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Israeli Teens Found; Contraception Ruling; Harris Speaks at Funeral from Jail Via Phone
Aired June 30, 2014 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Great to be with you on this Monday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We begin with some just tragic breaking news here, because word from Israel is that the bodies of those three missing Israeli teenagers have now been found more than two weeks after they vanished. They vanished June 12th. Israel has been accusing basically since the get- go that the militant group Hamas, accusing them specifically of kidnapping these three teenagers. So as we're getting all this new information into us here at CNN, let me bring in two voices, CNN International's Hala Gorani joins me on the phone from London and CNN Mideast analyst Michael Oren.
So, first, Hala, to you. As we're getting this information as far as how these bodies were found, I'm seeing reports found in an open field, slightly covered. What do you know?
HALA GORANI, ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT, CNN INTERNATIONAL: Well, what we know is what Israeli media are reporting and also what the Israeli army is telling us. They have not identified the three missing teenagers, but it appears as though all signs are pointing to this being those three missing teenagers, Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, Eyal Yifrach, 19 years old. The Israeli army is saying, following extensive searches in order to retrieve the abducted teens, that the three bodies were discovered in the area northwest of Hebron, north of the community of Telum (ph). And this is not far from where the three teenagers disappeared on June 12th. So it does appear and Israeli media are also reporting that this is indeed the three teens that have been missing all these weeks and that the families of the missing boys have been notified. Of course, over the last several weeks, the Israeli military has conducted searches, has rounded up hundreds of people in order to find these teens.
But for several weeks, there was, it has to be said, not a lot of hope that they would be found alive. There was, of course, the -- coming from the families and those in Israel who really wanted these teens to be found alive. But, historically, whenever these abductions happen, it does sadly and tragically end in situations where they are not found alive. And it appears that in this case that is what happened today, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Hala, let me just back up for a minute. Mr. Ambassador, I'm coming to you in a moment.
GORANI: Yes. BALDWIN: But first, Hala, just to back up for people here in the United States who haven't been following the intricacies of this story, again, this is three teenagers, three Israeli teenagers were going home from school in the Jewish settlement in the West Bank -
BALDWIN: And just simply vanished, correct?
GORANI: Right. They did. This was in the occupied part of the West Bank near Hebron. They were going to a settlement community. We understand they were hitchhiking. And that's where they were snatched.
As I mentioned, their Israeli authorities have over the last several weeks done everything they can. The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, even saying all measures will be utilized to find our missing boys. And it has turned an Israel into a big, national sort of project for the people there to find these missing teens.
The Israeli government pointed the finger immediately at the Palestinian Authority and at the militant group Hamas. The Palestinian Authority said, you know, including its president, Mahmud Abbas, said it is sad and we hope they are returned, but you can't blame us. We don't have security control of this occupied portion of the West Bank. This is under Israeli control.
But, again, over the last several weeks, there was the hope that perhaps they'd be found alive. And now sadly, the news coming in over the last few minutes there is that it appears as though those boys, 16 -- two 16-year-olds and one 19-year-old, were found deceased, Brooke.
But we'll be following also -- it's going to be interesting to see reaction from the Israeli government, because this is all against the backdrop -
GORANI: I was going to say, of the Palestinian Authority forming a unity alliance with Hamas that has very much angered Israel. So we'll see what implications that has politically and diplomatically.
BALDWIN: It is incredibly key also the repercussions. And, Mr. Ambassador, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. But as I do, and, Hala, as we were talking - guys, go ahead and throw up those live pictures because we're looking - it's about -- just after 9:00 at night there in the West Bank and this is law enforcement, this is the police presence upon this scene in which these three Israeli teenagers were found.
So as we look at these pictures, Michael Oren, my question to you, I heard you talking moments ago with Jim Sciutto saying absolutely in this case, and we heard this almost within the first 24 hours of their disappearance, this kidnapping, that it's Hamas. Hamas is the perpetrator here in the eyes of Israel. And you said specifically there will be repercussions. Can you be precise? What kind of repercussions? MICHAEL OREN, CNN MIDEAST ANALYST (via telephone): I can't be precise
because these are operational details, Brooke. But you can be sure, Israel is going to exact a price for these atrocious murders of these teenagers. Now, there has been fighting in the south already over the last few days. Dozens of rockets galling in southern Israel and Israeli aircraft striking back at Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip. The expectation would be that this would now intensify. Israeli public opinion has been deeply seized by this case. But for the last 18 days, a very large Israeli army operation. Operation Brothers Keeper has been scouring the West Bank for these three teenagers. And it's been around the clock television coverage, you should know, in Israel, about these -- about the kidnapping.
So the entire society is focused, tremendous sense of hurt and anguish and anger, frankly. There's going to be also repercussions on the diplomatic front. And I think that - I'm thinking Hala was saying this earlier - there is a national unity government between Mahmud Abbas' Fatah Party and Hamas. And there will be an expectation on the part of the Israeli government that many of the countries, including the United States, which (ph) swiftly recognize that unity government, will rethink it now and perhaps rescind their recognition.
BALDWIN: Mr. Ambassador, stand by. We now have our senior international correspondent there, joining me, Ben Wedeman. Ben Wedeman, if you can hear me, tell me what you are and what you're learning about this discovery in the West Bank.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Yes, Brooke, we're right outside the northern entrance to Halhul (ph), which is not far from the area where it's believed those three teenagers disappeared on the 12th of June. Now, we've received a statement from the Israeli military saying that after this extensive search that's been going on since the 12th of June, the bodies of the three teenagers were found northwest of a little village called Tellum (ph), not far from here.
According to other sources, it appears that the three teenagers were killed shortly after the kidnapping took place 18 days ago. Now, according to the Israeli army, the bodies are now undergoing forensic identification at this point. We understand that many of the friends and supporters of the families of these three boys have gone to their houses and right up the street from where I am, I can see a group of people from a nearby settlement. They brought out large Israeli flags. They're blocking the roads. So there's going -- we can expect a lot of mourning, but also a lot of anger from the Israelis. And there's probably a good deal of trepidation among Palestinians who are anticipating Israel's response to this news.
BALDWIN: Ben Wedeman, thank you.
And finally, Michael Oren, just back to you, final question. We know that Prime Minister Netanyahu has called this emergency cabinet meeting. We're not there, but what can we imagine discussion wise would be happening behind those closed doors? OREN: Well, there will be - there will be two major fields of
discussion, Brooke. One will be the operational militarily -- military. How is Israel going to respond. Whether they'll be responding with striking at Hamas targets and/or individuals in the West Bank. And the other will be diplomatic. What will be Israel's response in the peace process such as it is. Will be a demand from the United States and other countries that have recognized this unity government between al Fattah and Hamas. And there will be strong expectation there of a robust reaction from the Obama administration, from western European governments that had recognized this unity government. One thing can be certain, it cannot be business as usual for the government of Israel.
BALDWIN: Can't imagine it would be. Former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, thank you so much for calling in. Hala Gorani, Ben Wedeman, thank you. And we'll stay on this. And if we get reactions coming in from the White House, for example, we'll obviously pass it along to you here live on CNN.
Just ahead, it is the Supreme Court decision everyone had been waiting for. And in the case of Hobby Lobby, religion, contraception and Obamacare, Hobby Lobby wins. We will discuss today's major decision in Washington coming up next.
Also ahead, the dad charged with his son's murder after leaving him inside that hot car calls into the boy's funeral over the weekend. Hear what he said and the response to that call. And now word the mother also made a startling search on Google. That's next.
BALDWIN: Welcome back. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Two family-owned firms who charge Obamacare tramples their religion have earned the right today from the nation's highest court not to provide insurance for certain forms of contraception. Let me back up. You have the Green family, founders of Hobby Lobby, and the Hahns, Mennonites from Pennsylvania. And so these families have the most divisive case of this U.S. Supreme Court session. The court's five conservatives came together on this and ruled that Obamacare violates federal religious law as it applies to so-called closely held companies. However, in a scathing dissent from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, she warned the ruling opens the gates for all kinds of companies to seek all kinds of exceptions based upon claims of faith. So we'll get to that part.
But first things first. Within the last 90 minutes, the White House announced, and it's not yet sure what exactly will happen here near- term, to women affected by the high court ruling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, we're still assessing the decision, so it's too early for me to state a what kind of - what kind of action would be available to the president or what kind of action he would even consider at this point. But what is clear is that there is an opportunity for Congress to take the kinds of steps that would mitigate this problem, and we hope they will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So let's hit pause, let's stop, and bring the conversation beginning with Elizabeth Cohen to explain the implications for women's health and then we'll get the legal angle from Sunny Hostin in just a moment from New York.
But, Elizabeth Cohen, first to you. Of all of the myriad types of contraceptions, and there's, what, 22, 23, Hobby Lobby was saying goes against our faith, our religious beliefs, these four types of contraception.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. It wasn't a random thing. It's these four for a particular reason. So let's take a look at what the four are that these companies found exception to.
COHEN: Plan B, Ella and then two forms of IUDs, which are implanted devices. Here's what they have in common. They are - many -- some people, for example the plaintiffs in this case, would consider that they can induce an abortion. And here's why. We're going to do a little reproduction 101 here.
COHEN: So when sperm meets egg, that fertilized egg needs to implant in a woman's uterus in order to grow. These forms of contraception can possibly, in some cases, prevent a fertilized egg from implanting into a woman's uterus. So, for some people, especially some religious people, they see that as abortion. Anything that interferes with a fertilized egg's path to becoming a baby, they would consider that abortion. And that is why they object to those two. So two of those are emergency contraception, pills you take after unprotected intercourse, and two of those are IUDs, which are implanted devices that stay inside a woman for years.
BALDWIN: So, presumably, if you work for Hobby Lobby currently, without, you know, the government stepping in yet, and it sounds like, according to the press secretary, they will, and you want to get an IUD or you want the morning after pill, you can't?
COHEN: Right. If you work for those particular employers -
COHEN: And maybe for other employers who feel the same way -
COHEN: And want to do the same thing. So you may show up to the doctor and you may get an IUD and then find out later that IUD -
BALDWIN: It's not covered.
COHEN: Yes, it's coming out of your pocket.
BALDWIN: OK. Sunny Hostin, I want to hear from you, because we know that this decision, it fell squarely on the side of these so-called closely held companies and, as we've been talking, the religious beliefs of their owner. So before we discuss, let me just play a little sound. This is one of the winning lawyers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANNAH SMITH, THE BECKET FUND FOR RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: This was an astounding opinion, a great decision by Justice Alito joined by the chief, Scalia, Kennedy and Thomas, upholding that rights of family- owned businesses under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: OK. I have been listening to you, Sunny Hostin, on TV. You disagree with this. But we should also point out I guess the little caveat, you know, the three female justices dissented, but they are liberal justices, so we aren't entirely surprised by that.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, I think it depends on how you frame the conversation. So certainly people are saying, well, this is really the conservative justices against the liberal justices. But I don't think that there's any coincidence --
BALDWIN: Men and women.
HOSTIN: That these three women, the three female justices, dissented. And the dissent is really scathing in the sense that Justice Ginsberg sets it up as a clash between women's rights and religious rights. And I think that's very accurate. If you read the decision, and I have, it's a robust decision, it's about 95 pages of dissent I have in my hand, she says very clearly that this decision has starting breadth, because we're not only talking about Hobby Lobby, we're now talking about not -- we're talking about for-profit corporations, although closely held. A lot of corporations are closely held right now. And what this justice is saying or these justices, female justices, including Justice Breyer, they're saying, well, wow, listen, this now means that this religious right trumps the rights of women. And I think that's something that is really significant.
And to Elizabeth's point, I really think it is very significant that they were able to pick and choose which contraceptive devices they were troubled by. So the fact that they're offering this sort of garden variety type of contraception, but not the four contraceptive methods I think gives these groups even more power. So I think it opens the door.
BALDWIN: Yes, it's the notion of sitting in -- it's the notion as a female of sitting in your doctor's office and you say, doc, I want to use x type of contraception and that person saying back to you, well, you can't, as per your employer.
HOSTIN: Yes. And I think it's fascinating what you just said, because when you read this dissent, she says, wow, thousands of women employed by these corporation are affected. And we're talking about thousands of women employed by for-profit corporations, even if they are closely held, can be affected. And these decisions, we know, are typically made between a woman and her doctor. Now we have employers saying, actually, I have a say. And I've got to tell you, I think that this has wedged open the door, and we're going to see groups try to kick it open when it comes to women's rights. And perhaps even other rights, as well.
BALDWIN: Go ahead, Elizabeth. I know you want to --
COHEN: And it's not - it's not that the employer is saying you can't get that IUD or that emergency contraception, it's that we're not going to pay for it.
BALDWIN: And I think that's the beginning of the next conversation, what happens with the government and also - and Jeff Toobin will talk about this next hour. It may not just be, you know, women issues and contraception, it may be medical issues like vaccinations, it could be, you know, issues with same-sex and married employers and employees. It opens the door potentially. We'll talk to Jeff Toobin about that. But, for now, ladies, thank you so much.
And this important conversation. It was a massive ruling today from the nation's highest court. Elizabeth Cohen, Sunny Hostin, thank you so much.
BALDWIN: Got some more news for you. It's a busy Monday. Just in, we are getting word that President Obama will make a live announcement from the Rose Garden on immigration reform and presumably on this crisis unfolding along the U.S. border. As you know, thousands of undocumented children are streaming into the United States. Stand by for that.
Plus, FaceBook under fire for conducting the secret experiment on its users, potentially using them as guinea pigs. And it involves your emotions, it involves your moods. Find out what the social network did without telling you.
BALDWIN: The investigation into the hypothermia death of a Georgia toddler has now taken this new and dramatic turn. Police say both parents of 22 month-old Cooper Harris admitted they searched the Internet about child deaths inside hot cars. The father, Justin, is in jail charged with Cooper's murder. Felony murder here in Georgia. At the child's funeral over the weekend in Alabama, Leanna Harris (ph), the mother, broke her silence, said she is not angry at her husband at all. In fact, she stood there and praised him.
And then the unexpected, Justin Harris, who was not allowed to attend the funeral -- remember, he is in jail -- dialed into the service, was put on speakerphone, sobbed as he spoke to the crowd here. Let me bring in CNN national reporter Nick Valencia, who attended this memorial service. Media was invited.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The media was invited.
BALDWIN: You attended. No cameras.
BALDWIN: But you were allowed to sit in there. And I also have HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson. Which, Joey, I'm going to get to you in a minute.
But first of all, when I saw over the weekend that he was allowed to call in from jail, whether he is guilty or not, I have never heard of something like that happening.
VALENCIA: That was a topic of conversation among the reporters there. No one -- I don't know if we call it unprecedented -
VALENCIA: But none of us there had ever heard of anything like it before. He called in at the start of the service. The pastor that was leading the service said, if you see Leanne Harris on the phone, it's because Justin Ross Harris -- he goes by Ross to his friends, Ross is going to call in. He did call in on that cell phone. That cell phone was taken up to the front of the podium as his father, the grandfather of 22-month-old Cooper Harris, was delivering a eulogy. So you could hear Ross Harris, sobbing, just choking back tears over the phone. He thanked those in the crowd. He thanked them for the support that they'd given him. He thanked them for the support of his son. And at one point they stood up and --
BALDWIN: They gave him a standing ovation.
VALENCIA: Yes. There was two standing ovations. One that was prompted by one of the family friends that said, in a theater, when an actor does something well, you give him a standing ovation. Cooper Harris deserves a standing ovation. The crowd applauded. As Leanna Harris stood in front of the crowd there defending her husband -
BALDWIN: Defending her husband at her child's funeral.
VALENCIA: She did. And, Brooke, the -- what stood out to us in the crowd was that this service should have all been about 22-month-old Cooper Harris. And it was just as much about Cooper Harris as it was the phone call from the father, the suspicion surrounding the child's death, Leanna Harris feeling compelled to say that she wasn't angry. She says, I know that there are questions about why I can stand up here, put together, and not be a ball of tissues and snot and dirt. She shared a story saying that the last two nights that this baby was alive, that he had trouble sleeping. So he slept in between the parents. And she said that that's a moment that she'll remember forever. She also went on to say that Ross Harris has been a wonderful father
and a leader of the family. And that it's not if but when they have more children.
VALENCIA: She said that they've had a lot of trouble having this baby and that it changed their life when he came into their life. It was extraordinary.
BALDWIN: So much support for this father.
And now, Joey, the new twist is that we are hearing that it wasn't just this father, Ross, who apparently had Googled -- and what's key is we don't know when this Googling happened.
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Right.
BALDWIN: You know, something about child deaths in hot cars. We now know that his wife Googled that as well. And I've heard people, you know, say, listen, they're young parents. Perhaps something had happened recently in the news -- we had looked and there had -- and they just simply wanted to get information as concerned parents. How do you read that?
JACKSON: You know what, Brooke, it could be explainable, or maybe it could not be explainable. But this is what's going to happen in the case, Brooke. The prosecution has one of two choices. Either, A., they will use this information about the Google searches to attempt to establish a plan, premeditation and thought that occurred beforehand before that baby died. In the event that they don't do that -- if they did, it would show malice and intention. In the event they don't do that, Brooke, they can go the other way, which is the prosecution that they're proceeding under now, which is negligence. Was this parent negligent?
And then if you're googling a search, you would be on notice as a parent as to the danger of, of course, leaving a child there. And now having that notice, you then leave the child anyway? So either way you slice it, and either way the prosecution wants to use it, remember, Brooke, I'll end with this, negligence, if it's so gross, it becomes criminal. What is negligence? Your failure to perceive the risk. How does a reasonable parent, the prosecution will argue before a jury if it goes that far, leave a child for seven hours, come back during a lunch break, check the car and leave the child again.
BALDWIN: I know. I know.
JACKSON: And if it rises to that level, Brooke, again, it's criminal, because it's child abuse. And then there's a death while you're child abusing in the second degree under Georgia law, and that's felony murder.
BALDWIN: It's life and perhaps worse than that in the state of Georgia, Joey Jackson, Nick Valencia, thank you so much. We'll stay on it. JACKSON: Tragic, Brooke.
BALDWIN: It's just bizarre and tragic all the way around.
Just ahead, outrage erupts after FaceBook conducts a secret experiment that played on our emotions. Have you heard about this? What is FaceBook doing, what are they saying about this without your knowledge? We'll discuss, coming up next. You're watching CNN. Stay here.