Return to Transcripts main page


CIA Leak Hunt; A Day Without a Woman; Terrorists Attack Hospital, More Than 30 People Killed; Drought, Famine, Diseases Threaten Somalia; Somalia Remains In Trump Admin's Revised Travel Ban. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 8, 2017 - 16:30   ET




We're back with our national lead now. Today is International Women's Day. Rallies and demonstrations are being held across the nation, calling for gender equality. This year, following a contentious election, it's become a platform for something of a progressive political movement.

The same organizers behind the women's march in January pushed for a so-called Day Without a Woman, calling for a social and economic boycott.

Let's bring in CNN national correspondent Deb Feyerick in New York.

Deb, are you seeing the same level of protests that we saw the Saturday after the inauguration?


You can actually hear the cheers here as women are speaking about this movement that they have organized. And today, International Women's Day, it has sort of got a different tone this year than it has in the past.

As you take a look at the crowd, you see that it this not so much to celebrate women as it is to rally them to take action. A number of folks who I spoke to, they decided not to go to work to honor the strike. Others are not spending any money to show the economic impact that women have.

But there is this surge that we are seeing, this post-inauguration women's march, and it's really a resistance to the Trump administration policies, many policies which the women and the men here feel are an assault on women, immigration. Look at families that are being separated because mothers are being deported for violating the immigration laws.

But you have also got the issue of the travel ban, which references gender-based violence. Well, the targets of the violence, the women, they are not allowed in this country. There is also the global gag rule which prevents U.S. international aid organizations from providing any sort of family planning which involves choice to end pregnancy.

So, there is a lot of energy here, a lot of motivation, and women coming together, along with a lot of men, teachers I have spoken to, people in the media entertainment industry, people that are social workers and they are here to make sure that those things that they stand for are not disregarded under the new administration -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Deb Feyerick, thanks so much.

Thousands of stolen supposed CIA documents detailing some of the tricks of the spy trade, everything from phones and TVs, they can be used by hackers to listen on your conversations, to trying to control your car, the urgent search now by the CIA for the source of this big leak -- that story next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Topping our national lead, the hunt is on for the source of thousands of stolen secret CIA documents and files that were handed over to WikiLeaks, a trove of material that includes specific tricks of the spy trade employed by the agency allegedly to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence, among them, turning smartphones and smart TVs into recording devices, even when they are powered off, and bypassing encryption technologies by taking control of an iPhone before the app gets to work.

WikiLeaks is promising to release even more compromising information.

CNN's Barbara Starr joins me now live from the Pentagon.

Barbara, the FBI and CIA have apparently now opened an official criminal investigation into the source of this leak?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A very major investigation, Jake.

Tonight, the CIA is not confirming publicly any of the details, but a short time ago issued a statement saying all Americans should be deeply troubled by anything that WikiLeaks does that could harm national security.


STARR (voice-over): The new investigation is an acknowledgment the documents appear to be largely authentic, detailing how the CIA hacks into common devices like phones, televisions and computers overseas.

The Trump administration won't publicly confirm the leak, but appears to have known about it for some time.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All of these occurred under the last administration. That is important, all of these alleged issues.


STARR: The White House says this time it's a serious breach.

SPICER: This alleged leak should concern every single American in terms of the impact it has on our national security.

STARR: The FBI and CIA will investigate for potential criminal activity and who might have been behind it. Officials would not say if they believe an employee, a contractor, or a foreign government was involved. WikiLeaks claims former U.S. government hackers or contractors leaked the material to them.

JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: There's things in the story that make it look like the information is, for the most part, real. But there's problems about how you would get that if you were an individual.

So, we can't tell, but I think it's either an individual or the Russian government.

STARR: Officials say documents detail hacking programs that have been used, as well as some being developed to collect intelligence overseas. One allegation, the CIA can hack into smart TVs, placing televisions into a fake off mode that can listen to conversations and relay those conversations back to U.S. spies, according to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks also suggests the CIA was even studying technology that would allow them to take control of a car by hacking into its systems. The document mentions products made by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung may have been hacked.

It's no secret operating systems have shown vulnerabilities and manufacturers regularly offer fixes. The most notable hacking in a terrorism case came when the FBI paid a private company more than $1 million to hack into the phone of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook.


Even now, the FBI director saying:

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America. There is no place in America outside of judicial reach.


STARR: And the next big worry is that WikiLeaks could publish the actual computer codes. It would be a virtual road map for anyone who understands it to be able to conduct the same kinds of attacks -- Jake.

TAPPER: Barbara Starr, thanks so much. So, if the spy agency can do all this, should you be more worried

about the CIA or about America's enemies who now have this information? We will talk to the former CIA director next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Let's stick with our national lead.

Federal investigators are trying to determine exactly who may have provided WikiLeaks with thousands of documents and files detailing critical surveillance tools used by the CIA.

Joining me now to talk about this is the former director of the CIA, as well as the National Security Agency, retired Four-Star General Michael Hayden.

Thanks so much for being here.


TAPPER: So, a lot of people out there are focused on the spy craft tools that the hack revealed. You're more focused on the damage this could potentially do to national security.

HAYDEN: Right. The loss of capacity, the loss of a capability, the warning given to legitimate foreign intelligence targets as to how we would come after them, and frankly, the signatures that would suggest we are coming after them.

TAPPER: So now, you think, for instance, North Korea and Iran, they're just throwing out their smart phones, trashing their Samsung T.V.s?

HAYDEN: I think every intelligence service on the planet worth its weight is now going through these documents with great care to see what it is they have, they do that makes them vulnerable to this suite of tactics, techniques procedures and tools that have now been made public.

TAPPER: Of course, there are a lot of civil libertarians out there who think, wow, this is a lot of -- these reveal a lot of ways that the CIA could spy on anybody.


TAPPER: Are you confident that there are enough mechanisms of oversight so that this kind of thing wouldn't be abused?

HAYDEN: Yes, I am. Now, look, this is a human enterprise. Humans make mistakes. And, you know, we're in the veil of tears after original sin. You know, bad things can occasionally happen. But Jake, we just spent, what, the last 72 to 96 hours pointing out that the president of the United States doesn't have the authority to tap the phone of any American. TAPPER: Right.

HAYDEN: You got to go to a court. That process, that procedure, that culture permeates all the American intelligence agencies. So all these -- although these tools are very, very powerful, all right, I'm comfortable knowing what I know, living what I've lived, that they are targeted against legitimate foreign intelligence targets. The scary part is that legitimate foreign intelligence targets use the same devices that you and I do.

TAPPER: Right. Dianne Feinstein said earlier in the show, member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that there isn't a tremendous amount of oversight by the senate when it comes to how to use these tools and to make sure that there are only used for foreign targets as opposed to American targets.

HAYDEN: Well, look, it is the very complex and huge undertaking, all right. There is -- there is oversight. There is legitimate oversight. The senator said maybe there should be more. Maybe there should be.

I will offer you one thought, Jake. The baseline here, we are the most overseen Intelligence Community on the planet. No other parliamentary oversight body has as much invasive oversight of day-to- day operational activities as does the American congress, which is not to say it's enough yet. We may actually want to have more.

TAPPER: Are you at all suspicious of the timing of this? President Trump praised WikiLeaks a lot in the past, obviously, WikiLeaks, whether it was their goal or not, they certainly helped the Trump campaign. And here we have a situation where President Trump is complaining about intelligence, complaining about leaks, complaining people around him, complaining about the so-called "deep state" out to get him. And then, voila, a couple days later this huge trove of documents about the CIA and their abilities to spy on people.

HAYDEN: I must confess that the thought occurred to me, but I would not suggest it as anything more than perhaps a potential hypothesis. But I think that you might want to look into as you go forward. I don't know that the Russians actually committed the theft. This may be what WikiLeaks said it was, an insider. But with regard to the timing, I mean, look, I'm now pretty close to the position that WikiLeaks is acting as an arm, as an agent of the Russian federation.

TAPPER: Do you have proof of that or you just mean --


HAYDEN: No, this is -- this is -- this is my making assumptions based upon what's happened over the past year and what WikiLeaks has been doing. Look, Jake, they claim to be a transparency organization. I wish the hell they would emphasize transparency in some of the world's autocratic nations rather than one of the world's great democracies.

TAPPER: You talk about the culture at the CIA but I have to -- and the intelligence service in general, but this leak, this hack, whatever it was, follows documents revealed by Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and then, NSA contractor Harold Martin who stole documents revealing some of the most sensitive offensive cyber weapons. What's the problem here? Why does the U.S. government keep having problems with individuals within their own ranks revealing this information?

HAYDEN: So, I mean, there's always been a counterintelligence problem. Look, when you're the director of CIA or NSA, one of the things you take home with you every night is, "I wonder if there's a mole inside my organization." We have a long history --


HAYDEN: -- of people breaking in. What's different now, Jake, is we're living in a world of big data. Everything is big data. And so, when espionage of this nature takes place, it takes place like big data. And so we've got these massive leaks of Manning, of Snowden, and now what we see happening at CIA.

[16:50:06] TAPPER: I also want to ask you just about President Trump's tweets over the weekend, and his suggestion, with no evidence at all, and everybody who is in the know either says they have no evidence of it or it's not true, that President Obama ordered a wiretap of him and it happened. Are you confident that President Trump has people around him who can tell him what's true and what's not true?

HAYDEN: You know, that's a wonderful question and that I've made the comment several times since Saturday morning. But it seems as if the president woke up on Saturday morning and actually forgot that he was the president of the United States, because if this really were a question for him, all he had to do was rollover, hit that button on the phone and say, "Get Comey and the acting director of National Intelligence down here before lunch. I got questions." That's all he had to do. But he reverted to this, for whatever reason. Of course, there's been a lot of speculation about it, but he wasn't acting as president or presidentially.

TAPPER: But do you think -- you worked in the Bush administration and there were -- I know he had people around him that could say -- he had people that disagreed. He had people -- I mean, he had Dick Cheney, but he also had Condi Rice. I mean --

HAYDEN: So, I do have this fear. All right. And let's just lay it out as a fear, not a conclusion that the president seems to confront the truth tellers whether it be about a judge telling about the law, or you guys trying to report the news, or the intelligence guys trying to report their view of the world. They become intelligence, in quote, "the dishonest media", or this so-called "judge". There seems to be an attempt to invalidate, de-legitimatize folks coming to the president or within the president's sphere with information that cuts across his preassumed narrative of the world. That's a bad thing if you don't have that kind of Dutch uncle kind of guy, that, Jake, maybe even just after everyone else leaves, say, "Mr. President, a word." to bring up a concern.

TAPPER: Yes, but if that person is Steve Bannon, where are we? General Michael Hayden, thank you so much for your insight. Appreciate it, as always.

6 million people in desperate need of food. Some have already died from starvation. But will politics get in the way of saving lives? Stay with us.


[16:55:00] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. Our "WORLD LEAD" now, ISIS is claiming responsibility for a horrific terrorist attack on the military hospital in Afghanistan. The attack left more than 30 people dead and at least 50 wounded. Terrorists disguised as doctors stormed the Kabul facility this morning with guns and grenades. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance as attackers opened fire on staff and on patients.

Afghan commandos killed the three other militants after several hours of heavy fighting. President Ashraf Ghani said the carnage, quote, "Trampled all human values."

More than 6 million people gripped by hunger and disease in Somalia. The United Nations says the ongoing drought is driving the African nation to the brink of famine. Diseases like cholera and measles could make the dire situation even more tragic. The United Nations is pleading for help. Warning more than half of Somalia's population is in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

CNN International Correspondent David McKenzie traveled deep into Somalia to bring us this story.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Flying above drought-stricken terrain where Somalis fleeing Al-Qaeda linked terrorists now fear famine the most.

There's no doubt Somalia is insecure. We're in an armored personnel carrier right now. But the new U.N. Secretary-General says that's no reason to ignore a looming humanitarian process.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: It is the dramatic situation of countries like Somalia that create all the conditions for terrorism to prosper. And terrorism became a global problem swept everywhere.

MCKENZIE: Speaking of terrorism, Donald Trump has just instilled another travel ban affecting Somalia. Is that a helpful way of dealing with the threat of terrorism?

GUTERRES: I have said time and again that countries have the right to protect their borders and to manage them in a responsible way. But that should not be done with any form of discrimination in relation to nationality, to religion, or to ethnicity.

MCKENZIE: Here survival is the only concern. Fatumata Hassan is tired, gaunt. "I fled with my children more than 100 miles on foot," she says. "Shankaron cried the whole way," she says. Little Rhakma is exhausted. A famine hasn't been declared yet, but that means little to the sick and the hungry at the regional hospital.

The U.N. says more than 6 million people desperately need food assistance. That's half the Somali population. The United States is the U.N.'s biggest donor, but the secretary-general faces a White House that has threatened to slash U.N. funding and foreign aid budgets.

The new Somali President was given a make Somali great again hat in his first meeting with the U.S. Ambassador. And now, a travel ban.

Does it weaken the relationship?

MOHAMED ABDULLAHI MOHAMED, SOMALIA PRESIDENT: Well, it's something we have to work on. We have to work with the U.S. government to see that this ban must be lifted.

MCKENZIE: His country in need, once again, of an international community he hopes is still willing to help.

The Somali President a dual U.S. citizen says that the renewed travel ban will hurt the potential for the U.S. and Somalia to fight terror. Jake?

TAPPER: Our thanks to David McKenzie. That's it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He is right next door to me in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM". Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM HOST: Happening now, breaking news. More questions.