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U.S. Navy Computers Hacked; Ukraine in Crisis; Bode Miller Speaks Out

Aired February 18, 2014 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now, breaking news we are following, deadly clashes. Riot police charge into a massive group of protesters. The Ukrainian capital is in flames and in crisis. And Russia and the West are being dragged into an explosive confrontation.

Plus, cyber-war shocker, new details of a massive hacking of the U.S. Navy's computers and apparently went on for months and caused grave concern that Iran is to blame.

An Olympic breakdown. American skier Bode Miller talks about his tearful interview after winning the bronze and the controversy it created. Stand by for his candid conversation with CNN's Rachel Nichols in Sochi.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: And we begin with breaking news this hour, a fiery and deadly showdown in the capital of Ukraine and it is now spreading to a number of regions.

Officials now say at least 19 people are dead, more than 280 are injured. Riot police have charged into a massive group of protesters in the main square in Kiev. The U.S. Embassy is warning citizens there to stay inside as this very dangerous situation unfolds. We will have much more on that in a moment, the breaking news that is happening in Kiev and the possible fallout for the United States.

But first, a new warning today from Iran's military that it is prepared to fight the United States in the damaging of widening cyber- war, this as we get new information about a massive hacking deep into the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps' computer network, an some are blaming on Iran.

Brian Todd is working this story for us.

Brian, what are you learning?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this was a sever cyber-attack. The Navy's computer network penetrated by hackers who were clearly sophisticated and able to get through security filters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): A U.S. defense official tells CNN of a massive cyber-attack on the U.S. Navy's computer network, a breach so severe it took at least two months to purge the hackers, cost about $10 million to repair. The attackers, the official says, entered the Navy Marine Corps last August or September through a security gap in one of the Navy's Web sites.

Poor security, the official says, allowed them to migrate deep into the network and stay there.

JAMES LEWIS, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The ability to sit on the military network for several months poses real risks to operations, to personnel. This was something that would have been very risky in the event of an actual conflict.

TODD: "The Wall Street Journal" reports Iran was behind the attack. In recent days, Iran's supreme leader told Iranian college students they are agents in a cyber and social media war. "Get yourselves ready for such war wholeheartedly."

We couldn't get response from Iranian officials to reports on the Navy Web site attack, but they have previously said Iran is a victim of cyber-attacks from the West, including the 2010 Stuxnet virus, which dealt a significant blow to Iran's nuclear program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Iranian government is under the perception that it is under attack by the United States and Israel, that its enemies are targeting its nuclear infrastructure, its oil and gas sector and gathering information through cyber-warfare against Iran. And so the Iranian government has developed its own cyber-capabilities to counter that.

TODD: As for the Navy attack, the U.S. defense official says it targeted an unclassified set of Web sites, like The official says no data was stolen, nothing was damaged and says the hackers did not penetrate classified networks.

But the Web sites targeted do have about 800,000 users, many of whom have e-mail accounts. The defense official said there is no indication that any e-mail accounts were compromised.


TODD: The defense officials says the Navy ordered a so-called surge of cyber-warriors to counter that attack, a response code-named Operation Rolling Tide.

The man in charge of that, Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, who President Obama has nominated to head the NSA. Admiral Rogers is not commenting on any of this -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much, a very disturbing report.

Let's get to Iran's nuclear threat potentially out there. A tough new round of negotiations got under way today. Iran's supreme leader says he is not optimistic the talks will lead anywhere. Let's bring in our chief national correspondent, Jim Sciutto for the latest -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: You have heard this good cop/bad cop regime in effect here. The supreme leader, a firebrand, and then you have the foreign minister or the president as the charmers, really.

The fact is you do have substantive nuclear negotiations going on and you had a successful interim nuclear deal. But right now in Vienna, as these talks continue, what you are hearing from both sides is a tamping down of expectations, U.S. officials saying that they are as likely to not reach a deal as to reach one.


SCIUTTO (voice-over): For what all sides called the most difficult round of nuclear talks, the mood was surprisingly light in Vienna.

Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, took the unusual step of addressing the American public directly from the talks, Skyping with students from the University of Denver, which Dr. Zarif himself attended as a graduate student in the 1980s.

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It is really possible to reach an agreement because of a single overriding fact, and that is, we have no other option. If you want to resolve this issue, the only way to resolve it is through negotiations.

SCIUTTO: Back in Tehran, however, Iran's most powerful leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had a very different message, disparaging not just the talks themselves, but the very idea of negotiating with the U.S.

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, SUPREME LEADER OF IRAN (through translator): The nuclear issue is an excuse for their hostility. Even if the nuclear issue is resolved to the satisfaction of the Americans one day, which is extremely unlikely, another issue will follow again.

SCIUTTO: U.S. officials insist that hyperbole is just pandering to a domestic Iranian audience, but the negotiators have enough substantive issues to disagree on, including the number of centrifuges Iran will be allowed to maintain and the status of the Iraq heavy water reactor, which the West wants dismantled.

Hanging over the negotiations as well, the fate of three Americans believed held in Iran.

ROBERT LEVINSON, HELD IN HERE: I have been held here.

SCIUTTO: CIA operative Robert Levinson, Pastor Saeed Abedini, and former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, whose imprisonment just past 900 days.

Dan Kildee is Hekmati's congressman. REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: They expect to be taken seriously. They are going to have to do things on their own. They are going to have to take unilateral action to demonstrate their seriousness. And of course releasing Amir would be one very tangible way of doing that.


SCIUTTO: Another key issue in these talks, restoring trust. The West, including the U.S., insisting that Iran fess up to past lies about its nuclear program as part of any deal. They are in effect, Wolf, asking Iran to do so in writing.

They have kept some nuclear facilities secret. They were only discovered by Western intelligence services. As part of any deal to guarantee that Iran would be a good actor going forward, they want them to say, yes, in the past we did lie and going forward we won't.

And that will be a difficult thing to get them to do.

BLITZER: Yes, there's an enormous amount at stake for all of us obviously right now. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.

Still ahead, we will get back to the breaking news, the deadly riots and the mayhem. I will ask about the veteran U.S. diplomat Chris Hill about the explosive situation in the Ukraine right now and how it could create more tensions between Presidents Obama and Putin.


BLITZER: We're following breaking news at this hour.

Look at these pictures coming in, protesters fighting to stand their ground against riot police in deadly clashes in the capital of Ukraine. At least 19 people are dead. Officials say the conflict is spreading to other regions right now.

There is lots to talk about with the veteran U.S. diplomat Christopher Hill. He is the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq. He's now dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.

Ambassador, thanks very much for joining us.

I want to talk about Iran in a moment, but let's talk Ukraine right now. This looks deadly. It looks ugly. The stakes are enormous for everyone. One group, the opposition, wants closer ties with the E.U., the European Union, and the United States. The other group wants to be totally aligned, if you will, with the government in Moscow of President Putin.

Where does the United States fit into this?

CHRISTOPHER HILL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: First of all, this is a really tough situation.

Ukraine has been a country that has always had this Eastern Ukraine, Western Ukraine, very different attitudes and even speaking a different language, where people in Eastern Ukraine often speak Russian. So this is a tough situation. What has really happened today is a kind of Tiananmen situation where clearly they have gone in to clear the square.

I think it is from the point of view of the United States trying to find some way forward and at the same time understanding that Ukraine is not some island. It sits there right next to Russia. And so it's not so easy, this issue of dealing with Ukrainian identity. It is a very tough Issue.

And so I suspect the Obama administration will kind of move forward cautiously. But I would not be surprised if some kind of sanctions were in the offing at some point in the future.

BLITZER: I wouldn't be surprised either.

Let me read to you at least part of the statement that was just released from the vice president's office, the White House putting this out. "The vice president, Joe Biden, called the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, today to express grave concern regarding the crisis on the streets of Kiev. He called on President Yanukovych to pull back government forces and to exercise maximum restraint. The vice president made clear the United States condemns violence by any side, but that the government bears special responsibility to de- escalate the situation. The president further underscored the urgency of immediate dialogue with opposition leaders to address protesters' legitimate grievances and to put forward serious proposals for political reform. The United States is committed to supporting efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the crisis that reflects the will and aspirations of the Ukrainian people."

All right, those were nice diplomatic words, sound pretty strong.

Give us your interpretation of what we are hearing from the White House, Mr. Ambassador.

HILL: Well, I think the word grave, when you use the word grave, you usually really mean it and you are really looking for some changes.

I served as ambassador in Poland for four years. During that time, people in Poland worry a lot about Ukraine and about the capacity of this country to split apart, because there is really no consensus on where the country wants to go. As much as the opposition wants to go closer to the European Union, there are others who want to go closer to Russia.

The difference between Russia and the Soviet Union would be a Russia that somehow joined with Ukraine. I think there are high stakes here and I think there are a number of countries, Poland especially, that would be very concerned about the direction of this. So I'm sure our State Department, I'm sure our vice president is very much in touch with those countries, especially the newer countries in the European Union, including Poland.

Those are very tough words that the vice president has issued. And I would hope the Ukrainian leadership is listening very carefully.

BLITZER: Yes, me, too.

Let's talk about Iran, another major issue right now facing the United States, indeed the world. You had the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, speak to your students at the University of Denver today via Skype. That is pretty extraordinary in and of itself.

Here's the question. Do you think the deal is a good deal for the United States, this interim nuclear deal? Can the Iranian government, can the ayatollah, the supreme leader be trusted?

HILL: Well, you know, I think here again in the case of Iran, I think there is definitely a split in the leadership about whether they want this deal or not.

There is also an effort to say if you want to be pessimistic, Americans, we can be pessimistic, too. I think there's that attitude. It's a very fiercely proud country.

I must say I posed that question to the foreign minister, to Javad Zarif. I said, how are you feeling about this? Are you optimistic? Are you pessimistic? And he professed to be somewhat optimistic. He even said that he thinks they can meet the July deadline in terms of coming up with a deal.

So, I think my own view is this is worth pursuing and this is, I think, the best solution for everybody. Certainly, the foreign minister put on the table that he didn't feel that leaving force on the table, which has always been a U.S. position, is somehow an acceptable position.

But I must say he didn't try to answer questions like if this is all for peaceful means, then why at Fordow do you have an underground facility for uranium enrichment? Why at Arak are you building a plutonium-based power plant, a reactor? Those are I think very good questions that the U.S. negotiators have.


BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, we are going to have to leave it there, unfortunately, because our clock is ticking over here. But we will continue this conversation, to be sure.

Thanks, as usual, for joining us.

We will take a quick break, more of the breaking news right after this.


BLITZER: the American skier Bode Miller sat down with CNN's Rachel Nichols at the Olympics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You have been through the ringer in some ways. Now that you're sitting here, how do you feel?

BODE MILLER, U.S. OLYMPIC ATHLETE: It was a tough start to the Olympics, coming in here skiing really well. And then the weather kind of shifted on us and I just didn't make the right adjustments.

It switched from a condition that I do really well in to a condition that I don't do really well in. It is hard mentally to make those kind of adjustments when you are my age.

NICHOLS: I have to ask you about something that is relatable to the rest of as we get older. Your eyes sometimes aren't exactly what they used to be.

You mentioned perhaps you maybe should have gotten some sort of corrective surgery?


MILLER: Well, I have a relationship with an eye doctor in Denver. We started the procedure.

He did part of this where they actually poke a little hole in your iris. And then we got delayed once. And then he couldn't do it a second time. We were supposed to be flying over to Europe to do it. And then the season started. And we just -- it just slipped, kind of slipped through the cracks.

And then to come in here and have the visibility play such a huge role in these races with the overcast conditions, I felt -- I was like, damn it. It's just one of those things that, in hindsight, obvious. But it was tough for me.

NICHOLS: Ski racing in general not necessarily something that you get better at as you get older. You are 36, and you managed medaling.

MILLER: Yes. It was one of those records or stats that is kind of funny.

It is like underhanded. You are really old. Good job.


NICHOLS: Thanks.

MILLER: But I feel like I'm competitive with the best guys in the world. I came in here really confident. And I just hope I can stay that way.


CHRISTIN COOPER, NBC SPORTS: We see you there and it just looks like you are talking to somebody.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NICHOLS: You had a pretty emotional interview with Christin Cooper and got a lot of controversy back in the States afterwards.

MILLER: I was really surprised. I felt like it was me, not her. She asked questions that I feel like with her knowledge of my brother and the situation, I felt like were pretty normal questions.

Maybe she -- in hindsight, from other people's perspective, I think it was she kept pushing a little bit. But I have known Christin for a long time and I think she is really comfortable with me. And I felt terrible that she was getting just massacred in the press and in social media.

But I think in the end people will sort of see that it was more me just dealing with all these emotions and the buildup of several years of very tough personal life stuff.

NICHOLS: There's a lot of people outside of skiing who don't know your brother's story. He had a motorcycle crash. How long ago was it?

MILLER: It was '06. And, yes, it was really super tough on all of us, because we didn't know if he was going to even recover or be alive or anything.

And it was really kind of a turning point, too, because after he recovered and it turned out over the course of six years or seven years, he had five seizures, six seizures. He didn't have a lot. But they were all really kind of critical. He had one on a chairlift and fell off the chairlift from like 40 feet up, and then had just after he had been on the highway, which would have been awful.

So it was kind of -- not that we knew something was ever going to happen. We all hoped that it would be fine, but it was just a really tough thing to go through and a tough process to deal with.

NICHOLS: And through that time as he was dealing with the seizures, he is also a great snowboarder and he had hoped to join you at these Olympics. What conversations did you guys have about that?

MILLER: He set his goal to come to this Olympics. That was part of the reason why I was staying with it and coming back to continue to race, so we would be here together and hopefully win together.

NICHOLS: And when he did have the seizures and died from that, did that make you rethink coming to these Olympics?

MILLER: It didn't change my feelings about the Olympics at all.

It just was an emotional moment that kind of like -- emotions I think just live inside of you no matter what. But when you have that kind of -- it's just a -- you can feel it like a ball of energy in there. And I didn't really intentionally do it, but it certainly came out in that super G.

And to look back on it now, it probably made the difference for me between getting a medal and not. But the real part of it hits afterwards when you deal with the consequences of really living those emotions. And it was really pretty raw and pretty painful.

NICHOLS: If you do think that thinking of him and that experience is what pushed you over the edge in the super-G, is there a nice part of that, that he helped you do that?

MILLER: There absolutely is.

Yes, that's -- if you lose a family member, a loved one, I don't think there is anything more sort of to honor their memory than to use that memory and the love for them to do something that maybe you couldn't do otherwise. And that -- it felt great, but it also was painful.


BLITZER: Thanks to Rachel for that interview.

We are going to continue to stay on top of the breaking news unfolding on the streets of Kiev. Right now, look at these live pictures coming in from the Ukrainian capital. The death toll is increasing. A lot of people are injured. You hear the live explosions on going right now. It is after -- approaching 1:30 a.m. in the streets of Kiev. We will continue to watch. Stay with CNN for all the breaking news.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.