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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
E.U. Leaders Discuss NSA Spying; Former NSA Chief Spied On; Interview with Thomas Matzzie; MacNeill Daughters on the Stand; Grand Jury Documents on JonBenet Ramsey Case Released
Aired October 25, 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: The initials "NSA" just may stand for "Nothing is Secret Anymore."
You've heard America's allies accusing Washington of tapping their phones, but did you hear about the one about the guy on the train eavesdropping on the phone call of the former head of the NSA?
He tweeted it out to the world? We tracked him down, and we're going to be talking to him live right here.
Also this hour, the mistress named Gypsy could be taking the stand at any time to testify against the Utah doctor, former lover, accused of drugging and drowning his wife in their bathtub.
And the JonBenet Ramsey murder, suddenly back in the spotlight, the indictment kept locked away all of these years, just revealed.
What was the evidence? And why was it ignored by the prosecutors in the case?
Hello, everyone, I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Friday, October 25th, welcome to LEGAL VIEW.
Spying on your most trusted allies is something that's not supposed to happen. But, come on, we know it's a practice as old as history itself, right?
Maybe so, but right now the Obama administration is in some very hot water over allegations that the National Security Agency has been spying on European leaders.
One alleged target, the woman in purple, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, she says the claims have severely shaken ties with Washington.
The very latest development, Spain, this morning, summoning the United States ambassador in to discuss this issue.
On top of that, the allegations are dominating a summit of European leaders gathering in Brussels.
Our Jim Acosta is live at the White House. Jim, how serious is this, and how abrasive is it to our foreign relations? Is it a lot of talk or is there something more to it?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I think this is very serious, and I think you heard that from German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier today.
She was saying, overseas, that perhaps it's time for the United States to sit down with France and Germany about these allegations.
The president spoke by phone with Angela Merkel earlier this week, and administrator officials are pointing us back to the phone call saying that the essentially the president does welcome some sort of bilateral discussion between U.S. and Germany, between the U.S. and France to iron out some of these issues over surveillance protocols.
Now the White House is not really acknowledging that they're spying on foreign leaders, but they are saying that the president has called for a review of these surveillance policies.
And yesterday I asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney whether or the president has asked the NSA to stop doing this.
He didn't go that far to say yes or no, whether or not the NSA will be curtailing these activities.
But listen to what Jay Carney had to say. He essentially said in response to my question, everybody does this. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Would never get into specific either allegations or operational matters of foreign intelligence gathering except to say 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.
You know, so, beyond that, I can't get into the details, beyond the readout, of course, that I made of the chancellor's and president's phone call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now we should also mention that Lisa Monaco, who is an assistant to the president for counterterrorism and homeland security, she put out an op-ed in "USA Today," Ashleigh, that says that the U.S. is reviewing these surveillance policies.
And, interesting, at one point during this op-ed, she says, "We want to ensure we're collecting information because we need it, not just because we can."
That's an indication there that they perhaps now think that these surveillance activities are going too far.
But there may be a little bit of pushback coming from the NSA. The head of the NSA, General Keith Alexander, gave an interview to a Defense Department blog, basically saying that the United States needs to do something about curtailing the media's ability to disclose these documents, these revelations, saying that perhaps something can be done through the courts or legislatively to prevent these disclosures.
Obviously that brings up some First Amendment issues, but Alexander goes on to say in this interview that if we stop doing surveillance, we're forgetting the lessons of 9/11.
So that balance -- that balancing act, Ashleigh, between civil liberties and protecting people's lives, that is at the heart of this matter, Ashleigh.
BANFIELD: But wouldn't it be nice if someone was dropping in on the phone call between Angela Merkel and President Obama to see what the tenor of it really was.
Jim Acosta, nice to see you at the White House. Thank you. Have a good weekend.
So the last guy you would think would fall victim to eavesdropping might be the head of the -- or the former head of the National Security Agency itself, but no.
It turns out there was a mole riding the Acela train yesterday, listening in on just about every word that Michael Hayden was saying on a cell phone call, and that conversation was about some security issues in the United States.
That mole was Tom Matzzie, and he was sitting in a seat nearby the former NSA chief. So what did he do with the information that he was overhearing? He started live tweeting it out to the world.
Here are some highlights of the conversation. "Former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden on Acela behind me blabbing 'on background as a former senior admin official.' Sounds defensive."
Next one, "Hayden was bragging about rendition and black sites a minute ago."
Next one, "Michael Hayden on Acela giving reporters disparaging quotes about admin. Quote, 'Just remember, refer as former senior admin official.'"
"On Acela, former NSA spy boss just ended last of handful of interviews bashing admin."
"On Acela listening to former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden give 'off record' interviews. I feel like I'm in the NSA. Except I'm in public."
"On Acela, phone ringing, I think the jib is. Maybe somebody is telling him I'm here. Do I hide?"
Well, that guy in that teeny-tiny picture is now sitting right beside me here on the big TV screen.
Tom Matzzie, nice to see you. Thanks for coming in.
TOM MATZZIE, POLITICAL AND MEDIA STRATEGIST: Very nice to see you.
BANFIELD: I'm not sure how I feel about this, I have to be honest. A, I'm fascinated by what you were overhearing and the fact that a man like that was talking that loud.
But B," I think you kind of sounded like a "mean girl" who shouldn't have been doing what you were doing?
MATZZIE: Who me -
MATZZIE: -- or the former head of the NSA?
MATZZIE: Why -- what did I do that's wrong? He had no ex-expectation of privacy. He's the loud guy on the bus, the loud guy on the train, the loud guy talking on his phone in the middle of the restaurant, and he's saying things that are newsworthy.
It's actually newsworthy whether or not the former head of the NSA is making disparaging comments about the president of the United States.
BANFIELD: Maybe it's just me and the Twitter because I've got to be honest. We just had a tweet mole that was leaked out of the White House the other day who was really nasty in the things that he said.
MATZZIE: Yeah, they were nasty comments.
BANFIELD: And there's a notion now that people who are tweeting aren't necessarily magnanimous about it. Maybe their motives are different.
Why not write the piece as a journalism piece? Why tweet it out live like that?
MATZZIE: I'm not a journalist. I run a renewable energy company, and I sometimes tweet, and that's really the context for it.
I think, you know, the news here is he was making comments, he was trying to use all the credibility that has been invested in him for 40 years as a leader in the intelligence community to push off blame for all this NSA debacle that's unfolding.
And you know, there's been great damage done to relationships between the United States and our foreign allies in part because of policies that Michael Hayden pursued when he was the head of the NSA.
BANFIELD: You say you're not a journalist, but you're a political and media strategist for -- and you're the former Washington director of MoveOn.org, so that's partially journalist. That's why I say that.
You have a bigger role in public education, public information, than perhaps you just let on when you said that. That's why I -
MATZZIE: I was an activist for several years.
BANFIELD: So here is my other question. If that's the case, he offered you an interview. He -- when he discovered that, he offered you an interview. You declined. You said no, no, no --
MATZZIE: No, I didn't decline. No.
So he walked up to me after his office had called him. He said, Would you like a real interview? And I said, I'm not a journalist. He said, Everybody is a journalist.
BANFIELD: With the Twitter.
MATZZIE: I think Twitter is going to do very well as a result of their great work over the last couple of years.
But the -- and then we sat down and we had a conversation. I wouldn't call it an interview. It was a real conversation. It was, OK, you have your perspective, I have my perspective.
BANFIELD: So do I have it wrong? Do I truly have it wrong when it says that --
MATZZIE: I asked him for the photo at the end.
BANFIELD: He offered you an interview, but you asked for a photo instead. Is that incorrect reporting?
MATZZIE: That is incorrect. We sat down and had a conversation.
BANFIELD: OK. Can I ask you something else? We were all talking about this, whether it was in the true -- again, we want to know the spirit of your actions.
Was he really talking loud or --
MATZZIE: Oh, yes.
BANFIELD: -- was there any element of you feeling bad about -- and I'm just going to have to lean on camera, doing one of these.
Because we all want to, and we know we shouldn't. What part of that were you?
MATZZIE: Very little. So I was in the second seat from the front door of the train, and he was in the fourth, which is like seven or eight feet back, if you're familiar with --
BANFIELD: That far?
MATZZIE: That far.
And he was talking very loudly. And I got on the train at 3:00. It was a 3:00 train leaving D.C. The first tweet was at 4:20.
So there was multiple phone calls that had already happened by the time I decided to tweet it, and you know --
BANFIELD: I didn't know he was that far away.
I want to read a statement that Michael Hayden had sent out. It's important that he has his say in this as well.
BANFIELD: He says, "Had a nice chat with my fellow Pittsburgher."
BANFIELD: That's you. "Not sure what he thinks bashing the administration means. I didn't criticize the president. I actually said there are 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 criticism."
Your reaction to that?
MATZZIE: Well, 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 of these foreign leaders because we told him, 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 that --
BANFIELD: Maybe that's why I feel the way I do, because I have two BlackBerries.
Thomas Matzzie, it's good to see you.
MATZZIE: Thank you.
BANFIELD: Thank you for coming in. I appreciate it. It's an interesting story, nonetheless, no matter what. Take care.
MATZZIE: Yeah. Thank you.
BANFIELD: Thanks, again. Have a good weekend.
Another big story that we're following, and this one is actually developing as we speak.
The doctor and his mistress and the dead wife, this is not a page out of the crime novel. This is real.
The MacNeill trial, out of Utah, today the mistress named Gypsy -- I'm not kidding, the mistress named Gypsy -- is going to take her turn on the stand.
Will she tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Will she look at her former lover and testify against him?
Going to find out after the break.
BANFIELD: A Utah judge has just made a ruling about whether a 12-year- old girl can testify against her own father in a murder trial of the mother who was killed. Ada MacNeill was six years old when she found her mother, Michele, nearly dead in the bathtub. That was back on April 11, 2007. The defense argued that that little girl was tainted by her sister, her very big sister Alexis with whom she had been living. Dr. MacNeill unfortunately does not have the support of Alexis. She thinks her dad murdered her mom. CNN's legal correspondent Jean Casarez is live in Provo, Utah right now.
Jean, as I understand it, court literally as you just got wired up to do this interview, got back in session. What's the ruling? Are we going to see Ada MacNeill march up onto the stand at 12 years old?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we will. But it is not the ruling that the prosecution wanted. This was a lengthy ruling by the judge, because this is a case of first impression for the state of Utah. The question is, Ada, who was six years old when she found her mother in the tub, would her testimony be so tainted as to violate the process of the defendant? Does she have a memory or is there no memory at all because big sister Alexis actually told her what to say as the years have gone on? The judge determined Alexis was an agent of the investors in this case. And the fact is if the defense proved by clear and convincing evidence that it would violate the due process for her to come in.
What will heppen, the original interview with the Utah state children's justice center will be played for the jury. That was done 1 1/2 years after she found her mother in the bathtub. Defense can then cross examine live in the courtroom Ada. There can be redirect examination, but it is a limited, limited interview back in September of 2008. Now, what the state does have is daughter Rachel MacNeill. She relived the day her mother died before that jury.
RACHEL MACNEILL, WITNESS: Blood is not something I like to see. No, not my mother's blood.
CASAREZ: : An emotional Rachel MacNeill took the stand in her father's murder trial, giving very damaging testimony. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you recognize this man sitting right here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is he?
MACNEILL: He's my father. Growing up, my father was my best friend.
CASAREZ: In front of a hushed and packed courtroom, she recounted the fateful call she received from her father the day her mother died.
MACNEILL: It was my father's voice. He said, Rachel, quick get to the hospital. It's your mother. Quick. I said, what's happening? Is everything okay? And he just said, Rachel, come home.
CASAREZ: Prosecutors say all the drama was a ruse. MacNeill had planned his wife's murder all along. The motive, he was carrying on an affair with Gypsy Willis, who moved into the MacNeill home as a nanny shortly after the death of his wife Michele.
MACNEILL: It just was obvious she's just goo eyes at my dad and wasn't doing anything a nanny would do.
CASAREZ: MacNeill, they say, was so determined to move forward with his murder plot that he forced his wife to have a facelift so he could kill her with a mix of drugs and blame it on the surgery. Rachel testified he was adamant there be an autopsy.
MACNEILL: He specifically said to me that he was concerned there be police investigation. That he didn't want it to -- anyone to think that he murdered my mother. I said why? Why would anybody think that?
CASAREZ: Voiding any eye contact with her father. She often struggled to hold back tears. She described how she found her mother's clothes later that day.
MACNEILL: It was a big bloody mess. It was just all - all of these things were just thrown in the garage.
CASAREZ: On the day of her mother's funeral, she said her dad wasn't mourning his wife's death. In fact, he seemed to be relieved.
MACNEILL: He was making jokes about being single and just laughing and it made me sick. I left.
CASAREZ: And the defense countered that on cross-examination by saying in fact on that very day you hell helped your father get dressed for the funeral, he was crying depressed and despondent and he said, your mother was my rock. One more thing the defense brought out in August of 2012, they had an emergency hospital report that she was admit the to emergency for delusions.
BANFIELD: That is difficult for them to hear on cross, I am sure, for those with that particular vent (ph) in the trial. Keep watching for us if you would, and report back to us when there is that development. Thank you for that, live out of Provo.
It's hard to believe that it's been 17 years, 17 years since JonBenet Ramsey was murdered. Think about this, if she were alive today, she would be 23. That girl would be 23. And at this time, this long after the case, suddenly, documents that have been sealed all this time have been unsealed. A grand jury saying what it thought the role of her parents really was in this mystery. That's coming next.
BANFIELD: Papers just released in Boulder, Colorado, finally reveal why a grand jury wanted to indict the parents of JonBenet Ramsey after her murder. You probably will recall the 6-year-old beauty queen was killed in her home in 1996. No one has ever been charged in that case. Our Ana Cabrera is outside the courthouse in Boulder. I know you've had the document less than an hour. If you've had a chance to go through them all, what do they say?
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we received four different documents from a 1999 grand jury indictment of JonBenet's parents, John and Patsy Ramsey. Now the documents essentially say that the jury, the grand jury at the time, again in 1999, after 13 months of going over the case, looking through 30,000 pieces of evidence, interviewing witnesses, they ultimately decided that John and Patsy Ramsey they believe had some role in their daughter's death. And they wanted to indict the parents on charges of child abuse resulting in death, as well as being an accessory to the crime.
But also important to note that the documents don't implicate the parents in actually committing the murder specifically. There's some involvement, but they didn't necessarily say that these parents should be charged on first-degree murder charges, and ultimately the D.A. At the time took a look at the grand jury's indictment and said, there's still not enough evidence to put them this case trial.
BANFIELD: I spoke with John Ramsey about a year ago for over an hour. After he was cleared with the DNA in 2006 and completely off the hook, I said are you really cleared? When you walk around in public, are you really clear? Do people know this? And he said, no. No, he's not cleared. There's always going to be an element out there that thinks he killed his daughter. Is anyone with the family saying anything about this today?
CABRERA: They are not speaking publicly about this. But we do have a statement from an attorney that is representing John Ramsey. Let he read you that statement, this is his attorney, Harold Haddon (ph) saying "public release of the allegations of an unprosecuted indictment only serves to further defame him and his late wife."
As you mentioned, DNA evidence cleared any involvement in this murder as far as the physical act of committing the crime, cleared the family of that. And that DNA evidence came out long after the grand jury indictment. Again, that DNA testing technology cleared them later in 2006. And the D.A. at the time, then Mary Lacey (ph), sent the letter to the family saying they're no longer being looked at under this cloud of suspicion.
BANFIELD: Yeah, a cloud of suspicion is gone, but I think the ultimate question is, has it? Really? Really has it? Ana Cabrera, thank you for that and thank you for the speed with which you were able to get through the documents for reporting it.
I want to bring in our CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos and HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson. You think the D.A. made the right decision back then, Joey?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: I really do. And I think that was corroborated later on.
JACKSON: I felt strongly when I was a prosecutor that prosecutors should bring forth cases that are viable, that they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. And if you can't and if you don't, you should not be bringing them forward, and feel even stronger now on the defense side that that should be the case.
And so I think it was a courageous decision, and let's also remember the standards of a grand jury. The standards are is there legally sufficient evidence to move forward. That's far different from a trial jury where you have to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
BANFIELD: It's probable cause level as opposed to -- I can't even reach high enough to display reasonable doubt -- beyond reasonable doubt, right? So Danny, the language in the statute in Colorado, there's something a little complicated when it comes to the "shall be signed" as opposed to must be or will be signed. Is this part of the reason, is it possible that everything Joey is saying -- it just was a stinker of a case, or the language actually gave them wiggle room?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first the prosecutor does have, in almost every jurisdiction, essentially plenary jurisdiction, they can do anything they want in bringing a prosecution. What's so rare about this case, and Joey we've been talking about this, is how often does a grand jury vote a true bill, or in other words to indict, and a prosecutor who brought this grand jury together says, no thank you. I think we're not going to go forward with it.
JACKSON: Answer. Never.
CEVALLOS: Never in my experience, but as to that statute, it's interesting. That statute has probably never been interpreted or really dealt with. Because it does say "shall be signed by the prosecutor." But that can be interpreted in only a valid indictment.
CEVALLOS: Yeah, I mean it really depends how ultimately -- I bet that portion of the code has never actually been dealt with because this has never really been in the spotlight. It does not happen. BANFIELD: So for the millions and millions of people who are watching this show right now, that's clearly hyperbole, but the problem is here, that once you are even named or there is suspicion, it never goes away. It is awful and sticky. And that was one of the things I put to John Ramsey last year. I want to play a quick piece of what he said about his life now and how he goes through about his daily living having lived through this two decades of hell. Have a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: You should be a much more bitter person.
JOHN RAMSEY, JONBENET'S FATHER: Well, I heard a sermon once that said you could be after tragedy, bitter, broken, barren or better. And the opportunity is to be better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: The opportunity is to be better. I just -- my heart bleeds for that family. And Patsy Ramsey died before anybody could let her know that cloud of suspicion was gone.
Danny Cevallos, Joey Jackson, have a great weekend. Thank you for your insights. Professors, both of them.
You can read the Ramsey grand jury documents yourself. If you would like to, I encourage you to go to CNN.com. And as you read them, remember the 2006 DNA cleared them. Back right after this.