Return to Transcripts main page


Two Men Arrested in Connection with Tulsa Shootings; "Saturday Night Live" Targets Mitt Romney; Grand Jury May Be Convened for Trayvon Martin Shooting; Las Vegas Offers Buses with I.V.'s for Hangovers; Syria Violence Escalates; New Mine Collapse Delays Rescue; U.S. Navy To Pay Crash Victims; Tebow "Second To The Pope"; North Korean Rocket Set To Launch; Senator Grassley: Obama "Stupid"; USS Cole Tragedy; The Full Story

Aired April 9, 2012 - 07:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Mitt Romney and piercings, two words I never thought would be in the same sentence. It's Monday April 9th. STARTING POINT begins right now.


ROMANS: I love this song. "Rosalita" by Bruce Springsteen of course. Roland Martin is the host of "Washington Watch" and joins us this Monday morning. John Fugelsang is a political comedian, and Will Cain, of course, is a columnist from

Our STARTING POINT this morning, two men accused of going on a killing spree in Oklahoma. Three people were killed, two injured early Friday morning. All five victims were black. The two suspects are white.

Officials are not calling this a hate crime but Jake England, the suspect on the left, he made a remark on his Facebook page the day before the shootings that could indicate a motive here, quote, "Today is two years that my dad has been gone, shot by a blank and blank. It's hard not to go off between that and Sharon. I've gone in the red. RIP dad and Sharon, I love and miss you. I think about both of you every second of the day." Sharon was a reference to England's 24- year-old fiancee, Sharon Hart Wild, who had recently committed suicide in front of him, leaving behind their six-month-old daughter.

We're joined by Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett and Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan. Thanks for joining us this morning. Chief, I want to ask you first what do we know about a motive? We have the Facebook postings which certainly are leading investigators in the direction of a hate crime, but what do we know about motive here?

CHUCK JORDAN, TULSA POLICE CHIEF: Well that's not something we can really discuss at this time. Obviously we're going to give all that information to the prosecuting authority, our district attorney, and hopefully our reports will be complete and we'll have complete motive for him to work with.

ROMANS: Can you tell us, chief, a little bit about the relationship or association between England and Alvin Watts? Investigators have called them associates. What does that mean exactly? Do they live together? There's a big age difference, Jake England is 19 years old and the other one I think is 32.

JORDAN: The term "associates" is actually kind of an investigative term we use when looking, going through records, gathering information on someone. An associate can be many, many things whether it's somebody they are casual friends with or somebody in this case, we think they're pretty good friends, living at the same residence. That's basically what it means.

ROMANS: Do you know who pulled the trigger?

JORDAN: I can't talk about any of the investigative details, obviously. That's going to prosecution.

ROMANS: Of course, and obviously we don't want to you do or say anything that would jeopardize that investigation. I want to bring up another Facebook post if I can from Jake England around 10:00 Friday after the shootings had occurred. You must be going through this material "I do believe it just might be time to call it quits. I hate to say it like that but I'm done. If something does happen tonight be ready for another funeral later." Are these two men cooperating? Are they talking, helping you put the pieces together from what we've seen on Facebook and the time frame of these murders?

JORDAN: Well, again, I apologize but we can't talk about any of the investigative details at this point in time. It's just premature to do that. Anything we do have, I will tell you we go through social media on a lot of cases as part of our culture today and our society today, and so that's very common. But as far as any information of what the suspect may or may not have said we can't share that now.

ROMANS: Mayor Bartlett I want to bring new and talk about what happened in the community. For 48 hours you had people who were afraid to leave their homes. Clearly they must be happy at this point there are two arrests and looks as though you're headed toward some resolution. Can you talk about how the people of Tulsa are feeling this morning?

DEWEY BARTLETT, MAYOR OF TULSA, OKLAHOMA: Well, they're feeling a lot more secure in their homes. Obviously when this random event happened very early Friday morning, people were walking down the street, were on the front porch of their homes, and that's the last thing you ever would think would happen, and so it's a real shock to our collective system.

Now, when the community came together in a very united fashion, we were very supportive of the investigative and the policing efforts of our entire law enforcement family, that we were able as a community to help them with a lot of tips, a lot of suggestions. And that in itself, I think, brings a lot of closure at least to the fear aspect of this thing. With two people now behind bars and the investigation going into the different phase with the court system and the prosecutors, it does bring at least some finality to what did happen. Now we focus upon the families, the five families that were affected by this violence, three that of course lost the family member that died, had been injured both gunshots, we now focus on our fell sew Tulsans to make sure they are bet per.

ROMANS: How are the two wounded doing right now?

BARTLETT: They're out of the hospital and much better. They're certainly recovering and from what I'm told, the recovery is expected to be complete. However, there's certainly a lot of emotional scars that enters into this that will be difficult to gauge for a long time. Families, that's who we focus on now in Tulsa with our fellow Tulsans, the families.

ROMANS: Thank you, gentlemen. Keep us posted, as you get more from your investigation that you can share with us. Clearly you don't want to jeopardize the ongoing investigation. Thank you, gentlemen.

All right, some other news headlines this morning with Zoraida. Hi, Zoraida.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Christine. The teenage suspect in the deadly Ohio shooting rampage will be back in court. 17-year-old T.J. Lane is accused of killing three of his fellow students in January. Lane is being held on juvenile charges of aggravated murder, attempted murder and felony assault. He could still be prosecuted as an adult.

Singer Jennifer Hudson is scheduled to testify in the murder trial of the man accused of killing her mother, brother and nephew. Jury selection begins today in the trail of William Balfour. Balfour is the estranged husband of Hudson's sister. Prosecutors say he gunned down Hudson's family back in 2008 in a fit of jealous rage.

People across the world remembering a true giant in the broadcasting industry this morning. Mike Wallace died over the weekend at the age of 93. His aggressive and fearless reporting is the stuff of legend. Wallace was there at the beginning of CBS's "60 Minutes" in 1968. Long-time colleague Morley Safer calls him a, quote "one man truth squad."


MORLEY SAFER, JOURNALIST: People like mike have an indefinable quality that makes people at once take to him immediately, and then find themselves rappelled by him. It's a unique talent.


SAMBOLIN: There will be a full tribute to Wallace next Sunday on "60 Minutes."

Minding your business, let's get a quick check of the markets. Stocks pointing to a big drop when trading gets under way. Futures down over 100 points right now. Things could change. We're watching to see how the market reacts to Friday's disappointing jobs report. Only 120,000 jobs were created in March. That's lower than the estimated 210,000.

In other business news now, it's not much of a relief, but gas prices are down. The national average for a gallon of unleaded now $3.93 a gallon. It's the third day that we have seen a drop. Overall gas prices have jumped nearly 20 percent and that's just so far this year.

It was a battle to the finish and beyond. Bubba Watson winning the 76th masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia, defeating South African Luis Oosthuizen on the second hole of a sudden death playoff. Watson started the final round in fourth but shot a 68 to force the playoff.


BUBBA WATSON, GOLFER: Going back to my childhood, going back to my wife, what my wife said to me, what my mom said to me, just put my head down, and I've done this before. My caddie's told me all the time, he said you're a good golfer. You're here for a reason. You can do this. You've hit all these shots before. You just have to do it in this moment.


SAMBOLIN: No big deal, just in this moment. Watson is 33 years old. This is his first major win. It was just beautiful to watch.

ROMANS: I did not watch it. I was knee deep in children all weekend. But that's one happy man, at 33, one happy minute.

SAMBOLIN: Yes indeed.

ROMANS: Roland just told me he's completely natural talent.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: He's never taken a golf lesson. He's never studied his golf swing, actual old school. That's how Ben Hogan was. He said you figure it out in the dirt. I love guys like that. Plus he's left-handed and hits a pink driver with a pink shaft. Bubba said I'm going to stand out. Plus his name is bubba, of course he'll stand out.


ROMANS: Let's talk about Mitt Romney and standing out the Republicans and standing out to the cast of "Saturday Night Live," who turned their sights on Mitt Romney again. This week a string of clips supposedly lifted from C-Span showing the candidate on the campaign trail.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, Ann and I have lived and traveled all over the world but I'll let you in on a little secret. The only place that has ever truly felt like home is right here east St. Louis, Illinois.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In all honesty I can't remember a time when Dungeons and Dragons wasn't an important part of my life.

No one wants to get sick, you know, but frankly, I've always thought that if I had to develop a chronic disease, I hoped it would be adult onset diabetes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People ask me, Mitt, just how many piercings do you have? I always say more than I need but less than I want.



ROMANS: It reminded us of the famous grits and saying y'all when he was down south last month.



MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm learning to say y'all and I like grits, and things are -- strange things are happening to me.


ROMANS: Strange things are happening to me.

MARTIN: I guess he's getting the grits in South Carolina, that's probably why Gingrich blasted him in the state.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You point out that's why he failed in South Carolina.

FUGELSANG: He got Jeff Foxworthy to campaign for him and still couldn't come in second in Alabama.


ROMANS: But politicians have to go out and say I'm like you.

FUGELSANG: But Mitt's a special case. He gets a bad rap because mitt has consistently throughout his entire career been a human windsock. In that sense he's not a flip-flopper. He is willing to say, do or believe anything to get elected. He gave thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood and is now boasting he wants it defunded. He deserves the dig.

CAIN: Look, this group think has taken hold that mitt Romney is a completely unprincipled windsock as John said and mitt Romney has given us evidence to believe it. He's given away 10 percent of his wealth, tithed it every year, given away two years of his life for something beyond his career.

FUGELSANG: And avoided military service to do so.


FUGELSANG: A war he supported, he avoided that service by volunteering.

MARTIN: Just give me a candidate who can say, look, I'm not going to do this stupid bowling stuff, taking a shot, drinking a beer, eating grits. If you don't like it, don't do it. To me that is a joke.

FUGELSANG: Republicans would respect him if he did that.

MARTIN: Republicans -- 2008, Senator Obama bowling and Senator Clinton took a shot. That's just idiotic.

ROMANS: All politics.

MARTIN: No president say regular person anyway. Let's just stop that nonsense.


CAIN: Did a parakeet crawl in your pocket?


MARTIN: You don't have this much style, I know. Don Johnson is saying I did better "Miami Vice" in the '80s.


FUGELSANG: Are you guys going to be like this?

MARTIN: All day, baby, all day.

ROMANS: All right, I want to switch back to the Trayvon Martin case. It could head to a grand jury tomorrow. The question, was it a justified use of deadly force? We'll ask the lawmakers who helped write the controversial stand-your-ground law.

And get real, only in Vegas a bus offering mobile treatments for your hangover.

If you're about to head to work or can't get out of bed because of your Easter festivities, you don't need to miss the rest of the show, check out our live blog on We'll leave with you Roland's playlist as Roland leaves us, "Sunshine Anderson."

MARTIN: I got to do radio. You did listen to Sunshine Anderson, though.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROMANS: Prosecutors in the Trayvon Martin shooting could take their case to a grand jury tomorrow. Either way Trayvon's family considers it a deadline to show something about the fate of George Zimmerman. Today a group of college students who walked 40 miles across central Florida over the weekend lead a rally calling for Zimmerman to be arrested and tried. But a grand jury may never decide whether Zimmerman is tried in court. You remember Angela Corey the special prosecutor overseeing the case last month.


ANGELA COREY, FOURTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT STATE ATTORNEY: Since I've been the elected state attorney for the last three years and two months, we have yet to get together a grand jury to determine whether or not to file charges in a justifiable use of deadly force case. We do a thorough investigation and we make that decision ourselves.


ROMANS: David Simmons is a Republican Florida state senator. Part of his district is Sanford, Florida. Thank you for getting up early for us this morning, sir.


ROMANS: Do you think this case is going to go to a grand jury tomorrow?

SIMMONS: I don't know. That's certainly a decision that the special prosecutor can make, and will make. And it's important for us to simply make sure the judicial system actually plays out the way it's supposed to.

ROMANS: Let's talk about that then, talk about the grand jury and if it goes to the grand jury and what that would look like. It's made up of at least 15 people. They must decide if there's probable cause a crime has been committed. In this case any piece of evidence that would convince a judge that Zimmerman probably committed a crime when he shot Trayvon Martin, whether it be a witness or a piece of physical evidence. So when you look at the facts of this case, do you think a grand jury would indict George Zimmerman?

SIMMONS: Well, I don't know what all the facts are, Christine. I think it's important to understand right now that the stand our ground law, the stand your ground law is something that came into being in 2005. At that time the state of Florida was the distinct minority. Most states have and had a stand your ground law, and Florida had an unusual provision that says that a person has -- a victim has a duty to flee. And all we did in 2005 was change that, so that Florida would go along with the majority of states in the nation and say that a person who is a victim of a crime wherever that person rightfully is located can go ahead and stand his or her ground in the event that they are accosted by someone who uses deadly force.

FUGELSANG: Good morning, Senator Simmons. Is there a possibility that the stand your ground law is not even germane to the case if Mr. Zimmerman precipitated this entire situation?

SIMMONS: You are entirely correct. That's an interesting point that you're making, and that is the stand your ground as we prepared it in 2005 and it was enacted provides that, number one, what I call is a purity provision. You must in fact not be engaged yourself in any unlawful activity. Secondly, you must reasonably believe that deadly force is being used against you in order to be able to rely upon the stand your ground law.

And so in this instance, if, in fact Mr. Zimmerman was engaged in any kind of unlawful activity such as waving or brandishing a firearm in front of Trayvon Martin, then under those circumstances, the law wouldn't apply.

What's really interesting is that even if the stand your ground law were not enacted chances are that he would still have the defense of self-defense under the prior Florida law, because even though there is the standard requirement previously in Florida to flee if deadly force is being used against you, you don't have the duty to flee if, in fact, you don't have an avenue of escape. And according to him, at least according to his father, as he stated last week, he was on the ground being held down, so he didn't have an avenue of escape.

CAIN: Senator Simmons, Will Cain. How might the stand your crime law changed the crime scene that night? Would it have shifted the benefit of the doubt from the police onsite? Would it have affected the decisions the police made that night?

SIMMONS: I think the important thing for any law enforcement officer to do is number one, have probable cause, which is required to arrest someone, and then look at all the facts and circumstances.

Since this is one of those crimes in which there are few eyewitnesses and it's going to require that there be forensic evidence, it's going to be interesting to see how the bullet wound actually occurred. It's going to be interesting to see who the person that was, who was yelling on the tapes for help. So these are a lot of factual pieces of information that we don't have already. And that's why it's so critical that the prosecutor is the one who sifts through all of this evidence before making the determination of probable cause.

ROMANS: David Simmons, Florida state senator, thank you for joining us this morning, sir.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, get sloppy drunk at night and an I.V. in the morning. A new mobile hangover, the latest innovation to help keep the partying going. Guess where it is. It's our "Get Real." Plus Tim Tebow preaching to thousands at eastern mass and he brings up Tebowing. You're watching STARTING POINT.



ROMANS: Is this a new song, recent? SIMMONS: No, I don't listen to new music.

MARTIN: That's obvious.

SIMMONS: This is not an old song.

CAIN: About five years.


CAIN: Your musical knowledge of it, the breadth of it is staggering.

SIMMONS: My brother got me into it.

ROMANS: I'm going to play Trivial Pursuit with you. You know too many things.

It's time to "Get Real" why most people go to Vegas, to drink big until you can't feel feelings anymore, right?


ROMANS: Of course, you can pay for that in the morning.

Now, one Las Vegas-based anesthesiologist says he has the cure for a hangover of a lifetime. His company,, has a fleet of tour buses rolling up and down the Las Vegas strip offering I.V. treatments that will rid your body of hangover causing toxins. He claims for $150 you'll be good to go under an hour. Your memory, he can't guarantee you'll get this back. Think how much trouble this could have saved the guys in the movie "The Hangover."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Phil, do not go in the bathroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you put on some pants?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a tiger in the bathroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a jungle cat in the bathroom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, I'll check it out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be careful, don't, don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not kidding, there's a tiger in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It's big. It's gigantic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am in so much pain right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: Will Cain, Brad Cooper is wearing your stubble.

MARTIN: Trust me that was a better looking one.

ROMANS: If you got the buses going down the street maybe you can get hangover cure on your way to the little chapel or the way back. I'm not sure which end of the chapel visit you should get the hangover cure.

MARTIN: You're drunk by paying him 150 bucks for the I.V. hookup.


ROMANS: You're saying this is snake oil.

MARTIN: I'm just saying that's nuts. Stick with the hangover. 150 bucks and you think after an hour I'm good? Gotcha.

FUGELSANG: Some people want the hangover. I saw a Chris Angel show and I wanted no memory of the entire experience. So it's great the first world has this now.

ROMANS: You have the memory, you just don't feel terrible.

FUGELSANG: Great idea. Really is.

MARTIN: You're going to feel terrible saying man I should have spent more money on the drinks.

ROMANS: For every drink have a glass of water.

MARTIN: Just do like me, I don't drink so just have fun all night.

FUGELSANG: This is Vegas. They should have the Valtrex van following behind them.


ROMANS: Oh, my gosh. We're moving on.

So much for Iowa nice. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley called President Obama stupid. Didn't Chuck Grassley also one time tell the AIG executives they should go kill themselves? Iowa nice, folks.

Plus, the world watching what North Korea will do next. New reports this morning that the north is planning to test its third nuclear weapon as a rocket sits ready to launch. We're going to get a personal tour of that. You're watching STARTING POINT.


JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: Turn you into a hip-hop fan.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A little bounce in the morning.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: That's John's play list. Zoraida has got the headlines for us this morning. Good morning, Zoraida.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Well, it is hopes for a ceasefire in Syria. They appear to be dwindling with new reports of deadly violence.

The group, Human Rights Watch says, Syrian troops have summarily executed more than 100 civilians in recent attacks on cities and towns.

There are also reports of deadly clashes today between Syrian forces and rebel fighters near the border with Turkey. The Syrian government wants written assurance that rebel also lay down arms first before agreeing to a U.N. ceasefire.

A new collapse at a mine in Peru could delay the rescue of nine workers. They have trapped since Thursday. Right now, the trapped miners have access to oxygen, food and water. But officials fear a rescue may not happen for another day or two.

Starting today, the U.S. Navy will cut compensation checks to those affected by Friday's military jet crash at a Virginia Beach apartment complex.

The first payouts will cover housing, meals and closing totalling about $2,300 per individual resident. It's more for families. Dozens of apartment units were destroyed, but amazingly no one was killed or seriously hurt there.

The pastor joked he's the biggest thing in Christianity right now next to the pope that is, Tim Tebow spoke in front of a crowd of about 15,000 people during an Easter church service.

It was held outdoors in Georgetown, Texas. He says the country needs to get back to being one country under God. He also talked about the Tebowing craze.


TIM TEBOW, FOOTBALL PLAYER: It's kind of crazy. I really don't think I was the first athlete to get on a knee and pray and it's funny because I've had the same routine the last seven years.

And just this year, they started calling it Tebowing, which I have no idea why, but I've been doing the same thing the last seven years and this year seemed to get popular. But I do think it's pretty cool because at least prayer is being talked about.


SAMBOLIN: Well, he certainly has started that. Christine back to you.

ROMANS: All right, thanks, Zoraida. People are going thousands of people cheering him for being humble.

FUGELSANG: Yes, he's going to love playing for the Jets, where he can show off how humble he is in front of thousands here in New York. Matthew 6:5, Tim, check it out sometime.

MARTIN: We forget all of the previous players who scored touchdowns. It's called praying, not Tebowing.

ROMANS: And he said that.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He's not the first.

ROMANS: He said that. A lot of guys have been taking a knee for a long time. All right, thanks, guys.

The world watching North Korea this morning, some on edge, nervous about a planned rocket launch, North Korea moved a long range rocket into position and readied it for a launch this week.

Pyongyang insists its intentions are good. They even invited foreign journalists to come, take a look, including our own Stan Grant looking at this secret launch site.


STAN GRANT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is indeed a rare opportunity to get this close to an actual satellite launch site especially here in North Korea. This area has been kept very much under wraps away from the eyes of the world, but today of course, this has changed. You can see the media around me here, the number of people who have been invited here to tour this site.


ROMANS: Joining us is Jim Walsh, international security analyst. Welcome to the program again. I want to ask you first, this whole parading the journalists through letting people see, is this for internal -- I mean, is this for Kim Jong-Un to, you know, is it bragging internally, is it sending a message to the international community, both?

JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, it's a good question. Often when North Korea acts out, it will -- its purpose is to communicate with the broader world, communicate to the United States or to Japan or South Korea.

This is really about internal messaging, being able to go to its own public and say look all these western journalists are here, we're really important, we're really a big deal.

And why do I say it's internally driven because they are going through a political transition, this young guy, this 20-something- year-old has taken over for his father.

And he's in the middle of trying to consolidate his position and it's 100th anniversary of Kim Il-Sung birth, the founder of North Korea.

They've been planning big events for years now for this. So this is all about regime legitimacy and talking to the North Korean people and the military, the elites in the military.

ROMANS: So CNN saw, you know, what appears to be a satellite. I think most of the media there agree that there definitely is a satellite for this rocket to launch this satellite into space.

You know, so big deal, except we also know that this is a country that has nuclear ambitions no matter how nascent or you know, or successful they will be. And it's a missile launch that people really are concerned about down the road.

WALSHI: Yes, well, you know, this missile is not the greatest missile in the world. There are two characteristics if you have a modern missile program, one is solid fuel and the other is a modern guidance system.

And this missile has neither of those and four tests, four long range missile tests over like 15 years is not a very active missile program. It's more like a tube filled with gasoline than it is anything else.

And you know, the big worry is they're going to fire it up there and it will get wobbly on them and start to veer off course like the last two did.

That's the real concern I have is not the missile itself, but that the missile might stray into foreign air space and Japan or South Korea might feel inclined to shoot it down and then suddenly we're off to the races with an international incident.

FUGELSANG: We can also talk about the fact that millions of North Koreans are starving to pay for this missile, are we looking at a scenario most likely going to see a couple of missiles get launched, march troops down to the DMZ, should people be legitimately scared about this or is this a case of Fredo Jong-Il trying to impress the Corleon family?

WALSH: Well, I think it is about, again, trying to impress the family and the military. I don't think they're going to march a lot of people towards the DMZ. I think that would be provocative.

Certainly, you could see other missile tests. That's a good question. They've done in the past, short-range missiles, but I'm afraid what we're really looking here at further down the road is the missile test.

Then there's going to be international reaction and then they're going to have to push back and so I would not rule out a nuclear test, you know, sometime later this year if this continues to ratchet up.

ROMANS: Because the South Korean intelligence are reporting that they think it's highly probable that after a long range rocket test like this, a launch. That they'll go ahead and do another nuclear test at this spot where they've done it in 2006, I think in 2009, done where they've done atomic testing before.

This is obviously very provocative behavior by the North Koreans, even after there was just this very you know highly publicized deal for food for this starving country. So, you know, what's the point? I mean, what are they trying to do?

WALSH: Well, I think that's a great question. That's the $100,000 question and we really don't have an answer here. Now I know lot of people who have been following this over the years. They sort of think this is the same old same old that we cut a deal and they've broken the deal.

You know, they got something, but they didn't live up to their promises. Well, that's not what's happening here. There was a deal, and we really hadn't given them anything yet. We haven't given them the food aid, but the deal fell apart.

So that's tells me one two of things happened. Either there was some misunderstanding about the contents of that deal. The Americans thought one thing. The North Koreans the other or maybe that deal got back to Pyongyang and then ran into trouble there.

Maybe the military pushed back or there was something else going on. But at this point, we don't know the reason, if we had an answer to that question that would tell us what's going on inside North Korea.

But it's the most opaque society in the world, more than Iran, more than any other place on earth so we really don't know what's going on.

ROMANS: All right, Jim Walsh, international security analyst, MIT Security Studies Program at MIT. Thanks for joining us.

WALSH: Thank you.

ROMANS: And of course, China will be a big important part of this, too. I mean, right in China's backyard, a big power player in the region. What pressure can China put on the country to kind of step back from the brink?

FUGELSANG: What question would they want to put on North Korea?

ROMANS: All right, thanks, guys.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, he was commander of the "USS Cole" the day it was attacked, killing 17 American sailors. Hear from Kirk Lippold about what happened that day and the warning he gave America on the morning of September 11th, 2001.

Plus Senator Chuck Grassley calls the president stupid. An Obama adviser calls him a 6-year-old. It's come to this in the health care fight. We leave with you my playlist, "Slow Poison." You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: You're dismissing of his lovely music.

MARTIN: I'm shaking my head going, it was resurrection Sunday yesterday, resurrect his playlist.

CAIN: That's for Parris, Texas.

ROMANS: Of course, absolutely.

All right, guys, a top Republican getting slapped by Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod for calling the president stupid in a tweet online.

It all started with the comment the president made last week about the Supreme Court taking up his health care law.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.


ROMANS: A lot of conservatives took that as a challenge to judicial authority including apparently Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. He tweeted this weekend, "Constituents asked why I am not outraged at President Obama's attack on Supreme Court independence because American people are not as stupid as this ex-professor of constitutional law."

David Axelrod responded, "Heads up, Senator Grassley, I think a 6-year-old hijacked your account is sending out foolish tweets just to embarrass you."

Everyone's nice in Iowa except Senator Grassley thinks the president is stupid. This is what it's come to with the health care reform?

FUGELSANG: Well, this will only help him with the base, but Senator Grassley is lying, this is a lie. These are the same people who don't like it when a court does judicial activism unless they agree with it. Senator Grassley, of course, is well known for the death panel mean, which was the same exact policy he had fought for decades earlier.

MARTIN: This is really something, OK. Senator Harry Reid made some outrageous comments regarding President George W. Bush. The fundamental problem that you have in this country whether you're a Republican or Democrat is you do not have people who have respect for the office of the president of the United States. When I watch television and see people call him Barack as if that's their buddy when actually it's the president of the United States, it's President Obama. I was called President Bush President Bush and so you respect the office so whether you're Republican or Democrat.

CAIN: I actually agree with what Roland had to say and couldn't disagree with more with what John had to say. If there's something that's demonstrably false in this entire story is what President Obama said at that press gathering.

He said this was passed by a strong majority. Prove to me in any way that's possible and also said unprecedented for the Supreme Court to overturn this law? It's unprecedented except for 250 years of American jurisprudence history of judicial review. There's just nothing true about what he said.

FUGELSANG: It was not passed by a strong majority that's correct, but how do you call this an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court? That's absurd. I agree with Chuck Grassley on a couple of important things like the History Channel needs to show history again. I think he's a powerful advocate for that cause.

ROMANS: Do you agree the AIG executives should either resign or kill themselves? He's been known to be --

CAIN: He fires off on Twitter. He fires off.

MARTIN: He goes too far. He fires of on C-Span, on Twitter, when he's on the Senate floor, it doesn't matter. Here again what you have here is you have, when a Democratic president is critical of the Supreme Court, Republicans will rush to their aid, but just flip it.


MARTIN: Republicans will still criticize the Supreme Court for Roe v. Wade. So the bottom line is you criticize when you don't like the decision.


WAIN: No, it's a fundamental lack of understanding of judicial --

FUGELSANG: When you like it it's strict constitutional, when you don't like it --

MARTIN: Republicans to this day still don't criticize the Roe v. Wade.

CAIN: Judicial activism to apply the constitution to allow (inaudible). It's judicial activism as in Roe v. Wade to create new aspects of the constitution, like put numbers that are absolutely absurd.

MARTIN: Again, conservatives always want to label what happened that might have killed the Democrats as judicial activism. If you don't like a decision you call it judicial activism, simple as that, regardless of party.

ROMANS: I thought this conversation was going to be about whether he's just used the word stupid in a tweet. And this really turned into the core of the whole argument.

FUGELSANG: Well, it's kind of funny when you're tweeting like a 14-year-old girl and calling someone else stupid, respect that.

ROMANS: It's 6 year old --

FUGELSANG: I give him more credit. I'm more mature than Axelrod.

ROMANS: All right, guys, ahead on STARTING POINT. It was the prelude to 9/11, 12 years later the commander of the "USS Cole is talking about the deadly attack on his ship.

And the aftermath and why we should have known about the threat from al Qaeda years before they attacked American soil. You're watching STARTING POINT.


ROMANS: The trial of the master mind of the "USS Cole" bombings resumes this month at Guantanamo Bay. It's being watched for what it could reveal about CIA interrogations.

Al Qaeda bombed the "USS Cole" while the ship was refuelling in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed and nearly 40 wounded. That attack coming 11 months before the September 11th attacks.

Now for the first time, the man in charge of the ship that day describes that harrowing ordeal. Joining our panel is the author "Front Burner," Retired Navy Commander Kirk Lippold.

It's nice to see you this morning. The book is really, really well done. It reminds me of, you know, when that happened it was a different America. It really was.

We hadn't had September 11th. We've seen this escalating sort of bombings of U.S. interest around the world, but then the "Cole" really struck at the heart of this country.

KIRK LIPPOLD, AUTHOR, "FRONT BURNER": It did. I think we had a pre9/11 mindset. People were of the opinion that so long as terrorist attacks occurred overseas that is the price we paid for being on the international stage.

ROMANS: We know it was a foreshadowing of what al Qaeda wanted to do and the message you wanted to send to us and how it wanted to kill American civilians.

LIPPOLD: Absolutely. When you look at it, they had attacked buildings and embassies. You had the Khobar Towers. You have the embassies in Darussalam and Nairobi.

Those are things that represent or house U.S. interests. When you attack a warship, that's something that defends U.S. interests around the globe and when you try to reduce a nation's ability to protect its citizens around the world it's an act of war and it was missed by two administrations.

ROMANS: October 2000, you said it felt like we had been sphere like a giant fish. It's like a ship rose up and flexed back and forth. It destroyed the public address system. It destroyed the alarms.

The ship didn't go down, though. How did you save the ship without being able to communicate with your crew? Everyone had to go back on instincts and training, I guess.

LIPPOLD: It was absolutely training. The crew immediately fell back on what they have been trained to do. They formed small teams. They went out. They investigated the damage around the ship and determined what they needed to do to stop the flooding.

To isolate various areas of the ship to prevent it from sinking and immediately set about doing that, those that were not involved in the damage control effort began to work on the -- on saving the crewmembers. That day we evacuate 33 wounded off the ship in 99 minutes and 32 had survived.

ROMANS: You're lisping back to port, right. You made a report two weeks after the attack. You told us in the break you played the Star-Spangled Banner. Tell me a little bit about trying to keep everyone together and keep morale up after this horrible event.

LIPPOLD: Well, I wanted to send a signal. When the ship got under way and was going to be towed out of Yemen, as we were pulling away from the pier, I told the executive officer my number two in command play the Star - Spangled Banner.

He did exactly that and sent a signal despite what happened to us we were leaving with our head held high and made a determination played the second song. What do we play?

Star Spangled again and then the second time, Jimi Hendrix version. I said the crews earned it and let them play what they want. They played a memorable song.

I thought I would get good solid American rock. The crew had a different idea of what rock meant and the next thing, you know, you hear this noise coming on the speakers from Kid Rock, American Bad Ass.

Sending the signal up yours, Yemen. That was really -- you can't ask for any better than that. Kid Rock, great American, he would come several months later and do a benefit concert for the crew and families in Norfolk. MARTIN: Playing public enemy.

ROMANS: You say you were disappointed by both the Clinton and Bush administration responses to this attack. What would you have considered a more appropriate response?

LIPPOLD: I think we should have been much more forthright in going after al Qaeda and doing what was necessary. Putting a bunch of missiles into Afghanistan following the embassy bombings clearly had no effect.

They had abandoned Tarnack farms and where other missiles hit and it had little effect. So we learned our lesson right there. That there was either a compromise or something that went on and I think we should have taken a look. We had two years to react to it and essentially did nothing.

ROMANS: Early in the morning of September 11th, 2001. So this is 11 months after the attack on the "USS Cole" that you write about. You attended a briefing at CIA headquarters on how al Qaeda had planned and executed this attack on your ship. I want to read what you told CIA officials at the end of that meeting.

You said, I don't think America understands. I believe it's going to take a seminal event probably in this country where hundreds, if not thousands, are going to have to die before Americans realize that we're at war with this guy.

Moments later, the north tower of the World Trade Center was hit. Describe I guess your feelings and do you think that they heeded you and they knew how serious this was?

LIPPOLD: It was the most horrible pit in my stomach that you could imagine, because that first one, you're kind of wondering what went on.

But as I'm standing outside the Counterterrorism Center and watching the second plane bank at 30 degrees and slam into the south tower you knew the nation was at war in that instant.

You also knew who it probably was. I just looked at it and said, I cannot believe this is happening to my nation. We've had 11 months to react to it and we did nothing.

MARTIN: I just think, unfortunately in this country, whether it was this issue and others, we are reactionary. We wait for things to reach critical mass and then we say, OK, I guess, we might want to do something about it. Whether it was a space shuttle, whether it was dealing with the old rings, (inaudible) you name it, we are always waiting for --

ROMANS: A British historian told me that Americans are optimist unlike a lot of other countries. So in a way, that's why we are reactionary.

FUGELSANG: It is worth pointing out that after the original embassy bombings, the Clinton administration did send missile strikes. But I think what we learned from the hideous" Cole" attack was that this was a foe of international criminals who never do the same approach twice.

Embassies this time and Navy ship this time and hijacking planes, European train station the next time. It really seems in retrospect that the Cole when we first realized that this is going to be one of the most unpredictable enemies the U.S. had ever faced.

LIPPOLD: Absolutely, I mean, the attack on "Cole" truly was an act of war. We didn't react to it. We had seen (inaudible) revisit targets. That's what worries me.

We are getting to be, you know, 11 years, 10 years plus with 9/11 on here and people are getting comfortable. Terrorism isn't the forefront as everyone is thinking going into the elections this fall.

I can tell you right now, if you think for one minute that Iran is not planning and has the operational aspects going on in this country today, should we choose to do anything against them with respect to their nuclear program, they are wrong and that is what worries more than anything else.

ROMANS: Another issue, but we will have to leave it there. Kirk Lippold, very nice to see you. The author of the book called "Front Burner," former commanding officer of the "USS Cole." Thanks for joining us.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, two men heading to court today accused of a killing spree in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We are looking at new evidence that may reveal that it's a case of racial revenge.

China making waves in the Caribbean buying into islands just miles off our shores, should the U.S. be worried? What is China going for here? You're watching STARTING POINT.