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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Amusement Parks Exempt from Federal Safety Rules; U.S. Military Has Duty to Disobey Illegal Orders; Cyberattacks Against Infrastructure A Threat To U.S.; Obama Administration Shifts Millions To Fun Zika Research; Sweden Upsets Women's Soccer Team. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired August 12, 2016 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Jim Prager was a senior executive at Six Flags, who helped fight to create the loophole in 1981.
[16:30:01] He was also a board member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, or IAAPA.
But Prager today told CNN he was wrong.
JIM PRAGER, FORMER SIX FLAGS EXECUTIVE: Children are not well-served by the law as it now reads. We haven't done enough to make rides safe. And we should do more. Amusement parks don't want regulation because it costs money.
TAPPER: In 1999, then-congressman and now senator, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, began a crusade to push a bill to close the loophole, so amusement parks would again be covered by one set of rules and regulations nationally.
SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: That loophole is responsible for a situation that now has major accidents occurring in huge amusement parks all across the United States. Because of that, the federal government is prevented from investigating accidents at amusement parks, sharing accident information with operators of the same ride in other states so that malfunctions are fixed before more riders are hurt, requiring manufacturers to correct design flaws and make the rides safer and enforcing a full range of safety measures on amusement park rides.
TAPPER: What happened to that effort?
Well, since around the time Markey began that crusade in 1999, the IAAPA spent more than $11 million lobbying against his bill among other items according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The IAAPA hired a pricey lobbying law firm in D.C., Williams and Jensen, which represents many different businesses and whose members and affiliates have poured more than $7 million into campaign contributions. The IAAPA declined our invitation to talk, but its website says, quote, states are best equipped to regulate amusement park industry.
Oh, really? Let's look at Kansas, home of the Schlitterbahn Water Park where Caleb Schwab was killed this year and where regulations are, according to experts, minimal. The opening of this ride where Caleb Schwab was killed was delayed several times due to safety concerns. All right. So, after it opened in 2014, how many times did the Kansas Department of Labor inspect the ride? Well, zero, according to the "Topeka Capital Journal", which filed an open records request this week.
PRAGER: I believe some of the horrific accidents that continue to occur could be avoided if there was more regulation.
TAPPER: The last time Markey introduced his bill, IAAPA president and CEO Chip Cleary (ph) released a statement opposing it, saying, "The industry is already safe and well-regulated." The family of Caleb Schwab might disagree.
TAPPER: In a statement, the water park said, "Safety is our top priority at Schlitterbahn. All rides are inspected daily before opening." The park passed a safety inspection back in June conducted by an insurance company that the water park itself hired.
We should note that moments ago, we heard from the Pennsylvania park where the 3-year-old was hurt. It says, "Nothing like this has ever happened in the ride's 78-year history and its rollercoaster is also inspected daily before opening." How reassuring.
The U.S. Armed Forces depend upon chain of command. And no one is further up the chain than the commander-in-chief, of course. But what happens if a commander in chief tells the military to break the law? That story, ahead.
[16:37:47] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
In our world lead today, what would U.S. national security officials do if its very commander-in-chief ordered them to break federal law ? This is hardly a hypothetical. Donald Trump has said he would bring back torture. He would have the U.S. military target the families of terrorists.
And in a recent interview with the "Miami Herald", he suggested U.S. terror suspects should be tried in military tribunals in Guantanamo. The thing is, under current federal law, they can't be.
So, what would a general or a sergeant or a private do if an order comes from his or her new commander-in-chief to break federal law?
Let's bring in CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
Barbara, this is not just a hypothetical, with just 88 days in the race, one has to wonder, are people at the Pentagon considering this possible scenario in which they have to choose between obeying the law, and obeying an order from the commander-in-chief. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: I have to tell you, Jake,
it is something you do hear about. Let's just consider Guantanamo Bay. So, there's always been a lot of talk about bringing Gitmo suspects to the U.S. for trial. Donald Trump now talking about sending American citizens to Guantanamo Bay for military trials. Would the U.S. troops obey him? Could he really even do that?
STARR (voice-over): Donald Trump has new thoughts on how, if elected, he might send U.S. citizens accused of terrorism to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
INTERVIEWER: Would you try to get the military commissions, the trial court there, to try U.S. citizens?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, I know that they want to try to him in our regular court systems and I don't like that at all. I don't like that at all. I would say, they can be tried there, that would be fine.
STARR: The law that created military commissions specifically exempt U.S. citizens from being tried at Gitmo, military experts say.
RACHEL VANLANDINGHAM, SOUTHWESTERN LAW SCHOOL: So, Mr. Trump would have to work with Congress to establish different laws.
STARR: Would that work?
VANLANDINGHAM: That would be constitutionally suspect. Why? Why would it be a suspect? It's because current U.S. courts are fully capable and open and available to provide the full panoply of U.S. constitutional guarantees.
STARR: Some of Trump's ideas, including the possibility of bringing back waterboarding are raising critical questions about the authority of the president to order troops to carry out actions which violate U.S. law.
[16:40:12] Simply put, the U.S. military has a duty to disobey illegal orders even when they come from the president.
VANLANDINGHAM: The military adherence to civilian command and control is a bedrock principle of the U.S. military. However, the U.S. military swears to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, first and foremost.
STARR: But Trump says he expects to be obeyed by the troops even on waterboarding.
TRUMP: They won't refuse. They're not going to refuse me. Believe me.
STARR: A former military lawyer says Trump should be refused.
VANLANDINGHAM: There is no moral dilemma of a military member to think, well, maybe this is actually lawful. No, it's illegal.
STARR: General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has stayed out of the political fray. But even he has made clear some ideas are out of bounds.
GEN. JOSEPH DUNFORD, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: One of the things that makes me proud to wear this uniform is that we represent the values of the American people. That is what we have done historically. That's what we expect to do in the future. Again, that's what makes me proud to wear this uniform.
STARR: So, military experts tell us, illegal orders a moral and legal obligation to disobey them. If illegal orders were obeyed, troops open themselves up to prosecution, even international war crimes tribunals. You disobey the order, or if you can't convince your boss to change his mind, you consider resignation -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Barbara Starr, thank you so much.
With dangerous heat in parts of this country this weekend, many people will be blasting the air-conditioning. What if hackers make it impossible to use your AC? Since gets a rare look at just how vulnerable America's power grid is.
Then, since Congress failed to act, the government says they will run out of money by the end of the month to develop a Zika vaccine. So, the White House says they're stepping in with cash from another source, but wait until you hear where the money is coming from.
[16:46:48] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In our Buried Lead, that's what we call stories that we think are getting enough attention. We have already seen that hackers infiltrating an e-mail server or any kind of data system is no longer just a hypothetical.
You can talk about that with the former heads of Sony or the Democratic National Committee, but what if cyber attackers tried something more nefarious than exposing embarrassing e-mails.
What if they potentially gained access to key infrastructure, the kind of thing that would affect you at home by cutting off cell phone coverage or stopping subways or traffic lights or even compromising water supplies.
Unfortunately, none of this is a scenario for just a movie. Hackers penetrating our systems has already happened. Let's bring CNN national correspondent, Deborah Feyerick.
Deborah, tell us hacking is no longer just about computers and data. It is a very real risk of physical damage.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really is, Jake. And Russian malware specifically is in hundreds, if not thousands of U.S. computers that control critical infrastructure. That's according to the Department of Homeland Security. And the threat is not only real, but it has already happened.
MARTY W. EDWARDS, DIRECTOR, DHS CYBER EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM: So what happens is one of these large breakers, several of the large breakers were operated remotely by the attacker.
FEYERICK: It was the first known cyber-attack of its kind, three attacks, 30 minutes apart against three electrical substations serving Ukraine's power grid.
SUZANNE SPAULDING, DHS UNDER SECRETARY: This is not theoretical. This has happened. We have now had a cyber-attack on critical infrastructure that was destructive.
FEYERICK: Destructive and a real threat to the United States says Suzanne, Spaulding, she's in charge of protecting the nation's 16 critical infrastructure sectors.
A power outage impacts everything from air traffic control to subways and traffic lights, water, cell phones, computers, water and food supplies.
CNN was given rare access to a government test facility in Idaho Falls where a team of cyber experts led by Marty Edwards is busy identifying hackers and trying to stop them.
(on camera): Is it difficult for a cyber-attacker to take down a power grid.
EDWARDS: It is much more simple than we would like it to be.
FEYERICK (voice-over): To show us how simple, the cyber team recreated the Ukraine attack. A hacker using a common e-mail phishing scam steals an employee's credentials, takes full control of the computer operating the power grid and shuts it down.
(on camera): In Ukraine, power was knocked out to several of their substations.
FEYERICK: Could that happen here?
EDWARDS: You know, it could. All of our infrastructures are run by these computerized systems.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Underscoring America's vulnerability. The malicious code identified as having played a role in Ukraine's attack is the same code DHS recently admitted is in hundreds, if not thousands of U.S. computer systems that control critical infrastructure. The code known as black energy has been linked to Russia. SPAULDING: There are companies across the country and this is not just with respect to electricity companies that don't fully appreciate the nature of the threat.
FEYERICK: Seventy five percent to 80 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure is owned and operated by private sector companies. Despite many warnings, DHS says some companies have failed to take even basic cyber security measures.
EDWARDS: It ultimately comes down to a business decision for the company.
FEYERICK: A business decision that could allow attackers not only to turn off the lights, but destroy the machinery as well.
[16:50:02](on camera): I'm standing on the actually testing site of the generator. It was the first test of its kind to prove that a cyber-attacker could gain control of a generator and cause it to self- destruct.
If an attack would happen on a generator, how long would it take a plant to get back online?
EDWARDS: Wow, some of those generators and some of these large electrical equipment literally takes years to manufacture.
FEYERICK: Now DHS has trained about 11,000 people both in the government and the private sector how to better secure their systems. However, there are still large vulnerabilities and some companies have simply been slow to do what they need to protect their infrastructure.
Best way is to limit remote access to only people who need it or worst case scenario is disconnect from the internet, which is virtually impossible -- Jake.
TAPPER: The former CIA director told me it's (inaudible) fears of cyber terrorism. Deb Feyerick, thank you so much. Coming up, a true Olympic first and tears of joy. That story next.
TAPPER: Now our weekly look at "America's Debt and The Economy" with cases of Zika contracted in the United States on the rise. The Obama administration is now scrambling to find research and prevention funding after months of congressional dysfunction.
To help, the Department of Health and Human Services is shifting $81 million from one part of the department's budget to another but the diverted money takes away from work to fight other diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Without the money moved to fight Zika, Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of Health and Human Services, says current funding would run out at the end of August. The move comes as the U.S. surgeon general today visited Miami's Winwood neighborhood.
That's the only place in the continental U.S. reporting locally transmitted cases of Zika. In fact, Florida officials report 25 cases all in this one hot zone near downtown Miami.
The Obama administration says it still needs $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat Zika, but that request is caught up in congressional wrangling and any chance of a vote is on hold with lawmakers who are now on summer recess. We hope that they're enjoying the beach out there. Come on, members of Congress.
In our Sports Lead today, disappointing news from Rio. Moments ago, the previously dominant U.S. women's soccer team was eliminated from the Olympics. The defending Olympic champions fell 4-3 in dramatic penalty kicks to Sweden.
But it is not all bad news today. Team USA continues to dominate with a total of 42 medals including 16 golds. Let's bring in CNN sports analyst, Christine Brennan.
All right, Christine, let's rip the band aid off first. How heart breaking that the U.S. women's soccer team was eliminated?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Jake, this is the first time the U.S. women's national soccer team has ever lost before the semifinals in a world cup or an Olympic in history. It's shocking.
I guess, the positive news is that that means the world is catching up and I remember Brandi Chastain with a silver medal around her neck in 2000 in Sydney coming out and saying, you know, there are some positives here because that means other nations care about soccer and they're getting better.
But there is no excuse here. This is the team that 13 months ago captured the hearts of the country winning that World Cup and they just looked disorganized. They did not play well. They had a bad game just a few days ago.
They have not been looking like themselves. Clearly today it came out against an old nemesis, Sweden. Their former coach knows exactly how to coach against the U.S. The U.S. is out in a sport that so much about at the Olympic Games.
TAPPER: And Hope Solo didn't exactly hold back after the loss to Sweden?
BRENNAN: No, she said we played a bunch of cowards. I'm not sure about the context. She is always making news. She is the key for that team on defense, and when she lets in Goals, it is a little tough. Will we see her and other players three years from now in the Women's World Cup?
TAPPER: Last night all about two ladies with one name, two super Simones. How significant is what they did collectively and individually last night?
BRENNAN: Yes, it was huge. I mean, Simone Biles, we can say she is the greatest gymnast of all time. She had the pressure of the world on her shoulders, everyone thought she would win, but the toughest thing to do in sports is achieve the dream after one already done it. Probably the most decorated women's gymnast ever by the time these Rio games are over.
And back to the pool, Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman to get a gold in swimming. What a statement. When you look and see a lily white, and you see an African-American woman, the U.S. flag, also tying with the Canadian which was cool and different, and upset, and a terrific person.
I think she's going to be a bigger role model in her way as Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps are in there.
TAPPER: All right, Christine Brennan. And we will be watching to see if Michael Phelps does it again this evening. Thanks again, Christine.
Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jaketapper or tweet the show @theleadcnn. Make sure you tune into CNN on Sunday for "STATE OF THE UNION." My guests will be Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort as well as a Bush administration cabinet secretary who is now supporting Hillary Clinton. It all starts at 9 a.m. Eastern.
That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over now to Jim Sciutto in for Wolf in "THE SITUATION ROOM."