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U.S. Congress Holds Hearings On NSA Spying Procedure; Interview with European Parliament Delegation Member Claude Moraes

Aired October 29, 2013 - 16:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Tonight, going on the offense: U.S. intelligence chiefs are on Capitol Hill right now to strike back at critics of their surveillance activities. Just how will the scandal impact Transatlantic ties? Well, tonight you'll hear from a European politician in Washington trying to get some answers.

Also this hour, protecting borders or saving migrants? We go on patrol with the EU border agency to see their changing reality.

And east meet west under water. Turkey unveils the Mamurai Tunnel (ph), but how is it compared to other underwater engineering feats?

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World with Becky Anderson.

ANDERSON: Well, America's top intelligence officials are on Capitol Hill right now fielding some pretty tough questions from congress on the extent of the NSA's surveillance program. Lawmakers want answers to the accusations that the U.S. monitors the cell phones of tens of millions of citizens around the world, including some of their closest allies like the German chancellor, for example, Angela Merkel.

Another key question at stake, what exactly President Obama know about all of this?

Well, let's cross straight to Washington. Elise Labott has been monitoring those hearings from the U.S. State Department and she joins me now.

What have we learned as of yet?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, a lot of questions as to this larger program that you said about the spying -- the data collection of tens of thousands of American citizens. That was really the original intent of this hearing. And then obviously these revelations about spying on world leaders kind of really just adds fuel to the fire.

Take a listen to the director of national intelligence James Clapper when asked whether it would be important to listen to these leaders calls, to maybe hear about the plans of intentions of our allies or other leaders.


JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It's one of the first things I learned in intel school in 1963, that this is the fundamental given in the intelligence business is leadership intentions no matter what level you're talking about. That could be military leaders as well.

REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R) MICHIGAN: Do you believe that the allies have conducted or at any time any type of espionage activity against the United States of America, our intelligence services, our leaders or otherwise?

CLAPPER: Absolutely.


LABOTT: And so it goes back to that old adage that we've been hearing all week, Becky -- oh, everybody does it, why should we be surprised? And in fact when the -- there was a recent report that came out just hours ago during the hearing that some of this metadata was collected by U.S. allies in the -- in Europe. And let's take a listen to what the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, said about that.


KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: To be perfectly clear, this is not information that we collected on European citizens. It represents information that we and our NATO allies have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations.

ROGERS: So if I understand you correctly, this information was likely collected external to the country in which it may have been reported in defense of operations ongoing in the world in which NATO participates. Is that correct?

ALEXANDER: That is correct.


LABOTT: So, Becky, a lot of this furor and outrage might be started to be direct inward as European citizens learn that their leadership in their countries was involved in some of this metadata collection. And that's the whole argument of U.S. officials on the Hill and administration officials in talking is that we're all in this together. We share intelligence because we're trying to keep all our citizens safe. And a lot of these leaders don't want to end their real critical relationships with the U.S. intelligence community either.

ANDERSON: Well, certainly this is all potentially damaging to relations.

Listen, a big question being asked time and time again as these stories are reported, did he or didn't he know this -- as far -- I'm talking about the president here -- what did he know and when? Did we hear anything about that today?

LABOTT: Well, they're saying that president Obama did not know about the tapping of world leaders such as Angela Merkel, that the administration and President Obama was briefed on the general principles of the program. But U.S. officials have told us and told CNN's Evan Perez that, you know, when President Obama took office he was briefed in great detail about these programs. And in fact, because they're by presidential order he would have had to sign off on some of them.

So he might have not know exactly what leaders' phones were being tapped down to that level of granularity, but the question is should he be asking larger questions? If President Obama says the buck stops with him, you need to know everything that is to know if the buck stops with you.

ANDERSON: Elise, always a pleasure. Thank you for that.

Meanwhile, a delegation from the European parliament also in Washington today demanding answers. And I spoke to the head of that team, Claude Moraes a short while ago and asking what they have discovered so far.


CLAUDE MORAES, HEAD OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DELEGATION IN WASHINGTON: We had a private meeting today with Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the intelligence committee and also General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA. And we are meeting those kind of senior people to get to the truth of what has happened.

But more importantly to look to the future and find out whether we can get the kind of infrastructure in place to reassure European citizens that their privacy has been protected and for commerce, that they are not being compromised.

ANDERSON: The Wall Street Journal today reporting that it's European intelligence agencies, not the NSA, who are spying on each other. Your response? That's a breaking story at the Wall Street Journal this hour.

MORAES: That's right. What seems to be developing here is that we're trying to find out what's going on with the allegations at the NSA is doing mass surveillance. And what seems to be happening is as I was actually predicting a couple of days ago is that there was going to be some movement suggesting that the NSA is somehow in partnership with intelligence agencies...

ANDERSON: Is it? Just answer that question. Is it? Is it in partnership with European intelligence agencies?

MORAES: Well, how am I supposed to know? We're inquiring into it. And if I can finish the point, the point is that the allegation seems to be that the NSA is in partnership with intelligence agencies in places like the European Union. And if that's the case, then that doesn't surprise us in the sense that we're also inquiring into what intelligence agencies are doing in the European Union.

So for example, the tapping of Angela Merkel's phone, yes, the allegations is that it's the NSA doing it, that's coming from Angela Merkel herself. She phoned the president. The president phoned her. She was worried about it.

We need to get to the truth of that. Did that happen?

Now if this new set of justifications is suggesting that the German government itself is doing it. Well, let's hear that, let's hear the full truth of it.

ANDERSON: What sort of action do you see being taken on America at this stage? I'm trying to get to what -- what's the carrot and stick here, effectively?

MORAES: Well, there is a carrot and stick, which not many people are aware of. But the first thing is we don't want to posture. We're allies of the United States the serious fight against issues like terrorism and so on. So we don't want to be posturing and talking about too much about leverage.

However, there is an issue of partnership. And there is an issue of - - for example, take the European parliament -- I'm a member of the European parliament, we have deals with the United States. You've heard of SWIFT, the financial tracking deal which is responsible for looking at financial transactions around the world, which has caught many terrorists. This is a deal we do with the United States. We have the power to do that.

So we have all sorts of mechanisms where we do deals with the United States.

Now, we do that on behalf of citizens. And what we're saying to the U.S. is, you know, we need to do that on the basis of trust. And the leverage that you said is that if you can't have that trust, then these deals end up being suspended, or they can be threatened to be...


ANDERSON: Yeah, all right, that was Claude Moraes, the head of European delegation in Washington there.

I spoke to him a couple of hours ago. General Alexander at the NSA today in Washington has spoken to the idea that the NSA works with its, for example, NATO allies. So it's a very gray area here. It has to -- who is prepared to say who was working with whom when it comes to intelligence gathering. Be sure we're working on that story for you.

Well, America's spying program hit a particularly sensitive court, didn't it, in Germany when memories of life during the Cold War are still all too familiar. Chancellor Angela Merkel herself grew up in East Berlin under the watchful eye and ear of the German secret police.

Our Diana Magnay has more.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: NSA field station Berlin Toefelsburg (ph), a relic of U.S. espionage in the forests around Berlin, now a canvas for graffiti artists and backdrop for some the best kite flying in the German capital.

(on camera): From this vantage point right on top of the tiny island that was West Berlin every which direction you looked was east to the eastern bloc. This was one of the most important surveillance posts of the Cold War.

(voice-over): Now, if the allegations made in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine are true, the United States has used an even more conspicuous location from which to gather intelligence, though this time on its friends. That's its own embassy roof, a stone's throw from government quarters.

Germany's interior minister has promised to expel any U.S. diplomat proven complicit in spying operations, including alleged eavesdropping on the chancellor's personal mobile phone.

HANS-PETER FRIEDRICH, GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): We will first of all, of course, try to clarify the entire situation, especially how the spying occurred and what happened technically. The question also arose whether it came from the embassy. If we find the culprits, and if we can identify them, they must live with the legal consequences. And if they are diplomats, they must leave the country. We will see.

MAGNAY: Germans are especially sensitive to the dangers of state surveillance and the destructive nature of a society which spies on itself. The federal commission for the Stasi records, the secret police force of the former East Germany, understands perhaps better than most why intelligence gathering needs controls.

DAGMAR HOVESTADT, FEDERAL COMMISSION FOR STASI RECORDS: We have a very direct historical link to what it means if a state does not respect the boundaries of privacy and the rights of its own citizens. So the shadow of the past kind of lingers always when something as seemingly not so dramatic to an American, like a wiretapping of a cellphone, happens.

MAGNAY: Delegates from the European parliament are already in D.C. demanding an explanation. Germany's top intelligence officers are set to follow trying to establish a mechanism whereby intelligence agencies operate within acceptable international frameworks whilst holding to account counterparts who have reportedly failed to keep faith with their allies.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Berlin.


ANDERSON: Well, still to come this evening, a highly contagious disease has resurfaced in Syria. We're going to see what's behind the out break of polio there.

Plus, drama, tension and violence at the Bolshoi Ballet. This week's story is far from fiction.

And, the light beam illuminating just who is monitoring you online. That, and much more after this.


ANDERSON: This is CNN and Connect the World. 14 minutes past 8:00 here in London. I'm Becky Anderson for you.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sacked one of his top officials for having unauthorized meetings abroad. Now a state run news agency says the vice premier Qadri Jamil had been absent from his job without proper notice. It turns out, he was meeting the U.S. ambassador to Syria in Geneva to discuss proposed peace talks.


VICTORIA NULAND, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Let me first confirm that Ambassador Ford met on October 26 in Geneva with the Syrian deputy prime minister who as you all know led a government affiliated internal opposition party who has now reportedly departed that post. We meet lots of Syrians of all political backgrounds. We're not going to of course give a list, but it's important to note that we do regularly meet with Syrians with direct contacts with the regime in Damascus.


ANDERSON: OK. Well, that's the official response from Washington.

U.S. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is also trying to get what's known as the Geneva II talks off the ground, but he's working through more official channels. Brahimi met with Syria's foreign minister in Damacus today, a state run news agency there says Walid al-Moallem assured him that the government will participate in those talks, but he insisted that only Syrians can choose their political future, rejecting any outside interference.

Well, the World Health Organization is confirming the first outbreak of polio in Syria in 14 years. As Atika Shubert reports, it is no coincidence that the disease resurfaced during a time of war.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERANTIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The war in Syria doesnt just kill with bombs and bullets, the violence has now put hundreds of thousands of Syrian children at risk for a nightmare disease that was thought to have been virtually eradicated long ago -- polio.

The last time polio was detected in Syria was more than a decade ago in 1999. The World Health Organization confirmed on Tuesday 10 cases of polio inside Syria and said there could be more.

The WHO says before the civil war broke out, 95 percent of Syria's children had been immunized against polio. In 2012, that dropped to 68 percent.

(on camera): Now an estimated half a million children in Syria are at risk. UNICEF put out a global appeal for Syria's immunization program.

MARIXIE MERCADO, SPOKESWOMAN, UNICEF: The conflict in Syria has caused immense displacement with millions of children on the move either inside the country or across boarders into neighboring countries and beyond. As a result, routine immunization systems, so critical to preventing childhood diseases, have been disrupted or broken down.

SHUBERT: For many, polio is a disease of the past, a highly infectious virus that attacks the nervous system. 1 in 200 infections leads to paralysis, usually in the legs. Up to 10 percent of victims die.

In many countries, polio has been virtually eradicated by mandatory vaccination programs. And Syria was one of them, but no longer.

UNICEF and the WHO are now struggling to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of children with the help of the Syrian ministry of health. But with so many children fleeing the violence and with so much of the country inaccessible because of the fighting, aid workers are racing against time to stop the virus before it spreads.

Atika Shubert, CNN, London.


ANDERSON: Well, police in China have named two suspects linked to yesterday's deadly car crash in Beijing's Tienanmen Square. And sources are telling CNN that the crash may not have been an accident.

David McKenzie with this report.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New details have emerged that Monday's dramatic events in downtown Beijing could have been an orchestrated attack.

As authorities investigate the deadly jeep crash at Tiananmen Square, a Beijing hotel manager, who did not wish to be named, tells CNN that local police alerted hotels city-wide, asking for help in finding suspects who appear to be from the ethnic Uyghur minority.

The police listed vehicles and I.D. numbers and said the suspects may have stayed in the capital from October 1st, leading to speculation of an orchestrated political statement.

If it was an attack, it would be both audacious and highly symbolic. At noon Monday, a jeep plowed through tourists and burst into flames right under the portrait of Chairman Mao. Amateur video of the incident was posted on YouTube.

The crash site itself was quickly scrubbed clean, and as pictures emerged on social media, authorities quickly censored them and blocked Internet searches on the subject. CNN's own reporting has been blacked out in China.

The largely Muslim Uyghur minority is centered in China's restive Xinxiang Province in the far west. There's a history of tension, sometimes violent, between Uyghurs and Han Chinese.

People have grown to expect unrest in that region, but not in the very heart of the capital. This incident at Tiananmen Square, infamous for the brutal crackdown on student demonstrators in 1989, will be deeply embarrassing for Chinese leadership.

David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.


ANDERSON: Well, progress reported in Vienna where delegates from Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog agency have been meeting. The IAEA calls the talks on Iran's nuclear program, and I quote, very productive and says Iran submitted a constructed proposal aimed at resolving outstanding issues.

Now the two sides have agreed to meet again next month.

The former captain of the Costa Concordia was back in court today. Francesco Schettino is facing multiple charges in connection with last year's deadly shipwreck off the coast of Italy. Now one of the key witnesses was his lover Moldonvian dancer Domonica Karamortan (ph). She told the court she was on the bridge when the captain -- with the captain when the crash happened and describes a scene of chaos.

As Barbie Nadeau now reports, several others also took the stand.


BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We heard from the -- especially important I think from the retired ship captain who Captain Schettino thought was on Giglio at the time, that's who he was trying to impress, that's why he went close to the island.

We also heard from the maitre d' of the restaurant who had Facebooked his sister who lived on the island of Giglio to say, listen, we're going to be coming by soon. Bring your friends out to the port and wave to the ship.

So what you did is basically said the precedent, the prosecution did a good job setting a precedent about what happened in the minutes before the Costa Concordia hit the rocks.


ANDERSON: That's the story in Italy.

Well, in Russia, a not guilty plea from a star dancer in the famed Bolshoi Ballet. Pavel Dmitrichenko denies masterminding a vicious acid attack on the company's artistic director. This report from Phil Black.


PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Three men are on trial together in this case, in this Moscow district court. Firstly, Pavel Dmitrichenko, a soloist with Bolshoi Ballet who is accused organizing the attack against the artistic director of the company Sergei Filin. Yuri Zarutsky is accused of actually throwing the sulphuric acid in Filin's face. And a third man, Andrei Lipatov is accused of being the driver on the night of the attack.

The charges were read to all three men and they were asked to respond.

Pavel Dmitrichenko said he was not guilty, he wasn't involved. So, too, the Lapatov, the man accused of being the drier. But Yuri Zarutsky who is said to have been the man who actually carried out this horrific attack, he pleaded guilty, but went on to say that he acted alone, that the other two men were not involved in the planning of the attack.

This horrific act of violence against Sergei Filin lifted the lid internationally on what had long been suspected, the passionate rivalries, the bitter jealousies at the heart of Russia's most iconic cultural institution.

Since the attack, Sergei Filin has been receiving medical treatment in Germany for much of the year to try and recover as much of his eyesight as possible. He's undergone multiple surgeries.

He returned to Moscow recently still wearing very heavy dark glasses. He's said to have recovered 80 percent vision in one eye, just 10 percent in the other.

He's got other surgeries to go, a lot more treatment. There is a real question mark on whether he will be able to resume his career as he hopes to do.

It is expected that he will give evidence in this trial, which is going to last for about two months.


ANDERSON: Phil Black in Moscow for you.

Live from London, this is Connect the World. 23 minutes past 8:00. Coming up, what from the sea lucky to be alive. CNN takes you on a trip across the dangerous waters that migrants travel.

First, though, getting in on the game. We're going to show you how to track your trackers online.


ANDERSON: The U.S. spying allegations have made headlines for weeks now. And they raised important questions of individual privacy. But data collection is not limited to national spy teams. Many of the websites that we use, you and me, on a daily basis, collect information about us and share it with their partners.

So, now the web browser Mozilla Firefox has come up with a new tool to show us just who is tracking our moves online. Samuel Burke explains.

SAMUEL BURKE, CNN CORREPSONDENT: So, this is Lightbeam, Becky, from the Firefox company. And it's a tool that allows you to track all the sites that are tracking you. So you install it on Firefox and you go about your business, websurfing as usual and then it shows you which websites have tracked you and all the third party companies -- look, it shows here, all the third company parties that they've shared information with.

So I visited just 12 sites and it was shared with 100...

ANDERSON: Guardian and Google and various others, yeah.

BURKE: Exactly. And those companies shared it with 134 other companies, which you can see here names of them.

Now, not -- Firefox says not all sharing is bad. Sometimes these companies are trying to improve their websites, understand their users better. But it makes people uncomfortable to think that sometimes they're tracking all the other websites you go to and then sharing it with other companies.

ANDERSON: Well, why don't I just now press my privacy button and prevent all of this from happening?

BURKE: In private browsing, incognito mode in Chrome, a lot of people use that and they think they're safe, but what that does is it just erases the information off our computer, but not off of these servers, so if I were going to buy you a wedding ring, Becky, I might want to hide that from you. I don't want that to show up on the computer in the house.

Now I might go to the in private browsing, but again you won't see that, but these companies tracking our information might see it.

ANDERSON: There are things called cookies, which our viewers let me tell you, not nice things like biscuits, sugar-coated, what's the deal there?

BURKE: So, it's the cookies that are tracking all the information about you. They know every site that you've been to and then they might share that information with other websites. People say, well can't I just turn off the cookies, then, so that all these websites don't track me? The answer is not really, because if you don't have your cookies turned on, you can't visit many other sites. So not really a solution.

ANDERSON: Are you going to provide me and the viewers with any solution tonight?

BURKE: So, one solution to try and stop all these sites from tracking you could be using a proxy. A lot of people use a free product. It's called TOR. There are also VPN softwares available. That allows you to route your traffic through another computer so these websites don't really know who you are and they think you're some other computer. And a lot of these are free products.

ANDERSON: We talk about free products. Nothing comes from free, does it? When I do a Google search, I am a commodity at the end of the day, aren't I?

BURKE: Yeah, that's the lesson in all of this. If the product is free, you are the product. So you can try and use these to get around, but nothing is 100 percent safe, Becky.

ANDERSON: You can find some of these...

BURKE: @BeckyCNN. You'll post the links to the software programs that we've been talking about.

ANDERSON: And as promised those links are there @BeckyCNN.

The latest world news headlines as you would expect at the bottom of the hour.

28 minutes past 8:00 here in London.

Plus, it's known as the Sea of Death, a closer look at a perilous journey taken by scores of asylum seekers.

And Turkey's leaders came up with the idea more than a century ago. Today, they're dream of connecting Europe and Asia became a reality.


ANDERSON: This is CONNECT THE WORLD, the top stories for you this hour. Top US intelligence chiefs as we speak are testifying before Congress, dismissing allegations that America spied on millions of European citizens as completely false. Some lawmakers are calling for a full review of the NSA's surveillance program as well as a possible ban on monitoring allied heads of state.

French officials have arrived in Niger to bring home four hostages just freed by al Qaeda militants. The men were kidnapped in 2010 in the city of Arlit. The French foreign minister says negotiations led to their release, denying that any ransom was paid.

Witnesses testifying in the trial of the Costa Concordia captain include the woman he shared dinner with just before the ship ran aground and capsized. She and others described a scene of chaos and confusion in the aftermath.

Protest in Israel ahead of the second prisoner release since the resumption of US-led peace talks. Just hours from now, Israel is expected to free 26 longtime Palestinian inmates. All were convicted of killing Israelis either before or just after the 1993 Oslo Peace Accord.

And the Dow has finished the day at an all-time closing high after climbing more than 100 points, 111, to be precise. At the bell, the S&P also closing at a record high for a third straight day.

Hundreds of migrants have drowned in recent weeks on a perilous route across the Mediterranean Sea in boats like these ones. Asylum seekers leave North Africa hoping to reach Europe. Many do not make, and the lucky ones often picked up by coast guards and rescue teams.

I want to start this part of the show with Fred Pleitgen, who went on a patrol ride with the EU border agency known as Frontex and the Italian navy. This is the report that he filed.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Take off from Sicily. We're on a Portuguese military plane flying for Frontex, the EU's border patrol mission. Past the Mount Etna volcano and out to sea, hunting for human trafficking boats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the missions, we -- every week, we found three, four targets of interest.

PLEITGEN: We're not allowed to identify any of the crew members. People smuggling is big business, and they might become targets for criminal gangs. The plane uses modern radars and cameras to track suspicious ships and quickly finds several.

People are mostly smuggled in old, often unseaworthy fishing boats. The crew finds this empty rubber boat they believe might have been abandoned by migrants after they reached Europe's shores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The main goal is to detect targets of interest that Frontex gives us the coordinates about. We go there and we see, and then we transmit everything to Frontex.

PLEITGEN (on camera): This plane is equipped for border patrol activity, but it can also come to the rescue if there's a disaster involving a boat with migrants onboard. It can coordinate rescue activities and can even deploy life rafts for those who fall in the water.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): And those search and rescue capabilities have been needed often in recent times, as waves of migrants boats, mostly from Northern Africa, try to make their way towards Europe and often get into trouble at sea.

Many survivors are brought here, to the Porticello Camp. Henry Linus is from Nigeria and says the ship he was on almost sank in a storm.

HENRY LINUS, NIGERIAN REFUGEE: No food, excrement inside the boat, vomiting everywhere. It was horrible.

PLEITGEN: Most of the people we spoke to said if they could start over, they wouldn't attempt the treacherous boat journey again.

Frontex's mission is to prevent illegal entry into the EU, but in many cases, it's become a mission to save lives, often involving not just planes but navy and coast guard ships as well.

PLEITGEN (on camera): The Italian coast guard always has several of these rescue boats on standby. They can go extremely fast and can take on as many as 130 people in distress.

PLEITGEN (voice-over): Italian coast guard officials say in previous years, the stream of migrants often stopped in the fall and winter months, but given the milder weather this year, there has been no letup.

"The most dangerous thing is when you see a boat that is made of really old wood," he says. "God knows how it has held together, and it can fall apart just by our ships coming close.

Andra Tssara is the coast guard commander in Porticello, Sicily, one of the busiest in Europe. He says overcrowded boats often make the rescue efforts even more dangerous. "The biggest danger is that an unstable boat capsizes," he says, "and the migrants can't swim and we need to proceed with a rescue in the water as well."

That's apparently what happened on October 3rd of this year, when people aboard an overloaded migrant boat moved around, trying to call for help. It capsized, and more than 300 drowned, most of them Eritreans.

Back in the camp, this man was supposed to be onboard that vessel. He took a different ship because the boat was overcrowded. Many people he knew perished in the incident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of them had parents or wives or children on there. We were part of them, but fortunately, we were -- the boat was full and we were obliged to stay.

PLEITGEN: As we complete our Frontex flight, we pass the island Lampedusa, the destination many migrants coming from North Africa try to reach. A dangerous and sometimes deadly endeavor, which the EU can try to contain, but will probably never be able to stop.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Catania, Sicily.


ANDERSON: Want to take a look at some of the main routes used by migrants, then, trying to reach Europe. According to the border agency Frontex, the most-heavily trafficked is the Eastern Mediterranean route. More than 37,000 are said to have entered illegally this way in 2012, many of them Afghan, Syrian, and Bangladeshi.

The so-called Central Mediterranean route saw more than 10,000 migrants enter the EU via Italy. This is the same route where hundreds recently died when their ship sank near that Italian island of Lampedusa.

And the Western Mediterranean route saw more than 6,000 illegal entries into Europe, with migrants crossing into the Iberian peninsula.

Well, EU leaders are meeting in Brussels to try to tackle the migrant issue. They are pledging to take action, but there is a growing rift between countries in the north and those in the south. I spoke to the spokesman for the EU commissioner for home affairs and asked if Europe's south is bearing the brunt for the rest of the continent.


MICHELE CERCONE, SPOKESMAN, EU COMMISSIONER FOR HOME AFFAIRS: Of course, the pressure is on some Mediterranean countries, but let's not forget that if we talk about asylum seekers and refugees, then the countries in the EU receiving most of the refugees are Germany, France, Belgium, UK, and Sweden. So, five countries take 70 percent of the asylum requests in the EU.

This doesn't mean that the Mediterranean countries do not face extreme pressure, and this is why we want to support them and we want member states to show concrete solidarity with them.

ANDERSON: All right. Well, Malta's prime minister, for example, has said that migration poses a question of the very survival for his country. So what more at this stage can Europe do?

CERCONE: Well, we have to act in the medium and longterm, but we also have to be active in the short-term. In the short-term, the aim is to save lives at sea.

We have to prevent tragedies, like the one in Lampedusa, and to do so, we want to increase the presence of Frontex, our agency for coordination of border surveillance. And we need member states to make available resources -- technical, human, and financial resources -- in order to have more people and more surveillance at sea.

We will also have soon a new system, EUROSUR, operational beginning of December. This will allow us to detect small boats and dinghies, which are often used by the criminals behind these tragedies.

ANDERSON: OK. The Frontex border agency --


CERCONE: In the --

ANDERSON: -- hang on -- the Frontex border agency that you've just alluded to has seen its funding shrink, I think I'm right in saying, from something like 118 million euros in 2011 to less than 100 now. If you want to see more action taken by Frontex, surely it needs more cash.

CERCONE: This is exactly what we have put on the table of the ministers for the interior of the European Union. The European Commission has been constantly saying that we need more resources for Frontex if we want the agency to be more operational. And this is a matter of fact.

So, if we want to increase surveillance and if we want to save lives in the Mediterranean, we need Frontex to have the necessary resources.

ANDERSON: This in the longterm is ofttimes a story of human trafficking, which is something that we must all help to stamp out. Just want to come back to the southern European states, finally.

I've heard a number of officials from a number of countries saying that we should intervene to prevent these boats arriving on the shore. Send them back is what they say. What do you say to those leaders of southern European countries?

CERCONE: This is against not only the international obligations, the EU legislation, but it's also against the values on which the European Union is based. These people often need asylum or international protection, and we have the obligation to do so.

And this means that refoulement or pushbacks are not allowed, and of course we will not allow any member state to act in such a way.


ANDERSON: All right. Live from London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. After the break, we meet a woman on a mission to improve the lives of kids across the globe.

And riding out a storm. We're going to show you how one surfer used bad weather to possibly break a world record. That after this.


ANDERSON: Jasmine Whitbread is the head of a charity called Save the Children. You might have heard of them. She's working to improve the lives of millions of kids around the world, and I spoke to her and saw firsthand the work that she is doing in Sierra Leone. Have a look at this.


ANDERSON (voice-over): She's a defender of the poor.

JASMINE WHITBREAD, CEO, SAVE THE CHILDREN INTERNATIONAL: Wish you all the best with your futures.

ANDERSON: A crusader for children around the world.

WHITBREAD: Children shouldn't be going to bed hungry. They shouldn't be missing out on basic education. These things are not expensive, they're not hard to solve.

ANDERSON: Jasmine Whitbread heads an international aid organization working in more than 120 countries. And the goal?

WHITBREAD: Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children. We want to get help, lifesaving aid, to kids caught up in emergencies or in very poor countries, to really challenge some of these fundamental wrongs that can't be allowed to continue into the 21st century.

ANDERSON: Save the Children operates with a global staff of roughly 14,000. The organization says it reached 45 million children in 2012 through assistance, community activities, and services.

ANDERSON (on camera): How would you describe yourself as a manager?

WHITBREAD: I think that I've become a stronger manager and more of a leader since focusing more on where I'm trying to inspire people to get to. So it's more about helping to create the vision of where it is we want to get to and less in the detail, I would say.

ANDERSON (voice-over): And to rally and inspire her troops, Whitbread regularly leaves the London headquarters for site visits all over the world.



WHITBREAD: Morning. I'm very well, thank you very much for welcoming me here.

ANDERSON: We join her as she tours projects in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The needs are enormous.

WHITBREAD: So show me, where did the water come up to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, the water came up to this level.

ANDERSON: She gets an update on the aftermath of a flood.

WHITBREAD: So, should the school be relocated somewhere else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need the school to -- to take and get the face around the school with some kind of retaining wall. Then the water would no longer disturb us again.

WHITBREAD: When all this rubbish here, which really is affecting the basics of their lives in everything, whether it's the school or the clinic or anything that we see, it's all too easy in a remote city somewhere to imagine programs that are very neat and fit into logical frameworks and are focused on water and sanitation or education or health and nutrition. And actually, real life is much more messy than that.

ANDERSON (on camera): How does it stack up to other places where you have projects?

WHITBREAD: Sierra Leone is a special place also because the energy of the people. There is a can-do attitude around it, so you do sense that Sierra Leone is on a journey somewhere, and we all want -- we know where we want to take it, but for children.


ANDERSON: And coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, a century-old idea that became a reality today, a connection between Europe and Asia is now open for business. All the details after this.

And then, embracing the bad weather. A spectacular wave and even more spectacular surfing. That after this.


ANDERSON: The first sea tunnel connecting Europe and Asia is officially open. Passing under Turkey's Bosphorus Strait, the Marmaray link is part of a billion -- a multibillion-dollar rail project.

It is an engineering mind-boggler reaching 55 meters below the sea, but it is the deepest tunnel of its kind and will ease congestion with the capacity to carry 1.5 million people a day. And quick as a bullet, it takes just four minutes to cross from shore to shore, East to West. John Defterios has more.


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR (voice-over): Turkey is described as a bridge between Europe and Asia. Today, the continents are now connected by the world's deepest railway tunnel.

On this clear autumn day, Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul were joined by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe to inaugurate the giant rail system. It was a Turkish-Japanese consortium that built this $4 billion, 13.6 kilometer tunnel as part of a mega project called Marmaray.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY (through translator): Marmaray makes the dream of 150 years ago meet reality. Marmaray brings and connects history, the past, and the future as well as connecting continents.

DEFTERIOS: Erdogan marked the occasion by taking the train with visiting dignitaries from Uskudar on the Asian side to Yenikapi on the European side. Launched by Erdogan back in 2004, it was four years behind schedule due to the discovery of some 40,000 artifacts, including ships, that were dug up.

DEFTERIOS (on camera): The rail system opened on the 90th anniversary of the modern Turkish Republic. It's part of a much bigger puzzle which includes a third bridge to cross the Bosphorus, a third airport for Istanbul, even a canal to run parallel to the Bosphorus Strait. Combined, many see it as an effort by the prime minister to build his own legacy.

DEFTERIOS (voice-over): Two million people daily cross the Bosphorus, which divides Istanbul. The hope is the new system can attract 1.5 million of them to get onto the rails.

ANDREW FINKEL, TURKEY ANALYST AND AUTHOR: I think what we're concerned about is yet this underground railway system is a really very good thing and necessary thing for the city, but how does it relate to all these other large projects?

DEFTERIOS: This bold tunnel project brings a century-and-a-half-old dream to reality, an effort to help unclog the city of more than 14 million people and help double the country's GDP by 2023.


DEFTERIOS: The prime minister's designs for redevelopment of Gezi Park in Taksim Square in the center of Istanbul prompted massive protests this summer.

DEFTERIOS (on camera): Beyond the engineering achievement of this tunnel, there's another consideration. Turkey's known for its massive earthquakes. The government went out of its way to suggest that this new rail system can withstand a quake of up to 9 in magnitude.

John Defterios, CNN, Istanbul.


ANDERSON: Well, these amazing engineering feats, such as the Marmary Tunnel, have made it possible in theory to travel by train from here in London all the way to Beijing, and the Marmary is a crucial link since it's the world's first tunnel connecting two continents.

Now, it's a total of 13.6 kilometers long, only 1.4 kilometers of that running underwater. The sliver of blue that you see is the underwater part here, but compare this to some of the other mega tunnels around the world, and it's not that big, actually.

The Seikan is the world's longest undersea rail tunnel. It connects the Japanese islands of Honshu and the island of Hokkaido. Its 40 -- 54 kilometers, sorry -- long with an amazing 23 kilometer-long portion actually under the seabed.

With a total distance of 51 kilometers, the Channel Tunnel -- I'm sure a lot of you have used that -- comes in second place, but with 38 kilometers of it underwater, it has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world. If you're into all of this stuff, it really matters. Engineers really compete on these things.

And such amazing feats aren't limited to the seabeds. By the time it opens for business in 2016, the Gotthard base tunnel running beneath the Swiss Alps will become the world's longest rail tunnel with a total length of 57 kilometers.

Well, the rail system has been a labor of love. To find out more about the sheer engineering involved in all of this, I'm joined by Bill Grose, an expert in the world of tunneling, working on huge projects like the Channel Tunnel, of course, between England and France. Also director of design and engineering at the firm Arup.

I've been lucky enough, actually, to get underneath the Marmaray before the trains actually started, and it is remarkable, John alluding to the fact, it's on a shifting tectonic plate, so as an engineering feat, it's really quite a challenging one. I've been in the Gotthard base tunnel as well and in through the Channel Tunnel.

Let's get back to the Marmaray. This was talked about in the 1800s. Why has it taken so long to complete?

BILL GROSE, DIRECTOR, ARUP: It does take a long time sometimes, and it's not just tunneling projects. Infrastructure projects in general, big infrastructure projects, do take sometimes a very long time to get going.

So, by the time you've got approval, by the time you've got funding in place, and by the time you've got the capability to build these things, it takes a while just to get from concept to completion.

ANDERSON: Erdogan's mission in Turkey was to get out of Turkey, as it were, to sort of see Turkey as this real bridge between East and West, and it is remarkable. It's such a busy bed of water, there, 2,500 boats skimming across a day. He's really achieved quite something here. But when you set it against the other tunneling projects around the world, how does it compare?

GROSE: Well, this is a fantastic tunneling project because first of all, it connects two continents. So the connectivity of this is iconic. In terms of engineering feat, it is quite an engineering feat. It's the deepest immersed tube tunnel in the world, and trying to float some of those big concrete segments out from their casting basins into position across the Marmaray, absolutely fantastic.

ANDERSON: What's your favorite project? Not just that you've worked on, but around the world. What would you hold in great esteem?

GROSE: For me, the London Olympic Park, I think, is just a great project in terms of delivering on time, on budget, and leaving just such a fantastic legacy.

ANDERSON: How about the Channel Tunnel, though? Of its time at its day, as it were, remarkable.

GROSE: Channel Tunnel, again, started in 1880.

ANDERSON: 1880? Seriously?

GROSE: A very small length was started then, but then finally built and completed in 1994.

ANDERSON: And we remember the handbagging moment, Margaret Thatcher meeting the French president as -- it was, I guess, the first time for us as television viewers, back then 20 years ago, that was quite something.

GROSE: And again, an iconic project that's connected two nations and us as an island, the first time we were connected to the mainland.

ANDERSON: I made the point that effectively, you could now travel from London to Beijing by train. That's remarkable. What's next? There must be some pretty exciting things in development, aren't there? Even if they're just on the designers' boards at this point.

GROSE: Well, there's quite a few projects that are currently being worked on. Of course, Crossrail here in London is very big, very busy project. Second Avenue subway in New York currently under construction, another great project. And high-speed, too, currently being talked about in the news.

ANDERSON: Good stuff. Thank you.

GROSE: Thank you very much.

ANDERSON: Bill Grose on -- well, I mean, these things are just remarkable. And when you get down underneath and actually see these things as they're being built, it just blows your mind. Thank you.

GROSE: Thank you.

ANDERSON: One artist's comments on another engineering feat drawing anger from many residents of New York. The mysterious graffiti artist Banksy has been decorating the streets of the Big Apple for about a month, but he recently ranted against One World Trade Center, the skyscraper built to replace the Twin Towers destroyed on 9/11, of course.

Banksy says it, and I quote, "clearly proclaims that the terrorists have won." You'll find the story and a photo gallery of his distinct art online at

Well, the team here at CONNECT THE WORLD wants to hear from you on any of the stories that we've been covering today. You can always find us at, have your say. You can tweet me, as ever, @BeckyCNN, @BeckyCNN. A lot of you have been tweeting me during the show. We do read all of these. We use a lot of them on air as well.

Some spectacular achievements under the sea, then, today, but now an extraordinary feat on the high seas. In tonight's Parting Shots, the small dot you see coasting down that wall of water is Brazilian surfer Carlos Burle. He took advantage of some seriously bad weather here in Europe and may have set a new world record in the process.

Those monster waves are in Portugal measuring -- let me tell you -- it's 30 meters high, 3-0 meters high. If you can believe it, this was only his second-best performance of the day. Before riding the wave, he helped a fellow-surfer to safety after she was knocked unconscious in the water. I don't think Bill or I would attempt that.


GROSE: Not me.

ANDERSON: A feat in and of itself. I'm Becky Anderson and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching.