Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Leaker: U.S. Hacks China; Going after the Leaker; "Derecho" Could Threaten Millions; Dozens of Homes Burn in Colorado; "God Is Great!...Sarah Got The Call"; Dems Battle Over Military Sex Assault; Guns, Bombs, Fires and Politics; Woman Finds Dad's Alleged Killer
Aired June 12, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Thanks, Jake. Happening now, hiding out in Hong Kong -- the NSA leaker speaking out again and makes a dramatic new claim about massive U.S. computer spying abroad.
Tens of millions of Americans could face powerful storms, including the terrifying and deadly high speed winds known as a derecho.
And her family fought to get her on the list for a transplant. Now, 10-year-old Sarah is getting a new set of lungs.
Wolf Blitzer is off today.
I'm Brianna Keilar and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A top intelligence official is defending the massive government surveillance programs revealed last week by a leaker. The director of the National Security Agency says the details are still classified, but he tells lawmakers that phone records were critical in foiling numerous terror threats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: It's dozens of terrorist events that these have helped prevent. I want the American people to know that we're being transparent in here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: While U.S. authorities build a case against the man who blew the lid off those surveillance programs, Edward Snowden has now dropped another bombshell. The self-declared NSA leaker, hiding out in Hong Kong, tells a newspaper there that the U.S. has been hacking Chinese computers for years; meantime, vows to fight any extradition attempt. He continues those.
Let's go live now to CNN's Andrew Stevens in Hong Kong. Revelations today -- Andrew.
What did Snowden say?
ANDREW STEPHENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This is just fanning the flames. This is bringing an international aspect to this whole story now, Brianna. What happened was there was an hour-long interview at a secret location with Edward Snowden by the "South China Morning Post." That's the biggest English language daily here. And the big revelation, the headline was that he said the NSA has been carrying out about 61,000 hacks internationally. Now, hundreds of those are on Chinese and Hong Kong targets. We don't specifically know what targets they are, but he talked about network backbones. These are basically big, essentially huge routers, which link into hundreds of thousands of personal computers. So it does spread very, very widely. And that's what Edward Snowden was saying, that they were targeting these.
Now, we don't have specific evidence. The "South China Morning Post" did see some unverified documents. It looked at targets like the Chinese University here in Hong Kong and some institutions.
No sign, though, that any military institutions have been hacked -- Chinese military institutions -- have been hacked by the NSA.
And it brings us to this perplexing question about why did he choose Hong Kong?
I just want to read you a couple of quotes from that, quote -- that interview with the "South China Morning Post."
Now, he says, "People who think I made a mistake in picking Hong Kong as a location misunderstand my intentions. I'm not here to hide from justice, I'm here to reveal criminality. And I can -- all I can do is rely on my training and hope that the world governments refuse to be bullied by the U.S. into persecuting people and seeking political refuge."
Now, it's interesting, Edward Snowden was very clear that he thought the U.S. government was, indeed, bullying Hong Kong into an early extradition.
Now, he was asked -- he was asked to describe himself. And this was interesting, Brianna. He said, "I'm not a traitor, I'm not a hero, I am an American."
KEILAR: Interesting, Andrew.
And you obviously know Hong Kong very well. We hear Snowden saying that he's not in Hong Kong trying to avoid justice.
But do you think that authorities will be helping him fight extradition?
STEPHENS: This is a key question, what will Hong Kong do?
Hong Kong prides itself in its rule of law as distinct from the mainland China rule of law. Hong Kong has its own mini constitution.
So what's likely to happen here and what's been hinted at head by a former head of security here yesterday was that he will be given due course, that he will -- due process, if you like, that the Hong Kong government will follow any extradition request -- remember, though, none has been made at the moment -- to the letter of the law. And that means that he will be -- he will get defense. He will be -- there will be court hearings and he will be entitled to appeals.
So the process, according to a senior expert I was talking to yesterday, could take months to get through, if, indeed, there is an extradition order.
And the big question mark, too, obviously, is what's China's role in this?
Now, at the moment, China has said nothing. Indeed, the Hong Kong government has said nothing. China can block it. China can override the local constitution. It hasn't done many times at all since 1997, the handover here. So we're waiting to see what that happen -- what happens with China.
But at this stage, Hong Kong will apply due process so Edward Snowden could be facing several months, at least, after official charges have been laid in the US.
KEILAR: That's right, Hong Kong is a semiautonomous region, but still technically part of China.
Andrew Stevens for us there in Hong Kong.
So what will it take for U.S. authorities to get their hands on Edward Snowden?
The first step may be getting the charges right.
CNN crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, is looking into that -- so, Joe, have authorities decided what the charges will look like?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, it's complicated. He says he's not in Hong Kong to hide from justice, but what we found is that for the United States to get him back here to face any kinds of charges, it could be a long and involved process.
JOHNS (voice-over): The soul-searching over suspected leaker, Edward Snowden, is only beginning at the National Security Agency.
ALEXANDER: I do have concerns about that, over the process, Senator. I have great concerns over that, the access that he had, the process that we did. And those are things that I have to look into and fix.
JOHNS: Law enforcement sources said the Department of Justice was still preparing charges against Snowden.
It's seemingly an open and shut case, according to a former DOJ official.
ANDREW MCBRIDE, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Probable cause here is one of the shortest putts in the world. It's a gimme in any golf game, because the guy admitted it to the whole world on camera. JOHNS: But getting the charges right against Snowden is potentially complicated because he's tried to position himself as a political dissenter entitled to protection.
EDWARD SNOWDEN, LEAKER: If they want to get you, they'll get you.
JOHNS: An extradition lawyer says the way political crimes are defined, Snowden's admitted leaks might actually qualify.
JACQUES SEMMELMAN, INTERNATIONAL LAWYER: If an individual commits a nonviolent crime that's directed solely against a government, such as espionage or treason or sedition, traditionally, these crimes, horrific as they may be, have been viewed as exempt from extradition.
JOHNS: One possible solution for prosecutors -- charge him with theft of government property, which sounds more nonpolitical, than disclosure of classified information.
But the harder part at the moment is just getting Snowden into custody. The second important choice after Snowden is charged is when to revoke his passport so he's not free to leave the country he's in. And related to that, a third option -- filing for what's called a red notice, issued by Interpol, the international police organization. A red notice would say to the world that the suspect is wanted by the United States.
TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: A red notice tells the country that Interpol believes these are sufficient charges to warrant that country making an arrest, detaining the individual and holding them until the rest of the process can catch up.
JOHNS: A fourth option, probably less likely in a major case such as this, getting foreign immigration police to toss the suspect across a border.
MCBRIDE: Informal rendition, basically, the Hong Kong police find him, pick him up and sort of push through the fence and they hand him to the FBI and he's on a plane back to the States.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
JOHNS: Recent cases of suspects captured in Hong Kong and sent back to the U.S. have mostly been about financial crimes -- hedge fund managers, escrow lawyers, various scam artists, mixed in with the occasional gang member. But right now, we're told the authorities don't even no where Edward Snowden is.
KEILAR: This sounds like some new territory.
Joe Johns for us.
Tens of millions of Americans could now be in the path of powerful storms, including the rare and terrifying derecho. That is that kind of explosive straight line winds that brought death and destruction along hundreds of miles last summer.
Let's get, now, the latest from CNN meteorologist and severe weather expert, Chad Myers -- I've seen a derecho, Chad.
CHAD MYERS, ATS METEOROLOGIST: Yes.
KEILAR: This is a serious business.
MYERS: It sure is. It's going to be a long-lived event, all the way from Chicago right through Indianapolis, maybe Columbus, Cleveland, even Cincinnati, and even into DC if it keeps going. That's how long these can go.
And that likely scenario right centered at Chicago at this hour. A lot of weather already beginning to pop up. A tornado watch already being in effect here west of Chicago. I think we have very close to a tornado on the ground not that far west of Rockford, Illinois. Rockford, if you are listening, take cover right now. It is that serious. The weather is rotating in that cell right there. I can even begin to see it. I can see so much of it, that wraparound system, as it's moving into the Rockford area. A tornado warning for you until 4:30 Central Daylight Time.
Down here a little bit farther to the south, Lee County, there was a funnel on this storm, but it has pretty much lost a lot of its rotation. It could come back, don't get me wrong. But right now, I think you're pretty much in the clear.
We have all of our chaser TV cameras up, our iMaps up. We're watching our chasers. I see a funnel right there. And that's the storm that's headed to Rockford. It's still about 20 miles away, but these are moving rather quickly tonight.
So if you're in the Rockford area or anywhere west of Rockford, take cover from Rockford, Illinois right now. It's that serious.
KEILAR: It is so -- so serious. And there are so many major cities, Chad, that are potentially...
KEILAR: -- affected by severe weather. It's very alarming.
And we'll be touching base with you again as things develop.
Thank you, Chad.
MYERS: You're welcome.
KEILAR: Now next, her family fought to get her on the transplant list. Now, 10-year-old Sarah is getting a new set of lungs. Our doctor Sanjay Gupta has the details on that.
And coming up, the hunt is on for a well dressed suspect who made off with $100,000 in jewelry.
KEILAR: In Colorado, fast-moving wildfires have burned dozens of homes and forced the evacuation of a state prison. And the winds have been picking up.
So let's go live now to CNN's Dan Simon.
He is in Black Forest, Colorado -- Dan, it's looking pretty bad behind you.
How are these conditions going to affect the snow, do you think -- or, pardon me, the fire, do you think?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this may -- yes, Brianna, this may quickly be turning into a nightmare situation for these firefighters. We've been out along this highway for the past hour. The winds have kicked up. Every few minutes, we keep seeing more black plumes of smoke, which means that more houses are burning.
We just saw firefighters come through this area, just cleared everybody out. They're concerned that the fire is now going to jump this highway and take out more homes on the other side.
I would say the wind gusts now somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 miles an hour.
This fire, we were told, is still zero contained and it absolutely shows no signs of abating. You can see these huge plumes of white smoke out in the distance. You can see some of the black plumes, as well. It's just a terrible situation for these firefighters -- Brianna.
KEILAR: And, Dan, this prison that was evacuated, how -- that seems like something that is very rare.
Do you even know how that was carried out?
This must be a very unusual thing.
SIMON: Well, with that prison, that was simply a matter of precaution, to make sure that those prisoners got out without any incident. The flames were getting awfully close to that prison, so they thought, obviously, it would be a good idea to get those prisoners got out. We're talking about low to medium-risk prisoners. They were taken to other prisons throughout the state of Colorado. But I have to tell you, this Black Forest fire is progressively getting worse. This is what, quite frankly, officials fear.
They fear these winds. They fear this heat. And now, we're beginning to see what's happening as these flames are getting closer to us and may skip over this highway. We've also seen a number of aircraft this afternoon, some of these big jumbo DC-10 aircraft dumping water, dumping retardant on the flames.
I have to tell you, at this point, they're not making much of an impact, because the winds are just so intense. Hopefully, the winds die down tonight and then make some headway, but at this point, it is not looking good, Brianna.
KEILAR: Just stop (ph) against such awful conditions today. Dan Simon will be following that for us in Black Forest, Colorado. Thank you, Dan.
And the 10-year-old girl in desperate need of a pair of new lungs for months, she is finally getting them this hour after a dramatic battle that went all the way up for the federal government. Sarah Murnaghan's transplant surgery has been underway for much of the day.
CNN national correspondent, Jason Carroll, is outside of the hospital there in Philadelphia. CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also joining us. Jason, let me start with you. First off, how is she doing?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I just spoke to her parents. And, she is doing as well as can be expected. This is a difficult surgery. As you can imagine, her parents are overjoyed for the past couple of days. Sarah has really been struggling. She's been in critical condition, fighting for every single day.
And then, you can imagine how they felt last night, Brianna, at 10:30 when they got word that a donor had come forward and that a donation was going to be made for those lungs. And so, at this point, it's a matter of waiting, waiting to see what doctors can do, waiting to see how she does during surgery. Just a little while ago, I spoke to her mother and her aunt about how Sarah was doing and about how the family is doing as well.
JANET MURNAGHAN, SARAH MURNAGHAN'S MOTHER: Mostly relief, because since Saturday, she's been, you know, in a medically induced coma, intubated, and it's been really hard. There's no really good place to go from here. So, mostly feel relief. Of course, I'm a little nervous. You know, my baby is in that operating room, but I'm trying to focus on. You know, we did it. We have lungs, and she has hope and a future.
CARROLL: And now, we're coming close to five o'clock. Are they giving you updates in terms of how she is doing hour by hour? What have they told you so far?
MURNAGHAN: Not a lot, just that she's -- they brought her into the O.R. around 12:00, but they didn't start operating until what time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: BECAUSE they're waiting for the other lungs to come in and they're timing it all perfectly. So, they had her there and under ready to go.
MURNAGHAN: But they didn't do any incision until around two.
CARROLL: And what we're told, Brianna, is that Sarah is expected to be in surgery for another several hours. They're sort of taking it hour by hour. This is not just a victory for Sarah Murnaghan but also for Javier Acosta. He's 11 years old, also here at this hospital, also suffering from cystic fibrosis.
And as you know, because of these two children and what their families did, there's now been at least a temporary policy change, a national policy change in terms of how children under the age of 12 are prioritized on adult donor lists.
So, it's really been an incredible medical victory for them, but also an emotional victory and an ethical victory as well -- Brianna.
KEILAR: Jason, because of them, kids will get the same consideration as adults. And it's caused so much attention to be paid, certainly to Sarah's case today. So, let's turn now to Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This is obviously high reward, this surgery, Sanjay, but I imagine, it's also very high risk as well.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there's no question. I mean this is a -- it's a tough operation, lung transplant surgery. And as Jason was just talking about, you're dealing with the additional situation of putting adult lung donors into a child's body. Sometimes, they can make that work in terms of size simply by trimming the lungs, sometimes, they will take lobes, particular lobes, of the lung and transplant those.
It sounds like a simple thing, Brianna, but the size really does matter here. The blood vessels have to match up. The various airways have to match up. And that's part of the technical challenge of doing this operation. But also, I think to your question, Brianna, look, if you take all lung transplants across the board, if you look five years out, and again, and this is a tough thing to sort of reconcile, but five years out, about half of those patients survive.
So, with someone who has cystic fibrosis, and the odds are even a little bit tougher. She's more predisposed to infections. She's going to be on drugs that suppress her immune system for the transplant. So, there's a lot of different things are going to be juggled both surgically and medically.
KEILAR: What is the best-case scenario here? Is she going to potential be able to just act like a normal kid?
GUPTA: Yes. You know, I think when you talk about cystic fibrosis, you're talking about a genetic disease. So, the lungs, you know, it becomes very obvious in terms of limiting her function. And with the new lunges, she should -- you know, if everything goes well, she should regain a lot of that function, be able to able to do the things a 10-year-old girl could do.
But she still does have cystic fibrosis. It can affect other organs, and she's also going to be someone who's going to need to take medications now, so she doesn't develop rejection of these new lungs. So, it's never going to be the same, I think, for her, as everyone knows, but it could be a lot closer to normal.
KEILAR: A lot closer to normal. We certainly hope so. Sanjay, thank you for that.
GUPTA: You got it, Brianna.
KEILAR: Now, Sarah is just one of many children battling cystic fibrosis every day, and now, one NASCAR driver is joining the fight to help find a cure.
DENNY HEMLIN, NASCAR DRIVER: Hi. I'm Denny Hamlin. And we can make an impact on finding the cure for cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a respiratory disease that affects breathing. The lungs don't function the way that they should. And eventually, you'll need a lung transplant. My first experience with someone with cystic fibrosis was my cousin.
I never understood why he had to take so much medicine every single day until I got a little bit older that I realized that he had a disease that, you know, there was no cure for. We started the Denny Hemlin Foundation doing different events, started the short track showdown a couple years after that, and really just grown the foundation over the last few years and contributed to cystic fibrosis as well as a lot of children's hospitals in the Richmond area.
We hope that, you know, CF is something that people recognize, the cystic finbrosis, but eventually, we hope CF means "cure found." Join the movement, impact your world at CNN.com/Impact.
KEILAR: When we come back, information that a lot of parents will want to know. Those soccer headers that you typically see on the field? Well, they could pose a serious danger.
Plus, a brazen jewelry heist caught on tape at Tiffany's. This is the latest on the hunt for a suspect who got away with $100,000 in diamonds.
KEILAR: Here's a look at some of the other stories we're monitoring in the SITUATION ROOM. Those headers that you typically see on the soccer field may look harmless, but actually, they could cause serious damage to the brain. A new study suggests those subtle hits when they occur repeatedly could be just as bad as a much more powerful blow.
A single blow to the heard Researchers found player had to reach certain number of headers before damage was reflected in the brain scan. They caution more research is required before drawing any conclusions.
And almost eight months since superstorm Sandy devastated parts of New Jersey and New York, New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is proposing a $20 billion system of flood walls, levies, and other measures to protect against what he considers evidence of climate change. In the proposal, the mayor says as bad as Sandy was, future storms could be worse due to rising temperatures and sea levels. Climate change has been a political hot button issue for years.
And New York City police are on the hunt for the man seen here in the surveillance tape inside of Tiffany's allegedly pulling off a jewelry heist in plain sight. You can see him phasing there at first, then walking over to the counter and taking two diamond necklaces reportedly worth an estimated $100,000. No one was injured.
And next, why Joe Biden is a bit worried about a Senate race in Massachusetts and what Democrats are doing about it?
And in our next hour, has all that government spying actually saved lives? Jake Tapper talks to former NSA and CIA director, Michael Hayden, about the leaks.
KEILAR: A veteran Democratic congressman facing a rookie Republican for a vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts. Once upon a time, that might have been a no-brainer. But in a close race, Democrats are taking no chances, bringing in President Obama to campaign today. Here is CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, Democrats in Massachusetts have seen this election drama play out before. A Senate seat is up for grabs. A Republican candidate might take it away from them, and President Obama tries to ride to the rescue.
ACOSTA: With his party fearing an open Senate seat in Massachusetts could fall into GOP hands, President Obama parachuted into Boston to warn of the consequences if Democrat Ed Markey loses.
OBAMA: You can't just turn out during a presidential election. You have to turn out in this election.
REP. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Democrats do not agonize. Democrats organize.
ACOSTA: But polls show Markey, a longtime Congressman, is roughly in the same position Democrats were in three years ago when the president tried but failed to help Martha Coakley in her race against fresh- faced Republican Scott Brown.
OBAMA: Somebody who's fought for the people of Massachusetts every single day.
ACOSTA: This time the GOP has a different newcomer in Gabriel Gomez, a former Navy SEAL and son of Colombian immigrants who's enjoying all of the White House attention.
GABRIEL GOMEZ, GOP SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I guess I'm the reason he's coming up here. He's going to try to prop up Congressman Markey.
ACOSTA: And it's not just the president. Vice president Joe Biden sounded the alarm at a Markey fundraiser that without Mr. Obama on the same ballot, minority turnout could be low, adding, "Ed should win, but this is a strange moment. There's not a lot of people paying attention."
COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Killing bin Laden had been a goal for years.
ACOSTA: Markey has ratcheted up the attack, starting with this web video, slamming Gomez for his links to a group that accused the president of taking too much credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden. When Gomez hit back, some of his inexperience shows.
GOMEZ: For him, it could be as dirty and low as pond scum. To put me up next to (ph) bin Laden.
ACOSTA: Do you think that Ed Markey is pond scum?
Gomez indicated to CNN he regrets the comment.
GOMEZ: Was I thinking it? Yes. Should I have said it? Probably not.
ACOSTA: But Markey is showing no signs of letting up.
MARKEY: He may be a fresh face, but he's promoting the stalest, old Republican ideas.
COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: Gabriel Gomez is a very bad man.
ACOSTA: Now Gomez is mocking Markey's ads.
COMMERCIAL ANNOUNCER: He even leaves the toilet seat up.
ACOSTA: But the race is no laughing matter for the president, who made a pit stop at a Boston sandwich shop to remind voters what's coming in less than two weeks.
OBAMA: I want to make sure everybody turns out and votes. All right?
ACOSTA: There's one difference between Gabriel Gomez and Scott Brown. Three years ago, Scott Brown was openly campaigning again President Obama. Gomez is doing almost the opposite, saying he'll be a reliable vote with the president on expanding background checks on gun buyers and for immigration reform, indicating he's got a tough uphill climb against a Democratic Party that's faring better these days in a deep blue state. Brianna?
KEILAR: Jim Acosta for us in Boston.
Big news today on the NSA controversy. The director of the National Security Agency says newly revealed secret programs were critical in foiling numerous terror threats. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: It's dozens of terrorist events that these have helped prevent. I want the American people to know that we're being transparent in here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Let's talk about that and more with CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger, chief national correspondent John King, and our chief political correspondent Candy Crowley, the anchor of CNN's STATE OF THE UNION.
How does it help President Obama, or does it help President Obama?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT; I think any time you have -- one of the most respected institutions in the United States is the military. Any time you have a guy up there and he's got all these ribbons and generals, people are going to listen. So certainly that helps the president. The other thing that helps him is exactly what he said, we've been able to, you know, stem a lot of terrorist threats here. If you ask people, would you rather be safe or have people know that you have -- the numbers on the phone -- they go, oh, I'd rather be safe.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: He doesn't need that much help on this particular issue with the American public because the American public is already with him on this. They don't like the idea that all this metadata, as we call it, is being collected. But if you look at the polls, they also say we understand why, because it's necessary to fight terrorism. Which is why you heard General Alexander talk today about the possible declassification of instances in which this data helps thwart terror attacks. I think he said there were dozens of times in which it was really, really crucial and very important.
I would also argue, though, that the president's been silent since Mr. Snowden came out, and that we might want to hear from him on this subject again.
JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And not everyone will be satisfied with this. I think Candy is dead right: when a general says it (INAUDIBLE). People say, if you're going to do this, do it only if it's worth it. So, he says dozen of plots, and you say, oh okay. It's worth it, and they're willing to have their privacy infringed a little bit. But there are some Democrats, Senator Mark Udall among them, who say I'm not so sure when that. Maybe you could have done this another way. Did you have to do this?
So the problem for the American people is they won't hear the evidence of which plots, because most of that is classified, it'll be discussed in private.
And the other thing is the next up the ratchet, the flow chart, if you will, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, another Democrat Ron Wyden, traditionally a friend of the president, but on this issue thinks he didn't tell the truth to Congress. He asked him point-blank, do you collect American citizens' emails? And he said not wittingly, said no. And then not wittingly. And now Ron Wyden --
BORGER: And then later he said that's the least untruthful -
KEILER: But you do have Senators Wyden and Udall and Paul, so bipartisan senators who are speaking out against the administration.
CROWLEY: Filing suits, by the way.
KEILAR: But they have prominent Republicans and Democrats in leadership and on specific committees that support -
BORGER: The intelligence committee.
KEILAR: -- Exactly, folks who are very much in the know and are very respected. That obviously helps President Obama. But this comes on the heels of other controversies that were throwing him off his game. So, it lends to the question of whether this is getting in the way of his agenda. Do you think it is?
CROWLEY: I would say lots of things are getting in the president's way. I mean, he's a second-term president, we're now looking at the midterms. There are plenty of things that are in front of him in terms of immigration reform. He's still got Republicans that are looking at it going no way, no how.
When you look at his agenda, it was always going to be tough. This makes it tougher, but, you know, he can still do a couple more things, obviously, maybe even some big things. I think they still sound like they're going to get immigration. We'll see, but there are lots of things in his way before this.
BORGER: I can't imagine that President Obama heading into a second term thought what would he be talking about front and center most of the time would be talking about drone policy, leaks, surveillance? This is isn't exactly the stuff he really intended to be talking about. If you talk to people at the White House, they're like, we're straight ahead. You know this Brianna; you've covered the White House. We're straight ahead, not going to affect anything.
KEILAR: But let me ask you about this, John. On immigration, there's a point to be made, right, that a lot of the, I guess, fervor for immigration now resides in Congress where it should be, in order to push something through. President Obama maybe doesn't have that much impact on Congress at this point. So does that really matter?
KING: The biggest impact the president may have to have down the road is in cutting a final deal. You saw behind him yesterday the head of the Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue. That's a Republican, if you will, standing behind the president. John Boehner, the Republican speaker, wants immigration reform. Not to help President Obama, but to help the Republican Party get this nightmare with the Latino vote behind it.
The question, though, is if the House passes something that gives legal status, but not an automatic, not a sugar-coated path to citizenship, not what the president wants, not even what Marco Rubio, the conservative Republican senator wants -- if the House will only pass that, will the president go to the left and say this is the best deal we can get, we get legal status for these 11 million people, they get to apply for citizenship, they just don't get a special path to citizenship. Will the president go and say we have to take this deal, it's the best we can get? Or will he say, no, let's go in and --
BORGER: And the left is going to think it's just punitive, right? You've already got 13 years for a path to citizenship. If you throw up any more requirements, they're going to consider it a roadblock.
CROWLEY: But the bottom line to your question is, this isn't about the NSA or the IRS or any of the other initials we could put out here around which there is a scandal. This is about the issue itself.
KING: But there's a calendar. There is a calendar in any second term.
KEILAR: And he can have a light touch now, but he needs a stronger --
CROWLEY: He has to have a light touch now.
BORGER: But he doesn't have -- to John's point -- on a calendar, he doesn't have a lot of time. You know, my question is, what happens with Republicans in the House of Representatives? You know, even if they get something through the Senate by large majority, the question is, what happens in the house?
KEILAR: It is the huge question mark. Gloria Borger, Candy Crowley, John king, thank you so much.
KEILAR: Just ahead in our next hour, the former NSA and CIA director weighs in on the news, those newly revealed secret programs were critical in foiling numerous terror threats.
Plus, the battle over how to stop sexual assault in the military, reaching a fever pitch on Capitol Hill. Why it's putting some unlikely lawmakers at odds.
KEILAR: An explosive battle on Capitol Hill over potentially thousands of incidents of sexual assault in the U.S. military, and it's putting some lawmakers in the same party at odds. CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. This has sort of split some Democrats.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, Brianna, tonight some Democrats are really upset with one of their own most powerful members after he blocked a push to bring a third party in to oversee some of these sexual assault cases.
LAWRENCE: A battle has been brewing in Congress over to how to stop sexual assaults in the military, and it boiled down to Democrat versus Democrat.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: It is the chain of command that can protect victims of sexual assault.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: The chain of command has told us for decades that they will solve this problem, and they have failed.
LAWRENCE: Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Carl Levin presented radically different visions after a recent Pentagon survey estimated 26,000 troops were assaulted last year. Gillibrand would take away a commander's power to convene a court martial or overturn a guilty verdict. She would give military trial lawyers the authority to decide which crimes to prosecute.
GILLIBRAND: Take it from the victims who have said to us over and over again that they do not report because they do not trust the chain of command.
LAWRENCE: Levin wants to keep commanders in control but allow a senior officer to review cases where the commander decides not to prosecute.
LEVIN: I do not support removing the authority of commanders.
LAWRENCE: The military brass backs Levin. They want the unit commanders kept in the loop.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: Fifty percent of the victims say that if they report the assault, they don't think it does any good.
CHUCK HAGEL, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I don't think you can fix the problem, Senator, or have accountability within the structure of the military without the command involved in that.
LAWRENCE: Victims say those commander can be biased and discourage them from pursuing a case.
JENNY MCCLENDON, MILITARY ASSAULT VICTIM: I remember being questioned about the first rape, did you -- did you say no? And I said, yes. Rape is tolerated in the military.
LAWRENCE: Well, the Armed Services Committee went with Levin's plan and they added a provision to make it a crime to actually retaliate against some of the troops who bring charges against others.
Brianna, it's not nearly as far as Gillibrand wanted to take it. And she's indicated that she's going to take this before the full Senate this summer. BRIANNE KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And we certainly expect this issue to continue, and you will be covering it.
KEILAR: Chris Lawrence, thank you for that.
Coming up, have those massive government spying programs actually foiled terror plots and save American lives? Jake Tapper talks to former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden about the leaks.
But next, they deal with guns, bombs and fires. And they've been talking -- should say taking a lot of political heat. CNN's Jessica Yellin goes behind the scenes with ATF investigators.
KEILAR: They're called to the scene of everything, from the Newtown school massacre to the Boston marathon bombings, yet these special investigators work for a federal agency is caught in a political battle between the White House and Congress. The man President Obama picked to lead it was under fire on Capitol Hill this week. We're talking about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin, got a special inside look.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (On camera): Anywhere?
CHIEF JOHN ALLEN, FIRE RESEARCH LABORATORY, ATF: Yes, just get the paper lit real good.
YELLIN (voice-over): That's me, lighting the fire. Fire forensics.
YELLIN: On the bottom, everything starting to off-gas and catch on fire.
YELLIN: It's one of the specialties of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
ALLEN: This is the only fire laboratory of its kind in the world that does forensics as a type of evaluation.
YELLIN: We toured the ATF's Maryland facility. Where they have a tank for firing bullets.
GREG CZARNOPYS, DEP. ASST. DIRECTOR, FORENSIC SERVICES, ATF: And the water doesn't leave any marks on the bullets so it stays pristine.
YELLIN (on camera): Very CSI.
CZARNOPYS: Yes. Absolutely.
YELLIN (voice-over): A range to test guns used in crimes.
JODI MARSANOPOLI, FIREARMS AND TOOLMARK EXAMINER, ATF: And it has 13 rounds and they're asking whether it did continuously fire and not jam.
YELLIN: And lots of labs. A digital bullet lab to match firearm fingerprints.
WALTER DANDRIDGE, JR., FIREARMS AND TOOLMARK EXAMINER, ATF: With curvature and spatial relationship.
YELLIN (on camera): It looks alike to me. Yes.
DANDRIDGE: Are a hit.
YELLIN (voice-over): A lab for reconstructing bombs and a lab for pulling DNA off anything from a gun to a gas can.
You've seen their experts in the field. At the Newtown shooting, the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, and the Boston marathon bombing.
GENE MARQUEZ, ACTING SPECIAL AGENT, BOSTON FIELD DIVISION: We're bringing our explosive specialists here to the scene and we will be working joint with the FBI and its partners on the JTTF.
MICHAEL CAMPBELL, SPOKESMAN, ATF: Our mission is to fight violent crime with the criminal misuse of firearms or criminal misuse of explosives, and the criminal misuse of fire when we go to arsons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I object to holding this hearing today.
YELLIN: But up on Capitol Hill, the ATF is under fire.
B. TODD JONES, ACTING DIRECTOR, ATF: The ATF plays such a critical role within the Department of Justice.
YELLIN: The president's choice to head the bureau face a confirmation battle, with skeptical senators slamming the agency.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: There's a lot of mistrust and people don't think that anybody is held to account at any time.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Is it a priority for the Obama Justice Department to prosecute felons and fugitives who attempt to illegally purchase firearms?
YELLIN: The last two nominees never even made it to a vote. In fact, the Senate has derailed efforts to install a permanent director ever since senators were given the power to block them under President Bush.
To some, the bureau is tainted by its roles in the tragedy of Ruby Ridge and the fire at the Branch Davidian compound. Now the president says the ATF has gotten caught up in the politics of the gun debate.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Since Congress hasn't confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in six years, they should confirm Todd Jones.
YELLIN (on camera): But even some on the left argue there's no reason for the ATF to exist as its own bureau. They say it should be folded into the FBI. Meantime, the men and women who work there are without a permanent boss in an increasingly rocky political climate.
Jessica Yellin, CNN, Washington.
KEILAR: When we come back, a woman's search for her father's killer finally pays off after 26 years.
Plus much more at the top of the hour on the bombshell news out of the NSA today that those newly revealed secret programs were critical in foiling numerous terror threats.
KEILAR: A woman's relentless search for her father's alleged killer has finally paid off after 26 years thanks to some help from the Internet.
Here's CNN's Poppy Harlow.
JOSELYN MARTINEZ, INVESTIGATED FATHER'S MURDER: This was his last birthday.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's like a dream for Joselyn Martinez.
(On camera): What is your greatest memory of your father?
MARTINEZ: Those parties we had at the restaurant.
HARLOW (voice-over): After 26 years, her father's alleged killer arrested. His capture, thanks in large part to her.
MARTINEZ: My family told me, don't ever forget that name.
HARLOW: Joselyn was just 9 when her father was murdered in 1986. Jose Martinez was shot and killed outside the New York City restaurant he and his wife owned. But the suspect, Justo Santos, fled to the Dominican Republic. The NYPD says the murder case was closed in 1988 after receiving information that Santos was jailed in the Dominican Republic. What the NYPD didn't know was that just a year later, Santos was released.
COMM. RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: They should not have closed the case. It should have been looked at to see if there was additional information as to whether or not he was out of jail.
HARLOW: In 2006, Joselyn started hunting online for her father's alleged killer. Delving into websites like background.com.
(On camera): What did you find? How did you find --
MARTINEZ: I didn't know I had so much stuff. I really didn't.
HARLOW (voice-over): But after years of searching --
MARTINEZ: I was like, I think I have something. Let me look. Let me look. I said, oh, my god. But this -- I had this person in the background check right at the top.
HARLOW: She took what she found here, to the 34th Precinct in November.
MARTINEZ: Because November is the anniversary of my father's death and I get upset.
HARLOW: Police say it's only because of her efforts they were able to capture Santos.
KELLY: It's admirable that what she did. Obviously she made a concerted effort and it paid off.
HARLOW (on camera): It can't believe it. That my daughter has accomplished this.
(Voice-over): A police source tells CNN after Santos was arrested in Miami Thursday, he confessed to murdering Jose Martinez.
MARTINEZ: It's in trying. It's all I wanted was to figure out what happened.
HARLOW (on camera): What do you think your dad would say?
MARTINEZ: I -- you know, I think he would just hug me and smile. He would smile a lot.
HARLOW (voice-over): NYPD detectives are now in Miami and plan to bring Santos back to New York Friday. He will be arraigned next week and faces second-degree murder charges.
Poppy Harlow, CNN, New York.
KEILAR: Joselyn says she has no desire to confront Santos when he gets back to New York and that she now wants to put this behind her.
Pretty amazing story.
And Jake Tapper is here to take us away into the second hour of THE SITUATION ROOM.