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NSA Spying Annoys U.S. Allies; Agency Administrator Apologizes for Obamacare Glitches; European Daredevil Surfers Ride Storm; One Year Since Superstorm Sandy; Terror Attacks on the Rise; Iran's Soccer Team has U.S. Coach

Aired October 29, 2013 - 12:30   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody, to AROUND THE WORLD.

I'm Hala Gorani. I'm in for Suzanne Malveaux today.

MICHAEL HOLMES: And a special welcome, of course, to our international viewers who are joining us on AROUND THE WORLD, all this week.

I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.

GORANI: The directors of national intelligence and the NSA began testifying on Capitol Hill about an hour from now at 1:30 p.m.

They'll face some questions about U.S. surveillance at home and around the world, as well.

HOLMES: Yeah, it's going to be interesting. That's for sure.

Revelations about the extent of the U.S.'s spy programs have, as we've been telling you, sparked a global firestorm, a lot of people a bit annoyed including U.S. allies.

John Schindler is a former NSA intelligence analyst and counter- terrorism officer, currently a professor at the U.S. Naval War College. Thanks for being with us.

President Obama, of course, ordering review of intelligence gathering in other countries and on other countries, but should U.S. allies be surprised they're being spied on?

JOHN SCHINDLER, NAVAL WAR COLLEGE: First, great to be here.

No, I don't think they should, and I think certainly intelligence services in places like France and Germany were at least broadly well- aware of what was going on.

You've mentioned on the program the so-called "Five Eyes" agreement with the U.S., U.K, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which is sort of a non-spying alliance going back to World War II.

But outside that, everyone really does understand that espionage is a fact of life.

GORANI: This is Hala Gorani with Michael Holmes here.


GORANI: Is it possible that the president of the United States didn't know the that foreign leaders such as Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany were being spied on, that some of her cell phone conversations were being listened to?

SCHINDLER: Of course, it's possible. The president of the United States is a very busy guy who doesn't normally worry about intelligence-collection details.

That said, certainly a lot of staff at the National Security Council, I think, had to be aware. I think part of the challenge here is that we're hearing part of the debate. And reality is, to talk Europe, there's a great deal of espionage in Europe.

Only a small portion of that is conducted by the United States. The members of the European Union spend a lot more effort spying on each other than NSA does on any of them. And so I think --

GORANI: Who's the client then? Where does the -- OK, it's one- dimensional, but this is a specific question regarding Angela Merkel and other foreign leaders.

SCHINDLER: Sure, sure.

GORANI: Who is this intelligence intended for if the commander-in- chief is kept in the dark about tapping the cell phones of foreign allies?

SCHINDLER: Well, certainly all intelligence goes to feed decision making in every country, your top military-civilian leadership up to and including your president, your prime minister, whatever.

That doesn't mean your top leadership is always fully briefed on details. That's not really something most of them have any interest in. They're interested in facts, not how you get them.

HOLMES: But particularly when it comes to Angela Merkel, a close relationship it has to be said, do you think there's an element here of providing some level of, as they say, plausible deniability? Don't tell him so he can say he didn't know?

SCHINDLER: I think that's certainly possible. And I think the reality is, to talk about the German example, because it's so prevalent in the media right now, the handy-gate thing, without getting into details of what may or may not have been done, because I don't know if it's true or not, what I'll say is this.

Germany is heavily dependent on the United States and Britain for its intelligence, particularly in counter-terrorism and basic security because it has underinvested for so long. And the reality is NSA information has saved quite a lot of German lives since 2001, since the 9/11 attacks, which, of course, were staged out of Hamburg, Germany, a fact we tend to gloss over.

Top German intelligence officials admitted this week that information from U.S. intelligence has disrupted several terrorist plots inside Germany itself. So this is a very complicated picture.

GORANI: Right, but we're talking about millions of phone calls, metadata being gathered, all in secret without the knowledge of those people in those countries on foreign soil.

Why is it wrong to ask that question of whether or not this is legal or even right to do such a thing?

SCHINDLER: Well, I think legal is one question. Espionage is generally illegal when you're doing it. That's part of the rules of the game. Everyone understands it. That's why you're not supposed to get caught.

But the reality, it is very complicated since so much data is actually also shared with European-partner governments. This metadata collection is often shared with others. And metadata collection is not -- you hear these figures about 60 million Spanish calls a month. That's metadata. That is not intercepting of the phone calls themselves. That's make this very clear. NSA would have to have several million employees if this were true. It's not true.

But remember, much of this data is shared with partners. It is not -- there is much plausible deniability on all sides of this game, that European governments don't want to admit they're helping the Americans. The Americans don't want to admit they're helping European governments.

The intelligence business is by its nature secret. We're going to have a congressional review of all this. And I think that's probably an excellent idea right now.

But the idea of fully-transparent intelligence goes against the very nature of the animal.

GORANI: John Schindler, thanks very much.

And John was mentioning this hearing that's going to take place on Capitol Hill, an open hearing, which is unusual on these practices.

HOLMES: There could be some fireworks there.

John, thanks so much.

Now, if you're just joining us, President Obama's signature and a little controversial healthcare law, under fire at a congressional hearing right now.

Today, we actually heard an apology from the administrator whose agency oversaw the creation of the enrollment website. That is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Have a listen.


MARILYN TAVENNER, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES: Consumers are eager to purchase this coverage, and to the millions of Americans who have attempted to use to shop and enroll in health care coverage, I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well it should.

We know how desperately you need affordable coverage. I want to assure you that can and will be fixed, and we are working around the clock to deliver the shopping experience that you deserve. We are seeing improvements each week.


GORANI: And coming up, we'll have a live report from Washington on today's hearing, and new concerns that the president may have misled the public on one aspect of the law, being able to keep the plan that you have if you're happy with it.

Plus, tonight we have a special report on Obamacare. That's at 6:00 Eastern.

Stay with AROUND THE WORLDF. We'll be right back.


GORANI: It's going to take time to recover from the powerful Atlantic storm that slammed Europe from southern England all the way to Denmark. At least 139 people were killed, most by falling trees.

The lights are back on for most of the hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses that lost power because of the storm, and rail service and the airlines are slowly getting back to normal schedules.

Now, look at this. The storm with wind gusts of almost 100 miles an hour created enormous waves, and as you can see in this video from Portugal, a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a daredevil. "Daredevil" is what they're calling him.

HOLMES: There were several. Yeah, several did this.

GORANI: Insane.

HOLMES: It might have been a world record. They say that -- I think it's this wave.

GORANI: It's surfing that wave.

HOLMES: 100-feet, 30-meters tall.

And these waves are so big you can't paddle onto them. You have to be towed in, as you can see there, by a jet ski, and then you ride it.

GORANI: So he was towed in by a jet ski in the middle of that storm and then rode the 100-foot wave. HOLMES: Hundred-footer, which could be a world record, yeah. So we'll keep an eye and we'll let you know if it is a world record, because as an aging surfer, I think that is amazing.

GORANI: As a not-an-aging surfer, I think that's amazing. It must be.

HOLMES: I could watch those pictures all day.

All right, now, it has been a year, hard to believe this, since Superstorm Sandy ravaged New York and New Jersey. Much has changed, as you can imagine. We've got some before and after images.

Not everything has changed. A lot of people are in limbo, fighting with insurance companies or navigating the serpentine web of government red tape.

Three-hundred-and-sixty-six-thousand structures, most of them homes, were heavily damaged or destroyed. Some of them just lifted up off their foundations and moved down the street.

Now, many people, still living in FEMA temporary housing. It has been a year of progress, great progress in many cases. Look at that before and after. But you have to temper that by the humbling frustrations, as you'll see in this video look back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here three miles compared to what we've been seeing in other places. It is about to crest over the sidewalk here in Riverside Park. So it's definitely a much higher water level than we've seen before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got this massive tree that popped up there, right from the ground.


GORANI: Well, Atlantic City, New Jersey, was one of the areas hardest hit by Sandy, and coming up, we'll hear from Atlantic City mayor, Lorenzo Langford, who says his city is pulling through.

That's going to be next hour on CNN USA.

HOLMES: Up next here on AROUND THE WORLD, terror attacks on the rise across the globe, 89 percent jump in fatalities since 2011.

We'll look at that when we come back.



In an Italian courtroom, we heard about a desperate cry for the man on trial for causing the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster. The ship hit the coastline off the island of Giglio and capsized last January. Thirty-two people died. The ship's captain is on trial for manslaughter.

A Russian ballet star today pleaded not guilty to masterminding an acid attack on the Bolshoi Ballet's artistic director. The director was walking up to his Moscow apartment in January when a masked assailant tossed sulfuric acid in his face. That attack left the director severely burned and nearly blinded. He's had multiple surgeries since then.

Drone attacks, a major part of the United States arsenal against terrorism. But after several incidents of innocent people being killed, the government has dialed back their use. There were 10 drone strikes in Pakistan during the past five months. That's about one strike every 15 days. Now in the year before, if you compare, they happened every eight days. And as you see in this video, the unmanned aircraft can be pretty precise. But what happens when innocent people get caught in the middle of an attack? CNN spoke to a girl who lost her grandmother in a drone attack over Pakistan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you heard that noise, what happened next?

NABILA UR REHMAN, DRONE ATTACK VICTIM (through translator): Just everything became dark, and I couldn't see my grandmother. I was looking around. I couldn't really make out anything. I didn't know what was going on, and I couldn't - I could hear my grandma but I couldn't see my grandma.


GORANI: Several victims of drone attacks were invited to speak to members of Congress today about their experiences surviving drone strikes.


HOLMES: Yes, a very controversial issue in some parts of the world. Now one reason, of course, as we said, the U.S. uses these drones is because it's a tool against terrorism. Now, as CNN's Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence shows us, acts of terror around the world are on the rise.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not your imagination. Terrorists are launching more attacks, like this deadly assault on a Nairobi mall. And it's likely the world will see even more violence next year. CNN obtained exclusive access to an upcoming report from START (ph), a group that tracks terrorism around the world. It found there were 69 percent more terrorist attacks in 2012 than a year before. There was an 89 percent jump in deaths. And with well over 5,000 attacks through June of this year, the future looks even deadlier.

DANIEL BENJAMIN, FORMER STATE DEPT. COUNTERTERRORISM COORDINATOR: And I expect we'll see that reflected in even more violence in 2013 and even higher numbers.

LAWRENCE: Dan Benjamin was the terrorism coordinator at the State Department. He says many of today's militant groups judge success by the number of people killed, including civilians.

BENJAMIN: The old red lines, the old barriers are all gone.

LAWRENCE: Six of the seven deadliest groups are affiliated with Al Qaida, including Afghanistan's Taliban and Nigeria's Boko Haram, which is going after Christian targets.

The targeting of other religions, or Muslims of a different sect, is driving casualty rate higher.

BENJAMIN: It is much more like warfare and it's warfare using the tools of terrorism.

LAWRENCE: But the violence is more concentrated than you might think. Three countries, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, suffered more than half the attacks and the casualties.

(on camera): And that really points out the flipside of some of those numbers. The danger to civilians in the United States, western Europe, even parts of eastern Asia isn't nearly as high and may actually be declining.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: When we come back here on AROUND THE WORLD, a terrific story. Iran's national soccer team heading to the World Cup and, guess what, an American coach is going along with them. How he wound up involved with the Iranian team, coming up.


HOLMES: Welcome back. Iran's national team is heading to the World Cup in Brazil next year. And, guess what, their assistant coach is an American and he couldn't be happier.

GORANI: Reza Sayah has the story of how Dan Gaspar ended up living and coaching in a country many Americans don't know or understand.


REZA SAYAH, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): June 18th, Iran's national football team scores a 1-0 win against South Korea. For only the fourth time, Iran qualifies for the World Cup. The win sparks frenzied celebrations on the field, in the streets of Tehran. And among those celebrating -

DAN GASPAR, ASST. COACH, IRANIAN SOCCER TEAM: There was a lot of hugging. There was a lot of jumping

SAYAH: American citizen Dan Gaspar, the Iranian team's assistant coach.

GASPAR: It was a battle of emotions and, you know, after 90 minutes, that cork was released and just everything poured out.

SAYAH: For Gaspar, qualifying for the World Cup was vindication of his decision nearly three years ago to coach the national team of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A country then locked in a bitter feud with Washington and one U.S. politicians often described as a rogue nation secretly building a nuclear bomb.

(on camera): At some point you have to go to your wife, say, honey, I'm going to Iran. What did she say to that?

GASPAR: She was shocked. She was concerned, as most of my friends and family members were.

SAYAH (voice-over): But the Portuguese American wanted to work with long-time friend and colleague, head coach Carlos Queiroz. He wanted a crack at the cup and he wanted to get to know Iran for himself.

GASPAR: My personality is one of adventure and curiosity. I wanted to experience a culture in a part of the world that I've never been.

SAYAH (on camera): When Coach Gaspar first got to Iran back in 2011, he admits he was a little nervous, a little wary, so he didn't go out and socialize much. Now that he knows Iran a little bit, he says what we often hear from visitors to Iran, what you see on TV doesn't exactly match reality.

GASPAR: When you listen to the news and you read the news, sometimes during commercials I step away from my couch and I look out the balcony and it's not what I'm seeing and it's not what I'm reading, it's not what I'm hearing.

SAYAH (voice-over): Gaspar says meeting former President Ahmadinejad was just like meeting anyone else. Iranians, he says, are generous and peace-loving people who love their football team and their country. One of his biggest thrills is that Iran's qualification for the World Cup finals next year comes amid optimism that Tehran will improve relations with Washington as moderate President Hassan Rouhani tries to settle Iran's nuclear dispute with the west.

GASPAR: And right now, more than ever, there seems to be a lot of hope and optimism and a sense of energy that thing will get better.

SAYAH: For now, Gaspar's focus remains the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, a final destination in a remarkable journey.

GASPAR: If I listened to the experts and listened to my friends and family, I probably would have never been here in Iraq.

SAYAH: Right.

GASPAR: It's been part of my life for the last three years. And during those three years, there have been some wonderful experiences and memories that are going to last a lifetime. SAYAH: Reza Sayah, CNN, Tehran.


GORANI: And that was an assistant coach, but - and I don't know if many Americans are aware, but Bob Bradley, is an American and he's the football coach for the Egyptian national team.

HOLMES: Exactly. Yes.

GORANI: However, not great. Bruising loss against Guiana, 6-1.

HOLMES: Yes. Australia, by the way, qualified for the World Cup, too. Just throwing it out there, that's all.

GORANI: I'm looking up France to see. France is my team. So we'll see if they make it.

HOLMES: Good luck. Well, they will. Absolutely they will.

All right, now let's show you a couple of stories that caught our attention today before we go.

Halloween is Thursday in the United States. Everyone getting ready for that, including an underwater diver -- most of them are under water, aren't they -- dressed as a skeleton feeding the fish from plastic pumpkins in Berlin.

GORANI: And it's become very popular this Halloween thing abroad.

Chocolate lovers, check this out. You won't find these next sweets in your Halloween bags. Chefs from around the world are competing in the World Chocolate Masters Contest in Paris.

HOLMES: I bet you wish you were there.

And let's go to the (INAUDIBLE) homeland. Queensland, in fact, Australia. Scientists uncovering three new vertebrae spies. We've got plenty of those. A leaf tailed gecko. That's not it. A golden skink and that one there is called a boulder dwelling frog.

GORANI: What is a - what is a golden skink?

HOLMES: Oh, we've got them as pets down there.

GORANI: But what is a skink? Is it a rodent?

HOLMES: I don't know.

GORANI: OK. That's all right. We'll get to the bottom of that soon.


GORANI: That's going to do it for us on AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Hala Gorani. HOLMES: Yes, I'm Michael Holmes. CNN NEWSROOM is up next for our U.S. audience. For international viewers, "World Sport" is next. And Hala will have the International Desk an hour from now. Don't miss that or she will punish you. Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Right now the Obama administration is under fire on several fronts. We're waiting for today's White House briefing. Live coverage coming up this hour. The administration facing some tough questions regarding the president's promise about keeping your healthcare plan.

Also right now, top administration intelligence officials, they're getting ready to get grilled this hour. The head of the NSA and the president's top intelligence chief, they are both standing by to testify. We'll have live coverage of the NSA's decision to spy on American allies. Maybe we'll learn something new.