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Immigration Crisis Involving Central American Children Crossing U.S. Southern Border Continues; Interview with Congressman Henry Cuellar; Violence Continues Between Israel and Hamas in Gaza Strip; Dinosaur Tracks Discovered in Alaska; Murder Mystery in Silicon Valley

Aired July 10, 2014 - 07:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Democrat Henry Cuellar from Texas, he plans to introduce a measure that would reverse a 2008 law signed by President George W. Bush, supported by George W. Bush at the time, that would make it easier to process and deport undocumented immigrants from Central America more quickly. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us.

REP. HENRY CUELLAR, (D) TEXAS: Thank you so much.

BERMAN: This measure was supported by Congress nearly unanimous in 2008, again, signed by President Bush during the Republican administration. It creates this legal process by which these people coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, and these countries having so many problems go through a more lengthy judicial process. What do you think it will do to reverse that?

CUELLAR: Well, first of all, the protections of asylum, the protection of credible fear, the protection of being a victim of sex crime, none of those protections are touched. They are there. They are going to remain, number one.

But how border patrol interviews people when they first come in, there is a difference from contiguous and noncontiguous country. Why is there a difference? Why does it matter that if you've had 80,000 murders in Mexico but somebody comes in, a child, a mother, an adult, they are treated differently? So all we're saying is at least give the border patrol the flexibility to do those interviews, and anybody that wants to return voluntarily, give them that authority like we do with contiguous countries like Mexico. Again, the protections remain there, and I want to make sure the asylum, sex victims and, of course, making sure that any credible fear claims are protected.

BERMAN: Sex victims, there's also terrible gang violence, people fleeing terrible situations there. Some people say there's a terminology issue here. We keep referring to them as immigrants. Are some of these people refugees?

CUELLAR: Well, you know, certainly every case is going to be determined. If somebody asks for a hearing and there is a hearing, a judge will make that determination under the law. The law of what is asylum, what is a credible fear, and what is a sex victim, those protections are not going to be touched, I emphasize, are not going to be touched.

But why is there a difference for contiguous and noncontiguous countries? And that's the only thing I'm saying is let's go ahead and treat every country the same the way we treat Mexico and Canada, in this case, of course, Mexico where they have had over 80,000 murders in the last few years.

BERMAN: There is a practical difference is they don't border the United States so it does become more complicated to get them back to their home countries. Dianne Feinstein, senator from California, compared this -- you know, she eposes right now changing the 2008 law. She says it's tantamount to boatloads of Jewish immigrants trying to come to this country and getting turned back. What do you say to that criticism?

CUELLAR: Well, certainly, and, again, we're not taking the protections away. And I understand, I live on the border. I breathe the air. I drink the water. I've lived all my life. I understand the border extremely well. And I will say that, again, why is there a difference with a contiguous and noncontiguous? I understand you have ports of entry. We have pretty good protocols with Mexico. We need to develop the same types of protocols with those countries. A lot of people know this, but we are returning about 20 to 25 flights, ICE will return flights back to Central America every single week.

BERMAN: Right.

CUELLAR: So we're already doing this, so we've just got to develop the protocols so when we return families or children, we hand them out to the right individuals and working with those governments. And that's why this -- this is a regional issue that we need to look at.

BERMAN: Congressman, I know you understand the problem and know you live on the board they are and see it every day and I also know you want the president to come down and see it for himself. You have been one of many people, members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, pressuring the president to come look at the problem. Last night he reacted to that, really pushing back on you and others. He said this isn't theater. This is a problem. I'm not interested in photo-ops. What's your reaction?

CUELLAR: Certainly he can go unannounced and not take any cameras like he did in Colorado. He can go unannounced. He can go any time. I'm not interested in a photo-op of the president being there. I'm interested in him looking at the kids. The kids that I've talked to, little innocent little boys and girls that have come across and have traveled over 1,000 miles that one-third of the girls have been abused and raped on the way up here. The last young kid was an 11-year-old little boy from Guatemala that died of dehydration. That is the face that I want him to see. Don't take any cameras, Mr. President, but go down there and see what we're facing.

What about the non-profits? What about the churches who are running out of money? My border community is a very poor community, but they are trying to do the best out of their own generosity to help, and he ought to at least talk to those leaders, religious leaders and the community leaders in my very poor part of the United States.

BERMAN: Does it bug you that he's calling your pleas nothing more than theater?

CUELLAR: Well, again, the president can do anything and can say anything he wants to, but, again, words are important, but it's the actions that I want to see. Every president will be defined on how he handles a crisis. And, again, he can either roll up his sleeves and go down to the border. The last time he was in south Texas was when he was campaigning in 2008, and that was nice. He's been to El Paso. But this is the epicenter is in south Texas.

And I think he should personally go take a look. He can continue sending surrogates down there. He can continue to say he's informed. But if you don't roll up your sleeves and go down there and see the human face of what's happening, not only from the generosity of poor communities on the border. And, by the way, I looked at his proposal. There's not a single penny to help the poor communities to address this impact that we're facing.

But, again, as a member of the appropriations, we're going to be looking at his proposal. I want to be supportive of the president, but, again, you know, we've got to continue this dialogue and I certainly want to be supportive of what we need to address down there at border.

By the way, one last thing. This didn't just happen last night. He's asking for an emergency. If he looks at it, this has been going on for one year or two years. Why is he calling this emergency funding when this happened over a year, two years ago and he missed -- basically the administration missed the uptick that we're facing at this time?

BERMAN: Congressman Henry Cuellar, we appreciate your passion and your continued focus on this issue. Thanks for being with us this morning.

CUELLAR: Thank you so much.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's turn now to the Middle East. Thanks, John.

Israeli officials have suspended a police officer they say was involved in the brutal beating of American teen in Jerusalem last week, this as the situation there becomes increasingly more and more unstable. Overnight, more fire was exchanged between Israel and Hamas over the Gaza Strip. And as Palestinian death toll climbs Hamas has boosted its rocket range, sending its arsenal deeper into Israel. CNN's Diana Magnay is tracking developments this morning from the Israel-Gaza border, and you're seeing this all happen and play out firsthand, Diana. DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, that's right.

Just behind my left shoulder now you can see a plume of smoke from an Israeli airstrike which happened just as you were reading that introduction to me, a huge explosion. Now the Israeli Defense Forces -- and that, presumably there is another strike. I think you can see it in the background.

And we've been watching this all morning, a succession of strikes and also rockets coming out other way, tearing over the sky, many of them being intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, which has proven extremely effective at stopping any rockets from actually causing damage, intercepting rockets over Tel Aviv already this morning. And you're right that the range which Hamas has been firing is extremely large, a possible range across most of the country.

Now the Israeli Defense Forces say that they are targeting in those airstrikes things like concealed rocket launchers, weapons cache. It's possible that the large explosion, the first one because it was so big hit a weapons cache, and then there was a secondary explosion.

But they have also been targeting what they call Hamas command and control centers. Often that means nothing more really than the sitting room of a Hamas operative. And even though the Israeli defense forces say they make calls to warn people of an airstrike, there are still civilian casualties. There are still children dying in this conflict. The death toll now 76, and clearly it will rise in the Gaza Strip. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Diana Magnay, thank you so. It's really startling to see it play out right behind Diana as she's right there on the Israel-Gaza border. Thank you so much, Diana. We'll be getting back to you, of course, throughout the show.

But with us now is a CNN military analyst Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona to discuss this. Rick, you really don't need to see much more than just see what is going on and playing out right behind Diana Magnay as she's seeing this. From what we see, and as we zoom in to show the area, and you can see the Israel-Gaza border, that's where Diana is stationed and where she has been seeing this firepower being traded become and for the. You really see no signs of this letting up.

An important point about this, we've seen this before. The last time we saw this kind of fire exchange was something around November 2012. What's different, it appears this time, is the range, at least one thing that's different, the range of the firepower coming from Gaza militants.

LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes. What they have acquired, the Syrian-made M-302. It's a long range rocket built by the Syrians provided to Hamas by the Syrians and the Iranians. They smuggle this in. This rocket can range almost anywhere in Israel. It's shoots about 100 miles. That's what we're seeing, hitting Haifa and Hadera and up there.

BOLDUAN: Let's try to lay that out as we continue this conversation. Previously, as I understand it, the firepower that Hamas had coming from Gaza would get the range to about Tel Aviv, just past Tel Aviv. And what they are seeing now is the range is reaching some 93 miles into Israel, which Israel says now puts two-thirds of its population within range.

FRANCONA: You know, the increased range creates a real problem for the Israelis because they have the Iron Dome, but the Iron Dome can only do can only do point defenses. So they have to decide, where are we going to put these batteries? What cities are we going to defend? And you can't defend the whole country. So they have to pick these boxes, and each box would be about the size of say Manhattan. That's what you have to defend. So you can't defend the whole country. And there's a lot of problems with the Israelis who say why are they defending those cities and not my city?

BOLDUAN: I want to get to the Iron Dome and how it works in just a second, but, first, when you're talking about how this is a new ballgame, they are dealing with a different type of range of rocket coming from Gaza, how does that change how Israel responds? How are they reacting to this?

FRANCONA: Well, they are reacting, you know, much stronger than many of us thought. The numbers of sorties that they are putting into Gaza right now is astounding, a much higher level of operations than they did before because they think there's a much greater threat to the Israelis.

BOLDUAN: Some of the latest numbers I'm seeing, Israel in just the last 24 hours hitting over 300 targets.


BOLDUAN: And you've got 100 rockets being launched from Gaza, 76 Palestinians killed so far.

FRANCONA: But there's a different so far. These rockets are unguided. They're not missiles. They are rockets. They have no on- board guidance.

BOLDUAN: Coming from Gaza.

FRANCONA: From Gaza. So they fire them in the direction of a city hoping that they are going to hit something and it will get through the Iron Dome. They fire them in volleys hoping to overwhelm the tracking radar for the Iron Dome. Some of them are going to get through.

BOLDUAN: Let's get to the Iron Dome. I want to get your take, the Iron Dome defense system and what it is. It's essentially exactly what the word describes as much as it can be. If missiles are fired and they can be targeted then by firepower coming from Israel, that's the whole point, that's what it's supposed to do. It is effective.

FRANCONA: Oh, it's very effective.

BOLDUAN: But how does it really work? FRANCONA: It's nothing more than a radar that -- like our counter

battery radar. Tracks the trajectory of an incoming rocket, determines where it's going to hit. If it hits within the defended zone, and they have decided we're going to defend this box, if it's going to go into that box, the system engages automatically.

BOLDUAN: Is there a way to trick it? That's what Hamas is trying to do?

FRANCONA: They're trying to overwhelm it.


FRANCONA: So if you fire 40 rockets at one city, the Iron Dome will have to pick which ones am I going to engage.

BOLDUAN: But as you're saying it's not fail proof because it can't comfort entire country.

FRANCONA: You can't get them all. You can't knock them all down.

BOLDUAN: Where does this go? How do you see this playing out? It's not going to be easing up any time soon because there is some suggestion or some signaling that there could be a move towards a ground operation, which would be a hugest escalation.

FRANCONA: The Israelis have already mobilized 20,000 troops. They can mobilize 20,000 more. That gives them the capability to go on a ground incursion into Gaza yet again. And we've seen it in 2009, 2012 and can you almost say, well, they are due again.

I'm getting the impression from talking to people that neither side really wants to do this. They both feel they are being dragged into this against their will. I don't see a real lot of stomach on the part of the Israelis to go in there on the ground. They will support the airstrikes because they believe they have got to stop these rockets from raining down on the country.

BOLDUAN: We've even heard some suggestions, they are just trying to kind of wear out Hamas and wear out their artillery.

FRANCONA: Well, this is a large number of sorties going into Gaza.

BOLDUAN: It sure is. Thank you so much, colonel, great to see you. Thank you, as always.

Today we want to remind you Wolf Blitzer is going to be anchoring "THE SITUATION ROOM" from Israel. Wolf has been there many times and has extensive knowledge of the region, of the ongoing conflict. He is going to be in Israel reporting for CNN starting at 5:00 p.m. eastern. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: We'll look forward to that. Great conversation and explanation from the colonel there, Kate. Thanks so much. Let's look at more of your headlines now. Breaking overnight, a

gunman accused of murdering six people, including his four children. He is now in custody. He surrendered after a three-hour standoff in the Houston area. The suspect also accused of shooting his own 15- year-old daughter in the head. She survived and was able to call 911 to alert police about her father's whereabouts. Investigators believe a domestic dispute sparked this deadly rampage.

In Iraq insurgents seize nuclear materials from a university in Mosul. A letter obtained by CNN shows Iraq asking the U.N. to help keep the material from getting into the hands of terrorists. Iraqi officials fear it could make its way into ISIS controlled parts of Syria. However, U.S. officials say the small amounts of uranium stolen aren't weapons grade, prompting only minimal concern. In the meantime, CNN has learned the Pentagon is considering using a drone strike to kill the leader of ISIS. Much more ahead on this story later on NEW DAY.

Newly released testimony suggests that officials believe two separate groups could have been behind the deadly attacks at U.S. facilities in Benghazi back in September of 2012. Top commanders involved in the U.S. response say the attack on a CIA complex that killed two American contractors showed clear signs of military training, with attackers likely taking advantage of reports of violence from the night before. That first attack on a U.S. mission killed two others, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's reintegration process is nearly complete. A military source tells CNN the former Taliban prisoner is expected to be assigned to a new army unit soon. He has already taken trips off of his Texas army base to get used to everyday life back in America. It's unclear though, at this point, if Bergdahl has had a chance to speak with his family. In the meantime, this photo has surfaced of Bergdahl, showing him posing with a top member of an insurgent group. It's an undated photo posted by the Haqqani network and it shows Bergdahl with a Taliban commander who was later killed in a U.S. drone strike in August 2012. We need to point out CNN does not know the context of this picture.

Thousands of dinosaur footprints have been discovered in Alaksa's Dinali National Park. The 70 million-year-old tracks are so well preserved, they actually show details of the dinosaur's skin. Scientists say evidence of baby dinosaurs at the site suggests some dinosaurs lived in the far, far north year round back when Alaksa was a lot warmer. I am volunteering to go and be the source of the, you know, reporting in Alaksa.

BERMAN: You're a tracker. You want to be a dinosaur tracker.

PEREIRA: I find this fascinating. I'm also kind of obsessed with Alaksa because you know I want to do the Iditarod. But in the summer, I would like to go up and explore the dinosaur footprints, if you will.

BOLDUAN: This is cool. I think that's the best way to describe.

BERMAN: Traces of the dinosaur skin. They have very nice skin, by the way.

PEREIRA: Oh, really? I think they need a little more exfoliation.

BOLDUAN: A little moisturizer, that could help.

BERMAN: Next up for us on NEW DAY, just a bizarre mystery behind the death of a former Google executive. Why police say he may have been involved in a fatal web of sex and drugs.

BOLDUAN: Unbelievable. Also, this ahead. President Obama said he will not be visiting the border during his visit to Texas, saying he's not interested in photo-ops, though critics pointing out his trip west this week has included a fair share of just that, friendly photo-ops like this one. More on that on INSIDE POLITICS.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone, a murder mystery sun folding in California involving sex, drugs and Silicon Valley. A high-end escort has been charged in the November death of a Google executive, and the details are chilling. Dan Simon has more.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was a high-priced prostitute, according to police, her Facebook page filled with provocative images. Here she is on YouTube giving a makeup lesson.

ALIX TICHELMAN, HIGH-END ESCORT: OK. So first we start with the primer.

SIMON: He was a 51-year-old Silicon Valley executive who had worked for both Apple and Google. They had an ongoing relationship, investigators say, and in November of last year they were together aboard his yacht in Santa Cruz, California. That's where Forrest Hayes was found dead. Police say the woman, 26-year-old Alix Tichelman, gave him a fatal dose of heroin, a security camera on the yacht playing a key role in the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It showed our suspect, showed our victim, showed her injecting him with heroin and showed her absolute callousness after the fact as he starts to have medical complications.

SIMON: Soon after Hayes fell unconscious, the video shows Tichelman stepping over his body to finish a glass of wine, and later she lowers a blind to conceal his body from outside view. According to investigators, they met through the website "Relationships on your terms," it says on its home page, Tichelman boasting to investigators that she had more than 200 clients.

Initially, police booked her on charges of second-degree murder, but prosecutors Wednesday charged her with felony manslaughter. Police say she tried to hide her involvement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have her computer records. We know that Google searches that she made and the things that she did to try to get herself out of this.

SIMON: An undercover police officer arrested Tichelman by posing as a client. Police say they are investigating whether she may be involved in a similar case in another state.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.



BERMAN: That is one twisted story.

BOLDUAN: Wow, wow, wow, absolutely, wow.

PEREIRA: Really is.

BOLDUAN: And the guy was part of Google Glass, amazing.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, new information this morning on the U.S. involvement in Iraq. Could the leader of ISIS be the target of a potential drone strike?

BERMAN: And Republicans, many of them rejecting President Obama's plan to deal with the influx of children at the U.S. border. What will conservatives do? What's their idea? We'll take a look at all of the ideas INSIDE POLITICS.


PEREIRA: And welcome back to NEW DAY. Here's a look at your headlines.

In the Middle East, Israeli authorities have suspended a police officer they say was involved in this brutal beating of an American teen in Jerusalem last week. There are no signs of tensions easing meanwhile between Israel and Hamas. Air strikes are being launched right now at the Gaza Strip. More than 120 rockets fired into Israel in the last day. Several of them intercepted by the Israeli defense system.

Just in to CNN now, the mother of the toddler who died in a hot car in Georgia has just retained a defense attorney. Leanna Harris has not been charged with anything, but she has been eyed in the investigation. Her husband, Justin Ross Harris, has been charged with murder in his son's death, accused of intentionally leaving him for seven hours in a sweltering SUV for hours.

Chinese computer hackers tried to access U.S. government employee data, according to "The New York Times." In the report, federal officials say hackers south out information on thousands of government employees who applied for top secret security clearances. The Department of Homeland Security says there's no indication any personally identifiable information was taken.

The first person to legally buy recreational marijuana in Spokane, Washington, just lost his job because of it. Michael Boyer, a security guard, was featured in local news coverage buying weed on Tuesday when it became legal in the state, but immediately after -- you kind of saw this coming -- his employer asked him to take a drug test, which he obviously failed, and he was fired.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Something we'll have to figure out with all this legalization, where is going to be the gray line?


PEREIRA: Bob Boyer is jobless and frustrated. He says he regrets nothing. He's still the first person to buy weed in this city and no one can take that away from him, he says.

BERMAN: So he'll have that and his bag of weed but no job.

BOLDUAN: But that is something that they had to talk about in Colorado as well. It might be legal here, but you need to look to your employer and it still might be their policy that you cannot be on drugs.


BERMAN: There's a big difference there.

PEREIRA: You might want to check that out ahead of time.

BOLDUAN: That's good advice, Michaela. Good advice. Good advice, John King. Check with your employer first. Let's get to INSIDE POLITICS on NEW DAY. Good morning.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": I just -- whatever Michaela tells me to do, I do. It's a simple policy; I just follow her advice.


KING: It's a good policy to go, and, yes, well, if I -- never mind, not even going to touch that story. Not going there.

Boy, a lot to talk about INSIDE POLITICS and we're going to focus almost exclusively on the crisis at the border. With me this morning to share their reporting and their insights, Lisa Lerer of Bloomberg News and Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times".

Sometimes the optics get in the way of a substantive conversation and I think that's part of the case here. The President of the United States was in Texas yesterday. He did not go to the border.