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Phone App Warns Israeli of Rocket Attacks; Bowe Bergdahl Hires an Attorney; Democrat Bill Opposing Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby Ruling Fails; NASA Confident of Finding Alien Life in Next 20 Years; Murdoch Attempts to Buy Time Warner.

Aired July 16, 2014 - 14:30   ET


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They want to have some form of a primary, a fight, for various reasons, the way some perceive Hillary Clinton or just because if you were to draw politics, it tends to make candidates better for the general election.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK, maybe it really is wishful thinking on both sides of the political aisle.

BASH: Stranger things have happened.

BALDWIN: That's right.

Dana Bash, thank you, in Washington for us today.

Just ahead, Bowe Bergdahl has hired a lawyer all of six weeks after leaving Taliban captivity. What's the worst case, legally speaking, for him? Jeffrey Toobin will answer that for me, next. Stay right here.


BALDWIN: Bottom of the hour, you're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin, holding my phone, because I want to show you something in a second.

But first, explosives fired by Israel have fallen on a beach in Gaza, killing four children reportedly out playing soccer. The aftermath of the scene has just fed in, and it is awful, awful, awful. These pictures showing these four young bodies being carried away. Paramedics tell CNN the victims' ages range from 9 to 11 years of age. Israel says it is investigating how this happened.

But something else I want to show you, too. This is from earlier. Leaflets. That's what all these white pieces of paper are. They're leaflets dropped on northern Gaza by Israeli war planes advising civilians to leave. Afterward, a CNN crew spotted this family. See this? 10 kids, three adults, trying to ride to safety on a cart being pulled by a donkey. The death toll in Gaza has passed 200. At last word, 209.

A single Israeli has died from the ongoing attacks by Hamas, mostly rocket fire, of course, which has intensified greatly since Israel launched its offensive a week ago today. Unlike Gaza, Israel has air- raid sirens, bomb shelters. You see Israelis here in Tel Aviv walking into one. You hear those sirens going off? They also have a missile defense system.

And back to my phone. Let me show this to you.

Rocky, walk over to me.

They even have this phone app that warns Israelis -- this is what it is -- of incoming rockets. You can see this. If you upload the app, rocket attacks. Rockets attack these different cities within Israel. So you can pull that up and just sort of scroll through.

So let's bring in the guest, Ari Sprung. He helped develop this app. He joins me live from Jerusalem.

So, Ari, thanks for joining me.

ARI SPRUNG, "RED ALERT" APP DEVELOPER: Hi, Brooke. Good afternoon. Pleasure being here.

BALDWIN: You are a former tank commander in the Israeli armed forces. When I'm looking at this app here -- and it's dinging. I don't know if you can hear it going off. This is what it sounds like.

SPRUNG: Good timing.

BALDWIN: How many of these -- total coincidence. How many of these red alerts have you issued today?

SPRUNG: Oh, we've had -- just today, how many alerts have we had today?


SPRUNG: We've had -- we've had dozens. Dozens. Right now we're getting it in Ashkelon, as we're talking. But it's been going on for the past week. We've had thousands of rockets hit here, and the notification is not stopping.

BALDWIN: I know. I keep seeing these red alerts popping up and up. You can look on your phone. Very quickly, let me just show everyone this video. This is released by Israel. It shows this Israeli attack on Gaza. And as we look at this, there is virtually no warning time from launch to explosion. Maybe a second on the Israeli side. Rockets fired from Gaza. Take about 90 seconds to reach, say, where you are in Jerusalem, 90 seconds to Tel Aviv.

So in these two cities, Israelis have basically a minute and a half to run for cover. So my question to you is, how long after rockets are fired do you then learn about them to alert people, and where are you getting the information?

SPRUNG: Well, the notification is going off instantly. Right when we get the notifications, we're sending it to hundreds of thousands of Israelis to warn them to get into a safe haven. As you said, they have 15 seconds down south. And here in Jerusalem, where I stand, we have around 60 seconds to 90 seconds to get it.

BALDWIN: Where are you getting this information?

SPRUNG: Oh, I'm not -- I'm not allowed to talk about that for security reasons. But our servers have all these numbers on them from the Israelis and we're sending them the push notification.

BALDWIN: OK. And finally, we talk a lot about Israel, the Iron Dome, which has stopped about 200 incoming rockets. Do you think the Iron Dome has made Israel immune, or virtually immune from the rocket strikes coming in from Gaza?

SPRUNG: Well, the Iron Dome has been great for us. I was at work today. I work at a startup called Curio. I work from 9:00 to 6:00. I picked up my kids. That's benefit from the Iron Dome. Life is going on here. To the benefit of the Iron Dome. Is it 100 percent? No. We had someone killed yesterday. People are hurt. People are, you know, running scared into shelter. The Israelis are very disciplined. Unfortunately, this is a drill that we have been doing since we were little kids. So we're -- we know how to -- we know how to perform when a siren goes off. And we're well disciplined. So we go into our safe haven, and that's also -- it's great, due to Iron Dome and the discipline of the Israeli people.

BALDWIN: Ari Sprung, thank you so much, helping develop this app to warn Israelis. Thank you.

Just ahead, Bowe Bergdahl hires a lawyer six weeks after leaving Taliban captivity. We're wondering what the worst-case scenario, legally speaking, for Bowe Bergdahl. That's next.


BALDWIN: Held by the Taliban for five years, U.S. soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, faces a new challenge, a legal one. We have just learned, he has lawyered up, and he's not just hiring any attorney, but a prominent military affairs lawyer. Eugene Fidell, who is working pro bono, by the way, talked to CNN's "New Day" about Bergdahl's ordeal and what's ahead for him.


EUGENE FIDELL, ATTORNEY FOR BOWE BERGDAHL: The burden of proof in any proceeding of the Uniform Code of Military Justice is and remains at all times on the United States government, not on the accused. So if and when this matter enters the military justice system, the burden will be on the government.


BALDWIN: Joining me now, Jeff Toobin, senior legal analyst.

Jeff Toobin, you just heard him say, the burden of proof is on the government. But if they do make a case against him, let's walk through worst-case scenarios for Bowe Bergdahl. Keep in mind, this is a man who, you know, despite what he did or didn't do, was with the Taliban as a prisoner for five years.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: And can I just say, for starters, Brooke, I have never seen anyone trashed in the news media like this guy. I mean, the one thing we know about him, is that he was in prison, in effect, with the Taliban for five years. And as soon as he gets out, everybody wants to throw him back in jail. It's kind of amazing to me. But, OK. Just to answer your questions, since you asked, desertion, the maximum penalty in not a time of war is five years. But desertion is very hard to prove because you have to prove the -- the military would have to prove he had no intention of returning to his base. And that's a little different -- difficult to prove. Going AWOL, which is a little easier on the government, 18 months is the maximum penalty.

BALDWIN: OK. And I hear your first point, by the way, loud and clear.

Let me pivot, just because I want to move off Bowe Bergdahl. This just came in moments ago to us from Washington about this bill sponsored by Senate Democrats, showing the opposition to the Supreme Court's decision over Hobby Lobby, its ruling on contraception. It failed to proceed in the Senate, because nearly all Republicans voted against it, right. And this was initially the Democrats' way of saying, hey, we can help you find contraception. There can be another route for this. If you don't want to work for one of these, you know, companies. So what does this mean now?

TOOBIN: Well, what it means is that the Supreme Court ruling stands. And what it means is that companies -- privately held companies that have a religious orientation, how religion remains to be seen. Can deny certain forms of birth control to their employers, can deny payments for it under the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. What it really means, I think, in the real world is the Democrats have a campaign issue. They think this decision is unpopular, that's why they pushed it so quickly after the Supreme Court's decision. And this is a real difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats want this decision overturned. Republicans support it. They believe it's an important aspect of religious freedom. And this is one reason why we have elections in this country.

BALDWIN: OK. Jeff Toobin, thank you so much.

TOOBIN: All right, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, NASA scientists say -- and I'm talking astronauts, the administrator of NASA -- says alien life could be out there and they say it will be discovered within the next 20 years. We will talk to Charlie Bolden, the NASA administrator, and ask him exactly how they plan on proving that, coming up.


BALDWIN: A lot can happen in 20 years. "Back to the Future 2" anyone? Teleboards? What about turning on the news to hear the words "we are not alone in our galaxy." It turns out the folks at NASA are so confident, they say the proof of alien life could come within our lifetime. So this panel of these super-smart science space experts holding a meeting in Washington to discuss exactly how NASA expects to find the first inhabited planet.

Joining me now with Charles Bolden, NASA administrator. He commanded multiple crews and multiple space shuttles, graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Charlie Bolden, am I right in all these accolades for you? Welcome back to the show, by the way.

CHARLES BOLDEN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: Good to be here, Brooke. Thank you very much.

BALDWIN: So with all the accolades and everything you are, you've accomplished, you have said -- every time you've gone up to space -- and I was just asking in the commercial break -- you said that you actually were looking for life up there. Seriously?

BOLDEN: You're always looking to find out if -- you know, the ultimate question is, are we alone, and that's what NASA is about. You know, President Obama has challenged us to put humans on Mars in the next 20 to 30 years, in the 2030s. And that's our focus right now. That's the focus of the agency. So --


BALDWIN: Can we be clear, though, can we define life? We joke about it a little bit, tongue in cheek here, but we're not talking little green men. Are we talking moss? What are we talking about?

BOLDEN: We're talking about anything that is organic, anything that is a building block of life as we know it. And I tell people all of the time, we may find that they're microbial forms of life. There may be much more advanced forms of life than we. We don't know. We just want to find out. We believe that in this vast universe, there are other forms of life other than just here on this planet.

BALDWIN: It's hard to think that we would possibly be alone. But I'll leave it to you and the folks at NASA to figure this out.

Which, speaking of, how will you find this out? Can you just talk me through logistics in finding life?

BOLDEN: Yes. In fact, we've been searching for life for many, many years. We have two rovers right now on Mars. One is "Curiosity" and the other is "Opportunity." "Curiosity" is specifically taking -- little chemistry labs on board, constantly taking samples from the soil and rock. We are trying to get humans to the planet, because we know that whenever humans go, they can do things much quicker, over much vaster expanses than robots can.

BALDWIN: What's the thought among you astronaut types as far as what really lurks out there? What's the thought? What do you all talk about up there?

BOLDEN: I'm not sure anybody has a guess as to what's out there. We just -- I think most of us believe that there is life form of some type. Whether you're talking about, you know, the planet in -- the moon, or the moon Europa of Jupiter, where there is interest now, other solar systems. We believe, I believe, that a multi-planet species is the kind of species that will survive in perpetuity. We just want to demonstrate the fact there is other life other places.

BALDWIN: OK. I feel I would be remiss if we didn't talk a little bit about the possibility of asteroids. I've had multiple astronauts on the show. The true fear from scientists is that only luck will save us from becoming dinosaurs. We know what happened to them eons ago. So the critics, shouldn't we be more concerned about that and asteroids versus spending money to try to see if life is all there?

BOLDEN: It's all a part of the grant strategy, to be quite honest. We want to get humans to Mars. That's the ultimate -- if you want to call it the horizon destination. We don't have the capability to do that yet. And so we need a proving ground. And we're going to use the lunar orbit as that proving ground. We're going to try to grapple an asteroid, move it into a lunar orbit, use it as a proving ground, where we can demonstrate some of the techniques and procedures, develop the technologies necessary to get humans to survive a trip all the way to Mars. So it's all a part of the NASA strategy right now for eventually getting humans to Mars in the 2030s and fulfilling President Obama's direction to us from 2010.

BALDWIN: You had me at grappling an asteroid. We'll save that conversation for the next time you come on the show.


Charles Bolden, thank you so much. NASA administrator. Really appreciate you taking the time.

And all of this is pertinent, because, of course, you've been watching "The Sixties" on CNN. The topic of tomorrow night's show is the space race, from the mercury rockets to the Apollo landing. "The Sixties," Thursday night on CNN, 9:00 eastern and pacific.

Just ahead, Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul, who owns properties, including FOX News, made an offer to buy Time Warner. That's the parent company of CNN. Hmmm. Find out what happened next.


BALDWIN: Media mogul, Rupert Murdoch wants to buy Time Warner. He tried with a bid worth $80 billion. The merger would add to Murdoch's sprawling empire, including FOX, cable networks, 20th Century FOX movie studios, "National Geographic." Time Warner owns Warner Brother Studios and HBO. But the man was rebuffed.

"CNN Money" correspondent, Cristina Alesci, is following the story for us.

Tell me more. What happened?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: $85 a share, that's what Rupert Murdoch offered for Time Warner today. Time Warner came out, the parent company of CNN, saying no way to that deal. But, of course, you know, this kind of thing always puts a fresh spin on things and raises questions about is Time Warner open to other deals. As for this one, Time Warner is poking holes in the FOX proposal. There are multiple reasons, but CEO Jeff Bewkes for Time Warner, has one particular reason. Take a listen.


JEFF BEWKES, CEO, TIME WARNER: The board concluded that continuing to execute our strategic plan and our business plans will create significantly more value for the company and our shareholders, and that that's superior to any proposal that FOX is in a position to offer.


ALESCI: So having spoken to sources close to these talks last month, I could say that, you know, this comes down to whether or not Time Warner really wants to sell. And there's no gun to Time Warner's head from its perspective. It can hang back and potentially wait for a better offer.