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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Riot Police Charge at Protesters; Riot Police Fire Tear Gas, Crush Barricades; Riot Police Charge At Protesters; Tracking The NSA Leaker; Classified Leaks Damage National Security?
Aired June 11, 2013 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening to our viewers here and watching around the world on CNN International right now.
We cover the breaking news. The police crack down on protesters picking up again over the last several hours in Turkey's biggest city, Istanbul and now spreading to Turkey's capital Ankara as well. You're looking at Taksim Square in the middle of Istanbul.
What began late last month as a protest against bulldozing a park nearby has evolved into something bigger focused against the government itself at times and the policies of Turkish prime minister, Erdogan. What you're seeing has ebbed and flowed throughout the evening, police moving in then regrouping. Many protesters leaving, some digging in.
The situation heating up again within the past hour or so and as we said, there are now reports of unrest on the streets of Ankara. Police in the Turkish capital firing tear gas overnight toward apparent protesters as armored vehicles cleared makeshift barricades along the streets.
Meantime, this latest chapter here in Taksim Square is still unfolding. Minute by minute it seems to changed, began over this ban of several intense hours tonight when police moved into the square. Some of what you'll see in here in the video we're about to show you are not gunshots but protesters setting off small fireworks and also the sound of tear gas canisters firing. Much of what you'll see in here is chaos with our correspondents right in the middle of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Those rounds are being shot directly into Gezi Park. There were thousands, tens of thousands of demonstrators who were peaceful. Again, we were standing right here when something like an altercation seemed to have broken out.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't know what sparked this police move. Arwa did say there was some sort of altercation. They have been seeing that, though, all day. So no specific reason why that itself would be a cause to trigger such an enormous response by police.
I'll just let you see the fireworks going off behind me now. It's unclear if they are celebratory or just seen earlier today being fired at the police as part of the protests.
We're seeing people run away now again. Scatterings. It's not quite clear why we haven't heard these (INAUDIBLE) tear gas were going. But they're moving -- there we are. So much of the danger for people in this situation would cause that fear of mass panic where people run in a direction for unknown reasons. Here is the banging again.
DAMON: Right now in the very front of the park you can see people trying to help us out because of the tear gas. The entire front part of the park right now has been cleared out because of the intensity of what was just fired in. People are incredibly angry, infuriated at the way the government has been handling all of this. But it's become a bit of a routine. Tear gas is fired in, people clear out, and then they move right back in.
WALSH: Just a couple of -- 10 seconds ago, a minute, a massive volley of tear gas from the police in that direction and now one, two, three -- I'm going to put this gas mask on, I'm afraid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As we said, this has been going on for hours now. The situation continues to unfold at this moment. Arwa Damon and Nick Paton Walsh are still out there, still on the scene, on the front lines. They join us now along with chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, host of "AMANPOUR" on CNN International. She recently interviewed Turkey's prime minister. And here in New York Ivan Watson who lives in Istanbul, reports on Turkey right really for us.
Nick, first of all, explain your vantage point, where you are in relation to where Arwa is and what your -- what's happening right now.
WALSH: Right behind me, Anderson, just as I started talking we're seeing fireworks, and we've seen these fired towards police for much of the last 19 hours I've been standing here. It seems to be the weapon of choice. I'll give you a moment to listen to this.
It appears to be the weapon of choice of protest. It's now a confusing situation down the streets closest to me. Let me explain. We're talking about a square here, the park. Arwa, when we saw her footage earlier on was on the far side. I'm on the near side towards me. Down the left police made a substantial for -- they pushed a lot of armored trucks, water cannons, bulldozers, clearing barricades, pushing everybody back.
I can't see the entirety of the road where I'm standing but in the last half hour protesters seemed to have crept back up that road. That I think is where those fireworks were fired from. So it begs the question what is the police strategy here? How do they intend to retain control of the territory they push forward and take? And we've been asking this question for much of the night.
Hard to really understand exactly what their final game plan is. Tear gas now being released in that area. That is the standard tactic when they see our position, they fire these enormous volleys of tear gas cannons. They drift across the square, often blowing with the prevailing winds into our live position here.
I'm hearing the shouts of protesters right now behind me down that road. We have thought that much of that protest had been pushed back, but we saw some of the armored water cannon trucks move in, in fact fire water cannons into Gezi Park itself.
And we just now having seen for about two hours pretty much calm in this larger part of Taksim Square as police went about their business, using bulldozers, collecting the debris, the barricades, the leftovers, and faring them off. Things appeared to have been under control to a degree but now we saw those fireworks. So it's clearly a bit of fight left in the protest now -- Anderson.
COOPER: So, Nick, explain this because we have been watching bulldozers move in as well as those water cannons as well as columns of police. So are they not occupying and holding territory, the police, once they have taken it? Or they -- you say protesters in some cases are moving back. How is that possible?
WALSH: If you can imagine a square that is the park, on one side of the square closest towards the main streets of this massive Turkish city, they're clearing away the debris in between that and Istiklal, the main street in Istanbul here. The two side roads that go down the sides of that particular park they still seem to be contested.
I don't know what's happening further in the one further away from me. That's where Arwa was earlier on. What's closest to me here, there are still protesters there. I believe -- I believe at this point they are small in number. It's hard to see the scale of them, but I'm seeing flags again near the barricades, too.
So yes, as you point out, Anderson, the confusing thing is being the absence of a police strategy to retain control of territory. Now it may be they're lacking in numbers, it may be by doing that they would end up in continued confrontation of protesters.
A loud bang behind me here. Sometimes that is a police stun grenade, sometimes tear gas. That did sound more like a firework. Hard to tell at this particular point but continued clashing. There seems to be firing, my colleague tells me, down the far road away from me here on the other side of the park.
Police you can now see moving in down that far road. I've been down there last night. There were buses in the way before barricades. It heads down to one of the main hotels here in this upscale part of Istanbul. But after those moments of calm, again, we're hearing blasts here in the very heart of Istanbul, 19 hours now of this.
Hard to understand why police would want it to go on this long, unless they are encountering more dissidents than they expected -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. And extraordinary images to watch when you know what Turkey is normally like at 3:07, 3:08 a.m. Turkey time in the morning. This has been going on. As Nick said he's been there for 18, 19 hours.
I want to check in with our Arwa Damon, who I believe is still on the other side of the square.
Arwa, explain where you are in relation to Nick and what you are seeing right now.
DAMON: I am actually exactly on the other side of the square from where Nick is and we are holed up inside a hotel that is kindly opened its doors to us and dozens of other demonstrators. They've even set up a makeshift health clinic. And here at the street outside we are speaking.
I can barely see Gezi Park that is less than 20 feet across the street from me because the smoke from the tear gas is so thick at this point in time. Now similar to the street -- and Nick has a vantage point on this alternate street that the demonstrators have been occupying, they were clashing the riot police down one end of the street and (INAUDIBLE) intense, intense volley of tear gas that effectively cleared all of it, of the demonstrators, a lot of action that's all in Gezi Park itself causing complete chaos, pandemonium, people running into this hotel.
Then we saw the riot police with armored vehicles driving down the street pushing all of the barricades away. They then -- there were a hand full of demonstrators that went back out and then now, right now the tear gas hit this hotel, shoved underneath the door. They are not letting anyone out on the street, opening it for whenever anyone wants to come back in and they --
COOPER: Arwa, I want to --
DAMON: Try not to draw too much attention.
COOPER: I want to show our viewers what you experienced and the people around you experienced just a few moments ago before we went on air. Let's take a look at that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAMON: They're volleying around on one end, as well, you'll see a lot of them pouring this white liquid into each other's eyes. That's actually an anti-acid that they mix with water to help ease the sting, ease the burn.
Remember, the government had promised to allow the Gezi Park demonstration itself continue and while the riot police have not entered the park itself, the tear gas is now landing inside the park. This is another -- move around here forward. The street right below here is where those clashes were taking place between the demonstrators and the riot police.
The riot police manages to move forward. Some of the demonstrators trying to push their way forward right now, though sometimes grab those tear gas canisters and lob them right back, back to riot police.
They are screaming to one another. But when you see what's happening, also, you're really going to have people that will try to calm those who are inside the camp down because it's so densely populated here that when -- don't even -- that you -- so densely populated here that the tear gas canisters do -- I can't even see where I'm going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
I think -- you can see in front of our cameras right now is some of the demonstrators are trying to collect different --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, Arwa, in terms of what we're looking at, and I want to continue just looking at this video. Let's look at it full screen. You don't need to see me. What is going on? Because you're wearing -- at that point you're wearing the gas mask so it's a little hard to understand what you're saying. Explain exactly where that street is and then what happens in this video.
DAMON: OK. So that particular video that you were just watching, that is actually the same street that Nick has the vantage point on. I am currently on the other side of the park.
COOPER: And then what happened --
COOPER: We just see -- we just saw a video of a guy -- Arwa, we just saw a video of a guy dropping to the ground.
DAMON: And we had to move back and then we were unable -- we were unable to move back adequately enough. We ended evacuating the park with a bunch of demonstrators. It's complete and total chaos. Coming to the other side of the park, the other street on the completely separate direction and that area, too, coming under this phenomenally intense volley of tear gas. So as I was saying right now we are inside this hotel right next to them. I can see the tear gas billowing over Gezi Park itself right now --
COOPER: Arwa, let me -- let me -- Arwa.
DAMON: It seems they're trying to clear the streets running alongside us.
COOPER: Arwa, we see protesters in this video because we're still watching the video from moments ago. It looks like a protester was -- drops to the ground. They look like they are picking up tear gas canisters, throwing it back at the police. Has that area now been cleared?
DAMON: We actually moved away from that area into another part. It was very difficult to tell. What seems to happen is that the protesters clear out when the tear gas gets fired, and then they slowly trickle back. That's what we're seeing happening in the area that we're in right now --
DAMON: -- and that of course is eliciting yet another heavy bombardment of tear gas.
COOPER: OK --
DAMON: A lot of these protesters, Anderson, we were speaking with them through the day and they really just want to highlight one thing, that they would consider themselves up until now apolitical but because of the situation, because of how much it's escalated they feel as if they do have to go out and stand with the others that are in the Gezi Park themselves. Most of them are people -- and they are professionals and they go to work during the day and then they come and they demonstrate at night.
Everyone around us is just so shocked and angry how the government is handling all of this.
COOPER: Arwa Damon. We have to take a short break. We're going to be joined by Christiane Amanpour in just a moment, also Professor Fouad Ajami. All our correspondents in the region. We're going to take a short break. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. You're looking at Taksim Square in the middle of Istanbul. As police moved in with tear gas and water canon since obviously earlier today. Protesters were treated but have trickled back in in some sports in just the last few minutes. We began seeing armored trucks pushing people back. Police tear gas, protesters launching fireworks in return.
Back with us, Arwa Damon, Nick Paton Walsh, on the ground, the frontlines. Christiane Amanpour, Ivan Watson here in New York. Joining us now also is Professor Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
Christiane, what do you make of it? I mean, you've been talking to Turkish officials all day? What do you make of what you're seeing?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's obviously one huge question, I mean, to state the obvious, how is this going to end? All side now have got their backs to the wall and there's no sense of how there's going to be any kind of common ground reach.
Prime Minister Erdogan started all of this by -- not started all this, but once it started, started to call them out some riprap. Now he's been trying to sort of make a distinction between what he calls legitimate protesters and vandals, extremists, terrorists, even.
How is this going to end? There's allegedly going to be a meeting tomorrow between the prime minister and what we were told were a delegation of protesters, but now what I'm told by a newspaper editor there that this is going to be a singer, an artist, an actor, people who are close to the governing party and the government. Got nothing to do with the protesters. The protesters aren't going.
So how is that going to change? What I was also told by a chief advisor to Prime Minister Erdogan this evening is that there are designated areas for protests. That's what their strategy seems to be. Gezi Park, which Arwa has been reporting from, and where the tent city is, and where people are, I was told, is going to remain a protest zone.
COOPER: Gezi Park, steps away from Taksim Square.
AMANPOUR: Yes, just a little above Taksim Square. A few steps up there. And the police are not meant to enter there according to the prime minister's people. What we saw in Taksim Square was also announced by the mayor tonight who said, people, stay away for your own safety. We are going to clear the square. The police will use unremitting efforts day and night to clear the square. That's what we're seeing.
COOPER: Ivan, you've lived there. You've been covering this. What is this about and what do you make of this?
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the biggest civil disobedience we've seen in Istanbul and in Turkey in a generation. And there are a few fringe groups, communists, socialists that have Molotov cocktails and that have been fighting with the police with slingshots and things like that, but for the most part, this is a young generation of Turks who were apolitical.
Guys I know like rock guitarist who just smokes pot all day who's out been mobilized somehow, grassroots just out of nowhere out of frustration at their prime minister and his lecturing for more than a decade and telling them how to live their lives --
COOPER: So you're saying something is changing perhaps?
WATSON: Something has snapped in this society and what is making it worse and what is astounding is the insults that have been hurled by this prime minister against these young people who really never cared about politics before and are really frustrated and want to be heard and just feel so -- I'm hearing some people -- they are being pushed to the fringes --
COOPER: What I don't understand, though, and just from the images, you would think Istanbul is aflame, how much widespread support do the people in that square have?
WATSON: Entire neighborhoods at 9:00 at night, and granted they tend to be more middle class, wealthier and secular, ring out with the banging of pots and pans at 9:00 every night, and that's been going on for more than a week. I've never seen behavior like that in Turkey in the more than 10 years that I've lived there. COOPER: We just (INAUDIBLE) from Ankara, I'm told. So let's take a look at that. You'll be seeing it just as I am seeing it for the first time.
Police responding again with tear gas, some water cannons to protesters in Ankara.
Fouad Ajami is also joining us.
Fouad, obviously, a lot of people seeing this. They're going to think back to Tahrir Square. Is this completely different than that?
FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION: You know, Anderson, I really believe it's -- it's very different in many ways and Ivan Watson knows Turkey much better than I could. I was just there and had the chance, it was just by accident, I was coming back from Iraq and Kurdistan, but I witnessed some of the upheaval in Turkey.
This is a moment of truth for Prime Minister Erdogan obviously, and the circumstances under which leaders lose the mandate they're having are always mysterious. A society can put up with a leader for many years, it can turn to him, it can need him, it can tolerate his exemplicity (ph) and then some things snap. And it's really about that.
Is it like Tahrir Square? I don't think so. The Turks are very earnest. They're very law-abiding. When you look at Tahrir Square and what happened in Egypt, and you were there, you were in the middle of it, something like 800 Egyptians fell in that -- in that protest. This is nothing like that and let's give -- let's give Erdogan his due. He had come to power through the ballot box. He has won three elections since 2002.
He is no Hosni Mubarak. He is a man brought to power by the ballot box who acts in very undemocratic ways sometimes. And it's really about temperament, his own character. He's a very stubborn man. He has the character of the neighborhood in Istanbul. He comes from Kasimpasa. He's a tough guy and this is -- there are circumstances when toughness just isn't good enough.
COOPER: Christiane, you're saying he's a fighter?
AMANPOUR: No, I just think that Professor Ajami is actually absolutely right in terms of his particular character. And he is known as a fighter. Kasimpasa is an area where he came from. Remember he was the major of Istanbul before this. Just this evening, an official told me, look, everybody is wondering about Erdogan. This is Erdogan who we've known for a long time and Erdogan himself says I'm not going to change.
Now is this going to be the moment of truth and how is this all going to fall out? But what we also need to remember is that according to, let's say, the former foreign minister of England today said to me if this had happened before Erdogan under different regimes, there would be no protest for 12 days. This would have been brutally and bloodily crushed immediately, so there are protests, that's a good thing. It's being allowed to happen.
On the other hand, he has done an enormous amount of good for Turkey but as people are now saying, and Ivan knows, as he's been watching, and Fouad Ajami knows, and everybody does, people say that Erdogan has developed an authoritarian streak. He doesn't brook descent, he doesn't brook criticism.
I interviewed him a few months ago and I asked him, is the prime minister off limits when it comes to criticism, and he said no, no, I'm criticized all the time but I just make the -- you know, I draw a line between being insulted. Well, I'm not quite sure exactly what that difference is.
And you know, they put a huge number of journalists in jail. There's very little space for political dissent, and after three terms, he's in his third term, people are becoming sort of angry.
COOPER: Ivan, you were saying during the breaks that, you know, he's calling some of these protesters terrorists and in Turkey, terrorists -- I mean, that's -- you can get jailed.
WATSON: There are really broad definitions of terrorism in Turkey. And according to the constitution. And it's deeply problematic because it means somebody can write something and they get detained and wait for a year for prison. So a lot of these kids who have been out saying -- criticizing their prime minister in ways that they've never had before are very frightened that when he succeeds perhaps in subduing the protests in the streets, that he's going to come back -- he has a reputation for being vindictive -- coming back and rounding people up one by one for the things that they've written and posted.
And a number of tweeters in the port city of Izmir, more than 30 were detained and now starting to face charges for inciting violence over social media, which Erdogan has called a menace to society.
COOPER: Look at live pictures right now from Istanbul. Nick Paton Walsh is there.
Nick, what are you seeing? What's going on? Looks like police moving in?
WALSH: We -- it's hard to tell, Anderson, when you see movements of police that's simply shift change. Remember, police have been doing very long hours here, as well. Whether that marks some new progress on the ground. It's been comparatively quiet for the last 10 to 15 minutes, the focus on clearing this area but there is still that pocket of protest down the left-hand side of the park.
It seems to be reasonably substantial. It's hard to tell given the distance in the dark down there. Police are not moving against them, though. When we first spoke to you earlier, Anderson, you saw those fireworks. They were emanating from that direction. So clearly, that's something the police will have to deal with if they want to have control of the perimeter around Gezi Park before dawn in about two and a half hours from now but we are seeing continued activity in central Taksim. Bulldozers moving in, collecting debris, removing those barricades. I think that's what the police want to achieve as quickly as possible, clearing the empty concrete space. But as I say, they've still got this issue of protesters that once they push them back, simply return to their original position no matter how much damage they've done to the barricades with police bulldozers -- Anderson.
COOPER: And then of course, as you said, what happens during daylight hours, which is a few hours away.
Everyone, stay with us. Our story continues to unfold even as the early hours of the morning. Still out on the streets, protesters are, in Turkey.
Also back in Washington, new reaction from the White House ahead.
COOPER: If you're just joining us, we're following the breaking news in Turkey, police cracking down on protesters in Central Istanbul. Also now reports of violence and police reaction in Taksim Square in Istanbul, bulldozers, armored vehicles, water cannons, this is what it looked like.
Continuing to hear pops of tear gas, water cannons, stun grenades. The clashes have flowed throughout the evening, 18, 19 hours what began as an environmental protest has grown to a backlash against the Prime Minister Erdogan. The White House has urge protesters and police in Turkey to refrain from violence.
Today the National Security Council says it continues to follow events in Turkey with concern. We have the panel, Ivan Watson, Christiane Amanpour and also our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian. So Dan, how concerned is the White House, I mean, based on what they are seeing in Turkey, a key ally?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They are very concerned. I mean, the White House, as you pointed out, has been watching the developments there. They are concerned about the fact that some of these protesters have been targeted. There has been violence there. That they have not been given the freedom of protesting with having their freedom of expression there in Turkey, so there is concern about that.
There is concern about the crack down to the White House putting out a statement early this evening. Talking to that point but as you point out, Turkey is a key ally in the region. It's very important for this administration for an economic standpoint, but even beyond that. So the hope is that this can be corrected through dialogue.
The White House in a statement this evening talking about the importance of resolving this through dialogue, that these protests will no longer be violent. That's the hope, at least, from the White House.
COOPER: Honestly, Christiane, I mean, Turkey is a key player in the region with what is going on in Syria and Lebanon and elsewhere.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Everywhere. I mean, it's impossible to over state the importance of Turkey for its own sake, for the region and for the U.S. and the west. It's a clear NATO ally. It supported the United States in just about every recent military operation and peacekeeping operations.
And of course, regarding Syria, that's the latest, used to be a close ally with Israel as well until there was a bit of a mess over the Gaza flotilla as we all know. But here is an irony, Prime Minister Erdogan along with President Obama and others have been calling for Bashar Al- Assad to step down.
As you know that's the policy step down. You can imagine the glee with which this is being used in Syria. Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian government are playing it on television every night and saying Mr. Erdogan, perhaps it's time for you to step down. So all of this -- that might be amusing, but it's not amusing in the bigger picture because this is a vital, vital cause in the stability of that region.
COOPER: Fouad Ajami is also joining from Stanford University. Fouad, I think it was a Turkish official that Christiane interviewed earlier compared this to "Occupy Wall Street" and police putting down demonstrations in New York in the "Occupy Wall Street Movement." Is it similar to that in your opinion?
FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION (via telephone): No, not at all. I mean, I think this is really a completely different political crisis. I do want to say something about the statements coming out of the White House -- really concerned we want peace and order in the streets of Istanbul. That's standard.
The fundamental point about the relationship between Prime Minister Erdogan and President Obama was really laid there some four nights ago when the prime minister of Turkey came to Washington. He came with this hope if he can convince President Obama step into bridge on Syria.
He wanted President Obama to give him cover because the truth is in Turkey, in Turkey the policy of Erdogan towards Syria -- the activism towards Syria is unpopular. People don't want to be involved in the Syrian crisis so Erdogan came to Washington in the hope that he would have his back covered by President Obama.
He got nothing of the sort. He went home, and I think this is really -- it's really about that in terms of U.S./Turkish relations rather than just expressing the standard concern about an ally in trouble. If he is in trouble on some policies, I think President Obama bares a fair measure of the blame for this.
COOPER: Ivan Watson, what happens at dawn? What happens in the day tomorrow? These protesters are still out there. They haven't been rounded up. A lot of people have been injured over the last month or so --
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thousands. COOPER: Thousands have been injured, some have been killed. What happens?
WATSON: Well, we've seen this cycle before. Istanbul was quiet for about five, six days in between rounds of violence and what happens is people start to go back to work. Some of these demonstrators, these protesters go back and then by evening the violence starts up again and the clashes start again in the side streets.
And the very important thing to note is this is not just Istanbul, the largest city. The riot police have been gassing and spraying demonstrators in the capital, Ankara, night after night after night over the course of the past week. There have been clashes in the port city and other cities.
This is much bigger, though the focal point is Istanbul and I don't really see a way out of this. Christiane was saying both sides have their backs against the wall. The thing is the demonstrators don't have a party or a movement. It is people who have just been driven to the point of saying we're kind of mad at the government.
So there is not another side to really negotiate with, again, the prime minister has demonized these people again and again. He's claimed -- he's take an page from the playbook of Middle Eastern dictators by claiming there is a conspiracy against him to over throw him and named individual companies that expressed sympathy for the demonstrators and singled them out --
COOPER: Has this been covered in Turkish media because people are tweeting they are showing penguin documentaries?
WATSON: My colleagues in the Turkish media are terrified of this government and of this prime minister. They are afraid of criticizing him. Their credibility has been hurt terribly by this crisis because there was so little coverage of this. Because news channels were showing cooking shows and documentaries about penguins rather than showing what was taking place in the largest city in the country. So there's -- he risks not only by putting pressure on the media, he's losing the legitimacy and credibility of other institutions in Turkey as this crisis --
COOPER: Nick Paton Walsh and Arwa Damon are still on both sides of that square covering all the conflict. We're going to continue to check in with them and then our panel. Thank you-all. We're going to dig deeper into the implications for the U.S. and national security analyst, Fran Townsend.
COOPER: Remarkable events out of Turkey this evening, at this hour. It's about 3:41 a.m. in the morning in Istanbul. Joining me now, CNN national security analyst, Fran Townsend, who is a member of the CIA External Advisory Board and also on the streets of Istanbul, Nick Paton Walsh who has been with us really for 18 hours.
Nick, at this point, just give us a quick update on where things are in the square.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, the continued cleanup there, you can see some of the people cleaning up debris there in luminous striped uniforms. One important development though on the road closest to me here, we had seen police moving in firing tear gas, using cannons to push protesters back.
The police have since withdrawn and we've seen a breakaway group of protesters moving up that road chanting a few moments ago, clearly a standoff still in place there. A bit of energy left in the protests and I've been watching this for 20 hours. They really aren't letting up, and it's going to be difficult for police to finally dislodge them on that road closest to me -- Anderson.
COOPER: Our friend, we had Professor Fouad Ajami from Stanford on just a short time ago who is critical saying that the Obama administration, they are watching this with concern. It is a difficult situation. This is a key ally for the United States in this region.
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: That's exactly right. Prime Minister Erdogan is actually at a critical moment. So the administration is right. They have to signal to Turkey that they are watching, but at this moment, Erdogan if he over steps his bounce, the administration has to leave room here.
I mean, look, Ivan said something very important earlier. The notion that Prime Minister Erdogan is referring to these protesters as terrorists, that means something and it certainly means something inside Turkey. It means something to the security forces because of how brutally they deal with the movement and terrorist movement there, and their willingness to use force.
Remember, as well, that Erdogan had an uneven relationship with the security forces. The question is how long as we've seen in other countries, how long will the security forces support the prime minister in this effort against the protesters and how brutal are they willing to become with them? You know, right now we're seeing tear gas and water guns, but there is a real potential for escalation here.
COOPER: And again, you can't under estimate how volatile this entire region is right now with Syria and happening in Lebanon and elsewhere.
TOWNSEND: That's right. Erdogan is facing something of a political crisis. You heard Fouad Ajami talk about the prime minister's concerns -- that he would have expressed to President Obama during his visit. He didn't get the kind support and quite the opposite, right? We're seeing an escalating crisis in Syria, a sustained escalating crisis.
And so, that puts the prime minister really in a difficult position domestically and I'm not sure Americans appreciate. This is a domestic political situation we're seeing playing out that has international ramifications because of the strength of the NATO ally -- COOPER: It is also interesting to see how this has escalated. It's gone from a protest over a park and taking down trees and putting up development in the park area into voicing a frustrations with the leadership, voicing frustrations with this style of rule though he's been elected third term.
TOWNSEND: That's right. It is his third term, right and we see whether it's American presidents, when you're re-elected and the second-term presidents make controversial appointments because they know they don't have to face re-election, Prime Minister Erdogan is a tough guy. You've heard him described as being notoriously tough.
This is the real leadership here is does he have the political will and stamina to deescalate it before it goes -- because I don't think it's in his political interest to continue the way it is. He ought to be looking for a way out and to take the passion out of this thing and reduce the violence.
COOPER: Fran Townsend, appreciate you being with us. We're going to continue to update throughout the evening on this story. Also late word on the Edward Snowden leak investigation, what he could be facing if and when he's found and what kind of charges a leading lawmaker says reporters should face for helping him.
COOPER: Welcome back. Edward Snowden may have dropped off the radar since leaking the existence of two top secret U.S. intelligence gathering operation, but the repercussions of what he did are plain to see and growing. The American Civil Liberties Union today is suing the directors of the NSA and the FBI seeking to block the program that tracks phone data to, quote, snatching every American's address book.
Also today several computer giants implicated in the other operation, the one targeting the internet, they are speaking out urging administration to let them be more transparent about the secret request they get for data. Each by the way denies providing the government direct access to their servers.
Snowden's girlfriend meantime says she is in her words "adrift in the sea of chaos." Lindsey Mills is her name. She described herself as a pole dancing super hero. Says she is typing on continuing to theme says my whole world has opened and closed at once leaving me lost at sea without a compass.
She wrote that yesterday, which is the last time anyone saw Edward Snowden or claiming to be Snowden as he checked out of the Boutique Hotel in Hong Kong. There is that. There are also briefings in Washington, charges being considered and more. Let's get the latest from Miguel Marquez in Hawaii where Snowden worked. So what is the latest?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We do know that there were two police officers, the two law enforcement officials that went to his house last Wednesday. We do know that one of them was a federal official, but it does not sound at this point that they knew that Snowden was the leaker at that point.
Two things happening at that point, they knew Snowden was missing and they knew somebody had leaked documents because "The Washington Post" and "The Guardian" had gone to the feds prior to publication of those documents seeking some response from them. So they were -- that link had not been made between Snowden going missing and those documents being leaked.
COOPER: And have they gone through his belongings or had he taken all of his belongings out of his house?
MARQUEZ: That is a huge question. His house was packed. His garage, at least, was packed to the ceiling with boxes say neighbors and all of that disappeared including his girlfriend. CNN did speak to her father a short time ago that said she is holding up, says Snowden is a deep believer and a very good guy.
He sends him his love, as well, but all of those belongings have gone somewhere, to a storage facility here perhaps or perhaps back home. It's not clear there is a warrant served on them to get -- authorities get their hands on them.
COOPER: And I know "The Guardian" reported that Snowden's girlfriend was completely in the dark about his activities.
MARQUEZ: Yes. He was completely guarded. He apparently has his computers, his hard drives, all that information that the feds clearly want to get their hands on, all of that appears to be wherever he is right now.
COOPER: All right, Miguel Marquez, thank you very much. The beach looks very nice, I should say.
House members got a close-door briefing today from National Security Agency. The Senate Intelligence Committee takes up the affair on Thursday, already battle lines are obviously being drawn. Democratic Senator Roy Widen of Oregon, a long-time critic of government surveillance programs such as these calling for hearings saying the American people in his words have a right to expect straight answers from the intelligence leadership and doesn't think they are getting them now.
His Democratic colleague, Dianne Feinstein, continues to defend the program as necessary and proper. Both she and Republican House Speaker John Boehner calling Edward Snowden a traitor and so does New York Republican Congressman Peter King who chairs the House subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism. I spoke with him a short time ago.
COOPER: Your colleague House Speaker John Boehner called Snowden a traitor. Do you think that's true? Do you think he's a traitor?
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I think he's a defector or traitor. I guess take your pick. What he's done is incredible damage to our country. He's going to put American lives at risk. I don't know how he can live with himself. A traitor is as good as a term as any. I think he's violated the espionage act. In my mind, yes, that would make him a traitor, yes.
COOPER: Can you say specifically how he has damaged national security or put the lives of Americans at risk because in fact wake of the Wikileaks revelations a couple of years ago, there was a lot of allegations made and then kind of months down the road, you know, then the secretary of defense came forward and said actually, you know, the damage, it was embarrassing, but it really wasn't the kind of level of damage that we thought. What specifically do you think has harmed national security with this NSA revelation?
KING: Generally, not specific, I believe, is that al Qaeda and its allies now know with great exactly what we're doing and how we're doing it. They were not aware of all the details that are out there, and they monitor everything we do on a day to day basis. They were not aware -- or could not have been aware of the number of details that have come out, and that to me is certainly putting American lives at risk by giving the enemy such detail about what we are doing that enables them to adjust their tactics and strategies, and that is very damaging to America.
COOPER: As far as reporters who help reveal these programs, do you think something should happen to them? Do you believe they should be punished as well?
KING: Actually, if they willing knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken something of this magnitude. I know the issue of leaks, I think something on this magnitude, there is an obligation both legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something, which would so severely compromise national security. As a practical matter, I guess there have been in the past several years, a number of reporters who have been prosecuted. So the answer is yes to your question.
COOPER: I want to play a quick exchange in the hearing between Senator Ron White and the director of National Intelligence. I want to play that for the viewers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions of hundreds of millions of Americans?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It does not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not wittingly.
COOPER: Do you -- is that a fact well statement, as far as you're concerned?
KING: Let me just say I believe he was on a winnable position there, no matter what he said could have compromised American security. If I were his lawyer right now, if I were advocating for him, I would say we're not collecting information on individuals. We're collecting information on phone numbers. I realize that's a technicality.
That's the legal rational that would be used. This would be like asking somebody on June 4th or 5th, 1944 are we planning D-day tomorrow or in two days. My understanding is asking that question knew what the answer was. This has already been discussed in the classified setting. When you're asked something in public about something so classified and so sensitive, it really put the director in an unwinnable position.
COOPER: Congressman Peter King, appreciate your time.
KING: Anderson, thank you.
COOPER: We're going to be right back with more of the latest from Turkey.
COOPER: Looking at live pictures right now from Taksim Square in Central Istanbul, heavy earth moving equipment, armoured vehicles, heavy police presence, it's tense but apparently calm right now at the moment. It's been anything but for much of the day. There have been hours of utter chaos since late afternoon when police first moved in. The violence spread to the capital, Ankara.
No real common ground or no signs of it yet between protesters and the Turkish government. As anyone guessed what tomorrow will bring, dawn is a couple hours from now. We'll of course, continue to bring you the latest throughout the day.
That does it for this edition of 360. Thanks very much. We'll see you again one hour from now at 10 p.m. Eastern. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.