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Defending the Surveillance Program; Pro-Snowden Rally in Hong Kong; Colorado Wildfire 55 Percent Contained; Obama to Head G8 Summit

Aired June 16, 2013 - 08:00   ET



ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

A swimsuit designer, a private Manhattan club, and some revealing surveillance footage. The high fashion murder that shocked New York.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think what you are spreading, what you are displaying, Pastor Easley, is love by telling them to get out?


KOSIK: In today's "Faces of Faith," we'll talk to a pastor who says gay Boy Scouts have no place in his church and has taken action. Christ-like or prejudiced?

And don't call it a comeback yet. Phil Mickelson celebrating both his birthday and father's day on the links, but can he keep his U.S. Open lead?


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik. It's 8:00. Thanks so much for starting your morning with us.

And we're going to begin this hour on new details on the ways the government watches its citizens. The intelligence community is trying to calm fears over its surveillance program.

It's releasing new information about how it uses phone records, saying in a document sent to Congress that records can only be searched when a, quote, "reasonable suspicion can connect a name or telephone number to a specific terrorist threat", and that phone records were searched fewer than 300 times last year.

Athena Jones is following the story from Washington.

Good morning, Athena. What else is in this letter?


Well, as you mentioned, ever since this NSA story broke, there's been a lot of pressure on the administration and on the intelligence community to explain just what it is the NSA is doing, what they're collecting, how they're collecting it, and how it's being useful. The government has been very eager to talk about how this program has helped stop terrorist attacks.

Let's listen to what NSA Director General Keith Alexander had to say in testimony on Capitol Hill last week. He's talking about this section of the Patriot Act that allows this data to be collected. Let's listen to the exchange between him and Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: We collect millions and millions and millions of records through 215, but dozens of them have proved crucial or critical. Is that right, dozens?

GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: Both here and abroad in disrupting or contributing to the disruption of a terrorist attack.

LEAHY: Out of those millions, dozens have been critical?

ALEXANDER: That's correct.


JONES: Now, in a document CNN was able to obtain, a secret, declassified document about these programs and telling us more about them, we've learned a little bit more about those dozens of attacks that have been thwarted. In this document, one of the highlights, a point that says in recent years intelligence gathered under them has contributed to the disruption of dozens of potential terrorist attacks, here in the homeland and in more than 20 countries around the world. We are working to provide more information on this.

And so, this is the kind of thing we want to learn more about. I can tell you that also in that document, it mentions one specific case, that's the case of Najibullah Zazi, who had plotted to bomb the subway in New York. This document says that that attack was thwarted with the help of this surveillance program, Alison.

KOSIK: Athena, what about learning details of other specific threats that maybe weren't in the news. I mean, what are the chances we'll hear those specific details, knowing that they're supposed to be so secretive?

JONES: Well, that's very interesting, Alison. We know they want to give more data, as that statement pointed out from the document. They're working to see what other kind of data they can provide about other cases because certainly the American public wants to know, wants evidence these programs have helped keep America safe.

And so, we're told by members of the Congress that some more information about other cases could trickle out in the coming days. We're also told by people in the intelligence community that some of it is going to have to remain secret. That's the difficulty here. How do you justify a program if so many details have to remain secret? And that's what they're trying to balance out. That's what we'll be looking for this week -- Alison.

KOSIK: OK. Athena Jones in Washington, thanks.

JONES: Thanks.

KOSIK: It's been one week since Edward Snowden's bombshell revelation that he was the source of the NSA surveillance leaks.

And the big question now is where is he? CNN international correspondent Nic Robertson is on the trail in Hong Kong.

Nic, Snowden left his job. He left his family. He left his girlfriend, headed to Hong Kong last month.

Any indication he's still there?

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very hard to say. I mean, really, the trail went cold almost a week ago right now. The hotel that he was staying in, that became clear late Sunday, and he checked out of that same hotel early Monday morning. Really, we don't know where he is since then.

However, on Wednesday he did talk to representatives, journalists from "The South China Morning Post". Although they won't say where they met him and they haven't released any photographs of meeting him, the indication seems to be that they did meet him here in Hong Kong.

So, as far as we know, until Wednesday he was here. We certainly know the British government is saying he can't get on a flight to go there. And the reporters here haven't reported him leaving by any legal means, in terms of people who cross the borders every day.

But the indications are he's still here somewhere. Is he really hiding from authorities? Perhaps not. Perhaps he's just hiding out from journalists because he has said he has -- essentially willing to put himself at the hands of the courts and the people of Hong Kong -- Alison.

KOSIK: Are there any more leaks coming, do you think?

ROBERTSON: Certainly, security analysts believe that there's the real potential for it, and he himself has said that, while he had access to all this security data, he had access, for example, to the names, locations, and roles of CIA operatives around the world, the stations that they operated out of, and even covert operatives.

But he has said that he's not willing to -- that it's not his intention to endanger people to put that kind of information out, but it's clear that he does have a vast trove of information, and that's been indicated by "The Guardian" blogger Glenn Greenwald, who has indicated that what we've seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg. So I think that everyone is expecting there really could be more to come out. But who's he going to call with it? And who's he going to want to tell it to? We don't know that at the moment.

KOSIK: You know, given the revelations about the surveillance programs, Nic, is it becoming clear how some terror suspects, how they may have been tracked and even caught?

ROBERTSON: Well, the Najibullah Zazi case is the one that's been profiled, and the details that we know about that, Zazi went to Pakistan in 2008, August 2008. He met with somebody there called Ahmed. Ahmed also hosted an al Qaeda cell leader from Britain in November of the same year, 2008.

I was in Manchester, England, when that cell leader and other people from that cell were arrested because they'd been in contact with this person, Ahmed, in Pakistan, and that was something that had been picked up by British intelligence in working with the NSA. We understood that at the time.

We also later understood -- this was back in 2009 -- that when Najibullah Zazi was caught, it's because the account, the e-mail account of Ahmed in Pakistan was being watched, and that led, after these arrests in the U.K., that led to triggering suspicion about Zazi when he contacted it.

So you have these arrests in the U.K. that seem to result from this as well. You have the arrest of Zazi, and there was also another operative in Norway who was also in contact with this Ahmed e-mail person in Pakistan, and he also was picked up, again, through, it appears, this same technique, and this same data trolling.

So here you have three cases, not just Zazi planning to attack the United States, but a Manchester plot in Britain and a plot in Norway as well.

KOSIK: OK, Nic Robertson, thank you.

To Colorado now, where firefighters say they've turned the corner on what's being called the worst wildfire in that state's history. The Black Forest Fire is 55 percent contained this morning, and no more lives have been lost. But authorities say the damage that's already been done is catastrophic.


SHERIFF TERRY MAKETA, EL PASO COUNTY, COLORADO: It looks like a nuclear bomb went off in some of those areas, and you can't even recognize whether it was a house or some other kind of structure.


KOSIK: Another large wildfire is 40 percent contained, and others continue to burn. Across Colorado, more than 1,000 people are battling the flames.

Our George Howell is in Colorado Springs -- George. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The grass is still green, his home still standing, and Mike Bossert is back to his regular routine after the mandatory evacuation has been lifted.

(on camera): What's it like to be back?

MIKE BOSSERT, COLORADO SPRINGS RESIDENT: It's good to be home. It's good to be home. A couple of nights, we left during the voluntary on Wednesday, and then they put a mandatory on Thursday night, which is a little nerve-racking. But, you know, our boys and my wife were able to pack some things up. So we felt pretty comfortable with leaving when we did.

HOWELL (voice-over): Just down the road, it's an entirely different story for Trevor Miller, who still can't return home.

(on camera): I see everything packed up there in the back.

TREVOR MILLER, COLORADO SPRINGS RESIDENT: Yes. Everything in the back is my brother and I's stuff. We had three other cars too that left our house, and those were all packed with our family supplies. We had about an hour to grab everything that we wanted or needed before leaving our house.

HOWELL: Some 38,000 people were forced to evacuate earlier this week as firefighters struggled to protect property and hold the line against the wildfire. So far, more than 15,000 acres have been scorched, but firefighters have been able to gain ground. Late Friday, Mother Nature stepped in with much needed rainfall that Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper says had a big impact.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER, COLORADO: That rain, just 10 to 15 degrees off the temperature. But it's, you know, firefighter's best friend.

HOWELL (on camera): You got wet yourself here, yes.

HICKENLOOPER: I was standing right there. It's the first time my grandmother always said you're too stupid to come out of the rain. I was too happy to come out of the rain.

HOWELL (voice-over): Officials announced Saturday they didn't lose any structures or lose any ground overnight. Proof that firefighters are gaining the upper hand.

RICH HARVEY, INCIDENT COMMANDER, BLACK FOREST FIRE: We want the fire to come out and fight now. We're ready. We're staffed. We're equipped. Show yourself, and we'll take care of it.


HOWELL: Firefighters out here are optimistic about fighting this fire, especially with all the weather that has moved through over the weekend, but it is a mixed bag because these thunderstorms, they bring lightning, and lightning can obviously start new fires. That's a big concern. It also brings rainfall in several different areas, heavy rainfall, and that is welcome news as firefighters keep up the fight -- Alison.

KOSIK: All right. George Howell, thanks.

To Springfield, Missouri, where more rain is expected today after heavy storms Saturday triggered flashed flooding. This SUV got trapped by the rushing waters. And according to CNN affiliate KSPR, as much as nine inches of rain fell in just a few hours. Water rescues were reported as well as flooded homes. KSPR reports traffic on the James River Freeway slowed to a crawl as water swept over the roads. Power was knock out to hundreds of home.

Where exactly is that storm headed? And could flash floods wash out your Father's Day? Let's bring in meteorologist Jennifer Delgado in the CNN weather center.

What is the Sunday forecast?


Well, the Sunday forecast means more rain, especially for parts of the Midwest, an area that does not need more rainfall. In fact, we do have flood watches in place, as you can see, for areas including parts of southern Missouri as well as into Kansas. That is wide rafter all that rain came down yesterday.

Flash flooding is the number one weather related killer out there. So don't risk trying to go and cross these flooded roadways. It's just too dangerous, certainly can be deadly.

But over the last 24 hours, eight to ten inches in some areas just to the north of Springfield. Four to six in parts of Kansas -- as we go through the day, yes, we'll continue to see more showers and thunderstorms popping up. With that, some of these locations, we could still see roughly four to six inches of rainfall as we go through the next 48 hours.

We're also going to be looking for severe storms to pop up into the Midwest and across the plains. That includes parts of Kansas all the way into parts of South Dakota. Some of these severe storms with it could be bringing damaging winds as well as hail.

Now, for the Northeast, we didn't forget about you on Father's Day. Let's go to a live shot coming out of New York. You're starting out with clouds now. It's dry now. Maybe you need to run to the store for a little last-minute shopping for dad. Hurry out there, because you'll start to see some rain moving in.

Back over to our graphics very quickly, scattered showers around the Northeast, and a few popping up around Florida. Atlanta, we'll keep you sunny. And the same for the West Coast.

Now, I also want to point out to you, temperatures are getting a little bit warmer. El Paso, you're going to be the hot spot with 100, 95 in Dallas, 91 in Albuquerque, and some 90s and 80s in the Southeast.

Now, Alison, there is one area that we're concerned about that. That, of course, is for the U.S. Open. It looks like today, we're going to see rain out there, already starting to work in parts of Pennsylvania. Rain can have a bad effect sometimes on golfing, right? Even if it is Father's Day. Happy Father's Day out there to everybody.

KOSIK: All right. Jennifer Delgado, thanks.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

KOSIK: President Obama heading to Europe tonight. He's going to meet with other world leaders in it Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the G-8 summit. The violent conflict in Syria is expected to dominate the agenda at the two-day gathering.

Mr. Obama then heads to Germany where he could face questions about the controversial U.S. surveillance programs.

Former President George W. Bush safe at home now in Dallas after an in flight scare last night. He was on a flight from Philadelphia to his native Texas when the pilot reported smelling smoke. The flight was sent to Louisville, where it landed without incident. Bush made it back to Dallas earlier this morning.

A swimsuit designer found dead in a bathtub at a swanky hotel. Now her ex-boyfriend is on trial for her murder, and we're seeing new photos of her moments before her death.


KOSIK: And get ready, a treat coming to CNN in the mornings. In less than 24 hours, our all new morning show "NEW DAY", beginning tomorrow, once again, with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan. "NEW DAY" starts Monday morning at 6:00 Eastern. You don't want to miss it.

A sexual swimsuit designer checked into a swanky hotel room with her boyfriend in December of 2010. She never checked out. Now, her boyfriend, Nicholas Brooks, the son of a Grammy -winning song writer, is on trial for her murder. And a jury is seeing these eerie surveillance photos, probably the last time the woman who was killed was seen alive.

CNN's Alina Cho is following this trial from New York -- Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alison, good morning. You know, this is a story that gripped New York City when it happened. I'm sure you remember it.

Think about it -- a young, beautiful swimsuit designer allegedly murdered at a private club by her own boyfriend, at least that's what prosecutors say happened. Now, a series of surveillance photos taken from video of that club just may back it up.

Now, in the first photo, if we can play it, you can see boyfriend Nicholas Brooks and victim Sylvie Cachay checked into the Soho House hotel. This was 12:31 a.m., just after midnight on December 9th, 2010. And the next photo, just four minutes later, 12:35 a.m., Sylvie, she's wearing the white coat and boots, escorted to the hotel room by a hotel employee.

Four minutes after that, 12:38, Nicholas Brooks, the boyfriend arrives on the fifth floor, heads to the same room.

Then, seven minutes later and just 14 minutes after the couple checks in, Nicholas Brooks is seen leaving the room alone. Now, "The New York Daily News" first showed these photos, which, again, were taken from video footage.

The paper is reporting that the video, which was shown in court on Friday, shows that Brooks made multiple trips from the fifth floor room, heading downstairs for cigarettes, speaking to reception, and "The Daily News" says that Brooks was seen as jittery, pacing, and even barefoot. Cachay's body, and remember she was just 33 years old, was found submerged in water in an overflowing bathtub. Authorities say she was strangled, her body had bite marks and cuts to her lips and mouth.

Nichols Brooks, by the way, son of the composer of the song "You Light Up My Life," on trial for second degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

But, Alison, if convicted, he could face 25 years to life in prison. We should also mention that we reached out repeatedly to Brook's defense attorney and the family of Sylvie Cachay, but so far, we have not heard back from either party -- Alison.

KOSIK: Alina, have prosecutors said what a possible motive could be?

CHO: Well, all that we know, Alison, is that the couple, at least it's been widely reported, was on the verge of breaking up and that there were problems between the two. That didn't seem to be the case when they were checking into the room together on that night on December 9th, but, of course, all of that will be coming out in the courtroom in the coming weeks -- Alison.

KOSIK: OK, Alina Cho, thank you.

All eyes have shifted from Tiger Woods to Phil Mickelson at the U.S. open this weekend to see if he'll finally win after coming painfully close five times in the past. A live report coming up next.


KOSIK: One of golf's great, Phil Mickelson, could be on the verge of finally winning his first U.S. open. "Leftie", as he's known for his left hand swing, has come in second place five times, but he's hoping this will finally be the year he clinches the championship.

Shane O'Donoghue is live near Philly with more.

So, Shane, do people think he can actually pull it off this time? I

SHANE O'DONOGHUE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I certainly think so. I go back quite a way with Phil, to be honest. I've interviewed him many times in different roles, and whatever, and I went up to him on Monday night, we were at a dinner, and I relayed a story, which was very personal to me, because my son is 4 today. It's Father's Day. Obviously, he's 43 today. It's Father's Day.

I was just saying to him, you know, I really think, Phil, you'll be signing the winner's flag for my son as the perfect present because I've been away over here in the States for a couple of weeks. And he said, I will sign it. I'm playing great, and I feel very good. And I said, look, I know that, Phil. So I wish you the very best of luck.

And we've kind of interacted a couple of times this week, and I did an interview with him for CNN on Saturday night.

You know, I've never seen anyone as composed and as with it as he is this week. He has had a few blunders at this U.S. open because he dearly wants it. I think he's just learned through the process. And here he is now with just one round to go, and he embraces the challenge of what the U.S. open is all about. It's his 23rd attempt at it, and he's come close on five occasions.

I suppose most significantly in 1999 when he first really came close. He went toe to toe with Payne Stewart at Pinehurst. Stewart won his second U.S. open on that occasion. Phil was expecting their first child with his wife Amy, and he was prepared to leave the U.S. Open at that time and leave the championship, but he stayed on until the bitter end, and they gave birth, a difficult birth a little bit later that week. This week he went back to his daughter's 12th -- she's a 12-year-old, her primary school graduation. He really is into being a father, but he's into the U.S. open. I think he can do it today.

KOSIK: OK. Shane O'Donoghue, we're certainly going to be watching. Thank you.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of stealing the Super Bowl ring belonging to Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Kraft says Putin pocketed the diamond encrusted ring during a 2005 meeting in Russia. That's at least according to a report in the "New York Post."

Kraft says he tried to get the White House interviewed but was told ring, but he was told it's better to say it's a gift in the interest of U.S.-Russian relations. A Putin spokesman maintains the ring was indeed a gift.

A pastor in Georgia gives a local Boy Scout troop the boot in response to allowing gay members. But find out what a neighboring house of worship did in response. You'll hear from both ministers after a quick break.


KOSIK: Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Alison Kosik. Bottom of the hour now here are some stories making headlines this hour.

In another blow to the Syrian regime, Egypt's President had announced that he's cutting diplomatic ties with the country and is closing the Syrian embassy in Cairo. Syria in engaged in a bloody civil war with anti-government rebels. The U.N. reports almost 90,000 -- 93,000 people have died in the fighting.

North Korea's Kim Jong-Un may be reaching out to the U.S. Pyongyang is proposing high level talks with Washington to ease tensions. Since Kim Jong-Un took power in 2011, Pyongyang has carried out several long range rocket launches and an underground nuclear tests. In April, the top U.S. commander in the Pacific warned that North Korea's missile and weapons programs pose a clear and direct threat to U.S. security.

Iran has a new President, Hassan Rouhani won more than 50 percent of the vote in Friday's election. The 65-year-old moderate cleric has promised to improve Iran's wilting economy and reduce unemployment, which tops 15 percent. In what could be a key overture to the West, he also promised to reduce international tensions over Iran's controversial nuclear program.

And for today's "Faces of Faith," we're talking about the Boy Scouts of America. Last month the organization voted to allow gay kids and teens to be members, but that decision outraged several pastors across the country, who have now banned local Boy Scout troops from meeting inside their churches including this one, the Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. Pastor Earnest Easley explained his decision.


ERNEST EASLEY, SENIOR PASTOR, ROSWELL STREET BAPTIST CHURCH: Boys in there in a tent that are sexually attractive to other boys whose hormones are going off the walls, something's going to happen.


KOSIK: Pastor Easley got a standing ovation from his congregation when he kicked out Troop 204, but he also ruffled some feathers, including those of a nearby House of Worship, which in response posted this marquee outside, welcoming the Boy Scouts to meet there instead.

CNN's Victor Blackwell interviewed that Pastor Reverend Stephanie Seigh from the One World Spiritual Center in Marietta, Georgia, along with Ernest Easley, senior pastor of the Roswell Street Baptist Church. And he asked if the goal of Christianity was to be Christian- like, would Jesus have kicked out the Boy Scouts?


EASLEY: You know trying to be Christ-like is a challenge today. I think about when some guys tried to trick Jesus up. They brought a girl, a woman caught in adultery and Jesus confronted her with her sin. He didn't condone it. He confronted it. And he didn't say, just keep on doing what you're doing, but because he loved her, he said, go and sin no more.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: But do you think he would have kicked these Boy Scouts out? Do you think it was the right decision?

EASLEY: Well, I know this, that as a bible believing church, the Roswell Street Baptist Church we're not going to align ourselves in any formal capacity with any outside group that openly accepts and affirms moral practices that violate God's word.

BLACKWELL: Reverend Seigh you welcomed them to your church.



SEIGH: One World is an interfaith spiritual community. We honor many paths to God. We focus on what's at the heart of the world's great religions. And what we believe is primarily at the heart of those religions is love. So this decision to invite any Boy Scout troop who has been asked to leave was simply us being who we are. And it's just a great opportunity to live what we believe.

BLACKWELL: Pastor Easley, do you think you didn't have gay boys and teens in your church before the Boy Scouts said it's ok to say that you're gay?

EASLEY: Oh, sure, I think it's naive not to think that, you know and at Roswell Street Baptist, in fact, I was asked last week, would you allow a homosexual in your church? We invite them. We invite every adulterer, liar, fornicator, sinner in our church in order to hear the -- the liberating gospels and message that sets a person free from sin, forgives them and restores them like God intended them to be.

BLACKWELL: You're facial expression change when he answered to that question. I'd like to know why?

SEIGH: Well at One World, we believe that we are exactly as God created us to be. We welcome everyone to our community. We don't judge who you love any more than we would judge the color of your eyes. So again, I'm just delighted that we have this opportunity to spread that message of love that -- that I believe is -- was Jesus' primary message. Love your neighbor as yourself.

BLACKWELL: Let me follow up on that. Do you think what you are spreading, what you are displaying, Pastor Easley, is love by telling them to get out?



EASLEY: Well, because love doesn't condone sin. It confronts it. And over and over in scripture, you find sin, not condoned, but confronted. And even Jesus on many occasions, when he confronted with sinners, they experienced forgiveness and grace, and then he says, go and sin no more.

BLACKWELL: I want to read something that was posted on your Facebook page. We've got it here. We can put it up on the screen. "If you're Christian and you're against homosexuality, it's not because you're Christian. It's because you are homophobic." Are you homophobic?

EASLEY: Absolutely not. No in fact, we're concerned and burdened for every homosexual and again every liar and adulterer and any sin, any moral sin you want to discuss.

BLACKWELL: But you don't kick out liars and adulterers.

EASLEY: No but we're not embracing an outside organization that advocates it. And really frankly, we're not kicking anybody out at the church.

BLACKWELL: Well are they holding meetings there? The Boy Scouts -- the troop's not meeting there anymore?

EASLEY: Right.

BLACKWELL: Because you told them not to meet there.

EASLEY: Actually, they'll meet there through the end of the year.

BLACKWELL: But they won't be allowed once the policy in place?

EASLEY: That's correct.

BLACKWELL: And that was your decision.

EASLEY: That's correct.

BLACKWELL: So indeed you did kick them out?

EASLEY: Yes but as far as an outside organization, right.


EASLEY: They're not members of our church. It's just an outside organization that that we sponsor, that we open our buildings to.

BLACKWELL: There's an obvious contradiction that, that if you allow, in your words, you say, you allow homosexuals to be members of your church.

EASLEY: I did not say that.

BLACKWELL: Ok then explain. Clarify that.

EASLEY: I said they're welcome to come to our church.

BLACKWELL: But they're not allowed to be members? EASLEY: No, they're not -- they're not allowed to be members, not until they come to terms with their sin, repent of it, and come to Jesus as their savior.


KOSIK: And for more stories on faith, be sure to check out our belief blog at

Sarah Palin is back in the spotlight, speaking at the Faith and Freedom Conference and in some surprising comments, she's referencing Islam.


KOSIK: A reminder for you while you're getting dress for work tomorrow, turn on CNN because in less than 24 hours our all new morning shows "New Day" begins with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, Michaela Pereira, "New Day" starts tomorrow at 6:00 a.m. Eastern. Don't miss it. And if you have to walk out the door DVR it.

Sarah Palin is back in the spotlight and ruffling some feathers. She headlined the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington yesterday. It's a big gathering for social conservatives and she shock some people by referencing Islam when she said Obama shouldn't intervene in Syria.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I say, until we have someone who knows what they're doing, I say let Allah sort it out.


KOSIK: CNN asked her about her political future and if we'll be seeing more of her this year.


PALIN: Absolutely. More than ever, we will be out there. Because as I said in my speech, time's a wasting. Things are moving really quickly. And if we don't get out there and defend this republic then America will be transformed into something that we do not recognize. So we will do all what we can to help make a positive difference.


KOSIK: Government intelligence leaders are asserting the NSA's controversial surveillance program has worked. CNN has obtained the document detailing examples of thwarted plots. So I want to bring in "STATE OF THE UNION" host Candy Crowley. Candy good morning to you. Congressional leaders are saying this is the first of many documents to be declassified. Senator Feinstein said that detailing the incidents would help to prove its effectiveness. What do you think? Is this an attempt to be transparent and silence some of the critics of the program?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": I'm not sure it's an attempt to be transparent. That was sort of forced upon this two programs by the leak. But it certainly is an attempt to say, here's why we are doing this. These are -- there are very broad programs, particularly the ones that capture the information of, honestly, billions of phone calls being made. Not the content of the phone calls, but what number was called by what number and how long it went and where it went from the location.

So there -- there is that. And it is a big program. And so what NSA is trying to do and what it promised to do Friday is to show we recognize that this is seen as an intrusion, but it's an intrusion that has been worth it, breaking up dozens of terrorist plots before they actually happen.

So, obviously, they are trying to show that this program is worth it despite some reservations about it.

KOSIK: Ok. So clearly, the Snowden leak is what brought all of this to light in the first place. Is the government now just forced to play defense or -- or do you think they're trying to get ahead of any future leaks?

CROWLEY: They're hoping. They're always trying to get ahead of future leaks, obviously. I think they're trying to make the story die down by saying, yes, but it's worth it. Yes, we understand that this is kind of squeamish stuff for some people. But it has been worth what the sacrifice was, and it's what they've been arguing that they believe, obviously.

And we're going to hear more stories of it broke up this plot or that plot. So I think we're going to get some specifics this week. We already know because we've been told by Mike Rogers, the chairman of the intelligence committee. He among others have said that the New York subway plot was broken up using these programs. So they want to be able to justify it and say, this isn't just some random search of everybody's personal data. This is actually going after terrorism.

KOSIK: Ok. Candy Crowley, thank you. And stay here for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley, which begins at the top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 a.m. Pacific right here on CNN.

Next we'll turn to Father's Day and a discussion around this question. Are children better off with or without their dads? Wait until you hear the answers and the reasoning behind them.


KOSIK: It's Father's Day, time to celebrate dear old dad, but for others it's a complicated time. 24 million children in the U.S. are living in a home without a dad, and that's led to some questions about the role of the father. Are some children better off without dad, or do we need him there even if he's not the best?

To discuss, I'm joined by Michele Weldon. She's a professor at Northwestern University, and she says her kids are much better off without their dad. And Dr. Brad Sachs. He says that unless fathers are abusive, they absolutely need a role in the lives of their children.

Michele, I want to begin with you because you just had an op-ed that was published in the "Huffington Post" about raising your three sons without their dad. And in it, you write that, quote, "This isn't about me. This is about the men I raised who will one day be good fathers." You know, there are numerous studies that show a huge disadvantage to a home without two parents, without a father. Is your example maybe then really more about you and not a broader experience?

MICHELE WELDON, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: No. It's not about me at all. First of all, happy Father's Day to all the fathers out there who are accountable to their families and their children, I celebrate them widely.

What my point was is that it is wrong to damn the children who grow up without fathers and to assume there's some sort of pre-destiny for them that they are doomed to lives of drug abuse and alcohol and criminal behavior and just lives that are less than because they have absent fathers. And if we think about it, that completely disrespects fathers who have died, who have disease or incapacitated in some point or are deployed and absent from the home for several years.

In my case, there was an elective abandonment of my children, and they are definitely better off in a warm and nurturing home environment with a large support of community and family and friends.

KOSIK: Brad, you advocate for the role of fathers. What's your response to what Michele just said?

BRAD SACHS, FOUNDER, THE FATHER CENTER: Well, first of all, I commend Professor Weldon for having raised her children so successfully. The only concern I have sometimes in our culture is that we view fathers as a supplement rather than providing crucial psychological ingredients for children. Obviously, if a father checks out of a situation, there's not much we can do about that. If a father is abusive in some sort of chronic or severe way, that's not good for a child.

But sometimes we inadvertently marginalize or peripheralize fathers and minimize the ways in which they can be crucial, the ways in which they can be significant, and the many, many positive influences that they have on children.

KOSIK: Ok. So Michele, Brad also says that even a flawed father is better than no dad at all. You said that your husband chose not to be there, but if he wanted to, would you have let him?

WELDON: Oh, absolutely, of course. For the last nine years, he's been absent, moved out of the country with two weeks notice, and completely stopped all contact and support. And I would love to switch the conversation to the children and away from this notion that mothers are vehemently disallowing the influence of fathers when that absolutely is not the case with me and with so many women I know. I would have so appreciated my children's father to have acknowledged their birthdays or their graduations or to have sent a check. We lived in the same home for 18 years with the same land line, had the same e-mail address for 17 years at the university with no contact, and it is really hurtful, as a mother, to witness what that abandonment does. So to switch this conversation to be this gender fueled fireball about it's mothers not allowing fathers' involvement when we need to acknowledge that sometimes that involvement is deliberately a choice of the father. And that's woefully inadequate, and I believe, immoral.

Let's go ahead and switch gears for a second and talk about the violence in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in an interview with "Time" magazine that homes without dads are contributing to the violence in that city. Brad, do you agree with that?

SACHS: Well, there's no easy algorithm that explains criminal behavior, but what we do know is the children who are engaged with their fathers tend to have higher levels of empathy, higher levels of pro-social behavior, and lower levels of aggression and violence.

I don't think it would be a good idea to oversimplify criminal behavior in terms of explanations, but I don't think there's any question that the more that fathers are engaged with sons and daughters, the less violence and less aggression you're going to see displayed by children.

KOSIK: Michele, what is your response?

WELDON: My response is that's highly simplistic. First of all, Mayor Emanuel is highly simplifying the problem in Chicago, and there's so many factors, including education and socio and economic factors and opportunity.

But the problem I have with the argument that fatherless sons and daughters have less empathy is that I have three living case studies in my home, and I believe that my sons are more empathetic because they know how not to treat someone, and they know what it feels like to be completely ignored by a parent, completely abandoned in every form.

And I just have a problem with the narrative being framed around the fathers are the panacea or that mothers are evil and not allowing the fathers to be involved. Where it is absolutely optimal to have two parents loving their children as best they can and supporting them in every way possible, absolutely, of course -- I would have much preferred to have a different outcome.

But we cannot damn the children who are fatherless because, as you said at the top, there are 24 million children in this country who are fatherless, and there is no predetermination of the outcome of their lives. They can be highly successful.

KOSIK: Ok. Thanks to Michele Weldon and Brad Sachs for a very interesting discussion. And for more stories on dads, head to for a discussion about the role of paternity leave and its benefits to the family.

Turning to faith, what do Superman and Jesus have in common? Well, both have a pretty good chance of being discussed in your pulpit today. We're going to tell you more after a quick break.


KOSIK: Marketers for the new Superman movie are hoping to bring the "Man of Steel" into the pulpit. They gave free early screenings to dozens of pastors across the country. Discussion guides based on the film were also distributed to churches. Some pastors who've seen the film say they see parallels to the Christian faith. We should mention "Man of Steel" is a Warner Brothers film, and just like CNN, it's owned by Time Warner.

Thanks for watching today. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starts now. Don't forget tomorrow morning, "NEW DAY", 6:00 a.m.