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The Lead with Jake Tapper

NSA Leaker Revealed; Flu Shots Overrated?; Expert Argues Against Getting Flu Shot; Kobe Bryant Settles Spat with Parents

Aired June 10, 2013 - 16:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: From out of the shadows. The man behind perhaps the biggest U.S. intelligence leak of all time comes forward.

I'm Jake Tapper. And this is THE LEAD.

The world lead. Edward Snowden, a little over 24 hours ago, that name was cloaked in obscurity. Now he's one of the most wanted men in the world after revealing how far the U.S. government is going to spy on its own citizens. We will talk to the reporter he trusted with his story.

The national lead breaking at this hour, months before flu season even gets under way, a new report out says it's time to rethink getting flu shots. But is the controversial study putting lives at risk?

And the money lead. Is it a new iPhone, a new iPad? We have come to expect a lot out of Apple's annual developers conference. Maybe we expect too much.

Good afternoon. I'm Jake Tapper. Welcome to THE LEAD.

We begin with the world lead. There are those who think he's the defender of our basic freedoms. There are those who think he's a traitor to his country and there are those who just don't know what to think. Edward Snowden is the 29-year-old intelligence contractor who leaked top-secret National Security Agency information, revealing the incredible extent to which the U.S. government is monitoring and keeping records of not just our phone calls, but also apparently our e-mails, Internet searches, downloads, Facebook pages and on and on.

Snowden told "The Guardian" newspaper, which broke the story, that he did this to wake you up.


EDWARD SNOWDEN, LEAKED DETAILS OF U.S. SURVEILLANCE: Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched and recorded. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they can use the system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you have ever made.


TAPPER: Critics have questioned Snowden's motives, but not the authenticity of his information, which paints a picture of a massive surveillance state, a government that keeps tabs on who you call, for how long, where you were when you placed the call, and a national security infrastructure that has some sort of access to your e-mails. The White House today said leaks like this help those who seek to kill Americans.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Leaks of sensitive classified information that cause harm to our national security interests are a problem, a serious problem.


TAPPER: Snowden is currently in hiding. The last we heard, he was in Hong Kong. Before leaking the information, he worked as an infrastructure analyst for an intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, where he had access to this information, though he contacted "The Guardian" newspaper in February, before he worked for Booz Allen Hamilton.

In the past, he also worked for the CIA. He was making $200,000 and sharing a home with his girlfriend in Hawaii. Snowden said he left home three weeks ago without telling her what he planned. He says he went to Hong Kong because he thinks it's actually a lot more independent than many Western governments.

"The Guardian" revealed Snowden's identity at his own request. The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Snowden's leaks and the FBI is investigating, too, searching his house, taking his computers, trying to interview his families, friends, co-workers, girlfriend, according to a federal law enforcement source.

Part of the reason Snowden says he went public is that President Obama let him down. He tells "The Guardian": "I did not vote for him. I voted for a third party, but I believed in Obama's promises. I was going to disclose it, but waited because of his election. He continued with the policy of his predecessor."

I believed in Obama's promises, he says, like what? Well, maybe like this from then Senator Obama in 2007.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your next president will actually believe in the Constitution, which you can't say about your current president.


OBAMA: When I'm president, one of the first things I'm going to do is call in my attorney general and say to him or her, I want you to review every executive order that was issued by George Bush, whether it relates to warrantless wiretaps or detaining people or reading e- mails, or whatever it is. I want you to go through every single one of them and if they are unconstitutional, if they're encroaching on civil liberties unnecessarily, we are going to overturn them. We're going to change them.


TAPPER: Now, President Obama's pushback to criticism is that he has increased the checks and balances for these programs, bringing the foreign surveillance courts into the process, for instance, and, he insists, looping in Congress.


OBAMA: When it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program.


TAPPER: Every member of Congress has been briefed on this program. Not true. Every member of Congress has not been briefed on the phone data program. But don't take my word for it. Here's Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison on this show the very same day President Obama made that claim.


REP. KEITH ELLISON (D), MINNESOTA: Some members of Congress know about this, but a lot don't. If you're not on the Intelligence Committee, you may not be in the loop at all. I'm not.


TAPPER: But the president says not to worry, this is all being done by professionals who are responsible with these secrets.

Now, it turns out that there are at least 1.4 million Americans with top-secret access and until days ago Edward Snowden was one of these trustworthy souls.

Are we really to take at face value that, trust us, we're being told about this vast surveillance apparatus? Snowden's move, whether or not you agree with it, it puts this back on the people.


SNOWDEN: The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong. And I'm willing to go on the record to defend the authenticity of them and say I didn't change these. I didn't modify the story. This is the truth, this is what's happening, you should decide whether we need to be doing this.


TAPPER: And Joining me now is Glenn Greenwald of "The Guardian," who has been working with Snowden since February.

Glenn, I guess now we know why you're in Hong Kong. You said other reports about the details of interactions you had with Snowden are false or inaccurate. So, lay it out. How did Snowden find you? When did he reach out to you?

GLENN GREENWALD, "THE GUARDIAN": He contacted me for the first time all the way back in February and subsequently told me that he -- I was the first person in journalism that he thought about contacting and that he did contact.

And we exchanged a few e-mails back at the time he wanted to speak with me, he said, regarding a -- a very sensitive and important matter and wanted me to install very sophisticated e-mail encryption in order to have that conversation. It was something that I -- I didn't know how to do. He actually wrote out a few e-mails directing me step by step how to do it. And when I still didn't do it, he actually made a video instructing me how to do it.

And when I still didn't do it, just because it was sort of something that wasn't on my radar, I was working on other things he then went to Laura Poitras, who is a -- an award-winning filmmaker whose film was nominated for an Academy Award, with whom I had worked in -- in several different capacities who did have encrypted e-mail. And he began speaking with her and told her that he wanted to involve me in this, as well.

And -- and from that point forward, we began speaking about the possibility that he would be prepared to blow the whistle on some very serious and disturbing conduct inside the National Security Agency.

TAPPER: There were reports that he's checked out of his hotel in Hong Kong today.

Do you know where he is?

Is he still in Hong Kong?

GREENWALD: I know where he is generally. I'm not going to talk about where he is either general -- in general or specifically. He's a source and I'm not going to disclose information about his whereabouts. He's perfectly capable of doing that himself if he wants to.

TAPPER: Some supporters of his even criticized Hong Kong as his choice. The former security secretary for Hong Kong describes his choice of location as -- quote -- "really being based on unfortunate ignorance" and said it would be wise if he left to avoid extradition.

Do you think there's any way Snowden does not end up being extradited to the United States?

And where do you think he -- he should have gone?

You were tweeting people, asking them to suggest alternatives.

GREENWALD: As he put it, he had no good options. He tried to find a place that he thought the political values in that place were amenable to him, there's robust political dissent and -- and lots of free speech in Hong Kong, even though there's not in China. And he -- but he knew that was a very good likelihood, because the U.S. is the most powerful government in the world, that what he did would result in very harmful repercussions to him. And that's what makes his act so courageous.

So I don't know what the situation is with the PRC and the U.S. and Hong Kong and how -- I don't think anyone knows. But if he does end up prosecuted by the U.S., that certainly won't have been a surprise to him. He knew there was a real possibility that that would happen when he did it.

TAPPER: I want to get your response to some of the blowback, I guess we'll call it from the Obama administration. The director of national intelligence, James Clapper, said in Congressional testimony back in March something quite controversial.

And I want to play that for you.


SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?


WYDEN: It does not?

CLAPPER: Not wittingly.


TAPPER: Now, Clapper was asked about that statement in an interview with Andrea Mitchell over the weekend and he said it was like a, when are you going to stop beating your wife kind of question, and he thought he answered it truthfully with a no.

What's your response to what Director Clapper has said in response to questions about this from Senator Wyden and others?

GREENWALD: I'm really glad you're asking that about -- you're asking about that, Jake.

And -- and, you know, I've been trying to make this point, you know, all day, which is that I know there's a lot of dramatic interest in -- in what's happening with Snowden. But the real focus here should be on exactly what you just asked about, which is what the National Security Agency is doing in total secrecy and whether or not they've been truthful with the U.S. Congress about what it is that they've been doing.

And that answer that -- that he just gave, which is that the United States is not wittingly collecting data on millions of Americans, we know to be an outright falsehood, because last week, we published a document that demonstrates that the Obama administration has been going to the secret FISA court every three months and asking for and obtaining all phone records for all Americans for every call they make, internationally and locally, without any concern with whether or not the people on whom they're collecting this data have engaged in any wrongdoing, which is millions of Americans by definition.

I would also add that the Senate Intelligence Committee have repeated -- has repeatedly asked the NSA to give a rough estimate of how many Americans are being spied upon in terms of their telephone calls and their e-mail exchanges. And the NSA has continuously said, we are incapable of providing that kind of an assessment. And yet on Friday, we published documents from their program called Boundless Informant, that provides extremely detailed metrics, with great mathematical exactitude about how many communications they're intercepting, three billion every day in terms of data, data that they're storing and even indicates in which country the communications are originating.

And so it seems like this agency, that has no accountability and that Obama is boasting now is subject to Congressional oversight, has been misleading the Congress in -- in serious ways about what it is that they do and what it is that they can say they do.

TAPPER: Clapper has attacked these leaks, calling them "gut- wrenching."

You tweeted this in response: "Clapper leaks literally gut-wrenching, huge, grave damage, stage some melodrama and rhetoric for coming stories. You'll need it."

So, Glenn...



TAPPER: ... you have -- you have more big stories coming?

GREENWALD: We do have more big stories coming, without question. And I -- let me just say, I hope that when -- when the U.S. government says what they say in every single case, when you uncover their secret misconduct, which is these people have endangered national security and made people -- people should be afraid that they're going to be attacked by the terrorists, we should all be rational and not simply accept that claim.

I defy anybody, Jake, to go and look at what it is that we published over the last week and describe how any of that could have harmed national security.

Terrorists already know that the U.S. government tries to surveil their communications. Nothing that we revealed helps -- quote, unquote -- "the terrorists." All we did was tell our fellow citizens in the United States and around the world the extent and capabilities of how vast this surveillance state is and the reasons why it needs scrutiny and -- and accountability. And -- and the only things we've damaged are the reputation of American political officials and not national security.

TAPPER: I want to read you a response from one of the tech companies referenced in the -- in the PRISM story.

As you know, there's been some back and forth about how willing they've been participating. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, took to his Facebook page and wrote: "Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the U.S. or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn't even heard of PRISM."

Now, I know that there are statements in that comment that Zuckerberg wrote that are -- one could -- one could parse. For instance, OK, he didn't know it was called PRISM, but that doesn't mean he didn't know that there wasn't a program.

But is there anything specifically in what he or the other tech companies have said that is not true, just downright false?

GREENWALD: Here's what our story reported, that we have a top-secret document from the NSA that talks about the PRISM program and what it describes in its own words is direct collection of data from the servers of those companies.

So we reported that. We then went to the tech companies before our story was published. We asked them about it. They said that wasn't true. We reported that the tech companies deny it and that there was a discrepancy between what the NSA claims is going on between the companies and the government and what the companies claim.

That was the nature of our story, is they are denying that what the NSA says they're doing. Maybe it's because the NSA is doing it without their knowledge, maybe because there are semantic games going on. Maybe the truth is in between.

Since then, "The New York Times" did more reporting and documented the very extensive negotiations that exactly Mark Zuckerberg denied in which the NSA went to Silicon Valley executives and asked for full, direct access to their servers. They negotiated varying -- different companies gave varying forms of access. But it's still quite ambiguous.

I want the American people -- and they should know -- that exactly what it is that the government and the are collaborating on, are negotiating, are talking about in terms of turning over access to all this data that millions of people around the world use to communicate with one another to the U.S. government. This should all be done in public, not in the dark.

TAPPER: Glenn Greenwald in Hong Kong, columnist for "The Guardian," thank you so much for your time.

GREENWALD: Thanks for having me, Jake.

Appreciate it. TAPPER: Coming up on THE LEAD, doctors tell us every year get that flu vaccine, but a new report just released minutes ago, one bound to be controversial, says maybe we should rethink that whole thing.

Plus, what really happened the day Marilyn Monroe died? New revelation about a heated fight between Monroe and Bobby Kennedy from an investigator who says he heard it himself.


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

In our "National Lead", is it time to rethink flu vaccines? You hear every fall get your flu shot or risk a virus that can kill up to 40,000 Americans a year and hospitalized hundreds of thousands more.

But now, a new report out just this hour bound to make a lot of weight, asks whether the vaccine is all that helpful and says it may even do more harm than good.

Peter Doshi joins me now. He's a post-doctoral fellow in comparative effectiveness research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Doshi, thanks for joining us. I appreciate it.

So, explain exactly what you mean. People should not necessarily get flu vaccines?

PETER DOSHI, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Well, I'm not here to make recommendations. What I'm here is to really talk about the policy and say, is this a sound policy based on good scientific evidence, or is it not? When you look at all the evidence, you assemble it, what you find is this policy that we have now, this huge policy that we see at CVS, Walgreens, everywhere --

TAPPER: Everyone gets a flu shot, yes.

DOSHI: This is not a policy that's based on sound scientific evidence. I think we need to start thinking about whether the risks and benefits of this vaccine. You know, not all vaccines are good. Not all vaccines are bad. Not all drugs are good. Not all drugs are bad.

We need to have a civil, adult conversation about this and look at what the risks and what are the benefits. That's what I've found in the article.

TAPPER: And what is the bottom line here? You say that it's -- I mean, you don't disagree that lives are saved from the vaccine, do you?

DOSHI: I do. I think that is a claim you hear CDC make all the time but there's not a single randomized, controlled trial to shows that.

So the evidence that the CDC is relying on, to make its statements that in terms of vaccine saves lives, when you look at this evidence -- I'm not the only one. The International Cochrane Collaboration has looked at all this evidence and all the evidence. They find this evidence not credible.

It's not based on randomized trials. It's based on studies that are really not credible.

TAPPER: All right.

DOSHI: And that's the problem we have. The vaccine's benefit has been overstated.

TAPPER: The Centers for Disease Control, we asked them for a reaction to your study. They said, quote, "While influenza vaccine can vary in how well it works, CDC recommends annual vaccinations as the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications."

Are there are any more precautions more effective than vaccinations, in your view?

DOSHI: Well, CDC, as you just read in that quote, has clearly made the assertion that there is, if they say it's the best. It means it's better than something else. But take hand washing, for example, proven to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. There's no study that says what happens with vaccines versus hand washing, which is better? We don't have that study.

So, I don't agree with the CDC that the influenza vaccines are the best. We don't know that. Like I said, we don't have evidence about vaccine saving lives.

TAPPER: All right. Well, I appreciate the conversation. Just for the record, my dad is a pediatrician and I'm going to continue to get a flu shot for myself and for my children. But --

DOSHI: And that's a choice can you make. What we haven't talked about is harms. This vaccine is presented as a risk-free option. So maybe it doesn't work so well but why not, it could only do me good. That's not the case that this is a risk-free intervention. In Australia in 2009, the vaccine --

TAPPER: You do mention this in your paper, that Canada and Australia, you talk about some vaccines, there, that caused harm. But we don't use those vaccines. They're not approved for use here in the Unite States, those vaccines.

DOSHI: That's correct. Those are not approve, the one in Australia -- actually, the company is making a vaccine in the U.S.

TAPPER: That's a different vaccine.

DOSHI: The one that caused narcolepsy in Sweden and Finland, that vaccine is not in the United States. The point is not whether the vaccine is here or not. It's that those harms are unpredictable. We have a track record that says, oh, this vaccine is safe. So, it caught us completely by surprise those vaccines cause those harms.

And that's the problem. We're dealing with something that's unpredictable.

TAPPER: Peter Doshi, we'll have you back to talk more about this. I'm sure you'll get a lot of pushback from the medical community and we'll have them on, too.

Coming up, it's like Christmas for geeks. Apple's annual developers conference. But is the new operating system, or streaming music enough to keep Apple lovers happy?

Plus, Kobe Bryant's legal victory over his mom and dad. Why did he drag them to court. Our "Sports Lead" is next.


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

Now, it's time for the "Sports Lead". It almost reads like a Hallmark card. Dad, I decided not to sue you for trying to sell all my stuff. Oh, and I want a public apology from you and mom. Happy Father's Day, love Kobe.

Laker star Kobe Bryant has apparently reached a settlement with his parents over their plans to sell his memorabilia to an auction house without his permission. The auction house will still get to sell a fraction of the items, like his high school jerseys. Lower Merion Aces, his high school.

Bryant's parents also released the statement apologizing for the misunderstanding. Happy Father's Day, Joe.

There are the steroid scandals, the mindboggling contracts, the pampered players, and yes, of course, the beer prices.

And then there are the stories that remind us why we love sports. In the 34th round of the Major League Baseball draft, the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Cory Hahn. The 21-year-old former outfielder was paralyzed in just his third ever college game for Arizona State, when he slid head first in second base back in 2011. Hahn was drafted out of high school by the Padres before committing to ASU.

The Diamondbacks say this hiring is more than just a headline grab. They plan to hire him full time to work with the organization.

Good for you, Diamondbacks

Coming up, her profile pick, the profile that launched a million memes, of course. And now after visiting 112 countries as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton is finally taking her first steps into the Twitterverse.

Let's check in our political panel in the green room -- Hilary Rosen, what do you think, is there a chance we'll see her announce her presidential race on Twitter #I'mrunning, anytime soon? What do you think?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Probably not any time soon. But here's my conspiracy theory, of course. Everyone knows that the NSA has not gotten data from Twitter. So, Hilary must have known that that was the safe place to communicate and she started doing that today.

TAPPER: Very wise, very wise. I like that. We'll have that and actually real conspiracy theories later on THE LEAD.