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Obama to Nominate New Homeland Secretary; Post Shutdown Focus Turns to Obamacare; GOP wants Sebelius out over Obamacare; Air Marshal Arrested for "Upskirt" Pics; "The Fifth Estate"

Aired October 18, 2013 - 10:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining me.

Do you know this man? He could soon have a big, big role in keeping you safe. Today President Obama is expected to nominate former Pentagon lawyer Jay Johnson as his choice to head Homeland Security. Johnson is neither polarizing nor a shoe in it maybe the first test though for the President coming off that grueling fight over the debt deal.

Jim Acosta is at the White House this morning. Good morning Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. That's right. This is going to take place about 2:00 this afternoon here at the White House when the president formally nominates former Pentagon attorney Jeh Johnson to be the nation's next secretary of Homeland Security.

Johnson is also a political loyalist of President Obama and was a top fundraiser for the president during his 2008 presidential campaign. And already, he is starting to pick up some criticism.

A key senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeff Sessions, has put out a statement already saying he's deeply concerned about Johnson's nomination and called the Department of Homeland Security perhaps the most incompetent in all of the federal government.

But Carol, Jay Johnson is the least of the President's concerns right now more than likely. That is because the latest conservative battle cry here in Washington is about Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services. Conservatives are saying she has to go over all of these glitches in the Obamacare Web site,

But yesterday at a press briefing here at the White House the Press Secretary Jay Carney basically indicated that she's not going anywhere. But the President is very concerned about what's happening with that Web site. Here is what Carney had to say.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And what I can tell you that the accountability that the president seeks today is the accountability that comes from those who are working on implementation, working around the clock to ensure that the consumer experience is improved. And that the whole process of implementation of the Affordable Care Act moves forward.

And again, it's important to remember that this is not -- although there's a lot of focus on it, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare is not just a website.


ACOSTA: So Carney trying to make the point there that if people are interested in signing up for health care through these new exchanges, they can put in a phone call. Although Carol that is 20th century technology in a 21st century world. A lot of people are experiencing problems with the website.

And those problems have been highlighted by House Speaker John Boehner's office. His spokesman Brendan Buck has been e-mailing out to reporter's examples from across the country of people having trouble signing up for these exchanges. And the headlines are really pouring in, really raising, I guess, some pressure on the White House to start releasing some of these enrollment figures as to how many people have signed up for this program.

But so far, the White House says those numbers are going to be coming out in mid-November, not anytime soon -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right Jim -- Jim Acosta reporting live from the White House.

As Jim just said, Republicans are blaming Sebelius for what they call roll-out malpractice involving that Obamacare Web site. I talked with RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer last hour about why Republicans are targeting Sebelius.


SEAN SPICER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: It's a fundamental lack of leadership and accountability when the person at the top of the agency that's supposed to be overseeing this cannot handle it or address it after repeatedly telling you that it was going on.

Again I'll go back to what I said earlier which is if you can't handle the number one priority where you've been given three years and hundreds of millions of dollars, how can you do the other things that go along with administering that department? It calls into question the entire ability to lead, manage that department.


COSTELLO: Tech experts are also weighing in on the Web site glitches and delays with the insurance marketplaces. Some say it could take a complete overhaul of the system to fix it all and that could cost millions more in tax dollars and it could take months. But people without insurance don't have months. They need to sign up by mid- December or they face the fine.

CNN's Laurie Segall is in New York this morning. Good morning.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Look, I thought, OK, 4.6 million people signing on to this Web site in the first 24 hours, obviously going to be a lot of traffic. But they clearly weren't ready for this type of traffic.

And I know tons of folks in Silicon Valley Carol so I talk to Matt Mullenweg. He's the founder of a company called WordPress. Now let me put this in context to you Carol. They essentially power one in every five Web sites on the Internet, and I asked him what do you think went wrong? Listen to what he said.


MATT MULLENWEG, FOUNDER, WORDPRESS: They say you can have it fast, cheap, or good. Pick two out of three. And it sounds like they went for the fast and cheaper. Software is difficult to do. And you can't manage it like construction. And typically, especially in Silicon Valley, like we use the very latest technologies. Often government hasn't adopted many of those yet. And if they haven't properly load tested the website beforehand it's very possible that, you know, this can be overwhelmed with they (inaudible) the next time they watch this.


SEGALL: You know a lot of complaints said that maybe they weren't using the latest technology. And as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, move fast and break things. But let's translate that over to the government. Oftentimes you've got budget constraints, you've got a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Oftentimes it just doesn't go as planned -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Just doesn't go as planned but hundreds of millions of dollars is a lot of money. I mean isn't in Silicon Valley too?

SEGALL: Absolutely. When you point to numbers Twitter was $1 million, $2 million, $3 million. And even know they're funded under $60 million and that Web site is working. You know that being said when it wasn't working and there was a farewell and people are upset that they couldn't tweet. Now when you look at Obamacare's website people are very upset that they can't sign up for health care. Obviously, the stakes are very high.

I asked Matt Mullenweg this very question about how this funding would compare in Silicon Valley. Listen to what he said.


MULLENWEG: You know, maybe it's one of these things where a few weeks from now the release will come that helps fix many of these problems. But half a billion is all of money. All of was built on about $30 million over eight years. So imagining spending about $400 million over two or three years boggles my mind. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SEGALL: Maybe they should have called Matt and asked him, you know. Maybe they should have called on Silicon Valley to have them help. But you're looking at a -- you're looking at a lot of red tape, a lot of cooks in the kitchen. And obviously something went very, very wrong. That's going to be up to them to fix. And they've got time constraints as you guys have spoken about.

COSTELLO: That's right, that's right Laurie Segall reporting live from New York this morning. Thank you.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, if it weren't for Edward Snowden we probably would not know about the secret government programs that track and monitor some of our communications. So it's understandable other countries might want to see those documents. Find out why Snowden says, at least, that's not possible.


COSTELLO: The man behind the leak of classified information from the NSA says he did not give that information to Chinese or Russian intelligence agencies. Edward Snowden has been in Russia for several months after requesting asylum there. And he told "The New York Times" he gave them all of the documents to journalist in Hong Kong before he went to Moscow.

One of those journalists who saw the document is Glenn Greenwald of "The Guardian" newspaper. He told CNN's Anderson Cooper, he believes Snowden is not helping the other side.


GLENN GREENWALD, THE GUARDIAN: Whether he took any to Russia, I obviously can't say for certain. But I know for certain that his intention was to undermine the ability of states to engage in mass surveillance not to help states do so by giving documents to other governments. So it's certainly credible. There's zero evidence that he ever gave any documents or let any of those documents out of his control despite the desire of people in the media to simply assert it without evidence.


COSTELLO: CNN's Phil Black has more for you from Moscow.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, Edward Snowden has responded to one of the most persistent criticisms in his decision to come to Russia. That by coming here and seeking asylum, he has betrayed his country because inevitably he must now be an intelligence asset for the Russian government, that whatever information he arrived with must now be in the possession of the Russian security and intelligence services.

Edward Snowden in his interview with "The New York Times," which was carried out over an encrypted online service, said that's not possible because he didn't bring any of those classified documents to Russia. He left them in Hong Kong with the journalists that he was working with there. He said there are no copies. It wouldn't have served the public interest to travel with it.

He's also pretty confident that China hasn't been able to access any of that information. He says he has enough technical knowledge of their capabilities to secure it and protect it from Chinese intelligence.

His father, Lonnie Snowden, made a similar case when he was in Moscow earlier this week visiting his son. I asked him what contact his son is having with Russian intelligence agencies. And he said none. He said Edward had assured him that he has not debriefed by any spy agency from any other country since he fled the United States -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Phil Black reporting from Moscow.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, a federal air marshal is accused of snapping photos, well, up women's skirts on a plane.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I looked at the guy and I said, "Excuse me, you ought to be ashamed of yourself."


COSTELLO: Wait until you hear what he reportedly tried to do when he was caught red-handed.


COSTELLO: A federal air marshal has been arrested, accused of snapping pictures up women's skirts with his cell phone and apparently a passenger stepped in to try to protect these women. We heard from the man who says he saw it all happen and intervened.


REY COLLAZO, SOUTHWEST PASSENGER: This man right here is taking pictures of ladies going down the aisle under their dress. And she looked at him and said, "Sir, are you doing that?" And he says, "Yes."

COSTELLO: A passenger on board a Southwest flight couldn't believe his eyes.

COLLAZO: His left hand was holding his phone and it was in the aisle. In my mind, I said ,"I know he's not taking pictures of the girls as they're going by." Next thing I know, a lady walked by, and the phone went to the aisle and he -- click, click, click, click.

COSTELLO: Federal air marshal Adam Barge was on duty when he got caught pointing a camera up women's skirts and taking photos as they walk down the aisle of the airplane. COLLAZO: And I looked at the guy and I said, "Excuse me, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You're a disgrace to a human being, to a man." I says, "I mean that's wrong." And he looked at me. He turned pale. I said, "You get a kick out of taking pictures of ladies as they're going by without them seeing you?" And he held the phone securely in between his legs, in between his knees, and looked at me. And I said, "You know, you need to turn that "f" phone off."

COSTELLO: What Rey Collazo didn't know was the man with the cell phone was a federal air marshal. He says when he confronted the air marshal and told a flight attendant what was happening, Barge tried to delete the photos. And that's when Rey said, "Oh no, you don't."

COLLAZO: He took his eyes off of me, and I snatched it right out of there.

COSTELLO: Police say Barge admitted taking about a dozen inappropriate photos. He faces a charge of disorderly conduct. He was released last night on $10,000 bail. The TSA says Barge has been removed from his current duties. The agency is apparently in the process of deciding whether he'll be fired or suspended.


COSTELLO: And he still has nothing to say. CNN did reach out for a comment from Adam Barge, we have not heard back.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM it's a big rivalry weekend in college football as USC visits Notre Dame. Carlos Diaz is in South Bend.

CARLOS DIAZ, CNN SPORTS: Yes, Carol. We like to play like a champion here at Notre Dame. And as I found out, they can also party like a champion. It's tailgating 101 from the University of Notre Dame coming up.


COSTELLO: The Rivalry Express Bus is making another stop. Carlos Diaz is on board. He joins us live from South Bend, Indiana for tomorrow's big battle between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the USC Trojans. Hi -- Carlos.

DIAZ: How are you doing? We found out that this rivalry is an amazing --

Oh, no. Carlos. He -- Carlos disappeared. We're going to go t a break and try to fix the technical problems and come back. That's what we'll do. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: OK. So let's head back to South Bend, home of the Fighting Irish and Carlos Diaz. Good morning.

DIAZ: Good morning. This rivalry between USC and Notre Dame is truly amazing. It started back in 1926. And of course, Notre Dame has the advantage in the rivalry. This year both teams are 4-2. So they're playing more for pride. There's a lot of pride as both these teams treat this game like a bowl game here at Notre Dame.

There's some other sports to talk about though. The Boston Red Sox are now one game away from the World Series after they beat the Tigers 4-3 last night. Boston scored all the runs early. Detroit fought back but it could only cut the lead to one. The series now goes back to Boston. Game six is tomorrow night.

The Red Sox can close it out with a win. If not, game seven is Sunday.

Later tonight -- I can't wait for this game six between the Cardinals and Dodgers. St. Louis can punch its ticket to the World Series with a win, first pitch 8:30 over on our sister network TBS.

Let's talk NFL. Did you know that Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch eats Skittles during the games? He's done it since he was 12. His mom calls them power pellets. She says they help her baby run faster.

Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for three touchdowns and led his team to a 12-point win last night against the Cardinals. Seattle is off to a 6-1 start f For the first in franchise history and they are dominating the NFC and flying under the radar. They're looking good in the NFC.

All right, as I said, tomorrow is the big game between USC and Notre Dame. I like this game for two reasons, Carol. A, I'm from Indiana, and B, I'm roughly Rudy's (ph) size if you've seen the movie. There you go. Carol -- back to you.

COSTELLO: Hey the best part is you're already in the bar. Carlos Diaz, thank you very much.

"The Fifth Estate" hits theaters today. It tells the story of Julian Assange. But the WikiLeaks founder wanted nothing to do with it. He even called the movie toxic.

CNN's JD Cargill has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. But if you can give him a mask, he will tell you the truth.

JD CARGILL, CNN CORRSPONDENT: Hero or villain it's the question many have asked about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Now Hollywood's answering the debate with "The Fifth Estate"

LAURA LINNEY, ACTRESS: 12 million people have seen that video. You still want to tell me you think it's just a little Web site.

CARGILL: The film stars Laura Linney, Stanley Tucci and British actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Assange. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, ACTOR: We go incredibly well. It was a really beautiful, beautiful collaboration. He's so smart but was so, so sensitive.

CARGILL: The beautiful collaboration Cumberbatch speaks of is with the film's director, Bill Condon, not the man he is playing.

CUMBERBATCH: I also tried to get in contact with Julian and meet him. But I got a firm rejection.

CARVILL: Firm, direct and in writing. Assange e-mailed Cumberbatch back in January calling the film negative, harmful and toxic. Quote, "By meeting with you I would validate this wretched film and endorse the talented but the botched performance that the script will force you to give.

CUMBERBATCH: He thought that the film was based on two poisonous accounts of events that he didn't want to condone by meeting me. And he was nervous that the film's enterprise was damaging both to him and his organization.

CARGILL: In the e-mail which along with the film's script is posted on WikiLeaks, Assange implores Cumberbatch to give up the role -- writing, "You'll be used as a hired gun to assume the appearance of the truth in order to assassinate it. I believe that you should reconsider your involvement in this enterprise."

CUMBERBATCH: This is information the world needs to know.

CARGILL: Cumberbatch says he tried to reason back. "I want to present you in all your complexity. I don't want to color you nice or bad. I want to play something that's true to the full spectrum of kind of how you're perceived.

CARGILL: Despite the star's effort, Assange holed up at Ecuador's embassy in London to avoid an international arrest warrant remains unmoved. Speaking to ABC's "This Week" --

JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS: I do know that he tried to ameliorate some of the worst elements in the script but unfortunately with limited success.

CARGILL: After the film's success hit theaters this weekend but like Assange critics have been mostly unkind

CUMBERBATCH: That's what they're afraid,

CARGILL: JD Cargill, CNN, Los Angeles.


COSTELLO: I'm Carol Costello. Thanks for joining me.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People with criminal minds come up with ingenious ways to beat the system.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: These crafty convicts did not need helicopters or hacksaws to escape from the jail. Just some phony documents and forged signatures.

And now, two killers are on the run after doing just that and walking out of a Florida prison.