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Congress to Hear Benghazi Testimony; Snowden Wants to Travel; American's Metadata Changes; Iraq Asks for U.S. Help With Growing Al Qaida Threat; Toronto Mayor Under Fire for Alleged Crack Cocaine Use

Aired November 1, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Telling their story after months of political back and forth, the CIA operatives are set to testify before Congress about the terror attack in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Accused NSA leaker Edward Snowden making new friends and maybe looking for a new home. Germany maybe?

MALVEAUX: And unearthed, a drug tunnel between Mexico and the United States that is so sophisticated, it is being called a super tunnel. We're going to take you on a tour.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today. And again, welcome to our international viewers who are with us all week.

MALVEAUX: First, we're going to get to this, Benghazi, Libya. It was just last September four Americans were killed in a terrorist attack. One of them, the U.S. ambassador.

HOLMES: Today, a lot of pressure from Republicans in Congress to hear directly from CIA operatives who were in Libya during the attack and also afterwards. So far they have not talked to Congress.

MALVEAUX: We here at CNN have reported that the CIA has specifically told those operators to keep quiet. Well, Drew Griffin is here. He is with the CNN Investigations Unit.

Drew, first of all, excellent reporting on all of this. And they're pushing back right now on what you're reporting. What are they saying?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Being completely transparent here, the CIA director says CNN is wrong, that he is not pressuring anybody not to talk to Congress and, in fact, is willing to facilitate and has sent out a letter facilitating the meeting between his workers in Benghazi and Congress. Be that as it may, members of Congress are finally going to get what they want, a face to face meeting with some of the actual CIA contractors who were on the ground in Benghazi the night of that terrorist attack last September.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GRIFFIN (voice-over): CNN has learned a House Intelligence Subcommittee is scheduled to hear from CIA security officers in Benghazi who are expected to tell a much more detailed story on what went on the night Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed in a terrorist attack. The men described by sources to CNN as former Navy SEALs, formerly Army special forces and former Marines were under contract to guard CIA agents on the ground. The security officers were among those who responded when Ambassador Stevens' compound was attacked on the night of September 11th. Sources tell CNN, they will appear behind closed doors in a classified congressional hearing the week of November 11th.

Members of Congress have been trying to get access to them and to other actual CIA agents, but as CNN has been reporting, those attempts, at least to date, have failed. Sources tell CNN, only one CIA operative who was in Benghazi during the attacks has gone before the House Intelligence Committee. Frustrated congressmen have told CNN they have been unsatisfied with the investigation so far conducted by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Republican Mike Rogers. Though Rogers staff defends the work of the committee, previously telling CNN the exhaustive review has included nine full committee hearings, roundtable discussions with some administration officials, and interim reports and vow that the investigation continues.

But still, according to sources, only one of the estimated nearly two dozen CIA operatives on the ground has testified before members of Congress. Fred Burton, a former State Department diplomatic security agent, has written a book about the Benghazi attack, now being turned into an HBO movie.

FRED BURTON, FORMER STATE DEPT. SECURITY OFFICER: Congress, as well as the agency, are going out of their way to protect whatever it was that they were doing operationally in Libya.

GRIFFIN: And sources say the CIA has been trying to keep its employees quiet. CNN reported earlier that some operatives involved in the agency's missions in Libya complained they have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations to find out whether they've spoken to Congress or the media, according to sources with deep inside knowledge of the agency's workings.

The CIA says this is "patently false," telling CNN, "not a single CIA officer who was on the ground in Benghazi during the attacks has been subjected to any CIA polygraph intended to discourage them from speaking to Congress or as a retaliation," adding that, "to date some of these officers have already spoken to the oversight committees on Benghazi." CNN has heard from congressmen who are unconvinced they are getting the whole truth. One congressman tells CNN on condition of anonymity, we know what the CIA tells us they were doing in Libya, but it is unclear if we really know what the agency was up to.


GRIFFIN: Suzanne and Michael, at the root of the issue here is the distrust that has been building and growing between Republicans in both the House and the Senate and the administration. And they feel like they're not getting the whole truth.

HOLMES: You know, I'm curious about a couple of things. What it is that they think these guys are hiding. The other thing that I find curious, and you touched on this in your piece, you've got a couple of dozen CIA guys hanging around Libya. Why?

GRIFFIN: Well, that is going to be a big question, what was the mission? There's been speculation, quite frankly, in the press and other areas that there was some kind of a gun running mission. The CIA flatly denies that. The - a senior intelligence official says that's not true. Whether or not there will be any testimony to that behind closed doors, we just don't know.

MALVEAUX: And there's a huge political cost to the Obama administration. You've got some powerful senators who are not going to allow nominations to go through unless you actually have the testimony from those who were involved on the ground in Benghazi. Where is that going?

GRIFFIN: Well, I mean, Senator Lindsey Graham has said, 'we're not going to get your appointees appointed until we get answers and we get these people into Congress, behind closed doors, and tell us what the heck happened in Benghazi.'

And what they want, Suzanne, is they don't want the filtered information. They don't want the briefings. They don't want the administration officials. They want the people who were there telling them, in person, what the heck happened.

MALVEAUX: All right, Phil, thank you. Excellent reporting, as always (ph).

HOLMES: Drew, great stuff. Yes. Really interesting.

MALVEAUX: I mean Drew.

HOLMES: Drew Griffin there.

Now news out of Russia. Edward Snowden, you know that name, don't you, wanted for spying, living under Russia's protection. And we just learned this week a new job working for a Russian website.

MALVEAUX: Looks like the NSA leaker wants to leave Russia, go to Germany, (INAUDIBLE) the United States, to testify about what he knows. Now yesterday in Moscow, Snowden had a meeting with Germany's foreign minister and the Germans are very interested in what Snowden has to say about American surveillance programs in Europe.

HOLMES: Live in Berlin, Frederik Pleitgen going to talk to us about that.

I mean, you know, saying that he wouldn't mind testifying to U.S. Congress, testifying to German lawmakers. Let's face it, not likely.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not likely, but you should never say never, Michael. Apparently there were some top level German politicians who came out and said, anybody who could do anything to clarify the situation would be very important to hear. The Germans, of course, still somewhat sour about it coming out that apparently the NSA was wiretapping Angela Merkel's phone for the past 10 years.

So they're not very happy about that. And the German parliamentarian who actually went to Moscow yesterday to meet with Edward Snowden and who also would like him to come testify here in Germany, says that the Germans should be grateful to Edward Snowden. Let's listen in to what this politician had to say earlier today.


HANS-CHRISTIAN STROEBELE, GERMAN LAW MAKER (through translator): Millions of communications were accessed. The fact that we even know it's possible that U.S. authorities bugged the chancellor and possible members of parliament may be from the U.S. embassy. We should be grateful to him. Say thank you or otherwise it might still be going on.


PLEITGEN: So those are the things that could actually lead to that happening, but now there is the whole, as you said, the not likely part to all of this. First of all, of course, the U.S. and Germany are still very much very big allies and the Germans are very angry, but they're not that angry at the United States, so they certainly would not want to jeopardize that relationship. And then, of course, Edward Snowden would have to give up the safe haven that he has right now in Russia. And that's a big risk for him. And the U.S. has already put in a request for his extradition should he come here to Germany. So, as you said, it is, at this point, quite unlikely, Michael.

MALVEAUX: And, Fred, do we know if he were actually to go to Germany, would he request asylum there?

PLEITGEN: Would he what? I'm sorry.

MALVEAUX: Would he request asylum from Germany?

PLEITGEN: Well, that's a - yes, that's a very good question. That could be something that he might do. There are apparently some provisions in German law that if he came here and he testified before a German parliamentary inquiry committee, which, of course, is something that the German parliament has set up, that apparently there is some paragraph in that law that would not allow Germany to then extradite that person to another country. So there might be some sort of provisions, some ways to work that.

But, honestly, the German government would probably do everything to try and prevent that. If you look at what's been going on here over the past couple of days, German officials have been saying again and again, yes, they're very, very angry, but they also want to clarify the situation. They want an apology from the U.S. and then they want to move on. They don't want this to become a big issue and they certainly don't want Edward Snowden to become an issue between the two countries. So he might try to do that, but right now even his lawyer says that with things the way they are right now, he would advise his client to stay in Russia, Suzanne.

HOLMES: All right, Fred Pleitgen in Germany. Thanks so much. Following that.

And just a point of clarification, too, Mr. Stroebele, he's not the foreign minister. I think we had that there on screen. He's actually a member of the opposition Greens party. A bit of a maverick in the German parliament. So, just a point of clarification.

MALVEAUX: Sure. And a new message from the Obama administration about U.S. surveillance is that in some cases the NSA reached too far. Those are the exact words used by the secretary of state, John Kerry. Listen.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: In some cases I acknowledge to you, as has the president, some of these actions have reached too far and we are going to make sure that that does not happen in the future.


HOLMES: Congress moving to limit the NSA spying capabilities, at least domestically. Just yesterday the Senate Intelligence Committee approving a bill that focuses on a program which collects metadata on telephone calls by Americans.

MALVEAUX: And Evan Perez, he is with us from Washington.

What kind of changes are we talking about specifically?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Suzanne, these are very limited changes. They're not -- they're still going to be collecting this type of metadata. This is basically, you know, information on what numbers you're calling. How long the call took place and that kind of thing. And right now what the NSA is doing is collecting all of this information basically on almost every phone call that's made by U.S. phone customers and it stores this.

Now, this bill that was approved by the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday does a couple things. It would, for example, make the NSA publish the number of times that it looks at this data, how often these queries in the data result in FBI investigations, for instance. And also to have the court that oversees all of this perhaps have a third party lawyer, someone from outside, who can provide some advice that perhaps doesn't come from the government as a way to sort of balance the interests of privacy in these issues.

Now, all of this is looking at changes on the domestic part of this thing. What Secretary Kerry was talking about is sort of the international collection by the NSA. And that's not really going to change much under this bill.

HOLMES: Yes, and I'll jump in there. Dealing with criticism, of course, the Obama administration, from overseas about spying on friends, in particular the German chancellor Angela Merkel, I mean when we're looking at the domestic angle of this, are they going to look at that as well?

PEREZ: Well, Michael, the Obama administration, the White House, has said that they're taking a look. They're going to review all of these programs and to see what they need to do, what -- whether or not what the NSA is doing is necessary versus what they're doing just because they can.

Now, we don't know whether at the end of this review they're going to announce anything publicly about some of these collections. Last night, at an event in Baltimore, the head of the NSA, Keith Alexander, General Keith Alexander, suggested that, you know, that maybe the usefulness of some of this collection on world leaders might not be as valuable as the relationships with these countries.

For instance, if it's ever found out, you know, that it might damage diplomatic releases to such an extent that maybe, you know, doing all of this behind closed doors is not worth it. So, you know, we'll see perhaps what this turns out. But at this point, you know, I don't see much changing down the road, Michael.

MALVEAUX: That could be a problem.

All right, Evan, thanks. We appreciate it.

Here's more of what we're working for AROUND THE WORLD.

A deteriorating situation in Iraq. We're talking about renewed violence, explosions, gunmen, hundreds of deaths just last month.

HOLMES: The prime minister is in Washington to meet with the president today. He's asking for help. He's asking for things the U.S. was offering a couple of years ago.

MALVEAUX: And the mayor of Toronto still on the job today, but a video reportedly showing him smoking a crack pipe is now in police custody, might turn up in a court hearing later today.

HOLMES: And it is so sophisticated, it's being called a super tunnel.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You go underground, you're going down.


HOLMES: A drug tunnel linking Mexico and the United States unearthed. We'll take you on a tour when we come back.


HOLMES: Welcome back.

Iraq's prime minister visits the White House soon, in the next couple of hours. By most accounts, his country's spiraling towards a meltdown, and we've been reporting on that for months now.

Nouri al-Malaki, well, he'd like some help from Washington.

MALVEAUX: So he's asking the United States be for heavy weaponry including Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, as well as some drones. He says he needs it to help fight Al Qaida's resurgence in the country. But many people are saying the Iraqi minister himself is certainly part of the problem.

We're covering all sides of the story. We've got Brianna Keilar at the U.S. angle, of course; Arwa Damon looking at the worsening violence in Iraq.

So I want to start off with you, Brianna, at the White House. Iraq really has been very much off the radar for some time for the White House.

But clearly, al-Malaki is asking very specifically what he wants from the president. Is he likely to get some support?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Suzanne, the White House has been open so far to providing support in terms of intelligence sharing. We heard that from U.S. officials, as well as this military equipment.

You talked about those fighter jets. Actually, last week, the Iraqi government placed a $600 million order for F-16s. U.S. officials say that is moving forward. And as well, they do want those attack helicopters. The U.S. is open to that.

Obviously, Americans would be more concerned about the idea, perhaps, U.S. boots on the ground. That was something that Iraq and the U.S. couldn't come to agreement on there being some sort of residual U.S. force in Iraq. So that seems rather unlikely.

But what you're hearing is criticism from -- concerns from the White House, as well as from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, that even though Malaki is asking for these things, that part of the problem, they feel, is that he hasn't governed well, he has marginalized Sunnis, that his government is too dominated by Shiites and that that has opened up a situation where there's sectarian division that is ripe for exploitation by Al Qaida and its affiliates in Iraq.

So I think they're also -- you'll be hearing, in a way, from the White House that they'll be pressing Malaki to change how he's governor, Suzanne and Michael.

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you, Brianna. Appreciate it.

HOLMES: All right, I want to bring in Arwa Damon now. She's in South Africa on assignment at the moment, but literally spent years in Iraq.

Arwa, more than 6,000 Iraqis killed so far this year, a thousand last month. The U.S. and Iraq have a common enemy in Iraq.

But I want you to talk about the elephant in the room, which Brianna touched on. Nouri al Malaki spurned U.S. efforts to keep a training and intel presence in Iraq. Now he wants that and more.

Also, he's the guy who promised political inclusiveness and reconciliation with the Sunnis, provided neither, doing the opposite in many ways and that really was what opened the door to Al Qaida and Sunni anger, isn't it?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It most certainly, Michael, is what provided the opportunity for Al Qaida to begin to re- emerge in Iraq. The violence there has surged significantly.

You can imagine just how traumatizing that is for the population that thought that the worst of the violence, perhaps, was actually something of the past.


DAMON: We don't know her age or her name. What we do know is that she and her classmates were at school in a predominantly Shia area in northern Iraq. A suicide truck bomber exploded outside.

The violence never really ended in Iraq. Much of the recent increase in attacks is blamed on the Al Qaida-led group, the Islamic state of Iraq.

The U.S. military used to boast of the success of having broken the terrorist organization's back. But now, nearly two years after the Americans fully withdrew, Al Qaida has undeniably resurrected itself.

The country's security forces were never really capable of stabilizing the nation, especially without U.S. support and technology. And let's not forget that this is a nation where violence and politics go hand in hand.

The actions of the Shia-led government have made it easy for Al Qaida and other Sunni extremists to capitalize on the growing discontent, spread their influence and increase their attacks.

There have also been retaliatory attacks by the Shia against the Sunnis, and in recent months, the death toll has reached levels not seen in years.

The U.N. envoy to Iraq called it "an accelerated surge in violence," an acceleration the Syrian civil war has helped fuel, blurring battle lines as Al Qaida expanded its Iraq operation into Syria over the summer.


DAMON: And Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki has laid the blame for the resurgence of Al Qaida due to what is happening in neighboring Syria.

But, really, stabilizing Iraq is going to take a political discourse that it would seem at this stage neither he nor the other key players inside Iraq have an appetite for. And so the challenges there are very multi-layered, multifaceted, because at the end of the day, with or without the war in Syria, Iraq was already on a downward spiral. Michael.

HOLMES: Yeah, and briefly, Arwa, you know the place, as well anyone.

What, if anything, can the U.S. do, even if they offer to help? When you talk about the blood and treasure that the U.S. expended in Iraq, it really doesn't have that much regional influence there anymore.

The sort of "or else" from the U.S. carries pretty much little weight in the region in general, these days.

DAMON: Exactly. And when it comes to Iraq, the government has actually made the very calculated decision that it is, in fact, in their best interests to look to the east, to keep Iran at bay, to keep the Iranians pleased rather than try to appease the Americans.

That is why the U.S. has been so angry at the fact that the Iraqis have not really done anything about Iranian over-flights sending weapons inside Syria.

The relationship between Iraq and the U.S. right now, is pretty interesting, but at the end of the day, again, it's going to take a lot to really move that country forward, because it's a victim of its own dynamics, but it's also a victim of the broader regional dynamics at this stage.

HOLMES: Yeah, exactly. Arwa, thanks so much. Arwa Damon there in Johannesburg, appreciate it.

MALVEAUX: There were rumors a few months ago. Now there is apparently a smoking gun.

Toronto police say they have a video that reportedly shows the city's mayor smoking a crack pipe.

But the mayor, he is digging in his heels. He denies smoking crack and he says he will not resign.

We've got a live report up, next.


MALVEAUX: Interesting story. Toronto's mayor is refusing to resign, even though police have recovered a video that reportedly appears to show him smoking crack cocaine.

Now, Mayor Rob Ford has not been charged with anything. He has repeatedly denied using crack.

HOLMES: Yeah, but the outrage over the allegations is growing.

Ivan Watson is covering the story for us from New York. We first heard reports of this video what, six months ago.

But he said it didn't exist. Police now confirming its existence, how did they do that?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's been a massive investigation, it looks like, and the police on Thursday, Michael, they released this enormous report that we're still sifting through, more than 400 pages into narcotics and drug gangs, and Mayor Ford, he appears repeatedly throughout this report.

What's interesting here is both what it says about him and what it doesn't say. For example, in the report, there's a section where the police investigators say they're investigating allegations that there is this video out of Mayor Ford smoking what looks like crack cocaine.

And then they say this is what we've learned about that. And then the next 10 pages are blacked out, redacted. We're not allowed to see what happened there.

But the police commissioner in Toronto has made it clear that there is a video that was recovered from a hard drive video that had been deleted and they managed to recover it and that this video, he wouldn't go into details, shows, is consistent with the press reports from the "Toronto Star," for example, that says the reporters say they've seen Mayor Ford smoking what looks like crack.


MALVEAUX: And, Ivan, we know this is considered somewhat of a bombshell discovery.

But you also have in this investigation surveillance photos from the police that also show the mayor not behaving well in addition to this. What do see him doing?

WATSON: Well, yeah, yeah, they were following one of his friends and sometimes driver, a man named Sandro Lisi, who was released on bail today, just about an hour or so ago, after being arrested on charges of extortion.

And in these videos and these photos that have been taken from surveillance, you see them meeting, exchanging packages in the past.

One incident, it shows them getting together in Mayor Ford's car. Mayor Ford then steps out of the car and proceeds to urinate publicly next to basically an elementary school.