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Cheney Chimes in on Surveillance Programs and Allies; Obama Officially Installs Comey at FBI; Russia Races to Finish Olympic Venue; Saudi Bloggers Joke about Driving Ban

Aired October 28, 2013 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CO-ANCHOR: 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'll 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. They discussed surveillance programs on our allies.

Take a listen to this.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE LEAD": All this news that the U.S. conducted surveillance on our own allies, some of the documents posted by or leaked by Edward Snowden to the media indicate these programs started in 2002. Why spy on an ally?

DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Jake, if there were such a program, it would be classified. I couldn't talk about it. It would be totally inappropriate.

I haven't been in the loop obviously for more than four years, so it's just one of those subjects I couldn't discuss.

TAPPER: Without getting specific, on a theoretical basis, what is the interest of the United States in conducting surveillance on a country or a leader who is a clear ally of the United States?

CHENEY: I've got to go with the answer I've given you.

Let me say this. We do have a fantastic intelligence capability, worldwide, against all kinds of potential issues and concerns. We are vulnerable as was shown on 9/11, and you never know what you're going to need when you need it.

The fact is we do collect a lot of intelligence. Without speaking of any particular target or group of targets that intelligence capability is enormously important to the United States to our conduct of foreign policy, to the defense matters, to economic matters. And I'm a strong supporter of it.

TAPPER: Do you think the Snowden leaks have hurt America's ability to defend itself?

CHENEY: I do. I think he's a traitor. I hope we can catch him at some point and that he receives the justice he deserves.


MALVEAUX: And the full interview with Dick Cheney going to air this afternoon on the lead with Jake Tapper at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. You're not going to want to miss that.

Also want to bring in Christiane Amanpour in the London news room talking about the NSA, the spying, of course, the aftermath of the allies really upset about this.

One thing you said earlier today that really struck us here is that you said there was a deficit of good will among U.S. allies. And that's part of the reason why they are so, so frustrated and angry right now. Why is there a deficit of good will among our allies?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting you just played that clip of former Vice President Cheney.

Let's go back to the Cheney/Bush years which at its apex was all the angst and anger at the United States over the unite at the Iraq War.

So, when President Obama came into office, part of what he said to Europeans even before he was elected, I was there in Berlin when he spoke to the German public and they came out in the hundreds of thousands to listen to the president or the candidate Obama say that, you know, we must rebuild trust between ours. We must, must, must do all these things.

And, of course, he was hailed as precisely the, quote unquote, "anti- Bush" hero, particularly when he was elected, and his popularity was sky high. And you remember that the Nobel prize was given to him in part reflecting that very persona that he was projecting, this new trust, this change in America's relationship over those previous eight years of President Bush.

Well, now, what the German public and the French public and others are saying, hang on a second. He's just the same. He's just like all the others. There are the spying scandals. That happened under Bush-Cheney and it's happening now.

So that is part of what it is. People are very upset. Publics are very upset. Let's leave aside the leaders for a second. We can get to that in a moment. But the publics and very upset, and leaders are playing to their public opinion.

On the other hand, in terms of traditional American foreign policy, over the last couple of decades, the United States did a lot of burden-sharing, frankly, more than burden-sharing, but heavy lifting -

MALVEAUX: All right.

AMANPOUR: -- on all the things Europe was doing.

MALVEAUX: Christiane, the president is speaking now. We're going to go ahead and listen in.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... abroad. You lock up criminals. You secure the homeland against the threat of terrorism.

Without a lot of fanfare, without seeking the spotlight, you do your jobs, all the while, upholding our most cherished values and the rule of law. Fidelity, bravery, integrity, that's your motto.

And today, we're here to welcome a remarkable new leader for this remarkable institution, one who lives those principles out every single day, Mr. Jim Comey.

Before I get to Jim, I want to thank all the predecessors who are here today. We are grateful for your service. I have to give a special shout out to Bob Mueller who served longer than he was supposed to.

But he was such an extraordinary leader through some of the most difficult times that we've had in national security, and I consider him a friend and I'm so grateful for him being here today. Thank you very much.

Now, Jim has dedicated his life to defending our laws, to making sure that all Americans can trust our justice system to protect their rights and their well-being. He's the grandson of a beat cop.

He's a prosecutor who helped bring down the Gambinos. He's the relentless attorney who fought to stem the bloody tide of gun violence, rub out white-collar crime, deliver justice to the terrorists.

It's just about impossible to find a matter of justice he has not tackled, and it's hard to imagine somebody who is not more uniquely qualified to lead a bureau that covers all of it, traditional threats like violent and organized crime to the constantly changing threats like terrorism and cyber security. So he's got the resume.

But, of course, Jim is also a famously cool character. He's the calmest in the room during a crisis. Here's what a fellow former prosecutor said about him. He said, "You know that Rudyard Kipling line, 'if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs?' That's Jim."

There's also a story from the time during his prosecution of the Gambino crime family. One of the defendants was an alleged hit man named Lorenzo, and during the trial, Jim won an award from the New York City bar association.

When the court convened the next morning, everybody was buzzing about it, and suddenly a note was passed down from the defendant's table across the aisle to the prosecutor's table.

It was handed to Jim and it read, "Dear Jim, congratulations on your award. No one deserves it more than you. You're a true professional. Sincerely, Lorenzo."

Sincerely Lorenzo? Now we don't know how sincere he was. We don't know whether this was a veiled threat or a plea for leniency or an honest compliment, but I think it is fair to say that Jim has won the respect of folks across the spectrum, including Lorenzo.

He's the perfect leader for an organization whose walls are graced by the words of a legendary former director. "The most effective weapon against crime is cooperation." Jim has worked with many of the more than 35,000 men and women of the FBI over the course of his long and distinguished career.

And it's his admiration and respect for all of you individually, his recognition of the hard work that you do every day, sometimes under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, not just the folks out in the field, but also folks working the back rooms, doing the hard work, out of sight, his recognition that your mission is important is what compelled him to answer the call to serve his country again.

The FBI joins forces with our intelligence, our military and Homeland Security professionals to break up all manner of threats, from taking down drug rings, to stopping those who prey on children, to breaking up Al Qaida cells, to disrupting their activities thwarting their plots.

And your mission keeps expanding, because the nature of the threats are always changing.

Unfortunately, the resources allotted to that mission has been reduced by sequestration. I'll keep fighting for those resources, because our country asks and expects a lot from you and we should make sure you've got the resources you need to do the job.

Especially when many of your colleagues put their lives on the line on a daily basis, all to serve and protect our fellow citizens, the least we can do is make sure you've got the resources for it and that your operations are not disrupted because of politics in this town.

Now, the good news is things like courage, leadership, judgment and compassion, those resources are potentially at least inexhaustible. So it's critical we seek out the best people to serve, folks who have earned the public trust who the have excellent judgment, even the most difficult circumstances, those who possess not just a keen knowledge of the law, but also a moral compass that have they and we can always count on. And that's what we've got in Jim Comey.

I'll tell you, I interviewed a number of extraordinary candidates for this job, all with sterling credentials, but what gave me confidence that this was the right man for the job wasn't his degrees and wasn't his resume.

It was in talking to him and seeing his amazing family, a sense that this is somebody who knows what's right and what's wrong, and is willing to act on that basis every single day. And that's why I'm so grateful that he signed up to serve again.

I will spare you yet another joke about how today no one stands taller. I simply want to thank Jim for accepting this role. I want to thank Patrice and the five remarkable children that they've got because jobs like this are a team effort, as you well know.

And I want to thank most of all the men and women of the FBI. I'm proud of your work. I'm grateful for your service. I'm absolutely confident that this agency will continue top flourish with Jim at the helm.

And if he gets lost in the building, I want you guys to help him out, because I guarantee you that he's going to have your back; make sure you've got his back, as well.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you.


MALVEAUX: Brief remarks from the president, they are wrapping up the installation, James Comey there. He mentioned he was quite tall. I think he's more than six-feet tall. It is a kind of a running joke among some in the White House.

But he was confirmed in July and, you know, interesting person. He's a Republican. He took on Martha Stewart for the obstruction of justice case, and was - 2009 -- on the short list, actually, for a Supreme Court nomination.

2013, this year, wrote a friend of the court brief to the Supreme Court supporting same-sex marriage, so he's in a very well rounded individual, there.

We're going to take a quick break and move on.


HOLMES: Welcome back.

An international team overseeing the dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons arsenal has just issued its first report. Now this report says that inspectors have now visited 21 of 23 weapons sites that were disclosed by Damascus.

MALVEAUX: This comes one day after the regime met its deadline for submitting a plan for getting rid of its chemical stockpiles. Now the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says that two remaining sites in Syria have not been visited due to security concerns. Now, of course, you remember, I mean, a civil war is still raging across the country, making getting to these sites sometimes quite difficult.

And in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, a Jeep plowed into a crowd killing five people, including the driver and a couple of tourists. This happened today. Now, more than three dozen others, they were hurt. The car eventually hit this guardrail, part of the bridge that leads to the forbidden city. It then burst into flames. And for a while, it closed off a busy part of what is the heart of the Chinese capital. Our David McKenzie says that police, they still don't know what caused the accident.

HOLMES: Russia is in a race to finish its Olympic venues on time. The world, of course, is watching closely. Russia's President Vladimir Putin is taking a very personal interest in this project, and that, it has to be said, is moving things along. Last minute problems are mounting, though, as fast as the price tag. Now Sochi is now the costliest Olympic games on record, $51 billion and counting. Here's Phil Black.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From a distance, this Olympic park looks close to ready, shining new sports venues finished and tested. But look closer, there's still so much to do. Top of the list, finish the stadium. It's not hosting any sport, but it will be the stage for the opening ceremony. The people directing that spectacle have demanded big changes to the design, including a roof.

Russia is not famous for its efficiency, so delivering all this on time will be a statement to the world. It's one reason why President Vladimir Putin is taking such a personal interest. Dmitry Grigoriev manages the speed skating arena. He says Putin's regular visits and direct oversight have made a big difference.

DMITRY GRIGORIEV, VENUE MANAGER, ADLER ARENA: I'm not going to say why or how, but it has, believe me.

BLACK (on camera): But you're seeing things happen faster?


BLACK (voice-over): Sochi's other challenge, overhauling the city's Soviet era infrastructure. The skyline is a mess of cranes and partially completed buildings, many of them much need hotels. And then there's the traffic. It's appalling. Sochi's mayor, Anatoly Pakhomov, is firmly on team Putin and insists somehow it will all be fixed in three months.

Security is an especially big concern at these games because Russia's Islamic terrorists have promised to disrupt them. And organizers can't even rely on Mother Nature to deliver the white stuff. It's subtropical here, so snowfall is patchy. That's why they're storing vast amounts of last season's snow, just in case.

Phil Black, CNN, Sochi.


HOLMES: Yes, while on the subject, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has just sort of made an announcement. He actually said that Russia would welcome regardless of sexual orientation and other things everyone to the Sochi Olympics. Of course, Russia has very prohibitive anti-gay laws, and so that's been a controversy for some time. So an interesting development there, seeing we're doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that guests feel comfortable in Sochi regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation.

MALVEAUX: Well, that's certainly good (ph). A lot of athletes were responding to that saying, look, you know, this is going to be a very uncomfortable situation. We don't - we don't want to participate.

HOLMES: Exactly, given the laws that do exist there.


In Saudi Arabia, women, they're not allowed to drive, but over the weekend, Saudi Arabian women defied their government. They took to the streets driving their cars. But while tensions were high, well, some Saudis actually saw humor in this historic event.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): No woman, no drive. No woman, no drive.



HOLMES: We are currently waiting to hear from the White House after, of course, all this latest over the NSA and spying. The NSA says President Obama didn't know about the tapping of world leaders' private phone calls. We are going to bring you that briefing live when it happens. I'm sure there will be plenty of questions.

MALVEAUX: Yes, he'll be walking through those doors momentarily.

Dozens of Saudi women, they jumped their cars, this was this past weekend. They hit the road. This was to protest, of course, the country's informal ban on women driving. So while this is all going on, there were some bloggers, you know, took to the Internet, put a little music to it. They thought it was kind of funny. Both sides of the issue seemed to be laughing a little bit about this.

HOLMES: Yes, a couple of comedians in Saudi Arabia. Our Mohammed Jamjoom has this story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): No woman, no drive.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Laughs were the last thing anyone expected in Saudi Arabia on Saturday. Tensions were high. Women had been warned.

TAMADOR ALYAMI, SAUDI BLOGGER: Yesterday was a very serious day. I mean it was full of nerve-racking news and a lot of anticipation.

JAMJOOM: Worry over women getting behind the wheel in the last country on earth that doesn't allow it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, guys. This is me driving for the first time. I'm here to support our case in letting women drive in Saudi Arabia.

JAMJOOM: Dozens of Saudi females took a spin as a few Saudi males posted a new spin on an old classic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Of course, the driver can take you everywhere, because the queen don't drive.

JAMJOOM: These women didn't wait for their drivers. For once, enjoying the open roads of a closed society. Smiles were abundant. But it's when this video hit that the laughs began. A reworking of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry." For this occasion, "no woman, no drive." I spoke to the song's creators in Riyadh via Skype.

JAMJOOM (on camera): What have you been hearing as far as the reaction from women supporters of the driving campaign? What do they think of the video?

FAHAD ALBUTAIRI, SAUDI COMEDIAN: A lot of the ladies actually thought that we were, you know, against the (INAUDIBLE) woman driving.

JAMJOOM (voice-over): They told me that's not the case. They just wanted to spread a little cheer. Apparently they have. The clip has gone viral in a big way with more than a million views on YouTube in less than 24 hours.

HISHAM FAGEEH, SAUDI COMEDIAN: For me personally, it's been very like loving and supportive. Of course you're going to get criticism. You're online and you're doing comedy and everybody's a critic.

JAMJOOM: In the ultra conservative kingdom, the October 26th women's driving movement has many fierce critics. A lot of them are women. Saudi society is still very much split on the issue. Tamador Alyami (ph) drove through the streets of Jeddah last week, but was too worried to do so again on Saturday. Still, she was able to take a little comfort from an unlikely source. One that had become an unexpected anthem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Say, I remember when you used to sit in the family car, the back seat.

ALYAMI: It cracked me up. I laughed and I shared it with everybody. I wanted it to have the same effect on them because it eats up a lot of the tension I was feeling.

JAMJOOM: And for a few moments, she could imagine all road blocks finally out of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Everything's going to be all right. Everything's going to be all right.

JAMJOOM: Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX: All right, everything's going to be all right.


MALVEAUX: You know, I talked to Manal al-Shareef, this was on Friday.

HOLMES: Right.

MALVEAUX: She was one of the women who was brave enough who started that movement, put herself on YouTube. She's now in Dubai. But she drove in Saudi Arabia. And she was worried.


MALVEAUX: She was -- there was a lot of tension on Friday before this thing happened.

HOLMES: They had roadblocks out. The police did have roadblocks. They were checking to see if women were driving. But the interesting thing here, and Mohammed touched on this, it's not actually written into law that women cannot drive.


HOLMES: It's a religious edict. There was that iman the other day who actually was on Saudi television saying that among the risks of women driving is it will damage their ovaries.

MALVEAUX: Huh, how ridiculous. It's like, come on, come on.


MALVEAUX: But it's also very expensive, too. I mean it's a human right, it's a civil right, as Manal has said, but it's very expensive for these women, they say, to hire these drivers -


MALVEAUX: To do all this back and forth and it limits their freedom.

HOLMES: There are some subtle changes happening. Whether that's one of them will have to be seen, but nobody was locked up or anything like that and a lot of the women were out there driving

MALVEAUX: Yes, it's a good - it's a good thing.

HOLMES: So, more power to them. Yes.

MALVEAUX: All right.

While the U.S. dealing with allegations of spying on world leaders, a high profile British phone hacking trial started today in London.

HOLMES: Yes, this is a big deal, too. Former top editor of the now defunct "News of the World" tabloid, Rebekah Brooks, you see her there, and red hair, also former editor Andy Coulson, who later became the prime ministerial advisor, accused of conspiring to illegally access cell phone voicemail messages.

MALVEAUX: And those cell phones, they belonged to politicians, they belonged to the rich and famous, even just regular folks. They were spying on them. The tabloid was part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp media empire that includes Fox News and "The Wall Street Journal" here in the United States.

HOLMES: Yes, that trial beginning now, jury selection underway. It's going to be fascinating to hear what comes out of that. It's really changed how both the tabloid media operated in Great Britain. Yes.

MALVEAUX: Absolutely.

HOLMES: All right, thanks for watching today on AROUND THE WORLD, our viewers here in the U.S. and internationally too.

MALVEAUX: Good to have you back.

HOLMES: Thank you very much.

The iDesk is up for international viewers. For the viewers in the U.S., CNN NEWSROOM.

MALVEAUX: Thanks for watching.

HOLMES: See you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, the fallout from the latest revelations on NSA surveillance and what the president knew about the active operations. We're waiting to hear more at the White House briefing about to begin. Stand by for live coverage.

Also right now, the Obamacare website is down, at least across parts of the United States again. We're going to have the details on the latest problems affecting and we'll get a preview of what could be a rather tough week ahead for the Obama administration.

And right now, the Ellis Island Immigration Museum is opening once again, seeing its first visitors since it was damaged by Hurricane Sandy last year.

Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting today from Washington.

We start with the fallout over the latest revelations about spying at the NSA and the tapping of world leaders' phones.