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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Extolling The Virtues Of The U.S.-French Alliance; Tim Armstrong Controversy Brings Up Concerns Over Health Privacy; Breakthrough In Decades Old Missing Girls Case?; With A Little From My Foes; American Icon Shirley Temple Dies At 85
Aired February 11, 2014 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. It's time for the world lead. We have come a long way since freedom fries, it was observed earlier this week. But the U.S. and France are in the midst of a symbolic embrace. President Obama and French president Francois Hollande held a joint news conference in which they extolled the U.S.-French alliance.
Today, one reporter asked about a recent trip by French businesspeople to Iran in which they seemed to be pursuing business opportunities despite sanctions on Iran. President Obama did not mince words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Businesses may be exploring are there some possibilities to get in sooner rather than later if and when if there is an actual agreement to be had. But I can tell you that they do so at their own peril right now because we will come down on them with a ton of bricks with respect to the sanctions that we control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Today's joint appearance follows President Obama taking Hollande on a tour of Monticello, the Virginia home of our third president and one-time ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Sorry, we're breaking protocol here. That's all right. That's the one good thing about being president, I can do whatever I want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Speaking of breaking protocol, the climax of President Hollande's three-day state visit comes tonight with a black-tie state dinner at the White House. The Obamas have only held six state dinners ever. The menu tonight is designed with that certain flair, that certain "I don't know what" the French love. Je ne sais quoi. Caviar, garden salad, dry aged ribeye, a choice of dessert. But this dinner did present a unique challenge to the White House. The White House printed out pricey engraved invitations trumpeting the event in honor of Hollande and his longtime girlfriend. But then the world learned about Hollande's other girlfriend, a French actress he's apparently seeing. Suddenly it was up in the air: would he bring his girlfriend, would he bring his other girlfriend? Would he get a plus two?
Hollande eventually broke up with his long-time paramour and decided to come stag. "The New York Times" reports that those pricey invitations had to be destroyed and reprinted, and there still remains a protocol issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANITA MCBRIDE, LAURA BUSH'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: Typically when you have a foreign guest that is coming that has a spouse, the president and first lady -- our president and first lady would be seated next to the spouse. So that is something that they will have to change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: As for the dinner, actor and current Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper is on the state dinner guest list. He speaks French. Look it up, people. But you know who is not going to be there tonight? The U.S. ambassador to France. Do you know why? Because we don't have one.
In years in administrations past, the ambassador to France is a role that goes not to a career diplomat but to the president's biggest fundraisers. The last one, Charles Rifkin, formally left the post last November. The position has remained open because the White House has had a difficult time vetting these fat cats.
Take Mark Lazary, a hedge fund manager and top Obama fundraiser whom the president picked for the post. He was suddenly out of the running in April amid reports that he was connected to an alleged poker ring run by the Russian mob. Among those who passed the vet, of course, are the president's nominee for U.S. ambassador to Argentina who has never been to Argentina and others with similar qualifications, all of whom, of course, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the president and his party just coincidentally.
Now, there is one idea for assuring that nominees get a smoother path to ambassadorship. One that might even help us find an ambassador to France. It's kind of radical. Maybe a little crazy. They could always try to nominate someone qualified.
Coming up next, he blamed two distressed babies for hurting AOL's bottom line. But the question some are asking now is how does AOL's CEO know about the personal medical data about his employees? And what does your boss know about you?
Plus, he's been at the anchor desk for every Olympic broadcast over the last 14 years until tonight. Bob Costas takes a sick day. Who is going to pinch hit for him? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. The Money Lead. Let's face it: there are certain things that you don't want your boss to know about, much less to share with all of your co-workers. Like perhaps what you did on that spring break in Daytona a couple of decades ago, or which websites you regularly visit in the privacy of your own home. And even more so, the latest diagnosis that you got from your doctor.
So when AOL CEO Tim Armstrong held a town hall meeting last week about why the company was cutting retirement benefits, you can imagine why one of his explanations caused a nationwide uproar. As you've probably heard by now, Armstrong said, quote, "We had two AOL-ers that had distressed babies that were born that we paid a million dollars each to make sure those babies were okay in general.
The comment set off a firestorm of controversy with the mother of one of the babies, publicly blasting Armstrong for his comments.
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DEANNA FEI, WIFE OF AOL EMPLOYEE: To me, there did sound like the implication that somehow we were greedy consumers of health care benefits, that we had kind of gobbled up more that our share of the pie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, Armstrong has since apologized and reversed the decision to cut the pension plans, but what's been somewhat lost in all of this is how the company had learned about the health conditions of its employees' babies to begin with. AOL would not respond to our inquiry about how Armstrong got his information, but believe it or not, it is perfectly legal for many companies to have access to employee records from their group health plans. That's right. The stuff that you thought was just between you and your doctor.
Joining me now is Dr. Debra Peel, founder of the group Patient privacy Rights. Her group has been fighting to get patients more control over their personal health records. Dr. Peel, good to see you.
How much of our health information is truly private? Should we be concerned that at any given moment, our bosses can take a peek at our medical data?
DR. DEBORAH PEEL, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, PATIENTPRIVACYRIGHTS.ORG: Absolutely we should. Technology has enabled us to have our privacy completely taken away by those that hold our data.
TAPPER: Is it possible that Tim Armstrong actually knew which of his employees had the distressed babies when he made that comment?
TAPPER: Really? That he --
TAPPER: So here's something that you -- may not come as a surprise to you, but I was stunned when I heard it. I had a friend who was only eight weeks pregnant, and she got a call about a maternity support program offered by her employer. She was eight weeks pregnant. She had not gone public with the pregnancy, she had not told many people about it. Only eight weeks. As you know, most people wait until 20 before they tell anybody.
How common is it for employers to know specific health information about their workers, even before their spouses might know?
PEEL: It's -- it's very common, Jake. In fact, that's the whole point of starting Patient Privacy Rights. We don't have control over this most sensitive personal information anymore. And it violates trust, it's searing, it's very, very disturbing to people to have strangers they don't want to know about these personal things knowing intimate details.
TAPPER: Now, there are laws preventing people from firing individuals, discriminating against them because of health information. There are HIPAA records that are supposed to keep things private. Is there anything that a patient can do to keep their medical records from an employer?
PEEL: No. That's why it's really important that people should learn what's going on. You can sign up on our website, PatientPrivacyRights to learn out what is going on. You should tell your members of Congress. You should sign our petition that your data not be exchanged without your consent. And you can tell us your story. It's very important that we fight back.
TAPPER: And companies will argue that they are paying for the health insurance. They are paying for these procedures --
TAPPER: -- and they, therefore, might have a legitimate reason -- if they are self-insured, if it's a self-insured company - to have at least some access to employee health data. Is that a fair argument at all?
PEEL: No. We pay. The employees pay. They don't pay. It's true that self-insured employers do have a right to look at the information, but they shouldn't. There are companies like IBM that are self-insured that refuse to look at their employees' health records. It can be done in a better way, like IBM.
TAPPER: So there is a way to push a company to make a pledge, we will keep this information private, we will not look at it?
TAPPER: Dr. Peel, thank you so much. We really appreciate it. PEEL: You're welcome! Thank you, Jake. TAPPER: When we come back, a crime that consumed a family and a community. Two sisters vanished after a trip to the mall. But now, a new lead in the cold case as police ask for information about one specific man.
And later, the Olympic story that has everyone talking that isn't even happening on the snow or the ice. Our Sports Lead, coming up.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. It's now time for our "Buried Lead." These are stories we think are not getting enough attention, cold case. It's been nearly 40 years since 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and her 10-year-old sister, Katherine, disappeared on the way home from a shopping plaza in the Washington, D.C. Their case appeared on multiple crime shows and inspired a book. The girls were never found. But today, almost 40 years later, a potential lead in the case is bringing this story back to the front pages.
Our own Tom Foreman is following the story from Maryland. Tom, a shocking development?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, the revelations here today, to call them shocking is really an understatement. This news comes along after decades of people who followed this case here and across the nation thinking that it would never lead anywhere.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Early 1975, Vietnam is winding down and Gerald Ford is president, the Jeffersons are on TV. And in a Washington suburb, the Lyons sister, Sheila 12 and Kate 10 vanished, last seen by their older brother who became an officer in the very police department that announced that 39 years later they are finally looking at this man, a drifter named Lloyd Welch, they did not call him a suspect.
CHIEF J. THOMAS MANGER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, POLICE: Our cold case squad has been able to identify a man who is currently incarcerated as a convicted child sex offender and we have established that this man was at Wheaton Plaza on that day and may have had contact with the Lyon girls.
FOREMAN: Wheaton Plaza, the mall the girls walked to the day disappeared was popular, only half a mile from home. And many parents in those days had few fears about abduction. But in the weeks and then years that followed with no bodies found, no arrests made, their case along with many others awakened the national awareness about missing children.
JOHN RYAN, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: We're about to celebrate our 30th anniversary. When we first opened our doors, the recovery rate for missing children was in the low 60 percent. Today, that has improved to almost 98 percent.
FOREMAN: The Lyon girls are still missing, could be alive, but the family has long assumed the worst.
MARY LYON, PARENTS OF MISSING GIRLS: The grandchildren we didn't have, the son-in-laws we didn't have.
FOREMAN: I spoke to the brother of the missing girls who became an officer here. He confirmed that neither he nor the family wants to say anything about the new developments at this point. But officials here are saying plenty. They are saying that the man who they are now looking at has been convicted in three states for raping young girls and currently he's being held on other charges in a prison in Delaware -- Jake.
TAPPER: Thanks, om. The FBI is taking tips. You can call 800-call- fbi or visit the website, fbi.gov.
Now on to some national news, death row inmates in Washington State who are waiting for that proverbial call from the governor got their wish today, all of them. Demcratic Governor Jay Inslee announced today that he is suspending executions because, quote, "There have been too many doubts raised about capital punishment and when the sentence is death there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system," unquote.
There are nine inmates on death row in Washington State right now. This means that no executions will be carried out while he's in office, including those that have already been sentenced to death. That does not mean that he's pardoning them, another governor can come in and sign death warrants lifting the suspension.
West Virginia's water supply just cannot catch a break. Cold slurry, a waste fluid, produced from coal mining spilled into the river after a line ruptured causing the creek to be black. The leak has stopped and inspectors from West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection are now sampling the water.
The company uses the same chemical that leaked into the Elk River last month impacting 300,000 people who, of course, were not able to use tap water for days. The governor of the state is announcing today a home water testing project for those nine counties that were affected.
Wolf Blitzer is now here with a preview of "THE SITUATION ROOM." Wolf, I spoke earlier in my show with the authors of the latest book, but you have information about the other woman in the '90s scandal, Monica Lewinsky.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN 'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": It's hard to believe, 16 years ago, January 1998, we first heard the name Monica Lewinsky. She's been in the news the last few days thanks to Rand Paul and this book and other stories out there about Hillary Clinton. So we tried to find out, where is she today? What is she doing? She's in her late 30s. We've got a good report. I think our viewers will be interested to know whatever happened to Monica Lewinsky.
TAPPER: All right, that's coming up on "THE SITUATION ROOM." Wolf Blitzer, thank you so much.
Coming up next, the true spirit of the Olympics on full display, what one coach did to help a competing athlete do to finish a race after a crash. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. At the winter games in Sochi, the crowd at a cross-country ski event displayed sportsmanship on the slopes. A Russian competitor crashed halfway through the race breaking one of his skis, but refused to give up and he tried to finish the race using just his poles and that's when the coach of Canada's team stepped in and offered him a replacement ski, but the coach didn't stop there, he helped him put the ski on.
The Russian skier crossed the finish line three minutes before the leader, but got a standing ovation. When asked why he helped out a competitor, the Canadian coach said I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line.
If there was an Olympic event for anchoring television Bob Costas would have taken the gold and probably every other medal because nobody would have been competing against him. But after five days of covering the Olympics with a growing eye infection, Costas has decided to take the night off. On last night's broadcast, he took a shot of vodka and said, my eyes can't get any redder. Taking his place tonight will be Matt Lauer. Get well soon, Mr. Costas.
The "Pop Culture Lead" now long before Miley or Lindsey or Bieber or even Bonaduce, there was Shirley Temple who won the hearts of millions before the age of 10 and never seemed to stray on the wild child path since her rise to fame. The actress who many still consider the most popular child star in Hollywood died late Monday night. She was 85 years old.
She retired from the movie business in her 20s, but went on to become heavily active in the Republican scene. She earned two lifetime achievements awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998.
Make sure to follow me on @jaketapper. That's all one word and also @theleadcnn. Check out our show page at cnn.com/thelead for video, blogs and extras. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I know turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Mr. Blitzer?
BLITZER: All right, Jake, thanks very much.