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NSA Official Mentions Amnesty for Edward Snowden; Congress May Pass Bipartisan Budget; Snow Storms Hit Parts of U.S.; Mega-Millions Jackpot Rolls Over; How Another Columbine Was Prevented; China Goes to Moon; Budget Deal Entering Senate For Vote

Aired December 16, 2013 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: The head of a task force looking into the leak told "60 Minutes" the idea is, quote "worth having a conversation about." Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joins us to explain. What's the deal here, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. This is an extraordinary development in the world of intelligence. Rick Legend the man who runs that task force in the NSA that has been looking for months now at all of the damage that Edward Snowden's leaks have caused. He did tell "60 Minutes" that he believes it is worth having a conversation about, his words, "a conversation about amnesty for Edward Snowden." He'd want to see a lot of guarantees that Snowden is going to turn over everything he's got.

But as you point out, the question is, is it too late for all of this? This statement by Legend, conversation about amnesty, isn't supported by General Keith Alexander who thinks it is not a good idea. By all accounts, Snowden has taken some 1.7 million documents.

So let's read between the lines here. What Legend is saying is the damage the potential damage of what may even be to come is so great it's worth trying to bring Edward Snowden back in from the cold, give him amnesty. Most of the administration, however, has no intention of supporting this by all accounts. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You can understand that, all right, Barbara, that conversation will continue. Thank you so much for that.

This is a story we have been following closely here on NEW DAY. The parody video posted on YouTube was supposed to just get laughs. Instead it got him thrown in jail. A 29-year-old American has spent the last eight months locked up in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly breaking the new cyber-crime laws. Today he tells a court his side of the story.

Sara Sidner is live in Abu Dhabi with more details on this latest court proceedings. What came out of today's proceedings, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, this case in court today lasted all of five minutes. The judge talked to five men because Shazam Kasem is just of five people being held under the same cyber-crim law that was updated in 2012. He didn't say a word, but what happened is the judge decide on a new court date. A lot of people looked at each other. There were family members there looking at each other saying, what happened here? And the judge said, OK, come back December 23rd. That's all we got from court today except new evidence was apparently handed over to the judge from the defendants. One spoke up and said, look, we have been in jail eight months. What's going on? They did not get an answer. But they are hoping they will get some sort of answer. But certainly there are a lot of people pulling on Shazam Kasem to try to get him outs of prison.

BOLDUAN: This is such a blow for his family. When we spoke to Kasem's family members they were hoping that at this court proceeding that their brother, their son, would be let free. Clearly not. So how did he look in court?

SIDNER: You know, I have to say, you know, of all five of the guys that are in jail and have been together for eight months in prison, he actually was very quiet. He looked a lot thinner. I didn't actually recognize him from his picture in the video. Someone had to point him out. I had to ask, which one is Shazam because I just didn't recognize him. His hair was longer. He looks a bit low, a bit depressed. He was not waving at family members.

The other four were having conversations across the courtroom with sign language, waving, smiling at family members. He was quiet, sullen, looking down. He looked as though he were quite upset. And I'm sure all of them are wondering exactly when they might get out. None of them really understand why they were put in jail in the first place for what was supposed to be a joke, an innocuous video the put online landed them in prison. So far, it's gone on eight months and at least another week now because December 23rd, as I mentioned, is their next court date, Kate.

BOLDUAN: The family said it took five months for what he was charged with, so this saga continues. It's gotten our attention. We will follow this very closely. Sara, thank you, so much for that.

CUOMO: Christmas come early -- that could be the headline for both sides of the political aisle working together tore a change. The House easily approved a bipartisan budget deal in order to avoid a government shutdown. So now, what about the Senate? Senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta joins us. So Jim, tell us, how close are we to bicameral approval?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to believe but I think we're actually getting close, Chris. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid filed for a cloture vote over the weekend. That sets the stage for the voting to begin on this budget deal as soon as tomorrow.

And even though this was passed by a wide margin in the House, that is not expected to be the case in the Senate. The number two Democrat in the Senate Dick Durbin said on one of the Sunday talk shows over the weekend that they still need a handful of Republican votes to push this thing over the edge.

But some of the GOP votes started to come in on Sunday. Senior John McCain, he was on CNN "STATE OF THE UNION," he said he will vote for this budget deal. Also Tea Party backed Republican Senator Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, he also indicated he is going to support is this deal.

Now, members of Congress in both the House and the Senate are very eager to get this to the president's desk by Friday when he heads off on a two-week holiday vacation in Hawaii. Another reason for urgency, and that is because Republicans want to keep the focus on Obamacare. They do not want to revisit that ghost of shutdowns past, the one that happened last fall. They do not want a repeat of that in 2014, Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: I don't think anybody does. All right, Jim Acosta, thank you so much for that.

Let's bring you up to date on the latest news this hour. For the first time, a major league baseball player has been diagnosed with CTE, the brain damage that has been found in some football and hockey players. Brian Freel played eight games in the league and committed suicide last year. This announcement coming a year after Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Joe Belcher killed himself and his girlfriend. Belcher's body has been exhumed to check for signs of brain injury.

So startling revelations about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston bombing suspect who was killed. A "Boston Globe" investigation shows he may have heard another voice in his head for years and that he told his mother he felt like two people were inside him. The report also says that doctors worried Tsarnaev might have been schizophrenic, but the family apparently didn't get treatment for their son.

A wedding day turning tragic in Indiana as 49-year-old William Riley Wright was struck and killed just hours after getting married. Wright was helping a motorist on the side of the road in Crown Point when he was struck multiple times by other passing vehicles. The stranded motorist, 42-year-old Linda Darlington, was also killed. That tragic accident remains under investigation.

This morning, Hollywood mourning the death of three legendary movie actors. Peter O'Toole has died at the age of 81. The late actor probably best known for his role in the 1960 movie "Lawrence of Arabia." Joan Fontaine has also died. She was 96. Fontaine was a Hollywood starlet winning an Oscar for her role in the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film "Suspicion." And actor and director Tom Laughlin also passed away. He was 82-years-old.

Big news, if you have been inching for more "Avatar," director James Cameron saying there will be not one, not two, but three sequels. Cameron says he's going to go back to New Zealand. He's shoot them all at once. He is hoping to have the first one in theaters by this time in 2016, which would make a truly blue Christmas. The original "Avatar" the highest grossing movie ever, nearly $3 billion worldwide.

BOLDUAN: The technology and how they pulled it off was amazing.

PEREIRA: It was outstanding. Now have you three more see questions.

CUOMO: The story line backed it. It should be easy.

PEREIRA: I think so. The ending left it opened.

BOLDUAN: You would think $3 billion.

So this morning, many of you heading out to work will need to dig out your cars, first, unfortunately. A big snow storm moved across the northeast this weekend getting stronger as it crept towards the Atlantic. It made for icy conditions on the road then kept many shoppers home on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the years. CNN's Alexandra Field is in a very frosty Massachusetts this morning with the very latest. Good morning, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. It is a cold morning here just outside of Boston. Kate, we are feeling that arctic chill across the northeast even though it has finally stopped snowing.

That storm moved through over the weekend, from Kansas to Maine, it dropped more than 16 inches of snow. Icy roads were the big problem. They created trouble for drivers from Missouri to Massachusetts, and the conditions were certainly tough enough to stop holiday shoppers in their tracks. This could amount to big losses for retailers.

Consumer analysts tell us the storm one week ago caused about a half a billion of projected losses for stores. We have to wait to see how much damage this past weekend's storm actually did for retailers. But the good news is that shoppers often benefit in the end from bad weather. That's because consumers could drop their prices even more to lure in holiday shoppers, and that is particular good news here in the state. We are expecting to see more snow tomorrow, Chris.

CUOMO: Snow and commerce going together these days. Alexandra, thank you very much so. Let's follow up on Alexandra's prediction of what the retailers may want. Indra, tell us, what will the weather do? Let's throw a little commerce into the weather.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It depends on one day. Today is actually kind of a transition day for most of you looking at maybe a little system kind of going through Ohio Valley from leftover snow there. Notice another system back here. We will walk you through this, but just keep in mind for the bulk of you today, not the big deal, unless are you right around the lakes where that little wave is going through the Ohio valley. So around the lakes, though, three to five inches around Erie, and Pittsburgh, maybe one or two inches of snow.

It's not really the story again. We are still watching the system back there impacting most of us tonight and through tomorrow. We have one little hint of a breather, maybe try and clear those roads.

What we're looking at is that next system is making its way through overnight for the mid-Atlantic and the northeast. We will get the bulk of it, but by Wednesday or so this thing should be cheering off the coastline. We will be watching how close it goes to the coastline. The valleys are going to go higher. For now, they are generally staying a little bit in New York City, Boston only about one to three inches. You kind of go farther back to upstate New York, really, all the way towards Erie from the two systems. We could take you up to four to eight inches. Nothing like the last system, but either way enough that, yes, it's making the roads bad and shopping even worse. But I'm out no matter what.

BOLDUAN: You didn't build a snowman, you didn't get a snow fort.

PETERSONS: Not even that.

BOLDUAN: Indra is embracing online shopping.

PETERSONS: Cyber Monday. We know this about me.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Indra.

Let's talk about some big money. You could use it, maybe, if you want to do big shopping. The Mega-millions jackpot has rolled over once again leaving an estimated jackpot of $550 million up for grabs. Tuesday's drawing could bring one of the biggest jackpots in history and it could get even bigger. Christine Romans is taking a look at what this all means.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: It means you have a less likelihood of winning. No one won the $425 million drawing on Friday. Now the estimated jackpot becomes $550 million. It is likely to rise before tomorrow's big drawing. The lump sum, if you take the lump sum, you will get $295 million.

But don't get too excited because here's why your chances of winning the Mega-millions is harder than ever. That's because as of October 22nd, Mega-millions added more numbers to choose from, right? You used to have to match five numbers 1 through 56. Now you have to pick 1 through 75, a big change. And that sixth number, that elusive gold Mega-millions ball, those numbers decrease from 46 to 15. So you have fewer numbers there. Overall, your chances of winning went up from one in what 176 million? It moved so fast to a staggering to a one in 259 million.

You have to wonder exactly how many have won the full jackpot since Mega-millions changed these rules. Zero. No one. No one has won. Guess what, if no one wins, lot to officials say the jackpot could easily rise to $1 billion by Christmas. That would be the biggest in history. But the bigger it gets, the smaller your odds. There you go.

BOLDUAN: Christine, I love you.

ROMANS: It's not a personal finance too. It's not a good savings tool.

CUOMO: Who said it's a good savings tool?

ROMANS: It's a dream.

BOLDUAN: You are trying to save money in your wallet.

CUOMO: What are you, walking around, telling the kids, you will never be a cowboy or an astronaut?


ROMANS: Save your money, you can.

CUOMO: Boy, oh boy, a big smile on her face. You will never when.

BOLDUAN: She has lotto tickets. That's what her M.O. is. OK. Thank you.

CUOMO: Let it all go away.

Coming up on NEW DAY, we do have new information for you on Friday's school shooting in Colorado, recordings from inside the rampage, moves by student and staff that help contain the situation. An update on the victim and what went wrong to make a teen into a deranged killer.

BOLDUAN: And China planting its flag on the moon in a manner of speaking, the nation's first poon recovery going for a roll on the lunar surface. More on that coming up.

CUOMO: Google bought it.


CUOMO: We're learning more this morning about the heroes of Friday's school shooting in Colorado and what drove a teen to want to be a deranged killer. One student is fighting for her life after a gunman shot her point blank in the head. But we also now know the gunman was armed to the hilt and could have done a lot more harm. However, people inside helped prevent Arapahoe from becoming another Columbine.

CNN's Casey Wian is in Sentinel, Colorado for us this morning. So Casey, what do we now understand?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, we do know that, unfortunately, 17-year-old Claire Davis, that student who was injured in Friday's rampage remains in a coma in critical condition in a local hospital. She is the lone victim of this rampage. But after a weekend of investigating what went on, on Friday afternoon, authorities now say it's clear it could have been much worse.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The school's going on lockdown, and I'm not sure why.

WIAN (voice-over): Dispatch recording as police rush toward Arapahoe High School following events of gunfire.

UNIDIEFIED FEMALE: Be advised at this time we do have one student down. And they have found shotgun shells.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENT: It was terrifying because they heard gunshots.

WIAN: Eighteen-year-old Karl Pierson entered the school, investigators say, bent on revenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone that saw him realized he was that armed with a shotgun. The individual also had a bandolera of multiple rounds of shotgun ammunition strapped across his body. And he was also armed with a machete.

WIAN: Pierson's target, his debate coach, Tracy Murphy.

KARL PIERSON, HIGH SCHOOL GUNMAN: Hi, I'm a Karl Pierson, a freshman at Arapahoe High School in Littleton.

WIAN: He was suspended from the team in September.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was looking for one person in specific.

WIAN: Before he could reach his intended target, Pierson encountered 17-year-old senior Claire Davis, shooting her apparently at random point-blank in the head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was an innocent victim of an evil act of violence.

WIANN: Now she remains in critical condition at a local hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This in no way defines us.

WIAN: At a vigil, students lit candles, sang their fight song.

And prayed for their friend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know how much she was all you guys and I know how much this would mean to her.

WIAN: The sheriff now praising the school's quick deployment of its active shooter protocol and the fast action of an on-campus deputy who was closing in on Pierson when he fatally shot himself, the whole ordeal over in 80 seconds.

Authorities also hailing Coach Murphy as a hero for attempting to lure Pierson away from the school during his rampage.

GRAYSON ROBINSON, ARAPAHOE COUNTY SHEFFIF: It is my very strong opinion that this individual would not have come to this school armed with a shotgun and multiple rounds of ammunition had he not intended to use those rounds of ammunition to injure multiple people.

WIAN: The sheriff is vowing never to speak the shooter's name again.

ROBINSON: In my opinion, he deserves no notoriety and certainly no celebrity.


WIAN (on-camera): Arapahoe High School will remain closed today and tomorrow. Teachers and students will be allowed back on campus to retrieve their possessions beginning later in the week. When school will resume full time, we still don't know. Chris and Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right, Casey, thank you so much for that. I mean, you were talking about this earlier when we saw this piece when we had Casey on earlier. What changed in this boy's life that pushed him to make such an evil decision to go into that school?

CUOMO: An important part is the analysis. Every one of these school rampages we've seen, there's a breakdown that is either ignored or not properly managed or not seen that needs to be analyzed. You have to hand it to that teacher who was targeted to try to run away and draw fire.

BOLDUAN: And that school resource officer who made it quickly to the scene in 80 seconds.

CUOMO: And the young student who said this does not define us true, the tragedy doesn't. But the efforts to learn from it and the efforts to be better of it, hopefully, are the legacy (inaudible) community.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for that, Casey.

CUOMO: Mick?

PEREIRA: All right, we're gonna show you something that's kind of historic. So far so good for China's historic space mission to the moon. Its six-wheeled rover names Yutu or Jade Rabbit left its lander, the Chang'e 3 probe roamed across the lunar surface early Sunday morning. Solar-powered rover will inspect the moon's surface for the next three months in search of valuable mineral deposits.

The name Jade Rabbit actually was decided in a public online poll. It refers to the Chinese myth of the moon goddess and her pet white rabbit. So on Saturday, China became the third country in the world to execute an unmanned soft landing on the moon. How about that? Jade Rabbit, you have you landed. Kate, Chris, over to you guys.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Thanks,

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the bipartisan budget bill, it sailed through the House. Next up, the Senate, where, probably not surprisingly, the waters could be a bit rougher there. We'll be tracking its progress.

CUOMO: Later on, a victory in computer for the sister wives of reality TV. What a judge's ruling could mean for legal polygamy.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Time now for our political gut check of the morning. The House passed a bipartisan budget deal by an overwhelming majority last week. So what does it face in the Senate?

Let's go to CNN's chief national correspondent John King with the very latest on this. So all eyes on the Senate now, John. We know -- we've heard a lot from lawmakers, especially senators, why they want to support it. They might not love it. But that's the art of compromise, why they want to support it. But what are you hearing from senators on why they will be voting against it?

JOHN KING, CNN CHEIF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, you hear a number of complaints. From the Republican side, you either hear it doesn't allow deficit, or it allows spending next year, spending above this year's level. Some Republicans have complained that military personnel have to pay more for some of their benefits, so they essentially lose money in the deal.

Democrats have said it doesn't give them the tax revenues they think are necessary in Washington. It doesn't do some other things, and they don't like the fact that it doesn't spend enough in some cases. But I ran into three Democratic senators yesterday. All three of them proceeded to give me a list of complaints. And then all three of them said, "But I'll vote for it." The expectation is it will pass. Don't expect 90-10. Don't expect 80-20, something closer to 60-40. But the expectation from both Republicans and Democratic sources is it will pass.

CUOMO: Who cares as long as they get it done? But let me ask you this the veteran's benefits, why isn't that more of a bone of contention? Why are they taking money from veterans? I feel like we're not hearing enough about it.

KING: Chris, you're gonna hear a lot about this. And look, this is a part of the structural problem in Washington. Look at states. Look at cities. The problem where the money is -- and it get very controversial is whether it's state and local pensions or veteran's benefits, either pension benefits or health benefits, as they try to bend the spending arc, those are the programs that everyone has been very timid to touch them because of the politics involved.

There's just a modest downpayment according to most people here who want to think you have to go back this again, if you look at the 20, 30 year arc of the spending here. But watch for this, and look, this is going to pass. It's not going to end the debate.

There'll be debates about this going forward about all of those programs. Remember, there is a coming debt ceiling debate. And this gives you a time-out. No government shutdowns for two years, probably, most likely. But it doesn't mean the individual pieces won't be redebated as we move into -- remember, next year's an even- numbered year. That means an election year.

BOLDUAN: Exactly, and Paul Ryan, one of the architects of this, he said that symbolically, he thought it was a big deal, the fact that they could come together to just kind of take this threat of a government shutdown off the table.

I want your take on what Newt Gingrich said on one of the Sunday shows yesterday. He called it mediocre policy, but brilliant politics, that it doesn't do much in terms of actually, you know, budgetary issues or cutting the deficit or anything the Republicans care about, but the fact that it does take the conversation away from the threat of a government shutdown so Republicans in an even-numbered year can focus on Obamacare when you talk about mid-terms.

KING: We talked about this last week.

That has been Speaker Boehner's biggest selling point in private meetings with conservatives grumbling about this, "The let's focus on next year. Our biggest weakness is the American people blamed us more for the government shutdown. Our own donors don't like it because a lot of them come from the financial community and the business community. If we can take that off the table, we set our biggest political vulnerability aside in the election year, and we can focus on Obamacare," which the Republicans believe is their ticket not only to maintaining their House majority, but to potentially growing the House majority and maybe even getting a Senate majority. So Republicans think politically this works for them, and that's their strongest argument.

On the Democratic side, you heard a number of Democrats saying, you know, "Well, if we're not going to be able to essentially get a government shutdown, if the Republicans aren't going to shoot themselves in the foot, at least if we sign off on this deal, perhaps the economy will pick up a little bit of steam, and that will help us."

CUOMO: Yeah, that's slim hope, though, right? They're looking at budget deals now as the thing that can only hurt, not help the economy right now.

Let me ask you something for quick take (ph), Bob Woodward says the reason this got done is because Obama wasn't involved, the president wasn't involved; he's a lousy negotiator. Where is that coming from? What do you think his motivation is, and how do you think that plays into overall narrative of why this happened?

KING: Well, there is some truth to that. I don't know about the lousy negotiator part. But look, if you talk to Democrats on Capitol Hill, talk to even some close friends of this president, they say he has not excelled at this role. This is not what he does, bring people together, bang heads, twist arms, sometimes sweeten the deal and get it done.

And at one point Patty Murray, the Democratic senator from Washington state who was leading the negotiators, she had conversations with the president and his team and they said, "What can we do?" And she said, 'Back off. That's what you can do. Let me do this. Because you're not trusted up here. I am. I can get this done.'

BOLDUAN: And she did, so they got it done. We'll see what happens once they all, hopefully have a very merry holiday season.