Return to Transcripts main page
Obama, Biden at National Prayer Service; 37 Hostages Killed in Algeria; Battle Lines Drawn for Second Term; Biden for 2016?; Election Day in Israel
Aired January 22, 2013 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We're taking you around the world in 60 minutes. Here's what's going on right now.
An important part of the inaugural festivities under way. President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, their families, other dignitaries have been worshipping together at a national prayer service. It's held at the Washington National Cathedral. It's an inaugural tradition that dates back to President George Washington. You see them there. Let's tip in and just take a listen.
MALVEAUX: We're going to have a live report of the interfaith ceremony later. Plus, we're also going to dissect the President's inaugural address. You're going to hear reaction from all sides.
But first, we are also covering a bloody hostage crisis felt around the world. The number of foreign nationals killed in Algeria risen sharply now. We're talking about officials saying 37 hostages from at least six countries were killed in that stand-off with Islamic militants. That number could rise again because five foreign nationals are still missing.
We're also getting new details about the American victims. Just a short time ago, we heard from the family of Victor Lovelady. He was one of three American hostages who was killed in that stand-off. And his daughter says that her father was a smart man who would have done anything to survive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN LOVELADY, VICTIM'S DAUGHTER: If he could have done anything, if he could have gotten away, if he could have helped somebody, he would have. That would have been who he would have been there. And you know, we truly believed he was coming home. So to hear that he was not going to come back to us was devastating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Lovelady's daughter speaking from the family's home in Texas. Ed Lavandera, he's in Dallas.
And Ed, must be -- must be tough, must be really hard. I mean this was something that was so unexpected.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Completely unexpected according to Victor Lovelady's family, as they say that this was actually the second time that Victor Lovelady had gone to work at that complex there in Algeria as a contractor.
His brother says that he had been in November on a two-week stint and then had gone back January 7th. But right now they're trying to figure out exactly what happened and how Victor Lovelady was killed in this terrorist attack on that natural gas facility in Algeria.
The family says that, in the days leading -- after the siege had happened, that they had actually gotten word, at some point, that Victor Lovelady was OK. But they tend to think something went terribly wrong, obviously at some point. They're trying to figure out why. Victor Lovelady's brother says he won't stop until he finds out why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE LOVELADY, HOSTAGE'S BROTHER: I don't know what was going on behind the scenes, how they knew he was alive but they knew he was alive.
And it is -- this is not the FBI. This is not the State Department. This is me thinking that, until the last attack, when they went in and stormed the plant, because -- it's the people said they were going to blow up the plant, and then the Algerians took over and did what they did, they stormed it, what I understand is they killed -- they executed all of the hostages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Now, Suzanne, the family says they actually spoke with Victor a few days before the siege had actually taken place and that Victor Lovelady had never expressed any concern about going to work there at this natural gas facility.
He said that he assured his family many times that everything was safe and that he wasn't worried. So all of this very difficult for the family to handle, especially his daughter, Erin, who, along with her older brother -- or younger brother -- excuse me -- are mourning the death of their father now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN LOVELADY: Nothing's happened there in so long and my -- we -- you know, we -- my friends have been doing it for so long. It's fine there and it's so safe; we have protection. And he really, truly felt safe there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Now, Suzanne, the family says that they don't know when Victor Lovelady's body will be brought back to the United States. They're trying to still work all of that out, which obviously adds to stress and the horror of everything that they're going through right now. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Ed, have you heard from any of the other families as well?
LAVANDERA: Well, you know, as you mentioned, there are three Americans that were killed but there were also seven Americans who survived the attack. We've been trying to make contact with them to get their story of what it was like inside that compound when all of this took place.
We haven't been able to get those kinds of details just yet. But throughout all of this, in this, you know, three Americans that were killed, we also have to remember that there were seven Americans that survived.
MALVEAUX: It is still a situation that's in flux. Ed, thank you.
The Algerian forces are right now searching for the five foreign nationals who are still missing. It's been almost a week sense the militants' link to Al Qaeda stormed that oil field in the Sahara Desert, capturing hundreds of workers.
Want to bring in our Nic Robertson live from London. And, Nic, we know that some of these hostages, they managed to escape during the stand-off and for four days. Is there any reason to believe that maybe some of the folks who are unaccounted for might have gotten away? Or do we -- do we think that they might have been killed?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's always that possibility that they got out. I mean, we've heard of people who were hiding in the plant there and then they broke out, some with the help of Algerian nationals who were being held there as well, cut their way through the wire, put on sort of local dress, if you will, escaped into the desert.
But it was surrounded mostly by the Algerian special forces, and they were rescued very quickly. But it is possible somebody missed that cordon, stumbled off into the desert and is still lost out there. But the reality is that seems very, very unlikely and remote at this stage.
The gunfire has obviously died down over the last few days, gone away, and it would be clear to anyone still hiding that is this is the time to come out. So the prognosis, the outlook for those five doesn't look so good but we are hearing from hostages who had the -- former hostages who had been freed. Some of them have got harrowing tales, say they're very lucky to be alive.
MOHAMED AZIRI, FREED HOSTAGE (through translator): I feel lucky I'm still alive. The experience was too terrible. I heard the sounds of gunshots, bullets hitting doors. Thanks to the governmental forces' timely rescue, they expelled the terrorists in the factory. I heard the governmental forces and terrorists fighting in the distance. Judging from the sounds of gunfire, the fighting was very intense.
ROBERTSON: And we also know from the prime minister in Algeria that one of the reasons that the jihadists were able to find their way to so many foreign nationals so quickly was that one of -- among -- one among their number had been a bus driver at the facility, at the gas facility, and had provided them key strategic information about the site, making their attack that much more effective. Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Nic, do we know -- there's been so much debate over whether or not they acted too aggressively in trying to end the stand-off. You have all these folks who have been killed in the midst of all of this.
How are they responding? Are officials defending themselves? Is the government pushing back on this? Do we have any new information about really the controversial way this all went down?
ROBERTSON: The biggest sort of controversy, if you will, came when that convoy of five vehicles left the gas facility, being driven away by the jihadists, hostages on board those vehicles, four of those vehicles were destroyed, we understand the hostages inside killed as well, a couple of hostages able to escape.
The way the Algerian prime minister put it was that we saw the vehicles leaving some of them overturned and burst into flames but it does seem that the security forces there did attack that convoy.
But they may have had good reason, because what we have learned from security sources is that that convoy was due to take those hostages out of Algeria, they were to be used as bargaining chips, if you will, by the -- by the jihadists to stop any further attacks on the gas facility so that they could continue to hold out there and perhaps damage it and as well use these as hostages as these Al Qaeda linked jihadists have in the region, try to make money out of them.
So there does seem to have been a real reason to target that convoy. Clearly, whatever happened didn't save the lives of a lot of the hostages.
MALVEAUX: All right. Nic Robertson, thank you, Nic.
Still ahead on NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL, the inauguration over but the work for the second term, it's just beginning. Let us talk to our political players about what needs to come next.
Plus -- we learned Prince Harry has wrapped up a four-month military tour in Afghanistan. In a new interview, he talks candidly about his experience and how he killed Taliban fighters.
And civilians in Syria, each day a fight for survival. Well, later, we have a report from Damascus inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): These men believe they're fighting terrorists; rebels, a brutal dictator. And in the middle, caught in the crossfire, Syrians are running for their lives.
MALVEAUX: That is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. President Obama taking part in a few more of the inaugural traditions, the celebrations, before getting down to business for the second term. The President is attending -- right now you see it there, it is glorious, a prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington.
I want to bring in our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian. Dan, you know, this is a tradition that goes back to George Washington. Obviously, it's evolved. Gorgeous, gorgeous voice of that singer there.
Tell us what the family is doing, the first family, and how they are responding after they -- a big, big day of celebrations and the inauguration.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. And, you know, this is tradition on the day after inauguration, the swearing-in, all the pomp and circumstance, to head to church here at the National Cathedral.
And the President, the First Lady, the Vice President and Ms. Biden, seated in the front -- or seated in the front row, other members of the President's Cabinet also here. Attorney General Eric holder is here. HHS Secretary Sebelius as well, several others. It has been a mix of Bible readings and other spiritual readings as well as choirs singing here.
Just wrapped up the sermon with the Reverend Adam Hamilton, a senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas.
And one interesting point: he talked about the partisanship here in Washington and the need for the President and lawmakers to find one or two things, as he called them, dreams or visions, where they can find agreement in order to move this country forward.
And so even here in church, the realization that there's been a lot of partisanship here in Washington and that, in order to move forward, lawmakers have to work together. As he pointed out, those on both sides of the aisle need to find these areas of agreement.
As you pointed out, this is a rich tradition of coming here the day after inauguration, dating back to 1933 was the first time that it happened here at this location, FDR at the beginning of his inauguration. So continues -- the only person who hasn't been here, you know who it is?
MALVEAUX: No. Tell me.
LOTHIAN: President Bill Clinton, former president Bill Clinton. Yes, he attended an historically African-American church here in Washington, D.C., for both of his services, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: I'm not good with the trivia there, Dan.
I want to talk a little bit about the President's agenda, because, obviously, very ambitious when we heard his inaugural speech. And today you've got folks who are fighting back, hitting back, saying, look, you know what? We're going to draw the line in the sand here. We have disagreements and they're going to talk to the President about that.
Here's what some of the Senate leaders said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Democrats will hold fast to the guiding principle that a strong middle class an opportunity for every American to enter the middle class is the key to the nation's success.
Democrats will stand strong, strong for that standard of balance will remain resolute in pursuit of fairness for all Americans.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We should start with spending and debt because, if we don't get a handle on that, nothing else matters.
If we don't work together to strengthen our entitlement programs, they will go bankrupt. Automatic cuts will be forced on seniors already receiving benefits, rendering worthless the promises that they built their retirements around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So, Dan, it certainly looks like they are not in the mood for compromise. It certainly looks like there's a fight on their hands regarding debt and spending and the budget here. How does the President -- does he have a different kind of approach moving forward in the second administration?
LOTHIAN: Well, I think so. I mean, what you will see from the President is reaching out to the public to get them engaged. You've heard the White House talk about this, the President wants to use pressure from the outside to apply pressure on members of Congress to push his agenda forward.
In addition we've seen how the President's grassroots campaign operation has been brought back to life to sort of fuel this public pressure from the outside. And then one other point we have heard, that the First Lady also will play a bigger role in pushing the President's agenda forward in this second term.
So, I think all of that, applying pressure from the outside, will be a strategy that we'll see from the President as he tries to get some of these tough things through Congress when it comes to immigration reform or gun policies that the President has been putting together.
MALVEAUX: All right. Dan, thanks. I know it's really, really frigidly cold there, so we're going to let you go. Thanks. Appreciate it.
MALVEAUX: Gun rights to gun control, immigration, environment, President Obama charting an ambition course for the next four years in office. Addressing the issues laid out in the inaugural speech, of course, a tall order and joining us to talk about all of this, the agenda, the road ahead, CNN contributor, former White House official Van Jones, along with our CNN contributor, Republican strategist Ana Navarro.
Both of you guys, it was fantastic. This weekend was just chock-full of -- I know you went to a couple of balls, a lot of events taking place. But you know, ceremonial stuff aside, serious work to be done.
Van, I know you, being the climate change guy, very important to you. You must have been jumping up and down when you heard the President talk about this. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA: We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So, Van, you've been talking about this for years and it sounds like, you know, the President is now making it a priority in his second term. What's the most important thing he's going to have to do, especially, addressing climate change?
VAN JONES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, I think Hurricane Sandy, that superstorm, the way that it really hit New York. It hit New Jersey. I think that put it back on the map. You know, it really wasn't talked about by either candidate in this last round, but I was totally thrilled.
And, not just that, but he spoke to every stripe in his rainbow coalition, an historic statement with regard to lesbians and gays, including them, women, people of color, the entire, new emerging majority. But all of that I think is in jeopardy if we don't do anything about climate change.
He can do a lot of things with executive orders. The existing coal plants could be made more clean with executive authority. And, also, he should do a bilateral with the leadership of China. China right now is having a horrible environmental crisis. The air quality's going down. There's an opportunity for both these superpowers to sit down together.
But the President's unleashed. He's unchained. He's willing to go out there and speak from his heart. You're going to see a very different second term.
MALVEAUX: All right, Ana is never -- you're always unleashed and unchained, Ana. You are never a wallflower about any of these things. Talk about the tone here because some of your fellow Republicans not happy about it. They didn't really think it was genuine in terms of reaching across the aisle. This is from the conservative group, Americans for Prosperity. They called it, quote, "a harshly ideological aggressively partisan speech, more appropriate for the campaign trail than for the solemn occasion of his inaugural ceremony."
How did it come across to you?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It came across that way. You know, I was with him at the beginning. He was talking about the Constitution, about all men being created equal, about togetherness, but then came this entire section which was about some of the most divisive and controversial issues that we face as a country today.
I think Van is right. He did speak to every stripe of his rainbow coalition. The problem is he didn't peek to the folks that didn't vote for him. And I think an inaugural address is a unique opportunity to do that, to unite the country, to present a united vision, to invite the other people who didn't vote for you to work with you and I think Republicans didn't hear that from him.
What we heard was a very defiant tone. What we heard was a President Obama saying, I'm not inviting you to work with me. I'm going to make you do these things. And, look, Suzanne, I am a pro-gay rights, pro- immigration reform Republican who believes in climate change and I found it a divisive speech, so I can only imagine what al of those Americans who don't share those beliefs heard when they heard that speech.
MALVEAUX: Well, Van, I want to ask you this question because, you know, the President really called to people to action, to task here. Really saying, look, you know, we have to actively get involved to help him carry out his agenda.
But Valerie Jarrett, one of his top advisers -- got a chance to catch up with her this weekend -- she said this is really important because you can't get it done without really kind of the grassroots, the people that he won over the first go-round.
And here's how she put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISSER: He made it very clear at the end of his first term that immigration reform is a top priority. We're now beginning to see glimmers of hope that the Republicans might be willing to engage with us on that.
We have to create jobs and that means investing in manufacturing, new clean energy, infrastructure, all of that is important, education. And as he and the Vice President announced last week, reducing gun violence, particularly for our children, is a priority.
And, so, all of the legislation to do that will be going up to Congress, but we also need the American people involved in that. Everyone has a responsibility. Everyone has a role to play on everything on his agenda. So, it is a robust agenda. It's an ambitious agenda. But our country can do great things, big things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: So, Van, I'm curious here because, you know, the last go- round when he won, everybody was excited. They had a registry, information of all these people and then it seemed like they kind of dropped the ball. Like, you know, it was over. The campaign was over and all of these people like faded away in the distance.
How do you get people engaged? How do you get them to stick around and say, OK, we're engaged. We want to figure out how to move the ball forward and get some of these policies in place?
JONES: Well, a couple of things. I think the President's calling for both a new movement and a new patriotism.
On the movement side, you already see this new entity called Organizing for Action. The campaign that everybody -- it stunned everybody. People thought, oh, it's going to be very close. It wasn't close. Why? There was an apparatus out there that had been built that was strong and was able to deliver. That apparatus is now being turned over and unleashed to move his agenda forward.
That's going to be a game changer for people who are used to things only happening in D.C. The Heartland will have a say.
But more importantly, to some of Ana's points, he was answering Reagan. Obama is in a conversation that's been going on in our country for a very long time. If you look at Reagan's second inaugural, it was also defiant. It was also talking about his principles, but he rooted those principles in deep American values.
The President did that. I think he spoke to his base, but he spoke in terms that were resonant with the best principles of the country. It's a new patriotism, not just a liberty-only patriotism, which we're hearing from Paul Ryans, but a liberty and justice for all, more inclusive, I think, more holistic.
MALVEAUX: All right, Ana, we're going to have you -- I want you to weigh in and then we're going to fast forward 2016, right? You and I were talking about this. We were both at the Kennedy Center at the Latino celebration. And Vice President Biden, I mean, he really made an impression. What makes you think he's trying to vie for the Latino votes?
NAVARRO: Well, first of all, I know Joe Biden and I think he's on campaign-mode already. You know, we saw a Joe Biden sprinting through the parade route yesterday. I think he was trying to show us he's a very spry, fit, 70-year-old who will be in very good shape in four years. He became the first vice president to get sworn in by a Latina justice, Justice Sotomayor. He showed up to the Latino ball, first vice president to do that.
So, I think it's just a matter of time before we hear Joe Biden singing or -- in Spanish or reciting Irish poetry in Spanish because I think Joe Biden is a very smart politician, he realizes how important the Latino vote was to this victory and I think he's prepping himself for a 2016 run.
Look, he said it at that Latino ball that the head of this new Futuro PAC, which is a Hispanic Democrat Super PAC that has been founded that includes Eva Longoria and some others, said those people have been over his house so many times in the last three days that they were probably tired of seeing him.
Well, I don't think that's by coincidence.
MALVEAUX: Yeah. No.
So, give us a break. We want one day where we're going to just take a break from all this and then we'll start and we'll start covering 2016.
Ana, Van, good to see you both.
NAVARRO: Are you kidding? We've been in 2016 mode now for two months, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: All right, we just can't catch a break.
JONES: Biden's sincere about it, though. He's sincere.
MALVEAUX: All right, good to see you guys.
They have dozens of political parties vying for the votes. Israelis heading to the polls. Why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems set to return. Bigger question is what kind of government is he going to be leading?
MALVEAUX: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promising a full and accurate accounting of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Tomorrow, four months after the attack, she gets her chance.
Secretary Clinton, she is going to be questioned by both the Senate foreign relations committee and the House foreign affairs committee. Remember that her testimony was delayed at first because she was traveling and then because she got sick. Well, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others, Americans, died in that Benghazi attack.
Now to Israel where it is election day. This is going to sound familiar. A lot of people say the economy, of course, is the biggest concern. Most polls show that Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, scoring a third term win, but his conservative Likud Party might lose seats in the parliament.
Our Atika Shubert is watching all of it from Jerusalem. Atika, give us a sense of -- first of all, are people interested? Are they passionate? Are they showing up at the polls?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They are showing up at the polls. We were actually at about three different polling stations today. We saw good turnout and, in fact, they're predicting very high voter- turnout this year.
About an hour ago, the official number was more than 55 percent of eligible voters had cast their vote and that's more than 5 percent since the last election. And there is expected to be a late surge now, with about a half an hour left to go before the polls close.