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New FBI Director; Allies Furious Over U.S. Spying; Britain Battered by Storm; Another Malfunction Hits Obamacare Website

Aired October 28, 2013 - 12:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this hour at FBI headquarters in Washington. President Obama set to speak at the installation ceremony for the bureau's new director, James Comey.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Set to happen any moment now. And, of course, we are not going to miss a minute of it. We're going to bring it to you live as soon as it begins.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux. This is AROUND THE WORLD on CNN.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company. And we're going to welcome our international viewers with us. They're going to be with us --

MALVEAUX: Good to see you again.

HOLMES: Thank you very much. A little week off didn't hurt anyone. International viewers are going to be with us on the program all week.

MALVEAUX: We're watching as the FBI confirms and welcomes a new chief, James Comey. Well, he has been on the job for almost two months now.

HOLMES: Yes, but the formalities, well, they're taking place today. And President Obama is there to do the honors at what they're calling the installation ceremony today. Now, Comey is a Republican, a former federal prosecutor. He was also an outspoken opponent of the eavesdropping activities under the former President George W. Bush. Something that, of course, is in the news now.

MALVEAUX: Well now Comey takes office and the growing outrage over revelations about just how extensively the NSA has been spying both here and around the world. We want to bringing in our Wolf Blitzer out of Washington.

And, Wolf, first of all, this is an interesting situation. He is a Republican. I was covering the White House at the time back in March of 2004 when he was the acting attorney general. And this story is what a lot of folks remember and talk about. He went to the hospital where -- that's where the Attorney General Ashcroft was. He was ill and Comey refused to sign off on the domestic wiretapping program that was so controversial back then.

There was a lot of pressure for Ashcroft to sign, but -- and for Comey to sign as well and he said, no, I'm not doing this. he even threatened to resign until he resolved this whole issue with President Bush. So now he says that the NSA and the wiretapping - well, not the wiretapping, but the spying, is OK. That it's actually a reasonable thing to do. Is he changing his tone here?

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Not really because, if you remember it, I'm sure you do and a lot of our viewers will remember, what he was really upset with and why he so dramatically went to the hospital bed of the then Attorney General John Ashcroft and said, you can't authorize this, is because others within the Bush administration wanted to engage in surveillance, in wiretaps, without warrants, without any court orders.

And he said, you can't do that, we need to have a court order, whether from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, the FISA court as it was called, or some other court, and the whole issue whether there should be warrantless wiretaps or wiretaps with a warrant. And so he said you have to have the warrant. Ashcroft eventually sided with him. And he won that battle at that time during the Bush administration.

Right now he supports surveillance, NSA surveillance, because he says they're authorized, authorized by the president of the United States, authorized by courts, authorized by the legislative branch of government. So he sees the distinction between warrantless wiretapping and wiretaps that are authorized.

HOLMES: Now, of course, Wolf, he's heading up the FBI. A lot of the controversy, though, is over the NSA and the spying there. How do the two the organizations dove tail, if you like? Do they work hand in hand? What are the differences between the roles?

BLITZER: They work pretty closely. The FBI's charged with domestic law enforcement, if you will. The NSA has a worldwide responsibility. The NSA provides information to the FBI, which the FBI can then follow up on. If they have some indication that there may be a terrorist plot under way in the United States, they would give that information to the FBI. The FBI would then pursue it and see if there's something really there or not there. But they work very closely together.

One of the big problems before 9/11 was there wasn't enough coordination between the left hand of the U.S. government and the right hand of the U.S. government. After 9/11, they did implement much greater coordination. And as a result, the NSA, the CIA, other law enforcement, whether military and, of course, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, they work much more closely together and there's a director of national intelligence who now oversees all 16 different U.S. intelligence agencies. And as a result, they supposedly do things a lot more coordinated, in a lot better way.

HOLMES: All right, Wolf, thanks so much.

And we'll remind our viewers, we'll bring you the president when his remarks begin.

MALVEAUX: And, of course, the international community voicing a lot of concern and anger, quite frankly, over the U.S. monitoring the phone calls of world leaders. A "Wall Street Journal" reports quotes U.S. officials saying that the National Security Agency tapped the phones or intercepted messages from the leaders of 35 countries. That includes a lot of the U.S. allies.

HOLMES: Yes, it's incredible. A lot of people are offended. Brazil and Mexico lodging complaints about the U.S. spying on them. In Europe, friends, including Germany, France and Spain, they're furious. A Spanish newspaper reporting today that the NSA scanned 60 million phone calls in Spain, get this, in a period of one month, December last year to January.

MALVEAUX: We've got correspondents around the world covering the blowback that is facing the United States. First up, want to check in, reaction from Spain, where, as we said, the claim, 60 million intercepts. Al Goodman, he's joining us from Madrid.

AL GOODMAN, CNN MADRID BUREAU CHIEF: Suzanne, there is -- the Spanish government summoned the U.S. ambassador to Madrid this day to give an explanation. That happened earlier. And, afterwards, the Spanish foreign ministry issued a statement warning Washington that there has to be a balance between security and the right of the citizens to have privacy. So there is, in their communications, so there is a warning shot across the bow from Madrid.

Now, for the average Spanish citizen, these latest revelations about the 60 million intercepts is just coming to light in one of the main newspapers here, but there is a healthy respect for the United States, but also distrust for Washington here in many quarters.


HOLMES: Yes, And, Al, too, we know that the U.S. ambassador called in, got a bit of a grilling. You know, what came out of that, and when it comes to the relationship between Spain and the U.S., what if these claims are true?

GOODMAN: Well, neither the U.S. ambassador nor the Spanish foreign ministry officials they actually -- none came out to speak to the cameras. It was just in statements. They're trying to sort of keep a lid on this for right now. But Spain has not confirmed that this spying took place. They say if it is confirmed, it would be totally unacceptable.

HOLMES: All right, Al, thanks so much.

And let's go over to Germany now. Chancellor Angela Merkel there, well, she wanted to know directly from the president whether her own cell phone, her personal phone, was tapped. Diana Magnay is in Berlin.

Diana, the chancellor did say that the trust between the United States and Europe has to be, in her words, re-established. What does she mean by that? How does that happen? And what are the German reactions to these claims of being spied on by their mates?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, trust is the basis as any good political relationship, Michael. So when Angela Merkel says that effectively trust has been broken, then you can see just how angry she is. She was a woman who grew up in the former East Germany, so she understands what living in a policed state is like. She remembers how much the East German spy network, the Stasi, disrupted the very basis of society and so do so many Germans, Michael. So that's why when she says and the German people say that it is not right to spy on friends, they're speaking from bitter experience.

MALVEAUX: All right, Diana Magnay, thank you so much.

Want to go back to the United States. The State Department. Elise Labott joining us there.

And, Elise, we know that one of the things that at least the White House is claiming is that the president didn't know about all of this. That he was unaware of this. What's worse here in this situation? If you've got essentially a president who's not aware of what his spy agencies are doing, or someone who says, yes, I do know, but he denies it?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Suzanne, the answer to either of those questions is completely unsatisfying, either President Obama is shaving the truth a little and he did know in some way. The White House said that the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, did not brief him. Perhaps someone else did. So either he's not telling the whole truth or he had no idea, which means that his aides are keeping him in the dark.

That raises questions of whether he's in an ivory tower, doesn't really have a handle on what's going on. So that raises a lot of questions about his leadership, his administration. And I think when you look at what the allies are thinking, that -- they're asking those questions as well.

MALVEAUX: And, Elise, just a quick follow-up here, but are there any allies, the White House going back to them saying, look, you know what, we share intelligence. This is a good thing for everybody. I mean perhaps we've gone too far in listening in on personal cell phone calls, but overall this is to protect all of our allies when it comes to going against - and these terrorist plots actually looking for it and figuring out where that leads to, that this protects everyone?

LABOTT: Well, there is an element of everybody does it, Suzanne. But at the same time, when you say everybody does it, it's like apples and oranges because clearly the United States has surveillance capabilities that far surpass any of the countries that we're talking about.

But also, yes, the U.S. maintains that these surveillance programs are to foil terrorists, but Angela Merkel's going to have to come back and these allies are going to have to come back and say, well, are you saying that I am under suspicion for terrorism?

I mean there's really no correlation between tapping the personal phone of an ally and any of these terrorist plots. So it raises questions as, are these for political motives? Is this to find out what Germany and other countries are doing on Syria, on Iran, the euro crisis? It moves more into the breadth and the scope here.

MALVEAUX: All right. Elise Labott at the State Department, Al Goodman in Madrid, Diana Magnay in Berlin, thank you all. Appreciate it.

One of the things the president gets, he gets a presidential daily brief. It's a notebook, comes to the residence every morning. He takes a look at it. It's all the security threats around the world, aggregated the intelligence. So it's interesting to know, would he be able to tell that that was a cell phone call from Angela Merkel or is it all just kind of a general kind of statement, general threats?

HOLMES: Yes, a lot of - a lot of people -

MALVEAUX: I mean you can argue it both ways.

HOLMES: A lot of people wondering, you know, how he doesn't know.


HOLMES: And if not, why not, you know, as you pointed out. It's - yes, there's a lot more to come out on this story.

And when we come back, how this latest spying report, we're going to look a little bit more into how it impacts U.S. foreign relations. A lot of countries a little bit of annoyed with the U.S. at the moment.

MALVEAUX: And then we're looking at flight, train, and ferry services disrupted in the U.K. This is after a fierce storm wipes out power in parts -- huge parts of the country.

And also a search for a missing teen is suspended due to rough waters. The latest on the storm's aftermath.

HOLMES: And then, Obamacare. The website crashed during a weekend makeover. "Saturday Night Live," well, you can imagine, having a bit of fun at the administration's expense. This is CNN. You're watching AROUND THE WORLD.


MALVEAUX: All right. We're waiting for President Obama. He's going to be speaking shortly at the installation ceremony of the new FBI director, James Comey. And, of course, we will bring that to you live as soon as it starts.

HOLMES: Should be in a few minutes or so from now.

Meanwhile this, a powerful Atlantic storm absolutely battered southern England. There were wind gusts up to 100 miles an hour. And just have a look at that. That's the surf pounding on the shore.

MALVEAUX: You can also see that flooding is also reported there, 220,000 homes, businesses now out of power. That is amazing.

Britain expects storms like this in the winter, but it is autumn, and the ground is saturated. Many trees fell over as a result of all of this.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Yeah, we've got it covered with Atika Shubert in London, also Alexandra Steel in the Weather Center.

First to London and you, Atika, you know, I was in London in I think it was '87, and '90 where there were two huge storms. This wasn't as big as that, but it was unexpected in many ways because, as we say, the time of the year and there were deaths, as well.

What was it like there? I know you were out and about in the middle of it.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we were in Brighton right off the south coast, and I can tell you there were some really strong winds there. It wasn't quite as big as the storm in '87, but we're talking winds gusting at about 99-miles-an-hour, so it was enough to almost knock you off your feet at its peak.

Unfortunately, it also knocked a number of trees down. That caused a lot of damage crash on to cars, into a home where a 17-year-old girl was sleeping. She was killed. Also, huge waves and a 14-year-old boy was swept out to sea and the search-and-recovery team is still looking for him now.

MALVEAUX: Atika, we know that more than 200,000 homes, businesses don't even have power. I imagine this is really a great hardship for a lot of folks here. How quickly are they going to get their power back and do they think this will get worse, that this will last for days if not weeks?

SHUBERT: I don't think it's going to get worse. The storm has passed and people are quickly getting their power back, train, plane schedules, all getting back to normal. Actually, it could have been a lot worse. People are saying it's quite good they were able to recover as quickly as they did.

HOLMES: All right, Atika, thank you so much, Atika Shubert there.

Let's go to Alexandra Steele now. And, Alexandra, of course, you know, it hit England, battered England, but then kept on going into Europe.

Where is it now? What sort of problems are they having?

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, the worst is over for the U.K. Let me show you the satellite map. Here's the U.K. The worst is over, 99-mile-per-hour gusts here in southern England. This is the North Sea, and it's moving north and east, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, so it's continuing to move north and east.

The biggest threat with this and the really most powerful aspect, the winds. 70-mile-per-hour gusts right now in Amsterdam. You can see Hamburg at 83; Copenhagen, 106-mile-per-hour wind gusts right now. So that's where the worst of it is.

Flights certainly impacted. Of course, Europe's busiest, Heathrow in London. 130 flights already have been canceled. So if you're flying to Amsterdam or Brussels or Paris, all these cities certainly will be impacted, although the worst is over for the U.K., again heading toward Sweden and Denmark. And, also, in London, the underground and express trains were suspended, too, because of the winds.

HOLMES: All right, Alexandra, thanks so much.

Yeah, big problems there for Europe. Thanks to you in the Weather Center. Atika in London, our thanks to you also.

MALVEAUX: And Obamacare, another meltdown for the Web site, now tech giants including a former head of tech projects for the White House, well, they're now saying Silicon Valley actually would have done a better job setting up the internet exchange.

You're watching CNN.


MALVEAUX: All right. Just take a look at live pictures there. White House and also FBI headquarters, that is where the president you see, let's listen in for a moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

MALVEAUX: President Obama will be making some remarks very shortly. This is the installation ceremony of the new FBI director, James Comey, and this is taking place. He's been director now -- sworn in for a couple months. He's already spoken out about the controversial NSA program and as well as the shooting at the Naval Yards, so he's already been a very busy person.

HOLMES: Yeah, so he's already been doing the job, but this is the installation ceremony, the formalities, yeah.

MALVEAUX: As soon as the president starts to speak, we'll bring it to you live.

HOLMES: Let's talk healthcare now. If you go to the Web site, you're not going to see that familiar young face there anymore.

That young lady might have asked to be taken off after all that's been going on. The disappearance of the so-called "Obamacare girl," though, that's part of the website's makeover.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, and, of course, we're all watching the site. Essentially over the weekend, it crashed.

HOLMES: A server issue, yeah.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, another problem preventing anybody who wanted to apply for coverage, Laurie Segall is following that angle of it from New York.

And, Laurie, so much for the disappearing model that was used there. People want to know, is this thing working?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNNMONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: Well, I wanted to know that, too. I tried logging on about 20, 30 minutes ago, and, Suzanne, I am going to report to you, it is still down.

It got an error message that essentially said we're having technical difficulties. They also went on to give a phone number of where you could call to call in to actually just call in for your options.

But what we're seeing here, and what I think is pretty interesting is, in talking to folks in the valley, there's a real innovation problem when it comes to innovating within the government.

I actually spoke to Vivek Kundra. Now he was the first chief information officer at the White House. They actually created this position. He was the first there, and he later left to go to Silicon Valley, become an executive at Salesforce, which is a cloud computing company.

He talked to me about some of the biggest problems. Listen to what he said.


VIVEK KUNDRA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER: There is actually a close ecosystem of players that know how the procurement process works.

They have people who know how to look at the system and recognize that the way you make money is by throwing more bodies at the problem and engineer in your favor from a profit perspective rather than figuring out a way to deliver the best product, the best solution at the lowest cost.


SEGALL: And you know, essentially, Suzanne, what he's saying is, if you're going to contract out, contract out to the best and brightest, the folks in Silicon Valley, so the people they're contracting out to have a lot of incentive to put a lot of bodies on the job, to write a lot of lines of code, which we've all heard a lot about -- and that can be really inefficient and it doesn't necessarily translate to this lean-startup mentality which translates to success.

MALVEAUX: And, so, Laurie, do they have any sense of how soon, how quickly, they're going to get this thing back up and running?

SEGALL: They say, and we've heard this before, they're working 24/7 on it, so we will keep trying to log in and we'll keep you updated.

HOLMES: Try to find the Obamacare girl, too. I think she's one of the best known faces in the country at the moment. She's probably gone into hiding.

SEGALL: Definitely, I'm on it.

HOLMES: Yeah, get on to that. Laurie, thanks, Laurie Segall there.

MALVEAUX: All right, more criticism of the administration, fresh reports about the extent of NSA surveillance of international leaders, leaders around the world.

How the latest spying reports threaten President Obama's relationships abroad.

HOLMES: You're watching CNN's AROUND THE WORLD. We'll be right back.


MALVEAUX: You're watching AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Once again, welcome to our international viewers.

MALVEAUX: We're waiting for the president to speak, momentarily. He is at the headquarters of the FBI.

That is where the official installation of the new director of the FBI, James Comey, will take place.

As soon as he jumps to the podium, we will go ahead and bring that to you, live.

HOLMES: And we've been talking about the NSA surveillance, what it means around the world, a lot of countries from Germany to Brazil, annoyed with the U.S.

Well, Jake Tapper interviewed former vice president Dick Cheney.