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President Obama Open To NSA Changes; NSA Leaker Back In Shadows; Extreme Weather; Turkey Riot; Santa Monica Shooter Heavily Armed; Immigration Debate Could Start Today; Base Jumper Cheats Death; Motel Mystery Deaths

Aired June 11, 2013 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Tornadoes, flooding and the sizzling heat wave, extreme weather taking a hold of the country from coast to coast.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news in Turkey this morning, riots raging in a crucial hot spot. Police unleash tear gas and water cannons on crowds. Our Nick Paton Walsh live overlooking Taxim Square, his report ahead.

BERMAN: And look at this, a base jumper cheating death, the parachute malfunctions while she's falling, the terrifying scene, all caught on camera. You will not believe what happened to her. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's Tuesday, June 11th. It's 6 a.m.

BERMAN: We begin this morning with new developments, a new vow that more NSA secrets will be revealed soon. That's what a reporter for "The Guardian" is promising just as the source of the leak, Edward Snowden, goes back into hiding. He's gone. Snowden is still said to be in Hong Kong, but where, very much a mystery this morning.

The White House meanwhile saying it welcomes debate over the electronics surveillance programs that has now exposed and that the White House is open to changes if a national debate shows the public wants them. However, a just released survey suggests that most Americans don't have an issue with being tracked. Joe Johns explains.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Investigators are scouring the personal and professional life of NSA contractor Edward Snowden to determine if anyone helped him gather sensitive documents that he leaked to journalists to expose the agency's top secret surveillance programs.

Snowden's last known whereabouts are traced to this hotel in Hong Kong, but he's no longer there. A reporter with "The Guardian" the newspaper that broke the story said on Monday he will not be the one to reveal his source's location.

GLENN GREENWALD, "THE GUARDIAN": I know where he is generally. I'm not going to talk about where he is either in general or specifically. He's a source and I'm not going to disclose information about his whereabouts. He's perfectly capable of doing that himself if he wants to.

JOHNS: And signs Snowden sparked suspicion even before he revealed himself. Investigators visited his Honolulu home asking about his long disappearance from work, but they were too late. He and his girlfriend had cleared out.

A new national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that a majority of Americans are OK with the government surveillance, 56 percent of respondents say they approve of the phone tracking program and even more, 62 percent say they're willing to have their privacy intruded upon if it prevents terrorism.

EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong.

JOHNS: With this videotaped confession, Snowden could face felony charges under the espionage act.

DON BORELLI, COO, THE SOUFAN GROUP: If you disclose classified information to unauthorized individual for, that could lead to the detriment of the United States. I believe that carries a 10-year penalty.

JOHNS: And if charged, the next question is getting Hong Kong to extradite him.

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: The State Department can immediately revoke his U.S. passport and then send a certified copy of the revocation to the authorities in Hong Kong basically notifying them this individual is no longer traveling on a valid U.S. passport.


JOHNS: There are calls on Capitol Hill for prosecution of the person who leaked information on the National Security Agency and we may not even yet know the extent of this. The journalist from "The Guardian" who wrote about it says more stories are on the way -- John.

BERMAN: Our thanks to Joe Johns. Joe Johns, thank you so much in Washington. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: If Snowden stays in Hong Kong and the U.S. wants to arrest him or question him, a 16-year-old treaty, guarantee he will be extradited back to the United States. Will he stay in hiding? Will he surrender? Will he keep moving? Anna Coren is following developments for us this morning from Hong Kong. Do we know where Snowden is right now?

ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christine, there is so much mystery surrounding Edward Snowden, his whereabouts and his motives. Certainly what we do know is that he is still here in Hong Kong. I spoke to one of "The Guardian" journalists who have had a close contact with Snowden over the last week or. And he has not fled Hong Kong. We know that he checked out of a hotel and as of yesterday, and we don't know where he is as yet but certainly still in Hong Kong that is the information that we're receiving -- Christine.

ROMANS: Anna, you went to the hotel where he was staying. What can you tell us how he had been living the past few days?

COREN: Well, Christine, this is a luxury boutique hotel. He is staying in a room that cost $400 a night. Considering he was there for about three weeks, I mean, he managed to tally up a bill of about $8,000 and that was just his room cost alone. We understand that he was also eating in his room so ordering room service very expensive.

He told "The Guardian" journalist that he had almost maxed out his credit card. As to where he's going now and how much cash he has, this is a city of some 7 million people. There are thousands of hotels here in Hong Kong. I mean, it really is like looking for a needle in a haystack. We've obviously put it out there to his contacts to his sources we'd certainly be very interested in speaking to Snowden and authorities are as well.

ROMANS: All right, Anna Coren for us in Hong Kong this morning. Thank you, Anna.

BERMAN: The severe weather across the country shows no signs of letting up. We have heat waves out west, tornadoes, and rip currents in the east. Indra Petersons tracking it all for us this morning. It just keeps getting worse.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's bad news at this point, yes --

ROMANS: We forgive you.

PETERSONS: We had tornadoes in Maryland and Kentucky and the west, complete opposite problem, sweltering heat out there. Let's take a look at this wild, whacky weather.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just went over top of us at work.

PETERSONS (voice-over): Check out this frightening amateur video on YouTube of a tornado wiping out much in its path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, that has hit hard there.

PETERSONS: In Franklin, Kentucky, north of Nashville, roofs were lifted, houses were ripped from their foundations and sections of a fence were even found floating in this swimming pool.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See a bunch of debris in the air and fence started blowing hard.

PETERSONS: Residents like Steve Davenport were found picking up pieces of their countryside homes. Two elderly women were found hunkering down together in their bathtub to ride out the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's awesome. Two elderly women with minor injuries and the wall you see right there is the only wall that's still standing of the house and that's where they were at.

PETERSONS: Much of the nation was gripped by extreme weather. In Maryland, a waterspout and funnel cloud touched down, the storm damaging buildings at the Baltimore Airport and causing flash flooding in the city leaving many in Maryland at a standstill.

At the U.S. Open in Pennsylvania the downpour dampened hopes on the green. On the first day of practice officials were forced to close the course for hours and in gulf shores, Alabama, rough seas and dangerous rip currents were to blame for four drowning.

And in the west, a much different picture, triple-digit temperatures are posing a challenge for firefighters trying to combat a fire near Kingston, New Mexico. That has pushed many residents to evacuate their homes.


ROMANS: All right, breaking news now from Turkey, violent moments in Istanbul's Taksim square, officers are using tear gas and water cannons with demonstrators. We want to get straight back to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh live in Istanbul overlooking at the square for us.

I know, Nick, the tear gas at least when you're not on camera, you're trying to use your gas mask to keep the exposure to a minimum. What is happening there now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the last 2 minutes the police have moved in with significant amount of tear gas to disperse protesters who were gathering in front of the steps leading towards Getty Park and a group of trees at the heart of this protest in the minds of conservationists.

They're now moving I think you can see in a large group towards the center of Taksim Square filing out. They've been using water cannons and tear gas to push people back. We saw that stand inside now and there are clouds of tear gas fill the sky, people running in different directions just scattering to get away from this very toxic fumes, which beginning to walk into our live position here.

But the police in quite substantial presence actually moving out, fanning out, using their armored vehicles to clear ground. They appear to have some sort of strategy to push people away from the roads around that central park and they have hearing loud blasts that seem to be stun grenades too as police escalate the kinds of weapons they're willing to use to push crowds back.

The question is what are the riot police actually going to do? We're hearing the armored vehicles reverse, that's the beeping you're hearing, that blast another stun grenade the police seem to be using. They're using the armored vehicle with the police in that direction. Protesters quite adept at throwing back at the police the tear gas grenades that are fired at them.

It's interesting to work out quite where they'll be moving, facing toward that crowd. When the protest began the police and authorities are interested in regaining control of that central thoroughfare so much vital to the commercial heart of this main city and also the roads that run down the sides as well.

But a slight lull now we're seeing after that tear gas cloud caused people to scatter and I think we're looking to capitalize on the ground they've now taken back from protesters.

ROMANS: Nick, remind us what the protesters are asking for because this is a movement that sort of has evolved over the past few weeks.

WALSH: It scattered in many ways. It began about those trees in the middle there. I think you could perhaps see them on camera, Getty Park, the last green space many say in Istanbul. The source of police tactics spiraled and protesters from the secular middle class angry as what they see the authoritarianism over democratically Prime Minister Erdogan.

He's been power for over a decade now. Police tactics against them fueled further anger. Clashes across the country that we've now seen, the final goals of the protesters most coherently named the Taksim platform, they want an end to tear gas, they want Getty Park itself to be left alone and they want the dismissal of all authorities involved in the heavy-handed police tactic.

They will be meeting with the prime minister tomorrow to discuss that and many perhaps interpret this show of strength behind me by police to improve the prime minister's negotiating hand ahead of a meeting like that.

ROMANS: We hear the loud speaker now, too. We'll check back with you, Nick, as events warrant. Thank you so much.

BERMAN: That appears to be a prayer announcement. So that goes on as these demonstrations and the crackdown continues. We'll get back to Nick as soon as there are more developments there.

Meanwhile jury selection resumes later this morning in the George Zimmerman murder trial. So far, 100 prospective jurors have filled out a questionnaire about the racially charged case. Zimmerman is facing second-degree murder charges in the death of Trayvon Martin. The unarmed 17-year-old was shot to death during a confrontation in February last year. You'll remember that those sparked protests nationwide.

ROMANS: We're getting new information this morning about suspected Santa Monica gunman, John Zawahri. He was very well armed, apparently ready to inflict maximum harm during Friday's deadly rampage that killed five people. According to police, Zawahri had several firearms, 1,300 rounds of ammunition when he allegedly shot and killed his father and brother and set their house on fire before going on a random shooting spree firing at strangers at cars, firing at strangers on the campus of Santa Monica College before he was shot and killed by police.

BERMAN: Accused Fort Hood shooter, Major Nadal Hasan will present his own court martial defense. Today, an Army judge is expected to rule on his request for a delay so he can more time to prepare. The Army psychiatrist is charged with killing 13 people in a shooting rampage back in 2009. If convicted, Hasan faces life in prison or the death penalty.

ROMANS: A big day on Capitol Hill where the Senate is expected to start a debate on immigration reform. A bipartisan plan on the table would create a 13-year path to citizenship for most undocumented immigrants on some top supporters including San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro will be in the White House today as President Obama rallies support for the plan, but conservative critics say it amounts to amnesty. Conservative critics say they'll try to stop it.

BERMAN: You have to look at this terrifying video right now of Austrian-based jumper, Mariah Steinmar, she really did cheat death. The 22-year-old leapt nearly 700 feet from a 52-story hotel in Spain last week. The parachute there you can sort of see malfunctioned and look what happened. She crashes into the side of the building over and over again. Steinmar survived. That's just amazing.

Twice she crashed into that building. Somehow she got lucky the chute got tangled in a hotel room balcony leaving her dangling stories above the ground. A British couple heard her pounding on their door apparently from outside. She did suffer a broken nose and several bumps and bruises, but amazingly luckily for her she's is going to be just fine. She's getting thrashed against the side of that building.

ROMANS: I know that's terrifying, 22 years old. I wonder if she puts base jumping after this.

BERMAN: All right, coming up, what made a North Carolina motel, what made this motel deadly, three people die staying in the same room at different times. There may be some answers this morning.

ROMANS: And cleaning up the coast, BP says they finished the job three years after the deep water horizon spill. So why are there still tar balls showing up in some places?


BERMAN: So, police in Boone, North Carolina, believe they've solved the mystery of the death of three guests, a couple and little boy were found dead in the same hotel room within a month.

CNN's Alina Machado tells us why investigators believe the tragedies are related.


ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A frantic call for help.

CALLER: Oh, ma'am, this is awful, please!

DISPATCHER: OK, so, there's two people in the room at this time, is that right?

CALLER: At least two that we know of. It's a woman and a young child, the child's in the bed.

MACHADO: After 11-year-old Jeffrey Lee Williams and his 49-year-old mother, Jeannie are found unresponsive inside a room here at this Best Western Hotel in Boone, North Carolina.

CALLER: Just please hurry!

DISPATCHER: OK. Don't hang up, OK?

CALLER: I'm not hanging up, ma'am. This just happened to us last month. So please come and help us.

MACHADO: When paramedics responded to the hotel Saturday afternoon, Jeffrey was dead, his mother barely alive. Both were staying inside room 225. That's the same room where Daryl and Shirley Jenkins, an elderly couple from Washington state, were staying when they died on April 16th.

MARK BRUMBAUGH, JENKINS' FAMILY ATTORNEY: It was really a shock to hear that that room had been occupied again after what had happened to Daryl and Shirley Jenkins.

MACHADO: Boone police say preliminary autopsy information for the Jenkins couple was inconclusive, their deaths remained a mystery until now.

ANDY LEBEAU, BOONE POLICE CAPTAIN: It was just within the past 24 hours that the toxicology reports had become available indicating that there was a lethal level of carbon monoxide, as a matter of fact, 60 percent in their blood level.

MACHADO: Authorities say elevated levels of carbon monoxide were found inside room 225 on Saturday. Investigators are still working to find out how the odorless gas got into the room.

LEBEAU: The room 225 is located above a maintenance room in the pool which contains a heater and so, of course, we suspect that that could be a source of the carbon monoxide. But the officials coming in, I'm certain they're going to do a comprehensive investigation and look at all possible aspects.

MACHADO: An attorney for the hotel released a statement saying, in part, "The health and safety of guests who stay at our hotel is our number one priority. We are cooperating fully with authorities."

The attorney for the Jenkins family is expressing dismay that this happened again.

BRUMBAUGH: My clients are extremely upset that this had to happen again, or was allowed to happen again.

MACHADO: Alina Machado, CNN, Boone, North Carolina.


ROMANS: That's a terrifying story. Hurricane season officially under way, experts predict this year could be a doozy. We could see as many as 13 to 20 named storms. The average is 12. Tropical Storm Andrea has already blown through. So, if you're planning flights, cruises, or hotel stays during hurricane season, you got to be a proactive road warrior.

Travel insurance might be a good start but be really careful. A lot of policies don't cover weather-related events. Oh, that's a big -- that's a big caveat and ones that do have very different levels of coverage, some will just reimburse you for hotel cost if airlines can't take to you your destinations. Others let you cancel for any reason. Even the plane is still flying.

So, read the fine print. Always read the fine print. Check with your hotel and airline policies are before you book. Some will let you change your plans or even offer a refund, if there's going to be a significant weather event. Hurricane season ends November 30th.

BERMAN: Yikes! Long way to go.

ROMANS: And, you know, I'm going to tell you. Often when you're doing business travel, I mean, your company already has policies with their business travel that, you know, allow for this. So don't pay extra.

BERMAN: Be a proactive road warrior.

ROMANS: Coming up, we know the federal government spends a lot of money but you may be surprised how much is used for outsourcing. We're going to tell you just how much and who is getting those lucrative contracts.

BERMAN: And right now, we have live pictures to show of the situation breaking right now in Istanbul -- demonstrations and a crackdown by police who have been shooting water cannons, tear gas. You can see them amassing at the outskirts behind their shields. We'll go back to the scene as this dramatic morning unfolds.


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START.

Minding your business -- stocks set to struggle again today. Dow futures are down about 40 points. That would add to yesterday's modest loss.

Booz Allen Hamilton shares fell more than 2 percent yesterday. They're slipping a bit again today. You know, this come as we've learned the NSA leaker Edward Snowden was a Booz Allen employee. Investors are worried it could hurt the firm, which gets 99 percent of its revenue from work it does for the government. And, of course, doing top secret work, you know, you can't have a leaker like that and be able to really stand on that reputation. So, that's what investors are worried about right now.

In the wake of that controversy, we learned the government relies heavily on outsourcing for its top secret intelligence analysis. And it doesn't come cheap. In just the past year, Uncle Sam shelled out half a trillion dollars to contractors. That's about double what the government spent a decade ago, and it doesn't include other contracts awarded by National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies because spending in those departments is classified.

John, we are in an era of austerity and looking at budgets and how we spend our money. But on these very big and growing secret projects, we don't get to know, it's not on a budget line. I think they call them dark programs, right?

BERMAN: Expensive, dark and classified.

So, what's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: Did you know Americans are giving $225 to banks a year. Just giving it free money to banks, 225 bucks. These are overdraft fees that comes from a new study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Analysts say this report is the strongest signal yet the government is stepping up scrutiny of overdraft fees. And the government, you know, our regulators are concerned that banks have very unclear policies, wide variations in how much people are paying for overdrafts and the kind of people who are signing up for overdraft protection most likely to end up having their bank accounts closed, have all kinds of extra fees, be careful out there, the government is watching now.

BERMAN: Don't get caught.

Coming up, was it a crime of passion? We're finding out who are about what authorities say a Houston doctor tried to do to her lover.