Return to Transcripts main page


Video Threat; Olympic Games; Bae Appeals to U.S.; Target Breach; Tech Analysts Make Security Recommendations; Persistent Death and Violence Shadow Everyday Iraqis

Aired January 20, 2014 - 12:00   ET



RICHARD SHERMAN, NFL PLAYER: Don't you open your mouth about the best! Or you're on the center (INAUDIBLE) real quick! LOB (ph)!

ERIN ANDREWS, REPORTER: All right, before - and Joe -


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, OK, then. So poorer Erin Andrews, Sherman had to say he was sorry if Erin Andrews thought that he was actually yelling at her. But the look on her face suggested she agrees with (INAUDIBLE) about the whole thing. Hey, Erin, good job.

Thanks for watching, everyone. Nice to have you. AROUND THE WORLD start right now.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: New fears of an attack on the Olympic games. Will tourists and athletes be safe? Ahead, we're going to talk to the director of security at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Plus, he's been locked up in North Korea for more than a year. Well now Kenneth Bae is asking the United States for help.

And this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You depend on God when you leave your house, because you don't know what fate holds for you.


MALVEAUX: Welcome to the new normal in Iraq, where simply walking outside can be a matter of life or death.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

First up, we've got new threats now adding fears to a possible terror attack on the Olympic games, just two-and-a-half weeks away, when an online video shows two men claiming to have been behind the recent suicide attacks that killed dozens of people in Russia. You see it there. The men are warning of more bombings during those games. Now, the threat comes as the Olympic torch is passing through the city of Volgograd, which, of course, you might recognize that name. That is where the attacks happened. Phil Black has the details.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mounting concerns in Russia this morning as the Olympic torch relay makes its way through the bomb-stricken city of Volgograd. Two extremists, in this video, claiming responsibility for two back-to-back suicide bombings last month that claimed 34 lives and warning that more attacks could come during the Sochi Olympic games.

In the hour-long video, the purported suicide bombings are seen constructing explosives and explaining their motives, all before heading to their targets, triggers in hand. The two men apparently part of an Islamist militant group, vowing to "prepare a present" for the Olympics, and "all the tourists who'll come over." Members of Congress are very concerned.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), HOMELAND SECURITY CMTE. CHMN.: If something does happen, what is the evacuation plan and emergency response plan that would take place?

BLACK: Others worried about Americans heading to Sochi.

SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: I would not go. And I don't think I would send my family.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CMTE. CHMN.: I am very concerned about the security status of the Olympics. I do believe that the Russian government needs to be more cooperative with the United States when it comes to the security of the games.

BLACK: Russian President Vladimir Putin deploying a security force of 40,000 police officers and soldiers to the region. In an interview with ABC News, Putin says that he will do whatever it takes to keep athletes and visitors safe, and pledging that Russia has adequate means of security. Security around the Olympic venue on high alert, metal detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs visible, as the games get underway in just over two weeks.


MALVEAUX: Phil Black is joining us on the phone from Volgograd. We're also joined by William Rathburn. He's director of security at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He's joining us via Skype from Tyler, Texas. Thank you, both of you, for joining us.

Phil, first of all I want to get to you. What is it like? Paint a picture for us on the ground. The crowds out there. They're passing the torch through this very important city. But it is a city that's been devastated by that previous attack.

BLACK (via telephone): Yes, indeed, Suzanne. It was interesting, when the Olympic flame first arrived, the same train station that was struck in that attack just three weeks ago, Russian officials gave speeches about the city's (INAUDIBLE) history, its military history, but no one mentioned what had happened here, as I say, just three weeks ago when a man entered this train station, blew himself up, killing 18 people.

Russian officials, in reacting to these attacks, have said they're not changing their thinking or planning about security in Sochi, but they're clearly changing their thinking about just what it means to be -- for the terrorists to strike away from Sochi because the security presence here today was really quite huge. Quite often more police, more members of the security services, than members of the public that had actually turned out to see the torch relay as it made its way through the city.


And, William, you're not surprised to hear that. I mean, as a security consultant yourself, you were in charge of security back in 1996, the Summer Olympic games here in Atlanta. I was here after those bombs went off in the aftermath. And despite the fact that it -- when it was all said and done afterwards, a few people were killed at the Centennial Olympic Park, people went on with the games, but there was definitely a sense of fear and concern. What did you learn in Atlanta from what that -- what happened there and how can they take those lessons learned to Sochi?

WILLIAM RATHBURN, DIRECTOR OF SECURITY, 1996 ATLANTA OLYMPICS: Well, one of the primary lessons that we learned from Atlanta was, there clearly is vulnerability. And no matter how pardon - how much you harden the Olympic targets, there are a lot of soft targets around. And in the case of Atlanta, the Olympic Park was a soft target. It was -- the park was a park. A public park. And so it was not available for us to secure completely and so that's the lesson the Russians have to learn is that as much as they harden the Olympic targets, there's still a lot of soft targets around.

MALVEAUX: Is there any way - I mean we've heard just a number of lawmakers and people who are very worried for Americans, they're worried for other tourists. Do you suggest that people even attend the Olympics, or are people being rather extreme -- you can go ahead and turn that off if you want there.

RATHBURN: I'm sorry. OK.

MALVEAUX: That's OK. No, take your time. Just hit the button.

RATHBURN: OK. I apologize.

MALVEAUX: No, no worries. So should they go? Should people go? I mean are -- do you think that they can control it enough that people should attend?

RATHBURN: I don't think it's a good idea that the security threat is the highest it's ever been in the history of the Olympic games. It's an announced, credible threat, one that the terrorists have proven they can carry out by virtue of their attacks in Volgograd. I'm very, very concerned. I'm -- at the same time, I'm hopeful that it will go peacefully, but I have major concerns.

MALVEAUX: And, William, tell us what you make of the video threat that was posted on this Chechen extremist site. Give us a sense of why they are -- the Chechen militants -- so dangerous, and what do they want here?

RATHBURN: What they really want to do is put as much pressure on the Russian government as possible. And the important thing to remember is that they kill indiscriminately. They don't care who they kill. They want to kill as many people as they can to put pressure on the Russian government.

So that's - it doesn't matter if -- what delegate -- what country you represent, what delegation you're a part of, or what country you're from as a visitor. It's just that they want to embarrass the Russian government. Putin has a very high, personal profile in the Olympics, and so I think that makes the Sochi Olympics an even better target for the terrorists.

MALVEAUX: And, William, I don't want to scare people away, because I know a lot of people are going to be there, and they want to enjoy themselves, they want to make sure that they have a good time, that everybody's safe. So what can they do? If you're somebody who's going to be there, is there a way that you can protect yourself despite these very real terrorist threats?

RATHBURN: Well, one of the things I would avoid is public transportation. However, it's probably impossible to avoid it. That's how people are going to be moved around in great numbers. I would - I think once the people -- the spectators get into an Olympic event, into a secure perimeter, they'll be OK. I don't think there's much chance they will breach the perimeters of the hardened targets. It's all the public areas that greatly concern me.

MALVEAUX: All right. William Rathburn, thank you so much. We appreciate it. We're going to be following and talking to you in the weeks ahead because, obviously, a lot of worry, a lot of concern about how this is all going to go down in Sochi. Thank you. Appreciate it, William.

RATHBURN: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: We should also be very skeptical about what we're about to see here, because this individual is under duress, the situation that he's in. This is an American missionary who's been locked up in North Korea for more than a year. We're talking about Kenneth Bae.

Well, he was put before the cameras and reporters in this highly orchestrated event today in Pyongyang. Kenneth Bae said he's a criminal and that North Korea doesn't abuse rights. He also asked Washington to cooperate with his captors to get him out of prison. But, let's face it here, given North Korea's history of forced confessions, Bae likely was saying all of this because this is what the North Korean officials wanted to hear. Now more from our Paula Hancocks.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Escorted in and out of the room by military officials, Kenneth Bae said that he wanted to be freed as soon as possible so that he could go home. Now, the U.S. missionary has been held in North Korea since November 2012. And speaking to reporters in Pyongyang on Monday, he called on the U.S. government once again to try its best to secure his release. He, once again, issued an apology to North Korea and said that he has broken North Korean laws.

KENNETH BAE, AMERICAN HELD IN NORTH KOREA (through translator): I would like to plea with the U.S. government, press and my family to stop worsening my situation by making vile rumors against North Korea and releasing materials related to me which are not based on the facts.

HANCOCKS: State-run media, KCNA, says that Bae had mentioned the U.S. vice president, Joe Biden, saying that he recently had said that Bae was being held for no reason. Bae said he had committed a crime and the regime has claimed that Bae has carried out hostile acts against the government.

Now Bae said he also had seen allegations that North Korea was a human rights violator and wanted to clarify that he had had humanitarian support from the regime because he had been allowed to get in contact with his family.

Now, within this press conference, Bae said that he was the one who wanted to speak. But it has to be noted that recent prisoners who have been released from North Korea have said that they made statements and apologies under duress.

It's not exactly clear why North Korea wanted Bae to make these statements today, of all days. There are some assumptions among some experts that Pyongyang may actually want to restart talks with the United States. But no matter what the reason for today's press conference, it certainly put Bae back in the headlines, the longest- known U.S. detainee in North Korea in recent years.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


MALVEAUX: And you might recall Dennis Rodman telling CNN that Bae might have done something to deserve this 15-year sentence. Well, Rodman later apologized. He blamed his outburst on alcohol and stress. You remember he was in North Korea on that basketball diplomacy trip.

Well, Rodman has now checked into a rehab center in New Jersey. His agent says that Rodman hit the bottle hard in North Korea, drinking like none of them had ever seen before. Rodman has been in rehab for alcohol addiction before. He was one of the patients on the "Celebrity Rehab"" with Dr. Drew. That show back in 2009.

Well, here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Life is a lottery. A Russian roulette of live or die every time you leave the house, despite the city being awash in security.


MALVEAUX: Car bombs, security checks, and a struggle to stay alive every single day. That is what it is like for people now in Iraq.


MALVEAUX: Investigators are now finding out more about that malicious software that might have been behind the security breach against Target. Now that breach, you might recall, caused 70 million Target customers' credit cards were actually compromised during all of this. Our Zain Asher, she's joining us from New York.

And, Zain, I know this is something that happened to Target. They've been dealing with it, trying to get ahead of it, if you will. But how do they actually protect themselves moving forward? Because, you know, if you're one of those customers, anything you say, anything they say is not necessarily going to be satisfying.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. I mean companies -- the retail industry, I should say, should do a whole lot of things to (INAUDIBLE) themselves, Suzanne. First of all, there needs to be more information-sharing in the retail industry. What does that mean? That means that if Target or Neiman Marcus realizes that they've been hacked and they realize that it was a certain piece of malicious code that was used to penetrate their systems, why not share that information with other retailers?

If your goal is to protect the consumers, you have to share that information with other retailers so they can get a head start in protecting their systems, as well.

I also did speak to a professional hacker about the importance of security at the point-of-sale systems. Take a listen.


DINO DAI ZOVI, SECURITY EXPERT: What they need to do is, they need to focus on hardening their point-of-sale systems, and this is what's called endpoint security.

And so this includes anti-virus and other technological measures to make sure that hackers can't get in, they can't stay in, and they can't remotely access computers.


ASHER: And he also mentioned that there should be -- retailers should have a completely separate network to handle credit card systems that isn't connected to the Internet.

That means that if it is connected to the internet, it makes it easier for hackers to gain access, to get in there, to play around, and to basically control cash registers remotely.


ASHER: So there does need to be a whole lot of change to the retail industry.

MALVEAUX: And I imagine, too, if you're one of those retailers, and this has happened to you, some of them might not want to come forward here, realizing they might lose customers.

Is this something where people are actually keeping this a secret but retailers are not saying whether or not they have actually been a victim to this, as well?

ASHER: Well, listen, a lot of retailers obviously have the incentive not to come forward. You know, what company wants to deal with cross- action lawsuits, reduction in sales, perhaps a drop in sale price, and even their reputation being ruined?

Obviously, there is an incentive for customers -- for retailers, I should say, once they have been hacked, to keep it on the down-low But a lot of people saying there should be a rule whereby if a third party notifies a retailer they have been hacked, they should come forward.

What usually happens is that behind the scenes, the fraud division of these banks, might notice an uptick and customers who have been hacked or had their credit-card data stolen may have shopped at a certain retailer on a given day.

But all of that happens behind the scenes and these retailers are really not forced to come forward. There should be a rule or law that they should come forward, as soon as they know there has been a breach.

MALVEAUX: Well, Zain, you can see if, in fact, other retailers out there not necessarily being honest about this. That is very important. That's what consumers want to know.

Zain Asher, appreciate it. Thank you, as always.

Violence in Iraq gotten so bad now, and it is so consistent that people there, they feel like they are risking their lives every day with death as a constant companion.

My co-anchor, Michael Holmes, is going to give us an idea what life is like now in Baghdad, coming up.


MALVEAUX: Violence in Iraq is not letting up. Another round of car bomb explosions in Baghdad left at least 13 people dead, more than 50 hurt.

Nearly 100 people have been killed over the past week in Iraq as, militants with al-Qaeda ties, they are fighting government security forces.

Now, these two sides, they have been battling for control over the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. The violence has now been spilling into the capital. People are afraid the whole country could explode into a sectarian war.

The threat of instant death is part of everyday life. For many Iraqis, even just walking out the door can be a very risky move.

My co-anchor, Michael Holmes, is reporting from Baghdad.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Suzanne. Over the last week, of course, we have literally heard the car bombs as they have exploded all around the city. Dozens of people died. Many, many more were wounded as they always are, in terrible ways.

Now, it's hard, of course, for people not here to imagine what it must like to live like that every day. Well, we went to speak to some ordinary Iraqis about living in Baghdad today.


HOLMES: It is security-camera video posted on YouTube that we can't independently verify, but what it shows is chilling.

This is in the commercial area of Al Senar (ph) in central Baghdad. Amid the usual traffic chaos, a small yellow car double-parks. The driver casually walks away.

People go about their business, until -- the camera dislodged by the blast cannot show the death and maiming the bomb caused, one of so many this month.

Such is life in Baghdad today. Death can come at any time.

Targets usually not government buildings, these days, security too tight for that, but city streets, marketplaces, commercial areas, bustling with everyday citizens of a fearful city.

THAMER JAAFAR, BARBER, FATHER OF THREE (via translator): If we see someone park their car by the shop, we have to check their I.D.s and what they are doing.

HOLMES: Thamer Jaafar is a 50-year-old barber. Each day is worse than the day before, he tells us.

JAAFAR (via translator): You try and live your life. Despite the pain and grief, you smile and laugh as much as you can each day you are alive.

HOLMES: There is a sense of foreboding intertwined with daily violence here, a fear that what is happening just to the west of Anbar Province could erupt completely, making what is happening here seem mild in comparison.

The Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki continues to keep the army out of Fallujah, demanding Sunni tribes there deal with the influx of the al Qaeda-inspired fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and other extremist groups, as well. So far, it's a stand off, albeit with regular skirmishes and clashes.

But the fighters are, according to reports from inside Fallujah, becoming more of a presence, not less, passing out leaflets announcing a strict Islamic code, running checkpoints, making fiery speeches that denounce the government.

In Baghdad, just 70 kilometers away, life is a lottery, a Russian roulette of live or die every time you leave the house, despite the city being awash in security.

HAIDAR AL-HAJ JALAL, VEGETABLE SELLER (via translator): You depend on God when you leave your house, because you don't know what fate holds for you.

HOLMES: It is a terrible fact that it is difficult to meet anyone who hasn't lost someone, friend or family, to the violence these past years.

ASSAD MASHAI, FATHER OF TWO (via translator): I've lost many people close to me over the years. All those who die are Iraqis. It's not each person's grief. It's joint grief.

HOLMES: With national elections in April, many see Nouri al-Maliki unlikely to offer major concessions to Sunnis any time soon. And many Sunni leaders in Anbar province maintain their own hard line.

Meanwhile, those al-Qaeda-linked fighters feed on the dissent, but for ordinary citizens, politics and power plays mean little. Just getting home alive at the end of the day is all that counts.


HOLMES: And, you know, that's the thing, Suzanne. The vast majority of those victims are just people trying to live their lives.

You see a lot of different numbers for the monthly death toll. But one group, Iraq Body Count, they've got a pretty good database, a very detailed one, and they say that so far this month, we're getting upwards to 700 people who have died violently in Iraq.

And you can multiply that many times over for the wounded.


MALVEAUX: So sad. Thank you, Michael.

The leading Syrian opposition group is threatening a pull-out of this week's peace talks in Geneva.

Opposition leaders give the United Nations until 2:00 Eastern to rescind an invitation to made to Iran to join talks or for Iran to meet certain conditions, including with drawing its troops from Syria.

Iran is a staunch supporter of the Assad regime. If the talks do go forward, it's going to be the first time that Syria's government and opposition leaders have met face-to-face. The goal of the talks, to set up a transitional government that would end almost three years of violence.

And in New Zealand, a strong earthquake has hit the lower part of the country's north island. The 6.2 magnitude quake hit 70 miles northeast of Wellington. That is the country's capital. It rattled buildings and knocked out power, impacting more than 5,000 folks there. Now, that quake also brought down this giant eagle sculpture you sigh there hanging in an airport.

And Governor Chris Christie about to be sworn in for a second term, but the festivities being overshadowed by the growing scandals in New Jersey.