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A Celebration Of Greatness; Spy Games; Clashes In Ukraine; Winter Olympics Controversy

Aired December 9, 2013 - 23:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm Brooke Baldwin. And welcome to the second week of our new program. It's called ICYMI. Our mission here is to comb through every single story CNN has been covering all day all over the world to bring you the very best moments of what we do. Those are the moments when the meaning of a story suddenly becomes clear.

It only happens a few times each day and they are the reason we do what we do. Like this one picture so powerful. This tells us when a gathering storm in the Ukraine has reached full-blown crisis and forces people all over the world to take a stand.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look to the west, know that we are looking back at you with great admiration. We wish you a peaceful and safe mission. We wish you the government that you want.


BALDWIN: Or the way something as simple as cold weather can become an enemy.

Turning a sheet of ice into a deadly weapon or the way that sometimes in the midst in a lot of bad news we turn to Santa Claus or a lot of Santas to cheer us up. He can make anything better. These are the moments, the best of CNN today in case you missed it. Now, let's get started.

We begin tonight as leaders from every corner of the world are descending upon Johannesburg, South Africa, to attend a giant memorial to honor President Nelson Mandela. It begins just about four hours from now amid unprecedented security. Of course, the celebration of Mandela's remarkable life has been going on in South Africa since we first learned of his passing five days ago.

Now, no one is certain exactly how many South Africans will try to attend this memorial service. It will be held at a stadium that seats, listen to this, 90,000 people. But there are fears that hundreds of thousands will show up. A potential crush of humanity that will test the security measures being taken there.

The president and Mrs. Obama boarded a plane this morning for this long journey along with George W. Bush and Laura Bush, also Hillary Clinton. Air Force One is scheduled to arrive in just about an hour from now and to be a fly on the wall on that flight.

CNN Jake Tapper host of "THE LEAD" put together this fascinating piece about what can happen when American presidents are thrown together by history.


JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN'S "THE LEAD" (voice-over): The world is quickly preparing for what may be the largest gathering of heads of state since Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965. Representing the U.S. alone will be Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter comprising one of the most prestigious frequent flier clubs in the world.

Today Air Force One departed for South Africa, where more than 90 world leaders are planning to attend Nelson Mandela's memorial Tuesday in Johannesburg. Inside Air Force One, the Obamas and George W. and Laura Bush, along with former First Lady Clinton, the former President Bill and daughter, Chelsea are flying from an event in Rio and linking up with the rest of the club tomorrow.

President George H.W. Bush who has been in poor health for some time, will not be making the trip. Together, they're set for an almost 20- hour flight. Even though there's only one bed on board.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Air Force One is a very intimate setting. So, that's the place where you can have quieter conversation. Once you get to one of these massive events, it's very hard to have real conversations.

TAPPER: These long flights, believe it or not, can forge friendships. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan could not attend the funeral of Egypt's president. So he enlisted Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to attend instead. The flight was said to be initially awkward and very long, but one notable friendship emerged. Ford's funeral more than 25 years later when Jimmy Carter eulogized his long- time friend.

JIMMY CARTER: For myself and for our nation, I want to thank my predecessor.

TAPPER: Fast forward to 1992, Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush were fighting a bitter presidential contest, but seven years later when they travelled together to attend the funeral of Jordan's king, Hussein in 1999, that ice began to thaw. And now they're partners in philanthropy all over the world. Such a gathering of most or all living presidents is typically reserved only for monumental, usually sad events. The journey itself holds the potential for conflict and resolution on a first class scale.

GERGEN: It's going to make a big, big difference in the atmospherics on Air Force One with George W. Bush there with his successor. That President Bush has been so reserved and making any negative comments. He's not second guessing his successor and I think that the Obama people really appreciate that. TAPPER: This gang has seen more of each other than usual. The group suited up to attend the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas. Then in August, Clinton, Obama and Carter joined forces to honor the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

GERGEN: No former president likes to be marginalized. They have always been the center of attention. Three formers and a current president four centers of attention, that's a lot to juggle.

TAPPER: But for all their smiles, a stage shared by leaders can seem rather small at times. Safe travels to our nation's (inaudible) today, may you get along well with your seat mate.


BALDWIN: And Jake joins me now to talk about these presidential journeys. So, Jake Tapper, first, let's begin with what more do you know about what happened aboard Air Force One?

TAPPER: Well, according to Mike Duffy and Nancy Gibbs' book, "The President's Club" the two men, Ford and Carter bonded a lot on that 1981 trip about a few things they had in common. They hated fundraising and they were still having to fundraise because they were --

BALDWIN: Hang on, Tapper. I should have been more clear, let's begin with the Air Force One. Did you see notes for this particular trip and --

TAPPER: Yes, with the current.

BALDWIN: Let's begin with that and I'll ask you a follow and we'll talk about Anwar Sadatki's funeral.

And Jake joins me now to talk about these presidential journeys. Let's begin with this current flight. What more do we know about what happened aboard Air Force One?

TAPPER: Well, President Obama obviously in his cabin. The Bushs were given the area where the medical cabin, where the doctor usually sets up and former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is set up in a cabin that would normally go to a senior staffer. So, they were all given their little area where they could have their space. But we've been told that they've all been at different parts of the flight hanging out in the conference room. There has been some socializing on Air Force One.

BALDWIN: And who knows what could come of this. This isn't a first. Take me back, 1981. You have the 37th, 38th, 39th president all on this plane en route to Anwar Satad's funeral. Tell me about that.

TAPPER: Well, it started out really awkwardly according to accounts and some bad turbulence, as well. During the course of the flight there and the flight back, according to many reports, including a great one by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy in "The President's Club." Ford and Carter really bonded. You have to remember, they ran a very tough race against each other in 1976. But they had a few things in common at this point. One, they were raising money for their libraries and they both hated fundraising. Two, both of them were forced into retirement early. Three, neither of them particularly cared for Reagan or Nixon. Nixon, of course, was also on the plane.

BALDWIN: On the plane.

TAPPER: And so maybe a little mean girls action there. They weren't really into Richard Nixon neither cared for Ronald Reagan, who had asked them to go. So, they did bond. In fact, at the ford funeral, Jimmy Carter noted that he and Gerald Ford worked together on 25 different projects.

By the end of just that flight, they had already agreed to appear at one another's library. So, it really seems to be one of these rare moments where two people who never normally would socialize are forced into a situation where they have to and it turns out they get along swimmingly.

BALDWIN: Stuck on a plane, you can't go anywhere, fascinating to see if anything comes from this particular flight. Jake Tapper in Washington for us tonight, thank you.

TAPPER: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Now to another branch of the government tonight, the NSA and this new revelation from that seemingly endless stream of leaks left behind by Edward Snowden. This one makes spy craft sound more like a game than real life when, in fact, it is a game featuring these guys, goblins, elves, dwarfs, trolls. Could they be the new faces of terror or could they be NSA spies under cover?

The new leak indicates they may be both. Stay with me here. According to documents obtained by Snowden and shared with the "New York Times" among others, NSA spies infiltrated this online fantasy game known as "World of Warcraft." They created this avatars and roamed these virtual worlds looking for possible terrorist cells they believe were used, they believe were using the game for cover.

And get this, the report says that so many government agencies were spying in these fictional worlds that an additional government group was needed to avoid the virtual spies from spying on each other. The documents do not site any plots being foiled or any elves ending up being in a terrorist cell.

However, I know as preposterous as all of this sounds, today in "THE SITUATION ROOM," our Brian Todd actually talked to one of these online spies, this former FBI agent and he says he actually found terrorists lurking in these games.


EJ HILBERT, FORMER FBI CYBER CRIME AGENT: At one point in time, my name was Ivan and I was a kid from Chechnya and moved to the United States and I was there to be radical or I hated being here and I inserted myself online to be radicalized by various different groups. I played that role key online and I played video games with these guys and I joined in on various different networks and eventually I found the real radical elements and then, you know, next thing I know I'm being sent videos on how to create bombs and being told what I should attend.


BALDWIN: What? I'm not making this stuff up, in case you missed it.

Have to take a quick break here. But I have something I want to show you when we come back. Actor George Clooney is taking a strong stand on an international crisis and, hang on, because before you assume this is just another celebrity getting involved in politics, think again. Mr. Clooney is the real deal. More when IN CASE YOU MISSED IT returns.


BALDWIN: Welcome to ICYMI. I'm Brooke Baldwin. In the Ukraine tonight that political standoff we've been telling you about, the huge demonstration and clashes between police and protesters, well, it all seem to have come to a crisis point. The opposition that has led an estimated 1 million people into the streets is now blocking almost all government buildings in this capital city of Kiev.

They're determined to oust their president. They see him as a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin and they're furious that he obeyed Putin and refused to open trade with the European Union, which they believe going to save their staggering economy. On Sunday, protesters toppled a statue of Lenin, took turns pounding it with hammers.

CNN as we have been showing you been on the inside of these demonstrations since they began and today opposition leaders told our journalists there that a group of masked men raided their offices, took away their computers. One thing is certain here, this rising tension and anger in these streets is not going anywhere even a snowstorm. Look at that.

Snowstorm didn't stop these protesters and now members of the government calling on their own president to negotiate with the movement. This as violence broke out between protesters and interior ministry troops near the Presidential Administration Building. The opposition says it is giving the president 48 hours to dismantle his government.

And then this tonight, actor and activist, George Clooney stepped into the fray today. We here at CNN found this reporting on YouTube and what you will hear is an emotional message supporting these demonstrators.


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: So, let me just say this to all of you in the square in Kiev and all around Ukraine. When you look to the west, know that we are looking back at you with great admiration. We wish you a peaceful and safe mission. We wish you the government that you want. And we wish you the strength to carry on. Good luck.


BALDWIN: Before you say, another celebrity gets involved in something he has absolutely no business in. I want you to remember the role that George Clooney played in bringing attention to violence in the Sudan. CNN was there last year when he was arrested at the embassy in Washington. Remember this? To bring attention to the alleged war crimes committed by the Sudanese president and he met with President Obama to convince him to help the violence there. When George Clooney gets involved oftentimes this man gets action.

Another political issue involving Russia, celebrities, the upcoming winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the threatened boycott of these games because of Vladimir Putin's anti-gay stance. Just on Friday, Elton John performed before this packed audience in Moscow and he took that moment to confront the issue head on.


ELTON JOHN, MUSICIAN: Always welcome me with warmth and open arms every time I've visited. You've always embraced me and you have never judged me. So -- I am deeply saddened over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community. It is isolating. Some people -- that because of this legislation, I must not come here to Russia. But many, many more people have asked me to come and I listened.


BALDWIN: Russia is under scrutiny for its new propaganda law. The band is even talking about homosexuality anywhere a child might be listening. So many people decided to boycott the games. Today, news that the president of Germany became the first major political leader to announce he will not attend.

Russia has also blacklisted celebrities who championed gay rights, like Madonna and Lady Gaga and in case you missed it today I interview singer, songwriter, activist Melissa Etheridge and we talked about her new campaign dedicated to changing the treatment of Russia's LGBT community and since it was Melissa Etheridge and I'm a bit of a music nerd I finagled a guitar. And well, this happened live on CNN.

You should have seen the impromptu audience there in the newsroom about rising up against hate and homophobia. She told me she would like to attend the winter games in Sochi and allow her presence to send a message, but she also said she's not so sure Russia would let her in.

Have to take a quick break here on IN CASE YOU MISSED IT. When we return, our very best of the world out of the hundreds of videos that feed into CNN every day, we dig deep to find the very best ones for you tonight. Don't go away.


BALDWIN: Welcome back to ICYMI. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Every day at CNN we bring in hundreds of videos around the world and our producers sift through all the pieces of video and we put together the best images of the day. Right behind me is this video wall for you and you will recognize a couple of these stories we recovered earlier tonight.

The massive protests in the Ukraine, the touching vigils coming in to us from South Africa in memory of Nelson Mandela, but there are a couple extraordinary videos we had to take a closer look at. So beginning with this one, as a winter storm crippled much of the U.S. this weekend, we got this one.

This is Plano, Texas. This is an ice storm, left a lot of people without power, 250,000 residents and businesses in Northern Texas. What you're seeing these massive sheets of ice falling from the roof of this building. Luckily no one was injured. Unfortunately, though, for that car, we can't exactly say the same.

Now, to this one, you probably see this piece of video on CNN last week. This United Arab Emirates plane had to stop its landing at the very last second in Birmingham, England, last week because of heavy winds. The Boeing 777 which tried and failed to land two more times was then diverted to London's Gatlic Airport where it eventually landed safely.

Not without leaving passengers totally shaken up, though. One passenger said he would never fly again because of this and what we just learned is that this wasn't the only close call that day. With wind gusts as high as 100 miles per hour, at least two other planes had to abort their landings, leaving British officials wondering if policies or regulations should be put in place to avoid these kind of risky attempts in the future. We're told the government is investigating.

And when we come back tonight, one last look at some special video today that may leave you smiling. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, back after this.


BALDWIN: Welcome back to ICYMI. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Let me leave you with this tonight. People around the world are squeezing into their Santa suits both on land and at sea. First, to the scuba Santas we go. These are divers in Seoul, South Korea donning their Santa suits swimming with the sardines at a local aquarium.

And then this is this, my favorite. The Red River Resort Maine hosting their 14th annual Santa Sunday where count them 200 Santas hit the slopes to raise a little money with some sweet moves for the holiday toy drive.

That is it for me, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for watching. We'll see you right back here tomorrow night.