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NSA Program "Likely Unconstitutional"; Tech Titans Meeting Obama; Bracing For More Snow; Mega Millions Mania; No Antibacterial Soaps Work?; Multivitamins a Waste of Time?; Glaxo to Stop Paying Doctors for Promotion

Aired December 17, 2013 - 06:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (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. The judge wrote, quote, "I cannot imagine a more indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen."

Snowden described it as a vindication of his hacking, saying, "I acted on my belief that the NSA's mass surveillance program would not withstand a constitutional challenge. Today a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans' rights.

Snowden remains holed up in Russia, avoiding charges in the U.S. of espionage. But a senior NSA official floated an unlikely solution on CBS "60 Minutes" to get Snowden back here. Give him amnesty, an idea the White House quickly dismissed.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He should be returned to the United States as soon as possible where he going to be accorded full due process and protections in our system. That's our position and it has not changed.

SCIUTTO: Still, the court's decision is a body blow for the administration.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It is just an absolutely scathing rejection of the NSA program that the government has defended so strongly. And it is worth noting that the judge was a George W. Bush appointee, someone who had worked for Republicans in Congress, hardly a screaming liberal.


SCIUTTO: The judge ordered the government to stop collecting data on the plaintiffs in this case. It was brought by a leading conservative activist. However, for the rest of us, he stayed his ruling to allow the government time to appeal it, noting, quote, "The significant national security interest at stake in this case. That process could take six months. Meanwhile, intelligence reform legislation on the Hill, tech company giants in the White House complaining about this case, this ruling certainly to be influential.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's absolutely right, Jim. Thank you so much for starting us off this morning. One day after that stunning legal setback for the NSA, the president finds himself in a very tight spot. He's meeting this morning with the titans of technology, top executives from Apple, Google, Twitter, Yahoo! and Facebook, just to name a few, they want to know what the administration plans to do to better protect the privacy of their clients.

For that let's bring in senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta with more. Good morning, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. You said titans of the tech industry. We're talking about the people at the very top of these companies. Let's put them up on screen to show you these executives meeting with the president later this morning, they include Tim Cook, CEO of Apple; Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook; Eric Schmidt, Google chairman; and Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo.

So we're not talking about mid-level executives of these firms. We are talking about people at the very top. They're going to be talking about these surveillance issues, obviously these companies are very concerned because their consumers and customers have been raising concerns that they're having about the surveillance issues over at the NSA.

Also, Kate, they're going to be talking about There are going to be executives from a smaller tech firm that are sort of in the business of starting up web sites, the president wants to hear from them as well -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: I want to switch gears a bit just to ask you about the latest on We're hearing that the web site's manager is delaying his departure from that post. He's supposed to be moving over to take over for Gene Sperling. Why the delay?

ACOSTA: We're hearing that this is a transitional move, yes, Jeffrey Zients, he was supposed to become the president's director of the National Economic Council, be his top economist starting January 1st. That is now being pushed back, now being delayed one month. Gene Sperling going to stay on in that role for that month of January and then Jeffrey Zients will come in. This is more of a transitional move although this going to fuel speculation there are problems with, although officials say that is not the case and Zients will be leaving HHS shortly. They're just not saying exactly when.

BOLDUAN: Busy day ahead. Thank you.

ACOSTA: You bet.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It will be cold and snow will come to the northeast today. That's the simple truth. Millions of people could see 6 inches as much as 9 inches could fall in Maine. This system is wreaking havoc in the Midwest. If you think about it, we've seen so much snow this December, makes us think going to it extend into a white Christmas? Let's put that question to meteorologist, Indra Petersons, who is out in the cold.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And the snow. There's nothing about will here. We're seeing the snow. It has made its way into the northeast. We're starting to get the wet snow out here. If you think we've seen a lot already, especially in New York City you would be right. We've had 7 inches this season. Average you ask? It should be 2. We could still see another 2 to 4 inches today and we're not the only one. It seems like it is the trend around here.


PETERSONS (voice-over): Overnight snow, snow and more snow after a weekend storm dropped as much as 16 inches of snow in Maine. Another round of wintry weather is on its way to wallop the northeast, making this the fifth blast of arctic chill this month. This latest round of brutal wintry weather caused this Delta plane to skid off the runway while taxiing at the Dane County Airport. Delta saying snow along the runway is to blame. No injuries were reported.

This new storm system started in the Midwest and is bringing heavier snow to cities in the northeast like New York and Boston between 4 and 6 inches of snow in Providence, Boston and Portland could likely cause significant travel delays. We're only halfway through December, but already millions of people have been dealing with the deep freeze.

Duluth, Minnesota, saw their longest cold stretch in December since 1972. And Chicago's negative 6-degree day on December 10th ranks as the coldest day in the windy city since the '70s. Why all the frigid wintry weather cycles? The jet stream or river of air that access the dividing line between warm and cold air is farther south, meaning spilling colder air into the parts of the U.S. this month, leaving millions to feel the effects of the big chill.


PETERSONS: So let's talk about how much snow we're expecting across the country today. Anywhere from 2 to 4 inches, anywhere for Boston, even New York City. Places farther north, especially you talk about Portland, Maine, you could see way higher amounts. Let's track this guy. I think we know by now, morning commute, we're seeing this, over the early birds. The snow is falling, heavier snow expected to fall as we continue through the morning hours, especially in the afternoon.

New England you'll be looking for a lot of the snow and that low form is really off the coast tonight into tomorrow. Where that form is makes a different whether or not Boston gets a lot more snow. Big question on everyone's mind at Christmas is where are we getting the white Christmas? It's still far out. Today it looks like around the lakes we'll have snow. We're watching the models. We'll keep you posted and let you know who is going to get more of this guy. If anything continues like this, at this point, everyone, right?

BOLDUAN: A white Christmas may be at hand. Thanks, Indra. PETERSONS: Sure.

BOLDUAN: How about a mega billion? The jackpot for tonight's Mega Millions drawing after 21 straight without a grand prize winner could top $600 million. If the trend continues and no one -- people continue to not win, it could hit the billion dollar mark.

CNN's Pamela Brown is following the mega millions mania. She's live here in New York City. Pamela, I know you're taking on these assignments to buy tickets which I actually respect. What's the latest?

BROWN: That's absolutely right, Kate. I have a great assignment today here at the 7-Eleven as people come and buy their Mega Million tickets as this frenzy goes on. A lot of people are hoping there's not a winner so we could see this jackpot soar to a billion dollars. Let's not lose sight of how big it is right now as it stands, $586 million, an astounding number. We could see the jackpot go up by tonight's drawing.


BROWN (voice-over): It's beginning to look a lot like a very green Christmas for one soon to be jolly American, the epic Mega Million dollar jackpot is at a whopping $586 million and climbing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have never been in this position to have a jackpot this tremendous over $500 million already, the week before Christmas.

BROWN: Just how massive could the jackpot get? Lottery officials say if there's no winner in tonight's drawing, the prize going to swell to $800 million and possibly a billion by Christmas, causing a very festive frenzy for what could end up becoming the largest lotto in Mega Millions history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time of year around Christmas, lottery tickets make great gifts. People are thinking about gift giving.

BROWN: The mega millions is one of the biggest jackpots in the world right now and the fourth largest in U.S. history. If no one wins tonight, it may likely surpass the largest in 2012 by over $100 million.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Winning the Mega millions is akin to being struck by lightning at the same time you're being eat by a shark. I mean, it's pretty wild how long the odds are.

BROWN: In October, Mega Millions lottery increased from 56 to 75. Since then there have been 21 consecutive drawings without a winner because you're up against the worst odds of any U.S. lottery. To clench the jackpot you'll have to strike the winning number combo out of an incredible 259 million combinations, a lottery official says by the next drawing, 70 percent of possible combinations going to likely be sold. But it's still no guarantee someone will win the Mega bucks.


BROWN: So the higher the jackpot, the more tickets sold, that's usually how it goes. Lottery officials say. They also say that most people who buy lottery tickets are procrastinators. They normally buy at the last minute. If you want to buy your ticket go before the evening rush so that you don't have to wait in a long line. And by the way, that drawing is tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Chris, Kate, Michaela, I promise to come back today with your lottery tickets unlike last Friday.

BOLDUAN: Yes. We have long memories. Heard the tale before.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Now she's accusing us of procrastinating, too?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know. It gets deeper and deeper with Brown.

PEREIRA: Deeper issues, Brown.

BOLDUAN: You brought this on yourself, Pamela. I told you we'd be knife.

CUOMO: She keeps beginning to the 7-Eleven that's clearly around corner from her house -- Otto, one letter away from lotto --

PEREIRA: Perfect job for him. Great if her middle initial was l. CNN cannot confirm. We'll give her that middle name.

All right, let's take a look at our headlines at this hour, 11 minutes after the hour. The parents of Colorado's school gunman, Carl Pierson, say, they are shattered and that they are praying for the 17- year-old shot by their son. Doctors say Claire Davis is still in a coma in critical condition but is stable.

Investigators say Pierson had a grudge against the school librarian who took him off the debate team. On Friday, armed with a shotgun and Molotov cocktails he went to Arapahoe High School, shooting Davis and then turning the gun on himself.

It appears the budget deal has enough GOP support to pass a procedural Senate vote later this morning. The two-year plan already passed in the House. Three Republicans announced their vote today. Final passage could come as early as Wednesday.

The Senate breaking filibusters to fill key cabinet posts. Jay Johnson was overwhelmingly confirmed as homeland security secretary. He's considered a key architect of President Obama's anti-terrorism policies including stepped up drone usage in terrorist hot spots.

Three former Penn State administrators will be in court today for a pre-trial hearing today. They are accused of covering up the Jerry Sandusky child sex scandal. The defendants each face multiple charges including perjury and failing to report child sexual abuse. Sandusky is currently serving a 30 to 60-year sentence for sexually abusing young boys. The rock and roll hall of fame is unveiling its class of 2014. Ready? Kiss, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens. It's like our childhood, folks. The rock halls world for musical excellence will be awarded as well. That ceremony going to be held in April in New York City, maybe somebody could get us tickets.

BOLDUAN: You cannot dance when that song comes on.

PEREIRA: It gets your soul into it.

CUOMO: I think Cat Stevens changed his name.

PEREIRA: For purposes as a musician, isn't it still Cat Stevens?

CUOMO: Yusef Islam.

PEREIRA: Thank you.

CUOMO: My producer just knew it.

PEREIRA: He knows things.

CUOMO: He's human Google.

We'll take a break on NEW DAY. We have important health news on two fronts. Antibacterial soaps and multivitamins, don't mix them. The real question is, do either of them work? And are they even safe? We'll give you information you want.

BOLDUAN: And are telemarketers getting sneaky? Listen. Think you can tell if you're talking to a real human being or robot? That's ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Antibacterial soaps, seems look a no-brainer, right? Wrong. In a strongly worded statement, the FDA says there is no evidence they work better than plain old soap and water. In fact, they could be harmful.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is at the CNN Center with more.

What is going on here?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Chris, I tell you, so many people buy these antibacterial soaps because they think well, they must be better but the FDA says think again.


COHEN (voice-over): You see them everywhere. These antibacterial soaps with killer claims. But these labels might become a thing of the past. The Food and Drug Administration says antibacterial soaps may actually be harmful. They could post health risks such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects.

The most common ingredient in antibacterial soaps, Triclosan.

MAE WU, ATTORNEY, NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL: There are some impacts Triclosan could have on the hormone system that could affect developing bodies like children and infants. If it's not putting any good, then why are we putting this potentially harmful chemical in our homes?

COHEN: That's right. The FDA says there's no evidence antibacterial soaps prevent illness any better than plain old soap and water.

So the agency put this demand on soap manufacturers: Prove that your antibacterial products are safe and better than regular soap and if you can't, scrub off those claims. Soap manufacturers say they're up to the task.

BRIAN SANSONI, AMERICAN CLEANING INSTITUTE: Manufacturers have presented such data in the past and with this new proposed rule that's out, we'll have another opportunity to present newer research that shows, again, a germ-killing benefit of antibacterial soap and data that does show that these soaps are safe.


COHEN: Now, soap manufacturers have a year to make their arguments to the FDA. So none of this is happening any time soon -- Chris.

CUOMO: Kind of weird they get a whole year to prove to the agency's satisfaction that their product isn't dangerous. We'll just keep following it and let that part go for now.

Let me switch gears with you here. This new editorial out about multivitamins, I thought this was another no-brainer. Now, the editorial says essentially they don't work, might even be bad for you.

Your take?

COHEN: You know, it's really interesting. So multivitamins, it's gone back and forth. So basically these folks are saying what a lot of people are saying, which is that there's not a lot of evidence that multivitamins do anything for you.

It's an editorial in the annals of internal medicine. And they say, most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, and their use is not justified and they should be avoided.

Now, you can find doctors who will say, look, if your diet is bad, why not take a multivitamin as sort of a safety net? But, really, I think a lot of doctors out there will tell you they don't really do much good. They may make you feel better to be taking it, but there's no proof they do anything good for you.

CUOMO: So, the next step will be, do anything good versus hurt you. We'll have to develop some more data on that, because that's an important distinction also. Elizabeth, thank you very much. Appreciate the reporting.

COHEN: OK. Thanks.

BOLDUAN: And here's something you may not be aware of, doctors getting paid by drug companies to promote certain drugs.

Well, British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline says it's putting a stop to the practice.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is joining us with more.

Christine, this is the first major drug company to do this. This could be a big deal. Big shift in the industry.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a really big deal. And as you guys know, maybe you don't know that for many, many years the drugs that you're being prescribed are being pushed by the drug companies. And the drug company representatives who sell those drugs, who promote those drugs are actually compensated based on how many prescriptions your doctor is writing.

So a lot of people have said there are conflicts of interest. Two things that Glaxo is going to do here, GlaxoSmithKline. They're going to now pay their drug reps based on their technical knowledge and how well they are doing their job on the doctor's office and telling the doctors, not by how many prescriptions your doctor is writing. That's a big change.

They're also not going to pay doctors to speak on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline or attend conferences for Glaxo in the future. There are doctors who get an awful lot of money, paid for directly by the drug companies. They're going to stop doing that.

BOLDUAN: We know there's so much money in this business.

ROMANS: Absolutely. Absolutely. You've seen like this over the past 25 or 30 years, Americans consume more prescriptions than any other country in the world.

BOLDUAN: That's an excellent point.

ROMANS: In part because you've got a drug industry that is selling to doctors.

Now, doctors have long said, we are not corrupted by a drug rep in our office. No, we are not.

But a lot of people have said, look, you have drug representatives who are paid for how many prescriptions a doctor is writing and doctors who are paid by drug companies directly for speaking or attending conferences, that is a conflict of interest.

BOLDUAN: Yes. The incentive structure on the drug company side seems to have been off. ROMANS: A couple of things here. The Obamacare actually will make it law to reveal these payments, too. So Glaxo getting ahead of Obamacare which means all of this will be public information what your doctor is accepting from drug companies.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Christine.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CUOMO: Just look at the pens the next time you're in the doctor's office.

ROMANS: I know.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, brand new findings into Princess Diana's death. Will there be a new investigation over who's to blame? We have a live report for you, straight ahead.

BOLDUAN: Telemarketers getting tricky. Listen to this.

REPORTER: Will you tell me you're not a robot? Just say, "I'm not a robot". Please?

SAMANTHA: I am a real person.


BOLDUAN: Are you convinced? The next time you get a call from one of them, will you be able to tell if it's a real person or a robo recording?


PEREIRA: Almost half past the hour here on NEW DAY.

Let's take a look at your headlines this hour.

Federal judge says he believes the NSA is violating the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Judge Richard Leon calling the mass collection of Americans' phone records almost Orwellian, insisting our Founding Fathers would be aghast. His ruling is stayed for now to give the government time to appeal.

More snow could snarl travel today in the Northeast. Cities including Boston could see as much as six inches, up to nine inches could fall in parts of Maine, just days after getting upwards of a foot. The snow already sent a plane off the runway in Wisconsin. This is the fifth blast of arctic air we've seen in this pre-winter surge.

CNN has learned the FBI is working to set up a meeting between director Jim Comey and the family of missing American Bob Levinson. An attorney for Levinson's family says meetings were scheduled before last week's report that Levinson was working for the CIA when he vanished back in 2007. But the bureau delayed those appointments. The CIA continues to say Levinson was not a government employee at the time of his disappearance. Evacuations this morning in central California as a wildfire continues to burn in Los Padres National Forest. It's already devoured about 500 acres and destroyed 15 homes, one of them belonging to the fire chief of Big Sur. The flames have forced about 100 people to flee their homes. Firefighters are hopeful they'll be able to contain the blaze in the next couple of days.

We are getting our first look at some rare turtles born at New York's Prospect Park Zoo. They are rare Chinese big-headed turtles. Five of them hatched in November. The video's only being released just now. The zoo has been trying to save the species from extinction.

There are now 15 of them at the Prospect Park and Bronx Zoos. They're not insecure about their big headedness. It's important to know. Good to know.

CUOMO: It's good thing because that's their name. Big shell, too.

BOLDUAN: How about that?

PEREIRA: How about the head?

CUOMO: All right. Little -- let's take you back here. Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed, you'll remember -- they tied in a car crash in a Paris tunnel in 1997, along with their driver. Now, ever since rumors have swirled that the pair was assassinated by the British military. British police now say there is no reason to re-open the investigation into the death.

So is it really case closed?

CNN's Max Foster picks up the story for us in London.

Max, what do we know?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you say, Chris, for so long these conspiracy theories, that somehow Diana was a problem for the British establishment, so the establishment got her killed, they used special forces. That would be the theory.

And when the police actually announced they were going to investigate some of these claims earlier this year, it was quite extraordinary. They must have had something to go on. They say now that they had unprecedented access to all of the reports in the special services library, unprecedented access to all the witnesses involved. And they concluded today in the report that there is no credible that the SAS, the special forces, were involved in the deaths of Diana or Dodi.