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Congresswoman Outraged Over Wiretapped Conversations; Craigslist Murder Suspect in Jail; President Obama Makes an About-Face in Prosecuting Bush-Era Officials Responsible for Terrorists Torture Tactics; Perez Hilton's Attacks on Miss California Turn Vicious; Freddie Mac CFO Found Dead
Aired April 22, 2009 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome to the Most News in the Morning. It is Wednesday. It's the 22nd of April.
Good morning to you.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you as well. So, meantime, this pirate's mother -- the suspect's mother is insisting that her son is under the age of 18, that he's innocent, and she told the Associated Press that she's happy that her son is in the United States as well. She said that her son was force into piracy against his will.
ROBERTS: All right. Got a lot of news to break down for you this morning. Beginning with breaking news overnight. The Taliban seeking to expand its control over Pakistan has now moved in to a neighboring district of the swat valley where Pakistani authorities in just the last few days signed a peace agreement with him. They're now moving on to Buner District. That's just 60 miles away from the capital of Islamabad. We'll have the very latest for you there. Our Ivan Watson is in the Pakistani capital. He'll be up live in just a couple of minutes.
A major congressional voice on national security issues now fighting for her political life. California Democrat Jane Harman says she is outraged by reports that her conversations were secretly wiretapped by the feds. We take a look at what was recorded and what Harman is saying about it.
And police in Boston trying to piece together a motive in the so- called Craigslist killing. Local media reporting this morning that the 23-year-old suspect was struggling with gambling debts. Philip Markoff is now being held without bail. We'll have the latest developments for you in just a moment.
Now, we begin with breaking news overseas and an alarming development as Islamic militancy collides with a nuclear-armed nation. The Taliban expanding its operations in Pakistan. They were just recently given control of the Swat Valley in an agreement with the Pakistani government.
Overnight, the group moved in and took control of a district just 60 miles from the capital of Islamabad. The Taliban's latest push coming just days after it imposed Islamic law in the violence-plagued Swat Valley.
Right now, Washington concerned about the growing militancy in Pakistan and Islamabad's apparent lack of power to stop it, maybe even willingness to stop it.
CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Islamabad. And, Ivan, there were dire warnings by people like David Kilcullen (ph), who is an adviser to the Obama administration who said that country is in danger of collapse. And it looks like, not to say that it's on the verge of collapse, but moves are being made in that direction.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Believed that by reaching this deal to give the Taliban effective control over the Swat Valley to allow Islamic Sharia (ph) law to be imposed there, that that would appease the Taliban. But instead, what we've seen is this advance further than the Taliban has ever moved now into Buner District, which the border of that district starts a little more than 60 miles from where I'm standing now in the Pakistani capital.
Eyewitnesses there, residents there, they're describing hundreds of Taliban fighters moving around openly with weapons traveling around in four-by-fours, singing Islamic anthems. And we spoke with the Taliban commander there, John. He says he is there to enforce this Islamic Sharia...
ROBERTS: Having some problems there with Ivan Watson, unfortunately, from Pakistan this morning. But the head of a lawyer's group in the Swat Valley said that the Taliban and the situation there is a ticking time bomb. So we'll keep following developments there in Pakistan this morning. An urgent situation unfolding there today -- Kiran.
CHETRY: We're also following another developing story. An influential Democrat in Congress, California's Jane Harman, is at the center of a national security scandal that's threatening her political career. Harman is fighting mad after reports that her phone conversation was intercepted by a national security agency wiretap. Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is following the story for us from Washington.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, with her political reputation in peril, Congresswoman Harman is punching back and punching hard.
MESERVE (voice-over): Congresswoman Jane Harman is outraged by reports that her conversations were secretly wiretapped in 2005 and 2006.
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I am offended by it. I think it's an abuse of power, and I want to make sure it's not happening to other people.
MESERVE: Sources say Harman was overheard talking to an investigative target whose conversations were being legally intercepted. "Congressional Quarterly" and "The New York Times" report that Harman discussed using her influence to reduce espionage- related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. In return, the person with whom she was speaking would lobby then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to appoint Harman chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Harman reportedly ended the conversation by saying, "This conversation doesn't exist."
In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Harman did not deny it.
HARMAN: I have no idea what I might have said in conversations with somebody or some bodies. Wolf, this was four years ago. I have many conversations every day with advocacy groups. There's nothing wrong with doing this.
MESERVE: In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Harman asked that the Justice Department release all transcripts and investigative material involving me in an unredacted form and says she'll make it public. The Justice Department is reviewing her request.
HARMAN: Let's see what I said and said to whom and I did not make any effort, this I remember clearly, at all ever to influence our government at any level.
MESERVE: She did not, Harman says, contact anyone about the AIPAC case.
LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: This could be career ending. She must be aggressive. She must fight it at every turn. She has to fight it on every front, legal and political, in the public forums and private forums.
MESERVE: "CQ" also reports that after the intercept, the FBI tried to open an investigation of Harman. But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales pulled the plug because he wanted Harman's help defending the controversial domestic warrantless wiretapping program. The former attorney general had no comment.
And as for that alleged deal, Harman did not get the intelligence committee chairmanship and the trial of the AIPAC officials is slated for June.
Kiran, back to you.
CHETRY: All right. Jeanne Meserve for us this morning. Thanks.
ROBERTS: This morning, we are learning more about the clean-cut med student accused of being the "Craigslist Killer." Right now, Philip Markoff is in a Boston jail after a judge said there is sufficient evidence to hold him without bail for the murder of a young masseuse and assaulting at least one other woman.
And this morning, as an alleged motive emerges, people who knew the 22-year-old are responding to the allegations. CNN's Alina Cho is here for us this morning. She's following it all for us today.
Good morning to you.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Good morning, everybody.
You know, we are getting word of a possible motive this morning that Philip Markoff may have been trying to pay off gambling debts. And authorities reportedly say that is what may have provoked him to rob and kill.
Now if you listen to people who know him, Markoff may have led a double life, an all-American 22-year-old med student by day engaged to be married, a cold-blooded killer by night. Neighbors and classmates reportedly say Markoff was a nerdy bowler in high school, a bit of a bully, and that his yearbook photo mentions his poker-playing skills. One of his neighbors spoke to CNN's Randi Kaye.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK SULLIVAN, LIVES UPSTAIRS FROM SUSPECT: My girlfriend actually rode the elevator a lot with him alone, which is kind of freaking her out now, because she thought he was kind of the all- American good-looking guy. When she saw him on TV yesterday, she even remarked, I can't believe it's him. I always thought he had such a great smile. He was so nice to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Now police tracked down Markoff through surveillance video, pictures they say showed the 22-year-old using his BlackBerry. And authorities say it was Markoff's own e-mail account that ultimately helped them find him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL CONLEY, SUFFOLK COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: What led police to Philip Markoff initially was by tracing back his contact with Julissa Brisman via e-mail. By doing that, they identified his Internet provider's address at that Quincy location where he lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Markoff is charged with murdering 26-year-old Julissa Brisman and attacking another woman, both at Boston hotels. He found them, authorities say, after he allegedly answered ads they placed for erotic services on Craigslist.
Now, ABC News is reporting that Markoff gambled all night at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut just two days after he allegedly killed Brisman, and that he left with $5,300 in winnings on that night, money he may have needed. The report says Markoff opened an account at Foxwoods last year but that his visits to the casino increased over the past couple of months leading him, the report says, to apply for a line of credit. Now, Markoff's lawyer maintains his client is not guilty. His own fiancee, in an e-mail to ABC, believes Markoff is "the wrong man" and was set up.
Now, you may have seen the couple's wedding Web site, which has since been taken down. It talked about how the couple met, their plans to marry in August. Just an incredible photos there if you look at it. And the fiancee goes on to say in that e-mail to ABC, John, that he was a beautiful person inside and out, could not hurt a fly. We've been hearing lots of reports about that. And interesting enough, they listed a Connecticut casino as their top honeymoon choice on that wedding Web site.
ROBERTS: She's saying one thing. The police are telling a very different story this morning.
CHO: That's right. It is a fascinating story.
ROBERTS: Alina, thanks very much.
CHO: You bet.
ROBERTS: Of course, the story raises a lot of questions about the popular Web site Craigslist and what it's doing to protect you. I spoke exclusively with Craigslist's CEO Jim Buckmaster. You can see that interview in about 20 minutes' time here, 7:30 Eastern on the Most News in the Morning -- Kiran.
CHETRY: Also new this morning, Fidel Castro throwing cold water on hopes for improved Cuba-U.S. relations. The 82-year-old Castro says that President Obama "misinterpreted" his brother Raul's comments last week.
The Cuban president expressed a willingness to discuss everything with the U.S. including human rights, freedom of the press, and political prisoners. President Obama responded by calling for a new beginning with Cuba, but Fidel Castro says there is no reason for Cuba to concede on any issue.
And right now, Washington reportedly drafting plans to help Mexico combat brutal drug trade violence. According to the "USA Today," the U.S. is planning to send up to 300 former law enforcement agents to Mexico to create an academy where thousands of Mexican investigators will be trained in among other things narcotics, weapons trafficking, and money laundering.
President Obama's about-face on alleged torture hinting that those who authorize harsh interrogation tactics during the Bush administration could be prosecuted.
It's nine minutes after the hour.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. You know, critics are already calling it a flip-flop, a polarizing move. President Obama pulling an about-face and now leaving the door open to charge Bush administration lawyers for approving alleged torture tactics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that that is going to be more of a decision for the attorney general within the parameters of various laws, and I don't want to prejudge that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: All right. This comes even as the president's own intel chief says that methods like waterboarding scared some suicidal terrorists into giving up information.
We'll get reaction now from the former communications director of the Democratic National Committee, Karen Finney. Also, Republican strategist and CNN contributor Ed Rollins.
Welcome to both of you. Thanks for being with us this morning.
ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Good morning.
KAREN FINNEY, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY, FIRST LADY HILLARY CLINTON: Good to be with you.
CHETRY: Karen, President Obama originally said that prosecuting previous administration officials was not helpful and that really looking forward is the way to go. Now he seems to be leaving the door open. Is this an about-face in your opinion?
FINNEY: Well, actually last week when the president made his announcement to release those memos, I think he did actually leave the door open. What he very specifically said though was those who acted thinking that they were acting in accordance with the law, certainly he would not prosecute those folks.
And then again over the weekend, I think the White House has said that Rahm Emanuel actually misspoke. But I think what's most important what the president is trying to say is, you know, if there is a process that goes forward, a bipartisan process perhaps like the 9/11 commission where we can actually learn from what happened, perhaps correct if there are mistakes in the system, that could be a constructive process. But that what we don't want is a sort of partisan witch hunt that is a made-for-TV event.
I mean, the credibility of the process is really critical in this. And I happen to agree with the president on that.
CHETRY: All right. Well, Ed, there were many on the left applauding this decision. Politically, though, what is the administration stand to gain and stand to lose by leaving open the possibility of prosecutions?
ROLLINS: It stands to lose a gigantic amount. The CIA is now its entity. It's not the Bush White House anymore. It's now the Obama administration. And as we see in Pakistan this morning, as we see, we're still in a war on terror. We're still fighting Taliban. We still need certain information.
We once again -- we went through this once before in our history in the late '70s where the church commission basically dismantled the upper arches of the CIA and President Carter suffered immeasurably and the country did, because we didn't have sufficient -- I think the president has made the right move on abolishing torture. I think to have a wholesale circus of trying to get people who didn't deliberately break any laws, trying to interpret laws, I think what will cause total distraction of this administration for the next four years.
CHETRY: Karen, will it be a distraction?
FINNEY: Well, I mean, certainly again, if it turns into a sort of made-for-TV event, sure. But I think the point the president is trying to make is that's not what we need.
But look, just overnight, look at what we've learned from the Senate report that was released. We've learned that perhaps very senior members of the Bush administration including George Tenet made these decisions without fully understanding or without the full benefit of having researched what those decisions would mean. We also -- so perhaps there are, you know, changes that need to be made in the way this process goes forward because as an American, I'd like to know how a decision like that could possibly get made in that fashion.
CHETRY: You know what -- and you know what, though, I want to ask you about this, Ed, too. That, and also, we also learned overnight that the director of National Intelligence currently in this administration, retired Admiral Dennis Blair, said that the Bush era interrogation techniques yielded "high-value information."
This happened on the same day that President Obama released the previously secret memos on interrogation techniques. So you have the current administration or someone in it saying that there was some value to be gained in those interrogation tactics?
FINNEY: Well, but then also in the report, we find that there are others, scientists and former interrogators, military officers, who disagree with the quality of the information that is gained from these techniques. So it does seem that there is -- there was something and it continues to be sort of a disagreement as to the validity or how well these tactics actually work.
But, look, the president has already said, we no longer engage in these tactics. I think, again, the point here is if there can be a process through which we learn something that is constructive...
FINNEY: ... we should do that.
CHETRY: All right. We'll let Ed get the last comment (ph). Go ahead, Ed.
ROLLINS: Do that internally. If you make this public, if you want to go after George Tenet, the CIA director, if you want to go after the vice president, if you want to go after senior officials and the Justice Department, if you want to go after an appeals court and trying to impeach him which many people are talking about today, you're going to create chaos. You can do whatever what you want, Karen, internally, but it's now your administration.
For seven years, the American public has been protected from some very serious incidents that we don't know about. And basically to throw this all out in the public arena as you understand the public arena better than anybody, will create chaos for this administration and won't protect our citizens long term.
CHETRY: Well, I want to thank you both for your insight and opinions this morning. Karen Finney as well as Ed Rollins, thanks for being with us.
FINNEY: Good to be with you.
ROBERTS: With the accused "Craigslist Killer" now in custody, what is the Web site doing to make sure this never happens again? We'll ask the CEO in an exclusive interview coming up.
It's almost 17 minutes now after the hour.
ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. A brand- new report on foreclosures is out this morning and it shows the 26 hardest hit cities are concentrated in just four states.
Christine Romans "Minding Your Business" this morning. She's got the news for us.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And this problem is accelerating. So even all the things we've done, this foreclosure crisis gets worse and worse because there's more people who lose their jobs, living paycheck to paycheck. They lose the paycheck -- boom, they get a foreclosure filing.
And here's what even surprised the people who put these numbers together, John and Kiran. It was so top heavy, the top 26 cities with the worst foreclosure situations all in the same four states -- California, Florida, Arizona, Nevada. You throw in Illinois and that's 60 percent of all foreclosure filings in the first quarter were in those five states.
ROBERTS: Wow. ROMANS: It's incredible. So real big concentrations of foreclosure filings in these states. So if you live, for example, in Las Vegas, one in every 22 homes got some sort of a foreclosure filing in the first quarter. That could be just a default notice. That could be a foreclosure paperwork. That could be the sheriff coming in, putting the padlock on the front door.
Behind every one of these statistics are people. These are people who are losing their jobs. These are people who speculated on properties. These are commercial developers who got real optimistic about building in the desert somewhere or in Florida, for example, the Sunshine State, and built a bunch of properties and they're just not -- they're just not viable. And so here, this is the bubble popping, four states. Five states if you add Illinois, 60 percent of all foreclosure filings just in those six states. So...
ROBERTS: In places where the boom is the biggest, the bust is also the largest too.
ROMANS: And now you've got the job situation making it worse. In the beginning, it was overdevelopment and it was speculation.
ROMANS: And it was just too many properties. And now -- and bad mortgages, quite frankly. And now you've got people who got a perfectly decent mortgage a year ago, it would have looked fine. But now they've lost their job and so now you put the unemployment situation right on top of there. It's a real challenge for policymakers because here we are looking at the numbers like these. A lot of folks are hurting out there.
ROBERTS: They certainly are. Thanks, Christine.
ROMANS: You're welcome.
CHETRY: Still ahead, the Craigslist murder exposing the danger of meeting people on-line. So what is the Web site doing to keep you safe? John had a chance to sit down with the Web site's CEO. We're going to hear more from that.
Also, new backlash over the Miss California controversy at the Miss USA pageant. The online ranting against her has heated up. Have some taken the beauty queen bashing too far?
It's 22 minutes after the hour.
ROBERTS: Topping news right now on CNN.com, the most popular, amazing video out of Florida. Take a look at this.
From the cockpit of a small plane, you can see the propeller stall as the engine fails. The pilot tried to restart it but eventually had to make an emergency landing on a stretch of highway.
Oh. Oh, look at this. Coming in. Oh. Perfect landing.
Also, tensions escalating between an officer and a reporter at the scene of an accident. An officer asks the news crew to leave and becomes quite upset when they don't comply right away. It was all caught on tape. And guess what? The officer is now driving a desk. What a surprise.
And meet Brian, an Oklahoma man who is the new world record for the most powerful lungs. He used his hot air to inflate three hot water bottles until they burst. Took him just a minute and eight seconds to do it.
CHETRY: That's got to hurt somewhere.
Well, new backlash this morning over the Miss USA contestant who told pageant judge Perez Hilton that she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman. Here's the question and the answer that started all of the Miss California bashing in case you missed it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ HILTON, MISS USA JUDGE, CELEBRITY BLOGGER: Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?
CARRIE PREJEAN, MISS CALIFORNIA: I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be, between a man and a woman. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: All right. Well, after the show, Perez Hilton sounded off on his celebrity blog calling Miss California dumb, using the "b" word, and, worse, and listen what he told HLN's Mike Galanos about his online beauty queen bashing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE GALANOS, HLN: On your blog or basically I saw it on YouTube, and we have it as well, you called her a dumb "b." Are you still that fired up? Or do you take that back? Where do you stand on that?
PEREZ HILTON, CELEBRITY BLOGGER: Well, I still think she's a dumb "b." And she just keeps putting it further into her mouth. She herself has said in interviews today and yesterday that she prepared for the final question, and the gay issue question was one that she prepared for. Obviously, she did not prepare well enough for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: All right. Well, the rant is raising some new questions about online anger, among other things. Carol Costello joins us live from Washington this morning.
You know, Perez Hilton, if he decides he doesn't like you, he can be vicious. You know, you've seen his Web site. He doesn't mince words.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. And some might call his comments sexist. You know, it would be easy to dismiss the war of words between Miss California and Perez Hilton as pop culture fluff. But some experts say the fact Hilton so casually used an obscenity when referring to Miss California on-line is not only disturbing but potentially dangerous.
HILTON: Miss California lost because she's a dumb (EXPLETIVE DELETED), OK?
COSTELLO (voice-over): Maybe that shocks you. If it doesn't, some cybercrime expert say it ought to. Because even though Perez Hilton routinely uses the "b" word on his gossip Web site, he uses it in an entirely different way to describe Miss California.
HILTON: And I called the "b" word and, hey, I was thinking the "c" word and I didn't say it.
COSTELLO: Using such language is more than rude, they say. It's feeding a growing problem online -- sexist, racist, hateful rants.
ROBERT SICILIANO, CEO, IDTHEFTSECURITY.COM: When someone like Perez Hilton, who is hired by Donald Trump, then goes out and spews vile content about Miss America, you know that the problem is a lot bigger than it seems.
COSTELLO: Online hate has become pervasive. People viciously criticizing everything from online newspaper columns to friends on Facebook and YouTube. It's the kind of online behavior Robert Siciliano says well-known people like Perez Hilton should condemn, not join in.
SICILIANO: What we're seeing here is people who are being held to a higher esteem are ranting in this way. And it gives millions and millions of other people the blessing to go ahead and do the exact same thing.
ANTHONY POWELL, POSTED ONLINE VIDEOS: Tony 48219 here. It's all over.
COSTELLO: And there are plenty of examples. This man, Anthony Powell, posted dozens of videos online calling black women the "b" word. His primary target, Asia McGowan, who tried to fight back with an online video of her own.
ASIA MCGOWAN, POSTED ONLINE VIDEO: Now when you hate, this is what you do, bringing the other person up and you bring yourself down.
COSTELLO: YouTube did manage to remove some of Powell's videos, but he eventually turned his online rage outward, stalking and killing McGowan and then killing himself. It's an extreme example that Siciliano says it's a warning people like Hilton should heed before they use hateful words online.
SICILIANO: At some point in time, this stalker believed or was made to believe that it was perfectly OK to talk like that and to distribute this via mass media. And we as a society have made it acceptable for those rants to go on air.
COSTELLO: And you know, Kiran, Siciliano says maybe it's time for the FCC to step in and regulate content on YouTube, on Facebook and on Web sites. But as you know, that would take an act of Congress. So for now, it's up to the Internet community to police itself. And that means complaining loudly when it sees objectionable content that could hurt.
CHETRY: Yes. And meantime, back to the Miss California controversy, it's very interesting people on many different sides weighing in. Even our own Roland Martin said, you know, we want people to keep it real. We say that we value authenticity, and then when someone actually does say what they mean or say what they really think, there's hell to pay. So that controversy continues as well.
COSTELLO: Well, Miss California isn't backing down. She's sticking to her guns, and she really hasn't addressed the issue of being called that name. So, we'll keep efforting that.
CHETRY: All right. Thanks, Carol.
ROBERTS: Coming up on 31 minutes after the hour. Here's what's big on the agenda this morning. Stories that we'll be covering for you in the next 15 minutes, breaking news. One official calling it a time bomb for his country, the Taliban, now taking control of an area in Pakistan, just 60 miles from the capital city of Islamabad.
Heavily armed militants are openly patrolling the roads and pickup trucks singing Islamic anthems and enforcing strict Islamic law. This is the closest that the Taliban has come to the power center of the nuclear arm nation.
Frightened kid or pirate ring leader? The lone surviving suspect in the attack on the American ship is being portrayed in two radically different ways. In a New York federal courtroom, the judge decided that he will be tried as an adult even though the defense says he is just a confused teenager.
And pay attention, Mr. President. People who use nicotine chewing gum to help quit smoking may want to try another way. According to the "Times" of London, research now suggests that nicotine chewing gum, lozenges, and inhalers all designed to help people stop smoking may actually have the potential to cause cancer. And new development to the Craigslist murder to tell you about. This morning, the suspected killer, Philip Markoff, wakes up in a Boston jail cell where he's being held without bond. CNN learning late last night that the police were back in his apartment looking for more evidence on what the district attorney is calling a brutal vicious crime.
Also this morning, the beginnings of the theory of what allegedly drove the clean-cut medical student to kill a young masseuse and assault at least one other woman. Early reports suggest that Markoff owed gambling debts. And while the district attorney is not commenting on that, he is telling CNN that when Markoff was picked up, there was evidence to suggest that he was heading to a casino in Connecticut.
The story is certainly giving new attention to Craigslist because this is not the first time that the Web site has been at the center of a criminal investigation. Yesterday, I spoke exclusively to the CEO of Craigslist, Jim Buckmaster and asked him about the Web site allegedly being used to commit murder.
JIM BUCKMASTER, CRAIGSLIST CEO: We feel terribly and it's quite sad that anyone would lose their life and we're horrified that use of Craigslist could in any way be connected with a violent crime of this nature. It just causes us to redouble our efforts, to try to get across to users to take a few common sense precautions that eliminate most of the risk.
ROBERTS: So what do you plan to do in response to this Markoff case if anything?
BUCKMASTER: Well, we're examining the way the site is set up and the processes that we use to see if there's as we always do to see if there is some incremental new change that we can make that could make the use of the site even safer for our users.
ROBERTS: Police believe that Philip Markoff preyed on his victims by using this Craigslist account or at least surfing Craigslist. It's also believed that in New York City, a New York radio personality George Webber met his killer on Craigslist. What do you say to this notion that while Craigslist is very valuable as a community bulletin board, it could also be a conduit to which predators can find prey.
BUCKMASTER: We think quite the reverse is true in that, you know, you have to remember that there are 50 million Americans using Craigslist each month. Most of them using it several times a month. Whenever you have that amount of human activity, there is a possibility of things going wrong despite everyone's best efforts to protect people.
But having said that, no incidence of violent crime, obviously is OK. And we're looking and seeing if there's anything that we can be doing differently to make people even safer when they're using the site.
ROBERTS: Well, let me ask you about this in the case of Philip Markoff and the police in Boston, did you assist in the investigation? Not you personally, but did Craigslist officials assist in the investigation?
BUCKMASTER: As always, we make ourselves completely available to law enforcement and provide them with anything that they need that can help them either find the individual they're looking for or prosecute the case once they found the person.
ROBERTS: Why do you even allow these services to be advertised on Craigslist whether they're posted under erotic services or under other services?
BUCKMASTER: Back in 2005, our users saw these kinds of ads being posted throughout the site. They asked us to set up a dedicated category where these ads would live and where they could be put behind a warning screen. So we ended up doing what the telephone yellow pages and newspaper classifieds have typically done over the decades which is a dedicated category for these kinds of ads. One difference on Craigslist, of course, is that 100 percent of that revenues goes to charity.
ROBERTS: Right. That is under the erotic services category. Is it not true that people can post these erotic services and mask them and post them under other areas in Craigslist as well, making it that much more difficult for you to police?
BUCKMASTER: That's what they were doing previously. But now that we have a dedicated category, escort ads and massage ads, et cetera, that's where they're generally posted now.
ROBERTS: All right. Cook County sheriff in Illinois, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart appealed to you to shut down these erotic services saying that he makes dozens of arrests for prostitution based on ads that he sees on Craigslist as well in Worcester, Massachusetts over the weekend, 50 people were arrested after they responded to an ad that Worcester police put on Craigslist offering erotic services. I mean, it's clear that criminal enterprise is being conducted. Does Craigslist condone that?
BUCKMASTER: Of course, we don't. We prohibit all kinds of illegal activity and in the erotic services category we adopted telephone verification, credit card authorization. Those two steps eliminated about 90 percent of the inappropriate activity on the site. And we're now chipping away at that remaining 10 percent.
ROBERTS: Why not just refuse to take any ads of this nature?
BUCKMASTER: That's actually the great thing about Craigslist in that when there is criminal activity, which, of course, we don't condone, it is easier for law enforcement, at least they tell us that on a regular basis to spot the bad apples and root them out and prosecute them and get them off of the site which we really appreciate. ROBERTS: All right. Jim Buckmaster, CEO of Craigslist, it's good to talk to you this morning. Thanks for taking the time, sir.
BUCKMASTER: Thanks for having me on.
CHETRY: All right. Also, some dramatic new developments this morning as the Taliban takes control of an area in Pakistan, just 60 miles from the capital. They have now put strict Islamic law in place in some areas and the takeover is seen as a threat to Pakistan's stability. We're live in the country with the latest.
And also, you want to know how tough the "Dancing with the Stars" routines really are on contestant's bodies? Well, the show wanted to know as well. So they called our Sanjay Gupta on "Dancing with the Stars." It's 37 minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: Forty minutes past the hour. We fast forward to the stories that will be making news later today. A snapshot of the economy on the way. A few major U.S. companies will be revealing their quarterly earnings today. We're expecting to get first quarter profits from McDonald's. Reports from -- well hopefully profits from McDonald's, from Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Apple, as well as eBay.
The Tribeca Film Festival opens today in New York, just a few blocks from Wall Street. The festival is expected to take on a more solemn tone that usual given the economic crisis. The festival will kick off with Woody Allen's film called, "Whatever Works."
And President Obama will be celebrating Earth Day today in Newton, Iowa. He's going to he touring a former Maytag plant that now builds towers for wind turbines -- John.
ROBERTS: We are always paging our Dr. Gupta for medical stories here on CNN. But now look at who else wants his expertise too. Yes, "Dancing with the Stars." Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta telling viewers of the hit show what this type of dancing really does to contestants' bodies.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Dancers are athletes. There is no question it has a physical impact. It looks pretty graceful when you watch it. But they're doing something very unusual for exercise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You feel sore right here.
GUPTA (voice-over): One of the biggest differences between ballroom dancing and just about any other form of activity is the constant working out of the core muscles. When you're dancing like this, you're increasing blood flow to the various organs, you're modulating your blood pressure. Here you're engaging all of a sudden a different muscle followed by a completely different muscle. And that's doing things to your body that most bodies don't do on a regular basis.
The competitors who treat dancing as a sport eats right, sleeps right, pushes through the pain but also listens to their body if he wants to be the last man or woman dancing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sanjay Gupta, could have been surgeon general is here.
ROBERTS: Pushing through the pain.
CHETRY: Yes. I mean, it's no joke. What was her name? Jewel and I think Nancy O'Dell, both of them had to drop out. They had really bad injuries. Stress fractures to their calves and to their leg bones and all types of crazy stuff. That's not easy.
ROBERTS: I missed that part.
CHETRY: They were -- correct me if I'm wrong, I think the two dropped out because they injured themselves even from just the heavy practicing, going from not working out on a regular basis to this crazy type of exercise they expect you to do.
ROBERTS: No questions, really athletic pursuit there.
Well, the latest breaking news about the Taliban grabbing more power in Pakistan. The militants closer than they have ever been to the capital. We'll tell you what that all means.
And for the first time the newest name on the FBI's most wanted terror list is an American. We'll tell you who he is and what he's accused of. It's 43 minutes after the hour.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ROBERTS: Breaking news to tell you about this morning -- the Taliban now claiming control over a region in Pakistan that is just 60 miles from that nation's capital. This is the closest that they have come to the power center of Pakistan. It's the latest domino to drop in that country. Just this past weekend, President Obama's special envoy to the region, Richard Holbrooke, spoke with our Fareed Zakaria about how serious the situation in Pakistan really is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD HOLBROOKE, SPECIAL U.S. ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN: Our focus is equally on Pakistan and Afghanistan. You know, no matter how good the government in Kabul, no matter how well we do in Afghanistan, if the situation in western Pakistan continues to deteriorate, success will be elusive and very difficult to achieve. So this is a really dangerous situation in Pakistan today. And we are focused on it very heavily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen joins us now on the telephone. And, Peter, the Taliban had been in control of an area just north of this Bruner district in the Swat valley. They have now moved in to Bruner which is about 60 miles away from Islamabad getting closer to the power center there in Pakistan. How significant is this?
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST (via telephone): Well, John, I think it's part of a pattern where the Pakistani government has done peace agreements with the Taliban first in the federally-administered tribal areas on the Afghan border back in 2005 and 2006 than they did a peace agreement with the Swat recently. The Taliban consistently used these agreements to regroup and basically extend themselves into a larger swath of the Pakistani territory which is exactly what they've done now with this move closer to the capital, Islamabad.
ROBERTS: How do you expect that the Pakistani government is going to respond. There's a statement from a spokesperson for the regional administration in the northwestern frontier province, he says, now the Taliban are violating the peace agreement and if they continue, the government will take strict action and not allow the Taliban to create a parallel government in that area. So far the military has been either unable or unwilling to control the Taliban elements in that area. Do you expect that maybe now they'll step it up a notch?
BERGEN: Well, John, I think you used exactly the right phrase - either unwilling or unable to do what's required with the Taliban. The Pakistani military has tended to - doesn't have the counterinsurgency capability set up for land war with India. Both the Pakistani politicians and the Pakistani military are sort of - don't really have a strategy on how to deal with this. They waiver sort of between a hammer approach where the - with the fist and really demolish an area or they do these peace agreements but they haven't really come to the conclusion about how to effectively deal with it and the Taliban are exploiting this and also the very poor economic situation in Pakistan to gain ever larger swaths of territory.
ROBERTS: All right. Peter Bergen on the telephone for us this morning. Peter Bergen our CNN terror analyst. Thanks very much. And of course, we'll have more on this developing story throughout the morning here on CNN. Very important story. There are some people who are saying that Pakistan's government could be in danger of collapse over all of this.
CHETRY: Scary stuff.
All right. We'll continue to follow this morning. Meantime, they want to know who's illegally peeking at one of America's top secret military projects, spies reportedly hacked into data on a new U.S. fighter jet. We're going to tell you how it happened. Also, he's the new face on the FBI's most wanted terror list. An American now alongside the likes of Osama Bin Laden. We'll tell you why. It's 49 minutes after the hour.
CHETRY: Some disturbing news just in to CNN. The acting chief financial officer of mortgage giant Freddie Mac has been found dead. Our affiliates WUSA and WTOP are reporting that police found David Kellermann's body inside of his Virginia home a short time ago. Authorities are reportedly investigating his death as a possible suicide.
According to Freddie Mac's Web site, Kellermann was with the company for more than 16 years and named acting chief financial officer in September. We're following this story. And we'll have more details as they come in -- John.
ROBERTS: Sad story this morning.
At first glance, he may not appear to be a likely candidate for the FBI's most-wanted terror list, but this morning, the 31-year-old computer specialist and animal rights activist from California is the newest name. So, who is he? CNN's Jason Carroll joins us now with all the details. Good morning, Jason.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. You know the FBI says the reason why they added him to this list is not only is he extremely dangerous but they wanted to help develop some new leads. His name is Daniel Andreas San Diego and he's the first domestic terrorist to make a list that's been reserved for international terrorists and some animal right activists are asking, why him?
CARROLL (voice-over): The FBI's most wanted terrorist lists. The majority of men on the roster are wanted for alleged involvement in mass killings, blowing up government buildings, mostly in the name of religion. Now a newcomer, Daniel Andreas San Diego. He's the only one of his kind on the list, an animal activist accused of terrorism.
MIKE HEIMBACH, FBI ASST. DIRECTOR OF COUNTERTERRORISM: San Diego's criminal acts of violence were domestic acts of terror, planned out and possibly intended to take lives, destroy property and create economic hardship for the company's involved.
CARROLL: FBI investigators say San Diego claimed responsibility for the bombings of biotechnology buildings in the San Francisco Bay area. No one was hurt in the blast, but federal officials say the intent was there.
HEIMBACH: On September 26th, 2003, once again in the early morning hours, a bomb exploded outside the front lobby. The device was placed near the glass front door leading to the lobby of the facility. Investigation revealed that metal nails were also used in the construction of the device.
CARROLL: Some animal right activists question why San Diego is on the same list with terrorists like Osama Bin Laden or Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, wanted for the 1998 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
INGRID NEWKIRK, PETA PRESIDENT: It seems to me incredibly political that somebody who has not hurt a mouse or a man is on a list with international terrorists who have killed thousands and thousands of human beings.
CARROLL: The FBI's assistant director of the counter terrorism division was asked if San Diego was on the same level of a Bin Laden.
HEIMBACH: No, but indeed three acts of a violent act were improvised, explosive devices were used, where potentially someone could have been seriously injured or killed is quite concerning to us.
CARROLL: Federal officials say San Diego has been linked to an animal rights extremist group responsible for cyberattacks, bomb threats and death threats.
MIKE BROOKS, FMR. FBI TERRORISM JOINT TASK FORCE: I spent six years on the FBI's joint terrorism task force investigating some of these cases. San Diego deserves to be on the list with them. He hasn't killed anyone yet. The reason they have him on the list is to make sure he doesn't kill anyone.
CARROLL: San Diego may have altered his appearance. He has ties to Germany and Costa Rica. He also has a tattoo on his chest depicting burning hillsides which says "it only takes a spark."
CARROLL: San Diego has been on the run since 2003. Investigators say they found materials similar to those used in bombs at his home. The FBI says animal rights and environmental extremists are a widespread threat responsible for more than 1,000 criminal acts.
ROBERTS: So it appears the bomb aspect of this that has increased the urgency?
CARROLL: I believe so. I mean when you talk to the FBI, not only is it, you know, the bombings that he took place in but also what they found in his home and what he possibly could have done based on what he did in the past.
ROBERTS: Interesting story. Jason Carroll for us this morning. Jason, thanks so much.
CARROLL: You bet.
CHETRY: A key Democrat in Congress is reportedly the target of a national security wiretap. We're going to tell you what was recorded and why it's being called an abuse of power.
Also can Silicon Valley help Iraq? They're going to try. We're going to find out how when we talk to the co-founder of Twitter, who is live in Baghdad this morning. It's 56 minutes after the hour.