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tv   CNN Newsroom  CNN  January 17, 2014 10:00am-11:01am PST

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right now, too far, not far enough. reaction pouring in about president obama's speech about spies. and a drought emergency. some cities see annual rain amounts 30 to 40 inches below normal. the danger is growing as wildfires spread. and right now with an aarp card and a dance party, the first lady of the united states, michelle obama, marks the big 5-0. hello, i'm wolf blitzer, reporting from washington. we start with president obama's big announcement of sweeping changes to american surveillance. in his highly anticipated speech just a little while ago, he defended the vault collection of telephone records but also
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announced the program needs to be overhauled with changes to how and why those records are accessed. >> i have approved a new presidential directive for our intelligence activities, both at home and abroad. this guidance will strengthen executive branch oversight of our intelligence activities. it will ensure that we take into account our security requirements, but also our alliances, our trade and investment relationships, including the concerns of american companies, and our commitment to privacy and basic liberties. and we will review decisions about intelligence priorities and sensitive targets on an annual basis so that our actions are regularly scrutinized by my senior national security team. >> among the specifics, our strengthening executive branch oversight of surveillance activities. also designating independent privacy advocates to oversee some aspects, new restrictions on collection of information
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from americans, and foreign citizens. he also promised to stop monitoring heads of state of american friends and allies, ask announced a new white house official will be designated to implement new privacy safeguards. let's talk about what we just heard from the president, the surveillance reforms that he outlined. joining us, vermont senator, bernie sanders, independent senator from vermont. senator, thanks very much for coming in. >> my pleasure. >> you and i have discussed this on several occasions over the past several months. at one point you said strong new limits are needed to protect the privacy and civil liberties of the american people. did the president go far enough today, in your opinion? >> wolf, the devil is going to be in the details. i think in a very significant way, the president began the conversation on what is a very difficult issue and a complicated issue. it's difficult, because everybody wants to see us do all we can to pregnaotect the ameri
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people from terrorism. it is complicated, because every single day, technology changes. and the question of how we protect the american people without undermining our privacy rights and our constitutional rights is a huge issue. i'm going to be having a town meeting in mt. pellier, vermont on february 1st. i would hope that millions of people become engaged in this enormously important issue. i think the president started that conversation. we've got a long way to go. >> you have said, and i'm quoting you, once again, that the current nsa surveillance program, in your words, represents a clear violation of the fourth amendment ban on unreasonable searches. so what you heard today, the outlines of some reforms, are you satisfied? >> i think it's a start. to my mind, when every telephone call made by every single american is on file in the nsa, that is clearly, to my mind, a violation of the fourth
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amendment to the united states constitution. no question in my mind. and that has got to end. >> let me interrupt you, senator. president says he wants to continue doing that, but not storing it any longer over at the nsa. the companies don't want to store it for a variety of legal and other privacy considerations. so who is going to store all these records? who would be an appropriate source or person or institution to do such a thing? >> well, wolf, it's not a question. you're asking who should store it. the question is, whether they should be stored. >> the president said they should be. by the end of march, he wants a new formula to store all that information, so in case there is some sort of threat of a terrorist operation, they can sort of connect the dots and find out who might be responsible. >> again, the devil is in the details, but i don't agree with the overall position of the president on that issue. again, i do not think it is --
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that the constitution of the united states supports the belief that every call made by every american, 99.99%, have -- want nothing to do with terrorism. should be kept on file. look, you know, let me tell you what i really am concerned about in this whole business, wolf. and it's a very subtle thing. there are writers' organizations who say, you know what, when we write stuff on the internet, we are now fearful of what we're putting on -- we don't put everything we're thinking. you've got kids in america walking to a library and are saying, you know, shall i get that biography of osama bin laden? should i write that report, or is somebody going to think i am involved in terrorist activity? what we want as a nation is our young people and aull of our people to be brave. you want to sign a petition, sign a petition, without worrying the government is going to keep file on you. you want to investigate an issue, you want to research your paper, we want an inquisitive, curious people. that's what freedom is about. and i think all of this stuff has a very significant, chilling
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impact on thingness of the american people to be thinking about issues, to be writing about issues, to be talking about issues. that is my fear. >> i'll ask you a question i asked senator rand paul, your colleague, the republican senator from kentucky a little while ago. let's say the nsa determines a known terrorist suspect in some country, whether yemen or somalia or afghanistan, or some place, is making a phone call to someone in burlington, vermont, for example. do you want the nsa to check out who that individual is, why this known terrorist suspect is making a phone call to an american in vermont? >> yes. in other words, look, where there is reason to believe that somebody may be involved in a terrorist attack, i want our government to do everything that he can to protect the american people. but what i do not want are files being kept on the 99.99% of americans who have nothing to do with terrorism. >> so how do you bridge that gap? how do you -- protect national
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security on the one hand and prevent another 9/11 while on the other hand making sure that americans' privacy is protected? >> well, that is the -- that is the question. and let me add to that question by saying that that technology is changing every day. and think about what technology will be like in ten years from now. and that is why we need a constant discussion and debate on this issue. my own view is that at this point, we have gone too far in attacking the privacy rights of the american people. but you're asking the right question. and there is no simple answer. and that answer will change ten years from now. we need a massive conversation on the parts of the american people to say how do we protect ourselves from folks who we know want to hurt us, but do it in a way that maintenance us as a free society. not an easy they think. president started this discussion. i would go further than the president in terms of protecting privacy rights. but this is an issue that
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congress has got to embrace. it has to move up the totem pole in terms of important issues that we discuss. >> one final quick question, if you can give me a quick answer. you raised a sensitive subject the other day, whether or not the nsa is spying on members of congress like yourself. senators and representatives. you've gotten some answers from them. are they satisfactory? >> well, not really. i mean, what we -- what we have been told by the nsa in response to a media inquiry, is that all of the phone calls that members of congress make are kept in the same files that every american. and the danger there is -- and i'm concerned about all americans. the dangers about members of congress is, it is just -- when you have that information, wolf, it is easy to engage if you have a rogue operator, unscrupulous president, you could start blackmailing members of congress, impact public policy, impact elections. >> and you earlier -- in an earlier conversation we had, you recalled richard m. nixon and
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what potentially could be done along those lines. all right, senator, you want to make a final point? >> well, i want people to think, if nixon had the resources, and the technology that now exists, think of what he would have done. >> bernie sanders is the independent senator from the state of vermont. he caucuses with the democrats, as all of our viewers know. always good to have you here on cnn. thank you, senator. >> thank you. up next, we'll get more reaction, more analysis of the president's surveillance reform proposals. gloria borger, peter berg and jim showedo, all standing by. they will weigh in. ♪ humans -- we are beautifully imperfect creatures, living in an imperfect world. that's why liberty mutual insurance has your back, offering exclusive products like optional better car replacement, where, if your car is totaled, we give you the money to buy one a model year newer.
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changes to the way the nsa operates, that's what president obama ordered just a little while ago. those changes include not spying on friendly heads of state. watch this. >> the bottom line is that people around the world, regardless of their nationality, should know that the united states is not spying on ordinary people who don't threaten our national security. and we take their privacy concerns into account in our policy ohs and procedures. this applies to foreign leaders, as well.
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given the understandable attention that this issue has received, i have made clear to the intelligence community that unless there is a compelling national security purpose, we will not monitor the communications of heads of state and government of our close friends and allies. and i've instructed my national security team, as well as the intelligence community, to work with foreign counterparts, to deepen our coordination and cooperation in ways that rebuild trust going forward. >> all right. let's talk about what we just heard from the president. those proposed changes and more. joining us, our chief national security correspondent, jim sciutto. our national security analyst, peter bergin, and chief political analyst, gore gloria borger. some people say he went far enough, others say he didn't go far enough. what's the immediate response you're hearing? >> both of those responses. and, you know, i would also have to say this is sort of what we have come to expect from the president, who comes out there and says, i understand this is a real problem, people have to
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trust their intelligence agencies to do the right thing. i understand we need a balance between liberty and our national security. but -- and i don't want to hold all of this metadata, but, by the way, i'm going to ask somebody else for the decision about just what we do with all of this large pile of information that we collect. so he raised all the problems, and it was a great speech that way. i think he did some things by executive order, but he did leave a lot of these decisions up to congress. and as we all know, congress can't decide what day of the week it is. so he think there are a lot of question marks out there. >> peter, let me play another clip that sort of jumped out at me in the president's remarks. it's a sensitive subject, a subject you know well. watch this. >> that the program grew out of a desire to address a gap identified after 9/11. one of the 9/11 hijackers, khalid al mendar, made a phone
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call from san diego to a known al qaeda safe house in yemen. nsa saw that call. but could not see that the call was coming from an individual already in the united states. the telephone metadata program, under section 215, was designed to map the communications of terrorists, so we can see who they may be in contact with as quickly as possible. >> all right. so when you heard that, peter, you're an expert on this subject. what did you think? >> you know, the real problem in this case was this khalid al madar was known to be in this country by the cia. and the real problem was not that cia missed the phone call. the real problem is they didn't say this guy is in the country, he arrived here, and living openly. his name was listed in the san diego phone book. so this is really a case where information sharing within the government would have actually cracked the case.
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not some vast information collection program. >> so you think the president -- did he make the case why they came up with this bulk collection of all these phone numbers, all these phone calls, the duration of the calls, to prevent another 9/11? >> i don't think that case was made, because i think it's not -- it's a case that can't be made. i mean, the facts show that only one very minor terrorist activity has been stopped by that program. >> so far. >> so far. >> that doesn't mean that others can't be stopped down the road. >> yeah, it doesn't. but the fact is, we have now, you know -- 13 years after 9/11. if you can only point to one very minor case, you know, it's hard to make the defense you're preventing big terrorist attacks with this program. >> jim, as you listen to the president, what did you think? >> well, it's interesting on that point oh. there is a very interesting moment last week in the senate judiciary committee hearings, the president was asked that same question. would this prevent the next 9/11. and they said, well, no, and even going back to 9/11, it was about information sharing. it was not about the existence of the program.
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but they did go on to say -- and also, they did not claim that up to this point, this program has prevented any terror attacks. they can't make that connection. but they did say it might some day in the future. and they make the point, you know -- we often talk about terrorists only have to be once. they made the point a program like this only has to be successful once to be justified. but, you know, there are some who aren't satisfied with that argument. remember, when this program was first revealed, there was a lot of talk in the administration about 50-some-odd plots. do you remember that figure? when is the last time you heard that figure? >> you haven't. and i remembered the president himself talking about that, when this program was first revealed. you know, you have a president who ran for office as somebody who is very, very skeptical of this surveillance. now he's preside oefrg the surveillance state. and clearly trying to find his own footing on this and a way to balance it all. and i think he is having some difficulty. and i also believe that there is disagreement inside the administration about just how far to go on this.
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and i think that the president probably stopped short of where some people internally wanted him to go. >> he mentioned edward snowden twice, by name, peter, in his remarks. would the president be making these proposals today if edward snowden had never leaked all those documents? >> of course not. simple. i mean, we wouldn't be sitting around this table, not -- you know, there's -- without these revelations, we wouldn't be having this discussion. >> so where does that put edward snowden in this conversation? >> well, snowed -- >> an important dialogue we're having in the united states. >> snowden broke the law. but what he did may in part have some public interest benefit. >> jim, you've spoken to world leaders, and you've traveled all over the world. do you think any of them, including close friend and allies of the united states, really believe the united states is going to stop listening in to their conversations? >> i think at least on their conversations, but not their aides and their vice presidents. he talks about dozens of world leaders here, and he made the
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point, hey, listen, if i want to hear what angela merkel thinks -- >> there is a big loophole there if they want it open -- >> an enormous loophole and he made the point very firmly saying, hey, we have the most capabilities and i'm not going to apologize for that. and i'm not going to rein it in. he said we're not going to do unilateral disarmament on this, because we know others are doing similar spying. >> i was fascinated when he said -- peter, you'll appreciate this, gloria, you, as well, when he said you go into the white house situation room, there's a reason you can't bring a cell phone or a blackberry or an iphone in there. because there's potential trouble. >> unless you're in homeland, in which case they did bring their blackberry into the situation room. >> or indeed any american government building of any note. you can't bring phones in. >> technology is exploding. >> i want to make a point. this was for the shortcomings that others will point out, a fairly remarkable presume. program. we had a president speaking about the most secretive aspects
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of the most secretive intelligence gathering programs in the u.s. and making some fairly remarkable changes. judicial review. one we haven't talked about a lot, extending to foreign nationals, legal protections that only we as american citizens have. these are remarkable things we would not have been talking about a few months ago. >> which say one other thing, as we head -- i know it's early. as we head into the presidential arena, you had rand paul on earlier today, because he's talking -- you know, he doesn't like the surveillance state. you have other republicans who are going to say, you know, the president is way too soft. and it's going to be a very -- >> it's going to be a good debate. >> it's going to be a corner stone of the presidential campaign, i believe. >> good discussion. thank you. other news we're following here today on cnn. a fast-moving wildfire threatening more homes in southern california. authorities say they know who is responsible for starting the fire. and why it got out of control so fast. ♪ driving rock music music stops ♪ music resumes
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we're learning more about what started as a major wildfire in southern california. people accused of doing it. authorities say three men in their 20s, one of them homeless, tossed pieces of paper into a campfire they set illegally.
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the gust of winds spread the red-hot embers, parking this 1,700-acre fire. five homes have been destroyed, and the fire is only 30% contained now. chad myers is tracking the flames at the cnn weather center. what a story this is, chad. what do we know? >> the wind yesterday, wolf, blew 5 or 10 miles per hour and the firefighters couldn't get a handle on the fire. there were four planes, helicopters, hundreds of men and women on the ground and it just burned. i couldn't imagine what that fire would have looked like today or tomorrow with gusty winds. so lucky we got it on a day that the winds didn't blow that much. california is in a severe drought. it just hasn't rained there for what seems like ever. in fact, parts of california have only picked up a half inch of rain just in the past one month or two months alone. some spots haven't picked up any. severe drought, 90% of the state. so now we're talking about not just fireses, we're talking about crops. we're talking about the wine crops, the crops in the inland
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valleys, too, not getting any water with this. take a look at this number. burbank, california, 3 inches of rain in the entire year of 2013. the old record, 3.55. los angeles, 3.oh 6. you should have had in the teens, like 20 inches of rainfall. you had three. the driest on record for all of those cities in southern california. now to northern california, where the fire danger is just as bad. also we're not going to see a lot of snow pack in the sierra, either. going to have really treacherous conditions if you're going to be trying to get any water later on in the year. oakland, california, should have had many inches of rain. they had four. the old record low is ten. they should have had somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 inches of rain in napa, california. less than ten inches. they should have had 40. so we're talking about 10 to 15% of what the state should be getting and the santa ana winds blew across this area, down the mountain and into glen dora, into asouza, and even though it was only 5 to 10, wolf, i'm not kidding if the wind was 20 to
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25, this would be burning in parts of the city. we are so lucky this is not a big event right now. and i'll tell you what, every time the wind is going to blow and the fires are going to start in southern california and central and northern california this year, everybody is going to have to hold their breath. this could be a giant fire year coming up. >> yeah, just an hour or so ago, the governor of california, jerry brown, declared a drought emergency in the state. >> it has to rain soon. >> yeah, hope it does. thank you very much, chad, for that report. we'll have much more on the fires in california coming up. we're going to get the views now from the left or right on president obama's plans to try to rein in the nsa. the "crossfire" host, newt gingrich and stephanie live. that debate and a lot more when we come back. if you're seeing spots before your eyes, it's time for aveeno® positively radiant face moisturizer. [ female announcer ] aveeno® with soy helps reduce the look of brown spots in 4 weeks. for healthy radiant skin. aveeno®. naturally beautiful results.
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the most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, and headache. some side effects can lead to dehydration, which may cause kidney problems. if your pill isn't giving you the control you need ask your doctor about non-insulin victoza®. it's covered by most health plans. president obama unveils a major overhaul, outlane changes to to the metadata by edward snowden. called for strengthening oversight of the program, a new panel of privacy advocates and restrictions on the collection of information. he also said there would be no routine monitoring of world leaders who are allies and close friends of the united states. and a new white house official to oversee the privacy of all of this. in his speech just a little while ago, the president talked about the need to try to balance privacy and national security. >> we have to make some important decisions about how to
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protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world, while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals and constitution require. we need to do so not only because it is right, but because the challenges posed by threats like terrorism and proliferation and cyber attacks are not going away any time soon. they are going to continue to be a major problem. and to for our intelligence community to be effective over the long haul, we must maintain the trust of the american people and people around the world. >> let's get some reaction of the president's proposals. joining us now, the co host of cnn's "crossfire," newt gingrich, and democratic strategist, stephanie cutter, used to work in the white house for the president. mr. speaker, how did the president do? >> i think it was a painful speech for him. i think he's deeply conflicted. i think all of his natural instincts are with the civil
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libertarians when he was a senator. i think he's now had five years of briefings that are terrifying. and he is trying to communicate a balance of the two. i don't think particularly agree with some of his steps he's taken. and i think they're driven by polls and by political pressure. but i understand what he's trying to accomplish. >> you know the president, stephanie, well. is he that conflicted, tore mentalitied inside, or this pressure he's under to protect national security or privacy? >> i wouldn't call it conflict, but i would say he's the first president that's had to deal with these issues and the data-driven society we're now living in. and he is attempting to protect the american people in two ways. there's personal security against terrorism, but also protect their privacy. and that's what we saw today, a balance of still achieving some significant national security programs. those programs aren't going to go away. but he put in some real significant and decisive checks and balances.
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>> so you were pleased. >> a mixture of the american people could trust what's happening. >> you liked him. >> yes, i did. >> you didn't like him. >> no, i think her position is defensible. but -- >> thank you, newt. >> but i think it's not going to please anybody, okay? no real hard line civil libertarian is going to think these are enough. and nobody whose primary worry is national security is going to think these are wise. but i think it's a good starting point for a very important national debate. and my view is very different. i mean, i think three big facts that nobody wants to talk about. one, we were in an ongoing real war, and at the moment al qaeda is winning. this is not a comment on obama. it's a comment on the last 12 years. they're winning. our strategy hasn't worked. two, we're going to deal with nuclear weapons in the near future, and that means we're risking cities. compare 3,000 dead with the world trade center with 250,000 dead in cincinnati. three, there are americans who are engaged in his enemies and
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we don't have today a constitutional doctrine for being permanently at war with some of your own citizens engaged on the other side. and that's going to -- we should have a big national debate about how do we protect privacy and the nation simultaneously. >> that's what the president tried to start today. but go ahead. >> i don't think this was the end of the conversation, nor did the president want it to be the end of the conversation. and newt, you laid out the challenges. i -- though i don't think that al qaeda is winning, i think that we have made significant strides in breaking the back of al qaeda. but we're going to be dealing with terrorism, as long as we're on the face of this earth. >> they're not winning in terms of attacking u.s. targets. they are making impressive gains in syria and iraq and a whole bunch of other places in the region, as if there is a reemergence. >> we have conquered them in some areas. they're moving elsewhere. but the back of al qaeda over last five or six years has been broken. and we have been able, you know -- i hesitate to say this without knocking on wood. but we have been able to protect the american people at home.
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and through the use of some of these programs, prevent attacks. >> you outlined some terrifying scenarios. who is going to launch a nuclear bomb in cincinnati? >> you have a whole range of people who hate us. why would you think that a terrorist who is willing to drive a car bomb or a terrorist who is willing to walk into a mall as they did in nairobi, would reject the opportunity if they could get one -- >> that's the question. who has got the expertise to make -- pakistan has them. the iranians are trying hard to get them. you're going to see continuous leakage around the world. but my deeper point is that -- and i think this is an important national debate, and frankly, neither party wants to get into it. the republicans, because they want to defend the bush record and the democrats because they want to defend the obama record. if you look at for example, fallujah, there is a resurgence and you look at the chairman of the joint chiefs, very decent human being, very serious professional, say, gee, we couldn't go after these guys in
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benghazi, because technically, we're not sure they're close to al qaeda to fit the congressional resolution. i mean, you want to cry at this kind of lawyering. we are in an active war everywhere on the planet with people who tell us pretty openly every day, we would like to destroy your civilization. >> we're going to have both of you stand by. we're going to continue our conversation, move on to some other subjects, as well. newt and stephanie are here. also, running for president 2016 could be a risky move for the former florida governor, jeb bush. that's because his mom doesn't want him to run. we're going to tell you what barbara bush is saying. we'll talk to our "crossfire" panel about bush, another possible 2016 contender.
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certainly a lot of times it's wise to follow your mother's advice. but if jeb bush wants to run for president, he'll have to go against his mother's wishes. that's because barbara bush says she hopes he won't get in the race. she says her family has spent enough time in the white house. brian todd is joining us now with more on what's going on. brian, this is not the first time we have heard from mrs. bush. is this an indication, though, of how strongly she feels she doesn't want the former florida governor to run for president? >> well, wolf, it seems stronger than just an indication at this point. this is at least the second time barbara bush has said in a very public forum that she does not want jeb bush to run for president.
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last april, in an interview with nbc's matt lauer, when asked if she thought he should run, mrs. bush said, quote, he's by far the best qualified man, but no, i really don't. she also said at that time, there are a lot of great families, it's not just four families or whatever. we've had enough bushes. this time, mrs. bush said something very similar, telling c-span, quote, i think the kennedys, clintons, bushes, there are just more families than that. here's a clip of the interview posted last night by c-span. >> i think this is a great american country, great country. and if we can't find more than two or three families to run for high office, that's silly. because there are great governors and great eligible people to run. i would hope that someone else would run. although there's no question in my mind that jeb is the best qualified person to run for president. but i hope he won't.
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>> now, we've contacted jeb bush's office for comment. they first pointed us to this tweet by jeb bush last night, apparently in response to his mother's comments. quote, what date is mother's day this year? asking for a friend. yeah, we all ask these questions just for a friend, right? jeb bush's office also pointed us to the comments he made in november in an interview when he was asked about barbara bush's comments to nbc. at that time, jeb bush said, quotes, i love my mom and i listen to my mom, but i don't always agree with her. of course, jeb bush has not made up his mind yet whether to run for president in 2016. some analysts, of course, wolf, are now saying chris christie's bridge-gate scandal could open that door more for jeb bush. >> thanks very much. stephanie and newt are still with us. you helped barack obama get elected twice, he's a pretty formidable candidate. >> he is. >> popular in florida, speaks spanish, moderate republican conservative. people like him. >> they do. i think that he would be a
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serious candidate. from a democratic perspective, we would have to take him very seriously. a clinton-bush match-up would be a historical match-up. >> that would generate a lot of excitement. >> but it does make me laugh, because i have a very similar mother to barbara bush, who will tell you exactly what she thinks you should be doing with your life. >> do you always listen to what she tells you? no, i don't. but i do appreciate what jen is going through. >> you know jeb well. what do you think? >> i think listen and obey are two different words. second, i think jeb is probably the best politician in the bush family. although george p., as he comes along -- >> the son. >> running for railroad commissioner in texas, may well grow into far and away the best -- most interesting of the family. but imagine a normal candidate. you're sit south there, trying to figure out how to raise the money, how to get credible. and jeb's mother says something and gets two days of national media, reminding you of who jeb bush is, and you're sitting here
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thinking, give me a break. i mean, i think he is very formidable and would be one of the major contenders if he decided to run. >> is hillary clinton, as "time" magazine is suggesting on the new cover, unstoppable? >> is she unstoppable as a democratic nominee for president? >> the democratic candidate. >> no. as -- we don't know. it is -- i know we all here are talking about 2016, every single day. the nation is not. there is a long time between now and when people start making that decision. >> they've got to decide by the end of this year. if they're serious, they've -- this year, they've got to start -- >> voters don't need to decide. and i think that obviously she would be extremely formidable. she is enormously popular in the democratic party. but i think it's -- it's to her benefit and to the benefit of the party for her to -- to have some primary challenger. and i don't know who that is. but i think she will emerge as a stronger candidate. is she likely to be the
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democratic nominee if she runs? absolutely. but we shouldn't talk in absolutes right now, because there is a long time between now and when those decisions -- >> you agree she would likely be the democratic nominee? >> i spent up to april of 2008 saying publicly i thought hillary would win. and the -- achievement of the obama campaign is extraordinary. so i'm happy to say, she is the front runner. i will never again say that anyone -- >> what about benghazi? does that hurt her? >> a little bit. but, look, her problems are going to come later on when she has got to make policy decisions about how close she is to obama, how different is she from obama. those things are very tricky. and she has not historically been very adept at that kind of -- >> her book is coming out later this year. i think right after the midterm election. >> that's true. >> is it going to be what robert gates did, sort of a tell-all book inside conversationses, what the president was saying, what biden -- or will she take a
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high road? >> i have no idea -- what's going to be in that book. i know it will be a best-seller. >> you know that. >> and i look forward to reading it. and she is a very well-known, very well-read author already. and i think she has a lot to say that's worth listening to. >> what about chris christie and i want newt to weigh in, as well. is he still a viable republican presidential candidate? >> sure, i think he's viable. i think he's got two problems. this is going to be a never-ending investigation that could uncover other examples of his bullying and political retribution in that state. and number two, i think the other issue for him that nobody is talking about is that it's not a done deal that he's going oh to get through the republican primary. there are a lot of republican leaders and conservatives out there that don't like him. so i think that's a serious issue for him that no one is talking about. >> i think if the question is, is he viable, absolutely. which is different than inevitable. he's got to do two things. close to what stephanie said. one, he's just got to discipline
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himself to block in an element of time and resources to live through this investigation, to manage it, to stay on top of it. and if he doesn't do that, or if it turns out there is really something there, then he's not viable. second, i think he's really got to sort of relax a little bit. everybody gets sucked into this 24 hour a day nonsense. david brodeur wrote many years ago, the first serious decision is iowa or new hampshire, and everything before that is us keeping the pages filled for the channel. we're a long way from the first serious event of the 2016 -- >> but it's fun talking about it, right? >> we're all free to talk about it. >> we like to talk about it. >> what else would we talk about? >> nsa surveillance. >> that's true. >> one of our best shows tonight. >> tell us who is going to be on. >> tom ridge who is, of course, former homeland security. and we're going to have the
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chief spokesperson for the aclu representing people who worry more about civil liberties than about security. so the contrast is going to be very vivid. >> the aclu national director, laura murphy versus tom ridge in "crossfire." i believe it starts at 6:30 p.m. eastern after another show we call "the situation room." >> yes. >> hey, guys, thanks very much. >> thank you. no hiding her age for michelle obama. the first lady turns 50 today, and she teams to be having the time of her life. we're taking a closer look at our own perceptions of aging and whether mrs. obama is redefining the way we see it. happy birthday, by the way. ♪ [ chainsaw whirring ] humans -- sometimes life trips us up. sometimes we trip ourselves up. and although the mistakes may seem to just keep coming at you, so do the solutions. like multi-policy discounts from liberty mutual insurance.
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a milestone for the first lady, michelle obama turns 50 today and is speaking out about her next chapter. our digital correspondent, kelly wallace, is joining us from new york right now. kelly, first lady certainly bringing a lot of enthusiasm to turning 50. some other folks sort of dread that age. >> exactly. but not the first lady. i was talking to a white house official who said you can imagine years ago a first lady very quietly celebrating her 50th, not having a big celebration, and not tweeting, right, her aarp card that the first lady did today. and i think she really sees this as an opportunity to send a message about aging. in her own words, 50 is fabulous. and wolf, if you think of other
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people turning 50 this year, sandra bullock, medicalin dagates, sarah palin, susan rice, these are women who are these are women who are doing a lot right now and expect to be doing a lot decades from now. that's a big message to send. >> she actually sunday out that aarp card as you said. she wrote excited to join barack at the 50 plus club today. we all have these -- as we get older, we have different concepts about what it means to be 50. >> it is. i talked to a lot of women who are approaching or have approached this milestone. one woman said 50 is kind of the new 40. as we live longer and doing more. 50 doesn't mean our lives are declining and we are going down 4i8. for many women the kids are older and they have a second act and can do more because they
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have fewer responsibilities. at the same time there many people who say no, no, no. we have to go a long way in our society especially when it comes to women. many people say if you are single and 50 and a woman, you are out of luck. employers want younger and younger. we have a long way to go many people say before we truly as a society fully embrace 50 as fabulous. >> she is going to have a little bit of a dance party, a birthday party at the white house tomorrow night. beyonce we are told will be there. probably performing for the first lady. in the invitations they sent out, she made a point to bring comfortable shoes because everyone will be dancing at that party. they will have a lot of fun. >> exactly. she will be moving as in dance moving at that time. she is embracing it and having a lot of fun. she said too she feels more confident than ever.
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more secure as a woman who she is. that's something she is embracing. >> she is a good dancer. her husband is a good dancer and singer. there should be good entertainment there besides beyonce. we will see what else happens at the white house. thanks very much for that. tune in later tonight for a cnn special. extraordinary journey. michelle obama turns 50. there is a 10:00 p.m. eastern only here on cnn. if she is watching, happy birthday, mrs. obama. in the final days of vietnam war, there is a desperate scramble to get out of saigon. they reveal an incredible story. we will meet the director when we take you to the sundance film festival.
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♪ ♪ so you can have a getaway from what you know. so you can be surprised by what you don't. get two times the points on travel and dining at restaurants from chase sapphire preferred. so you can taste something that wakes up your soul. chase sapphire preferred. so you can. gaining ground as investors digest a slew of reports on corporate earnings and housing. take a look at where it stands. it's up about 56 points and we will continue to watch the markets. independent films are in the spotlight over the sundance film festival in park city, utah.
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one film getting a lot of buzz right now. last days of vietnam. it's a remarkable story. many of us have never heard before. watch this. >> they borrowed a truck and i drove them to the air base. i told them when you hear three thumps, that means hole the baby's mouths and don't breathe or talk or make any noise. we are going through the post. >> last days of vietnam is a compelling look at how thousands of people were rescued in the fall of saigon at the end of the vietnam war. miguel marquez is over at the sundance film festival. what a great assignment you have. you spoke to rory kennedy who made the film. what struck you the most about this story? >> it is an amazing story. i should note for the record, we are in the cnn films lounge. this is the hottest ticket in town. famous people like this.
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all powerful. people like that in the cnn films lounge. rory kennedy has been here times with films. this film has unbelievable access to video and footage of the escape from vietnam in the final days. the last 24 hours of it is like a countdown and a thriller and they talked about the film a short time ago. >> this story, the story i told hasn't been told before which is a remarkable thing given it was the final days of the vietnam war. we left the country very quickly. because of that, the u.s. policy was to just get the americans out and to leave all the vietnamese behind who helped us and worked with us and collaborated with us. our story is about the americans on the ground who risk their lives going against u.s. policy to do everything it could to save the vietnamese. it's extraordinarily heroic, the
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acts they committed during the final days. >> we are familiar with the iconic images. watching some of the video is harrowing. tens of thousands of people getting out of that country. >> yes. they did it through helicopters and makeshift operations so some were underground. story we is the story of the uss kirk that single handedly with the help of richard armitage saved 32,000 people. >> it is amazing. i was able to meet the captain a short time ago. he is withes her at sundance. this is his first time. he is blown away by the excitement and this film you opening up on sunday night here. 150,000 vietnamese got out in the last few days of the war and many of them got out thanks to
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americans who went against their own orders and got them out anyway. it's an amazing film. so many great films here at sundance. that is just one of them. >> that what you do? you sit around and watch movies? that's a good assignment. >> it's a terrible assignment. the horror. i am trying to watch as many documents as possible. the tough part, it's hard to get into the films because it's so packed. all the filmmakers wanting to see them. it's hard to get to the premiers, but we can get some of them online or clips. i read constantly about them. it is fascinating to be here and a massive undertaking this festival. this town goes through 1700, this sleepy mountain town to 47,000 people pouring in over this weekend and into next week for this film festival, transforming it into hollywood and the mountains.
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amazing. wolf? >> you mentioned brian, the host of reliable sources. he will be broadcasting his program from sundance this sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. eastern. he is waving to all of us. he has a good show. we will look forward to that and more of your reports. thanks very much. i will be back at 5:00 eastern in "the situation room." newsroom continues right yow with brooke baldwin. >> wolf, thank you. i'm brooke baldwin. top of the hour. great to be with ow this friday. so, the president offered his answer today not only to us americans, but to people all-around the world who have rightly come to fear that the u.s. government knows way too much about us and can learn even more if it wants to. he didn't quite say it. ot