Return to Transcripts main page


White House Under Fire From Allies Over NSA Taps; Another Malfunction Hits ObamaCare Site; Inmates Make Dramatic Prison Break; Chris Brown Faces Legal Action

Aired October 28, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: Word today that the NSA tapped the phones of not one but 35 world leaders.

And new revelations -- what the White House supposedly did and did not know about it.

Also this hour, Chris Brown arrested again. Accused of punching a fan and charged with assault. And yes, he is still on probation for roughing up Rihanna.

And a (inaudible) through a maintenance patch above the shower made their way along the jail's plumbing and air conditioning and broke through a concrete wall, then walked out, right out of an unlocked door, armed and dangerous, still on the run this hour.

Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Monday, October 28th. Welcome to the LEGAL VIEW.

You do not need to eavesdrop to know that America's trusted and most closest allies are pretty well off ticked at NSA snooping. Once more, the allies are sounding off this morning.

In just a few moments, the British prime minister, David Cameron, is due to face parliament. You know how those sessions can get.

This morning the U.S. ambassador to Spain was called if for a dressing down the Spanish foreign minister. The Spanish newspaper, "El Mundo," is reporting the NSA collect numbers, locations, durations for 60 million phone calls in Spain in just a single month.

Last month, "Le Monde" said Washington intercepted 70 million calls in a month in France.

But while our friends overseas are complaining, the head of the House intelligence committee says the civilized world should be thanking the NSA.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": How damaging is it for the German chancellor or the French president to know that we've been keyed into their phone calls?

REPRESENTATIVE MIKE ROGERS (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I think the bigger news story here would be, Candy, if the United States intelligence services weren't trying to collect information that would protect U.S. interests both home and abroad.


BANFIELD: And this is where I bring in CNN's foreign affairs reporter, Elise Labott, who has been working the phones on this.

Let's start with the other big bombshell headline, Elise, and that was from the weekend, "The Wall Street Journal" reporting that the president only learned this summer, just this summer, that we've been tapping the phones of about 35 world leaders.

That doesn't sound like it's possible. What is the White House saying?

ELISE LABOTT: Well, the White House is not saying anything specifically about this "Wall Street Journal" report, but as you know over the weekend, they denied that the president knew anything about --- specifically about the tapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.

Now it's true, Ashleigh, it doesn't seem like the president would not know if the U.S. was spying on the personal calls of world leaders.

What officials are saying is that, listen, there are a lot of NSA programs, a lot of eavesdropping programs. The president wouldn't be briefed on all of them, but this does seem to rise to another level of whether the president knew.

I mean, if the president didn't know, that means for last five years the U.S. has been spying, if this report from the "The Wall Street Journal" is true, about 35 world leaders and the president knew nothing about it.

It does raise a lot of questions.

BANFIELD: So other than making very loud complaints known in the media, both domestically on their side and then also internationally for us to hear as well, are those allies doing anything else in a concrete way?

LABOTT: There's a lot of activity going on. You have German intelligence officials come back later this week to Washington. They want answers. They're meeting with people in Washington. They want assurances that it isn't going to happen again.

Separately, a European Union delegation will be coming to have talks about privacy and surveillance issues with U.S. officials here.

And then, as you said, the ambassadors -- U.S. ambassadors to Spain and France were called in. They want clarification about all of these reports that are coming out at such a furious pace.

And then on a larger scale, you have Brazil, who is also been shocked by these revelations about surveillance, about the president there.

And Germany, talking about a U.N. resolution on privacy issues.

So it's not just in Europe. Around the world, everybody is really shocked and wants answers, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: Elise Labott, working the phones for us, and obviously, those phones continue to ring.

Elise, thank you for that. And keep us up to speed on exactly what you find out a little later on.

I also want to bring in our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour who is standing by in London.

Look, it's very different to hear the reports overseas as opposed to hearing them here. And many people have come out to say, when Mike Rogers suggests, get over it already; everyone does this, it would be very different if the president of the United States had his cell phone tapped.

So is it the embarrassment of all of this? Is it the hubris of all of this? What exactly is it that's causing the biggest problem overseas?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think there's a couple of things. When the Snowden revelations first hit many months ago now, there was immediate backlash, most especially in Germany.

They're very, very sensitive, and I mean the German population, ordinary German people, particularly because of their history of -- you know, they had East Germany.

They had the communist government. They had the Stasi, the spy agency, which were in their business the whole time. So it had a visceral effect on ordinary Germans.

And German politicians know that, and they know that they have to maintain and sort of cater to that kind of angry public opinion.

And that kind of angry public opinion has also shown itself in France, probably will do in Spain, and to an extent here in Great Britain, although the rules of the spy game are slightly different here.

But so you've got very angry publics. You also have amongst leader who basically clearly know that this is part of statecraft, part of the other-way-around diplomacy, part of everyday government-to-government life.

Spying happens all the time between the U.S. and its allies and its adversaries, so they know that. But what also is happening right now is there seems to be a deficit of goodwill towards the United States around the world, particularly amongst its allies.

Why? Because certainly under the Obama administration, there's been a perception of the U.S. pulling back from a lot of the heavy lifting that it's done over the many, many years on behalf of Europe over the years in no matter what field of endeavor. And so they're saying, hang on a second. The U.S. is pulling back, it's not doing the kinds of things that it used to do, and by the way, it's still spying on us.

So all of that together is creating this very visceral backlash on the streets Europe.

BANFIELD: You know, I want to ask you, Bob Baer was on the air a little earlier on CNN. He's now a CNN national security contributor and analyst. And he said, this is the kind of damage that will actually cost us lives.

It was a very strident statement to make, but effectively, what he was saying is that we've crossed the line so badly that the relationship will be repaired in terms of cooperation and anti-terror efforts.

Are you getting that sense as well? That maybe they won't work so hard with us next time around and something could actually slip through the cracks and cause an attack that's successful?

AMANPOUR: Look, it's really difficult to parse that, and Bob Baer would know a lot more than I do about that particular stuff.

But spying is not just about terrorism. It's about trade. It's about all sorts of competitive endeavors as well.

But certainly there is a feeling that the modalities of conducting foreign policy and conducting that kind of business are changing since these NSA revelations, particularly since Snowden's revelations.

There's much less reliance on what people used to do to get information than there was before these revelations.

In Europe, for instance, one of the things that one of the German parties has been suggesting as a payback to the U.S. is let's put on ice the E.U./U.S. free trade discussions and all of that for a free trade agreement. That hasn't happened, but they're slinging around things like that.

Now, on the more life and death issues, such as terror, there are, for instance, in Britain, Prime Minister Cameron has been saying, listen, much of -- you know, rather than attacking our what he called "brave spies" and people who are actually, you know, gathering intelligence, we should be thanking them for keeping us safe.

So there is a real sort of dilemma about the quality of what's being leaked. What are the really important things that many governments feel that they absolutely need to be able to do in a certain amount of secrecy in order to protect lives and protect against attacks.

BANFIELD: And since you mentioned it, Christiane, we should let our viewers know, that in about 21 minutes from now, David Cameron is expected to make some live remarks. We're going to monitor that, live.

Thank you, Christiane Amanpour, live in London. AMAPOUR: I'm going to be talking to Glenn Greenwald who has obviously been the main conduit for Snowden, talking to him later this afternoon about where this may lead beyond this.

BANFIELD: Formerly from "The Guardian."

All right, thank you for that, excellent work, as always, Christiane. Thank you.

I want to switch gears for a moment, and that is because if you have tried to do any online health insurance shopping today or even yesterday, here is a really good bet. You haven't gotten too far.

It probably sounds like old news, but last night the ObamaCare Web site, just plain crashed.

The apply-online function is still down at this hour, and our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins me now with an update.

Look, there have been a lot of terms used to describe what's going on with that website, and whether this is a glitch or a disaster, I'm not sure which.

But it effectively shut everyone, a hundred percent of anyone who wants to get in, cannot.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Ashleigh, I'm not sure that it's 100 percent. I actually logged in about an hour ago, and I was able to access my application.

I didn't try to do anything. I just was able to log in. But then my producer logged in a little while after that, and he got that "our system is down," full screen, that we were showing, that graphic that we were showing just a while ago.

So he got that, but I actually did manage to log in, so go figure. You know, it seems like we're seeing yet more spottiness on where you just never know what's going to happen.

Sometimes I log in easily, and sometimes I can't get anywhere. And it seems like this is exacerbating the problem.

So one of the private companies that works with had this network failure. It's been affecting, as well as other sites.

BANFIELD: Well, you know, it's funny, because last night, it was like zero entry.

But maybe -- I mean, they've been furiously trying to repair this, you know, right around the clock, so maybe that is sketchy this morning, spotty, at least.

So here's the other issue. You know, absent being able to get online and do your shopping, you're being referred to an 800 number.

Can they deal with that? Is the phone system, the good old-fashioned of phone systems, that series of tubes, is that working?

COHEN: I called that 800 number and within minutes, you know, two minutes or so, not even two minutes I was able to get on. So I got on very, very quickly with an operator. So that part works.

But here's what I've been hearing from people who've calling the 800 number. You can only go so far. They maybe able to do an application for you, but they can't tell you about all of the policies that are available to you.

So eventually you're going to either have to go online or do snail mail. And I was talking to a woman who was trying to get this policy options by snail mail, and she said, when am I going to see them?

And the operator said, I don't know. And she said, why don't you know? And they said, because we're not the ones sending them out to you.

So the phone seems to be working, but you can only get so far with an operator. You can't complete the entire process.

BANFIELD: All right, we'll continue to watch that. Elizabeth Cohen, live for us, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BANFIELD: Just ahead, police searching for escaped inmates. How they got away seems like something you've seen in a Hollywood movie before.

And if that's what you're thinking, you're right. You're absolutely right.

Only problem is, they're not actors. They're armed and dangerous.


BANFIELD: So in a scene that seems like it's right out of the "Shawshank Redemption," four inmates made a clean getaway from an Oklahoma jail. Instead of digging a tunnel, they found an escape through a hatch in the shower. Yes, there was a hatch in the shower. George Howell takes us through their bold breakout.


GEORGE, HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A desperate search is under way this morning for four inmates after their bold escape Sunday morning from this detention center in Anadarko, Oklahoma, about an hour outside Oklahoma City. Their names, Dylan Three Irons, Prime Brown, Anthony Mendonca, Triston Cheadle, all considered armed and dangerous.

SHERIFF GENE CAIN, CADDO COUNTY, OKLAHOMA: Any time you know anybody breaks out of prison or anything you're going to say they're dangerous. We're not for sure they're armed but you got to -- you got to think they might be. Well, you know, they wasn't when they left but we don't know what they picked up after. HOWELL: Each man was sentenced on criminal charges ranging from burglary to meth possession and parole violation. The details of their spectacular jailbreak read like a film script, a real life "Shawshank Redemption."

Officials say the men busted through a maintenance hatch above the shower in the jail. They crawled through a pipe space beneath the roof where the air conditioning and plumbing are located, then they knocked out a cement block to get to another room. That took them directly to an unlocked side door, which they simply pushed open to their freedom.

CAIN: We got officers just checking all the abandoned vehicles and checking residences where we might know they have relatives living. We're doing that right now.

HOWELL: Caddo County Sheriff Gene Cain says authorities only realized the escape after they were tipped off by someone who saw the inmates walking near the courthouse still wearing their orange jumpsuits.

CAIN: We immediately started a headcount on our prisoners and we did find that we had four missing.

HOWELL: The men later ditched the jumpsuits which officers found but there is still no sign of the escapees, and that has residents here worried.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope they're not at my house when I get back.


That's all I hope. You just prepare yourself. I'm a gun owner, I've been all my life.


BANFIELD: And George Howell is live in Anadarko, Oklahoma. What are you learning about the escape?

HOWELL, Ashleigh, we now know that a contractor who is part of the firm that built this detention center is here to help, you know, figure out the mystery of how this happened. I want to bring in also Sheriff Gene Cain, who joins me.

Sheriff, can you talk to me about what you're learning so far about the people who seemed to slip through the cracks and actually walk through the door to get out?

CAIN: When they got into the pipe run up above the ceiling, they crawled as far as they could. They come to an existing wall. When they broke through the wall, they came down into the room where the pipe goes down. That's not part of the closed-in area of the detention center and it has a door that automatically has to open because of the stuff that's in it when they get out.

Howell: So a design flaw, yes? CAIN: Yes -- no, no. By code, they said this has to be that way for anybody in there that caught working in there. There's a lot of high pressure and gas. They've got to be able to get out. It's automatic, you have to go out.

HOWELL: Sheriff, thank you for taking a moment with me.

And again we do understand that the investigation continues. The search for these men, the sheriff's office obviously asks if you have any information to contact them to help track these men down.

BANFIELD: I think that design flaw might have been in the hatch in the shower, George. I don't know about you. But there's some design flaw there if four guys walked out of there without a problem. George Howell live for us. Thank you for that.

I want to move on now to jury selection underway in a high profile hacking case in London. Two former editors of Rupert Murdoch's now defunct newspaper "News of the World: are on trial for conspiring to illegally access voicemails on telephones belonging to politicians, and celebrities, andeven victims of crime. Both Rebecca Brooks and Andy Coulson, as well as the six others who are on trial, deny that they did those things.

A state fair ride operator has been charged in North Carolina after several people were hurt on one of the rides there. The witnesses say The Vortex suddenly restarted just as people were trying to get off of the ride on Thursday night. And some people ended up falling up to 20 feet. Investigators say they found that that ride had been tampered with. The operator named Timothy Tutterrow is now facing charges of assault.

A funeral is being held this morning for Massachusetts teacher Colleen Ritzer who was allegedly killed by a student last week. Hundreds of people turned out for a viewing last night in her hometown of Andover. A 14-year-old boy, a student has been charged in her death. His mother said over the weekend, that her heart breaks for the teacher's family.

Rap star Chris Brown is currently on probation for his assault on Rihanna, his ex-girlfriend, but he could be going to jail after yet another run-in with the law. This one, violent. Going to get the LEGAL VIEW, next.


BANFIELD: Some more trouble for Chris Brown to tell you about this morning. That singer is scheduled to be in a courtroom in Washington, D.C. in just a couple of hours from now, in fact. He was busted over the weekend for allegedly attacking a man outside of a hotel.

Police arrested Chris Brown and his bodyguard early on Sunday morning. They were returning to the hotel after attending an event at Howard University. Twenty-year-old Isaac Parker claims that both men punched him in the face after he jumped into a photo that was being taken with a female fan. The felony assault arrest could have serious legal ramifications for that popular singer. Brown is already on probation. Remember why? That felony domestic violence conviction that made such massive headlines back in 2009 when he attacked his girlfriend, Rihanna.

Criminal defense attorney Heather Hansen and CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos are on my legal panel today. Danny, let me begin with you. I kind of felt like this wasn't the first brush with the law since the Rihanna incident. And I had to go back and check all the incidents. There have been at least one, two, three. I thought probation was probation. You mess up, you go in. That's not the case?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's not the case always. Probation is not always -- it's what we call a technical violation when you pick up a new arrest as he did here. But when that happens, the Probation Department can either choose to have you brought before a judge, or not choose to have you brought before a judge. It's a case by case basis.

But make no mistake about it. When you are on probation, just the mere new arrest, not whether or not you are convicted, the mere new arrest itself may violate the terms of the probation and that may trigger a hearing before the original judge who may be none too happy that you are back in his or her court.

And at that hearing, the government does not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt your guilt because this is separate from a trial. You've agreed to go into probation. You have to comply with its terms. They need to only show in California a preponderance of the evidence. So we can think of that as 51 percent likely that you did the deed and therefore violated probation.

BANFIELD: Heather, as I look back, much of the violations happened all within this year. There was a charge that he didn't finish the community service. He assaulted and injured a woman at a nightclub. That's still ongoing, the investigation. That he did a hit and run while driving and drove without a license. The hit and run charge was dropped, not necessarily the license. He got more hours in the community service. And then he had ha run in with Frank Ocean's cousin, and was sued for assault and battery.

Those all sound extraordinarily serious (ph), and in and of their own, sound like you could be put in the slammer for that. Now that we have this incident, is this going to be the tipping point? Is this going to send the scales into prison time for Chris Brown?

HEATHER HANSEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It very well may. As Danny said, not only is he facing the violation of the probation, but he's facing the charges in Washington, D.C., which is a different jurisdiction. If he's convicted there, he maybe more likely to serve time. We've talked about before in California the prisons are overcrowded, and these celebrities just don't tend to serve time. In Washington, D.C., he's facing a very different court system, a very different prison system, and a greater likelihood that he will serve time if these assault charges are actually brought and sustained. BANFIELD: Okay, Danny Cevallos and Heather Hansen, stick around. I've got a couple of other things I want to ask you about, because just ahead, a Florida teen accused of bullying Rebecca Sedwick, well she jumped to her death, the young girl, rebecca Sedwick, and now one of the teens charge, her attorney, is a very famous attorney, Jose Baez. He is speaking out and saying her client is just a child herself and doesn't want the system to bully her. He's joining me next.