tv The Situation Room CNN December 18, 2013 2:00pm-3:31pm PST
cnn.com/thelead for video, blogs and extras. that's it. i'll be back in two hours substituting for erin burnett's "out front" and i turn it over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." >> happening now, breaking news. budget vote. the bipartisan spending bill, the first to pass a divided congress in almost three decades. i'll talk about that with republican senator rand paul. why is he against it? nsa review, independent report on the controversial sfans programs leaked by edward snowden has just been released. does it vindicate him? an olympic surprise. the white house send a message to russia with who it will send and won't send to the olympic games. president obama snubbing vladamir putin. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we're following the breaking news up on capitol hill where the senate has just approved the
bipartisan compromise budget that had earlier been approved by the house of representatives. it funds the government through next year's congressional elections, averting the chance of another government shutdown. our chief congressional correspondent dana bash is here. dana, pretty impressive vote if you support this compromise. >> reporter: that's right. 64-36, so it passed with some cushion, to say the least. there's certainly a lot of cumbaya over getting this budget done for the first time in years, but there's also bipartisan agreement that one of the most controversial cuts that made this possible is going to have to be changed. responding to outrage about cuts in military pensions, even senators voting yes on the budget, demanded benefits be restored. >> i believe this mistake must be corrected. >> these heros lay their lives on the line for us, and they deserve us to work to fix this provision so that they can receive the full benefits that they have earned.
>> reporter: to salvage her bipartisan deal democratic budget chair patty murray promised to push new legislation to make sure disabled veterans who lost limbs and worse fighting america's wars won't k welcome anybody coming with a better way to do it that want to offer it and get it through a divided congress. >> at issue, a 1% drop in the cost of living adjustment for service members who retire after 20 years, generally people in their 40s. the cut would be restored at age 62. in real terms a retiring army sergeant first class would lose $3,700 each year. over 20 years that could add up to $80,000 in lost benefits. a cut infuriating vets across the country, like in this online petition from iraq and afghanistan veterans. who amongst the politicians have given as much in the same conditions as i have, writes one vet? our service should be respected more than this, said another.
>> of all the people we could have picked on to screw, how could we arrive here? how could we have done this? >> reporter: now, his very good friend, best friend in the senate and very influential veteran, john mccain, disagrees with him. he spent a lot of time on the senate floor making the point that you need to have reforms, wolf. he said, for example, that this costs the together, these benefits, $56 billion last year. it skyrocketed, like 49% over ten years. the point he was trying to make is he believes it's intellectually dishonest to say there shouldn't be cuts here, what he calls minor cuts, because you need to do this in order to reform the system, to reform the budget in general. he also made the point that if this didn't happen, if people stopped there because of the military retirement issue, the whole thing would unravel and there'd be another threat of a government shutdown. >> there will be major efforts
reinstating that cut. >> there were bipartisan statement on the floor of the senate today effectively vowing to do so. they have to find the $1 billion somewhere else in order to make it happen. >> $4 trillion budget, they can find it some place. thanks very much for that. following another breaking news story. a federal judge says it's probably unconstitutional but a panel says the nsa should continue the collection of the bulk phone call data reports. that's the conclusion of the 300-page report that's just been released by the white house. also makes dozens of recommendations for changing the way they spy. our correspondent jim sciutto is here with more. >> reporter: the word in this report is accountability, accountability to the white house, the people and the courts.
there's no classified version of this report. it's only declassified, available to the public. everybody can see what they are recommending, but what's also key is that they are not recommending to get rid of of this section 215 phone meta data collection. one of the things controversial gathering all the phone calls and phone numbers and as one people of said to me, we're not in any way and then went on to say the terror threat remains. let's goat some of the more specific recommendations among the 46 years. one of the most significant once is that the moved the data to private phone companies so the nsa isn't holding on to private phone numberswant. second, there's greater court oversight. they are also recommending that the next director of the nsa be
a general. they would say this is an example of greater oversight and the nsa should restate its mission as it should be which is purely going after foreign collection. not domestically but to say our commission is on foreign investigation. >> what did they say about going outside the united states? >> they make it clear that they have two united states. one administration official said earlier today we know we have a dprust gap, not just with mariners. the white house, has to be approved at the highest level if you're going to be spying on foreign leaders. we talked about how angry angela merkel was, for instance, when her phone calls were tapped. two, they recommend that the u.s. come to an agreement with its allies, such as france and germany, in terms of what's
acceptable and what's not. everybody -- everybody does a little bit of spying on each other, but they say they have to make it clear to governments that's when rsa is doing this to spy on businesses. it's very sweeping, and it shows that the white house is aware of the trouble that they have domestically. >> let's bring in ryan liza. doing recommendations. the president now has to either accept or reject these kind of recommendations. he's going to do that fairly soon. >> apparently he'll do it next month. they rushed out the report. were going to delay it until next month, out now perhaps because of the federal court decision. the nsa's collection of meta data may be over. don't know who will collect it
or where the database will be stored in the future but a federal judge saying the program is unconstitutional and his own advisers, let's be honers, are most mostly -- this means the nsa won't be doing this anymore. if it operates, how will it operate in the future. it will be a private entity. members of congress will have questions about this, what are the controls on it, but it's a big blow to the nsa that they are no longer -- both a federal judge and a white house panel are saying we don't trust the nsa to collect the data anymore because the privacy points are too often. >> what does it say about edward snowden?
wouldn't be having the kwugs quite frankly because -- this is about the nsa looking forward, not back, in terms of what edward snowden did. what's interesting. some of the invasion have been ignored. one is to change to the sieve of cyber command. it is interesting when you talk about the courthouse. look at this. rich plarkd in the white house pre- 9/11 and knows the seriousness of the threat and said some of that is not necessary. >> they are really tightening the language there, going back to language that obama actually proposed as a senate character,
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another snub in a growing rift between the united states and russia. the white house is taking a clear shot at the host country of the upcoming winter olympic games with a delegation that's meant to send a message. our foreign affairs reporter is here in the "the situation room" to explain what is going on. what is going on? >> well, wolf, the u.s. isn't exactly boycotting the sochi olympics because of russia's violation of human rights and its treatment of gays andlen ian -- and lebzians but president obama is making his view clear. the white house took a jab at russia's anti-gay laws. >> we, as i said earlier, made no bones about the fact that we strongly oppose and are offend by the anti-lgbt legislation in russia. >> reporter: to drive home that message the president will not attend the games, instead sending openly gay athletes to represent the u.s. tennis legend billie jean king and two-time hockey olympian
kaitlin cahow. >> this legislation represents the diversity that is the united states. >> reporter: janet napolitano, former homeland security secretary, will attend the opening ceremony and william burns, a deputy secretary of state. this is the first time a president or first lady has not atte attended the olympic games. george w. bush attended the beijing olympics in 2008. president obama has not shied away from slamming russia's treatment of gays and lesbians. in russia earlier this year he didn't meet privately with president putin but he did meet with gay activists, and he was more direct on "the tonight show" in august. >> if russia wants to uphold the olympic spirit then every judge
should be made on the track or in the swimming pool or balance beam and people's sexual orie orientation should not have anything to do with it. >> reporter: there's a growing rift over a host of issues, amoaning them over edward snowden, the nas leaker, who has asylum in moscow and his position with president bashar al assad. >> there's the question what have effect this will have on russia's international prestige. >> reporter: wolf, president obama is not alone in sitting out the sochi games. french poll hollande will not be attending and there's a growing list of world leaders that are sitting out. >> they are sending in effect a powerful message to the russian leadership. thanks very much. she's one of the biggest guns the white house has, and now the first lady michelle obama is using her star power to help persuade people to sign up
for the affordable care act. the deadline is next monday in order to have coverage starting january 1st. cnn's athena jones is over at the white house with more on the first lady's obamacare push. athena, what's going on with michelle obama? >> reporter: hi, wolf, well, michelle obama was called the closer during the 2008 campaign because of her ability to win over voters. the question now is whether she will be as effective in selling the health care law. >> well, michelle -- >> reporter: president said calling in his not so secret weapon, the first lady, to try to sell his signature law to a skeptical public. >> the words that come to mind for me are peace of mind. >> reporter: michelle obama rarely seen publicly in the oval office today sitting beside the president in the seat often reserved for world leaders, telling a group of mothers selected by the white house how they can help get more young healthy people to sign up for health insurance. without them, experts say, the health care exchanges could
implode. >> educate yourselves. get that education, make the choice that's best for your family. >> reporter: asked about her involvement, the first lady answered simply. >> because i'm a mom. >> reporter: and she's taking her message directly to african-americans nationwide, recording a series of interviews with popular black talk radio hosts, telling the yolanda adams morning show. >> health is a powerful connector that we all have and share regardless of where we come, from our political backgrounds, our neighborhoods, our communities, our religious beliefs. we are tied together by our health. >> reporter: as the december 23rd deadline to enroll in insurance coverage that starts next month closes in, the white house is pulling out all the stops. >> we have something really important to talk to you about. >> reporter: even blasting out this humorous commercial via social media to reach young people. >> so what's so important? >> your dad and i are moving in with you. >> roomies. >> your mother and i have joined a circus. >> what did you want to talk to
me about? >> we know you don't have health insurance. >> we love you no matter what, but it's time to get covered. >> reporter: today, even the white house admitted it was willing to capitalize on the first lady's popularity which is significantly higher than her husband's because -- >> she's just a great messenger. >> reporter: all part of an attempt to help save his legacy. now the first lady encouraged the mothers in the room to share their health care stories and also to make talking about health care around the table a, quote, christmas treat, and one more thing, wolf, the white house found itself playing cleanup today. john podesta, the newly named adviser to the president had to apologize tore comments he made in an interview earlier this year comparing the republican party to the jonestown cult that murdered a congressman and then committed suicide in the 1970s. wolf. >> and he later apologized. he came out with a tweet suggesting he made a mistake with that original comment. >> that's right. >> all right, athena, thanks very much. let's get to some other stories we're following in "the
situation room" right now. the stock market closed at record highs today with the dow adding almost 300 points. the jump was in reaction to the federal reserve's announcement to cut its economic stimulus program gradually starting in january. the federal will buy $75 billion in bonds each month. that's a drop of $10 billion as the agency cuts back its bond-buying program. the fed says interest rates will stay exceptionally low for the time being. a harvard university student accused of making bomb threats is being released on bond. 20-year-old eldo pinma waived his right to a probable cause hearing. he was charged in the hoax that shut down the ivy league campus in the middle of final exams. he confessed monday evening telling the fbi and harvard campus police he wanted to avoid a final exam f.convicted, he could face a five-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine.
a wildfire is tearing across california, destroying 22 buildings. only 22% of the blaze is under control. in big sur, several neighborhoods have been evacuated, roads closed. almost all of california is in extreme drought right now at a time of the year when it usually has some of its heaviest rainfall. and we do have a winner. georgia lottery has announced ira curry of stone mountain, georgia, is the holder of one of the two mega millions jackpot winning tickets. curry quietly came forward to collect her cash prize, a whopping $129 million after taxes, calling it unreal. curry's number a mix of family birthdays and lucky number seven. lottery officials are waiting for the second winner in san jose, california. coming up, we're following the breaking news on capitol hill, the senate vote of the bipartisan budget deal and the outrage over cuts to veterans benefits. and we're going to talk about it with republican senator rand
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we're following the breaking news up on capitol hill. the senate has just passed the compromised budget plan approved earlier by the house of representatives. the vote in the senate, 64-36. republican senator rand paul of kentucky was among those voting against it. senator, thanks very much for joining us. >> good to be with you, wolf. >> let's talk a little bit about your vote. would you have rather seen another government shutdown, the last one 16 days and cost the u.s. economy, what, about $24
billion? >> yeah, no, i wasn't in favor of a shutdown, and i think that's sort of a false choice. you're setting it up as if that was only choice. really what we've been doing in the past is passing a continuing spending resolution which doesn't mean shutdowns, but current law is actually better than what the deal is. the current law included some budget caps from 2011, and now we've abandoned those caps, so i think this is really a step backwards for the country, and really we've aloud us to say, you know what, we don't care so much about the debt, and i think that's a big mistake. >> isn't it good for two years now no one will have to wore about a government shutdowns, all the uncertainty and the pain and the cost that those shutdowns incur. >> a shutdown is not good but i'm worried about the future of the country. i'm worried about a $17 trillion debt and i'm worried about the fact that we're borrowing $1 million every minute so really there's concern about shutdown, but there's also concern about
the long-term fiscal stability of the country, and i think we've got so much debt that it was a mistake for us to give up on the budget caps. >> will you vote to reinstate those benefits for military veterans that would reduce -- that were reduced in this plan approved by the senate today, earlier by the house and that's about to be signed into law by the president? >> given a chance, yes, but, see, that's the problem with the senate right now. the democrats don't allow any amendments, so we end up passing bad legislation which they make mistakes that they say are mistakes and this could easily be fix federal we had a more open process. right now there's not much collegiality going on, a poisonous atmosphere where the majority is just shoving things down the throat of the minority, and because of it we can't fix legislation like this. so disabled veterans will lose part of their pension. people who have sacrificed their limbs will lose part of their pension because democrats are in a hurry to get their way, and
they want their way or the highway. they don't want any amendments. >> but there was collegiality and cooperation and compromise in the house of representatives earlier and now in the senate. those were pretty lopside votes. >> yeah, but compromise in the wrong direction, wolf. what happened is republicans said we want more money to spend on the military. democrats said we want more money to spend on social welfare, so they compromised in the wrong direction. they compromised to add $60 billion in new spending, all of it borrowed, and even borrowing from disabled veterans. the money that they are not going to pay to disabled veterans, they are not saving it or going towards the debt. they are immediately spending it on more weapons systems, so, no, it's a huge step backwards, and can you say that's compromise but it's compromise in the wrong direction. it's compromise towards accumulating more debt. it's a big mistake and a big step backwards for the country. >> john boehner, the speaker and paul ryan, the chairman of the house budget committee, you believe they were totally wrong in supporting this deal.
>> absolutely. when we had the budget caps that we passed in 2011 which people called the sequester, s & p said they were inadequate and they downgraded our debt, so we've taken something that even in 2011 people thought wasn't enough, and we abandoned, it so really -- i think the number one threat to our national security and to our country is our debt, and by going through with this budget motion, everybody wants to be all giddy and joyful. it's a compromise. it's pragmatic. yeah, but it's a compromise going in the wrong direction. it's a compromise towards not really being serious about our debt. >> the next big fight could be raising the nation's debt ceiling once again. the treasury department says that has to take place in february, maybe march at the latest. here's the question. what will it take for you, senator, to support an increase in the nation's debt ceiling once again? >> you know, i supported a proposition called cut, cap and balance two years ago which is, yes, i'll add more debt if you'll agree to balance your budget from here on out. if you're not going to reform
the price, if there's not going to be any conditions and the president has already said, hey, i'm not going to negotiate with a gun to my head, he won't negotiate with or without any leverage, with or without any deadlines, my problem is i can't in good conscience vote to raise the debt ceiling without budgetary restraint. >> you realize, of course, senator, and you're obviously a smart guy, the republicans in the senate is the minority, the president is in the white house. in order to reach these kinds of grand deals, if you will, you need to cooperate. you need to compromise. you can't just have 100% your way. >> well, we are getting 100% the president's way. he got obamacare with no republican votes. he's getting the budget, the spending. he's getting the debt ceiling. he's getting all of those basically his way or the highway so really there's not any compromise coming from the administration when the president says i will not compromise. i will not negotiate. it sounds to me not like our side is the problem. it sounds like their side is unwilling to negotiate.
>> let's talk about the nsa surveillance programs. i don't know if you've had a chance to go through this report that was released today by -- these recommendations for curbing and reforming some of the nsa surveillance programs. if you have -- you want to give us your immediate reactions to these recommendations. >> you know, my reaction is that the judge the other day said that it was unconstitutional is exactly right. i think even the president's own team now is coming up with recommendations that acknowledge that the president has allowed this to get away from himself. he's allowed the nsa program to be intrusive, go against the bill of rights, go against the fourth amendment, and even his own team is now recommending that he needs to rein this in. i don't think they go far enough in the sense that i think the fourth amendment should protect your personal information and that you do have a right to privacy, whether the papers are in your house or whether they are kept at your bank. i think you do have a right to privacy and we'll continue to fight this. >> when you say fight this, are you ready to file, as there have
been reports, and you're familiar with them, a class action lawsuit against the nsa to stop it? >> we have tens of thousands of people who have signed up for it. we're still exploring the legal aspect of whether we can file a class action suit. when you hear of class action suits, you hear of them mostly on liability. this would be a class action suit on a constitutional question, and it might be the first of its kind if we can file it. the problem is the court sometimes say you have no standing, and the nsa will say, hey, prove we were spying on you, but we won't give you any information whether we were or weren't so we're exflorg from all different ways. i'm also exploring legislation that would give people an easier time standing in court and if the phone company gets an order from a secret court, fisa court, that they could appeal this into a public court or supreme court. there's a lot of venues that we're trying to reform. bottom line i don't think the nsa should be spying on americans. i think they should be spying on terrorists. >> do you believe edward snowden, and arguably we're having this discussion right now
because of his leaks, do you believe he broke the law or was a whistleblower? >> you know, that's a real question. if he were here i think he would probably say he technically broke the law, but in favor of a higher law which
is the constitution. now we have a federal judge that's saying the information that he gave us was about an unconstitutional program. i think there have to be rules about leaks. i don't think you can give away national security secrets, but at the same time i'm very offend that the intelligence director lied to congress which is perjury and punishable by time in jail, and the president has glibly gone on his way, has not asked for his resignation, has not said that he will try him in court for lying to congress. i find that really -- that clapper is lying to congress is probably more injurious to our intelligent capabilities than anything snowden did because clapper has damaged the credibility of the entire intelligence apparatus and i'm not sure what to believe anymore when they come to congress. >> well, let me just press you on that, senator.
you believe clapper
is more of a potential criminal when it comes to national security secrets than snowden who by all accounts took about 1.7 million classified documents? >> i think the law is the law and they both broke the law and that one shouldn't get off scot-free, and even snowden i think really broke the law and we can't have people revealing secrets, but at the same time there is some question whether or not you can be a whistleblower in our society and whether you can release information that you think that the government is breaking the law, and that is the argument here, and now it's been upheld by a federal court saying that the government is breaking the law, and i do think what you're government is doing is unconstitutional, and i really think that in order to restore confidence in our intelligence community, i think james clapper should resign. >> so just to be precise. if it were up to you, you'd have the justice department file charges, criminal charges, against james clapper? >> otherwise you're just
encouraging people to lie to us, and then we have no confidence now -- if the intelligence community says we're not spying on americans and they are, and then they say we're not collecting any data, it's hard to have confidence in them. now they are saying we capture terrorists with this data. are we to believe them or not to believe them? if they are going to come to us and lie it really damages the credibility, and it's damaged our credibility worldwide, but really with the american people because we don't know what to believe. i don't know how you can have someone in charge over intelligence who has known to lie in a public forum to congress, to lie without repercussions i really blame the president for not taking a better handle
on things. >> one final question before i let you go, senator. on these u.s. drone strikes, there's now a report that a drone strike in yemen instead of killing al qaeda terrorists that was the suspected targets wound up killing, this is according to a government official inmen, killing a wedding convoy, including 14 civilians who had nothing to do with al qaeda. what's your position on these
u.s. drone strikes? >> you know, i think you do have to worry about the unintended consequences. you remember the very articulate little girl or young woman now from pakistan who was shot by the taliban, when she had a president to sh-- had a chance talk to the president her first words you're not helping, you're hurting. a lot of the drone strikes are going towards people not currently involved in battle, and they are intermixed with their families and occasionally we're making mistakes, so there's an upside and a downside, and i think right now the downside is creating such enmity in parts of pakistan and other places around the world that they may be more deleterious than they are helpful. >> senator paul, thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. >> up next, we're going to talk about all of this with our political experts, gloria
let's get some more on the breaking news, the senate passing the bipartisan budget bill, 64-36, that earlier passed the house of representatives. the first bipartisan bill to pass a divided congress in almost three decades. let's discuss with our chief political analyst gloria borger and cnn political commentator ryan liza and washington correspondent and our chief national correspondent john
king. what did you think of this, john, similar lopsided vote in the senate percentage-wise as occurred in the house. >> all thes no coming from the republicans. just had an interesting conversation with rand paul. his senior senator mitch mcconnell, the leader of the republicans, voting no here. in the old days, wolf, the leader would have voted yes. maybe given a speechlition all the reasons to complain about this, but saying it's the best deal we can get. we need to move on. it tells you a lot about the current political environment. a lot of the no votes are either about 2014, mitch mcconnell has a tea party challenge, lindsey graham has a tea party challenge and rand paul and ted cruz thinking about 1600 pennsylvania avenue? >> you think? >> i know you agree, but you weren't surprised by all the yays among republicans, a lot of republicans who decided to bolt from that and join boehner in the house and join paul ryan in the house and vote in favor of what is clearly a compromise. >> like john mccain, for example, and we really don't see him split from lindsey graham very much. >> yes. >> they are usually joined at
hip. in this case lindsey graham, as you're pointing out, faces a tough fight in his re-election and mccain was from the let's just get something done caucus this time which is, look, i know that there are things in it that i didn't like. he said, you know, he didn't like the cost of living adjustment issue for military pensioners, but he said there's a larger purpose here which is we have to tell the -- let the american public know that we're not so dysfunctional, that we can get something done and it would be worse for the republican party if we shut the government down. >> rand paul said he'll raise the debt ceiling if there's a grand bargain including tax reform and entitlement reform. that has to happen between now and february. >> doesn't look like that's going to happen, especially when the chairman of the finance committee just got sent to be apparently the ambassador to china, max baucus. >> kind of amazing. the power of the tea party, just when the back of the tea party was broken in the house of representatives by john boehner. it sort of -- its influence has
sort of grown in the senate. >> because -- these people are many primaried. >> and the debt fight will bring this back up. huge divide in the republican party is do we have to be part of a governing coalition? we run the house of representatives. we're close to half in the senate. are we supposed to help govern, or are we supposed to be the opposition movement? that's part of the philosophical debate in the republican party and we saw in this vote and you'll see it more and more in the debt ceiling fight because many comfort tips will want something big from the president, and the president says he won't give it to them. >> the question is how relevant is the tea apartment going to be next time around? i talked to some house republicans who voted for the budget compromise, and they were keeping their fingers crossed, that maybe, maybe by doing a joint deal they could push the hell no caucus over to one side and make them less relevant but what we've seen is all these incumbents are running scared and don't forget who votes in mid-term elections, the intensity comes from the base of the party.
>> my view of this is to blame the good people of iowa. all of these republican candidates jockeying for presidents, appealing to very conservative republican consequency in iowa and it real messes up the ability of getting anything done. >> you've done a lot of reporting on the nsa surveillance program. i was surprised to hear rand paul says james clapper, the head of national intelligence, is just as criminally guilty as edward snowden who stole, what, 1.7 million classified documents from the nsa. >> yeah. i was really surprised by that. i've heard him rail against clapper before and say he believes that clapper perjured himself but i've not seen him make the case that actually clapper has harmed national security in that way. look, it gets at something that a lot of the senators up there are upset about with the intelligence community is they think they leave them in the dark and don't tell them what's going on and this report, this report that came out. >> the recommendations. >> you read that report, and it's 300 pages. i was going through it before i came on. it's filled with the same kind
of rhetoric. not -- obviously not saying clapper is a perjurer or harmed national security but filled with the idea that the national security establishment hasn't been up front with the american people or the congress. >> i don't think they have been up front with the president. the president can say i didn't know this was going on or that was going on. you know, there are secrets they keep perhaps even from the commander in chief, and that's a big issue, too. >> and the more i like at this report, the more i think you're going to see a big split between what obama has said about these programs and what this report is recommending. there's a number of places where it's just absolutely contradicts what the president has said. >> got to leave it there. good discussion. lots of news today. thanks very much. just ahead, could your insurance company be cancelling your favorite doctor? it's happening across the country. our cnn investigations unit is standing by with new information. and at the top of the hour, the indian government fighting back over a diplomatic dispute with a move that could
potentially put american lives in danger. ♪ i love it! ♪ thank you grandma for the dolls. ♪ ♪ i love it! ♪ i'm ninja kicking through the halls. ♪ ♪ i love it! ♪ mom's posting pictures on your wall. ♪ ♪ that's my kind of holiday. just by talking to a helmet. it grabbed the patient's record before we even picked him up. it found out the doctor we needed was at st. anne's. wiggle your toes. [ driver ] and it got his okay on treatment from miles away. it even pulled strings with the stoplights. my ambulance talks with smoke alarms and pilots and stadiums. but, of course, it's a good listener too. [ female announcer ] today cisco is connecting the internet of everything. so everything works like never before. progressive direct and other car insurance companies? yes. but you're progressive, and they're them. yes. but they're here. yes. are you...? there? yes. no. are you them? i'm me. but those rates are for... them.
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there are now allegations that some insurance companies are getting rid of costly patient, not by dropping the patients themselves, but rather their doctors. a report from the cnn investigations unit has been looking into this. chris, what are you finding out? >> what cnn learned is because obamacare makes it more difficult for insurance companies to drop patients, insurers seem to be dropping doctors instead, and that's leaving thousands of patients across at least a dozen states
facing a tough choice. >> i'm jody is like many seniors the she sees multiple doctors, and takes lots and lots of medication. >> how many prescriptions do we have here? >> okay -- >> reporter: last month she got some jaw-dropping news. her insurance company, united healthcare is cutting four of her six physicians from its medicare advantage plan, including her most trusted doctor. dr. lawrence mitchkowski. he will be unceremoniously dumped from the advantage network january 1st with little explanation. or, as united put it in a letter -- >> united healthcare is amending your agreement referenced above to discontinue your participation in the medicare advantage network. this amendment does not require your signature.
>> reporter: but the doctor thinks that united is trimming physicians from its network, because under obamacare, it's harder to drop patients. >> let the high-cost patients move you've had united healthcare over to anthem or humana and let those poor suckers, so to speak, pick up the cost. >> reporter: united's decision let jody and her 94-year-old husband nick facing a tough choice. do they stay with united and find new doctors or try to keep their doctors by finding a new insurance plan. >> dr. mitchkowski has been my doctor for 20 years. no one knows me better, and it's silly not to continue to go with him. >> reporter: so jody went shopping. >> reporter: this was. >> reporter: and the plan she bought is going to cost her much more. >> these will be double. >> reporter: jody and the doctor are not alone. the american medical association says united and other insurers
have taken similar action in at least a dozen states. in connecticut, for example, united cut about 20% of its doctors, according to the state medical society, and here in ohio, the insurance giant dropped hundreds of doctors affecting thousands of patients. >> the patient costs a lot, and uneated is going to those patients' doctors, dropping them. therefore, getting rid of the patient. >> united concedes it is reducing the size of its network, but declined an on-camera interview request. in a statement to cnn, united said -- many health plans are making changes to their networks to improve quality and keep health insurance affordable. they are necessary to meet rising quality standards in an era of medicare funding cuts. the trade group argues that it's a direct result of obamacare. lawmakers included $200 billion in cuts to the medicare advantage program, and a new tax on health insurers.
>> washington can't cut in tax the medicare advantage program this much and not expect seniors in the programs to be harmed. >> reporter: even though jody was able to find a plan that included dr. mitch, she is still going to lose two other doctors. >> we're walking away from people that we've known and trusted, counted on for over ten years, and that's hard. >> now, wolf, the doctor tells me that the vast majority of his patients who are affected by united's decision have followed jody's footsteps and got another insurer so they can continue seeing him. it's no wonner why. another of the doc's patients told me the directory was 25 pages long. next year it's only five. >> is it going to get any better? worse? what do you see down the road? ivities when i talk to insurance officials, they say seniors can expect higher premiums, continue to see this network shrinking and they don't think things will get any better going forward. >> especially seniors get so attached to the doctors they've had for a long time.
it's a big issue. >> that's right. >> thanks for the report. coming up, we're going live to india, where there is outrage, spilling over into the streets over the arrest of an indian diplomat in new york city. a new bill to ban employers from checking your credit score. our brian todd talks to the author, democratic senator, elizabeth warren.
second-store balcony. >> actually pulling it back up. >> reporter: the photo spread, so did the outrage. heather helped share the picture. >> he needs to know you could do that. >> reporter: folks online -- how freaking hard is it to get your butt off the couch and take the poor dog for a walk? the most frequent comment was -- hang his sorry butt out by a rope the same way. please say he was tethered to a harness, he wasn't choking, he wasn't harmed. >> there was a lady and her husband actually getting in their car, they were yelling at the guy. >> reporter: eventually the photo made its way to the greenville police. they went to the upscale condo and cited tyler smith with violating the city's animal care ordinance, which carries a fine of $1093, and the possibility of 30 days in jail.
smith is the son of the dog owner. the son was house-sitting while his parents were out of town. a farther told a news photographers that he was livid about what the son did to the dog. we weren't able to reach him, but the responded to online critics by saw or son is a great kid who made a bad choice. mac is a much loved part of our family and no one would ever try to intentionally harm him. others defended the dog dangling by saying it was no different than pets going skydiving, like this rescue dog does. not sing michael jackson held he baby boy over the edge of a bail conhas dangling generated such a fuss. >> the stupidity of people upsets me. >> reporter: letting a dog dangle has left people untethered. jeanne moos, cnn, new york.
happening now, protests and payback over the arrest and strip-search of a key indian diplomat in new york. new retaliation but the sun may be putting americans in danger. plus million dollar freeloader. a former government official is going to prison for a shocking scheme. he had a secret identify to get out of work and steal a big fat paycheck. the f krmt c considers ending a controversial rule that could change the way you watch sports on tv. i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room." but we begin with a just released report recommending new limits in the way the agency snoops on americans and foreigners. the president asked an outside panel to review the tactics after the bombshell revelations by the nsa leaker edward snowden. our chief national security
correspondent jim scuitto has been going through the report and its recommendations. give us the headlines. >> 46 different recommendations ranging from new congressional oversight to something as simple as a new special assistant to the president for privacy. the gold here, the members of this pan, say, is account annual for the nsa. they report to congress, but they also say the terror threat is still real. one official said he's not in any way recommending disarming the community, and still wants to give them tools they need to find terrorists. what the panel does not recommend is dismantling the program that sparked the most controversy, the gathering of billions of bytes of metadata of americans' phone calls. instead the panel made up of intelligence and legal experts recommends congress pass legislation requires phone companies to hold the data rather than being held by the nsa, and that the nsa be limited to gathering foreign intelligence on foreign targets.
>> the message to the nsa is now coming from every branch of government, from every corner of our nation. nsa, you've got too far. >> reporter: to help restore u.s. credibility abroad, the panel suggests sweeping reforms, including swiping agreements with allies such as france and germany about what spying among friends is acceptable and what is not. the panel says monitoring a foreign leaders by the nsa should require approval directly from the white house. the record follows a bruising meeting at the white house tuesday with executives from the country's largest tech companies. sources tell cnn's jim acosta that several executives flew to washington to voice concerns over government surveillance hurding the bottom line abroad to the tune of $35 billion in lost business. several were frustrated with the white house's focus on the troubled healthcare.gov site. at that meeting sources say the president said one thing he is not considered is a pardon for
nsa leaker edward snowden. i spoke to a senior administration official today. he said the administration acknowledging that they have a trust gap here, wolf. that's not just with american citizens, but with foreign citizens and that trust gap has costs, and costs in american credibility, but also even for american businesses, the tech leaders in the white house yesterday talking about billions of lost business. the president is planning a speech to the public, likely in january, i'm told, to explain some of these new constraints, just to give the program more transparency. >> and which of these recommendations he accepts, and which he doesn't necessarily accept. he has to review these, i guess when he's on vacation in hawaii. rand paul was here in "the situation room." i was stunned to hear this, he believes the head of national intelligence agency may by cnnly as guilty of undermining national security by supposedly lying to congress, as edward snowden was by stealing 1.7
million classified documents. that's going to cause some ripples out there. >> no question. when you look at the people who put together this report, the panel members here, they certainly don't go that far. they're basically backing up the nsa and the reasons for doing this, saying there's a reasonable national security threat out there. in effect they still need this power that's caused all this controversy to lead someone like senator paul to make that charge. that policy is standing in place, they'll just put more restrictions on it, make it a bit more accountable, but at the end of the day they'll have access to a tremendous amount of data. >> jim scuitto, thanks very much. let's get to a new mood, to ban employers from checking the credit scores of job applicants. it's a senate bill introduced by democratic senator elizabeth warren. she says many people with financial problems are victims of what she describes as discrimination in the hiring process.
brian todd is here. he had a chance to speak with senator warrening today about this issue. >> senator warren told us many people are victimized by this practice, even if their poor credit scores are the result of just bad breaks, nothing malicious. the young woman we spoke with is convinced she falls into that category. oneka o'keefe recently applied for a cashier's jobs at a large department store. she had the experience, the interview went well. because she was handling money, the store told her they would have to do a check on her credit. >> i was certain i had the position, but my credit score hindered me. but they didn't tell me outright that that was the case. >> okieffe said she had crippling student loans, had to open credit d. and her credit rating suffered. senator elizabeth warren wants to make sure people don't get denied jobs because of the credit scores. she introduced a new bill
preventing potential employers from using credit checks in the hiring process, reventing them from rejecting you just because you have bad credit. >> why do people have damaged credit? the principal reasons are somebody got sick in the family and they felt behind on medical bills, you lost a job and fell behind on your bills, or you have family break up, either a divorce or a death in the family. and somebody is the struggling to get back on their feet. >> errors on those reports are common. warren says the process is unfair. >> there have been studies that show no correlation between your credit check, no or also correlation between your credit check and your able to do the job. >> reporter: one group that opposes senator warren's bill, a group representing small businesses, said credit checks are important screening tools for potential employers in a way that has little to do with applicants' finances. >> a credit check is a good way to find out if some someone has
in fact been employed in a previous position that they have claimed on their application. it's a easy check toss, okay, maybe you didn't have that job, and maybe that says somethi about your trust worthyness. >> senator warren says there's one exception. people applying for national security related jobs, positions security cloernss would still have to go through credit checks. there are obviously a lot of questions to ask, a new senator, a rising democratic star, including questions about the rumors that she may run for president. weapon tried to ask her the questions, but she declined, saying she wants to focus on this legislation. >> how much support does she have on this? does she have any bipartisan support? >> we're told in the senate she does not have support yet, but it's early in the process. in the house it's not clear. we've tried to reach the white house and ask if the president would support it, we have not heard back, but more than 40 groups and organizations are aplay applauding it.
>> we'll see what happens. brian todd, thanks very much. and she is a rising star among democrats. >> absolutely. >> still ahead, we're learning more details about the arrest, and the potentially dangerous fallout for the u.s. in india. the indians people in the government are slamming the u.s., calling the diplomat's treatment, quote, barbaric. ♪ [ male announcer ] they are a glowing example
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this just coming into "the situation room", that the president is planning to announce max baucus as the next u.s. ambassador to china. a longtime confidant, telling john king, the senator informed indirectly. his term is up at the end of 20140. he's also announced earlier this year he would not seek reelection next year.
other news we're following. india apparently punishing the united states for the arrest and strip-search of a diplomat. security barriers from possible terror attacks have been removed. this escalating dispute is threatening america's relationship with one of its strongest allies. we're learning more explosive details also about the arrest and the retaliation. cnn national correspondent deborah feyerick is standing by in new york. let's go to cnn's mallika. >> reporter: wolf, here in india people are still very, very angry. thes seething it is treatment. he called the incident deplorable, but the latest move
by the u.s. could calm tensions. tonight, u.s. secretary of state john kerry is scrambling to unravel a diplomatic crisis, calling india's national security adviser to quote express his regret over the strip-search and treatment of an indian diplomat by u.s. marshals in new york. kerry's called came just showers aft indian government began removing concrete security barricades from in front of the u.s. embassy here and stripping u.s. diplomats of their i.d. cards, moving parent timed to -- >> he expressed his regret as well as his concern that we not allow this unfortunate public incident to hurt other close and vital relationship with india. >> reporter: the sudden stalemate exploited after the diplomat was arrested outside of her daughter's manhattan school. the u.s. says she was paying are he indians nanny just over $3 an
hour, star less than the u.s. minimum wage. u.s. officials say she lied on visa documents about the woman's pay. >> my daughter is not -- she has nothing to do with -- >> what angered indians despite having immunity as a foreign diplomat, she was treated barbarically, stripped of her clothes, searched, and put into a holding cell with other defendants. today the white house said that search was by the books. >> we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest, to ensure that all standard procedures were followed, and that every opportunity for courtesy was extended. >> reporter: her lawyer says she has pleaded not guilty. she since posted bond and has been released. >> i have every expectation she'll be completely vindicated. >> reporter: here in india, now one government official is calls for the partners of gay u.s. diplomats to be arrested citing
the recent, that makes homosexual sex illegal. >> what they can do immediately is to cancel those visas, arrest all these companions and put them behind bars. >> reporter: u.s. marshal officials say they treated the diplomat the same way they treat everyone else. >> that's precisely why india is upset, saying that treatment is humiliating and india won't stand for it. >> i can understand the anger, the irritation, but removing the barricades and potential endangering the united states embassy and all the people who work in there. what's behind removing thor back cases? that's a serious and potentially endangering move? >> well, we have asked -- -- and
they explained they were put out more as a gesture of courtesy, to help them control traffic. it was just a bon us, additional measure provided by the local authorities, and never a diplomatic requirement, and they insist that as far as diplomatic security goes, that all u.s. diplomats are perfectly safe in india, they're not scaling back security measures for any u.s. diplomats at all. nothing has changed as far as their personal security goes. >> mallika kapur, thank you. deborah feyerick is standing by. >> she's getting better security, the nanny is still here in new york. she's staying with friends. she has no passport. the u.s. government has given her a temporary legal status,
which allows her to stay here and also work here until all of this is resolved. the nanny worked for the family for about eight months, apparently according to her lawyer, she was working long hours, she was being well underpaid, just $3 an hour, compared to the minimum wage of $9. 75. some critics have called this a labor dispute, but the nanny's lawyer says it is much more than that. >> the allegations are that the doctor lied to the federal government in order to obtain an a-3-b visa to bring her worker here with no intention of paying the required wages for the hours she requested. so it's more than just a labor dispute. and again, the power dynamic intrinsic in all of these cases makes these situations more than walking up to your boss at work and saying, you know, i wasn't paid for that extra hour of work. our clients who work as domestic
workers are living in the home with their employer, so if they leave, they not only leave their legal status, they leave their only source of income. they leave the only home they have known in a foreign country. so this is more than a labor dispute. >> reporter: now, i spoke to lawyers in both the nanny and also for the diplomat. they say that there were attempts made to try to resolve the financial aspect of this, but those attempts were unsuccessful. in the meantime, the diplomat has been charged both by the state department and the u.s. attorney here in man happy with one charge of making a false statement on a visa application. wolf? >> thank you, deborah feyerick. just ahead he claimed to be a secret agent to get out of working his day job. the stunning story of a former federal officials who swindled taxpayers in a big way. attention sports fans. it may soon get easier. rachel nichols is standing by. life's an adventure when you're with her.
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a former federal official is going to prison. he even invented a secret identity to try to get away with it. chris lawrence has all the details. chris? >> reporter: wolf, bakley a lot of folks have called in sick when they felt fine, but this lie was so big, it went a for so long, and involved the intelligence community, and everyone thought it had to be true. john beal walked out of court wednesday a man who took being lazy to legendary heights.
now he's heading to jail after swindling the government out of nearly $1 million. how does this occur in modern-day society with managers trying to make ends meet. >> reporter: beale was a climbed changes specialers making $164,000 a year. but he rarely came to work, filed thousands in fake travel plans. his bosses didn't question his frequent absence, because beale said he was actually working for the cia. for ten years epa official believed believed beale was at cia headquarters or on some secret mission. he once claimed he had to go to pakistan to help a fellow agency. he was actually here in the d.c. suburbs, or hiding in plain sight at his vacation home in scenic cape cod. in 2008 he didn't show up at work for six months.
apparently nobody at the epa batted an eye. what do you do for the cia? where are you going? who's authorized it? at some point the managers at the epa should have been asking for some kind of proof. >> reporter: no one checked beale's story even after $57,000, claiming the flights were for, quote, personal reasons. well, now beale is going to serve nearly three years in prison. he'sle agreed to pay about $900,000 in restitution and forfeit half the million in salary. meanwhile. the epa says it's upgraded its safeguards to do more thorough checks on the employees' travel and attendancy. certainly hope so. >> chris lawrence, thanks for that amazing report. other news, a change in the works would affect millions of sports fans who want to watch their home team on television. the fcr is moving to get rid of the long-standing rule that
prevents many nfl games and other sporting events for being broadcast in the home markets. rachel nick coles is joining us, host of quinn unguarded with rachel nichols" that airs on friday nights. explain what's going on? >> well, right now if the nfl says isn't sold out 72 hours before kickoff, they black that out in the local market, to force people if they want to watch the game, they have to go to the stadium and buy a it can't. this rule was enacted about 40 years ago to help prop up sports leagues. so the fcc said they're just doing fine form the nfl is a $9 billion business, maybe they don't need the special protection. now, this next goes to congress. you can expect the nfl, major league baseball, a lot of the other leagues to try to fight it, but you've got to tell you, this rule has never made sense. this is kind of like telling grocery stores in the town you can't sell food to people until
the local restaurants are full. i think the fcc has finally decided the sports leagues shouldn't get it. >> i remember when i was at buffalo, the stayed union wasn't sold out. you used to have to drive to cleveland or something like that to watch a home game, which was obviously very, very frustrating. let's move on to another subject. president obama's decision to send two openly gay former athletes to the sochi winter olympic games, and in the statement it says about the antigay legislation, the laws in effect in russia right now. what's your reaction? >> i love it. make no mistake, russia, the government is openly persecuting gay people in their country, doing it under the guise of polluting the minds of children, and the idea is if you're gay, even holding hands in public, you can be sent to jail. in this country, we hold ourselves up as the international symbol of freedom. what the white house did today
was basically putting all of our money where our mouth is, sending people over there specifically to make a show of the fact that we have freedoms here that we think that everybody should be allowed to have and certainly people in russia should be allowed to have. i like the move. i think a lot of people in the athletic committee, olympic commit aye, like the move. you have to remember the ioc just last week send a letter to all potential athletes, reminding them if they make a political statement during the games, they are subject to become expelled. i imagine in the coming months we'll hear a lot more about that, and possibly a few athlete during the olympics who want to test it out. >> are they ready for the games? february? there were reports that some of the venues aren't even ready yet. >> wolf, in pravda, they had an article that said they were ready. we don't have to ask more questions, right?
c'mon, that's it. they will probably be ready. they have people working around the clock, a huge migrant workforce. will the buildings be built? yes, will they be built well? will there potential be problems? those are the questions we are asking. you have to remember, this is the only subtropical climate city in all of russia. the only major constitution in this weather zone, and you have to wonder why there's a winter olympics there. so expect that to create a lot of problems as well. >> rachel wee see you friday night. thanks very much. that's it for me. thanks for waching. "crossfire" starts right now. tonight on "crossfire" -- changing the rules for spying on everyone. a brand-new report urges the president to will that put us at risk? >> the message is very clear -- nsa, you've gone too far. on the left, van jones.
on the right s.e. cupp. in the controver"crossfire" rut and bill crystal, a conservative editor. balances national security and your privacy, tonight on "crossfire." welcome to "crossfire." i'm s.e. cupp. >> and i'm van jones. we have two guests who disagree with me and s.e. about the government's spying program. >> what? >> that's right. >> here's the headline you here's a headline -- we actually agree on something. >> true story. being worried about snooping around. this asp 9 white house released an independent report, and it calls for tighter restraint. so that's good. you can't just burn the constitution, let the government create a secret court and program to collect massive
information and then believe -- our freedom will not be secure. >> i don't have a counterpoint. ditto. >> history has been made. >> in the "crossfire", ruth marcus, and big crystal, editor of "the weekly standard." bill, i am as big a hawk as it go ahead. warheads on warheads, but a judge ruled this week that at least some of the nsa's spying programs are unconstitutional. the administration's claims that the numbers ofro