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Deadly Midwest Tornadoes; Deadly Attacks Rock Afghan Capital; Interview With Rep. Peter King; Gunfire And Explosions Rock Kabul

Aired April 16, 2012 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kate Bolduan, in for Ashleigh Banfield, who's getting well-deserved day off.

Thanks for having me in.

SAMBOLIN: We're very happy to have you, girl.

BOLDUAN: Really happy to be up early.

It's 5:00 in the East. So, let's get started.

Unfortunately, we're starting this morning with some pretty scary news -- killer storms up and down Tornado Alley. More than 130 twisters touching down this weekend.

Our Rob Marciano was right in the thick of it. You've got to see the video and the pictures. He's live on the ground in Oklahoma, just ahead.

SAMBOLIN: Afghan leaders say they've repelled the deadly terror attacks in Kabul and three other provinces. The explosions and gunfire have stopped, at least for now.

BOLDUAN: And the latest on the prostitution scandal at the Secret Service. Nearly a dozen agents pulled off the job. And the president, not surprisingly, not pleased.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I expect that investigation to be thorough and I expect it to be rigorous.


BOLDUAN: Ahead, how a complaint from one prostitute in Colombia set the scandal in motion.

SAMBOLIN: And, yes, that is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She was caught on camera -- take a look, folks, you don't normally see her had like this. She's knocking down a beer and dancing up a storm at a Cuban nightclub in Cartagena, Colombia.

But, up first, the alarm after the storm. People in the Midwest and the Plains still reeling from a weekend of violent and deadly weather. Take a look at that, more than 130 tornadoes touching down over the weekend, many of them in Kansas. The governor says 97 twisters were reported there.

And some of the worst damage, though, was in Oklahoma. That state's governor declaring a state of emergency in 12 counties. The tiny town of Woodward was nearly leveled and five people there lost their lives. Power was knocked out ahead of the storm, disabling the warning sirens.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought it was a train coming down the tracks over there. And I looked out, and I seen the funnel and I started running through the house screaming, Marcia, Marcia! I mean, loud. I was scared.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It gives me a whole new respect for tornadoes and how they can, in an instant, just destroy everything that everyone knew.


SAMBOLIN: CNN's Rob Marciano got a firsthand look at the tornado damage. He is live in Woodward, Oklahoma. What can you tell us, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, this town reeling. Block after block, we're seeing damage like you see behind me, where trucks and cars are tossed like toys. This area, though, fairly narrow but it cut right through the heart of Woodward.

And as you mentioned, it came at night after the power came out -- was off because this town got hit by two other separate storms during the afternoon. So the result was five fatalities, 29 injured, as you mentioned, and the recovery effort is still going on.

An incredible weekend of tornadoes across the Midwest and moving all over toward the east. The cleanup today begins. And yesterday, we talked to a number of people who wanted to share their survival stories.

This is a town steeped in tradition of tornadoes. They just celebrated the 65-year anniversary of the great 1947 tornado which killed over 100 people in this town. And some of the survivors of this one survived that one as well.

I talked to a gentleman who's been living in this town his whole life, Paul Lord. He's been through a lot, several heart and brain surgeries, and yesterday -- well, early yesterday, he survived this storm with an incredible story.


PAUL LORD, WOODWARD RESIDENT: When I was laying down there on the curb, and I looked up and saw the house gone. I didn't know what to do. And then neighbors come in, started pulling bricks off, and tilting walls up, and everybody started coming out.

MARCIANO: What specifically are things that you want to find in this rubble?

LORD: I found them -- my son, my daughter, son-in-law, my grandbabies, my wife. Everything else just brick and stick.


MARCIANO: The family members he just mentioned were covered with those bricks and sticks and appliances. He had a huge gash on his head, his grandson cuts on his arm. He drove he and his grandson to the hospital, later found out that his wife and the rest of his family was OK. Just grateful to have them be alive.

But his house leveled. They were actually selling the house this week and were going to move out. Not sure what's going to happen there, but they're certainly happy to have their lives -- guys.

SAMBOLIN: You know, I have a couple of questions. You mentioned earlier that the power had gone out. So, did they get the siren warning in time or not?

MARCIANO: Well, you know, sirens are meant really for people who are outside. So this happened late at night, actually shortly after midnight, about half the sirens went out. They were watching television, the media stations, the TV stations do a great job here. So they knew the storm was coming, but when it flattens your home, there's only so much you can do.

The fatalities happened at a trailer park down the road and also a couple that were out in their car. They may not have heard the sirens or the media reports and they may have been in a bad place at a bad time.

SAMBOLIN: And, Rob, right now, we're taking a look at storm chasing video. And I came in this morning to this really dreadful picture of you with what looked like two twisters behind you. Were you chasing storms?

MARCIANO: Yes, we were out chasing all weekend. We knew it would be a high-risk day. We teamed up with seasoned storm chasers, and we actually went after the cells that came through Woodward earlier in the day.

The tornado picture that you see was a tornado storm that came through here and likely knocked out power during the afternoon, made its way up towards the Kansas/Oklahoma border. We were in just as it was dropping not one but two tornadoes -- an incredible sight. At the time, it was just tearing up some grass and farmland so it was something just to marvel at.

But as night fell and the tornadoes continued to get worse, obviously the danger lurked and the reality set in yesterday morning.

SAMBOLIN: The danger, Rob, I said I was going to scold you this morning when I came in, when I saw that. You've got to know what you're doing in order to do what you did.

MARCIANO: You need to be on the right side of that storm as it's passing. And you don't want to get too close obviously. You you've got to respect it. We do so from a fairly safe distance, but you want to get close enough to where you can feel it, where you can hear it and get a good view of it. And we did just that.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Rob Marciano, live in Woodward, Oklahoma, for us. Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: And President Obama back from Colombia this morning and demanding a thorough and rigorous investigation into the prostitution scandal that's rocking the Secret Service. Eleven advanced Secret Service agents and officers allegedly brought prostitutes to a hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, just before the president arrived for the Summit of the Americas event. They've been placed on leave.

President Obama says he's reserving judgment for now.


OBAMA: If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then, of course, I'll be angry, because my attitude with respect to the Secret Service personnel is no different than what I expect out of my delegation that's sitting here. We're representing the people of the United States.


BOLDUAN: And in the next half hour, we'll talk to New York Congressman Peter King. He's chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and has oversight over the Secret Service. He's been briefed on the incident in Cartagena, and we'll hopefully get some more details from him and get the latest on that.

Also on Capitol Hill, a House hearing gets under way this afternoon as lawmakers begin investigating the spending scandal at the Government Services Administration. The GSA exists to ensure taxpayer dollars are wisely spent. That's why the House Oversight Committee wants to know how the agency can justify spending more than $800,000 at a lavish Las Vegas convention in 2010.

I know you know these details. We're getting more.

The videos then surfaced of GSA employees mocking President Obama, as well as a fake red carpet ceremony to boot.

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson resigned two weeks ago. And she is expected to testify. We'll be all over that later on CNN.

And in the next hour of EARLY START, we'll preview today's GSA hearing with Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly. He's the member of the House Oversight Committee. I have questions for him.

SAMBOLIN: I know you've been following this very closely for us.

All right. It's eight minutes past the hour here.

Just in: gas prices, no change in the price at the pump. The national average remains at $3.91 per gallon of unleaded gasoline.

BOLDUAN: Still painfully high.

SAMBOLI: Oh my gosh, yes.

All right. So, ridiculous and misleading -- those are the words Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is using to slam Mitt Romney. Geithner blasting the GOP candidate for his claim 92 percent of jobs lost under President Obama are among women. Geithner told NBC "Meet the Press" that calculation unfairly sticks President Obama with recession fallout from the Bush years.


TIM GEITHNER, SECRETARY OF TREASURY: It's ridiculous and deeply misleading look at the economy. Remember the recession and the crisis started at the beginning of 2008, more than a year before the president took office. And it caused a huge amount of damage to men, to women, to families, and the damage lasted for a time. You're still seeing the scars of that.

And if you look at the damage early on, you know, most of the early job losses were in construction, manufacturing and disproportionately affected men.


SAMBOLIN: As you well know, both candidates are vying for the female vote.

BOLDUAN: And Afghan officials say they've repelled a deadly wave of terrorist attacks that rocked Kabul and three provinces this weekend. NATO says as many as seven locations in the capital city were attacked in the nearly 18-hour assault, including Afghanistan's parliament building and the American, German and Russian embassies.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is live in Kabul.

Mohammed, what's the latest there? You're still hearing explosions? Or you're still hearing gunfire?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, no. All the operations finished around 7:00 a.m. today. We did get information from the interior ministry earlier that, all in all, about 36 suicide bombers were involved in the attacks across Afghanistan yesterday, and that a majority of them were killed by Afghan security forces in those operations.

Now, to give you an idea of just how chaotic and volatile it was yesterday here in central Kabul, this is a very heavily fortified, very heavily guarded part of the city that houses embassies, as close to the presidential palace. These attacks were around 1:15 p.m. yesterday, didn't end until 7:00 a.m. this morning.

The insurgents were holed up in a building that was close to several embassies. That's where they were launching their attacks.

In the overnight hours, we heard helicopters flying overhead. We heard small arms fire. We heard several loud blasts. We found out later that was due to RPGs that Afghan security forces were firing into that building to try to clear the building of the insurgents.

And in that operation, we also got information from the interior ministry that ISAF was involved in aerial support in these operations to finally end these attacks early this morning -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: And, Mohammed, you call it -- as we all know, it's a heavily fortified area, which is why it makes it all the more surprising. General Allen has said that this was meant as a signal or to send a message. What does he mean by that, and what are U.S., NATO and Afghan forces doing about this?

JAMJOOM: Well, Kate, as you said, it's a very heavily fortified part of the city, they call it the Ring of Steel, very worrying that the insurgents could get in here and infiltrate this area, clearly a signal by the insurgents here that they have reach, that they have stepped up their attacks. We've seen more attacks by the Taliban and Haqqani Network directed at this part of the city in the last year.

Clearly, they're saying they can do whatever they want despite the fact that there are forces still here, despite the fact that forces will be withdrawing by 2014. They have the reach, they have the sophistication. They will target where they want in Kabul and other parts of the country.

Now, NATO -- you talked about NATO. NATO yesterday was really overflowing with praise for Afghan security forces, saying that they really appreciated how responsive they were. Throughout the day yesterday, ISAF, NATO, U.S. officials were saying that ISAF and NATO were ready to back up the Afghan officials if need be. But they didn't request that.

Early this morning, now we know that there was aerial support by NATO. The fact aerial support was needed clearly showing that Afghan forces weren't able to do quite as good a job as originally billed that they were doing -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Mohammed Jamjoom in Kabul, there'd be much more to talk about this coming up very soon. Thank you so much, Mohammed.

SAMBOLIN: It is 12 minutes past the hour.

It is suddenly cool to be the secretary of state. Did you see the pictures?

BOLDUAN: I did see the pictures. You know what? Everyone's allowed to let their hair down once in a while.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. And, boy, did she, literally and figuratively. First it was Tumblr that had pictures. Now, new pictures of Hillary Clinton letting her hair down in Cartagena, Colombia.

The normally reserved Clinton is seen here hitting the dance floor at a club. This was on Saturday night. She's also seen sipping a beer there. Clinton is in Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.

BOLDUAN: And still ahead on EARLY START: legendary comedian Bill Cosby speaking to CNN about the Trayvon Martin shooting. He says the national uproar should be about guns, not race. Hear him in his word, coming up next.

SAMBOLIN: Search called off for four missing in a yacht race disaster. We have an update coming up.

You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: It is 16 minutes past the hour. A lot of laughter going on here. I hope you're having a good Monday.

Time to check the stories making news this morning.

Tornado Alley living up to its name. People in the Midwest and the Plains assessing the damage from more than 130 twisters that struck over the weekend. Five people were killed, all in the town of Woodward, Oklahoma.

President Obama wants a thorough and rigorous investigation of the prostitution scandal at the Secret Service. Eleven agents have been relieved of their duties. They are accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel in Colombia in advance of President Obama's arrival for a summit there.

The gunfire and explosions have stopped after 18 intense hours of fighting in Kabul. Afghan officials say they've weed out the remaining insurgents after a wave of deadly weekend attacks targeting Afghanistan's parliament building and the American, Russian and German embassies. Afghan's interior minister says the majority of the attackers used women's clothing with burqas covering their faces in order to reach their targets.

BOLDUAN: Amazing details coming out on that.

The trial begins today for the Norway mass murder suspect. Anders Breivik has admitted to the shooting and bombing that killed 77 people, including children last summer. I'm sure you can't forget that scene.

Breivik says he wanted to save Norway from, quote, in his words, "multicultural forces." In a past hearing, he gave what appeared to be a fascist salute.

And federal prosecutors making another pitch to put former baseball great Roger Clemens before bars. Jury selection begins today in the retrial for allegedly lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs. It comes nine months after a judge declared a mistrial when the prosecution introduced inadmissible evidence in court.

And four people now feared dead in a yacht race accident. The Coast Guard suspending its search last night. A seven-person crew was hurled into the waters off the coast of the Farallon Islands near San Francisco Saturday when their boat hit 12-foot waves. On person was found dead. Three others survived.

And for an expanded look at all of our top stories, head to our blog,

SAMBOLIN: Eighteen minutes past the hour here. Bill Cosby weighing in on the Trayvon Martin shooting.

In an interview on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," Cosby says the anger over the Florida teenager's death is misplaced. He says the real issue isn't whether George Zimmerman profiled Martin, but that the neighborhood watch volunteer was carrying a gun.


BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: What is solved by saying, he's a racist? That's why he shot the boy. What solves that?

This. And what is he doing with it? And who taught him and told him how to behave with this? Because it doesn't make any difference if he's a racist or not racist.


SAMBOLIN: Gun violence is a very personal issue for Cosby. His son was shot and killed in 1997 while he was trying to change a tire on the side of a road.

George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the Trayvon Martin case.

Well, it is now 19 minutes past the hour here. And we're getting an early read of your local news that is making national headlines. And this morning, we have papers from Richmond and from Boston.

BOLDUAN: All over the place.

SAMBOLIN: All right. We're going to start with the "Richmond Times Dispatch."

It's now five years since the tragic Virginia Tech massacre that took the lives of 32 students. So, the big question is, what have we learned from that? W. Gerald Massengill writes a column for the "Times Dispatch." He served on a review panel that made recommendations in the wake of the shooting.

So, he says three important things: background checks should keep felons and mentally ill from getting guns. He would like privacy laws clarified so they could flag those in the need of mental help treatment. And he also wants more assistance for the victims of the shootings and for the families as well.

BOLDUAN: That conversation is ongoing since it happened. But it will continue still.

SAMBOLIN: Well, he says it's actually helped. He's seen some of these things implemented in the recent shootings that we've had. So, that's the good news.

BOLDUAN: That's the good news.

SAMBOLIN: You learn, right?

BOLDUAN: Yes, you must.

And also in the "Boston Herald", you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen and I guess get off the street. Now, the 116th Boston marathon, Boston marathoners are bracing for record high temperatures today. It could reach 90 degrees. I don't even want to go outside in 90, let alone run a marathon.

Race officials considered calling off the race, but they're leaving it up to the runners to decide. Officials say anyone who can't hack it, can't hack the heat, should sit this one out and new runners, they should consider waiting until next year.

They're so serious about this that they're even allowing people the option of deferring their race number until next year. They just don't want to take the chance.

SAMBOLIN: I think that's very smart. Some years back, the Chicago marathon had that problem, record heat, and some people lost their lives. It's tough on the runners.

I have a friend running the Boston marathon, he's up and he says, I'm ready, I'm ready to run.

BOLDUAN: You're dealing with a group of people who probably aren't going to take, you know, that advice.


BOLDUAN: I mean, if you're going to run 26.2, I'm very proud of you.

SAMBOLIN: Good luck. Good luck with that.

All right. Next on EARLY START --

BOLDUAN: Stay-at-home moms? What kind of salary is all of that work worth?

Zoraida has opinion on this, and you are watching EARLY START. We'll talk about it, next.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 25 minutes past the hour.

We are minding your business.

Investors might want to stay under the covers a little longer this morning because stocks are having a bit of a tough time. Sorry for the sad news.

Last week was the worst week this year for the markets. You probably know if you're in the stock market. Alison Kosik always following the action on the New York Stock Exchange. She's here with us today.

So, Alison, how bad was it, if I even want to ask? What's this week going to like?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you may not want to check out the portfolio just yet. It was the worst week for stocks this year. And get ready, it's going to be a tough week this week as well.

Let's look at how last week was. You look at the Dow. It was down 1.6 percent, the NASDAQ 2.3 percent, the S&P 500 down 2 percent.

Yes, rough week. Why? Because China. China is showing signs that it's slowing down. It cane in with its economic growth showing that China grew at an annual rate of only 8.1 percent.

And sure, that sounds great compared to our economic growth, which is 3 percent, but we're used to these double-digit figures with China.

Also, China is it one of our biggest trading partners. And if China slows down, that means it won't buy as much stuff from us. I'm talking about stuff like automobiles, in the tech sector, things from Cisco and IBM, things from Caterpillar, heavy machinery for construction over in China.

So, you add to those worries, Europe is slowing down.

So, those are two of our biggest trading partners. That really weighed on investors' minds. And get ready for more volatility this week. Corporate earnings season continues to really roll in, fast and furious this week with banks clocking in with their corporate earnings reports, getting retail sales today.

So, there is expected to be more volatility this week unless, of course, we get some good news that could move the markets higher.


SAMBOLIN: Let's hope for that so you can be the bearer of good news.

I'm very excited about this next number that you're bringing to us, although it's not going to happen, right? How much moms should make when they stay home.

KOSIK: But it's priceless, Zoraida. It's priceless. When we work as moms --

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely.

KOSIK: -- we shouldn't expect a salary. But if we were going to get salary, you know what it would be? A hundred and thirteen thousand dollars. Yes, that is how much.

You know what? We wear a lot of hats as moms. You know, we're the cooks, we're the chauffeurs, we clean, we're the psychologists. You know, there's a dollar amount put on this.

So, what did is put together these positions, all of these hats that we wear --

SAMBOLIN: Van driver.


SAMBOLIN: Janitor.

KOSIK: Yes, we do all of that, right?

SAMBOLIN: Yes, we do.

KOSIK: So, went ahead and you can go in there into, put in your zip code and kind of get the idea of how much you should be paid.

I went ahead and wrote a check to myself here. I would make $131,000.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness, I love that.

KOSIK: In New York figures. It says, if we could pay, we would pay this, mom. I would earn a little over $131,000 for everything I do for my two children.

SAMBOLIN: Actually, that is really perfect now that Mother's Day is coming right around the corner. Guys, take your kids to the computer and do this.

KOSIK: Yes, it's cute.

SAMBOLIN: Now if we could only cash it.


BOLDUAN: If you can pull that one off, husbands, you are worth your keep.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Alison, thank you very much.

I was hoping it was more like half a million dollars. But --

BOLDUAN: You? Of course.

SAMBOLIN: You know? I wonder if that was per child. When she comes back, we're going to ask her about that.

BOLDUAN: There we go.

SAMBOLIN: Would that be great?

Ahead on EARLY START, we have the prostitution scandal with the Secret Service. President Obama is demanding a rigorous investigation. Ahead, we have the Homeland Security Chairman Peter King talking about this.

BOLDUAN: And salmonella in your salad? Yes. Good morning, everyone, having breakfast. Dole recalling nearly 80 cases of salad mix.

Do you have it in your refrigerator? You need to know the details. We have those coming up next.

You are watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: It is 32 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to early start. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BOLDUAN: I'm Kate Bolduan in for Ashleigh Banfield. Thanks for having me here, everybody. Let's get a check of the stories making news this good morning.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): The storm threat's moving east, but people across the Midwest and plains are still reeling from tornadoes that raked the region over the weekend. More than 130 twisters were reported. This was amazing number. Five people were killed in the town of Woodward, Oklahoma.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): President Obama calling for a rigorous investigation of the secret certification prostitution scandal. Eleven agents were placed on leave. They are accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel rooms in Colombia just days before the president arrived there for a summit.

BOLDUAN: And after 18 hours of fighting, the gunfire and explosions have stopped in Kabul. Afghan officials say they've turned back a wave of terrorist attacks on the capital city and three other provinces and have weeded out the remaining insurgents.

SAMBOLIN: And look at the shocking surveillance video of a West Virginia school principal yanking an 11-year-old student off a school bus by the neck. Principal Cameron Moffett (ph) has been arrested, charged with child abuse. The boy's parents have filed a civil suit, as well.


BOLDUAN (on-camera): One of our big stories we've been watching this morning, the Secret Service reeling this morning from the worst scandal to ever hit the agency. Eleven agents were relieved of their duties, accused of bringing prostitutes to their hotel rooms in Colombia while preparing for the president's arrival. President Obama speaking about the allegations. Listen here.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What happened here in Colombia is being investigated by the director of the Secret Service. I expect that investigation to be thorough, and I expect it to be rigorous.


BOLDUAN: Thorough and rigorous. Our White House correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is live in Washington. What's the latest with this amazing story?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, it's moving into investigation mode, and that's something that will be taking place, of course, today

But I think one of the big issues for the White House is just the distraction of this, how many people will remember the summit of the Americas in Colombia, for instance, for President Obama putting an exclamation point on that free trade agreement that was passed last year through Congress and was sorts of something he was able to point to and say, hey, look, this is a jobs-creating measure.

He and the Colombian president announcing that this would be implemented very soon. Well, no one is going to remember it really, right, for that. They're going to remember it for this scandal. And, if true, these allegations that Secret Service members brought prostitutes back to their hotel.

And let's remember, this is not the president's personal detail. This was not the hotel that the president was at, and this all took place before the president even went to Colombia. But, nonetheless, it raises huge security concerns. And so, President Obama saying yesterday that he will be very angry if this is true, and we're awaiting this investigation from the Secret Service, Kate.

BOLDUAN: You hit on a really important issue here. I mean, this was supposed to be a summit for the president to focus on many issues, not a scandal. He wanted to focus on energy, regional security issues, trade, especially. What is the White House saying now that this scandal has largely overshadowed any positive progress made during this trip? How concern are they about it?

KEILAR: I think, obviously, there's some concern, and they're trying to keep some of the focus back on some of the issues that they had, but I think there's a realization that when you have something -- I mean, this is a huge scandal that the Secret Service is dealing with. We've heard experts say this is the biggest scandal by far too ever really rock the Secret Service.

And, people are really, you know, hungry for the details of this, Kate, especially if they were tuning out over the weekend. And, it seems like what we're learning from some people who were briefed on this, for instance, we heard from Congressman Peter King who's the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

He was briefed on this, and it seems like, from what he's saying and what other sources are saying, that it all kind of comes down to really the fact that there may have been one woman who was brought back to the hotel room for these -- with these Secret Service agents who, in the morning, complained ultimately to a hotel manager that she had not been paid.

That sort of led to a series of events where the police were brought in, complaints were filed with the U.S. embassy, and that's when the Secret Service stepped in and sent these Secret Service agents, 11 of them, home. And now, this investigation continues.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Much more detail to come on that. We'll be hearing from Peter King exactly next. Brianna Keilar in Washington, thanks so much, Brianna.

SAMBOLIN: Well, Congress now wants to know if the agency is covering up any more scandals. Congressman Peter King is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Secret Service. He was briefed, as we just told you, on the investigation and joins us by phone. Now, thank you for being with us, congressman. Can you tell us what some of the details were in that briefing?

REP. PETER KING, (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIR (on the phone): Yes. Basically, there are 11 Secret Service agents, two or three of them in uniform, the others were special agents, and they, sometime, late Wednesday evening, brought women back to the hotel. I don't know the exact number of women, but I'm pretty sure it was more than one. There were 11 agents, and they brought women back to the hotel.

In the hotel, they were staying in, each guest of the guest has to leave I.D. at the main desk, and they have to be out by seven o'clock in the morning. This one woman in one room had not left by 7:00 in the morning. The hotel manager went up. He wasn't allowed into the room. They got the police. They went in, and the woman and the agent were arguing. She said he owed her money. He said he didn't, but he paid it, and there was no real issue. No arrests were made. But, the police did file a report with the American embassy, which they're required to do whenever they deal with a foreign national. And when the Secret Service -- the embassy saw that report, they realized what they had on their hands.

They began a very quick investigation. They contacted Director Sullivan in Washington, and he ordered all 11 agents out of the country, and they were immediately substituted for. They got substitute agents from Miami, Florida and from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

SAMBOLIN: Now, we understand that prostitution is legal in Colombia in certain tolerance zones is what they call them. So, you're not concerned about criminal charges here. You're more concerned about a code of conduct, is that right?

KING: Yes. My concern, again, as far as I know there is no criminal violation here at all. And it's not just a code of conduct in the abstract. The danger here is that Secret Service agents using prostitutes, certainly in a country like Colombia, leave themselves to be threatened, to be blackmailed.

Also, you also have narco-terrorists in Colombia who could be using prostitutes to get inside the president's zone of security, to find out what the Secret Service is doing. It compromises the Secret Service. It could put the president at risk. There's no evidence that happened in this case, but that's the danger you face. It's the conduct that really can't be tolerated.

I discussed it with Secret Service director, Mark Sullivan, who I think, by the way, overall did an outstanding job, and the Secret Service, itself, does an outstanding job. We have to find out if there's more to it in this. But, in my experience, the Secret Service, they're really top-rated professionals, do a great job day in and day out year in and year out. But, again, what happened here in Colombia cannot be excused.

SAMBOLIN: When you say "more to it" than this, you think there -- you're investigating whether or not there's more to it than this, have you heard anything about this just being a one-time incident or has this been ongoing?

KING: My -- again, my belief is that this is certainly an isolated case, but I want to find out exactly -- and I'd already to (ph) go the investigation from my staff to fund out minute by minute what happened, when supervisor personnel found out about it, how they reacted, what they did. Also, what were the conditions that allowed this to happen and also what's being done to make sure it doesn't happen in the future.

Again, I've been in contact continually since Saturday with the Secret Service, including the director. When these men were brought back, they were questioned all day Saturday into yesterday. this investigation is as intense as it can be. So, basically, it's to find out how far it goes, does it go any further. I have no evidence that it does. I don't think anyone should be saying they have any evidence that it goes any further. But, again, we don't know yet, and that's what we're looking at and we're looking at it very, very carefully.

SAMBOLIN: And one other question for you congressman. There were some reports about perhaps the military being involved here as well. Have you heard anything about that, apparently, violating curfew?

KING: Yes. There were five military personnel also in the hotel. All I can tell, so far, they were not involved with the Secret Service. This is a separate issue earlier. There were complaints of them being loud and disorderly, I guess, on Wednesday night or Thursday. And based on that, that was a violation of curfew.

They're part of the security team, and so, there was action being taken against those five. But my understanding is this is not in any way tied into the prostitution issue with the Secret Service.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Congressman Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, thank you for spending some time with us this morning.

KING: Very welcome. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And a consumer alert to tell you about now. Dole is recalling more than 750 cases of bagged salad because they could be contaminated with salmonella. The company says a random sample of seven lettuces salads came back positive for salmonella. No other Dole salads are included in the recall, and no illnesses, fortunately, have been reported.

The bags were distributed, and here's the list of the states, in Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina -- I'm still going -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. So, they could be out there widely. They're stamped with a used by date of April 11, 2012. So, take a look in your refrigerators, everybody.

And fresh off baseball's annual celebration of Jackie Robinson Day, new research suggests there are fewer African-Americans in baseball today than since the earliest days of integration. African- Americans make up just over eight percent of major leaguers. That's down from 8.5 percent last season and less than half the 17 percent in 1959 when the Red Sox became the last team to integrate.

The number of African-Americans peaked in 1975 when they compromise 27 percent of all major league rosters. A lack of college scholarships and fewer prep office (ph) opportunities are said to be contributing factors in the steady decline.

SAMBOLIN: And ahead on EARLY START, a principal arrested and charged with child abuse. Look at this. It is shocking video of him yanking an 11-year-old boy off a bus. He was yanking him by the neck. You know there are consequences here. We're going to share it all with you. You're watching EARLY START.


BOLDUAN: Good tunes.


BOLDUAN: Let's dance a little bit.

SAMBOLIN: I like it, too.

BOLDUAN: I like it, too. It's 5:45 in the morning. Forty-six minutes after the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Let's get a check of the top stories making news this morning.


BOLDUAN (voice-over): From Texas to Minnesota, people are assessing the damage from a weekend of violent and deadly storms. More than 130 reports of tornadoes touching down. That number keeps amazing me every time I see it. The town of Woodward, Oklahoma, one of the hardest hit. Five people, including three children, were killed there.

And after a wave of deadliest weekend attacks on government targets and embassies, Afghan officials say they have stopped the insurgents. Afghan's interior minister says four civilians and eight members of the Afghan security forces were killed in the nearly 18- hour assault. Nearly 65 people were wounded there.

And Silvio Berlusconi back in the headlines. He's admitting to paying witnesses in his criminal trial, and he says it's the prosecutor's fault. The former Italian prime minister is in court this morning, charged with having sex with an underage prostitute. Berlusconi says he paid three former showgirls more than $200,000 to cover legal fees. They've racked up since becoming involve in the case. So kind of him.

And a trial begins today for the Norway mass murder suspect. Anders Breivik has admitted to the shooting and bombing that killed 77 people including children. Last summer, Breivik says he wanted to save Norway from, quote, his words, "multicultural forces."

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): The House Oversight Committee opens a hearing this afternoon into the spending scandal at the Government Services Administration. The GSA is supposed to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. Lawmakers want to know why the agency spent more than $800,000 on a lavish Las Vegas convention in 2010. Kate Bolduan is all over that for you.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

SAMBOLIN: And jury selection set to begin this morning in the retrial of former baseball great, Roger Clemens. He is accused of lying to Congress about using performance-enhancing drugs. A federal judge declared a mistrial in the case last summer after prosecutors showed inadmissible evidence in court.

And listen to this. "The Hunger Games" still ruling the box office. It's number one for four weeks in a row, the first film to do that since one of my favorites, "Avatar." "The Hunger Games" made another $21.5 million over the weekend. "The Three Stooges" debut in second place taking in $17.1 million. And "The Cabin in the Woods" was third with $14.8 million. I don't even know what "The Cabin in the Woods" is.

BOLDUAN: I was going to say the same thing. We, clearly, are missing out on something.

SAMBOLIN: Do a little research on that.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): All right. So, he is one of America's greatest heroes, but he's been voted Britain's greatest enemy. Why the Brits still hate George Washington after all these years?

BOLDUAN (on-camera): Hold the grudge match?



SAMBOLIN: You're watching EARLY START.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Fifty-one minutes past the hour, and he finally put a ring on it.

BOLDUAN: We need a breaking news banner right now.


BOLDUAN: It's a very big deal.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. I think everybody knows by now. Brad Pitt -- actually, Brangelina, I should explain, right? They're engaged.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Enough said.

SAMBOLIN: Brad Pitt spent a year, we understand, designing a one-of-a-kind diamond engagement ring. Do we have a picture of it? Apparently, that's all we've got for you. Pitt's rep says kids are very happy, and no date has been set. They famously said that they would not get married until everybody is allowed to get married, anybody who wants to.

And, they said they can't hold off any more because the children really want them to.

BOLDUAN: Well, we'll see how long the engagement is.



BOLDUAN: -- another seven years or something. OK. Also trending, this story really got us talking this morning. George Washington is one of America's greatest heroes, but he's now been named Britain's greatest enemy. What?


BOLDUAN: I know exactly. Washington got 45 percent of the vote in a contest to find Britain's greatest military foe, a strange contest, nonetheless. Washington beat out Irish leader, Michael Collins, as well as Napoleon. Historians say Washington for high in part because of the immense scale of the damage he inflicted on British army and empire during the American revolution.

SAMBOLIN: And they did this why?

BOLDUAN: It was part of a museum kind of exhibit. You know, it's getting a lot of attention, getting headlines. And it's trending.

SAMBOLIN: Apparently.

BOLDUAN: So, whatever they were trying for, it worked (INAUDIBLE).

All right. So, the campaign season, it was good times for the Republican presidential candidates who each had a share of the lead at one time or another or twice, coming back and returning. Whatever.

SAMBOLIN: Good point.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. And they did some reminiscing, if you will, on "Saturday Night Live."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was certainly a primary season to remember, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure was. There was even a time when people were saying I was the frontrunner. Got to thank you for that, Mitt. You're the only candidate who could ever make me look exciting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And you're the only candidate who can make me look gay-friendly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hope you aren't reminiscing without me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, it's Rick Perry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys remember that weird game show we were all on where we stood at podiums and answered questions?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Rick, that wasn't a game show. Those were debates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, well, well --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, it's Michele Bachmann.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was even a moment when I was the frontrunner. And, then, it all fell apart when "Newsweek" ran a very creepy cover photo of my face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that's right. Hey, come on, Michelle. Show us the "Newsweek" face.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, come on! "Newsweek" face! " Newsweek" face!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Fine, fine.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this your (ph) food? I am starving!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we can always order a pizza!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no, guys, Gingrich is here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe you're still in the race.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard his campaign is completely out of money.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, man! Look, he's stealing nuts.



BOLDUAN: That's terrible. he's stealing nuts.

SAMBOLIN: I love it. See, we don't stay up late enough, but we get to get the late-night laughs here.

BOLDUAN: You know what, it's good to get in the morning. Whenever you get it. I love Kristen Wiig. She is so funny.

SAMBOLIN: That was really good. Fifty-four minutes past the hour here.

Coming up, the latest on those deadly tornadoes in the Midwest, folks. Our Rob Marciano will be live from Oklahoma with an update on all of the damage and what they can expect today.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And also, an update on the Secret Service that has been rocked by a prostitution scandal. President Obama is reacting. We'll have more on that coming up. You are watching EARLY START.