Return to Transcripts main page


Two Oklahoma Inmates Captures; Spying on Allies; The Blackfish Controversy; Impact Your World; Putin Welcomes Homosexuals

Aired October 28, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: First, the Obamacare website, and now spying on world leaders. If it's true that President Obama didn't know about all these issues in his administration until they blow up, we're asking, why the heck not.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

Four inmates on the run after an escape in the shower.

Virginity for sale. The alleged seller? A mother of 14.

Plus, Julianne Huff apologizes for this Halloween costume, but should there even be outrage in the first place?

And --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were in a bathtub for 25 years, don't you think you'd get a little psychotic?


BALDWIN: The CNN film "Blackfish" sparking a fiery debate across America about whether you should stop going to zoos, aquariums and Sea World.

We begin with breaking news. Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Right now, a standoff underway at this movie theater. This is Raleigh, North Carolina. We are told by our TV affiliate there, WRAL, that someone suspected of robbery may be inside. No word yet on what he or she robbed. The parking lot, with the exception of a couple of, you know, patrol cars here, mostly empty. And police tell CNN no one else is believed to be in the theater.

So, once again, a standoff underway at a movie theater in Raleigh, North Carolina. Update as soon as we get them.

Also, more breaking news. We have just learned this just now here. We have been reporting on these four inmates who escaped from a shower, this trap door opening at the top of a shower at this Oklahoma jail. Want to go straight to George Howell, who's working this for us on the ground in Oklahoma.

What's the news now, George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, you know, this search for four men considered armed and dangerous now reduced to a search for two men. We confirmed through the Caddo County sheriff's office that Dylan Three Irons and Prime Brown have been taken into custody in Chickasha, Oklahoma, which is near where we are here in Caddo County. They are still looking for Anthony Mendonca and Triston Cheadle. Again, these men are considered armed and dangerous. There is a search in this county and really throughout the state to find them.

And, Brooke, as you mentioned, these four men managed to escape this detention center through that maintenance hatch. They were able to go through there and effectively get to a room where the door was opened and they walked out. Again, two men in custody. The search continues for two others, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, George, thank you.

I want to bring in Lynn Berry with me now because now that we've got the news that two, it sounds like, are apprehended, two are still, you know, on the lam, how exactly did they pull this off?

LYNN BERRY, HLN ANCHOR: Yes, people are comparing it to the real life "Shawshank Redemption."

BALDWIN: "Shawshank Redemption."

BERRY: I mean it sounds cliche, but it's true. You saw that maintenance hatch, right? It was in their jail cell shower. So they unscrew it. They climb up to this piping crawl space type area where the plumbing and the AC is. They actually kick down a cement wall, which sounds unbelievable in and of itself, and they are then in a separate room.

That room has a door that's completely unlocked.

BALDWIN: Completely unlocked.

BERRY: Brooke, they just completely walked out of the jail in their orange jumpsuits. And here's what's interesting. The guards there are not the ones who noticed them missing.

BALDWIN: Because they didn't notice for a while, correct?

BERRY: Exactly. They had somebody call in about 3:00 in the morning saying, I see four guys in orange jumpsuits walking by the courthouse. So that obviously seemed strange. They did find the jumpsuits about two blocks away, so they know that they're wearing something different. They're thinking they're getting help -- they're from that area - getting help from relatives. So we know that two have been caught. Two still on the lam. But they're looking through all abandoned cars and especially those relatives. They're going to have to get help. They have no resources. So you go to who you know.

BALDWIN: So they were awaiting transfer, from what I read, into a state prison. In the meantime, they're in this jail with this unlocked door, which makes you - there are lots of questions here. Bottom line, in stories like these, it seem like these men we saw recently at a prison last week, they go to familiar territory when they're out. They try to get help from family members. And ultimately it's the family members saying, hey, turn yourself in.

BERRY: Exactly. You know, it's that unlocked door, though, doesn't that sort of strike you as strange?


BERRY: Why would there be an unlocked door?


BERRY: And George Howell, who's been reporting on this, spoke to the sheriff a little bit earlier. Here's what he had to say about that.



SHERIFF GENE CAIN, CADDO COUNTY, OKLAHOMA: By code, they said this has to be that way. For anybody in there got caught working there or anything, there was a lot of, you know, high pressure and gas. So they've got to be able to get out. It's just automatic, you have to go out.


BERRY: So it's a code issue because of the work that can be done in that area.


BERRY: And they say this was not any kind of malfunction. That they may investigate it, but this wasn't anything they're embarrassed about. It just happened to be these guys figured out how to get out of this jail. I mean it seems extremely strange that in a detention center it can be as easy as unhooking a maintenance hatch in a shower.

BALDWIN: Two caught -


BALDWIN: Two more to go. Lynn Berry, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Also today, one accusation has rocked the world the president knew. This headline splashed across newspapers from Germany to Australia. One report claiming not only was the NSA tapping the private cell phone of the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, ever since 2010, but that President Obama knew about it. The NSA hitting back, trashing the report with this statement, saying, "General Alexander did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 this alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel. News reports claiming otherwise are simply not true."

Germany may be in the spotlight here, but that is just one of more than 30 countries. We're talking about U.S. allies here saying they are furious now at the alleged extent of NSA surveillance on their turf. Today, the U.S. ambassador to Spain was called in for a dressing down by the Spanish foreign minister. A Spanish newspaper publishing a shocking number, 60, 6-0 million phone calls of average citizens intercepted by the NSA in the past year alone.

So joining me now, Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent, and Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University.

So welcome to both of you.

And, Christiane, to you first because the big pushback, you know, coming from this unidentified source, through "The Wall Street Journal," saying that the president did not know that the NSA was spying on foreign leaders, put a stop to it, you know, as soon as he found out. So let's just -- let's take the president at his word. Why didn't he know?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I have absolutely zero idea about whether he knew, whether he didn't, why he didn't, or what. What I do know though is that spying has been, you know, as old as diplomacy itself. It is part of accepted statecraft. It's not pleasant. They don't like it, but they all know it happens.

I think the issue is the publics in Europe were very upset. In Germany, they're very upset. Ever since the NSA leakage started with Edward Snowden months ago, they started to be very, very upset in Germany, partly because of their history with the starzi (ph), the secret police under the communist regime, and partly because they thought that this president would be different. They thought that President Obama would somehow do something different in national security than President Bush. So that's, you know, colored their opinion. But as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has said, everybody does it, I was even bugged by the French when I was U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

BALDWIN: But, Julian, should he have known if the U.S., if the NSA was tapping say a personal cell phone of a world leader?

JULIAN ZELIZER, HISTORIAN & PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: Well, certainly the president doesn't know everything that's going on with the NSA, and we shouldn't expect that. But when you're talking about the surveillance of world leaders and an issue that's been controversial for a while now, you would expect that there's some knowledge, either by the president or people surrounding him. He hasn't really said much about the second part of that, but I do think they're surprised that this was off the radar in the inner circles of the White House.

BALDWIN: Christiane, you point out, spying, one of the world's oldest professions. Do you think that these world leaders, knowing what they know about spying, do you think they are genuinely upset, or is this feigned anger?

AMANPOUR: I think they're upset and they're also playing to their publics. You know, before Angela Merkel, it was Dilma Rousseff, who is the president of Brazil. She was very upset to know that her e-mails had been looked at, her personal e-mails and others, and, as you know, cancelled a state visit to the United States. So it's being, you know, reacted to in this way by many of the world leaders.

There is an agreement called Five Eyes between the English speaking allies, that's the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, to share intelligence and not to spy on each other, but others fall outside that parameter. And genuinely - or rather generally, it's assumed that everybody knows this is happening.

Now, the fallout, though, is pretty difficult to judge and to gauge, but certainly it's having an impact on U.S. foreign policy, on the way it talks and discusses and, not only that, collects information, and it's also having an impact in the fact that, you know, lots of people in Europe, especially leaders, are not cutting the U.S. as much slack as they might have done in the past.


AMANPOUR: Partly, they're saying, because the U.S., under the Obama administration, is backing off a lot of the burden sharing, a lot of the heavy lifting that traditionally the U.S. has done in support of its allies over the past.

BALDWIN: But because of the fallout, because of the anger amongst these world leaders, Julian, do you think - do you think someone's head should roll over this?

ZELIZER: Well, we're going to see what the administration does. I think two things to remember. President Obama himself raised a lot of the expectations about the differences with how he would conduct national security operations and those resonated both here and around the world. So it might be that in the end he tries to blame someone. He himself now by -- with this report coming out that he ordered this to stop, it's something of an admission this shouldn't be business as usual.

And the second thing is, this is a surveillance that's very different than people were used to in previous years because of e-mail and Internet spying. So I think the president is going to do something and I do think he's feeling that the political fallout is significant.

BALDWIN: Christiane Amanpour and Julian Zelizer, my thanks to both of you so much today.

Coming up here, this mother of 14 children is accused of selling the virginities of her own daughters. We're going to talk about that.

Plus, should you boycott zoos, aquariums, Sea World? The CNN film "Blackfish" sure did spark a huge debate across America.

And right now, two are caught, two are on the loose. Inmates after an escape in the jail's shower. We'll have an update on that story coming up.


BALDWIN: Now to the backlash over "Blackfish." That is the CNN film just recently aired several times here about what happens to some killer whales trained in captivity. And this film profiles several former trainers, including one who will not bring their children to Sea World shows, and it has many, many of you thinking, you know, should parents take their children to see these animal shows, take them to these parks? One of our CNN iReporters, a father of two boys, says no.


JASON ASSELIN, FATHER: It's not fair to these animals that we're kidnapped from nature. Training animals to jump and do things for treats, that's not natural. Imprisoning them for life, it's not fair.


BALDWIN: And that is just one of many iReports we have received. CNN's Martin Savidge has been watching and tracking the reaction to "Blackfish" and Sea World's defense of its programs. Take a look.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The CNN film "Blackfish" is taking social media by storm. On FaceBook and Twitter, thousands debate the ethics of keeping killer whales in captivity at aquariums in marine parks. Many say they were stunned by the movie's allegation that mistreatment of some killer whales, also known as orcas, may have led to deadly consequences for trainers.

"After watching this documentary, I can never be happy at Sea World again," said one. And another post says, "heartbreaking to watch the whales in captivity. How can anyone think this is okay?"

But it's not just the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not fair to the animal that they have to be taken out of their natural environment just so that we can be able to see them and learn about them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're really big fish usually kept in small quarters. It doesn't seem right.

SAVIDGE: "Blackfish" tells the story of Dawn Brancheau, a veteran Sea World trainer, dragged into the water and drowned by a killer whale she was working with in 2010.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden the whale just latched onto her and took her under.

SAVIDGE: Now former trainers like Colin Baird believes killer whales should be released back into the wild or retired to sea pens.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Why do you think they're still in captivity?

COLIN BAIRD, FORMER ORCA TRAINER: Well, there's dollars to be made, and they're a very - you know, a big draw for these facilities that have them.

SAVIDGE: It's a business?

BAIRD: It's a business.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Sea World declined our request for an interview, but did provide a statement, saying in part, "the film fails to mention Sea World's commitment to the safety of its team members and guests, and to the care and welfare of its animals, as demonstrated by the company's continual refinement and improvement to its killer whale facilities, equipment and procedures." Sea World brings in around $1.5 billion a year and supporters say millions of visitors are not just entertained but educated and inspired.

PAUL BOYLE, ASSOCIATION OF ZOOS & AQUARIUMS: People are having less and less daily encounter with animals and so these kinds of exhibits are teaching people about the wild. If people don't know animals, they won't care about them.


BALDWIN: And Martin Savidge joins me now. I just wrote down the tweet from your piece, "I can never be happy at Sea World again."


BALDWIN: Talk about a film that has elicited such a strong response from people. Is that the bigger camp or are others really defending Sea World?

SAVIDGE: Yes, that one's hard to measure. I mean certainly on social media, this story is on fire and there are a lot of people -- I would say 99 percent - that are critical of Sea World. But keep in mind, of course, many of those speaking out are animal activists. They're very well organized.


SAVIDGE: And, two, social media. It tends to be used more by younger people. Thereby, it isn't a direct measure of what America is thinking. But right now, a lot of people online do not like this idea of killer whales in captivity.

BALDWIN: What about the business of Sea World itself?

SAVIDGE: Well, if we're looking for some -

BALDWIN: Too early to tell?

SAVIDGE: Yes, it is right now because it's just too soon. I think already we know that Sea World had been seeing lower attendance figures this year. They blame in part bad weather at the beginning of the year. They also say that ticket prices went up. I guess what we'll have to really look for is the third quarter report, and that's in about two weeks.

BALDWIN: To see if this film has any effect on the bottom line.

SAVIDGE: Correct.

BALDWIN: Let us know. Martin Savidge, thank you very much.


BALDWIN: Coming up here, we are just about 100 days away from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. And, today, Russian President Vladimir Putin is clarifying comments he made about gay people visiting Russia. You will hear what he has now suddenly said.

But coming up next, Penn State announcing a major payout for the victims of Jerry Sandusky. The school putting a number on the amount it will pay 26 victims of sexual abuse. That story after this quick break.


BALDWIN: Just in to us here at CNN, Penn State University officials telling CNN that they have now reached a settlement with 26 of Jerry Sandusky's victims. So the school has agreed to pay $59.7 million to these victims. That comes to just about $2.2 million apiece. Sandusky is the former Penn State assistant football coach who was convicted last year of 45 counts relating to sexual abuse of children.

Also just in, an outage on the Obamacare website has been resolved and we're told the application and enrollment tools are back up and running. The system crashed Sunday when a data center operated by a Verizon subsidiary shut down. That left consumers unable to apply online for coverage or determine their eligibility for federal subsidies. This outage is just the latest issue to hit the troubled website since a disappointing debut back on the 1st of October. Some users have been unable to create accounts or even sign up for coverage.

Coming up, this is a tough one, $200. That is how much police say this mother charged for the virginities of her daughters. Find out who these buyers were and what happened to mom.

Plus, as Russia gets closer to hosting the Olympics, a surprising remark from Vladimir Putin about gays at the games.

But first, this seasons Nascar driver Denny Hamlin struggled his way back into competition after suffering a serious back injury. Off the track, he's fighting for a cystic fibrosis cure and Hamlin shares his personal connection to the disease in this "Impact Your World."


DENNY HAMLIN, NASCAR DRIVER: Hi, I'm Denny Hamlin, and we can make an impact on finding a cure for cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a respiratory disease that affects breathing. The lungs don't function the way that they should. And eventually you'll need a lung transplant.

My first experience with someone with cystic fibrosis was my cousin. I never understood why he had to take so much medicine every single day until I got a little older did I realize that he had a disease that, you know, there was no cure for.

We started the Denny Hamlin Foundation doing different events and we started the Short Track Showdown a couple of years after that and really it just grown the foundation over the last few years and contributed to cystic fibrosis, as well as a lot of children's hospitals in the Richmond area.

We hope that, you know, CF is something that people will recognize as (ph) cystic fibrosis, but eventually we hope CF means "cure found."

Join the movement. Impact your world at



BALDWIN: Here's a quote for you, "gay people are welcome." That statement coming out of Russia today. Really a bombshell when you consider that Russian law earlier this year condemned, quote, "homosexual propaganda to children." It sparked worldwide protests and threats from athletes to boycott next year's winter games in Sochi. Well, now, President Vladimir Putin has a pledge most folks did not see coming, gay and lesbian athletes and visitors will be welcome. CNN's Phil Black is live for us in Sochi, Russia.

And, Phil, why now? Why the sudden change in stance?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're right, Brooke, there's actually been a lot of anger over that law in this country, which makes it illegal to tell children that gay and straight relationships are equal. It's been branded discriminatory. So these comments from President Putin are clearly an attempt to cool down some of that international anger. There were even called to boycott the Sochi games. So he's going out of his way to try and allay some of those concerns.