Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Today

Inside the NSA; Desperate for Baby

Aired January 25, 2006 - 10:33   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just over two hours from now, President Bush will visit the National Security Agency. When he's there, he'll defend his administration's domestic-spying program. The White House is in the midst of a week-long PR campaign to rally support for the controversial element of its war on terror. At issue, whether the president has the legal authority to electronically eavesdrop on phone conversations without a warrant. Congress is set to hold hearings on the matter next month.
It was nearly five years ago that CNN had a rare opportunity to peel back the curtain and peek inside the secretive NSA headquarters at Maryland's Fort Meade. Here in one of those reports from 2001 from our national security correspondent David Ensor.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From its headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the super-secret National Security Agency eavesdrops on literally billions of communications worldwide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secrets worth knowing, data that no one else can get.

ENSOR: But for some, the awesome power of NSA's technology and its secrecy are a source of concern.

BARRY STEINHARDT, ACLU: What's happening, of course, is that the NSA says: "Trust us, we're the government. We won't abuse the law." Of course, what they're really saying is: "Trust us, we're the government spies, and we won't abuse the law." But since there is no real check on them, there's no way to know that.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Satellite imagery coming through.,.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Request keyhole visual tasking, maximum resolution.


ENSOR: In the 1998 movie, "Enemy of the State, " NSA was portrayed by Hollywood as an evil big brother spying on Americans.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Let's get into his life.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: The government's been in bed with the entire telecommunications business since the '40s. They have infected everything. They can get into your bank statements, computer files, e- mail, listen to your phone calls.

WILL SMITH, ACTOR: My wife's been saying that for years.


GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, DIRECTOR, NSA: I made the judgment that we couldn't survive with the popular impression of this agency being formed by the last Will Smith movie.

ENSOR: When General Michael Hayden saw the movie, he saw a problem -- an image problem. That is in part why the NSA decided to let CNN inside the NSA to see where code breakers gather, and code makers protect the nation's secrets. Above all, Hayden knows NSA cannot afford to be seen as trampling on the privacy rights of U.S. citizens.

HAYDEN: It has to be somewhat a secretive agency, and right in the middle of a political culture that just trusts two things most of all: power and secrecy. That's a challenge for us, and that's why, frankly, we're trying to explain what it is we do for America, how it is we follow the law. Could there be abuses? Of course. Would there be? I am looking you and the American people in the eye and saying: there are not.

ENSOR: Hayden says NSA has not spied on Americans since the '70s, after it was found to be eavesdropping on Jane Fonda, Doctor Benjamin Spock, and other anti-Vietnam war activists. At that time the law was tightened up.

But when, for example, eavesdropping on a drug ring in Colombia, separating the foreigners, who can be legally bugged, from the U.S. citizens or residents who cannot, is not always easy. And the NSA gets pressure from law enforcement agencies to help out with such cases.

JAMES BAMFORD, AUTHOR, "BODY OF SECRETS": It's a battle that goes on behind the lines in a great deal of secrecy. And how close they get to the line, or whether they slip over sometimes is a matter that has to be watched closely.

ENSOR: In Europe, the debate about the NSA and privacy centers around these surveillance facilities in Menwithill, England. A European Parliament report suggested there may have been economic espionage by the U.S. to help American companies against European competitors.

QUESTION: Is that true?

HAYDEN: No, and I really welcome the opportunity, I'm glad you asked the question. That is absolutely not true.

ENSOR (on camera): However, Hayden says if the NSA detects law- breaking, by law, it must tell other U.S. agencies, like the State Department. So if, for example, it learns that a foreign company is using bribery to try to obtain a contract, that information does not remain a secret.

David Ensor, CNN, Fort Meade, Maryland.



KAGAN: Desperate to be parents. A lot of couples resorting to a potentially dangerous tactic to get pregnant.


There is a network of people out there that are willing to help you, that have leftover drugs that can sell them to you at a reduced cost.


KAGAN: Black market infertility. It's a CNN exclusive, and it's just ahead.


KAGAN: And now to the difficult topic of infertility. Millions of infertile couples desperate to conceive face some very expensive procedures and drugs. But some who can't afford them are turning to an illegal and potentially dangerous solution.

Randi Kaye has this CNN exclusive.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Phillipsburg, New Jersey, I'm in need of Ganal F (ph). I am self paying and don't have a lot of cash left. I need 475 IU. Please help me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Easton, Maryland, I have a 14-day supply of Luprotkit (ph) purchased in the U.S. and stored properly. Buyer pays shipping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met with them in a parking lot. And gave them the drugs and they gave me the money.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome to the underground world of infertility. Web sites, chat rooms, conversations. Here couples desperate to have a baby barter and beg for unused infertility medications. For hundreds, sometimes thousands dollars less than they pay at the pharmacy. It is a dangerous and growing trend in a world where a single treatment can cost $12 to $15,000. And insurance coverage is hard to come by.

"STEPHANIE", BOUGHT INFERTILITY DRUGS ONLINE: This was a necessity for in vitro only. I mean, there's no other reason why I would want to buy drugs off the Internet.

KAYE (voice-over): This woman asked us not to use her real name, so we'll call her Stephanie. Stephanie and her husband, like more than six million other Americans are unable to have a baby. They chose in vitro fertilization, or IVF, in order to have their own child. But there was a problem.

STEPHANIE: IVF was not covered through my insurance at all. No drugs, no procedures, nothing.

KAYE: And there's no guarantee it will work. A couple has a one in five chance of having a baby after a cycle of IVF. In order to find affordable medications, Stephanie, like many others, turned to the Internet.

STEPHANIE: There is a network of people out there that are willing to help you that have leftover drugs that can sell them to you at a reduced cost. Because you have a prescription that your doctor gives you and it's just an alternative way of getting the prescription drugs.

CARMEN CATIZONE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL BOARD OF PHARMACIES: Just because it's a fertility drug which people may think is reasonably safe doesn't make it any different than if they were trading cocaine or trading other products on the Internet. It's still illegal and it's still dangerous.

KAYE: Carmen Catizone is the executive director of the National Board of Pharmacies, which is designed to protect the public health in dealing with pharmaceuticals.

CATIZONE: They could be expired medications, they could have been tampered with, they could be medications that not only cause harm to the mom but could also cause harm to the fetus or the baby that could be born later.

KAYE: But that is a risk many people like this man feel they have to take.

"SCOTT", BOUGHT INFERTILITY DRUGS: If it makes you a criminal, then that's what it has made me.

CATIZONE: We'll call him Scott. He lives in one of 36 states where health insurers are not mandated by law to cover some part of infertility treatments. Without the mandate, neither his or (sic) his wife's insurance will cover the treatments. So just a few weeks ago he found himself in a parking lot of a K-Mart, exchanging an envelope of cash in an insulated cooler for a supply of drugs at a discounted price from a woman we will call Jennifer who had extra medications after IVF was no longer a viable option.


SCOTT: We laughed nervously. This was the K-Mart connection, you know. We're passing drugs back and forth through a window. JENNIFER: I didn't make any financial gain off of it. That wasn't my intention. I had medication leftover, so I just thought the best thing to do would be to maybe sell it to somebody else who could use it.

SCOTT: If the health insurance industry paid for the medications and the procedure, there would be absolutely no reason to have to do a deal through a car window.

KAYE: Susan Pisano is spokeswoman for the largest trade association for health plans. Pisano says the decision doesn't fall with the insurance plans directly but rather the employer.

(on camera): Has your group ever recommended that fertility treatments be covered?

SUSAN PISANO, AMERICAN HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS: We believe that the decision about what an employer can afford is an employer decision.

KAYE: So yes or no, has your group ever suggested or recommended that infertility treatments be covered.

PISANO: Our groups believe that whether it's covered by individual employers is that employer's decision.

KAYE: So no?

I don't know about you but I find it hard to believe that employers and insurance will cover things like Viagra, even abortions, so in other words, insurance will help pay for someone to have sex, they'll help pay for someone to actually get rid of a child, but they won't help pay for someone to have a child. That surprises me.

PISANO: What you have is employers cover a combination of things. They cover things where there's evidence that they work to achieve a good health outcome.

KAYE (voice-over): But for people like Jennifer, it's not about good evidence. It's about fulfilling a dream.

JENNIFER: What the intention is about is honorable. It's about getting pregnant and being able to afford to get pregnant.

KAYE: But the drugs may cost couple it is more than cash.

CATIZONE: Unfortunately this trend won't stop and won't decrease until we see a major tragedy where somebody receives medications that are deadly or medications that cause significant harm.

KAYE: It was worth the risk to Stephanie. Using medication she bought on the Internet. Just last month she and her husband gave birth to a baby boy. That's priceless.


KAGAN: Fascinating story. Thank you, Randi.

Ahead on CNN LIVE TODAY, Googling in china. Like here you can look up some things, just not a lot of things. We're going to explain and take a look at the day's other business news.

Also, Brooke Anderson is in Sundance. Hey, Brooke!


I'm here in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. Coming up, we're going to talk about the movies everybody is buzzing about here, and also the big name celebrities who are on hand this week for festival, including one former vice president. All that and more, when CNN LIVE TODAY continues.


KAGAN: Google, the online search engine for useful information, and also kind of sometimes useless, has reached an agreement to censor itself for the sake of doing business in China. A Chinese language version of Google is already available through the company's address, but the Chinese government blocks it to the country's 100 million Web surfers.

And with this new agreement, Google has agreed to a omit content the Chinese government finds objectionable. An example here? When Chinese customers Google the words Taiwan independence, a Chinese government page opens. Google the same words here in the U.S. and you probably will get about 12 million hits. Slight difference there.


KAGAN: As you might know, the Sundance Film Festival in full swing in Park City, Utah. An 11-day event. It ends Sunday. Our entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson is there, covering Sundance for us.

Hi, Brooke.

ANDERSON: Hi there, Daryn. Yes, I'm here on Main Street in Park City, Utah, for the Sundance Film Festival. And what a beautiful backdrop. We've got the snow-covered mountains here. It is absolutely a winter wonderland.

As you look along Main Street, it's not too busy right now. I don't think that celebrities get started quite this early, but as we progress throughout the day, streets will become quite crowded, so much so that it is hard to even make your way along the sidewalk. So a very, very exciting time here. We're in the thick of the Sundance Film Festival, as you said.

KAGAN: Now there's some sad news there. A film debuting tonight, I understand, with the brother of Sean Penn, who actually was found dead in his apartment in Santa Monica.

ANDERSON: Very, very sad news, Daryn. His name is Chris Penn. He is the brother of Sean Penn, an actor. And he was found dead yesterday in a Santa Monica, California, residence, just 40 years old. Police say there are no signs of foul play. An autopsy will be conducted to find out the cause of death.

But, yes, coincidentally, his new film "The Darwin Awards" premieres today here at the Sundance Film Festival and co-stars Winona Ryder. And one note about that. This is Winona's first major film since she was convicted of shoplifting in 2002. Again, Chris Penn found dead at 40 years old. Very, very sad.

KAGAN: You were telling us before the break the former vice president Al Gore is in town?

ANDERSON: Al Gore is in town, if you can believe it. He showed up a few nights ago at the "Entertainment Weekly" party with his wife Tipper. An unexpected guest for that. But is he in town to promote "An Inconvenient Truth." It is a documentary about global warming. It had its premier last night. And actually the second screening is happening right now. So I think he is attending that one as well.

KAGAN: And other buzz from Sundance. Robin Williams has a new film out?

ANDERSON: He has a murdery...

KAGAN: Murdery?

ANDERSON: A mystery thriller -- a mystery thriller, excuse me, Daryn, out, co-starring Toni Colette. And it is called "The Night Listener" and it's the most recent acquisition here at Sundance, actually. IFC purchased it for $3 million, which is quite a deal for a Sundance movie.

KAGAN: All right. Brooke Anderson, live from Sundance. Enjoy! That's a fun gig, good assignment.

ANDERSON: Absolutely. Thanks, Daryn.

KAGAN: All right, thank you.

And this just into CNN. We're watching this out of Oregon. Three house boats on fire along the Columbia River. This is the Columbia River Yacht Club. Apparently this fire broke out about 6:30 a.m. local. A lot of challenges there in trying to put these fires out. Because the fire is spreading from one house boat to another, and it's made up of things like fiber glass fuel. Lots of fuel inside the metal structure. The black smoke making it difficult for firefighters to knock those flames down. So at least three boat houses engulfed in flames in Oregon. Live pictures there from our affiliate KGW. Thank you to those folks.

And we'll have more from the Sundance Film Festival ahead, including a policeman turned filmmaker. Well, sort of police, as in Stewart Copeland, who joins us with a look at his new film about his old band, The Police. Plus, you know where the diet capital of the world is? One hint, it is not Beverly Hills. The answer coming up in the second hour of CNN LIVE TODAY.