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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Italy to Retry Amanda Knox; New Revelations About Death of Osama bin Laden; Same-Sex Marriage Gets Its Day in Court; Dow Hits New Record High; Big Score for Pro Leagues

Aired March 26, 2013 - 16:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: New revelations about the death of bin Osama bin Laden.

I'm Jake Tapper and this is THE LEAD.

The world lead, a CNN exclusive breaking right now: Who really pulled the trigger on America's greatest enemy? A SEAL Team 6 member says everything you think you may know about bin Laden's death is wrong.

Also, in world news, she had opened her ordeal was over, but now Italy wants a do-over in the murder trial of American Amanda Knox. We will ask her lawyer, would the U.S. really send her back?

And the buried lead, he was the CIA director who couldn't keep one of thinks own deepest secrets. Tonight, former General David Petraeus starts his reputation rehabilitation tour.

Good afternoon. The world lead is now.

Memory is almost always a tricky thing. Add the fog of war, and a definitive, unanimous account can be impossible. Despite the intense preparations and the elaborate official government explanations, the story of what really happened on the night Osama bin Laden was killed is still unclear. There are differing accounts from the Obama administration and the book written by one of the SEALs and most recently in a highly publicized "Esquire" magazine article.

But now, in a CNN exclusive report, we're getting a different take on how the leader of al Qaeda was killed from one of the SEALs who raided bin Laden's compound.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): For a nation still grieving in many ways, it was a well-needed victory in the war on terror.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.

TAPPER: And for a president running for reelection during a tough economic time, it was touted as his signature foreign policy accomplishment.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive.

TAPPER: Osama bin Laden was dead and the elite squad of men who took him out instantly became anonymous legends and action movie characters.

Details of the raid were sketchy at first, but soon the White House put out an official narrative of what happened.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was a firefight. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight. And that's when the remains were removed.

TAPPER: But even after President Obama met with members of SEAL Team 6, he still didn't know the answer to one critical question. Who delivered the shot that killed bin Laden?

In the subsequent days and weeks after the raid, the members of SEAL Team 6 splintered, several of them offering different accounts of what went down inside bin Laden's complex that night.

MARK OWEN, FORMER NAVY SEAL: We both engaged him several more times.

TAPPER: First up was the former SEAL calling himself Mark Owen in disguise on "60 Minutes." His can account as described in his bestselling book "No Easy Day" has his spotting bin Laden's head poking out from a door frame. Another SEAL he dubs the point man fired the first shot, then rushed into the room.

QUESTION: You stepped into the room and saw the man lying on the floor. What did you do?

OWEN: Myself and the next assaulter in, we both engaged in several more times and then rolled off and then continued clearing the room.

QUESTION: When you say you engaged him, what do you mean?

OWEN: Fired.

QUESTION: You shot him?

OWEN: Yes.

TAPPER: But soon enough, a new SEAL emerged on the cover of "Esquire" magazine claiming that he in fact was the shooter and according to his story he stared down Osama bin Laden face-to-face and shot him in the forehead.

Journalist Phil Bronstein wrote the "Esquire" article.

PHIL BRONSTEIN, "ESQUIRE": The shooter rolled into the bedroom on the right-hand side and ultimately right there faced Osama bin Laden less than a foot away from his gun and shot him there three times in the forehead.

TAPPER: But now a third SEAL team six member comes forward with his side of the story as told to one of the few journalists to ever meet Osama bin Laden, CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: And Peter Bergen joins me now with this exclusive report.

Peter, in addition to meeting bin Laden, you also visited the compound where he was killed. Tell us this third SEAL's account.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: The third SEAL's account is actually very close to what Mark Owen told "60 Minutes."

The point man saw bin Laden stick his head out of his bedroom, shot him, mortally wounded him, and then two more SEALs came in and finished him off on the floor, Mark Owen and the shooter in the "Esquire" article. The difference here is the shooter in the "Esquire" article, as you said in your piece, shoots bin Laden while he's standing up. He looks like he's going maybe for a gun.

The SEAL Team 6 member I spoke to said that's completely false. Bin Laden couldn't have reached for a gun because his guns were somewhere else, which they only found later, that bin Laden was not shot by this guy in the "Esquire" article in the way that it is described.

Now, Jay, of course, this all happened at night. They were all wearing night-vision goggles. There was no electricity in the building or the neighborhood. It is a confusing situation. But, that said, there seems to be a preponderance of people saying that the "Esquire" account is not an accurate account.

TAPPER: And what's the biggest discrepancy between these accounts? Is it just who pulled the trigger?

BERGEN: It's partly who pulled the trigger.

I think one account is much less heroic than the others. It's interesting. The people pushing what they say is the real account is the one that isn't that heroic, where bin Laden is sort of finished off on the floor. Kind of it's a lucky shot, as opposed to a man-to- man, I'm standing up, I see you.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: About to reach for the gun, right.

BERGEN: Yes. And so that's the difference.

And also there's a difference of opinion about which of the SEALs was really responsible. The point man everybody says in a million years he is not going to go public. I don't know his name. The shooter we only know by pseudonym. So a lot of this is hidden behind a kind of secrecy.

But that said, we're getting a better account with every account in some sense about what really happened that night. We're never going to get to 100 percent. The building is demolished where this happened. We can't do forensic evidence. But, nonetheless, I think the person I spoke to and other people that I have spoken to suggest that the "Esquire" article is off.

TAPPER: And, lastly, none of these guys are supposed to be talking to anybody.

BERGEN: Right.

TAPPER: What's going on?

BERGEN: Well, the guy I spoke to on SEAL Team 6 said there is serious lockdown on this issue. And, of course, many of them signed nondisclosure agreements, and they belong to a unit that actually is supposedly covert and is in many ways.

So what's going on, this is a huge event. Somebody said to me who was in SEAL Team 6, people had a Neil Armstrong moment.

TAPPER: Right.

BERGEN: And it's hard to process that. How do you deal with that? Some people deal with it by saying nothing, others by saying something which may turn out to be inaccurate.

TAPPER: All right, Peter Bergen, thank you so much.

You can read Peter's full report on CNN.com. We will have more on the details of how bin Laden died later in "THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER" tonight at 6:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

Kim Jong-un seems intent on finding just how much patience the United States has. North Korea now says it's putting military units, the ones that monitor American targets, on high alert to be combat ready. Just last week, the communist country threatened to attack U.S. bases in the Pacific and earlier this month it vowed a nuclear attack on America leading up to a Security Council vote on a new set of sanctions.

The Pentagon says the U.S. is fully capable of defending itself from any threat from North Korea.

She's been through two murder trials already, once found guilty and once released, so I guess they need a tiebreaker perhaps. Italian Supreme Court judges have ruled that Amanda Knox who captivated audiences worldwide in 2009 and 2011 must be retried for the 2007 murder of Knox's British roommate, 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. Kercher was found dead at the home she shared with Knox in Italy over five years ago.

She was partially naked and had her throat slit and there were signs she had been sexually assaulted. Both Knox and her ex-boyfriend were convicted in 2009 for Kercher's murder and were each sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. They appealed the conviction and throughout the trial viewers could not get enough of the woman whom the European tabloids nicknamed Foxy Knoxy, a young American woman caught up in a scandalous murder case in an exotic place.

The convictions for Knox and her ex were overturned in 2011 for lack of evidence, freeing Knox to return home to Seattle, write a book about her ordeal and leave her two murder trials behind, that is, until today. Those of us here in the U.S. are left scratching our head, isn't this double jeopardy? How can Knox and her ex-boyfriend face trial again for the same crime?

For answers, we turn to the man who successfully represented Amanda Knox and is doing so for her again. Her lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, he joins us from Rome for a new segment we're calling "Explain This To Me."

Thank you so much for joining us.

Explain this to me. There is some confusion here in the U.S. When we hear this case is going back, it sounds like there's a retrial, it sounds like double jeopardy, which you are not allowed to do here in the U.S. You can't be tried twice for the same crime. What is going on in Italy?

CARLO DALLA VEDOVA, ATTORNEY FOR AMANDA KNOX: Well, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity.

Yes, I think it's necessary to explain. First of all, of course the system is very different from the United States. We also have here the same principle, which is (INAUDIBLE) so you cannot try the same person twice for the same crime.

And I just want to clarify that before you have a final decision in Italy, you need to have three grades. So the acquittal was a second level, second grade decision, was an appeal. Today, we discuss the third grade with the Supreme Court.

And the Supreme Court has decided to have a revision at the appeal level. So it is the same case that is continuing, is not a retrial, is just a revision of what the Supreme Court has decided in acceptance of the opposition of the prosecutor from Perugia.

So, we are looking forward to make a comment exactly on what is going to be the object of the new appeal, which will be restated by procedure in a different court of appeals. So we're going to Florence. The original decision, I remind you, was from Perugia.

So, we need to read the motivation. Today, the Supreme Court has annulled the acquittal decision and has ordered the court of Florence to reinstate and revise this case. It is the same case that is continuing.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: It's not a new case. It's the same -- I understand. It's not a new case. It's the same case. How common is it for cases to go back to the Supreme Court and be sent back? You seem to be suggesting it's very common.

DALLA VEDOVA: It is very common and happens. And even the decision of the court of Florence will be eventually possible to appeal to the Supreme Court, because, as I said, you need to have three grades before you can consider the decision final.

TAPPER: Is she actually in jeopardy? Could she not just refuse to go back to Italy?

DALLA VEDOVA: That's another question.

She doesn't need to be present at the hearing if she doesn't want to. There's no way the Italian authority can force her to be present. She will be -- from now on if she decides not to come, she will be judged in absentia and the case will continue.

TAPPER: And what happens if she is convicted? Would she have to go back to Italy, or would the U.S. -- is it possible for her just to refuse to be extradited?

DALLA VEDOVA: I think it's a bit early to even evaluate this possibility, because we need to see, first of all, the motivation on which ground the case will continue.

Then, if there's a conviction, we have to see for which crime because there's one more contestation made to Amanda. And also with a conviction, we have to eventually see if there will be a custody, a limitation of liberty. So it's a bit early to evaluate all this possibility. There's too many if, if, if.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much for explaining that. We hope to have you back as the trial proceeds.

DALLA VEDOVA: Thank you very much. Thank you to you.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Drones, they're not just for killing anymore, according to "The Wall Street Journal." The unmanned spy planes will soon be used in India to help protect endangered rhinos from poachers. These drones are scaled-down versions of the ones the U.S. military uses. In addition to the drones, India's federal government will also send about 500 additional guards to national parks.

You go to an NFL game and buy a $10 beer and they're the ones getting a break from Uncle Sam? Why? Our money lead is ahead.

Also, in our pop lead, why spend retirement scoring early bird dinner specials when adoring fans are still screaming your name? Why aging rock legends are refusing to give up the limelight and the stage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: "The National Lead": the Supreme Court today heard arguments on the constitutionality of California's same-sex marriage ban known as Prop 8. They had a lot of company outside the court. Both sides gathered to make their opinions known to the justices and to the television cameras pointed at them. Inside the court, Justice Antonin Scalia was already laying the legal groundwork for the definition of marriage.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA, U.S. SUPREME COURT: We don't prescribe law for the future. We decide what the law is. I'm curious, when did -- when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: And joining me now is California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who came to Washington to hear the Prop 8 case be argued before the Supreme Court. And also Brian Brown, co-founder and president of the National Organization for Marriage.

Mr. Lieutenant Governor, if I may, I want to play something Justice Samuel Alito said in arguments today.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years. Same-sex marriage is very new. I think it was first adopted in the Netherlands in 2000. So, there isn't a lot of data about its effect. And it may turn out to be a good thing. It may turn out not to be a good thing, as the supporters of Proposition 8 apparently believe.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, does Justice Alito have a point? This is relatively new. You only started handing out marriage licenses in 2004.

GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Yes, I mean, sure. It's absolutely factual what he's asserting. That said, what's the constitutional question? I mean, that's what we're supposed to be adjudicating, whether or not it's constitutional to deny people based on their sexual orientation the ability to enter into the institution of marriage.

That said, let me just assert, I have no evidence whatsoever in places like Spain, since 2005 and other countries of the world where marriage is an institution has been under any sort of assault or the sky is falling in. Massachusetts and elsewhere in America, we haven't seen that somehow there's been this devastating or deleterious impact because same sex couples are entering into the same institution that Brian and I have been afforded in our lives.

TAPPER: How about that, Brian? We have not seen traditional marriage, opposite sex marriage harmed in any way places where it's taken place, have we?

BRIAN BROWN, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MARRIAGE: That's not true at all. One need only look to what happened in Massachusetts where Catholic charities adoption agency, one example, is put out of business because when you redefine marriage, you redefine it for everyone. It isn't just that couple.

And you basically are now saying that religious organizations and individuals that know that there's a truth, that it takes a man and woman to make a marriage, just saying that is viewed as discrimination. So in Illinois, in Massachusetts, in Washington, D.C., religious organizations are told they can't adopt children because they're discriminating by not placing kids with same-sex couples.

We've seen benefits fights. We've seen businesses -- businesses that, for example, do weddings being told if you don't do same-sex weddings, again, you are discriminating.

What you are doing is putting a brand-new idea into the law that there is absolutely no difference between a man and a woman coming together in marriage and two men or two women, and that those of us who think there is a difference are the functional equivalent of bigots.

NEWSOM: Yes, well, first of all, Illinois doesn't have same-sex marriage --

BROWN: It only took civil unions in Illinois. Civil unions shut down the adoption agencies.

NEWSOM: I don't know, you and I don't see the world with the same set of eyes. I actually have extraordinary respect and admiration for same-sex couples and loving people that care as much about their spouses as you and I care about ours. They care about entering an institution of faith, love, devotion and constancy, and they believe that they have the rights under the Constitution of the United States, due process, equal protection to enter into that institution.

And I do find it interesting that people like George Bush themselves thought it was important to change the Constitution because by definition, the president felt there was something wrong with it. He wanted to actually write discrimination, or a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage as a suggestive point that there's something in the Constitution that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and the lower court in San Francisco --

TAPPER: Well, that is an interesting point. If it were in the Constitution, there wouldn't be any need for a constitutional amendment.

BROWN: This is totally misreading the history. The reason that you need constitutional amendments is exactly because of what's happening at the United States Supreme Court. This is not a decision the court should be making. The people of the state of California have a right to have their voices heard. And the reason that constitutional amendments on the state level were passed is because activist judges at the state level, beginning in Massachusetts, were imposing their will on the voters and basically saying we don't care what you think. This is coming whether you like it or not and we're going to force it on you.

The people have a right for their voice to be heard. This is an issue in which good people can have disagreements, but the reality is that it is not -- that the majority of Americans who have voted to protect traditional marriage, you can't just say those people are discriminating and are bigots. The majority of Californians saying that they were discriminating by Prop 8, wrong.

TAPPER: Very quickly, what do you think is going to happen based on the arguments today? Very quickly.

BROWN: Well, I think we're going to win. Traditional marriage will end up winning both in Proposition 8 and in DOMA.

TAPPER: What do you think?

BROWN: I think they're going to uphold the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court and I think that decision will allow same-sex marriages as early as late June in California and, hopefully, it will expand beyond that.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you, Gavin Newsom and Brian Brown.

NEWSOM: Thank you.

BROWN: Thank you.

TAPPER: An embarrassing prostitution scandal revealed that to be the ultimate boys club. But now, for the first time ever, the Secret Service will be led by a woman. President Obama just moments ago announced that he was appointing career agent Julia Pearson as the new director. She takes over for Mark Sullivan who left last month.

Sullivan was in charge when agents caused a massive scandal by bringing women, including prostitutes, back to a hotel in Colombia where they were staying ahead of the president's visit. Thirteen agents involved, eight of them lost their jobs.

General David Petraeus wants forgiveness, and he's asking for it in a very public way. What the former top spy is saying about his lies, his love affair, and his life after scandal. That's our "Buried Lead" and that's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: It's our "Money Lead".

If you listen closely you can hear interest Wall Street. The clink of scotch glasses, the circumcision of cigars. Traders are having one heck of a happy hour after the Dow closed at a new all-time high a little more than 20 minutes ago.

I want to get our Zain Asher on the camera right now, standing by in New York.

Zain, how high did it fly today?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jake.

Yes, pretty high indeed. The Dow gained 111 points to end at a new record high, as you mentioned. The S&P also closed two points away from its record high. The Dow closed at 14,549.

But the S&P is really the index to watch more closely since it has 500 stocks compared to just 30 in the Dow, also more closely tracks mutual funds as well.

It seems as though investors have really shrugged off worries about Cyprus, despite Cypriots banks are remaining closed until Thursday. They're instead focusing on a batch of upbeat economic reports that point to an improving economy.

Home prices in the U.S. rose more than 8 percent in January compared to the same time a year ago. It's the biggest year over year increase since 2006, just before the housing bubble burst.

I also want to mention that in the meantime, durable goods orders for big ticket manufactured items jumped more than 5.5 percent in February, also a good sign as well -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Zain Asher, thank you so much.

Would you ever consider donating your hard-earned cash to a nonprofit that clears more than $9 billion a year? Well, if you went to an NFL game last year or bought officially licensed team apparel, that's exactly what you did. Even we long suffering Eagles fans, the NFL is a nonprofit, believe it or not.

Just like a few other major sports leagues that enjoys tax-exempt status, tens of millions of dollars do not go to fund their communities because of these loopholes. The teams continue to get attaboys from the president today, from all of us year round for far less in charitable works.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): Earlier today, these famous athletes were honored by the president for their achievements.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello, everybody.

TAPPER: They were given more cheers, more adulation. The L.A. Galaxy soccer team and the L.A. Kings hockey players for their championship seasons and also for the work they do for their community.

OBAMA: I want to give a hearty congratulations to both the Kings and the Galaxy one more time for bringing two championships to L.A. and for doing so much for your fans back in California.

TAPPER: And they do. The players give time and their teams give donations and that's great.

But let's stop for a second and examine the facts. Their home state, California, is currently hundreds of billions of dollars in debt and, of course, the United States government is trillions of dollars in debt. And while the teams and players pay taxes, this team is part of the National Hockey League and this one is part of Major League Soccer and both of those juggernauts of jocks are tax-exempt.

Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, recently released a waste book, an online chronicle of careless spending. And in it, Coburn estimated the nation is losing at least $91 million in federal taxes from professional sports through loopholes.

BRIAN FREDERICK, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: The tax exemption is just one of many subsidies that leagues and teams receive. That's the problem is that we've really socialized the cost of sports and privatized the profits.

TAPPER: And, of course, cities are cutting their team's tax breaks, too, including security, stadiums, and sprawling parades.

FREDERICK: We, the people, and Congress actually gave these leagues tax exemptions and it's something that we could very easily take away if we wanted and we should ask ourselves, are we truly getting a return on the investment?

TAPPER: Just this month, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced a $1 billion plan to build a new football stadium for the Falcons, at least $200 million of which will come from taxes. A sum he said would boost his city.

MAYOR KASIM REED, ATLANTA, GA: Our convention and tourism business employs 229,000 people. This is our core business in this town.

TAPPER: It's from those tourists much of the money will come, the balance for the stadium is slated to come from hotel taxes. Nevertheless, the NFL, which is also listed as a non-profit, made more than $9 billion last season, but at least they had a season.