Return to Transcripts main page
ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
High Alert At Mandela Memorial; Three Passengers Killed in Asiana Jet Crash; The Best Way To Be Fired, Face-To-Face; Friends And Foe At Mandela's Memorial; Report: NSA Monitoring Online Video Games; Should It Be Legal to Shoot Down Drones?; Interview With Ron Paul
Aired December 9, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: OUTRONT next:
The memorial for Nelson Mandela will be unlike any the world has ever seen. There are questions about the security of the event, and who will be sitting next to the president of the United States.
Then, the NSA is spying on America video gamers. What are they hoping to find in The Worlds of Warcraft.
And what caused a plane to crash in San Francisco? Is the problem getting worse?
I'm Jake Tapper in for Erin Burnett. Just hours from now, the president and nearly 100 other world leaders will join tens of thousands of mourners to pay their respects to Nelson Mandela. The open air stadium where Mandela's memorial service is to be held can seat 94,000 people and every seat is expected to be filled.
The event will rival in size the 1965 state funeral for former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the 2005 funeral for Pope John Paul II. In addition, to President Obama, former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will all be there.
But so will at least one U.S. foe, Cuba's president, Raul Castro. Castro will share the stage with President Obama when they speak at the memorial. Will Mandela's message of forgiveness resonate? And with so many high value targets on hand and a time crunch of epic proportions, will the venue be safe?
First on the security front, let's talk to Bob Baer, CNN national security analyst and former CIA operative and Joe Hagin who was the deputy chief of staff for operations for President George W. Bush. Joe worked on security for Pope John Paul's funeral. Bob, we'll start with you. All of these VIPs, tens of thousands of people in one place, what could go wrong, but a lot could go wrong.
BOB BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, South Africa's not entirely a safe place. Look, you have a large Somali community there, with connections to the Shabaab. It's an al Qaeda-related group. You also have Pakistani communities there with ties back to Pakistan and the Taliban.
Monitoring these will not be easy. You have the problem of a lot of weapons coming through Africa, Central African Republic, Libya and the rest of it. So there is the potential danger to secure all these people.
TAPPER: Joe, the U.S. delegation just a small part of the crowd, up to 100 other heads of state will be in attendance, not U.S. soil. How much control can the U.S. Secret Service have, realistically?
JOE HAGIN, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR OPERATIONS FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it's entirely up to the host government. The South African government has hosted U.S. presidential visits in the past. They do a good job, but, again, it's a very difficult situation. You have 100 heads of state means you have 100 armed security details for those heads of state. Some of them aren't friendly.
It's a very difficult situation and something that requires a lot of flexibility from the White House and the Secret Service because they can't do what they would normally do on a major overseas trip like this.
TAPPER: Speaking of flexibility, you were telling me that it was an opportunity for presidents or vice presidents or whomever to have a pull aside with a world leader that they might never actually talk to in any other circumstance.
HAGIN: Right. I mean, you have all these heads of state. It's a real opportunity to see people that might be difficult politically under normal circumstances to even shake hands with. So it's an opportunity. We'll see if the venue lends itself to that. But a lot of meetings can go on behind the scenes.
TAPPER: Bob, the venue itself is pretty vague. It can hold almost 100,000 people. Where do you start in securing a venue this size with this many high value targets on hand?
BAER: You know, it really, it is up to the locals to do this. The Secret Service can provide close protection, but, you know, any major armed group has got to be stopped by the locals. They've got to have military units on hand. They've got to keep the crowds away, roll in the usual suspects. Put them away from the event, things like that. But the Secret Service has just got to focus on the president and the other dignitaries it's responsible for and that's as far as it can go and the rest is up to the South Africans.
TAPPER: One other thing is the planning normally for something like this, for a major international trip with many other world leaders. Somebody like you, the U.S. Secret Service, here we literally have a matter of days.
HAGIN: Right. That can also play to your benefit, though. The bad guys, you know, like to plan. Al Qaeda likes long planning periods. Not knowing when this event was going to take place, obviously removes that. So you have a little bit of a short time frame which can play to their advantage, to our advantage. But, again, a trip like this we would normally have been there two months ahead of time, looking at the details. So it is a tough situation and flexibility is going to be the key to getting through it. TAPPER: All right, Joe Hagin, Bob Baer, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Now on the diplomatic front, presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley. Doug, Raul Castro and President Obama, same stage, separated by just four speakers on the official program, how does this work? Do they look the other way? Do they exchange pleasantries? Do they take this as a real opportunity for diplomacy as Joe was talking?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I'm sure Raul Castro would like to have it as an opportunity for diplomacy, but I don't think President Obama wants to be seen as too buddy-buddy with somebody who's considered a nemesis of the United States. You are going to have to be cordial on stage, but you don't want to do the big smile and meet and greet with Castro. It will cost the president too much here domestically in the United States.
You don't want to be winging foreign policy that you are making big decisions at a funeral. However, away from cameras' glare, they might be able to get a word in. If Obama can sneak it in without being taped doing it, he might try it.
TAPPER: I heard a story from somebody in charge of White House security who was telling me about an event like this that provided an opportunity for a high-ranking U.S. official to meet with a potential U.S. enemy, somebody considered a foe, but it did provide an opportunity that never would have been there before there was an opportunity for actual diplomacy.
Of course, on the other hand, as you pointed out, such things can be considered huge mistakes. There was the incident when President Obama in 2009 was seen taking a picture, was taking a picture of him shaking hands with Hugo Chavez and that was actually used against him. At that time, former Vice President Dick Cheney said it sets the wrong standards. So is the suggestion that if cameras are not around, it might be worth it, but if they are, to be avoided.
BRINKLEY: Exactly. You know, this is really a day where everybody's supposed to honor Nelson Mandela. I'm not sure it's a day of world foreign policy-making for nations. But as I mentioned, face time between world leaders is always beneficial if you can do it the right way. But we view Cuba as our enemy. This is not the time for Barack Obama to be over embracing him.
You know, what's interesting though is it's a Mandela moment with both of them on stage here. Nelson Mandela on one hand was great friends with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and on the other hand, he was friends with Gaddafi and Castro. He's sort of like the man of the year, Nelson Mandela. The time of all this global strife he still has a role as healing agent, bringing different people together on stage.
TAPPER: And that's in fact something that Mandela's former personal assistant said telling Reuters that quote, "Tomorrow people should all be honoring their relationship with Madiba, if it means shaking hands with the enemy, yes, I would like to see that. That is what Nelson Mandela was and actually is bringing people together despite their differences."
I guess that's the point is what could be more of a tribute to Nelson Mandela than people who'd normally would not talk, talking, and I'm not saying they have to be embracing or back slapping or even smiling, but talking. That would, I, might argue, be the greatest tribute to Nelson Mandela that you could have at a Nelson Mandela memorial.
BRINKLEY: You know how we have our "State of the Union" addresses and everybody watches the body language. Obviously that's going to be a big part of the drama tomorrow is how Castro and Obama interact, but yes, if you can have a very serious respectful talk. We used to call Barack Obama, no-drama Obama. This isn't his style to go there and kind of steal the show by making a grand gesture like this.
But any time somebody wins a Nobel Peace Prize like Mandela, the world embraces them and some of the rules are broken. I remember that Anwar Sadat's funeral when he was killed in 1981, and all these different people that weren't talking ended up talking at Sadat's funeral and had a great healing effect in some ways.
So anything's possible here, but I don't think this is going to be a breakthrough moment. I think the big game is what you just talked about, security. Can we get through this without some horrible terrorist event or some major bad moment occurring. So I think everybody going to be trying to get through the day.
TAPPER: Historian, Douglas Brinkley, thank you so much.
Still to come, why is the NSA spying on video gamers.
And then, what caused this plane to crash in San Francisco earlier this year? New details are emerging about the flight's final moments.
And later, some of America's major cities are bracing for some real snow.
TAPPER: Is the National Security Agency infiltrating video games? Documents released by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden show that in 2008, the agency planted sleeper agents inside games like "World of War Craft" and "Second Life," amid concerns that those games could be used by terror groups to coordinate attacks. The documents were published today in a joint story by the "New York Times," "The Guardian," and "ProPublica."
I talked to Spencer Ackerman, U.S national security editor at "The Guardian," which was one of those who broke the story, and I asked him how a game like "World of War Craft" could possibly be a hotbed for terrorist activity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPENCER ACKERMAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR, "THE GUARDIAN": "World of War Craft," like many other really popular addictive, immersive video games is this amazing, deeply, deeply, richly developed fantasy game in which you go on quests along with your virtual friends and face things like orks and weird creatures and other things that I don't know about because, of course, I would never play these types of games. No, never.
TAPPER: How would a militant or terrorist group use such a game to launch an attack?
ACKERMAN: Well, that's kind of unclear. But the suspicion around the late 2,000s that have emerged in an intelligence circles, in defense circles was that as more of our lives migrate into multiple online role playing games like War Craft and others. More people would seek to use them as sort of online sanctuaries, where you wouldn't think intelligence agencies like the NSA would be watching so they could potentially discuss planning an attack like that.
TAPPER: Now the X-box live console network has more than 48 million players. How many people were possibly unknowingly playing with spies? All of them?
ACKERMAN: It's a great question and potentially, yes. We have a great deal of difficulty determining precisely how many people's online gaming communities were infiltrated or what the, what the real exposure was. It's not as simple as, you know, asking someone, you know, well, guy's have you seen LQ lately.
TAPPER: CNN has not received an On the Record about response to these articles from the NSA. But they do say that their programs are all centered on valid foreign intelligence targets. Have any terrorists, to your knowledge, actually been caught by doing this?
ACKERMAN: Not to my knowledge. There's been a great deal of effort, not just by NSA, but by the U.S. central command to try and put people pretending to be either gamers or, you know, people in chat rooms, otherwise seemingly unaffiliated with these groups to try and penetrate these networks, but really haven't seen either a, these online environments lid to terrorist plots, or, b, how much intelligence was really usefully collected out of them.
TAPPER: Our thanks to Spencer Ackerman.
A report shed a new light on the crash of the Asiana flight 214 which slams into a sea wall and broke apart as it was landing in San Francisco international airport. We are learning now that the pilot's overreliance on computers in the cockpit may have been to blame. Three passengers were killed, dozens more were injured. A federal hearing will begin tomorrow to review the report, and Tom Foreman has more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two key questions surrounding the Asiana air crash. As the jet approached the San Francisco airport, why did computers controlling the throttle disengaged? And why did the pilots fail to notice as the plane's speed plummeted dangerously low? The answers could explain why the jet landed so short of the runway, smashing its tail into a sea wall cart wheeling, killing three people and injuring almost 200 more.
EUGENE RAH, ASIANA CRASH SURVIVOR: I thought, you know, that was it. I thought I'm dying.
FOREMAN: Aviation analysts say the crash is a warning. Computerized automation has clearly improved airline operations and safety in recent decades, but relying on it too much so-called automation addiction is a real danger.
BILL WALDOCK, EMBRY-RIDDLE AERONAUTICAL UNIVERSITY: Automation definitely helps in most circumstances. But you have to treat it as help rather than exclusively letting it fly the airplane. The thing to remember is no matter what happens, it's still an airplane, and pilots still need to be able to fly the airplane.
FOREMAN: And if you think Asiana was a freak occurrence, think again. In 2007, investigators say the auto throttle on a 737 turned itself off just before landing in England. The disengaged was neither commanded nor recognized by the crew, they wrote in their report and air speed decade rapidly. Then a crew member spotted the problem, took control and landed the plane safely. That's why experienced pilots like captain Keith Walzinger who was flown planes just like that Asiana Jet says --
CAPT. KEITH WALZINGER, THE SPECTRUM GROUP: The pilot should have his hands on the throttle itself whether it is being controlled by the auto pilot or by the pilot manually you have a feel for where the throttle position should be.
FOREMAN: We don't have definitive word yet on what caused the Asiana crash. But the investigation itself is already spurring deeper discussions about passenger safety, accountability and making sure computers are in the cockpit to help pilots fly the planes, not the other way around.
For OUTFRONT, I'm Tom Foreman in Washington.
TAPPER: And our thanks to Tom Foreman.
Still ahead, what's the worst way to get fired? We found out how a big CEO got the boot.
And Rand Paul will be our guest live. Does he think that the deal with nuclear Iran is good for America, coming up.
TAPPER: Tonight's "Money and Power," two words no one ever wants to hear -- you're fired. Remember when Sarah Silverman says she was fired from SNL via fax? And AOL CEO, Tim Armstrong, is firing of one of his employees was caught on tape last month and the audio went viral. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM ARMSTRONG, CEO, AOL: Abel, put that camera down right now. Able, you're fired, out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Today there's the example of George Zimmer, the founder of men's warehouse. You know the slogan, you are going to like the way you look. He told "Fortune" magazine he didn't like the way he was fired. He was ultimately fired over e-mail, he said, which leads us to ask, is there a right way and a wrong way to get canned?
Bruce Weinstein, also the known as Bruce the ethics guy. He wrote a book all about getting fired.
Thanks for being here, Bruce.
Firing by text, e-mail, facebook, fax, twitter, are any of these acceptable ways to fire an employee?
BRUCE WEINSTEIN, THEETHICSGUY.COM: It is dishonorable. It is disrespectful and it is a sign of bad character. So, thumbs down to have firing someone by text or e-mail.
TAPPER: So, what are the only ways to do it?
WEINSTEIN: The best thing is face-to-face. And if you recall that movie "Up In The Air," it showed how emotionally difficult it can be to have those difficult conversations. But as Spiderman would say, you know, great power comes great responsibility. And so, if you have to let somebody go, the best way to do it is face-to-face. It minimizes unavoidable mark.
TAPPER: I don't mean to fact check you, but I'm pretty sure it was Peter Parker's Uncle Ben.
WEINSTEIN: But it is a Spiderman genre.
TAPPER: I appreciate it, but as a journalist I had to step in.
WEINSTEIN: Thank you for that.
TAPPER: Let's return to the subject again. What's behind these impersonal firings? It says to let avoid damn easy. It suggest that in this day and age, it is easier to do it this way. People don't want to create a paper trail? Sloth? What do you think?
WEINSTEIN: Managers will say it's easier that way, but it's easier on the managers, it is not on the employees. And employees generally want to be treated with respect, with the honor and dignity which is owed to them. And so, most people prefer to be told face-to-face.
No one likes to hear bad news. And in fact, in my dating life, a woman broke up with me saying on the third day, Bruce, I just don't feel a spark. And it hurt, but I really respected that as opposed to not returning my phone calls or any of the other ways that a lot of us used to let people go.
TAPPER: About that's, I mean, and that's very nice of her to go out on a third date with you and break up with you that way, but it's also much more time-consuming and for a business person, it might be, you know, they don't have the time to be nice, just fire that person, whether it's by text or e-mail, or whatever, get it done. We've got to move on.
WEINSTEIN: It doesn't take -- I disagree. It doesn't take that much more time to sit down and have a conversation with someone. I mean, we're not talking about going on some exotic retreat and sitting down and playing golf and having that sort of conversation. Just sitting down face-to-face like George Clooney did in "Up In The Air." And it is not easy. It takes maybe what, a couple of more minutes, but it shows respect and it's the honorable thing to do, it is the ethical thing to do. It's not the easy thing to do, it's the ethical thing to do.
TAPPER: I appreciate your perspective and all the fact also references.
Bruce Weinstein, thank you so much for your time.
WEINSTEIN: Pleasure, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up next, this is what it looked like over the weekend, and it might look this way tomorrow in several major American cities. We will have the latest on the coming storm.
And one American community is close to making it legal to shoot down drones. Why they feel this is necessary, coming up next.
TAPPER: A wintry mix of snow and ice is covering much of the country tonight, from the Southwest to the Northeast.
Freezing weather is causing travel nightmares, flights are canceled and cars are literally piling up on icy roads. More snow on the way tomorrow, targeting the Northeast, from Washington to Boston.
Chad Myers has the forecast.
Chad, what can we expect from this next storm system heading right towards us here on the East Coast?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, Jake, I'll say only snow, because the ice was so bad in D.C. and Baltimore where people were sliding and also into New York City as well.
Here's the storm. It doesn't look like much, and in fact, compared to the one that hit over the weekend, it isn't much. But four inches of snow in any big city will put a dent in air travel, 4,900 planes still in the sky. Many of them tonight still delayed at least an hour or two especially anywhere coming out of the Northeast. Planes were all delayed a couple hours out of the Northeast. Here's what's coming: a winter storm warning for Philadelphia and also up the turnpike. I-95, right through here, because of three to five inches of snow that comes down tomorrow morning into tomorrow afternoon. It's a slow-moving storm. Eventually, then, tomorrow, it picks up, because we're finally going to get snow probably 6:00 in the morning for D.C.
But by the time kids get out of school, there will be four inches of snow on the ground. So, do the superintendents close school early, or do they wait to see if it snows or send the kids home early? That's what you're going to have to watch your local TV stations for, because there will be cancellations certainly tomorrow. We're going to see three to five inches in this band, right along I-95. Not much to Richmond. It might snow a little bit, but that changes back over to rain and the snow gets into New York City.
Ridgewood, back into Long Island, we're going to see two to four inches. More if you get back out toward Burgan, say a little bit further to the west of the city. But this is it. It moves so fast that it's over.
We oftentimes, Jake, say snow makes snow. Take a look at this graphic. This is what this year's snow cover looked like. This was yesterday morning when they took the picture.
Almost 50 percent of the country covered in snow. Last year, only 15 percent of the country covered in snow.
So, if it felt cold this fall, it is, Jake.
TAPPER: So, Chad, across the country right now, most temperatures are between 10 and 20 degrees below average. How long is this going to last?
MYERS: At least for another week, and maybe even longer. It's a jet stream problem. We have the jet coming out of where it's cold, back all the way down to the Deep South and running up the East Coast. And that cold air is allowed to run straight down.
Here are the wind chills. Sioux Falls, 14 below. Fargo, 22 below. Minneapolis right now, 12 below zero. Now, your car doesn't feel that. But the pets do, the animals outside do. Your face does too. Make sure the pets don't have to stand there in the wind. Bring them inside if you can.
At least make sure that the water is not frozen, because water in zero doesn't stay liquid very long, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Chad Myers, thank you so much.
MYERS: You're welcome.
TAPPER: Don't like drones watching your every move? Well, shoot them down.
A Colorado town is about to vote on an ordinance that would make it legal for residents to do just that. And this may surprise you, the outcome is expected to be extremely close. It's a vote that's dividing a tight-knit community and raising serious questions about just how much government Americans want in their lives.
Ana Cabrera has the story.
ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Deer Trail, Colorado, population, 598 -- a small town with big American pride, claiming to be home of the world's first rodeo.
PHILLIP STEEL, DEER TRAIL RESIDENT: It's David and Goliath.
CABRERA: Deer Trail resident Philip Steel is ready to fight for Old West values that he believes are threatened by drones.
(on camera): So if you see one overhead, what are you proposing to do?
STEEL: I am proposing to shoot it down.
CABRERA (voice-over): Steel says it was the National Defense Authorization Act that got him fired up. He read about the government's plan to add six bases for drone testing and invest $23 billion into new unmanned aerial vehicles.
The FAA says thousands of drones could be flying over our heads by 2020.
(on camera): The idea of eyes in the skies he says is just not the American way. His message to the government? Not in my backyard.
(voice-over): So, Steele drafted a drone-hunting ordinance that goes up for a town vote tomorrow. A yes vote would give license residents in this one square mile town the go-ahead to shoot down a drone that comes within 1,000 feet of their homes.
(on camera): But you don't want people to take this seriously?
STEEL: Of course, I want them to take it seriously.
CABRERA (voice-over): Steel insists he's thought of everything. The ordinance specifies the kinds of weapons and ammunition you can use, and even put as bounty on recovered drone parts, $25 for the fuselage or wing, $100 for a whole drone that has U.S. government markings.
DAN DOMANOSKI, DEER TRAIL RESIDENT: That's a federal offense to destroy government property on top of that. It's a ridiculous thing and embarrassing the town.
CABRERA: Despite opposition, Steel's idea has found support.
ROBERT COPELY, FORMER MAYOR OF DEER TRAIL: I would shoot a drone down if it's peering in my window, scanning me, and if it's where an elevation where I can nail it. CABRERA: Former Deer Trail Mayor Robert Copely is one of some 400 people who have already purchased Steel's novelty drone hunting licenses just to make a statement.
STEEL: People are buying in because they believe in the cause. And they want to display these. Also they're very beautiful.
CABRERA: They're printed on velum, stamped with the logo that says "kill them all, death from below."
STEEL: This license may not be recognized by a tyrannical municipal, state or a federal government.
CABRERA: The FAA is keeping an eye on Deer Trail special election, and issued an statement that warns, shooting an unmanned aircraft could result in civil or criminal liability just as would firing at a manned airplane, all of this setting up a possible legal duel between the local and federal governments.
STEEL: There are many things that are illegal. The U.S. federal government declared war on us. This is our response.
CABRERA: Steel insists he won't be deterred from shooting at a drone but hopes the ordinance would deter drones from passing through Deer Trail.
For OUTFRONT, Ana Cabrera, Deer Trail, Colorado.
TAPPER: Our thanks to Ana Cabrera.
CNN contributor John Avlon is here with me.
John, I got to see first hand how these things work. I met a group who fly homemade drones and the technology is getting more sophisticated by the day. This is a bigger issue than drones and government drones. This is about a growing anti-government sentiment in this country.
What do you see as driving it?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, it's fascinating, Jake. You listen to the rhetoric being used in that segment about tyrannical government. And you understand, this is tapping into deeper emotions.
And you're absolutely right. Look, distrust in government is at an all-time low. And that's because we've lost faith in our institutions.
And what we've got here in the larger sense is technology outpacing our laws. And people feeling that it's leading to something that's almost Orwellian in terms of the scope of intrusion and individuals lives. Especially, you take rural folks and that resentment plays against distrust for Washington. Historically, it explodes. So this is going to snowball as long as technology outpaces laws and the people feel the government is infringing on their privacy and liberty.
TAPPER: Let's talk about drone for a second if you would, so when I visited these hobbyists, they were talking about how the FAA is going to come up with a rule and basically will have to come, the government, U.S. government, is going to have to determine what to allow the general public to do when it comes to the commercial use of drones. The U.S. government already has drones out there that are used for law enforcement and for what they argue are national security reasons.
But we are in a lace in this country where we are bound to confront these issues in a very public way, but there's really been no debate about the U.S. government's use of drones at all.
AVLON: And that's one of the reasons I think you're seeing this popular push back, populist push back because folks are frustrated at the fact that the U.S. government is flying drones over their property and they don't know what the government can see.
That high level of suspension translates to that hostility. Now, the U.S. government regulates our airspace and we'll see what private companies get to do.
But you are making a perfect storm of public sentiment, this distrust. Story after story of the NSA overreaching, questions about what the government can do with people's private computers. So, all that leads to such a toxic atmosphere of distrust, Jake, that people are willing to assume the worse, and that's where things can get unhinge pretty quickly and people's passions can get out of control.
TAPPER: All right. John Avlon of "The Daily Beast" -- thank you so much. We appreciate it.
Coming up next, Ron Paul talks Iran, his son is running for president and the things he thinks could bring down the dollar and in his view, that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
And later, the current and ex-presidents get together in one cramped space. What it's like on a 20-hour flight with more than one president in the room.
TAPPER: Here's some of what you missed earlier on THE LEAD.
Baby, it's cold outside, and, baby, it's only going to get worse.
REPORTER: They tell us bridges, overpasses, untreated roads are going to be very dangerous. So they're asking folks to be very careful when they're out and about. TAPPER: Shocking news out of Los Angeles, it is the country's largest jail system that the fed say the inmates were not the only criminals there.
REPORTER: Eighteen people that have been arrested and charged in relation to this probe now, Jake.
TAPPER: Kim Jong-un's uncle Jang Song Thaek has been removed from his powerful post for, quote, "criminal acts including corruption, womanizing, abusing drugs and alcohol and mismanaging the economy. He was also accused of dreaming different dreams, whatever that means.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jang Song Thaek has been purged himself a couple of times, but I don't think he's ever done a perp walk before.
TAPPER: We're told that Air Force One just made a refueling pit stop in Senegal, which means the presidents are well on their way to South Africa and probably playing Sudoku together by now.
TAPPER: Now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's ahead on "AC360" -- Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, hey, Jake. I'm in Johannesburg in South Africa, where (INAUDIBLE) the world, including four U.S. presidents would join the celebration of the life of Nelson Mandela. Heads of state not the only ones here, of course.
Tonight, exclusively on "360", you're going to hear my conversation with Bono. He shares his thoughts on the great man, someone he's known since he begun fighting against apartheid, when U2 is getting their start in the late 1970s. It's all at the top of the hour, Jake.
TAPPER: Sounds great, Anderson. Thank you so much.
No banks, no fees, no inflation. These are the potential perks of this thing called bitcoin. But is bitcoin really the money of the future?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bitcoin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bitcoin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bitcoin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bitcoin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bitcoin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bitcoin.
TAPPER (voice-over): Bitcoin is all the rage, but what the hell is it? And why should you care? In a nutshell, it's an electronic currency, imagine buying and selling without any middleman or banks and in complete anonymity. Every transaction is recorded in the public log online but names of buyers and sellers are never revealed. That's why some call it the Wild, Wild West for criminals.
Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet in the Cloud or on your computer. You can buy furniture, flight, even haircuts online and use them at bars, restaurants and other businesses in the real world. There's now even a bit coin ATM in British Columbia. And last week, someone bought a $100,000 Tesla car using only bitcoins.
Is it the money of the future?
TYLER WINKLEVOSS, ENTREPRENEUR: Money can be sent from here to Hong Kong and back instantly for free.
TAPPER: But not everyone is sold. Some can't even get their heads around the concept, including former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan.
ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE: You have to really stretch your imagination to infer what the intrinsic value of bitcoin is. I haven't been able to do it. Maybe somebody else can.
TAPPER: For those who can stretch their imagination, here are the ways to get your hands on bitcoins. You can buy them online, transfer them to and from other users or mine them on your computer.
That's how new bitcoins are created when somebody digs them up by solving very complex math problems online.
Currently, 25 bitcoins are mined every 10 minutes. Is this the end of the George Costanza wallet? Or is bitcoin a bubble about to burst?
TAPPER: And now a man who's always looking for alternatives to the non-gold backed U.S. dollar, former congressman and presidential candidate, Ron Paul. He's the host of RonPaulChannel.com.
Mr. Paul, Dr. Paul, good to see you as always. Thanks for joining us.
So, you say if enough people use bitcoin, it could help bring down the dollar? You think that's a real possibility?
RON PAUL, RONPAULCHANNEL.COM: Well, I think it is the other way, when the dollar is in trouble, which it will get in trouble, that will be one of the alternatives. I guess it will be the play on it, and the more bitcoins are used, the worse it will be for the dollar.
But something has to happen to the dollar, so I think that's where the real problem is.
And Mr. Greenspan said that he doesn't understand the intrinsic value of a bitcoin, and frankly, I don't either. But I want to ask him what about the intrinsic value of a dollar? You know, nobody knows what that is.
So, I think it's an alternative, just one of the alternatives, in the first momentum, then people are going to leave. And maybe the other electronic monies and there will be gold. But, you know, we came terribly close to this in 1979 when they took interest rates up to 21 percent to save the dollar. And maybe next time, it won't be so successful.
But the dollar has been under attack since the Fed was created in 1913. It's lost 97 percent of its value. And the end stages of a paper currency always goes very rapidly, although it's been gradual for these hundred years, there is going to be a day that I expect that there could be panic out of the dollar. Then, the bitcoin issue is going to be a much bigger issue.
TAPPER: I want to get your thoughts on some of the big issues of the day. Primarily, let's start your son, Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, not hiding the fact that he is contemplating a presidential run. You've run for president three times, I'm sure you've given him much fatherly advice behind the scenes. But share a little bit with us if you would, what should he look at before he pulls the trigger, and do you think he should go for it?
PAUL: Well, I think he is going to make up his own mind. And I had my opportunity to give him advice when he was much younger.
So, he's been a pretty independent person, which you would expect, and he's very libertarian-minded (ph). And therefore he will make up his own mind. I think he probably will. He has been on TV hinting that he very well might.
But I kiddingly say the advice I give him, he might be very careful. He is doing very well, he might get elected. And that is a great burden and major responsibility.
But I think he is handling himself quite well.
TAPPER: Do you want him to run?
PAUL: I want him to do what he wants to do. I'm probably not you know, too much -- I encourage other people to do what they want to with their lives.
TAPPER: All right, fair enough.
So I want to ask you your views on this potential deal with Iran. Because I am trying to figure out where you would be on it, and my gut tells me that you would probably be inclined to support a diplomatic deal with Iran. But I don't want to speak for you, a new "USA Today"/Pew Research Center poll shows 32 percent of those polled approved of the interim nuclear pact with Iran, 42 percent disapprove. What do you think?
PAUL: Yes, I think under the circumstances it is a great breakthrough. And during the campaign, you heard me say very often, we ought to do more diplomacy and less shooting from the hip. And with closed to that, you know, just recently with Syria, now it turns out there were many lies told to us, even about the sarin gas. So I would say diplomacy, even as it is available to us and I think about how Kennedy and Khrushchev got together and talk to each other when we came very close to a nuclear exchange in 1960s.
So, yes, I think it is very good, I wish I had started sooner. I hope it doesn't end like some of the other negotiations have with Iran. You know, in 2003, there was an agreement that they would back off on enrichment, and when our side didn't fulfill their promises, they went to the legal enrichment that they were entitled to, and then Iran was blamed for breaking things up. So, I don't want it to be an excuse to come down hard on Iran.
I'm frightened that the Congress right now, even though I'm always upholding Congress to try to do the right thing and curtail the presidential potential powers, I'm afraid Congress is going to come in and just block this by saying no, what we need are more sanctions to see how many more Iranian people we can kill, like we did in Iraq.
Look at how the sanctions killed millions and millions of people in that consequence of that war. And so I -- I hope the president is going to be successful to this. I'm cheering him on.
TAPPER: All right. Former Congressman Ron Paul, thank you so much. And if I don't talk to you before then, happy holidays.
The exclusive group of former presidents come together to honor Nelson Mandela, coming up next.
TAPPER: President Obama and three former U.S. presidents are on their way to the funeral for Nelson Mandela's memorial, and George W. Bush is even hitching a ride on Air Force One.
TAPPER (voice-over): The world is quickly preparing for what may be the largest gathering of heads of state since Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965. Representing the U.S. alone will be Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, comprising one of the most prestigious frequent flyer clubs in the world.
Today, Air Force One departed for South Africa, where more than 90 world leaders are planning to attend Nelson Mandela's memorial Tuesday in Johannesburg. Inside Air Force One, the Obamas and George W. and Laura Bush along with former First Lady Clinton. The former President Bill and daughter Chelsea are flying from an event in Rio and linking up with the rest of the club tomorrow.
President George H.W. Bush who has been in poor health for some time will not be making the trip.
Together, they are set for an almost 20-hour flight, even though there's only one bed on board.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Air Force One is a very intimate setting, so that's the place where you can have quieter conversations. Once you get to one of these massive events, it's very hard to have real conversations.
TAPPER: These long flights, believe it or not, can forge friendships. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan could not attend the funeral of Egypt's Anwar Sadat, so he enlisted Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to attend instead. The flight was said to be initially awkward and very long. But one notable friendship emerged, evident at Ford's funeral more than 25 years later, when Jimmy Carter eulogized his long-time friend.
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: For myself and for our nation, I want to thank my predecessor.
TAPPER: Fast forward to 1992, Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush were fighting a bitter presidential contest, but seven years later, when they traveled together to attend the funeral of Jordan's King Hussein in 1999, that ice began to thaw and now they're partners in philanthropy all over the world.
Such a gathering of most or all living presidents is typically reserved only for monumental, usually sad events. The journey itself holds the potential for conflict and resolution on a first class scale.
GERGEN: It's going to make a big, big difference in the atmospherics on Air Force One with George W. Bush there with his successor that President Bush has been so reserved in making any negative comments. He's not second-guessing his successor and I think that the Obama people really appreciate that.
TAPPER: This gang has seen more of each other than usual. In April, the group suited up to attend the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas. In August, Clinton, Obama and Carter joined forces to honor the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington.
GERGEN: No former president likes to be marginalized. They have always been the center of attention and here, we are going to have three formers and a current president, four centers of attention. That's a lot to juggle.
TAPPER: But for all their smiles, a stage shared by leaders can seem rather small at times. So, safe travels to our nation's leaders today. May you get along well with your seat mate.
TAPPER: That's all for us. Thanks for joining us.
"AC360" starts right now.