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Serious Questions About Obama's Kill List; Skier Lindsey Vonn Injured; Hooded Men Rape Tourists

Aired February 5, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Vacation nightmare. Men wearing hoods and carrying guns reportedly bursts into a resort and rape half a dozen women. We're on the case.

Plus, who to kill and who to spare? A leaked memo raises serious questions about the president's kill list.

And, outrage over plans to shoot a TV movie about the Newtown massacre.

The news is now.

Good to see you. I'm Brooke Baldwin live in New York today.

And before we get going here, I have to bring you this. The three schools in Yuma, Arizona, currently on lockdown as police investigate reports of a gunman on campus. Now, let me be clear, this is a possible gunman, reportedly a student, at, of all places, an elementary school. So three schools on lockdown after a gunman sighting on campus. Obviously, we're making phone calls. We'll get you updates as soon as we get them.

Meantime, let's talk national security. A leaked document shows just how much power the president has and how little information the president needs to order a drone strike against an American. The Department of Justice white paper has just come out, and in these 16 pages this reveals when the United States can use lethal force against an American linked to al Qaeda. Talked to critics. They say the scariest aspect of the 16-page memo is its lack of detail.

For some time, a number of lawmakers have been calling for the release of material detailing what guidance the president uses to call for a drone strike. The most high profile incident is the death of Anwar al Awlaki, an al Qaeda leader, an American killed in a drone strike in Yemen. That was in 2010. His father is suing multiple U.S. officials for the death of his son, and his grandson, Abdul Rahman, killed in a separate drone attack.


NASSER AL-AWLAKI, FATHER OF ANWAR AL-AWLAKI: I don't really necessarily agree with what some of the things which Anwar said against the United States, but does that mean they should kill him, you know, outside the law? CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: As painful as it was for you to see your son killed, did you, in the back of your mind, expect that to happen?

AL-AWLAKI: You know, Anwar, it was expected because he was under targeted killing. But how in the world they would go and kill Abdul Rahman, small boy, U.S. citizen, from Denver, Colorado.


BALDWIN: No doubt this leaked paper from the Department of Justice will come into play during this Thursday's confirmation hearings for John Brennan, nominated to become the next director of the CIA.

I have two voices I want to bring in. We have CNN's senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin here sitting with me in New York, and in Atlanta, Tom Junod, "Esquire" writer at large.

And, Tom, let me just begin with you, because you and I have -- we've talked multiple times here about drones. We talked ad nauseam about your piece in "Esquire" last July because you basically write about folks like Anwar al-Awlaki, about his son who you call collateral damage in this piece, and you talk a lot about the cloak of secrecy here from the White House when it comes to these U.S. drone strikes. In learning of this sort of secret memo coming about, was there anything in it that surprised you?

TOM JUNOD, WRITER, "ESQUIRE" MAGAZINE: Yes, a few things. Number one, you know, this is the -- you know, we're familiar with the sound of the administration speaking to us about these -- about this program. They've justified it in various different venues. But this is the sound of the administration speaking to itself. And when the administration speaks to itself, it gives itself even more power than I think than anybody thought. The -- it sort of -- it's a hypothetical situation it describes. But it keeps on describing an informed, high level executive who can make these decisions. And it's amazing how much power this white paper gives that informed high level executive. It even really gives him power to decide whether the due process of the person that he's targeting is being violated or not.

BALDWIN: On the power issue, Jeff Toobin, are there no checks and balances? Could anyone stop the White House from doing this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You know, one of the most remarkable parts of the 16-page memo is on just that question, where the authors say courts can't get involved in this. This is entirely within the executive's power. So not only do they take this enormous power of literally life and death, but they say, there is no check and balance. They say that this is essentially a military matter involving not U.S. soil. And when you have those sorts of circumstances, the courts can't get involved.

BALDWIN: Not even the Supreme Court?

TOOBIN: Not even the Supreme Court. BALDWIN: Wow.

TOOBIN: At least according to that memo. That's not the last word. Although I think they're probably right. The courts give the president enormous deference when it comes to the conduct of a war. And this is, at least according to the administration, how we are conducting this particular war.

BALDWIN: Tom, back to you here. As we talk, and you've pointed out sort of the vagueness and the lack of transparency here when it comes to the U.S. drone program. For example, in terms of the detail from the white paper, a drone strike can be used if there is an imminent threat. Let me quote this paper now. "The condition that an operational leader presents an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future." What does that say to you? First of all, can you extrapolate something for me?

JUNOD: Well, the administration has been stretching the idea of imminence beyond basically what I think what most people think of imminence. It really, for about two years now, a lot of their speeches, a lot of their public statements have done precisely that. But, once again, this memo, this white paper, takes it further than we knew that it had been taken.

BALDWIN: Right. It's vague.

TOOBIN: Imminent. Imminent. You know, that's a word that I think we all can understand. It means very soon. It means an hour or maybe a day. This is not imminent. This means, well, if you think they might do it sometime in the future. It is such a broad definition of imminent that it essentially seems meaningless to me.

BALDWIN: While I have you, we heard from Attorney General Eric Holder, right? So he was speaking today at a Department of Justice briefing. I want you to listen to this exchange he had with a reporter.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you were a driving force behind releasing the Bush administration's torture memos. Why aren't you a force for this?

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I mean, we'll have to, you know, look at this and see how -- what is it we want to do with these memos. But you have to understand that we are talking about things that are -- that go into really kind of how we conduct our offensive operations.


BALDWIN: So under President Bush, Holder called for the release of these torture memos. He got them, yet, you know, there's sort of that lacking, his critics are pointing out, under the Obama administration when it comes to drone strikes, Jeff Toobin. If this were to be a George W. Bush administration or a Republican administration, would the reaction be different?

TOOBIN: Think about how outraged Democrats have been for years about Guantanamo, the treatment of the detainees there, the fact that they've been kept there at all, torture, of course, as you mentioned. This is life and death. Forget keeping you in a nasty cell in Guantanamo.


TOOBIN: This is killing people intentionally. And the Obama administration thinks that's just fine under these circumstances. The same people who were so mad about what President Bush was doing.

BALDWIN: This is not going anywhere. Jeff Toobin, thank you. Tom Junod. Thank you, both, very much.

JUNOD: Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: And this one today. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn took a frightening tumble in this championship race in Europe. And then she caught a ride, here, take a look at this, from a helicopter. Talk about dramatic. Here she goes to safety. Lindsey Vonn, the face of women's skiing, dangling precariously here by a rope from this medevac helicopter. Lindsey Vonn on her way to a hospital in Austria, where doctors say she suffered some sort of serious knee injury. Let's go to London and talk a little bit more about this with CNN's Christina McFarlane.

And, Christina, what happened?

CHRISTINA MCFARLANE, CNN'S ALPINE EDGE: Well, for anyone that might have seen the video earlier of the crash, Brooke, I mean it really was horrific. She seemed to buckle on her right knee as she was going down the Super G race, just as she came over a jump, and had to be airlifted to hospital. So it's a serious crash and a fairly serious injury.

We were actually able to speak to her accident surgeon just earlier and he told us that she's torn two ligaments in her right knee.


MCFARLANE: She doesn't require an immediate operation. But the U.S. ski team is deciding whether or not to airlift her, take her back to the United States right now. So her season's over.

BALDWIN: I'm no Lindsey Vonn. I tore my ACL skiing a number of years ago in Colorado. And let me tell you, that rehab is not fun, especially, I'm sure, if it is your lifetime, your work, your career.

Christina McFarlane, thank you.

A group of Spanish tourist were vacationing in beautiful Acapulco, Mexico, when the unthinkable happened. The middle of the night, sound asleep, a group of armed and hooded men burst into their rented beach bungalow, tied up the men, raped the women. And the details coming out about this attack, they're chilling. CNN's Al Goodman joins me from our Madrid bureau.

And, Al, you talked to some of these -- we should point out these people were Spanish. You talked to the Spanish foreign ministry. What more are you learning about this?


Well, Madrid is giving few details about this crime. The Mexican authorities are providing a bit more. Six women were raped. All are Spanish citizens believed to be in their early to mid-20s. Their friends, the men who were with them, were tied up, with among other things, the cables of cell phone chargers. This happened Sunday night into Monday morning in Acapulco. It was a long national holiday weekend in Mexico. Acapulco was packed with tourists. Unfortunately, this happened to this group of people.


BALDWIN: Let's play a little sound. This is the mayor of Acapulco talking about this.


MAYOR LUIS WALTON, ACAPULCO, MEXICO (through translator): We know that it's very unfortunate what has happened, but, hey, it happens anywhere in the world.


BALDWIN: Obviously you have to think about safety, tourism. As you mentioned, so many tourists were in town for the weekend. I mean how dangerous is Acapulco generally?

GOODMAN: Well, Brooke, the United States State Department says that Acapulco and the other major Mexican resorts generally have escaped the kind of violence that you associate with the areas along the border and along the major drug trafficking routes. The Spanish foreign ministry, however, lists the state of Guerrero, which is where Acapulco is on the Pacific Coast, as an area of special danger and urges extreme caution even when you're in Acapulco.


BALDWIN: You have several drug cartels operating in that mountainous area. Al Goodman in Madrid. Al, appreciate it.

Coming up, outrage over plans to make a movie related to the Newtown massacre. You'll hear from a director who's actually pushing for this, just 20 miles down the road.

And we're just getting word from people who knew the man who held this five-year-old, about to be six tomorrow, hostage for a week in that bunker. The details are chilling.


BALDWIN: Some of the hottest stories now in a flash. "Rapid Fire." Roll it.

We're learning more about this hostage standoff in Alabama and the raid that ended the whole thing. Jimmy Lee Dykes was fatally shot multiple times. The FBI stormed his bunker when they became concerned that his mental state was declining. How'd they know, you ask? Well, they were spying on him, using high tech military detection equipment, including a camera. We are also learning more about Dykes from the people who knew him.


THOMAS FOLDS, KNEW JIMMY LEE DYKES: He always talked about the government, you know, and he used to keep notebooks of horse races. He always said that the mafia run the horse races.

RONDA WILBUR, NEIGHBOR: He has been, for a long time, a source of concern. He is -- I have had -- he killed one of my dogs.


BALDWIN: The victim in this, who is being wheeled away in that stretcher, five-year-old Ethan. He is recuperating at a hospital after a week in that bunker and is said to be laughing and playing with his family. His 6th birthday is tomorrow.

And just in to us here at CNN moments ago, President Obama is planning a trip to Israel coming up this spring. This will be his first trip there since taking office. He will also be visiting the West Bank and Jordan during that trip. But first here, in a statement today, the president calling on Congress to pass a short-term fix that would avoid the sequester. Remember the sequester? This is this name -- this fancy name in Washington for the deep spending cuts set to kick in very soon. In fact, in just a couple of weeks. Here is what the president said just a short time ago.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Having said that, I know that a full budget may not be finished before March 1st. And, unfortunately, that's the date when a series of harmful, automatic cuts to job creating investments and defense spending, also known as the sequester, are scheduled to take effect. So, if Congress can't act immediately on a bigger package, if they can't get a bigger package done by the time the sequester is scheduled to go into effect, then I believe that they should at least pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester.


BALDWIN: Members of both parties came up with the idea of the sequester, that was back in 2011, to force lawmakers to act on balancing the budget. And at one point here, during the president's statement today, he was actually interrupted by the loud flashes of the photographers' cameras. Watch that.


OBAMA: These reforms would reduce our government's bill -- what's up, cameraman? Come on, guys. They're breaking my flow all the time.


BALDWIN: Breaking my flow.

Now to some big business news. The company that became famous for the commercial catch phrase "dude, you're getting a Dell," is being bought back its founder and CEO Michael Dell. The company struggled as consumers shift to tablet computers, away from those desktop PCs. If the buying goes through, it will be one of the largest leveraged -- easy for me to say -- buyouts in history.

And take a look at these pictures with me. That is not smoggy Beijing you're looking at. That is Fukuoka, Japan. The area blanketed by pollution blown in from China. Air quality monitors registered air that was deemed unhealthy for the elderly, the very young and those suffering from respiratory problems.

Beyonce, the halftime, not just the only performance on Super Bowl Sunday. Shaq, a Beyonce fan, mouthing the lyrics to "Halo." Not the first time Shaq has done a Beyonce sing along either. A couple of years ago he posted a video of himself doing the song "Beautiful Nightmare," of course, in drag. Shaq for you.

An asteroid half the size of a football field is hurdling towards earth as I speak. Getting closer and closer now. The tug of earth's gravitational field will cause it to speed up. Don't panic. Experts say there is no chance that the space rock is on a collision course with our planet. Stargazers in eastern Europe, Asia, and Australia may actually get to catch a glimpse as it flies by us late next week.

The woman accused of stabbing her ex-boyfriend multiple times takes the stand and says, well, yes, she's the killer.


BALDWIN: Star witness on the stand in the Jodi Arias murder trial is Jodi Arias. That's right. Jodi Arias, admitted killer, day two. Here she is just a short time ago describing one of her many earlier boyfriends. One she learned had cheated.


JODI ARIAS, ACCUSED MURDER: I mean, of all the boyfriends I had, I would have expected him to not be the one that cheated on me. He was very loyal. I trusted him completely, like implicitly. He could have said the sky is falling and I would have believed him. I think I would have just looked out the window to see what it looks like. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: But, no, she didn't kill him. That seems to be the message. That is Jodi Arias just a short time ago.

And in just a brief moment, we will hear Jodi Arias explain her bold prediction that no jury would ever convict her for the death of Travis Alexander. No jury would find her guilty for the killing she first denied, but now admits to committing. We'll hear that in just a moment.

But let's just refresh our memories here. HLN's Christi Paul takes us to the home of this dead lover, Travis Alexander, June 4, 2008. It takes less than a minute.


CHRISTI PAUL, HLN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 5:29 p.m., Arias takes a picture of Alexander alive in the shower. Moments later, she stabs him in the chest. Prosecutors believe he was still alive and Arias followed him down the hall to the bedroom where she slashed his throat, then dragged his body back to the bathroom, accidentally taking pictures all along the way. Investigators believe once Arias got Alexander back to the bathroom, she shot him in the forehead. Based on the location of the shell casing, they believe that happened near the sink. And that then his body was stuffed in the shower.


BALDWIN: That is how prosecutors say this killing happened. Arias says she acted in self-defense. But back to that claim, no jury would ever convict her. She said so in an interview soon after the killing, before she admitted, well, yes, she's the killer. Here is Jodi Arias on the witness stand.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In that tape you said that no jury would convict you. Something to that effect. Do you remember saying that? Do you remember saying that?

ARIAS: Yes, I did say that.


ARIAS: I made that statement in September 2008, I believe it was. And, at the time, I had plans to commit suicide. So I was extremely confident that no jury would convict me because I didn't expect any of you to be here. I didn't expect to be here. So I could have easily said no jury would acquit me either. I couldn't say that, though, because there was an officer sitting five feet behind me and had I told them the reason no jury would convict me at that time, I would have been thrown into a padded cell and stripped down and that would have been my life for a while until I stabilized. So I was very confident that no jury would convict me because I planned to be dead. Probably the most bitter words I'll ever eat. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: "The most bitter words I'll ever eat," so says Jodi Arias.

Outrage in Newtown over this director's plan to make a TV movie about the massacre there, about mental health, about this 13-year-old. My panel is anxious to weigh in on the topic. Plus, we will hear from the film director on why he wants to make the movie in the first place.