Return to Transcripts main page


Army Intel Wikileaks Suspect To Testify; Yasser Arafat's Body Exhumed; Lawmakers Return, Work On Fiscal Cliff; Ambassador Rice Meets With Lawmakers On Libya; Consumer Confidence Hits 4-Year High; Lawmaker Sides With Wal-Mart Workers; Cellphone Use And Your Privacy

Aired November 27, 2012 - 10:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, U.S. soldier Bradley Manning charged with document dumping on WikiLeaks is now accusing the United States military of torture, and it could be his get-out-of-jail free card.

Walking out on Wal-Mart: a congressman-elect from Florida joins the protest. He joins us in 15 minutes to explain why he wants to put the union in Wal Mart.

She has cancer and uses medical marijuana to cope. She's also 7 years old. Her parents say it's the only thing that works. Dr. Sanjay Gupta gives us his expert opinion.

And your cell phone privacy put to the test. Courtrooms around the nation are torn. Can police use your cell phone activity like your GPS and text as evidence? NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you very much for joining me. Topping the news this hour, a question -- is Bradley Manning a heroic whistleblower or traitor? More to the point today, was Manning, a U.S. soldier, a victim of torture at Virginia's Quantico Marine base?

As early as today, Manning will testify about that at Fort Meade. As you know, Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of war logs and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks. He'll likely detail how he was treated while confined at Quantico.

Manning claims that for nine months he was held in his cell for 23 hours a day. Checked every 5 minutes and often stripped naked. If this is proved to be true, Manning could actually go free.

Joining me now to explain all of this is Greg Rinckey. He is a military lawyer. Welcome, Greg.


COSTELLO: So if are you representing Manning and you're not, but if you were, why start with an accusation of torture at the hands of his U.S. captors?

RINCKEY: Well, it could likely be a get out of jail free card under Article 13 of the UCMJ. If torture is alleged and proven, the judge, the military judge does have the capability to dismiss all the charges. I don't think it's likely in this case, but it is a possibility.

COSTELLO: Why do you think -- why do you think it's not likely? Because Manning, you know, he says he's been -- he was confined to solitary confinement for 23 hours. Psychiatrists and psychologists will testify at the hearing that there was no evidence that Manning would commit suicide. So why keep him in solitary confinement? Isn't that enough?

RINCKEY: Well, I think there's a debate as to whether or not it was necessary to keep him in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. In my opinion, I believe he will get some Article 13 credit, pre-trial confinement credit, which means it will come off his sentence. I don't believe the military judge will outright dismiss the charges. I don't believe his treatment rises to the level of torture.

COSTELLO: Is that normal for -- is that normal at Quantico, to keep someone in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day? What's normal in this case?

RINCKEY: No. It is not normal to keep a soldier who's charged in pre-trial confinement for 23 hours a day. However, the charges in this case were very serious, espionage. I think they also did have some feeling that he may have been suicidal.

So they were concerned about his safety. However, I think keeping him in confinement, solitary confinement for 23 hours a day I think is going to give the military judge some pause. And I think the military judge will give him some Article 13 illegal pre-trial confinement credit off of his sentence eventually when he is sentenced.

COSTELLO: Manning has been held for years now. I mean, for a time, a long time, he was held without charges being filed. Is that normal in a case like it, and will that enter into the hearing at Fort Meade today?

RINCKEY: It could enter into the hearing today the fact that he was held for such a long period of time. However, these charges were severe. There was also some defense delay in this case, as well, which is not attributable to the government.

So both sides are going to argue whether or not the delay was -- was a very long delay, was a delay that he should get credit for. There's no doubt in my opinion that he will get some pre-trial credit. I don't believe that he's going to be let go free and the charges dismissed.

COSTELLO: Greg Rinckey, thanks so much for joining us this morning.

RINCKEY: My pleasure.

COSTELLO: Also happening this hour, the Southern Poverty Law Center holding a conference in New York to discuss a lawsuit against a conversion therapy provider. Conversion therapy as you may know is a controversial practice that tries to change a person's sexual orientation from gay to straight. Coming up later this hour, we'll talk with the SPLC's attorney about the first of a kind lawsuit.

Also, we're keeping a close eye on things in Cairo, Egypt where protesters are flocking to Tahrir Square to rage against Egypt's president. Earlier this morning, police fired teargas to disperse demonstrators. Many Egyptians say Mohamed Morsy betrayed the democratic intention of the Arab spring when he granted himself sweeping new powers last week. We're going to keep an eye on Cairo. We'll bring you developments as they happen.

Forensic experts from three countries have what they need to determine what killed the former Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat. Just hours ago, they exhumed Arafat's body, took samples from his remains, and then reburied them.

It's suspected Arafat died of polonium poisoning in 2004. In other words, high levels of the radioactive elements were found on his clothing and toothbrush. The Palestinian Authority speculates that Israel may be to blame. Israeli officials have not commented on this.

Time is running out and lawmakers are now back at work. House members are returning to Capitol Hill today. Their Senate counterparts returned Monday. The number-one issue, of course, resolving the fiscal cliff.

There are also some other big meetings happening this morning on Capitol Hill. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is sitting down with some of her more outspoken critics about comments she made over the attack in Benghazi.

Congress has been demanding answers since Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Libya on September 11. And there's no bigger critic of rice than Senator John McCain.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: That was an act of terror. For anyone to disagree with that fundamental fact I think is ignoring the facts. She continued to tell the world through all the talk shows that that -- that it was a, quote, "spontaneous demonstration sparked by a video." That's not competence in my view.


COSTELLO: Susan Rice is meeting right now with Senator John McCain of Arizona and then she is going to sit down with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.

Senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill. Dana, tell us more.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that meeting we believe is underway right now. I say we believe because we have seen those three senators go into the area where the meeting is going to take place. It is interesting that this is happening in a classified room at the capitol. We didn't see Susan Rice go in, but we believe she was kind of taken in, in a hidden way, much like David Petraeus was a couple of weeks ago. What do they want to talk about? Obviously, you heard John McCain's complaints.

We've heard them very loudly about the fact that they believe that she was political in her comments after that 9/11 attack this year in Benghazi and didn't give the appropriate information to the American people about what really went on.

Which we now understand from intelligence officials was that it was an al Qaeda-affiliated attack. Since those comments, John McCain has softened his rhetoric. Listen to what he told CNN exclusively this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you trust her to be Secretary of State?

MCCAIN: This issue need to be resolved. Clearly, it needs to be resolved before -- I don't make a judgment as to whether she should be Secretary of State or not until she's been nominated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you put more blame on the president or Ms. Rice?

MCCAIN: The president is the one that is ultimately responsible.


BASH: Obviously, Susan Rice has not been nominated to be Secretary of State. But the fact that she requested this meeting, wanted to try to clear the air and explain herself to these three senators, these three intense critics certainly is telling.

Now what is the crux of this issue? Carol, we understand that what the Republican senators are most annoyed about is not just that she didn't talk about al Qaeda, which we now know from intelligence officials it's because she couldn't. It was classified.

But that she went on to say that the Obama administration has decimated al Qaeda. So what they're going to ask in this meeting is whether she knew in a classified way that al Qaeda or an al Qaeda affiliate was behind this. If so, that's -- that's their accusation, that she was misleading the public.

COSTELLO: All right, Dana Bash, reporting live from Capitol Hill this morning.

Good news for the U.S. housing market. A report released just about an hour ago shows that home prices are up about 3.6 percent from a year ago. That is the biggest quarterly percentage gain in two years. The rebound spurred by a combination of record low mortgage rates and improving job market and a drop in foreclosures to a five-year low.

And also just into the NEWSROOM, more signs of recovery. Consumer confidence, it hit a four-year high. Alison Kosik joins us from the New York Stock Exchange. Wow, I'm feeling pretty good this morning -- Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You and a lot of other Americans surveyed in this report. Yes, looks like the consumer, Carol, is in a better place than they were, say, a few years ago.

As you said, consumer confidence reaching a four-year high in November, this rise coming in better than expected. Americans said that they're feeling more optimistic about the jobs market now and in the future.

So this is really good news, especially ahead of the holiday shopping season since confidence often correlates closely with how much people are going to get out there and spend. We know that people have already been hitting the stores and buying online in force.

It's good for the economy when people are feeling optimistic and they're out there spending money. As for the market, not seeing it move too much. It looks like investors have bigger fish to fry known as the fiscal cliff.

The Dow is down about 11 points. There's still a lot of worry once again about how these talks on coming up with a deal on the fiscal cliff, how the talks will go -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Alison Kosik reporting live from the New York Stock Exchange this morning.

Representative-elect Alan Grayson has been standing with protesting Wal-Mart workers. When he delivered bagged meals to workers on Thanksgiving, Wal-Mart called the cops.

We'll talk with Alan Grayson about that night and the ongoing protests next.


COSTELLO: It's 13 minutes past the hour. President Obama will meet with Mexico's president-elect, Enriquez Pena Nieto today. Pena Nieto who will be sworn in, in four days has a new message. He says U.S.- Mexico relations need to go beyond drugs and security concerns. Topping his wish list, deepening economic ties with the United States.

Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite embroiled in the scandal that brought down CIA Director David Petraeus will lose her title as honorary consul. That's according to the deputy foreign minister of South Korea. It comes after a New York businessman accused Kelley of trying to use her honorary position to solicit business. That position carried no official responsibility.

Another Long Island Power Authority executive is resigning. The utility has come under severe criticism for its handling of restoring power aftermath of Sandy. The company says the vice president of media relations and a member of the Board of Trustees are leaving their post. Big retailers like Wal-Mart are rushing to clarify their links to a garment factory in Bangladesh that caught fire over the weekend. More than 100 people were killed. More than 200 others injured. Thousands of protesters in Bangladesh have taken to the streets demanding a full investigation into what happened.

The government has now ordered such an investigation. As for Wal- Mart, it issued this statement to CNN, quote, "Our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this tragedy. The factory was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for Wal-Mart.

A supplier subcontracted work to this factory without authorization, and in direct violation of our policies. Today we have terminated the relationship with that supplier.

The fact that this occurred is extremely troubling to us, and we will continue to work across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh."

Back here in the United States, a protest against Wal-Mart goes on. And you can count Representative-Elect Alan Grayson was standing with the company's workers. He joins us now live. Welcome.


COSTELLO: You attended a walkout at a Wal-Mart in Orlando on Black Friday. And you showed your solidarity the night before by delivering bagged meals to Wal-Mart employees who had to work on Thanksgiving. That caused Wal-Mart to call the cops. So tell us what happened.

GRAYSON: Well, we went to Wal-Mart to hand out Thanksgiving dinners to them because they had to work on their Thanksgiving, couldn't be with their families. So we brought a bag. The bag had three things in it -- a turkey sandwich because it was Thanksgiving, a bag of chips, and a letter explaining what their rights are to organize.

COSTELLO: And then so -- cops were called? What did the cops do when they arrived? Tell us about that.

GRAYSON: Well, it was the security staff. Wal-Mart always has security staff around. Once they saw that we were handing out the bags, they objected, asked us to leave, and we left. The security staff simply escorted us as they often do.

The important thing is we showed workers what their rights are. Wal- Mart tries to keep them in the dark and we showed that they're not alone. That people care that we want the working poor to have a better life in America.

COSTELLO: You posted a letter on your Facebook page and wrote, "Wal- Mart accounts for more than 10 percent of all the retail sales in the United States. It's the largest private employer in the world with more than two million employees.

Even though the employees comprise barely 10 percent of its cost of doing business, Wal-Mart exploits them mercilessly. Now Wal-Mart employees are starting to organize, starting to fight back." I had a conversation at dinner last night with someone who says, if you don't like working at Wal-Mart, get another job.

GRAYSON: Well, listen, all the people who have those jobs suffer from the fact that we have 8 percent unemployment. We all suffer from the fact that Wal-Mart underpays its employees. The average associate at Wal-Mart makes barely $1,200 a month.

That's $1,200 a month, could you live on $1,200 a month? I couldn't. The fact is they don't because taxpayers subsidize them. Because Wal- Mart underpays them, taxpayers pay for their Medicaid. Because Wal- Mart underpays them, the taxpayers end up paying for their food stamps.

In fact, each Wal-Mart associate costs the taxpayers over $1,000. It's time to end that. Wal-Mart needs to pay for its own employees and give them a living wage. The minimum wage needs to be higher. And Wal-Mart and other employees need to pick up the tab on insurance and coverage for their employees and stop handing that tab off to the taxpayers.

COSTELLO: When many of the protests happened on Black Friday, we noticed that not a lot of workers comprised the big crowds. It was mostly union people, community leaders, and a few Wal-Mart workers. And some might say that really the unions are behind this. The employees aren't behind this so much.

GRAYSON: In fact, at one Wal-Mart not too long ago, 200 Wal-Mart employees walked out and shut down the store. But the Wal-Mart employees in general are afraid. They're being intimidated. They're being told in many cases if you even talk about union you'll be fired.

In Orlando, here in Orlando, one of the lawyers -- one of the employees who talked about a union was fired. He came back a few days later just to talk to his former employees, his former staff, his former colleagues, and they let him off the premises in hand -- they led him off the premises in handcuffs in a way that everyone else could see.

Employees are being intimidated. They want to help. They want to join. They want to make their lives better. But Wal-Mart is doing everything it can to prevent that.

COSTELLO: Well, frankly, it seems like Wal-Mart's winning. It had one of its biggest Black Fridays ever. It didn't stop people from shopping, these protests.

GRAYSON: The protests aren't meant to stop people from shopping. The protests are meant to inform workers of their rights to organize under the law and under the constitution and to make sure that they understand that they're not alone, and they will be protected if they exercise their rights.

It's not meant to raise prices, not meant to interfere with shopping. It's meant to organize people who desperately need to be organized to make a better life for themselves. COSTELLO: Representative-Elect Alan Grayson, thanks so much for being with us this morning.

GRAYSON: Thank you, too.

COSTELLO: This morning we're hearing from the wife of a man who died in a Wal-Mart parking lot this weekend. The man who was suspected of shoplifting DVD players was confronted by employees and security in the parking lot. The man's wife spoke to CNN affiliate WSB. She says she wants answers.


FATIMAH CALLOWAY, WIFE OF SUSPECTED SHOPLIFTER WHO DIED: It took three people to hold him down and choke hold him. How can you do that? You know, one person with no weapon, all for two DVD players?


COSTELLO: A police investigation is underway to determine exactly what caused the man's death.

"Talk Back" for you today: Should Susan Rice be considered for Secretary of State?


COSTELLO: Now's your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: Should Susan Rice be considered for Secretary of State?

Susan Rice, John McCain, face to face. Maybe the tryptophan of the turkey chilled everyone out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you hope to learn today from Ms. Rice?

MCCAIN: Whatever Ambassador Rice wants to tell me. She's the one that asked for the meeting, I didn't.


COSTELLO: Maybe not, whatever. The embattled U.N. ambassador is sitting down with the senator who accused her of being incompetent and deceptive and called for Watergate-style hearings on Libya.


MCCAIN: She gave deceptive information to the American people when there was clearly counter information that affirmed that this was a terrorist attack orchestrated by an al Qaeda-affiliated organization.


COSTELLO: By now you know the story. Rice intimated a cheesy anti- Islam film caused the murderous rampage at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Not true, but her assertion on several Sunday shows was OK'd by the intelligence community and caused one great big partisan brawl. Soon Democrats piled on, accusing Republicans of racism.


REP. MARCIA FUDGE, (D) OHIO: Susan Rice's comments didn't send us to Iraq and Afghanistan. Somebody else's did, but you're not angry with them. I would just say in closing that it is a shame that any time something goes wrong they pick on women and minorities. I have a real issue with that.


COSTELLO: Yet when ask about McCain, Rice was conciliatory.


SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I have great respect for Senator McCain and his service to our country. I always have and I always will. I do think that some of the statements he made about me have been unfounded, but I look forward to having the opportunity at the appropriate time to discuss all of this with him.


COSTELLO: That's today. So after saying McCain would do whatever it takes to block Rice's nomination, he now appears to be softening. He says Rice deserves the chance to explain her actions.

So in light of all of this, the "Talk Back" question for you this morning: Should Susan Rice be considered for Secretary of State? Your comments later this hour.

Courts across the country are divided when it comes to your privacy and cell phone. Do police have a right to seize your cell phone for evidence? What about your GPS and texts? We'll talk about this legal clash between the law and technology.


COSTELLO: Coming up on 30 minutes past the hour. Good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with us. Checking our top stories.

In Cairo, protesters are flocking to Tahrir Square to rage against Egypt's president. Many Egyptians say Mohamed Morsy betrayed the democratic intention of Arab spring when he granted himself sweeping new powers last week.

It appears Superstorm Sandy could cost more than Hurricane Katrina. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says last month's superstorm will cost $42 billion. New York like other states is appealing for federal aid. One hundred ten people died in the region during the storm. Nearly 1,800 lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina. In the heart of Sydney, Australia, the arm of a construction crane falls on to a building, barely missing busy Broadway Street. The collapse happened after a fire involved the cab of the crane. Just two weeks ago, the construction site was shut down when workers walked off the job because of a gas leak.

Technology and the law colliding, especially when it comes to cell phone use. It's a battle between your right to privacy and a lawful search of your cell phone. In Rhode Island, for example, a judge threw out cell phone evidence two months ago in the case of a man charged with killing a 6-year-old boy.

In Louisiana, a federal appeals court is reviewing how to handle location records stored on cell phones. On Thursday, a Senate committee will consider making changes to a 1986 law on electronic privacy, changes that could include a new amendment requiring a warrant to search your emails regardless of how old they are.

Joining me is Parry Aftab, one of the first lawyers in the world to practice Internet law. I admire you because this is complicated, isn't it?

PARRY AFTAB, MANAGING DIRECTOR, WIREDTRUST.COM: It's very complicated, Carol. Good to see you again.

COSTELLO: Great to see you. Let's talk about this Rhode Island case. It's before the state's Supreme Court now. Is it likely that the justices will overturn that lower court ruling?