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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
NSA Leaker Back in Shadows; Turkey Riot Continues; Hillary Clinton's New Twitter Causes Political Buzz; Apple Launches IOS 7, iTunes Radio; Richmond Airport Receives Telephone Threat, Evacuates
Aired June 11, 2013 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Riots erupting in the streets of Istanbul. Police are inside the city square firing off tear gas and water cannons at protesters. We are live in Turkey. Our reporter Nick Paton Walsh has been following these protests all morning. We'll bring you the latest.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And Hillary Clinton sets Twitter afire. How? Well, for starters, she joined. What's her first tweet? Find out.
BERMAN: Big clues, huge clues there. Intrigue.
Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.
ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans.
It's Tuesday, June 11th. Welcome to STARTING POINT.
We begin this morning with new developments in the new -- in a new vow that more NSA secrets will soon be revealed. That's what a reporter for "The Guardian" is promising, just as the source of the leak, Edward Snowden, goes back into hiding. Snowden is said to be still in Hong Kong, but no one knows exactly where.
The White House saying it welcomes debate over the electronics surveillance program Snowden had exposed and is open to changes if the national debate shows the public wants them.
But a just released survey suggests most Americans don't have an issue with being tracked.
Joe Johns live for us this morning in Washington.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Very interesting polling there, Christine.
Members of Congress are calling for prosecution. There's a briefing for House members scheduled on Capitol Hill today involving the FBI and the intelligence community. Even though authorities do not yet know the extent of this case, how much more sensitive information from the National Security Agency has been leaked to a British newspaper.
JOHNS (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, in general or specifically. He's a source. 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 sparks 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 cleared out.
A new national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that a majority of Americans are OK with the government's surveillance. Fifty-six percent of respondents say they approve of the phone tracking program. And even more, 62 percent say they are willing to have their privacy intruded upon if it prevents terrorism.
EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: The public needs to decide whether these programs or polices are right or wrong.
JOHNS: With his videotape confessions, Snowden could face felony charges under the Espionage Act.
DON BORELLI, COO, THE SOUFAN GROUP: If you disclose specified information to unauthorized individual for -- you know, that could lead to the detriment of the United States, then I believe that carries a 10-year penalty.
JOHNS: And if charged, the next question is getting Hong Kong to extradite him.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: The State Department can immediately revoke his U.S. passport and send 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: So, most likely charge at this stage is said to be unauthorized disclosure under the Espionage Act, but a couple members of Congress have gone so far as to suggest that this could a case that should be called treason.
Christine and John, back to you. ROMANS: All right. Joe Johns -- thanks, Joe.
BERMAN: We're also learning more about Snowden's life before the leak when he lived an unassuming life in Hawaii, sharing a home with his girlfriend.
We sent Miguel Marquez to Hawaii to trace the timeline leading up to Snowden's sudden departure to Hong Kong. Miguel joins us now from Honolulu where it is still dark.
Good morning, Miguel.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very dark. Good morning there, John.
Look, this guy had a very low digital profile, but we did find one thing out about him. He gave to the libertarian candidate Ron Paul in 2012. This as we are beginning to understand how he coordinated his exit from Hawaii.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): It was this quiet Honolulu suburb where Edward Snowden lived with his girlfriend for a year.
(on camera): Can you believe that he's involved in this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) I wouldn't believe he's involved with this kind of scenery. And then somebody come in here this morning and I said, your next-door neighbor did something about the government leaking information. I said, what?
MARQUEZ: He was working here, the Honolulu office of government contractor and global consultancy, Booz Allen Hamilton.
In a statement, the company said he had been there for less than three months.
SNOWDEN: But over time, that awareness of wrongdoing sort of builds up, and you feel compelled to talk about it.
And the more you talk about it, the more you are ignored, the more you're told it's not a problem, until eventually you realize that these things need to be determined by the public, not by somebody who was simply hired by the government.
MARQUEZ: Snowden told "The Guardian" he had copied documents at Booz Allen Hamilton, but exactly when is unclear.
We know he asked for time off and moved out of his home here in early May. According to "The Guardian," he told his boss at Booz Allen Hamilton he needed a couple of weeks off for medical treatment as he suffered from epilepsy. He left Hawaii for Hong Kong on May 20th. It appears no one was the wiser about Snowden's abrupt departure. Last Wednesday, police came to his home to check on his welfare, as he had not reported back to work. They found an empty house cleaned and prepped for sale.
(on camera): Last Wednesday, you're putting it on the market. The police show up.
KERRI JO HEIM, REALTOR: Right.
MARQUEZ: Tell me about that?
HEIM: Well, they just came to the door and they asked if I knew where the former tenant was, and that he was missing from work and he had a medical condition, and that was all. It just seemed like a missing- persons type of a thing.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): The following day Thursday, London's "Guardian" newspaper breaks the news of the NSA data mining program. But it appears it wasn't until Snowden declared himself the source of the documents that anyone knew what he was up to.
MARQUEZ: Now, Snowden told the guardian, he told his girlfriend he was going away for two weeks and would be back and she accepted that because he had a strange job, which she knew about. One consistency in all this is they packed up the house, they moved away from Hawaii, she left. Clearly, knowing this was more than two weeks of being away. A bit of an inconsistency in his story and where she is, because she's now apparently on the West Coast, has left, gone back to the mainland.
And a big question that investigators want to know, where is all the stuff that was in his house? It doesn't appear they have served a single search warrant at the moment.
John, back to you.
BERMAN: That is a great question, Miguel. Obviously, some thinking went to this whole plan onstage over a period of several weeks.
All right. Miguel Marquez for us in Hawaii this morning -- thanks, Miguel.
ROMANS: Snowden supporters taking action, posting a petition for him on the White House Web site. The petition creator called Snowden a national hero who should be granted a full, free, and absolute pardon. So far, about 43,000 people have signed up. The White House doesn't respond a petition until there are 100,000 signatures.
BERMAN: Breaking news now from Turkey. Police in riot gear have taken over Istanbul's Taksim Square, where they have been facing off with protesters. They have been using tear gas and water cannons all morning. Turkey's prime minister told lawmakers today he has no intention of changing to accommodate the protesters. This comes one day ahead with his planned meeting with protest leaders. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live in Istanbul, overlooking the square behind him.
Nick, we can see the smoke right behind you. We've seen the canons and fighting all morning. What's the situation right now?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, things have changed since we last spoke, John. It appears that move we talked about earlier, police -- sorry, some tear gas coming into our live position here. They moved to Gezi Park. They moved in briefly and pulled out again it seems.
What we're seeing now is clashes, a new barricade being built, they were, in fact, throwing rocks in our direction, there are police on the street below, we understand that probably is their particular target. But ongoing standoff here really. The police, I think it's clear to say, are trying to encircle this Gezi Park protest.
The Istanbul governor has made it clear that's not necessarily their target, but that brief reign by police made a lot of people briefly concerned. There are an awful lot of tightly packed protesters with tents all around them in the Gezi Park area. But now we're into six or seven hours of these clashes here.
The police have lost one armored vehicle to Molotov cocktails thrown by vehicles, and as we're seeing, really thick plumes of black smokes. They've taken cables to one of their barricades, set fire to them. That's billowing out across the square. And I suppose we have to ask, now, what is the police strategy to get this under control or they trying to reinforce the message Prime Minister Erdogan wants to send, that he's dealing with marginals, looters, extremists, amongst the crowd of protesters here, John.
BERMAN: Nick, I want to ask you a question, but please, take care of yourself if you need to grab a gas mask, by all means, do so.
But you mentioned the Prime Minister Erdogan's strategy. He's scheduled to meet with protesters tomorrow. Given what's going on today, what's he expected to say to them?
WALSH: Well, I'm sure this is about strengthening his negotiating hand ahead of a meeting like that, that maybe less than negotiating -- we are hearing tear gas being fired in the crowd behind. The target seems to be those throwing rocks more in this direction. The tear gas is causing people to scatter behind me. I am sure this is about establishing control over central Istanbul, allowing the conservationist to have their protests inside the wooded area that is Gezi Park.
Despite all of this unrest, plans to redevelop it from the very beginning. But, of course, these scenes have been playing out amid those negotiations. This is the first time he would have sat down and spoken to people called the tax and platform, the frail leadership these people have, this opposition, if they have any at all. So many disparate demands and belief from the people below me, and certainly, the people throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks, not quite sure how easy it will be to get them, to find that position at a negotiating table, John.
BERMAN: Nick, the sights and sounds are remarkable. We're seeing the smoke, we're hearing the smoke, hearing the tear gas canisters fired into the square.
Just right behind you in this square, how is it affecting the rest of life around Istanbul?
WALSH: Well, once you move away from these heavy tear gas clouds -- that's a loud blast you heard is a stun grenade. Most of the time they are using those loud blasts to have people scatter, in combination with tear gas. (INAUDIBLE) they can cause significant injury.
But outside of this particular area, for now as far as we know, Istanbul is calm. This is the very, very center I'm standing in here. In the past there have been clashes in the outskirts, suburbs, as well, continuing, clashes in the capital Ankara, too.
But the scene you're seeing behind me, the question is going to be, soon, what are the police going to do to get a lid on this? What was their strategy? Of course, they are firing lots of tear gas.
BERMAN: All right, Nick, thank you. Give you a chance to put on your mask right there.
ROMANS: Nick is a total professional.
WALSH: I can continue speaking. We are seeing them firing tear gas now in the center of the square, down towards the protesters who man this new barricade here, they set fire to it, too. This is normally a failure to some sort of police advance. They have to have a strategy to reclaim parts of this territory or this standoff could go on for hours.
But I'm sure you can see, thick smoke there, that has caused many to scatter and the objective, I think it's clear for the past few hours, move into these really quite dense steps that move up from the Taksim Square into Gezi Park itself where the protesters are.
I think their move now is probably what those armored water cannon trucks, they may want to seek to move -- I'm seeing now riot place running in from one of these side streets into the direction of the protesters. The protesters are running. The police are responsibly calm in their advance, but firing tear gas as they go.
You can see some protesters moving in on them now, the secondary barricade erected very quickly. But, police, clearly, having a strategy to move down that road now. Of course, they outnumber them significantly. Of course, they are better equipped and organized.
The simple question is, how can the Erdogan administration avoid the problems they faced over a week ago when they were criticized by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the heavy handed use of tactic to suppress ordinary demonstrations here? They don't want these scenes to be considered a repeat of that. So far, we've seen quite a bit of tear gas increasingly so, but also a pretty violent response from some hard core protesters here, John.
BERMAN: May be able to contain the park, but the political fallout might be a different story. Nick, the scene behind you is remarkable.
Just to remind people, some 5,000 people have been injured in these demonstrations in the square behind where Nick Paton Walsh has been standing all morning. You can't talk through something like this. Nick has been extremely, extremely brave standing there.
ROMANS: And professional. When he's telling you clearly what's happening behind him, the play-by-play, and also the political background of the 12 days now of demonstrations, how it began as a conservationist movement and turned into something more serious and more angry against what they say a conservative bent of the government. He's a total professional, Nick Paton Walsh, to be able to report -- clearly, you can tell he's feeling the effects of the tear gas.
BERMAN: He'll get his gas mask on. The tear gas will pass, and we'll check back in with him in a little bit.
ROMANS: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, Hillary Clinton joins Twitter, and the flood gates open. Hundreds of thousands of followers come her way, as she hints -- is she hinting at her future endeavors?
BERMAN: Yes, yes!
ROMANS: I don't know, Berman. I don't see it the way you do, but we're going to tell you about the tweet that's got everyone talking.
BERMAN: So, what is she up to, for real? This morning, there is new speculation about whether Hillary Clinton will run in 2016. Why is there new speculation? Well, she triggered it by her social media debut, specifically, three letters on Twitter. Three big, important letters. CNN's Brianna Keilar is live at the White House with all of the intrigue. Good morning, Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. Hillary Clinton launched her Twitter account yesterday. And already, in less than 24 hours, she has more than 300,000 followers. And this dive into cyberspace is reigniting speculation that she may yet again have her eye on the White House.
KEILAR (voice-over): The now iconic image of then secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, sporting dark glasses intently studying her Blackberry is her profile picture on her new Twitter account. Clinton is taking Twitter by storm. The former secretary of state, senator, and first lady, also described herself as wife, mom, lawyer, and get this, hair icon and pantsuit aficionado, which she joked about at a recent fashion awards dinner.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: All you really need is a small, but passionate, audience to be successful. We could call it project pantsuit.
KEILAR: Perhaps, most telling of all in Clinton's Twitter bio, TBD. Immediately interpreted as a sign she'll launch another run for the White House. "Happy to welcome our 45th president to Twitter," one of her supporters tweeted.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
KEILAR: Clinton has kept a low profile since leaving office in February, though, she's remained in the headlines connected to the Obama administration's handling of the September attack in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed, including a U.S. ambassador. Clinton's poll numbers have slipped slightly in recent weeks, but she still remains a popular figure. And while she hasn't said publicly she'll run in 2016 --
(CHANTING) Hillary! Hillary!
KEILAR: Her allies are getting ready in case she does.
HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There are groups who are getting ready. Whether or not she's ready, there are other people ready for Hillary. They want to be sure that if she makes a decision to run, that there is support right off the bat.
KEILAR: Bill Clinton responded to his wife from his Twitter account asking, "Does Twitter have a family share plan?" Daughter, Chelsea Clinton said simply, "Welcome, mom." President Obama also welcomed his former rival. Judging by Hillary Clinton's first tweet, "There will be many more. Thanks for the inspiration," she said to the creators of the Tumblr parody texts from Hillary which made this photo of her famous, and then, "I'll take it from here."
KEILAR (on-camera): Getting on Twitter now allows Hillary Clinton to communicate directly with voters, John, but perhaps, most importantly, it will allow her to raise money should she choose to run. Yes, we are years away from 2016, but it's rather expensive to run for president. She certainly knows that from last time.
BERMAN: Every time she slips out of the spotlight, she gives people that little something that gets people talking it. She didn't have to put "TBD" on there, but she did. And now, we're talking about it in pristine.
KEILAR: We are.
BERMAN: I wonder. All right. Brianna Keilar at the White House. I appreciate it.
ROMANS: I don't know. I think it's reading too much into it. I really do. I mean, "TBD," you know, she just ended her secretary of state thing, she's "TBD."
BERMAN: OK. I say yes. Ahead on STARTING POINT, an about face by the Obama administration. We'll tell you about the White House's new position on the morning after pill. You're watching STARTING POINT. She's running, by the way.
ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. "Minding Your Business," stocks are under pressure this morning as investors spread about Central Bank's paring back on bond buying programs. The Bank of Japan decided not to add to its stimulus program. So, you got Dow futures right now down about 100 points.
The main stock markets in Tokyo, Paris, and Frankfurt, are all down more than one percent each. Tokyo's Nikkei has been really volatile lately and has fallen into -- bear market territory. So, watching world market this morning.
Apple is launching what it calls its biggest change to its operating system since the introduction of the iPhone. CEO Tim Cook unveiled IOS 7 at the company's developer's conference in California. IOS' redesign has new upgrades like the photo app, will have filters like Instagram has, and you can now choose a male voice for Siri, the digital system.
BERMAN: Christine, you have a call.
ROMANS: Apple also rolled out iTunes radio and a refreshed line of Mac Book airs. (INAUDIBLE), they get a lot of buzz this morning. Still, some analysts are disappointed, saying there wasn't a blockbuster launch, a blockbuster surprise.
Detroit revving up for a hiring spree. That's right. The big three looking for engineers, technicians, factory workers, as automakers add floor space and they buy new equipment. Among the planned hiring for this year, Chrysler will add 3,500 workers, Ford expects to add 3,600 workers. GM intends to hire 4,000.
Vehicle says in 2013 are expected to reach 15.5 million. That's the highest in six years. American auto maker coming back after a very bad few years.
BERMAN: All right. Ahead on STARTING POINT, the White House reversing its position on the morning after pill. We're going to our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, to tell you what this means for you.
ROMANS: And a live report from Boone, North Carolina, where people keep mysteriously dying in the same hotel room. You're watching STARTING POINT.
BERMAN: We have some breaking news for you right now. We're going to show you some live pictures in just a second. We're waiting for live pictures from Richmond International Airport. The airport there has been evacuated due to what we call is a serious threat received by telephone. According to the airport's Twitter account, sweeps of the terminal by canine teams, the dog teams, are about to commence.
They're getting assistance from all kinds of agencies right now. They're clearing the parking decks and they told that passengers may access their vehicles and get out of the airport.
ROMANS: And we know there are people sort of standing round outside, trying to figure out what to do next, but they are calling it a serious event and they have evacuated the airport. And, we're now trying -- and parking decks are clear. They're trying to go through and just make sure that there is no real threat there with canine units.
All right. The extreme weather continuing across the country this morning. Everything from heat waves out west, to tornadoes, rip currents in the East. Indra Petersons is tracking all this wild weather. What is happening out there?