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Afghanistan Suspends Security Talks; President Obama In Berlin; TWA Flight 800 Bombshell; Forced Labor Charges In Ohio; Ariel Castro In Court; NSA Surveillance Program; Are You Financially Better Off Now Than a Year Ago?; Wildfire Threatens Hundreds of Homes

Aired June 19, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Bombshell revelations. The infamous TWA flight 800 not an accident? Investigators of the crash come forward saying something else may have caused the disaster.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking crime, a mother and daughter held against their will, forced to work in servitude for two years, now finally free. Three people are charged. How did they get away with it?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Yosemite on fire, a massive wildfire moving in on one of the nation's popular tourist destinations, 1,500 people now evacuated.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, everybody. And welcome back to NEW DAY. I'm Kate Bolduan. Hope you're having a good morning so far.

CUOMO: So far it's been great.

BOLDUAN: So far so good.

CUOMO: I'm Chris Cuomo. Michaela Pereira here with us as always. It is Wednesday, June 19th, 6:00 in the east.

An attack inside a U.S. air base in Afghanistan kills four U.S. soldiers and the Taliban is claiming responsibility. The attack happened just before the U.S. is expected to formally meet with the Taliban to discuss an end to fighting there. Making matters worse, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has decided to suspend security talks with the U.S.

Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is following all the developments for us. Thank you very much, Barbara, for being here and good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Well, just unfolding in the last couple of hours, Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan suspending the security cooperation talks that would have kept U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of next year, when they are scheduled to leave.

This is the latest diplomatic crisis provoked by Karzai. He has done this before. This time the U.S. has to figure out what he really wants. Is he upset about the peace talks with the Taliban? The U.S. believes those talks are essential. That's how you get out of this war. Karzai has his own political problems inside of Afghanistan, may not want to be seen sitting down with his enemies -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Barbara, thank you very much. For all of the talk about progress still not over there yet.

BOLDUAN: A lot needs to be done to secure that country still.

President Obama today is in Berlin where he is meeting right now with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In just a few hours, the president will deliver a speech at historic Brandenburg Gate.

Brianna Keilar is with the president in Berlin. A big day, Brianna, what's going on?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is a big day, Kate, good morning to you. We're awaiting right now a live press conference between President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. I think it's going to be a good one because we were expecting Merkel to raise concerns about those newly revealed NSA programs. They'll likely be asked about that.

But, yes, the big event today is the president's speech and as far as big speeches on the state of the free world go, Berlin is certainly where it is at, especially now, about 50 years after JFK's very famous speech, the Ich Bin Ein Berliner speech that he gave not too far from the Brandenburg Gate, it was Reagan who in 1987 challenged Mikael Gorbachev to tear down this wall from Brandenburg Gate.

So President Obama and mind you, five years after he drew a crowd of 200,000, not expected to be so big this time is expected to layout a vision for a world with fewer nuclear weapons. So he'll be talking about negotiating with Russia, putting pressure on Iran and North Korea.

And I think something that's really interesting, Kate, is that he will be speaking from the east side of the Brandenburg Gate. He will be the first president, the first U.S. president to do that.

BOLDUAN: Brianna Keilar traveling with the president for us. Brianna, thanks so much. We have not heard much from the president -- in the first term we've heard a lot more about reducing nuclear arsenals and now he is going to get back to it because we haven't heard much since.

CUOMO: Certainly has a lot to talk about.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely.

CUOMO: We also have some potentially new information in the infamous TWA Flight 800 crash. Six whistleblowers ending their silence after 17 years, they claim federal investigators falsified the official cause of the crash. The 230 people on board that flight died in the summer of 1996 when their Boeing 747 exploded and came down off the coast of Long Island.

Rene Marsh is live from Washington. Rene, this means a lot to people.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Good morning, Chris. The theory that something sinister or sinister forces brought down this plane isn't new, but the twists this morning is who is making the claim? New this morning former accident investigators say they have evidence to prove this was no accident.


MARSH (voice-over): It was a crash as horrific as it was mysterious. TWA Flight 800 explodes in mid-air 1996 off the coast of Long Island.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: It blew up in the air and then we saw two fireballs around it.

MARSH: All 230 on board the 747 dead. The cause after a 4-year 17,000-page NTSB investigation a spark from faulty wiring leading to the center fuel tank, but now six retired members of the original investigation team are breaking their silence. In a new documentary, they are challenging the NTSB's findings and calling for the investigation to be reopened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was convinced that the part had been damaged by a high explosion because of the entrance hole and the exit hole.

MARSH: These former investigators whose credentials range from the NTSB, TWA, Airline Pilots Union, and forensic experts now claim that radar and forensic evidence shows the wiring was not the cause of the crash.

(on camera): What would your analysis have been?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The primary conclusion was the explosive forces came from outside the airplane, not the center fuel tank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that statement have been in your analysis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I got the right one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The agenda was that this is an accident. Make it so.

MARSH: These investigators say that the evidence they examined proves that one or more explosions outside the aircraft caused the crash. However, they don't speculate about the source of the explosions. Among the theories considered and rejected by the NTSB at the time was that a missile was responsible.

The filmmakers plan to petition the NTSB to reopen the investigation. In a statement the NTSB left that possibility open if new evidence is uncovered saying investigators and staff spent an enormous amount of time reviewing, documenting and analyzing facts and data, while the NTSB rarely re-investigates issues that have already been examined, our investigations are never closed and we can review any new information not previously considered by the board.


MARSH: Well, Chris, we haven't seen this evidence. So right now it is their word against the government. We can tell you that the film premieres next month and it will be on the anniversary, the 17th anniversary of the crash -- Chris.

CUOMO: What's interesting, Rene, because no terror group ever took responsibility. We all remember, those of us who were old now remember at the time these ideas people that had seen missile tracks, nothing ever came of them. What do you think the chances are, what are you hearing the likelihood that this count as new information?

MARSH: Well, I'll tell you this. The NTSB as it stands right now. They say they have not received a petition to reopen the investigation just yet. But in order for the NTSB to consider reopening the case there has to be that new evidence that you speak about. So it really all depends on the kind of evidence that the group presents.

Either it's going to come down to the evidence or they are going to have to prove that the board's findings were pretty much wrong. So they have quite a case to build here, usually takes about 60 days before they make a determination on this kind of petition, but that's a definite deadline. It could take longer -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Rene, thank you very much for the reporting. The documentary itself doesn't say what the cause of the explosion was. You have to believe men of this caliber wouldn't come forward for no reason so.

BOLDUAN: Well, that's the thing and that's what makes it so interesting. They are raising serious questions. It was such an extensive investigation into the cause of that crash, very interesting.

President Obama today is in Berlin where he is meeting right now with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In just a few hours, the president will deliver a speech at historic Brandenburg Gate.

CNN's Pamela Brown is in Ashland, Ohio, with the very horrific details of the conditions these two were living in. Pamela, what are you hearing this morning?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate. We're about to share some very disturbing details in what's a pretty confusing case. It all started out as a simple shoplifting case and turned into so much more, a mother and daughter allegedly forced to live in unthinkable horror, horrible situation, disturbing situation here allegedly held against their will.


BROWN (voice-over): Inside this house, an Ohio woman and her child deprived of their freedom, dignity and basic needs for a year and a half according to federal authorities. ERIC SMITH, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: These individuals deprived this woman and her child of the most fundamental of American rights, freedom.

STEVE DETTELBACH, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO: This case is nothing less than a case of modern day slavery.

BROWN: The 26-year-old Jordie Callahan, his girlfriend, 31-year-old Jessica Hunt and their friend, Daniel Brown, all charged with imprisoning a mentally disabled woman only identified as Essie and her child. Prosecutors say Essie was forced to do household chores and threatened with a pit bull and a python, and according to a law enforcement source, she and her daughter were sometimes forced to eat dog food.

DETTELBACH: Talking about people who were locked in rooms, forced to work all the time, people who were threatened and beaten and injured.

BROWN: According to court documents, Essie was also questioned as gunpoint and one of her alleged captors took out his knife and threatened to cut her finger off. Medical records show Essie visited the emergency room at least three times between 2011 and 2012 with a variety of injuries.

Ashland police say they were tipped off after Essie was arrested for trying to steal a candy bar. When police showed up at the home, Callahan allegedly showed them a video of Essie beating her daughter, but Essie says she was forced to do so by Callahan and Hunt. On "PIERS MORGAN" show Callahan's mother denies the allegations.

BECKY (via telephone): The victim went where she wanted to go, whenever she wanted to go.

BROWN: This comes on the heels of another disturbing kidnapping case in nearby Cleveland, the shocking rescue of three women held for a decade by Ariel Castro, both of these cases of alleged abuse stunning their neighbors, left wondering how this could be happening in their backyards.


BROWN: According to a law enforcement source I spoke with, Essie and her daughter knew the suspects before they were held captive. We don't know what that relationship was. Authorities believe a possible motive in this case was Essie's government disability benefits she received, which the suspects took, according to authorities.

We're hearing that more charges could be on the way and at least one more arrest in this case. The big question, how could this be in six- week's time frame in this Cleveland area another case where captives were allegedly held? Authorities believe this is poorly coincidental -- Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: Pamela, thanks so much, from Ashland, Ohio, for us this morning. We've been talking more about this case with the federal prosecutor later in the show. You definitely don't want to miss that. If you needed a reminder of what is going on in Ohio, that other case we keep mentioning, 65 miles away in Cleveland, Ohio, Ariel Castro is back and forth this morning for a pre-trial hearing. He is accused of kidnapping three women and keeping them locked up inside his house for 10 years. Last week, Castro pleaded not guilty to hundreds of charges.

CUOMO: The NSA is coming out strong, saying no less than 50 terror plots have been foiled by its infamous surveillance programs. But is this more about stopping attacks or dodging controversy?

CNN's Dana Bash is on Capitol Hill with more. Good morning, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. Well, intelligence officials are going to send a lengthy document today here at the Capitol Hill to give lawmakers more details about those 50 attacks they say were stopped because of these programs, but all of that information is still classified so lawmakers won't be able to talk about it in public, which kind of makes it hard for them to forward their request to reassure the public that all of this is worth it.


BASH (voice-over): A plot to blow up the New York Stock Exchange was disrupted. The planners arrested and convicted, thanks in part to a secret monitoring program. That's one of two new terror plots intelligence officials declassified for a hastily arranged congressional hearing hoping to prove government surveillance is worth it.

GENERAL KEITH ALEXANDER, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DIRECTOR: These programs are critical to the intelligence community's ability to protect our nation and our ally's security. They assist the intelligence community efforts to connect the dots.

BASH: Intelligence officials described safeguards, preserving civil liberties while tracking millions of phone records, numbers, dates and length of calls.

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Is the NSA have the ability to listen to Americans' phone calls or read their e-mails under these two programs?

ALEXANDER: No, we do not have that authority.

ROGERS: Does the technology exist at the NSA to flip a switch by some analysts to listen to American's phone calls or read their e-mails?


BASH: This lawmaker was unconvinced.

REPRESENTATIVE JIM HIMES: The Verizon disclosures which quite frankly trouble me. They trouble me because of the breadth and the scope of the information collection, if a capability exists from time to time, it will be abused.

BASH: To really reassure the public the bipartisan committee heads wanted to declassify many more terror plots the programs helped foil but they couldn't.

ALEXANDER: If we give all those out, we give all the secrets of how we're tracking down the terrorists as a community and we can't do that. Too much is at risk for us and for our allies.

BASH: All they got was a new number.

ALEXANDER: Over 50 times since 9/11.


BASH: But since intelligence officials won't or can't they say release information, the details of those terror plots to the public, it's really hard to determine whether or not these two programs that we're talking about, surveillance of the internet abroad and also secret monitoring of phone records here really were that instrumental to getting rid of and stopping those terror plots -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Dana Bash, thank you very much for the reporting this morning.

I mean, that's the tricky thing, right? The government wants people to feel comfortable that these programs work the right way. They're not overly evasive, but we can't tell what you the programs are, we can't tell you what we do.

BOLDUAN: That creates more uncertainty, right?

CUOMO: It's hard to get --

BOLDUAN: It's Mike Rogers, the head of the intelligence committee in the House, says we need secrets in the country and it's just -- the level of those secrets and how much the public can know about those programs which it seems -- the issue is not yet settled.


BOLDUAN: We've got a lot going on this morning. It's a busy news morning. Let's get to Michaela for more of the news happening today.

PEREIRA: Good morning to the two of you. Lots of headlines to get to.

Top stories developing this hour:

The White House threatening to veto what it calls an assault on a woman's right to choose now that the Republican controlled House has approved a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. The measure provides exceptions in cases of rape or incest, as long as the victim first reports the crime to authorities. The Senate hasn't scheduled a vote on the measure and it has virtually no chance of becoming law. Now to the latest in the murder trial of reputed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger cross examination continues today for the government star witness John Martorano. Bulger's attorney has already asked Martorano if he killed friends, families, strangers and innocent people. In each case, Martorano said yes. Bulger is charged in the deaths of 19 people.

Quite a terrifying sight at Denver's airport, sending thousands of panicked travelers scrambling for safety. Check it out, a tornado actually touched down between two runways. You can see it caught on camera. The twister was packing winds close to 100 miles per hour. Incredibly, it did not do any serious damage.

Thousands of people took cover inside the airport when that tornado warning sounded.

Finally, there will be game seven in South Beach Thursday night. It will be a tough ticket. Game 6 of the NBA finals was a thriller. Ray Allen threw a three-pointer with five seconds remaining in regulation last night, forcing overtime, helping the Miami Heat stave off elimination, and defeated San Antonio Spurs, 103-100. The king rising with the occasion with a triple double, 32 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds.

Game 7 in South Beach.

BOLDUAN: They look excited.

CUOMO: That block by Chris Bosh which was made all the difference. We'll take you through more of it.

BOLDUAN: You'll get more of it.

CUOMO: We'll take a break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, fire season off to an early start out west. Hundreds of homes threatened by a wildfire near Yosemite National Park.

BOLDUAN: And it's no ordinary community watch group, that's for sure. Meet the Glock Block, a group of crime fighters headed up by a gun- toting grandma.

Don't mess with grandma.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everybody. I hope your morning is going well so far.

It is "Money Time." Christine Romans is here with all the business news that we need to know.

Big day for the economy.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It is. It's "B" day, Ben Bernanke Day. Decision day from the Fed, you know, the Federal Reserve meeting to discuss how long to keep up propping up the economy, policymakers pumped $85 billion a month into the economy.

But is the economy strong enough to stand on its own? Wall Street nervous, the Dow has posted triple-digit moves, you guys, past six sessions, Dow futures up 29 points right now.

All right. A brand new CNN/ORC poll released just moments ago. Most Americans say the economy is in poor shape and when it comes to people's personal finances, more pessimism.

Forty-four percent say they're financially worse off than a year ago. Excuse me. Only 36 percent say they're better off.

No improvement from last year, no improvement. The stock market is up 13 percent and there's no improvement from last year.

CUOMO: She's getting emotional about it.

BOLDUAN: She's got a frog in her throat.


ROMANS: CNN Money released a list of most entrepreneurial states, Montana number one because of its booming oil and gas industry. Vermont is two. It has cheap business loans. Third, New Mexico, because it doesn't have a lot of manufacturing or large industries.

So, there you go. If you want to launch a business, there you go.

BOLDUAN: I'm also thinking North Dakota. I did a piece in North Dakota a couple of years ago about the fracking industry and how it's booming. Lowest unemployment.

ROMANS: Yes, the lowest unemployment in the country is in North Dakota. Amazing.

PEREIRA: I hear it's lovely this time of year.

BOLDUAN: Lovely this time of year. Not a lot of nighttime.

CUOMO: Christine, thank you very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CUOMO: We have developing news in California this morning.

Fire season has gotten off to a premature and dangerous start: a wildfire near Yosemite National Park is threatening hundreds of homes.

Let's go to CNN's Miguel Marquez.

What can you tell us right now, Miguel?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, at the height of this thing more than 1,000 families were forced from homes and authorities are starting to get on top of this fire here. But there are more than 30 fires burning across the West right now and there are record dry conditions.


MARQUEZ (voice-over): Fires this big, this early, not supposed to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh my God, oh, wow.

MARQUEZ: Here in the foothills of Yosemite National Park, more than 1,000 families evacuated, 2,200 firefighters working round the clock to protect homes and the national treasure. Tinder dry conditions feeding the wind-fueled fires just about everywhere. Near Prescott, Arizona, fire spread rapidly creating panic and more evacuations.

Across the West, historic levels of severe and extreme dryness, even large chunks of exceptional dryness. That's more extreme than extreme.

GARY UCHNNER, FIRE BEHAVIOR ANALYST: This is kind of unprecedented, seeing this kind of dryness this early with a longer summer coming. Again, this is June. We're seeing things that you see in August.

MARQUEZ: So many fires already in California. Smoke drifting east into Clark County in Las Vegas prompting air hazard alerts.

PAUL "BEAR" VASQUEZ, DOUBLE RAINBOW MAN: At one point it looked like a volcano, and I was like, whoa.

MARQUEZ: Paul Vasquez at his personal fire command center. You might know him better as bear. This fire burned the mountain that made him famous.

VASQUEZ: Whoa! Oh my God, oh my God!

MARQUEZ: He, too, lives at Yosemite's doorstep. Ordered to evacuate, he says he's going nowhere.

(on camera): This place is in your soul.

VASQUEZ: Yes, that's true. I feel like I'm the protector of this land and it's a very powerful place and now it's very famous.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Here in Free Spirit, California, already a season of fire and the official fire season hasn't even begun.


MARQUEZ: Now, this is quite a distance from the park itself. There's a lot of rough territory between it so they think it will not hit the park, they believe they will have it contained fairly soon. So, good news there. This fire, though, human caused, a camp fire, they put dirt on it but it didn't go out completely. The fire in Arizona, the Dulce Fire also human caused.

Watch word from officials here, pay attention this summer, it's going to be dry and hot. Chris, Kate, back to you.

CUOMO: Listen to Smokey Bear. Miguel Marquez, thank you very much. We wish you the best out there.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Miguel.

CUOMO: You should have seen so excited Kate got when Yosemite Bear came up. She's a big fan of Vasquez.

BOLDUAN: How can you not be? Someone who gets excited about a rainbow, I want him to read with us all day long.

CUOMO: Protector of the land. Coming up next on NEW DAY: hey, if you got kids in day care, you're going to want to hear this story. The operator of an Ohio day care center accused of putting sleeping pills in the kids' pan cakes.

BOLDUAN: Oh my gosh.

And a pistol packing grandma from Oregon is organizing gun owners to protect their neighborhood. We'll introduce you to the woman behind the Glock Block.

CUOMO: It's a tough read. You handle that very well.


CUOMO: Always have good music for you here on NEW DAY.

Welcome back, everybody. I'm Chris Cuomo.

BOLDUAN: If you don't like the news, we at least have good music for you. That's for sure.

I'm Kate Bolduan. We're here, of course, with Michaela Pereira. It is Wednesday, June 19th.

Coming up in this half hour, a day care worker charged with putting sleeping pills -- yes, sleeping pills inside children's pancakes. We'll look at why she says it was all just a misunderstanding.

CUOMO: And take a look at this, really something you got to see.