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In Defense of the NSA; Dramatic Cliff Rescue; Big SUV Recall by GM; Boston Shuts Out Chicago to Lead Stanley Cup Finals 2-1; Charlie Sheen's On-Set Drama; "You Can Find Anything on the Internet"

Aired June 18, 2013 - 05:30   ET



ROMANS: Defending the NSA. President Obama on the record about why the controversial surveillance isn't as invasive as you think.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Wildfire warning as hundreds of firefighters battle flames in California this time this morning. And new concerns that this could be California's worst wildfire season in 100 years.

ROMANS: Cliff rescue. Two teens stranded 8,600 feet in the air. Winds whipping. No room for error. The dangerous rescue all caught on camera.

BERMAN: That is crazy.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It's 30 minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: President Obama issuing his first public defense of the NSA spying programs. In an interview with Charlie Rose on OBS, Mr. Obama said the collecting of phone call and online information is legal and transparent and does not target Americans.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you are a U.S. person, then, NSA is not listening to your phone calls and it's not targeting your e-mails, unless, it's getting an individualized corridor.

On this telephone program, you've got a federal court with independent federal judges overseeing the entire program and you've got Congress overseeing the program, not just the intelligence committee, not just the judiciary committee, but all of Congress had available to it before the last reauthorization exactly how this program works.


BERMAN: The president saying he's now set up an oversight board to look into just how far a government data gathering should go. Today, NSA chief, General Keith Alexander, will go before the House Intelligence Committee. He's expecting to speak publicly about the classified surveillance operation. ROMANS: President Obama heads to Germany later today after wrapping up meetings at the G-8 Summit. His two-hour face-to-face meeting with the Russian president yesterday produced no real progress on Syria. The two men agreed to disagree on how to end serious civil war. Putin reiterated Russia's support for the Assad regime.

BERMAN: Imagine being stuck on top of a cliff thousands of feet in the air. Now, imagine the rescue, really, like something out of a movie. Miguel Marquez has the story.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A rescue like none other. 8,600 feet up, two boys trapped on the rocky spine of a ridge, only a few feet wide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we went up there, we made decisions to get up that ended up making it so we couldn't get back.

MARQUEZ: Bad decisions. Sixteen-year-old Austin Deschler (ph) and a friend on a family camping trip they will never forget in gorgeous but unforgiving nature, biting off more than one can chew, all too easy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought we could walk across the ridge. When we got up there and saw the other side, it was heartbreaking. That's when we realized we were in trouble.

MARQUEZ: Serious trouble. High winds gust up to 30 miles per hour, buffeting the helicopters. California Highway Patrol made four passes before with the precision of a surgeon, plucking the boys to safety.

OFFICER DAVID WHITE, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: It was the most challenging that I have ever done in the 12years that I've been in air operations.

MARQUEZ: The challenge, lowering harnesses the boys, themselves, had to put on then coming back around to have them hooked up to be safely carried to a landing zone miles away.

WHITE: We lowered the hook a couple of times, but the wind would blow us out of our position, and we have to go back around and try it again.

MARQUEZ: The harnesses must be worn correctly, otherwise, it's a long fall for a nervous father watching all of this from below hard stopping.

RICHARD DESCHLER, FATHER: It's my oldest son and -- that doesn't come back. Right, I mean, you don't recover from something like that.

MARQUEZ: Thankfully, only a frightening lesson learned.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


ROMANS: So frightening. It sort of gives me goose bumps to even watch those kids.

All right. Fire crews in Colorado finally starting to win the battle against the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. They have 75 percent containment now on the Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs. This fire has burned 22 square miles, destroyed more than 500 homes, and killed two people. Investigators believe this fire was started by people.

BERMAN: Yes, but now, we're talking about California where hundreds of firefighters are on the scene of a wildfire there that's threatening homes and forcing evacuations near Yosemite National Park. The so-called Carson fire is burning some 40 miles from the park. At least 150 homes in the area have been evacuated. The CNN i-Reporter who shot this video says he's prepared to make a quick exit.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it looks like it's going to kill me, I have an evacuation plan. I have a four-wheel drive vehicle set up. I'm going to just drive it out of here. I'll throw my dogs in the car and then take off.


BERMAN: Evacuation is always a good idea if it looks like it's going to kill you. California fire officials say this could just be the beginning of what some expect to be the worst fire season in the last 100 years.

ROMANS: Take a look at these scenes from the St. Louis area. Rain fell so fast it flooded streets Monday afternoon. There were reports of cars being stranded as the streets became rivers. But almost as fast as the filled up, the water levels receded. No one was injured. It was exactly a year ago, I was standing in the Midwest, and it was bone dry. They were praying for rain. And now, corn farmers, in particular, like low (ph) all this rain so fast.

BERMAN: Too much rain. We got fire, we have floods, where is it headed next? Let's check in with Indra Petersons tracking all the weather for us.

ROMANS: Good morning.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. At least I have some good news. Notice I'm going to show you how much rain is expected in the next 48 hours, where the little bubble or the dry spot is. It's going to be right over St. Louis. So, yes, they're going to get more dry air today for them. Meanwhile, everyone around them is talking about a lot of rain. And that's exactly what's going to happen. They got two inches of rain in an hour.

So, of course, when you get that much rain in short period of time, you are going to have that flooding concern. As far with the heaviest rain is expected today, once again, we're looking out towards the coastal sections of the Carolinas, down towards the gulf, right around Tallahassee, it looks like. And then, notice this, three to five inches possible.

So, that's exactly what we're worried about today right around the Austin and San Antonio area. So, with that, they could see a large amount of rainfall in a short period of time and the flooding threat will be out there. Of course, where the severe threat it, there are a lot of those pop-up thunderstorms, no surprise. One thing along the planes today.

But also, Ohio Valley and then up towards Montana again looking for that threat as well. But unfortunately, the biggest concern as we talks about all this wildfires is the ridge of high pressure building in tomorrow. Today, a slight chance of thunderstorm. That's a good news. They have another 24 hours to try to gain control.

But meanwhile, it looks like the temperature goes on and the wind starts to increase. It looks like the fire threat will only get worse if we go through second -- for the week.

BERMAN: All right. Indra, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Thanks.

BERMAN: The Supreme Court saying no to Arizona's law requiring proof of citizenship if you want to register to vote there.

The high court finding the state had to follow federal rules requiring voters to only affirm that they're citizens. Arizona's law want a step further requiring them to show a passport or another document to prove it. But the court did say the state can ask federal officials for permission to require those documents for registration.

ROMANS: On Capitol Hill, the House is set to vote today on a measure that would make abortions illegal after 22 weeks of pregnancy. The bill does have an exception for rape and incest, so long as the crimes are reported before the abortion takes place. The Obama administration opposes the bill. It's said to have little chance of passage in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

BERMAN: Not going to become a law.

Modern day plantations. That's how federal agents describe more than a dozen 7-11 stores of New York and Virginia that were seized in immigration raids. Nine people were arrested charged with human smuggling, involving mostly Pakistani immigrants. Authorities say, in some cases, it was going on for nearly a decade.

ROMANS: You could hardly recognize Chad Johnson, contrite and humble, but there he was in a Florida courtroom apologizing to the judge and getting released from jail after a week instead of 30 days. You recall, he angered the judge who sentenced Johnson for butt slapping his attorney when they wished a plea deal in a domestic violence case involving his wife. Now, the former NFL star says he's thankful for the tough love.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHAD JOHNSON, FMR NFL STAR RELEASED FROM JAIL: Little does she know it, I love her to death. But basically, where she's been is a blessing in disguise. I thank her. Everything she did was justifiable.


ROMANS: And our Michaela Pereira will have more on Chad Johnson's reprieve later on "NEW DAY".

BERMAN: A much more contrite Chad Johnson with a big, big apology.

ROMANS: Yes. You don't get flip in a courtroom when you're getting a good, easy sentence for a domestic violence case, which is what happened.

OK. Coming up, GM recalling hundreds of thousands of SUVs fearing a short circuit could set the vehicle on fire.

BERMAN: Plus, what investigators are saying now about a waterside restaurants deck collapse in Miami. Could this have been prevented?


BERMAN: New developments to tell you about in an incident involving celebrity chef, Nigella Lawson, a spokesman for Lawson now says she and her children have moved out of the home she shares with her husband. Pictures surfacing British tabloid showing his hand around her neck during an apparent argument in an upscale London restaurant.

He issued a statement saying it was quote, "a playful tiff," offering no comment to CNN as he left the town house this morning. Police in London say a 70-year-old man voluntarily accepted a warning related to the case. They aren't confirming that man was the husband.

ROMANS: A big SUV recall to tell you about this morning. GM recalling nearly 200,000 midsize vehicles. Their worries, a component in the driver's door can short circuit and catch fire. On the list, the 2006-2007 Chevy Trail Blazer and 2006 Trail Blazer EXT. The 2006- 2007 GMC envoy and 2006 Envoy XL. The 2006-2007 Buick Rainier, and the Isuzu Ascender, and the 2005-2007 Sub 97 Xs (ph).

GM is advising drivers, if you have one of the vehicles that I just mentioned, park it outside until you can have the repair done. So, if the fire happens, it doesn't spread to your home.

BERMAN: All right. I want to show you a picture right now from Tampa. Check that out. This is a car completely far engulfed in flames after an accident. The father of seven, Ruben Perry (ph), trapped inside. Tampa police officers came to his rescue, spraying the car with fire extinguishers as they pulled Perry out. The officers, they insist they're not heroes. They say they were just doing their job, which is to be a hero. Perry is said to be OK.

ROMANS: And our job is to talk about people who are doing their jobs, who are heroes. It's still not known exactly what caused a deck collapse at Shuckers Sports Bar in Miami, but officials say the deck may not have been inspected during Shuckers 40-year recertification back in January. Two dozen people were injured when that deck packed with people watching the NBA finals collapsed into Biscayne Bay.

Let's take a look at what's coming up on CNN's new show, "NEW DAY".

BERMAN: With some --

ROMANS: It was a fun debut yesterday.

BERMAN: Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan back for more.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": We came back. I know you're amazed.

BERMAN: What do you got today?


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": A long talk worked again, fellas. What did you know? What did you know? So, this morning, what's the big story, President Obama is defending the NSAs surveillance program. His strongest defense yet. We're going to break down a brand-new interview he has and comments about former Vice President Dick Cheney as well.

BOLDUAN: A lot to talk about there.

And also, it's been a decades long mystery that could finally be solved. Maybe. Why this time investigators think they may actually found Jimmy Hoffa's resting place. I know it's something that -- I feel like a new version of this comes up every few months, but darn it, they're going to find him someday.

CUOMO: I know. Tell these guys. They're out there digging.

And here's a study I don't want to own. Let's just be very clear. This is what the scientists say, not what I say. There's a new study out that says it is OK for pregnant moms to drink. Those are bellies with babies in them that we're showing you there to make the point. A lot of conflicting information out there. So, is it really safe? We're going to have what moms-to-be need to know.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Lots coming up in this hour.

BERMAN: The headline here, Chris Cuomo, not a scientist, according to him.


CUOMO: I didn't say that.


CUOMO: I didn't say I wasn't a scientist, John. I said I didn't want to own this particular study.


BERMAN: OK. Other studies, we'll get back to you on that.

ROMANS: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Chris, Kate, great to see you. Yes. We'll be there.

Coming up, the Bruins taking the lead, an important lead with those awesome goals in the quest for the Stanley Cup. Will they go all the way? All the game action next in the "Bleacher Report."


ROMANS: All right. The Boston Bruins shut out the Chicago Blackhawks last night to take a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup finals.

BERMAN: They sure did. Andy Scholes, tell us more, please.


ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, John. I'm sure you're pretty happy about this one. Now, you didn't have to stay up too late to watch it either, you know? After playing four overtimes in the first two games, the Bruins made an early night of game three. They're able to beat the Blackhawks in regulation.

Boston took the lead in the second period on a goal from David Paille, and they added another one on the power play. The Angels won (ph). Jaromir Jagr nice pass there at the threes. Burrs are on. He buries it. That made it 2-0 Bruins and then Boston, they go on to win by that score. Check it out, guys, only nine seconds left in the game, and a good old fight breaks out.

Game four is tomorrow night. Well, it's do or die for the Miami Heat tonight as they host the Spurs in game six of the NBA finals. San Antonio just one win away from winning their fifth NBA title. The Heat, they're trying to become just the fourth game in the last 18 years to come back from a 3-2 deficit in the finals.

Good news for Miami is they haven't lost back-to-back games since mid- January. Bad news, though, they haven't won back-to-back games in nearly a month. The game six in Miami tips off tonight at 9:00 eastern. Do or die for the Heat.

Well, it's official. The Cincinnati Bangles will star on the HBO show, "Hard Knocks" this season. It's the second time in five years that the team will be on the popular NFL training camp show. The last time Cincinnati was on the show was back in 2009, and that was when Chad Johnson was their main attraction. "Hard Knocks" kicks off on August 6th.

Well, it's nothing quite like getting a foul ball at a baseball game, especially if you're a kid. Now, check it out, guys. This lucky girl, she gets this ball and she lets everyone know how awesome it is to get a foul ball.


SCHOLES: Look how happy she is. Well, look at this, a little bit later, she's still celebrating and oh, no, poor little boy gets a punch right in the face, and guys, the tears just instantly start falling. Too bad for the poor kid. He didn't get a ball and he gets punched in the face. Poor guy. But look, I guess, he got a refill (ph) a little bit later, and that everything was OK.

BERMAN: Oh, man. I was going to say she reacted just the way I do when I get a ball.


BERMAN: That's understandable, but not cool for that poor little boy. All right, Andy. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: Highs and lows of the game --


ROMANS: Coming up, Charlie Sheen on a rampage, furious and trying to fire his sitcom co-star. The onset Charlie Sheen drama coming up.



BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Fifty-four minutes after the hour, taking a look at the top CNN Trends on the web this morning. The title of Charlie Sheen's new show maybe more appropriate than you think. TMZ says the actor got angry on the set of "Anger Management," apparently, telling the crew that he's fired co-star, Selma Blair, and won't show up for work if she was on the set.

She's apparently been complained to producers about Sheen's work ethic and lateness. Imagine, Charlie Sheen being erratic in the workplace. No official statement from either Sheen or Blair or the producers of the show.

ROMANS: All right. The old saying "you can find anything on the Internet," is proving true once again. Jeanne Moos has the story behind a one-of-a-kind unique item now up for sale on eBay.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's not really suited to go up against Braveheart because the knight in shining armor in this story is a guinea pig, more likely to go up against his owner's Weiner dog.


MOOS: The guinea pig in the suit of armor is named Lucky, but his luck ran out earlier this month when he died of natural causes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took a nap, he took a nap. I woke up, he didn't.

MOOS: Lucky's owner, Sean McCoy (ph), decided to auction off his guinea pig's armor on eBay with the proceeds going to an organization that helps guinea pigs find homes in the Washington, D.C., Virginia area. It had taken Sean weeks to weave the stainless steel scales.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should have seen the blisters on my hands from these two pairs of pliers. It's horrible.

MOOS: The eBay description reads "is your pet guinea pig tired of wandering around the house unarmored and vulnerable? Has your guinea pig ever wanted to go with you to a renaissance fair but had nothing to wear?" Turns out Sean bought the helmet at a renaissance fair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really perfect for Lucky, because you know, it's like guinea pig sized.

MOOS (on-camera): Some have suggested Lucky should have been buried in his noble suit of armor.

(voice-over) But it wasn't exactly Lucky's favorite thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He hated it. He absolutely hates wearing it. It was big and pretty heavy.

MOOS: Actually, he'd worn it only once for about ten minutes while Sean took these photos. He kept fidgeting and squeaking and then suddenly stood still in a perfect pose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason he was fidgeting is because he was going to the bathroom. And the reason that he stood still is because he was going to the bathroom. That's his finest moment.

MOOS: But Lucky wasn't much of a sword's man. A fan on the website read it, sketched him ready to do battle, bids on his suit of armor jumps from $400 to over $800 in hours and continued to climb. So, what if Sean has to put up with jokes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, did you have a guinea pig jousting tournament?

MOOS: The closest Lucky came to jousting was biting his bars.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a special guy.

MOOS: New York.


ROMANS: All right. With just three days left to go, the bidding on that suit of armor is now going for 3,750 bucks.

BERMAN: My favorite part of that is the guy who bought his guinea pig armor made him armor is somehow upset the people are making jokes about like guinea pig jousting tournaments.

So, let's bring in "NEW DAY" anchors, Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan.


BOLDUAN: Like when you're going to get out -- go outside the box like that and you're going to make some guinea pig armor, you should be able to take that.

BERMAN: The jousting jokes will come. That's the one thing I've learned about armor.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I would think so. I would think -- Chris is not engaging in this. he's sitting here shaking his head.

CUOMO: I got nothing for the guinea pig armor.


ROMANS: It's a lot of effort for something that really is not going to change the world.

BOLDUAN: Oh, Christine you don't know. You do not know.


BERMAN: If someone tries to throw a spear or shoot a crossbow at the guinea pig, he will have protection.

BOLDUAN: Someday, Christine Romans, a guinea pig will come to your aide and you'll be very thankful it is wearing armor.

BERMAN: What do you guys have coming up on the real show?

BOLDUAN: Oh, this is other real (ph) show? Oh, sorry about that.

CUOMO: I'd like to be one of Christine's kids one day. You can do anything as long as it's going to change the world.


BERMAN: it's a low bar. Very low bar.

ROMANS: That about covers and make mama happy.


BOLDUAN: All right, guys. Very big news moving from the very funny news to the very big news coming up at the top of the hour. We have a major milestone for troops in Afghanistan. Afghan forces are now in complete control of their own security, but there are still huge security issues to deal with.

CUOMO: Plus, today, the Pentagon is letting us in on their big plan to get women on the front lines. We're going to go live to the Pentagon. BOLDUAN: And brand new details about those crazy pictures of celebrity chef, Nigella Lawson, with her husband's hand on her throat. We're hearing from police this morning and have now learned that Chef Nigella moved out.

CUOMO: But right now, we're at the top of the hour, which means, it is time for the top news.