tv The Situation Room CNN January 2, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PST
cnn.com/thelead. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. i'll be back at 6:00 p.m. eastern. now i turn you over to jim acosta in "the situation room." happening now, a monster storm nearly 100 million people in the path of a powerful nor'easter expected to bring blizzard conditions to the east coast. plus, calls for mercy. two prominent newspapers demand nsa leaker edward snowden be allowed to return to the united states. and wrongful death lawsuit. an nfl player murders his girlfriend, then kills himself. why his mother is blaming the team for it all. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm jim acosta. you're in "the situation room." well, if you live in the northeast, you're about to get hit very hard. a monster storm threatening nearly 100 million people across
22 states is barreling towards the region right now with some of the fiercest conditions only hours away. cape cod and long island are facing blizzard warnings where winds are already gusting up to 40 miles per hour while new york city and boston could see as much as a foot of snow each. cnn has team coverage across the region but we begin with our frederick pleitgen in boston where conditions are so bad, the airport is about to stop all flights. what can you tell us? >> reporter: yeah, we are feeling the conditions getting worse really by the hour. right now, the snow is getting a lot heavier. also, we're feeling gusty winds getting worse as well. i can show you there's already been quite a bit of snow actually coming down. i would say it's about probably like three to four inches that have already come down, very powdery snow. as you said, that's going to get worse in the coming hours, probably by 8:00 p.m. is when it will really start coming down and when the winds will get treacherous as well. we can have a look at the road conditions. it's actually not too bad at this point, because a lot of the roads were pretreated with salt before the snow even started
coming down. so it's more slushy on the ground here than anything else. however, when the snow starts to pick up, when the wind starts to pick up, that's when it will be more and more difficult to keep those roads clear and that's where we're expecting a lot of problems with traffic. of course, the schools tomorrow morning will be closed and as you noted, the airports should be closed for landings at least very, very soon as well. >> frederick, that snow is going horizontal all around you, so just an indication as to how the conditions are worsening in boston. thank you so much. this massive nor'easter isn't all the region has to worry about. right behind it, a powerful arctic blast packing subzero temperatures and dangerously cold wind chills. meteorologist alexandra steele is standing by in the cnn weather center tracking the storm's path. alexandra, this does sound very serious. what can we expect in the hours ahead? >> well, it's not just a snowstorm. we saw that wind going horizontally and that's a factor with this nor'easter. let's get right to the goods people want to know, how much
snow are they going to get. in boston, 8 to 14 inches. 8 to 12 in albany and along the mass pike, we will see six to eight in new york city, four to seven, philadelphia, washington seeing the changeover from rain to snow right now, two to four inches for you. the snow is coming, it's just knocking on the doorstep of new york. you can see where it is, filling in from the south and the west. the snow will be there but also, what's going to happen, kind of the bull's eye timeline for this, 9:00 tonight until 9:00 tomorrow morning. this is 11:00 tonight. you can see all the snow. i mean, it's kind of small, filling out the wall of the northeast and southern new england, especially. overnight tonight, you can see by tomorrow at 11:00, it's already east for the most part of the cape. so the snow may be over but on the back side, these incredibly strong gusty winds. want to show you the hour by hour wind chill. tomorrow morning at 8:00, it will feel like 15 below in boston, 18 below in albany, 11
below in providence. by friday nighttime, you can see the temperatures precipitously low so the temperatures are low, arctic air's in place, some of the coldest air boston has seen in three years, since january 2011. so blizzard conditions, why those are up, you can see delineated in the red for all of long island, the cape and the islands and now just extended into southern maine because yes, the snow will fall, but the water content of the snow is very light and fluffy. you can barely even pack it into a snowball. the water content's so low, it's fluffy, then factor in the gusty winds, 50 miles per hour, blizzard conditions really is all about the visibility. quarter mile or less visibility, especially in these areas. so that's really where the biggest problems will be. overnight tonight into tomorrow, the blizzard conditions up until about 1:00 tomorrow afternoon and there you go, kind of a tight shot. boston, providence, hartford, the i-91 corridor picking up substantial snow and cold temperatures. >> sounds like a good reason to
stay indoors. alexandra, thank you very much. let's bring in cnn's brian stelter on long island, where a blizzard warning is about to go into effect. brian, you do a lot of reporting on people in the media who do a lot of these live shots, now you're doing one yourself, getting a first-hand look at the conditions out there. how's it going? >> reporter: i'm channeling my inner weather geek. we're about halfway from manhattan to east hampton, the heart of long island, along the long island expressway which at midnight will shut down according to governor andrew cuomo because it will be too hard to keep up with the snow that's expected. earlier we spoke to the county executive in suffolk county about what makes the storm unique. let's take a look at that. >> this is a treacherous storm. it's got accumulation of six to ten inches but we've also got very low temperatures, overnight hours, and high winds, up to 40 miles an hour. that's going to make it very difficult for these operators out here to remove that snow. they will be moving at a snail's
pace. makes it very treacherous for any drivers out there. >> the low snowfall totals can be deceiving because of all the other elements. >> that's exactly right. a lot of factors go into making a storm treacherous. while it may not have the accumulations nemo had last year, this is a very dangerous storm. that's why we're asking people to stay off those roads. >> reporter: of course, these road crews have the hardest job overnight trying to keep at least the secondary roads clear and trying to clean up the long island expressway here before it reopens sometime tomorrow. i got to say, this is not easy, either. this is harder than it looks for reporters out here. it hasn't even really started snowing yet. back to you. >> thank you. brian stelter can do it all. thank you very much. we appreciate it. all of this is wreaking havoc of course on holiday travel, with more than 1900 flight cancellations so far. cnn is at reagan national airport just outside of washington. how extensive are the delays? are they starting to rack up? >> reporter: here at national airport, the delays are not
major but as the hours tick by, those cancellations and delays just keep coming in. now, this is what many travelers here at reagan national are encountering. as you can see, many of these flights are canceled and delayed. those flights that are going towards the boston and new york area. we spoke with a couple, they are trying to get to providence, rhode island tonight. their flight has been delayed an hour and they are not optimistic they will be able to get out tonight, so they are already making backup plans. they know they are flying into where the storm is going to hit later. but nationwide, there is even more of a bleak picture here. according to flight aware, there have been 1900 flight cancellations. that just ticked up a couple hundred in the last hour. 3400 delays, most of those are at chicago o'hare airport. we are also seeing preemptive cancellations from many airlines. let's look at the breakdown. american airlines, 600 flights canceled. us airways, over 100. united, 550. delta, 300. southwest, 100 flights canceled
alone. here at reagan national which is just outside of d.c., they have called in a 40-person snow team. they will stay on hand overnight, make sure they're monitoring the runways and airplanes to make sure that if the snow accumulates and the main concern here is the wind, that is what is going to cancel many more flights tonight. back to you. >> probably not the only snow team being deployed tonight. thank you very much. when we come back, a mother sues an nfl team over her son's suicide. did traumatic brain injuries drive him to do it? dr. sanjay gupta is here next. plus two major newspapers come to edward snowden's defense. is the tide shifting in his favor? [ male announcer ] this is the story of the little room over the pizza place on chestnut street the modest first floor bedroom in tallinn, estonia and the southbound bus barreling down i-95. ♪ this magic moment it is the story of where every great idea begins. and of those who believed they had the power to do more. dell is honored to be part of some of the world's great stories. that began much the same way ours did.
former nfl player javon belcher shot his girlfriend, then took his own life in front of team officials at the kansas city chiefs training facility. was his suicide the team's fault? belcher's mother says yes and cnn's brian todd is following this story. brian, it's another one of these cases, another tragic case of an nfl player taking his life, harming others, and there's this issue of concussions and whether there's a connection. >> it keeps cropping up. belcher's mother now suing the kansas city chiefs, saying he unknowingly sacrificed his brain during the career -- during his career with the team. and the suit says the chiefs not only ignored that, but bullied him into playing through his injuries. a horrific morning. december 1st, 2012. kansas city chiefs linebacker jovon belcher shot his girlfriend nine times, killing her. inside the house, their infant daughter and belcher's mother, who made a frantic call to police with the baby crying in the background. >> is she bleeding? >> yes, she is. >> where is she bleeding from?
>> i can't tell, from the back it looks like. >> belcher then drove to the chiefs' practice facility and in front of his coach and general manager, shot himself. now belcher's mother is suing the chiefs for wrongful death, saying he suffered repeated traumatic brain injuries over his four-year career. injuries that caused depression, mood swings, suicidal ideations, this is the tackle that lawyers for belcher's mother say gave him a concussion two weeks before the murder-suicide. they claim this nfl clip posted online by deadspin makes it clear, but they say belcher was never removed from the game. the suit alleges the chiefs ignored all the signs and instead, berated belcher into playing through his injuries. but could his head injuries be blamed for his violent behavior? the answer is unclear. one expert says if one part of the brain is injured, it's possible. >> think of the brain not as a hard plastic surface as in this model, but really, like a bowl
of jello and when there is trauma occurring to the site of the brain, the entire brain can shift and as a consequence, the opposite side of the brain can smash up against the wall of the skull and it can affect the lymbic system which is the seat of emotion. >> tony dorsett told wolf blitzer how he believes head trauma affected him. >> i was short-tempered, you know, flying off the cuff when it was really not a necessity. >> reporter: the growing awareness of head injuries is perhaps the biggest crisis facing the nfl, threatening america's most popular sport. >> in the last three years, pop warner football has reported that its numbers have fallen by 10%. i think that's very threatening to the nfl. >> the nfl has in fact just settled a lawsuit by thousands of former players for $765 million. the nfl won't comment on belcher's mother's lawsuit.
the kansas city chiefs told us they are aware of the suit but won't comment on it. jim? >> belcher's family are even having his body exhumed to deal with this? >> that's right. they had the body exhumed two weeks ago from a cemetery on long island. his brain is being tested for what's called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the brain disease caused by head trauma linked to dementia and depression which has affected a lot of former players. tony dorsett says it affected him. belcher's family is awaiting the results of that exam. >> brian, thank you. for more, let's turn to cnn's dr. sanjay gupta. he has been reporting on the relationship between concussions and brain disease for years here at cnn and also with me is steve feinarau, author of "league of denial." thank you for joining us. sanjay, interesting that brian todd just mentioned that the family of belcher had his body exhumed so his brain could be examined for this condition, cte. that's basically how it has to work. the person has to die first. is that essentially it?
>> yeah. you know, as things stand now, that is how it is. you have to specifically identify an accumulation of a particular protein, it's called tal protein, you have to see evidence of that protein, not only that it exists but also that it exists in particular areas of the brain. that is how it's diagnosed now. there has been some news lately that you may have heard about trying to create these tests that can do the same sort of thing in the living. they do find or at least identify proteins in the brain but they're not really specific enough yet to diagnose cte or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. so as tough as it is to talk about, autopsy is the only sure-fire way to diagnose things right now. >> we know there's a settlement out there for the players, a large one at that, but you are concerned and you have been reporting on this for some time now, that it's your belief and the belief of many others that the nfl is just covering this up. how are they dealing with this issue now that we have another
one of these lawsuits coming forward? >> well, it's true that the nfl over a period of a couple decades really tried to bury the science around this issue. they attacked any neuroscientist who tried to draw a connection between football and brain damage. they published their own studies that denied that concussions were a major injury and had any long-term effects on their players. now that the science is contradicting that, they have been trying to get ahead of that and deal with it all the way down to the youth level, where they're trying to introduce tackling techniques that would essentially take the head out of the game, as they sometimes refer to it. i think what we're seeing in cases like this is that the specter of these injuries is now hanging over the entire sport. so even when you have something as horrific as this, where the player hasn't even been diagnosed with cte, but believes that he had -- or his family believes he had concussions, that that could be tied in with
something as horrific as this murder-suicide. >> sanjay, i feel i have to ask this question every time one of these cases come up. do you feel that the science is conclusive, that the connection is there between these concussions, these repeated concussions, and this cte disorder that tends to emerge? >> i think so. look, i think it's pretty clear. it's still small populations of people. you want much larger studies to be done. difficult thing to do. again, as you pointed out, we are talking about examining during autopsy the brains of these players, and other people who may have taken hits to the head, but as far as actually diagnosing it first of all, when you look at the brain itself, it's pretty clear-cut. you can diagnose, if this protein again is present and present in areas where you wouldn't expect to see it, especially at these relatively young ages. i think that it's not just
concussive hits, either, but subconcusesive hits that can accumulate over time. when i talked to the pathologist like i know steve has who have been doing these stud iestudies have never seen those particular findings in any other situation other than when folks are taking these blows to the head. i think the science is emerging, still small but pretty clear. >> with all the bowl games on television right now and the playoffs coming up this weekend and they will be going for several weeks, the question i wonder about, do people, do fans care about this, do you think, because won't the business side of this sort of drive the nfl to make these changes and if fans get upset about this, i just wonder if that might be a way to get the nfl to really solve this problem and for these players. >> well, i think there's a couple things going on on that front. certainly, the nfl is a huge business. it's a $9 billion industry.
it's a huge sport, our most popular sport. but what we're seeing as sanjay referred to, i think, is that at the youth level, we're seeing a drop, a significant drop in participation rates. that's certainly, even the officials at the youth level will tell you that's certainly related to the concerns that parents have about the long-term health implications of the sport. that has a direct implication on the nfl because that's the pipeline of players to the league. but at the same time, i do feel like there's sort of a disconnect in which the playoffs are upon us now. i myself am watching many hours of football every weekend. >> people cheer on the big hits. >> and people are cheering on the big hits and violence is a big part of the game. so i think the nfl is kind of walking sort of a tightrope right now where they know that violence and brutality is part of the appeal of football, certainly, and yet they are trying to tell people that the
game is safer and how do you balance that. i think that's what they're trying to do. >> thank you both very much for your perspective on this very important problem. thank you. coming up, calls for mercy. two prominent newspapers demand nsa leaker edward snowden be allowed to return to the united states. plus it may now be legal to buy pot in colorado but that doesn't mean it's easy. jeanne moos is just ahead. you're in "the situation room." we still run into problems.
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to return to the united states from russia. it's all fueling a growing debate between people on his side and president obama's side, where the president could find himself in the middle when he returns to washington from hawaii. he's in hawaii right now, where cnn's athena jones is there with the details. >> reporter: this isn't the first time we're hearing calls for clemency for edward snowden, but given the reach and the readership of the "new york times" and "the guardian" they may be the loudest voices to weigh in on his behalf. president obama spending some time on the putting green during his vacation from washington, d.c. when he returns to the nation's capital, he may find the ground shifting on a top security issue. what to do about nsa leaker edward snowden, seen here defending his disclosures in a christmas day message. >> the conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can place both in
the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. >> reporter: in an editorial published today, the "new york times" is joining a growing chorus pushing for clemency for snowden, suggesting he was clearly justified in leaking information about tactics by the nation's spy agency and urging obama to allow him to return home from his temporary asylum in russia. mr. obama may also hear that message from some in the intelligence community. the nsa investigator heading a task force on the leaks suggested in an interview the u.s. could make a deal with snowden that would allow him to return. in exchange for his remaining nsa data. >> my personal view is yes, it's worth having a conversation about. i would need assurances that the rema remainder of the data could be assured and my bar for those assurances would be very high. >> reporter: the nsa's chief said a deal would set a bad precedent and doesn't support it. an attorney advising snowden says public opinion is changing
with time as people come to see his disclosures as spurring important public debate. >> i do think that time generally puts whistleblowers in a better light. what's remarkable is how quickly that process is taking place for mr. snowden. >> reporter: but just before he left washington, the president declined to step in on his behalf. >> this has done unnecessary damage to u.s. intelligence capabilities and u.s. diplomacy. >> reporter: now, the president -- a review panel appointed by the president to review the nsa has recommended major changes to the nsa's operations. the president spent part of his christmas vacation reviewing the panel's 46 recommendations and will be making a speech about his conclusions later this month. jim? >> thank you very much. joining us to talk more about all of this, cnn senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin, cnn political commentator ryan lizza, also washington correspondent for "the new yorker" and wikileaks spokesman
christian rofsman. i want to start with you, jeffrey. did the "new york times" and "the guardian" persuade you that perhaps edward snowden deserves leniency here? >> no. >> not a bit. >> no, you know, this is a guy who admitted or more or less admitted that he's broke the law in an extravagant way. we still don't know what he took. we still don't know where it is. we still don't know if the russians and chinese have it. yes, i acknowledge it is true, we are having an important conversation and it is because of edward snowden. but we do not know if we wouldn't be having that conversation if we hadn't -- if he hadn't gone through the appropriate channels. two inspector generals, to congress. i know that sounds boring and everybody says it would never work. we will never know because he immediately decided instead to take it upon himself to break the law. >> let me ask christian, who is
joining us as well, would edward snowden accept some sort of plea deal where he would come back to the united states but admit some guilt? >> well, let me correct something. we know that the chinese and russians do not have any materials, absolutely wrong what was said earlier about that. about the editorial in general that i am very pleased that the "new york times" editorial board finally agrees with what we have been fighting for, it is justifiable for whistleblowers to break the law when it serves higher ideals. that is the principle we should abide by. we have been saying that for years and finally the "new york times" agrees with us. the only disappointment is it doesn't go far enough. the editorial board should be also fighting for the pardon of manning, the release of hammond, and the end of the ridiculous
investigation into wikileaks. >> what about edward snowden? let's zero in on edward snowden. there's a bit of a delay on your live shot in iceland. i want to stop and ask you do you know for a fact whether or not edward snowden would agree to any sort of plea deal in order to return to the united states that would involve him admitting some guilt? >> i think i cannot speak for him, but i think that he should not, he should wait for a full amnesty. that's what should happen. he should be offered a hero's welcome to the united states. he has done such a great service that he is one of the most important men of our times. >> ryan, a hero's welcome, full amnesty, is that likely? probably not, right? >> i don't think so. it does seem we've reached a tipping point of opinion on this subject. here's how i look at this. since 9/11, we have been having a very long-running debate about liberty and security. and frankly, during the bush
years, some things happened that were arguably illegal, right? nobody ever paid a price for the cia's torture program. michael hayden, director of the nsa, was told by the justice department that one of the domestic surveillance programs was no longer authorized by the justice department in 2004 and the bush white house asked him to continue it anyway. he did so. i asked him about this recently. he said he did so because he was worried about the security of the united states. when the obama administration came in, they decided not to look backwards, to look forward, not to pursue any of the allegedly illegal actions that happened after 9/11. i think edward snowden comes along, he gets to the nsa, and he thinks there is a massive system in place that most of the public doesn't know about, that frankly most people in congress didn't know about, and it was on the other side of the argument, not keeping america safe but harming our liberty. i think that's the context this needs to be looked at, and if we are going to not look backward at some of the things that were done in the bush years, maybe we should look at that, what he
did, in that context and say this started an important long delayed debate and maybe we shouldn't prosecute him. >> this gentleman from wikileaks invokes the principles implicitly comparing the actions of the united states to the nazis who of course were only following orders like the nsa. that that's an absurd comparison and shows how crazy these people are, many of them, who are supporting snowden. it is appalling to make that sort of comparison. >> were you making that comparison? >> i was simply saying there's a well-established principle that an individual has a moral obligation even to break the law when it serves higher ideals. those higher ideals that edward
snowden is trying to protect are the principles of the united states constitution with i suggest the gentleman just before me does not care very much about. he has also suggested national security interest has been harmed. that has been claimed by the administration without any proof being proven that that happened. what edward snowden has also revealed is the simple fact that the director of national intelligence, james clapper, lied to congress last spring, in april. he committed a felony. why aren't we discussing the possibility of him getting a plea deal for -- >> jeffrey, what do you think of that? >> -- coming clean on that issue? >> i'm certainly not going to defend clapper's testimony before congress. it sure seemed like a lie to me. but it has nothing to do with whether snowden committed a crime or not. lots of crimes get prosecuted, lots of crimes don't. but we're here to discuss snowden and i think nothing that
i have read in the newspaper in the past day or the past month suggests anything other than this is someone who committed major crimes against the united states and you know, if he can work out a plea bargain, fine. that's how many cases are resolved. but the idea that he deserves clemency when we don't know where this stuff is, who has it, what they have done with it, is just preposterous. >> don't you think anything that he's released, don't you think anything you've learned about what the nsa has been doing is important and useful? we now know the entire history of a secret surveillance regime that was set up after 9/11 that we didn't know about before this guy. we wouldn't be having this conversation. congress wouldn't be debating changing the laws. the president wouldn't be appointing a panel asking him for recommendations if this didn't happen. >> a lot of this has been known in general but not as specifically. the "new york times" -- >> i don't think that's right,
jeff. a lot of this has not been known. we did not know the history of the domestic surveillance programs that were set up in october of 2001 until those leaks started coming out. >> it is certainly true -- >> you would not have known about the metadata program, the bulk collection of phone records, we would not have known about that had it not been for edward snowden. >> there is -- some of it was known, not all of it. it was certainly true, we are having a much richer, more sophisticated, more informed debate about all of this because edward snowden committed these crimes. i have no doubt about that. but that is not the only value at stake here. there are other ways this debate could have been conducted. >> how? >> senator wyden was trying to have this debate and you know, that is part of what senators do. he was trying to have this debate. if snowden had gone to wyden -- >> he had been fighting on this for almost a decade. by the end of 2012 he had basically nothing to show for it because he couldn't reveal the
classified information. frankly, by the summer of 2013 when snowden started these leaks, this debate was over. nobody was talking about the stuff wyden had been warning about for all those years. >> and none of it has been proved to be illegal, either. the idea of him as a whistleblower, yes, one judge in the federal district court has said it's illegal. every other judge on the fisa court, the judge in new york have said it's legal. >> it's only been tested in two courts that are not ex parte, where there are two sides to the argument. the fisa court has proven itself to be not exactly -- >> all right. well, we have to leave it there, gentlemen. my sense is that we will have more debates like this in the coming days. thank you very much. coming up, secretary of state john kerry is in the middle east hoping to find a plan for peace. how successful will he be? i'll speak with someone who has been inside the negotiating room just ahead.
john kerry is focused on bringing peace to the middle east. he's in israel meeting with the israelis, then the palestinians, determined as ever to find a solution that has eluded so many before him. cnn foreign affairs correspondent jill dougherty is following his trip. what is the latest? >> john kerry is in israel to clinch a deal that could be a game changer, but being a mediator between israelis and palestinians is one of the toughest jobs in the world. after five months, rounds of negotiations, on his tenth trip
to israel as secretary of state, john kerry is trying to prove it's not mission impossible to get a peace agreement between israelis and palestinians. >> i come here with no illusions. i know that there are many who are skeptical of whether or not the two parties can achieve peace. >> reporter: kerry wants what he calls a framework. it's not a final deal, but a guideline for a permanent status negotiation, addressing all the thorny core issues. borders between israel and a proposed palestinian state. jerusalem is the capital of that palestinian state as well as israel's capital. security, refugees and their right to return home, recognition of israel as a jewish nation state, the end of conflict and of all claims. >> welcome. >> thank you, sir. >> reporter: but within minutes of shaking hands with israeli
prime minister benjamin netanyahu, the challenge was clear. >> we are prepared to make such a historic peace but we must have a palestinian partner who is equally prepared to make this peace. >> reporter: friday, kerry meets with palestinian president mahmoud abbas. >> i emphasized president obama's and my commitment to working to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict between israel and the palestinians. >> reporter: getting a deal eluded former secretary of state hillary clinton. kerry, with no apparent plans to run for office again, has jumped in head first. >> no one should consider any reports, articles or other -- or even rumors reliable unless they come directly from me and i guarantee you they won't. >> he is clearly the most self-confident, self-assured secretary of state i have seen, maybe to a fault. >> reporter: if john kerry wants
to make his mark in history, he's got a tough order. >> he is relentless. he's not going to give this up. now, whether or not he can persuade netanyahu and abbas is another matter. >> reporter: kerry could be even more involved in diplomacy over the next few weeks, cautioning it's time for the israeli and palestinian leaders to make tough choices. >> john kerry has been a busy man. thanks very much, jill. appreciate it. joining us now is the former senate majority leader and former u.s. special envoy to the middle east, george mitchell. you have been in this room before. you know what the negotiations are like. what do you think is happening right now? what should be expected? >> well, first, i commend secretary kerry for the effort he's put into this, his persistence, perseverance and leadership i think is much appreciated all around. there are several difficulties, obviously. the objective initially was to reach a full agreement within
nine months. that now appears to be not attainable, and so it's now the objective to get a framework agreement which is an outline of an agreement that could then be used as the basis for a full negotiation over a long term. i think it will be difficult, but we all have to hope and pray that it will succeed. both parties of course have different points of view on many major issues, and so i think it will be a hard task. one of them will be to define just what is a framework agreement. i suspect the israelis, based on my own experience in a similar situation, will want a shorter, more general agreement. the palestinians will want one that is more detailed and more specific, at least on the issues they are most concerned about. so there will be procedural and substantive issues but i think in the end, getting an agreement is of such value to both of them that i hope they will overcome their mistrust and their concerns and reach that framework agreement, then go on
to negotiate a permanent agreement following that. >> when you have somebody like benjamin netanyahu and mahmoud abbas in the room together, these are the negotiating partners at the table, you know, a lot of experts who look at this region say these just aren't the types who are going to form a longer lasting peace. >> it's very difficult on both sides. i personally sat into the four meetings that netanyahu and abbas had back during the first term of president obama, and there's no doubt that they have a long history that goes back and it's not a positive one. but at the same time, they both do represent people and in both societies i believe that there is a valuable benefit that will come from getting an agreement. for the israelis, who have a state, a very successful one, they want security for their people and they are entitled to have it. the palestinians don't have a state and they want one, and they are entitled to have that. >> let me just ask you, because
a very important foreign policy question has come up just today, as you probably read in the "new york times" and "the guardian" newspaper, both very influential newspapers have urged this white house to show some leniency perhaps offer clemency, a plea bargain of some sort, to the nsa contractor, edward snowden, for all the national security leaks he's released out to the rest of the world. i'm just curious, what do you think the president should do about that? should he offer him leniency? >> well, a plea bargain means a lot of things. it means that snowden must confess to guilt for committing a crime, and to be punished in some way for it. i don't object to plea bargain negotiations but i also think that people should be obeying the law. it's understandable that the "new york times" and "the guardian" would take that position because they have been participants, in fact, leaders in disclosing the information
that was made available by snowden. >> senator, do you believe that edward snowden, i guess to a more critical question, do you believe edward snowden is a whistleblower or traitor? >> well, i don't like to get into the use of terminology, this or that or particularly inflammatory language. i think two things are clear. the first is that it has been overreaching on the part of our security agencies, technology outran reasoned judgment, in my view, and i think there will be corrections made. that won't be the first time in the history that has occurred and i think it will be a valuable thing. the second thing that is clear is that edward snowden broke the law, and so while there clearly have been benefits, i think there also has to be accountability and the phrase that they use and that you put out well should be clemency and plea bargain. those are two different things. >> i guess if you feel like the
nsa has overstepped its bounds a little bit, you know, a lot of people who have that same viewpoint are now suggesting that maybe he should deserve some kind of leniency or something in exchange for his return back to the united states. you think that's reasonable? >> a plea bargain in which he would plead guilty to violating the law and be subjected to some punishment for it, yes. but i'm not -- i mean, bringing him back as a hero and having no accountability for violation of the law, i don't think sends the right message. >> all right. senator george mitchell, we appreciate your time very much. on all of those topics, hope you're having a happy new year. thank you very much, senator. >> thank you, jim. just ahead, a town is reeling from the murder of a beloved catholic priest. why would anyone want him dead? the latest on the investigation next.
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let's get to some of the other top stories coming into "the situation room." california police have arrested a man for the killing of a popular roman catholic priest. he's in custody in eureka, california. listen to the police account of what happened. >> a security guard heard noise in the area of the church and went to investigate. he saw a person matching bullock's description and directed him to leave the property after a very short conversation. at about 9:00 in the morning when father freeh did not show up for mass, parishioners from the church went to the rectory
and found that reverend father eric freeh was badly injured. they called -- and a -- told the officers that the father was dead. police originally arrested the man for public intoxication, but let him go before arresting him again a motive is not known yesterday. . embattled toronto mayor has filed for reelection. he gained woildwide -- gunmaker mossburg has teamed with the family business to release nine different shotguns, plus semiautomatic rifles and pistols. a "duck dynasty" has been under fire recently after one of the show's stars made controversial
comments. and cnn presents the movie -- i i loved this one, the academy award-winning "march of the penguins." that is tonight at 9:00 eastern on cnn. coming up, marijuana may be legal in colorado now, but buying it still comes with its share of difficulties. the lighter side of pot shopping just ahead. a huge swath of the country is braising for a blizzard, it has 100 million people in its path. [ male announcer ] this is the story of the dusty basement at 1406 35th street the old dining table at 25th and hoffman. ...and the little room above the strip mall off roble avenue. ♪ this magic moment it is the story of where every great idea begins. and of those who believed they had the power to do more. dell is honored to be part of some of the world's great stories. that began much the same way ours did. in a little dorm room -- 2713. ♪ this magic moment ♪
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here's jeanne moos. >> reporter: it's like going to the deli. >> i'll help who's next. >> reporter: instead it's an eighth of an ounce of pot, each described lovingly. customers seemed uphoric even before smoking. a few in line hid from the cameras, all you have to do is show i.d. to prove you're over 21, and pay cash, $ 55 or so with tax, for an eighth of an ounce that makes five to seven joints. >> it's fruity, juicy. >> reporter: >> reporter: customers were doing a lot of smelling, sniffing it is bouquet as if it were a fine wine or pungent cheese. >> it's an afghani blend. >> reporter: appreciating bud structure rather than ordering a bud, weed has gone mainstream. the denver pot -- i mean "the denver post" even reviews pot. it has a site called the can
adbist. >> are you high right now? do you smoke pot at all? >> i don't smoke pot. i do eat it, though. >> oh, okay. >> on the cannabist, you can use a handy map to find a store near you or learn about cooking cannabis. initially the granddaddy gave me a nice uptick of energy that had me pondering a walk with our shellie. i could strain together the concepts like socks before shoes, but by the time i made it to the shoes, where had the socks gone? now that it's legal, everyone is playing name that pot. >> this is a strawberry, a great flavor, good energy. >> sour alien.
>> even reporters can pronounce golden goat, but some of these names can get your goat. >> is it baba -- there's the expert. >> reporter: if you're really nice to the clerks, maybe they'd sing it to you. jeanne moos, cnn, new york. don't ask me to name that stuff. that's it for me. jake tapper takes over our coverage now. jake? happening now, a blizzard assault. a third of the nation is in the bull's-eye of a ferocious storm that's about to get worse. plus pleas for mercy. should edward snowden get a plea bargain or a pardon. the journalist that first reported the information joins us. and new research shows there's one distraction behind the wheel that may be worse than texting. wolf blitzer is off. i'm jake tapper, you're in "the
situation room." a blizzard warning is taking effect right now in the new york area, as a powerful winter storm intensifies, in the coming hours will be the most brutal in parts of the northeast. we can see 14 inches of snow or higher in some places, and some of the coldest temperatures in years, with windchills as low as 25 degrees below zero. throw in strong winds and it's a dangerous mix for travelers, more than 2,000 flights have been canceled from the midwest to the northeast. we have team coverage. alexandra steele is standing by, but first to cnn's frederick pleitgen in boston. >> reporter: hi, jake. you can see the flakes are coming down horrid zonally. the snow is also intensifying as well as the northeast is bracing for blizzard-like conditions. let's have a look at how some people are preparing. residents are bracing for the
worst in the northeast tonight, as the blizzard bears down. heavy snow in places like bedford, new hampshire, and the weather will only get worse. many people are stocking up ahead of the storm. >> bread toilet paper, milk,iology gurt, all the good stuff. >> reporter: they're expecting around a foot of snow with blizzard-like conditions into friday. many schools will be closed. >> i'm going to keep going to sleep? >> it's been a long couple of weeks. >> i actually was excited at first to have them go back, but it works out, because we get to sleep in late. >> reporter: authorities warn freezing temperatures could make things even more dangerous for anyone who ventures out. the temperatures will be extreme and they are -- and that's a serious hazard, not just for ice conditions, but for the impact on human beings. we want people to be mindful of that and to exercise extreme caution. >> reporter: most areas had salt spreaders and snowplows on the roads early. still, the weather led to many
accidents and road conditions will get worse, as winds and snowfall increase. things are not much better in the air. hundreds of flights have been canceled in the midwest and northeast. >> it seems like the character of this storm is not so much of amount of snow that's coming in, it's the intensity and the winds that will be associated with it that will make air travel difficult to locations like boston and new york. >> reporter: authorities in the affected areas are urging residents to remain inside if they can, to stay safe during the first major winter storm of 2014, which almost certainly will not be the last. and, jake, the authorities are also telling people to keep their emergency kits ready, especially in this area here, things like extra batteries, flashlights, and stock up on canned goods, dry goods, to make sure you can make it over three days if in fact it gets as bad as many predict. if you look around here, you can see that the street behind me is getting whiter and whiter as the
snowplows are having more and more trouble keeping up with the adverse weather. now we can really feel things picking up and also getting colder, jake. >> i guess we know the church bells haven't frozen yet. now we go to alexandra steele. >> yeah, they were pretty behind him, weren't they? it sounded nice. you saw behind fred, how heavy those flakes were. where the heaviest snowfalls, that's the darker white. the snow is coming down the heaviest, so boston is going to get it. they've been a lot of snow left behind them. in new york city, the snow had not even gotten there. it will within an hour or so. totals boston 8 to 14, 8 to 12 in albany, buffalo 4 to 7, and washington too will pick up a bit, maybe 2 to 4 inches. there's the snow. it's coming on in. this is not just a snow maker. the winds as fred was talking about, you saw the horrid zonal
nature of the snow, this is why, the winds are strong, the temperatures every dropping. tomorrow morning, it will feel like 15 below if you're watching fred out there. 18 below is what it will feel like in albany, you can see tomorrow night the intensity with this strong nor'easter gusty winds. wile we have this blizzard warnings for long island, also the cape and islands, now extending even into southern maine, because not so much how much snow, but the nature of the snow. it's very light, the water content is low. when you bring in these winds gusting to 50 miles per hour, which we will see tonight and tomorrow, especially in this area, visuals will get so low, that's where it becomes dangerous. this i-91 corridor, jake, that's where we'll see 6 to 10, coupled with the cold. it would be colder in boston. straight air temperature will be 3 below saturday morning. it hasn't been that way since
2011. >> alexandra steele, thanks, buckle up, northeasterners. the journalist who first recorded edward snowden's story joins us. and john kerry's middle east mission. will he be successful? we'll go live to jerusalem. if yand you're talking toevere rheuyour rheumatologistike me, about trying or adding a biologic. this is humira, adalimumab.
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liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? there are new calls today for president obama to let the nsa leaker edward snowden come homes. a "new york times" editorial says that snowden is a whistle-blower that deserves a clemency deal. it says, quote -- considering the enormous value and the
abuses he's exposed, mr. snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile. he may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done the country a great service. "the guardian" that first published snowden's information is calling for an outright pardon. snowden offered a new defense in a christmas day video message. >> the conversation occurring today will determine the amount of trust we can play both in the technology that surrounds us and the government that regulates it. joining mess now is glen greenwald. he broke scoop after scoop on the nsa using information that snowden gave to him. also rules marcus, column u.s. from "the washington post," that wrote a piece calling snowden an insufferable whistle-blower. the times board also writes, when someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person
should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government. do you agree with the times that snowden should get some form of clemency? >> no, i don't. in fact, i think he should have -- if he really believes in the constitution, as i wrote, he should have stuck around, tested the constitutional system, taken his punishment, argued he was justified in the leaks he didn't. he didn't. he just turned tail and fled the country. >> glen, i'm sure you want to respond. >> two things. i think ruth's argument exemplifies everything that is horrible about the d.c. media. first of all what she had was completely factually false. if he had stayed in the united states as daniel else burg argued in "the washington post," he would have been barred from making the very argument she just said he should have made. under the espionage act you're not allowed to come into court and say i was justified in disclosing this information. there's no whistle-blower exception.
but i think the really important point is that people in washington continuously make excuses for those in power. ruth marcus was one of the leaders in 2008 say that bush officials that torture people should be protected. she praised and protected fbi agents in the '70s who enter people's homes without warning and were criminally prosecuted. she said they shouldn't have been prosecuted. that's what people in washington do. they would never call on someone like james clapper, caught lying to congress, they only pick on people who embarrass the government to which they're loyal. it's not about the rule of law. >> ruth? >> well, first of all, actually, i think james clapper lied to congress, and i don't think he should be in office. i wrote a column saying exactly that. but let's gosh. >> should he be prosecuted? >> let's go back to the -- >> just answer that. should james clapper be prosecuted? >> i let you make your point. let me make mine.
>> just answer that question. >> no, i don't actually need to answer that question, because then we'll get involved in a whole conversation about what the exact elements of perjury are. >> that's a total double standard. >> let's talk about edward snowden instead of calling people names and making accusations. the fact is look at the tells burg example. he wrote a very interesting column in my newspaper, "the washington post," saying he agreed that snowden that snowden should have fled, but else burg came fraud saying he thought it was his responsibility, after he tried to get the information to the senate and have the senate reveal the information. when that whistle-blowing didn't work, he took it to reporters. that's one big difference. the second big difference is he stuck around, came forward, said, fine, go ahead and prosecute me. the prosecution failed because his rights had been violated. the system worked for him. edward snowden didn't give the system a chance to work for him.
>> first of all, why won't ruth answer the -- why shouldn't they, after they got caught with -- when i met him in hong kong, the first thing he said i have documents proving that the top national security officials in have been misleading the officials, which is a crime, and he gave us the documents that showed james clapper lied. why won't she answer the question -- should he be prosecuted for him having broken the law just like she said edward snowden should be? i'll tell you the answer. people in washington who are well connected to the government, like she is, do not believe the law applies to them. they only believe the law should be used to imprison people who don't have power in washington, or who expos the wrongdoing of american political officials. as far as daniel else burg is concerned, he said, the world is completely different.
the u.s. government does not allow whistle-blowers like they allowed him to stay out of jail and make the case. if edward snowden came back to washington before convicted, he would disappear in prison and not be allowed to speak. i want to know the answer to that question, ruth. >> why shouldn't he try to work through the system in order to get his information public. >> he did. >> no, he didn't. he went and he complained a little bit to some of his co-workers at the nsa, he says. that's all that he did. let me give you an answer to the clapper question, because you seemed to be focused on it. the answer to the clapper question is, absolutely. if federal prosecutors believe that they can make a case under the perjury statute, which i know you know as well as i do, glen, which is a very difficult case to make that shows a knowing and material misrepresentation, fine, get. i don't ha many to think the
federal law will get you where you want to go, but i take backseat to nobody in saying that i thought clapper's testimony was false and that he should be ashamed of it and it's totally intolerable. second tear of state john kerry is on a peace mission in the middle east right now. he landed in israel today, ready to propose a framework between the israelis and palestinians. nic robertson joins us live from jerusalem. nic, what can you tell us? >> reporter: this is five months into what is supposed to be a nine-month process. he's here to ramp that process up. he had a two-hour meeting earlier today with benjamin netanyahu, before that a few comments both of them. not seem been to be in a conciliatory mood, instead made some very pointed comments about the palestinian president mahmoud abbas, criticizing the
way it handled the release by israeli authorities on palestinian authorities. this is what he said. >> a few days ago, president abbas embraced terrorists as heroes. to glorify the murders of innoce women and men is an outrage. how can he say that he stands against terrorism when he embraces the perpetrators of terrorism and glorifies them as heroes? >> reporter: john kerry a due to meet with the palestinian president later on friday, but he has said that both leaders here have really got some tough decisions to make right now. >> the time is soon arriving where leaders are going to have
to make different decisions. we are close to that time, if not at it. and i think we understand the circumstances within which we are working. >> reporter: so the mechanism that secretary of state kerry has brought with him to help these leaders make the compromises. he calls it a framework agreement that should should show the leaders where they are at right now, where they are going in terms of the final result. it will address all the core issues here, but expectations really are frankly be played down at the mom, jake. >> what can you tell us about the health of former prime minister ariel sharon for years? >> reporter: yes, he's been in a vegetative state, in hospital this time, of course, over the past 36 hours, they say that
some of his organs are beginning to fail, renal failure. they say they're not interve intervening, they're indicating perhaps he only has a few days left to live. they say his family is with him at bedside and the family are not intending to leave the former prime minister, which really does signal to the nation here that this is perhaps the last few days of ariel sharon. so the indication is very critical and the nation, of course, watching right now, jake. >> nic, thank you very much. is the demand any less? we'll have the latest from colorado. what could be worse than texting behind the wheel? new surprises in a study of cell phones and texting and driving. aflac!
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colorado's about 34 hours into a historic experiment, selling marijuana legally for the first time ever in the united states. cnn's miguel marquez joins us live from denver. miguel, how are sales going? >> reporter: incredibly well for the pot growers out here. these are young plants. they will have to -- this place, evergreen apothecary wants to 12 times the number of plants it has, up to 24,000 plants by the end of the year. there's still a line outside their shop here at denver. at medicine man, another big dispensary, there's a huge line outside that shop. it's beyond all their wildest dreams, the number of people coming in from all over the
country to buy pot in denver. it's pretty amazing. >> have there been any problems so far? i thought i heard something about a 2-year-old ingesting marijuana? >> reporter: there's not been a problem with the roll-out of sales, but there are growing concerns about the effects of pot on kids. look, the pot community has put out this flashy flyer. in longmont, colorado just today a 2-year-old girl picked up a cookie, then tested positive for thc, had to be rushed to the emergency room. the whole family is being tested. the mother said she doesn't use it, police searched the house, said it wasn't there, but it's a huge concern for health officials, increasing use of pot by younger kids. sometimes they just get into it in the parents' cup boards, along with this are the number of edibles out there. so the access to marijuana, especially for young people is
on the rise. it is raising some big concerns here. jake? >> miguel, can i just -- i don't mean to make light of it, you're standing in a field of marijuana. is there any effect on you at all? any contact high? >> reporter: no, no, it smells -- in the next room there, you have the buds. you would sigh giant buds. this does not effect you. it's only once you ingest it somehow it affects you. we were at a pot party yesterday where there was a lot of secondhand smoke. that was probably a bit of an effect, but this is not. >> i just thought your stand-ups were remarkably cogent. but apparently no reaction. thank you, miguel. running a city the size of new york is no easy task especially with a long list of promises to keep. that's facing mayor bill deblasio. here's susan candiotti.
>> reporter: day one on the job, already storm clouds are gathering. >> i went to sleep with visions of snow in my head. >> reporter: the new mayor appears on the verge of his first report card -- how he'll deal with predictions of up to 10 inches of snow in the city. an avalanche of cry sim fell on now former mayor bloomberg in 2010, when up to two feet of snow went unplowed. >> we have to get it right. >> reporter: he's also defending himself from cry ecs, follow stinging attacks on bloom better by some speakers at the swearing-in. >> let the plantation called new york city be the city of god. >> changing the stop-and-frisk law is as important as the the change of the law is only the tip of the ice birk in fixing or deeply contendsian justice
system. >> i respect them for deeply feeling they need to say what they did. >> frankly his legacy is extraordinary. >> reporter: deblasio's legacy is yesterday to be written, but the progressive platform has the left excited. >> 8.4 million new yorkers, if they see us moving forward and feeling the effects of this change, that's what it's all about. if others elsewhere take good lessons from us, that's gratifyi gratifyi gratifying. >> reporter: it wasn't by chance that the clintons so publicly support their friend, giving hillary's possible presidential run. >> it would likely come from the left, so there's some hope on the part of the clinton faithful that association with deblasio would inokay late them from a left-win -- >> reporter: susan candiotti, cnn, new york. finally tonight we all know
that texting and driving is a dangerous conversation, but dialing while driving? that might be even worse. researchers at virginia tech put camera sensors and gps devices on cars belonging to more than 40 new drivers and over 100 experienced ones. dialing a cell phone, reaching for it or knit object, eat eaten behind the wheel, greatly increases the chance of an accident, but according to the study, the active talking was actually okay. that's it for me. "crossfire" starts right now. tonight on "crossfire", a new year with new challenges. what are the voters thinking? >> do what's right, now what gets you reelected. and which party needs to start working? >> they fight too much. on the left van jones. on the right newt gingrich. in the "crossfire", margie
o'meara, and kellie ann conway who polls for republicans. who should fear the election more? democrats? republicans? or the voters? tonight on "crossfire." welcome to "crossfire." i'm van jones on the left. >> i'm newt gingrich on the right. in "crossfire" tonight, democratic and republican pollsters. as we start the new year, the biggest request el is whether either party can get its act together enough to win a decisive victory, or whether we stumble through the year in a series of localized elections, leaving us in the doldrums until 2016. i know where your vote is. >> well, i hope the democrats can get their act together, and get a wave going, but we could blow it. we've got to bring this thing out. we have some of the best minds in the country to help us think this through.
margie o'meara,ened kelly ann conway who worked for none other than our own newt gingrich. now, listen, you have to look at the numb% and tame them seriously. i am imagining we're hoping obama care fades a bit and we can go after you guys on minimum wage. why don't the republicans just vote on this stuff right now, get it out of the way? why will you stay on the wrong side of the economic issues? >> obamacare just started to be implemented in full yesterday. so we didn't cause that, van. not a single republican supported obamacare, so he owns this. there are certain dates that are fixed in the system. they'll keep rolling it out. we hit a sad milestone today, where we have more people in this country who have had their plans canceled than successfully