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CNN NEWSROOM

Bieber Arrested for Street Racing and DUI; Watchdog Says NSA Program Illegal, Should End; Is Olympic-Sochi Safe?; Widow: "My Whole World Was Shattered"; Target Slashes 475 Jobs

Aired January 23, 2014 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BOLDUAN: Let's go straight over to "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello for that.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Kate, have a great day.

And good morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

Justin Bieber is now the newest pop star to fall from grace. As the 19-year-old was arrested early this morning on suspicion of street racing and DUI. Miami Beach Police say the singer was taken into custody just after 4:00 a.m. while driving a rented Lamborghini. And they say Bieber was driving so fast it took officers a while to catch up to him.

Nischelle Turner is covering the story from Los Angeles. She joins us now.

Tell us more, Nischelle.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, you know, Justin Bieber was arrested, like you said, early this morning on suspicion of drag racing while under the influence of alcohol.

The Miami Beach Police Department tell us that the arrest occurred at 4:09 a.m. after they spotted this Lamborghini and a Ferrari drag racing in a residential neighborhood in Miami Beach.

Now police say two additional vehicles with unidentified drivers blocked off traffic on the street and made this kind of space, this makeshift space for drag racing. Now when police caught up to Justin's Lamborghini, they say he showed signs of impairment. They also say that he failed a field sobriety test.

They also tell us that he was given a sobriety test at the police department. We don't have the results from that yet. Police also tell us that the other driver was, in their words, Bieber's associate and that he also showed signs of impairment. Both of them were arrested on suspicion of Dui.

Now Justin Bieber will be processed. He will be sent to the Miami- Dade County Jail where more charges could come. That's what police tell us this morning. Also, authorities in Miami are also investigating now whether Justin Bieber was accompanied by an unauthorized police escort earlier this week so that he could travel in between strip clubs.

Miami Beach Police say they did not, Carol, provide that unauthorized escort.

So there's a lot going on with Justin in Miami right now. And of course, we're just beginning to sort it all out.

COSTELLO: All right. I'll let you get back to it.

Nischelle Turner reporting live for us this morning.

TURNER: Sure.

COSTELLO: Also just in to CNN, first-time jobless claims appear to be leveling off. Claims rose by 1,000 applications last week to 326,000. That was lower than what many economists had predicted and some say it could be a sign firings have leveled off after the holiday retail season.

Today there are daunting new challenges for the NSA surveillance program and the wide net it casts in collecting Americans' phone records. That was one of the secret spying tactics revealed by Edward Snowden, the former contractor who blew the lid off the nation's intelligence gathering.

CNN has learned a federal watchdog group that focuses on privacy issues concludes that the program is not only illegal, it also has minimal value in fighting terrorism.

Athena Jones is at the White House with more on this.

Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. We're talking about the Independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. This is an independent board first set up back in 2004 that's taken on several different iterations. But as soon as those revelations by Edward Snowden came out last summer, Congress asked this board to review these programs.

This is the first of two reports that are going to come out. As you mentioned, they've concluded that this program of collecting bulk phone records from Americans. Not the content of calls but the timing and another aspects, information about the calls, that it is illegal. That it should be stopped and that it's really only had minimal benefits.

A quote for you a little from this report, I have some of it here. It's quite lengthy, 238 pages. But they say that Section 215, which is the part of the Patriot Act that the government says -- that the Obama administration says justified this phone bulk data collection program, they say that that part of the program lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

And that it implicates constitutional concerns under the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment. We're talking about privacy and civil liberties concerns. They believe it should be ended.

The board also makes some recommendations. Among those recommendations are deleting raw phone records after three years instead of five. And then tightening access to search results that are -- analysts have access to under these records.

This would be recommendations that the board says should happen as they are winding down this program. This won't end this, of course. There are two dissenters on the board who say the program should stick around and there are two federal district court judges who last year came to opposite conclusions about whether this program is legal. So it just adds to the discussion -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, I was going to ask you, the president already came out and he talked about tweaks to the NSA. So how might this report affect things in the future?

JONES: Well, it's interesting. We've asked the White House about this. And they say that the board made their recommendations, made their conclusions known to the president before he gave his speech last Friday talking about his own recommendations of the program. And so it's unclear whether this new report from this board will change the administration's approach.

But what it certainly does is it adds more fuel to those who believe the program should be ended who say it is illegal. It adds to the discussion -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Athena Jones reporting live from the White House this morning.

And by the way, NSA leaker Edward Snowden will host a town hall online today on the Free Snowden Web site.

It's now just 15 days until the Sochi Olympics, and the ominous rumble of terrorist threats is steadily stealing the spotlight from the world's greatest athletes. Just don't expect to hear that from Russia's leaders.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. He largely downplayed the danger and reassured the world that Russia's security forces will keep the winter games safe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DMITRY MEDVEDEV, RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER (Through Translator): With respect to the threats on public events, there are always some threats. Not only this country but also in others. In this country, they have some specific nature and consequences. Definitely we are aware of that. And we will take that into account during the Olympics.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let me just ask you to be specific, the Russian security forces, the government has sent out alert about a specific so-called black widow who may have penetrated even the ring of steel around Sochi already. And hotels are being told to look out for this person. Flyers and posters are being sent around.

Given the amount of security that you've put in place, how is it possible that this could happen so close to the games?

MEDVEDEV (Through Translator): You know, we are having very tough struggle against terrorism. This is the reality of our life of today. And all those threats, including the ones you have mentioned occur not in the context -- not only in the context of the Olympics. And we keep fighting them every day. Sometimes we have good results, but sometimes we don't have the results we expected. But anyway the struggle will be continued.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Christiane Amanpour joins me now from London.

Somehow I'm not reassured by that interview, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Well, look. As they say, nothing is terrorist-proof. We saw it, and he pointed out, you know, the Boston marathon. If you remember the Olympics in Atlanta all those years ago. But the Russians are in very close contact with the Americans, military to military, FBI to their so-called FSB, and also they have said that they have deployed tens of thousands of troops.

But you're right, it is a scary situation. Sochi is in the middle of that rather dangerous region where rather anarchic Russian republics border it and they are looking for terrorists right now and there have been terrorist threats on the Internet. So it is scary and certainly some in the United States, even congressmen and senators have said even U.S. athletes shouldn't go.

This, of course, puts the wind up the sails of the Russians and they're saying they're doing everything they possibly can to make this not only the best but the safest Olympics.

COSTELLO: Christiane Amanpour live in London for us this morning. Thank you.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, another CNN exclusive. A top Iranian official says the United States is wrong on the nuclear deal. There was no agreement to dismantle. We'll talk about that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: A top Iranian official says the Obama administration has it all wrong. In a exclusive interview with chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, Iran's foreign minister talks about the six-month nuclear deal and says Iran never agreed to dismantle anything.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House version, both underplays the concessions and overplays Iranian commitment. And I'm not interested in that. I'm simply saying, why don't we all stick to what we agreed. Why do we need to produce different texts.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Explain then to our viewers what's different in terms of Iran's commitment to what you agreed to and what the White House says you agreed to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The terminology is different. The White House tries to portray it as basically a dismantling of Iran's nuclear program. That is the word that they use time and again. And I urge you to read the entire text. If you find a single -- a single word that even closely resembles dismantling or could be defined as dismantling in the entire text, then I will take back my comment.

SCIUTTO: So what is it Iran --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On -- foot.

SCIUTTO: Interesting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Interesting, what the text -- what Iran has agreed, is not to enrich about 5 percent. We did not agree to dismantle anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: That interview coming on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. A senior administration official tells CNN the Iranians are spinning the story for domestic political purposes.

Checking other top stories at 12 minutes past the hour, a fire at a biodiesel plant in Mississippi continues to burn this morning after a huge explosion Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters were waiting for the blaze to burn itself out and are stationed nearly a mile away due to fears a chemical tank might explode.

Fifty nearby homes have been evacuated. So far no injuries reported.

Texas has executed a Mexican national despite diplomatic pressure from Mexico's government and the Obama administration. 46-year-old Edgar Tamayo was convicted of murdering a Houston police officer back in 1994 but Mexican officials say he was denied consulate access when arrested.

U.S. officials warned executing him could impact how Americans are treated abroad. The Supreme Court rejected Tomaio's final appeal on Wednesday night.

In Hawaii, check this out. This is lava spewing from Mt. Kilauea. This video was captured from the U.S. Geological Surveys. Hawaiian volcano observatory earlier this week, as it turns out, January is volcano awareness month in Hawaii. It's just announcing that fact.

Wow. All right. Some hocking video to show you. Actually It's miraculous. You are about to see a 5-year-old boy and his grandmother being run over by a car. Now it is disturbing to watch, but both of them survive. I don't know how, but they survive. Take a look.

This is surveillance footage. It shows that car crash and then that out -of-control car hit a parked car, and it rolls over the boy and his grandmother, right?

Amazingly, the boy pops right up and rushes over to help his 56-year- old grandma. This all happened in Brazil. Reports say both of them have left the hospital. They only suffered minor injuries. The grandmother told reporters, quote, I am sure god's hand protected us.

Wow. I'm sure she's right. Still to come in the NEWSROOM.

Her whole world was shattered. For the first time we're hearing from the widow of that tragic movie theater shooting. An argument that allegedly started over texting.

Martin Savidge has that story for us.

Good morning, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. You're right.

These are her first public words. They're emotional, they're powerful, in a case that most of us simply find unbelievable.

That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: The widow of the man gunned down in a Florida movie theater just ten days ago is speaking out this morning.

Nicole Oulson spoke on "Good Morning America" about the heartache she feels after losing her husband and the father of their child.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLE OULSON, WIDOW: There are times at night especially that was my husband's ritual to put her to bed. It's times like that, or before the last thing he'd say to her before tucking her in is that you make me so happy. Daddy is so happy, Lexi. She would say, me happy, too. Lexi happy, too.

Those are the times that I'll never be able to replace. And that's when it's hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: The story is so much on the minds of Americans. I just went -- Martin Savidge is here. He's following the story actually. I just went to a movie last weekend and the manager came in and said absolutely no texting. The guy behind me said, yes, or somebody might shoot you, right? That's very much on Americans minds.

SAVIDGE: Sure. Yes, we go to movies. We text.

You know, the harsh thing of being a reporter is trying to knock on the door of a widow's home and ask how she was feeling. I did that.

She wasn't able to speak at that time. I'm talking about Nicole Coulson. She's now able to speak out.

Listen to what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE (voice-over): In a wavering and halting voice, Nicole Oulson tried to explain what much of the nation can't comprehend.

OULSON: It's so hard and it's so unbearable.

SAVIDGE: How a husband and wife's date at a movie matinee could turn deadly.

OULSON: I was so excited and looking forward to spending the day with the love of my life at a place of entertainment, you know, family entertainment.

SAVIDGE: Witnesses say during the previews at this theater north of Tampa, Chad Oulson used his phone to text the babysitter watching their 22-month-old daughter. That apparently bothered the man behind him, 71-year-old retired cop, Curtis Reeves.

According to authorities, the two argued. And after Oulson threw his bag of popcorn, Reeves pulled a gun and fired a single fatal shot.

OULSON: And just to think that in a blink of an eye, my whole world just got shattered into a million pieces and now I'm left trying to pick them up and put them all back together.

SAVIDGE: Police say Reeves told them he fired in self defense. Meanwhile, his attorney says his client is also suffering.

RICHARD ESCOBAR, REEVES ATTORNEY: Mr. Reeves is certainly heart broken over the fact that someone's life has been lost here. But, you know, we need to focus at this point in time on gathering the true evidence and bringing that forth before the court.

SAVIDGE: Not surprisingly, Nicole Oulson has a different set of priorities.

OULSON: Right now, I'm just still trying to recover from the shock and my main focus is and always will be on my daughter, Alexis. It's just unimaginable.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SAVIDGE: And a fund has been set up, Carol, to help the family, the Oulson family. So far, they've raised just over $20,000.

I should point out that Curtis Reeves, his next court appearance is February 5th.

COSTELLO: Just a couple of questions. Did she talk at all about what actually happened? What led up to the alter -- well, what some call an altercation between her husband and the alleged shooter?

And then, of course, we all know about the wound through her hand. How did that happen?

SAVIDGE: All right. Two things there. She only spoke for 50 seconds and didn't take any questions. She's, understandably, still extremely upset. Her lawyers say that she will be probably called as a key witness and she remembers everything. They didn't go into detail.

However, it was explained by the sheriff to me that she was wounded in the hand. The ring finger, as a matter of fact, that was placed on her husband's chest as if to hold them back at this very emotional time. And the gun goes off and the bullet goes through her finger and into her husband killing him. She may still have to undergo further surgery.

COSTELLO: Martin Savidge, thanks so much.

George Zimmerman hoping to cash in on another painting. This time the image of the special prosecutor who tried him for shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. It says, quote, "I have this much respect for the American judicial system." And shows Angela Corey pinching her fingers.

Zimmerman's brother tweeted the picture out overnight and says it will be available for sale some time later today. His last painting of an American flag sold on eBay for more than $100,000.

Still to come on the NEWSROOM: Target is make something cuts. We're not talking about prices. Christine Romans has all the details.

Good morning, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. For part-time workers who are offered health insurance through Target, they are now being encouraged to go get Obamacare. What Target is doing and saying for its part-time workers, right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

Some major changes are coming to Target, the company slashing nearly 500 jobs and ditching some long-held perks for part-time employees.

Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with the details.

Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning, Carol.

Let's start with those perks. You know, Target is one of those big companies, not very many of them, but one of those big companies that does offer health insurance for part-time workers. But now, with the advent of Obamacare, Target joining some of the other retailers like Home Depot and Trader Joe's in saying we'd like you to go on to the exchanges, the Obamacare exchanges, to get your health insurance.

Target is going to give their workers $500 to help ease that transition. They've also hired a benefits company to help explain to their workers how to get it done. Their plans, their part-time benefit plans there at Target will end April 1st. It's a trend we've been seeing some of these big companies moving their workers on to Obamacare. Some of these companies have said they think that by offering their workers -- by offering these plans, that other workers who maybe don't take advantage of it there can't go on the exchanges so they are just trying to move people off on to those exchanges.

Some workers have complained they worry it's going to be more expensive on the open exchange. But this is definitely a trend we've been seeing.

Meanwhile, cutting about 500 jobs. This company, Carol, has been really under a lot of pressure since Black Friday debacle of having all of that information stolen in that big hacking. The headlines have not been good for Target. The stock has not been doing that great over the past six months or so. You can see that down about 20 percent over the past six months.

So, Target really trying to clean house here with some job cuts. This new change for its part-time workers and also still -- still trying to get to the heart of that hack attack, Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Christine Romans reporting live for us this morning.

Checking other top stories at 27 minutes past the hour. NSA leaker Edward Snowden will take questions today in a live town hall-style chat on the free Snowden Web site. The chat starts at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. You can submit questions using #asksnowden. Snowden is expected to comment on the president's latest remarks about the NSA.

The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland today, saying his country has no plans for nuclear weapons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I strongly and clearly declare that nuclear weapons have no place in our security strategy and that Iran has no motivation to move in that direction. A look at history also clearly shows that Iran has in the past century never launched any invasions or aggression and only engaged in active defense against threat and direct and indirect invasion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Rouhani's comments only refer to nuclear weapons. The Iranian president added that the country will continue with what it calls peaceful nuclear technology.

Now, a story that tests the boundaries of the law, compassion and the heartbreak of a grieving family. Today, the husband of Marlise Munoz says there's new reason to the pregnant woman off the ventilator machines. It involves her fetus, which is at the very center of the Texas hospital's refusal to disconnect her. Attorneys for the family now say new tests show the fetus is deformed.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Dallas with more this morning.

Good morning, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol.

This is already a difficult story with the details that we're learning now. It gets even more difficult. The attorneys for the husband of Marlise Munoz, Eric Munoz, released a statement late yesterday afternoon saying that even though they believe that they do nothing, they have to release this information because this information they do not believe this information is relevant to their case. They wanted everyone to understand the condition that Marlise Munoz's fetus is in.

According to the statement it says, "According to medical records, we have been provided the fetus is distinctly abnormal. Even at this early stage, the lower extremities are deformed to the extent that the gender cannot be determined." The statement goes on to say the baby -- or the fetus suffers from hydrocephalous, which is fluid on the brain and also has an undetermined heart problem as well.