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tv   The Lead With Jake Tapper  CNN  December 18, 2014 1:00pm-2:01pm PST

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broader issue that they are facing with inflation is much more significant. >> interesting conversation on your show tonight at 7:00, erin burnett "outfront." i'm brooke baldwin. let's go to jake tapper here in new york. "the lead" starts right now. this is much more about two actors and a stoner flick. this could be the future of warfare. i'm jake tapper. this is "the lead." the world lead. some are saying it was a cowardly act to yank the movie from theaters. some are saying the u.s. just lost the first cyber war. now that the feds appear to be pointing the finger at hackers tied to north korea, how will the white house respond? they aren't just a few guys in basements who likely broke into sony. the north korea hacking network that may, may be behind all of this lunacy. nearly 2,000 cybersoldiers.
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they may already be operating throughout the world. and "the money lead." classic cigars and rum and president obama taking steps closer to cuba, when can it become your next vacation destination? good afternoon, everyone. welcome to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. we begin with the money lead. the market soaring for a second straight day. the dow shot up over 400 points. this, after stocks had been hovering over plunging oil prices. let's go to money correspondent alison kosik. live in the flesh. good to see you. >> good to see you. >> the remarks set off this rally, what exactly did she say to make the investors so excited? >> i think it's safe to say that the scrooge has exited the stage and investors are getting the santa claus rally that they finally wanted.
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they said that it was going to be patient when it goes ahead and raises interest rates. there was some anxiety going into yesterday's meeting which was the last meeting of the year for the fed because oil prices have been so turbulent and usually the fed doesn't include the oil prices in their policy making. this time around they did say the oil price plunge is temporary and the fed did say as well that that oil price plunge is good for the economy and the fed is right about that because gas prices, $2.50 is the average that americans are spending at the gas tank. that means more money that they are spending in the economy. >> rare good news. >> yep. >> good to see you. thank you so much. turning now to "the world lead." a virtual terror attack with very real repercussions with u.s. national security. today the obama administration would not say publicly just who they think is responsible for the massive cyberattack on sony pictures but the government is
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getting closer and closer to what cnn reported last night with unnamed u.s. officials fingering north korean-tied hackers. we know that guardians of peace raided sony over the movie "the interview" depicting the assassination of north korean dictator kim jong-un. this week the hack turned into a terrorist threat when the group referencing 9/11 issued a warning to would-be moviegoers to stay away from the theaters that showed the flick. sony is scrapping any plan to release the film at all. hollywood seems to be quite fearful. some theaters plan to show in place of "the interview," the 2004 film "team mark world police" which spoofs kim jong-un's father kim jong-il. ♪ i'm so loan knee, so lonely,
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so lonely and sad and alone ♪ >> but this afternoon, paramount picture has put a stop to that as well telling theaters not to run this 10-year-old movie as first reported. and this afternoon, white house press secretary josh earnest called the situation a serious national security matter and named an unnamed sophisticated actor. even before obama blames north korea, if they do, a country that doesn't even know what the internet is, others saying that the u.s. has lost its first battle in a cyber war. cnn justice correspondent pamela brown has the latest on this story. what can you tell us? >> jake, you're right. pressure is mounting on the administration to hold the corporate accountable and sources are telling us that u.s. officials right now, as we see, are preparing to mace the blame
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on north korea for this unprecedented hack on sony. officials are scrambling to figure out how, in fact, it is going to do this publicly. language is circulating among u.s. officials, the challenge here, of course, is the plan of action, how it will hold north korea's feet to the fire and that's the big reason why the administration is hesitant at this point to point the finger at north korea. the unprecedented circumstances surrounding this situation is part of the reason why this is happening so quickly compared to other similar cyberinvestigations. talks on this have been accelerated. and why north korea, i know a lot of people are asking this, what's the evidence? well, behind the obvious reason, that is, that they wanted to shut down the movie about its leader you talked about, jake, law enforcement sources say the
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blueprint of the current attack mimicked an attack against south korea banks earlier last year and, according to a north korean defector, north korea has hackers called bureau 121 so there's speculation whether they were responsible for this, jake. >> bureau 121. pamela brown, thank you. let's go to chief security national correspondent jim sciutto. how does the white house plan to respond to what clearly seems to be cyberterrorism? >> the white house wants a proportional response but one that does not give in to any provocation. they are clearly working out how to achieve that balance but we know that several options are under discussion, including, as pamela said, tightening sanctions on the dirt poor north
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korean economy. with the administration close to publicly blaming north korea for the sony hack, meetings now under way at the white house to launch what it calls a, quote, proportional response. >> as the members of the national security team meet to discuss this matter, they are considering a range of options. >> reporter: the administration has several potentially powerful steps at its disposal. the u.s. could impose further economic sanctions on north korea, including stricter pyongyang restrictions to trade, the economic lifeline to fuel, food and crucially weapons. >> if we block them from the international financial community, they can't get the hard currency that they need in order to carry out the types of activities, clandestine
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activities that they are doing. >> reporter: and more recently against russia following the invasion of crimea and eastern ukraine. naming and shaming north korea publicly is another step, a move the u.s. took years to make with beijing despite the systematic cyberattacks against businesses and government departments. if u.s. investigators identify the individuals behind the hack, the u.s. could also levy criminal charges against north korean hackers, a step the u.s. took against an elite group of chinese hackers earlier this year believed to be housed at this building outside of shanghai and known as unit 61398. >> one of the reasons you haven't seen an aggressive u.s. response is we don't know what they would do back and we don't want to start a second korean war or see cyberattacks that we can't stop. so north korea, not at the top of the league when it come dos
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cyberattack, not even good as iran but very dangerous. >> so what about a retaliatory hack by the u.s., fearing it could cause a dangerous and escalating cyberattacks and military action. there's some concern about renewed efforts by north korea to test a nuclear weapon or test and so far the u.s. not seeing any of the preparations, jake, that they would see before such a step and that's something that they watch very closely with satellites and other means of gathering intelligence. >> jim sciutto in washington, thank you so much. here now to discuss this, general will jen psaki. a major company was hacked and essentially shut down for some time. now americans are being threatened by these same hackers with 9/11-style attacks at their local movie theater. is this cyberterrorism? >> i think it's important to separate those two things.
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one, we take the cyberattacks very seriously, as you've mentioned in your report already, the national security team has been meeting about what to do about this. the second piece, the threat against movie theaters, we've looked into that. there's no incredible intelligence to back that up. but cybersecurity is a growing threat. broadly we've seen it from other countries. it's something that we work with the private sector on and it will continue to be a big issue for this administration. >> americans were threatened by these same hackers and they wreaked havoc on sony's hardware and the operations of a major company in this country. is it cyberterrorism? if not, what does one have to do in order to be considered cyberterrorists? >> i don't think there's a benefit to putting new labels on it. it's a cyberhack. we're discussing a range of options. the fact is, there are private sector companies that have been
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hacked by a range of sources. the government was recently hacked and this is something that we take very seriously and we're having ongoing discussions about how to address. >> how concerned is the obama administration about the precedent being set here? a movie is put out, if other country's leaders don't like it, the company is hacked, americans are threatened and basically at the end of the day the american people blink, the united states backs down. isn't that a horrible precedent? >> i can assure you, the united states is not blinking or backing down or in a fear position here. we're well aware of the cyber threats not just from north korea but other countries out there. the fact is, businesses, including movies, companies make business decisions and that's up to them to make. private sector companies make their own decisions. that's the beauty of the private sector in the united states. we're going to continue to speak out. we believe in freedom of speech, expression that actors and act
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stresses should be able to continue to do that. >> how much did the state department or the obama administration, more broadly, advise sony on this film? there are reports that you viewed it, the state department viewed it before it was released or prepared to be released and what have you said to them more recently? i can't imagine that the u.s. government would want an american company pulling a movie from theaters, you know, from this dictator in north korea. >> well, jake, we've been in close touch with sony as we work with the fbi and other appropriate law enforcement agencies have been to track down the perpetrators and we've offered our range of services to them. we're not in the business of signing off on movies or c content. imagine if that was the case, that's not what we do in the united states. we continue to believe in freedom of expression, whether that's the media or artists in a movie. >> but did anyone at the state department see the movie ahead
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of time and give an opinion as to whether or not you thought this might set off this international firestorm? >> i have not come across anyone who saw the movie in advance. it is a normal part of the process for us to consult with the private sector, including movie companies to talk about issues in the world and we're certainly the experts on that and that happened in this case as well. but, no, we don't sign off on the content of movies. >> jen, in north korea really capable of pulling this off on its own? doesn't the level of sophistication with the attack, with what was leaked, the follow-up threats, doesn't that suggest a more sophisticated nation that might be involved? >> well, jake, we've learned a lot over the past couple of years about how scybersecurity threats come about. certainly the investigation has been looking into the abilities and capacity and what they could do and that's a process ongoing right now. >> what is the u.s. going to do
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if it is, in fact, north korea that did this? i can't imagine there's much left to sanctions. >> we do already have sanctions in place due to their human rights violations. we have issues being discussed by the national security team. i'm not going to outline it here but i'm sure we'll talk about it once a conclusion has been made. >> jen psaki, thank you and happy holidays to you. >> thanks, jake. you, too. can anyone really prevent a cyberattack like the one that took place at sony. should the u.s. government being responsible for protecting your information online, even if it's at private companies? maybe the company you work for should take a more proactive approach. the plan in the works to defend your information against hackers. that's next. hello... i'm an idaho potato farmer
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welcome back to "the lead". i'm jake tapper. is this a victory for cyberterrorists? that's the question that many are asking after sony canceled the release of the comedy "the interview." what, if anything, is the u.s. government or private sector
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doing to protect our most vulnerable information? forget the movie. michael mccaul is with us live from austin, texas. thanks for being here. the movie has been pulled. were americans ever really in any real danger? >> well, according to the department of homeland security and fbi, the 9/11-style threat didn't turn out to really be credible. i sort of agree with you that pulling the movie sort of caves in to what i consider to be a terrorist threat. certainly it's a cyberterrorism event that needs a proportionate response and i think that's what is being debated right now. with respect to how do we protect ourselves from these attacks, i passed a bill last day of the congress that was signed into law today by the president that will better protect our critical infrastructures, we call them, where we can share these malicious codes as threat information with the private
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sector and in turn with the federal government. i think that's going to go a long ways to protecting this nation from a future terrorist attack but any time you give in to them, you empower them. i'm convinced we're going to see more of these types of threats based on political and free speech. >> i believe it was in texas that a movie theater was going to show instead of "the interview" a movie from ten years ago that mocks kim jong-il and paramount pulled the movie. it's not just sony. what do you make of these decisions being made by studios, obviously they are concerned that if anything happens they will be held liable and accused of putting profits before people. >> yeah. i would say that, look, sony and private movie theaters are free to make any choices that they think are necessary, that they deem aren't appropriate.
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however, i do think by pulling the movies they gave the north koreans -- and let's be honest where this threat came from -- i think u.s. officials have reported that this came from north korea, bureau 121. what they effectively did was give them a victory and gave them what they wanted to achieve, which was the pulling down of this movie. i hope at some point this movie will be shown and the intrigue over it will make it more of a money maker. but i think pulling it gave them exactly what they wanted. >> and i guess the converse argument, when i was talking to a hollywood friend yesterday, is that people were -- the people that control the theaters and the people who made the movie were so afraid that figure happened, even if something not done by the north koreans, just a lone wolf or copycat or whatever, that they would then be attacked by many of the same people who are criticizing them now for caving, for -- somebody said they should change their
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name to neville chamberlain pictures. >> i can certainly understand that, particularly around the holidays, that is a date we're concerned with in the counterterrorism business but i can see a cooling off period and showing the movie at a later date but i think it's also important that the administration in terms of attribution, finding out where this came from and clearly i believe this came from north korea, a state sponsor of terrorism. i know they are trying to calculate that as we speak but i think these economic sanctionses that have been lifted against north korea, we need to revisit those sanctions and we need to have a response to this because any time a state sponsor has an act of cyberterrorism against the united states and in our way of life, if there's no retaliation or response, there's no deterrent effect and i think
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that's why it's so important that we have a response to this. >> i hear what you're saying in terms of the response. i wonder, however, if that then leads to an escalating cyberwar between the united states and north korea, that is, of course, the concern that we're hearing from obama administration officials. >> well, i understand that as well but the fact is we live in a dangerous cyberwarfare now. it's kind of a new frontier, jake, kind of the wild west. we've been hit by iran, our financial sector already. there have been attacks by cheen china and russia and we need to calculate what is an act of warfare in the cyberspace and what is the appropriate retaliation in the act of a cyberwarfare and i don't think that's clear right now. the rules of the game and the
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rules of warfare are not clear right now and something going into this next frontier we need to more clearly define. >> congressman michael mccaul, thank you so much. happy holidays, sir. >> you, too. white sand beaches, sunny skies, human rights abuses. it could soon be your dream vacation. cuba. the president pushing to ease travel restrictions there. plus, a network of cyberhackers positioned around the world. one man says north korea is behind the cryptic operation. you just heard congressman mccaul say the same thing. it's called bureau 121. next. and you're talking to your rheumatologist about a biologic... this is humira. this is humira helping to relieve my pain and protect my joints from further damage. this is humira giving me new perspective. doctors have been prescribing humira for ten years. humira works for many adults. it targets and helps to block a specific source of inflammation
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welcome back to "the lead." i'm jake tapper. north korean defectors they are trained in the art of destruction and their battlefield can be pretty much anywhere in the world because they wage war from behind a computer screen. these north korean hackers are
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said to be handpicked in pyongyang known as bureau 121 and from there, 1800 or so agents travel throughout the globe. they are said to be infiltrating enemy nations, including the united states. let's talk about this with a cybersecurity expert and the former vice president of worldwide internet enforcement along with jordan chang, a columnist for what can you tell me about bureau 121? how does it operate? >> bureau 121, the best way to say it, is a very silent enemy that can create very loud noise when it hits. it's incredibly intelligent individuals sitting around the world taken care of by the government getting all the resources they need whose sole job is to figure out how to break into systems, either
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destroy them, change them, steal from them, lead notes on them. that's their job. in essence, it's an army of special forces individuals. >> gordon, we were talking seconds ago with congressman mccaul about whether or not if the united states retaliates against north korea, if it officially announces that is who they hold responsible, whether that will lead to a cyberwar. >> there will be escalations no matter what we do. for the last two decades, we have been attacked by china, russia, iran. we did very, very little and that's the reason why we are today. north koreans saw that they could go after sony because they were pushing on an open door. that's really the problem. you know, there's the commission, the blair house commission talked about the loss of intellectual property in the u.s. much of that from cyber. we have done very, very little
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to protect our companies. >> do you think bureau 121 is behind the sony hack on its own or do you think that other nations might be involved? it's a very sophisticated attack. >> well, when it comes to cyberwarfare has been going around for many, many years and i think the reality is not other countries helping but what are other hackers doing? because right now i think there's a bunch of hackers out there, whether they are working for our nation state or on their own, who are having a party because they are seeing the amount of damage that you can do. this wasn't just an attack on sony. let's call it what it is. this is people who march through u.s. security quietly in the middle of the night, entered into a building, caused all sorts of damage and then decided to attack the american people by placing threats on them if they decide to go to the movies because, in essence, it's attacking core american values
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and that's why i think our discussion -- and i'm glad you're having this, really needs to be around what is the white house going to do because they need to do something. sony knows how to protect its network. hollywood is going to be focused unbelievably on that. i'm hearing that and i know that but the real question is, can they fight a nation state? are hackers like this acting like a nation state? and the answer is, not really. that's where the government has to come in and do a private/public partnership. >> gordon, why is north korea doing this? is it really about this one stoner movie that insults kim jong-un? is that really what is motivating this. >> i think they are worried about regime survival. they are not concerned about theatrical release in the u.s. but what is happening is south korean activists have said that they are going to take dvds of these movies, put them into
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balloons which separates north and south korea so citizens can find these dvds and that, i think, is important for the regime and that's what they are concerned about at the end of the day, is north korea seeing this. >> hemu, has sony's decision to pull the film, do you think, emboldened not just north korea but others who want to get at the u.s.? >> we have, in essence, negotiated with terrorists and i completely feel for sony executives and the position they are in. because you cannot have somebody going to a movie theater watching this movie and getting hurt. we've sent out a message, if you attack, whether you're a company, a hacker working for a government or not, there may be negotiating possibilities. if you just don't like americans, you may decide to do it. if you don't like corporate
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america, you may decide to do it. there are all sorts of things that are going to be inspired so this is going to affect every channel of american society and i think we can't just turn the channel here, write a script where tom cruise comes in and saves the day. it's not going to happen. this is going to have to be taken extremely seriously by the u.s. government working with its companies and corporations and making the american people feel better and that there's leadership in the white house because that's what it is going to need right now. >> hemu and jordan, thank you for talking about this issue. sony has managed to get hardcore liberals and prominent republicans on the same page. so maybe the terrorists have not won, after all? from mitt romney to michael moore, there has been widespread backlash against sony for pulling the film "the interview" over the terrorism threats. celebrity critics took to twitter polling the movie everything from an act of
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cowardice to moral freedom. michael moore released a statement that says "before the release of fahrenheit 9/11 both the studio and myself plus some theaters received numerous threats warning us not to show it. we just hired more security." let's go to paul vercammen. was this a lose-lose for sony? >> it is. this is a hollywood ending that nobody likes. >> want to go kill jim jong-un? >> totally. >> reporter: but there's no release date for "the interview." plans to release the dark comedy on christmas day killed by sony pictures. billboards are coming down. hollywood is riled up. especially on twitter.
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rob lowe, who appears in the film starring seth rogen and chris rock, fear. >> this whole thing is just scary, man. it's like, you know, e-mails and private stuff and the whole town is scared. nobody knows what -- >> nobody knows what to do? >> nobody knows what to do. >> reporter: except rant from ben stiller to stephen king to donald trump. >> well, i hear it is a terrible, terrible movie. sony has no courage or guts. >> reporter: sony just stepped on the first amendment and its own money making comedy team of rogen and franco in this marijuana-laced action comedy. in fact, it is stranger than
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fiction. two comedians and an enraged north korean government. >> can you imagine if we wind up in a war because of the guys from pineapple express? >> small theaters plan to show the terrorism parity. they are now pulling that movie saying that paramount wants it out. we tried to reach paramount, by the way, and have not received a comment back. google found a unique way to preserve a piece of "comedy central"'s colbert report which is its final show on cable before he heads to the fancy network cbs to take over for david letterman retiring next year. check out what google did. it created a virtual version of
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the colbert report. you can observe all of this on the shelves behind them. stephen standing in front of a colbert portrait. you get the point. you can see how close the audience sits to colbert. google has a business view of its street view. colbert will sign off tonight where he has worked since 1997. he started as a correspondent for "the daily show". we'll talk about the details and back-channel negotiations that some kept secret even from the pentagon. that's next.
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welcome back to "the lead," i'm jake tapper. we're going to turn to other world news. a new era of foreign policy,
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like it or not, is on full display. president obama back when he was senator obama, cuba and iran he said he wanted to engage their leaders in conversations and try to find common ground has not always worked but the president has shown he is trying to play in this high-stakes game of global diplomacy, especially when u.s. hostages are at stake. yesterday, another emotional home coming made possible by what we now know was a year's worth of secret meetings and hushed phone calls. details of alan gross' release and the new u.s. position towards cuba were hashed out between delegations of each country at the vat scican at th encouragement of the pope. >> i want to thank his holiness
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the pope. >> reporter: and to normalize relations with cuba is the latest example of obama's back channel go it alone foreign policy. >> ultimately, the decision to arrange for and secure my release was made in the oval office. to president obama and the staff, thank you. >> reporter: obama pledged that he was willing to negotiate with america's enemies during his first campaign. >> the notion of not talking to countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration is ridiculous. >> reporter: and now it seems as in the final years of his presidency he's checking off his list with or without congress. just last month, north korea released kenneth bae and matthew todd miller.
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president obama has offered an olive branch to iran. when rouhani became president, talks resumed. >> today, that diplomacy opened up a new path towards a world that is more secure. >> i have some concerns about this deal. >> reporter: as for bowe bergdahl, his release came at the exchange of five guantanamo prisoners. >> reporter: mediated through the government of qatar. >> so now the new policy is we don't negotiate with terrorists directly. >> reporter: many complained that the obama administration failed to notify congress ahead of time as required by law. >> we could have done a better job. we could have done a better job of keeping you informed. >> reporter: when it comes to global deal making, obama continues to play it close to
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the vest. the decision to open relations with cuba is particularly contentious right now. let's turn to political commentator jay carney, who served as white house press secretary under president obama, and bill kristol of "the weekly standard." both are in our washington bureau. why now with cuba, jay? do you think this is with the president's legacy? >> well, jake, it's certainly about promises that he made that has been consistent since he ran for office in 2007 and 2008. the negotiations that led to this point took a lot of time and key to them, obviously, was the release of alan gross. absent that, this would not have happened. i think that you will see the president, as we've already seen already in these final two years while he's in office, exercising every bit of authority that he has to do what he believes is right for the american people and for our national security interests. you know, one of the narratives before the midterm elections
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that i think was wrong, not all of them were wrong but one was wrong, is that he had sort of run out of gas and was himself eyeing the exits and sort of tired of being president. and i really didn't believe that was true and i know that because he's so focused on the time that is left and how rare that opportunity is, that he's just going to keep doing these kinds of things often against criticism. >> bill, i know you're not exactly lighting a cuban cigar over the announcement. but what do you say to the argument by rand paul and president obama that the previous policy towards cuba simply hasn't worked? >> i think it worked to some degree. certainly in the cold war years prevented exporting communism to central america tlea was a democratic revolution in the '80s and '90s. maybe it had run its course but we could have democratically discussed this with congress and the public. the president didn't have to do this in secret. there wasn't anything that sensitive about that.
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maybe the negotiations to get the hostage back would have to be private but more broadly, jake, you showed the president has done all of this outreach. are things working out great with the taliban, with iran, with north korea? i mean, is this general policy of being extremely nice to our enemies and giving a cold shoulder to our allies and friends working out well? >> jay? >> look, i would say what he has done in the case of cuba and iran, which are the two most prominent countries now, is tested the proposition that we can actually get something done that's better for our national security interests, whether or not we get a deal with iran is still an open question but is still in our interests to pursue on because the only way to ensure that iran doesn't acquire a nuclear weapon is to reach an agreement so they will not pursue one. you cannot continue the way we have in the past and simply cross our fingers that it won't happen while they are operating
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in secret. there's a lot of complications with that kind of deal but he's going to see if it can get done. on cuba, i think the time has long since passed when the previous policy was effective. the idea that we can't have diplomatic relations with regimes that abuse human rights is pretty novel given that we have relalgss around the world with countries that violate human rights. >> if that were the case, i would say fine but given his total failure to do that and his desire for a deal's sake, has he done much for human rights in north korea, in iran? i wish he was. >> jay, do you think we'll see president obama travel to cuba or a visit from raul castro travel to the white house? >> i think that's unlikely.
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normalizing relations does not necessarily mean that we have good relations. in kt fact, we don't have good relations. the regime continues to jail political dissidance and i wouldn't expect that at all unless there was a sudden change in the approach to regime takes. >> bill, some argue that this announcement gives republicans, such as jeb bush and marco rubio, a good issue to talk about if they run for president. but polls suggest that a majority of americans do support changing our relationship with cuba. here's a poll that we're showing you right now from the atlantic council. 56% favor it and 35% oppose it. >> that could be and you can't make every foreign policy decision based on polls.
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i think the president has not strengthened this country or strengthened the hands of citizens in repressive regimes. i'll be happy if in two years there is more liberty for the residents of cuba but that has not been the case with his outreach to iran, to the taliban and to the muslim world. i wish it were but i think people in the government of these countries see what the president is doing as weakness. >> real quickly, i want to turn to the hacking of sony. the president said americans should go to the movies, to the world it looks like sony, the theaters, maybe the american people blinked. what do you think about the idea of the president having a showi showing of "the interview" at the white house? would that show how we respond to these threats? >> i think it's interesting. if it weren't a slapstick
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comedy, i would be more supportive but i think the president ought to speak out about it. i think the political leaders must make a clear point, in our country, even if it's speech that people don't like, it's free speech and we cannot accept this circumstance which sets an enormously dangerous precedent for other bad actors around the world to try to control what american viewers or leaders get to see and hear. >> taking a shot at slapstick, i recall president obama. bill kristol and jay carney, thank you so much. with an ease on travel restrictions, is it time to book a flight to havana? why making the trip might be much easier said than done.
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welcome back to "the lead." our "money lead." forget cancun and south padre island. cuba, come for the rum and cigar and stay for the human rights abuses. it may be a tourist hot spot now that the u.s. is reducing travel restrictions. rene marsh is joining me. how soon could we see a travel boom to cuba? >> the demand is there. the travel industry is salivating at the idea and someone watching us today took some time to daydream about sipping that rum cocktail on a cuban beach. but, not so fast. havana, once dubbed the latin
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las vegas. ♪ images of carmen singing with fruit in her hair and movie stars dancing their night away at the tropicana nightclub. exotic caribbean flavor and distinct culture made americans fall in love with cuba before the revolution. caught in a time warp, it still loo looks strikingly similar to when lucy and ricky visited when the cars were new. >> it's only 90 miles from u.s. shores. the demand is there. >> reporter: the president's new policy makes some travel, like educational and humanitarian trips easier. but it does not lift the embargo or allow for tourism. >> the forbidden fruit aspect, millions and millions of americans wishing to explore
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cuba themselves. >> reporter: last year, less than 100,000 americans visited. but an industry group predicts 2 million more would go in the next two years if all restrictions were lifted and the infrastructure may not be ready. the retro look attracting americans conceals decades old water, electrical and transportation systems. >> it's going to take some time for the airlines and cruise ships to put their plans in place but they are already geared up for that date. they know what their itineraries would look like, et cetera. they are salivating at the potential that cuba holds. >> reporter: but for the potential to be realized, congress would have to lift the embargo and there is resistance. >> it is just another concession to a tyranny. >> reporter: but wednesday's decision has filled the travel industry with hope that cuban tourism is around the corner. >> the most important thing yesterday is not that we established diplomatic relations
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but that it changed the ball game and the discussion in congress. >> i polled all of the meaj juror airlines and cruise lines. they all applaud the move. what we saw yesterday is the president going as far as he could under the law to open up travel to cuba. anything more, jake, we would need an act of congress. >> rene marsh, thank you so much. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper and turning you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." happening now, new demands to punish north korea for the cyberterror attack on sony. the president's national security team has been meeting as the u.s. prepares to blame kim jong-un's regime. a defector is opening up to cnn about the country's vast army of online hackers. and u.s. air strikes are taking a toll on top terrorists in isis. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."


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