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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Report: NSA Leaker Charged With Espionage; NFL Star Mum About Man's Death; "Near Hit" For Two Passenger Jets; Shooting Survivor Speaks At Bulger Trial
Aired June 21, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: "OUTFRONT" next, breaking news: Edward Snowden charged with espionage.
Plus, a star NFL player remains silent about the death of a friend. Why police searched the New England Patriot's home.
And dramatic testimony today from the Whitey Bulger trial. A man who survived a shooting rampage shares his story. And we have the images of what happened that night.
Let's go "OUTFRONT."
Good evening, everyone, I'm Erin Burnett. I begin with breaking news on this Friday. "OUTFRONT," according to the "Washington Post," NSA leaker Edward Snowden has now been charged formally with espionage, theft, and conversion of government property.
U.S. officials have asked Hong Kong to detain the former contractor on a provisional arrest warrant. Snowden has been in Hongkong since late May when he leaked a trove of highly classified documents about top- secret surveillance programs in the United States.
Joe Johns is following the breaking news in Washington. And Joe, what is latest that you can tell us about this case right now?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Erin, the Justice Department official confirms to CNN producer, Carol Crattey, that a criminal complaint has been filed against Edward Snowden. So this begins to match the story now reported by the "Washington Post" that the alleged leaker of this top-secret information from the National Security Agency has, in fact, been charged, according to their sources, and now one of our sources.
The charges, we're told, by the newspaper, are theft, conversion of government property, and espionage. Of course, the newspaper says these charges are filed under seal in the Eastern District of Virginia, which normally would be a secret. However, this is no surprise. Most legal observers, even people inside the Justice Department have been saying to us they expected something like this occurring.
It's not clear how long ago the charges were filed, but very clear there's plenty of evidence, some of it coming from Snowden's own mouth and an on-camera interview that he gave that's been seen around the world. Some of this may have been tactical because the Justice Department had to go public at some point to say they filed charges in order to go to the International Police Organization, Interpol.
To get them to file notice so that Snowden, if he tried to cross a border, say, from Hongkong on the way to Iceland as he's been making noises about, he could be intercepted and detained. Again, the news this evening that Edward Snowden apparently has been charged -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Joe Johns, thank you very much, confirming obviously that significant development tonight. "OUTFRONT, now, Alan Dershowitz, professor of Harvard Law School, and Bob Baer, CNN national security analyst and former CIA operative. Great to have both of you with us.
Alan, let me start with this. I'm not a lawyer, right, so when I hear "you're charging someone with espionage," one of the first questions I have is, are you then charging them specifically of spying for somebody or can you just say I'm just charging you with being a spy?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: The espionage statute is one of the broadest statutes on the books. "The New York Times," and the "Washington Post" are all guilty of espionage under the statute if they publish material they know to be classified. They never go after "The New York Times" and the "Washington Post." Maybe they're going after Wikileaks, we don't know.
They have much too much discretion. I think it's a dumb decision by the Justice Department to charge him with espionage. That's a political crime under the extradition treaty we have with Hongkong. It gives Hongkong an excuse to say we don't have to extradite him. They should have indicted him only for theft and conversion of property. Then Hongkong would have to comply with the extradition treaty and turn him over.
BURNETT: Wow. So the espionage you think opens up the door for the fact that he may not come home.
BURNETT: Now, Bob, let me ask you. What are the chances then that Hongkong will turn Snowden over, with Alan saying because of the way they did this charge Hongkong has a choice?
BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, my opinion is he was under Chinese control the moment he first gave the interview. The Chinese have an enormous amount of interest in debriefing him, controlling the message he puts out through the media. They would be almost obligated to pull him in and start to debrief him. What sort of sources we have in China, what are we intercepting and the rest of it.
So I think it's almost 100 percent certain he's under Chinese control. Right now, I don't see that they have any interest, whatever American laws are, whatever the extradition treaty is, to turn him back over it the United States at least not until they're finished with him.
BURNETT: All right, so it seems -- you're in agreement. So then they're going to get what from him?
DERSHOWITZ: No. I'm not in agreement. I don't think that Hongkong is going to want to consider this politically. Remember, Hongkong has some independence and if China wants to overrule the Hongkong government, they have to do it overtly. They would much prefer, I think --
BURNETT: Not on foreign policy they don't have independence.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, but extradition is something that they've done repeatedly. If the United States had done it right and just charged him with theft, it would make it much harder for China to put its fist down and say to Hongkong, don't extradite him. We've made it too easy for the Chinese government. We've made it difficult for the Hongkong government to turn him over and we are playing into the hands of Snowden.
BURNETT: So Bob Baer, let's say you're right and that -- that he's in the hands of China and they're not going to hand him over until they have everything they want from him, what else are they going to get that they don't already have? What were top-secret information do you think that he can reveal?
BAER: Well, if he has some defector status which he very well may, they have continuing questions. I mean, he's come out and said that the United States is spying on China. He's violated Chinese law. They can hold him for that reason alone and so could Hongkong if they like. You need somebody like this to constantly go back and ask questions. The debriefing doesn't occur over the course of a day or two. It could take months, years.
BURNETT: So Alan, what kind of sentence could he face if he were to come back?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, first of all, I don't think he's committed a crime in China. There's no evidence that he personally stole Chinese secrets. Remember the dumb thing the United States government did and the company he worked for did is to give this man access to information well beyond that which he need. The first rule of security is need to know.
This kid with almost no experience gets to see everything and can now barter it for his freedom with China. If he comes back to the United States, he will stand trial in Virginia, tough jury in Virginia, home of the CIA. He could get a stiff sentence. He would get just as stiff a sentence, however, if they charged him with theft and conversion than if --
BURNETT: They needed espionage. What's a stiff sentence, life?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, no, I think 10 years or something like that would be a very stiff sentence for a crime like this or 20. Jonathan Pollard, tragically, unfairly, is serving life for far, far, far less. So you can get a sentence up to life certainly.
BURNETT: Bob, when you talk about 10 years, is that something that would make sense given what -- I mean, what he may have done? The damage he may have done?
BAER: No. No, no. He's compromised signals intelligence. An intelligence community, that's one of the worst crimes you can commit whether it's to the press or to a foreign government. He'd get more than 10 years. I mean, you know, on -- it's just the nature of the information he revealed.
DERSHOWITZ: I think that's probably right. In Virginia, he'd probably get more than ten years. Now the more we threaten him with harsher sentences the less likely it is that he'll be extradited because the more it will seem political. So we may have to make a trade off between a moderate sentence, a moderate crime, bringing him back, or charging him, throwing the book at him and losing him.
BURNETT: All right, thanks very much to both of you. And of course, everyone, keep letting us know what you think as your views change here, traitor Edward Snowden, charged formally with being a spy tonight.
Still to come, an NFL star remains silent about the death of his friend. So why did police search Aaron Hernandez's home today, and why did he do something bizarre right before they got there?
Plus more shocking testimony from the Whitey Bulger trial, a man who survived a machine gun assault describes his ordeal and shows the court the graphic images.
And then, two passenger jets basically, they just -- I mean, they're feet away from a midair collision in which hundreds would have died instantly. We're going to investigate how it could have happened.
Later in the show, a dramatic catch, look at that -- that was not an item. That was a child. We'll tell you the story.
BURNETT: Our second story, OUTFRONT, a star NFL tight end keeps silent about his possible connection to murder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you being arrested? Can you tell use -- can you tell us anything? Are you involved in the murder?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: An endorsement deal already lost. Those questions swirling around New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez after police searched his home in connection with a homicide. The 27-year-old Odin Lloyd was found shot dead Monday less than a mile Hernandez' home. Lloyd's sister tells CNN the two were friends.
CNN legal analyst Paul Callan comes OUTFRONT. Paul, Hernandez has not been named a suspect. Obviously we know the two may have been seen together hours before Lloyd was killed. Now of course, there are reports that he completely -- trashed his phone, trashed his home right before police were supposed to be coming to investigate. So when you put all this together, what does it add up to you?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'll tell you, Erin, it adds up to a lot of smoke and not too much fire. This is a circumstantial case at this point. I'm seeing somewhat of a marginal connection between Hernandez and the victim in this case. But I'm not seeing a murder case, and obviously the police aren't either because you can trust me about this -- he would be wearing a pair of handcuffs right now if they had a case against him. There's a lot that links him to the murder victim, but I don't think they've crossed the threshold here and have made their case out at this point.
BURNETT: And so there are reports that Hernandez has lawyered up, which, of course, I guess wouldn't surprise you no matter guilty or innocent. You would do that in this case. But what are the chances that this goes ahead? They've got -- they're going to try to find somebody who did there. They know he knew him. He was nearby. He seemed to clean up his home before they came over. They're not going to be able to do anything?
CALLAN: They're going do a lot because -- it's a very suspicious situation. His car, a rental car that apparently Hernandez rented was found very close to the homicide scene. He was seen with the homicide victim in a bar shortly before the shooting. Three men were seen going into his house. He was one of the three. A couple of them wearing hoodies, which is lately considered to be quite suspicious behavior.
And another very famous case, Erin, and he then destroyed the surveillance equipment in his house allegedly. Now all of that is very, very suspicious, but is he covering up for somebody else's crime? Is he being compelled or coerced to destroy the surveillance system, or is he a participant in the murder?
I don't see enough evidence to prove it one way or the other at this point. So the cops are going to keep investigating, looking at the forensic evidence, putting pressure on other witnesses to see if they can make out a case against him. He's lawyered up. He's got a top lawyer from a big, big law firm, Ropes and Gray, 1,100 attorneys nationwide. You can be sure he's going to get very good legal advice. It's unlikely he'll be giving any statements to the police himself.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Paul Callan. A story a lot of people are watching. Of course, the New England Patriot potentially involved.
Still to come, a dramatic near collision in the skies, how two passenger jets barely avoided utter disaster and when we say barely, we mean barely. We're going to literally show the distance.
Plus, President Obama goes toe to toe with America's largest pot dispensary. Our "INSIDE MAN" Morgan Spurlock comes OUTFRONT with the story.
And is this the end of Paula Deen? We've learned today that her contract at the Food Network will not be renewed after she admitted to using a racial slur. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA DEEN: I am here to say I am so sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Our third story on this Friday, near hit. A pair of large passenger jets came too close for comfort in the skies over New York City last week. The FAA is investigating. Tom Foreman is on the story. Tom, this is not just, they were a mile apart or half a mile apart sort of thing. I mean, this was serious.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's easy to think that they're not close, but in reality, in terms of airplanes, this is really quite close. These two large passenger planes came dangerously close to each other as they flew over one of the most densely populated parts of the country. So how did this happen?
The near miss starts with actually a third plane, a third plane coming into New York's Kennedy Airport down here. The winds are kind of stiff, and it doesn't want to land because it thinks it's not safe. It's told to veer off to the right here. Here's what happens then.
Just behind it another jet comes, a Delta 747. It encounters the same problem. So the tower tells this pilot instead to go to the left so that it won't interfere with the plane that went this way. That really is key because when that happened, it ended up being pointed right at a Shuttle America E-170 that is taking off from LaGuardia Airport over here and that is what put these planes on to a collision course flying the exact same area -- Erin.
BURNETT: When you say collision course, they -- they truly were. At the closest point, how close were they?
FOREMAN: Well, if you look at the closest point for these planes, the simple truth is that they were about separated by about 200 feet in here, about 2,000 feet in the air. They were separated by about 200 feet in terms of their vertical distance. They weren't right on top of each other like this, but I want to give you reference points. That's where they were in terms of the flying planes.
By the rules of the sky according to the FAA, they really should have had about 1,000 feet of separation instead of this. This is an either/or situation. If they're this close to each other horizontally, they have to have this much separation. If they're going to have that much separation, they've got to have a lot more horizontal separation. They were about a half mile apart horizontally.
But if they're going to be that close in the vertical sense, this distance has to be increased to three miles across. The bottom line is, Erin, at the speed these jets were traveling, it's easy to say now they did everything right. And they did to avoid an accident. But the simple truth is they could have closed that distance between them and had a collision over an awful lot of people within a matter of seconds -- Erin.
BURNETT: Seconds for from so many people dying and frightening when we think about all the changes we need to make in our air traffic system. Tom Foreman bringing that story home.
Today, there was more chilling testimony in the trial of Whitey Bulger, this time from the survivor of a shooting in March of 1973. I want to warn you that the images we're going to show are graphic, but they are necessary to show you the scale of what we're talking about here.
According on our next guest, Frank Capisi described in gruesome detail how the car he was riding in was ambushed, now allegedly on order by Bulger. Capisi was wounded, but his fellow passenger, mobster, Albert Plumber, was decapitated by the hail of bullets, as you see the blood all over the car.
OUTFRONT is "Boston Herald" columnist Howie Carr who has written three books on Bulger and his empire and was in the courtroom today. Howei, every testimony seems to be more gruesome than the last. We're seeing these pictures of you know, cars totally shot up by machine guns, people being beheaded, horrible deaths that people suffered because of these mob hits. What did you hear in the courtroom and what was the mood in terms of the emotion?
HOWIE CARR, COLUMNIST, "BOSTON HERALD": Well, one of the survivors said yesterday, Erin, that the whole courtroom now is full of death. That it's just -- all anyone talks about in the courtroom is death. You know, people being murdered, how they survived. How they escaped after they were almost killed in Boston. It's pretty grim what's been going on here.
This guy, Capisi today, he was a member of a smaller gang, the Winter Hill gang, Whitey Bulger's gang was wiping out for the mafia. They had a machine gun that they had gotten. They were treating it as if it were a Christmas toy. They were going around the city. They were just going around the city opening fire on people. And they killed -- I think they killed four gangsters with the machine gun. But they also killed at least two other people who had nothing to do with the case.
They just -- they got the wrong people. And they -- and they did away with it. Capisi, he didn't tell the story in court today but he has in the past when he wrote letters for sentencing of these guys. He had so many pieces of shrapnel and bullet holes and various other things that got in his back, he and his family took off for the west coast after this happened.
Every night, the stay in a hotel under an assumed name because they were still afraid the Winter Hill gang was tracking them because the Winter Hill gang had gone down and killed other members of the gang in Florida. And he -- he would lie down on his stomach, this guy, Capisi, now 78.
And the -- as the bullets and shrapnel would be rising up through his skin and he would have his -- his son and his daughter using tweezers to pick out the -- the lead out of his skin and that's the way it went.
BURNETT: That image is just --
CARR: Just -- yes. Then there's -- yesterday a guy -- a guy yesterday was the same thing. They were looking for somebody on Morsi Boulevard. They killed two people on this one road in Boston with machine guns and this one guy, he -- he had gotten a ride with a guy who was taking a birthday cake to his 10-year-old daughter. And they opened fire and killed the guy who was -- was taking the birthday cake to his daughter.
And this guy, this guy got out -- he claimed he got -- the guy with the birthday cake, the driver, he was shot 17 times. The other guy that survived was shot eight times. He claimed he got out of the car with his stiletto, as highway put it, and started advancing on the car with the machine gun.
And at that point the prosecutor said, you know, Mr. Demacy, you were shot eight times, and you're telling me you were advancing on the car that had the machine gun? So it's -- it's been gruesome. And it's going to get worse, Erin. They haven't even discussed the women that Whitey Bulger murdered, that he strangled to death for his partner, Steven Flemming.
BURNETT: I hope you'll -- I hope that you'll talk about that. I know that testimony is coming soon. Thanks very much, Howie knows this story so well and Whitey Bulger from head to tail.
Still to come, the latest in the George Zimmerman trial, if the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin is acquitted, what will it mean for Sanford, Florida? We have a special report, door to door. The police chief of Sanford, Florida, worried about violence and what he's doing about it.
Plus, prices are going up at Starbucks.
And a shocking story at the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial. A doctor testifies the singer would have died even if the drugs didn't kill him.
Tonight's shout out, good catch, a group of couriers in China, watch this, saw a 2-year-old girl on a window ledge. They went over and caught the little girl when she missed her footing. It was an amazing moment and one more example of China topping America.
Yesterday we told you how Joe Torre's daughter caught an infant who fell two stories. The next day, china went and caught a girl who fell five. Earlier in the week, China's new super computer was proven to be twice as fast as the American record holder. Still tonight's shout out goes to the couriers who saved that girl's life.