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Spying Oversight; Paula Deen Apologizes; Interview With Michael Chertoff; FAA to Ease Plane Gadget Rules; Training Syria's Rebels

Aired June 21, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. President, meet the group of watchdogs you were supposed to be running these spying programs by.

I'm Jake Tapper. And this is THE LEAD.

The national lead. Did you have know that there is a board designed to call out the president and the Obama administration on any policy violations? Well, he's never, ever met with them before today because it was mostly just on paper. Suddenly, of course, he's very interested in what they has to say.


PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: Please forgive me.


TAPPER: The money lead. Superstar chef Paula Deen begs for your mercy after she acknowledges using racial slurs. Can her Southern pride empire survive?

And the sports lead, how I spent my off-season by Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, ducking reporters, answering police questions, as investigators try to unravel the murder, the mystery of a murder not far from his home.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We begin with the national lead. New documents published by "The Guardian" newspaper leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden suggest that the British spy agency GCHQ -- that stands for Government Communications Headquarters -- has accessed cables carrying the world's phone calls and Internet traffic and it shares this information with the American National Security Agency.

The Obama administration had no comment today, as law enforcement officials continue their feverish manhunt to locate Edward Snowden.

CNN's Nic Robertson today reports the business partner of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says he has plans in place to charter a plane to fly Snowden from Hong Kong to Iceland if the government of Iceland agrees to grant him asylum.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OLAFUR SIGURVINSSON, ICELANDIC BUSINESSMAN: We just want to absolutely -- make sure that if we start to transport the guy, that he will not -- that he will be safe when he lands, you know, he will not be extradited to U.S.


TAPPER: The bigger issue of course is this massive surveillance program. A recent Gallup poll finds that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of the NSA surveillance programs.

A CBS News poll shows 58 percent of Americans disapprove of the government -- quote -- "collecting phone calls of ordinary Americans." It's one of the reasons why the Obama administration is suddenly out there trying to defend the program.

President Obama attempted to do so earlier this week by heralding a special panel designed to protect your rights.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have stood up a privacy and civil liberties oversight board made up of independent citizens, including some fierce civil libertarians. I will be meeting with them. And what I want to do is to set up and structure a national conversation.


TAPPER: So, a privacy and civil liberties oversight board. Where was this panel when these NSA spying programs were being implemented?

Well, it didn't really exist, not in any real sense. In fact, the president's first ever meeting with the group is going on right now. President George W. Bush formed a version of this panel in 2004 as part of the executive office on the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

Then-Vice President Dick Cheney was awfully proud of that fact.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Working with Congress, he has created the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, on which Ted Olson is now a member. The president has made very clear that as we fight for our principles, our first responsibility is to live by them.


TAPPER: But how in the loop were members of this panel? Well, they learned about the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program by reading "The New York Times."

And a report that the board wrote was heavily edited by the White House. One memory signed in protest. Congress in 2007 made the board an independent agency. President Bush nominated members in 2008, but the Senate never took any action. President Obama's turn came next and he promptly dragged his feet. He didn't even nominate anyone to the board until 2011 and his final member was not fully confirmed until May 7 of this year, about a month before Edward Snowden began spilling the NSA's secrets.

For years, the privacy oversight panel has had no offices, no staff. Let's go to their Web site. Wait, it doesn't exist. But now of course they're a vital part of this conversation. President Obama told you about this board on Monday and his first meeting with them is right now.

And joining me now to talk with these issues is Michael Chertoff. He was homeland security secretary from 2005 to 2009. And he's now chairman and co-founder of the Chertoff Group, a security consulting firm.

Thanks for being here. We appreciate it.


TAPPER: So, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, it was created during the Bush administration. Some members of the board complained that, first of all, they learned about some programs that they were supposed to be keeping an eye on by reading a newspaper, not from the White House, that a report that they did had been edited by the White House. It was not the bipartisan report that they put together. The White House meddled. I guess some things were changed since then.

How important was this board to you and the Bush administration during the period you served as secretary of homeland security?

CHERTOFF: When I was at DHS, we actually had our own privacy officer. And that was kind of the department analogue to the board.

Our privacy officer was very, very helpful to us. It was important to be able to get a perspective from the privacy standpoint about some of the regulations and measures we were considering, and we viewed that person as an ally and as a valued adviser and not as an adversary. Now, I think properly used, the government-wide board, the oversight board, can play that important function.

TAPPER: A new document was published by "The Guardian," leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker. It indicates that this FISA court has rules and it depends on your perspective, I suppose, but one of the things that came out in this document, and it dates from 2007, when you were at the DHS, is that they can hold on to details of Americans' data for five years, and they can retain and make use of information that is called inadvertently acquired, stuff that they didn't mean to acquire but they have. They can use that.

Should Americans not be concerned about that? That does seem to be a giant loophole through which any analyst could do almost anything if it's -- quote, unquote -- "inadvertently acquired." CHERTOFF: Actually, I think it ought to comfort people.

So, there are two parts to this. First of all, all of these rules are reviewed and approved by an independent court. And if there's a breach of the rules, the court polices that and if necessary sanctions the government. I know some of the judges of the court from when I was a judge, not on that court, and I would tell you they take very seriously their responsibilities under the law.

The second thing is, we talk about inadvertent monitoring. I will give you a practical example. Let's say you're monitoring a phone call involving a terrorist overseas and they call a number and it turns out that it's an American number. Now, normally, you would say, well, it's an American citizen, we're going to discard that.

But let's say during the conversation before you ascertain who it is they're talking about a bombing attack. Well, at that point, you have the right to say, look, even though I'm not targeting the American, something has now emerged that indicates that this American is in fact involved in terrorism.

Then you go back to the court. The court then allows you to pursue that further. So, at each step of the process -- now, this was true prior to 9/11 -- there's a set of rules, there's a set of requirements, and then if someone wants to move to the next level, a court get involved.

TAPPER: There's a report that Snowden is trying to get to Iceland, although there is an extradition treaty the United States has with Iceland. Do you think that the government knows where Snowden is and can the government, based on your knowledge of its capabilities, prevent him from getting to Iceland?

CHERTOFF: Well, first of all, I don't know if they know where he is.

Obviously, if you're traveling and you're transversing countries that have treaties with the United States, those countries could, when you land at an intermediate point, arrest you, pull you off the plane, provided there's an arrest warrant issued by the government. Now, there may be one. It may be sealed.

This whole idea of going to Iceland when you first go to Hong Kong seems a little bit odd to me. In fact, it seems odd that he would go to China and say, oh, this is the place I go to get my freedom. So there are elements to this story that I suspect are not clear yet and we're going to see some interesting things perhaps unfold in the next few weeks.

TAPPER: And the last question. The U.S. and the Taliban are in negotiations right now. I know, as Moshe Dayan, the foreign minister of Israel, once said, you don't make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies.

But there are a lot of people who are wringing their hands over whether or not the U.S. should be negotiating with the Taliban. What do you think? CHERTOFF: I think there are a couple dimensions to this.

Look, it's obvious sometimes you have to negotiate with people who have been your enemies, and now, for example, we are very close friends with Japan and Germany. At one point, we were mortal enemies. On the other hand, there are some people who are off-limits. People who have committed gross acts of terrorism or gross acts of savagery or atrocities really shouldn't be people who are party to negotiation.

We also have to be very, very careful about releasing people who are the worst of the worst and enabling them to go back to the field of battle.

TAPPER: So, if you worked for President Obama right now, you would tell him not to -- there is this hypothetical trade right now between Bowe Bergdahl, the sergeant who is being held captive, in exchange for five senior al Qaeda operatives. You would tell him not to do that trade?

CHERTOFF: I would say that trading hostages, even though we desperately want to get our own back, is a very dangerous road to go down.

The Israelis faced this over a number of years. The problem is when you do that, you're sending a signal that people who are captured improperly become bargaining chips. And that's a dangerous signal to send. You can never say never, but I would be very, very careful before I made any kind of a deal involving releasing very bad guys in return for either negotiating a resolution to some conflict or getting a prisoner back.

TAPPER: All right. Former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, thanks so much for joining us.

CHERTOFF: My pleasure.

TAPPER: Coming up on the money lead, crisis management. She admitted to using ugly, racist language. How does Paula Deen begin to pull out of this tailspin? See her attempt at an apology next.

And in our world lead, nuclear winter avoided? Vladimir Putin makes an offer to Patriots owner Robert Kraft, but bottom line, Kraft ain't getting his Super Bowl ring back.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Now time for the money lead. Talk about the last word. It can be the last word of a person's career. I'm referring of course to the N- word. Having admitting using the word, food giant Paula Deen is in the fight of her life to save her massively successful empire worth millions and built on artery-clogging goodness.

A short time ago, this video was posted on YouTube, although it's unclear if this is the version Deen intended to post some sort of rough cut. It seems pretty heavily edited, but she tries to apologize and maybe throw herself a life raft after it was revealed during questioning in a civil lawsuit that she had used racial slurs in the past.


PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I have done. I want to learn and grow from this inappropriate, hurtful language. It's totally, totally unacceptable.

I have made plenty of mistakes along the way. But I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the mistakes that I have made.


TAPPER: Again, those edits you saw in that film, they were there when the video posted to YouTube. That is not our work.

PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: I've made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I beg you, my children, my team, my fans, my partners, I beg for your forgiveness. Please forgive me for the mistakes that I've made.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Again, those edit's, you saw in that film, they were there when the video posted to YouTube. That is not our work.

The $1.2 million harassment and discrimination lawsuit was filed by an employee in one of Deen's restaurants. She claims Deen used the A- bomb of racial slurs, the N-word, when she was talking about hiring black waiters for a plantation themed wedding. Now, Deen denied using that word and when asked if she had used the word in other occasion, she said, "Of course."

In other money news, are you one of those people who exhale a passive aggressive sigh every time the flight attendant tells you to shut off your electronic devices for take-off and landing? I'll admit that I am.

ell, good news. Pretty soon, you might get to rock out to One Direction on your MP3, watch "Game of Thrones" on your tablet, or continue to read the latest "Fifty Shades of Grey" novel on your Kindle, during both take-offs and landings.

THE LEAD's Erin McPike is here with more with why the FAA plans to lighten up a little when it comes to gadget rules.

And. Erin, there's a catch to this as I understand it.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There is. So, one of the big devices we use, the cell phone, that's actually not included. So no last- minute calls. But you could keep up with the news.


MCPIKE (voice-over): Just too fidgety to power down that gadget before take-off?

FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Your mobile phones and other electronic devices should be turned off.

MCPIKE: That instruction from the flight attendant may be a thing of the past if the FAA approves a draft of new recommendations allowing flyers to use some of their gadgets during taxi, take-off and landing, though cell phones are not included. Last year, the FAA began to look at loosening those restrictions.

This morning, "The Wall Street Journal" published leaks from the alleged unfinished reports.

But frequent flyers have long ignored the airlines' requests to power down.

Alec Baldwin was booted from an American airlines flight for using his mobile device. You may have heard he's a bit of a game player. Remember "Word with Friends"? Later that week, he spoofed the pilot on "Saturday Night Live."

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Would you really get on an air plain that flew 30,000 feet in the air if you thought one Kindle switch could take it down? Come on!

MCPIKE: Twitter founder Jack Dorsey just couldn't keep his fingers off the keys recently, shooting this fine video while his plane took flight.

He's not alone. A survey by the airlines showed 30 percent of us accidentally fail to turn off our portable electronic devices or PEDs.

MARY KIRBY, AIRLINE PASSENGER EXPERIENCE ASSOCIATION: The long and the short of it is, we're going to be allowed to use our PEDs in the not too distant future.

MCPIKE: Mary Kirby is the editor for of Airline Passenger Experience Association.

KIRBY: There's guidance that's been out there for years the airlines have essentially been waiting for the FAA to make its position clear. The FAA is about to do that and then the airlines will have guidance. However, the reality is it's going to take time because the aircrafts will be have to be tested to make sure they're PED tolerant. MCPIKE: A 2020 report found 75 instances of PED interference of airplanes, which amounted to just one incident in every 280,000 flights.

The FAA acknowledged changes may be afoot saying today, "We tasked a government industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions. We will wait for the group to finish its work before we determine next steps."


MCPIKE: Now, the report has been delayed twice, so it's still probably going to be another year or so until this actually goes through, we think.

TAPPER: But during the commercial break, I was singing "you can leave your phone on" to the Joe Cocker song. You're telling me actually it's true. Well, I can use my phone but have I to put it on airplane format.

MCPIKE: Yes, you can't make a call, you can't make a text.

TAPPER: But I could read --

MCPIKE: You could read things.

TAPPER: Amazon or whatever.


TAPPER: And access Wi-Fi with this little baby.

MCPIKE: Yes. So we're still kind of shut off from the rest of the world, a little bit, those of us who like to sleep.

TAPPER: I don't mind that. But when is this all going to take place? Sometime in a not-too-distant --

MCPIKE: In the next year or so if the report is approved.

TAPPER: Come on, FAA.

All right. Erin McPike, thank you so much.

#Tag You're It: if the FAA lifts its ban on gadgets during take-offs and landings, what would be you be most excited about? Me, obviously playing "Words and Friends" with Alec Baldwin.

Hit us up @TheLeadCNN, use #gadgetgogo.

In the time since we aired that Paula Deen video, she wanted a do- over. She released a second video just moments ago.


DEEN: I'm Paula Deen. I was invited this morning to speak to Matt Lauer about a subject that has been very hurtful to a lot of people. Matt, I have to say I was physically not able this morning. The pain has been tremendous that I have caused to myself and to others. And so I'm taking this opportunity now that I've pulled myself together and am able to speak to offer an apology to those that I have hurt.

I want people to understand that my family and I are not the kind of people that the press is wanting to say we are. I've spent the best of 24 years to help myself and others. Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter to me, but it's what --


TAPPER: All right. The latest video from Paula Deen up on YouTube. Thank you, Ms. Deen.

Coming up on THE LEAD: Russia's president claims he never stole a Super Bowl ring from Patriots owner Robert Kraft. But instead of just giving it back, he's extending an olive branch at that appears to be dripping with sarcasm.

And on the "Sports Lead", an NFL star linked to a high profile murder investigation, while the media tracks his every move in a white SUV. Boy, is this starting to sound familiar.

How the murder mystery involving Aaron Hernandez is starting to play out like O.J. 2.0.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Now, it's time for "The World Lead". Get your things and go, that urgent warning came from the mayor of a major Canadian city that is literally being swallowed by floodwaters. More than 75,000 people were forced to leave their homes in Calgary. That's in western Canada, less than 200 miles from the U.S. border. Rescue crews are using construction equipment to save people from flooded out homes and buildings.

Amazingly, there have been no reports of deaths or injuries. The massive flooding is a result of heavy rain and rising rivers.

Now that the U.S. has agreed to start arming the Syrian rebels, are we actually going to teach them how to use those weapons? Well, it turns out we already are.

Back in April, CNN reported that officials quietly acknowledged that the CIA was training Syrian rebels in neighboring countries. Now, "The Los Angeles Times" is reporting that U.S. Special Ops troops, the kind to carry out covert missions, are training them, too.

The White House has not spelled out how it's going to support the Syrian opposition but sources say it involves small arms, ammunitions and possibly anti-tank weapons. Today, Syrian rebels announced that they received heavy weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles from, quote, "brotherly nations that support the Syrian revolution."

We have an update to a story that could have been the plot to the weakest Tom Clancy novel ever written. Russian President Vladimir Putin is now offering to pay back Patriots owner Robert Kraft with some custom bling after Kraft told the "New York Post" that Putin pocketed his $25,000 2004 Super Bowl ring a few years ago. But Putin is not giving back the actual ring. In fact, he said he does not remember the ring or Kraft -- ouch.

During a discussion today with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin said this.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I will ask our manufactures to produce a really good, visibly valuable thing made out of very good metal and stone in it and so that this object from generation to generation, to be passed on within the team that is being represented by Mr. Kraft. I will say that this is going to be the smartest and most partnership-like resolution of this very international, complex international problem.


TAPPER: It doesn't sound like he takes it very seriously. Bob Kraft has not responded to the offer yet.

The partisan bickering in Washington is reaching a feverish pitch just in time for a make-or-break vote in immigration reform.

Let's check in our political panel in the green room.

Donna Brazile, you're a Democrat and you danced with Republican Karl Rove last night, I'm told?

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, for a great cause. We're trying to encourage Americans to volunteer, regardless of your party affiliation. By the way, Karl can shake a groove, fella. He's really good.

TAPPER: That's very nice of you to say. I'm not sure if -- we might have to get the fact check guys in on that one.

BRAZILE: Oh, we both led. We took turns leading. Yes.

TAPPER: Well, hopefully Washington can come together similarly.

"The Politics Lead" is next.