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FMR NSA Chief's Chat Leaked: Students Against Costume Stereotypes; Father of Irish Roma Child Speaks Out

Aired October 25, 2013 - 09:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up in the NEWSROOM, the tables have turned. Eavesdropping on the former head of the NSA. A super-secret conversation on a train tweeted live by another passenger. Definitely was not the quiet car.

Plus, the pepper spray cop from UC-Davis. Remember him? You will not believe how much money he's getting in worker's comp. A hint, it's way more than the students he sprayed are getting.

And the Cards, Sox evened up as the series heads to St. Louis.

NEWSROOM continues now.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining us.

Sometimes you just can't help eavesdropping, right? Well, a former political strategist found himself within earshot of a very curious conversation on a recent train ride out of Washington, D.C. Tom Matzzie overheard former CIA and NSA Director and contributor Michael Hayden apparently talking to a reporter on his cell phone. So Matzzie started tweeting what he heard. And, no surprise, his tweets went viral. CNN's Brian Todd is in Washington covering this story.

Good morning.


The irony, of course, the director of the NSA, the former director of the NSA, which specializes in listening in on people, was listened to himself. Now, whether he was eavesdropped on is another question because Tom Matzzie, who I just spoke to on the phone, says that Mr. Hayden was being what he termed, "that loud guy on the train that everyone hears on occasion."

But here are some of the tweets that Tom Matzzie issued after hearing Michael Hayden speaking to reporters on the phone. We'll read a couple of them. Quote, "former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden on Acela behind me blabbing, quote, 'on background as a former senior admim official.' Sounds defensive." Here's another tweet. Quote, "Hayden was bragging about rendition and black sites a minute ago." Another one, quote, "On Acela: phone ringing, I think the jig is up. Maybe somebody is telling him I'm here. Do I hide?"

And then Mr. Hayden apparently did speak with Tom Matzzie and posed for a picture with him. Here's - there's a picture and another tweet from Tom Matzzie, "me and Steeler fan Mike Hayden."

Now, given that and their apparently friend rapport later on, I did speak to Tom Matzzie on the phone a short time ago, Carol, and he was fairly unrepentant about all this. He said that he thought that Mr. Hayden was undignified in doing what he did, that it was inappropriate for him to speak I guess on background reporters the way he did. He said he thought that Hayden was trading on all the credibility that he'd built up over the years to bash the president of the United States because, according to Tom Matzzie, Hayden was offering some criticism of the Obama administration I believe for the NSA spying scandal and some other things.

Now, I know that Michael Hayden has pushed back on that a little bit, but, anyway. And when I asked Tom Matzzie, you know, as a former D.C. director of the group, which is a left leaning group that started up in the Clinton administration, I asked him flat out, you know, you might be accused of some political leanings here. He said, "I am a Democrat and everything's political, let's be honest here." So he didn't - he didn't really hide the fact that he didn't terribly like too much what Michael Hayden was saying, Carol.

COSTELLO: Interesting. You know sometimes you don't realize how loudly you're talking on those cell phones. And you've been on the Acela, right, because the company pays for it, right?

TODD: Oh, yes.

COSTELLO: So you've been on the Acela and all these businesspeople talk really loud and you hear their whole business.

TODD: They talk loud. And it's another lesson that, you know, when you're in public and you're doing something like that, you're never really alone. You have to be careful.

COSTELLO: That's right. Brian Todd, thanks so much.

Hayden did issue this statement to CNN. He said, "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 the NSA. Now that political guidance is going to be more robust. It wasn't a criticism."

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, the debate over Halloween costumes. When do they cross the line from funny to offensive? Come on, a cowboy outfit is offensive? We'll talk about that, next.


COSTELLO: Oh the '80s, such an innocent time when there was dangerous dancing we had to look out for. But now there seems to be a brand new danger, and it's ever more dangerous, lurking on the dance floors of high schools everywhere across the country. Of course we're talking about twerking. That's right, the hip thrusting dance, or whatever you call it, brought into unsuspected living rooms across the country by Miley Cyrus during the MTV Video Music Awards is now being banned at school dances across the country. Example, in Thurston County, Washington, some schools are having students and parents sign a no twerking contract in order to attend a homecoming dance. Some students, though, don't seem to mind.


ANGIE ALLEN, FRESHMAN: No, I was OK with it. I understood why and stuff.

JOELY MANNING, SENIOR: Like, it's one of those things at like school like how you just have to get like a permission slip to watch a movie in class or like something along those lines. One of those things, I guess.


COSTELLO: OK. So if you violate the contract, they'll throw you out of the dance. So, be warned students across the country, no twerking or grinding or other such things on the dance floor at homecoming.

Let's talk about Halloween. It's just around the corner and it comes - and with it comes costumes that sometimes cross the line to funny to downright offensive. Most notably we think about someone dressing up in black face. But some say it goes beyond that. For instance, some see dressing up in a kimono as a slam against Asians or dressing up as the stereotypical redneck with your gut hanging out and a bottle of lick in your hand, that crosses the line, too. A group at Ohio University called Students Teaching About Racism in Society, or STARS, has started a campaign to address this issue called "we're a culture, not a costume." Joshelyn Smith is a member of STARS and she joins us now from Athens, Ohio.

Welcome, Jocelyn.


COSTELLO: Hi. So what prompted you to start this group, or the organizers to start this group?

SMITH: Well, actually, in 2010, on campus, a lot of STARS members started hearing about a few race-themed parties. So in order to gain access to these parties, you had to dress as a black person or as a Mexican person. And, obviously, there was controversy. Many people were outraged by this. And there were three parties on campus. So after two other incidents, STARS decided to speak up and we invented our poster campaign.

COSTELLO: OK. So I think everybody can understand why that might be offensive. It is offensive, right?


COSTELLO: But how far are you going? I mean we have heard that dressing up as a cowboy might be offensive. Is that true? SMITH: Um, me, personally, I don't take offense to it, but we're talking about a more -- our definition of offensive is misconstrued conceptions of a certain culture for race. When you marginalize a culture, it really - it sets us back is what we're trying to say. It's offensive.

COSTELLO: So how are other students on campus, are they taking your advice? Are they listening?

SMITH: Well, I think we're spreading a lot of awareness. I definitely do think so. We definitely do have some negative feedback, but I think we have much more positive feedback. I think we're speaking up for a lot of students who don't have -- feel they have a voice.

COSTELLO: Because I know Ohio University is kind of known for its big Halloween bash. Lots of students participate.


COSTELLO: Lots of students dress up. So what do you guys do to educate students? Do you go to the parties and say, hey, that's not right? I mean what do you do?

SMITH: Well, besides our poster campaign, we like to go to classrooms and have diversity trainings and we really try to - we -- our motto or theme is "each one, teach one." So we try to just, as a person - as yourself, just take out your message and just say, hey, why do you think that's funny, why do you think that dressing up as this type of person is going to be funny. Do you see what you're doing there? It's kind of what we're trying to do.

COSTELLO: Gotcha. Joshelyn Smith, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

SMITH: No problem.


Coming up in the NEWSROOM, all new in the next hour, old secrets and new details in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. We'll take a closer look at the grand jury documents about to be released for the first time, minutes from now.


COSTELLO: Checking our "Top Stories" at 49 minutes past the hour the former UC Davis police officer known as the "Pepper Spray Cop" has been awarded more than $38,000 in workers compensation, that's $8,000 more than the protesters he sprayed were awarded with in their lawsuit.

John Pike lost his job after spraying the occupied protesters in 2011. A judge ruled the university must compensate him for the depression and anxiety he suffered after he became an Internet sensation.

The Food and Drug Administration wants tighter restrictions on some of the most commonly prescribed pain killers. It would include reclassifying several drugs and limiting refills and patients would have to see their doctors more often. The agency is pushing for change saying it has become increasingly concerned about the abuse and misuse of such drugs.

In money news, Twitter is seeing its initial public offering price of $17 to $20 bucks a share, that's cheaper than what some analysts had expected. Twitter plans to sell 70 million shares and next week executives will go on tour to pitch the offering to investors. Twitter is expected to make its debut on the New York Stocks Exchange the week of November 6th.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM on to St. Louis, the Cardinals head home after beating Boston and tying up the series.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: We have major new developments in the story of Maria. She's the little girl found in a Roma Camp in Greece earlier this week. The French news agency reports that DNA tests confirm that her real parents are a Roma couple from Bulgaria. The man and woman who had claimed she was theirs are accused of abducting her but say her real family actually gave her away.

In the meantime, in Ireland, two similar cases -- there was outrage after authorities removed two blond children from their Roma family this week only to return them after DNA testing.

Erin McLaughlin spoke with the father of one of those children. Good morning Erin.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Carol. Yes that's right I had a chance to speak to the father of the 2-year-old boy. He described to me how the police showed up on his doorstep to take away his -- his little boy. The boy has blond hair and blue eyes. He does look different to his parents. They -- he described to me how he's now home safe and sound. But he talked to me about how his family will never be the same.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice over): It started with a knock on the door. On a rundown street in the Irish town of Akron, two police officers known as Gardai (ph) here were asking questions about Iyanka Muntien (ph) little boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I bring in the basket (ph). You know. There you are, I brought the basket. He said, I not believe this. I said, how you can't believe this?

MCLAUGHLIN: Muntien has asked that his face not be shown to protect his family -- a family devastated when his son was taken away. He believes police suspicions over the child's blond hair were more convincing than the legal document showing them Iyanka Jr. was his. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said to Gardai. Take my blood. Take my test. What you want. But leave my son home. They tell me no.

MCLAUGHLIN: Were you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I was scared. Because they are the guards you know my girlfriend was crying. Me as well was sad. He tell me if you have some people Irish who know your son --

MCLAUGHLIN: So he called some of the only Irish people he knows -- the health workers who check on his family. He was able to reach them the morning after his son was taken and he says the boy was released on their word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say thank you very much to the girls who helped me.

MCLAUGHLIN: Muntien's ordeal wasn't an isolated case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't want it to happen to any family -- for every -- from all the world.

MCLAUGHLIN: Just the day before, a 7-year-old girl was taken away from her Roma family. She, too, was fair-haired. They had to wait for DNA tests to get their girl back from the state.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're very happy that the test is done and the identity is positive.

(on camera): Did you feel you were treated unfairly because you're a Roma?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I don't know that. Yes, this is illegal what you're doing. You just come and take my kids it's not fair.

MCLAUGHLIN: But the police said in a statement that in all cases the goal is to protect the welfare of the child the Irish Prime Minister says there will be a full review. For Muntien and his family however the damage is done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son is picked up. He's crying every time. He says, daddy where are you? Mom, where are you?

MCLAUGHLIN: So he's not the same?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well no. He's different now. He's changed me as well. My girlfriend as well and my family as well.


MCLAUGHLIN: In Ireland questions persist as to whether these Roma families were unfairly targeted -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Erin McLaughlin reporting live for us this morning thank you. Checking some other "Top Stories" at 57 minutes past.

A gunman in custody after an intense standoff of police in North Carolina. Police responded to a reported armed robbery in a drugstore in Belmont. The suspect took three people hostage fired several shots at officers. He later released those hostages and surrendered, no one was hurt.

The CEO of a key Obamacare contractor Chris Highman has quit. That's according to Reuters, Justice League and other Circo representative was on Capitol Hill defending his company's role in technical problems with the Web site. Circo also has been in the hot seat in Britain. They're accused of charging the government millions of dollars to track criminals who were dead or already behind bars.

Let's talk sports now. The World Series at one game a piece after the Cardinals rally to win game two. Andy Scholes is here with "Bleacher Report".

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Hey good morning Carol.

In game one, it was the Cardinals who made all the mistakes. But last night in game two, the red sox were the ones who had the costly blunders. The Cardinals young stud Michael Wacha was on the hill last night and is undefeated this post-season. His only mistake last night was the two-run shot he gave up to Big Papi in the sixth inning. That put Boston up two-one but in the seventh inning the Red Sox committed two errors on the same play. It gave the Cards the lead and they went on to win the game 4-2. The series now shifts to St. Louis for game 3 tomorrow night.

Trending on today is the awful, awful season the Tampa Bay Bucs is having. Fire Schiano billboards have shown up around Tampa. The fans are poking fun of the team with bags over their heads at the game. Last night the Bucs lost again, this time to the Panthers 33-13 was the final. They are now a league worst 0-7 this season.

Here's one of the most touching touchdowns you'll ever see. (inaudible) from Texas was born with club feet and a brain malfunction that left him unable to speak. He's had several surgeries just to be able to walk. His dream was to score a touchdown for his middle school football team over their big rival. And this week both schools got together to make that dream come true.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told him, hey, you got to go. Don't go down, you get all the way to the end zone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When things like this come out of the tough times, it makes it easier to get through them because you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: (inaudible) he scored a 40-yard touchdown. He spiked the ball. He was so excited though Carol, he forgot to do his happy dance in the end zone.

COSTELLO: How cute is that. That made my day. Andy Scholes -- thanks so much.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM begins right now.

Happening now in the NEWSROOM, new documents released any moment now on the JonBenet Ramsey murder case. We may finally learn why prosecutors never charged her parents.

Also, killing hundreds of suspected enemies of war without ever stepping onto the battle field.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just ended a human life. How is anyone supposed to deal with that?


COSTELLO: One man opens up on his chilling secret past as a drone pilot.

Plus, get ready for an adventure. Up close and personal with killer whales.

COSTELLO: And three weeks and counting. From delayed phone calls to Obama care website problems one woman's nightmare to get health insurance. We'll have a live update.

Second hour of NEWSROOM starts now.

Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

It was a case that riveted and repulsed the nation. The murders of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.