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Obama meets with Cabinet; Rescue from Flood; Man Gets 20 Years for Child Rape, Torture; Disarming Chemical Weapons.

Aired September 12, 2013 - 11:30   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we're going to spend some time here today talking about, you know, all of the efforts that have been made by many of these cabinet secretaries to streamline operations, to cut out waste, to improve performance, to improve customer satisfaction. We're going to focus on some specific issues, including managing some of the budget debates that are going to be taking place over the next several weeks. We're going to be talking about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act where we've seen tremendous progress over the last several months and are, confident that starting next month, people are going to be able to start signing up for health care, in many cases for the first time. And we're going to spend some time talking about issues like comprehensive immigration reform that are still of enormous importance to ensure that America grows.

So I appreciate all of the great work that the people have done. Some of the cabinet members here are still relatively new, but thanks to their confirmations and the great teams they put around them, I know that they are hitting the ground running.

All right? Thank you very much, everybody.



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: So I don't know if you could just hear the reporters in the background, who had that opportunity for the quick spray before they have to leave the room and the actual meeting gets under way, one of them yelled out a question about President Putin's op-ed in "The New York Times," taking a dig at President Obama and the American exceptionalism he referred to the other night. The president did not answer and did not bite. But did say that there is still a focus on the economy, we have budget debates coming up ahead.

As we continue, we have for you ahead an incredible nail-biting rescue from a raging creek. A live report on the Colorado flooding just ahead. See that vehicle underwater over 35 minutes, a man alive inside.


BANFIELD: Want to get you back to Colorado to get you up to speed on this breaking news. Three people plucked alive from a raging torrent of water in Colorado. The vehicle you're looking at, being pulled out of the raging waters had been upside down for more than 30 minutes before those very brave rescuers risking their lives discovered a man inside alive.

Our Ana Cabrera is live in Boulder where some of the worst flooding has occurred.

We're getting sketchy reports that there may be people still trapped in areas where this flash flooding has been occurring. Can you get us up to speed on what the conditions are there for the first responders?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Ashleigh. There are very likely people still trapped. The rescuers, the emergency crews are having a hard time getting to people who need the most help right now. This is, in part, why you can see this roadway completely covered in water here. We are in the city of Boulder. Now, in the county, just a little outside the city of Boulder, those are the mountainous communities that are seeing the hardest hit from these flash floods. In fact, we're learning that rescue crews are encountering walls of debris, nine to 10 feet high from the debris flows that have been triggered and behind those debris walls they are finding six to eight feet of water. It's extremely dangerous for them to even get in there.

So they know at least two people in Boulder County have been confirmed dead. Another person confirmed dead in the Colorado Springs area because of flash flooding. So the death poll is now three. And the sheriff speaking within the last few minutes, that death toll is likely to continue to rise today as they access the areas hardest hit and get to the people in their homes trapped, in their cars trapped, they are encountering overturned cars along the way. We have not had access to those areas but again emergency crews can't even get to some of those areas.

So we're staying on top of it for you in Boulder, Colorado.

Back to you.

BANFIELD: Ana, we keep seeing this remarkable rescue that played out with that man who had been submerged in his car for over half an hour before they pulled him out. It looked to us like he was OK. He was walking for a short time and then they got him on to a stretcher. I know everybody is busy with rescues, but do we have any idea how he is?

CABRERA: Well, the last check that we were able to confirm is that he is OK, that he has moderate injuries. All three people who were part of that rescue you speak of were taken to the hospital, again, with moderate injuries but officials aren't going into any more detail than that.

BANFIELD: Just so shocking to see him appearing in that window when no one knew if anyone was even in that vehicle, let alone alive.

So Ana Cabrera for us, doing this job. By the way, it does not look like a street behind you. It looks like it's a massive moving lake. It's a remarkable shot.

We'll keep bringing you that story for you.

We also have another story that's probably been overshadowed somewhat by Syria, maybe by Ariel Castro. But for seven years, a man in Missouri kept himself a sex slave in the way of a 16-year-old girl. Take a good look at that face. That man took that 16-year-old girl and raped her and put her through horrifying tortures every day for seven years, tortures I cannot even broadcast on television, and for that, his sentence, 20 years. That's it. 20 years. How did that happen?


BANFIELD: The 16-year-old girl kidnapped, shocked with electric currents, hung upside down, raped, held as a sex slave for seven years, all of this happening right here in the United States.

And I do have to warn you, some of the details that I'm about to deliver to you are extraordinarily disturbing.

Authorities say this man, 46-year-old Edward Bagley, tortured and raped the girl repeatedly. Electrical shocks were used, as I mentioned, mutilation, waterboarding, and she was hanging upside down. He made her sign a sex slavery contract and even allowed other men to participate in the acts. And when they thought she was pregnant, they performed forced abortions on her and, may I say, that is only the beginning. Those are the details that I can say on television. It all happened here at this house in Missouri and some of the torture so horrific it defies imagination but it is worse than you can imagine. The victim was actually discovered by first responders because she suffered cardiac arrest during one of the torture sessions in 2009.

Edward Bagley was sentenced yesterday after a federal judge accepted a plea bargain. And for all of these horrible crimes that he committed, that 46-year-old man got 20 years. That's it. 20 years. Do you remember Ariel Castro who kidnapped three young women for a decade in Ohio got 1,000 years? Why did this man only get 20? I'm going to tweet you out the federal indictment right now because I mentioned before I can't mention most of the details on the air and the details matter. When you're talking about 20 years and the potential of someone who is 46 to be walking the streets with you and me and everyone else, you need to know exactly what he did to that 16-year- old. And our legal panel will explain why this happened next.


BANFIELD: So we're back. I don't know if you had an opportunity during the break to look over some of the details I just tweeted about, and you and if you want an opportunity to do that, please go to @CNNAshleigh, my Twitter account, and you'll see the indictment for one Edward Bagley, 46 years old, only about to spend 20 years for the crimes that he committed against a 16-year-old girl.

I want to bring in our legal analysts, Danny Cevallos and Jeff Gold.

Let me start with you, Jeff.

How do you end up with 20 years when Ariel Castro could dwarf this case with the torture? Why would a man get only 20 years?

JEFF GOLD, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There are facts that are worse, where he went on the Internet and put her on the web and --


BANFIELD: I want to give a warning -- yeah.


GOLD: But there's a lot of details that are worse.

But what I suspect here is this poor victim was emotionally and physically disabled. He picked her out. I assume there are some problems with her testimony. He wasn't charged with kidnapping, for example, or restraints. The statements by the girl may have been ambiguous as to how much she participated, how much as she consented. As wrong as that may seem, I'm sure the prosecutors felt handicapped themselves, and that's why they gave this plea agreement. I agree, it's a shockingly light agreement that this maybe would get out by the time he's 66, given the things that he did.

BANFIELD: Yeah. That's not a rehabilitatable person, if we can even call him a person.

Danny, in these circumstances, there are multiple players. Other men participate din the rapes and the torture. Bagley's wife was involved. They are all going to be sentenced. Is this a case of the prosecutors being handicapped by the defendants pointing at each other and making the prosecution tougher?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not so much. Federal crimes statutes are written very broadly. As soon as you start using the Internet or interstate commerce, it gives the federal government that nexus to pile on charges. To the extent that people are upset about a 20-year sentence, the one count that he pleaded to carries a 10 to life statutory minimum and maximum, so --


BANFIELD: So why did they settle at 20?

CEVALLOS: Well, that -- believe me, the U.S. attorney's office is not in the business of going lenient on offenders like this so that has to reflect in their mind the relative strength of their case. There has to be problems with the case that we just don't know about and the U.S. attorney's office did not feel comfortable going to trial with those facts.

BANFIELD: OK, there's no federal murder statute, but we do have forced abortions which we saw play into the Ariel Castro situation.

So, Jeff, is it possible that once it shakes out, the sentencing is done, the state can come after him for murder and then put him away for life after his to years?

GOLD: That's a very complicated situation because the state vary on what they consider to be abortion, especially when you're talking about abortion. Second of all we don't really know there -- there's no medical evidence that she was ever pregnant. It's from her statement saying this is what occurred but they need more medical evidence of that. Without the medical evidence, I don't think so. It's possible other crimes will arise and he can be prosecuted and the plea agreement allows for that.

BANFIELD: I'm going there, quickly, though, five seconds. There's a death penalty statute in Missouri.


CEVALLOS: Remember, as a separate sovereign, the state can go after that if it exists. It appears from the plea agreement that the federal government contemplated that as well. They left out the issue of murder to be revisited possibly later.

BANFIELD: Guys, thank you. I'm sorry. This was a disturbing, incredibly disturbing case. It's more disturbing we can't say what happened because it's that awful.

Danny Cevallos, Jeff Gold, thank you for your insight.

Coming up after the break, finding the weapons in Syria. Do you destroy them in Syria? Do you destroy them outside Syria? How do you move them? How can any of this happen while bombs are falling? Going to have explanations in a moment.


BANFIELD: Syria's President al Assad is saying today that the threat of an attack from the United States was not a factor, not a factor in possibly getting on board with the Russian plan, saying, "Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The United States threats did not influence the decision."

Even so, the deal is on the table still. Could it be a mirage, though? One expert actually says the Russian plan for Syria to surrender chemical weapons is "deceptively attractive." How much does it depend on al Assad being honest about the weapons he's got? And wouldn't this operation actually take boots on the ground, that very thing Americans have been swearing that needs to be avoided?

Joining us with the expertise on all of this, CNN analyst and former U.N. chief weapons inspector, David Kay; and CNN military analyst, retired Army major general, James "Spider" Marks.

James, I'm going to start with you.

Boots on the ground. That plan of the Russians requires boots on the ground. That seems fairly ironic.

GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Ashleigh, It really does. When you look back at what the president declared he would not do, were there to be a military strike and that was we would not place the United States would not place boots on the ground and that was emphatic. Clearly, what's going to happen with a potential diplomatic solution -- and there are a lot of details, you know, a lot of stuff from the ground up that needs to be addressed -- it would necessarily require boots on the ground in order to secure the facilities, multi facilities and weapons and other precursors and other types of weapons of mass destruction that might be out there to find those chemical and render them safe. It's going to take a large contingent of personnel on the ground in order to make that happen.

BANFIELD: Breaking news I want to announce. The United Nations spokesperson said to CNN that the United Nations secretary-general has received a letter from the Syrian U.N. mission in which they have declared their intention to join the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. They heretofore said they would and the secretary-general has the intention in writing.

David Kay, I've got to ask you. The conventional way oftentimes in other countries destroying chemical weapons is building a destruction facility on top of the cache of weapons where found as opposed to picking them up, moving them out of country. But in the Syrian civil war, it's such a mess and so dangerous, wouldn't we need to move them as some other experts have said, get them to safer ground? Wouldn't that take phalanx of soldiers to protect any weapons inspectors?

DAVID KAY, CNN ANALYST & FORMER U.N. CHIEF WEAPONS INSPECTOR: Ashleigh, moving is almost as dangerous as keeping them in place. These weapons, some of which are 30 years old, 25 years old, we don't know what condition they're in. Certainly my experience and the experience of colleague whose have looked at them, you seldom find weapons that don't have leaking problems. Some of them aren't weaponized. Probably the majority are in barrels stored. They leak. Under rough roads, and the roads are rough where you're talking about moving, them from, not only do you have to worry about ambush but accidents along the road that would lead to major chemical agent release. So there is no good option here. Probably the best option and the fastest option in terms of rendering them harmless is to do it as quickly as you can, as close to where they are now.

BANFIELD: All of it a bad scenario and a difficult scenario.

David Kay, thank you for that.

James "Spider" Marks, also good to hear from you both.

And thank you for joining us today. Stay with CNN. AROUND THE WORLD starts after this short break.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome. You're watching AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today. It's a busy hour ahead. New information directly from the Syrian president, Bashar al Assad, saying that he's going to hand over the deadly arsenal of chemical weapons, at least that's what he's saying.

MALVEAUX: And he's crediting Russia for being the peacemaker in all of this. The Syrian dictator made these statements in an interview with a Russian television station and says, quote, "Syria is handing over its chemical weapons under international supervision because of Russia." And he goes on to say, "The U.S. threat did not influence the decision."