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White House Pushes back on Drone Report; Four Arrested in Hoffman Drug Probe; How Can U.S. Fight Heroin Abuse?; Olympic City not Ready; Chili Peppers: Halftime Show was Mimed

Aired February 5, 2014 - 10:30   ET


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A senior administration official said to me earlier this morning, "The issue of whether to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban is entirely an internal matter for Pakistan. For our part we are continuing to aggressively identify and disrupt terrorist threats in the Afghan war theater and outside of areas that of" -- excuse me -- "active hostilities in line with our established counterterrorism objectives and legal and policy standards. This remains our policy -- reports that we have agreed to a different approach in support of Pakistani peace talks are wrong.

And Carol keep in mind that the President himself has laid out what he believes to be the legal basis for these drone strikes so they are going to continue.

But they have -- these drone strikes have also I guess garnered some criticism even inside of Pakistan. The Pakistani government has said that this may result in an uptick in terrorism. It may result in more militarism in Pakistan.

And even Malala Yousafzai who came to see the President and the First Lady last fall said afterwards she met with the President that these drone strikes are not helping that they may be creating more terrorists than killing.

And so this continues to be an issue for the White House, but they are saying no, not because of these peace talks -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right Jim -- Jim Acosta reporting live from the White House this morning.

Four people now in police custody believed to be connected to the drugs found in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment. Also today, investigators say they found the actor's private journal and are combing through that journal for clues. This comes as police are releasing more information on the type of heroin that killed Hoffman and on where he was just hours before he died.

CNN's Nischelle Turner has more from New York. Good morning.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hey good morning Carol. Yes there are a lot of developments that are happening overnight. Like you said, police arrested three men and a woman in a New York apartment building who they believe are connected to the drugs found in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment.

Now during this raid, police say they recovered 350 glassine bags. They were thought -- these bags thought to have heroin in them. Also we do have some new details emerging about Philip Seymour Hoffman's death. Apparently, it was because of a heroin overdose.

A law enforcement source tells CNN that preliminary results show the heroin found in Hoffman's apartment was not laced with the painkiller, fentanyl. His former partner, Mimi O'Donnell, reportedly told Hoffmann that he was going to have to move out of her apartment into another apartment with the city not with their children when she discovered that he was abusing drugs. And -- and she said that this was an ongoing battle that he -- that he had been having.

Again, Carol, you know we talk about some of the things that were coming out and you talk about this journal. One of the things that police will be looking for is if there were any entries made recently connected to maybe the purchase of drugs or what he was doing or even just personal accounts of people he had come in contact with, because there was this surveillance video of him at the ATM taking money out. And then a witness told police that they saw him there talking to two men with messenger bags.

So they definitely want to find out who these people are and if they have any connection to the drugs or to being with him at the time or any information connected to his death.

COSTELLO: CNN's Nischelle Turner many thanks.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM. What's behind the rise of heroin use in America? We'll talk about that next.



COSTELLO: We just told you about this morning's arrest in the investigation into the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Four people now in police custody, believed to be linked to the drugs found in Hoffmann's apartment. A good thing.

But if you step back and take a look at the bigger picture, we're losing the war on drugs, because some say we're fighting the wrong fight. At a House hearing in Washington on marijuana, Congressman Steve Cohen, a Democrat from Tennessee, says it's time to stop fighting marijuana use and start fighting where it really matters.


REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: It is ludicrous, absurd, crazy, to have marijuana in the same level as heroin. Ask the late Philip Seymour Hoffman if you could. Nobody dies from marijuana. People die from heroin. And every second that we spend in this country trying to enforce marijuana laws is a second that we're not enforcing heroin laws. And heroin and meth are the two drugs that are ravaging our country. And every death, including Mr. Hoffman's is partly the responsibility of the federal government's drug priorities.


COSTELLO: Joining me now --joining me now to talk about this, Eric Schneider, who is a professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book "Smack, Heroin and the America City"; also with us, Kathleen Rice, the District Attorney for Nassau County, New York. Welcome to both of you.



COSTELLO: Thank you for being here. Kathleen, I want to start with you. Is Congressman Cohen right?

RICE: You know addiction is addiction. And what I've seen in the eight years that I have been the District Attorney of this county is an enormous increase in heroin addiction but you have to remember that people don't just start with heroin. They start with alcohol, they start with marijuana, they start with prescription drugs.

So what we have to do is put more resources toward the treatment of this disease. People want to look at someone who is a heroin addict versus someone who is an alcoholic and say, I can judge that heroin addict. I would never do heroin.

But we have to change the conversation and say look this can happen in any family. It is happening in families across this country in communities across this country. We need to put more resources toward the treatment of this disease. And be willing to call it what it is, which is a disease, whether you are talking about an addiction to marijuana or heroin.

COSTELLO: Eric, CNN's Poppy Harlow is working on a story about heroin abuse on Long Island. And she talked to a number of parents who've lost children to heroin. And they're angry that it took Philip Seymour Hoffman's death to kind of highlight the problem we're having in this country with heroin.

SCHNEIDER: Well the fact is that historically the -- since World War II, the majority of the population that has uses heroin has shifted overtime from black to white. And ironically it's only when white people are affected by the drug that people seem to get excited about it. It's true that Hoffmann's death has really highlighted the increase in heroin use.

Although it's important to contextualize that and realize that one of the reasons why people are using heroin is because they have come habituated to pharmaceutical drugs and they discovered overtime that street heroin is a lot cheaper than trying to buy oxycontin.

COSTELLO: Right and Kathleen that's certainly the case on Long Island where a hit of heroin costs, what, $10?


RICE: There is no question about it, it is easier to get heroin, it is easier to get and it is much cheaper and these days it's much more potent. What we are seeing is an increase in pharmaceutical -- well first of all as a country, the number one public health crisis and the one public safety issue is prescription drug abuse. There is no question about it. More Americans are on prescription drugs than ever before in our country's history.

And New York just passed a law last year called I-Stop, that's going to, in real time be able to monitor the prescriptions written for oxycodone and other opiate kind of drugs that are so powerfully addictive and the pharmacists who give them out. So what we are seeing is a decrease in pharmaceutical drug overdose but an increase in heroin overdose.

Now what the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman shows in my opinion, is that this addiction crosses all socioeconomic, gender, race-based characteristics. There is no question about it that more people across the board are getting addicted to drugs like heroin.

What we see is that now that it is going to be harder for people to get prescription drugs they are turning to heroin. Because they are both opiate-based drugs that perform the same high, that offer the same high.


RICE: And they are easier to get and it's cheaper.

COSTELLO: And Eric, let me pose this question because Kathleen is talking a lot about the treatment of addicts, which is very important, obviously. But police have made four arrests in the case surrounding Philip Seymour Hoffman. Will it matter, these arrests?

SCHNEIDER: I don't really think so. The -- this is really not an enforcement issue. It's a public health issue. And I would disagree with those who argue that marijuana, for example, is a gateway drug. We certainly have to pay attention to drug users and I believe in harm reduction, so that those who are addicted to the drug should be able to use it in a safe manner, with clean needles. I mean that's something that we have done a pretty good job of in the United States. But we haven't gone far enough.

COSTELLO: Kathleen, would you agree with that?

RICE: Well New York City has a clean needle program and that's one way of trying to address the issue. But to me, what we are ignoring here is that addiction is addiction. And we see kids trying drugs, whether it's alcohol, marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, in increasing numbers at younger ages. And everyone knows the power of the addiction of heroin.

So I think that what we need to do is really bring these kind of addictions out from the shadows and stop talking about these addictions just happening in other communities and in other families and recognize the fact that people who are addicted have a disease.

Now, there is no question that offices like mine, we do strict enforcement. And we try to arrest as many dealers as possible. Because there is a deterrent effect there that is powerful. It's not a panacea for this problem. But it's one aspect of addressing this epidemic.

But we have to be willing to say, hey, look these addictions exist in families in every single community across this country. And when are we going to put our money where our mouth is when we say that we recognize that these addictions are diseases and like any other diseases that people suffer from we need to help get people the treatment they need.

COSTELLO: Thanks so much to both of you, Eric Schneider and Kathleen Rice the Attorney General of Nassau County. Thanks so much for being with me.

We'll be right back.



COSTELLO: Right now, about 120 million Americans are dealing with the latest winter storm. It's raking across 32 states and leaving quite the mess in its wake.

CNN's Ted Rowlands has finally made it through traffic. He's live in Chicago. He's here for you. Take it away -- Ted.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, major problems. It has been snowing all night. They had a big snow all night in Chicago. It is triple the commute times, two hours plus from O'Hare. Normally, that's about a 40-minute drive in across the country.

This storm is causing major problems and the problems continue to escalate. Power outages across the country -- about a half million people without power in Philadelphia right now. And in Detroit at the airport, they have two issues with two separate planes that are both Delta commuter flights. They landed in Detroit. One plane had a wing clip a snow bank. Another plane's front nose gear -- the front nose gear went off of the runway, no injuries but lots of headaches. They seem to be continuing with this latest winter wallop storm Carol that millions of people are dealing with today.

COSTELLO: You are not kidding. Ted Rowlands, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Let the games begin. Well, if all the venues are ready. The Olympic torch got to Sochi today and many journalists did too and their accommodations are, well shall we say less than ideal. Take a look. Stacy St. Clair tweeted, "Water restored, sort of. On the bright side, I now know what a very dangerous face water looks like." The hotel front desk told her the water was too dangerous to watch her face with. Greg (inaudible) said, "People have asked, what surprised me the most here in Sochi. It is this. Without question, it's this." That sign reads, "Please, do not flush toilet paper down the toilet. Put it in the bin provided."

Steven Sino shows us one room where member of the Canadian men's hockey team is staying -- talk about tight quarters. And danger outside, Joann Barner (ph) says, "Watch your step. I have noticed on walkways and sideways that not all of the manholes are covered.

Superstar skier, Lindsay Vonn is out of the Sochi games because of an injured knee, as you know. So what other American Olympians are ready for the spotlight? Let's take a look at the good side of the Olympics with Rachel Nichols.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: Without Lindsey Vonn, who will emerge as the favorite face of these Olympics?


NICHOLS: Is that person Lolo Jones? Yes, that Lolo Jones. We last saw Lolo in a different sport, hurdling at the summer Olympics in 2012 and 2008. But a year and a half ago, she began training for the bobsled. And now, with some controversy, she is on the U.S. Team. Jones never won a medal in London or Beijing. She hopes to nab her first in Sochi.

LOLO JONES, U.S. OLYMPIC BOBSLED TEAM: I'm surprised at how strong it makes you and how much it fits so well with track and field and how well track and field fits with bobsled. I feel like I should have done this, years ago.

NICHOLS: Or is America's new darling in women's figure skating? With her name alone, Gracie Gold is a contender. And she's delivering on the ice too, winning her first national title in January.

GRACIE GOLD, U.S. OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATER: You get to be part of such a rich history in women's figure skating representing the United States and I think that's just sort of exciting to have your name on the list of skaters.

NICHOLS: And then, there is Ashley Wagner, her selection to the U.S. Team was controversial. Wagner placed fourth at last month's U.S. championships, falling twice. Historically, only the top three earn Olympic spots but this time, the selection committee awarded Wagner a spot over third place finisher and Vancouver Olympian, Mirai Nagasu. U.S. skating officials felt Wagner's overall body of work, two wins in previous U.S. championships and her fifth place finish at last year's world championship made her a better candidate for Sochi.

ASHLEY WAGNER, U.S. OLYMPIC FIGURE SKATER: They have these girls who are pushing me. I know that they are at the rink working hard.

NICHOLS: Rough and tough more your style? As evidenced by this brawl, the U.S. and Canadian women's hockey teams do not like each other. Canada is a three-time defending gold medalist. The Americans have the only other gold in Olympic women's hockey won during the sport's inaugural year in 1998. Don't expect the tension to thaw any time soon.

On the men's side, once again NHL rivals become teammates as the U.S. hockey team looks to rebound from its heartbreaking overtime loss to Canada in the gold medal game in Vancouver.

PATRICK KANE, U.S. OLYMPIC HOCKEY TEAM: You can have battles on the ice in your regular season and then when a team needs to be put together for the Olympics in the United States, you find yourself sitting next to a guy like Ryan Kessler, who you hate on the ice playing against him but when you play with him, you love playing with him.

NICHOLS: And of course, there are the slopes. Teenage skier, Mikaela Shiffrin has won seven world cup slaloms.

MIKAELA SHIFFRIN, U.S. OLYMPIC SKI RACER: When I'm racing over in Europe all season, a lot of times I forget I'm just Mikaela and I'm just a racer and we go and we race and that's that. But going to the Olympics and really wearing the Team USA jacket is going to be -- have a whole new meaning.

NICHOLS: There's is always the U.S. team's most unusual Olympian, Bode Miller, raised in a New Hampshire cabin without electricity or running water. Miller is on his fifth Olympic team. But he is 36 years old, making him the oldest alpine Olympian in U.S. history.

What's left in the tank? That's not an issue for snowboarder, Shaun White. He's a contender in Sochi and he's vying for his third Olympic gold medal. Will he be the face of team USA? We'll just have to watch and see.


COSTELLO: Rachel Nichols reporting for us this morning. Still to come in the NEWSROOM, the halftime show during the big Super Bowl game, it turns out it was a big fake at least partly. The Red Hot Chili Peppers weren't packing that much heat because their instruments were not even plugged in.

We'll discuss next.



COSTELLO: It may have been the one bright spot during a rather disappointing Super Bowl.


COSTELLO: And the Red Hot Chili Peppers joining headliner Bruno Mars on stage. It was a bright spot because with the fabulous performance only one problem -- the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the musicians that is, weren't even plugged in. The band admitting they were miming.

CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter is in New York. I really wanted to talk about this Brian. Thanks for coming in to do it with me.


COSTELLO: I guess it is not really a scandal these days because I think people expect every group that's playing music to be faking it, which is a sad statement.

STELTER: It is sad. It is true not just for the Super Bowl. I think people think that when SNL has musicians on as well. I actually give a lot of credit to the Red Hot Chili Peppers for coming out and explaining.

You know, they wrote this great blog post where they explained why they decided to perform and how the NFL basically wouldn't let them perform live. You have to give them props for explaining themselves.

COSTELLO: Well, they did. And I am going to read their blog because this is from the group's bassist Flea. He said, quote, "When we were asked by the NFL and Bruno Mars to play our song "Give It Away", it was made clear to us that the vocals would be live but the base, drums and guitar would be pre-recorded. There was not any room for argument on this. The NFL does not want to risk their show being botched by bad sound, period."

And he went on to say, "It takes so long to set things up for a good sound that the NFL didn't have the time because you only have so much time for the half time show.

STELTER: Yes, they basically compared it to a music video. And I guess that's what the Super Bowl kind of is. It's a live music video. At least he was singing live and at least Bruno Mars was singing live. But Bruno Mars also had a prerecorded backup track also.

You know this has happened in the past to Bruce Springsteen five years ago where the East Street Band was also pre-recorded at that time. I'm just glad they didn't try to fake it by plugging in the guitars and pretending to do it, you know. It was kind of cool there was photo evidence that showed us they weren't plugged in.

COSTELLO: Although I will say the Chili Peppers have taken a strong stance against miming in the past, even mocking it during rehearsals for a British TV show in the 1980s. Remember that. We actually have pictures. They went on stage and they used shoes like as guitars to show people they were really miming. And it was kind of sad to see. There it is -- see that.

So they kind of said to people, we know we are faking it and we want you to know it for sure.

STELTER: They did at least end their blog post by saying, hey, we are going to continue to play live for people who come and pay for our performances. They basically promised, if you come to see us live, we will be playing live.

COSTELLO: Brian Stelter, thanks for the conversation.

And thank you for joining me today. I'm Carol Costello.

"LEGAL VIEW" with Ashleigh Banfield starts now.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN HOST: It's the four-letter word when you are flying from central Kansas to Central Park -- snow, snow, and more --