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Rodman Visits Again; Uproar over Indian Diplomat Arrest; Royal Hacking; Recommending Changes to NSA

Aired December 19, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: And protesters in India burn American flags and mock the president after an Indian diplomat was arrested and strip searched in New York.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today.

North Korea has a lot of world leaders concerned today, a leadership struggle going on inside the country, executions of people in the inner circle there. Some have just vanished. And an American in prison, charged with trying to bring the government down.

MALVEAUX: And right in the middle of all of this, another visit to North Korea by former basketball star Dennis Rodman. Now, Rodman landed in Pyongyang today for another round of what you might call basketball diplomacy. He's quick to say this isn't an official trip. It's not a political one. According to Rodman, he says it's all about sports, having fun, and his personal relationship with the North Korean lead, Kim Jong-un. Our Ivan Watson spoke with him.


IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is more than just the latest chapter in the unusual friendship between North Korea's reclusive dictator and the former bad boy of the NBA. Dennis Rodman may be one of the first outsiders to meet Kim Jong-un since the leader had his own uncle executed for treason.

DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: It has nothing to do with me. I mean whatever (INAUDIBLE) done and whatever (INAUDIBLE) anything in North Korea, I mean I have nothing - I have no control over that. I mean these things have been going on for years and years and years and, you know, whoever is going to be a political insider over there for America or somewhere in the world want to come over here and try to -- try to - try to get a hold of it, great. I'm just going over to do a basketball game and have some fun.

WATSON: Rodman is going to have some fun in a country that may be in the midst of a major political purge. He's bringing along a documentary film crew on a trip sponsored by an Irish gambling company. On Thursday, he told me, in the future, he wants to bring other former NBA players to Pyongyang. Meanwhile, the sister of Kenneth Bae, an American missionary imprisoned in North Korea, is begging Rodman for a very different favor.

TERRI CHUNG, KENNETH BAE'S SISTER: Mr. Rodman, if you're watching, please do think about this American citizen, a father, a husband, a son and a brother, who has been in prison for 13 months in the DPRK. And while you're there, could you think about him and his family waiting for him to come home for Christmas? And do everything you can do bring him home.

WATSON: But Rodman insists, he's powerless to help his fellow American citizen.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Beijing.


MALVEAUX: Well, Dennis Rodman, he's already planning his next trip to North Korea. Says early next month he's going to go for a basketball exhibition with more former NBA players. And it begs the question of whether or not anything will come of all of this.

Want to bring in Bill Richardson here, former U.N. ambassador, who's been in North Korea eight times in the past two decades.

Thanks for joining us. It's good to see you, as always. And I just want to put the question out there because we've been asking this, so can he really do anything? Can he make a difference? Is there some value from what he brings possibly home to the United States after doing this and potentially again meeting with the leader?

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UNITED NATIONS: Well, the value is that he and the new leader of North Korea have a relationship, and we know nothing about the new leader. So anything that Rodman can bring in terms of his perception of the new leader is valuable.

The real value, potential value, of Rodman's visit is the release of detainee Kenneth Bae, who's been in prison for 13 months. He needs to come home. He's not well. You heard his sister, Terri Chung, in the interview. Possibly Kim Jong-un could send a mess, a humanitarian gesture, by turning over Kenneth Bae to Rodman. Nobody else has been able to see Kenneth -- to see Kim Jong-un. I was there a year ago with Eric Schmidt of Google. He wouldn't see us, but he has a relationship with Rodman.

Now, we shouldn't expect any nuclear negotiations between Rodman and Kim Jong-un, any bilateral negotiations, but possibly he might do a favor to his friend by turning over Kenneth Bae and that would make the visit worthwhile.

HOLMES: Do you think that the administration or officials, whether we know it or not, might have had a bit of a word with him and given him a bit of an idea of what might be helpful? And even if they did or they did not, it's a bit embarrassing to have, you know, the worm as our de facto diplomat on the spot, do you think?

RICHARDSON: Well, I don't know whether the administration has talked to Rodman. I wouldn't be surprised if they offered a briefing so that he knows what he's up against. The danger is that Rodman might be used for public relations purposes on behalf of the new, young leader, who seems to be being challenged internally. He's in charge, but he's obviously got some domestic problems with some of the leadership in North Korea that maybe see a power vacuum.

But I do think that sports diplomacy, you know, sometimes it's not always diplomats and officials that can get things done. Sometimes it's special envoys, philanthropic groups, non-governmental groups, you know, former presidents. So I -- possibly there's a value if Rodman can get Kenneth Bae out. If not, then I don't think the trip will have much consequence.

MALVEAUX: And just to put you on the spot really briefly here, you've said before that somebody needs some credibility, some substance and some celebrity as well. Is there anybody that you can think of that has all three of those things, those elements, that could possibly work with Kim Jong-un?

RICHARDSON: Well, for many years, Kim Jong-un and his father - I know his father -- because I know that his father had this interest, he loved westerns, he loved American movies, he loved professional basketball. I remember being there and they'd say, well, you know, Michael Jordan is somebody we'd like to invite here, the former basketball star.


RICHARDSON: I just - I think what's most important is China here, Suzanne, would be the best interlocutor. They have leverage over North Korea. They're unhappy, by the way, China, because the uncle was very pro-China, pro-China trade, engagement.


RICHARDSON: And so possibly here's where China, in its diplomatic capacity, sending an official over there and saying, hey, you've got to stop this -- these executions.


RICHARDSON: You've got to release Kenneth Bae. That's what I think is the best act (ph) right now, China.


HOLMES: And that might have been the uncle's downfall, too, that relationship. Anyway, we'll have to leave it there. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Good to see you, governor.

MALVEAUX: And there is more fuel that is being added to the international fire. This is sparked by a humiliating arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York. Well, today, the attorney for that diplomat came on CNN and accused the United States of deliberately mishandling the case against his client. He insists the U.S. wanted to humiliate her. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL ARSHACK, ATTORNEY FOR DEVYANI KHOBRAGADE: That they strip search her, that they did a cavity search of her, they put her in a cell.

CHRIS CUOMO, ANCHOR, CNN'S "NEW DAY": Why do you think? Why would they do -- what could be possible justification, do you think?

ARSHACK: This is muscle flexing.


HOLMES: U.S. law enforcement stands by its handling of the case. Meanwhile, the secretary of state, John Kerry, will be speaking with his Indian counterpart, the exterior minister. Now, he's going to try to diffuse all of this. The deputy consul general is charged, by the way, with visa fraud, that's what this is all about, related to how much she paid her nanny. Deborah Feyerick with the details.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As she left the Indian mission in New York City Wednesday, Devyani Khobragade offered no comment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have anything to say?

FEYERICK: The deputy consul general was charged with making false statements on a visa application she submitted on behalf of her nanny. According to the criminal complaint, the diplomat said the nanny would be paid a minimum wage of $9.75 an hour. Instead, the nanny says she was paid just over $3 an hour.

DANA SUSSMAN, NANNY'S LAWYER: Our clients who work as domestic workers are living in the home with their employer. So if they leave, they not only leave their legal status, they leave their only source of income, they leave the only home that they've known in a foreign country. So this is more than a labor distribute.

FEYERICK: The diplomat was arrested near her daughter's Manhattan school and handed over to U.S. marshals. She was strip searched and put into general population with alleged criminals. She was given no special status since the charges related to her personal life and not her consular functions.

MARTINA VANDENBERG, PRO BONO LEGAL CENTER: Once you hand someone over to the marshal service, they are being arrested. And there's no door for rich people and no door for poor people. Everyone is arrested. Everyone is equal before the law in the United States.

FEYERICK: Martina Vandenberg has been tracking alleged diplomatic and consular abuse cases for the last decade.

VANDENBERG: So what's different about this case? The State Department and the Department of Justice stepped up and they actually took these allegations, investigated them thoroughly, and decided that they had enough information, enough evidence to indict the case.

FEYERICK: According to the criminal complaint, the 39-year-old Khobragade agreed to pay the nanny $4,500 a month. However, a lawyer for the diplomat says that figure was Dr. Khobragade's salary, not the nanny's.


FEYERICK: Lawyers for both the diplomat and the nanny say attempts to resolve the dispute financially were unsuccessful.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


HOLMES: All right, let's go live now to New Delhi. Our Mallika Kapur is there.

Mallika, you know, any sign with these high-level talks that are going to happen of the tension being diffused? I mean, after all, both countries, they don't want this getting out of control. It's an important relationship.

MALLIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a start, you know, by calling India's national security adviser, Shivshankar Menon, and expressing his regret over the incident. It was certainly a good start by John Kerry, but clearly not good enough for India.

And now India's external affairs minister, Salman Khurshid, says he wants to talk to John Kerry and he's hoping to do that in the next couple of hours. And he says when he does talk to him, he is going to demand an explanation. He's also going to ask that the diplomat be returned home and he says it's very, very important that the U.S. explains their behavior, which India has termed "barbaric."

So some firm words from Salman Khurshid, but he did add that, yes, neither side wants this to get out of control. They're both very important allies for each other. And he added, you know, these things happen in a friendship sometimes, but it's very important for a friendship -- the whole point of a friendship is that it survives a difficult test like this.

MALVEAUX: And, Mallika, I mean we've seen flag burning, security barricades removed from outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi. What is the mood like today?

KAPUR: It's much calmer today. I went by the U.S. embassy here in New Delhi a few hours ago and it was very peaceful, very calm outside the U.S. embassy. Sure the barricades have been removed, but there was a heavy police presence just outside. And we really -- we didn't see any protests in New Delhi today. It is back to business as usual. And it seems that right now any of the protests, the bickering, the angry talk, that's being limited now to the diplomatic and political levels.

MALVEAUX: All right, Mallika Kapur, thank you. Appreciate it.

Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.

A verdict now in the case of two men who were accused of using a meat cleaver to hack to death a British soldier on the streets of London.

HOLMES: And the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said a lot of things today about a lot of different topics, including his country's anti-gay laws, leaks by Edward Snowden, also spoke about President Obama. We'll bring it all to you straight from Moscow.


MALVEAUX: A little bit of inside information. Prince William apparently had a nickname for Kate Middleton while they were dating. He called her babykins. That's right. How do we know this?

Well, this is because a tabloid newspaper allegedly hacked into Middleton's voicemail.

HOLMES: And a lot of other people's, too. Now, when it comes to royals the nickname and other private information all came out in court today because the tabloid "News of the World" newspaper -- well, it's out of business now -- but its editors, at the time, are now on trial accused of breaking the law to get their scoops.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin following the story from London. More salacious stuff, but it's a very serious story and a very serious court case. What else did prosecutors say about these messages?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Michael. This is really the first time we're hearing details, actual transcripts into allegations the duchess of Cambridge, then Kate Middleton, phone had been hacked by the now defunct publication the "News of the World".

In open court today, the prosecutor reading some of the transcripts from voicemails they say was obtained by police during the course of this investigation. One of the incidents -- one of the voicemails, rather, dates all the way back to 2006 when Prince William was undergoing military exercises at Sandhurst, left a voicemail, the prosecution says for Kate Middleton in which he describes nearly being shot by blank rounds.

Let me read you the transcript that was read in open court in London today. He left a message saying, "Hi, baby. Sorry, I've just got back in off my night navigation exercise." He goes on to say, "I had a busy day today. Again, I've been running around the woods of Aldershot chasing shadows and getting horribly lost, and I walked into some other regiment's ambush, which was slightly embarrassing because I nearly got shot, not by live rounds, but by blank rounds, which would have been very embarrassing, though."

Very embarrassing now for Prince William to have this intimate phone message read out in open court. The prosecution later added that -- a similar news story appeared in an edition of "News of the World" in which Prince William is actually shot by blank rounds during a military exercise.

Prosecution arguing that this shows that the "News of the World" at the time was using these kinds of voicemails to inform its news stories. It's the latest revelation of an ongoing trial of two "News of the World" editors, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, and five former "News of the World" employees. They're charged with conspiracy to intercept voicemail messages between the years of 2000 and 2006, charges that the defendants deny.

Michael and Suzanne?

HOLMES: All right, Erin, thanks so much. Erin McLaughlin there outside court, been covering that all day.

MALVEAUX: Can you imagine? Embarrassing, indeed --


MALVEAUX: -- you know, it all comes now.


HOLMES: It involved dozens of people, too, they were hacking into.

The widespread collection, as we say, of these phone and e-mail records by the NSA, though, they need more judicial oversight, public transparency. They're just two of the some 40 recommendations in a new report about the agency's surveillance of electronic communications.

MALVEAUX: And this is a review ordered by President Obama in the wake of the stunning revelations by, of course, NSA leader Edward Snowden. Well, after the report was released, one prominent Democrat said it showed the NSA had overstepped its bounds.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D)-VERMONT: The message is very clear, the message to the NSA is now coming from every branch of government, from every corner of our nation. NSA, you've gone too far.


MALVEAUX: And Wolf Blitzer joining us from Washington.

So Wolf, give us a sense here of President Obama. He began the administration promising less secrecy, more transparency. How willing do you think the White House is going to be willing to adopt some of these recommendations? And how is the intelligence community also reacting to these reforms?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, SITUATION ROOM: I think it will adopt some of those, maybe even most of those, 46 recommendations. Some he clearly won't adopt, one already trying to split off the head of the cyber command from the NSA, make sure there are two people instead of one person in charge of both. That apparently the White House has already rejected.

But I think a lot of these 46 recommendations he'll accept. He's taking all of these recommendations, all of the background reports, the information on vacation with him to Hawaii. They're leaving this week.

Among those recommendations, greater judicial oversight, more public transparency, same privacy for U.S. citizens and foreigners who are in the United States urging government support for encryption standards and tightening the protection of classified information.

Some of these certainly will go along; with others, he probably won't go along with because of there's strong resistance inside the intelligence community. They think the U.S. needs to do a lot of this to prevent another 9/11. So there's going to be a debate. There's going to be resistance.

The president will presumably be delivering a major speech in January on what he has accepted, what he hasn't accepted, although he's going to have to show transparency given the uproar that has developed.

HOLMES: Wolf, I suppose -- of course, it impacts people all around the world who were being, sort of eyes kept on them by the NSA. Is there a sense there in Washington that the NSA overreached -- I don't know if the word rogue, going rogue, would apply -- but that they overreached or that this was business as usual and got caught out by leaks?

BLITZER: Well, after 9/11 the business as usual changed, and they really expanded their surveillance programs and all of this metadata that they needed that they say to try to prevent another 9/11.

So there are critics. You heard Patrick Leahy, the Democratic senator from Vermont, making his point that the NSA has gone way too far. On the Republican side, I spoke with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky yesterday, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Homeland Security Committee. He goes one step further. He says not only did the NSA overreach, but the head of national intelligence, James Clapper, he should possibly even be criminally prosecuted for he says, lying to Congress. Listen to this.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R)- KENTUCKY: I do think what our government is doing is unconstitutional, and I really think that in order to restore confidence in our intelligence community, I think James Clapper should resign.


BLITZER: And when I pressed him who did more damage to the U.S. national security, Suzanne and Michael, would it be James Clapper or would it be Edward Snowden, he says both of them did some damage; both of them broke the law. He was almost equating the two of them, which was pretty stunning, if you want to take a look back and see how so many of the others have reacted in defense of this program. MALVEURAX: Absolutely. All right, Wolf, thank you so much. Appreciate it, as always.

A British soldier hacked to death in the streets near his London barracks, well, he was killed in May. And today the two men charged with his murder, they learned their fate. The jury's verdict up next.


MALVEUAX: The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations right now is trying to stop a blood bath. Samantha Power in Central African Republic. This is a country embroiled in violence between Christians and Muslims.


HOLMES (voice-over): Amnesty International is saying that former rebels killed almost 1,000 people in two days in a rampage earlier this month. Today, 6,000 African peacekeepers have arrived to try to prevent more bloodshed joining our African union peacekeepers and also several thousand French troops. Now this violence left almost 400,000 people displaced.

MALVEAUX (voice-over): Ambassador Power, who is an expert on genocide, plans to press leaders to hold armed groups accountable for the acts of violence and to force them to lay down their weapons. Muslim rebels overthrew the government in March, sparking the violence.


(on-camera): And a jury in London today took just 90 minutes to return a verdict of guilty; this is for the two men charged with first-degree murder.

HOLMES: Yeah, these are the men convicted of killing Lee Rigby, that man on your screen there, a British soldier who was first run down by a car and then hacked to death in broad daylight in view of many witnesses who were out and about on streets of London. The two men are going to be sentenced in January.

MALVEAUX: People gathered outside the courthouse today, demanding the death penalty. Now that's something that's not an option in Great Britain.

And visitors to Vatican city today probably couldn't actually believe what they were seeing. This is awful. Authorities say a 51-year-old man set himself on fire. This was in St. Peters square. A Vatican statement says a Jesuit priest threw a jacket on that man, tried to put it out.

HOLMES: Yeah, police eventually came along and put it out with a fire extinguisher. The man taken to hospital, obviously, serious burns. No word on what his motivation might have been.

MALVEUAX: And stunning video from India. (BEGIN VIDEOCLILP)

MALVEAUX (voice-over): You see a boy juggling a ball before a soccer game when suddenly a section of the bleachers collapses. There you go. More than 100 people injured, taken to the hospital. Heavy rains in that area believed to have led to the collapse of the stands there. Police filed a criminal complaint against the sports club which actually hosted that match. They said they were not meeting the safety requirements.

HOLMES (voice-over): No kidding. Horrible pictures.

Well, Russia's president says, he envies President Obama and he is defending his country's anti-gay laws. Vladimir Putin says he's just defending Russian values. That's next.