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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Al Qaeda Plans Found Hidden in Porn; May Day Protests; Al Qaeda's Killing Machine; Romney Backpedals On Bin Laden

Aired May 1, 2012 - 05:00   ET

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


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, New York. As the clock strikes 5:00 on the East Coast, welcome to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans for you this morning. Zoraida is off again today.

It's 5:00 a.m. in the East. Let's get started.

Al Qaeda's attack plans found hidden in porn. Police uncovering embedded files on a memory card meant only for senior leadership to see. We have exclusive details of future plots, including taking over a cruise ship.

BANFIELD: May Day protests all around the world. Occupy Wall Street trying to regroup and calling for a day without the 99 percent -- no work, no shopping, no banking. Hoping for a nationwide disruption.

ROMANS: And rescue 411. A 4'11" firefighter just the right size to save a little baby who fell 20 feet down a drain pipe. We'll be talking to the hero.

BANFIELD: Up first, though, this morning, pure gold. It's how intelligence officials are describing over 100 internal al Qaeda documents that detailed past attacks and future terror targets.

And here is something incredible: the information was embedded in a porn movie. It was uncovered by German authorities after they arrested an al Qaeda operative last year and that operative was searched. And that's when police found his underwear and inside his underwear, a memory card.

The microchip had a pornographic video on it. But when the authorities went further and dug deeper with be, they found a treasure trove of information embedded in the film.

Our Nic Robertson is live in London this morning.

Nic, you had so many exclusive breaks because of this veritable trove of information. Talk to me first, if you will, about this very frightening situation, detailing how cruise ships could end up being targets.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there were 141 secret al Qaeda documents and some of those documents, according to U.S. and German counterterrorism officials, they believe, were written by very senior al Qaeda members. And one of those documents was al Qaeda's future plans. And part of the future plans, according to a journalist who has also seen and had direct information about those documents, indicate that al Qaeda want to start targeting cruise ships.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YASSIN MURSHARBSH, DIE ZEIT NEWSPAPER: It says that we could hijack a passenger ship on the sea. And then use it to pressure -- to pressurize the public. And what he most likely means is that they, you know, would then start executing passengers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: And that they would dress these passengers in orange jump suits, similar to the prisons in Gitmo, and they upload those executions to the Internet. That is just one type of attack al Qaeda wants to move to. They want to move to Mumbai, shoot 'em up style attacks like we saw in India, 2008, 164 people killed by 10 gunmen. A twin track strategy to have big operations like 9/11 if they can, but because they can't pull those off, they have lots smaller, low-cost operations as well, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: So, Nic, these are the things they may want to do but we all know that many of the missions that this country has been involved in in the last decade has made things difficult for al Qaeda. So, do they have the capability anymore?

ROBERTSON: Well, even they are concerned about that. In this sort of range of 141 documents, there are documents that detail some of the past attacks, the 7/7, 7/21 liquid airlines plots, which all emanated or happened here in London. They provide a valuable insight.

But what al Qaeda is saying in the future works document is they are concerned morale is slipping because they are losing key operators to drone strikes. They recognize the counterterrorism officials are able to spy on them better, know better what they are doing. So, even, they say, some of their own operatives are not even plotting or planning to do anything because they're so concerned about being caught.

But what we have seen is, laid out in these future plans documents, over the past couple of years, al Qaeda continues to try to achieve those same goals they stated, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: All right. Nic Robertson, live for us in London -- thank you for that.

And just a reminder to our viewers as well, over the next two hours, of course, in this program, we're going to bring a lot more information to you, courtesy of the material that Nic Robinson has been poring through, just remarkable stuff from that treasure trove of intelligence.

ROMANS: Yes, it sure is.

OK. One year ago today, President Obama made a heart-stopping announcement that changed the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Fast forward one year, and Osama bin Laden is still influencing U.S. politics. In fact, the raid that killed him is fast becoming the number one topic on the campaign trail. The president touting his role in the operation and questioning whether his rival Mitt Romney would have achieved the same result.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Would you have gone after bin Laden?

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course.

REPORTER: Would have given the order, Governor?

ROMNEY: Well, of course. Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.

OBAMA: I said I'll go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him and I did. If there are others two have said one thing and now suggest they'd do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Romney may -- Romney may get a chance to do just that when he visits a New York city firehouse to mark the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death. He'll be joined by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

BANFIELD: May Day protests kicking off right now all over the world. Today is International Workers Day.

Labor groups are protesting for better working conditions, more jobs and higher wages. Several thousand workers marched in Japan earlier this morning and tens of thousands in Russia. President-elect Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev are taking parts in demonstrations there.

And here in the United States, mass protests are expected in more than 100 cities. The Golden Gate ferry will shut down this morning because of a strike by workers. Officials say the service will restart at 02:15 this afternoon. And Occupy activists called off a plan to take over the Golden Gate Bridge. The groups are planning other demonstrations and calling for a nationwide strike, a day without the 99 percent.

ROMANS: Remember the night when lions, tigers and cheetahs ran wild in Ohio? Well, now, a widow is get back five of the exotic animals her husband set free before he allegedly committed suicide on that night. Husband Terry Thompson released more than 50 animals back in October, remember including wolves, lions and bears. Most of them were killed by authorities, but five survived -- two leopards, two monkeys and a bear. They had been kept in quarantine but now, state officials have cleared the animals of dangerous or contagious disease. Thompson's widow plans to keep them on her farm.

Ahead at 6:30 this morning, we're talking to the man who took care of those animals while they were in quarantine. Find out why he says it's not a good idea for them to return to their old conditions.

BANFIELD: Chris Christie is insisting that he is not exactly vice presidential material. Yet he is not ruling it out, either. The New Jersey governor was speaking to a group of high school students yesterday when one of them, very brave, asked if he would consider being Mitt Romney's running mate?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: What I said before is I really have no interest in being vice president, but if Governor Romney calls and asks me to sit down and talk to him about it, I'd listen because I think you owe the nominee of your party that level of respect and who knows what he's going to say. And he might be able to convince me. He's a convincing guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIED: That cameraman knew to zoom in right away on that answer.

Chris Christie has consistently been mentioned as a top candidate for the number two job, along with Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.

ROMANS: He's heard that question before. He'll hear it again.

BANFIELD: Yes.

ROMANS: A gut-wrenching day on the witness stand for Cheri Young, the wife for former John Edwards' aide Andrew Young. She broke down in tears as she testified how the former senator asked her family to hide his affair for the good of the country.

After taking a break, the judge then dismissed the jury early. Cheri Young is expected back on the stand this morning.

BANFIELD: In Georgia, a 1-year-old boy falls 20 feet down this storm drain.

ROMANS: Wow.

BANFIELD: Firefighters are called into the scene. But they're just too darn big to fit down that drain. So they called in their special weapon. That's her in the middle. Look at the size of her.

She's 4'11". Her name is Rosa Tullis. She's a firefighter. She just got rid of her gear and she squeezed down into that one-foot opening and she rescued the boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSA TULLIS, EAST POINT FIRE DEPT.: It was kind of hard to manipulate him. He was afraid and just grabbing. I couldn't bring him up. I had to push him up over my head.

I have boys. So it's kind of personal and it just makes it all worth coming to work and being dropped down a hole to hand them their baby back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Ms. Tullis, you are a hero. Little Darnell Brown is OK today. Look at that 1-year-old. He escaped with just minor scrapes and a couple of bruises and one heck of a story to tell.

And we should let you know, too, lucky us, firefighter Rosa Tullis is going to be one of our guests. She's going to join us at 5:30 this morning Eastern to tell us just what it was like to do what she did, squeeze down into a one-foot opening and rescue that little baby boy.

ROMANS: It was hard (INAUDIBLE) to so tight.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: Gas prices, they keep going down. The new national average stands at $3.81 a gallon, down about 10 cents over the past couple of weeks. Gas prices affect everything, particularly airlines. We're going to have a good story for you in 15 minutes about Delta Airlines and what it's doing to make sure it keeps its jet fuel flowing, no matter what happens to prices or supplies in the Northeast.

BANFIELD: And here's a hint. This one on her way home from work just doesn't go pick up milk, she stops by a refinery to see what's going on.

ROMANS: I was hearing something could happen, so I went to the refinery.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: It's 10 minutes past the hour right now.

And ahead on EARLY START: the White House is defending drone strikes to take out suspected terrorists -- and get this -- even if they're U.S. citizens.

BANFIELD: And decides to get high and comes crushing down. Horrified concertgoers thinking they witnessed a fatal fall.

You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning. About 14 minutes after the hour -- time to check the stories making news this morning.

Intelligence officials say over 100 internal al Qaeda documents that detailed past attacks and future terror targets are pure gold. They were found by German authorities embedded in a porn video on a microchip that was taken from an al Qaeda operative last year. They include plans to seize cruise ships and execute cruise ship passengers.

BANFIELD: The acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security has announced that he is launching a separate investigation into that prostitution scandal at the Secret Service. Nine service members have resign or forced out with three others cleared of serious misconduct.

ROMANS: For the first time, the Obama administration is publicly justifying the use of drone strikes on suspected terrorist. The president's top terrorism adviser, John Brennan, says drone strikes are carefully vetted. And when there's a risk to Americans, the United States will strike.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: As President Obama said here five years ago, if another nation cannot or will not take action, we will. And it is unfortunate fact that to save many innocent lives, we are sometimes obliged to take lives. The lives of terrorists who seek to murder our fellow citizens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Brennan also voiced concern that as more countries obtain drone technology, they might use it against the United States.

Pakistan, a country where the U.S. has green lighted numerous drone strikes, condemned the strikes, saying they have killed too many civilians.

BANFIELD: Unbelievably crazy video out of Sydney, Australia, a man falling 60 feet off of a scaffolding. Amazingly, he's OK.

It happened at the Creamfields Music Festival. Police say a man was able to sneak past security and climb that scaffolding, apparently suffered only minor injuries with that drop. Witnesses say once he got to the top, he actually -- or once he got up after the fall, he gave the thumbs up. He was transferred to a hospital and officials say he was later discharge.

Are you ready for this last nugget? He went right back to the music festival. That's hard core, folks. Hard core.

BANFIELD: All right. I see here falling man. And I give you a bear.

Look, honey, I raise you a bear. Look, honey, there's a bear in the backyard. This 300-pound bear was spotted wandering down a sidewalk in suburban Denver yesterday. It hopped a five-foot fence and chilled in the owner's backyard for a while. The owners say they have children who play out there, but not at that moment obviously. Everyone was inside at the time.

Officers tranquilized the bear and it went to bed in the backyard before they took it back to the wild.

BANFIELD: What's with you and bear stories this week.

ROMANS: I don't know with the bears.

BANFIELD: Da bears.

You know I have to be honest with you, I grew up in a very rural area. And this was a normal scene. We used to see bears in our backyard often. Again, very rural, not Denver.

ROMANS: That's right.

All right. Sixteen -- 17 minutes after the hour. Let's get a quick check of the day's weather. That means it's time for Rob Marciano.

Good morning, sunshine.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. It's heating up. Spring is here. The bears are out. That's for sure.

Temperatures down across the South, are record breaking, in some cases, 15 to 20 degrees above average. And that warmth is going to be making its way up toward the north as well, and we've got the threat the threat for storms also.

A beautiful, couple days across New York City area. Again, a little bit of rain today. That's the warm front. Temperatures bounce northward. You'll temps into the 70s. And in some cases, close to 80 degrees.

Some thunderstorms rolling through the Midwest last night. In most cases, it was severe in the form of hail. Check out this video out of northern Texas, baseball size hail. It was coming down pretty good, damaging stuff there. Also, six reports of tornadoes out of this cluster of thunderstorms that is now making its way across parts of Arkansas and southwest Missouri.

With this also came not only that big hail but some big rainfall. Some radar estimates of 10 plus inches across northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas, because of that, there are flash flood warnings and flash flood watches out right now because of some swollen rivers, two to four inches of additional rainfall on top of what they've already seen as that thunderstorm clockwise moves through.

Another batch of severe weather, a little bit further to the north later on. Large hail, damaging winds and isolated tornados from Kansas City up to Omaha, and through Minneapolis as well.

And here's your heat, temperatures in D.C. could get to 85 degrees today, 74 degrees in New York City. The early spring continues, actually. I guess we'd call this early summer.

Guys, stay cool up there.

BANFIELD: Very nice. Thank you, Rob Marciano.

It's 18 minutes now past five on the East Coast.

And that's the best chance for us to do the early read, to get a look at your papers, water cooler stories that are talk-worthy.

This one comes from the "Cleveland Plain Dealer." And it is a shocking revelation in that Amish beard cutting case. The leader of the group, who's accused of cutting the beards of other religious enemies, is now being represented by a taxpayer-funded public defender. But it's been discovered that he has millions in the bank, particularly from oil on his farm.

ROMANS: What?

BANFIELD: Yes! His name is Samuel Mullet. He got more than $2 million in March for leasing part of his 800-acre farm to oil and gas companies. And now, the judge is ruling that he can keep the public defender but has to pay twice the hourly rate, sums to about $250 and hour. He's been ordered to pay $125 an hour for legal work that was performed before the ruling was made, too.

So, sorry, buddy.

ROMANS: That's an interesting twist.

BANFIELD: No free lunch.

ROMANS: All right. "The Orlando Sentinel" reporting on efforts to change Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case. Florida Senator Chris Smith has released a set of recommendations from a panel of law enforcements and legal expets.

The panel now stopped short of recommending a full repeal of the law although a majority felt a repeal was in order. That panel says the law has been inconsistently applied by law enforcement and the courts. It urged a repeal of the part of the law that grants a person immunity from arrest. It urged a use of a grand jury to review these cases and better record-keeping to see how often and why this law is invoked -- so kind of track it statistically.

Florida Governor Rick Scott put his own task force together, and that should wrap up to 2013, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: I think a lot of people are going to watch that, Florida or not.

ROMANS: Oh, yes.

BANFIELD: So many states involved. So, it will be telling.

By the way, for an expanded look at all of our stories that we're covering, you can just head on over to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart -- easy place to go, lots of stuff there.

ROMANS: All right. It is a bold idea, brash really, but will it work? Coming up, Delta Airlines -- Delta Airlines flies planes, right? Now it gets into the oil business to try to save on jet fuel.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: It's 23 minutes now past the hour. We're minding your business this morning.

It turns out Delta -- yes, the airline -- is getting into the oil refinery business. My dear colleague Christine Romans, three children, works 20 hours a day, makes chicken pot pies for dinner, but just somehow finds time to go to Trainer, Pennsylvania, to visit an oil refinery, to check out if the rumors are true. And lo and behold.

ROMANS: I know. Can you imagine, you've got an airline getting into the oil business? It sounds outlandish but it might be brilliant. Delta runs on jet fuel. It needs to secure those supplies. And as you know, the oil market has been really crazy lately.

By buying an oil refinery, it has secured 80 percent of its jet fuel needs, cutting out the middleman and making sure it has its supplies. We've been hearing rumblings about this. It sounded so outlandish at first, but analysts say it's starting to make more sense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM KLOZA, OIL PRICE INFORMATION SERVICES: When we first heard about it two months ago, I said, no way in the world.

ROMANS: Tell me what's happening with Delta and the Trainer refinery.

KLOZA: Delta is going to try something really interesting. I think they're looking at it and they're saying, we're tired of paying $10 or more over the price of crude, which is very expensive for jet fuel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: All right. What Delta has secured is the delivery network for jet fuel reaching throughout the northeast, including its hubs at New York's JFK and LaGuardia airports. The price tag for the refinery itself, $150 million to the owner, ConocoPhillips. That's a lot of money.

So, will it help delta save money? They think so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KLOZA: The refinery might cost $150 million, $200 million. And from the perspective of an airplane like Delta, that's less than they would pay for a modern 777 aircraft.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Think of that, the price of a plane, they secure their jet fuel supplies.

Now, this Trainer facility is idled right now. The fact that an airline would want an oil refinery underscores an unfolding drama in the Northeast. Nearly half of the refining capacity on the East Coast has either shut down or could shut down later this year.

So, the big concern here if you got these disruptions happening, potential disruptions in the Northeast, Delta Airlines wants to make sure that these planes are taking off at JFK and taking off of LaGuardia, cutting out the middleman.

BANFIELD: Love that.

ROMANS: Right.

And the question is: will they make money? The company says maybe $300 million. Will they make money longer term? They are securing supplies of jet fuel, and that's the most important part here.

BANFIELD: One of the things I remember you saying to me that stuck with me, is when you're doubling down on dead dinosaurs, it's a questionable policy. So, when I heard that officially you were talking to say for the same price as a modern 777 we could do this. But doesn't the modern 777 have better fuel capacities, better --

ROMANS: Yes.

BANFIELD: More, you know, streamlined?

ROMANS: Think about this, the company has said this, if they wanted to switch out to more fuel efficient smaller planes, they'd have to use about $2.5 billion of investment. For $150 million they're securing their jet fuel supplies. These planes run on jet fuel. They run on jet fuel.

BANFIELD: I can't wait to see how the markets react to this.

ROMANS: I know. Well, we'll be watching delta stock very closely.

BANFIELD: I had a feeling you would be.

ROMANS: Delta stock has been up this year. They've had a nice year. A lot of people asking what it means for airfares, and what Tom Kloza told me is he means -- he thinks it means airfare won't spike. It is good for you.

It doesn't mean they're going to go down.

BANFIELD: Right.

ROMANS: But they won't go up.

BANFIELD: It's nice to know what the effect on us, though.

It's 27 minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast. And up next, 4'11" powerhouse, she's walking mighty tall these days, because that itty- bitty hole and that itty-bitty baby, it's unbelievable. A tiny Georgia firefighter pulls off the biggest save of her career.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And here's what's happening at just half past the hour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BANFIELD (voice-over): May day protests for workers rights happening all over the world right now. A labor strike has shut down the Golden Gate Ferry this morning, if you can believe it. And other cities are also gracing for more disruption as Occupy Wall Street plans to regroup.

Also making news, over 100 internal al Qaeda documents detailing future terror targets being described by intelligence officials as pure gold. They were found by the German authorities. They were embedded in a porn video that was taken from an al Qaeda operative last year, and they include plans to cease seize ships and execute the passengers on board.

Also making news this morning, the wife of former John Edwards aide, Andrew Young, is set to be back on the witness stand this morning. Cheri Young is her name, and she broke down in tears yesterday after jurors had to be excused after she testified how the former senator asked her family to hide an affair that he was having for the good of the country -- Christine.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. A really uplifting story this morning. People are calling firefighter, Rosa Tulis, a hero. One-year-old Darnell Brown (ph) fell to the bottom of a 20-foot storm drain and was trapped, but the opening to the storm drain only about one foot wide, firefighters had only one option, send in Rosa Tulis at 4 feet 11.

She's the only one who could fit through the opening. So, wearing only a T-shirt and a pair of pants, she was lowered into that drain and rescued this terrified baby. The firefighters heroics left Darnell's (ph) grandmother speechless.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KASHA BROWN, GRANDMOTHER OF RESCUED TODDLER: Oh, wow! I just want to thank God. They were relieved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The hero firefighter, Rosa Tulis, joins us now. She's in the CNN Center in Atlanta. And Tpring Brown, Darnell's mother also joining us this morning. So nice to see both of you. Mom, set it up for me, if you could -- what happened? How did Darnell fall down there?

VOICE OF TPRING BROWN, MOTHER OF RESCUED TODDLER: He slipped and fell.

ROMANS: He just slipped and fell all the way -- you could hear him crying at the bottom of that drain I take it?

BROWN: Yes.

ROMANS: Oh, my goodness. So, you must have been just terrified, and that's where the police and fire come on the rescue. Rosa, you got there. You took a look at the opening of that drain, and you were their only option.

ROSA TULIS, EAST POINT GA FIREFIGHTER: Yes, that's correct. It was pretty small. So, it was me.

ROMANS: And you're small.

(LAUGHTER)

TULIS: Yes.

ROMANS: You're pretty small.

TULIS: I'm 4'11".

ROMANS: 4'11", and you could fit in there. You couldn't bring any gear, couldn't even lower a ladder down, I'm told, is that correct?

TULIS: That's correct. That was the first option that we were going to try, but putting the ladder down narrowed the opening so that wasn't going to work. And then, the second one was, we did the harness and we decided to hoist the baby up and over to have someone to bring him in from the top of the opening.

ROMANS: So, you shimmied down with the harness then? TULIS: Yes. I was lowered down with the full body harness and rope.

ROMANS: And tell me, when you were coming down, you could hear him down there at the bottom of the drain?

TULIS: Yes. We had seen him because he was moving around, but then, eventually, we could see him down there.

ROMANS: And what did he do when you got down there close to him?

TULIS: He was like Velcro, I tell you. He was clutching. And I could hardly manipulate him because he was terrified. And, he just really didn't want me to take my hands off of him. So, it was a little bit difficult, and we did not have that much space to maneuver, but we were able to kind of get him up to my shoulders and then like a military press over my head.

ROMANS: And Rosa, are you claustrophobic?

TULIS: I am.

ROMANS: Oh, my goodness.

TULIS: I am.

ROMANS: You're claustrophobic, but at the bottom, you've got a crying baby, so that must help you get over the claustrophobia little bit when you're in the middle of doing your job and you know this little Velcro boy wants to hold on to you and get out of there.

TULIS: Exactly. And the training and repetition, we had a couple of, last year, puppies with similar situations and the same type of scenario. So, we were able to get the puppies this way. So, that's like the third time. It felt a little bit better, but it was a smaller space. But, you have to get the job done.

ROMANS: Now, mom, let me bring you back in, Tpring. How is he doing now? How is Darnell doing now?

BROWN: He's good. He's fine.

ROMANS: And what did the pediatrician say? You said the pediatrician -- he saw his doctor. He's just got some cuts and scrapes, but he's going to be OK?

BROWN: Yes. He went to the pediatrician yesterday. And they said he was all right, just a few minor abrasions.

ROMANS: Wow. Rosa, you have boys. So, were you thinking about your children as you were doing this or just thinking about doing your job?

TULIS: A little bit of both. My boys are not little anymore. They're 21 and 14. But, actually, Darnell is kind of similar to my youngest son. So, as a mother, it does kind of play into it a bit, because you, as a parent, can imagine maybe what if that was your child.

ROMANS: Oh, wow. Tpring, tell me, how did he fall down there? Was he just playing around? It's such a small opening. You can hardly imagine that he could slip into that little spot.

BROWN: He was trying to sit down and fell.

ROMANS: Trying to sit down. So, he's trying to sit down on the edge or trying to sit down and he slipped in there, huh?

BROWN: Yes.

ROMANS: I tell you, the one thing about it is, he's so little. He'll never remember any of this. It will be such an interesting story to tell him, mom, but he'll never remember this. Now, Rosa, tell me, was it all adrenaline as you were going down?

TULIS: Yes. It was adrenaline and the confidence in my crew and their expertise also. It definitely was a joint effort. So, I never felt unsafe, but, again, it's kind of the phobia of the cramped space. But, it didn't take an extremely long time. So --

ROMANS: Well, a curious little boy and a 20-foot long drain, a 4'11" firefighter and a mother this morning who's incredibly relieved, I'm sure. Rosa Tulis, Tpring Brown, thank you both, and give our best and give a little kiss to your little guy, please.

BROWN: I will.

ROMANS: Thank you so much.

TULIS: Thank you.

ROMANS: Ashleigh.

BANFIELD (on-camera): Awesome, Rosa Tullis. Just awesome, Christine. Thank you for that.

It's now 37 minutes past the top of the hour, and one year after Osama Bin Laden was killed, we're starting to learn a whole lot more about the leader of al Qaeda. Months before he was killed, Bin Laden was apparently worried about his legacy and al Qaeda's reputation. "The Washington Post" is reporting that Bin Laden didn't like the idea of a proposed killing machine that was dubbed the human lawnmower.

It was widely talked about on al Qaeda websites and involved attaching rotating blades to the front of a pickup truck and then driving that pickup truck into crowds. Bin Laden says he was focused on a bigger target. CNN's Peter Bergen traveled to the former Pakistani compound and got some access to the documents that were found in the raid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And the pictures (INAUDIBLE) documents as Bin Laden's calling for bigger attacks, kill President Obama, kill General Petraeus, and his guys are pushing back and saying, hey, wait a minute, you know, we're under really pressure from the drones, Attacking United States is not that easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: Bergen also says Bin Laden's new al Qaeda reputation was tarnished, and that Bin Laden was very afraid of what U.S. strikes -- drone strikes were doing to that terrorist organization as well.

Two grandparents have been arrested for taking their granddaughter on a dangerous ride. You will not believe this story. They hitched her hot wheels toy car to the back of their SUV with a dog leash and then took her on a little drive. Deputies in Sarasota County say both of the grandparents were drunk at the time.

They say they spotted that little seven-year-old girl trailing behind the SUV. Apparently, she was wearing nothing more than a bathing suit and certainly had no helmet. Thankfully, that little girl is OK this morning.

Private flight company, space X, is making history successfully test firing the rocket that launched the first ever commercial space capsule into the International Space Station. That launch is expected to happen this coming Monday. It will be webcast live on the Space X website. Space X has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to conduct 12 cargo missions to the space station.

ROMANS: Interesting.

BANFIELD: Yes.

ROMANS: All right. Up next on EARLY START, playing politics with Osama Bin Laden. How the president and his Republican rival have turned the death of a terrorist into a campaign talking point.

Plus, how to have a whole lot of fun demolishing your home? That's right.

BANFIELD: Wow!

ROMANS: DYI demo.

BANFIELD: No.

ROMANS: You're watching EARLY START.

BANFIELD: Oh, that is cool. Oh, that's cool.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Oh, there is just nothing like a shot of the Capitol at 5:42 a.m. on the east coast lit up like a Christmas tree. It is beautiful. Beautiful thing to be an American. Good morning, everybody. Nice to have you here with us.

So, he has been dead for a year now, but Osama Bin Laden is still having an impact on us here and our American politics, too. The White House is marking the anniversary of Bin Laden's demise by pumping up the president, questioning whether Mitt Romney would have even ordered the raid that eliminated the world's most wanted terrorist. So, let the politics begin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would have given the order, governor?

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, of course. even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said that I'd go after Bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they'd do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BANFIELD: All right. So, each accusing the other of capitalizing on Bin Laden and using it for political gain. CNN's political editor, Paul Steinhauser, is live in Washington.

I was watching all of this play out, Paul, and then, I got a note on my Blackberry saying, you know, the advance warnings about what happening tomorrow, and one of the nuggets was that Mitt Romney is going to be meeting with Rudy Giuliani at a fire station in New York today.

So, I found it somewhat ironic that everybody has something to say about it, and yet, goes ahead business as usual.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes. And again, as you mentioned, we may hear a lot more about it today because that meeting at that fire station. They're going to be delivering pizzas, by the way, to those firemen, but of course, 9/11 will be the main topic there. And we may hear Governor Romney, former Governor Romney, mention more of this.

You played the sound just from yesterday when both candidates jumped into the fray there and had some choice words. Here's how the Romney campaign responded to the president who was responding to Mitt Romney earlier in the day. He made those comments in New Hampshire. Here's what the Romney campaign said.

"It's unfortunate that President Obama would prefer to use what was a good day for all Americans as a cheap political ploy and an opportunity to distort Governor Romney's strong policies on the war on terror." The Obama campaign then responding to that, but we don't have to go with all this.

Listen, it really started -- I guess this new round really started last Thursday, Ashleigh, when Vice President Biden in a speech on foreign policy in New York City questioned whether Romney as president, if he were president, would have made the same call that Obama did. The next day, we remember this video now from the Obama campaign, this starred former President Clinton that touted the president's decision-making process on taking out Osama Bin Laden.

And again, questioned whether Romney would have made the same call. And it's been escalating ever since then. Take a listen to this. This is Jonah Goldberg, the conservative columnist and commentator. He was on "Piers Morgan" last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONAH GOLDBERG, EDITOR AT LARGE, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: The president of the United States who said he wasn't going to spike the football and all this, we shouldn't gloat about it, running campaign ads, gloating about it and saying the other guy isn't good enough to do the tough things that I did. I think it's one reprehensible. Second of all --

PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: You think it's reprehensible?

GOLDBERG: I do. Going by Obama's own standards, I think, it's reprehensible.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEINHAUSER: As you heard from Republicans that he's trying to politicize this he, being a president and his campaign. He responded to those kinds of comments saying, "I hardly think you've seen excessive celebration taking place here." Ashleigh, we've seen candidates argue about everything else, so why not Osama Bin Laden and the role, of course, of a commander in chief.

BANFIELD: Yes. Sometimes, it's hard to tell whether you're touting your accomplishments or spiking the football. And I think that's always fun for a campaign to part. Let me talk about this new CNN/ORC poll, because I know that you are on it and you're always watching those numbers. Who can better handle the job of the commander in chief? What did the poll tell us?

STEINHAUSER: Oh, we asked that in our most recent survey. And take a look, a national survey, and you can see, by about 16 points there, Americans think that the president rather than Mitt Romney could handle the role of commander in chief better. Listen, it's no surprise. We've seen the president's numbers for a couple years now better on international issues, foreign policy, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than on the economy and other issues.

So, for now, at least that's one of the reasons why you're seeing Romney and in the primaries with the other Republican candidates tried to beat up the president when it comes to such matters, Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: I don't think this question was asked, though, prior to this whole argument over Osama Bin Laden. I wonder if it would change, and maybe it wouldn't, but it's always fun to the --

STEINHAUSER: Fair point. Fair point.

BANFIELD: Paul, nice to see you. Take care.

STEINHAUSER: Thank you. Thanks.

ROMANS: All right. Forty-seven minutes after the hour. Time to check the stories making news this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS (voice-over): More than 100 al Qaeda documents discovered embedded in a porn video on a microchip. The plans detail future terror targets that are being described by intelligence officials as pure gold. They were taken from an al Qaeda operative who was arrested last year by German authorities. And they include plans to seize cruise ships and execute the passengers.

BANFIELD (voice-over): Also, want to take a look at this surveillance video of two men setting fire to a bar in Houston and then barricading the doors with the customers still inside. One of the suspects surrendered after seeing himself on TV. But Houston police say he will not give them the name of his accomplice.

Everybody managed to escape that April 19th fire through another exit, thank God. And who knows if a plea bargain may force that information out.

ROMANS: Wow.

BANFIELD: Unbelievable.

ROMANS: Home ownership in the United States, home ownership, hit a 15-year low in the first quarter of 2011 with many delinquent borrowers losing their homes to foreclosure. The percentage now of Americans owning their own home fell a full percentage point over the past 12 months. 65.4 percent own their home. That's down nearly four percentage points from 1997.

BANFIELD: All right. Christine, this one is for you. Ready? Because, sometimes, it is just cool to show big gear stuff (ph). Aha. It is a (INAUDIBLE) tank flattening a home in the town of Kasota, Minnesota. I hope I pronounce that right. Kasota, Minnesota. 150- year-old (ph) -- for demolition, anyway, so the owners decided to just have a whole lot of fun doing it. Oh, look at that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody is going to do it with a piece of machinery, anyway. So, we figured we might as well have some entertainment and show you, guys, what tanks can do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only in Kasota where they do stuff like this.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went through a barn, never a house.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BANFIELD: Only in Kasota. See that, drive a tank? That's exactly what they're able to do, and it was a dog that you saw in that. The tank is provided by a company called drive a tank. It's a company that gives civilians a chance to actually drive a tank. Usually, I think there's some pretty strong restrictions on where you can drive that tank. And yes, if it's your home, I suppose that's your right.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: But there's nothing quite like seeing a picture like that.

ROMANS: That takes demolition derby to a whole new level, doesn't it?

BANFIELD: Can I tell you? I want to do this. I want to drive a tank. I've been in a couple tanks. I want to drive a tank. Is that crazy?

ROMANS: No. Look how excited they are.

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: They agree. Ah, Kasota.

All right. The finish line, just the start of something beautiful. A guy named C.J. Wise (ph) got down on one knee, popped the question to his girlfriend at the end of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. And between gasps of catching her breath, she said yes.

They ran the entire race together, finished at the same time. That's a good sign for things to come, right? C.J. ran all 26.2 miles with the ring in his pocket.

BANFIELD: Sweaty kiss.

ROMANS: That is so sweet.

BANFIELD: I can't imagine having that in your pocket for 26.2 miles and not worrying about losing the ring.

ROMANS: I'm so glad I didn't have to run 26 miles to get married (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

ROMANS: Mine was not that hard to get.

BANFIELD: Well, what would have happened if one of them said, you know, honey, I just can't finish. You have to finish. Honey, you have to finish. Congratulations to these two. Lovely. Great story.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BANFIELD (on-camera): Ahead on EARLY START, we love this one. It's a church where you got to be over 21 and your Sunday best is some good leather. Yes. You're watching EARLY START.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BANFIELD: Hey, welcome back. It's 53 minutes now past the hour. Good time to check on what's trending on the interwebs, and this one comes from the TMI file.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Too much information. And it comes from the national zoo. Are you ready for this? The zoo decided to live tweet the artificial insemination of a female giant panda.

ROMANS (on-camera): Come on. This is zoology. It's not --

BANFIELD: I'm with you. It's just a little creepy.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: No privacy. It happened yesterday in Washington. It's the second try, too, after the first insemination on Sunday. All of this after attempts with her mate to actually do it the natural way didn't work so well. Apparently --

ROMANS: What's so natural when they tell you who your mate is going to be?

BANFIELD: And everybody's watching you.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Here's your hotel room. You've got an audience. Spring into the air, but apparently, the male mate, Tian-Tian (ph), a bit of a dud in the sack, so to speak. According to the "Washington Post," the zoo says that he has proved to be a clueless lover. Flawed technique.

ROMANS: So, bring on the Petri dish, I guess.

BANFIELD: I know, right? And hey, hey, it's being tweeted so you can follow along if you're kind of into that stuff.

ROMANS: All right. You get the Bible and a belt --

BANFIELD: It's nice.

ROMANS: -- in the Bible belt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to hear you scream!

(SCREAMING) (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A biker bar in Oklahoma called the drunk monkey is now holding a Sunday church service. The pastor of a local congregation raised the $1,000 needed to live stream his sermons to the church. The bar's owner is also offering free brunch for those who come to worship there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people don't have their Sunday best. They just have what they have. So, they get a chance to come here and they'll get to us and get chance to --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Jesus went to the well, found the people where they were, right? So, there you go.

BANFIELD: I like the idea. Call me crazy.

ROMANS: Get a bloody Mary, and you know, hail Mary, bloody Mary, all in one shot. Bloody Mary, hail Mary, good one.

BANFIELD: Very clever. You're very clever. We love this one, because you've just got to see the video to believe it. Guy in China who definitely doesn't need a bike lock. He's got a bike guard. Look at that dog, guarding his bike. That's Lili (ph), loyally standing guard, but watch what happens when he gets on the bike. What do you do with the dog? Does he have to run along in traffic? No, he does not.

ROMANS: You're just kidding me. You are kidding me.

BANFIELD: Christine, I am not kidding. Look at this. And they're ready to go. Are you ready?

ROMANS: This has been a YouTube sensation. The description is Lili (ph) is known around tone as the bike hugging dog.

BANFIELD: Cute as bike lock every though, according to our stuff.

ROMANS: Dogs are so loyal, so smart.

BANFIELD: Look at this. Look at this. So, amazing. Amazing.

So, he's not saying we, but he's not saying no. New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, seeming to be leaving the door open just a crack when asked if he'd be considering being a running mate for Mitt Romney. You can hear it for yourself exactly what he said, parse it like crazy, it's all coming up ahead.

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