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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
New Video of Tarmac Death in Asiana Crash; NSA Using Secret Tech to Tap Computers Not Connected to Internet; Drugs Found in Bieber's Home;
Aired January 15, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The story of the 16-year-old who survived the Asiana plane crash, only to be killed by a fire truck on the runway, takes a more upsetting turn with the revelation of a new video.
Could this tragedy have been avoided? You are going to be able to see and judge for yourself.
Also this hour, even as the White House looks at ways to reign in the NSA, yet another bombshell about how far its reach goes.
Reports that it uses super-secret radio technology to infiltrate tens of thousands of computers in some of the most secure places on the planet.
And an egg attack on a neighbor's home sends a dozen deputies to Justin Bieber's estate arriving with a felony search warrant and leaving with an arrest and a cache of evidence.
Hello, everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Wednesday, January 15th, and welcome to LEGAL VIEW. We're live in Los Angeles this morning.
When you see the final moments of Asiana Flight 214, it almost seems like a miracle anyone survived the crash.
This was our exclusive video at the time, the big plane coming in too low and too slow at San Francisco's airport last summer.
And after it crashed, it broke apart. It cart-wheeled. It burned. But somehow of 307 on board, all but three did survive that disaster.
And one of the dead might be alive today had she not been accidentally run over by fire trucks on the tarmac.
We begin this hour with a horrifying accident that has just come into much sharper focus than ever before, the death of Ye Meng Yuan, a name that means "Wish Come True."
Our reporter is Dan Simon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop, stop, stop! There's a body right -- there's a body right there, right in front of you. DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chilling new video obtained by CBS News giving us a rare, up-close look from a firefighter's helmet-cam, the chaotic moments first-responders encountered after Asiana Flight 214 crashed landed in San Francisco last July.
Sixteen-year-old Ye Meng Yuan was accidentally run over twice by fire trucks. Her family has since filed a wrongful death claim against the city.
In particularly blunt language, it accuses first-responders of deliberately and knowingly abandoning the teen where they knew she would be in harm's way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop, stop, stop! There's a body right -- there's a body right there, right in front of you.
SIMON: Does the new video prove the tragic accident could have been avoided?
There's also this. Another camera appears to show a firefighter directing a truck around the victim.
CHIEF JOANNE HAYES-WHITE, SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT: We're heartbroken. We're in the business of saving lives and many lives were saved that day.
SIMON: This video may be crucial in understanding what happened to Ye, who the coroner says survived the crash, but died from injuries she suffered after being run over.
At the time, officials said Ye's body was obscured by foam and couldn't be seen by the trucks, that combined with the chaos of putting out the fire and rescuing victims.
MAYOR EDWIN LEE, SAN FRANCISCO: I will say this. It was very, very hectic, very emergency-mode at the crash site minutes after the airplane came to rest and there was smoke inhalation and people were coming out of the fuselage as fast as they could.
SIMON: The spectacular crash of Asiana Flight 214 was captured on amateur video and on surveillance cameras, the Boeing 777 descending too low on landing, crashing into the seawall and cart-wheeling across the runway, tragically claiming the lives of three passengers and ejecting flight attendants from the aircraft on impact.
A court may eventually have to decide whether fire crews in this video were negligent and should be held accountable for the teenager's death.
BANFIELD: And our Dan Simon joins me live now from San Francisco airport.
Dan, has there been a response to the airing of this video from either the city or from the fire department? SIMON: Not yet, Ashleigh. We reached out to the San Francisco fire department. They haven't gotten back to us, but they have told other outlets at this point they're not commenting on pending litigation.
We knew that, of course, they said that this was a chaotic scene and perhaps that's what led to this.
But there's a real perception that they're not being fully transparent here. Just consider the fact that, all this time later, we're just seeing this video now, that they didn't release it sooner and that it never came out sooner.
The bottom line is, Ashleigh, of course a lot of firefighters did act very heroically that day and did save some lives, but clearly this video raises more questions.
BANFIELD: I think without question. Dan Simon, thank you for that.
And I want to bring in my lawyers now, because there are these questions. CNN legal analyst and defense attorney Danny Cevallos joins me, as well as HLN legal analyst and defense attorney Joey Jackson.
Joey, I'll start with you. Is this video a game-change?
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: It really could be, Ashleigh, and I think what has to happen here is there will be multiple priorities that are balanced, that on the one hand, obviously, there is a life that's lost here and that's very tragic.
And the family and we all need to be concerned about that, particularly when the fire department is on notice and it could have been avoided. And so that becomes problematic and it supports the plaintiff.
On the other hand, the other priority is to the people in that plane. How many other lives could have been lost? This is not a situation which is very stable. It's fluid, and it's out of control.
And that's why the chaos of the moment also weighs heavily, too, were for defending the firefighters in terms of what happened here. How did this happen? It could be explained by virtue of the nature of the surrounding circumstances.
Should it have happened? No. And those are the priorities that are going to have to be balanced as the lawsuit unfolds.
BANFIELD: And Danny, I think that's a really key issue, the fog of emergency.
Look, no one wants another person to die. They're all there to prevent exactly what happened.
But yet you hear that man saying twice, there's a body, there's a body. Ye Meng Yuan wasn't a body. She was a person. Does that tell us anything?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, you're absolutely right, Ashleigh. Ambulance drivers as a general rule enjoy certain privileges.
For example, we all know that they can ignore traffic signals when they're on a mission. So they enjoy some degree of immunity from prosecution.
However, in a case like this, you have compelling evidence that they may not have even met a minimal standard of care in driving around an area while they were trying to respond to a situation.
I mean, the video is very compelling. It raises questions that a jury is going to want to know answers to.
First, if there was a body, why didn't anyone check to see if that person was alive or dead?
Now, legally it's not -- frankly, the compelling effect on the jury is even more than legal. It's going to be very emotional, because they're going to have that question.
Why if there was a living form there didn't somebody discern whether that person was alive or dead? And if alive, where was the help?
JACKSON: There's an answer for that question.
BANFIELD: What's that, Joey?
JACKSON: The answer to the question, Ashleigh, to Danny's very good point, is going to be that the firefighters are going to say, under normal circumstances, it's true. We could have stopped and we could have detected and perhaps we should have.
But when a plane is burning and it's out of control and there are 304 people on there that we also want to save, it got lost in the mix.
It's rather unfortunate, it's tragic, but from their perspective, that's the argument that they're going to be making in front of, as Danny points out, a very emotionally charged jury.
BANFIELD: And, look, two extraordinarily sympathetic parties here, a 16-year-old girl and a group of first-responder heroes. Not an easy decision without question.
Thank you to you both. Danny and Joey, stick around. More to come in a moment for the two of you.
A new report that the NSA is using secret radio technology to tap into computers all around the world, computers that, get this, aren't even connected to the Internet.
How do they do this? And should they be doing this? We're going to head to Washington, tap into Wolf Blitzer, next.
BANFIELD: Yet again this morning, new revelations about the reach of the NSA, according to "The New York Times," the U.S. spy agency is using secret radio technology to tap into computers that are not even connected to the Internet. That is so James Bond.
We're talking about almost a hundred thousand computers here, too, not just a few, but so far, there's no evidence that any of them is actually in the United States.
It is yet another disclosure tied to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. who, despite seeking asylum in Russia, has a new job.
He has been named to the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, which was founded by the man who leaked the Pentagon papers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL ELLSBERG, LEAKED THE PENTAGON PAPERS: He has acted. He's put his own life on the line, I would say.
We admire him. I admire him, personally, very much. He's a hero of mine, and we're very proud actually to have him join us on the board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Joining me now from Washington is Wolf Blitzer who is host of CNN's "THE SITUATION ROOM" Wolf, thanks for being with us.
There was a five-person panel that was appointed by the president for recommendations on what to do about this whole NSA dustup, shall we say, and they were really grilled by the Senate judiciary committee.
Just wanted to get your take on how that went, on what the optics were and whether we'll actually see anything come out of that.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Well, I think we are going to see some proposals.
The president's going to put forward a series of steps he's taking following the recommendations of that five-person panel of the committee yesterday that were grilled by Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the judiciary committee, yesterday.
You see some of those representatives there. That's Cass Sunstein, one of the representatives on that five-member panel.
The president, on Friday, will deliver a major speech outlining those reforms he's willing to accept, the publicly announced reforms.
Presumably there'll be other things he'll be doing quietly without a whole lot of publicity, but some of the major changes, he's going to accept, some of these going to accept.
I think there were 46 or so recommendations. The president's going to certainly accept some of them. We'll know specifically on Friday which ones.
I don't think he's going to stop completely the collection of that metadata, because I think he's convinced, along with many of his top national security advisers, that potentially it could prevent a major terrorist attack in the United States along the lines of 9/11 or even worse.
So I think we'll see that continue, although there will be a public advocate, for example, who will go on this FISA, these Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act courts, if you will, to make sure that no improper domestic spying is going on, although the arguments, pro and con, will continue even after the president's speech.
BANFIELD: So, one quick question about one of the issues that was brought up with this panel, and granted, it was a top Democrat bringing this up, but the suggestion was that the NSA surveillance actually hasn't prevented any terrorist attacks.
And that seems like a very broad statement. Can we be so sure, and if we can be so sure, does that make any difference because now is now and the future is something entirely different?
BLITZER: You know, there's been a real serious debate on whether or not the collection of all this metadata really has stopped a terrorist attack. You hear arguments. Dianne Feinstein, the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, she says it's worthwhile, and Mike Rogers, the chair of the House intelligence committee, he says it's very important.
They both are virtually on the same page when it comes to this specific issue about the collection, the potential for preventing another major terrorist attack in the United States. Whether it's actually stopped one so far, that is a subject of some significant debate. I think there are one or two cases that they think they did have some impact, but I suspect we're going to hear more about this in the coming days.
BANFIELD: All right. Well, you're the person to report on it. Wolf Blitzer, thank you. Be sure to tune in to Wolf. He's on twice, just because he doubly as good -- 1:00 in the afternoon and then again for "THE SITUATION ROOM" later on at 5:00 eastern time. Wolf Blitzer.
Checking other top stories we're following. A scathing new Senate report says that the deadly attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi could have been prevented. Based on security shortfalls of the U.S. mission and the warnings from the intelligence community about the instability in Libya's security situation. That said, that report also said this whole thing has been blown up big by partisans. This is a bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, and it does spread the blame among the State Department and intelligence agencies for all of this. And it says 15 people who had been cooperating with the FBI overseas have been killed and it's severely hampering the investigation. You'll remember four Americans including U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens were killed in the 2011 attack. You never know how dear freedom is until it's suddenly taken away from you. Those exact sentiments of Shezanne Cassim, the 29-year-old American who was imprisoned for nine months in the United Arab Emirates, highlighted today. He was arrested last year because he posted a video that parodied Dubai teenagers. Yep. Just posted a video, folks. Jailed for it. He returned to his home in Minnesota last week, but this morning he spoke out live about his ordeal on CNN's "NEW DAY."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEZANNE CASSIM, JAILED IN UAE: As far as I know, the prime minister made some comments recently, the UAE prime minister. And to a limited extent I do agree with him that it was a mistake, but really I feel it was more than just a mistake. Nine months in prison is not just a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: An apparent prank leads deputies to Justin Bieber's house. It was a $20,000 prank, mind you. What those cops found inside that mansion had a house guest led away in handcuffs. So many layers. We're back after this.
BANFIELD: Well, we're in LA. How about the celebrity files? Legal celebrity files. Justin Bieber. Turns out this kid could be in some serious trouble for allegedly throwing eggs at his neighbor's house. Here's the deal. The damage was bad enough that the police were called, a warrant was issued, and his house was searched. And boy, did they find evidence. The trouble is, some of it had little to do with eggs, but a lot to do with drugs. And one of the teen singer's friends a rapper named Lil' Za was taken away in cuffs. Entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner has all the details.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Nearly a dozen police cars surrounded superstar Justin Bieber's multimillion dollar mansion Tuesday. Once inside, L.A. County deputies searched for surveillance video. Video that could reveal whether the entertainer was involved in damaging a neighbor's home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I'd like to place an assault.
TURNER: It started Thursday when a neighbor of Bieber's claimed the star threw these eggs at his home. CNN couldn't verify the authenticity of this video. According to TMZ the neighbor seems to believe Bieber was on the other end of this verbal altercation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got another one for you after these.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Come right here over here you (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
TURNER: The damage is estimated by the homeowner to be around $20,000.
LT. DAVE THOMPSON, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: I get that it was done with eggs which makes you feel like it's a lower level crime. But a felony crime is a felony crime no matter how you commit it.
TURNER: According to the deputies, Bieber was cooperative, but one of the singer's guests rapper Lil' Za was arrested when police allegedly found drugs believed to be Ecstasy and Xanax.
BRIAN BALTHAZAR, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: I don't really think this is about just a bunch of eggs being thrown at a house. I think this is about a bunch of neighbors who've had enough of a carefree, somewhat reckless 19-year-old pop star --
TURNER: This is just the latest in a string of Bieber blunders.
Back in March he lashed out at a paparazzo in the UK. And in May two neighbors called police after catching the star allegedly speeding down residential streets. Now the 19-year-old mogul with a top ten album and legion of fans will possibly be prosecuted if investigators find enough evidence.
THOMPSON: None of this has to do with him being a celebrity. This is a felony crime.
TURNER: Nischelle Turner, CNN, Hollywood.
BANFIELD: All right. So if throwing eggs seems silly like a kid's prank, it turns out the damage was enough to make it potentially a felony offense. The houses are expensive where they live. Calabasas area, all fancy. Joey and Danny are back on this one. First of all, I thought it was crazy that eggs led to all of this. But when the drugs came into it, it started to make me wonder just what is a homeowner's responsibility. And in this case Justin Bieber. Danny, I'll start with you. Is Justin in trouble if one of his friends actually ends up catching the heat for these drugs?
CEVALLOS: I am really surprised candidly that Justin wasn't charged with something. We need to find the facts because there's so much constitutional law on where exactly something is located for you to be charged with what we call constructive possession. If it was in the individual's pocket, it's less likely just because he was in Justin's house. But I could imagine a number of facts, and I'm sure so can Joey, that the police and law enforcement can conclude that if it was in his house and arguably under Bieber's possession and control, a creative prosecutor could absolutely charge him with a possessory crime.
BANFIELD: Wow. So okay. That's one area. Joey, go for it.
JACKSON: Sure, and Danny, not only can I imagine those facts, but my clients repeatedly get charged when, for example, there are other people in their homes and there are drugs laying about and the significance of this, Ashleigh, is that the indication it leaves is that the drugs were in plain view. What does that mean? I means that when they're in plain view, the police officers can seize them without having an additional warrant.
BANFIELD: The eggs were apparently in plain view, too, because TMZ's video showed the evidence of some of the eggs. But I do want to ask you about that. Egging someone's house. Okay, so maybe it did cause 20 grand in damage, which I find amazing, but what is the exposure for Mr. Bieber if, in fact, some of the security video they seized from his house, Danny, shows he was hucking the eggs at his neighbor?
CEVALLOS: Video is convicting everybody nowadays. But I think what's really important about this case is it highlights a truth that most people don't know about criminal law. That the view of the severity of a crime depends so much on geographically where you stand. I couldn't imagine asking one of my D.A. friends here in Philadelphia county to initiate a house egging probe. They would laugh me out of court because in more urban areas --
BANFIELD: But this is L.A., baby. This is L.A. The crime is different.
CEVALLOS: Exactly. I think that's an important issue. Where you stand on this Earth, where your feet are absolutely effects how serious a crime is viewed.
BANFIELD: It's amazing. And I just want to add this. If the damage had been $950 like at my house, this would not of qualified as a felony. So you know what? Security cameras can protect you and can indict you. And your money can make you happy and it can make you miserable. There you go. I'm just saying. Hey guys, thank you. Stick around. More to come from you in a moment. I love these guys. They always have the best take.
Coming up in a moment, I got another -- I got a part two for you on a story we started yesterday that got a lot of people talking. This man on the left here. And here on the right. Husband, father disappears under mysterious circumstances and his family says investigators are covering something up. And you might think the same thing after you see what was written in his autopsy. It's coming up next.
BANFIELD: Welcome back to LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield, coming to you live from Los Angeles this morning. I want to bring you part two of a CNN exclusive report on the mysterious death of 28-year-old Alfred Wright. He's the father of two who vanished last November in Texas. His family was found his body nearly three weeks later, but that was two weeks after the local authorities there gave up, just stopped searching for him.