Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Government Surveillance; Unarmed Man Shot in Driveway; Why O.J. Simpson Still Fascinates; Report Exposes Secret NSA Snooping Tool; Oil Disaster Threatens Thai Island; Student Left in DEA Cell for Days Wins Settlement
Aired July 31, 2013 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: a startling claim that the government can access almost every keystroke you type on the Internet. This hour, new information from the NSA leaker and fresh outrage.
Plus, President Obama's surprising new ally -- a Republican who once was quick to criticize him becomes his secret get-it-done guy.
And he says it felt like a firing squad. We're going to hear from a man who was shot by sheriff's deputies. He was in his own driveway and he was unarmed.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He may be holed up at Moscow airport, but the NSA leaker is stirring up more fears today about the extent of government snooping and about the vulnerability of America's secrets. "The Guardian" newspaper in London published new information from the documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
The report describes a secret tool used by the NSA that can collect vast amounts of Internet data from millions of people. Also today, an intense Senate hearing on surveillance and the Snowden security breach.
Our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns, has been looking into all of this for us and he has got this report -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, even as the government was trying to show more transparency by confirming that its massive electronic data collection programs function in the U.S. and overseas, the rogue former worker of the intelligence community who has caused so much trouble for his old bosses was adding new fuel to the fire.
(voice-over): The latest revelation from confessed intelligence leaker Edward Snowden is almost staggering, how the government, using a program known as XKeyscore can access e-mails, Web browsing, private chats, you name it, along with what we already knew, the metadata that tells them about telephone calls and other electronic communication.
"The Guardian"'s Glenn Greenwald wrote the story.
GLENN GREENWALD, "THE GUARDIAN": It's an all-purpose spying device that really has no real limit.
JOHNS: "The Guardian" published slides from what appeared to be an NSA presentation showing how XKeyscore works. The slides suggest the government can access its massive database of information about an individual's online activities by simply entering e-mail addresses or other information into a computer-generated form.
It suggests that the government can even access the Internet browsing activities of individuals on Facebook, Yahoo!, Twitter, MySpace, even CNN.com. Snowden has talked before about how the program could be misused.
EDWARD SNOWDEN, LEAKED DETAILS OF U.S. SURVEILLANCE: I sitting at my desk certainly have the authorities to wiretap anyone from you or your accountant to a federal judge, to even the president, if I had a personal e-mail.
JOHNS: The National Security Agency issued a statement saying, "Allegations of widespread unchecked analyst access to NSA collection data are simply not true," that it focuses on foreign intelligence targets. "Our tools have stringent oversight and compliance mechanisms built in at several levels."
At a conference of computer hackers, the head of the NSA, speaking at times over hecklers, talked about the importance of the programs.
GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: How do we come up with a program to stop terrorism and to protect our civil liberties and privacy? This is perhaps one of the biggest issues facing our country today.
JOHNS: At a hearing, Senator Dianne Feinstein said fewer than two dozen people actually can access the sensitive information and they are subject to strict controls.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: The query, which is the search of the database, can only be done on reasonable, articulable suspicion and only 22 people have access to that, trained and vetted analysts at the NSA.
JOHNS: But whether the government has enough safeguards is an open question that starts with the unauthorized access that Edward Snowden got, a sore point on the Hill.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Who double- checked Mr. Snowden?
JOHN INGLIS, NSA DEPUTY DIRECTOR: There are checks at multiple levels, there are checks in terms of what an individual might be doing at a moment in time.
LEAHY: They obviously failed.
INGLIS: In this case, I think we can say that they failed, but we don't yet know where.
LEAHY: You think you can say they failed. He's sitting over at the airport in Russia with millions of items.
INGLIS: I would say that with the benefit of what we now know, they did fail.
JOHNS (on camera): The NSA also declassified new information that says they have discovered technical compliance issues and human errors in the implementation of two of the snooping programs but that they haven't found any acts of bad faith. There's also an intelligence court document that suggests the government is actually using a baseline legal standard referred to by Senator Feinstein.
It's common known in the law known as reasonable suspicion before allowing snooping. Privacy advocates say that's good, but not enough -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We will have a major debate later this hour on this very subject.
Joe, thank you very much.
Other news we're following, President Obama paid a rare visit to Capitol Hill today to meet with fellow Democrats, but behind the scenes, he's been forging a political friendship with a top Republican, his former presidential rival, Senator John McCain.
We have some new evidence of that yesterday, when we learned that McCain is set to travel to Egypt at the president's request, along with senator Lindsey Graham.
Our chief congressional correspondent, Dana Bash has been looking into this Obama/McCain relationship.
What are you finding out, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very, very interesting. But there was really a classic moment that was filled with symbolism just today on Capitol Hill.
John McCain wandered into the Senate Democrats' meeting with President Obama. McCain said he opened the wrong door, looked in the room and saw the president and said oops and the room full of Democrats erupted in laughter. Well, lately, McCain is used to making Democrats happy, especially the Democrat suddenly relying on McCain to push his agenda, President Obama.
BASH (voice-over): Only a few months ago you couldn't turn on the TV without seeing John McCain railing against President Obama. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This president and this administration has either been guilty of colossal incompetence or engaged in a cover- up.
BASH: But now a 180.
MCCAIN: I think there is more of a desire to work together than I have seen in some time.
BASH: Suddenly McCain is Obama's go-to guy to get things done. On immigration, striking a deal allowing confirmation of half a dozen Obama nominees, and now heading to Egypt with Republican Lindsey Graham at the president's request.
MCCAIN: We do have relationships with many of the people in Egypt because of our past encounters.
BASH: Back when they were rivals for president, it was hard to imagine McCain an Obama emissary anywhere.
MCCAIN: Who is the real Barack Obama? I guess he believes that if a lie is big enough and repeated often enough, it will be believed.
BASH (on camera): In 2008, did you ever think that you would be President Obama's Republican deal-maker?
MCCAIN: No, because I thought I would be -- no. But, look, I worked on a lot of issues with President Clinton, and as well as the Republican president. So it's not as if I haven't done this before.
BASH (voice-over): He certainly has. It's how McCain got a reputation as a maverick, a moniker he often wore proudly, but also abandoned at times, especially since losing to Obama in 2008.
In 2010, a Senate GOP primary challenge forced him to the right, far from bipartisan compromise. Now sources close to McCain tell CNN he's stemming up more as statesman in part because he doesn't like where younger conservatives want to take the GOP. He's called them wacko birds and chastised them on the Senate floor. McCain told us he credits Obama's new chief of staff, Denis McDonough, a former Hill staffer, with understanding how to reach out.
This is how Democratic negotiating partner Chuck Schumer explains the turnaround.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: This has always been John McCain. He went into remission for a few years, but he's back, and thank God he is.
BASH: McCain describes it this way.
MCCAIN: Since his reelection, the president I believe has looked at his legacy, as all presidents do in the second term and we have had the opportunity to work together on a number of issues.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BASH: I asked McCain if this isn't also him working on his own legacy. The 76-year-old McCain answered me by volunteering that he's going to decide in a year or two whether he's going to run for reelection or not in 2016 and that certainly, Wolf, sounds like somebody thinking about his legacy.
BLITZER: I suspect he's thinking about his legacy, the president is thinking about his legacy.
Stand by. Gloria with us as well. Gloria Borger is our chief political analyst.
What's your take, Gloria? Why do you think the new budding relationship has emerged?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I, of course, agree with everything that Dana Bash said.
It is about legacy, it's about the president's legacy. It's about John McCain's legacy. But it's also about mutual self-interest right now. Not only as far as legacy is concerned, but they happen to have some things they agree on, such as immigration reform and McCain wants to get that done. The president wants to get that done. Also on the issues of drones and NSA surveillance, they're on the same side of that issue.
They have disagreed a lot on Syria, big issue, Susan Rice, another big issue, but where they can work together, they're going to try and do it. I think do not underestimate this Denis McDonough reaching out.
BLITZER: The White House chief of staff.
BORGER: Senators like to get stroked. They like to be included. And this president is looking at John McCain because, compared to whom? He can't reach out to Rand Paul, for example, or Ted Cruz, for example. So he will take John McCain and John McCain's buddy Lindsey Graham, both of whom are going to Egypt.
BLITZER: Is he getting some aggravation from his fellow Republicans, Senator McCain?
BASH: Not entirely. I don't think that the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, was all that thrilled that McCain effectively worked around him to cut a deal with the White House to get some of President Obama's nominees through.
But if he is aggravating some of his Republicans, it's certainly not going to be a unique or unfamiliar place for John McCain.
BLITZER: For the maverick John McCain.
You know, but what does it say about our president, Gloria, that he is reaching out to Senator McCain?
BORGER: I don't think he has much choice. Honestly, he doesn't have much choice. Would he pick John McCain as his best friend? No. But he doesn't have any choice when it comes to, for example, immigration. You saw Chuck Schumer there, and they are working together on these issues they both want to get done.
John McCain has said publicly, if we don't get immigration reform done for the Republican Party, we're never going to elect another president.
BASH: McCain said to me today, reminded me that it wasn't that long ago when the president first came into office, he had 60 Democratic votes in the Senate, and he had a huge majority in the House, and he didn't need to talk to Republicans. McCain and many other people said at some point it is going to come back to bite him and it eventually did. And now he's by necessity having to talk to people like John McCain.
BLITZER: He's got three-and-a-half years left to go, and he wants the legacy to be good.
All right, guys, thanks very much for a good discussion.
Still ahead, O.J. Simpson in prison, he gets something though he hasn't gotten in a long time, some good news about a legal battle.
Later, an unarmed man shot by deputies in his own driveway. He and his mother say he was cooperating when the shots rang out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CEOLA WALKER, MOTHER OF ROY MIDDLETON: He said that when they told him that, he thought it was a neighbor next door playing because they usually do that.
But he said, when they shine the light, he said he went to put up his hands and turn around. And that's when the bullets started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Right now, a Florida man is in the hospital recovering from bullet wounds and trying to figure out why sheriff's deputies shot him in his own driveway. Roy Middleton was in his car, and he was unarmed when he says it felt like he was put in front of a firing squad. The sheriffs department tells a very different story.
CNN's Nick Valencia has more on what happened and he is joining us right now.
What have you discovered, Nick? NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Roy Middleton is still in the hospital, as you mentioned. His family though expects him to get out in the coming days, but for now he says he's just trying to make sense of what happened.
ROY MIDDLETON, SHOOTING VICTIM: I complied with the order and they opened fire on me. And they didn't stop I guess until they ran out of ammunition. I felt like I was in front of a firing squad.
VALENCIA (voice-over): The sound of gunfire, a disturbing wakeup call in the wee hours of the morning, an unarmed man getting out of his own car, shot by police.
WALKER: There's one right here? See the big slug right here.
VALENCIA: Ceola Walker said her 60-year-old son, Roy Middleton, was hit twice as bullets flew while he stood in his Pensacola, Florida, driveway. Mistaken as a burglary suspect, sheriff's deputies opened fire. The sheriff's office says at least 15 times. He's now in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
WALKER: He's going to be OK and God just saved him. God just shielded him. I know he did, because they were trying to kill him, the way they were shooting, and it was all for nothing.
VALENCIA: Around 2:30 in the morning, Middleton says he has just come home. He says he was just looking for a cigarette in his car.
WALKER: He was in the car like this and he said that when they told him that, he thought it was a neighbor next door playing because they usually do that.
But he said, when they shine the light, he said he went to put up his hands and turn around. And that's when the bullets started.
VALENCIA: Escambia County deputies tell a different story. Responding to a 911 call from a neighbor, they spotted Middleton in the car. It was dark and they say Middleton refused to obey their commands, and then they say he lunged at them with a shiny object. Sheriff David Morgan has turned the investigation over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
DAVID MORGAN, ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA, SHERIFF: What we see as the tragedy of this is again the noncompliance in the direction of law enforcement officers. Had that occurred we wouldn't be having this discussion. It's a tragedy all the way around. He is both a suspect and a victim.
WALKER: How can he be a suspect in a victim at your own house? In your own yard? In your own car? I don't understand that.
VALENCIA: She says her son is on pain medication for a bad back. What role that played, if any, will now be determined by state investigators. The deputies are on paid administrative leave. MORGAN: The message to the public is this, is this was a tragedy. And it was a tragedy because we had an individual citizen for whatever reason, either impairment due to alcohol or drugs, or just taking it upon himself not to be compliant with following basic direct orders.
VALENCIA: Andre Lauzon lives next door, and he was in the front of the House and watched entire scene unravel before him.
ANDRE LAUZON, NEIGHBOR: I lost sight of him, and his head dipped out of vision.
VALENCIA: In the hail of gunfire, he is shocked Middleton was only hit twice.
LAUZON: I think he was complying. I don't have any doubt even not being able to see what was going on that he was complying with them, maybe not in the time frame that the officer was looking for, but it seemed he was complying.
VALENCIA: Now, whether Middleton was complying or the deputies acted appropriately, that will be determined in the coming weeks. For now, Sheriff David Morgan has turned the investigation over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The state attorney will then have to determine if any laws were broken -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nick Valencia reporting, thanks very much.
Let's get some more now from the sheriff, David Morgan. He's joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
So why did your deputies, Sheriff, feel threatened?
MORGAN: Well, Mr. Blitzer, the deputies were following standard protocol.
And again for civilians who are not involved in law enforcement, some these of these actions can be very confusing, because this is not what they do in a normal routine or their normal job. Our officers received a 911 call and the gentleman that gave an interview earlier was on the phone with our dispatcher, was standing in his yard. On the tape he actually made a statement to the dispatchers that he wasn't sure what was wrong with Mr. Middleton, because he's standing in the yard, speaking on his cell phone and he's not paying any attention to him. It wasn't as though he was speaking low or trying to hide.
And what he reported was his neighbor's vehicle being stolen. He also said that, I know my neighbors, they're in their house asleep. And so he did not know that Mr. Middleton actually lived there. He didn't recognize him either. When our deputies responded to a vehicle theft in progress, again they discovered an individual in the car rummaging around.
When they gave the first command, he stuck a left hand out the window according to officers and then went back in the car. They continued to yell commands to Mr. Middleton, at which point he opened the car door and stepped out.
Again we're not really sure why he was making these lunging movements, but they were not fluid as a normal person would have made them. When he went back in the car the second time, he actually went towards the console, according to our officers, and when he exited the vehicle, his back was to the officers and he spun around. And when he spun around, he had a metallic object in his hand.
Now two metallic objects have been taken at the crime scene by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. They're currently processing them to see which one was actually in Mr. Middleton's hand. And the officers fearing for their safety -- our training is based upon the landmark case that was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. It's Graham vs. Connor, which is the reasonableness that we use for that, how did the officers feel in that split-second, in that moment? They were in fear for their lives, at which point they fired.
BLITZER: We spoke, CNN did, with Roy Middleton, and he's in the hospital recovering from his wounds. This is what he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIDDLETON: I pulled in my driveway. I heard somebody start yelling, show me your hands. I did think it was a neighbor. But I still was showing my hands. As soon as I showed my hands, I was shot upon. And I complied with the officers and they still opened fire on me. I felt like I was in front of a firing squad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And 15 shots were fired. Some would say, Sheriff, that was excessive.
MORGAN: Well, not actually.
In our training, Wolf, when an officer again employs deadly force, what you do is you continue to fire until a suspect is incapacitated. And again while a large number of rounds were expended, Mr. Middleton was only struck once.
When Mr. Middleton went down, he had his right hand underneath his body. The third officer that responded to the scene, Deputy Wright (ph), was there also issuing commands, trying to get Mr. Middleton to take his right hand out from under his body, because sometimes suspects go down with a weapon hidden underneath them.
And they had again to get his right hand out from under his body. So Mr. Middleton told a very different story at the scene that night, with the investigators there. And again we have turned this over to a third party. You know, the state's attorney's office will make the final determination on how to proceed with this.
I want to reemphasize to everyone we are in sympathy with the Middleton family, it's a tragedy all the way around. It's a tragedy for the officers whenever they're called upon to use deadly force. But again we also back up, Wolf, to the beginning of this and had Mr. Middleton complied from the beginning to the end of this scenario, I can tell you these shots would not have been fired.
He just made the statement when he pulled into his driveway. Mr. Middleton was not driving the car. You know, he had not pulled into the driveway. The car was stationary in the driveway. Our eyewitness who called 911 stated that he entered the car and the car was stationary. He was not operating a motor vehicle.
BLITZER: Obviously, a lot to review and I'm sure you guys will be reviewing it. The outside board will review it as well. In the meantime, the deputies, they are on leave, right?
MORGAN: They are, sir. They also are sent for the requisite counseling.
BLITZER: All right. Sheriff David Morgan, thanks very much for coming in. We will continue to follow the story for our viewers.
Up next, O.J. Simpson is granted parole. So why does he still have to wait a few years to get out of prison?
And an innocent man left inside a government cell for five days, without any food or water. We have details of the extreme measures he took to survive right here in the United States.
How could this happen in the United States of America?
BLITZER: Happening now: new fuel for the debate over NSA spying. Is it a useful weapon against terrorists or is it trampling on your privacy?
Plus, a parole board gives O.J. Simpson a break. It's a new twist in his bizarre journey from football and fame to prison.
And the growing threat from an oil spill that may be twice as large as we have been told.
I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
O.J. Simpson has been granted parole. But it will be at least four years before he gets out of a Nevada prison. He's serving consecutive sentences right now for charges relating to an armed robbery of memorabilia in his football career. But the parole applies to only some of the charges.
Meanwhile, his lawyers have requested a new trial for Simpson. A Las Vegas judge is considering that right now. If they agree, he could be out of jail within the next few weeks.
Let's get some more now from Brian Todd, who has been taking a look at the spectacular rise and fall of O.J. Simpson.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Spectacular, indeed.
When we got the news about O.J. Simpson's partial parole today, we were riveted to the screen once again. Any news about the former football star seems to draw us in because we have watched so much of Simpson's personal drama play out over the decades.
TODD (voice-over): Why would we take such an interest in a puffy, shackled 66-year-old O.J. Simpson? Michael O'Keeffe of "The New York Daily News" says it's the O.J. Simpson story that pulls us in.
MICHAEL O'KEEFFE, "THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": We're drawn to O.J. because he's been in the public eye for going on 40 years now. And we really seen a spectacular rise and then a spectacular fall in his life.
TODD: America first took widespread notice of Simpson when he sprang into the NFL in 1969. The Heisman Trophy winner out of USC with an electric smile and catchy name who would later be nicknamed Juice. Playing on bad Buffalo Bills teams didn't diminish the attraction. Simpson became the first running back to gain 2,000 yards in a season. Several All Pro years followed. Then he became David Beckham before Beckham, a transcendent sports and marketing icon.
The Hertz ads from the '70s live on, on YouTube.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go, O.J., go.
O.J. SIMPSON, CONVICTED FELON: Rent a Ford fast from Hertz, the superstar in rent-a-car.
O'KEEFFE: We want to be like O.J. We did the O.J. run through the crowded airport like did he in those Hertz commercials.
TODD: He crossed seamlessly into Hollywood, with roles in movies like "The Towering Inferno" and later the "Naked Gun" trilogy. On screens big and small, as an actor, pitch man, network football analyst, O.J. Simpson, observers say, had a charm, that smile, that guy-next-door vibe that made whites and African-Americans equally comfortable with him.
But in June 1994, a much more ominous and bizarre chant of go, O.J., go. Pockets of small crowds in L.A. cheered Simpson as he led police on that notorious white Bronco chase. Simpson's trial for the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole, and Ron Goldman marked the first time America had been transfixed on TV for a court case. Eventually, he was acquitted.
But just as compellingly as he had brought Americans of all races together in admiring him in the '70s and '80s, his trial cast the deepest and most disturbing divides.
O'KEEFFE: It pitted black against white and people who -- rich against poor. No one didn't have an opinion about whether or not O.J. Was guilty. You either thought he was guilty or you thought he was, YOU KNOW, the victim of racist police and incompetent prosecution.
TODD: O'Keefe says it was also one of those watershed cultural moments when America was shaken out of its habit of fawning over celebrities. After the Simpson murder trial, we were never quite as shocked again when we found out that our idols, people like Michael Jackson and Lance Armstrong, weren't quite what we thought -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Human beings, after all, and maybe even bad human beings. All right. Thanks for that, Brian Todd, good report. Remind us a lot of what was going on with O.J.
Just ahead, we'll have an important debate over the NSA's surveillance program and whether Americans are safer because of it or not.
And the long-term damage to wildlife and tourism from another major oil spill.
BLITZER: Let's get back to our lead story this hour, a new report based on documents from the NSA leaker exposing a secret tool being used by the federal government for Internet surveillance.
"The Guardian" newspaper reporting that a program called X Keystroke has the ability to collect nearly everything a user does on the Internet.
Two guests join us right now with very different views on the NSA surveillance program. Republican Congressman Justin Amash offered an amendment that would have stripped funding for much of this program. It was narrowly defeated by the House last week.
Also joining us, former Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman. She's a leading voice on intelligence and national security issues. She is now head of the Woodrow Wilson Center here in Washington.
Congressman, let me start with you. Why do you hate this NSA surveillance program?
REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: Well, Wolf, to be clear, the program we're talking about is not the program that was revealed today. The program that my amendment dealt with was the collection of telephone records. And what the government was doing through the NSA was collecting the phone records and is collecting the phone records on a daily basis of every single American in the country, without any suspicion. And that violates the Fourth Amendment. You have to have reasonableness to go after people's records. You have to have probable cause, and you need a warrant.
And right now they're collecting phone records of everyone rather than just those who are under suspicion, which is how the Patriot Act was intended to be.
BLITZER: All right. Let's let Congresswoman Harman respond. You used to be on the intelligence committee.
JANE HARMAN, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN: I was the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, and I served on that committee for eight years. And I was very involved as these programs begin shortly after 9/11, when all of us were worried about plots against the United States.
And by the way, I agree with Senator Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, who wrote an op-ed in the "Washington Post" today and said there are still plots hatching against the United States.
BLITZER: Why do you think the congressman is wrong?
HARMAN: He's wrong because this program doesn't collect data against Americans in violation of the Fourth Amendment. It collects meta data. Those are just lists of numbers which can only be accessed after there is an individualized warrant. It has to say, we have probable cause or we have articulable suspicion that Wolf Blitzer --- that might be true, I'm kidding -- is connected to some foreign terrorist or foreign terrorist group.
And then a federal court -- that's what the FISA court is, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court -- has to review the information and decide that, yes, it meets the test.
BLITZER: Well, Congressman, why isn't that good enough for you?
AMASH: Well, Wolf, meta data is data. It's the type of data that we have every day created by our phone records and by other records. And certainly, the federal government can piece together a lot of our daily lives by looking and collecting -- looking at and collecting this meta data.
And the Fourth Amendment protects our right to have this type of information not examined by the government on a daily basis. They're gathering this information, and that itself -- that in itself is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
HARMAN: Yes, I totally disagree. There was a Supreme Court case in 1979 that said that individuals don't have any expectation of privacy about the phone numbers that they call.
This meta data, these just lists of numbers without your name, without any personal identifying information, cannot be accessed on a daily basis.
HARMAN: They can only be accessed if someone goes to this FISA court and makes the case that a specific individual with a name -- Wolf Blitzer, Jane Harman -- is connected to some foreign terrorist activity, and very few of these applications are granted: 300 in total and very few people have access, and there have been no abuses.
BLITZER: All right. AMASH: The queries that are done, as we've seen, they don't have to get a court order to do those queries. And also the content is collected on a daily basis.
And there's, there's this -- the Justice Department and intelligence community continue to rest on this case, Smith v. Maryland from 1979, where there was one person who was under suspicion, and it was for a limited period of time. And his phone records were collected, and the court said that was OK.
That is a very different case from what we have today, where the phone records of every single American are collected without any suspicion on a daily basis. This is the United States of America. We have freedoms here, we have rights. And it would be no different than if someone came into your house and made copies of all of your documents and said, "Hey, don't worry. We're just collecting these documents. We're not going to look at them. We just want to have copies of them in case we need them in the future." That's a violation of the Fourth Amendment, just as this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
HARMAN: This program is clearly constitutional, and it just doesn't work that way. That's a way to, with respect, scare people. But that isn't how it works.
And the -- the amount of meta data that can be collected is reviewed every 90 days by the federal court. The provisions under which this all happens, enacted by Congress. I know you opposed them all, but I think they were responsible. Sunset every three years, and Congress has a chance to review them.
And oh by the way, I again agree with Senator Feinstein in her op-ed today, who thinks there are reasons why we might narrow some of those provisions. Congress is debating this. I think that is a very good thing, and it might be time to narrow how much data is collected, what the standards for review are and to do something else that I know you support.
HARMAN: Which is to have an ombudsman in the FISA court reviewing how it functions.
AMASH: Wolf, the American people have an expectation of privacy in this. If you go back to your district and talk to the American people as I've done, they will tell you that they expect this information to be kept private.
HARMAN: It is.
AMASH: The FISA court is a rubber stamp. It is not kept private, because it's collected by the federal government and kept in a do database. And you won't deny that...
AMASH: ... that it's collected by the federal government and kept in a database.
HARMAN: Pursuant to a court order. Do you know how much data Google or pick a company collects on you? They have much more access to data on you than the federal government does.
These controls work. There's no evidence that...
AMASH: The Constitution -- the Constitution is a restriction on the federal government. It's not a restriction on Google or Microsoft or any other private company. Those are companies that have to compete for customers. They don't have any legal authority to put you in prison. The federal government is a different type of entity. That's why we have a Constitution. It's meant to protect us.
And the FISA court accepts federal government applications with almost 100 percent rate. They rarely turn down the federal government. And there is very little oversight. I, as a member of Congress, can't get access to the court opinions. I have to beg for access, and I'm denied it if I -- if I make that request.
BLITZER: All right, very quickly, Jane.
HARMAN: I think he should have access. I think that's one of the changes Senator Feinstein recommends.
There's no evidence that there has been abuse of these programs, and -- and they are constitutional. And we fixed, by the way, some practices happening in the first term of the Bush administration...
BLITZER: All right.
HARMAN: ... where these programs were not subject to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance bill.
BLITZER: Jane Harman, Justin Amash. A good serious debate to be continued here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks so much for coming in.
AMASH: Thanks, Wolf.
HARMAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, thousands of gallons of crude oil are washing up on pristine beaches, threatening the environment and the vital tourism industry. Stand by.
And a man locked away in a government cell and left for days without any food or water, driven to the brink of insanity and desperation.
BLITZER: It could be an environmental disaster, and it's happening right now along one of Thailand's most beautiful and popular coastlines.
Andrew Stevens is joining us now from the Thai island of Koh Samet with details of an oil spill that's threatening the environment and the country's vital tourism industry.
Andrew, what's the latest?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, 50,000 liters, about 13,000 gallons of oil have spilled from a pipeline on Sunday, Wolf. We don't exactly know whether it was human error or a malfunction. What we do know is most of that oil has in the past three days been washing up on this beach.
This is a picture-postcard Thai beach. And at the moment it's covered partly with a thin sheen of oil. But towards one area of the beach, it is thick black sludge.
And the rescue teams, the mop-up teams have now been working around the clock. They say they've probably got about 70 percent of the oil so far, another 30 percent to go. They say they will have mainly completed the task by Saturday.
But certainly, if you look at this area, there is a lot of oil on the beach still.
Now, there's no one taking responsibility at the moment for any human error in this. But certainly, there's a lot of questions being raised about the impact on tourism. As you point out, this is a big tourist area. A million people come here every year. It's quite close to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. So I guess there's a lot of locals coming here, as well, and they have been leaving the island in droves at the moment.
The good news, if there is any, Wolf, is that it does seem to be contained to just this one beach or at least mainly contained to this one beach. Other beaches in the area reporting not real any evidence yet of oil. And authorities have their fingers crossed, obviously, that they'll be able to get away with this one, get it clean before it starts enveloping the entire island.
BLITZER: Let's hope they do. Andrew Stevens in Thailand for us. Thanks very much.
Up next, the government agrees to pay millions of dollars to a young man locked away and forgotten about for days. No food, no water, how could this happen?
And George Zimmerman pulled over by police with a gun in his car. We have details of the surprising new encounter with the law.
BLITZER: Hard to believe a story like this in the United States. A young man locked in a tiny cell and simply forgotten, left for days without any food or water. Now the final chapter in this real-life horror story is emerging.
Let's bring in Brian Todd. He's been checking the latest. What are you finding out? TODD: Well, this young man, Daniel Chong, has just reached a $4.1 million settlement with the U.S. government. He was never charged in this case but still placed in that cell for four and a half days, as Wolf mentioned, with nothing. No food, no water, nothing. He came close to death, his lawyers say. And we got a chance to speak with him about it.
TODD (voice-over): He was left for four and a half days in a windowless cell. No food or water the entire time. No one even checked on him. He was never formally arrested or charged. This didn't happen in a lawless developing country. It happened in San Diego to an American college student, Daniel Chong.
DANIEL CHONG, STUDENT: So I did go crazy.
TODD: Chong has just reached a $4.1 settlement with the U.S. government.
His nightmare began on April 21 of last year. Chong was visiting a friend at a house in the San Diego area when agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration burst in. They seized thousands of Ecstasy pills, other drugs and guns. Chong admitted he'd smoked pot there but knew nothing of the other contraband.
When they took him to a DEA holding cell...
(on camera): They said they wouldn't charge you. What else did they tell you?
CHONG: They said they'll come get me in a minute, take me home.
TODD (voice-over): Minutes, hours, days passed. No food, water or toilet facilities. His lawyer says Chong was in total darkness the last two days.
(on camera): What did you do to survive?
CHONG: Eventually your survival instincts do kick in. And you start to realize what you have to do, which is drink any fluid that's around which is my urine at the time. And I went ahead and did that.
TODD (voice-over): He hallucinated, he says, so desperate at one point he bit into his glasses, broke them and...
CHONG: I tried to carve a message saying "Sorry Mom" into my arm. But I didn't finish that.
TODD (on camera): Did you call out? Did you try to get their attention in any way?
CHONG: Of course, I did. I don't think anybody would sit there and meditate. I was kicking and screaming.
TODD (voice-over): Finally, someone opened the cell. Chong's lawyers say he spent three days in an ICU, had kidney failure, dehydration. He'd lost 15 pounds.
(on camera): The DEA apologized to Chong. A Justice Department investigation ensued. Neither the DEA nor the Justice Department will comment now beyond that. But Chong's lawyers say that, because no criminal intent was found, no one would be prosecuted.
(voice-over): Chong and his lawyers say they do believe it was all accidental.
Martin Horn, who ran the New York City Department of Corrections, says a key question is whether DEA had rules in place for incarceration.
MARTIN HORN, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: They are an investigations agency. They're not a corrections agency. They are neither equipped nor trained nor organized to supervise people who are held in confinement.
TODD: One of Chong's lawyers says, at the time he was held, there were no written policies on the treatment of DEA detainees in those cells. He says, as a result of this case, the agency has put rules in place to make sure that detainees are treated humanely -- Wolf.
BLITZER: How's Daniel Chong doing now?
TODD: He's doing well. He's studying economics at the University of California, San Diego, and says he's going to buy his family a house with the settlement money.
BLITZER: I hope he has a successful and happy life from now on. Thanks very much, Brian, for that report.
Up next, George Zimmerman, apparently armed, pulled over by police. We're getting new information about his traffic stop.
And the Internet star who dances with a raccoon.
BLITZER: George Zimmerman had a little run-in with police this past weekend. Police in Texas say they pulled him over for a traffic stop. Zimmerman apparently was armed with a gun in the glove box. Zimmerman has a concealed weapons permit from Florida that was reinstated after the trial. He was left go, by the way, with simply a warning.
Forget "Dances with Wolves." How about "Dances with a Raccoon"? Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They may be dancing to Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools"...
(MUSIC: ARETHA FRANKLIN'S "CHAIN OF FOOLS")
MOOS: ... neither man nor raccoon seem foolish once you've heard the back story. This is what passes for a kiss.
MARK "KUHN RIPPY" BROWN, RACCOON OWNER (via phone): He'd always bite me on the nose. That was like, "Daddy, I'm here. I love you. I'm going to leave you with a little something to remember me by."
MOOS: You may remember Mark "Kuhn Rippy" Brown from his raccoon videos that have gone viral. The raccoon's name was Gunshow.
(on camera): You don't worry about getting any kind of diseases or anything?
BROWN: Ma'am, he can't give me nothing I ain't already had. I've got bit.
MOOS: What Mark did get from him was Internet fame.
BROWN (on camera): Ow. Ow. I made it from some Hannah Montana coon repellent.
MOOS: Mark had discovered that Gunshow didn't care for the body spray Mark's girlfriend had lying around.
BROWN: What about now?
MOOS: That video made it all the way to Jay Leno's show.
JAY LENO, HOST, NBC'S "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Santa, raccoon, Hannah Montana.
MOOS: Gunshow, the raccoon, had been showing up at Mark's house in the hills of Tennessee since he was a baby: coming in the house, getting fed.
BROWN (via phone): He ate better than I did.
MOOS: And at the age of almost 4...
(on camera): Unfortunately, Gunshow has gone to the big gun show in the sky. The big guy passed away this past January.
(voice-over): Mark made a music video tribute to Gunshow.
BROWN (on camera): He passed away. And...
MOOS: Mark and his girlfriend started caring for another young raccoon they called Rebecca.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kuhn!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are you?
BROWN: The shower. MOOS: But not alone.
BROWN (via phone): Well, if you don't shut your door behind you when you go in the shower, next thing you know she's in there with you.
MOOS (on camera): Thanks to his raccoon videos, Mark got signed by a production company who's supposed to start shooting a pilot for a reality show in the next few weeks.
(voice-over): He wants it to be more "Duck Dynasty"...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't like meat from the grocery store. It makes me nervous.
MOOS: ... less "Honey Boo-boo."
BROWN: Oh, no, no, no, no, no. I don't mind you laughing with me, but I'll never have you laugh at me.
MOOS: To his own raccoon with two video hits under his pelt.
BROWN: Gunshow, I miss you, buddy. Thank you for bringing me where I am today.
MOOS: Mark has come a long way: from bathing Gunshow to showering with Rebecca.
BROWN (on camera): What?
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...
BROWN (via phone): OK. You remember one thing.
MOOS (on camera): Yes?
BROWN: His feet were ticklish (ph).
MOOS: ... New York.
BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.