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Our Nation's Security: Stalled Confirmation for Director of

Fri, 07/09/2010 - 11:05am
The Associated Press

National Intelligence; Google to Stay in China; Where the Oily Mess is Being Dumped; Miami Fit for a King; Super Powers Swap Spies; One Step Closer to HIV Vaccine - Part 1

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<Show: AMERICAN MORNING>

<Date: July 9, 2010>

<Time: 06:00>

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<Head: Our Nation's Security: Stalled Confirmation for Director of National Intelligence; Google to Stay in China; Where the Oily Mess is

Being Dumped; Miami Fit for a King; Super Powers Swap Spies; One Step

Closer to HIV Vaccine - Part 1>

<Sect: News; Domestic>

<Time: 06:59>

<End: 07:59>

JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to another hour of AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Jim Acosta in for John Roberts. Good to see you.KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you. And I'm Kate Bolduan in for Kiran Chetry. They are both off today. So, sorry, you're stuck with us.

ACOSTA: That's right. Very good.

BOLDUAN: Let's get to the morning's top stories. We got a lot going on.

ACOSTA: Why make it sounds so bad?

BOLDUAN: I know. I said that like years since I like that (ph).

Anyway, Miami lands a King. LeBron James telling the world he's leaving Cleveland to join the NBA Miami Heat next season. We're digging deeper on LeBron's big decision and the fallout.

ACOSTA: And the James Bond movies never ended this way. Ten Russian sleeper agents have now arrived in Austria, expelled from America, and whisked away in the dead of night. Moscow and Washington moving at lightning speed to swap spice and bring an end to an uncomfortable international incident. The late developments in just a moment.

BOLDUAN: Plus, 81 days into the Gulf oil disaster. Crews keep cleaning the crude and tar balls off the white sands of Gulf shore beaches, but have you ever wondered where it all goes? You'll see for yourself ahead here on the Most News in the Morning.

ACOSTA: We begin with the biggest story in the history of the universe --

(LAUGHTER)

-- LeBron James' heading to Miami.

BOLDUAN: That's right, the NBA's prized free agent ended weeks of speculation over his future making the announcement last night during a live TV special on ESPN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: I am going to take my talents to south beach and join the Miami Heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miami heat? That was the conclusion you woke up with this morning?

JAMES: That was the conclusion I woke up with this morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: In Miami, Lebron will be part of a power trio joining NBA stars, Dwyane Wade and Chris Boesch.

Six NBA teams were courting the king. Fans in Cleveland fans in Cleveland, New York and Miami were hanging on every word as LeBron James finally revealed his choice.

ACOSTA: The decision set off a wild celebration in south Florida, as you see right there. The mood in Cleveland somewhat more subdued. Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, calls LeBron's departure a, quote, cowardly betrayal.

BOLDUAN: And coming up at 8:40 eastern, LeBron's new superstar teammate Dwayne Wade will join us to talk about playing with the king and everything that's coming up for the Miami Heat. A big year ahead.

ACOSTA: Later this hour, our sports guy, our sports guy Max Kellermann and Buzz Bissinger who wrote a book with LeBon James, will weigh in on the king's move to Miami.

BOLDUAN: Meanwhile, ten convicted Russian spies have touched down in ViennaA austria. They were whisked away last night from the United States.

ACOSTA: The United States and Russia demonstrating how quickly the governments can get things done working fast to put an embarrassing incident behind them.

BOLDUAN: Susan Candiotti is here with our security watch. What's the latest now?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The latest is there will be no move cookies for the neighbors down the street and no more cocktail parties. We do know this. We have the latest. A short time ago, a U.S. chartered flight that left New York last night is on the ground in Vienna. Aboard, ten spies. Most are now returning to their homeland.

Their future is a big question mark. And will they sell their spy stories?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Each of the ten pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for not registering as a foreign agent. Each agreed never to return to America without permission. If they sell their stories, proceeds must be turned over to the United States. Several were forced to surrender cash, homes, and cars as part of their plea deal.

As for popular red-haired dazzler, Anna Chapman, who may be the only spy with her own Facebook page, her attorneys say the harsh conditions she faced in jail had a lot to do with her guilty plea.

MARK GALEOTTI, NYU PROFESSOR, GLOBAL AFFAIRS: She never met personally with any official of the Russian Federation. She never passed information. She never received any money. It is not alleged that she engaged in any crime of money laundering.

She is glad to be released from jail but she is unhappy that it probably has destroyed her business and that she has to return to Moscow.

CANDIOTTI: In the meantime, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has pardoned four men convicted in jail for allegedly spying for the U.S. They are part of an arranged swap to make the case go away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to deal with it as quickly as possible to move on with improving relations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: So this just in, we are now learning that that plane that landed with the spies in Vienna has now taken off, apparently heading for Russia on to again the homeland of many of those spies aboard that flight.

And, we have also learned that the swap has now officially taken place, that the Russians who were in jail in Russia are now on another flight and have left Vienna. We are not exactly sure of the destination right now.

BOLDUAN: Again, still a lot of moving parts and a lot of things happening very fast. One thing that is being swept up in all this, the four children that are involved. There are several children.

CANDIOTTI: Five of them in all.

BOLDUAN: What's going to happen to them?

CANDIOTTI: Well, the United States is saying, we are not standing in the way of whatever they want to do. They can go back home with their parents, be reunited. They fully expect that to happen.

But the lawyer for at least one of the parents told me that they expect that their child will remain in the United States to complete their education here. Remember, they are U.S. citizens. They were born here.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. From the sight of Russia, in he promises made for the returning Russians?

CANDIOTTI: In court, the defendant said, no promises were made. However, one of them spoke up in court and did say that when they were meeting with a member of the Russian consulate in the jail cell, they were told, it was Vicky Polia, she said, if she went back to Russia, free housing for the rest of her life and, a $2000 a month stipend for the rest of her life, and visas for her children to travel free of charge whenever they want.

BOLDUAN: That's interesting if we find out exactly the real story.

ACOSTA: It is clear Washington and Moscow are not going to allow a little spying incident to break up a budding relationship, President Dmitry Medvedev moving quickly to pardon four U.S. spies who have been serving time in Russia.

Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance has more of our security watch live in Moscow. Matthew, what do we know about these four prisoners? What's their timetable for their return to the United States?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand according to Russian state television which has been giving blanket coverage to this spy exchange, that the exchange has now taken place. It appears to have taken place on the tarmac of the runway of the airport in Vienna, the capital of Austria.

Both planes have taken off, one back to Russia carrying the ten spies from the United States, and the other one taking off to London carrying the four individuals released by the Russian authorities. Those four, are, of course, Russian citizens as well.

So it is not clear the circumstances under which they have been expelled from Russia. It is understood that the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, signed a pardon for them. But that raises all sorts of questions as to why they are then being shipped out of the country in this way.

At least one of them, Egor Sutyagin, a nuclear researcher who was convicted in 2004 for passing nuclear secrets to the CIA and was serving a sentence for 15 years, has come out saying that he does not say that he was guilty of his crime. He says he doesn't want to leave Russia.

So there are big questions hanging over the future of these four that have been released from Russian, Jim.

ACOSTA: Thanks for that, Matthew. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: In the next half hour, we will break down the potential fallout from this spy swap and examine which couldn't interest I got the best of the deals when we are joined by former CIA officer Peter Brooks and Fran Townsend, former homeland security adviser to President Bush.

(WEATHER BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Still no green light for the new chief of the nation's intelligence community. Is it putting our security at risk? A live report from the Pentagon is just moments away. It is eight minutes past the hour. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: A sign that the mid-term season is upon us on the campaign trail. Congress may be in recess, but President Obama, he is finishing up a two-state campaign swing today. Nevada is the second stop. He also hit an event to talk up the economy in Kansas city, Missouri. Fired up, the president took on the GOP. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They say no to everything. Don't they, though? Everything. I go and I talk to them and I say, come on, we can get something going here. No. Don't want to.

(LAUGHTER)

We decided, you know what, since this financial crisis wrecked havoc, cost the American people trillions of dollars of wealth, retirees see their 401(k)'s plunge, businesses suddenly shuttered, you know, it might be smart to try to prevent this from happening again. Right? That's some common sense.

So we craft very carefully this financial regulatory bill to make sure consumers are protected from predatory loans and credit card abuses, to make sure we never have another taxpayer bailout because we can shut down one firm and quarantine it so it doesn't affect all the other firms. We put tons of work into it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The president is sounding feisty out there. He will talk about the economy at another event in Las Vegas. Nevada's unemployment rate, by the way, the highest in the nation for a state at 14 percent. If there was any doubt that the mid-term season is upon us and that the president is going to take an active role in that campaign, that put all of that to rest yesterday.

BOLDUAN: A little hint of the message coming up over the next few months.

ACOSTA: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: So we have become all too aware that U.S. security is still very risky business -- the Russian spy ring, the new suspected Al Qaeda terror plot.

ACOSTA: And now there is concern over the president's new pick to lead the top spy office. Barbara Starr joins us live from the Pentagon with more on that this morning. Barbara, Good morning.

STARR: Good morning, Jim and Kate. There is plenty of concern, because here is the question. What if there was another Al Qaeda attack. Who is in charge of the U.S. intelligence community?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Summertime confirmation hearings for General David Petraeus to run the war in Afghanistan and Elena Kagan to join the Supreme Court quickly planned and carried out. but there is another critical nomination out there that has been anything but.

OBAMA: I am proud to announce my choice for the next director of national intelligence, James Clapper.

STARR: It was back on June 5th that the president announced his choice for the new intelligence chief, the person in charge of overseeing 16 U.S. intelligence agencies.

OBAMA: Jim is one of our nation's most experienced and most respected intelligence officials.

STARR: But the Senate Intelligence Committee hasn't even scheduled a confirmation hearing. The last director, Dennis Blair, is long gone, the number two is scheduled to retire within weeks. For now, the intelligence community appears leaderless.

FRANCIS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Like any great orchestra, you need an orchestra leader, and that's what we're missing right now.

STARR: The holdup, the nomination has become a political football on Capitol Hill in a dispute over which members of Congress get notified about top secret intelligence activities. While Congress sorts this out, CIA Director Leon Panetta's power is growing, especially in dealing with Pakistan, insiders say. He's just one player.

TOWNSEND: The single most influential person around President Obama that influences his thinking on intelligence matters is John Brennan.

STARR: Brennan, the White House's top counterterrorism official, often meets with President Obama more than once a day and has been deeply involved in dealing with Al Qaeda.

JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: So this is a challenge that every day we have to remain on our guard. They're trying to find vulnerabilities in our defenses.

STARR: Many have questioned the need to even have a DNI. But now that the job is empty, there are worries about U.S. safety.

LAWRENCE KORB, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I am very, very concerned about it. Particularly, at this time, we're trying to figure out what's happening in Afghanistan, what's happening in Iraq, what's happening in Pakistan, what's going on with the Chinese military buildup.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: And there's another wrinkle for General Clapper on Capitol Hill. Right now, he serves as the top intelligence official here at the Pentagon. And he wrote a memo complaining about the DNI, the job he's up for, having too much power and influence over Pentagon intelligence spending -- Jim, Kate.

ACOSTA: We're still sorting out all these issues all these years after September 11th, Barbara. Very interesting stuff and a very important question. Thanks for that, Barbara. Appreciate it.

STARR: Sure.

ACOSTA: We're getting late word from Google and its battle with China on access in that country. Christine Romans will have that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. We have some new information this morning on this ongoing battle between Google and China over censorship. And Christine Romans is Minding Your Business this morning. She has more on that.

This is a pretty fascinating development.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really is. A deal has been reached between China and Google for China to continue its search engine activities in the country. You might recall that Google shocked the world really in January when it said --

ACOSTA: Why?

ROMANS: -- that it would no longer be a part of the great firewall of China, as its called, where the Chinese censor and block different search results as they try to, as many people say, launder the information that the Chinese people are seeing.

This is what Google says this morning. We are very pleased that the government has renewed our ICP license. That's Internet content provider license. And we look forward to continuing to provide web search and local products to our users in China.

We don't know what the terms of that deal are.

ACOSTA: Right.

ROMANS: We don't know if the Chinese have said we won't -- you don't have to censor. We don't know what that deal is and we're going to find out more about --

ACOSTA: Will there be censorship? I mean, that's the question, right?

ROMANS: I mean, and that is the big question. One thing that's so interesting about this is that people in China who use the Internet, in many cases, figure out ways to get around that great firewall.

ACOSTA: Of course.

ROMANS: Either technologically scaling the wall or doing things like using the dates. For example, the date of the Tiananmen Square massacre, although now, the Chinese authorities are on to this so they don't -- people can't use this anymore. But using dates for important democracy type events --

ACOSTA: Right.

ROMANS: -- as codes so that people can talk to each other or find information about things, finding ways around it.

ACOSTA: Incredible.

ROMANS: But in March, Google had said that all of its search capabilities would be redirected to Hong Kong, where they were not, where their servers there and their system there was not subjected to censorship. But we do know that. I think some 20 percent, 10 or 20 percent of all of the Web sites that are available in China are scrubbed by the Chinese authorities. They are reviewed to make sure that whatever kind of information is publicly available in China is conducive to the harmony and the social, you know, goals of the country.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.

ACOSTA: And everybody is going to be looking at what Google does here.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

ACOSTA: Because there's a lot of pressure on them to not buckle, to not fold to this censorship issue.

BOLDUAN: But you're saying how fascinating it was, like tech gurus are saying about censorship, no censorship, what Google should do. Some people say, even saying that a censored Internet in China is better than none.

ROMANS: And others say that when the Chinese authorities can match that technological understanding and then they start to really clamp down on what kind of information the bulk of the people are getting, then that starts to be a problem again. You know, can you get around censorship? Under what circumstances is censorship still providing more information? A censored Internet still providing more information than that?

BOLDUAN: Right.

ROMANS: And a lot of people who are big fans of Google and what Google is supposed to do and what the goal of the democracy of ideas --

BOLDUAN: Right.

ACOSTA: Yes.

ROMANS: -- they get very, very concerned about the idea of you typing the world democracy and, boom, you're shut out. You know, that's not something that's conducive to, you know, American foreign policy.

ACOSTA: Right.

ROMANS: And certainly not to the idea, you know, of the things that Google stands for and other tech companies.

ACOSTA: Wow. Well, this is going to be interesting to watch.

ROMANS: Yes.

ACOSTA: I'm sure more details will be coming out during the day.

BOLDUAN: What are the terms of the agreement?

ROMANS: What are the terms of the agreement?

ACOSTA: Exactly.

ROMANS: Right. That's what we'll find out. But for now, Google will be staying in China.

ACOSTA: Great.

ROMANS: Sure.

ACOSTA: Christine Romans, thanks so much. Appreciate that.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Christine.

So, day 81 of the gulf oil crisis. And the beaches along the gulf, it's oil, oil, everywhere. You've seen this. And so far, after it's cleaned up, do you ever wonder where it all goes? Well, you'll find out next.

It is 23 minutes after the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: It is day 81 of the oil disaster in the Gulf. And a U.S. Navy blimp is now in New Orleans. The Coast Guard tells us it could make its first flight over the gusher sometime today as long as the weather cooperates. The 178-foot long airship will be used to search for new oil slicks as well as more threatened wildlife.

And every day of this crisis, more crews are picking up more oil and tar balls off the beaches along the coast. That begs the question, where is it all going after that? Our Randi Kaye is following the oily trail and finds out there's a lot of people who don't like where it lands.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you've been wondering where all that scooped-up onshore oil ends up, here's your answer. This is Mississippi's Pecan Grove landfill. What cleanup crews gather on shore, tar balls, oiled sand and vegetation is hauled away and buried here. That even includes the cleanup crews' gloves, suits, shovels and rakes, anything that's touched oil.

It's one of nine landfills BP has cut deals with across the gulf to dump all this stuff. So that must mean the communities are OK with it too. Right? Wrong.

Connie Rockco is the president of the Board of Supervisors in Harrison County, Mississippi, where the Pecan Grove landfill is located.

(on camera): How do you feel about this oily mixture coming off the beaches and ending up in your landfill?

CONNIE ROCKCO, HARRISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: We're tired of being dumped on. We don't want it. It's valuable landfill space and it's hazardous to our citizens. Take your waste somewhere else or please find an alternative.

KAYE (voice-over): Rockco says the county board passed a resolution not to accept any BP waste in this community. But that didn't matter. That's because Waste Management, which owns the landfill, doesn't have to listen to what the county board says. It answers to the state. So it signed a contract with BP and started dumping the oily waste right where Rockco and plenty of others feared they would.

(on camera): What concerns you most about this oil and the tar balls and this whole mixture going to your landfill?

ROCKCO: The long-term effects that we will have to endure if it, in fact -- if, in fact, we do find that it is dangerous.

KAYE: Like if it gets into your water or --

ROCKCO: Water table. Absolutely.

KAYE (voice-over): Keeping them honest, we asked BP why it's disposing of spill waste in a county that says it's pleaded with them not to. BP wouldn't comment. So we asked Waste Management's Ken Haldin to take us inside the landfill so we could see for ourselves why BP, the EPA and Waste Management all say it's safe.

(on camera): There are many worried that whatever is going into this landfill from the oil spill is going to end up in their water system and make the community sick?

KEN HALDIN, WASTE MANAGEMENT: Well, it's an understandable concern because there's a lack of awareness about what an engineered landfill is.

KAYE (voice-over): Haldin says this is a non-hazardous waste site. He says there won't be any liquid oil coming here, just solid oil waste. Before it's dumped, it's stored in these huge containers and analyzed. In the last 24 hours, Haldin says they dropped more than 150 tons of BP waste into this landfill -- 150 tons.

(on camera): If the county didn't want it, why is it here?

HALDIN: And that's something that's certainly appealed to the state about and to others about. And we understand that. We're going to do our utmost to be sure that they are familiar with what is going on here.

KAYE: Haldin says this landfill has a liner that runs underneath the entire site. In fact, it's under my feet where I'm walking right now. He says that liner is supposed to contain everything that's dumped here at the landfill and protect it from any leaks. He also says the groundwater and the air is monitored. And if anything goes wrong, they would know it.

(voice-over): The EPA told us, BP, along with the EPA, are also sampling the landfills regularly to make sure they are safe. The agency also said it directed BP to keep its waste disposal operations, quote, fully transparent. BP must post information about the disposal of all collected waste on their Web site along with any community complaints.

Connie Rockco is first in line.

ROCKCO: If it's not hazardous, why would someone be out with Tyvek suits and rubber gloves and that sort of thing, taking it up and taking it to the landfill?

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And 7:29, and that means it's time for this morning's top stories. LeBron James, you've heard of him, he makes his big move taking his game to south Florida to play for the Miami Heat. LeBron will join two other NBA stars, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, for a mini dream team. It's good for Miami, but what about the rest of the NBA? More on that in just a moment.

The Russian and U.S. planes carrying more than a dozen spies in the biggest spy swap since the Cold War, took off from Vienna a short time ago. How will all of this impact U.S.-Russian relations? We will break it down with national security contributor, Fran Townsend and Peter Brookes, a former CIA officer in about 10 minutes.

And the U.N. plans to condemn the sinking of a South Korean warship without going so far as to name North Korea responsible. A statement will go to a council vote today. In it, the U.N. expresses deep sympathy and condolences for 46 South Korean sailors who died when the ship was hit with a torpedo in March. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Well, as we have mentioned throughout the morning, Lebron James has ended weeks of speculation about his NBA future with this announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEBRON JAMES, NBA PLAYER: I am going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miami Heat, that was the conclusion you woke up with this morning?

JAMES: That was the conclusion I woke up with this morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Joining us to talk about Lebron's big decision and the fallout, in Chicago, author, Buzz Bissinger, who co-wrote the book

Shooting Stars with Lebron James and here in the studio, our sports guy, CNN contributor Max Kellerman. Thank you, guys, for joining us, so much. So, Max, we talked yesterday. You thought it was going to be the Knicks. What's your reaction?

MAX KELLERMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I thought it was going to be the Knicks because if you are looking for the best broadcasting platform for your star, New York is the number one market in the world. Forget about this country.

BOLDUAN: What about the Miami Heat then?

KELLERMAN: Well, the Miami Hat is his best chance to win. I thought what Lebron James was interested in -- because there is a chance he goes and win the championship with any team that's enough under the salary cap to surround him with some good players. That was the case with the Knicks as it was with other teams. But in New York, he would occupy a niche that --

BUZZ BISSINGER, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR AT VANITY : He never wanted to go to New York, ever.

KELLERMAN: What's that?

BISSINGER: He never wanted to go to New York, because, a, he couldn't win.

KELLERMAN: Why couldn't he win, Buzz?

BISSINGER: Why couldn't he win? Because he didn't have enough supporting cast. The Heat and (INAUDIBLE) are not enough.

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