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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Gunfire Erupts in Las Vegas; Greek Couple Charged With Abducting Maria; School Shooting Sparks, Nevada; Woman Blows Herself Up on Russian Bus; Prison Escapees Recaptured in Florida; Ariel Castro Neighbor Charged With 233 Counts; Cory Booker Officiates at Gay Wedding in New Jersey; Healthcare Glitches Continue
Aired October 21, 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: If you're having trouble signing up for ObamaCare or even getting online, you are not alone, my friend. Big problems continue to bedevil ObamaCare websites.
This hour, though, the president, taking it on, he's going to speak live about the problem on CNN, addressing those problems head on.
Also, gunfire erupting in Las Vegas, police say one person is dead, two others wounded, all of it at a casino.
And in Greece, a couple now charged with abducting the child they called Maria. They claimed they adopted the girl from her biological mother. The charges may say otherwise.
Hello, everyone, and welcome. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Monday, October the 21st. This is LEGAL VIEW. Nice to have you with us.
We're watching for the president as he gets ready to appear live in the Rose Garden, but some breaking news, we're following news coming out the Nevada right now, a school shooting, yet again a school shooting to bring to you.
This one in Sparks, Nevada. The commander with the Sparks police department is now confirming to CNN -- and this is Rocky Triplett -- he's confirming to CNN that there has been a shooting at the Sparks Middle School.
If you know Nevada, this is Sparks, Nevada. It's just outside of Reno. We don't know a lot of details at this point. And in fact, we're trying to confirm a lot of these before we bring you those reports.
We do know that some people have been shot. It's unclear at this time, very important to let you know, unclear if those who were shot were students, or if they were adults, or if they were staff. Very little is known at this time, but there are confirmation some people have been shot.
It's also unknown at this time if the situation has been resolved, so this is very active as we speak. Do not know at this time if there's a suspect who is in custody, but they're trying to get us the information as soon as they can.
I can tell you this, there's a spokesperson with one of the elementary schools that's located in this area, it's called Agnes Risley Elementary School. It's nearby. It says that students are being brought to that elementary school to be reunited with their parents.
But, again, an active shooting at that middle school. Well continue to watch that for you, bring you details as they become confirmed and available to us.
So while we're talking about that, we also have another shooting to bring to you. We're getting reports of a person killed, two people wounded at a shooting at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
This is a shooting that happened early this morning on The Strip. Las Vegas police say in this case they do have a suspect and they're holding that suspect. More information as they give it to us.
And this just in. Ariel Castro's former neighbor has pleaded not guilty to 233 counts against him. His name is Elias Acevedo. That's a picture of him in court. He is charged with aggravated murder, rape and kidnapping.
You will remember Ariel Castro held three young women for almost a decade in that neighborhood. The judge in this man's case has set bond at $5 million, $1 million for each of the victims. By the way, two of those victims are homicide cases.
In Greece, a couple claiming to be the parents of a little blond girl they call Maria have now been charged with abduction and falsifying papers. The authorities did a very unusual move by releasing photographs of this child, worldwide, wondering if she's, in fact, 4- years-old, 5-years-old, perhaps, wondering who her parents actually are.
Last week they asked the public for tips on her identity, but a lawyer for the couple at the center of this says that they adopted Maria, just not legally, with her biological mother's permission. They also conceded, of course, that the adoption was not registered legally.
Incredible, a woman blowing herself up on a bus in southern Russia. We have dash-cam video showing the exact moment that the bus exploded today, just remarkable pictures.
Five people were killed, including the bomber herself. Twenty others were injured. The bomber was 30-years-old, had just stepped off that bus when the explosion went off.
Two convicted murderers who were mistakenly released from a Florida prison are back behind bars when they belong, and marched right through a courtroom before they got locked up again.
But here is the interesting thing. There could be more people about to join them. Someone probably had to help them get out.
In the meantime, take a look at these pictures. This was some video that was caught at the scene Saturday night at a motel in Panama City when they were actually apprehended by police.
Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins were arrested. You can see them up there on the upper balcony. It's tricky. It's behind the tree, but you can see it happening while the police there with trained weapons.
All of this came from a tip, and the tip came from one of their acquaintances, and that's how the U.S. Marshals got right to that upper balcony.
They were freed from prison using forged documents. Those documents even had a famous judge's name on them, Judge Belvin Perry. You could imagine that would be easy considering you can find that signature online in all of those documents that are related to the Casey Anthony trial he presided over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE BELVIN PERRY, JR., FLORIDA NINTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT: More than likely what happened was somebody appeared in the clerk's office, dropped them in a box.
They were processed as they ordinarily do process documents. There was absolutely no contact with my office. No one even checked to see if, in fact, the cases were assigned to me.
And they went on about their merry way and were transmitted to the Department of Corrections. And the Department of Corrections got them and acted upon them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Judge Belvin Perry.
Officials are now predicting that there are going to be more arrests in this case because they're working on the procedures as well to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Could it have been an inside job? That's where the investigation at least is checking into.
Also, just after the clock struck midnight, same-sex marriages became legal in New Jersey, several couples tying the knot at 12:01 a.m. See the guy on the right? Does he look familiar?
That is Senator-elect Cory Booker, officiating. The state had been appealing a court's decision to allow same-sex marriage, but Governor Christie announced today that he's withdrawing that appeal.
He said that the New Jersey Supreme Court spoke very loudly, showed where it stood when it ruled on Friday that those gay marriages could go forward, pending that appeal. So now, no appeal, gay marriage legal in the state of New Jersey.
I'm watching the clock, and as we wait for the president who is getting ready to come out into the Rose Garden, I want to take us down to Washington, D.C., where my colleague Wolf Blitzer is standing by to traffic us into a very important announcement and press conference that the president's going to be holding.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Ashleigh, thanks. It's not really a press conference. He's just going to be making a speech. He's not going to be answering reporters' questions.
But we will be hearing from the president, Ashleigh, very, very soon. He's getting ready to address a lot of these problems that have plagued the new healthcare Web site.
We're watching all of this very, very carefully. It seems like there's been problem after problem, error after error. And we're watching the Department of Health and Human Services because they're now saying they're calling in top tech experts from around the country to help fix it.
Laurie Segall with CNN Money is joining us right now.
Laurie, set the scene for us. What do we know exactly about what went wrong?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: The question here is almost what didn't go wrong.
But broadly speaking, you have contractors, budgets, a political agenda, but when we look at the specifics, Wolf, first of all, let's talk about the traffic. They weren't anticipating this kind of traffic or they didn't test for this kind of traffic, 4.6 million people signing on in the first 24 hours.
Now typically in Silicon Valley, what would you do is you would almost go in and break your servers before this happens to anticipate for these peak levels.
Now another -- that was just the beginning of it. Now where really part of the problem was was in the account creation process. You have to look at this kind of Web site. This isn't just a front-facing Web site. It's a complicated website.
On the back end when you get there and you sign in, they're actually pinging federal agencies. They're pinging the IRS to get your income back. There's a lot going on here, and they also had to bake in privacy.
So, you know, between all the complexities here and the idea that, you know, that they were under time constraints, and they didn't properly test for a lot of this, this is kind of what we saw as the outcome, Wolf.
BLITZER: So what are folks in Silicon Valley, for example, saying about this? I know you've been talking to them.
SEGALL: For me, I know a ton of folks in Silicon Valley. I thought, OK, surely, these guys have some idea of how this could have got -- how to do this even better. I spoke to Matt Mullenweg. He's the founder of a company called WordPress. And let me put this in context for you, Wolf. WordPress essentially powers one in every five sites on the Web.
So he had a pretty good idea. I asked him about what he thought went wrong. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT MULLENWEG, FOUNDER, WORDPRESS: In software, 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 probably load-tested the Web site beforehand, it's very possible that it can be overwhelmed with -- they find bottlenecks when it launches.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEGALL: And I will say this to you, Wolf, when I speak to founders on the phone, they're just kind of shaking their heads and joking, but they say the government isn't exactly known for innovation.
But let me also put this in context for you. WordPress was funded $30 million over an eight-year period and they power one in every five sites on Web.
Now ObamaCare's website wasn't exactly cheap, funded hundreds of millions of dollars and we can't even get it to work at this point.
BLITZER: Wasn't cheap at all, hundreds of millions. Lot of money. Laurie, thank you.
All of these problems certainly get very, very frustrating for the folks trying to sign up for coverage.
Let's bring in our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. She's at the CNN Center.
We've been watching your reports now for three weeks. What's the latest, Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know what, Wolf? It is still a tough road out there.
I did finally manage to log in but I'm still having difficulties with the site. Now they made improvements over the weekend you can actually see when you go to the home page, but they're not quite there yet and they aren't saying when they will be.
COHEN If you've tried buying health insurance on healthcare.gov, you've probably had trouble using the Web site. It's plagued with glitches and the administration has yet to figure them all out.
I'm now putting in my county for, I think, the fifth time.
It took me two weeks trying at all-times of day and night until I finally was able to log on and start filling out my application.
But the glitches continue. Every time I log on, for example -
It keeps putting me back up here.
I have to fill out this same page, again and again.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's been a fiasco. Send Air Force One out to Silicon Valley, load it up with some smart people, bring them back to Washington and fix this problem. It's ridiculous and everybody knows that.
COHEN: The Department of Health and Human Services does seem to be trying.
On Sunday, the agency wrote, "Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve healthcare.gov."
The administration also released one key figure, showing people have filed nearly half a million applications for health insurance so far.
But by CNN's own calculation, more than half of that comes from the 14 states running their own websites, not healthcare.gov.
In fact, just one state, New York, accounts for more than a quarter of all applications, and, yes, they have their own Web site, too.
Now last night they added a new little button on the home page that says apply by phone, so they're really pointing out to people, you don't have to deal with the website if you don't want to. You can apply by phone.
And, Wolf, I'll tell you. I've talked to many, many of those operators over the past couple of weeks. They answer quickly, in my experience, and they are very helpful.
BLITZER: So, Elizabeth, if a half million people have already successfully registered, that doesn't necessarily mean they've taken the next step and actually purchased, committed to a specific health plan.
COHEN: Right. Exactly. It just means that they've registered. They haven't made the purchase.
And as we pointed out in our piece, Wolf, many of those were actually from the state-run Web sites, not from the federal Web site. These 14 states, they did it on their own and many have had success.
And I spoke to folks in New York and Kentucky, Wolf, and I said, what was the secret to your success? And it seems like one of the main things that they did is they had a very clear line of command. They did not have much bureaucracy. The people building the Web sites could get answers quickly to their many, many questions.
And talking to experts, it seems like perhaps on the federal site that wasn't the case. There may have been a lot of bureaucracy, a fair amount of confusion, and also there was an election going on. And it seems like they may have had trouble getting answers to questions while that election was happening.
BLITZER: Do we know, of the half a million, how many have actually purchased the health insurance? They're not telling us, right?
COHEN: No, we don't have specific numbers on that.
The federal government hasn't even told us how many have enrolled just on their site. They said this many have enrolled on our site and the states' sites combined.
If you're just trying to look at healthcare.gov, Wolf, that's not a very helpful number. We want to know how many have enrolled on healthcare.gov, the federal site, and how many have made purchases.
We've asked those questions repeatedly. We have not received answers.
BLITZER: We have a tech analyst standing by to give us some more on this.
Jake Tapper is here.
We're standing by to hear the president of the United States. He's going to acknowledge his frustration, maybe even his anger over the rollout of this Web site.
Our special coverage continues right after this.
BLITZER: We're only minutes away from President Obama's remarks in the Rose Garden over at the White House. He will stand before the cameras, address the many, many problems people have had trying to set up for the Obamacare online website. The president expected to speak shortly. We'll have live coverage here on CNN.
A White House official tells CNN the president will reiterate he finds these problems unacceptable. He'll talk about what his administration is trying to do to fix it. Let's bring in our chief Washington correspondent, Jake Tapper. He's the host of "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER." Also joining us, our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, he's over at the White House. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Elizabeth Cohen, our senior medical correspondent is also with us at the CNN center in Atlanta. And the syndicated technology writer, Mark Saltzman is here with us, and "CNN MONEY" tech correspondent, Laurie Segall.
We've got a lot of experts, but Jake, set the scene for us. President comes into the Rose Garden. He'll be flaked by advisors, but he'll be flanked by people who have successfully managed to get online and sign up. Everybody tells me at the White House that he's frustrated, he's angry and disappointed that his signature achievement of his presidency had this awful start.
JAKE TAPPER, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And these healthcare exchanges were such a - are such a pivotal part of this healthcare law, the way that consumers have to shop around. He should be frustrated. He should be frustrated first of all with people in his administration who apparently were not honest with him and with senior staffers about how messed up this website is.
I'm going to be listening to see if President Obama is still using the term glitch to describe the problems with the website as if it's small items that can be ironed out, when according to all these tech experts, and I'm interested to hear what Saltzman and others have to say, but all the tech experts say it's much bigger than a glitch, there are serious problems with the coding, with the software, and obviously it's a complicated process to begin with. He should be frustrated not just with the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the website that is not functional, and hundreds of millions of Americans who need insurance and can't get it now, but also with his staff that has been very clumsy with this rollout.
BLITZER: Let's ask Mark Saltzman, what do you think? A glitch or something much more serious?
MARK SALTZMAN, SYNDICATED TECHNOLOGY WRITER: It's quite serious. One estimate from a contractor is that five million additional lines of code need to be written in order to get the site operational 100 percent.
BLITZER: Explain what that means, Mark, for all of our not-so-tech- savvy viewers out there. Explain what that means.
SALTZMAN: Sure. Behind the website is software. This is, you know, a code written on a computer in order to make the application process simple. But people are having trouble accessing the website, trouble signing up for Obamacare. And in order to meet that November 1st deadline, they're going to have to bring a lot for people in, if doable at all, in order to fix this. And by December 15th, if you don't sign up by then, the January cutoff will have passed unless the president will extend it. So, this shouldn't have happened. We're not talking about trying to update the software on your iPhone, or trying to play a new online game the day it comes out. This is serious stuff, and they should have rigorously tested it before they launched it. Not ready for prime-time.
BLITZER: Originally they said the problem was simply that so many millions of people were going online, they didn't anticipate the demand that was out there. That's why the system backed up. Was there truth to that?
SALTZMAN: Yes. So it's a combination of a lot of traffic, about 4.5 million people trying to access the website as well as software bugs. That's a stronger word than glitches. Some of which, by the way, have been fixed over the weekend. And I'm sure the president will allude to that. But this is a big problem. We're talking about a combination of a lot of traffic, software bugs, and you know, just bad timing. Bad timing for a project that is considered, you know, President Obama's most important domestic achievement.
BLITZER: Let's bring Sanjay Gupta into this conversation. You've got a lot of work on this healthcare program, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare as it it's known. A lot of us thought there might be problems down the road, but not with what it certainly the first high- tech presidency that we have, the website. That was, at least going into this, presumably, the least of their problems, the need to make sure a lot of young people sign up to subsidize people with long-term conditions, sicker people, older people, poorer people, if you will.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that's in part of the pivotal issue here. It's worth reminding people that you have until the end of March to sign up. That's no way to minimize the true problems that this website has had.
But I think the larger issue is what you're focused on, is the idea has there been more of a psychological blow. Is there some loss of confidence in this overall, and people who are sort of sitting on the fence in the first place may say, look, this was too cumbersome. It doesn't work. I'm not going to do it this year and pay the penalty instead.
And if that loss of confidence happens, especially among younger, healthier, people that can be a problem for the act overall because as you point out, and we've been talking about it for a couple of years now. In order for this to work, there's a tacit agreement that the young people have to help subsidize the cost of healthcare for everybody else, or at least in part for everybody else. That is a larger issue. I think as you heard from Elizabeth and others, a lot of these problems will get fixed, I think. And certainly you'll have a big upswell, probably, near the end of March. That's just human psychology. People wait till the very end, close to deadlines, to sign up for things, but going forward longer term, what does it mean in terms of this thing actually being able to subsidize itself?
BLITZER: If you don't encourage the people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, healthier people to sign up, you're going to have a problem paying for the other people who either can't afford it, or have preexisting conditions or very, very sick. And that's one of the big problems here. Otherwise everyone's health insurance rates are going to go up and up and up.
All right, Sanjay, stand by for a moment. The president getting ready to go out of the Oval Office, into the Rose Garden to speak about all of this. Our live coverage will continue right after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're waiting for the President of the United States. Momentarily we're told we'll go into the Rose Garden and address some of these serious issues that affected the Obamacare website over the past three weeks. He will speak at length about what's going on right now, how the administration and the Department of Health and Human Services, in particular, are trying to improve the situation, fix it, so people won't have the serious problems they've had simply trying to log on and find basic information about what's going on.
Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He's over at the White House. Jum, you're there in the Rose Garden. Set the scene for us in terms of who is there and who are the folks that the president will be addressing?
JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do understand that the president will be talking to and standing with people who have benefited from this program. I can also point out that I've spotted some Democratic activists in the audience, so there's probably a friendly crowd, I would say on hand here for the president, Wolf.
Getting back to what you were saying the last several minutes, this administration, even the president himself has said in the last several weeks, that you should anticipate some glitches with the website and with the rollout.
At this point it now seems we're talking about something much more systemic, that these aren't just glitches, and that'll be the president's challenge in the next few moments to talk about what's going to be done and when is this going to solved, and when is this website going to be up and running again, so people aren't running into these long delays.
Just a few weeks ago, Wolf, he was in Prince George's County, at an event where he was talking about not only the prospect of a government shutdown, but the rollout of this website, Healthcare.gov, and he was saying at that time that this was going to be like shopping on Amazon.com or shopping for flights on Kayak, the travel website.
That has not been the case. So the president's challenge at this point is to talk about what exactly he's going to be doing about it. We've been saying all weekend long that what White House officials have been saying, that he finds all of this to be unacceptable, but he has to do more than say that this is unacceptable. He has to have a plan for what's next.
All right, Jim, stand by for a moment. Elizabeth Cohen, I want to bring you back into this conversation. The president a few weeks ago said he wants to make sure it's like going on to Amazon.com, Kayak.com, and just sort of just checking out various options before committing to purchasing some sort of product. You've been trying to do this for weeks. Explain the different to going to Amazon.com, or going to some airline website wanting to buy -- purchase a flight ticket and trying to buy health insurance on this Obamacare website.
COHEN: It's interesting that you say Amazon, because I was speaking with an expert on this and he said, look, you go to Amazon and you buy a book, the book has to talk to the - Amazon then has to talk to the publisher.