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Major Snow Storm Heading for Atlanta; More Wintry Weather for North Carolina; New Massive Lawsuit against President Obama; Tom Brokaw's Cancer Diagnosis; Ray Nagin Found Guilty by Jury

Aired February 12, 2014 - 13:30   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Just two weeks after a major winter storm brought Atlanta to its knees, the city is getting hit hard once again, this time with a much larger and even more dangerous storm. It's dumping ice, sleet and snow on Georgia and other southeastern states. And that's bringing down lots of power lines. More than a quarter of a million customers don't have electricity or heat right now. Most of them in the Atlanta area, although South Carolina is being hit pretty hard right now. That number is expected to rise big-time.

Unlike two weeks ago, now schools are closed, emergency crews from all over the region, they are out in full force right now. They're learning lessons from what happened just a couple of weeks ago. Our own Nick Valencia is right outside Atlanta in Decatur, Georgia. What are things like over there, Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's probably about as bad as we have seen it all day long. Just in the last couple of minutes, the freezing rain has really picked up here in Decatur, a suburb as you mentioned just outside of Atlanta. We're also seeing wind and hearing reports that the power here in some of these homes are flickering. This area very old part of town. Lots of old trees.

So that's why we decided to come here, very dangerous situation for all the residents. You see all those trees behind me, Wolf. That creates problems when temperatures are really cold. It can run into power lines. And that's why we're seeing tens of thousands of people without power. At last check, according to Georgia power, statewide, more than 119,000 people without power. Most of that concentrated here in the Atlanta area. In and around it.

I want to give you a sense of just how cold it is. Earlier we saw some kids out there making snow angels, playing around the snow, playing football. One of them left their backpack. This is after just a couple of hours of being out in the snow. This thing is completely frozen. You could probably snap that thing in half if you tried hard enough. So not only are they dealing with the freezing rain, they are also dealing with that cold temperatures and that's going to be a problem. I'm sure our meteorologist will be able to break that down in a little bit more detail for you. But throughout the week, as this weather event continues and those cold temperatures stay below freezing, it's going to be a really big problem here in and then around Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. Wolf? BLITZER: Yeah, certainly will be, Nick Valencia, thanks very much. There's also a state of emergency. As you point out in North Carolina, David Mattingly is on the scene for us there. He's joining us now with more on what's going on. They have had a lot of snow already, David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. The snow was very slow to get here, but it's really making its presence known right now. It's falling at a rate of about an inch an hour. And the roads that were clear a short time ago are now covered.

For instance, right here in downtown Charlotte, take a look. This road right here, an hour and a half ago, was completely clear. Now you can't see it at all. And the ice isn't even here yet. This is just the snow. They're expecting an ice storm here, as well, that could come this far north. But mostly to the south and east of Charlotte. So that will cause a lot of people to be in the cold and the dark tonight. That's still to come. In fact, the governor having some very straight -- some straight talk for the people who live here about being prepared. Listen.


GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R) NORTH CAROLINA: Do the common sense things. We know it's coming. Take the precautions right now. Do not wait. If you wait, that means you're going to take action, which puts our emergency operations people lives at risk. So there is some responsibility that all of us have to take at this point in time.


BLITZER: And take a look at this. We have had this just for a couple of hours so far. This is going to go on through the night. They're expecting eight to ten inches here in downtown Charlotte. Maybe a foot or more to the north of here. It's going to be a 48-hour weather event for the Carolinas here. And everyone saying stay hunkered down and hope for warmer temperatures this weekend. Wolf?

MATTINGLY: A lot of people are going to be losing power, too, in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, elsewhere, as well. I'm really worried about the elderly. What are they going to do about that? Hopefully they can be rescued if necessary. All right, David, thanks very much. Let's go to Chad Myers. He's outside. He's on the streets of Atlanta right now. Where is this storm heading? Give us a little forecast, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is turning left. It is moving through South Georgia and turning left up the East Coast. The big kind of left hand hook, if you're a bad golfer. That's where it's going to end up. It's going to end up eventually into D.C., into Charlottesville, into Charlotte. That's where most of the heavy snow is right now and then up into New York City. Let me show you what the city looks like.

This is a street just outside of Atlanta. This is the Omni Hotel. And I can literally skate on this street if I wanted to. The only reason why this is in a pretty decent shape, it's because the police that are coming through here have chains on and they are breaking up this ice. Haven't seen a salt truck, haven't seen a plow, haven't seen anything official to go through here to help this out at all. This is going to be a long duration storm. But the difference from 30 minutes ago, Wolf, it was raining. Now it's sleeting again. And that's some good news. Sleet bounces off the trees and hits the ground. The rain sticks to the trees and freezes, makes them heavier, and makes them want to fall over. The longer we can stay in sleet, the better. The problem is, about five miles south of here, it's probably not sleeting. It's raining hard. And it's 30 degrees. It's a bad combination, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we know that. The flights schedules have totally disrupted as a result. Charlotte is a hub. Atlanta is a huge, huge hub, as well. I think it's the busiest airport in the United States. It looks pretty grim, though, right now, I take it.

MYERS: Yeah, there is very, very little activity. When I looked at Flight Aware this morning, there was one flight that had left Atlanta last night still in the air, going to Dubai. That's why it was still in the air. And there were about ten planes trying to get into Atlanta. But with weather like this, it's going to be tough to clear the runways, tough to clear the jet ways and a little areas around there. And all the planes that might be still sitting there, they're encased in ice, they're not going anywhere. Just not enough the ice - to give you that much ice there. So, right now, 3,100 flights across the United States cancelled. But 850 of those were supposed to leave Atlanta. And there's no chance of that happening.

BLITZER: Yeah. All right. Chad, we'll check back with you. Chad is going to be a busy guy. Thank you.

Coming up, we'll check in on some other important news we're watching, including the world powers, the star power. They all came together right near in Washington, D.C. as the White House hosted France's president in a state dinner. That's coming up.

Also coming up, Senator Rand Paul on the offensive, he's leading a new lawsuit against President Obama and the NSA. I'll talk with the Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, about this and more.


BLITZER: Right now, President Obama is facing a new lawsuit over the NSA's surveillance program. Among those suing the president of the United States, the Republican Senator Rand Paul. Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, is here. And you went to law school. So, you've gone through these documents. What's going on here?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're saying that this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The metadata program that the United States National Security Agency has been running for some time. Senator Rand Paul and Matt Kibbe of Freedom Works, calling this the largest class action suit of its kind ever on behalf of users, subscribers, customers of phone service in the U.S., since 2006. Suing President Obama, the director of National Intelligence, the director of the National Security Agency, and the FBI director. It's a lawsuit calling on the federal courts to put an end to the federal government's metadata collection and to require purging of the records that now exist. Senator Paul talked about the lawsuit at a news conference over the last two or three hours at U.S. district court here in Washington.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R) KENTUCKY: We think it may well be the largest class action lawsuit ever filed on behalf of the Bill of Rights. We've had 386,026 people show an interest in having their records protected. We believe that this lawsuit could conceivably represent hundreds of millions of people who have phone lines in this country or cell phones. We think this is an important first step. We don't do this out of disrespect to anyone. We do this out of respect to the Constitution. And out of the belief that these decisions cannot be made in secret by a secret court. But they need to be made in open by the Supreme Court.


JOHNS: So what they're asking for specifically is for the court to declare what's known as the mass associational tracking program, unconstitutional as in violation of the Fourth Amendment. But they're not asking for a temporary injunction. So this is a case that could go on for years if it clears the procedural hurdles and gets certified by a court, Wolf.

BLITZER: And eventually they are hoping it will get to the Supreme Court where they'll make a decision. All right, Joe, thanks very much. So what are the chances of success for this lawsuit targeting a sitting president of the United States? Let's bring in the Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz. He's author of "Taking the Stand," "My Life in the Law." Professor Dershowitz, thanks very much for joining us. So, what do you think? Is this a serious legal case, or is it political?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR "TAKING THE STAND": Well, it's a serious legal issue. The metadata issue is a very serious one and probably will get to the Supreme Court in some context. But this is the wrong lawsuit by the wrong people. You can't bring a lawsuit on behalf of the Bill of Rights. You need people to bring the lawsuit. You can't bring a lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of millions of people. That's just an exaggeration. And you can't bring a class action lawsuit in a situation like this, because you need nuance. It's probably constitutional in regard to some people and some activities and unconstitutional in regard to others.

For example, we know that we listen in on the conversations of foreign leaders. There's nothing in the Constitution that prohibits that from happening. They're listening to us, we're listening to them. We know that metadata is captured. Well, some metadata is OK to have for a particular period of time. But if you capture all the metadata for a long period of time, that will raise constitutional questions. This issue was already before the courts in some different contexts. And those cases will probably reach the Supreme Court. This is more of a political action than an action that has a chance of actually succeeding on its own merits.

BLITZER: And the district court level, some courts have said it's constitutional. Others have suggested not constitutional. But they say they have what, more than 300,000 people who actually signed some sort of document saying they would like to be part of this class action lawsuit.

DERSHOWITZ: It's not enough just to have people sign a document. You have to show that they have been actually harmed. And, in fact, both decisions that were rendered by district courts are wrong. Because one decision said, essentially, everything is constitutional. And the other decision said essentially everything is unconstitutional. That's just wrong. Some of what the National Security association is doing is constitutional. Some of it isn't. And as it relates to some people, it's constitutional, as it relates to others, it's not. What's needed here is nuance, particularity. Calibration. We're not getting that in these lawsuits. What will eventually bring about a resolution to this lawsuit is a lawsuit by somebody whose phone has been monitored, who has been listened to, who can show that he has no association with terrorism, and that kind of a lawsuit has a real possibility of success. But the more people you bring and the more precedent you get, the less likelihood that a court will pay serious attention to this as a legal proceeding.

BLITZER: Why is that? Because I would assume, eventually, given the district court decisions, this issue will go before the nine justices of the United States Supreme Court.

DERSHOWITZ: I agree, it will. But it will go in the context of a particularized lawsuit, by a group of people who have, in fact, been overheard, who have, in fact, had their data used. Who can show some prejudice, who can show some impact on them. But when you get, quote, "hundreds of millions of people bringing a lawsuit on behalf of the Bill of Rights" it doesn't satisfy the constitutional requirement of a case and controversy. It doesn't satisfy the constitutional requirement of standing. And the courts always look for opportunities to deduct these kinds of cases and the more people who were involved, the more general the lawsuit, the more likely the court can find an excuse to not decide. But if you have a particular person who has been harmed in a particular way, the court has to resolve that issue, because that's a real case in controversy.

BLITZER: It's an important issue, obviously, even the president ...


BLITZER: Acknowledges it's an important issue. And it's sort of unites conservative Republicans like Rand Paul, who is a libertarian ...


BLITZER: As well as a lot of liberal Democrats out there like Ron Widen or Patrick Leahy, they don't like this surveillance program either. So that's why I suspect at some point the Supreme Court will have to make a decision.

DERSHOWITZ: It's the first issue of bipartisanship in a long time when you have people on the right and the left joining together. We know there is something very wrong with the program. But we also know there is something very right about the program. And so I think overgeneralizing endangers both our security and our civil liberties. That's why we have to ....

BLITZER: We've got to leave it. The critics say there is nothing right about the program, because they say there is no evidence it really so far in all the years it's been under way has prevented any terrorist action from actually occurring. But that's a subject for debate down the road. Alan Dershowitz, thanks very much.

DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.

BLITZER: Now, there's a lot more coming up from Rand Paul and others in this lawsuit. He's written an editorial on I'd like you to go read the whole article by Rand Paul. And let me quote from that article. "We are told that a surrender of our privacy rights is a small price to pay for the knowledge that we can sleep safe and secure in our beds. We reject this premise. We are committed to a safe America. But we do not accept the notion that a surveillance state is necessary to safeguard the lives and liberty of American citizens." You want to read the full article, once again, go to And please be sure to watch CNN later tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, Erin Burnett will interview Senator Rand Paul. That interview coming up, 7:00 p.m. tonight.

A legendary news anchor announcing his cancer diagnosis. Up next, CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, will explain how this particular type of cancer is different.


BLITZER: The former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw has revealed he is being treated for cancer. Brokaw was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. That's a cancer that attacks bone marrow cells. These doctors say they are encouraged by Tom Brokaw's progress. In fact, he's remained active, working on projects at NBC News throughout his cancer treatment over these past several months. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us now from Atlanta. Sanjay, first of all, let's start with the basics. What is multiple myeloma?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a cancer of cells within the bone marrow. The bone marrow makes all sorts of different important cells for the body. Your red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, which help with clotting. This is the type of cell known as plasma cells. What happens, Wolf, is you make too many of the plasma cells. They just start reproducing. That's what the cancer is here.

And two things happen. One of those plasma cells can cause problems in other places in the body, but it also crowds out the good cells. The red blood cells, the white blood cells. And those are sort of the two problems. One thing I'll point out is that this particular type of cancer, again, multiple myeloma is known for the damage that it can cause to bone. I think we have a picture of what that looks like. But these are very specific lesions. These punched out lesions. You can see them there. You see those holes in the skull, for example. That's a result of the multiple myeloma. And that's one of the most common things that people notice first. Some sort of pain in their bones. Oftentimes it's in their back, Wolf.

BLITZER: And then you take an x-ray or an MRI or whatever and you see a picture and then you can make that determination whether or not it is, in fact, multiple myeloma?

GUPTA: That's right. (AUDIO GAP) It's usually what's done and they usually x-ray all the bones in the body. They also do blood tests. There are certain blood tests that will give you an indication as well that you are dealing with multiple myeloma. But the diagnosis is pretty definitive after that, Wolf.

BLITZER: So, what is the treatment? How do you deal with multiple myeloma? We know some cancers are more aggressive than others. What is the treatment presumably that Tom Brokaw is going through right now?

GUPTA: Well, the goal of treatment is to basically try and kill those cells in the bone marrow that are causing the problem. Those plasma cells. The problem is you don't want to kill all the good cells in the bone marrow as well. And this is a problem with a lot of cancers. Kill the bad things, try to leave the good things intact. So, often times it is a type of chemotherapy that targets those plasma cells and then if the other cells have been damaged, the good cells, you've got to replenish those sometimes with bone marrow transplant, even stem cell transplants. There is no cure for this right now, although I will say, you know, talking to some colleagues even over the last 24 hours, the treatments have become a lot better over the last ten years. While there is no cure, the treatments are better. They extend survival longer than before and they are less toxic than they used to be as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: People can live several years with multiple myeloma, right?

GUPTA: Yeah, I mean in fact, there have been cases of people, Geraldine Ferraro, you may remember, Wolf. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and subsequently lived, I think, about 11 or 12 years afterwards. So, median survival, they say, is between five and ten years. People do live longer. Peter Boyle, the actor Peter Boyle, he lived about four years. He was 71, I believe, at the time of his death. So you get an idea of the age range there, Wolf.

BLITZER: We, of course, wish Tom Brokaw only, only the best. Sanjay, thanks very much for that explanation. We will take a quick break. We'll be right back with more news.


BLITZER: Guilty on 20 of 21 counts. That's just coming in here to CNN. Courtesy of our affiliate WDSU. WDSU in New Orleans, in Louisiana. Ray Nagin, the former mayor of New Orleans, guilty of 20 of 21 counts, found guilty by a jury just moments ago. The trial involved prosecutors claiming that Nagin had taken bribes worth half a million dollars both before Katrina and after Katrina.

A lot of us became familiar with Ray Nagin during the whole Katrina story, a horrible story. We interviewed him clearly many times. He was in charge of New Orleans during Katrina, before, during, and after. Since then, there was a 21-count criminal charge leveled against Ray Nagin. The jurors deliberating since Monday for about three hours continuing yesterday and today they have now reached a verdict: guilty on 20 of 21 counts taking bribes worth more than $500,000. We're going to have much more on this coming up throughout the day.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. See you at 5 p.m. Eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM." NEWSROOM continues right now with Don Lemon.