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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Filner Could Resign; Pressure Mounts on Syria; Jury Deliberations Continue in Hasan Case; Aaron Hernandez Indicted; Police Foil Plan by Domestic Terrorists to Kill Cops in Vegas; Obama Discusses Surveillance; WWII Vet Murdered; Motivation for Teens to Kill Australian Baseball Player
Aired August 23, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The president's defense of NSA snooping, and a lot more from his one-on-one CNN interview. It is coming your way this hour.
Also, were those Oklahoma teenagers accused of killing an Australian student really just bored or did this have a little more to do with it? Was it gang violence, racial hatred? You're going to see more of the threatening tweets.
And Judge Belvin Perry, some called him the ring master of the circus that was Casey Anthony's trial. He's going to join me live in just a moment to weigh in on another high-profile trial and talk about his next stint in the spotlight.
Hello, everyone, and welcome to LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield, and it is Friday, August 23rd, and today could be the day that the city of San Diego can finally just move on.
Mayor Bob Filner, publicly accused by sexual harassment than no fewer than 18 woman, could actually end up stepping down today and it's if -- a big if -- city officials accept a proposed mediation agreement.
Our Casey Wian has been following this story. He is live in San Diego with the very latest.
So all of these meetings seem to be behind closed doors, Casey. The mediation agreement was reached behind closed door. Whatever vote they're going to be taking is behind closed doors.
So how much do we really know about this?
CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know a lot except that, Ashleigh, the potential resignation of Bob Filner is on the table and is part of this proposed settlement.
The parties involved in these negotiations have made a promise to the federal judge who mediated this proposed settlement that they would not speak about this issue before the city council has a chance to view this proposed deal.
But we got a hint of what the issues are that they are struggling with from one of the parties involved in the discussions and that's city councilman Kevin Faulkner.
He said, "I joined these mediation discussions to ensure the city gets the best deal possible for taxpayers. We must put this civic dysfunction behind us."
Two points here. How much are taxpayers going to be on the hook for Bob Filner's alleged misdeeds? There is a sexual harassment lawsuit that remains on the table.
According to Gloria Allred, the attorney for the woman who filed the sexual harassment lawsuit, there is no deal in that lawsuit, and she does not want me taxpayer money to go towards settling that lawsuit.
But it seems clear that the city council members are willing to at least include some sort of financial concessions toward Bob Filner as a way of ending the civic nightmare that has really paralyzed the city of San Diego, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: Casey Wian, that's a fair assessment. It's paralyzed. There's even a recall effort out there that's quite massive.
So we'll continue to watch. Casey, thank you for that. Do appreciate it.
The chorus is growing a lot louder when it comes to Syria now. There are more countries, including a big one, Russia, now chiming in and demanding that inspections happen and answers are given to a very big question. Did the Syrian government just kill more than a thousand of its own people using illegal chemical weapons?
There have also been calls for the United Nations to step up on Syria and for the United States to step in.
President Obama talked about the pressure to act. He sat down with our Chris Cuomo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, you know, if the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work, and, you know, those are considerations that we have to take into account.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You don't believe we've seen enough?
OBAMA: Well, this latest event is something that we've got to take a look at.
But keep in mind also, Chris, because I know the American people keep this in mind, we've still got a war going on in Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: CNN's Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence joins me now. Chris, I was trying to read between the lines of what the president was saying to Chris Cuomo, and I heard very specifically he's looking at the law here, among many other things, I'm sure, and there are plenty of international laws many of us may not know about.
There is the World Court. There are the Geneva Conventions. And there is the declaration of war that some say has to be made. So it's not as simple as just moving into Syria, is it?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: No. I mean, this may be where you diverge from the law into morality because U.N. regulations are fairly clear. There's only really two ways to go about it.
A, the U.N. Security Council authorizes action because it perceives a threat of force, an aggressive action by a nation, or in self-defense. The U.N. Security Council is not going to give its blessing on this, and there doesn't really seem to be any justification for self- defense. You can't argue that Turkey or Jordan or one of the member states is under attack.
And so you start to try and look for other justifications. You could possibly point to what happened in Kosovo. That intervention did not have the stamp of approval of a U.N. mandate, but nations looked at it and found a moral justification, saying they exhausted all other options, that it would be better for the people to intervene. The good outweighed the harm.
And so ultimately that may be what you come down to here, going for more a moral justification rather than a strictly legal one.
BANFIELD: Always makes me worried for American troops who may be morally in the right place, legally not in the right place, and what can happen to them. I'm sure the president has that on his mind as well.
Chris, thank you for digging into that for us. Do appreciate it.
And we're going to have a lot more of President Obama's exclusive interview with our Chris Cuomo coming up. In fact, Chris himself will join me to talk a little bit about the legal issues that the president is facing on another issue, snooping.
First, though, I've got a couple of other legal stories and top stories that we're following.
Jurors have resumed their deliberations this morning in that court- martial of Army Major Nidal Hasan. Remember, he's admitted to killing 13 of his colleagues at Fort Hood back in '09.
But he's acting as his own lawyer in this case and doing a really lousy job. I think it's fair to say because he's offered no real defense. He's a lousy lawyer, and he's a lousy client, maybe just what he wants, though.
Late yesterday, jurors have asked for a second look, though, at some of the evidence late yesterday. Oh, to be a fly on the wall, though. He was once a star of the NFL, but now he's just like any other first- degree murder defendant. The grand jury has indicted former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. It happened yesterday.
He's accused of orchestrating the death of his friend. 27-year-old Odin Lloyd. Lloyd's body was found in June in a park near Hernandez's home. Hernandez, for his part, has pleaded not guilty
Police say they have foiled a plan by these two people, a plan to execute Las Vegas police officers. They are apparently members of a group called Sovereign Citizens, a group that the FBI considers a domestic terrorist movement.
A four-month investigation found the suspects were actively plotting to kidnap and execute at least one officer. The police say more arrests are possible, though, and that this is without question an ongoing investigation.
Just ahead, more of that exclusive interview with the president as he talks about NSA leaks, your privacy concerns, in particular. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: At some point, does the technology outpace the laws that are in place and the protections that are in place, and do some of these systems end up being like a loaded gun out there that somebody at some future point could abuse?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: The president and the anchor man, but guess what? Those two men are also lawyers and the one on the left, Chris Cuomo, is about to join me to talk law and what exactly the president just said.
It's coming up, next.
BANFIELD: I think it's without a doubt a lot of us have been pretty uncomfortable with hearing that the government has been spying and possibly reading our e-mails, even knowing about our phone calls, et cetera.
So the president has had to answer about that. Our Chris Cuomo asked him about it, and he says it's really a public perception of lack of confidence, not enough information, funny enough. Not enough information, even though there's been so much leaked.
Here's more of the president's conversation with our Chris Cuomo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: There's been a lot of discussion about what the NSA does and the surveillance programs. You have said it is not the business of the U.S. government to spy on its own people, but the more that seems to come out the more questions seem to be raised.
Are you confident that you know everything that's going on within that agency and that you can say to the American people it's all done the right way?
OBAMA: Yes. But what I've also said is that it can only work if the American people trust what's going on, and what's been clear since the disclosures that were made by Mr. Snowden is that people don't have enough information and aren't confident enough that between all the safeguards and checks that we put in place within the executive branch and the federal court oversight that takes place on the program and congressional over sight, people have still concerned as to whether their e-mails are being read or their phone calls --
CUOMO: Especially when they hear that they are. And mistakes are made and it shakes your confidence.
OBAMA: What was learned was that NSA had inadvertently accidentally pulled the e-mails of some Americans in violation of their own rules because of technical problems that they didn't realize.
They presented those problems to the court. The court said this isn't going to cut it. You're going to have to improve the safeguards, given these technical problems. That's exactly what happened. All these safeguards, checks, audits, oversight worked.
Now I think there are legitimate concerns that people have that technology is moving so quick that, you know, at some point does the technology outpace the laws that are in place and the protections that are in place and do some of these systems end up being a loaded gun out there that somebody at some future point could abuse?
Because there are no allegations and I am very confident knowing the NSA and how they operate that purposefully somebody is out there trying to abuse this program or listen in on people's e-mail or --
CUOMO: You're confident in that?
OBAMA: I am confident in that. But what I recognize is that we're going to have to continue to improve the safeguards and, as technology moves forward, that means that we may be able to build technologies to give people more assurance.
And we do have to do a better job of giving people confidence in how these programs work.
So what I've said is that I am open to working with Congress to figure out can we get more transparency in terms of how the oversight court works. Do we need a public advocate in there who people have confidence in?
But we've also got to do it in a way that recognizes that we've got some hostile folks out there that potentially are trying to do us harm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: And Chris Cuomo is with me now after doing the terrific interview. And you covered so much ground with him. I was really interested in hearing how he defended this issue of us all being very nervous about what we've learned about the NSA and what it's been looking at and seeing and hearing.
But he says that we're only half informed, maybe not half, but we're partially informed by what Snowden has leaked, and that's a dangerous thing?
CUOMO: Yeah, I think the first point is -- and let me disclaim, all right?
I'm happy to provide the analysis for this. You know how we all get caught up in that, are you backing the president's position right now? Are you making these -- no. But we'll do -- I'll do the analysis in terms of where he's coming from on this, the president.
And what it seems as though the first answer is, well, just like with everything that we report on, we're not getting it completely right, so we're misleading the people and they're now having a lack of trust in something because of us, not because of the nature of the situation.
That's the president's first line is that what Mr. Snowden has leaked out, what's been passed along by the media from him is not the complete picture. That's not specific to surveillance.
You know, that's just like on many issues, politically, but that's how he feels, that you don't know the whole story, so you think it's fine when it isn't.
BANFIELD: And you can't get the full story because that's pretty tricky, too.
So the other issue that I found pretty fascinating was that he's blaming technology somewhat, the technology that the government has employed in actually prosecuting its program of snooping and saying that it may have gotten ahead of what their intentions were.
As a lawyer -- because I know you are one -- I wanted to ask you is it fair to say ignorance of your gear or ignorance of the law for us is a defense?
CUOMO: Well, it's a pretty sophisticated analysis with this. The invasion of privacy, the expectation of privacy is kind of mushy law. It starts back in 1967 with the Katz case which established the phrase "expectation of privacy". I can't put a bug on a phone in the phone booth.
That was what the case was about, when you go in, because you have an expectation that when you speak into the phone, you're only talking to the person who's on the other side. (CROSSTALK)
BANFIELD: I was born in '67; I still had a Fourth Amendment right. (Inaudible). Nobody can come searching through my e-mail or my house.
CUOMO: That's right. That's right. And there are all those tests of reasonableness and all the other lawyer gobbledygook that we hear.
But as the law evolved we still don't really know when it's an invasion of privacy, when it isn't. But there are some bright line distinctions and that's when we get into the main point of your question.
If the NSA knows that it is violating rights and obviously it's a breach of the Constitution, mistake of the law is never a defense. You can't say the government or anyone else can't say I didn't know it was illegal to do X and then get off. You're not going to get off.
Mistake of fact, however, can be a defense. So how does it apply here? The president is saying technology is getting ahead of our ability to monitor the technology. What does that mean? That means that some of the programs in his estimation bring in data, metadata or otherwise --
BANFIELD: Sure, (inaudible) supposed to.
CUOMO: -- that they're not trying. And that's what he's speaking to here.
And so what's the backstop on this? You say, well, that's still wrong. He says but we have the FISA court. And it's all coming in from in-house, these mistakes. There is no intent to deceive and he thinks that's important.
BANFIELD: Great interview. And I've been glued all morning because there's so much of it. I'm surprised you were able to sit for that long to get that many topics covered. Next time, you can get on immigration as well if he gives you a little more time.
CUOMO: That would be nice.
BANFIELD: And by the way, thank you for joining us, inaugural appearance.
You know he's a lawyer. He's going to be back.
Chris Cuomo. Thank you, have a great weekend.
CUOMO: Thank you.
BANFIELD: All right.
By the way, in another one-on-one interview -- boy, we're banging them out of the ballpark, aren't we -- the FBI director Robert Mueller also talking about protecting the country and preventing another terror attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: I think there's a good chance that we would have prevented at least a part of 9/11 -- in other words, there were four planes, there were almost 20, 19 persons involved. But I think we would have a much better chance of identifying those individuals who are contemplating that attack.
BANFIELD (voice-over): We're going to have a whole lot more of his conversation with our Joe Johns a little later on in this hour.
And coming up, the search is on for one of two thugs -- I say thugs because they're suspected of beating a World War II veteran and leaving him to die -- and he did. He died. The horrific story coming up next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: We've got a big development in a story that we've been following all morning, a very distressing story. A juvenile suspect has just been arrested and charged with first degree murder in the beating of an 89-year-old World War II veteran in Spokane, Washington. And the search is on for an accomplice, a second suspect believed to be out there.
CNN's Michaela Pereira with more on this brutal attack.
GLENN LONGSDORFF, FRIEND AND ROOMMATE: He was a war vet and he fought for this country. In fact he was shot when he was 18 years old on the beach of Okinawa.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN HOST (voice-over): He survived enemy attack in World War II only to be savagely beaten to death here at home. Outrage and grief in Spokane, Washington, his friends and family remember the war hero they called Shorty, 89-year-old Delbert Belton.
TED DENISON, FRIEND: He's like my dad, is what he was to me. One hell of a nice guy. He'll do anything in the world for anybody.
PEREIRA (voice-over): Police say Belton was attacked in his car Wednesday night. He was waiting for a friend outside this pool hall where he often played. Officers say Belton's friend found him badly beaten inside his vehicle and saw two teenagers running away.
Belton suffered severe head injuries. He died Thursday morning.
DET. LT. MARK GRIFFITHS, SPOKANE POLICE: It does appear random. He was in the parking lot. It appears that he was assaulted in the parking lot and there was no indication of any sort of -- that he would have known these people prior to the assault. PEREIRA (voice-over): Investigators have released these surveillance photos revealing two teenage suspects, both between 16 and 19 years old.
DENISON: They need to be caught, period because that's senseless. Beating an old man, what kind of person does that? (Inaudible) excuse the expression, a wimp.
PEREIRA (voice-over): Friends of Shorty have put up a memorial outside the pool hall as they hold out hope that the kind old man who gave so much for his country will get justice in the end.
BANFIELD: And that was CNN's Michaela Pereira, reporting for us.
And once again we just learned that the police in that area have arrested a suspect. It's a juvenile male. We don't know his age. He's been charged with first degree murder and robbery; happening this morning.
And we don't know if he's going to be charged as an adult. So joining me now is CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Paul Callan.
We could have the conversation about should they be charged as an adult or should they -- what I really want to ask you is there are murders and there are murders and when you have a victim as beloved as this man, 89 years old and a World War II vet, you heard that man say what kind of person does this? Does it make a difference in charging, sentencing and how you pick a jury?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it makes a huge difference. And I got to tell you, when I started out as a prosecutor, very idealistic and thinking we really shouldn't put people in jail, I discovered soon enough that there are people out utterly lacking in human conscience.
And you know, we're seeing some of these killings that have happened lately, I think we'll be talking about another one later, to kill a man of this age for really no reason except apparently for the thrill of it.
BANFIELD: (Inaudible) alleged robbery here. We're not (inaudible).
CALLAN: And maybe that's part of it as well. But my point is --
BANFIELD: (inaudible), I mean, thrill or robbery, just a senseless of murder of someone who is almost defenseless.
CALLAN: But the system has to be deal with this and we have a juvenile. Should he be treated as an adult? Should he be imprisoned for the rest of his life? Should he be imprisoned for a lengthy period of time? These are all questions that the criminal justice system deals with with juveniles, very different than questions with adults.
BANFIELD: How do you pick a jury? How do you pick a jury when we've already heard the initial reaction? What kind of monster does this?
CALLAN: Well, you'll pick a jury. But I will say this --
BANFIELD: What are you looking for?
CALLAN: You're looking for 12 live human beings because anybody who hears this case --
BANFIELD: Are you looking for people under the age of 50?
CALLAN: Am I the prosecutor or the defense attorney? If I'm the prosecutor --
BANFIELD: Either one at this point.
CALLAN: Give me 12 breathing human beings. And there will be a conviction in this case.
On the other hand, if you're the defense attorney, you're looking for people who'd be sympathetic to children and but under any circumstances --
BANFIELD: (Inaudible) shot in combat. He survived. He was fighting (inaudible) makes me so angry.
CALLAN: The kid is presumed innocent; we don't know all the facts --
CALLAN: And sometimes mistakes are made. So I don't want to jump to a conclusion too quickly. I think we're doing that only because there have been such horrible killings being reported lately.
BANFIELD: OK. Don't go anywhere. I've got a couple of other things I'm going to get you to tap into. We are going to move on to the Oklahoma case coming up next. And those teenagers again, Paul just mentioned it, what is going on? It seems like we're repeating ourselves.
Three of these teenagers charged with killing that Australian baseball player who was just out jogging. Everybody said it was just for fun. That was what one of them had told police. But now guess what? There may be a little more to the story. There may be a whole other motive and it may not be as random as we first thought. Hear the details next.
BANFIELD: Why did three teenagers allegedly kill a young man out for a jog for no obvious reason?
It's the big question in the killing of the Australian baseball player, Christopher Lane. Police say that one of the suspects told them straight up it was just because we were bored, looking for something to do, thought we'd kill someone.
But that may not be the entire story. It seems that there's more to this than meets the eye. Could this have been a gang initiation as one person has suggested or even perhaps a hate crime?
And the reason we say that is because there are some tweets that have now emerged from the 15-year-old suspect, James Edwards. He's the one on the right.
This is what he says and I read it exactly -- obvious reasons -- "With my N words, when it's time to start taking life's."
That is a line from a rap song by Chief Keith, a rap song called "I Don't Like."
Back in April, this tweet, same person tweeting, he said, "Ninety percent of white people are nasty, #HATE THEM."
Want to bring in our legal panel, legal analyst Paul Callan and Manny Cevallos and Faith Jenkins joining me now.
Paul, I'm just going to start with you. That sounds like it could be a hate crime but can you connect a tweet like that to a killing months later?
CALLAN: Oh, I think you certainly can and they have more evidence than that, of course, because they have the three suspects in the case who they have presumably taken statements from. So from what I've seen this I think this could be charged as a hate crime.
But you know something, that's going to be the least of it here. I mean, this is