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Colorado Burning; NSA Director Faces Grilling; State Department Coverup?; Ariel Castro To Be Arraigned Today; Fort Hood Trial Stalled; High Profile Case; Clashes Intensify In Turkey; Obama Headed to Boston

Aired June 12, 2013 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: -- evacuation of some 800 inmates from a prison. They say it's a precaution. Weather conditions not friendly for firefighters this morning, hot, dry, gusty winds. CNN's Dan Simon live in Colorado Springs this morning. What is the situation right now, Dan?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hi, John. This is a very destructive fire as you said it's taken out or damaged dozens of structures. Don't have an official count yet and with record-breaking temperatures and very windy conditions this fire apparently shows no sign of letting up.


SIMON (voice-over): Raging wildfires across Colorado are forcing thousands to get out of harm's way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out, go! Get in your cars!

SIMON: The black forest fire south of Denver multiplying in size in just hours and engulfing thousands of acres in its path. The thick, bellowing smoke visible for miles, massive flames consuming dozens of buildings in this heavily wooded area.

TERRY MAKETA, EL PASO COUNTY SHERIFF: We are still at zero containment. The fire is still pretty well scattered. It's not just one wall of fire.

SIMON: Firefighters say strong winds and record high temperatures are fueling the fast-moving fires.

MAKETA: With nightfall, cooler air, hopefully the winds have died down.

SIMON: The black forest fires one of at least five fires ablaze across Colorado, some 150 firefighters and the National Guard aiding in the battle.

MAKETA: We have other firefighters around the state that also draining resources, but right now, I could not be more pleased with the support we've received.

SIMON: This area is no stranger to devastating fires. Last summer the Waldo Canyon fire killed two and destroyed 346 homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not experienced with wildfires. I tell you what? I won't underestimate it again.

SIMON: And Colorado was not alone. In Northern California, a firefighter was killed while fighting a wildfire caused by lightning. Lightning also the cause of another growing wildfire near Kingston, New Mexico and early a devastating fire season not showing any signs of slowing down.


SIMON: This black forest fire is not contained at all, zero percent. One of the big challenges right now is getting enough resources in place. You have several fires raging throughout the state. The big priority today will be trying to get more firefighters here on the frontlines -- John.

BERMAN: The figure there, the zero percent contained. Dan Simon, our thanks to you. Will they get any help with the weather today? That's the big question. We're joined now by Indra Petersons tracking the storm for us -- tracking the weather for us. Wish there was a storm, dry weather out there.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You're talking about how dry it is. Take a look at the current relative humidity. We're talking about 22 percent in Denver so all of Colorado notice how dry it is really in the western half and this is the early morning hours when you typically see some recovery.

By the afternoon single digit relative humidity and with that, of course, they have the red flag warnings and that high fire danger out there. The other thing we're watching is the low that rode over the jet stream. You saw the moisture on the east coast, all of the moisture banking up against the dry air.

You have the warm air to the south and cold air to the north, and all of this producing a severe weather threat today. In fact, it's an enhanced weather talking about a moderate risk area today. We're talking about big cities, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and all of this dealing with the threat of straight line winds, strong winds, 90- mile-per-hour winds that could be long lived and even the isolated threat for tornadoes.

But I do want to point out, as the system makes its way to the east, remember what we saw a few days ago looking at a moderate risk already a day ahead of time expected in the New England area so severe weather definitely on all of our minds today.

BERMAN: More severe weather headed this way. All right, Indra, thanks a lot.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Get ready for fireworks on Capitol Hill, Keith Alexander who oversees the NFA and its massive data mining operation is set to testify before senators this afternoon. Many of them are demanding greater transparency from the agency and there's one lingering question the NSA director will likely have to face, a question no one seems able to answer. Here's Joe Johns.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Investigators are asking where in the world is the man at the center of the scandal, former intelligence contract worker, Edward Snowden. Members of Congress were told in a briefing at the capitol that the National Security Agency doesn't know, a real irony, says former Justice Department official, Andrew McBride.

ANDREW MCBRIDE, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: On the one hand, the NSA is collecting all this information and we have no liberties and on the other hand they don't know where this guy is.

JOHNS: Chief of both the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command Keith Alexander is heading to Capitol Hill and can expect a grilling this afternoon. At least one member says he was surprised by the scope of the surveillance program.

REPRESENTATIVE BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I did not know a billion records a day were coming under the control of the federal executive branch.

JOHNS: It's part of the growing outcry for the government to make more information available to the public about its secret phone and internet tracking programs, and it's not just politicians, internet giants, Google, Microsoft and Facebook are calling for greater transparency and permission to tell the public what they gave out. And lawsuits are threatening including the ACLU challenging the constitutionality of the phone program. Suspected leaker Edward Snowden says he wants that debate.

EDWARD SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: The public needs to decide whether these programs or policies are right or wrong and I'm willing to go on the record to defend the authenticity of them and say I didn't change these. I didn't modify the story. This is the truth. This is what's happening. You should decide whether we need to be doing this.

JOHNS: While a law enforcement official says there's no time frame for when charges will be filed, legal experts the most likely charge is unauthorized disclosure of classified information under the espionage act.

MCBRIDE: There's one felony here that pretty clearly applies and that's the disclosure felony, which has 10-year max. So you can stack those up all you want, but under the sentencing guidelines basically he's looking at 10 years.

JOHNS: Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


ROMANS: The State Department defending itself against claims it tried to stop investigations of its own people. In an internal memo obtained by CNN, the department's inspector general alleges high ranking officials thwarted probes into a number of incidents including a U.S. ambassador and a member of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail accused of soliciting prostitutes.

A security official in Beirut accused of sexually assaulting foreign guards and an alleged drug ring operating near the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. The State Department responded saying we hold all employees to the highest standards. We take allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate thoroughly.

BERMAN: Ariel Castro scheduled to be arraigned this morning in Ohio. He's been indicted on 329 counts, kidnapping, rape, murder and holding three young women captive. Castro allegedly held them for close to a decade inside his Cleveland house, restraining them with vacuum cords, chains and tape. Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus and Michelle Knight were freed last month and are said to be healing privately adjusting to their new lives.

ROMANS: More delays ahead in the court marshal of Fort Hood shooting suspect, Major Nadal Hasan. The jury selection was supposed to get underway last Wednesday, but Hasan's decision to represent himself has prompted a series of motions and hearings. Hasan could face the death penalty if convicted in the November 2009 shootings. He's asking for a three-month delay to prepare his case.

BERMAN: In Sanford, Florida, jury selection continues in the George Zimmerman murder trial. On Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned 10 potential jurors. The high profile nature of the case very much coming into place. So far, all of the prospective jurors screened in the case say they have heard something about the shooting of Trayvon Martin. None have been seated yet.

Now to the gripping tense situation in Turkey, new developments this morning, live pictures from Taksim Square, protest leaders are scheduled to sit down face-to-face with the very man they've been rallying against, the prime minister.

Right now as you can see, no active protests but as you can also see riot police are in place waiting just in case. You can also see the square cleaned up just a little bit. This is quite a difference compared to last night when protests reached a fever pitch, demonstrators fending off tear gas, water cannons and stun grenades. And at times, they setup fireworks in celebration and in protests.

Our correspondents have been on the ground right in the thick. They are covering every flare up including senior international correspondent Arwa Damon. She joins us now from Istanbul, overlooking Taksim Square.

Arwa, at this point now, it looks like a different situation from last night when we saw you walking around in a gas mask.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It most certainly is a completely different situation here this morning. What you see behind me, the traffic in Taksim Square, it is almost back to normal. A lot of people are filing through the square going about their daily business. Many of the roads that were blocked off yesterday have now been opened except for the road that is underneath the opera house, that's the building that has the Turkish flags draped down from it.

Underneath there, there are still riot police that are waiting on standby, but a lot of the Gezi Park protesters remaining inside the park, they've managed to barricade themselves in front of one of the entrances that leads from the park down a set of steps into Taksim Square, a substantial barricade that even includes the burnt out carcass of a vehicle that they managed to drag up there but a very, very different situation than what we were seeing even just some 12, 8 hours ago.

One also has to remember that when we look back at the demonstrations that have been happening here, there have been lulls taking place. There have been moments of calm and then it seems it erupts at any given moment.

BERMAN: So we know there's this meeting scheduled today between the prime minister and what his people are calling protest leaders. What's going on with this?

DAMON: Well, look, a lot of the protesters, a lot of the leaders of these various different groups that have been involved in the Gezi Park protests since the beginning are actually not attending that meeting. In fact, one member of the main umbrella coalition responsible for the demonstrations has said that they were not even officially invited.

And he and others have been telling us to sit down and try to negotiate with the government at this point in time would be effectively fruitless because of what happened yesterday, because of the government's ongoing use of excessive force against these demonstrators who are by and large peaceful, but also because of the prime ministers as they describe it condescending rhetoric toward the demonstrators, calling them marginal, going so far as to call them extremists in some cases.

They are saying that those people who are in fact attending this meeting are mostly allied with the government to begin with so it's something of the government actually speaking into itself to try to bring about resolution to what has become an incredibly complex issue that is about so much more than just the protection of Gezi Park.

BERMAN: All right, Arwa Damon for us in Istanbul overlooking Taksim Square, the site of so much chaos over the last 24 hours, calm for now. Let's see what happens. Thanks, Arwa.

ROMANS: Thursday can't come fast enough for the Miami Heat. That's when they play game four of the NBA finals. Last night, the San Antonio Spurs routed the heat 113-77, in game three in San Antonio. The Spurs now lead the series 2-1 games. Finals record 16 three- pointers in the game. Danny Green who led the team with 27 points, hits seven threes himself. The next two games are also in San Antonio. So tomorrow night is really a must win for Lebron James in the game. You said he was a duke.

BERMAN: Barely a duke, not royalty at all. He wasn't even a footman in the house.

Coming up, President Obama heads north stumping for a Senate candidate, why Democrats think it is so important to keep this seat and why Republicans are so desperate to take it away.

ROMANS: And a naked man runs wild in a San Francisco subway station. We'll tell you what happened.

BERMAN: Not just a naked man, a naked acrobat.


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back to EARLY START.

President Obama headed to Boston today and the Democrats pulling out all the stops hoping to hold onto a critical Senate seat left vacant by John Kerry. Their candidate, Edward Markey, has a shrinking lead in the polls, a scenario eerily similar to when Democrats found themselves in just three years ago.

Here's CNN's national political correspondent Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the second debate in the race to fill an open Senate seat in Massachusetts, it didn't take long for the gloves to come off.

Republican newcomer Gabriel Gomez tried to tie Democratic Congressman Ed Markey to the lawmaker's four decades in Washington.

GABRIEL GOMEZ (R), MASSACHUSETTS SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: You are in Washington, D.C., then you own the national debt, sir.

ACOSTA: Markey labeled Gomez as another GOP vote for a party growing more conservative.

REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I've had a job. My job is to have been fighting the Tea Party Republicans.

ACOSTA: It's been this feisty for weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Killing Bin Laden had been a goal for years.

ACOSTA: Ever since Markey's campaign launched this web video slamming Gomez for his links to a group that accused President Obama of taking too much credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Gomez hit back, some in his own party winced.

GOMEZ: To be as dirty and low pond scum, like to put me up next to Bin Laden.

ACOSTA (on camera): Do you really think Ed Markey is pond scum?

GOMEZ: Should I have said it? You know, probably not. ACOSTA (voice-over): The race is nasty because it's close. The latest polls have Markey up by seven points, in a state that should be a safe Democratic bet.

It's roughly the same position Democrat Martha Coakley was in three years ago, when she was favored to beat another fresh face, Scott Brown, for the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. As the race was slipping away from Coakley, President Obama flew in for a rally but it was too late.

Guess who is coming in for Markey with less than two weeks to go?

(on camera): Does this mean that your lead is not a comfortable one?

MARKEY: Just the opposite. My opponent, Gabriel Gomez, he had John McCain in.

GOMEZ: I guess I'm the reason he's coming up here. He's going to try to prop up Congressman Markey.

ACOSTA: But the biggest political event of this race, thus far, will be President Obama's rally with Ed Markey later today. Republicans know all too well it will be tough to have lightning strike twice in this state, which is why one GOP operative told CNN they're hoping Markey will, quote, "Coakley it up soon."

Jim Acosta, CNN, Springfield, Massachusetts.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Our thanks to Jim for that.

You know, one thing is overshadowing the Senate race a bit up there, a key trial. And later today, a Boston jury will hear opening statements in the federal murder and racketeering trial of James "Whitey" Bulger. Bulger, who's now 83 years old, spent 16 years on the run before being captured in 2011. He's charged with 19 murders, along with loan sharking, money laundering and shaking down Boston bookmakers and drug dealers for protection money.

Prosecutors say it's in the late '70s through the mid-'90s that James "Whitey" Bulger rose to the top of the notorious Winter Hill Gang.

ROMANS: In Kansas, a jury has convicted a former police officer of murdering his wife. Jurors deliberated for only six hours before reaching a verdict against Brett Seacat, the prosecution argued that Seacat killed his wife Vashti in a rage because she had filed for divorce and then tried to cover up her death by burning down their house. Seacat was -- will be sentenced in August and he faces life in prison.

BERMAN: Now to a bizarre incident. A naked man terrorizes people at a San Francisco BART rail station. It's all caught on camera.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police is on their way. Ma'am, run, run!


BERMAN: This actually happened last month, but the video is only now seeing the light of day. That 24-year-old man is Inar Perez (ph) seen lunging at people doing hand stands, splits -- help us -- back flips.

At one point, he rolls on the ground completely naked, a naked acrobat. Oh, my goodness! Hide the kids.

Friend described his behavior as completely out of character. They don't think drugs were involved. They describe him as a workaholic acrobat, a workaholic acrobat and performer and he seems to be having a breakdown in the video.

Perez eventually surrendered and was taken to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation. He was later released. Police charged him with misdemeanor battery, charges facing the workaholic naked acrobat.

ROMANS: So, what really gets me about this some of the commuters are just like walking by as if nothing is going on.

BERMAN: It's San Francisco. That stuff happened in the subway there.

ROMANS: Performance art.

Coming up, how much would you pay to have lunch with a big named CEO? What a meal with Yahoo's leader is going for? It's all for charity.


ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. Minding your business.

Stock futures are up this morning after heavy selling pressure on Wall Street on Tuesday. The Dow closed down yesterday 116 points, the S&P 500, the NASDAQ dropped about 1 percent. Investigators aren't making big bets until they hear from the Federal Reserve next week. Wall Street is looking for clues on when policymakers plan to begin tapering -- that's the word that Fed chairman used last week -- tapering its $85 billion a month bond-buying.

The mood is also tentative after a call by bond power house PIMCO that it sees a 60 percent chance of a global recession over the next three years to five years due to excessive levels of debt.

Traders of some of the biggest banks in the world allegedly have been manipulating currency rates to profit off their clients. "Bloomberg" reports that employees have been front-running client orders and rigging rates by pushing through trades before benchmarks are set.

Britain's market supervisor considering opening a probe into this potential manipulation of these rates, something called WM Reuters rates used by fund managers to compute the day-to-day value of holdings and even small movements can have a major effects in what is a $3.6 trillion fund market. It's another hit at banks and integrity -- integrity in global markets being taken very, very seriously. If you would like to have lunch with Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, it will cost you 40 grand. She's auctioning off a lunch for charity. She's following in the footsteps of Warren Buffett, the Oracle. His lunch went for just over $1 million.

BERMAN: Wow, this goes for a lot more.

ROMANS: Forty-two thousand dollars is a lot for lunch, but I'd have a few things I would ask Marissa Mayer if I just had $42,000 to spend for lunch.

BERMAN: All right. What's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: People are quitting their jobs.

BERMAN: Really?

ROMANS: And that's good for the economy. The number of workers quitting rose 8 percent in April, compared with April 2012. It means workers are more confident. You don't quit without another job, right? You don't quit if you don't have the hope of finding one.

So, the higher quit rate economists say is a good sign about the economy.

BERMAN: What we need is more quitters.

ROMANS: Quitters, you're a good thing.

BERMAN: All right. Coming up, Ed Snowden, the NSA leaker, is still AWOL, but back home in Hawaii, there is a lot of talk about what and who he left behind. We'll have the latest.

ROMANS: And talk about hooking the big one. We're going to show you what a fisherman almost caught in Alaska and it wasn't what he was hoping for.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you kidding me?



BERMAN: The pole dancing ballerina girlfriend left behind by the NSA leaker shares her heartache online.

ROMANS: Keep your eyes on the road. An alarming new warning this morning about the dangers of distracted driving.

BERMAN: And killer catch. A group of fishermen reel in a lot more than they bargained for.

ROMANS: Whoa! That's a killer whale. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Thirty minutes after the hour right now.

ROMANS: We begin this morning with wildfires still raging in Colorado this morning. Emergency management officials say smoke and flames from the Royal Gorge Fire nearly Canyon City have forced a prison to evacuate nearly 1,000 inmates.

Right now, crews are battling five separate fires.