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President's Gun Control Plan; Alleged "Sleeper" Spies on Trial; NYPD Wants GPS Pill Bottles; President Obama's Next Four Years

Aired January 16, 2013 - 14:30   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is hard to tell this mom and her daughter apart.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: WBBM reports that Jenny Hadly's next trip to Virginia will be to meet her daughter's husband. He's now serving in Afghanistan.

Bottom of the hour here on CNN, good to be with you. I'm Brooke Baldwin. The president today setting the table for the next gun control debate, what did he do? He outlined his plans to curb gun violence in America, all in the wake of 26 dead in that mass killing at that elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Here he is, with that pen in his left hand, signing 23 executive orders to strengthen background checks, to expand school security, to better educate mental health professionals, and this is what he's asking Congress to do.

Look at this with me. Limit gun magazines to ten rounds, ban, quote, "military style assault weapons," establish universal background checks here so buyers at gun shows and private sales, they have to be screened as well, and dedicate more money to help treat mental illness and enhance school security.

Take a look at the picture here. The picture, the children, flanked by children who wrote to him, wrote the president letters about gun control, their own little concerns and the families of Newtown's victims. The president never said the NRA's name, but it was apparent he was speaking to and about its members here.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This will not happen unless the American people demand it. If parents and teachers, police officers and pastors, if hunters and sportsmen, if responsible gun owners, if Americans of every background stand up and say, enough, we suffered too much pain, and care too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will come.


BALDWIN: Let me go to Michael Crowley. He is the deputy Washington bureau chief of "Time" magazine. Michael, welcome back.


BALDWIN: "Time" just released its special report. Here is the cover, "The Gunfighters," you see Vice President Biden there in the center, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg right there front and center.

You know, we were talking, the last time, Michael, you and I spoke was actually July, about this cover, "How Guns Won," about the power of the NRA on limiting gun control laws after that Aurora shooting.

So here we are in January of 2013, so much has changed since then, obviously Michael, the big change Sandy Hook. But another change in reading this piece too as well is money and battling back against the NRA. Explain.

CROWLEY: Yes. Well, I think that really interesting flashback, I had forgotten about the last cover when we spoke, but what has changed, 20 children, I think, and just a sense that we have crossed a line and this was just one -- one tragedy too much.

And now there really just has been I think a movement that was catalyzed by the horror of Sandy Hook. And so now, for instance, you have someone like Mayor Bloomberg who is ready to invest in this issue and it is not just in spend money to advocate, and it is not just him.

I think there are a lot more people who are wanting to agitate, wanting to change public opinion and that is the key here. I think the White House understands that, you know, if you were to have a vote tomorrow on these measures, they probably wouldn't pass.

But I think their only hope is to increase pressure on Congress, kind of bottom up, not entirely top down. So the executive orders by the president are fairly mild. He has this package, I think at the moment there is not a lot of sign Republican leaders going to move on them.

But what you're going to see is an effort by the White House to rally public opinion and people like Michael Bloomberg to rally public opinion around the country.

BALDWIN: Yes, and public opinion is huge and the president himself saying, looking down at my notes, the only way we can change is if American people demand it. He goes through this group of people with whom the vice president met.

And want to I ask you about that significant sort of the strategic insight in your piece, but we have to talk about the NRA, Michael. This NRA ad just came out, it's pretty controversial.

I also just want to point out to our viewers, this ad is only running on the Sportsmen Cable Network, which is about a third of the homes in the U.S. Here is a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are the president's kids more important than yours? Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids --


BALDWIN: Here is my question to you. You hear this voice talking about armed security in schools. Interesting the NRA is choosing to focus on that sliver of this whole argument versus taking on, you know, something much broader, that the president mentioned today, i.e., an assault weapons ban. Are you surprised by that?

CROWLEY: You know, I was initially surprised by that. What I can tell you is that, you know, "Time" and CNN are going to have some polling out later this afternoon, and one thing people might find is that arming guards in schools is more popular than I think a lot of people -- a lot of people I know who first reacted to that NRA press conference a few weeks ago really appreciated.

It is actually not an unpopular idea and I think the NRA may have found an issue here that they can kind of focus on where people say the NRA is making sense to me, I know a lot of people may disagree with it. But actually I was surprised how much support there is for it.

You know, bringing the president's children into it, however, I just don't get that. It seems totally counterproductive. It seems to be kind of crossing a line of accepted discourse. And it almost seems like they are just defiantly trying to stick the president in the eye here and maybe also frankly trying to get some free media attention.

BALDWIN: I do want to read the statement. This is from the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, on this. Quote, "Most Americans agree that a president's children should not be used as pawns in a political fight. But to go so far as to make the safety of the president's children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly," end quote, coming from the White House.

Michael Crowley "Time" magazine, Michael, thank you so much.

CROWLEY: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: And a couple on trial accused of being sleeper spies in providing top secret information for decades. Wait until you hear, you know we have the details of how they blended in. Back after this.


BALDWIN: What a story this is. Dead letter drops, buying and selling classified documents, secret orders by transmitter radio from Moscow, all of this happening in this sleepy German village. It's just north of Frankfurt.

Here in the town of Marburg, a couple, in their 40s, set up a pretty comfortable life, middle class existence. But for more than 20 years this couple has been living a life straight out of a cold war novel.

They are Andreas and Heidrun Anschlag. They're alleged sleeper spies now on trial for their crimes, their life in this little German village all a cover-up. Their real jobs, working for the Russian Secret Service. Their names, fake. Their Austrian passports, fake.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has been following this story for us. Fred, we know they had a daughter. What else do we know about them? What are they accused of?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that everything else pretty much in their life is fake as well. Even the daughter apparently who has grown up now, Brooke, didn't even know about this secret life that they were living.

Right now they're on trial here in Germany for espionage and taking on a fake identity as well, and the accusations are pretty severe. What they did apparently for 20 years is they've tried to get secret and top secret information about NATO and the European Union here within Germany, but in the Netherlands as well.

Some of the documents they apparently got hundreds and thousands of documents that they got, some of them secret, some of them also pertaining to NATO strategy in Afghanistan. So potentially stuff that could jeopardize American troops in Afghanistan -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Fred Pleitgen, how the heck did they even have access to the secret documents in first place?

PLEITGEN: Yes. That is also really something out of a spy novel. Apparently what they were doing is they were transmitting, sending these messages to Moscow, asking for orders as well. One of the things they did is they recruited an employee of the Foreign Ministry of Holland, of the Netherlands, and they got those documents or large part of them from him.

He provided them with documents. He got about $96,000 for doing that over the course of several years. That's also apparently where they got some of the military documents that are classified from as well.

If you recall, during this time, Holland was actually the lead nation in South Afghanistan, in the Kandahar region. So they would have been a wealth of documents about that as well. He gave them those for a very long time, he's on trial in the Netherlands as well -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: So the mole here, the mole who tipped off authorities, this is the same one who revealed the real identity of Anna Chapman, remember her, the bombshell red head here, the beautiful young Russian woman, she, remember, was living in New York City, she was arrested in 2010, part of that whole Russian spy ring. So why, Fred, why is this type of thing still going on post cold war?

PLEITGEN: Well, that's a very good question. But it seems as though even after the cold war, Russians are very interested in information not only, of course, about Western Europe, but especially about America as well.

You know, all these nations, the Germans, the Americans, other European nations, are so closely intertwined that you will get secret information if you spy on European countries about America. At the same time, of course, if you recall, all of this also had some very big disagreements of -- between the U.S. and Russia about missile defense here that is supposed to be set up in Europe.

So there are a lot of things where the Russians are still very wary of the U.S. and also, of course, just trying to get information about what is going on. It is something that is very, very bizarre and strange to think that these countries that are now allies would still be doing this.

BALDWIN: Crazy. Fred Pleitgen, Fred, thanks for staying up for us, I'm sure a slightly cold Berlin this evening. Fred, thank you.

Police in New York, they are asking pharmacies to stock their shelves with pill bottles fitted with GPS tracking chips. We'll tell you why and how this is supposed to work coming up.


BALDWIN: New York City combating just about everything these days, and limited the amount of soda you can drink, just put a new huge gun control law in place, and now it is trying to put a GPS in prescription painkiller bottles to combat the surge of pharmacy robberies.

Commissioner Ray Kelly of NYPD saying Oxycontin armed thefts are booming and he wants to stop it. He's announced this plan to put bait bottles, that's what he's calling them, on store shelves, fake painkillers equipped with an invisible GPS device.

Should a robber steal it, like this person, suspected of stealing from a pharmacy, the GPS apparently is going to go off, shows the person's location, tracks the person, hopefully leads police to bigger stashes across the city and probably elsewhere.

HLN law enforcement analyst, Mike Brooks, is here. How exactly does this work?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Brooke, what it is going to be, because you've got robberies and burglaries, breaking into pharmacies after hours, going in, stealing these things.

BALDWIN: Killing people in some cases in Long Island.

BROOKS: Killing people -- right in Long Island and last April in East Harlem, there was an off duty cop, pumping gas across the street, confronted two robbers, shot and killed one of them after holding up a pharmacy for pain killers.

So what's going to happen? You're going to have basically your pill bottle sitting on the little stand, you take that pill bottle off, and it starts emitting a signal all right then and there.

Now these are going to be sealed. So let's say you pick it up and shake it, it is going to sound like there is pills inside that particular bottle. BALDWIN: They're fake pills.

BROOKS: But they're fake pills and you have your little GPS tracking device inside of that. They have been using this technology for quite some time with banks because you will have sometimes a bottle of money. You'll have that if a bank is robbed, they'll pull those out. They give you the bait money if you will --

BALDWIN: Follow the money. Follow the money.

BROOKS: And you follow that signal. They just had a bank robbery today in Houston where they used the same technology to track the car.

BALDWIN: So is this for potential pharmacists with ill means or is this for people who would come in to try to steal the bottles, what kind of pills are we talking?

BROOKS: Well, this was developed by -- it was developed by Purdue Pharma, which is the maker of Oxycontin. You know, so they are the ones behind this saying, we want to help protect, number one, our brand, and secondly, because they come in, there are so many robberies, so many burglaries happening now just for these particular painkillers.

We want to get this technology to try to track these people down, and maybe be a preventive measure because if you know what you're taking could have a GPS device in it, and you could get locked up, maybe that would discourage somebody.

But they're hoping that all 1,800 pharmacies in the city of New York kind of get on the bandwagon with this program. It already has gone on in Suffolk County, just not outside the city.

BALDWIN: So you don't think some of these potential criminals would be hip to the GPS devices could be able to determine which pill bottles had GPS devices and could go around it.

BROOKS: Well, you know, if you go in and you take a bottle and you shake it, there are pills, are you going to take the time to take the tape off and the top off and the foil and the cotton, no. You want to get in, you want to get out, and hopefully they'll get out with one of these decoy bottles.

BALDWIN: Also I'm just curious, big picture, explain what typically happens if you have a successful robbery say in a pharmacy and you grab a bunch of Oxycontin. Where then do the pills typically walk?

BROOKS: You can take them, you might be someone who is getting paid by someone who is taking these and distributing them to other places around the state, outside the state. So a lot of times you'll say, I'll give you x amount.

You can have so many pills so much money, want you to hit this particular one or they'll put in an order. I want 200 of a particular painkiller, go out and get them and here is what I'll pay you. That's what these perps are doing. BALDWIN: OK, Ray Kelly says no more, no more.

BROOKS: And I don't blame him, absolutely.

BALDWIN: Mike Brooks, thank you.

BROOKS: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Appreciate it.

A look here at what is to come over the president's next four years including why the Middle East could be his biggest challenge. But first, here's a quick look at the markets as the Dow is up 25 points at 13,509. Forgive me, down, that is a minus, blurry eyes here, down 25 points. Back after this.


BALDWIN: As the president prepares to take the oath of office for the second time, the list of pressing issues he must address continues to grow. A global economic slowdown threatens the recovery right here in the U.S., while Iran's nuclear program and a revolution in Syria demand urgent attention.

Jill Dougherty has more on what the president is facing in the Middle East.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A region in turmoil, the challenge, coping with revolutionary change in the Middle East.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear --

DOUGHERTY: As President Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term, the clock is ticking on Iran.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I've said that when it comes to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, I will take no options off the table and I mean what I say.

DOUGHERTY: Among the potential options, an Israeli air strike, iron clad sanctions, Syria's diplomacy, covert action. The president's choice for defense secretary former Senator Chuck Hagel has raised red flags over military action and questioned whether unilateral sanctions really work.

Now he says he supports both options. The Obama administration and its diplomatic partners think there is still time for a deal with Iran, but --

ROBIN WRIGHT, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE: Can President Obama actually find terms for a compromise that he can sell both to the Ayatollah in Iran and Congress in Washington? And the chances of doing that are pretty tough. DOUGHERTY: In Syria, the death toll is 60,000 and counting. President Obama so far says no U.S. boots on the ground, and no U.S. arms for the Syrian opposition. His choice for secretary of state, Senator John Kerry has gone further.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We should weigh the risks and benefits of establishing safe zones near Syria's border areas.

DOUGHERTY: If Syria's President Bashar Al Assad unleashes his chemical weapons, a real scare that emerged late last year, Mr. Obama says he will retaliate.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable.

DOUGHERTY: Countries that lived through the Arab spring two years ago are morphing into a zone of instability. Barack Obama put his administration on the line for Egypt's President Mohamed Morsy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But Egypt's economy is on the ropes. Across the region, political storm clouds are gathering as Iran, Israel and eight Arab countries hold crucial elections this year.

WRIGHT: In every one of them, a new form of right, far, far right is emerging as to change the balance of power.

DOUGHERTY: In his first term, Barack Obama said he was making the Middle East peace process a priority, but Middle East expert Aaron David Miller says don't get your hopes up for this term.

AARON DAVID WILSON, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: The fact is if you -- if the administration tried to put Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu down together, right now, or in February, at the negotiating table, the gaps between them are so large that they simply cannot be bridged and the U.S., yet again, will be revealed as an emperor without clothes.


BALDWIN: And when we come back, we'll talk to Chris Lawrence from the Pentagon. He's got some new information here about this hostage situation in Algeria. This is this North African country where we're now hearing, confirmed by the State Department, 40 hostages, being called an act of terror by Leon Panetta, the defense secretary and as many as seven of them could be Americans. More breaking news next.


BALDWIN: Some developing stories in a flash. Roll it.

In Syria, two blasts ripped through one of Syria's biggest universities, killing more than 80 people. You heard the blast, all these bombs aimed at students of the University of Aleppo, who were taking exams at the time. Also today, a triple car bombing, 22 people dead in Syria's Idlib Province. One of the bombs targeted a car outside a government security office there. At least 142 people killed today across Syria.

And remember this one from South Carolina, Governor Mark Sanford.


GOVERNOR MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The bottom line is this, I have been unfaithful to my wife, I developed --


BALDWIN: That was Mark Sanford admitting to an affair with a woman from Argentina that cost him his marriage and derailed his political career. Well, now, Sanford, a Republican, is announcing he will try to make a political comeback. He's running for the congressional seat he held in the late '90s before becoming a two-term governor. By the way, the Argentine woman is now his fiancee.