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THE SITUATION ROOM
Obama Tries To Reassure On Snooping; New Film: TWA 800 Report Is Wrong; FBI Still Unresponsive To Grassley On Drones; Paula Deen Faces Lawsuit, Accused Of Sexual And Racial Discrimination; Genetically Modified Burritos?; Inside Medical Marijuana; New Mission for Space Shuttles
Aired June 19, 2013 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Jake. Happening now, President Obama makes history in what used to be communist East Berlin. Can he ease growing concerns there about American surveillance?
A new film charges that the midair explosion that sent TWA flight 800 punching into the Atlantic was no accident. That small aircraft buzzing overhead just may be an FBI drones. Stunning revelations today on Capitol Hill.
And would you like some genetically modified ingredients with that burrito? We look inside what's happening at a major fast food chain that is coming clean.
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta. And you're in the SITUATION ROOM.
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ACOSTA: Today, President Obama stood where the Berlin Wall once divided east and west where 50 years ago John F. Kennedy once brought hope to isolated Berliners, and Ronald Reagan later spurred the end of the cold war. But on this visit, it's not just what's in the president's speech that is making headlines across Europe, it's his administration's policy on surveillance.
CNN chief white house correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is live from Berlin. Jessica, this does make for some tricky diplomacy -- Jessica.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does, Jim. And no doubt, President Obama would have preferred delivering a speech entirely about big ideas and his vision for the future, but instead, he found himself explaining his own surveillance programs to the Germans, a people who are especially sensitive to state surveillance. And he did it all off the hard copy of his speech, his teleprompter went down.
YELLIN (voice-over): In the heart of Berlin, President Obama sought his place in history.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's so warm. And I feel so good that I'm actually going to take off my jacket.
YELLIN: Speaking on the east side of the Brandenburg Gate where Germany was once divided.
OBAMA: We can be a little more informal among friends.
YELLIN: Kennedy famously spoke at this gate.
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ich bein ein Berlinder.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
YELLIN: And President Reagan.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
YELLIN: But the comparison President Obama can't escape is to his own speech five years ago.
OBAMA: We will not leave our children to a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands.
YELLIN: At a site just blocks away, then candidate Obama drew a cheering crowd of 200,000. So massive it inspired this attack ad called celebrity.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he ready to lead?
YELLIN: The estimated size of today's crowd much smaller. Close to 4,500 invited guests.
YELLIN: He's lost some of his luster here in part by continuing some of President Bush's counterterror policies.
OBAMA: It means tightly controlling our use of new technologies like drones.
YELLIN: Drones, Guantanamo Bay, now NSA surveillance. In Germany where memories of the secret east German police are still fresh, fears of NSA snooping are especially intense. So, the president offered reassurances.
OBAMA: This is not a situation in which we are rifling through the ordinary e-mails of German citizens or American citizens or French citizens or anybody else.
YELLIN: Then in sweeping terms, he insisted this debate is what Democracy is all about.
OBAMA: And that's what makes us different from those on the other side of a wall.
YELLIN: His big announcement, an effort to cut the world supply of nuclear arms by one-third.
OBAMA: So long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe.
YELLIN: And the big message --
OBAMA: The wall belongs to history. But we have history to make as well. And the heroes that came before us now call to us to live up to those highest ideals.
YELLIN (on-camera): As you may have noticed in the video, the president spoke from behind high bullet proof glass. There was intense security presence and it seemed visibly higher than when he was in Berlin as a candidate, also more intense than when President Clinton spoke here. Visibly put the president at a distance from the audience interestingly, Jim, even as he delivered a message that we are all part of one global community -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Some challenging stage crafting there. Hope you get a chance to enjoy some of Berlin. Jessica Yellin, thanks very much.
While President Obama crossed over into the former East Berlin, the first lady and their daughters honored those who died trying to cross from east to west, placing flowers in a Berlin Wall memorial today. And they paid respects at Berlin's holocaust memorial honoring the millions of Jews who perished at the hands of Nazis before and during World War II.
Now, joining me now on this very important trip, a lot of news in this trip, CNN chief political analyst, Gloria Borger and chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley, anchor of CNN "State of the Union."
And Gloria, I mean, this was a speech about presidential legacy. You heard the president touch on winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He talked about a lot of subject -- aids. This was obviously about his legacy, but this whole issue of surveillance did get in the way.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It did get in the way, but he mentioned it artfully in this speech as part of things that need to be discussed in the future about the balance between security and liberty. I think what's kind of ironic to me is that presidents now have to go abroad to give these huge speeches about their vision for the world.
BORGER: At home, the president gave a speech on drone, the president has to defend himself on surveillance, and he may end up doing a speech on that, who knows. But, at this setting, at this historic setting where the J.F.K. spoke as just appointed (ph) out and Ronald Reagan and all the rest, this was a moment for the president to say -- if this were a perfect world, as he did five years ago, I might add, if this were a perfect world, well, we'd take care of climate change. We would eradicate nuclear weapons. We would deal with human rights. We would --
ACOSTA: A lot of issues.
BORGER: We would find the balance between security and liberty. But he has to say it in Germany and then we report on it and tell it to the American public.
ACOSTA: And Candy, I mean, one moment that jumped out at me during the speech was when he was talking about -- he seemed to be talking about Syria when he said I'm not a president who's going around, trying to start a war in the Middle East. I'm trying to end one.
And I know we want to talk about 2008 and the comparisons, but I do think that that was an interesting moment. And if there is something that is going to be remembered about this president internationally, it is going to be about winding down these wars.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it is still does wind into his speech five years ago in Berlin, because remember, he came and part of what it was is I'm not going to be the guy that's in there now.
ACOSTA: Right. That's right.
CROWLEY: I'm going to be the new person. I'm going to -- he took -- he didn't campaign while he was over there. It was a very sort of broad memories, most famous line in that speech was I come as a citizen of the world. And it was more like, you know, this sort of all encompassing, we're not going to go it on our own sort of thing.
And part of that, you know, insinuated in that is I'm not going to start wars on behalf of the U.S. So, I thought it was interesting that he felt the need to kind of be defensive about this.
BORGER: You know, he's been demoted, though. He's not a rock star anymore in Germany.
ACOSTA: He's not the biggest star in the world as John McCain said in that ad in 2008.
BORGER: That's right. He's been demoted from rock star to just very popular, over 80 percent approval rating, I might add.
CROWLEY: The fact is, he had 250,000 people in Grant Park when he won his first election and then several thousand in a convention hall in Chicago when he won the second election. It just happens when you go from the promise to the -- ACOSTA: And Candy, you were there in 2008. I mean, you've heard these comparisons being made -- is it fair to make that comparison in 2008, do you think?
CROWLEY: Sure. But, you know, I also think it is as predictable as can be. There is a candidate that's full of promises, and then there's the president who brings a record. And those are different things. They still like him. They still -- you know, I mean, a lot of stuff comes with having to not fulfill some of the promises that made him quite popular overseas. Gitmo is one of them. I mean, he mentioned --
ACOSTA: That was a big applause line.
BORGER: But part of the speech was saying, you know, I'm still the same person you loved and adored when I was here before as a candidate.
ACOSTA: Is he trying too hard?
BORGER: I've been tampered -- well, the president never seems to try too hard, right? I mean, this is sort of part of his cool demeanor.
BORGER: But I do think that what he was saying was, I still have that vision. I am president of the United States. I do meet reality upon occasion and things intervene such as the surveillance issue, such as Guantanamo.
ACOSTA: Talk about taking out Osama Bin Laden.
BORGER: Talk about taking out Osama Bin Laden, but, you know, his overall rubric was, look, we have to find a way to get to peace with justice. And they kept coming back to a theme that I think he wants to be remembered by.
CROWLEY: The way to look at the president's speeches from here on out, frankly, is through the prism of goodbye.
CROWLEY: And that's what this is.
ACOSTA: Wow. And that's awfully early in the administration --
CROWLEY: He's not going to get back probably to berlin. There's lots of other places to go. But I mean, this is the prism of goodbye. You will hear this a lot.
BORGER: And this is a bookend, the 2008 speech being the beginning. This is his bookend to that speech as far as Germany is concerned and Europe.
ACOSTA: But to get to this tricky diplomacy, I mean, the fact that Angela Merkel, Angela Merkel, talked about surveillance with President Obama. I mean, he's had this happen to him a couple of times now in the world stage. Vladimir Putin just recently said, hey, we disagree on Syria. When he was meeting with the Chinese leader a couple of weeks ago, it was, hey, you're hacking, too. What do you make of that?
BORGER: Well, I think his relationships with some of these leaders are not as close as he might have expected them to be. Don't forget. He's taking Angela Merkel to task on her austerity budget as well. I mean, he wishes it weren't so austere. So, this isn't the first disagreement that they have had. She's running for re-election.
She has to let her public know that she's taking on the president on this surveillance issue because people in their country were listened in on. And it's not popular there.
BORGER: So, I think she had to do it for -- as much for her own political --
ACOSTA: All politics are local --
CROWLEY: Well, absolutely. And I mean, you also have to, I think understand, as I talked to someone who was in the intelligence community understands pretty much how this program has worked who said, you don't think Europe is happy with the information they're getting from us? It's one thing what they say in public.
It's been helpful. It has saved -- they would admit or seem to -- was Angela Merkel did that it has saved some lives. So, what you hear in public is not necessarily what they think in private. And the fact of the matter is that, you know, presidents get dense. They're not campaigners, you know? And they take some hits. What's been said in public, I think, also has to be looked at through the prism of re- election.
ACOSTA: All right. All politics are local, as we know, even in Berlin. Candy Crowley, Gloria Borger, thank you.
Coming up next, 17 years after TWA flight 800 blew up and plunged into the Atlantic, a new film says the official government report on the crash is wrong.
And what's in your burrito? It's actually a good question. Chipotle says many of its ingredients are the products of gene tweaking. We will look inside that.
ACOSTA: It was a crowded airliner on a New York to Paris flight barely under way when the plane exploded in midair. It took years for the government to determine what happened to TWA flight 800. Now, 17 years after that crash, some later original investigators are raising fresh doubts in a new film.
CNN's Rene Marsh joins us now. She's walking into the SITUATION ROOM, and she has more on this very interesting story. If true, these would be some pretty big revelations, Rene.
RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jim. You know, TWA flight 800 was some 13,000 feet in the sky when it burst into flames and fell out of the sky. And now, a new documentary suggests that when the government called it an accident, it was a cover-up. But when we pressed the filmmakers and former accident investigators, they couldn't spell out what was being covered up or why.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It blew up in the air. We saw it go into the water.
MARSH: It was 1996. TWA flight 800 exploded mid-air off the coast of Long Island, New York. All 230 people on board the 747 died. After a four-year investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board Ruled a short circuit near the fuel tank caused the explosion. Now, a twist in the case.
Out of scores of accident investigators involved, six now say in a new documentary the agency's findings were wrong.
HANK HUGHES, FORMER NTSB ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR: The primary conclusion was the explosive forces came from outside the airplane, not the center fuel tank.
ROBERT YOUNG, TWA AIRLINE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION REP.: The agenda was that this is an accident, make it so.
MARSH: The now retired investigators say they have new evidence proving a missile caused one of the country's most deadly plane crashes. That evidence includes FAA radar data, explosive residue in multiple locations of the plane and witness accounts of a rising streak of light through the sky. The documentary's producers and the former investigators suggest a CIA, FBI, and NTSB cover-up.
TOM STALCUP, PRODUCER, "TWA FLIGHT 800": They had some political agenda to show that this was an accident regardless of what the evidence showed.
MARSH: John Goglia was one of the five NTSB board members assigned to the case.
JOHN GOGLIA, FORMER NTSB BOARD MEMBER: I would never be part of a cover-up. You have to take all the pieces and look at them as a whole. The sequencing report that told how the airplane came apart, none of it supports that the array (ph) of a missile attack.
DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: NTSB conducted a very a thorough investigation. We collected over 17,000 pages of documents. All of those are items are available to the public.
MARSH: At the time, NTSB investigators considered and rejected a missile brought the plane down. They insist the streak witnesses saw was burning fuel from the plane. Wednesday morning, former investigators filed a petition with the NTSB to re-open the case.
MARSH (on-camera): Well, this isn't the first time they petitioned the NTSB to open the case, re-open the case. They tried once ten years ago, and they were denied. The NTSB acknowledged that they received the request and they are in the process of reviewing it. Jim, we got our hands on a copy of it.
They will be looking through this. It could take a few days. It is pretty lengthy request here. So, we'll see how this goes.
ACOSTA: A lot of people are going to be looking at the claims being made in this documentary to determine whether or not they are true and whether they add up. Rene Marsh, thank you for that very much.
The allegations in this new documentary are drawing an angry reaction from a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board. Peter Goelz worked closely on the TWA 800 investigation.
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PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: There is no solid proof. There's no evidence whatsoever that supports his theory. He's been chasing a variety of theories for 15 years. This is just the latest. He's wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And you will hear more from Goelz as he speaks in our next hour in the SITUATION ROOM for an interview.
Coming up, celebrity cook, Paula Deen, under oath of misusing words and telling jokes you would not say to anyone.
And later, the FBI chief's startling admission. I will speak with the U.S. senator who asked the question that made all the news. That's coming up.
ACOSTA: A militant group linked to al Qaeda is claiming responsibility for a deadly attack. Mary Snow is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, the attack targeted the United Nations headquarters in Mogadishu, Somalia. The fighting left cars and buses mangled, windows of nearby apartments shattered, and the ground littered with blood and body parts. By the time African union troops beat back the attackers, four U.N. employees, three civilian women, and seven militants were dead. Fifteen others are wounded.
Here in the U.S., the FBI is coming up empty-handed again in its latest search for the body of one-time teamsters union president, Jimmy Hoffa. Crews spent the last few days digging in a field near Detroit because of a tip from a former mobster. Investigators even used probes to determine what's in the soil but didn't find any samples requiring lab analysis. Hoffa's 1975 disappearance remains an unsolved mystery.
Well, you can add Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski, to the list of lawmakers publically supporting same-sex marriage. A statement from her office says Murkowski recently met two women who adopted four children. And in Murkowski's words, this first class Alaskan family still lives a second class existence.
And despite a sentence handed down today, fashion designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, are unlikely to spend any time in prison. They were convicted of hiding hundreds of millions of euros from tax authorities. Prosecutors asked for a two and a half-year sentence. The court decided on a year and eight months suspended sentence plus a fine. Neither designer showed up for today's court session -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Thanks, Mary.
Coming up next, could the small aircraft buzzing overhead be an FBI drone? Stunning revelations today on Capitol Hill. Senator Charles Grassley is standing by.
And ahead, Paula Deen under oath. The TV chef admits using racial slurs and jokes.
ACOSTA: That small aircraft buzzing overhead just may be an FBI drone. Director Robert Mueller made some stunning revelations today on Capitol Hill today under close questioning from Iowa Republican senator, Charles Grassley. Take a listen.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Does the FBI own or currently use drones and, if so, for what purpose?
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: Yes, and for surveillance.
GRASSLEY: So, instead of asking a question, I think I can assume since you do use drones that the FBI has developed a set of policies, procedures, and operational limits on the use of drones and whether or not any privacy impact on American citizens.
MUELLER: We are in the initial stages of doing that. I will tell you that our footprint is very small. We have very few and of limited use. We are exploring not only the use, but also the necessary guidelines for that use. GRASSLEY: Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on U.S. soil?
GRASSLEY: I want to go on to a question.
MUELLER: Let me just put it in context.
MUELLER: In a very, very minimal way. Very seldom.
ACOSTA: And Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee joins me now. Sen. Grassley, thank you for your time. Let me ask you, sir, was this known before you asked this question at this hearing today? And why did you ask the question?
GRASSLEY: Absolutely not. And the reason I asked the question was because we asked a question maybe a year ago at a previous hearing that we had with Mueller about -- and it was with the Department of Justice generally because these are all in the Department of Justice. We asked about DEA, FBI, and ATF if they used drones.
We got word then that DEA and ATF did use drones. But we never got any answer on the FBI. Well, that's -- we still want to know about the FBI. So, that's why I asked a question today. And it was very enlightening.
ACOSTA: So Senator, was the FBI stone walling you there by not giving you the information?
GRASSLEY: You know, I suppose since bureaucracies generally stonewall, but I won't accuse them of that because I don't know for sure. And so, we followed up today with a question. We got the answer. And I'm sending a letter now to get more detail on the amount of use, detail on what he meant when they seldom or rarely them surveying American soil and under what conditions. So, just get this information out because I think the right of privacy is at stake. If there is a legitimate law enforcement reason for using them they ought to say what it is.
ACOSTA: And Senator Grassley, the FBI did release a statement to CNN saying that they do use drones in a limited basis. But, they did point to one case where a drone was used, they say, in the Alabama standoff that happened earlier this year that Jimmy Lee Dikes hostage situation. You might remember that, Senator. There was a 5-year-old who is being held captive by Mr. Dikes. And apparently the FBI is saying they used a drone in that circumstance.
Do you believe that type of law enforcement situation, a standoff essentially might be appropriate for drones?
GRASSLEY: Well, I'm surely not going to find fault with use where it saves the life of a young boy. That's very legitimate. But, what we are up against here on this whole thing and maybe not just involving the FBI, but there is a lot of distrust for government because the AP thing, what goes on in Benghazi and we weren't getting answers on this and that with the IRS. And because of that mistrust, we have to nail these things down. The people have a right to know. And it is just getting information out there.
ACOSTA: And you raise a good point there, Senator. Because, you know, we are not finding out about these things until they sometimes come out in committee hearings. The head of DNI, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, was asked in the recent hearing about the use of data collection of phone calls and during that hearing he denied that was going on. It later turned out to be true.
Are you concerned that the government, the federal government, the Obama administration isn't being up front enough with you and other senators about what they are doing on a range of issues?
GRASSLEY: Yes, but I don't know whether -- obviously, what happens during this administration is under the president's fault. And, you know, it ends with him. But the point is that this is a general distrust of government. And this use of drones is so new and privacy is a big concern now as evidenced by the intelligence stuff that's just now come out.
ACOSTA: Director Muller said there aren't any rules of the road essentially for drones to be used. I mean, is that a problem?
GRASSLEY: Well, you know, I asked the question backwards in a sense. I was assuming since they have them that there is some policy there. And maybe he was saying to me that the policy isn't there. And that's another reason for writing the letter so we can get this nailed down. You know, it isn't so much what government does. It's a mystery behind what the government does that leads breeds mistrust. So, whatever we can get out there without hurting our national security, we ought to get out. The use of drones is one of them. It is such a new thing. People knew about it just in the military. It's a new thing for law enforcement or the commercial use of drones. We don't even know how to deal with this, ourselves, in the Judiciary Committee. We are just scratching the surface at this point. But we have to get to the bottom of it. My letter to the FBI is just one part of that.
ACOSTA: All right, Senator Grassley, thank you for your time in bringing the question up at the hearing. We appreciate t. Thank you, sir.
GRASSLEY: Thank you.
ACOSTA: Just ahead a startling admission from celebrity chef Paula Deen and people at a popular Mexican restaurant say their recipes include genetically modified ingredients.
Morgan Spurlock, the newest member of the CNN, you might remember, he had something to say about a different fast food chain. He weighs in next.
But first, superstar Enrique Iglesias is asking fans to help impact your world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ENRIQUE IGLESIAS, SINGER: Hi. I'm Enrique Iglesias and we can make an impact on people in need. Love hope strength is a rock & roll cancer organization.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the eligibility.
IGLESIAS: They are getting people to register for a bone marrow transplant. It is extremely easy. All right, it takes is one of these and one person. And you just got a swab and that's it. So, that's how simple it is and that's how you can save someone's life.
I think part of the mission on the tour was we get different ages in our shows and different ethnic backgrounds. I thought a lot of people would sign up. It comes a point where you reach a certain age where you feel responsible.
Are you ready to get crazy?
There is a certain level of power. And by power, I mean, you can communicate to your fans, especially nowadays with twitter, with facebook. I feel I can do something that is positive. It's a good thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Celebrity chef Paula Deen is back in the headlines and not because of her cooking. It is because of something she had been saying. It is in a question and answer session for a lawsuit filed by a former manager of Dean-Savanna Georgia restaurant alleging a pattern of sexual and racial discrimination.
CNN's Alina Machado joins us with the details of what Dean's status.
This is some shocking stuff, Alina.
ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim.
This story has exploded online. And it all has to do with a transcript of a videotaped deposition of southern celebrity chef Paula Deen. Now, the deposition was taken in May and is part of an ongoing civil lawsuit filed against Deen and her brother by a former employee who as you mentioned alleges sexual and racial harassment.
Now, according to the deposition Deen was asked, have you ever used the n-word yourself to which she replies yes, of course. When asked for context e she said it was in conversation with her husband after a black man burst into a bank where she was working at and put a gun to her head.
She later said she may have also used the word when repeating something that was said to her adding, quote, "but that's just not a word that we as time has gone -- we use as time as gone on. Things have changed since the '60s in the south. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior."
Now, later on in the transcript, Deen talks about a restaurant she and her husband visited where she said the waiters were middle-aged black men wearing white jackets and black bow ties. She was asked if there was any possibility that she slipped and used the n-word when discussing her experienced at the restaurant to which she replied, and I want to show that graphic.
She said no because that's not what these men were. They were professional black men doing a fabulous job.
Now, based on that experience she said she would love for her brother to experience a very southern-style plantation wedding. Deen went on to say what she wanted was -- what she saw was reminiscent of a certain era in America around the civil war.
She was asked, and before the civil bar those black men and women who were waiting on white people were slaves, right? To which she answered, yes, I would say they were slaves, but I didn't mean anything derogatory by saying I loved their look and professionalism.
Now, Deen's attorney released a statement in saying his client doesn't condone or use or find the use of racial epithets acceptable and that she's looking forward to her day in court.
The attorney representing the woman who filed the lawsuit would not comment on this deposition -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right, Alina, thank you.
Coming up, another recipe for controversy, genetically modified ingredients at a popular Mexican restaurant. Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock joins us to talk it over.
And in our next hour a former transportation safety official response to a new documentary's controversial plane about the deadly air disaster.
ACOSTA: Would you like some genetically modified ingredients in that burrito? You might not have a choice. Chipotle, which may be among the more health conscious chains, admits some of its ingredients are products of gene tweaking.
CNN's Brian Todd has details.
Brian, I hate to admit, you know, I wish I didn't hear about this. But here it is.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. A lot of us wish that, too.
ACOSTA: Yes. TODD: Because we love the food there. A lot of us do, Jim. But, you know, one of the reasons Chipotle brought in $2.73 billion in revenue last year is because it has marketed itself as a healthier alternative to just about every other fast food chain. Well, Chipotle's recent effort to be more transparent may also put a dent in that reputation.
TODD (voice-over): From its menu to its Web site to a short film it commissioned featuring Willie Nelson covering "Coldplay." Chipotle Mexican Grille constantly promotes its commitment to healthy ingredients like naturally raised grilled chicken but Chipotle has recently come clean, becoming one of the first fast food chains to admit it's got genetically modified organisms, GMOs, in many of its top selling dishes -- in chicken and steak, tortillas.
(On camera): Genetically modified organisms. In English, what are they and why should we be concerned?
KATHERINE TALLMADGE, NUTRITIONIST: When foods are genetically modified, their genetic material has been unnaturally changed.
TODD (voice-over): That's because it's been processed, grown on factory-like farms. Nutritionist Katherine Tallmadge says she contends the soybean oil that Chipotle says it marinates chicken in can, in high quantities lead to higher risk of heart disease or arthritis. Soybean oil is also used in some other Chipotle dishes.
(On camera): If you want a Chipotle dish without genetically modified ingredients don't go with the instinct that so many people have, with the standard burrito, chicken steak and rice. You'll have to order a dish with some pork, lettuce, beans, maybe some salsa.
(Voice-over): Chipotle didn't provide someone to speak on camera but a company spokesman told us they're moving away from soybean oil in most dishes. Recently they switched to sunflower oil to make taco shells and chips.
(On camera): Better?
TALLMADGE: Great. That's great news for people who love chips. Because if they're made with whole corn and a health oil like sun flower oil they're actually good for you.
TODD (voice-over): Chipotle says the food industry in America is dominated by artificially processed ingredients that it's hard to get away from them. How hard? On its Web site Chipotle still places a G for genetically modified next to its ingredients list for chicken, steak, tortillas, for half its foods.
Chipotle says it's constantly seeking ways to move away from all of it to healthier mixtures and that unlike so many other fast food chains at least it's telling customers about its artificial ingredients. We asked people coming out of Chipotle if this would steer them away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. TODD (on camera): Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I care about what I put in my body.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. It wouldn't because the vast majority of U.S. produce is injected with chemicals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: On the comments from Tallmadge, that soybean oil in some Chipotle foods raises your risk for heart disease and arthritis, the Soy Foods Association pointed us to an expert who flat-out disputed that, saying the key Omega acids in soybean oil actually reduce those risks -- Jim.
ACOSTA: And at least this chain is fessing up to it. Brian Todd, thank you.
And joining me now is the host and producer of "INSIDE MAN" right here on CNN, Morgan Spurlock.
Morgan, it's a -- it's a great pleasure to talk to you. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
MORGAN SPURLOCK, CNN'S INSIDE MAN: Thank you. My pleasure.
ACOSTA: You know, Morgan, your breakthrough hit is "Super Size Me." Everybody knows you for that movie.
ACOSTA: Obviously your show is going to go into so many other areas and we're going to be talking about that. But we just had this piece about Chipotle, the fast food chain which is very popular, which is now going to be very open about what goes into their products, specifically genetically modified foods.
ACOSTA: You took a hard look at the fast food industry, specifically McDonald's. What do you think people should make of this disclosure from a chain like Chipotle? I mean, this is fairly big news.
SPURLOCK: I mean, it's big news. And you can only hope it's the first of many. You know, we as citizens do have the right to know what's in our food. Where it comes from, what it's going to do to our bodies when we eat it. And I think that to have a company like Chipotle, to step forward and say we are finally going to start to disclose that information is a -- is a great turn of events.
ACOSTA: And now I know your documentary series is debuting on CNN soon. And as a matter of fact, this weekend.
ACOSTA: And that you look at another popular product out there, although it's not sold at fast food chains. It's the product of marijuana.
ACOSTA: Tell us about that. Tell us about some of -- some of these topics you'll be looking at on the show.
SPURLOCK: Yes, you know, each week we're going to be looking at a different kind of hot-button hot topic issue in the United States from medical marijuana, to guns in America, to education to immigration, you know. In one episode I move in with my grandmother who is 91 years old to look at kind of elder care and end-of-life issues. So I think along the way people are going to kind of have their perspectives shift a little bit and hopefully be turned on to some new ideas.
ACOSTA: Well, this issue of marijuana legalization is a huge topic right now. Let's take a look at a clip from the show.
ACOSTA: And I want to talk a little bit more about this on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPURLOCK: So I'm locked in the back of a blacked-out van somewhere in northern California, being driven to an undisclosed location where they grow vast amounts of marijuana. There's been some other stipulations that we have to follow now. We can't show any of the people who work there. We can't show any of the people who work there, their faces, we can't show any hands or body parts. This isn't sketchy at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Wow, that is dramatic stuff, Morgan.
ACOSTA: Now we know that these marijuana dispensaries have become very popular in states where this is now, I guess legal, you might call it.
ACOSTA: Some say it's, you know, they're sort of pushing the envelope.
ACOSTA: What did you find investigating this industry? It's really an industry now.
SPURLOCK: Well, I mean, it's a huge industry, and where we were in California, I was working at the largest dispensary in the United States. One that's called Harborside in Oakland, California, and it is a big, big business. They make $25 million a year. It's a nonprofit, so all that money they're putting right back into the company.
But the most interesting thing is they pay all their taxes, both federal and state. They are the second largest retail taxpayer in the city of Oakland.
SPURLOCK: And they just -- they generate a tremendous amount of revenue, not only for the state, but for the city. So it's one of those things where you start to realize that if you do open this up to other states and let states make the decision, there could be a huge revenue stream and during an economic downturn like right now it's -- could be a very viable solution.
ACOSTA: And, Morgan, I'm just looking at some of the video from your special, I mean, that looks like a bank. That dispensary is so polished and professional looking, it looks --
ACOSTA: I mean, this is incredible. I mean --
SPURLOCK: It's like a whole another world, like you think you're going to walk in and see like a bunch of, like, you know, dirty stoners in there, you know --
Some really dodgy characters.
SPURLOCK: And -- but no, it's a really different kind of thing. They've tried to make it. And what they want, they want their place to kind of be the model of what dispensaries will be so they actually look and feel and become like health clinics. You know, they offer -- they offer yoga, they offer meditation, they offer psychological counseling for the patients that go there. All free of charge.
So, you know, when you see a place like this, you're like wow, if every place did it like this, then, you know, what kind of a difference could that make.
ACOSTA: And very quickly, I don't suppose you sampled any of the products? If you don't mind me asking.
SPURLOCK: You know what, I was -- I was on the up-and-up. No, I was -- I was walking the line while I was there.
ACOSTA: So not quite that inside.
SPURLOCK: Not quite that inside -- (CROSSTALK)
ACOSTA: That episode.
SPURLOCK: I was maybe a little on the fringe, but not quite, you know, as far on the inside as I could have been.
ACOSTA: Well, Morgan Spurlock, I tell you, you know, Anthony Bourdain's show that just started on CNN is a big hit and is a lot of fun to watch, and this looks like a lot of fun to watch as well.
SPURLOCK: Yes, great show.
ACOSTA: We are looking forward to this.
SPURLOCK: Thank you.
ACOSTA: Morgan Spurlock, the host, star and producer of this CNN Original Series, "INSIDE MAN." Coming this weekend to CNN. Stay tuned for that. It's going to be a lot of fun.
Morgan, thanks for your time.
SPURLOCK: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
ACOSTA: All right. When we come back, a controversial documentary raises questions about one of the country's worst disasters in recent memory.
And tennis star Serena Williams' mouth gets her into trouble, now she's trying to clarify her comments.
ACOSTA: The space shuttle Atlantis has seen its final days in orbit, but it's about to start a new mission. For today's "American Solutions" segment, CNN's John Zarrella and a real-life astronaut got a sneak peek at the shuttle's new home.
John joins us live in Florida right now, and John, I am officially jealous. I took my kids down there earlier this year. What a place.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is absolutely spectacular. You know, the last time I was in here, Jim, it was a hard hat area. But now with less than two weeks to go before the Atlantis exhibit opens, this is what visitors are going to see. Atlantis is a showcase to the past. But it also highlights a problem. America at this point does not have its own way to get astronauts into space.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): Up close, nearly close enough to touch it, but still, it begs the question -- is it real?
TOM JONES, ASTRONAUT: You don't realize the size when you're living in the cabin up front.
ZARRELLA: Tom Jones flew four shuttle missions, one on Atlantis. But one of the last times he saw it, it was wrapped in shrink wrap as the museum was being built around it. Now even he, an astronaut, is in awe of it.
JONES: But to really see the spaceship up close was a rare event. It was always cloaked in scaffolding and the hangar. You saw little bits and pieces like seeing the elephant as a blind man. But you never got this close to the vehicle fully revealed until it was right after landing and even that it was just for a glimpse.
ZARRELLA: When the $100 million Atlantis exhibit opens, this is how everyone will see it, a flying machine like none ever built.
ALVIN DREW, SHUTTLE ASTRONAUT: Were we ever that audacious to go built a spacecraft to do things like that? And I think we're going to look back and it's going to be as if it was something out of a science fiction movie.
ZARRELLA: Atlantis and the other orbiters, now retired, are reminders of both the past and the present. For two years since Atlantis touched down at the Kennedy Space Center, the U.S. has been without its own means to put astronauts in space.
CHRISTOPHER FERGUSON, SHUTTLE COMMANDER: We've called it a gap. Not sure how long it's going to last, that's dependent upon these future commercial providers.
ZARRELLA: Commercial companies have taken over ferrying cargo to the International Space Station, but not people. That was supposed to happen by 2015. Now the gap has widened, it's a very iffy 2017. Target dates are etched in sand, not stone. Not enough money from Congress, NASA says, so astronauts fly on Russian rockets. Jones believes a new generation of space explorers will find their inspiration right here.
JONES: A young person can come in here and say I want to fly something like this. I want to help design something like this. And it can be a part of their future and that's a very bright future for America in the 21st century if we capitalize on the experience we have here.
ZARRELLA: NASA is also working on a rocket for deep space missions. That, too, is years away. So for now, the inspiration gap is being filled by vehicles, not on the launch pad, but in museums.
ZARRELLA: One of the most common questions, Jim, that people have come through here already are asking is, is it real? They can't believe that really is Atlantis. And, you know, it's not just the space shuttle that's in the museum. Take a look at this. This is a full-scale mock-up of the Hubble Space telescope. That's right here in the same room. All kinds of other things here. And important to note that the -- this entire $100 million facility, not a single taxpayer dollar, all turnstile and a capital campaign that built this incredible facility to house the shuttle Atlantis as it flew in space, and this is the only way it flew, 43-degree angle -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Two words, John, very cool. Thank you very much. Appreciate that.
It's time for me to blast off, but "THE SITUATION ROOM" continues right now with my colleague Jake Tapper.