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Hacking Hotel Keycard Locks; After the Cliff, We Hit the Ceiling; Five Million Deaths in Democratic Republic Of Congo; Second Day of Meetings Doesn't Help Ambassador Rice; Adopting Across Racial Lines; Yahoo CEO Speaks Out

Aired November 28, 2012 - 14:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK, so say you're on vacation or even out of town for work and you are in a hotel room, leave your jewelry, leave your laptop behind in what you assume is a locked hotel room while you head out and about. Your stuff is safe inside the room, right? Maybe not. Hackers are now targeting hotel key card locks and swiping pricey items like jewelry and electronics. "Forbes" magazine reporter Andy Greenberg broke the story.

Andy, I read this first thing this morning and I thought, great, I'm checking in to a hotel room two hours from now. Please tell me how easy it is for these hackers to get into rooms.

ANDY GREENBERG, "FORBES" MAGAZINE: It is rather shockingly easy. This all started over the summer when a hacker named Cody Brocious, the security researcher, presented at the hacker conference called Black Hat in Las Vegas. And he showed that with about $50 worth of hardware, he could basically build this device that he then inserts into the bottom of a certain kind of hotel lock that's incredibly common built by a company called Onity and essentially reads the secret key that's stored in the lock's memory and open it literally in seconds with no trace at all.

BALDWIN: So you mention it's a particular kind of lock. Because when i read your piece, I thought, OK, maybe this is just one hotel. But you write about how this is, you know, millions of hotel rooms potentially vulnerable and the locks aren't all fixed yet, right?

GREENBERG: That's right. Well, these are locks built by a company called "Oddity." They are installed in at least four million hotel rooms around the world and probably as many as 10 million, but it's not exactly clear. And in fact their response to this has been less than stellar.

They're asking hotels to pay for the fix essentially. The only thing that they're offering hotels for free as a kind of band-aid fix is a little plastic plug that you can put into the port at the bottom of the lock, which can still be removed if the case is opened.

But hotels are being asked to pay for it, which likely means hotels around the country are not fixing this at all. They're probably not even aware of it. When I first wrote about this, the strategy to fix this problem, they removed all information from their web site.

I think they don't want to -- this problem to be publicly recognized. They're trying to kind of push it under the rug, I believe.

BALDWIN: So now that you've been writing about it, you've been breaking the news, getting their name out there. It is an easy Google search I imagine to figure out which hotel rooms have these locks. What advice do you have for people who stay in the hotel rooms who have jewelry, laptops, who would like to hold on to them?

GREENBERG: Well, the obvious thing is you should flip that bolt on the inside of the room or use the chain, but of course, you can't do that when you're not in the room. So at least that chain can protect you, but for your stuff, while out of the room, the harder question is how do you protect the integrity of the room when you're not there.

I think that that's more difficult, probably the best strategy is to call the hotel ahead of time, see if they're using the locks. You can recognize them, by the way, because they kind of -- they have a vertical key card system, like a toaster, and you can see the port underneath that is used to hack into them as well.

You can call the hotel and talk to the management and say have you implemented this fix and if you haven't, then you should. The other strategy is you can simply just not leave things in your hotel room. The fact is that hotel rooms are never totally secure.

As we all know, it is probably the biggest threat to your stuff. So the strategy really is to put it into a safe or behind the front desk or not bring it at all.

BALDWIN: Glad you're writing about it. Hopefully, it is calling attention to these hotels to change those locks out. Andy Greenberg, "Forbes" magazine, appreciate it.


BALDWIN: Washington has 34 days to keep us all from going over the fiscal cliff, 34 days. But that's not the only deadline Congress and the White House face here. A new report says the U.S. is getting very close to hitting the debt ceiling. We've talked about this before. Business correspondent Christine Romans is here to explain.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. It is America's credit card limit and the government is almost maxed it out again. The Bipartisan Policy Center says the government could hit the debt ceiling as soon as February. So just how much is it?

Well, the limit is $16.394 trillion. As of last week, our debt stood at $16.268 trillion. So you can see we're close. America spends about $100 billion to $125 billion every month more than it takes in. We borrow the rest and that borrowing adds to the growing pile of debt.

So until the government cuts spending or raises taxes, the only option is to raise the treasury's credit limit again. If Congress doesn't, treasury won't have the money to pay our bills, bills like Social Security checks or interest payments on our bonds. But raising the debt ceiling is a political nightmare. Republicans don't want to raise taxes and Democrats don't want to trim entitlements. Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist wants to use the ceiling as leverage for Republicans in fiscal cliff negotiations.

Writing, quote, "The debt ceiling provides plenty of leverage for the GOP to trade for spending cuts as done in 2011 or continuing the lower rates." Republicans may have lost some of that leverage in this year's election, but if history is any guide, this will come down to the last minute. Cliff meets ceiling -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Christine Romans, thank you.

Actor Ben Affleck among others begging the United States to do something as more and more are dying in the Congo. And today, a huge development in this escalating crisis, but will the world listen?


BALDWIN: It is a conflict that killed more people than any genocide or natural disaster since World War II. After 20 years of war here, the situation is escalating in the African Democratic Republic of Congo and stars like Ben Affleck are begging the United States to listen.

More than 5 million people killed in an unrelenting series of wars. Rebel groups have been taking over city after city after city, growing the numbers as they're recruiting these young children and the government seems powerless against them.


MARY HABIMANA, LOCAL TRADER (through translator): The residents want the government to help them because women have been raped and we lost so many things when the military looted our houses. That's why we're calling on the government to help us.


BALDWIN: Jim Clancy, let me bring you in. Our go to guy at CNN International. So here's what I understand. A rebel group, called themselves In-23, they have been holding the city of Goma hostage. They pull out today and now they're heading to a new city. What is it that these people want?

JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Well, they want a variety of things. Some of it is money. Some of it is security. They're with their families. These were part of a rebel group, brought in as part of a deal, and made part of the army.

They had a deal struck with the government. They say that government hasn't kept its side of the bargain. M-23 is for March 23rd, 2009, when the deal was signed. And they know -- they're far in the east of a sprawling country of 75 million people, dense jungle, forests, and they know the government can't respond. The military is corrupt itself. This is not going to end well. It is great that stars like Ben Affleck are coming out and trying to get people interested in this story because it is a tragedy, just ripped in almost biblical terms that beset these people, not just for months or years, but as you noted, for decades.

BALDWIN: Before we get to Ben Affleck, I know the founder of "Save Congo" actually recently wrote the CNN op-ed calling this the war the world forgot and as you mentioned Ben Affleck echoing that over the weekend. Take a look.


BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: You can imagine if this was happening in Western Europe, it would be, you know, galactic event that people would be taking -- paying a lot of attention to, but it is in Central East Africa where it is hard to get to, I think where people feel it is somewhat removed from our life.


BALDWIN: Jim, you've been covering this since the early '90s. I mean, to Ben Affleck's point there, why hasn't the world been paying attention?

CLANCY: Well, you know, to sum it up, perhaps in the way that President Jimmy Carter summed up the situation when we ignored the genocide in Rwanda. They're poor. They're black and they don't have any oil. That is essentially what the problem is.

The world has been able to look away. You know, news broadcasts have come out of there. There is no shortage of the pictures, but it is an almost intractable problem in that you have private armies in some areas, all competing. It is really about the resources.

This is ironically one of the richest countries on the planet today. It has gold. It has Colton used in cell phones. It has tin. It has copper. It has timber. It has huge agricultural resources but can't be harnessed because what isn't being stolen by soldiers, businessmen and warlords, is being stolen by government officials.

The losers, the people of the Congo, they don't have roads. They don't have education, virtually no health care.

BALDWIN: Will the U.S. get involved here?

CLANCY: I don't think so. It already has the largest U.N. peacekeeping operation anywhere in the world today and it is simply not being effective. Rightly so they didn't get involved in any kind of a fire fight with this rebel group if we want to call them that.

They're disaffected soldiers, whatever we want to call them, but it is not going to solve the problem. This is going to go on. We have seen one thing after another like this. I think the U.S. senses that. It wants the U.N. in there, wants to try to do something constructive.

But the U.S. is going to put its own forces on the ground inside the Democratic Republic of Congo.

BALDWIN: OK, Jim Clancy, thank you so much.

Coming up next, Ambassador Susan Rice comes face to face with some pretty high ranking Republicans, senators on the Hill today. And, again, more questions than answers. A live report next.


BALDWIN: I'm Brooke Baldwin live in New York today. Developing right now, round two for Ambassador Susan Rice, she's meeting with the second group of her critics on Capitol Hill.

And so far it's pretty much a replay of yesterday. The meeting that Ambassador Rice requested with the senators did not go as well, apparently bringing her no closer to gaining their support if Rice is nominated for the post of secretary of state.


SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I continue to be troubled by the fact that the U.N. ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of a contentious presidential election campaign.

SENATOR BOB CORDER (R), TENNESSEE: I would just ask the president to step back for a moment and realize that all of us here hold the secretary of state to a very different standard than most cabinet members.


BALDWIN: You know the story, Ambassador Rice has been under really intense scrutiny for publicly repeating CIA talking points that the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, back on September 11th, have been connected to protests against an anti-Muslim video.

Diplomatic e-mails showed within a matter of hour of that attack the assault was linked to terrorists. I want to bring in Colum Lynch. He is the U.N. correspondent for the "Washington Post." Colum, welcome.


BALDWIN: We saw Senator Collins speaking on the Hill. She was one of several, Senator Coburn met with her today as well. Basically she actually went back to the bombing in Africa and then assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, you know, prior job. Take a listen.


COLLINS: I'm also very troubled by the fact that we seem not to have learned from the 1998 bombings of two of our embassies in Africa, at the time when Ambassador Rice was the assistant secretary for African affairs. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The senator talking about the attacks on both Tanzania and Kenya, killed 224 people, injured another 4,500. And, the senator went on to say both cases ambassador begged for additional security, fair criticism?

LYNCH: That she did beg for additional security?

BALDWIN: That the ambassadors did. She said it echoes -- Benghazi echoes what we saw in 1998.

LYNCH: I didn't hear the details of what she said about that case, but I mean there had been some frustration expressed by the former U.S. ambassador to Sudan, Timothy Carney, about kind of Susan Rice's very confrontational role with the Sudanese government and how that played a role along with many others in convincing the U.S. not to engage in deeper intelligence sharing with the Sudanese. But I'm not sure how that directly links to the east embassy bombings and I didn't hear particularly what she said.

BALDWIN: OK, it was just connections Susan Collins was making. I want to move on and just talk about the president. We haven't seen President Obama say, obviously, outright, she is my top pick. But we saw her really sort of -- saw him vehemently defending her recently. Let me replay that. President Obama.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.


BALDWIN: Tell me, Colum, just about their background. They go back to his 2008 election?

LYNCH: They go back even further. She was an adviser to him when he was a senator from Illinois. And it goes back, Tony Lake was his -- the former national security adviser, Democrat, in the Clinton administration, and he sort of introduced those two. So she has been probably along with Tom Donilon, the people really worked with first when he took an interest in these issues.

BALDWIN: She has some sharp elbows. You write about this in your piece, just this month, which apparently one of her favorite words is a word I cannot say right now on television. That may be a great thing in politics, but in diplomacy, how would that play?

LYNCH: I don't know. If you're, you know, the Russian ambassador to the U.N., a very tough guy, and he's known for being pushy and bullying. So I think when she gets into fights with him, and if, you know, cross words are exchanged, I don't think that's going to be the sort of thing that will hurt her politically. In Washington, certainly not with Senator McCain who has lots of criticism of the Russian government, she is, I think, known as someone who uses very frank language that you can't use on TV. I think it is --

BALDWIN: Is that a bad thing, frank language?

LYNCH: You know, I can't find any specific examples where her use of language has resulted in a negative or a positive outcome. So it is part of her style. It is part of her personality. She's at the same time quite personable and charming.

And you know, it's perfectly sort of comfortable in, you know, the sort of -- sort of among the diplomatic crowd so I think it's, you know -- she's the American ambassador. Everyone has got to deal with her. They've got to deal with her terms. So I don't know that impedes her ability to get work done.

BALDWIN: We shall see what will happen. Colum Lynch, U.N. correspondent for "Washington Post," nice to see you. Thank you.

And from meeting with the president to changing diapers, how does Yahoo's new CEO do it all? And what does the late football coach Vince Lombardi have to do with her success? We'll find out ahead.


BALDWIN: Families looking into adopting a child have myriad issues to deal with, and for some, that includes race. Some questions if adoption across racial lines are really in the best interests of the child, if the child will be able to understand his or her true cultural identity. Jason Carroll has more. r (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Frank Somerville is a news anchor in Oakland, California. He's used to hearing from the public, but when he posted a picture doing his daughter's hair on Facebook, he and his wife were overwhelmed.

FRANK SOMERVILLE, ADOPTED BLACK CHILD: The Facebook page just lit up and it kept going and going and going.

DONNA WRIGHT SOMERVILLE, ADOPTED BLACK CHILD: I think hit a racial cord. I think it hit a father/daughter cord.

CARROLL: Eight years ago, the Somervilles adopted Calle, a decision that raised tough questions about themselves.

FRANK SOMERVILLE: We also thought, you know, there is a baby out there that needs a mommy and a daddy. If we all of a sudden back out because we are scared that this happens to be a black baby, what does that say about us?

CARROLL: They cherish watching Calle's play time with older sister, Sydney, but know as Calle gets older, there will likely be challenges. Studies show trans-racial adoptees can experience a lack of cultural identity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We dealt with it. My mom always turned everything that was an obstacle into confidence.

CARROLL: Facing identity issues head on helped world renowned chef, Marcus Samuelsson. He's Ethiopian adopted by Swedish parents.

MARCUS SAMUELSSON, ADOPTED BY SWEDISH FAMILY: Don't be naive about the questions that are going to come, like race has a place.

CARROLL: Brought up with a strong sense of self, Samuelsson now feels at home in Harlem, where he lives and has a restaurant. The Somervilles say being open about race and having black role models in Calle's life will help when the challenges do come.

DONNA WRIGHT SOMERVILLE: There are differences and celebrate the differences.

CARROLL: For now, for this family, that is enough. Jason Carroll, CNN, Oakland, California.


BALDWIN: Soledad O'Brien examines provocative questions about skin color, discrimination and race in "Who Is Black In America." The documentary premieres Sunday, December 9th, at 8:00 Eastern only here on CNN.

Any minute now, President Obama expected to meet with his cabinet. They're at the White House, first meeting here since the re-election. Find out what may be happening today behind closed doors.


BALDWIN: Today, President Obama is meeting with Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer at the White House. She is one of several key CEOs gathered there to talk about, what else, the fiscal cliff.

Mayer took the Yahoo post while she was pregnant and some people criticized her for taking such a short maternity leave. She talked exclusively with "Fortune" magazine's Patty Sellers, her first interview since giving birth to her son.


MARISSA MAYER, CEO, YAHOO: The baby has been easy. The baby has been way easier than everyone made it out to be. And that is -- I think I've been really lucky that way, but I had a very easy, healthy pregnancy. He's been easy and so those have been the two really terrific surprises, the kids have been easier and the job has been fun.


BALDWIN: Mayer says she keeps it together by quote/unquote "ruthlessly prioritizing her life." She relies on a motto from a famous football coach to help her.


MAYER: Vince Lombardi, in my life there are three things, God, family and the Green Bay Packers in that order, right? And, you know, I think that for me, it is God, family and Yahoo! in that order.


BALDWIN: Evoking Vince Lombardi. You can catch the entire interview, just go to