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CNN NEWSROOM

NSA Leaker on the Run; Hero or Traitor; Zimmerman Jury Selection Begins; Girl Rising; Con Man Fools Celebs & Powerful

Aired June 10, 2013 - 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: How long can he hide?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At that point, you know something's not right. Something's very wrong.

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BALDWIN: Doctors saving an infant's life with super glue. Plus, a high-profile oncologist accused of spiking her lover's coffee with poison.

And, mystery in room 225. Weeks after a couple dies in a Best Western Hotel, an 11-year-old boy found dead in the exact same room.

And let's get started on this Monday afternoon. Good to be with you. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We begin with from going rogue to going public. The man behind the NSA leaks has revealed who he is and why he exposed the documents that put the National Security Agency exactly where it never wanted to be, smack dab in the public spotlight. Here he is, Edward Snowden, asked the British newspaper, "The Guardian," to publish his name. He talked to this paper, told them that over time it just got to him knowing the NSA was tracking nearly every call made by Americans and monitoring the online communications of foreigners. "The Guardian" recorded an interview with this man who is just 29 years old.

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EDWARD SNOWDEN, LEAKED DETAILS OF U.S. SURVEILLANCE: Because even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude to where it's getting to the point you don't have to have done anything wrong, you simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you've ever made, every friend you've ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: That was just one sliver of the interview. We'll play you bits and pieces through the course of the next two hours. But "The Guardian" reports Snowden had been making $200,000 a year as a government contractor working for the NSA and he copied this highly secret information and then he fled straight to Hong Kong in May. He may still be there, but not in the hotel room where he granted that interview because CNN has now learned a man by the name of Edward Snowden left Hong Kong's Mirror (ph) Hotel today.

So, wherever he may be, Snowden knows how to stay off the grid. I want you to listen how, this is quoting a recent article here in "The Guardian." Snowden, quote, "lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them. Snowden is reportedly a high school dropout who grew up in North Carolina. He told "The Guardian" he believes he will never be in the U.S. again and he fears much more than federal prosecution.

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SNOWDEN: I could be, you know, rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me or any of their third-party partners. You know, they work closely with a number of other nations. Or, you know, they could pay off the triads. And, you know, any - any if their agents or assets. We've got a CIA station just up the road at the consulate here in Hong Kong. I'm sure they're going to be very busy for the next week.

And that's a fear I'll live under for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be. You can't come forward against the world's most powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk because they're such powerful adversaries that no one can meaningfully oppose them. If they want to get you, they'll get you in time.

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BALDWIN: And we'll get you straight to the hero/traitor debate in just a second.

But first, we have to go straight to the White House, to our correspondent there, Dan Lothian, because we know, Dan, White House daily briefing taking place. Obviously questions about Snowden and the NSA going straight at Carney. What's he saying?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was the very first question that he was asked. And again, Jay Carney being very careful not to say too much. He did make a little bit of news in pointing out that the president had been briefed by his senior staff on the latest developments in the Snowden case. But when he was asked to give any kind of reaction from the White House, he deferred saying that this is something that is under investigation.

But what he did talk about is that the president had been talking quite frequently, and most recently just last week, about finding that balance between national security and privacy and that's something that the president welcomes the debate. He reiterated that again today. We've heard the president talk about this whenever he's asked about whether or not the United States is doing too much, going too far in terms of trying to gather information, whether it's the recent controversy with Verizon or other new developments where information was being gleaned from the web. The president had acknowledged that there needs to be this balance between privacy and security and, again, that he welcomes the debate. That's the word from the White House today as well, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Do you think, when he speaks in a matter of minutes about this staff change, that there is any chance that the president will address this publicly?

LOTHIAN: Well, as you know, this is the second time now we've seen the president. He was at an event earlier this morning, about 11:30, at the White House. He did not address this issue. No one asked him a question about it. He does have this personnel announcement happening this afternoon. We do expect that, in that setting, perhaps someone will ask a question.

At this point though, no indication from the White House that the president plans to comment on this. The word from the White House up to this point is that this is under investigation. As you know, the Justice Department has launched an investigation. Everyone looking into exactly what happened here and what the next steps should be. But again, at this point, no indication that the president plans to address that today.

BALDWIN: We'll be watching, as I know you will. Dan Lothian, thank you so much, from me at the White House at this hour.

So now to the debate, is Edward Snowden an enemy of the state or is he a hero of the people? As Dan just mentioned, the Department of Justice is just now beginning its investigation of the former computer tech. No charges yet, but at least one congressman is calling Snowden's actions criminal.

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REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK (voice-over): It's not true and there's so much he said that is untrue. Again, this person is dangerous to the country. He had (INAUDIBLE) real questions as to why he left the CIA. The fact that he's in China right now, or in Hong Kong, which is a sub state of China, and he knows where our intelligence assets are, who our intelligence agents are around the world, and the fact that he has allowed our enemy to know what our sources and methods are is extremely, extremely dangerous. I believe he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I consider him right now to be a defector.

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BALDWIN: A defector says Congressman King.

Let me bring in these two voices, retired Army General James "Spider" Marks, who agrees that Edward Snowden should be prosecuted. And also with me again is syndicated columnist and radio host David Sirota.

So, gentlemen, welcome.

David Sirota, I go to you here off the top. How do you view what Snowden has done?

DAVID SIROTA, CONTRIBUTOR, SALON.COM: Well, I think that we should be most concerned with what Snowden has disclosed in terms of our constitutional rights. And I think people who want to turn the conversation to the person who disclosed this are people who either don't care about the United States Constitution and the Fourth Amendment or who simply want to protect the political interests of the National Security Administration and the Obama administration.

I think what should concern all Americans first and foremost is, why is the United States government, in what could be a potentially criminal and illegal and unconstitutional way, spying and surveilling millions and millions of Americans on an ongoing basis. And I think any effort to change the conversation away from that, that potential crime against millions and millions of people, and to a question about the person who's disclosed the crimes, is an attempt to say that people who expose potential crimes are the real criminals. It's an attempt, in a sense, to create an Orwellian definition of crime.

BALDWIN: And I know you talk a lot about the Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment, and I want to get to that in just a moment. But let me just get a yes or no from you, David. Do you see him as a hero?

SIROTA: I see -- look, I think we have to find out all of the disclosures, whether they were done properly, whether they were done with national security in mind.

BALDWIN: OK.

SIROTA: But I think that whistleblowers in general, we need them and they are heroes.

BALDWIN: General, you disagree.

GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): I do. Look, the presumption of David's comment is that the U.S.'s activity, in terms of national security, is a crime and that what this young man has revealed is a crime. That is not the case at all. In fact, we've got a big problem if the Justice Department, the executive, and the judicial all are now kind of rogue and moving down a path that we cannot trust.

The real issue, in my mind, is you've got this young man who has the very highest security clearance, and he broke the rules. He doesn't have the right to do that. If he disagrees with the program that he was a willing participant in, he needs to step away, you know, stop doing the job, stop taking the paycheck, and then get back into private life, drop the security clearance, and then he also has some nondisclosure issues because he's had exposure to this information, but he has a right, at that point, he has every legal protection in the world to raise his hand and say, look, let me discuss this in terms that I can and tell you what I am thinking as a private citizen. He can't do that when he's totally embedded in the program, which he was.

BALDWIN: I want the two of you all to have this conversation. Let me just play this for our viewer, a little bit more of this "Guardian" interview where you hear Snowden basically saying he could be revealing more and that he could have sold the information he has. Here he was.

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SNOWDEN: If I had just wanted to harm the U.S., you know, then you could shut down the surveillance system in an afternoon. But that's not my intention. And I think for anyone making that argument, they need to think, if they were in my position and, you know, you live a privileged life. You're living in Hawaii, in paradise, and making a ton of money. What would it take to make you leave everything behind?

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BALDWIN: And now he has.

And, David, to your point, sort of the concluding argument you make in your Salon piece is that the government, the U.S. government, asked its Americans, when they see a possible crime being committed, what do they say? It's see something, say something. And your point is that he did exactly that.

SIROTA: That's right. And let me give you two examples here. I mean the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, went before Congress and perjured himself and said that mass surveillance wasn't happening in the United States when he was asked a direct question. Same thing for the head of the NSA. So, at one level, you could simply argue that someone like Edward Snowden saw these officials perjuring themselves before the United States Congress and went forward with information in one of the only ways that he could, to call out blatant crime. I mean you can find that videotape. It's out there. You can see James Clapper lying to Congress. And if we're going to have any chance of Congress actually regulating the NSA, them we need to - to make sure that information comes out so that Congress knows when it's being lied to by Obama administration officials and the NSA.

BALDWIN: General?

MARKS: Well, I'm not going to respond directly to David's comment.

BALDWIN: Yes.

MARKS: These are really outrageous comments that he's making. The fact of the matter is --

SIROTA: What's outrageous about it?

MARKS: The fact of the matter -

SIROTA: What's outrageous about it? James Clapper went before Congress and said there is no mass surveillance on the United States.

MARKS: The fact of the matter - the fact of the matter is, this young man has been given a great privilege, as he indicated. And now we're supposed to hold him up as a great savior of the nation because he didn't reveal all. Frankly, he didn't have the keys to the kingdom. He was a very significant piece. Because of the clearance, he has very significant access and he has -- he's a very significant piece of this overall apparatus that exists to try to protect our national security.

And this isn't blatant data mining. This is what's known as traffic analysis, pattern analysis. That entities talk to entities. And there are relationships among those entities. It doesn't get into the content of that data. And if there was a U.S. citizen involved or the presumption that there was a U.S. citizen involved in this, you'd have to go to the FISA court to get yourself a court order so that you could mine that data very, very specifically. And that's not the case here.

BALDWIN: OK. Gentlemen, we're going to leave it here. David Sirota and General Spider Markets, thank you very much.

MARKS: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: We also -- what we find fascinating is when you look at a couple of folks in recent history who have been leaking, they're all millennials. So we're going to have that conversation at the bottom of the hour. It will be fascinating. So stay tuned for that.

As we mentioned at the top of the hour, happening now, live pictures from the White House. We are watching and waiting for the president, who is set to nominate Jason Furman to the chair - to chair, I should say, the Council of Economic Advisers to replace Alan Krueger. Furman has served as a key economic adviser since the beginning of the Obama presidency.

Again, I talked to Dan Lothian, our correspondent there, wondering, watching to see if the president at all addresses the story of the day. If the president obviously makes comments on this NSA scandal, we will listen. Go to -- we'll bring it to you live. Go to cnn.com.

Coming up, jury selection is underway in the George Zimmerman trial and the mood in the courtroom is intense to say the least. Can they find an impartial jury? We will go live to Sanford, Florida, where our Sonny Hostin has been inside the courtroom, next.

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BALDWIN: Was it self-defense or was it murder? That is the question at the heart of this trial of George Zimmerman. You know the story. He is the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Jury selection is underway right now and the court is searching for six jurors and four alternates. George Zimmerman's brother talked to the media just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT ZIMMERMAN JR., GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S BROTHER: I think it's important that jurors get to know that George is a real person. He's not just whatever images people flash across the screen or whatever narrative people write about.

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BALDWIN: Meantime, Trayvon Martin's family released a statement saying in part, quote, "we are seeking justice for our son and a fair trial. Trayvon's life was taken unnecessarily and tragically, but we call upon the community to be peaceful. We have placed our faith in the justice system and ask that the community do the same."

Let's go to Sanford to CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

And, Sunny, let me just begin with the all-important jury selection process. How do you find impartial jurors for a story like this?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think that you certainly aren't going to find a juror that has never heard anything about this case. There's been just such extreme media attention on this case. But I don't think, Brooke, that that means you can't find an impartial jury. You can still find someone that can put all of that aside, all of the coverage aside, and just sit in the courtroom and listen to the evidence as it comes in and then make a decision.

And that's what these attorneys are looking for. They are certainly not looking for anyone that's been under a rock that hasn't heard anything about this case. And I've got to tell you, I think it's pretty possible. They are moving at a fast clip. I've told you before, Brooke, that this is a quick moving judge. They've already had 100 jurors fill out jury questionnaires. And I just left the courtroom to come and chat with you and the judge said, OK, let's make some agreements so that we can bring in some jurors to start questioning them one-on-one. And so it is moving rather quickly in the courtroom.

BALDWIN: And then one thing we were wondering today is, why six? It seems like a small number, does it not? Six jurors, four alternates?

HOSTIN: Yes, that's a great question. I mean it's a question that I had when I first started covering this case. In Florida, 12 jurors are required for capital cases. For non-capital cases, only six. So it's unique to the Florida statute. Where I practiced, we had more, especially for a criminal trial. But that is why only six. And that's why, Brooke, I think that this jury selection is going to take really a short amount of time. We're not talking about trying to find 12 jurors and then perhaps four or five alternates. We're really just talking about 10 in total.

BALDWIN: We'll be watching the trial with you, Sunny Hostin, thank you so much, in Sanford, Florida, for us.

HOSTIN: Yes.

BALDWIN: Coming up, an international con artist who managed to fool celebrities and members of the world's elite, swindling millions of dollars in a scam involving Justin Bieber tickets. Do not miss this special CNN investigation.

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BALDWIN: Girls in Ethiopia can only expect a couple of years of schooling. Many will be forced into marriage by the time they turn 15. But one Ethiopian woman is telling her story all in hopes of giving girls a chance to continue their education and better their lives. It's a new CNN film called "Girl Rising." It's airing this Sunday. And what it does is it takes a look at the stories of many, many girls all around the world and their fight to get an education, much like the one you're about to see here.

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FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Melka. She lives in northern Ethiopia. And her story is far too common. At the age of 14, she was forced into an arranged marriage.

MAAZA MENGISTE, WRITER: In Ethiopia, one in five girls gets married before the age of 15. The reason is really financial hardships. The family feels like they need to send a girl off to another man's home so that he can take care of her.

WHITFIELD: But when girls like Melka refuse to marry, they suffer.

MELKA (through translator): Without my consent, my parents forced me to get married. I said, "I do not want to go." And when I refused to go, my parents beat me.

WHITFIELD: On her wedding night, Melka ended up in the hospital. Authorities got involved and she was sent back to her family. Her mother says she regrets forcing Melka to marry, believing they both would have been better off if Melka had continued her education.

Now Melka is working to prevent this from happening to other girls. She spends her free time at the local primary school teaching them about the dangers of early marriage and how they can make a better life for themselves by staying in school. Women like Melka want girls in Ethiopia to know they have a choice and they are not alone.

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BALDWIN: Melka was able to go back to school, complete her high school education. And if you'd like to learn more about how to help prevent early marriages and support girls' education, go to cnn.com/girlrising. And, set the DVRs. Get ready for this. This CNN film "Girl Rising" premieres this Sunday, June 16th. Let me say it again, this Sunday, June 16th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

This next story, I know, has all the makings of a movie. This international con man, celebrity power player, millions of dollars, and Justin Bieber concert tickets. This story had everyone in our news room talking today. This special CNN investigation, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Now to this special CNN investigation. This international con man targeted celebrities in the world's most powerful and very, very soon he will find out how long he'll be spending behind bars for his latest scam. It's a scam that involved, of all people, Justin Bieber. Gary Tuchman reports.

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GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To Todd Weinberg, a wealthy investor and entrepreneur from northern California, 22-year- old Waleed Ahmed was the picture of success. So Weinberg felt very comfortable trusting the young man with his money, a lot of his money. After all, Ahmed was the toast of Norway, where the press hailed him as an innovative genius for supposedly inventing a solar energy cover that could charge iPhones. The Norwegian government even put up this video of Ahmed, and his then business partner, meeting with Norway's minister of trade and industry to show off the invention.

TODD WEINBERG, INVESTOR: Waleed is apparently a celebrity in Norway. They call him the Mark Zuckerberg of Norway.

TUCHMAN: And then there are all these photos of Ahmed.

WEINBERG: This is another picture he sent me.

TUCHMAN: Famous people, from royalty, to rich business leaders.

WEINBERG: We've got Waleed Ahmed here, toward the back, Kofi Annan here, Ted Turner, crown prince and princess of Norway.

TUCHMAN: And this letter of thanks from Barack Obama, for whom he claimed to be the Norwegian election chairman. Not only did Ahmed brag that he knew and posed for pictures with people like the queen of Jordan, he also sent out photos of himself with well-known people like former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III. So to Weinberg, it wasn't a stretch that this young genius could be managing the Scandinavian concert tour for none other than Justin Bieber. It all started with the call Weinberg received from a good friend in the music industry.

WEINBERG: He said that he had come across an opportunity through his kind of group, and he runs in circles down in Los Angeles that are legit.

TUCHMAN: Weinberg was told about this young whiz kid named Waleed Ahmed.

WEINBERG: Waleed claimed to have paid, according to the contracts, $4.5 million, to Scooter Braun Management for the rights to five shows in Scandinavia.

TUCHMAN: Scooter Braun Management handles Bieber. So it all started to sound real to Weinberg. Weinberg was asked to invest $1 million, with $860,000 going to Ahmed so he could supposedly secure concert venues.