Return to Transcripts main page


Powerful Al Qaeda Member on the Loose; Train Bombing in Pakistan Kills Three; Burka Avenger, A Hero for Girls; Interview with Bob Nightengale; A-Rod Awaits His Fate from MLB; How to Grow a Better Burger; Russia Cracks Down on Gay Rights

Aired August 5, 2013 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: I want to bring in our CNN law enforcement analyst, former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes.

And Nick just mentioned a very powerful person, a member of al Qaeda who is on the loose. How much of this is based on the fact that there are dangerous guys out there who might actually be in a position of power now?

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Hi, Suzanne. Well, of course, they're in a position of power. It's hard to say, and I don't think they know for sure, whether the prison breaks are directly related to the threats that are going on now or the individuals, even the leaders, that were released in those breaks were involved in the planning of the current threats that are out there.

MALVEAUX: And, Tom, we mentioned these intercepted messages. What do you think is behind -- what do you think the intelligence community is dealing with, what they have learned here, when you look at the reaction to this, these closings?

FUENTES: I think that ,based on what they're saying, that the threat information through intercepted phone calls, Internet messages or even individual human sources has revealed that some attack plan is under way and that the attackers may have already been dispatched to commit terrorists attacks.

What they don't know is the exact date, the exact location that's going to occur or the nature of it. Are they going to attack embassies? Are they going to attack hotels?

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's prior attack have centered on aviation in the last couple of years, so we just don't know that either.

MALVEAUX: Do you think this should be something that's open-ended, closing these embassies here? I mean, because once it's over, right, I mean, do we assume that there is no threat? I mean, if they're reopened to after Saturday or Sunday?

FUENTES: Well, if you visit one of these embassies overseas, you realize they're always in the "threat-is-imminent" mode. They're like fortresses. They'd be -- most of them would be a very, very difficult target. They have an outer perimeter. They're almost like federal penitentiaries. They have an outer, brick wall, or fences with barbed wire. They have host-country military and police and contract security guards on that outer perimeter.

So it's very difficult even to penetrate that. Then when you get inside, there's another perimeter where they have checkpoints, security checkpoints like an airport. Then you go past that to actually get to the main embassy, so they are very, very difficult targets for anybody to try to penetrate.

MALVEAUX: Do you think the Obama administration is making the right call here? I mean, they got a lot of criticism over the attack in Benghazi, so now they are shutting down all of these embassies, at least temporarily. Do you think it's wise?

FUENTES: I think that they don't have a choice. If you don't make any kind of a threat warning out there and something happens, then they're crucified for why didn't you tell us? Why didn't you warn us? You knew about this. You kept it a secret. Why'd you do that?

So they're going to err on the side of caution, both in terms of the closures of the facilities and in terms of the warnings because, in addition to closing these embassies, State Department has issued a worldwide travel threat to Americans anywhere in the world to be alert, to be aware, which actually they should be anyway all the time, but --

MALVEAUX: Tom, do you think that there's an alternative here, perhaps, instead of these big structures, these embassies, that the U.S. do business in a different way? Perhaps a smaller footprint in some of these countries?

FUENTES: No, because that's what you had in Benghazi. You had the small footprint, smaller building, less security and then it was very vulnerable to the attack which killed the ambassador and others.

So, you know, that's why they don't have that, and that's why Benghazi really was an anomaly because of the recent overthrow of Gadhafi in Libya, the fact that in the eastern part of the country, Benghazi, there was lack of Libyan military or police, rule of law, and they subcontracted to local militias to provide security. And obviously they did a very poor job or they participated in the attack.

So I think there's never going to be a lesser footprint on U.S. embassies or consulates.

MALVEAUX: All right, Tom Fuentes, thank you so much for your input as always. Do appreciate it. We're going to have more on the next hour as well.

Also, coming up, for some, the burka is seen as a symbol of oppression, but for others it's seen as a sign of freedom from sexism. One Pakistani pop star wants women to associate the burka with this, the Burka Avenger.

That's right. How this cartoon character is now breaking stereotypes, inspiring women in Pakistan.


MALVEAUX: This is in Pakistan. Reports say a train bombing has killed at least three people. The bomb went off when a train headed from Lahore to Karachi pulled into a station. There were no warnings ahead of this attack. This comes as Pakistan's capital city, Islamabad, is on alert after a warning of a likely attack on a high- value target.

CNN's Saima Mohsin has the details.


SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thirty teams of 85 commandos and police officers are right now scouring Islamabad, keeping an eye on the situation.

Namely, they're in the (inaudible) hills. Those are the hills right behind me there you see in the distance. They act as a barrier between the capital and the north of Pakistan, Kashmir to the northeast, the Swat Valley to the northwest.

Crucially, they overlook key military and government buildings, the naval and air force headquarters, and behind me, those buildings you see in the distance with the domes, prime minister's secretariat, prime minister's house, the presidency and parliament, too.

But CNN has learnt through a source involved in the operation, the (inaudible), the central mosque in Islamabad may well be target.

Of course, mosques are very busy at this time of year with the month of Ramadan, and the upcoming Muslim festival of Eid.

Another target may well be former president General Musharraf's residence. He's being held under house arrest facing several charges since his return to Pakistan.

Saima Mohsin, CNN, Islamabad, Pakistan.


MALVEAUX: A new cartoon in Pakistan aimed at fighting terror by inspiring the country's children, especially the young girls. Now this is called "Burka Avenger." It's going to air on TV and online. This is in Pakistan.

It's heroine is, well, a young female teacher, and she uses martial arts to promote education while fighting terrorists. Now she uses the burka to disguise her identify, also to fly. A Pakistani pop star came up with this idea after the girl's schools in Pakistan were being shut down by extremists.

For months, science fiction fans, they have been waiting, speculating about who is going to be new Doctor Who. That's right. Well, now they've got their answer. Fifty-five-year-old Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, he's the 12th one to play The Doctor. Capaldi is best known for his role in "The Thick of It."

And Britain's Prince William, a.k.a. the Duke of Cambridge, headed back to work. His two weeks of paternity leave, yep, just two weeks, are up. He's getting ready to report back to duty in the Royal Air Force. The prince works as a search-and-rescue pilot on Britain's East Coast. No word on whether or not his wife Catherine and his new son, George, if they're soon going to be joining him.

And David Bowie, of course, known around the world as one of the biggest entertainers in the business. I'm a big Bowie fan. Well, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is about to wrap up the exhibit featuring Bowie. The collection includes everything from handwritten lyrics to original costumes, set designs, music videos, you name it. Bowie's career spans five decades. That exhibit ends on Sunday.

And, of course, paying close attention to this, Alex Rodriguez, baseball's highest-paid player, waiting to find out his fate over allegations that he took performance-enhancement drugs. We're waiting for that announcement. It could come any moment now.


MALVEAUX: He's baseball's highest-paid player. once expected to become the next homerun king. Today Alex Rodriguez could be kicked out of Major League Baseball, maybe even for life. He's facing allegations of taking performance-enhancing drugs, or PEDs. A decision from the league could come down any moment.

I want to bring in Bob Nightengale. He's the baseball columnist at "USA Today" who broke the story about this pending suspension. He's in Chicago.

Bob, good journalism. Obviously, we're waiting to see. You got any inside intel, first of all, when this might actually happen because we've been waiting and it seems like this is the day it's going to happen, yes?

BOB NIGHTENGALE, BROKE STORY OF A-ROD'S SUSPENSION: Yeah, it will definitely happen today, sometime this afternoon, sometime around 3:00 Eastern Time. The biggest news already today was that Nelson Cruz, the All-Star outfielder for the Texas Rangers has had to accept his suspension, which means it's a huge blow for the Rangers' playoff hopes.

MALVEAUX: And what about A-Rod here? He says he's going to fight this if he is suspended and he also plans to play tonight in Chicago against the White Sox. Can he do that?

NIGHTENGALE: Yes, he has the right to appeal like all these other players. And he's going to be the only one not to accept the suspension. He's appealing it, so he'll be in lineup tonight, playing third base for the Yankees. And it should be an interesting crowd, to see the reaction.

MALVEAUX: What do you think the reaction is going to be? NIGHTENGALE: I think just a ton of booing. It will be like Barry Bonds toward the end when he was going for Hank Aaron's homerun record when he was booed in every city he went to and beloved in San Francisco. I don't know if A-Rod will be beloved in New York, but he'll be booed heavily wherever he goes from now on.

MALVEAUX: And, you know, explain to us how baseball is different than all these other sports we see. It's got this anti-trust exemption that other sports, quite frankly, don't have to deal with here. Why is baseball an exception here? I mean not just an American pastime, but not even big business, but also really in the way it's treated with the law and Congress.

NIGHTENGALE: Well, you know, baseball has the anti-trust. That's more for moving franchises and that sort of thing. In this case, you know, people love baseball and they're more - it's like a personal affront if a baseball player goes down with a steroid accusations. It happens all the time in football. We see it in baseball. But baseball's a special thing where when it happens in baseball, it's front page news. And when it happens in other sports, it's at the back pages.

MALVEAUX: What do we think this means for the sport?

NIGHTENGALE: I think it's good for the sport. I mean they're trying to tell the players, hey, we're cleaning this thing up. Sorry there's still some more cheating going on that we didn't know about. At least we caught these guys. If you guys cheat, we're going to get you. They spent more money on this investigation alone than they have in all the other investigations in the sports history combined.

MALVEAUX: And just from a business point of view here, I mean if he does get suspended here, even a lifetime suspension, could this be something that's actually better for the Yankees, I mean now that they could - frees them up tens of millions of dollars I suppose.

NIGHTENGALE: Sure. In this suspension that would last through the end of 2014 season, it will save the Yankees about $35 millions. He still has another $61 million coming after - beginning the year 2015. So it certainly benefits the Yankees if he is suspended.

MALVEAUX: And do we think that - do we think this is the end of this or is this just the beginning?

NIGHTENGALE: I think it's the end for this. I mean I'm sure this Biogenesis case, there's other clinics going on that we don't know about. I'm sure they'll pop up, you know, here and there. But this is a big - a big move by Major League Baseball. And I think now, for the first time, all the players at clubhouses are all with the owners saying, we want this out of our sport. If you want to ban these guys for life, we're with you.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks, Bob. And, of course, if there are other stories, you're going to be breaking them, I'm sure. We're going to continue to follow this story. We'll be watching to see if this happens in the next hour or so. Thanks again, Bob. Appreciate it. Coming up AROUND THE WORLD, take a bite of this. This is the world's first test tube burger. Yes, that's right, this is lab grown meat and it could find its way onto your plate. We want to know what you think about it.


MALVEAUX: All right. So would you eat a burger grown from stem cells in a lab? Well, it might sound kind of gross to some people, but could you even tell the difference, right, between that and a regular burger. Well, you might actually get the chance to find out. Our Dan Rivers in London with what's on the menu.

Dan, you got one of those burgers you taste tested?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I do, yes. So this is a stem cell burger. It has been produced in a lab, not in a cow. It's one of only two that they made and the other one's been eaten. So this is the only one in existence anywhere in the world. So I better not eat it.


RIVERS: It costs $300,000. So -

MALVEAUX: That's an expensive burger.

RIVERS: If I'm (INAUDIBLE), I'm going to be on the hook for $300K.


RIVERS: I'm going to put it down over here because I don't want to drop it. The burger has its own security guard and I wouldn't be surprised if it's going to have an agent after this.

MALVEAUX: Or a Twitter site, a Twitter handle or something like that.

So you can't taste the burger. We don't know if it tastes any different than a regular burger. But why is that they're even doing this in the first place here? Is this concerned more environmentally friendly? What's behind this?

RIVERS: Yes. There is a serious point to all this, which is trying to find a way of producing beef that doesn't take up so much of the world's recourses in terms of land for cattle to graze on, in terms of energy. There's a lot of greenhouse gases that are produced as a result of producing beef essentially. The world's population is going up. So if everyone eats beef burgers and there's 9 billion of us on the planet, how are we all going to be fed. And so this is one possible solution.

Today was a kind of prototype, a proof of concept that it could be done, albeit at vast expense. They've done it. They tasted it. It tasted like beef. A bit dry. Now quite as juicy and tasty as a normal burger because it hasn't got any of the fat in it that a normal beef burger would have. So it's very, very lean. MALVEAUX: Yes.

RIVERS: And, you know, this could be a watershed moment. They're saying maybe in 20 years' time we'll all be eating them or they'll be available in supermarkets.

MALVEAUX: And what are the animal rights groups think of this? Is this seen as something that is progressive or positive?

RIVERS: I think a lot of people who are concerned about animal welfare will see it as progressive because this can be produced without having to slaughter any animals. You take some cells from a live cow, you extract the stem cells, you grow in petri dishes, effectively, you know, about 20,000 strands of meat to produce one burger. Clearly, if they scale this up to kind of commercial size, they're going to have to slightly change production technique. But the principal behind it will be the same, that no animals will be killed in the process of making this burger.

MALVEAUX: Wow. And, Dan, again, when would it be available? You and I, we're going to have a burger together? When is this happening?

RIVERS: Probably when I'm retired I would think. About 10 or 20 years' time they're talking about. I mean, obviously, there's a huge amount of work still to do. There's a large amount of money that needs to be invested.


RIVERS: But the point is, they proved it can be done.

MALVEAUX: All right.

RIVERS: Now they need to go away and scale it up.

MALVEAUX: All right. Well, Dan, if it's a cheaper burger, I'll pay for it. I'll take you out to lunch 10 or 15 years or so.

Dan, thanks again, appreciate it, reporting out of London.

Lady Gaga. Watch this. Lady Gaga's message to the gay community at her concert in Russia. She came out against the country's anti-gay laws and now Russia is punishing her, or at least trying. She is not alone, of course. Madonna is also on Russia's bad list. We're going to explain up next on AROUND THE WORLD.


MALVEAUX: Let's take a look at what is trending around the world.

As Russia cracks down now on gay rights, it is taking aim at two of the world's biggest pop stars. Now, the Russian government is considering charges against Lady Gaga and Madonna over their support for gay rights in Russia. Both stars, they spoke out during their concerts last year. This is in St. Petersburg. Here's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even if you're one of the world's biggest super stars, speaking out on gay rights in Russia is risky, as Lady Gaga is finding out.

LADY GAGA: Tonight, this is my house, Russia. You can be gay at my house.

CHANCE: Now, Russian official says the pop star staged her concert without proper work visas. It's not officially linked to her remarks, but the complaint was filed by Vitali Milinof (ph), a lawmaker behind Russia's controversial anti-gay laws.

Another icon, Madonna, is also accused of spreading what Russia calls gay propaganda after she spoke out at her concert in St. Petersburg last year.

MADONNA, SINGER: I am here to say that the gay community and gay people here and all around the world have the same rights.

CHANCE: But in Russia, activists say gay rights are under increasing pressure, along with anyone who dares to support them.


MALVEAUX: Matthew Chance joining us from Moscow.

So what could they possibly charge them with? I mean, what can the Russian government do?

CHANCE: Well, they can prosecute them, both Lady Gaga and Madonna, for violating the visa rules. They came in essentially on tourist visas that were meant for sort of culture exchange purposes. What the Russian authorities are now saying is what they should have had are business visas because they engaged in commercial activity. They staged these, you know, I expect, very lucrative concerts in various locations in Russia. And because of that, it violated the terms of the visa. They could be fined maybe as much as $10,000. They could be banned from entering the country in the future as well. So, you know, for Madonna and for Lady Gaga, perhaps not that serious, but it's the symbolism of it, obviously, that's more important.

MALVEAUX: Right. Yes, clearly, $10,000 not really that much of a challenge for either one of them. But have they responded at all to these charges?

CHANCE: No, not at all. Not as far as I'm aware. Both Lady Gaga and Madonna have essentially, you know, swept these -- this investigation sort of under the carpet and behind them. They're not responding to it in any way.

MALVEAUX: All right.

CHANCE: There's been a lot of speculation in the press, though, about how angry these two pop stars must be -


CHANCE: That these kinds of allegations have been leveled against them. Yes.

MALVEAUX: OK. We've got to let it go there. Matthew, thank you. We appreciate it. Reporting from Moscow.

Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.