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Home Depot Reporting Major Cyber Security Breach; Michel Cohen Defending Obama's Strategy on Dealing with ISIS; Confusion Regarding Sites to Raise Financial Support for Darren Wilson

Aired September 3, 2014 - 10:30   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me. Home Depot is investigating a security breach that could be even larger than the one that affected 40 million debit and credit cards at Target last year. A cyber security expert reports that a massive new batch of stolen credit and debit cards have gone onto sale in the black market online. Home Depot says it's working with the banks and law enforcement on the hack. CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins us now. This is disturbing.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's so creepy to think about people there just buying and selling and trading your information. You know, I mean, it really is disturbing and this could be a big one if the early reports are true. Bryan Krebs is the cyber security journalist who first broke this. And says it looks like it's been going on since at least May that this hackers have been inside the systems at Home Depot.

What's really interesting too, is the whole batch - the whole batch of your information that was put out there on the black market, it was called the American Sanctions Batch of Information. This was what Bryan Krebs says. It could only be interpreted as intended retribution for U.S. and European sanctions against Russia for its aggression in Ukraine. This crime shop has named its newest batch of credit card information "American Sanctions." So creepy.

COSTELLO: We suspect Russian hackers are to blame and they are poking ...

ROMANS: They are poking a little bit of fun. I mean usually this happens because financial reasons altogether and we know that these hackers have a, let's say, a twisted sense of humor. So that could be one of the things at play here, but now it's been maybe since May. So, that's an awful lot of information has been breached.

COSTELLO: How Home Depot didn't realize it?

ROMANS: Home Depot - so, the banks, kind of (INAUDIBLE), and the banks had been noticing this and now Home Depot is involved. Home Depot says that protecting our customer's information is something we take very seriously. And we're aggressively gathering facts at this point while working to protect customers. I can't say that's almost exactly like the kind of statements we get from the big retailers. And lots of big retailers. T.J. Maxx, Target and many others when they have been hacked. They seem to always be after the fact trying to figure out how to shut it down.

COSTELLO: So, how do I know if I've been hacked? I just went to Home Depot.

ROMANS: Well, they are going to be looking into that and they are going to tell you presumably. But you know, your information, Carol is worth maybe, I don't know, $20 to $100 right now on the black market. Somebody trying to get your good name and your good debit and credit card information to do what they will with it. The interesting thing is as time goes on, the value of your information in the black market goes down because of the publicity of the hacks, because the credit card companies and retailers try to do something about it. But it is just so creepy, isn't it, to think about your information out there? Maybe $100, your information, and it's crime when it's the secret ...

COSTELLO: Here's the thing, so this horrible thing happened at Target. There was a huge outcry, everybody talked about increased security for your credit cards as they go through these little like machines in the store.

ROMANS: Yeah. Yeah.

COSTELLO: And this happens again. So are retailers doing anything? Really?

ROMANS: They are starting to spend more money. And you can see it, and when you look at these cyber security companies stocks are going up, because they are getting all these new contracts, you know, to try to help the retailers plug these holes. The chip and pin technology, you know, more sophisticated technology, the kind of technology that's used in Europe at the point of sale, that's where the United States is moving now, but it's just moving very slowly. And I will say that security experts say that it is the retailers and health care, actually, health care and retail - imagine hospitals and retailers are the worst in terms and the farthest behind in terms of tightening up on this. But banks are spending hundreds of millions dollars a year trying to make sure that they don't get hacked.

COSTELLO: All right. Christine Romans, thanks so much. Still to come in the "NEWSROOM," a pledge and a promise to destroy ISIS terrorists after a second American is brutally executed. But as calls for military retaliation gets louder, so do the president's critics. Up next, why a solution to take out ISIS might be harder than some might think.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Whatever these murderers think they will achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed. They failed because like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism, we will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists and those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget. And that our reach is long and that justice will be served.


COSTELLO: President's many critics say this is not enough, though. Talk is cheap. They are upset that the president still has no firm strategy to deal with ISIS. Although there are those who believe Mr. Obama should take his time. If only to avoid the confusion that went on going into the second Iraq war. Remember this?


DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know, but there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know, we don't know.


COSTELLO: All righty then. Let's discuss this with Michael Cohen. He's a fellow at the Century Foundation. He wrote an article in "The Daily News" called "The Punditry versus the Presidency." Welcome, Michael and thank you so much for being here.


COSTELLO: So, you say it's easy to throw darts at the president's lack of a strategy but it's harder than you might think. Explain.

COHEN: Well, coming up with a strategy for dealing with ISIS is complicated. I mean you need to know how much support you are going to get from the Iraqi government, how much support you are going to get from regional allies. What your military can actually do. What you can actually accomplish on the ground. I mean it takes time to figure this stuff out, and, you know, it's not something you can just go in and start dropping some bombs and everything gets better. You need to actually think about what the long-term consequences also of use of force will be. And, you know, I think it's good that the president is actually deliberating over this and thinking about what the best approach is. And also trying to get buy-in from regional allies, from the Iraqi government. So far, he's made progress in getting the Iraqi government to be a little bit more flexible, at least when it comes to political reform. So, this is a good step in the right direction.

COSTELLO: Well, I must say that Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, he echoed what you had to say. He said, "The bigger problem is with the governance in Syria and the hopelessness young people feel. So, let's ...


REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: That's not going to be solved through airstrikes. And we know that. There's a military component and we're very good at executing that component, but it's not going to be enough.


COSTELLO: And you know, you can sit here intellectualize about that, but when you see a second American being beheaded and you hear the president of the United States saying he has no clear strategy as of yet. It makes you angry, and it makes Americans really angry and it makes Americans feel helpless.

COHEN: Sure. I mean I get that. And in a way, you know, there's something good about the president's demystifying the notion that we can just go in and affect what's going to happen on the ground in Iraq. That we actually have to talk to allies. We actually have to work with other folks conditions. No easy military solution. And in some respects, and I wish he hadn't walked back the no strategy comment, because actually I think it's what people should understand. That these things are difficult. And there's no best option. There is no - this is the good option, this is the bad option. There is basically least-worst options. And that's kind of what policymakers have to deal with on a regular basis. And people need to understand though, better than they do. And Obama is - has been a little bit of a better explaining that to Americans. I mean it's a hard message to get across.

COSTELLO: I don't think he has. I think he's been terrible at explaining to the American people exactly what he means.

COHEN: I think the American people understand its - argument. They should think well, if America decides to act, you will act, and things will get better. And we will be able to, you know, kill the evil doers. Bad expression. But it's not so simple. And I think - and in some respects what Obama has done at least with Russia and with Syria and with ISIS is sort of say, you know, this is a long process, in which you need to apply pressure in different ways, diplomatic pressure, economic pressure, military pressure, but there's no easy solution to these things.

COSTELLO: All right. Michael Cohen, thank you so much, I appreciate it.

Still to come in the "NEWSROOM" confusion surrounding fundraising sites to support the Ferguson, Missouri police officer who killed Michael Brown. We'll talk to our reporter who's trying to find out what's going to happen with all that money, next.


COSTELLO: All right. Just minutes ago at the State Department, the Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the execution of Steven Sotloff by ISIS and the possible defeat of that terrorist organization. Let's listen.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The real face of Islam is not what we saw yesterday. When the world bore witness again to the unfathomable brutality of ISIL terrorist murders, when we saw Steven Sotloff, an American journalist who left home in Florida in order to tell the story of brave people in the Middle East. We saw him brutally taken from us in an act of medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask. For so many who worked so long to bring Steven and other Americans home safely, this obviously was not how the story was meant to end. It's a punch to the gut, and the United States government, I want you to know, has used every single military, diplomatic and intelligence tool that we have and we always will. Our special operations forces bravely risked a military operation in order to save these lives. And we have reached out diplomatically to everyone and anyone who might be able to help.


COSTELLO: All right, John Kerry talking about ISIS and the execution of Steven Sotloff. Much more on that throughout the day on CNN.

In other news this morning, confusion in Ferguson, Missouri surrounding officer Darren Wilson and special funds to help him with his legal fight. As you know, Officer Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown. Now, oddly, two online fundraising sites for Wilson are now longer taking donations. One of the go fund me sites to support Officer Wilson has brought in more than 197,000. The site is sponsored by the Shield of Hope, a group founded by the Fraternal Order of Police to administer funds to the families of fallen officers. The Missouri state representative Jeff Roorda is a Shield of Hope board member and he says the go fund me site has been shut down while accountants try to figure out whether the money can actually be used for Wilson's family or for his defense.


JEFF ROORDA, MISSOURI STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Everybody deserves to have the best legal defense that they can when they face they face their day in court, whatever that may be and we're just seeing to it that's what Officer Wilson has.


COSTELLO: State Representative Roorda goes on to say the second fundraising site, the similarly titled support officer Darren Wilson page has also been shut down. That fund has raised more than $235,000. Roorda insists that fund was started by a teenage girl, but who knows at this point. "Los Angeles Times" national reporter Matt Pearce has been investigating this story. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, because in many ways it's disturbing. So, this teen - a teenage girl started this second donation site. Do we even know who she is?

MATT PEARCE, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Well, there was a name initially attached to the donation page when it was created a few days after the disturbance sort of started in Ferguson, Missouri. But when I messaged the creator of that page, you know, their identity had been taking off at that point and I didn't hear anything for a little while, but then a couple of nights ago, they messaged me back, and I had relayed them the story that the representative Roorda had told me, you know, about this being a teenage girl from the St. Louis area who just wanted to help out, and the anonymous administrator of this page wrote back to me and said, you know, the information that the Representative Roorda gave you is false. You know, we've never talk to him, you know, and consider that when you put that in your story and I even got another message from them last night and they are sticking to their story. So, we don't really know who is administering this page that has more than $200,000 worth of donations.

COSTELLO: So do we know where that money is going?

PEARCE: Well, it's supposed to go to help Officer - Officer ....


PEARCE: The officer involved in the shooting. Wilson. But Go fund me does not necessarily guarantee the accuracy of the information that's on its donation pages. This page has not been certified, and so they do reserve the ability to shut down these pages, if they think there's some impropriety and I have spoken to a spokeswoman who told me that she thinks that, you know, this fundraiser is a valid person, but we just - we haven't heard a confirmation of that yet.

COSTELLO: So, Representative Roorda also said that he's not sure whether the money can actually be used for a legal defense fund. Where did that come from and why can't it be?

PEARCE: Well, there are certain rules that the IRS has for nonprofit foundations, which is what the Shield of Hope is, and so their attorneys have to figure out if it's possible for this money to actually go toward Officer Wilson's defense fund and so they have to spend time figuring that out, whether that money can actually be dispersed that way. I mean this is the thing about social media and these online campaign fundraisers. Anyone could start one, and there can be some ambiguities about, you know, what actually happens with federal and state rules when someone collects this money.

COSTELLO: So have you talked to any donors?

PEARCE: I haven't actually talked to any donors. I mean a lot of people want to remain anonymous. You know, they don't want to put their names out there in support of this and actually go fund me had added a feature to remove the identity of people donated to the fund because this donation fund had come under such attack that, you know, online trolls had started attacking the fundraiser pages to the points where comments had to be taken down, and so this has sort of been a very fluid situation where, you know, you have a lot of people who sort of quietly want to give their support to Officer Wilson, but that's also come hand in hand with a situation, in which we don't have a lot of transparency about who administers this large amount of money.

COSTELLO: You got that right. Matthew Pearce, thanks so much for coming in. We appreciate it. Matthew Pearce from the "L.A. Times." I'll be right back.


COSTELLO: In football, the violent collision of BMS is truly a clash of the titans. But when the tiny Tennessee Titan is stealing the show. In this year's release of the iconic videogame franchise "Madden Football," a glitch has shrunk the linebacker to a mere 14 inches. CNN Jeanne Moos has the smallest details.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Please, please don't step on the itsy bitsy linebacker. Chris Kirksey went from this ....

CHRIS KIRKSEY: I'm 6'2, actually.

MOOS: To this.

A crazy phenom of a player at 1'2 inches.

All because of a technical glitch in a video game. Madden NFL 15 has gamers mad for the adorably tiny Cleveland Browns linebacker who was inadvertently miniaturized and turned into a Tennessee Titan.

No matter how small you are, have big dreams and live big, that's what full size Chris Kirksey tweeted out in response to his teeny-weeny avatar.

KIRKSEY: When I first saw it, I thought it was pretty funny.

MOOS: For Chris, it's like being in that movie classic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I shrunk the kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nick, what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: We're all the size of boogers.

MOOS: Talk about picking, Chris says he's being picked on by friends.

KIRKSEY: Said, honey, I've shrunk the linebacker.

MOSS: But he's taking it in stride. Teeny tiny strides.

Jeanne Moos, CNN ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One feet tall, one foot tall. Not feet.

MOOS: New York.



COSTELLO: Oh, he has a great sense of humor. That's a good thing.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello. "@ THIS HOUR" with Berman and Michaela after a break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)