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European Allies Furious; Former NSA Boss Overheard on Train; Documents Shed Light on JonBenet Case; Mystery Girl Maria's Parents Found

Aired October 25, 2013 - 12:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Mr. Young (ph), I'm going to stand up and fight for what's right because in September on your Facebook page you called me a "loud-mouthed bitch." Can we please, as politicians, as human beings, tone it down? Come on.

Thanks for watching, everybody. Stay tuned. AROUND THE WORLD is coming up next. And have yourself a lovely weekend.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Three big stories we are following right now.

Reports the U.S. spied on our allies is infuriating Europe. Germany's chancellor says it is severely shaken the trust and fueling calls for legal limits on how espionage is carried out.

And a new embarrassment. A man on a train overhears the former head of the NSA giving background information and then tweets it out.

And confessions of a former drone operator. A young man who has killed hundreds of people using drones tells us that war was never meant to be carried out this way.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

This is a diplomatic nightmare for the Obama administration. It is intensifying right now. America's European allies, they are now furious over reports that the U.S. has been spying on them extensively. The growing scandal has dominated a European Union summit. Officials, one after the other, are expressing outrage at Washington. They say the scandal could disrupt counter-terrorism collaboration between the United States and the European Union. But a popular Republican senator, Marco Rubio, tells CNN, hey, these European leaders, they can't be surprised by all this.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Everyone spies on everybody. I mean that's the -- that's just a fact. And whether they want to acknowledge than publicly or not and every country has different capabilities. But at the end of the day, if you are a U.S. government official traveling abroad, you are aware that anything you have on your cell phone, on your iPad, could be monitored by foreign intelligence agencies.


MALVEAUX: So that's probably right. That might be so, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel, she's insisting that there's got to be trust between allies and their partners. And the White House certainly in a position now where they have to do some damage control. Jim Acosta, he's got the details and all the angles.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This morning, at a meeting of European leaders, they all emerged unanimous, saying that reports of U.S. spying on their leaders jeopardizes U.S.-Europe relations and even the fight against terrorism. Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, who spoke with President Obama on Wednesday after reports that her personal cell phone was tapped, joined her French counterpart to call for talks with the U.S. to renegotiate their countries' intelligence sharing protocols. It's just the latest in a string of embarrassing revelations that started with NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

This morning, the White House is calling for a review of its surveillance programs. White House Homeland Security official Lisa Monaco writing an op-ed in "USA Today" saying, quote, "that's why the president has directed us to review our surveillance capabilities, including with respect to our foreign partners. We want to insure we are collecting information because we need it and not just because we can." And she admits bluntly, "these disclosures have created significant challenges in our relationships with some of our closest foreign partners."

Markel told reporters Thursday that trust between the U.S. and Germany needs to be rebuilt. In fact, "The Washington Post" reports this morning that the U.S. is quietly telling many foreign intelligence services that Snowden may hold details about their secret cooperation with the U.S. and "The Guardian" newspaper, which broke the Snowden story, reports that 35 world leaders may have had their conversations monitored by the U.S. Each new revelation straining U.S. ties further. France's president, Francois Hollande, said this morning, "a rule of good conduct is that you don't bug the portable phones of people you meet regularly at international summits."


MALVEAUX: Jim Acosta, he's joining us an the White House.

So, Jim, first of all, I mean the president himself, he's ordering a review of the NSA policies.

ACOSTA: Right.

MALVEAUX: But you've got to ask why because there is this tacit understanding, even President Obama suggested it before, that the U.S. is not really doing anything all that different than what other country do, using their resources to get intelligence, whether or not that means listening in on other world leaders. ACOSTA: Well, you know, I -- it is an interesting question, Suzanne. I think it is possible that there are governments around the world that are not spying on the leaders of 35 different countries, as was reported in "The Guardian" newspaper in terms of what the United States is up to. So, you know, so there might be some foreign governments around the world that might take issue with what the White House is saying in terms of that posture.

But what we can also point out is that administration officials are pointing us back to what President Obama said on the phone with Angela Merkel earlier this week, and that is, he is open to a dialogue between the United States and European leader in terms of how to work out some of these issues over these surveillance policies. So I think that is at least an acknowledgment that they have some things to work on here.

But at the same time, yes, are you hearing from people like White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying that, wait a minute, all governments do this. I asked Jay Carney yesterday, is the NSA perhaps being told by the president to, you know, sort of cut some of this stuff out and here's how Jay Carney answered that question.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, I would never get into, you know, specific either allegations or operational matters of foreign intelligence gathering, except to say that we gather foreign intelligence much as other countries do. And to say that we are reviewing, as the president made clear, our foreign intelligence operations, with a mind to the need to strike that balance between our security needs and the security needs of our allies and the privacy concerns that we all share.


ACOSTA: So, interesting to note there, you heard Jay Carney saying, well, we do basically what other foreign governments do. But at the same time, you know, we should also point out that the head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, he's sort of pushing back on this notion that the U.S. might start looking at curtailing some of these activities. He said, in an interview with the Defense Department blog, that perhaps the United States needs to look at maybe, you know, sort of cracking down on the media a little bit in terms of disclosing these revelations, that perhaps something can be done through laws or through the courts.

And he also pointed out that if we start, you know, looking at stopping surveillance around the world, that we might not be remembering the lessons of 9/11. So it sounds like the folks over at the NSA aren't all that happy about some of this talk of reviewing some of these policies, but the president is the president and that's what he's ordering right now. He wants a review, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right.

And, Jim, it certainly sounds like the cat's already out of the bag. I mean people essentially know what the United States is doing and whether or not they curtail that really seems to be the issue as opposed to whether or not it gets leaked. We all know now what's going on.

ACOSTA: That's right. It's out there.

MALVEAUX: Jim, thank you.

Also this. You've got to get this. This is a man whose job it is to keep America's secrets secret. Well, he was overheard on the train this week, a passenger who was not far from him but actually heard the conversation, started live tweeting the conversation that he had heard from the former NSA Chief Michael Hayden. So quoting here he says, "On Acela, former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden just ended last of handful of interviews bashing the administration." And this one, "listening to former NSA spy boss Hayden give off the record interviews. I feel like I'm in the NSA except I'm in public." Brian Todd live for us in Washington.

So, you know, I've got to ask this, Brian, because, first of all, I mean you think he'd know better. I mean besides the need to use common sense, are there protocols for officials of this type, who have the kind of clearance and access that he did, what they should be saying publicly?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm not sure if there are protocols, Suzanne, because, you know, these are new rules being written in the twittisphere (ph) kind of as we go. And Michael Hayden clearly didn't know - or at least didn't appear to know that anyone was listening to him. But Tom Matzzie, the guy who tweeted all that, says that Michael Hayden was being, quote, "the loud guy on the train," who we've all encountered from time to time.

Matzzie said, he thought about it for a while. He wasn't necessarily out to get him from the get go. He thought about it, he was listening to Michael Hayden being fairly loud in these conversations and Matzzie saying - admitting that he is a partisan Democrat. He supports the president. And after about an hour and a half, or thereabouts, he didn't - he didn't really like what he was saying about the president, what Hayden was saying about the president. So, you know, he was -- he said he was a little bit fed up and so he started tweeting.

Now, Hayden has pushed back a little bit saying he wasn't criticizing the president, but Matzzie, in an interview with Ashleigh Banfield just a short time ago, said this about that.


TOM MATZZIE, FMR. WASHINGTON DIRECTOR, MOVEON.ORG: There was a very direct criticism he made, which is he joked about the president insisting on using a Blackberry after he came into office. And he was implying that the administration should have known we're eavesdropping on all these foreign leaders because we told him, you know, this Blackberry device is not secure. We're going to try to protect your communications. So I think, you know, the comments about the Blackberry were the most clear thing to me. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: And Matzzie said separately to me that he felt that Hayden's comments were undignified and inappropriate. Those were the words he used. He believes Hayden was using - was borrowing on decades of his own credibility in order to bash the president of the United States, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And there seems to be some back and forth whether or not he was actually criticizing the president.

TODD: Right.

MALVEAUX: How is Hayden responding to all of this? I mean how does he even explain his behavior?

TODD: Well, Hayden was issue -- did issue a statement on this, and I'll read it to you. Quote, "had a nice chat with my fellow Pittsburgher. Not sure what he thinks bashing the administration means. I didn't criticize the president. I actually said these are very difficult issues. I said I had political guidance, too, that limited the things that I did when I was director of NSA. Now that political guidance is going to be more robust. It wasn't a criticism."

So, there you go, one man saying it was a criticism and one saying it was not. But clearly these are issues that we all have to worry about now I guess when we're on trains, in public. You don't have that expectation of privacy. You're never alone. You've got to be a little bit mindful of what you're saying on your cell phone and where you are at the time.

MALVEAUX: Yes, we've all been on that Acela train. I guess he should have been in the quiet car, huh? I don't know.

TODD: And they - and they -- they were not in the quiet car. According to Matzzie, they were not in the quiet car. He said that would have been worse.

MALVEAUX: Yes. Well, I guess so. They would have told him to be quiet.

TODD: Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: If you talk, they will tell you to be quiet in the quiet car.

TODD: They will.

MALVEAUX: All right, thanks, Brian, appreciate it.

TODD: Sure.

MALVEAUX: We'll look closer here at both stories. The story about Hayden and the NSA spy scandal. Let's bringing in our CNN national security analyst Robert Baer. He's a former CIA operative and he joins us via Skype from Silverton, Colorado. So, Bob, good to see you, as always. Let's first talk about Hayden's, you know, this conversation that he said was on background with reporters on a train in public. I mean why - why would he think that's acceptable here? Was he just being sloppy here? What do you think was behind this?

ROBERT BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, the problem is Hayden now is a political player. And there's a certain arrogance that goes was that role. And people like this will talk in public, you know, show off what they know. But the NSA director, former NSA director, absolutely shouldn't be yelling about this stuff. Any comments -- the National Security Agency, we shouldn't be seeing any of this stuff in the press, nor a former director talking about it, about policy or the president. It is unacceptable.

MALVEAUX: You're in that community. You were in that community. What do you suppose is happening behind the scenes now? Is somebody talking to him? Is somebody essentially from the administration saying, look, you know what, this can't happen again?

BAER: No, they won't talk to him. But, I mean, he should know by now the mistake he made. This is an egregious mistake in that, you know, he - doesn't he understand what Twitter is? Doesn't he understand that cell phones can sort of pick up any conversation next to him? I mean that could have been recorded and sent out as well too. So, I mean, this is - but this is the whole problem with Washington is, people talk too much. They talk about intelligence, they talk about politics.

You were talking about the Blackberries. They are easily hackable for foreign governments. You look around Washington. All the antennas on foreign embassies, they're picking up Blackberry conversations.

MALVEAUX: All right, let's turn the corner here. We were talking about the spying scandal. You've got all of this -- the eavesdropping that is going on. The NSA listening in to these phone calls. And, really, you've got Angela Merkel today very upset with President Obama, with the administration. A this is a problem across the board with European allies. How appropriate is it the behavior? I mean is this something that's pretty typical?

BAER: It's typical and Merkel knew that there was a possibility the National Security Agency was listening to her phone, as are the Russians and the Chinese and the rest of it. But the problem is, this has been exposed in the public with documents from Snowden. This is - truly, this is - I got to say, this is a catastrophe and it's going to cost us lives because so many of these National Security Agency facilities are located in Europe. What would happen if they closed them down? We'd be in trouble.

MALVEAUX: And, Bob, finally here, some of the information that we got about these leaks, it dates back to 2006 when they actually say that is when you had the situation where the U.S. potentially was listening in on the phone calls of allies, 35 world leaders. It was back in 2006. You had President Bush and Angela Merkel as a G-8 Summit there and he had that awkward moment, you remember, when he kind of went back and did that little massage and startled her there. They were just getting to know each other at the time. But if you believe the documents, this was the same time that they were listening in on phone calls. I mean is this how people learn about other leaders? Is this part of the deal?

BAER: Yes, we did learn about them. And it's interesting and the information is often titillating. But was it crucial information? Was it worth the risk listening in to her phone? No. And this is what we're seeing now. It was unnecessary. Germany was going along with everything we wanted. And to listen to her phone was, all right, nice but not crucial to American security.

MALVEAUX: All right, Bob Baer, thank you for your insights.

And, of course, there is some damage that needs to be repaired between these world leaders and their relationships.

Bob, thank you. As always, appreciate it.

BAER: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Here's more of what we're working on for around the world. Seventeen years after the death of beauty child queen JonBenet Ramsey, unsealed documents now reveal who the grand jury thought killed her.

And she is known only by the first name Maria. Well now we know who this little girl's real parents are. Why this case is opening up a string of adoption investigations inside Greece.


MALVEAUX: New revelations now in the mystery surrounding the death of JonBenet Ramsey.

Now you might remember she is the 6-year-old beauty queen who was killed in her home back in 1996. She was strangled. No one has ever been charged in the case.

Well, now court documents just released show that a grand jury voted to indict her parents on child abuse charges.

Want to bring in senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin from New York to talk about this.

And, Jeffrey, we were all covering this back in Colorado in the '90s. Remember the case very, very well as a matter of fact.

You have new documents. What do they reveal?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, in 1999, the grand jury in boulder, Colorado, voted to indict JonBenet's parents on child abuse charges.

It is not precisely clear what they thought they did. It is simply -- the charge is simply failing to prevent the death of JonBenet Ramsey. It doesn't precisely say that the grand jury thought they killed JonBenet. But most importantly, the district attorney at the time, Alex Hunter, refused to sign the indictment, and said he thought there was insufficient evidence to bring the charge, so no charges were ever brought.

It's very important to add that years later in 2008, a subsequent district attorney did more tests of the evidence and showed that DNA not linked to the parents was on JonBenet's body.

So she exonerated the parents, and the parents today stand exonerated. Patsy Ramsey unfortunately died of cancer several years ago, but this case remains unsolved.

MALVEAUX: So does this remain a cold case? Does this reopen in some way? What happens next?

TOOBIN: Nothing happens now. I mean, this is a cold case. If the DNA evidence that was found leads to a new suspect, then perhaps there be a prosecution.

You may even remember there was a lunatic in Thailand a few years ago, this guy John Mark Karr, who suddenly confessed to the crime. He turned out just to be a crazy person.

There are a lot of people still very interested in this case, but the evidence has not lead to the arrest of anyone.

I think people should be careful in hearing this news and somehow thinking that the parents are now more suspects than they used to be. They're not. This evidence does not establish that.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, but explain to us, what do you think the mind set was of the grand jury if they were willing to indict on child abuse, what do you think they were thinking about these parents?

TOOBIN: Well, I think they -- what this means in legal terms is that a majority of the grand jury thought there was probable cause to believe that the parents committed this crime.

Probable cause is, of course, a much lesser standard than proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This grand jury did not have that DNA evidence available to it. It did not exist in 1999, those test results.

So based on the other evidence, you know, people may remember some of the evidence in this case. JonBenet was strangled with something from an art kit from Patsy Ramsey's collection.

There was a note written on a pad in the house that made references to the Ramsey family finances in a rather detailed way.

And there was, of course, a lot of evidence leading to suspect the parents, but no proof, and in fact, they have since been exonerated.

MALVEAUX: All right. Jeff, thank you. A cold case that remains cold. Thank you. Appreciate it. The parents of missing children everywhere had hoped that this little girl might be theirs. Well, now investigators have discovered who her true parents are.


MALVEAUX: She has been called the mystery girl. This is the blonde, blue-eyed child taken from a couple in Greece after police became suspicious that she was kidnapped.

The couple are Roma. It's an ethnic group commonly known as gypsies, and they don't look anything like this little girl.

Well, today, some of the mystery surrounding this child has been solved. We now know who her biological parents are. DNA tests confirm that they are a couple in Bulgaria.

Karl Penhaul joins us on the phone, live from Bulgaria.

So, Karl, first of all, explain for us, was this a relationship? Was this an exchange of some sort, a mutually agreed exchange between these biological parents and these other parents who had custody of this child?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Certainly, we hear from the version from the couple in Greece and the birth parents in Bulgaria -- we understand that it was a mutual agreement that the baby that is now known as Maria was left by the Bulgarian birth parents with the Greek Roma couple because the Bulgarians were simply too poor to raise the child.

They had been in Greece at the time working on the orange harvest. That's where the mother who has been named Sasha Ruseva gave birth.

The Bulgarians -


-- from a gypsy community and they felt there was enough trust and confidence to leave it with their counterparts in Greece.

But the authorities think differently. They think that the Bulgarian birth mother sold her own baby for profit, and this evening, they have announced they have opened a criminal investigation into the mother to see if a crime has, in fact, been committed here, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK. So with the biological mother in Bulgaria and with this investigation open now, where is the biological mother and the biological father in Bulgaria?

Has anybody charged them? Is anybody going to arrest them? Where are they now?

PENHAUL (via telephone): The biological mother and father were taken in for questioning by Bulgarian police yesterday afternoon. They were released without charge and came back to the village of Nikolaevo, which where we are now.

But when we turned up today, both birth parents had left. We then were talking to neighbors and were checking with other contacts to find out where they went.

We have found out that both real parents of Baby Maria have gone to the capital, Sofia. They've been hired by a TV company to do a paid- for interview on Sunday and so they have left to go there.

But what they forgot to do before they went off to the Bulgarian capital was to gather together all of their other children, because they're parents of nine other children, and at least two of their children were left to run wild in this tumbledown village in central Bulgaria.

And now as night has fallen here, we have the child protection services backed by police trying to round up those two children and take them off into care, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, and, Karl, very quickly, I have to wrap it here. Where is this little girl, the picture we're seeing now? Is she protected? Whose custody is she in?

PENHAUL (via telephone): Yes, Baby Maria, since she was discovered in that Greek Roma camp during a police raid, she was taken off and handed over for care to the Greek charity known as Smile for a Child.

They're a charity with a good reputation, and they're looking after Maria until this whole investigation is cleared up, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Karl, thank you.

And we should also note the other couple, the Roma couple in Greece that they have been charged with abducting little Baby Maria. They are in custody now.

So it is a very complicated situation and opened up a number of investigations looking at adoptions and how they are done in Greece.

A drone operator who dropped bombs from behind a computer in the U.S. says that fighting wars like this is wrong.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the drone operators, they get a bad rap, and they need someone to talk how it's not a video game, how it is real life.


MALVEAUX: You're going to hear more confessions of this former drone operator who killed hundreds of enemies with drones.