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Sebelius in the Hot Seat; NSA Chief: We Didn't Spy on European Citizens; Attempted Child Abduction In Colorado; Bus Driver Turned Guardian Angel; Martin MacNeill Murder Trial

Aired October 30, 2013 - 08:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: You have to see it -- a bus driver really going above and beyond the call of duty and saves a life. We'll show you what he did. It was all caught on camera.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: First, expect fireworks when a House committee hears from Kathleen Sebelius. She'll be there to testify about the Obamacare website roll-out.

A lot of politicians looking to blame this situation as a problem with the law and they will have more ammunition as CNN has new information about warning signs the Obama administration either missed or failed to act on well before the Web site launched.

CNN's Brianna Keilar is live at the White House with more.

Good morning, Brianna.


CNN has obtained a confidential report from early September, there are some eye-popping details in it that are predictive of the problems that have befallen Obamacare -- though an agency spokesperson says it was not a dire warning but more of a list of things to do.


KEILAR (voice-over): Almost a full month before went live, CGI, the main contractor working on the site, highlighted glaring problems.

A confidential report obtained by CNN raised red flags like "We don't have access to monitoring tools", "Not enough time and schedule to perform adequate performance testing", and "Hub services are intermittently unavailable" -- meaning the site quits working at times. Plainly stated warnings, and yet, they weren't passed on to President Obama. He didn't know there were problems until after the site launched.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Well, I think it became clear fairly early on, the first couple of days that --

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: But not before that, though? Not before October 1st? SEBELIUS: No.

KEILAR: When embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before Congress today, she will point a finger at some of the private contractors her agency hired, a subset of those contracts for have not met expectations, she said in her prepared remarks -- which she will deliver after yet another outage hit the site overnight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you swear that the testimony --

KEILAR: Last week, those very contractors pointed the finger at HHS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no role in the development of the website.

KEILAR: Tuesday, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in charge of implementing Obamacare told Americans who have struggled with the website that she's sorry.

MARILYN TAVENNER, CMS ADMINISTRATOR, HHS: I want to apologize to you that the website has not worked as well as it should.

KEILAR: Republicans grilled Marilyn Tavenner about Americans on the individual insurance market who have seen their current coverage canceled or modified, more than 1 million so far by CNN's estimate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have no idea --

KEILAR: As they pressed her for the number of Americans who have been unable to enroll in Obamacare, she kept the script.

TAVENNER: We will have those numbers available in mid-November. In mid-November. In mid-November. Chairman Camp, we will have those numbers available in mid-November.


KEILAR: Now, when you look at Tavenner's prepared marks, they're almost a word-for-word match from what we're expecting from Kathleen Sebelius. Her prepared remarks were released ahead of her appearance today.

And, Chris, as you know, there is always this chance for her to go off-script especially during the Q&A. What we do not know is if Sebelius will like we saw Tavenner do apologize.

CUOMO: I think it's going to be just as much about the questions or really the commentary she's going to face today.

KEILAR: Definitely.

CUOMO: Appreciate the report. Of course, we're going to bring you the testimony of Kathleen Sebelius live right here on CNN, starting in about an hour. So wait for that.

Kate, over to you. KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris.

Also on Capitol Hill, a vigorous defense of U.S. spying efforts. General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, saying spying is essential to protecting the U.S. and its allies and also denying reports that his agency alone collected millions of phone records of European citizens.

Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN's "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" and editor at large of "TIME" magazine is here to talk more about this.

We talked about it earlier this week, but I think after that really amazing hearing, we've got to follow up. They were very unapologetic in their answers. Defending the NSA spying programs.

Is that enough, though, to satisfy European allies, do you think?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Well, they've got two problems on their hands. The one is the European public. And the other are European leaders.

So much of what they defended was the kind of metadata or using leads to follow up and figure out if there are terrorists. And that kind of thing, what you're doing is you're looking at patterns, you're seeing a bunch of phone calls from Saudi Arabia to Hamburg, Germany. Who are these people in Hamburg? Why are they being called?

I think people understand that the European public is very disquieted by the idea that they're being spied by the American spy agency. That's one piece of it. The other piece which they didn't defend was the spying on Angela Merkel, the leader, the eavesdropping on phone conversations. And now, that's always gone on to a certain extent.

The key difference is, as the French foreign minister said, the Americans do it so much better than any of us that we're all somewhat jealous.

BOLDUAN: That's an excellent perspective and very interesting. And at least the question that I had that that seems to be has angered people most is the spying on Angela Merkel. But the fact that the spy chief kept saying that they don't think that necessarily the president is aware of particular target, does that been inoculate the president from this criticism?

ZAKARIA: I think it inoculates him in a specific sense, particularly maybe with the German chancellor. But there is a broader problem, which is I think two things have happened in the last 10 years. We have technologically moved leaps and bounds with all the stuff, with metadata, with accelerated computing, you know, we can analyze millions of phone calls, just the outside of the envelope, not the inside. But we can do millions of phone calls within a few minutes.

The second piece is 9/11. This broke the constraints that we have felt. It made us get scared, it made us get nervous and it made us say we'll do anything. I don't think that's the right perspective. We can't say we will do anything. There have to be some rules of the road.

BOLDUAN: Yes, balance is what people are looking for. But maybe out of balance at the moment.

Our correspondent Jim Sciutto said earlier that these revelations could have real consequences with our allies. What do you think those real consequences could be?

ZAKARIA: Well, there are two kinds of things. I mean, ever since these leaks have been taken place, you have to wonder to yourself, are American allies going to ever be truthful and confidential with us with the fear that this stuff is all going to get leaked. Are they going to be forthcoming with the lack of trust that has been created?

I think that's a real problem. I think that in the long run, if we set some new rules of the road, we'll be fine because everybody spies. Everybody understands it. And I do think some of this is less about ethics and more about power. We just have so much -- we spend more on intelligence by some estimates than the rest of the world put together.

So, we're in a different league. And we have to recognize because of that, it arouses great suspicion and fear and makes people say, who's going to check you? We can't check you, you know, the normal checks and balances don't apply here. You've got to check yourself.

BOLDUAN: It makes me wonder if there will be new rules the road. Keith Alexander said something really interesting. He's been quoted on this a lot, during the hearing. He said, "It's much more important for this country to defend itself and take the beating that they're taking right now than for us to give up on a program that helps prevent a future attack."

That's the same mentality that came straight out of 9/11, right?

ZAKARIA: Yes, and I think it's the wrong one. I think it's more important to continue to exist, survive and flourish as a constitutional democracy that protects itself. Of course, it's important that we protect ourselves, but I think most Americans would be surprised by the lack of congressional oversight.

Dianne Feinstein, the Senate chair of the Intelligence Committee, doesn't seem to know enough. The president doesn't seem to know enough. So, who does know enough?

This is unacceptable in a democratic society.

BOLDUAN: It's fascinating because it depends on who you talk to. In Congress, they say, we've got oversight. We have plenty of oversight. We're doing a great job overseeing these programs. NSA would say so as well, but maybe not from the outside.

Fareed, great to see you as always. Thank you so much.

An important meeting at the White House today. European Union officials and White House officials talking about all of these. Much more on this ahead.

Let's head it over to Chris.

CUOMO: From a political storm to a real storm that can cause real problems for half the country especially for Halloween that's coming up.

So, let's go over to Indra Petersons, who's tracking it all.

Indra, what do we know?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we're looking at the big storm that's going to have some really strong winds out there, Chris. I want to show you a reminder again of what happened yesterday between Tucson and Phoenix. We saw strong winds pick up, so a lot of dust.

I want to remind people, if you're caught in a dust storm, as we are going to see strong winds across the country here, for the next several days, you want to pull off the road and the key is turn off your lights. The people cannot see. They look from where those lights and figure their way out in the roadway, definitely causes fatality.

So that's something you want to keep in mind, as winds will be kicking up. Dallas today is looking for gust as high as 34 miles per hour. Even in through Missouri, we're looking at winds even as high as 40 miles per hour.

And take a look as we shift the system east for tomorrow. This system is going to be producing even gusts even as high as 50 miles per hour. Something you want to think about if you have travel plans, strong winds often does mean delays at the airport. So, we're going to be watching that as the system pushes across the country, strong winds of course and heavy rain out there. And even the potential for severe weather. As the system exits from cold air and moves in to warm and moist air.

So with that combination of those two air masses, we have the severe weather threat today extending there Kansas City, all the way down to central portions of Texas. As the same system makes its way east tomorrow for Halloween, now we're talking about pretty much the Ohio valley down through Houston.

So what are talking about? Heavy rain, anywhere from 3 to 5 inches rain between Houston and Dallas. So flash flooding could be a concern. Also in the Quad Cities, you see a little bit of bull's eye, a little lure about one to two inches. We already talked about, of course, those strong winds, but even the threat for isolated tornadoes can be in the forecast.

So, definitely a lot that we'll be watching over the next (AUDIO GAP) in the country.

CUOMO: You're going to have to change the costumes, Mick. You can't go with the original plan now. PEREIRA: I used to have to do that almost every year. Elaborate wings and then a garbage bag.

BOLDUAN: Because of wind gusts, not working this time, right?


PEREIRA: You just have to do face make up. It always just kind of sad.

BOLDUAN: (INAUDIBLE) ends up running, yes.

PEREIRA: Exactly.

All right. Should we take a look at our headlines now, guys?

OK. Lawmakers chosen to negotiate a way out of another budget stalemate and government shutdown meet officially for the first time later take. The bipartisan Budget Committee has a deadline of December 13th to reach an agreement to insure the federal government is funded through the rest of fiscal year 2014. Funding for the government dries up in January and the debt ceiling must be lifted again in February.

A plane crashes at a major airport and no one notices? That's just what happened in Nashville. A small single engine plane went down early Tuesday morning on one of the airport's runways, killing the pilot and the wreckage sat there for six hours before another taxiing plane noticed it. The NTSB is now (AUDIO GAP).

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's planned to lecture at Brown University definitely did not go as planned.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Racism is not for debate.



PEREIRA: Protesters interrupted his speech, shouting their disapproval of New York's stop and frisk law. They say it discriminates against blacks and Muslims. Kelly gave after about 20 minutes.

Syria has fired a key official who had been working with the West to try to end the civil war. State television says the deputy prime minister was dismissed because he spent too much time outside the nation and have been holding meetings without coordinating first with the Assad regime. He recently held discussions with U.S. and Russian leaders about possible peace talks.

All right. Oprah fans, here is your chance. Today is the start of a free preview -- I just had to do it -- for the items she will be selling at what she's calling the biggest yard sale ever. Stuff for about every budget at the event happening today in Santa Barbara, California.

Three hundred items or so will be sold, furniture, artwork, rags, picture frames. Proceeds will go to Oprah's Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

BOLDUAN: You want to know how big this yard is going to be, look at that tent.

PEREIRA: And that was one of many. I had to do that.

BOLDUAN: It was good.

PEREIRA: With my Oprah.

COUMO: It's not even spring.

PEREIRA: I know, it's interesting to do a fall yard sale.

BOLDUAN: Got to get rid of the stuff when you got to get rid of the stuff.

CUOMO: Oprah can do it.

PEREIRA: Yes, she can.

BOLDUAN: All right. Coming up next on NEW DAY: a brave 8-year-old girl refusing to be taken from her home quietly. How she scared her kidnapper off but where is he now.

CUOMO: And, you know, recent stories have made us question what bus drivers do to help in bad situations. Well, guess what? We get a life saving answer and a stuff, coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. This morning, police are on the hunt for a man they think is a predator, a man they say broke into an eight-year-old girl's bedroom in Colorado and tried to drag her to his car, but she fought back. And authorities say that could have saved her life. Here CNNs Miguel Marquez with more.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Terrifying moments for an eight-year-old girl in Aurora, Colorado

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looks like an unknown party came in through the daughter's bedroom window.

MARQUEZ: Just after midnight --

CHIEF DAN OATES, AURORA, COLORADO POLICE DEPT.: We do know a light was on in the bedroom. It might have been possible for the predator to look and see inside that there was a child, which in some ways makes it even more chilling. MARQUEZ: The man ripped the screen off her window, grabbed her as she lay in bed, pulled her through the open window, forced her toward a dark alley toward his car.

OATES: This young girl immediately cried out, immediately put up a fuss and struggle, and who knows if it that might have saved her life.

MARQUEZ: Her cries, the struggle, enough, alerting her father and mother, escaping her captor and into her mother's arms. Her father ran after the suspect, only catching a glimpse of what appeared to be a new silver BMW driving away. Now an entire city on alert.

OATES: Part of the reason for this press conference is to alert the entire Denver metro area that this predator is on the loose.

MARQUEZ: The girl was able to help investigators draw up this sketch, a White man, blond hair, black coat, smelling of cigarettes. A reward for information leading to his capture now doubled to $20,000.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


CUOMO: It is time for the good stuff. And today's edition and inspiring act of kindness caught on tape and it has many calling a bus driver in Buffalo a hero. CNNs Pamela Brown is here with the story.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Really, just a tremendous display of human compassion, Chris and Kate. This is an incredible of a bus driver turned guardian angel. He was driving a bus full of high school students on a recent Friday afternoon when he noticed a woman who looked like she was about to jump off a bridge. He boldly stepped into help and the dramatic scene was all captured on camera.


BROWN (voice-over): This surveillance video shows a woman who appears to be on the brink of suicide, standing outside the railing on a narrow ledge over a highway in Buffalo. Watch as bystanders oblivious pass right by her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It didn't seem real because of what was going on around. You know, the traffic was going as normal. You know, pedestrian going by as normal.

BROWN: Thankfully, she caught the eye of bus driver, Darnell Barton. He pulled his bus full of passengers over and attempted to communicate with the woman.


BROWN: When she didn't respond, he walked over and put his arm around her and gently coaxing the woman off the bridge, helping her to safety.

BARTON (voice-over): She was distraught. She was distant. She was really disconnected. I grabbed her arm and I put my arm around here and I said do you want to come on this side of the guardrail?

BROWN: Kneeling on the sidewalk with the woman, he gave her words of comfort until others arrived to help.

BARTON: I wanted to convey that, you know, whatever it was, I'm going to help you through whatever it is. And it's not as serious as jumping on to the 198.

BROWN: But Barton returned to his bus a well-deserved round of applause erupted.


BROWN: Barton says he believes he was driving by at that moment for a reason.

BARTON (on camera): I felt like I did what I'm supposed to do at the time. I'm a football guy. So, you know, when you sit on the bench and the coach calls your number, you got to go make a play and you got to do what the play calls for. And I think that's what I did.


BROWN (on-camera): Really got to love that football analogy there. Well, after giving police a statement, Barton continued to work for the rest of the day. In fact, he was modest that he didn't even tell his bosses at first. They just recently found out about his heroic actions earlier this month. Meantime as for the woman, Barton says she was taken off in an ambulance that day, and that's the last time that he saw her.

BOLDUAN: You can be sure she will never forget what he did for her.

BROWN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, he saved her life.

CUOMO: Darnell Barton, that is the name. We love you. Thank you for doing what you did. All the jaundice, all the bad things we see -- coming out of the capitol, there are Darnell Bartons in the world.

BROWN: Yes. Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Great story.

BROWN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, sensational testimony from the former mistress of the Utah doctor accused of poisoning and killing his wife. What she says she sent him the day after his wife died? That ahead.


ANNOUNCER: You're watching NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, October 30th. It has been 30 days since the Obamacare website launched and the roll- out. The early results are less than positive to say the least. This morning, the site is down again. And today, health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, will address all the issues.

We are looking live at the hearing room where she will be testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee at 9:00 this morning. We'll bring in Wolf Blitzer. He's going to join us in just a few minutes with more on what to expect.

BOLDUAN: Lot to talk about there.

CUOMO: All right. Right now, though, over to Mick.

PEREIRA: All right. Let's give you the five things that you need to know for your NEW DAY. Starting at number one --


PEREIRA (voice-over): The head of the NSA calling news reports based on leaks by Edward Snowden completely false. He's also denying reports the U.S. collected telephone and e-mail records directly from European citizens.

A raid to catch the suspect in last year's deadly attack in Benghazi was abandoned after the capture of a suspect in the 1998 attack on U.S. embassy in Kenya, it was feared a second raid in Libya could destabilize the country's already fragile government.

A fatal plane crash went unnoticed for some six hours at the Nashville International Airport. A taxiing plane finally discovered the wreckage of a single engine crash (ph) which killed the pilot.

Singer, Chris Brown, in a rehab facility just a day after he appeared in a Washington, D.C. courtroom over an assault charge. A statement saying Brown wants to, quote, "gain insight" into his past behavior.

And at number five, Big Papi and the Boston Red Sox could win it all tonight. Don't give me thumbs down. The World Series returns to Fenway Park for game six with the Sox up three games to two on the St. Louis Cardinals.


PEREIRA (on-camera): We also call it Nischelle Turner versus John Berman. We're updating those five things to know. So, go to for the very latest -- Kate, Chris.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

A startling day in court in the murder trial of Martin MacNeill, the former Utah doctor accused of poisoning and killing his wife. His mistress was back on the stand and even more dramatic testimony is expected today. Here's CNN's Ted Rowlands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Martin MacNeill can expect another difficult day in court with three more of his daughters set to testify, including his daughter, Alexis, the first of the children to suspect he murdered their mother, Michele.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, what you're about to see is a videotaped interview of Ada MacNeill.

ROWLANDS: On Tuesday, sniffles were heard throughout the courtroom as prosecutors played the emotional police interview video of MacNeill's then seven-year-old daughter, Ada, struggling to talk about the death of her mother.

VOICE OF ADA MACNEILL, MARTIN MACNEILL'S DAUGHTER: She had kind of straight blonde hair and she was very pretty.

ROWLANDS: In the video, Little Ada, a blonde girl in braids, fidgeted with toys while recounting how she was the one that found her mother the day she died.

MACNEILL: She was just laying down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was she all the way in the bathtub or just part way in the bathtub?

MACNEILL: All the way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just all the way from the bathtub.

ROWLANDS: Ada's testimony conflicted with MacNeill's version of the position of his wife's body. It also showed what prosecutors say was the pain MacNeill inflicted on his young daughter by intentionally having her find her mother's body as part of his murder scheme.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise your right hand.

ROWLANDS: MacNeill's lover, Gypsy Willis, was also on the stand Tuesday admitting at one point she was actually sexting selfies to MacNeill the day after his wife died.

GYPSY WILLIS, MARTIN MACNEILL'S MISTRESS: I took pictures of myself whenever I thought I looked OK. There's one picture where it's a little bit suggestive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Showing your buttocks?


ROWLANDS: Prosecutors also entered into evidence a military I.D. card application form Gypsy Willis testified MacNeill filled out that claimed they were married. On the form, the couple supposed wedding date was the same day as Michele MacNeill's funeral.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Provo, Utah.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CUOMO: Let's bring in our tried and true legal panel, Danny Cevallos, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney and Mr. Vinnie Politan, host of HLN's "After Dark" and a former prosecutor. Gentlemen, thanks to both of you. Vinnie, I'm going to be keeping a my goodness count on you today because there are so many things for you to exclaim that about happened, so far. So, let me start with you.

The main piece of evidence, OK, is the taped interview of the young girl about what she saw that contradicts the doctor's one of his main statements about how he found the body of his wife. What do you think the value was of that to prosecutors?

VINNIE POLITAN, HOST, HLN'S AFTER DARK: It's crucial. It's huge. And here's why, because the way Dr. MacNeill described the position of his wife's body in the bathtub was more consistent with an accident, face forward sort of leaning over the bathtub. But Ada described her as lying all the way in the tub, the way you would normally sit in a bathtub, fully clothed.

Dr. MacNeill does not have her fully clothed, has her bottomless when he comes upon her before anyone else comes into that bathroom. So, that is crucial because her description consistent with neighbors, inconsistent with her father. Why would he lie about it? Because he wanted to make it look like an accident.

CUOMO: Lie. Lie, Danny Cevallos? Is that the right word to describe in this situation, the testimony of a child? Does it really hurt the doctor?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Chris, put me down for a my goodness. And I'll tell you why. Child testimony is always suspect when you have in this case a child that has been interviewed many times. We call it a taint in the criminal defense business, because what's happened is she's been interviewed so many times, that testimony is questionable.

Now, at this point, the judge has ruled on that issue, but it's something that always comes up. Whenever you have the testimony of a child for better or for worse, children perceive and tell stories differently than do adults. Neurological studies show that. So, there's always a bit of a problem with a child witness.

But, does it tend to dispute what the doctor says? Sure. I mean, the doctor is getting in too such a level of lies that that may spill over this character evidence into the prosecution's case in chief which they still have to prove.

CUOMO: Vinnie, why are you shaking your head? Why is it a lie versus him just getting it wrong --


POLITAN: No, no. Her testimony is consistent with everyone else. The only person whose testimony about the position of the body is inconsistent is Dr. MacNeill, the defendant.