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Anonymous Threats on Government Web sites; March for Gun Control; Armstrong Not to Testify

Aired January 26, 2013 - 09:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, speaking of Ben Affleck, by the way, at 10:45 Eastern time today, here on CNN, you can catch my interview with the screenwriter of Affleck's hit film "Argo." We'll talk about everything from the film's accuracy to the Oscars.

And good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. 9:00 here on the East Coast. 6:00 am out west. Good of you to start your day with us.

KAYE: And we start this hour with the secret hacking group Anonymous, who say that they have declared war on the U.S. government. Overnight, they hacked the Federal Sentencing Commission's Web site, posting a video and letter threatening, "chaos," if their demands aren't met.

Now they're claiming that they've taken over the web page of the U.S. Supreme Court.

BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia joins us now. First what's the latest on the Supreme Court web page.?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First, we saw this tweet from anonymous' twitter page and we went and check it out. They tweeted a page of code that they said they're using to attack the web page of the Supreme Court. We went o go check out the Supreme Court page, everything looks normal, Victor. It doesn't look like anything's abnormal on the site. So we're waiting and seeing what develops from this. As you know all morning they've been threatening to go after the U.S. government. But no holds barred. So we're waiting to see what else develops.

BLACKWELL: Looks normal.

VALENCIA: Looks normal.

KAYE: Exactly. So what do they want? And I guess why now is the question.

VALENCIA: Well, they're demanding a change in the way hackers are prosecuted. Just a couple of weeks ago Aaron Schwartz, who is an internet activist and also the co-founder of (INAUDIBLE), he committed suicide just a few weeks before he was set to stand trial for federal computer fraud charges. Now they say that he was facing 35 years in jail, $1 million in fines and they say these charges that are brought against high-profile hackers like Schwartz are just Draconian and overzealous and they want a fundamental change to the way they're prosecuted.

BLACKWELL: So this really long letter on the USSC Web site mentions warheads.

VALENCIA: It does.

BLACKWELL: What do we know about these warheads as they call it?

VALENCIA: A little alarming to look at the language there in warheads. We don't think that they have access to, you know, nuclear warheads, actual physical warheads. It's an internet warhead and they're files and viruses that they've asked their syndicates of anonymous to download when they're ready to launch these files, these warheads, which they've named after Supreme Court justices. We still don't know exactly why they've named them after Supreme Court justices.

KAYE: Yes.

VALENCIA: But they have asked them to downloaded these files and be ready at a moment's notice.

KAYE: And certainly and this is not the first time Anonymous has hacked into a U.S. web site.

VALENCIA: No. We've heard from them before they've taken down the FBI Web site. They've taken down the DOJ's Web site before. They've gone after the motion picture industry. You know, they've been around for a while. They're a very credible organization. They've got a lot of clout on the internet. A leaderless organization, sort of ambiguous leadership but a lot of global support. Right now they're asking their global supporters to be on call for this operation Last Resort, they're calling it. Very ominous warning for the U.S. government.

BLACKWELL: This story has changed a lot in the last two hours and we're sure it will change eventually in the next few hours. We'll stay on top of it. Thank you, Nick.

VALENCIA: Thank you.

KAYE: Gun control supporters are gathering in the nation's capital. They want action by Congress to keep guns out of the wrong hands. A big march and a rally is expected to get under way in just about an hour from now.

CNN's Emily Schmidt is at the National Mall. And she joins us now. Emily, good morning, so how big a crowd are we expecting there today?

EMILY SCHMIDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Randi, good morning to you. It's a cold morning in Washington. So a lot of people would rather be inside. But organizers think that thousands of people will say forget the cold, they believe in the cause. And they expect thousands of people to be here later today, beginning in about an hour, for this march that they call the March on Washington for Gun Control.

The interesting thing about this is this was never something that was on the books six months ago or two years ago. It's not an annual tradition. It started just after the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings when organizers said we have to do something. So they recognized that they haven't had much time to organize but say this was the time to act. Listen in.


MOLLY SMITH, MARCH ORGANIZER: This has only been one month in the making and this isn't something that started with a big organization behind it. It really is completely grassroots bipartisan citizen activists but we know there are thousands.


SCHMIDT: Randi, we have seen this movement spread on Facebook, more than 5,000 likes when you go to their page. They also say that's how they've raised most of the $49,000 that it's going to take to put on this movement. One of the things that they are most excited about is that of the participants, they are expecting two busloads of people to come down from Newtown, Connecticut, to share and stand together in this cause. Randi.

KAYE: And what do they hope to accomplish? I mean what do the protesters want?

SCHMIDT: They think that today is the first step. They want to start to have this visual reminder that there are citizen activists out there, people who may never have talked about the issue of gun control before who feel moved to talk. When you take a look at the list of the things they want, it's very similar to some of the proposals we hear like from Senators Dianne Feinstein on Capitol Hill, reinstating the assault weapons ban, limiting the amount of ammunition that could be in a magazine. They're looking for what they call sensible gun control. But they also recognize that because of the gun lobbying here in Washington, D.C. that it's a very tough battle that they are about to fight.

KAYE: Yes, I was just going to say, they have a pretty tough battle ahead of them for sure. Emily, thank you very much. Appreciate it.


BLACKWELL: Now the latest on Lance Armstrong. His attorney says Armstrong will not testify in front of the U.S. anti-doping agency, at least not before the deadline expires. USADA's chief Travis Tygart says Armstrong has until February 6th to testify about his drug use. He also had this to say to "60 Minutes" about Armstrong's assertion that he did not really think he was cheating.


TRAVIS TYGART, CEO, U.S. ANTI-DOPING AGENCY: It's amazing. You could go to almost any kindergarten in this country or frankly around the world and find kids playing tag or four square and ask them what cheating is. And every one of them will tell you it's breaking the rules of the game. No real athlete has to look up the definition of cheating and it's offensive to clean athletes who are out there, working hard to play by the rules.


BLACKWELL: Armstrong's attorney says they don't think Armstrong should testify before the U.S. agency at all. They think the international anti-doping agency is the one with the real authority.

KAYE: For much of the country this morning, it is chilly out there. The National Weather Service is warning of bitter cold, possibly deadly conditions this weekend for much of the northeast, the mid- Atlantic and the midwest. The Tennessee Valley and the Carolinas also on ice. Any reprieve still days away. Frigid air also making life even tougher for victims of superstorm Sandy, many of them still don't have the basic utilities to heat their home since that storm.

Our national correspondent Susan Candiotti joins me now from Staten Island. Susan, good morning, I understand you spoke with a resident there who still can't go home. What is life like there for her right now?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's tough for her and a for a lot of other people here. Many of the residents that live on Staten Island come, from time to time, to this tent just so that they can warm up, and share a hot meal and also talk about their troubles and how uncertain they are about their future. But that's the big question for people like - her name is Nicole Chati. And Nicole told us that she is unable to go back to her house in a dispute over whether it should be torn down or can be repaired. She has a little girl that she's also very worried about. And this is what she told me about how hard it is, especially during this cold snap.


NICOLE CHATI, SANDY VICTIM: It's hard. It's been emotionally hard from the beginning. You know, you first have the shock and you don't realize what's going on. And then you basically go through the motions of what you need to do and what you have to do and all the red tape. And now I'm standing here and it's a snow storm and all I could think about is my daughter and my neighbors' daughters and their kids. And they're out here. And they're cold, you know. It's just - mentally, it's not good.


CANDIOTTI: Now she is staying in an apartment, being paid for by FEMA for the time being anyway. But she still travels from Manhattan over here to Staten Island to look at her house and to try to keep up with the neighbors and see what they are doing until they can figure out what they're eventually going to do about her house, whether it can be fixed. Randi?

KAYE: And you mentioned FEMA. What is FEMA doing besides that? And I guess what's the city doing to try to make sure that the folks there don't freeze?

CANDIOTTI: Well, FEMA is paying for any Sandy storm victims that don't have heat in their homes, they can't live in their homes. They're putting them up in hotels. Now they're making sure, especially on this frigid day, to go door to door, they say. We hope to be seeing them later today, to make sure that people are aware that they have this option. There's also a program under way where more than 2,300 people haven't had it yet but they're trying to get basic repairs done for them, to at least get the heat and the power turned back on so they can get through the winter. Randi?

KAYE: Susan Candiotti for us. Susan, thank you very much.

BLACKWELL: Well, from the bitter cold to a bitter fight. After being banned for years, women will finally be allowed in combat, but some critics say that puts the lives of U.S. troops in danger. We'll hear from both sides.



LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: They're serving in a growing number of critical roles on and off battlefields. The fact is that they have become an integral part of our ability to perform our mission.


KAYE: Women serving in combat. It's a landmark policy change for the military, one that opens up 237,000 positions to women that had previously been closed. Earlier this morning, I spoke with Elaine Donnelly, she is president of the Center for Military Readiness. And Donnelly criticized the possibility of lowering physical standards to allow women on the front line. Marine Corps Reserve Captain Zoe Bedell responded to those comments.


ELAINE DONNELLY, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR MILITARY READINESS: In the infantry, physical standards do matter, physical capabilities and 30 years of studies have backed this up. But I'm a little curious. We know that when the Marines opened the infantry officer course, asked for volunteers, they asked for 90, they only got two. One woman lasted not even a full day and the other a few more days after that.

So if the test didn't work out and we respect them for trying, where is the result of the rest of the test? The Marines have not been forthcoming on this. Department of Defense really doesn't allow the -

KAYE: Let me -

DONNELLY: ... members of the Joint Chiefs to be fully candid about what's going on.

KAYE: Let me just jump in here. Because you mentioned Zoe and she's still with us. Zoe, why don't you tell us what is your reaction to what Elaine is saying?

CAPTAIN ZOE BEDELL, U.S. MARINE CORPS RESERVE: Well, there's a couple of things in there. First with regards to the Marines test, two people does not represent the entire Marine Corps. And the fact is that these women were asked to go to a grueling three-month school. Where when they come out of it, they still weren't infantry officers. So they're taking all that risk without any reward and all of the downside. So I don't think you can generalize about all women everywhere from that situation.

In regards to the physical standards, that's absolutely an issue. We absolutely are not asking for quotas for women. We're not asking for a set number of women in these roles. We don't want the standards lowered. We just want women to have a chance to compete to meet those standards, equal opportunity. And some women absolutely will not be able to do it, just like some men can't do it. And so we just want women to have a chance to try.

Again regarding the sexual assault, you know, pulling women out of society because there's danger to them is out moded thinking. We haven't been able to do that for years. And frankly, that's the approach they've taken in Iran or Saudi Arabia. I don't think that's where we want to go in America.

KAYE: Elaine.

DONNELLY: The Department of Defense has called for quotas. They call them diversity metrics and promotions will be denied to male officers if they don't support diversity metrics. Regardless of your intent, Zoe, or what is being said today, this is how it's going to play out. To have what is called a critical mass or what General Dempsey described as significant counter of women, large numbers. This isn't about individual rights. It's about group rights, it's about pushing the diversity agenda and using our military to promote a social agenda and put lives at greater risk.

KAYE: Let me ask you, Elaine, about these comments by Senator John McCain, certainly a war hero. He thinks allowing women to partake in this way is a great idea. He says they should be recognized for their service for the military. I mean how is it -- this is a man who speaks from a wealth of experience. So, what do you say to that?

DONNELLY: Right. Well, I agree with the last part. Women are promoted at rates equal to or faster than men. It's been that way for decades. But surely he knows better. He talked about Navy S.E.A.L.S.. this is not a "G.I. Jane" movie with Demi Moore. There is no way that you can integrate that type of community and say that it would improve that community. No. It would just complicate matters.

When you complicate matters in close combat, attacking the enemy, that's when lives are put at greater risk than they need to be. It's not fair to the women. It's not fair to the men. This is not just a gift to women for Valentine's day.

KAYE: Let me give Zoe the last word here. BEDELL: You know, regarding the promotion matter, I think women have been treated very equally. You're not seeing quotas for women at the top certainly because they're not doing a very good job of filling them, if they are. So I think even in women serving in wider roles, that promotion will still be the military ultimately is a meritocratist society. That is what they're aiming for. And the people who are the best will rise to the top. That wasn't happening under the old policy.

Regarding the unit cohesion, those are some of the arguments they made when they integrated racially, when they repealed don't ask, don't tell and frankly even when they opened other units to women, so when women were suddenly allowed to fly in combat aircraft. And those arguments have always proven to be bunk with all the past situations. Maybe they're not perfectly analogous. But I think if we just keep ignoring the evidence and the fact that women are already serving on the ground, we're doing an injustice to the women who are serving and who have served and will continue to serve well.


BLACKWELL: Well from co-workers to adversaries to friends, it's the story of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. We'll look back at the fire works and the friendship as Hillary Clinton counts down her days in Washington.


BLACKWELL: Good morning, Washington. Live look at the White House. You can see there is snow and it is cold there. You can tell the flag is whipping there. So a bit of a breeze, too. Alexandra Steele has been telling us all morning that there will be a warm-up soon. So hold on, Washington. Hold on.

Hey, you have to admit it seemed like an odd pairing at the beginning. Obama and Clinton. Early on, experts wondered whether their partnership would implode in a very public way. But now, as Clinton winds down her time at the administration, she's leaving next week. So we take a closer look at how the partnership started and grew. Here is our Kate Bolduan.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have faced questions together before here in a 2008 presidential debate with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to just end the war but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place. That's the kind of leadership I can provide.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Senator Clinton, that's a clear swipe at you.

CLINTON: Really?

BOLDUAN: Back then, it was a very different relationship. In the midst of an already bitter rivalry.

OBAMA: While I was working on those streets, you were a corporate lawyer, sitting on the board of Wal-Mart.

CLINTON: You were practicing law and representing your contributor, Resco, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.

BOLDUAN: But that relationship quickly changed.

CLINTON: I endorse him and throw my full support behind him.

BOLDUAN: Just as Hillary Clinton showed her support for President Obama, Obama showed his faith in Clinton.

OBAMA: I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda.

BOLDUAN (on camera): What was Hillary Clinton's initial reaction when you told her, look, they're actually considering you as a possibility for secretary of state?


BOLDUAN (voice-over): Philippe Reines is one of Clinton's closest aides.

REINES: I e-mailed her and I think it was Friday after election day, after hearing it from two reporters and I'm pretty sure her reply was something along the lines of not for a million reasons.

BOLDUAN (on camera): If she was hesitant, why not just say no?

REINES: I think she did, or came awfully close. I think the president was very persuasive.

SEN. JOHN KERRY: We're delighted to welcome Senator Clinton, secretary of state designate.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Clinton was quickly confirmed. But how would she get along with the man who defeated her campaign? Could she work for him?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN POLITICAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Everyone expected, including myself, that there would be a lot of division, a lot of Secretary Clinton going behind the president's back.

BOLDUAN (on camera): So was there any tension coming in between the two people at the top?

LABOTT: I think everyone has been surprised.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Surprised that while Secretary Clinton and President Obama have been separated often, as she travels the world, they have maintained a unified front.

REINES: They, very early on, set a tone of this is how it's going to be. She is my secretary of state and from her point of view, he is our president. And she brought no - anything contrary to that. There are not a lot of people in the world that go through what they do and - you know, President H.W. Bush-Bill Clinton relationship, it's Carter-Ford, McEnroe-Connors. You know, whatever it is, when you're on the court after the fact, "Hey, you're more like me than not. We're bonding. For good or bad we've been put together and it's always going to be like that."


BOLDUAN: From rivals to partners, the evolution of this friendship has been something to watch over the past four-plus years and now is entering a new phase as President Obama takes on a second term and Hillary Clinton heads toward her last day as a top member of his cabinet. Randi, Victor?

KAYE: Thank you very much.

One of the world's most powerful and mysterious group of online hackers is now declaring war on the U.S. government. We'll tell you what they say pushed them to attack a government Web site overnight.


KAYE: Welcome back. Hackers from the group Anonymous say that they've declared war on the U.S. government. Overnight they hacked the Federal Sentencing Commission's Web site. In a video they posted on the site, along with a letter addressed to the citizens of the world, Anonymous is threatening chaos if the government doesn't meet their demands, which includes limiting the power of federal prosecutors to go after and, "destroy the lives of hacktivists they apprehend."

BLACKWELL: Much of the country is waking up this morning to frigid temperatures. There's a good chance that you have to shovel snow. Forecasters predict bitterly, possibly deadly cold this weekend from the midwest to the East Coast.

Meanwhile, an ice storm is heading toward Chicago, if the snow weren't already enough. By Monday it's expected to deliver snow and ice to the northeast. After that though, a few days of much warmer weather are headed our way.

KAYE: Lance Armstrong is now facing a February 6th deadline to testify on performance-enhancing drugs. U.S. anti-doping agency set the deadline and they say if he doesn't testify they won't even consider vacating his lifetime ban. As of now, Armstrong's attorney says his client won't be there. He cites scheduling conflicts as a reason.

BLACKWELL: Now here's a problem. NASCAR's has not had to really deal with before. Two of their drivers dating. Danica Patrick is confirming the rumors that she is now dating fellow driver, Rickey Stenhouse Jr.. Danica Patrick, of course, is already married but she filed for divorce earlier this month actually, saying her marriage was, "irretrievably broken."

KAYE: Coming up in our next hour, a New Jersey teen makes a stunning announcement at a high school assembly, coming out gay in front of his entire class. His admission and his classmates response has now gone viral. And we'll talk with that young man in our next hour about his decision and what life has been like for him since.

Thanks so much for watching today. I'll see you back here at the top of the hour.

BLACKWELL: It was good to be with you this morning. "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" starts right now.