Return to Transcripts main page


Emergency Officials: Rescues Happening Right Now In Oklahoma; President Obama Talks NSA Spying Program; Holmes Describes "Homicidal Thoughts" In Video; FIFA Head Vows To Clean Up Organization. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 29, 2015 - 16:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- now my car's all drowned.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cars are one thing, but check out these homes in Liberty, Texas, surrounded entirely by water and folks in the rural community forced to herd animals through the marsh using an airboat.

And just as some communities clean up the mess that left hundreds of houses in ruins, authorities fear the worst may not be over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to say it is, but I'm not sure the worst is over because of the way that the weather is running. And we are so saturated in almost all parts of Texas.

SIMON: Homeowners in Houston clearing away the soaked furniture and belongings destroyed by a rushing wall of water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need a place to live so we have to find that so that we're not moving around a lot. Right now, we are just relying on friends.

SIMON: One of the victims included Steve Vetrano, the CEO of the Houston Red Cross, now facing his own personal disaster.

(on camera): You told me the hardest thing about going through all of this is that you can't do your job today.

STEVE VETRANO, RED CROSS REGIONAL CEO: That's correct. It feels very displaced to not be able to be helping to lead the disaster response here in Houston when I know that our community is in need. And I'm here doing my own cleanup here.


SIMON: And back here in Highlands, Texas, where I'm standing in the middle of a residential street, you can see that mailbox behind me, the water level has come up just in the few hours that we've been here. But the homes here, they're on stilts.

They're used to flooding in this area so these homes are not going to flood. That is not the case in Wharton, Texas, where they are now under, Jake, a mandatory evacuation order, 300 homes now under that evacuation order.

That's affecting about 1,000 residents and the town has opened up a junior high school for people that may need a place to go -- Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's right. The Colorado River runs west of the town, I believe. Dan Simon, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

President Obama just finished huddling with his Attorney General Loretta Lynch, much of their conversation we're told focused on the NSA surveillance program and what the White House will do when the laws that enable the bulk collection of data expire on Sunday night.

We're about to hear from President Obama himself on the matter. I want to get right to CNN's Michelle Kosinski at the White House. Michelle, the president has warned that this law expiring could have dire consequences when it comes to national security.

But have they provided any evidence of this, or is this just potentially the surveillance state making a claim for more power?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, that's the tough part. The White House has really ramped up its rhetoric over national security being at risk. If this reform bill isn't passed, it was already passed by the House.

So they're complaining that the Senate has no real rational reason not to pass this because it would protect national security in the view of the White House, but it would also protect Americans' privacy and take the collection of bulk phone data, for example, out of the hands of the government and into private phone companies who collect that data for their business records anyway.

The thing is, though, as you mentioned, the government has not been able to produce a single example of a time or a case when these programs, not just the bulk data collection, but a couple other things that are set to expire, certain wiretap provisions, have saved the day, have thwarted terrorism.

They've been asked further, well, then can you at least explain a case where maybe they helped things? But the White House response has been that he's cases involve classified material. They're not going to share those examples.

I mean, in our view you would think that they would have at least one where they could point to something concrete and say, this, here's an example of why we need these programs, but they're not doing that.

What they're saying are, these are key tools. They're critical elements of a case. They may not solve the case, or lead to stopping a bomb plot or something like that, but there are no less important. The White House calls them critical.

I think of the things that you look at that are set to expire, maybe the most important one seems to be roving wiretaps. They would be used on a suspect that keeps switching cell phones.

Well, the government says there is no other way, other than this Patriot Act provision, for them to track somebody like that as efficiently or as quickly. That seems like something that you could really point to.

As for the other provisions, though, there are other ways of getting that info, in some cases, just might not be the best path or the easiest path for the government, and in the case of vote collection, I mean, even the president's own --

TAPPER: Michelle, hold on one second, if you would, I'm sorry. We're getting the feed now from the White House and President Obama. Let's take a listen.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Attorney General Lynch and I just discussed a wide range of issues, and at the regular meetings that I have with some of my top cabinet members, and we discussed issues of cyber security.

We discussed the important role that the FBI and the Justice Department played in our counterterrorism efforts, as well as discussing issues like community policing and human trafficking.

But I thought this would be a good opportunity before we break for the weekend to just remind everyone.

[16:35:06] That on Sunday at midnight a whole bunch of authorities that we use in order to prevent terrorist attacks in this country expire.

Now, fortunately the House of Representatives was able to put forward a piece of legislation, the USA Freedom Act that received overwhelming bipartisan support and what it does is not only continue authorities that currently exist and are not controversial.

For example, the capacity of the FBI or other law enforcement agencies to use what's called a roving wiretap. So if we know that there's an individual who, where there is probable cause, that that individual might be engaged in a terrorist act, but is switching cell phones, we can move from cell phone to cell phone.

Not a controversial provision. Those authorities would be continued. What the USA Freedom Act also does is it reforms the bulk data program that has been of significant concern and that I promise we could reform over a year and a half ago.

So we now have Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate who think this is the right way to go. We've got our law enforcement, national security teams, and civil liberties proponents and advocates who say this is the right way to go.

The only thing that's standing in the way is a handful of senators who are resisting these reforms, despite law enforcement and the I.C. saying let's go ahead and get this done.

So we've only got a few days. These authorities expire on Sunday at midnight and I don't want us to be in a situation in which for a certain period of time those authorities go away, and suddenly we're dark.

And heaven forbid, we've got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who is engaged in dangerous activity, but we didn't do so simply because of inaction in the Senate.

So I've indicated to Leader McConnell and other senators, I expect them to take action, and take action swiftly. That's what the American people deserve, and this is not an issue in which we have to choose between security and civil liberties.

This is an issue in which we in fact have struck the right balance and shaped a piece of legislation that everybody can support. So let's go ahead and get it done, all right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, do you have a reaction --

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you very much.

LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, guys. Thank you.


LYNCH: Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, guys.

LYNCH: Thank you, guys. Thank you so much.

TAPPER: That was moments ago in the west wing of the White House. President Obama, the oval office sitting with his attorney general, Loretta Lynch, talking about the need for the U.S. Senate to authorize a renewal of these provisions in the Patriot Act that allow the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance here domestically.

CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto is here. Jim, I have to say these provisions are set to expire Sunday night, midnight. I have covered President Obama since he was Senator Obama.

I've seen him campaign for himself, for other people, seen him campaign for legislation. This is the selling job for something he says is vital to protect the American people, a pool spray on Friday afternoon?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, it hasn't been very sharp since the beginning, because remember going back to when Edward Snowden first revealed the phone metadata program, which really led to this whole controversy.

You know, the message has changed from the White House. Early on, you remember this talking point? Fifty terror plots thwarted by this program, that number, talking point disappeared, because actually it wasn't demonstrated by facts.

It was watered down to one guy who sent $8,500 to Somalia, it was specifically netted in the metadata program and this is one of the criticisms that has led to the opposition here is that there are other tools that the NSA and the U.S. intelligence can use to nab these guys other than full metadata.

That's the most controversial. There are other ones that are less controversial. The president referred to them, for instance, this roving cell phone power.

Because, you know, one of the troubles is, you know, these guys are smart enough to switch their cell phone numbers and constantly change them because they know that the NSA is listening and that's something less controversial.

[16:40:10] Metadata more controversial, the president mentions that they have a fix in there. They are basically move the metadata from the government's hands, keeping the phone companies hands, and the government would have to use a warrant to get in there.

And the trouble is, though it, that message, kind of mixed in all this because some of these could be pretty easy selling points particularly when you and I are talking every day about the threat of ISIS, the plots here in the U.S.

TAPPER: Right. That's what I really don't understand. They have the tools ahead of the CIA, head of the National Security Agency, head of -- the director of National Intelligence, all of these people, Loretta Lynch, who could be on television all day, all week, talking about the need for these programs and I haven't seen them. I guess Loretta Lynch did an interview last week. That's about it.

SCIUTTO: No, I'm with you on that. I think they probably imagined that they would all come around and lo and behold, they haven't come around and now we're, what, 48 hours from the deadline.

TAPPER: Exactly. All right, CNN's national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, and Michelle Kosinski at the White House, thanks to both of you.

We are also closely watching the Colorado Theater shooting trial. Right now, jurors are hearing from the murderer himself in a recorded conversation with the psychiatrist. The doctor says he is not mentally ill, but a confession about homicidal thoughts is getting a lot of attention today. We'll cover that next. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Inside the mind of a murderer, jurors right now hearing defendant, James Holmes, describe in his own words the horrific Aurora Colorado movie theater shooting.

Videos of his meetings with his psychiatrist are being played in court today. Holmes says he regrets the killings and that he cries before he goes to sleep at night. He has admitted to killing 12 people.

His defense lawyers say he had a psychotic episode that day that he walked into the crowded movie theater in the summer of 2012. CNN's Ana Cabrera joins me now live from Denver. Ana, what does the psychiatrist, who met with him say about his mental state at the time of the shootings?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, he concluded that Holmes was sane, that he knew right from wrong when he opened fire inside that crowded movie theater. Dr. William Reid interviewed Holmes for 22 hours over the course of nine different interview sessions.

This is all part of a mental evaluation that was ordered by the court. Not on behalf of the defense or on behalf of the prosecution, and it was all videotaped.

And so far the jury has only seen four or five hours of this 22-hour long videotape and we're just getting into really the heart or meat of the interview where we hear Holmes talking about a hatred for mankind.

But he says it wasn't a passionate or angry hatred more like a hatred for broccoli and he said it stems from his shy personality. That he feels uncomfortable around other people other than his family.

He also revealed to Dr. Reid that he suffers from depression, particularly after he broke up with his girlfriend just months before the shooting in 2012, and listen to what he says after that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- depression.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you think about hurting yourself or killing yourself?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any other time of depressions did you think about hurting yourself or killing yourself?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about hurting or killing other people?



CABRERA: Now, it's important to note that this interview session happened about two years after the shooting. This was just last July when the mental evaluation took place and Dr. Reid said at the time of their interview, Holmes was on some medications, antipsychotic medication as well as an antidepressant. How he presents himself in this interview or this videotape may

be different than what he was like at the time of the shooting -- Jake.

TAPPER: And Ana, in the video, the defendant also talks about the actual day of the shootings back in 2012. What did he have to say?

CABRERA: We're still waiting to hear direct questioning about the shooting. Yes, he has at least mentioned briefly the shooting. Holmes brought it up himself, in fact, as Dr. Reid was asking about an interaction that Holmes had with his parents.

And whether it was emotional when they came to visit him at jail after he was arrested, and Holmes says, no, that was really not emotional. So the doctor presses and says what brings tears to your eyes? He says regrets. Specifically he regrets the shooting -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ana Cabrera, thank you so much.

Coming up, there was outrage when Qatar was awarded the World Cup for 2022. Now that outrage is growing after more than 1,000 workers have died there building state of the art stadiums for the games. Disgrace of FIFA in Qatar is next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Some breaking news in our Money Lead today, the creator of a hugely successful and potentially dangerous text start-up learned just moments ago that he will spend the rest of his life in prison

The 31-year-old Ross Ulbricht, the creator of a dark online market place called "Silk Road" is what I'm talking about. "Silk Road" is sort of like, but instead of shopping for pots and TVs, users could go there to shop for pot and LSD.

Prosecutors the site paved the way for a virtual free for all for online drug kingpins. "Silk Road" operated via the so-called "deep web," you might think of it as kind of like the cd back alleys of the internet that few of us ever know about much less dare to explore.

Ulbricht still insists he was not the true mastermind of the "Silk Road" site, which is believed to have generated an estimated $213 million in sales.

Turning to our Sports Lead now, after the massive takedown straight out of a mob movie this week, Sepp Blatter, the president of the scandal plagued international soccer organization, FIFA, was to no surprise, re-elected to a fifth term today.

He is the man in charge of the world's most popular sport returning a, quote, "nonprofit organization," unquote, filled with alleged corruption and bribery, yet somehow, Blatter managed to escape the long arm of the law.

Let's get right to CNN senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson. He is live in Zurich, Switzerland. Nic, did Blatter face much of a challenge when it came to his re-election here at FIFA?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, not really. Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan put up a good fight. He got a lot of support from Europeans. He got 73 votes, but Blatter got 133 out of 206 people casting votes.

Pretty clear which way most people were going. Africans generally the Asians Football Associations, they were all behind Blatter. In a way, Prince Ali really didn't stand a chance -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Nic, Blatter's vowing to clean up the sport. Is there any confidence FIFA can police itself after this most recent scandal?

ROBERTSON: He's incredibly confident, himself, and it appears that a lot of other members of FIFA are.

[16:55:02] But you only have to listen to UAFA, one of the leading members saying that essentially the man has been put in charge of FIFA now is not fit to lead. The world football organization, you've heard various people from the British Prime Minister David Cameron saying that Blatter should leave.

That he isn't the man to lead the organization, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor as well, I mean, these are real big political heavyweights in Europe weighing in and saying that he isn't capable of doing it.

But FIFA has gone, as you said and done it, and they voted for him. He says if they work together they can do it. I think a lot of people's eyes maybe rolling over there.

We'll wake up, Blatter will have a press conference and lay out his vision for the future. Perhaps the law will catch up with him. The FBI and Department of Justice said that 14 indictments so far. This is the beginning. So who knows? Maybe they'll get more information on Blatter and maybe a knock on his door soon -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nic Robertson, thanks so much.

Protesters have filled the streets of Zurich where today's vote was held. They are expressing their disgust with the decision to award the next two in front of Zurich where the vote was held. Two countries not exactly beacons of human rights.

What does it take to make sure enough stadiums are built to host the gulf games in the states' sweltering heat? Thousands worked, forced to live and work in deplorable even deadly conditions. Now after this week's scandal, FIFA's critics are shining an even brighter light on the dark and ugly side of the beautiful game.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER (voice-over): FIFA's supposed culture of corruption is international sports' worst kept secret. This is the group that chose Qatar to host the World Cup.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 122 degrees Fahrenheit, you are hosting the World Cup somewhere where soccer cannot physically be played -- the most deadly Middle East construction project since this one.

TAPPER: Beyond sparking outrage among comedians such as John Oliver, FIFA's alleged tradition of bribery is taking a real human toll, 5,200 for the World Cup matches in Qatar. That's not the number of fans or players or sponsorship benefactors.

The 5,200 is the number of workers expected to die building the infrastructure for the games by 2022 according to the International Trade Union Confederation. The group says at least 1,200 deaths have already stemmed from the heat and the living conditions, workplace accidents, and other causes.

MINKY WORDEN, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL INITIATIVES, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: The crisis of the day is a crisis of corruption and graft that is on full display for the world. But the crisis of the next eight years is going to be coffins going home to families in South Asia.

TAPPER: Most of the workforce in Qatar comes from outside the tiny nation. Many from Nepal where migrant laborers are often returned to their families in coffins such as this.

WORDEN: They've left their homes to try to work for a better life. But once they get to Qatar, they're finding situations that in many cases amount to forced labor and modern day slavery.

TAPPER: They work under the Kafala system. They rely on their employers for housing, passports and money and even permission to leave the country. Of course, it feels like prison, this worker says. Nobody likes it, but we have no choice.

WORDEN: If your employer is abusive or forces you to work long hours, to live in squalid conditions there's really nothing you can do about it.

TAPPER: FIFA could have done something. Like, not award an estimated $200 billion project to a country with a history of human rights abuses, but according to several published reports, bribes took precedent. Qatar recently instituted workplace reforms, but critics remain unconvinced.

Last year, FIFA's president said, workers are the responsibility of the companies who hire them, not of FIFA. Fans are speaking up. Artists online are hosting altered logos such as these to draw the attention of sponsors.

Visa and Adidas have both expressed concern saying their urging FIFA to take action. Wednesday five former and current players called for change. In an open letter to "The Guardian" writing, "We stand with the workers in Qatar."


TAPPER: So while we're all terribly offended by the $150 million in alleged bribes and the fact that FIFA executives allegedly live like czars, there may be something slightly more offensive about the activities of our friends at the international soccer organization.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn. Check out our show page, for video, extras. You can also subscribe to our magazine on Flipboard.

That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper turning you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Have a great weekend.