water, very dangerous and deadly.
ED O'KEEFE: Absolutely. Sixteen years to the day since Katrina hit they're getting hit by another one. Jeff Berardelli, thank you so much.
We go now to the mayor of Baton Rouge, Sharon Weston Broome. Mayor, thank you for joining us this morning on what I know is a busy time. Give us a sense of how your city is prepared or is preparing for this and what concerns you have as the storm nears.
SHARON WESTON BROOME (Mayor of Baton Rouge/@MayorBroome): Well, thank you. We have prepared on every level from a city parish point of view. Our community partners and our residents have received the word for days now and have started to make preparation in terms of supplies for their families and of food, medicine and fuel. We are asking people right now to take shelter. It is not the time to try to evacuate. We are anticipating the storm will be in our area around 3:00 PM today.
ED O'KEEFE: And you have a year that-- you got a lot of things going on in Baton Rouge. Among other things, you have a lot of universities there, like LSU, Southern University. Are you concerned at all about the student population that maybe from out of state and doesn't appreciate the power and the importance of getting out of the way of these storms?
SHARON WESTON BROOME: Well, I think our student population has been schooled, if you will, in terms of taking this very seriously hurricane. So I'm confident that they are part of the fabric of our community. And we have gotten the word out to our universities and our colleges here as well. So we're all working through this together in Baton Rouge. And I believe that our citizens, all of them are taking it very seriously, are remaining vigilant, calm and strong as we work through this.
ED O'KEEFE: And, you know, you've got this hurricane and, of course, you like city leaders all over the country, are also dealing with the pandemic. How did you have to adjust either of your responses to either of those crises in order to deal with this?
SHARON WESTON BROOME: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. I have said, of course, that we're in the middle of two emergencies, a pandemic as well as now a hurricane. And so our mayor's office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness plans for this type of dual emergency, if you will. But right now, we are opening up one of our pre-storm shelters. And during that pre-storm shelter, we will have isolated areas for those people that test positive for COVID-19.
ED O'KEEFE: Oh, so you're breaking out an area for them just in case. And-- and that, of course, takes space away from others who may just need a place to go. So it compounds the-- the potential response here to this storm. I'm curious--
SHARON WESTON BROOME: Yeah.
ED O'KEEFE: --Mayor, it's-- like we've said, sixteen years since Katrina hit. How has Louisianans' response to hurricanes changed in those sixteen years? In other words, if the storm warnings come and people like you tell them to leave or tell them to pack up and get ready, are they-- are they doing anything differently or more vigilantly now after that storm so many years ago?
SHARON WESTON BROOME: I believe they are. You know, not only are we remembering Katrina, but we recently in 2016 had a flood that had a-- a significant impact on our city and parish. And so ever since then, people have been very concerned, very guarded, very vigilant in terms of how we manage and navigate our water here. Listen, water management is a way of life here in south Louisiana, and we take it very seriously. Our city has prepared, using some of our American rescue dollars in advance six weeks ago to start cleaning out drains and-- and-- and managing culverts and canals. And so in addition to that, just this week, our team has intensified their efforts. So we take water very seriously and weather events like this very seriously.
ED O'KEEFE: Well, Mayor Sharon Broome, we-- we appreciate you taking the time today. We wish you the best of luck. And I have a feeling we may be talking to you again later in the week.
SHARON WESTON BROOME: Thank you so much.
ED O'KEEFE: All right.
We'll be right back.
ED O'KEEFE: That's it for us today. Thank you for watching on this busy Sunday. For Margaret Brennan, I am Ed O'Keefe. Stay with CBS News on your local station and on both our broadcast and digital networks as we continue to monitor Hurricane Ida. We leave you today honoring the thirteen Americans killed in Afghanistan last week.
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