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Reaction To Dennis Rodman Outburst; Two Feet Of Snow In Upstate New York; Water Main Erupts; Beauty Queen Killed; Freak Wave Slams Spectators; Harsh Critique Of President Obama; Charges In Huge Disability Fraud; Man Confronts Alleged Burglars

Aired January 8, 2014 - 07:30   ET


BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: We know that he is having internal problems obviously, this brutal execution, shows of force, replacing military leaders that he's had that were loyal to his father. He seems a bit insecure. He's only 31 years old, has very little experience. So the problem here is that Rodman is about the only person that he has talked to from the outside world.

The Chinese who are the patrons of North Korea have not been able to move this new young leader into negotiation with anybody, with South Korea, with the United States. Many entities have tried to be brokers. Apparently, he has a relationship with Dennis Rodman and I thought initially, when Rodman went over there the first time, I said maybe at the very least he can get Kenneth Bae out.

I had tried to get Kenneth Bae out with the CEO of Google. I wasn't able to do it because he won't see anybody. I had access before to the leadership, but not with Kim Jong-Un. Nobody has access but only perhaps Dennis Rodman.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It's such a bizarre situation. Greg, I want to end on this. I don't how well you know Rodman, but a lot of pushback in this situation has been he is a basketball player. Don't make him into a diplomat. What do you think about that? Given the uniqueness of the access, given how outspoken the guy is, do you believe that even though he's a basketball player that he is also in part carrying the responsibility to do what he can in the situation to help out because of the access? Do you think that's fair or do you think no?

GREG ANTHONY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, listen, I think the possibility could have existed. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to watch the interview you conducted yesterday and realize that many Dennis Rodman wouldn't be the best person to consider using to be a diplomat or representative or a negotiator when it comes to something as delicate as trying to have prisoners released in North Korea so, no. No I do not.

I think this could have a steppingstone towards the possibility that someone like Governor Richardson could have an opportunity to go over and further those conversations. But because of the backlash, because of how this is received, I think -- and the reality is this is going to take us a step back in terms of what could potentially have evolved in terms of the relationships with North Korea. CUOMO: Greg Anthony, Ambassador Richardson, thank you very much for joining us on NEW DAY. Appreciate you weighing in. Greg, I may be calling you for some help drawn on some relationships when he gets back here if he comes after me, all right?

All right, be sure to stay with us. We're going to have Kenneth Bae's sister, Terri Chang. You heard some of her earlier in the show from an interview with Anderson Cooper last night. She's going to join us in the 8:00 hour to talk more about the effect of what happened with Dennis Rodman may have on her brother's situation and wants you all to know about what her brother did and did not do -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. Coming up next on NEW DAY, it's being called the largest disability fraud scam ever. More than a hundred retired New York police and firefighters accused of pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars, many of them blaming 9/11.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's give you a look at the stories that are making news. Blizzard like conditions in upstate New York right now, look at that, up to 2 feet could fall in and around Buffalo. That's on top of another day of extreme cold in the northeast and Midwest. Windchill still below zero in many spots.

It's been so cold, check this out, a burglary convict who escaped from a Kentucky prison turned himself back in so he could get away from the windchill of 20 below. (Inaudible) is coming for the end of the week.

And look at this video, a water main break. It erupted in Georgia. Thousands of gallons of water still shooting into the air at this hour we're told. Apparently crews dug a hole exposing the pipe overnight. It burst early this morning covering everything around it in ice. We'll keep you updated on this story as it develops.

A Venezuelan beauty queen and soap opera star shot dead along with her ex-husband after the car breaks down on a country road. Armed gunmen also shot their 5-year-old daughter. She is expected to survive. Investigators in Northern Venezuela say robbery is the apparent motive. They are questioning five people.

And look at this video of a freak tsunami-sized wave sweeping away cars, injuring at least four spectators in Portugal. A large crowd many with cameras taking picture of the water as it crashed into a lighthouse off the coast yesterday when an enormous wave suddenly rose up and came barrelling over a sea front. Everyone scrambling obviously. They were plenty of scrapes and bruises. Unfortunately none of the injuries were life threatening. How frightening? Looking at headlines for you, guys, over to you.

CUOMO: Thanks, Mich.

BOLDUAN: Turn now to our political gut check of the morning. A revealing memoir from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has the White House reeling. The Obama administration looking for allies to defend the president and the administration after Gates knocks him in the tell-all. He writes that Obama had lost faith in his own strategy in Afghanistan and distrusted his top military officials.

Joining us now with much more on the details of the book and the political fallout that is still sure to be coming, chief national correspondent, John King. So John, we know the White House has been preparing for this blistering criticism. They knew this was coming, but this comes at a time that the president is still in office and he's looking at his legacy.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what makes it so remarkable, Kate and Chris. You have this ultimate inside player, Bob Gates. Listen, let's start with this basic premise, this is a guy, whether you agree with him or not, who knows how the levers of government works. He knows how the levers of politics work, who's been in town when big books have been written that have roiled big policy debates.

He's a very, very smart man, who as he wrote these words and as he knows the book is going to be released during the Obama presidency, not after the Obama presidency. He had to know the impact they were going to cause. I'm drying to watch Secretary Gates when he comes out and does public interviews to promote his book.

Explain the rationale for the why because he is someone who I have spoken to myself about leaks, about sensitive national security measure. He said they don't help especially when things aren't going. So he had a reason he wanted to do this and it would be great to hear it from him directly.

CUOMO: What do you think it is?

KING: Well, I think in part you see it in these excerpts that have been released and that we have confirmed at CNN. This tension -- he says he thought it's the most controlling White House when it comes to national security since Nixon and Kissinger. He said Secretary Clinton who he criticizes to a degree in this book and Leon Panetta who is at the CIA then and then succeeded Gates at the fed. He said they felt the same way.

That the White House team, the National Security Council team was trying to make all these decisions, they essentially were pushing away military advice. They are not listening to advice from others. That's part of it. And part of it seems to be some sense of resentment that he didn't think A, that Obama properly respected the military chain of command.

And as he said, here's a very telling line, for him, it was all about getting out of Afghanistan. So if you're the defense secretary and you're responsible for those men and women and you're the civilian who represents the generals to the president, that's a tough one.

BOLDUAN: And what do you make of the White House's response so far? I'm sure there's more to come because this is different than other tell-all books like "Double Down" where it makes big headlines and we talk about it, and talk about inside Washington, but it really doesn't have real impact. This book may.

KING: Well, this could impact the president's current relationships with the military brass. Although I think, you know, there are 2016 implications if Secretary Clinton or Vice President Biden runs. This will be used against them. Hillary Clinton's critics are already using it against her. But the White House statement is actually quite interesting, the president through the National Security Council spokeswoman praises Bob Gates and wishes him well as he promotes his book.

And then they defend Vice President Biden. It's a scathing review of Vice President Biden. Bob Gates says he has essentially been dead wrong. He says he is a man of integrity and we should be careful about this. He also praises President Obama's intellect and praises some of the decisions President Obama made. It's not all critical.

But then he goes on, At times very harsh view of the president, but he says Joe Biden is a great man. He says but dead wrong on everything. That's what the White House chose to address saying they profoundly disagree.

CUOMO: You know, it's interesting. The book is what like, 594 pages, so there's a lot in here, and I think that the mistake that will be made is missing what you are describing right now which is the subtlety. It's not that he's vacillating. He was bad, he was good. That's the way it is. Afghanistan actually was President Obama's situation. It was getting out of Iraq that helped win him the election.

He then decided to go to Afghanistan, which as you know, John, took a lot of us by surprise at the time and certainly the only motivation there would be to get out. So these are subtle situations. It will be interesting how the media decides to cherry pick it to allow the partisans their own avenues. I'd be surprised if the White House combats him, wouldn't you because what's the game?

KING: It's an excellent point. Again, Secretary Gates because of his long career in public service, I'm not defending what he says here, I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt and I'm ready to read every page twice because of his distinguished career and to the point you are making. I've had several conversations with him in the middle of very tough times in national security policy and he is a very detail- oriented, a very dedicated public service.

Again, people can agree or disagree with where he gets. So there are some context and some nuance here that sometimes gets lost in the quick headlines. But when you read some of the quotes about the sitting commander in chief, as you know President Obama campaigned for the surge in Afghanistan is based in liking. Go back to the first presidential camapaign, liberals didn't like it.

That he was saying we need more troops in Afghanistan even as we come out of Iraq, but then Secretary Gates says, within a year he came to the conclusion that the president didn't support his own policy, that the president just wanted to get out, that the president didn't want to listen to anyone who said leave the troops there longer.

So that's a very damning indictment of the president, but again, there's more nuance and more context. At the moment, though, trust me. This is the talk of Washington.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. You make such a great point, that I mean, he is such a veteran of government and politics, spanning administrations, spanning Democrats and Republicans. It will be very, I think very interesting to hear what he has to say when he does come out to start --

KING: He's a very smart inside operator who now is playing the outside game, but he knew what he was doing.

CUOMO: And that's the value of the rest of us is that we are always boggled and our minds are boggled about why the decisions get made, this may help.

Coming up on NEW DAY, home intruders caught in the act. Now instead of running away, the homeowner who catches them in the act interrogates them on camera. See for yourself.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. New developments this morning in what's being called the largest Social Security disability fraud scheme ever. More than a hundred retired New York police and firefighters charged with bilking the government out of an estimated $400 million. They are accused of faking post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, hard to believe.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is joining us with the very latest. Good morning, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Not only were the retirees alleging gaming the system, perhaps even worse, they're accused of stealing taxpayer's money from those who legitimately deserve it.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The accused New York City police officers and firefighters were supposed to be disabled, unable to work, suffering from severe depression and anxiety. More than half claiming post- traumatic stress after 9/11 terrorist attacks, but photos filed by prosecutors paint a very different picture.

This retired officer flipping the bird on a water craft, this defendant playing basketball, and this one deep sea fishing. The retired cops, firefighters and alleged ring leaders pleaded not guilty. Defense lawyers say photos don't prove anything.

JOSEPH CONWAY, DEFENSE LAWYER: If you have somebody fishing on one particular day, that doesn't mean they do not have some kind of psychological illness.

CANDIOTTI: But prosecutors contend it was massive fraud. A Social Security disability scheme designed to rip off taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars dating back to 1988.

CYRUS VANCE, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This fraud not only forced federal taxpayers to finance the life styles of New York scammers, it also took away importantly from the already limited resources we have for people who actually suffer from psychiatric disabilities.

CANDIOTTI: Authorities charged four master minds with recruiting and coaching applicants on what to tell doctors, even duplicating forms sometimes in the same handwriting. I am unable to perform any type of work activity in and outside of the house matches another document word for word. Documents charge the accused ring leaders got kickbacks when defendants received their disability checks. They were also warned not to withdraw too much at once to avoid suspicion.

Authorities say videos and wiretaps will help prove their case. The man in the middle demonstrating martial arts is a retired officer allegedly on permanent disability.


CANDIOTTI: Now prosecutors say the collected on average $50,000 a year on top of state disability pensions. Some of the accused had legitimate disabilities, but to qualify for Social Security benefits they had to prove they could not work at all and apparently they did that with alleged lies -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Hard to believe as I said at the very beginning. Susan, thank you so much.

CUOMO: Coming up on NEW DAY, a homeowner discovers intruders in his home. Instead of grabbing a weapon he grabs his camera, starts rolling. Not only does he catch one of them in the act, he interviews the guy, bizarre video you got to see it. Straight ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Incredible new video of an alleged Seattle home invasion caught on tape. This photo journalist comes home and finds two men inside his house, but unlike most of us, Joe Orcelo did not turn and run. He turned on his camera and gave them the third degree. No joke. "EARLY START" anchor, John Berman, is here with more. Unbelievable.

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": I mean, what would you do if you came home and found intruders in your house? Run and scream? Not this guy. He attacks the intruders with the powerful weapon of journalism.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you in my house?

BERMAN (voice-over): It's a homeowner's nightmare to come home to find strangers inside your house, the place trashed.

JOE ORSILLO, FILMED INTRUDER IN HOME: I look in here and there is a man in my bedroom.

BERMAN: You might turn and run, but not Seattle photojournalist, Joe Orsillo. What he did, he got out his camera and started rolling and started asking questions.

ORSILLO: I'm going to make a news story of you. I want to know why you are inside my house.

BERMAN: The house he said was littered with drugs, stolen merchandise and stolen credit cards.

ORSILLO: The place is in shambles. Food is everywhere. Carpeting was ruined. They had crack cocaine pipes. I understand if you had to sleep here maybe, but why did you have to do that.

BERMAN: Orsillo and his family had had been fixing up the home to try to sell it after his mother's death. With his camera rolling, he interrogates one of the alleged intruders.

ORSILLO: What is it that makes you feel you can come in and do this to my house? Do you know how hard I worked for this house? This is my house I grew up in. This is my bedroom.

BERMAN: A second man was also in the home but according to Orsillo he escaped through a bathroom window before police could get there.

ORSILLO: I was like I am going to make an example of you and you are going to wish you never came to my house because I'm going to tape you.

BERMAN: Police arrested the suspect who was caught on camera and the other suspect is still at large.


BERMAN: I'm going to tape you, man. Joe has been repairing the damage the two men caused to his home. He wants this house back on the market by this weekend. Hard to believe, right? That is not my first instinct.

BOLDUAN: No, but it will be now or maybe it shouldn't be. Thanks, John.

PEREIRA: Composure, incredible.

BOLDUAN: That is a dumb intruder.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, tragedy in the Colorado mountains, an avalanche takes out a pack of skiers. Three manage to survive, one lost his life. We will go live to Colorado for details.