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Rampage Killings in California; Edward Snowden Speaks Out; Interview with Dick Cavett

Aired May 29, 2014 - 08:30   ET


SIMON ASTAIRE, FAMILY FRIEND OF ELLIOT RODGER: And I've noticed that clearly with my close friends who are stooped with grief, the tragedy is of what happened and the effect it has on not just a few, but on millions.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Including even the family of the shooter. Guns, yes, have to be discussed. Media, yes. But they get a lot of attention. Treatment of the mentally ill does not and that's why we've been trying to shine a light on it because change has to be made there or we'll just keep seeing these situations.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And change has not been made there at all.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: (INAUDIBLE) a critical, critical point.

CUOMO: Uh-huh.

BOLDUAN: And the fact that they say that he's not even part of the conversation, they don't even think about him, they don't mourn him, is so striking.

CUOMO: They don't know what to do.

BOLDUAN: I know.

CUOMO: They just don't know what to do.

BOLDUAN: I know.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Edward Snowden. He is speaking out, explaining why he exposed U.S. security secrets to the world. Did he do the right thing? Did he betray his country? We'll discuss ahead.


BOLDUAN: Edward Snowden says he's no traitor. He says he's a patriot. In an NBC News interview with Brian Williams, Snowden defended his decision to leak classified documents on NSA surveillance, saying that the American people needed to know what their government was doing. Snowden is facing espionage charges back here in the U.S. We're joined now to discuss with Jeffrey Toobin, CNN's senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, as well as Fran Townsend, a CNN national security analyst and a former homeland security advisor to President George W. Bush. Fran is also a member of the CIA and Department of Homeland Security external advisory boards.

Good morning to both of you.

I want to tick through, if we can, some of this interview and discuss - they've covered a lot of ground in this hour long interview. Let's first listen to the very simple and important question, is Edward Snowden a traitor or is he a patriot?


BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: Have you performed, as you see it, a public service?

EDWARD SNOWDEN: I think the most important idea is to remember that there have been times throughout American history where what is right is not the same as what is legal. Sometimes to do the right thing you have to break a law. Being a patriot doesn't mean prioritizing service to government above all else.


BOLDUAN: Sometimes doing the right thing, you have to break a law. He also says, Fran, show me the harm that I've done. Ever since this came out, he says, three branches of government, they've all seen reforms. Show me the harm that I've done.

FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, first, let's talk about this -- the notion of the self-aggrandizement, I'm a patriot, right? I mean people who wear uniforms and put themselves in harm's way for our freedoms are patriots and they're not on television bragging about it and running from facing federal charges.

He also said, when he said he wanted to come home, by the way, he can come home and he can face federal charges and he was wrong when he said that he can't do that because he won't get an open trial. There's an entire process called the Classified Information Procedures Act that allows the government to prosecute these espionage charges and face trial.

BOLDUAN: Is there real harm, Fran? Show me the harm, that's what he's saying.

TOWNSEND: So - right. So, you know, what he says - you know, he's very careful in his words. They're quite rehearsed. He talks about, there's not an individual life lost. Well, there's a loss of collection and we've heard repeatedly from intelligence officials that the revelations, the public revelations of the programs have reduced our collection, have actually put the nation -- made it less safe by virtue of the revelation of these collection methods.

BOLDUAN: And, Jeffrey, just to Fran's other point that she was making, he says sometimes you have to break the law to do a good thing.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, the implicit comparison is him to, you know, Martin Luther King, defying the bigots who were running the south in those days. I mean it is just a false comparison, I think. Yes, it may be true in the abstract, but the point is that the vast majority of the things he has disclosed are good intelligence programs.

You know, the fact that we are collecting intelligence from the Taliban in northwest Pakistan, one of the things he disclosed, is something that I think is a good thing and we should be doing it and that's why we have an NSA. And to say that he has been a whistle- blower when the vast, vast majority of what he's disclosed is uncontroversial and legal I think is just -- shows that he has a disproportionate sense of what he's doing.

BOLDUAN: The president, though, since all this has come out, he's pushed for taking a look at reforming these programs, though. Fran, is there any inch of validity to what Edward Snowden is saying here?

TOWNSEND: Well, there's no question, Kate, that the notion that we can adjust these programs to greater protect privacy and civil liberties, that's fine. But -- and that's not a bad thing if it can be done without denigrating the programs themselves and the collection capabilities (ph).

BOLDUAN: How he went about it.

TOWNSEND: That's exactly right. So this notion that he couldn't have done it any other way is a complete falsehood. He claims to have written a letter inside to the general council. NBC confirmed that there was at least one letter. What they didn't ask him is, when did you do that? Did you send that letter before or after you stole this massive quantity of documents? And by the way, if you didn't get satisfaction there, why didn't you go to the inspector general of the NSA, the inspector general at the office of the director of National Intelligence, to Congress? Why didn't you actually take steps where you could have revealed, if you had a concern, legitimate concerns without doing harm to the national security?

BOLDUAN: Let's listen -

TOOBIN: And if I -- if I could just add one point.

BOLDUAN: Oh, go ahead, Jeff, real quick.

TOOBIN: What did he take? Where is it? You know, I mean that is, I think, a very legitimate question that has never been answered. You know, he was in Hong Kong, which is under the control of China. He was very careful to say that Russia had no access to his - to the material he stole. But what about China? And where is it now? And who controls it?

I mean it just - you know, yes, it appears that some journalists have some of it now, but, you know, I think the idea that he took all these things that were bad and that were bad for America and bad for civil liberties is simply not true. And the fact that it's not -- that we don't know where it is and we don't know how much he took, you know, indicates that I think he realizes he has something to hide.

BOLDUAN: Well, it's still not entirely clear if the federal government itself even has a grasp of everything that Edward Snowden has taken -- took with him.

Let's listen to one last bit of this interview that I think everyone will want to hear, on the question of, does Edward Snowden want to go home?


WILLIAMS: Are you looking for clemency or amnesty? Would you like to go home?

EDWARDS: From day one said that I'm doing this to serve my country. I'm still working for the government. Now, whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. That's a debate for the public and the government to decide. But if I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home.


BOLDUAN: But, Jeff, he also says that he does not think that he can get a fair shake under U.S. espionage - under -- during a U.S. espionage trial.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, he wants to go home, but he wants to go home on his terms. You know, we have laws in this country. They apply to everybody. If you steal classified information, you are subject to penalties. He's subject to those penalties. And he's right, he's looking at a lot of jail time if he goes home. But you know what? That's what civil disobedience is, it's accepting the consequences of your actions, which he has not done. He's fled to Moscow instead.

BOLDUAN: Do you think he will, in the end, Fran, be prosecuted? Do you think he will face justice?

TOWNSEND: I think he's a coward. I think he's essentially a coward. He knew he was going to face the very charges that Jeff has just spoken about. And what did he do? He ran. He ran to a place - you know, it's interesting, in his interview he said he's not had any contact with Vladimir Putin. He doesn't talk about the KGB and the intelligence services. He says nothing about them. And I think essentially, if he was - if he was truly a civil - if this was an act of civil disobedience, he would come back. He would - because what would that do? That would fuel the very debate he says he did this in order to start.

BOLDUAN: And he still remains in Russia and he does not know how long he will be. He says if he has to, he will reapply for asylum in Russia. We'll see.

Jeffrey Toobin, Fran, it's great to see you both. Thank you so much. An important conversation to be having.


CUOMO: All right, coming up on NEW DAY, TV icon Dick Cavett is here. Can you believe it? How lucky are we? Look at the man hanging out in the green room, joining us to preview the new CNN series "The Sixties." The master of the interview is in the house wearing a vest like a true gentleman should.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "The Dick Cavett Show". Ladies and gentlemen -- Dick Cavett.



BOLDUAN: This is not relaxing at all.

CAVETT: The tightening of arms and leg muscles.

BOLDUAN: That is weird.


PEREIRA: We're getting tips from Dick Cavett who is here in our studio about what he would be doing at that moment when the music came up and his cue was given. The iconic "Dick Cavett Show", the 60s talk show changed the face of TV and it made this man an American legend. It was during his show that Americans watched the events of the 1960s change the course of history. You can see it chronicled in CNN's new original series called, conveniently enough, "THE SIXTIES" premiering at 9:00 p.m. tonight.

He's here -- the man himself. What a delight to have you. And it's so fun to hear what you were thinking backstage when the music would come up. You were saying that you prepped by doing what?

CAVETT: Well, just now when you played that, I suddenly went like this because I learned in the martial arts, that's the best way to shake that like that.

BOLDUAN: Oh is that -- that is what we've been missing in our show, guys.

CAVETT: They get real sore once you start doing that. And then tightening of muscles is good, too. You said change the face of the 60s. All I can think about is how I changed my face since the 60s.

BOLDUAN: I love this just one line in the 60s. I'm going to give only one line away -- when you come out and you say "As pure and honest as Newark, New Jersey." I love that line.

CAVETT: Yes. That was right at the time of a hideous crime scandal that was going on in Newark, one of the times that a crime scandal was in Newark. But when I think of the 60s, it's hard for me to think what was 60s and what was 50s. I know that I miss, strangely enough, black and white television.

BOLDUAN: Why is that? CAVETT: It might have to do with the fact that black and white in movies is more realistic than color, and you realize that as you mature. And then, I don't know -- also the fact that it was bloody live, and when Jack Benny walked out I knew he was walking out at that instant at CBS Television City in Hollywood and I was seeing him in Nebraska live.

It was always live -- live dramas, my god, there was Studio 1 and Kraft Theater. Can anyone name a live drama now?

PEREIRA: Well, they did have one -- they tried to do "The Sound of Music" a few years ago. Or was it last year they tried to --

CAVETT: Oh yes.

BOLDUAN: Well yes.

PEREIRA: That's a good point.

CAVETT: Who knew "The Sound of Music" would queer it for everybody.

BOLDUAN: What do you mean?

CAVETT: That's an old expression. It doesn't mean anything bad.

BOLDUAN: What do you make of -- late night TV really came to light in the 60s. What do you make of late night TV today? How is it different?

CAVETT: I got in trouble and got a nasty headline saying "Cavett slams Colbert and Stewart" and then the article, of course, said, "no slamming that exists". It was a headline maker made. It took real men to do talk shows in those days. We did 90 minutes in those days, not 24 or a little piddly hour, five nights a week, 90 minutes.

And it's hard -- I warned Stephen Colbert when he gets into that. What it did to me -- I used to be a tall red-headed man.

PEREIRA: Look at how it changed you.

CAVETT: Look at me now.

PEREIRA: It's interesting. You got, I'm sure, all sorts of pulled into the front office, critics pointing the finger at you. How did you react in the moment when you would hear that kind of criticism, sort of like I'll show them or do you just sort of let it roll off you?

CAVETT: You hit a good point. The very first show I taped, I'm nervous as hell, but I had great guests. I thought Gore Vidal, Muhammad Ali and Angela Lansbury.

PEREIRA: How about that.

CAVETT: And it went great. My first show I came off and an ABC vice president said "We're not very happy. Who gives a damn what Ali and Vidal think about Vietnam." So they had me tape another show. It wasn't as good. They ran it first. Then they ran the Vidal show and the critics said "Now Cavett had hit his stride." This was a superb show.

CUOMO: No good thing is ever done except in opposition of management.

CAVETT: So put that in stone. I remember when --

CUOMO: It would be my head stone.

CAVETT: Good play on words. The fact that they were so -- just losing control of their bowels over controversy. I remember coming off once, and the same guy said, "Dick, that thing you said about whatever is going to offend people." I said, "Yes." That sort of stopped him.

CUOMO: You think we're more that way or less that way today?

CAVETT: Maybe a bit less. Maybe a bit less. I don't know. I think they still quake at such things. Well, certainly less. Good God, the stuff that -- good God probably offended a few people. Sorry, at least I said "good". There was stuff the Smuthers Brothers did that was so controversial it knocked them off the air and it was pale by comparison to what we see now. Of course cable gets away with more.

BOLDUAN: We can get away with anything.

CUOMO: I'll tell you, for me it's such a treat. You created for television to a large degree the art of conversation.


CUOMO: And I think it's still the hardest skill in the business to perfect. And back before you came on, you gave me a real magic little gem there which I don't know that we should betray. I'll tell you guys afterwards. Dick says he has a question that you can ask to anybody at any time. It applies to anyone if you're ever stuck.

CAVETT: Yes. When you go blank and you look at the person and you realize their lips have stopped moving and you haven't any idea what they were talking about.


CAVETT: The lady producer said, "Have a stand-by that applies to anybody." And I said "Like what?" She said, "Well, you know, do you pee in the shower." Whatever -- it didn't go well with Averred Harriman.


BOLDUAN: So, Dick, do you pee in the shower?

CAVETT: Actually I'm doing it now.

CUOMO: Oh beautiful. CAVETT: You make me so nervous.


CAVETT: My God, we've gone this long on CNN without mentioning the airplane. I can't believe it.

CUOMO: Do you know where it is?

BOLDUAN: And now -- have you found it yet?

PEREIRA: You have no idea?

BOLDUAN: Have you found it yet.

CAVETT: No, I'm working on it but I can't talk about it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks Dick.

CAVETT: This sixties series, people are eager for it.



CAVETT: They're talking about it. And it hasn't even been on yet. I think tonight it airs when --

PEREIRA: Tonight at 9:00 p.m.

CAVETT: I'm told that I'm all through it. I've been through that before. I go to the Beatles and I give them two hours and they say you're all through it and I have one line.

You know what (inaudible) --


CAVETT: I'm going to call you that. Roger Ailes of Fox gave him my interviews to look at, to season him. I'm just wondering why Roger didn't get me instead of you.

CUOMO: I was cheap. You were real talent. It would have cost them money at the time.

CAVETT: I'm sure you're past that now.

CUOMO: No way. I'll tell you.

BOLDUAN: What is your gem? What is big piece of advice for a good interview other than --

CAVETT: What Jack Parr said to me before I did my first show. He called, "Hey kid." And he's neurotic, nervous, exciting, wonderful, dangerous way that Jack was on and off the air, "Hey, kid, when you do the show, don't, don't, don't. Don't do interviews." I said, "What? Do I sing, dance?"

He said, "No, no, no. Interviews, that's what's your favorite this and let me ask you this." And David Frost and his damn clipboard and jet lag, make it a conversation. Isn't that what we're doing really?

PEREIRA: We would hope.

BOLDUAN: Trying to.

Dick Cavett --

CAVETT: Otherwise, Mr. Cuomo, once I saw -- as bad as this, and a guest says we open the old trunk and you'll never guess what was inside. I said do you have any hobbies? I was going by my sheet, you know.

PEREIRA: The ill-timed question. CNN's new original series "THE SIXTIES" premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. Set your DVR, watch it live at 9:00 p.m. Don't miss it. It really is a great series.

CAVETT: We had no Kardashians back then.

PEREIRA: No Kardashians. I can't imagine the time, people.

BOLDUAN: You were so lucky, Dick.

CAVETT: Well, if you had foresight.

BOLDUAN: A delight -- will you come back and visit us?

CAVETT: Thank you. Yes, I hope I didn't take up too much of your time.

PEREIRA: You did not. This was really wonderful.

CAVETT: Thank you.

CUOMO: Coming up next, say it isn't so. Some very bad men ruin a toddler's birthday. What the responding officer did in response, now, that's "The Good Stuff". You don't want to miss it.


CUOMO: Time for "The Good Stuff". It starts with the bad stuff -- a car robbery in Florida. The victim is particularly upset because the burglars made off with her three-year-old's birthday presents. She used her tax refund to purchase them. So she doesn't have the money to replace them. Birthday is ruined -- right.

Wrong. Why? Officer Derek Pratico.


DEREK PRATICO, POLICE OFFICER: I believe children deserve presents on their birthday. The next morning after roll call, I went over to Wal- Mart and bought him a toy police car and went to Publix and bought him a birthday cake and a card.


CUOMO: You see that. And it wasn't all. The officer also bought the mom a $100 gift card to help get her back on her feet. So, why did he do all this?


PRATICO: It was just the right thing to do. That's just the way I was raised.


PEREIRA: Atta boy, mom.

Whoever raised that young man did a nice job.

CUOMO: Right. Simple and remember. Police, protect and serve.

BOLDUAN: Good example.

CUOMO: Very nice. Thank you, Officer for being "The Good Stuff".

A lot of news this morning. Let's get you to the "NEWSROOM" with Mr. Don Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You have no snarky retort, Chris Cuomo. I expect that from you every single morning.

PEREIRA: No, he's surrounded. He's surrounded.

BOLDUAN: I was waiting, Don, for him to make some pregnancy remark because I knew you would have my back. Today, of course, he does not.

PEREIRA: Not happening.

LEMON: He doesn't do it.

BOLDUAN: (inaudible) with the compliment Don.

LEMON: I know.

Hey, listen, I got to say, that Kate Bolduan. I got up this morning and looked I was like, "Pregnant? That is one hot pregnant lady."

BOLDUAN: That's why I love you. I love you. And I love you so much.


CUOMO: If pregnancy goes this as good as it looks, you're doing great.

LEMON: Yes, that is --

BOLDUAN: It even sounds weird coming out of his mouth. PEREIRA: It does, doesn't it?


BERMAN: The power of the vest. The vest makes me compassionate.

BOLDUAN: I love you, Don.

LEMON: That is a good stuff.

CUOMO: Lemon, you should get a vest. Hide that skinny (INAUDIBLE).

BOLDUAN: Take it. You know he wants more air time. Please take it.

LEMON: I'll leave you guys with this. A vest is an all-day hug. Thank you very much.


LEMON: NEWSROOM starts right now.