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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD

Military Strike Against Syria Looms; New Texting Law in New Jersey; Fast-Food Workers Protest Across U.S.; California Crackdown on Revenge Porn; Debate Over Action in Syria.

Aired August 29, 2013 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I want to take you to our top story, and that is the possible military strike that could be looming against Syria. The British government has issued a report just this morning saying that an attack would be justified, and they say so on humanitarian grounds. President Obama is also now saying, for the first time, that there is no doubt that the Syrian regime was, in fact, responsible for that horrifying chemical attack on its own people last week. And Syria is also sending out some saber rattling this morning, saying that it will take any steps necessary to defend itself from any form of an attack.

Joining us now is former U.N. chief weapons inspector, David Kay; and CNN military analyst, retired Major General James "Spider" Marks.

David, I want to begin with you, if I can.

Dr. Kay, we've been talking all weeks about those weapons inspectors. You were one of these people on the ground, actually looking for this kind of forensic evidence. And I'm now wondering if it is a fool's errand and if it matters whatsoever what these inspectors find when you hear the rhetoric that we're hearing now.

DR. DAVID KAY, FORMER U.N. CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR: I don't think it's a fool's errand. I think it -- it matters. It matters at least politically in the United Kingdom, and it should matter here. We have a strong overhang of Iraq intelligence that was wrong and a population that, if you look at polling data, is weary of conflicts in the Middle East and don't want it to engage in another one. I think the report if, indeed, it shows that chemical weapons were used, will go away to assuaging that matter. The worst situation, I can't really imagine it happening, is the report says we just can't tell whether chemical weapons were used and specifically which ones were used. I think the administration has a problem.

BANFIELD: And again, there is such a big question as to chemical weapons being used and chemical weapons used by whom, which is the evidence when you're looking at the criminal case that is trying to be made at this point.

I want to run something that aired on Wolf Blitzer's program, "The Situation Room."

Spider Marks, you were awesome in the way you explain exactly what it might look like for some of those military assets if they intend to strike against Syria. Let's have a look at it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know, Wolf, if there will actually be a strike. What we do know is that the process is well underway that could lead up to it. Phase one, preparation, the planning. That's been going on for days. Now talking about how this might happen. In fact, we're already into phase two, which is the staging. And in military terms, you're talking about a possible strike on Syria. What does staging mean?

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, RETIRED MAJOR GENERAL & CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Tom, what that means is the United States will take advantage of its strategic presence that's already in the region in places like Italy, in Turkey, in Qatar. They're going to increase their munitions stockpiles, their fuel, their medical capabilities, their ability to rescue downed pilots so that it will decrease the amount of time that the U.S. needs to strike.

FOREMAN: So they're building up far-away assets. Let's move the map in closer so we get a better look. And let's talk about the close-up activity when you talk about Syria here. We have these ships that have moved in to the Mediterranean closer to the shore. What's that all about?

MARKS: They just came from the Sixth Fleet. They're in the eastern Mediterranean. They're over the horizon from Syria.

FOREMAN: Meaning they can't be seen from shore. They're a distance away?

MARKS: Exactly, they're in a protected position. But they can strike to any target that we would choose in Syria.

FOREMAN: There would be submarines out there. There's also this -- quote interesting. This is called a ROZ, these cones of airplanes essentially that are brought in. You believe a couple of them would be set up.

MARKS: Probably.

FOREMAN: These planes circling just outside of Syrian airspace. What is this about?

MARKS: This Restricted Operation Zone allows aircraft to loiter in a very certain area so they can refuel and they can be prepared to be employed very, very quickly, again, against targets and their designations.

FOREMAN: Just outside the Syria air space. And all of this is in preparation for phase three if it comes. We don't know that it will, but the execution phase is when -- let me get rid of the airplanes so you can see it a little bit -- is when we would actually have cruise missiles start launching into this country. Some may come from ships, some may come from submarines, some may come from airplanes.

MARKS: Absolutely.

FOREMAN: How many are we talking about?

MARKS: We could see maybe 200. That's clearly an estimate. We saw 725 when we went to war in Iraq in '03. 161 just two years ago in Libya. So they would be -- they would be launched very, very quickly. The flash-to-bang time is instantaneous.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD: Amazing. Just amazing to see that all play out.

General Marks, what exactly would the end game be here? What would be achieved by going in in that manner? And where might we end up?

MARKS: Well, unfortunately, Ashleigh, what we have under the scenario that Tom and I were able to describe yesterday, and as the president has described, he wants to very narrowly define this punitive action to "punish Assad" for the use of chemical weapons. That's a tactical engagement. The end state has not been described. The strategy has not been described. There isn't a campaign in terms of trying to achieve an end state. So the short answer to your question is, I'm not certain what the president has described is very narrow in scope and will do damage to Assad's ability to see himself and to prosecute war capabilities. But it doesn't answer the question.

Frankly, the sad irony is I think the administration wants Assad to stay in place until we can further figure out what's going to take place. So we really want to knock him down, not knock him out at this point.

BANFIELD: OK, Dr. Kay, just quickly. In the summary of intelligence from the Brits, you know, it says that there's no plausible culprit other than the Syrians who actually perpetrated this. But is that strong enough, that the "likely evidence" is that the Syrian government did this? Is that strong enough to actually launch a strike?

KAY: That's circumstantial evidence and it's quite clear in the context of British politics it has not been strong enough if you read the reaction today in London from politicians. I think if all the administration has is circumstantial evidence, they're going to bear a heavy political burden. Remember, it was, in fact, Candidate and Senator Obama who criticized the Bush administration for not being more careful about the intelligence and not waiting for better intelligence in a coalition to move ahead.

BANFIELD: Right.

David Kay, thank you so much. Dr. Kay, always good to hear from you.

General Marks, great to hear from you, as well. Thank you for your insight.

By the way, at the top of the hour, CNN's AROUND THE WORLD will have a full-hour special on Syria and what looks like the ramp up to an attack. We've got all of the angles covered for you here on CNN.

And still to come on "Legal View," one state cracking down on revenge porn. That's when your ex posts inappropriate pictures of you on the Worldwide Web without your knowledge. Huge reverberations, like can you get a job after that. I'm going to talk to the state Senator who is trying to make this a crime and make the poster pay.

And then, you know texting while driving is bad. But now you could actually be on the hook if you're not behind the wheel and just sending those texts. I'm not kidding. We'll explain this one next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Hold the phone, literally, and do not send that text. If you're about to message somebody who is driving in New Jersey, the law could come after you if that person ends up having a wreck. A New Jersey appeals court ruled this week that simply sending a text can land you in legal trouble if you knew that the other person was in fact behind the wheel at the time you sent the text.

I want to bring in our legal panel, CNN's legal analyst, Danny Cevallos; and criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, Jeffrey Gold.

This is a good one. Talk about chewy legal issues. Really? I could be on the line if I just sent -- how do I know you're reading it? How do I possibly know that you really are driving? You could be lying.

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. Everyone needs to calm down this case. Here's why. All the court says is theoretically it is possible if you send a text with knowledge that you're distracting somebody, that you could be held liable. And in doing so, keep in mind, this court held that a teenager who was texting her boyfriend up to 100 times a day did not meet this standard. So before everyone gets carried away and thinks that one text message is going to hold me, what we call strictly liable, which means automatically liable without any other showing, that's not the case.

BANFIELD: What was weird about this, Jeff, was that the appellate court ruled that that teenager in fact was partly to blame for the accident that her boyfriend had, terribly injuring two people on a motorcycle, but did not hold her liable for it. And that makes me wonder, can you extrapolate that if I'm in the passenger seat and babbling away to the driver, as I always do, that I'm just as liable there, as well?

JEFFREY GOLD, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, no, because what you're doing there is talking while the driver is concentrating on the road. So what happens here in negligence is this -- the question is, does somebody have a duty to another person and they established that, yes, you have a duty when you send a text to be careful. What they said then was this teen didn't violate the duty because the teen had no way to know that the driver wouldn't pull over and read it or just read the text later. So while it seems like a big thing, they made an even bigger hole to let people out of it where they said, I thought he was going to pull over and read that.

BANFIELD: I've got a better one. How can you prove it was me typing? It's a keyboard. Anybody could have been on it. I hear that in almost any criminal case that involves typing.

Thank you very much, Jeff Gold.

Danny Cevallos, thanks.

Don't go too far because -- if you could double your pay, would you, in fact, walk a picket line?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CHANTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Yeah, I'm with you on that one because it's what thousands of fast-food workers are doing this lunch hour instead of giving you your pretzel burger. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Minimum wage is just not enough -- that seems to be the rallying cry for fast-food workers right across the USA today as they walk off the job to protest their pay.

Our Alison Kosik is watching one of those protests on the streets of Manhattan today.

Is this really just all about the money? Because it's not that fun of a job either. But does it come down to cash?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's one of the requests that they have, these fast-food workers who walked off the job today, hundreds in New York. Of course, we have to remember that this is just one of the many protests happening across the country in 60 cities, and money is part of it. The other part is they're hoping to unionize. But once again, the bigger part is the money. They're asking for $15 an hour. That's more than double what the federal minimum wage is. The federal minimum wage, by the way, is $7.25.

Here to talk to me about it is one of the protesters, Shaniqua Davis.

Shaniqua, how much do you make an hour? You work at McDonald's?

SHANIQUA DAVIS, PROTESTER: Yes, I world at McDonalds. I make $7.75.

KOSIK: Why is that not enough for you?

DAVIS: Because I have a child to take care of. I have a family. I'm the breadwinner. And it's not enough.

KOSIK: Do you find yourself struggling to pay your bills? DAVIS: Yes, I do. I feel like the big bosses come down, you know, from their big offices and they come and live one month in our shoes, they would see that $7.25 is not enough for us. $7.75 is not enough. They'd be on strike with us. $15 an hour and a union is something we need.

KOSIK: All right, thanks for your time

This is one of the reasons you're seeing protests really gather momentum, Ashleigh. This really got started back in November. And you have really seen the movement take hold.

BANFIELD: All right. It's a $200 billion industry so you can understand where they're coming from.

Alison Kosik, thank you for that.

Scorned lovers who post racy pictures of their exes online could face up to six months in jail and a big fine. This is something called "revenge porn" that we're talking about. We'll talk about whether that law can actually pass next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Google your name sometime and then buckle up. You might be shocked, especially if you've got a vengeful ex lover in your past and who doesn't have at least one of those? But instead of finding your name and your phone somebody scrawled on a restroom wall, scorned lovers can now post naughty pictures on the Internet. It is something that is now widely known as revenge porn and the consequences of it are not funny. They can be crippling. For starters, you can lose your job. You can be unable to find a new one. And it could open up a floodgate of harassment from strangers and, in fact, endanger you. Your safety would be at risk.

So far, not a whole lot can be done about this, except in the state of New Jersey, but now California has its eye on you. It is considering legislation to make revenge porn illegal and punishable, all by amending the state's existing privacy laws. The violators of this law could get up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines as well, and those would double if you do it more than once and get caught.

The champion of this bill is State Senator Anthony Cannella, and he joins me live from Sacramento.

Senator, thanks so much for being with me.

Of course, I think the first question I have to ask is, people think if you're doing mean things like that online, it should be wrong. Then, on the other hand, there is a First Amendment, and whenever you go after free speech, it is chilling. How are you reconciling those two very important concepts in our life, keep me safe, don't harass me, don't hurt me, but protect my speech?

STATE SEN. ANTHONY CANNELLA, (R), CALIFORNIA: Sure. I think that's a fair question, but right now, it is not illegal to post these pictures. And a lot of times the pictures are accompanied with cell phones, home address, work address, work phones, so it is truly harassment. And that's the standard that we have set. We're not violating free speech. And by the way, free speech -- it's not unlimited free speech. You can't go into a movie theater and yell fire. We believe this is not a violation of free speech. We have set the bar. It is very narrowly defined. If you post pictures that are nude pictures with personal information with the purpose of harassing or bullying, then that would be a misdemeanor. We believe this is constitutional. And we believe it is very necessary because, as you mentioned, it is a traumatic experience and some cases people have committed suicide, so it is a very serious issue and one that we need to take up.

BANFIELD: So, Senator, obviously, I think no one would disagree this can be so devastating to someone who is the victim of this. But in the meantime, the bill as I understand it -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- requires intent to cause serious emotional distress. How do you get inside the head, legally, of the poster to find if that intent was there?

CANNELLA: Well, look, in this country, we're all innocent until proven guilty, right? That's why we have courts. And we have D.A.s that look at cases. They weigh the evidence and they see if there is a case they can bring to trial and, ultimately, they have to prove it to a jury of their peers. It is the same process we use in all crimes and that would ultimately be up to the district attorney. We believe this does meet the test and we believe people can be found guilt if they engage in this behavior.

BANFIELD: Senator, what about just the sheer -- of ownership rules? It is hard to determine who owns a photo, the person who took it, the person who is in it, perhaps it is a selfie. Doesn't that play here as well?

CANNELLA: It does. In this bill, if the person takes a picture and they post it with the intent to harass, which will have to be defined by the courts, then that would be -- they would be guilty of a misdemeanor. So, again, we have narrowly crafted this to be careful of the free-speech aspect. And we believe that we're right there and this is the perfect bill to deal with this issue.

BANFIELD: It's fascinating. I think it is just the tip of the iceberg.

State Senator Anthony Cannella, thank you very much for your time today and for your insight.

CANNELLA: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Appreciate it.

Coming up next, what to do about Syria. This is something that many are talking about, not just here, all around the world. What are the options? What are the experts saying? We're going to look at your opinions next as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: As we get closer to possible military response in Syria, I wanted to show you a couple of polls taken about the United States and how people here feel about it. For starters, when you ask Americans is it in the national interests of the United States to be involved in the conflict in Syria -- look at the number -- 27 percent say no. But interestingly, when you are asked about the U.S. military action and if it is justified, you know, if the Syrian government used chemicals against its people, that number jumps to 66 percent. It is a little odd to try to reconcile those two notions of how Americans feel about this.

But there is one person that feels very strongly about it and that's the former secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Hear what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (voice-over): What's lacking in all of this is the administration has simply not indicated what the mission will be, what the goal, what the outcome, what is our strategic interest? Why is it that we would be doing something? And until you do that, you can't explain to Congress what your goal is. Until you do that, you can't fashion a coalition of other countries to be supportive. We already know that Russia and China have both indicated that they are totally against doing anything, notwithstanding the fact that the government at least -- I don't personally know what the Syrian government has done by way of use of chemical weapons. But our government sounds very convinced they have used them, and Russia and China said that's fine, and it seems to me that that positions them in a pro-chemical weapon position, which is unfortunate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: That's the former defense secretary.

And whether you are pro-war or anti-war or pro-strike, anti-strike, we want to hear from you. You can head to cnnireport.com and submit your video to us.

In the meantime, thanks for watching, everyone. It's been nice to have you with us. A special report on "The Crisis in Syria" is next as AROUND THE WORLD starts.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to this special hour in "The Crisis in Syria." We would like to welcome our viewers here in the United States as well as those watching from around the world. I am Suzanne Malveaux.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: I am Richard Quest, in for Michael Holmes.

MALVEAUX: We are following fast-moving developments as the drum beat for military strikes on Syria is met by growing demands for caution now. QUEST: AROUND THE WORLD, moment by moment, we're seeing new twists and turns in this crisis, so we are again devoting the entire hour to it. And you will know all the angles and, of course, crucially how you might be directly impacted.

At the moment U.N. weapon inspectors are back out collecting evidence from one of the neighborhoods where perhaps more than 1,000 people were massacred. "The New York Times" reports American officials say there's no smoking gun that directly links Bashar al Assad to the horrific attacks.