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Angelina Jolie Gets Double Mastectomy; Opting For A Double Mastectomy; U.S. Diplomat Briefly Detained In Moscow; Outrage Over IRS' Actions; Scrutiny For Obama Administration; Prince Harry Tours Superstorm Sandy Damage
Aired May 14, 2013 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, breast cancer bombshell. Breaking overnight, Angelina Jolie and her drastic decision to have a secret double mastectomy, a "New York Times" op-ed titled "My Medical Choice. Ahead, her tough and bold decision.
Also when will it end?
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pattern is becoming one in which this administration is not transparent.
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COSTELLO: Busted Benghazi claims. The IRS allegedly targeting conservative groups. Now the Justice Department secretly collecting phone records of reporters. This as the president goes fundraising. Plus, a CNN exclusive --
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of these photos I have to tell you are chilling.
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COSTELLO: Chains, barbed wire, pulleys, alarming new photos of Ariel Castro's backyard. Our Randi Kaye tracking the story from Cleveland this morning. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. We begin with a bombshell announcement off the Hollywood and one rooted in the dark realities and tough choices facing many American women. Actress Angelina Jolie said she has undergone a double mastectomy to remove both of breasts and she did it purely as a preventative measure.
Jolie's mother died of ovarian cancer six years ago. This is a tribute to her that Jolie and her brother posted on YouTube. Routine test showed the Academy-award winning actress carried a mutant gene that put her in a greater risk of both ovarian and breast cancer. Now this morning's op-ed page of the "New York Times," Jolie said she wrestled with the same soul-searching decision as many American families. Quote, "I want to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy, but it is one I'm very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer. "
"Showbiz Tonight" host, A.J. Hammer is in New York with a close look at this. Good morning.
A.J. HAMMER, HOST, HLN'S "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Good morning, Carol. I think even the scenic this morning would agree that it is extremely important that it is extremely important that Angelina Jolie came forward with this. And if anybody knows about using the celebrity pulpit to talk about real issues that's Angelina Jolie.
She's really become this global advocate for women and children over the years. Her stunning personal news striking such a chord with women everywhere this morning, which was certainly a huge motivating factor in how she revealed her news in the op-ed piece. She makes that clear in what she wrote.
She said I choose not to keep my story private because there are many women who do not know that they might be living under the shadow of cancer. It is my hope that they too will be able to get gene tested and that if they have a high risk they, too, will know that they have strong options.
Again, her mother had breast cancer and passed away six years ago at the age of 56. Angelina spoke about her mom very gracefully in a "60 Minute" interview. Let's watch that.
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ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS: My mother was a full-time mother. She didn't have much of her own career, her own life, her own experiences, her own, you know, everything was for her children. I will never be as good a mother as she was. I will try my best, but I don't think I could ever be. She was just grace and she was the most generous loving -- she's better than me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAMMER: Even though Angelina Jolie is only 37 years old, she did feel the need to deal with this threat now. She certainly did not come forward with this news in any way to bolster her image, but it does really reinforce the positive impact that Jolie has sought to have with her position of influence over the years.
Interesting to note, Carol, that just about a month ago on April 5th, she did appear at the Women in the World Summit. She was in a very flowing gown at this event and she didn't speak with reporters on the red carpet. At the time, I remember people commenting how covered up and modest she seemed. Not like the Angelina Jolie we often see on the red carpet. Now we have a sense of the time line of what she had been dealing with at the time, I think it says a great deal she would honor hearses to be at this event and put hearses out like that. But of course, most importantly this morning, Carol, this once again brings an essential conversation to the forefront.
COSTELLO: Absolutely. We are going to continue that conversation. A.J. Hammer, many thanks to you.
Our next guest also went public with this very private decision just weeks after leaving as the anchor of "The CBS Early Show." Rene Syler also made the difficult choice to have both breasts removed in a double mastectomy and Renee joins us now. Thank you so much for being here.
RENE SYLER, TV PERSONALITY: You bet, Carol. Good to talk to you.
COSTELLO: So Angelina Jolie made this decision when she was 37 years old. At what point do you sit down and decide that this is the time?
SYLER: Well, I think, you know, in the case with her, you know, she's a mom, she's got young children. She has a strong family history. She had been diagnosed as someone who had the mutation for BRAC-1 or 2. She made the decision similar to the decision I made, which was that I wanted to be around a long time for my kids. I had young children too. She wanted to be here for her kids, the same I think a lot of women who undergo a procedure like this do.
COSTELLO: If you read her op-ed, I did this for my children, but just because I don't have my breasts any more doesn't make me less feminine or less as a woman. It struck me she thought that was also important to put in that op-ed.
SYLER: yes, I think it's interesting to note. I mean, this is a woman who is a Hollywood actress and sexuality is a big part of who she is. But I got a lot of that too right after my procedure a lot of people would say what did your husband say and how did you feel?
I have to tell you that I never felt less of a woman because my breasts weren't here. I'm sorry if I get a little bit teary or emotional about this. It's important to know that for me it was a big decision because if a part of me was gone and the whole of me was here and I could be here for my kids, then that was really what it was about.
It was about taking control and living the kind of life that I wanted to live and being a good example, you know, about health and wholeness to my kids.
COSTELLO: And you've continued -- thank you so much for sharing your story! And you've continued to share your story and you also do so -- I mean, you do community work to get the message out. Tell me why this particular issue -- and I know the answer already, but tell us why it's so important to share your story and why it's so important for Angelina Jolie to share hers as well. SYLER: Because at the end of the day, this is about education and it's about control and taking control of the kind of life you want to lead. I think women need to understand that I hear this a lot, Carol, I wrote it about today on my website today too. I hear people say, I don't know to know. If I have breast cancer, I don't want to know.
You're going to know, whether you know soon enough to do anything about it or it's too late, you will find out. And it's really, in my mind, this was a very pro active step on her part. The fact she is speaking about it, the fact she is stating I'm here. I'm strong, I'm healthy, I'm here for my kids and here to raise and give voice to a lot of women. I applaud her for making a very difficult decision and one I know all too well.
COSTELLO: We applaud you as well. Rene Syler, thank you for sharing this morning. We appreciate it.
SYLER: Thank you, Carol.
COSTELLO: All right, on to other news this morning, former cold war rival is at it again. Russia's FSB counterintelligence agency says it has caught a U.S. spy red-handed. Earlier they detained this man identified as Ryan Fogle, a U.S. diplomat that Russia claimed is a CIA agent. Check this out, FSB photos show this man was caught with all this gear like wigs and sunglasses plus knives and large sums of cash.
CNN's Phil Black is in Moscow to tell us more. Hi, Phil.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Carol. Yes, according to the U.S. Embassy, Ryan Fogle is the third secretary in the political department at the embassy there, but according to the FSB, he is a CIA operative who they say they caught while trying to recruit one of their own members, one of Russia's special services.
As you've said, they released all these photos and videos show him caught on the streets of Moscow last night and caught with seemingly what would seem to be a spy kit. He was wearing a blond wig at the time. They said he was found with what they describe as special technical devices and written instructions from the man he was trying to recruit, a large sum of cash and of course, these items to disguise his identity as well.
He was taken to the FSB holding place and told he has since been released back to the U.S. Embassy. And the FSB has said that this is only one of a series of recent attempted recruitments that have been made by the CIA here in Russia, but they say they have been monitoring them and tracking them all very closely -- Carol.
COSTELLO: What is the U.S. government saying about this?
BLACK: No response so far from either the U.S. Embassy here in Moscow or the U.S. government. I think the next interesting step is to see what Russia does. Does Russia order this man to be expelled from Moscow and it's also possible that the U.S. could ask for him to be recalled. It is, of course, possible that the Russians could expel more than one person in this case and then really the U.S. reaction will determine to what extent this becomes a tit for tat diplomatic expulsion type episode and how frosty relations could turn as a result of what this man is accused of doing -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Phil Black reporting live for us this morning.
Back here at home, the Justice Department is finding itself on the defense after the Associated Press says the Department of Justice secretly collected telephone records of its reporters and editors. It's a bit of a one-two punch for the Obama administration, which is also dealing with the fallout from the IRS' admission that it did indeed target conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
CNN is covering all of these developments. Crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns and chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash join me now. Joe, I want to start with you. The DOJ sees two months worth of records. Do we have any idea why it did this?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Carol, the government has not said why it needed the information, but it's apparently the latest controversial attempt to investigate unauthorized disclosure of classified information leaks. An investigation was promised we know after a story surfaced in May of 2012 about an alleged bomb plot that failed against a U.S.-bound plane.
The Associated Press says the government subpoenaed this information two months of telephone records, five reporters, an editor all at the Associated Press that we know of from bureaus in D.C., New York and Connecticut, members of Congress from both parties asking about it. One question is whether the Attorney General Eric Holder signed off or if he recused himself. Do we have the sound bite?
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REPRESENTATIVE DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: This sneak and peek kind of approach was done. You can imagine if Congress wanted to know about leaks that, obviously, came out of the administration that ended up in the press they would be outraged if they tried to get that information.
But that's exactly what they are doing is they are looking what is considered to be confidential. People wanted the Pentagon papers too, but it didn't mean you could look behind the doors broadly the way they are doing.
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JOHNS: Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to give a news conference here in Washington, D.C. and we will probably get some questions on this. Ronald Macon, by the way, is the United States attorney in Washington, D.C. appointed to investigate this story and how it made its way into the public. He issued a statement through his public affairs officer saying they take their obligations to follow all law seriously but not much more than that -- Carol. COSTELLO: Interesting. OK, Joe Johns. Now, we want to head to Dana Bash, our congressional correspondent because the acting head of the IRS will head to Capitol Hill this Friday to do what, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He is going to testify. It will be the first hearing that we are going to see, public hearing with IRS officials about this issue and it is going to be something that Republicans and Democrats alike are press him on.
BASH (voice-over): A Tea Party rally on April 15th, tax day, 2010.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government doesn't have any money. That's our money and I'm taxed enough already!
BASH: Even as they protested high taxes and big government, the tax collecting IRS was secretly targeting them. In March of 2010, IRS agents in Cincinnati, Ohio, handling applications for tax exempt status began singling out groups with names like Tea Party and Patriots as criteria for special scrutiny.
Groups engaged primarily in political activity are not allowed tax- exempt status. According to an IRS inspector general timeline obtained by CNN, by August of 2010, IRS agents made Tea Party targeting more formal, issuing an internal "be on the lookout" or BOLO listing for local organizations in the Tea Party Movement.
As a result, Tea Party activists reported feeling harassed when applying for tax exempt status. Cincinnati Tea Party founder, Justin Binik-Thomas told CNN's Carol Costello lengthy questionnaires from the IRS like this one got personal even mentioning his name.
JUSTIN BINIK-THOMAS, CINCINNATI TEA PARTY: Why? What is it being collected for? Where is it being stored? Who is being shared with?
BASH: It wasn't until this past Friday, more than three years later. Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS' Tax Exempt Division, admitted her agents were inappropriately screening Tea Party groups. She apologized during an American Bar Association meeting. CNN obtained this audio.
LOIS LERNER, IRS OFFICIAL: They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the application had those names in the title. That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect. It was insensitive and it was inappropriate.
BASH: That admission prompted bipartisan condemnation.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MAJORITY LEADER: It's a terrible reach of the public's trust.
BASH: But what is making the IRS' problems worse, it appears IRS officials even Lerner herself were not up front with Congress. According to this IRS timeline, Lerner was informed back in June of 2011 that her agents were targeting Tea Party groups as well as others dealing with government spending, government debt or taxes.
But CNN has learned that Lerner failed to disclose what she knew to two separate House committees both in letters and even face-to-face meetings with congressional investigators. And in March of 2012, nine months after Lerner was informed IRS agents were singling out Tea Party groups, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman was asked about it in a hearing.
REPRESENTATIVE CHARLES BOUSTANY (R), LOUISIANA: Can you give us assurances that the IRS is not targeting particular groups based on political leanings?
BASH: Shulman denied it.
DOUG SHULMAN, FORMER IRS COMMISSIONER: There is absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens when people apply for 501C-4 status.
BASH: Now I'm told that Shulman did not know about the targeting when he testified there last year and he didn't know what was going on until later in the spring, but that raises a lot of questions about his deputies, whether they knew about it. And there is a current IRS commissioner serving right now Steven Miller who is going to testify later this week.
I'm told that he was informed about this targeting in May of 2012, which is a full year ago. Republicans in the Senate and the House who are investigating this they tell us that he neglected to inform them what he knew and that he had information about this. He had various opportunities to do so, they say, and he simply did not.
COSTELLO: All right, Dana Bash, thanks so much. In a few minutes, I will be talking to Michigan Congressman Sander Levin. He is the ranking member of the House, Ways and Means Committee, which will hold a hearing on the IRS actions this Friday.
Now the outrage over the controversy is bringing both sides of the political aisle together. You've heard the response from some congressional Republicans, but the left is also weighing in, the ACLU among them. The chief of staff for the group's Washington legislative office saying, quote, "even the appearance of playing partisan politics with the tax code is about as constitutionally troubling as it gets."
Joining me now is Ben Wizner, Director of the ACLU Speech Privacy and Technology Project. Thank you so much for being with us.
BEN WIZNER, ACLU: Glad to be here, Carol, but I do have to take issue with you calling us from a the left. We are a nonpartisan organization and our criticism is of both parties when they violate the law.
COSTELLO: Point taken, so getting to why this is such a grievous error on the IRS part, to target individuals for their political views.
WIZNER: Well, let's see what the facts show and it's absolutely good development that there are going to be hearings on this but it's hard to imagine something more constitutionally troubling than an agency like the IRS, which enforces our tax laws and using its broad investigatory authority for political purposes.
You know, there are allegations that this happened in previous administrations during the Nixon administration and it's properly an explosive revelation. If it does turn out that senior officials and the IRS were aware of this and directing this, that is a serious abuse of power, real misconduct and I hope the administration and Congress will both dig into it.
COSTELLO: I thought this couldn't happen after the Watergate scandal.
WIZNER: Well, again, we don't know yet what this is. You know, at what level --
COSTELLO: The IRS admitted it made mistakes.
WIZNER: Right. There is no question about it that based on what we know right now, this was quite a serious abuse. There is absolutely no justification for the IRS to investigate based on people's political ideology. They should be conducting their investigations based on evidence.
Now if they had evidence that groups were manipulating the tax code to engage in improper tax exempt improper activities, no one is saying they shouldn't conduct those investigations in the first place, but if they are doing those based on the ideology of the groups involved that is absolutely serious abuse of power and needs to be investigated. There should be consequences for that.
COSTELLO: So the president says if, you know, those dire consequences you're speaking of are proved then the people should be held accountable. What should be done?
WIZNER: Well, again, at a minimum, people who are involved in this decision should not be serving in our government. Again, this is a serious abuse of power. Whether, you know, laws were broken here or something that ought to be examined in the course of these hearings and it may be that there are additional consequences that need to flow.
I'm sure Congress will be effective in getting to the bottom of this and it may be, although it's hard to believe that the IRS needs even clearer policies, clearer guidelines for how an investigation can be initiated.
COSTELLO: Ben Wizner from the ACLU, thank you for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.
WIZNER: Sure. Glad to be here.
COSTELLO: We have some brand new live pictures to show you. You're taking a look at the Jersey shore and that crowd of people right there in the middle, Governor Chris Christie along with Prince Harry you can see -- well, the governor is taking Prince Harry on a tour to show him the effects left over from Superstorm Sandy and the progress that has been made. We are going to have much more on Prince Harry's visit, his tour, Governor Christie, we will have all of it for you next.
COSTELLO: Let's take another look at these live pictures coming in now from New Jersey along the Jersey Shore in Seaside Heights. You can see prince harry there in the middle. The guy in the white shirt in the middle is Chris Christie and standing next to him is Prince Harry.
We assume that these are residents surrounding them. Prince Harry is getting a tour of the damage left over after Superstorm Sandy and the progress being made on the Jersey Shore. Poppy Harlow, are you there? Where are you? How far away are you from Prince Harry?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. We are in the town right next door to where Governor Christie and the prince and their entourage are. They are touring the worst hit areas of new jersey and this is what prince harry wanted to do is see the towns that were had the worse so he could get a sense of the damage seven months after Hurricane Sandy.
Governor Christie gave President Obama a similar tour after Sandy. Now we have Prince Harry here. Their arrival here where I'm standing in Seaside Heights is imminent. This boardwalk just finished up repairs here in anticipation of his arrival. The point is put a spotlight on what still needs to be done.
All of the repair that is needed not only for the Jersey Shore, but a lot of the coastline on the east coast from the damage of Sandy. Someone close to the prince on this U.S. tour telling us that Governor Christie is very grateful for the spotlight that prince harry is putting on the rebuilding effort.
Still it hasn't been in the spotlight for a number of months. So that's important. I had a chance a little earlier to speak with the mayor of this town Bill Akers. Listen to what he had to say.
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MAYOR WILLIAM AKERS (R), SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NEW JERSEY: The prince is coming here and I know one thing that was very important to him coming into the visit, he had -- he wanted to meet the first responders. I think that is something that is near and dear to him. And we were very grateful for that because everyone forgets that while we're rebuilding, we didn't have any loss of life and they are responsible for that so we're grateful for that.
What we want to show not only the prince, but we want to show everybody that Seaside Heights is doing it. We said we were going to be ready and we are going to give you the visual aid to let you know that we are ready for that holiday weekend. (END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Again, one of the important things for Prince Harry we are told is meet and greet the first responders and some to my left and he will do that shortly when he arrives.
COSTELLO: He is doing that right now, Poppy. I can see the picture better than you. He is doing that right now. The first responders are lined up on the side of the road and Prince harry shook each and every one of their hands and now chatting with one of them, along with the governor.
HARLOW: He is doing that. This is in the town next door to where we are Seaside Heights. When he comes here we are told he will do the same thing, meet and greet some of the first responders in Hurricane Sandy. They didn't have any lives lost in this town after Sandy. That is important to the prince.
He'll play some games here, we are told, make the rounds here. Plenty of photo-ops and later today, he'll head into Manhattan and he is going to go to a British trade greet meeting it's called. He'll be there with David Cameron, the prime minister.
Then he heads up to Harlem and in a baseball event for underprivileged youth and tonight you have to raise some money when you're in New York so he is going to have a fund-raiser, money for a number of his different foundations -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Yes, probably wounded warriors because something else he is doing while here in the United States. We are going to watch Prince Harry and leave you where you are so you can bring us the latest information on the prince who seems to be having a good time out there getting up close and personal with people. Isn't that an amazing picture? We will be right back.