Return to Transcripts main page


Report that the U.S. Government Obtained Order for Phone Records; Prank-Caller Deejay Gets Award; Chrysler To Recall SUVs

Aired June 6, 2013 - 12:30   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: The government says it is about tracking down terrorists, keeping us safe, but privacy groups say this is an example of Big Brother and the government intruding into all of our private lives.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, we're talking about a report that the government asked for and got a secret order requiring Verizon to turn over millions of phone records. It was first reported by Britain's "The Guardian" newspaper.

MALVEAUX: I want to bring our national security analyst, Fran Townsend, who's also a former homeland security advisor for the Bush administration.

Talk a little about this here. The Center for Constitutional Rights says it really is the broadest surveillance order that was ever issued. Do you see that?

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No. Look, this is the one they know about, right? And I understand there are concerns.

But let's walk back and put this in context for our viewers. This went back to the Bush administration where President Bush signed an executive order directing the telecom companies to provide this sort of data.

After some time, after that program had been revealed, there was the re-authorization of the Patriot Act, passed with a majority of Congress. Section 215 is the business records provision.

What that permits the government, the executive branch, to do is to go to an independent classified court, establish probable cause and ask to get metadata only.

What do I mean? The telephone numbers, the location of those calling, the duration of the call. They don't get to get content. They don't get to listen or tape what's being said.

They have to go back and get a separate warrant if they want to do that, and establish probable cause for that warrant.

So this really is just the sort of external data to the calls. And, you know, look, members of Congress from both sides have said this -- and the administration have said -- this has been very useful as a counterterrorism tool. 0 HOLMES: So exactly then, Fran, what are they looking for? I mean, Americans going to be sitting back and saying, well, I didn't do anything wrong. Why do they want my numbers of who I called and when I called them?

But what they're looking for, perhaps, is what? They're comparing those numbers against a database of numbers and -- of bad guys?

TOWNSEND: They can do precisely that. The other thing they're looking for is, when there's an investigation, think to the most recent tragedy, the Boston marathon bombing.

You may identify some numbers and run them through to understand what numbers were they calling? Who were their associates? You may find witnesses. I mean, it's a whole way of understanding terrorist networks, infrastructure, support.

And so that's why it's been such a valuable tool. And you can see how in this recent case it may have been useful.

MALVEAUX: And, Fran, you know you and I dealt with this extensively when I covered the Bush administration. And the president, President Bush, got a lot of flak for just collecting the records of these overseas calls, either they began or they terminated overseas.

What it looks like here is that this is a program that allows calls within the United States. Is that justified? What is the reasoning behind that, do you think?

TOWNSEND: Well, you know, Suzanne, you watch the current administration deal with the sort of self-radicalized or lone wolf, the Boston bombing.

I mean, look, we're not -- it's not unique this problem that it emanates from overseas. The fact is we've seen tragic examples of how people are self-radicalized or radicalized over the Internet.

And so all of these tools come together. But this is very much sort of -- it is a -- it, you know, the kind of data you're collecting is much more what we used to do by subpoena, and members of Congress have been briefed, both the judiciary committees and the intelligence committees, members of both Republican and Democratic parties.

Congress has been well aware of this on the American people's behalf, and the law that enables this was passed by Congress.

And so quite frankly, I mean, this is not just an issue for the administration. Congress has got to justify to their constituents that they believe that this was a law that was necessary and effective.

MALVEAUX: All right. Fran Townsend, thank you, Fran. It's good to see you as always. She's right, all three branches of government involved in this one. Everybody has to explain what this means to people who are angry.

HOLMES: Yeah, but in these days, I mean, they're going -- if something bad happened, heaven forbid, and people would then say, why weren't you looking deeper? Why weren't you checking?

MALVEAUX: Why couldn't you connect the dots?

HOLMES: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: Which was the big criticism of the Bush administration.

HOLMES: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: Well, coming up, the world condemned two Australian deejays after they prank-called the royal family.

HOLMES: Yeah, now, one of those deejays is winning an award. Stay with us. We'll have that when we come back.


MALVEAUX: So you probably remember this story. This was back in December. This was the wife of Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in the hospital at the time.

Well, two Australian radio deejays made a prank call posing as Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth to the hospital.

HOLMES: That's right, and the nurse who put the call through to someone else on the ward who then talked to them, later committed suicide.

Now, get this. One of those deejays is getting an award, not a big national thing, but an award from his employer, which is a big radio- owning company in Australia.

MALVEAUX: So he was voted best deejay in the land. Needless to say, it's caused a lot of controversy here.

We've got details from Max Foster. Watch.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a prank that went horribly wrong. Nurse Jacintha Saldana was found hanged three days after this call.

D.J. MEL GREIG (voice-over): Oh, hello there. Could I please speak to Kate, please, my granddaughter?

D.J. MICHAEL CHRISTIAN (voice-over): Are they putting us through?


FOSTER: An inquest later this year will try to determine if it was suicide.

CHRISTIAN: Mel and myself are incredibly sorry for the situation and what's happened.

And, you know, we hope they're doing OK, and they're getting the love and support that they deserve and need right now.

But, I mean, personally, I'm ...

FOSTER: The two deejays apologized at the time. The woman, Mel Greig, hasn't been back to work since.

Her partner, Michael Christian, was put back on air by his employer, Southern Cross Austereo. The company has now awarded Christian the coveted title of Next Top Jock, which included a free trip to Los Angeles.

In a statement, Christian said, "Regardless of all that's happened in the past few months, I'm still at the top of my game."

But Australia's communications minister said, "To be rewarding people so soon after such an event, I think is in bad taste."

KYLIE SANDILANDS, 2DAYFM PRESENTER: He's a good announcer. What, so we're just going to bash this kid for the rest of his life for one mistake that he's made?

You know, I think you've got to, you know, you've got to -- it's a terrible situation what happened, but the kid's a kid, you know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEAMLE: I don't think it was really right because someone died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's pretty bang out to be honest, not going to lie, after what he made that woman do.

FOSTER: No comment from the expectant Duchess of Cambridge or her husband, Prince William, about the award.


MALVEAUX: Very controversial.

Max Foster's joining us from London. And, Max, obviously, the family of the nurse who committed suicide can't be too pleased with this.

Do they have any response to this deejay getting this award?

FOSTER: Yeah, well, they described it as ludicrous. There's a British m.p., Keith Vaz, who's really taken up their cause and represents them and issues statements on their behalf.

He said, "The giving of this award to Michael Christian is distasteful and disgraceful so soon after the tragic death of Jacintha. It sends out completely the wrong message at the wrong time for the wrong reasons." It's the fact that it happened so soon after the death and the inquest isn't until September. That's when we really get a sense of this.

And there's some suggestion that the deejays will go to that. So it's the timing and certainly a big p.r. own-goal for this radio station.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Max. Appreciate that.

HOLMES: Interestingly, yeah, he's back on air, but she is not. The woman deejay, she's not been put back on air. She's still employed, but not back on the air yet. So that's being discussed in Australia as well.

All right, coming up, for one Chicago couple, a trip to Cambodia turned into a mission to educate young women.

MALVEAUX: Their story, up next.


HOLMES: Remember yesterday we were reporting on Chrysler saying no to the government recall of some of its SUVs? It said, no, there's no need, blah, blah, blah. Well --

MALVEAUX: Three million. Nearly three million.

HOLMES: Three million. Well, they are going to recall some other SUVs apparently. To sort all of this out, Poppy Harlow joining us now.

Not the ones that were originally recalled. These are different, different issues. What's going on?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These are totally different recalls. Guys, let me tell you about them, put the numbers on the screen so if any drivers out there have these calls they can be aware that Chrysler is voluntarily recalling these. They notified the government saying there may be some issues, so we're voluntarily recalling these.

First off, 409,000 total Jeep Patriot and Compass SUVs. The number you see on your screen is 254,000 because that is the number of those cars in the United States. They are from model years 2010 to 2012. The issue there is that they're worried that in a slow rollover event the seat belt may not be properly activated and the side air bag may not properly deploy. So those are concerns in a slow rollover. You should take your car in to the dealership if you have one of those.

Here's the second one, 221,000 Wrangler SUVs from model year 2012 and 2013. The issue here is that they're concerned that a power steering component may rub against the transmission fluid line and that that could cause a lot of wear and ultimately possibly break that line so you could have a transmission spill that could disable your transmission. So those are the two recalls today.

What Chrysler is saying, guys, is that they say there have been no accidents or injuries that they know of related to either of these, but they're doing this because of a result of their own investigation internally. But again, this comes days after they said no to NHTSA, the government agency, calling on them to recall 2.7 million of their Jeep models.

MALVEAUX: So, Poppy, I mean, it really begs the question here, what is going on at Chrysler and SUVs? I mean if you've got 2.7 million that they refuse to recall, that were supposedly having problems if you're rear ended, that the car would explode -

HARLOW: Right. Right.

MALVEAUX: And now you've got these models as well. I mean do they have any explanation for why all these SUVs that they're making, manufacturing here, are -- have these problems?

HARLOW: So I think the big question here right is timing. So we just heard about that big recall request that they denied and then we're hearing about this two days later. I asked Chrysler, I just got off the phone with them, and I said, why are we seeing this timing the day after you're coming out and saying you're going to recall these vehicles voluntarily but you said no to what the government asked. And they said there was nothing to do with timing here. Every month, apparently, they have these meetings, they go over all of the investigations internally about their vehicles and decide if they're going to recall some of them depending on the results of those investigations. They told me those happen about the same time every month and this timing is just a coincidence.

But I did want to know what sparked these recalls. Was it a complaint from an agency, the government, drivers? What they told me is that that Wrangler recall on the Wrangler models was driven by some customer complaints, but they told me there were no customer complaints about the Patriot and Compass models.

And also we pulled up these letters. These are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, and they do confirm that Chrysler notified them about these recalls, not the other way around. But this is - this timing is, again, right after that big recall request. Chrysler is standing its ground, guys, on those 2.7 million vehicles that NHTSA is asking them to recall. Chrysler is standing its ground and we know from a source familiar with the situation that they will fight that recall, the separate recall we heard about earlier this week, all the way to federal court if they have to. They do not believe that there is a safety concern there.

HOLMES: OK. Yes, if you're an SUV owner, go to our website and find out whether you're recalled or not recalled.

HARLOW: Right.

HOLMES: Poppy Harlow there. Thanks, Poppy.

MALVEAUX: There's a lot of people involved.

HOLMES: Yes, really.

MALVEAUX: It's unbelievable. HOLMES: Yes.

MALVEAUX: This is my favorite section here. This is our weekly look at girls' education. This is around the world. And today we actually focus on two girls from Cambodia getting an education in Chicago.

HOLMES: It's great. And why they say school is their second life.


BILL SMITH, HELPS CAMBODIAN GIRLS GO TO SCHOOL: We were just horrified. I mean there was hundreds of people on this giant garbage dump.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over) (ph): It was 2002 when Bill and Lauren Smith ended up at this garbage dump outside Phnom Penh. They were sightseeing when their driver asked if they wanted to see the children.

B. SMITH: They were just like starving, picking through garbage for a few cents a day.

WHITFIELD: So the Smiths decided to help one person.

L. SMITH: I remember seeing this little girl with the red hat. And I don't know if it was the red hat or if it was her eyes that just looked kind of hopeless.

SREYNA, SCAVENGED AT DUMP AS A CHILD: The (INAUDIBLE) guy that he come up to me and say, hey, you know, these foreigner want to talk to you. They want to help you. Take you, go to school.

WHITFIELD: They took 10-year-old Sreyna home to talk to her mother and met 12-year-old Salim.

L. SMITH: We're like, well, we've got to help the sister too.

WHITFIELD: The couple agreed to pay the girl's mother what the children earned at the dump, about $10 a month each.

B. SMITH: The deal was that they could never go back to the dump again and we would put them in school. We would pay for everything.

WHITFIELD: Over the years, the girls became close to the Smiths.

SALIM, SCAVENGED AT DUMP AS A CHILD: We feel like we be like second family. I get emotion is like because I don't have like a feeling with my family that much.

WHITFIELD: Now, the two young women are attending college in Chicago.

SALIM: Education to me is like a second life.


MALVEAUX: That is an amazing story.

HOLMES: That's great.

MALVEAUX: The Smiths sponsored two other girls while they were on that trip to Cambodia just a few years later. They started a non-profit called "A New Day Cambodia."

HOLMES: Yes, great stuff. The organization, by the way, helping about 100 girls and boys get an education. The CNN film "Girl Rising," you saw some of it, didn't you?

MALVEAUX: Yes, I got a screening of it and it's just a beautiful, beautiful program. It really is. It is definitely worth seeing. And the premiere is going to be June 16th, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.



ERIKA ELENIAK, ACTRESS, "UNDER SIEGE": What are you like some special forces guy or something?


ELENIAK: Oh, my God, we're going to die.


HOLMES: Steven Seagal usually plays the hero, like in the film "Under Siege" -- wasn't that a beauty - but now he's being called a real life action hero.


California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher tells us that he was actually able to meet with Russian leaders after the Boston bombings thanks to Seagal. He says that Seagal built a relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders through martial arts.


REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R), CALIFORNIA: Because he's a black belt and a very well-respected actor. And I might let you know, I've known Steven Seagal for a long time. He's a personal friend. And he knew we were going to Russia. And because of his black belt and karate and things, he's gotten to know many of the leaders of Russia, including Putin, and was able to use that influence to make sure that we got to talk to the very top people so that we could try to find ways of expanding our areas of cooperation. You know, sometimes actors can actually go out and other than just act, they can actually do good things.


MALVEAUX: I wonder if he's friends with this guy, Dennis Rodman. You remember him traveling to North Korea on his own -


MALVEAUX: Hoping to create dialogue between President Obama and Kim Jong-un.

HOLMES: He was. And, of course -- there he is. There's Rodman there. They ought to send him back and sort it out. Now, don't forget the celebrities that are out there also fighting for human rights. Of course you've got the U.N. good will ambassador, Angelina Jolie, who has been doing that for some time now.

MALVEAUX: And CNN, of course, launching a new show this weekend. I'm going to let you say the name.

HOLMES: I know. It's taken a bit of practice. George Stroumboulopoulos is hosting.

MALVEAUX: Stroumboulopoulos.

HOLMES: Stroumboulopoulos.

MALVEAUX: Hosting.

HOLMES: Yes, he kicks off with Martin Short, Keanu Reeves. That's Sunday night, 10:00 Eastern, right here on CNN. Stroumboulopoulos. Easy.

MALVEAUX: It is - it's not that bad.

All right. If you don't know who he is, watch AROUND THE WORLD tomorrow.

HOLMES: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: He's actually going to be joining us live.

HOLMES: We'll chat. We'll call him George.

All right, that will do it for me. Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD.

MALVEAUX: CNN NEWSROOM continues right after this.