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Federal Judge Declared Parts of NSA Program Unconstitutional; British Army Cleared in Diana's Death; White House Meeting with Tech Giants

Aired December 17, 2013 - 05:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Shocking accusation the British military blamed for Princess Diana's death. Now police, they're releasing their findings. We are live.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And $600 million. Can you feel it? It could be yours. Or not. If you go out and buy a Mega Millions ticket, the frenzy, the fury, it's on, folks.

ROMANS: It is on. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. I have not bought a ticket yet. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

ROMANS: You have a better chance of buying it, right, the same chance of buying it and not buying it in winning.


BERMAN: Yes. Exactly. Zero is zero no matter how you get it.

ROMANS: All right. First up. The battle over the NSA's data collection program, it's reaching new levels today with President Obama set to meet with the executives of eight high-tech companies. You know, they've called for changes on how the government spies on phone and e-mail records.

That a day after a federal judge declared parts of the NSA's programs likely unconstitutional. The judge called the program almost Orwellian in its scope and said the founding fathers would be aghast.

Journalist Glen Greenwald first reported on the data dragnet and says that this ruling is further proof that the American people needed to know what the NSA was doing.


GLENN GREENWALD, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: The NSA screams the word terrorism, media people go on TV and scream terrorism to scare people but there is no evidence. Say the people in the know, this court, people on the intelligence committee, that these programs actually stop terrorist plots.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Edward Snowden who stole the documents that brought the NSA's activities to light, he said the ruling justifies what he did, writing, quote, "I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge. A secret program authorized by a secret court was when exposed to the light of day found to violate Americans rights. It is the first of many."

As for Snowden's future White House is responding to the suggestion he should be offered amnesty in exchange for returning the documents and data stolen from the NSA.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Mr. Snowden has been accused of leaking classified information and he faces felony charges here in the United States. He should be returned to the United States as soon as possible where he will be accorded full due process and protection in our system. So that's our position and it has not changed.


ROMANS: The judge in this case has stayed his ruling for now pending a government appeal. The Justice Department reviewing the decision.

BERMAN: While all this is going on, there's been a striking turnaround when it comes to who the American people trust to solve the nation's problems. A new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll find the support for President Obama is eroding while congressional Republicans are actually making gains.

Forty-one percent of Americans say they trust the president to solve the nation's problems. However now an equal 41 percent say they trust Republicans in Congress.

Last year, there's a big gap with more trust placed in the president. And more Americans now say they trust Republicans to handle the economy over President Obama. That also was showed.

ROMANS: After some concerns that the votes were not there, it looks like enough set of Republicans lining up behind a compromised budget plan to get it approved. Some prominent GOP members including Orrin Hatch and Saxby Chambliss, they've now announced they will back this bipartisan spending bill seemingly giving it more than enough votes to pass. A key procedural vote is scheduled for today.


BERMAN: Orrin Hatch looks happier about it than Saxby Chambliss.

ROMANS: A whiff of bipartisanship.

BERMAN: The Senate has given its OK to the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, confirming Jay Johnson to take over that department as secretary. Some two months after Janet Napolitano left to become the head of University of California. Johnson is a former federal prosecutor and attorney at the Defense Department. The vote of in favor was 78-60.

ROMANS: They want a meeting with the director of the FBI. The family of this man, a missing former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran six years ago. New revelations published last week show Robert Levinson was working as a CIA contractor when he went missing.

The family says FBI director James Comey has repeatedly delayed meeting with them. A law enforcement official tells CNN the bureau is hoping to arrange a sit-down with Levinson's family soon.

BERMAN: A top Pentagon official responsible for how the military prevents sexual assault is retiring. Major General Gary Patton will leave next month after a 35-year career in the Army. Patton has been in the public eye lately as Congress moved to make changes in how sexual assaults are handled in the military. He is leaving amid allegations that he intimidated whistleblowers during an Army review of corruption at a U.S. funded Afghan hospital.

ROMANS: All right, now to the weather. And you'd be excused for thinking this is getting a little ridiculous.

The weather outside is frightful. It is indeed true and it's out there again for much of the country. It's snowy. Another big storm slamming into the northeast this morning. Other places still digging out from before.

BERMAN: I thought you were going to sing.

Wisconsin may be used to snow but when it falls on the evening commute, it still causes big problems. This was the scene Monday evening the snow coming at the worst possible time just as people are trying to head home for work. Slippery roads, they caused a few accidents around the area and more trouble could be in store for today with even more snow expected during the morning drive back to work. That's if you ever got home.

ROMANS: So let's head to Madison, Wisconsin, where the snow is blamed for a plane's slide off a taxiway. This is a Delta jet arriving from Minneapolis. Passengers say it landed just fine then started to taxi toward the terminal and then just slid.


DENISE PENN, PASSENGER: Some traumatic stop. It was You skidded off and you stopped. And, you know, you had to look around to realize hey, wait a second, we're not on the runway anymore.


BERMAN: In Erie, Pennsylvania, and all along the Great Lakes even more snow is falling. Nearly a foot fell in Erie in just 24 hours and there is more forecast for today. Erie has had more than 40 inches of snow so far this season. That lake effect is serious stuff.

ROMANS: All right. And an important reminder. You see that snow on top of that minivan right there? You're not supposed to do that. If you're going for a drive after a snowstorm, clean off the top of your car.

BERMAN: Please.

ROMANS: Dangerous to leave all that snow and ice on top. Not just for you but for other drivers. And it could cost you.

Did you know in some states it is a crime, yes, see that? You could be ticketed.

BERMAN: We see.

ROMANS: Indra Petersons is checking the forecast for us.

Hi there.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: With all of that pleasant news you're just sharing, right? Now let's just bring in some more snow. I mean, some people like it but not when it's in your morning commute and especially and your drive home on top of it.

Let's look at the radar right now. We can currently see the system yes, is making its way in Philly right now. You're already seeing that's now, and you're actually can see anywhere from one to three inches. Some hot spots today could see as much as even two to four inches. That is New York City. That is Boston.

The farther north you are, especially Portland, Maine, look at you, anywhere from six to nine inches of snow is going to be possible. Of course, farther back, even upstate New York, we could talk about as much as three to five inches.

So let's talk about the system itself. What is expected. We've already mentioned the morning commute. We're already seeing that on the radar. The system now starting to make its way into the northeast. Now by the afternoon today, that's where we're really going to start to see things kind of ramping up especially towards New England.

Just keep in mind the system slowly going to be making its way up the coastline so it's starting a little bit earlier in New York City late in the morning for Boston then making its way overnight, really kind of in through Maine.

And that's kind of that key time frame. Overnight tonight in through tomorrow morning, that's when a low itself is supposed to develop and what that means to us in the -- where it develops actually means how much snow you're going to get. If it's farther north in Maine you get a lot more. Develops a little bit farther south, Boston could get even more than we're currently predicting so we're going to have to watch overnight where that actual system does start to develop.

And it also means some more winds will be kicking up overnight. And if it's not bad enough to drive in snow itself, you have blowing around, the visibility gets poor, even more problems.

(LAUGHTER) BERMAN: Thanks for that extra. Little lesson there. Indra, appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. So, you know, I'd like to say the lottery isn't exactly the best personal finance tool. You know, dumb luck is not usually a good investment choice but put that aside for a moment because tonight's Mega Millions jackpot is getting closer to $600 million. It could set a new record.

There have been 21 straight Mega Millions drawings without a winner. If there is no winner again tonight or Friday night, it's possible, it's possible the jackpot for Christmas eve, that drawing could reach $1 billion.

To quote Austin Powers, I wish to remind you your chances of winning are -- or it's actually Dr. Evil, right? One in 259 million.


That's part of the reason why it's rolled over so many times. One in 259 million. A thousand times more likely to be struck by an asteroid.

BERMAN: Yes. You know, which I'm open for in the next day or two.

All right, thank you for that, Christine. I appreciate it.

ROMANS: Solve all your money problems.

BERMAN: One in 259 million. That's low.

Thirty-nine minutes after the hour right now. Coming up, was Princess Diana killed, murdered? The British military accused of this crime by some, but now police are revealing what they have uncovered in this investigation. We are live in London coming up next.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Forty-two minutes past the hour.

The allegation was dramatic that Princess Diana and her companion Dodi Fayed were murdered in Paris by members of British Special Forces more than 16 years ago. Well, Scotland Yard has now wrapped up its investigation of those accusations, finding it's simply not true.

Royal correspondent Max Foster is live in London this morning.

Max, how surprising was this finding by police?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was interesting. When they initially announced this investigation which they called a scoping inquiry, they did not want to call it a proper investigation, because the very fact that they were investigating claims that the SAS may have been involved, the special forces involved in this accident where she died was interesting in itself. But they've had unprecedented access to all the paperwork, they say, and there is no credible evidence that the SAS was involved in the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, or Dodi Fayed. And they go back to the initial inquiry which said that it was basically due to a drunken driver and the paparazzi involved here.

So they are knocking it down and what it does is really knocked down one of the main conspiracy theories that there are out there around Diana's death. This is a story that's never been really laid to rest. A huge frustration to the royal family, of course. And they'll be pleased that at least the Metropolitan Police is saying there's nothing in it at all -- Christine.

ROMANS: Max, does it put the conspiracy theories to rest? Because sometimes you get a final conclusion and it doesn't put -- it doesn't put it out of the minds of people who want to think that something else happened.

FOSTER: Well, no. And foremost amongst them is Mohammed Fayed, Dodi's father. He has always thought there's something more to this. And his latest comment is simply that this was the latest whitewash in a 16-year cover-up. He says he's disappointed but not discouraged so he's going to continue trying to prove that there was something behind all of this.

But really it was -- if you look at the way the story started it was always questionable because a newspaper found out that the allegation came from the family of an estranged wife of a former SAS soldier. So it was never that credible, but credible enough to look into. So at least it allows those who think there was conspiracy to have some reassurance that it was just an accident.

ROMANS: All right, Max Foster. Thank you, Max.

BERMAN: Forty-four minutes after the hour. A lot of people asking could this be the end now for antibacterial soap? This is actually a pretty serious story. The FDA is proposing for the first time that companies that make antibacterial soaps and body washes will have to prove their products are safe for long-term use and more effective than plain old soap and water. The agency saying there is some evidence that using them could actually cause health risks.


MAE WU, ATTORNEY, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: There were more and more studies that were showing that these soaps were not more effective than regular soap and water. And so it was one of those things that we kind of dub our stupid uses of a chemical. You know, if it's not doing any good, then why are we putting this potentially harmful chemical in our homes?


BERMAN: Some 2,000 products contain the antibacterial agent triclosan but the rule would not cover hand sanitizers or antibacterial wipes. ROMANS: A court hearing today in the case against three former Penn State administrators accused of covering up the sex abuse allegations against assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky. Former university president Graham Spaniel, former athletics director Tim Curley, former vice president Gary Schultz, they face criminal charges that they lied to investigators looking into Sandusky. The former assistant coach is serving a sentence now of 30 to 60 years.

BERMAN: They want more time. Lawyers for Boston marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are asking for an extension of the deadline to move his trial outside Boston, arguing they can't make their case until they know if the 20-year-old will face the death penalty. The Justice Department has not yet made a decision on whether Tsarnaev could face execution. He's pleaded not guilty to carrying out the attack that left three people dead, hundreds more injured.

ROMANS: A coroner's report blaming the death of a New York college student in a suspected fraternity hazing incident on blunt force trauma from multiple head injuries. Nine-year-old Chun Michael Deng died after taking part on a ritual that involved running a gauntlet and being forced pushed to the ground. The national fraternity says it has terminated the chapter at Baruch College in Manhattan. Witnesses say Deng lost consciousness after being -- knocked to the ground. Charges are expected in his death.

BERMAN: Chris Brown will not be heading to jail. That despite a decision by a California judge who revoked the singer's probation. The judge found that Brown violated his probation when he was arrested after a fight in Washington, D.C. back in October but said since Brown seems to be doing well in rehab, he should stay there. Brown has been on probation since 2009 in connection with beating his then girlfriend Rihanna.

ROMANS: Attention Beatles fans. This is something you have never heard before.

All right. An official bootleg album from 1963 posted briefly to iTunes in Britain today. It was available for about 50 minutes and it's not clear if the songs will ever be put up for purchase in the U.S. The album features dozens of previously unheard recordings including that studio outtakes and performances recorded for the BBC.

BERMAN: All right. Along those lines, calling Dr. Love, and man- eater and sledge hammer.


Let's get ready to celebrate kiss style. Kiss is one of the six musical acts getting inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame along with Peter Gabriel and of course Hall & Oates. Linda Ronstadt, and Cat Stevens and Nirvana, which makes knee feel old. The selections were made by Rock N' Roll's -- the Hall's 700 voters along with Fans who were able to cast their ballots online. The inductions will take place in April at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

(LAUGHTER) ROMANS: One of the videos makes me feel so old.

Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY."

BERMAN: On the subject of Daryl Hall and John Oates. I know, Chris Cuomo, a big John Oates fan.

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN'S NEW DAY: I am. I am. But don't leave Daryl out of it. Need them both, like salt and pepper.


All right. So we're going to be talking about the NSA. This is an interesting ruling we've just heard. The judge is strong but what does it really mean? Is it just about the two people who were involved in this lawsuit? Are the programs going to change?

The tech giants are angry, they're meeting with the president this morning. We'll take you through what is happening and what it could mean.

KATE BOLDUAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S NEW DAY: And we're also going to update you on the latest snowstorm. It seems like this has been one of the worst Decembers in recent memory. Is it? We're going to break it down. We're going to figure it out for you.

And then we're also following a controversial case in Georgia that you'll want to hear about. A high school senior suspended for one year for hugging his teacher. Is the school going too far or is there more to this? We're going to talk about it.

CUOMO: Because you've gone too far and you know it don't matter anyway.


BOLDUAN: My whole job is just sit here and bob my head when he sings.

BERMAN: I did not see that one coming. That is fantastic.

CUOMO: It felt right, JB. It felt right.

BERMAN: You know what? I'll give you a hug for that.

CUOMO: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right.

CUOMO: It's allowed any time.


ROMANS: All right. Thanks, guys. We'll see you in couple of minutes.

Coming up, we could be just a day away from knowing the fed's plans. Hey, guess what? This is so important to your money, your mortgage rate, everything that you need in your financial life. "Money Time "is next.


ROMANS: It's "Money Time", everybody, and a little music to go with it. Rock stars are headed to the White House today to meet with the president. Tech rock stars, not real rock stars.

BERMAN: Not John Oates?

ROMANS: President Obama -- no, no, no. Or Daryl Hall. Look, the president needs some pointers on how to fix this health care Web site. Also beefing up cyber security for America's technology infrastructure.

All things are things that Apple CEO Tim Cook, Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, have, you know, important insight into.

Also on the agenda today, ways the government can partner with tech companies to create some jobs. So that's the big event at the White House with those rock stars. Tech rock stars.

Big gains in stocks yesterday. A rock star day there. After posting the biggest drop since August last week, the Dow Industrial is surging 130 points. Really great day yesterday.

Fed, Fed, Fed, Fed, Fed, this is the big story and it really matters to you. This is the second to last Fed meeting for Ben Bernanke. And you know there have been these fears that he might announce tomorrow that he is trimming the stimulus that's kept interest rates so low and kept the market so juiced but Citigroup Fed watcher Bob DiClemente says history shows the Fed doesn't like to begin pulling back the punch bowl in December.

In fact over the past 40 years, it simply hasn't happened that they do that in the end of the year. And a well-stocked punch bowl, a well spiked punch bowl also called an accommodating Fed has put us right where we are today.

Look at this. For the year the Dow is up 21 percent, the Nasdaq up 33 percent and the S&P is up 25 percent.

BERMAN: That's good punch.

ROMANS: That is good. That tastes oh so good. I don't know what the hangover is going to feel like, but right now that ride is good.

BERMAN: How long can you keep this metaphor going?

ROMANS: I'm going to keep it going hopefully for a few more months.

Now while there was plenty of buying on Wall Street Michael Jordan's Chicago dream home didn't even attract the minimum bid. Remember we told you about his house, this 56,000 square foot house? It failed to sell at auction Monday after lingering on the market for nearly two years. It even comes with a full-sized NBA regulation indoor basketball court.

Who doesn't want a big 23 on your gate? Except if you're number isn't 23. Look. No one offered here. The minimum I think was $13 million. Do a little megamath.

The Mega Millions jackpot owner could get this. You know, if you won $600 million by tonight, you could buy 46 Michael Jordan houses.


ROMANS: Or just one and put the rest of the money in the bank.

BERMAN: It's a good idea. I like that idea. $13 million, no one wants that house for $13 million?

ROMANS: It's a very big house. It's -- I mean, it's a very unique property.

BERMAN: It's sad for Michael Jordan.

Fifty-four minutes after the hour. Coming up, a college campus evacuated. The bomb squad called in. What happened next? That's coming up after the break.


BERMAN: Harvard University returning to normal this morning after a bomb scare led to four buildings being evacuated on Monday. Authorities sounded the all-clear six hours after receiving an e-mail threat claiming that explosives were hidden in three academic buildings and also a dorm, but for -- nothing was found, I should say. Nothing at all. Well, for those on campus the fear was very real.


LEA PETROVIC, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: I'm from Boston so, like, for me I guess just with everything that's happened in the past year like it definitely did remind me a little bit of April and like what it happened because I had been pretty close to that situation. So it did hit a little close to home.


BERMAN: We're going to have more on this coming up in a few minutes on "NEW DAY" including the mayhem caused to the final exam period up there. Plus Alexandra Field asked, are violent scares on the rise on college campuses.

ROMANS: Yes. And someone is in a lot of trouble when they figure out who did that.

All right. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: NSA not OK. A federal judge calls key parts of the NSA's spying program unconstitutional. As the president meets with angry tech leaders this morning. What changes could come and what they could mean for your security?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The ultimate Christmas gift. Nearly $600 million up for grabs in tonight's Mega Millions drawing. One of the biggest jackpots ever. Could it hit a billion by Christmas?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning. Take a listen to this.

A never-before-heard Beatles recording just released overnight but is it unavailable again already?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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

CUOMO: Good morning, merry Christmas. Now you're listening.

Welcome to NEW DAY, it's Tuesday, December 17th, we're not there quite yet. But it is 6:00 in the East. And we have big news, potentially major defeat for the country's once secret surveillance programs.

A federal judge ruled the mass collection of Americans' phone records is unconstitutional. And listen to this, the judge insists the government can't sight a signal instance where the domestic spying operation actually stopped a terrorist.

Chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is live from Washington this morning.

Good morning, Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Chris. The ruling certainly makes for some interesting reading. The first successful challenge to the NSA's mass surveillance program The federal judge just scathing in his criticism, calling it, quote, "almost Orwellian," and adding that James Madison, the author of the Constitution, would be aghast at its violation of Americans' freedom.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): Six months after Edward Snowden revealed it to the world, a federal judge ruled the NSA program that sweeps up Americans' phone call records is likely unconstitutional.