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President Orders Review of NSA Surveillance Program; Some Health Insurance Plans Eliminated by Health Care Reform; Inmates Escape Prison in Oklahoma; Rebuilding After Sandy

Aired October 29, 2013 - 07:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: One year after Sandy, the areas hardest hit are still on the mend. How far they've come and how far they need to go. Our Indra Petersons live with the latest.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you need to know --

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, October 29th, 7:00 in the east.

You heard President Obama say this for months. If you like your health care plan, you like your doctor, you can keep them. Well, new this morning we're learning that may not necessarily be true. Millions of Americans are at risk of losing their health coverage, but why this may happen also matters. The White House insists the health care overhaul is not to blame. Even if it is, this may not be a bad thing. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to sort it all out.

BOLDUAN: Lot of people talking about that this morning.

Also ahead, singer Chris Brown getting a big break after his latest brush with the law. He was arrested for assaulting a man in Washington, D.C. This morning he's free. We'll tell you how it all happened and ask our legal expert to weigh in on it.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: You probably remember the Florida mother caught stealing groceries in order to feed your kids. We told you the story on NEW DAY, the arresting officer who bought her groceries. This morning, more heartbreak for the woman. We'll tell you about that coming up.

BOLDUAN: First this hour, more damage control for the Obama administration following the latest revelations on U.S. surveillance programs. The president has now ordered a review of all U.S. spying while a European delegation is in Washington looking for answers. CNN's chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is following all the latest developments, and there daily seem to be a lot of developments on this, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question, Kate. And the administration now considering hard limits on the surveillance of foreign leaders. This is part of a review that began this summer, the same review which the White House says was how the president first learned of this spying on foreign leaders such as the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. Administration officials saying the president did not know she was a target and would not know in general specific targets.

But another U.S. official telling CNN that he would have had to know about the framework of such programs including the countries targeted and if they were allies. Still, many hard questions for the administration to face.


SCIUTTO: President Obama would not confirm the NSA was spying on the phone calls of U.S. allies like Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel. But in an interview with the new cable network Fusion, he both defended U.S. intelligence activities.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The national security operations generally have one purpose and that is to make sure that the American people are safe.

SCIUTTO: And conceded that maybe they've gone too far.

OBAMA: I'm initiating a review to make sure that what they're able to do doesn't necessarily mean what they should be doing.

SCIUTTO: Senior administration officials tell CNN President Obama did not know about the NSA surveillance of Merkel and other allies until earlier this year. And when he found out he ordered a stop to some of the programs. The Democratic chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, usually an ally of the White House, says that's not good enough and wants a, quote, "total review of all U.S. intelligence programs." European lawmakers are in Washington this week pressing the case for limits ahead of the EU delegation who told the EU citizens find U.S. spying disturbing.

CLAUDE MORALES: They feel very uneasy. They don't know why it's happening.

SCIUTTO: Amid reports the U.S. surveillance of leaders of allies began back in 2002, well before the Obama administration, here's one explanation former vice president Cheney gave CNN's Jake Tapper. DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We are vulnerable, as was shown on 9/11. And you never know what you're going to need when you need it. The fact is we do collect a lot of intelligence without speaking about any particular target or group of targets. That intelligence capability is enormously important to the United States, to our conduct of foreign policy, to defense matters, to economic matters. And I'm a strong supporter of it.


SCIUTTO: The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, announced overnight he's declassifying a trove of documents about collection under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or FISA. This is the act that authorized collection of data on virtually every telephone caller here in the U.S. and later today, Clapper and the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, will be testifying on the Hill. They're going to face hard questions, Kate and Chris, on both the surveillance taking place inside the United States and outside the U.S.

CUOMO: Surveillance about American citizens made some sense. I wonder if they're getting pushed too far, Jim. Thanks for the reporting this morning. Let's head to the White House where the administration is taking flak from both friend and foe alike over this spying controversy, now saying they're going to declassify and review everything. Brianna Keilar is live at the White House with more this morning. Brianna, is the White House abandoning the program?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Chris, you would really wonder if you were listening to Democratic Senate chairman of the intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, she said, quote, "Collection on our allies will not continue." But one senior administration official that I've checked with said that isn't exactly correct. That same official saying that individual changes have already been made to this program as this review you heard Jim Sciutto talking about is underway, but also due to really the secure nature of this issue. We're not getting information on what those individual issues are.

CUOMO: This is very curious situation, though, because, you know, spying is by its very nature secretive. We have to assume it's done not just by the U.S. but allies and foreign sovereigns as well. And now because of politics it seems like there may be hyper-disclosure. The word "fallout," we use it every day for different issues. What is the politics here in terms of management of fallout?

KEILAR: Well, there is a lot of it. And you sort of see this continuing because of all of these Snowden disclosures, Chris. But the latest narrative you're seeing from Republicans is painting president Obama as a bystander in his own administration. This is something the rnc is trying to get traction with. And they're pointing not only to the NSA spying program but to Obamacare as well. We heard from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, she told our own Sanjay Gupta that the president wasn't aware of the issues with that Web site until after it launched. So really when the public started to get a sense of the problem coming in there. So that's what Republicans are saying. But the White House predictably pushing back on this, saying it's not really apples to apples here. We heard from White House press secretary Jay Carney. He said, Kate, this is conflating, disparate issues.

BOLDUAN: Brianna, thank you so much for that update. Let's stay at the White House. The White House is also responding to deadline pressure now, clarifying that Americans will have until March 31st to sign up for Obamacare. This as the president's advisers are fighting back against another claim and denying that millions of people would lose coverage because of Obama care.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us from Atlanta for more on this. A lot of confusion it seems like was created yesterday, Sanjay. What are you hearing about the reports that millions of Americans could be losing their existing coverage, because that was a claim you heard over and over again from the president when he was campaigning for it -- if you like your doctors and insurance plan, you can keep it.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's the bottom line is that you have about 15 million people who buy insurance on their own right now, meaning they're not getting it through their employer. It's that population of people we're talking about specifically. And what has happened is there are certain plans that are no longer legal under the Affordable Care Act. These are plans that may not have been comprehensive enough, the deductibles or co- pays may have been too high. And as a result those plans are no longer available. People who are on those plans before have to get new plans.

So that's the population of people we're talking about. About half those people who currently have their own insurance, they're grandfathered in, meaning they've had their plans long enough, they don't necessarily have to make this change being recommended by the Affordable Care Act. For other people, that number could be between 5 million and 10 million people, the plan they have now, it's not grandfathered in. It's no longer legal. They have to change. That's what we're talking about.

BOLDUAN: That's the thing that people are finding as they're looking at these plans and looking at the Affordable Care Act. They're surprised. That's not what they were told over and over again. I want to ask you about another part of the plan, really what people would argue is a key part of the health care law, coverage of young, healthy people. What are you hearing about that? Because young, healthy people, getting them to sign up for Obama care is key to making this whole law work.

GUPTA: Absolutely. You know, people can guess roughly the numbers, the breakdown, talk about new people entering the program. They say about 40 percent at least have to be these young people ultimately, because that helps offset the cost of health care for people who may be older, may have medical problems. So that's the rough breakdown. What we're hearing is that they released numbers saying if you're between the ages of 18 to 34 and you're joining the marketplace, your premium on average could be $50 a month, which sounds pretty good.

Keep in mind though, that a significant chunk of those people could stay on their parents plan until age of 26. And up until age 30 people can also buy these really bare bones catastrophic plans, which are much cheaper. So it could be pretty affordable, it seems, for that target range of people. But there are some caveats there as well.

BOLDUAN: Where are they on enrollment so far? They haven't put out the official number until the middle of November.

GUPTA: It's been amazingly hard to get these numbers. I asked the secretary as well about this. My guess is they know the numbers constantly. This is something their monitoring. But what we've been doing at CNN is looking at the states not coming under, 14 states plus Washington, D.C. have decided to create their own marketplaces within their states. And if you look at those numbers, you have about 325,000 enrolled. Half of those, by the way, are from New York. So there's some pockets really that are quite high.

We don't know about the rest of the states yet. What they are hoping for by sort of the end of the month, was around 500,000. So they could be on target.

If you look at what happened in Massachusetts when they created a similar program, most people don't sign up until the end. That's human psychology. Everyone waits until the deadline is nearly upon you, and they saw that in Massachusetts where the numbers kept increasing in terms of enrollment every month. My guess is that sort of thing would happen here as well.

BOLDUAN: Everyone has to work on a deadline, that's for sure. Still, I guess you could argue that's still a ways out. We have to wait until at least the middle of November to get the numbers from the federal government. Sanjay, great to see you. Thank you so much.

GUPTA: You got it, Kate. Thank you.

CUOMO: Another story we're following this morning, two of the four inmates who made a daring jail break over the weekend are right back where they started this morning, behind bars and rightfully so. But two others are still on the loose. New this morning, we learn more about how they were able to pull off the daring escape. CNN's George Howell is live in Oklahoma with details. George?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. So two of those suspects, we know that they were caught by an investigator going into convenience store, and these weren't the regular customers. Their clothes were dirty. He described them as wet. The store clerk we spoke to last night said they came here to get ramen noodles. They're both in jail this morning, and the search continues for the other two.


HOWELL: Police searched throughout the night looking for two remaining Caddo County jail inmates who have been on the run since Sunday. Anthony Mendonca and Triston Cheadle remain at large, both considered armed and dangerous.

Should people be worried these men are on the streets?

SHERIFF GENE CAIN, CADDO COUNTY: Yes, any time people break out of prison you should be more cautious and aware of your surroundings.

HOWELL: Mendonca and Cheadle escaped with two other inmates who ended up right back where they started from, inside the walls that failed to confine them. They were both arrested Monday afternoon in nearby Chickasha, Oklahoma, less than 20 miles away from the jail. Many around town are most troubled by the simple fact that this jailbreak even happened.

MARCY LEE, OKLAHOMA RESIDENT: It's kind of frightening to think it happened so easily. It just makes me nervous to think that it's not built better.

MARK JOHNSON, OKLAHOMA RESIDENT: Evidently there's a design flaw in it. You get in the shower, climb up, climb over and get out.

HOWELL: And that is exactly how it went down. According to the officials, the men busted through a maintenance hatch above the shower in the jail, crawled through a pipe space beneath the roof where the air conditioning and plumbing sit, 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 freedom.

CAIN: I don't think it was a design fault. It's something that will have to be investigate, but the jail is well built.

HOWELL: Our camera caught contractors back on the job, repairing the damage created by the jailbreak. But could this sort of thing happen again? Not even the sheriff could say for certain.

CAIN: There's lots of ways that people escape jails. I can't say it won't happen again. We hope it don't happen again.


HOWELL: So the front page of "The Express Star," you see the pictures. It's really important to get these pictures out here because authorities have great belief that the remaining suspects at large could be here in this Chickasha area. Keep this in mind, we know we've seen several police cars going through this neighborhood where the two were found. So, again, the hope is they could find the other two somewhere here.

BOLDUAN: That's an important point, George. Likely it will be a regular, any resident walking around that will catch a glimpse of them that will be key to catching them this time again. Thanks, George. Thanks very much.

We're watching that story obviously close, but there are a lot of other stories making headlines right now. Let's get back over to Michaela

PEREIRA: Yes, good morning, guys. We begin with a shocking story of violence. Police are investigating a murder spree in Terrell, Texas, east of Dallas. Police say five people have been killed at four different locations. One of them apparently was burned to death. No word on a motive yet or the identities of the victims, but a suspect is in custody.

A source close to the investigation of former football star Aaron Hernandez telling CNN Hernandez is now suspected of transporting weapons illegally across state lines. Massachusetts state police subpoenaed Hernandez's friend and college teammate, Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey in the gun probe. The 23-year-old Hernandez is charged now with first degree murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd back in June.

Heavily armed gunmen in Libya pull off a highway robbery. They get away with $54 million meant for the country's central bank. One official there calling the holdup a catastrophe for all of Libya. The money had been flown in from Tripoli and was apparently guarded by a single security vehicle. It's the latest in the wave of lawlessness since the end of the Libyan civil war.

The former mistress of Martin MacNeill expected back on the stand today. Gypsy Willis will resume her testimony in the case again the former Utah doctor accused of killing his wife in order to continue an affair. Willis has already admitted to the cord that she had a sexual relationship with MacNeill that began in 2006.

Do you remember that struggling mom who was caught shoplifting groceries only to have them paid for by a police officer? After that incident, a telecommunications company offered her Jessica Robles a customer service job. She says she took two buses and a train to get there for her first day on Monday, but was heartbroken because when she arrived onsite, the company told her she didn't have the job because she didn't pass a background check. The company says it is going to try to help her with other job opportunities. She apparently went on to say the hardest part in all of this disappointment was having to tell her kids once again she's jobless.

CUOMO: You know what though? Obviously we brought this story to you because we wanted to focus on the cop who did the right thing in circumstances where ordinarily that wouldn't happen. She didn't just deal with the crime, she also tried to help better this woman's situation. The company did the same thing. If you don't pass the background check, you don't.

PEREIRA: It's hard when you're trying to get ahead, it's a challenge. You have so suffer the consequences for your behavior, but it's hard to get ahead and be forgiven.

BOLDUAN: Great point.

Let's get back over to Indra Petersons for today's forecast. She's in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Why is that so important today? We are talking about the anniversary today of Superstorm Sandy. Hey there, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, both Chris and Kate. We're standing in front of the iconic symbol, what used to be the Jetstar roller coaster. Take a look here behind me and you can see no roller coaster; it was actually torn down in May.

Many places are slow to recover. Just driving in, we're seeing homes with red tags on them or empty lots. Here on the boardwalk itself we're seeing a sign of recovery. You can hear construction going on early this morning. They did open the bottom portion of the casino pier. It looks like last summer slow season with tourism, but it looks like they're hoping to get a lot more done by next season.

I do want to talk about another storm. It's the one that's impacting the country today. It's the one that brought a foot of snow in through Montana yesterday, and today if you're in Colorado or Wyoming look for ten inches of snow possible out there, especially in those high altitude locations. We're also talking about some strong winds.

The biggest thing for many people in that region is going to be that cold air; you have temperatures a good 20, 25 degrees below normal. That's clashing with that warm air, the temperatures that are above normal in the south.

As that system progresses to the east today, we're talking about the severe weather threat in the panhandle of Texas. What with he talking about? Strong winds and even the threat for an isolated tornado out of severe thunderstorms. That threat expands as we go through tomorrow and the system continues to progress eastward into the warm, moist air.

By tomorrow tell if you're from Nebraska in through Texas, we have that severe weather threat, and eventually that system spreads even farther east from the Ohio valley into the mid-Atlantic and the northeast for Halloween evening. Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Indra, thank you so much for that.

CUOMO: All right, we're going to get back to Indra after the break, because we want to talk about the recovery from superstorm Sandy. Really the lack thereof. Big questions about what the government has done with funding and how much is being done to help the families in need. So, we'll get back there.

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, singer Chris Brown getting a big break after his latest run-in with the law, but why? We'll take a closer look at it.


CUOMO: It is important to remember because there are still so many who need our help. One year ago today, hundreds if not thousands, of lives were changed forever because of Superstorm Sandy. You know that, but did you know among those hardest hit, the people of Breezy Point, Queens, New York, are still struggling. Many are still displaced. Deborah Feyerick knows. She spent time with one family that's been going through the ringer. I use that term "ringer," Deb - thank you for being here, thank you for doing this coverage -- because it sounds simple. It ended, and now you rebuild. It hasn't been, has it?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, not even close. A lot of families are still displaced. Breezy Point became a symbol of everything about this storm because not only at the height of the rain and the winds, all of a sudden there was fire. The firemen couldn't get there, and so people simply watched their homes burn to the ground. They're starting to rebuild, but it has taken so much longer than anybody anticipated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll see you soon I hope, all right?

FEYERICK: Seven Sullivan brothers were raised on this shore, just like their father, and his father, and his father before.

DANIEL SULLIVAN, BREEZY POINT RESIDENT: We're fourth generation down here. We really don't know anywhere else.

FEYERICK: But a year after Superstorm Sandy, life on New York's Breezy Point is threatened.

SULLIVAN: These two brothers, they lost their family home completely, their summer home. This guy's house burnt.

FEYERICK: Seventy five percent of the 2,800 homes on Breezy Point were flooded; 350 were totally destroyed, 135 of those burned to the ground during an epic fire in the midst of the storm.

THOMAS SULLIVAN, BREEZY POINT RESIDENT: The second house floated into my house and pancaked.

FEYERICK: Billions of federal "build it back" dollars are in limbo. New York City painstakingly vetting applications to make sure the money is well spent.


FEYERICK: Yet patience is wearing thin. This is what's left of Danielle Sullivan's home. His mortgage is $200,000. He thinks it will take another 200,000 to rebuild.

D. SULLIVAN: You don't know who's getting what, and who's entitled to what, and so on.

FEYERICK: Brothers Eddie and Brian have made some progress. Brother Mike made repairs right away, as did their parents.

D. SULLIVAN: Think about the people, your family, you know, and it just gives you the goal to come back.

FEYERICK: Flood maps and building permits taking much longer than expected.

ARTHUR LIGHTHALL, GENERAL MANAGER, BREEZY POINT CO-OP: No one has got into their house yet, but we have about 50 under way, another 40 in the building department waiting approval.

FEYERICK: Thomas Sullivan rebuilding from the ground up after the ocean met the bay on his front step.

T. SULLIVAN: We'll give it at least another shot. You know, mother nature is an amazing thing.

FEYERICK: The bond of brothers, family, and communities strong and determined to replace what was lost.


FEYERICK: What you saw at the end, what they've done is they've fenced up a lot of the properties that are still vacant, essentially -- 24,000 people have applied for federal money. Unclear whether all of them will get the funds they need. It's also unclear how much money will be available to all of them. That still has to be decided. All these unknowns, they're doing it slowly because they don't want to run into anything, and have to sort of dial it back. So, they're making sure that everybody is sort of vetted and analyzed so that they get what they need, but it's hard.

CUOMO: It is hard. It raises the question of is this a time to be so penny pinching. We talk about budgets -


CUOMO: Yeah, but you know, we talk about that with like entitlement programs, but when you know the majority of these claims are legit and you have people out there and the need is so immediate, is this the time to be so scrutinizing. The picture over your shoulder, we have the roller coaster there on the Jersey Shore, you know it's so startling. That's not the real face of the problem. The real face of the problem are these families that can't get back in, and the government is going too slow. I mean everybody who follows the process knows it. People need the money because they're not getting back into their homes.

FEYERICK: And people need a place. People need a sense of place. They identify so clearly with their homes, with everything that's there. People lost everything they had. I have never seen more garbage in my entire life. People's entire homes swept onto the streets. They're rebuilding piece by piece. That's hard.

BOLDUAN: And it's a compounding effect. We've met so many families in the past year. It's just not losing everything, it's still not having anywhere to go still today --

FEYERICK: Correct.

BOLDUAN: -- that's so difficult.

FEYERICK: Exactly.


CUOMO: And they wound up doing a lot of it themselves.

Later on in the show, we'll feature a group of people who got together from the community and they went out and started doing the rebuilding because they got tired of waiting.

BOLDUAN: Good story.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, what and when did the president know about spying on U.S. allies abroad, and what will he do it now about it? We bring in the left and the right to weigh in.

CUOMO: Plus, you could call it a really big break for singer Chris Brown. Why? Well, he's free this morning following an arrest for assaulting a man in Washington, D.C. It had been a felony, but now it isn't. Is that the right move? We'll talk about it.