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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

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national lead

October 30th, 2014
06:08 PM ET

Hagel tells White House his concerns on ISIS strategy

(CNN) – The U.S. is now almost three months into the war to degrade and destroy ISIS.

The Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs Chairman gave an update Thursday on the bombing campaign and on efforts to take back ISIS gains on the ground. So far, that task has been left to forces in the region that are friendly to the U.S. Some have endured a slaughter, at the hands of these terrorists.

Secretary Hagel also apparently sent a memo to President Obama's National Security Adviser Susan Rice, blasting parts of his Syria policy.

CNN's Jim Sciutto reports.

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sports lead

October 30th, 2014
05:53 PM ET

Should Royals have gone for home at end of Game 7?

By CNN's chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper

(CNN) – It has been observed that baseball is a metaphor for life, and we were reminded of that again last night at the end of the 7th Game of the amazing World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals.

With two outs, down by only one run, facing dominant Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner on the mound, Royals left fielder Alex Gordon stepped up to the plate. One pitch, one strike. But then, Gordon connected and hit the ball to left-center field, where the Giants bungled it.

It should have been a mere single, but Gordon took advantage of the Giant errors and rounded second. But he stopped at third, not wanting to be tagged out at home. Not wanting to be the last out. That was the cautious move. Odds are he would have been tagged at home. No question.

Except this is baseball. It's life. And yes, while Gordon was the potential third out at home, he was also the potential tying run. And with amazing Bumgarner on the mound, you have to go for it.
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world lead

October 30th, 2014
05:43 PM ET

Al Qaeda bomb-maker alive and plotting?

(CNN) – The U.S. intelligence community is saying one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world survived U.S. airstrikes in Syria.

He isn't a member of ISIS, but a French bomb-maker for the terror group know as Khorosan, an al Qaeda affiliated group with a focus on recruiting foreign fighters with western passports to carry out terror attacks on airlines.

Despite the flashy videos and barbaric executions staged by ISIS, officials say the French bomb-maker may be the biggest threat to the United States right now.

CNN's Pamela Brown reports.

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buried lead

October 30th, 2014
05:32 PM ET

Web extra: Blackwater founder accuses New York Times of 'made up' allegations

(CNN) – According to The New York Times, Blackwater was under investigation before the Nussor Square massacre, but stopped after a top manager at Blackwater told the government's chief investigator that the contractor could kill him and "no one could or would do anything about it".

"That's the first time we ever heard that allegation, I think that's another one made up by the Times. The New York Times has had to recant a number of stories they've written about me, or about the old company. That's a new one," said Blackwater founder and former CEO Erik Prince.

For more of our interview with Erik Prince, click here.

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buried lead

October 30th, 2014
05:29 PM ET

Fmr. Blackwater CEO defends company amidst manslaughter convictions

(CNN) – The Nusoor Square massacre was a major turning point in the Iraq War – a shoot out in the streets of Baghdad that left 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians dead at the hands of four American security contractors working for Blackwater – the now infamous private security contractor.

"I will not second-guess the split-second decisions of my men," founder and former CEO of Blackwater Erik Prince writes of the incident in his new book, "Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror."

Last week, an American jury disagreed, and found three of Prince's former employees guilty of voluntary manslaughter, and one guilty of first-degree murder. But Prince stood by the security contractors.

"I'm not going to second-guess their actions," said Prince. "They were operating with the rules of engagement dictated to them by the State Departments, with the whole use of force continuum."
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