Return to Transcripts main page


Anti-Islam Filmmaker Speaks Out; Stop and Frisk Policy Under Fire; Who Will Establish Intelligence Review Panel?; "Stop & Frisk" Policy Ruled Unconstitutional

Aired August 13, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It would not have even been good enough to win a Razzie Award, but the video was wrongly blamed for inciting the Benghazi attacks anyway.

I'm Jake Tapper. This is THE LEAD.

The world lead, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others in the administration blamed him for the deadly attacks on the U.S. compounds in Benghazi. They were wrong, but he went to jail anyway for violating the terms of his parole. Now he's out of prison. Our exclusive interview with the mystery man behind the film "Innocence of Muslims."

The national lead. New York's finest say their stop and frisk policy fights crime. But a judge says the real offense is walking while being black. What happens to the crime rate if this policy goes away? We will ask a city official who says the policy left him in handcuffs.

And the money lead, it looks like the world has found a cure for its BlackBerry addiction. Once upon a time, BlackBerry dominated the smartphone market. Now you can't give these things away. What happened?

Good afternoon, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper. Welcome to THE LEAD.

We will begin with some breaking news in our world lead, some movement on the terror case that paralyzed the nation. While accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is still awaiting trial in a federal prison cell, two of his best friends were in court today. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both 19-year-old natives of Kazakstan who had been studying in the United States, pleaded not guilty today to charges of obstruction of justice. They were arrested following the bombing after police said they took key evidence from Tsarnaev's dorm room following the bombing.

Our Susan Candiotti is live outside the courthouse, where the hearing just wrapped.

Susan, what can you tell us?


The hearing didn't last very long. This arraignment only went on for four minutes. Both defendants in the case pleading not guilty. But clearly what you have here are two points of view. The government maintains that the two young men in this case, 18, 19 years old, knew full well what they were doing when in the days after the bombing they got a text message from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, went to his dorm room, took out a laptop, took away a backpack filled with some leftover fireworks and some Vaseline that experts say might have been made to use bombs and threw them into a dumpster.

On the other hand, the defense attorney says the evidence is not as cut and dry as you might think, that these young men did not immediately recognize Tsarnaev in the days after the bombing when the FBI put out their photographs and didn't exactly know what this was all about when they threw these items out.

I spoke with the lawyer for one of the young men, Dias Kadyrbayev.


ROBERT STAHL, ATTORNEY FOR DIAS KADYRBAYEV: There was no message or no indication or no knowledge to go to my room and clear it out. It's going to come out completely different than that. And at the end of the day, we believe the evidence will show he's innocent and he will able to return home to his family.


CANDIOTTI: Now, if found guilty, both of these teenagers face 20 years in prison at maximum and, of course, deportation. Currently they're being held without bail on an immigration hold right now.

Families for both of them were in court today. They had a chance to meet with them in court. They get visitors once a week here. But in the end, if in fact there is an attempt by the government to cut a deal, these lawyers aren't saying. Not surprisingly, they'd be happy to accept deportation, instead of going to trial, but they say they're ready to fight these charges -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Susan, we know we have seen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in court as well. What's the latest on his case? Where do things stand?

CANDIOTTI: Well, it was just a month ago when he was in this very same courthouse and quite a different scene here.

There during that arraignment, the courtroom was filled with victims and victims' family members. In this case, it did not appear there were any victims or their families present at this time. But that case is plodding along. This is the stage where both side goes on with discovery, for evidence and the government continues to gather evidence in their case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who, of course, has pleaded guilty to killing three people and injuring so many others in that bombing.

TAPPER: Susan Candiotti, thank you so much.

Also in world news, a world news exclusive. We wanted answers in the aftermath of the attacks on the diplomatic post and the CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans were killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

We wanted to know who did it. Who wanted to know why. In the days following the attacks, we were fed a certain story over and over.


SUSAN RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: There was a hateful video that was disseminated on the Internet.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible.


TAPPER: Yes, a crude and disgusting video called "Innocence of Muslims" was to blame for the attacks in Benghazi, except, of course, that it was not.

About a month after the attacks, the State Department admitted there were no protests in Libya over that anti-Muslim video at the consulate. It took nearly a year that the U.S. filed the first charges for the attacks against a number of people, including a Libyan militia leader, though he is not yet in custody.

You know who the U.S. did have in custody, however, until recently? The man who made "Innocence of Muslims." Technically, he was in prison for a parole violation, but now he's out of prison and he's talking to THE LEAD.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name is Mohammed.

TAPPER (voice-over): It was called the "Innocence of Muslims," a film that portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a philanderer and a thug. A 14-minute movie trailer launched protests across the Muslim world.

But it decidedly was not to blame for the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic and CIA compounds in Benghazi, Libya, despite early comments from President Obama and other senior administration officials blaming the attacks on the movie made by Egyptian-American filmmaker Nakoula.

Just days before the attacks, Nakoula was called before a judge to discuss whether his role in making the movie, such as by using the Internet without prior approval, violated the terms of his probation. He had previously served time on an unrelated bank fraud conviction.

Nakoula ended up being sent back to prison. He was released last week and he currently lives in a halfway house, the location of which he does not want disclosed.

But now he's speaking out. I called him and asked him how he felt when the Obama administration initially blamed him for the attacks in Benghazi.


TAPPER (on camera): You were shocked? Why?

NAKOULA: Yes, because I never thought my movie can cause anyone trouble or anyone can get killed from my movie.

TAPPER: Do you think that the Obama administration put you in danger by blaming the attack on you?

NAKOULA: No comment.

TAPPER: Would you describe yourself as in hiding?

NAKOULA: No. The government hides.

TAPPER: The government is hiding you?

NAKOULA: Hiding me, yes.

TAPPER: Nakoula told me he does not hold a grudge against President Obama for initially blaming his movie.

NAKOULA: President Obama, I like him personally. You know, I don't blame him. He has a lot of responsibility. We need to make a separate between the president and the administration.

TAPPER: Are you mad at Hillary Clinton for what she said about the movie?

NAKOULA: No comment.

TAPPER (voice-over): He says he has this message for the Obama administration.

NAKOULA: Before you do anything, please give yourself time to think about it, because you are responsible people. You are in a place. You have to be responsible in it.

TAPPER (on camera): When you say that, it sounds like you think that the administration was irresponsible when they blamed the video.

NAKOULA: What you think?

TAPPER: I think that you think that they were irresponsible.

NAKOULA: Yes, of course. That's what I think.

TAPPER (voice-over): But officials about the Obama administration were not the only ones complaining about the film. The actors involved said that Nakoula misled them on the content of the film and dubbed over their lines with more incendiary anti-Muslim ones. One of the actresses, Cindy Lee Garcia, filed a lawsuit against him and others. CINDY LEE GARCIA, ACTRESS: When I was originally cast for the film, the name of the film was "Desert Warriors," and it was supposed to be based on how things were 2,000 things ago. On set, Mohammed or Muslims were never mentioned. My whole life has been turned upside down.

TAPPER (on camera): Is what they're saying true?

NAKOULA: Nobody knew nothing about them before my movie. My movie made them famous, made them real actors.

I tried to explain it to them. I tried to tell them about -- they didn't care. They care about two things, the check they received. Number two, they need to be in front of the camera. It's the producer's right and the director's right. He can do whatever it is.

TAPPER (voice-over): Nakoula, a Coptic Christian, a group oppressed in Egypt, insists his film is not against terrorism, but rather is against terrorism. He says does not feel any responsibility for violent protests of the movie.

(on camera): You don't feel any responsibility for that?

NAKOULA: My movie is not a religion movie. It's political more than religion. I never be against any religion. I have Muslim friends. I am against the terrorism culture. I am against the terrorism culture.

I am against Osama bin Laden. I am against al-Zawahri. I am against Nidal Hasan. I am against the Boston bomber.

TAPPER: Do you think that Islam is a religion that promotes terrorism?

NAKOULA: No comment.


TAPPER: Nakoula says he wishes that the Boston bombers and Major Nidal Hasan had seen his film before they acted, because he says his film would have convinced them not to carry out their alleged terrorist acts in Boston and at Fort Hood.

He also says he's working on a book about his ordeal.

Now to some breaking national news we're just learning. The Air Force group that run one-third of the nation's land-based nuclear weapons has failed a safety inspection.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon joins us now with more.

Barbara, how badly did they fail and how dangerous is this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It is a problem, no mistake about it, Jake, for the U.S. Air Force. This is an Air Force wing in Montana, about 3,000 people, about 150 Minuteman III nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. This week, the Air Force says the entire wing failed a safety and security inspection. What they will not tell us, because it's so highly classified, is exactly what "tactical errors" were made that led to the fail mark on the inspection. They say the nuclear weapons were always safe.

But, Jake, this is the second of three wings. There's only three nuclear wings in the U.S. Air Force. Two of them so far this year, this is number two, have failed security and safety inspections, another one earlier this year at Minot, North Dakota. In that case, 17 members of the military were removed from their positions after that wing failed.

So the big question here, I think people agree the nuclear weapons are safe, and that's what the Air Force tells us. No indication they're not, but are procedures just getting lax in the nuclear community? And that is a big problem -- Jake.

TAPPER: Barbara, give us the bottom line here. What does this mean for national security?

STARR: What it means for the Pentagon and national security is the worry that some of these procedures, that some of the personnel are just getting lax in their nuclear operations. And, you know, there's very little room for error anywhere in the U.S. military, but in nuclear weapons there is no room for error.

The Air Force is very strict about this. If like one person is off duty when they should be on duty, that can lead to a fail mark in an inspection. It's that kind of detail. In nuclear weapons, you just can't have an error -- Jake.

TAPPER: Astounding.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much.

Coming up on THE LEAD, smart policy or a violation of rights? It's a heated debate in New York City that is getting national attention. Will a judge's decision to overturn the city's stop and frisk rules affect policing where you live?

Plus, would you work for Harry Reid for free? One intern says she can't afford to, so she's turning to strangers for help. Just how much money does she say she needs? That's coming up.


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

Now, it's time for the national lead. On Friday, in a rare news conference, President Obama promised us all more transparency, about NSA's spying programs after Edward Snowden forced his hand by exposing their existence.

This was one of the four steps the president promised to take.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're forming a high- level group of outside experts to review our intelligence and communications technologies. So, I'm tasking this independent group to step back and review our capabilities, particularly our surveillance technologies.


TAPPER: Great idea, to quote the president's outside experts, an independent group. So who is he going to get to create it?

Well, in a memo this week, the president revealed that his idea for independent group of outside experts is one that will be established none other than James Clapper, the president's director of national intelligence. This independent group will brief their findings through Clapper and they will provide a final report and make recommendations through Clapper.

So, just to be clear, the man who already oversees all of our spy agencies, including the NSA, is now in charge of a panel in creating a panel to decide whether those agencies are using their technology appropriately.

Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, Clapper testified to Congress about the NSA and that briefing -- well, that did not go so well truth-wise.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?


WYDEN: It does not?

CLAPPER: Not wittingly.


TAPPER: Not true. But it wasn't until after Edward Snowden's leaks made it clear that Clapper's answer was not true that Clapper offered this answer as to why he gave false testimony to Congress.


CLAPPER: I responded in what I thought was the most truthful or least untruthful manner by saying no.


TAPPER: The least untruthful manner. See how well that works for you next time you take an oath to tell the truth. Or maybe take a page from our friend Mr. Costanza. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jerry, just remember it's not a lie if you believe it.



TAPPER: Now, when asked how the president can justify having an independent review by outside expert being essentially run by the guy running the spy program, a senior administration official explained to me that the independent group has to be established somewhere in the government so they can have appropriate clearances and accesses. The official says Clapper will not get in the middle of their work. Of course not, at least not wittingly.

So, also in national news -- you're walking on the street, you're not littering, you're not jaywalking, you're not spitting on the sidewalk, but a police officer spots you and thinks something is suspicious. The next thing you know, you're being stopped, questioned, and frisked.

That's been a reality for years in New York City -- well, for years in New York, in parts of New York City. You don't see a ton of it happening on, say, Fifth Avenue. The police target high crime areas.

But that has to now change because a federal judge yesterday declared the policy unconstitutional. Specifically, the ruling states, quote, "The city adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data. This has resulted in the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause."

Not surprisingly, New York City's mayor and police chief were taken aback. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was vowing to appeal the ruling.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: We know that most of those lives saved, based on the statistics have been black and Hispanic young men. If murder rates the last 11 years had been the same as the previous 11 years, more than 7,300 people who are alive today would be dead.

COMM. RAY KELLY, NEW YORK CIYT POLICE: There were more stops for suspicious activities in neighborhoods with higher crime because that's where the crime is.


TAPPER: A few facts about New York City's stop and frisk policy. According to Dennis Smith, the professor of public policy at New York University, who consults for the NYPD, in 1990, New York had 527,257 victims of serious crimes in. In 2011, there were 106,064. In 1990, 2,262 murders, in 2011, 504 murders. But here's some more information that factored into yesterday's ruling. From 2004 to mid-2012, 4.4 million were stopped. In 2011 sand 2012, 87 percent of those stopped were black or Latino. In 2011, only 12 percent were actually charged with crimes.

I want to bring in Brooklyn city councilman, Jumaane Williams, who says he's been personally affected by this policy. We did ask for a representative from the mayor's office to join us in this discussion but they declined.

Councilman, thanks for joining us.

You were walking around at a parade in Brooklyn in 2011. Explain what happened next.


As you mentioned, myself and (INAUDIBLE), he was an aide to public advocate Bill de Blasio, were trying to go into an event we were invited to and found ourselves handcuffed and arrested, primarily we believe because of how we looked and people didn't believe we were who we said we were.

And I'm also not surprised that the mayor decided to decline to speak because they can't back up their numbers. So they play fuzzy math when it comes to numbers and like to pretend in large chunks that they've done things but what they don't tell you is the largest decline in that murder rate happened even before the mayor came into office. And if you look at their Comstat (ph) numbers, there is no correlation between the increased numbers of stops, more guns on the streets, less shootings, period.

TAPPER: But -- so what do you attribute the fact there has been this notable drop in murder and serious crime since the '90s? You think that stop and frisk is not the reason for it. Then, what is?

WILLIAMS: Well, we know that's not the reason for it, that's one. And two, we know that the way they've been doing it, not the stop and frisk, but the profiling, is unconstitutional.

The largest dropped happened between '90 and '98, when we had the least amount of stops and then, again, right before the mayor came into office, and then in 2003 where there was 160 some-odd stops, there were 597 murders.

But in other years, 2006, that murder rate went up, and such and so forth. If you look at these numbers, really you'll see there are years where we had less stops and we had also less shootings. If you look at the past six months where everything is down, murder rate, shootings and stops, we attribute it to good police work, like Operation Crew Cut, like impact zones, to good community work like Man-Up Inc., YSOS (ph), that are doing volunteer interruptions (ph), and community involvement, and funding going to places that need. I co-chair the gun violence task force in the city council, we refused (ph) some of these highest crime areas with resources. And those things together have been doing what the mayor is trying to claim has been done with stop and frisk, and every time you ask them to show you the numbers, they can't, and they play fuzzy math with people who can't talk back.

TAPPER: Councilman, we only have a little bit time.

So just very briefly, one explanation I read as to why this policy works is because you have individuals in high-crime areas, which for a whole bunch of socioeconomic reasons we don't have to get into now are often minority neighborhoods and when you are stopping and frisking people all the time who look suspicious, people who would carry guns tend to not carry them anymore. And I've heard anecdotally that police say that some of these guns for gangs and other groups, they have community areas where they stash these guns but they're not walking around with guns, hence the crime rate, the shooting rate has been reduced.

You're saying that's just not true?

WILLIAMS: It's false. One, again, the murder rate was slashed long before the mayor came into office. And two, if you look at their own stats, only 16 percent of people have been stopped for descriptions.

And if you can pretend that violating the Constitution was OK, you can look at the areas in the city that are not high-crime areas and still in those areas, they're still stopping black and Hispanics.

And, lastly, you have in many years were more likely to get a gun or a weapon off of someone who was white who was stopped, and still they decided stop more black and Latinos.

TAPPER: All right.

WILLIAMS: No matter how you slice this up, it doesn't work. Unfortunately, we have an arrogant mayor that instead of coming to a table now has a federal monitor, now has a community safety act on the New York City Council --

TAPPER: We've got to wrap it up there, sir. We have to wrap it up.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams, thank you so much for joining us.

Coming up in the sports lead, a fan tragically falls to his death from the upper deck of the Atlanta Braves Turner Field. And now, his family is talking and they're pointing fingers.

Plus, even President Obama's love for his BlackBerry cannot get people to buy them. Now, BlackBerry is almost begging someone to buy the company. So, what does that mean if you're holding on to your Crackberry? We'll tell you, next.