Return to Transcripts main page


Life After a Decade of Slavery; Changes to Whites-Only Fellowship; After Benghazi, After Gadhafi; Boston Suspect Wrote Note on Boat

Aired May 16, 2013 - 14:30   ET


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW ON CALL": What we don't know, Chris, is whether or not that monster pitted these girls one against the other. There could be resentment and hatred left from whatever that guy did to them. We just don't know that at this point.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Doctor, thank you so much. Appreciate the perspective, as always. Thanks for coming on NEWSROOM here. Of course, all of us, we can catch Dr. Drew at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on our sister network HLN. Thanks again to him.

All right, now, it is a fellowship worth tens of thousands of dollars at one of the nation's most prestigious universities. I'm talking about Columbia University, but there's a catch. For this particular grant, you have to be white to apply for it. What's going to happen? That's next.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. I'm Chris Cuomo here in New York. Thanks for joining us just after 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time. So here's the question. A fellowship to Columbia University with a little bit of a catch attracting a lot of controversy. Here's what you have to be to get the grant. You must be from Iowa and you must be white. That's what the Lydia C. Roberts Graduate Fellowship at Columbia University requires.

So now there is a petition in the Manhattan Supreme Court to have the fellowship rules changed. Columbia University is at the center of this. They explain to CNN, quote, "The fact is Columbia long ago ceased awarding the fellowships. It should go without saying that a university rightly known for the great diversity of its student body is as offended as anyone by the requirements of these fellowships"

Attorney Joey Jackson is joining me here in New York. This fellowship scholarship is from 1920, right?


CUOMO: First question from me, strong statement from Columbia. What happened between 1920s, whenever they were giving this out, and now? Why is this just happening now?

JACKSON: And 1997, wonderful question. But you know, look, to their benefit, I think what happens is a long time ago before we had any anti-discrimination laws or anything there was a bequeath, right? Bequeaths in and of themselves totally legally acceptable and conditional bequeaths are.

I mean, you can condition it upon anything but not this. So I think what happened is, through the course of type, perhaps people just kept giving it out and somebody looked at the charter of this and said, wait a second, this is exclusively for whites. We can't do this.

CUOMO: In '97? Not '57.

JACKSON: Yes, exactly. It wasn't '57. It came way after the 1964 civil rights act and everything else. So you have to wonder how and why university officials at this time finally got to address it. So that we don't know, we can't address. We do know that in 1997 when they did look at it they said, something's amiss. We'll stop awarding it.

But then of course we fast-forward to now, Chris, which is the petition that's before the court to say, look, we have to declare this invalid, void ab initio, it's against public policy.

CUOMO: First of all, give me a fist-bump for dropping the Latin. Ab initio is from the beginning right? Let me ask you this, the trustees bringing this action, this is the legal representative of the money involved for this scholarship.

JACKSON: JPMorgan Chase.

CUOMO: So they're the ones bringing this motion to the court and saying, we want to change this. So it does look and smell at this point like a, we didn't read the fine print until someone raised our attention to it, fair analysis?

JACKSON: It seems as though it's fair analysis because certainly you can argue that they should have looked at this, should have addressed this and this should not -- whether it's 1997 that was the last grant awarded or present day 2013, certainly it should not have waited to this point.

But things happen, apparently it was missed. Now that it has been missed we know that the trustee, right, JPMorgan Chase, is doing it with the support of Columbia University, that is trying to address the law, declare this provision invalid and improper, not to mention unlawful.

CUOMO: Do we know if all the kids who got the fellowship were white kids from Iowa?

JACKSON: Apparently, there were. Apparently, they were kids from Iowa. What was interesting, Chris, in looking at this, is that it was not supposed to be for attorneys. We talked about bequeaths being conditional. You can condition them upon many things.

One was, couldn't be lawyers. Medical people, other people weren't allowed to do it. One person who was awarded this happened to be an attorney and spoke on the issue, so said, I had no idea, right, that this is at all -- that I got this award and it was supposed to be only for whites or what have you.

CUOMO: That's why they didn't want attorneys to have it because you guys get in there and mess everything up.

JACKSON: We correct the conditions as is being corrected by the court. So yes, I think what they'll do is the court will award the petition. As we talked about it before, you liked the Latin term void ab initio, from the beginning, against public policy. As a result of that, it will be corrected and the scholarship will no longer be exclusive to, you know, white Americans.

CUOMO: Hopefully --

JACKSON: Iowans.

CUOMO: Hopefully nobody objects to. Maybe they'll keep that. Joey, thank you very much.

JACKSON: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: I appreciate it. Joey Jackson, ab initio.

All right, when we come back, he's got one of the hottest TV shows going right now. This week, CNN's Anthony Bourdain is going to a place that two years ago you wouldn't have dreamed of visiting. Take a look and listen.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, CNN'S "PARTS UNKNOWN": They hunger for places like this. Kentucky fried chicken, Uncle Kentucky fried chicken, OK.


CUOMO: You know where he is?


CUOMO: We have been hearing a lot lately about last September's deadly terror attack in it Benghazi, Libya, and the investigations into the Obama administration's response to it. Well, here is a very different take on Libya.

This Sunday, Anthony Bourdain takes us inside Libya in the aftermath of Benghazi less than two years after the overthrow of one of the world's most infamous dictators, Moammar Gadhafi. Some of the developments in post-revolution Libya may surprise you. Take a look and a listen.


BOURDAIN (voice-over): Fresh produce is for sale on Tripoli's streets. If you are a small restaurant or shopping for a big family, you bring cash, a wheelbarrow, and load up with what you need, but revolution has brought changed tastes. Libyans, especially young Libyans, hunger for more than just freedom. They hunger for places like this.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, Uncle Kentucky fried chicken. OK, the colonel and his buddies the king and the clown haven't quite made it here, given the uncertainty of the situation. So in the meantime, places like this have been popping up. Uncle Kentucky, awesome, you know where Kentucky is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kentucky is from USA.

BOURDAIN: Part, yes. This place is new?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, new. Before Gadhafi --

BOURDAIN: Impossible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Now it's normal.

BOURDAIN: That's nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you find it?

BOURDAIN: Spicy delicious.


CUOMO: Anthony Bourdain has to go all the way to Libya to have Kentucky Fried Chicken. Let me ask you this something when you were there -- thank you for joining us, the show is great, continued good luck with it, any apprehension of being in such a dangerous place?

BOURDAIN: It was a time of great uncertainty when we were there. We were constantly being apprised of threats, both real and possible, but I was so inspired by so many of the people I met and surprised by what saw there, that I'm glad I made it.

CUOMO: How so because we're looking at it through one context right now, unrest, the civil strife, coming out of Gadhafi as a dictatorship. What was your experience on the ground?

BOURDAIN: There are a lot of people there who no doubt want to do us harm and who would like to reverse what's happened there. But there are also a lot of people, a lot of people, many of them young, who fought like crazy for freedom, who just want what everybody else has, who are trying to make normal lives for themselves and maybe improve their lot a little bit. They broke my heart. This kid in that scene was so happy to be eating fast food fried chicken, an unimaginable western treat, hard to be cold-hearted against that.

CUOMO: How did it stand up to Kentucky Fried Chicken here?

BOURDAIN: Not bad.

CUOMO: Now they call it Kentaki, which probably protects them legally.

BOURDAIN: I don't -- I don't know whether the copy write people are going to be pursuing this case right away, but I think it will be a while before western franchises get into Tripoli.

CUOMO: When you go into different places you seem to come away with different feels about them, even if they are in similar regions. How do you distinguish?

BOURDAIN: You know, I see things very differently because I'm sitting down at a table with people and ostensibly we're talking about simple things. What do you like to eat? What makes you happy? What is your life like? What are your hopes for the future? When you're not bringing a news agenda to the table, people say extraordinary things to you and you do, I think, pick up a flavor that maybe others don't.

CUOMO: It's interesting you use the word "flavor." We always think the weather is the most relatable thing when we're in foreign environments. But talking about food, do you believe that gives you access into people that in news questions can't?

BOURDAIN: Everybody is proud of their food. There's nothing more political than who is eating, who isn't and what they're eating. Also people tend to be very proud of their food. However luxurious or simple it might be, it is an expression of their culture, their history, their -- it says something about them, what gives them pleasure, what their own emotional touch stones are.

So people revealed themselves to me in extraordinary ways again and again and again during the making of this show, and it really made all the difficulties well worthwhile.

CUOMO: You get deluged by all the food and all the different cuisine, anything that stood out there that you liked? Let's put Uncle Kentucky off the table there for a second.

BOURDAIN: Well, they have good Italian food.

CUOMO: Really?

BOURDAIN: The Italians colonized Libya for quite some time and there is a tradition of pasta, southern Italian style ragus and pasta. Their seafood is extraordinary. They're on prime real estate, very good fish dishes. And of course, as with any enlightened culture, they do like barbecue.

CUOMO: I think one of the big surprises in your show is that you don't get insight into just cuisine. It's culture, you get to understand people differently that accesses the ethos about what they're it about.

BOURDAIN: Amazing things happen at the table. I don't necessarily go looking for it. But if you show up and are willing to eat what's in front of you, with an open heart, free of prejudice as you can, people everywhere tend to appreciate that and show you a side of themselves that is often quite extraordinary.

CUOMO: You have that rare gift so many of us journalists wish we had. You don't go looking for it, but it finds you anyway.

BOURDAIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Tony, thank you for being here, continued good luck. For much more of Anthony Bourdain in Libya, please be sure to catch "PARTS UNKNOWN" Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN.

Coming up next, the younger suspect in the Boston bombings left a note behind in that boat where he hid from police. I'm going to speak live with a former interrogator about what this says about his motive, what has been learned. Could it be used against him in court?


CUOMO: We all remember the scene now. It's in Watertown. They're pursuing the second suspect in the bombings. They wind up finding him in a boat. Remember how heroic the owner of the boat was in contacting authorities. Well, in that boat we now believe the surviving suspect wrote a note revealing his motives for the attack.

It was scribbled on an inside wall of that boat where he was eventually captured. The note says the Boston bombing was payback for U.S. wars on Muslim lands including Iraq and Afghanistan. He also mentioned the apparent mastermind of the Boston bombings, saying he would not miss his older brother because he had expected to see him soon, join him in death.

He wrote that an attack on one Muslim is an attack on all Muslims. Let's get some perspective on what this means and how it could be used, let's bring in former secret service agent, an interrogator, Evyenia Poumpouras.

Based on this note, thank you very much for joining us, what does this note do for the investigation because he had been talking to investigators, he had talked a little bit about motive, but how does this help?

EVYENIA POUMPOURAS, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: It just makes it clear what the motive was for committing the attacks, and usually there's some type of ideological approach as far as when somebody is doing any form of terrorism. It can be a moral approach, an ideology, or something divine.

And here we see something of both worlds basically morphed together. And he's basically telling you, this is why I did this, this is why I committed the act, and I'm serving a greater purpose than myself.

CUOMO: Does this feed the insight that the younger suspect was really cultivated by his brother? Is this consistent with that understand something?

POUMPOURAS: Yes, I would think so, but also it's not just his brother. I mean, on his own, he decided to do these things so there's something within him, maybe things that he experienced that shifted his perspective. Maybe injustices he saw committed toward his brother or maybe things he experience himself. It can't be solely one person that manipulates you in such an extreme way to cause you to do something like this. CUOMO: One of the confusions here is it was easier for him to realize that he was coming toward an end when he was in that boat and injured knew how much force was closing in on him. But in the days preceding, such random behavior of someone who wanted to stay, wanted to keep their life, keep going to the same places, doing the same things. How do we balance that with a terrorist act? We're used to suicide bombers more so, but what does that tell you about these individuals?

POUMPOURAS: Well, you know what? Related to terrorism and terrorist acts, a terrorist usually is somebody who blends in well, who is very charismatic, and who appears very gracious. They don't have the characteristics we all assume we're going to see, those that are very out there and indicative of this person's probably not right with them.

A true terrorist is intelligent. They absorb well into society. So I don't think that, you know, there is anything particular we should be looking for. In fact, this is probably the typical behavior you would see of a truly intelligent and successful terrorist.

CUOMO: Some people in the intelligence community have been saying, look, this is horrible but now we've learned things and we're attuned to certain sensitivities that before maybe we were not, that the intelligence community learned from this. You see that in the example as well?

POUMPOURAS: It's difficult. There are so many people out there they're watching. Just the database alone where they put in the terrorists' names, there's something like 740,000 names in there of possible terrorists we should be watching. How can you oversee something like that?

Law enforcement and the government can only do so much. A lot of it does fall on society and community as well, us as people paying attention to what is going on around us, our neighbors, our friends. The people we associate with.

Watching for those nuances or odd behaviors that maybe make us think, you know, something isn't right here, and speaking up. You know how they say, when you see something, say something? That means for everything.

CUOMO: And hopefully, we saw how quickly the investigation moved because of people coming forward early on, and now as we get more vigilant as a society, hopefully we can stop some of these before they occur. Evyenia, thank you very much for the perspective. Appreciate you having on the NEWSROOM.

POUMPOURAS: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: We're 54 minutes past the hour. We're going to take a quick break. See you on the other side.


CUOMO: Coming up here on NEWSROOM, more about the breaking news two terror suspects missing from the witness protection program. Jake Tapper broke this news. He'll be joining me here live, next, right after the break. Don't miss it.