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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

NCIS Lead Investigator in Marine Video; Made In America, Again?; Some Companies Bringing Jobs Back to U.S. from Overseas; Iranian Nuclear Scientist Killed; Gingrich: Prepare for "Armageddon"; Run for the Money

Aired January 12, 2012 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. We're coming to you live this morning from the Tick Tock Diner in lower Midtown Manhattan.

I'm Soledad O'Brien. And this is our second hour of STARTING POINT.

We begin this morning with a story about dishonoring the corps and also the dead. The military is now investigating what appears to be a really terrible videotape of marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters. Now, this response from commanders in Afghanistan. We're going to take you live to the Pentagon in just a few moments.

Also, swine flu part two. It's back. Its form is now mutated. A dozen new cases to report since late last year. We'll tell you where the cases are and just what the risk is this morning.

Plus, a look at where the jobs are. For the long time, the answer was somewhere else. Well, now, President Obama says those jobs are coming back to America.

We're going to talk this morning to a CEO who was in the room with President Obama yesterday and asked him what he's doing to try to keep his jobs here in the United States.

Plus, unleashing the attack dogs, calling Mitt Romney a fat cat. Getting ugly and going to get uglier in South Carolina. There's one candidate who's predicting Armageddon. Can you guess who that candidate would be? We'll tell you about that later this morning.

Also, we're going to see if we can get the entire panel this morning to Tebow right here.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Marc is like, no way. Not a chance. Not going to happen. That's straight ahead.

I'm going to try. I'm going to try.

STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

We start with the international outrage over video that appears to show marines urinating on the bodies of dead fighters in Afghanistan. From the Afghan government, to the NATO commanders, to the Taliban, there has been reaction. And maybe more importantly, there is a question about whether this could inflame anti-American feelings across the Arab world.

The U.S. military says NCIS, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, will be the lead investigator on this case.

Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. We're also joined this morning by retired Army General James "Spider" Marks.

And our panel is with us well. We got "Vanity Fair" contributor, Vicky Ward. Former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, Seema Iyer. "Blaze" contributor Will Cain.

And I don't know why they put you on the end, because you're on this end, Marc Lamont Hill. He is the host of "Our World with Black Enterprise" and he's a professor as well.

Let's begin with Barbara Starr to update us on the investigation.

NCIS, as we mentioned, is involved. What does that mean, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, that means there is now a full-blown criminal investigation underway. This could not be more serious. There is likely to be violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice here. Once they verify who these are people are in the photo and the circumstances surrounding all of this.

Every reason at this point to believe it's legit. It's exactly what it purports to be. There's no fakery here. And so, NCIS will investigate this and determine what the next steps are.

I think that you can understand one of the things the U.S. military has learned in recent years, if nothing else, when these cases of egregious misconduct surface in public, they try to move very quickly to contain them. These images fly across the Internet around the globe instantly. There is often very bad, very understandably bad reaction.

They want to contain it. They want to show that they're investigating it and that there will be legal ramifications of this incident -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Barbara, thank you.

Let's get back to General Marks.

General, when we were talking earlier, I was asking you about what the punishment potentially could be, assuming that this is confirmed, assuming that they can track down the five or six men who are involved in this. Clearly it's against the rules. Clearly, it's against the Geneva Convention.

Could they be charged with a war crime?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET): Oh, they sure could. Absolutely. It would be absolutely conceivable that one of the leaders or the individuals involved in this incident end up going to jail and either senior non-commissioned officers or officers in their chain of command end up getting relieved or there might even be some culpability in terms of dereliction of duty. But that's entirely premature. We got to let the investigation run its course.

O'BRIEN: Clearly, no question about that.

Let's talk a little bit about the jeopardy that -- I keep saying video but it sounds like it was recorded off of somebody's phone so that these images would have puts those who are serving really not only in the Middle East but across the globe. What kind of position does it -- what kind of risk does it bring to our armed forces, sir?

MARKS: Well, you know, the primary concern for everybody in the chain of command and every leader in the military, the primary concern is the young man or woman out there on point -- the individual who's on the edge who's doing the engagements every day. You want them to be fully equipped and to better understand that environment that they're moving into.

An incident like this can clearly inflame someone. Somebody could wake up this morning and be completely outraged. Somebody who might be a friend or might be on the tipping point of being a friend or being an enemy, we've now convinced that individual -- be the enemy of the United States and then he goes and he finds some local soldier, some marine on the ground to try to attack or do something against. So that's the primary concern that we have.

The larger issue obviously is this was aberrant behavior, but we need to investigate it very, very deeply to ensure it's not institutionalized. I can tell you it's not. But that needs to be drawn out of this thing.

STARR: Soledad, can I jump in for a minute on what Spider is saying?

O'BRIEN: Of course, Barbara.

STARR: You know what? Yes, I think when I've talked to people over the last 24 hours or so about this video, military officials, I think one of the things that bothers them, obviously, the event. What concerns them so deeply is this question of behavior, command climate.

What are we really talking about? It's just like in an office. What is the climate in an office that would evolve, that would let, permit, or encourage someone to misbehave in such an egregious manner? Somewhat the same in the military.

This may be a Marine Corps sniper team that was out, very distant from their command structure but, still, they have a staff sergeant, they have a platoon leader. They have people in charge.

Where were these people? What happened here that may have just caused discipline in such a serious manner to break down? That's what you see time and time again in some of these incidents over the years. The question that keeps coming up: what is it that causes discipline to break down and causes people to behave in this manner?

That's one of the things the military's really going to try to figure out here.

VICKY WARD, VANITY FAIR: Well, General, to your point. If you look at the picture, that in itself seems to be asking some of those questions because, General, if I understood you correctly, you said there were six in a unit typically and in the photograph there are only three and I keep wondering who's taking the picture and why.

O'BRIEN: And who's taking the picture and who's the one leaking the picture?

WARD: Right. What's the back story?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the first time they've done this. It's happened before.

O'BRIEN: I think from a photo and from a little snippet of video, actually, I think probably the general is the one that should weigh in on this. I don't think we can go out on a limb and say we have any clue that this happened.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It happens all the time.

SEEMA IYER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If you get caught, that's probably one twentieth of the time you've committed the crimes.

O'BRIEN: I don't know. Let's get the general to weigh in on that. Do you think that's a fair comment? By looking at this, do you have a sense that this is not necessarily the first time that this happened?

MARKS: It may have been. Again, I don't know.

But the point is, is the definition of discipline is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. So I'm not concerned about who took the video shot, I'm concerned about the leader that validated, allowed that to happen, and, in fact, maybe got those guys to do that and nobody raised their hand and said, wait a minute. Wait a minute, sergeant. I'm not signing up to do this.

The point is, our military trains our young men and women to raise a hand, to step up and to do the right thing and to acknowledge -- look, I'm not going to cross that line. This has nothing to do with whether -- this has everything to do with whether this is a legal order, but it has nothing to do with following orders. I mean, you are required to acknowledge when you are being put in a situation where you see there is an ethical or moral issue. Clearly, there's a legal issue in this case.

So I'm concerned about the leader who allowed this to occur. If that young sergeant on the ground, I will assume it's a non- commissioned officer, allowed that to happen, we call that casual leadership. In fact, that's illegal behavior. And then up the chain of command, there must have been some degree of causality that allowed this incident to occur. They either looked the other way or they never addressed it. They can't do that.

O'BRIEN: This will clearly -- this will clearly be what NCIS, as Barbara Starr told us, will be focusing on all of that.

General Marks, always nice to see you. Thanks.

Barbara, of course. As always as well.

Panelists, stick around. Order some more food because we're here for the long haul.

We're going to go and check on some of the other stories that are making news now. Christine Romans has those stories for us.

Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, again, Soledad.

New developments this morning in Mississippi, where the state attorney general says some criminals pardoned by outgoing Governor Haley Barbour may now have to go back to prison. This after a judge issued a temporary injunction stopping their release.

Barbour granted 119 pardons on the way out of office, 14 of them convicted murderers. Several have already been released.

Bombshell revelations in the Casey Anthony case. In court depositions, Anthony tells a psychiatrist she may have become pregnant with daughter Caylee after being date raped. Anthony was acquitted last time of murder charges in the 2008 death of Caylee, but she was convicted of lying to authorities.

A new study warning women that anymore than two embryos during in vitro fertilization, any more than two is too many. Doctors say the odds of having a baby are better and the risk of better defects is lower with only two embryos.

Walls ripped of homes, piles of rubble this morning. Reports of more than two dozen people hurt after a possible tornado ripped through two counties in North Carolina. Someone snapped this photo of a funnel cloud forming in the distance as the sky turned black.

There it is. Wow. We're still waiting for official word from the National Weather Service that a twister touched down there.

All right. It's about 11 minutes after the hour. Let's get this morning's travel forecast.

Rob is out, so let's go to Jacqui Jeras in Atlanta.

Good morning.

JACQUII JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning, Christine.

I'm here to greet everybody with winter weather. It has finally arrived after months of unseasonably high temperatures. We've got a lot of snow and arctic air building in across the Midwest and into the Great Lakes. Ahead of it still feeling mild here into the big cities, but rain and ugly in New York City as well as into Boston.

Snowfall accumulations, well, just on average about two to five inches, but heavier around the Great Lakes. That's where we have the winter weather advisories which are in effect. And this will last through tomorrow before things begin to wind down a little bit.

Very cold behind this front as well as windy conditions all the way down to the Gulf Coast. Temperatures right now feel like the teens below zero in the Upper Midwest. That cold air is going to stick around for a while as well -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Jaqui.

All right. "Minding Your Business" this morning.

U.S. stock futures looking up. Futures for the Dow, the NASDAQ, the S&P pointing to a higher open right now. You got Dow futures up about 52 points.

Two economic reports in about a half an hour. The Labor Department reports now how many people filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, an important read on the labor market.

And the government also reports retail sales for December. You know, consumer spending has been generally improving, signaling more confidence in the economy at the end of the year. We'll get the true gauge in just a few minutes -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Christine, thanks.

There's a new strain of swine flu to tell you about. Now, at least 12 people are believed to be infected across five states. The CDC is telling us that all those cases have been detected during the second half of 2011. And apparently, the current vaccine for flu does not work against this particular strain of swine flu.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and she has an update for us.

All right. Elizabeth, what do we know about this strain?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Soledad, what we know is that this strain does not spread easily person to person. You mentioned 12 cases. Well, that's been the situation since December 23rd. So 12 cases, three of them ended up in the hospital but everyone has recovered.

We're talking about folks in Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So, is 12 cases considered a lot? I mean, is this the point where people say, wow, it's a dozen across a handful of states and we should be concerned? And we said the flu shot doesn't work so what do people do?

COHEN: Right. You know what? I don't think that this is a huge big deal talking to folks at the CDC. They sound concerned but not overly concerned.

And the reason, again, is that it does not seem to spread easily person to person. Most of these 12 people either had contact with pigs directly or had contact with people who had contact with the pigs. So it's not spreading like wildfire.

Now, having said that, you still should go get a flu shot. It may not do much, if anything, for this flu virus, but it can still help for seasonal flu, which is still out there and is expected to get worse.

If you go to CNN.com/EmpoweredPatient -- all the facts you need about the flu virus.

O'BRIEN: All right. That's good advice. I get my flu shot every year. And I make anybody around me get a flu shot, too.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Elizabeth, appreciate it.

COHEN: Thanks.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about Tim Tebow because it is now official. America loves Tim Tebow.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: And me too. I love him. I love him. I'm not even a giant football fan.

Take a look at this poll. The NFL quarterback, he has topped ESPN's December poll for favorite pro athlete. And he's only been pro for two seasons. He snatched the number one spot faster than any other athlete in the history of the poll, which is 18 years old.

Is there anything that my secret boyfriend Tim Tebow cannot do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throw a touchdown pass.

IYER: If Tim Tebow gets to the Super Bowl, the deal is if you bet on him, on the Broncos, put in $10 in Vegas, your return is $7,000.

O'BRIEN: Aren't you a lawyer? Should you be guiding people?

(CROSSTALK)

IYER: Useful information.

O'BRIEN: Good to know. Good to know.

I want to introduce Samantha Ettus. She's from "Forbes" contributor. She's also a personal branding expert after the segment. I need a personal branding expert. Samantha, so, obviously, America loves him, and I know why. Tell me why you think why, but I'll tell you why I think why.

SAMANTHA ETTUS, "FORBES" CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are three essential ingredients to a winning personal brand, and Tim Tebow has them all. So, firstly, he is top of his profession. He is just a winner. You want Tebow on your team. And secondly, he's great looking. You know, he's your secret boyfriend. I thought he was my secret boyfriend.

Everyone wants him as their secret boyfriend. And thirdly, he's so well spoken. He's so wholesome. And, you know, he's not afraid to cry on camera. He wins on camera. He's so emotional. He's religious. He has the whole package.

O'BRIEN: I love him for all of those reasons. She said three things. Number one, he's a winner. Two, he's cute, and he's well spoken.

(CROSSTALK)

VICKY WARD, VANITY FAIR CONTRIBUTOR: He's unpredictable. He's not Tom Brady.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: You people are confused. I'm not speaking about football. I'm speaking about a guy who seems to be very authentic. I'm speaking about a guy who has said he likes being a role model. He wants to be the person your kids can look up to. I think that's cool. He's all for Jesus. I like that. I'm not evangelical. Go ahead. I'm all for Jesus. Go ahead.

IYER: I'm a Hindu for Jesus.

O'BRIEN: Go ahead, Samantha.

ETTUS: Tim Tebow is not a guy you have to worry about a mystery in the closet. He is as wholesome as they get. So, every coach wants Tim Tebow on their team. He's the guy. You know, there's no sleeve of tattoos to cover up. He is just what you see. And he is not afraid to show it all. And he's kind of like a male role model.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Samantha, if you could be here -- Samantha, if you could be here, you would see the disgust among the men at this table, but let me just tell you two quick things and then we'll get --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Listen, two things. Number one, he has said I will not endorse candidates who have asked him, because he says it's not about them, it's about me. If they fail, that looks bad for me. I think that's a good thing, right? He cares so much about his personal integrity. He's not going to go endorse candidates.

And then, the second thing I want to play for you is a little bit of what -- I think it was Charles Barkley said. A little bit of hater -- and Charles, I love you, but a little bit of a hater. Listen to Charles Barkley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES BARKLEY, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER (on the phone): The national nightmare continues. Hey listen, I like Tim Tebow, but there comes a point, listen, quit making -- he had a great game. He's supposed to have a great game. They want to make it seem like, oh, that the world is aligned. He does play quarterback. He's supposed to play well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Sounds like a little jealousy from my friend, Charles Barkley. Go ahead.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I was going to say careful, Samantha. Careful, Samantha. You make all those assumptions of wholesomeness. We might have you back in like a week when something comes out. Never assume wholesomeness with anybody.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: I would not have picked you for the cynical guy at the table today.

CAIN: Here's why Tim Tebow's the number one athlete on that list, because he illustrates, he embodies, he manifests the American dream. Everyone says you can't including your boss, John Elway, and yet, you keep doing it.

(CROSSTALK)

ETTUS: America loves the underdog. And we crave a story like this. We were waiting for Tim Tebow.

O'BRIEN: Yes, we do. And we love him. And we love winners. And as Samantha said, he's cute. (CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Angry men around the breakfast table this morning, Samantha. Thank you with your personal branding information. I wrote that down. I can't speak.

(LAUGHTER)

More ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, we're talking jobs. People have said the economy, the economy, the economy is what they want to talk about as the election gears. We're going to talk about where he jobs are. Can the jobs be in-sourced. That would require cooperation from America's CEOs. Will the president get it?

And, an Iranian nuclear scientist has been murdered. Iran is now blaming the United States and Israel as well. We're going to hear from Hillary Clinton, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: President Obama says he is focused on what is becoming a growing source of anger here in America, which is the outsourcing of American jobs. He gathered a number of CEOs at the White House yesterday, and he proposed tax incentives for companies who bring back jobs to the United States. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now, we're at a unique moment, inflection point, a period where we've got the opportunity for those jobs to come back. And the business leaders in this room, they're ahead of the curve. They recognize it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Tim Brian is a CEO of Galaxy Solutions. He met with President Obama yesterday. We're back with Christine Romans as well. She's at CNN Headquarters. Thanks for joining us, Mr. Brian. Why don't you tell me a little bit about your company, GalaxE Solutions, and then what you thought of what the president said yesterday?

TIM BRYAN, CEO, GALAXY SOLUTIONS: Well, good morning. Our firm does software development for the healthcare industry for large corporations, and we are excited about the president's involvement and recognition of the fact that the trend is that jobs are going to be coming back to the U.S. in technology, in our sector for sure, as well as others.

And he's highlighting this. It is going to continue that momentum, because we -- what we're seeing is that quality, the quality of the work being done inside the United States is superior to that being done off shore. And, the recognition by the president and the administration of that will only highlight it and keep that trend moving. O'BRIEN: Quality could be one issue, but ultimately, I think often as you know better than me, sir, it's often about money. And when you take a look at the annual -- sorry, hourly manufacturing compensation costs, I could throw up a chart here, the U.S. at the bottom of that list, because it costs roughly $33 an hour. That's a compensation.

And that includes things like benefits, insurance, etc. But at the top of that chart, those much, much, much, much, much smaller bars, well, that's china, and that's $2 an hour and India, which is somewhere between $2 and $3 an hour. Ultimately, sir, isn't it really -- I mean, about jobs are outsourced because there's cheap labor.

And unless, you're going to change that cheap labor and move it here to the United States, you're really never going to bring enough jobs back? Is that fair to say?

BRYAN: Well, it is about economics, but economics is in support of delivering something. And if what you're getting is substandard, it doesn't matter that the unit rate is low. I can tell you that, in technology, the complexity of computer systems today requires proximity. We need people to be near the customers where the businesses are in order to build systems that are going to support those -- build the systems that are going to support those businesses.

And if you're paying a lower unit rate but it's half a world away, what you're going to wind up with is a system that doesn't necessarily work the way it's supposed to. So, based on that, it doesn't matter that the cost is low, low, low. What matters is that the quality isn't there. So, I think that applies also to other businesses.

In manufacturing, one of the CEOs that attended the forum with the president yesterday was talking about the fact that the furniture being made in North Carolina is superior in quality to that being made in China. So, even though from a price point, there may be an advantage. From a quality standpoint, it is less relevant. So, you're right.

O'BRIEN: I've got to --

BRYAN: Go ahead.

O'BRIEN: I'm going to stop you there, because we have to hit a short break, but I want to continue our conversation on the other side of the break. And I get what you're saying, which is money isn't everything. Quality has a huge correlation.

On the other side, we're going to talk to Christine Romans. This is not the first time that a president has proposed keeping jobs here in America. We'll talk about what President Bush said back in 2004 and why those jobs didn't come back back then. We're back right after this.