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Al Qaeda Plans Found Hidden In Porn; Romney Backpedals On Bin Laden; Romney To Visit NYC Firehouse; May Day Protests; "Stand Your Ground" Law Under Scrutiny; Exotic Animals Returned; Grand Ole Opry Sues Federal Government; Jury Dismissed Early In Edwards Trial; Christie On Being Romney's Number Two; Delta Buying Oil Refinery; Bin Laden and Politics; Murdoch "Not Fit" To Run Company; May Day Protests

Aired May 1, 2012 - 05:59   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Very good morning to you. That is the CNN sign on the circle New York City. It is 6:00 a.m. on the east coast, and it's awesome to have you with us. It's EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. And it's awesome to have you.

ROMANS: Thank you. Nice to see you. I'm Christine Romans. Zoraida is off today. It's 6:00 a.m. in the east, so let's get started.

BANFIELD: Al Qaeda and attack plans, and it's all been found hidden pornography. You heard it. Police uncovered embedded files on a memory card meant only for senior leadership to see, but we got exclusive details on future plots, including taking over cruise ships.

ROMANS: Remember the night when lions and tigers and cheetahs and monkeys, remember, ran wild in Ohio? Now the widow of the man who let those animals loose is getting some of them back the ones that weren't shot dead.

We're going to talk to the man from the Columbus Zoo who took them in and ask him whether it's a good idea to return where they came from.

BANFIELD: And also we talk about him a lot, Governor Chris Christie keeping his own VP buzz alive and leaving the door open a wee crack, but open at that.

ROMANS: All right, we begin with al Qaeda's darkest plans discovered in a porn film and intelligence officials are calling it pure gold. More than 100 internal al Qaeda documents detailing past attacks and future potential terror targets were taken from an al Qaeda operative who was arrested by German authorities last year.

That operative was searched by police who found a microchip hidden in his underwear, a microchip with a pornographic video on it. When authorities looked into that video, they found a treasure trove of information embedded in the clips.

Nic Robertson is live for us this morning in London. Good morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Ashleigh. Well, what the police discovered here are many, many documents, some of them they believe written by core al Qaeda leaders.

One of them is the future plans document, which lays out what al Qaeda wants to do. It recognizes that al Qaeda is having a hard time with counterterrorism officials. It wants to get as many of its recruits back from the training camps in Pakistan.

Back into Europe so that they can confuse counterterrorism officials, it wants a twin track approach for low cost, easy to pull off operations as well as the big operations and one of the big operations that they want to commit is to attack cruise ships.


YASSIN MUSHARBASH, DIE ZIET NEWSPAPER: He says that we could hijack a passenger ship on the sea and then use it to pressurize the public. What he most likely means is that they would then start executing passengers.


ROBERTSON: There was another document contained as well that reveals details we've never seen before about the 77 attack in London, the 721 attempted attack in the liquid explosives airline plot.

This is the plot that resulted in us only being to carry 100 milliliters of liquid on aircraft. New details from the al Qaeda operator who put an engineer together that whole plan -- Christine.

ROMANS: Wow, this is what al Qaeda wants to do. But do they have the actual capability to pull something like this off, Nic?

ROBERTSON: Some of these documents, the future plans document, is incredibly revealing. They're saying that they recognize the counterterrorism officials are getting better. That they're losing people to drone strikes in Pakistan.

That they are so concerned that in some cases they're not even planning and plotting operations and that's why they're coming up with this new target list, if you will.

To try to continue the attacks because they know they're under so much pressure and certainly what we've seen in Europe, the ideas they've laid out, they're still trying to pull them off -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, Nic Robertson. Thank you so much, Nic.

Exactly one year ago today, President Obama made a chilling announcement on national television that changed the world forever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: 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.


ROMANS: Fast forward one year and Osama Bin Laden is still affecting U.S. politics. In fact, the raid that killed him is becoming the hottest topic on the campaign trail.

The president is touting his role in the operation and questioning whether his rival, Mitt Romney, whether he would have achieved the same result.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Would you have gone after Bin Laden?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You would have given the order, Governor?

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

OBAMA: 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.


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

In about 30 minutes, our Peter Bergen got his hands on documents from that OBL raid. We're going to talk to him and tell you about who Bin Laden wanted dead.

BANFIELD: Also making today, May Day protests kicking off all over the world. It is International Workers Day and labor groups are protesting for better working conditions, more jobs and higher wages.

Several thousand workers marched in Japan earlier this morning. And here's something interesting, tens of thousands marching in Russia, right alongside president-elect Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev who are taking part in those demonstrations.

Here in the United States, mass protests are expected in more than a hundred cities. The Golden Gate Ferry is going to shut down because of a strike by the workers there.

The officials say the service should restart at 2:15 this afternoon. "Occupy" activists actually called off a plan to take over the Golden Gate Bridge, but groups are planning other demonstrations and calling for a nationwide strike, a day without the 99 percent.

ROMANS: A 17-member task force is set to begin examining Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law" in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. They'll be hearing a public testimony at venues across Florida and will then make recommendations to the governor. The task force includes a retired judge, attorneys, members of neighborhood watch programs, two state representatives and two state senators.

BANFIELD: Do you remember that night last year when lions and cheetahs and dangerous animals ran wild in Ohio until they had to be shot dead?

Well, now a widow is getting back five of the exotic animals that her husband set free before he allegedly committed suicide. Well, no, he did commit suicide, not allegedly at all. He just did it.

He committed suicide with those animals running free amongst the community. That man, Terry Thompson, released more than 50 of those animals back in October including wolves, lions, bears, most of them having to be killed, hunted down and shot.

Five of them though surviving, two leopards, two monkeys and a bear, and they've all been kept in quarantine. But now state officials cleared the animals of any dangerous or contagious disease.

And Thompson's widow plans to keep them on her farm now, might not be much anyone can do about it. So ahead at 6:30 this morning, we're going to talk to the man who took care of those animals while they were in quarantine. We'll find out why he says it is not a good idea for them to return to their old conditions.

ROMANS: The Grand Ole Opry has filed a lawsuit against the federal government. The Mecca of country music claiming massive flooding that caused $250 million in damage last year was the result of negligence on the part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The suit says the Corps botched the operation of an up river dam and failed to give the city of Nashville ample warning.

BANFIELD: A gut-wrenching day on the witness stand for Cheri Young, who is the wife of the former John Edwards' aide, Andrew Young. She broke down in tears as she testified how the former senator asked her family to help hide an affair that he was having for the good of their country.

After taking a break, the judge dismissed the jury early, but Cheri Young is expected back on the stand this morning and the cross-examination may be even tougher.

ROMANS: All right, how does Romney/Christie grab you? Chris Christie insisted he's not exactly vice presidential material, but he's not ruling it out. The New Jersey governor was speaking to a group of high school students when one Intrepid high schooler asked him if he'd consider being Mitt Romney's running mate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I have no interest to be a vice president, but if Governor Romney called and asked me to sit down, because you owe the party that level of respect and he might be able to convince me. He's a convincing guy.


ROMANS: He might be able to convince me. He's a convincing guy. 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.

BANFIELD: Well, Chris Christie knew those cameras were running, right?

So it's 8 minutes now past the top of the hour. Still ahead on EARLY START some extremely intense video. Take a look at this, a raver who climbed real high and fell real, real low, but the good news is he's OK, but how on earth did he survived that?

ROMANS: And the White House said defending drone strikes to take out suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens. You're watching EARLY START.


BANFIELD: Hi, it's 12 minutes now past the top of the hour. Hi.

ROMANS: Hi, wake up.

BANFIELD: Woo! It's a good time to get caught up on the top stories making news this morning.

Intelligence officials say over 100 internal al Qaeda documents that detail past attacks, but also future terror targets are absolutely pure gold.

But here is how they were discovered by German authorities apparently found embedded on a porn video microchip taken from an al Qaeda operative last year. They include plans to use cruise ships and execute the passengers on board.

ROMANS: May Day protests happening right now all over the world. Labor groups commemorating International Workers Day with marches and global demonstrations calling for better working conditions, more jobs and higher wages.

A worker strike in California is shutting down the Golden Gate Ferry this morning. Officials say service will restart at 2:15 this afternoon and "Occupy" protesters are said to kick off later this morning.

BANFIELD: And talk about a family affair, three siblings sentenced to between 18 and 32 years behind bars in Colorado for a multi-state crime spree last year.

Lee grace, Ryan Dougherty and half brother Dylan Stanley Dougherty were captured after a shoot-out with police in August and they still face charges shooting at a police officer in Florida and robbing a bank in Georgia.

ROMANS: All right, crazy video out of Sydney, Australia, a man falls 60 feet off of scaffolding and amazingly he survived. It happens at the Kreenfields Music Festival is what's it's called.

Authorities say the man snuck past security, climbed up the scaffolding and he suffered only minor injuries. Witnesses say he gave a thumbs up after he got up. He was transferred to the hospital. Officials say he later discharged himself and went right back to that festival.

BANFIELD: That's hard core partying and now he has the video to show his kids. He's so proud.

Yoo, boo-boo, there's a bear in the backyard, a 300-pound bear as well. It was spotted wandering down a sidewalk and this was not rural, folks. This was suburban Denver and it happened yesterday. The bear hopped a five-foot fence and was just chillin' -- chillin' in a family's backyard, hanging out.

The owners said they have children who play out there, luckily at the time, though, everybody was inside and safe. So animal control officers tranquilized the bear and it just went off night-night in the backyard before they were able to transport it back to the wild where he's safer and probably a lot more happy, as are the neighbors.

ROMANS: Used to be just took the pie off the window sill but no one bakes anymore. See?

BANFIELD: What about the picnic basket?

ROMANS: Yes, the picnic basket.

All right. Fifteen minutes after the hour. Time for a weather update. That means our friend Rob Marciano drops by.

Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. Nothing like a little yogi bear in the morning.

You start you off with the --

BANFIELD: I bet you.

MARCIANO: -- hail, yes, hail, speaking of it, here it is, the video coming from north Texas, Headley, Texas, hail coming down in ping-pong, golf ball size and some cases baseball size. So, damaging hail there, and we had well over 20 reports of this stuff, six reports of tornadoes as well yesterday from severe weather.

That cluster of thunderstorms or the associated disturbance is moving across parts of Missouri and Arkansas right now, all the watches and warnings have been allowed to expire but it's moving pretty good. St. Louis will be the next stop with this. Heavy rains have fallen with this as well, in some cases. We've seen over 10 inches of Doppler estimates there. Because of that, some flood warnings and watches have been posted because of the swollen rivers and streams, two to four inches of additional rainfall on top of what they've already seen will cost some more flooding.

Here's your threat for severe weather today -- Minneapolis to Oklahoma, back through Kansas City or just north of there, I should say, in through Omaha and that warm front is moving across the Northeast today, and that's going to bring you some rainfall from Boston back to New York and Philadelphia, but after that rain comes through, temperatures are going to pump up.

Here is where the heat is. Yesterday, we saw temps into the 90s with record-breaking stuff and it will make its way up into the Northeast today, the high temperature in D.C. of 85 degrees, 74 degrees in New York City.

So, after a cool weekend, temperatures rebounding into May and in some cases June-like temps.

BANFIELD: We both had the same reaction, you are hilarious. We have to make sure you said hail, hail.

MARCIANO: Hail, hail.

BANFIELD: Hail yes.

MARCIANO: Yes, exactly.

BANFIELD: Because of the hailstones.

ROMANS: Love it.

BANFIELD: You are a funny man, Rob Marciano.

MARCIANO: I'm glad you clarified that, saving my job, one clarification at a time.


BANFIELD: All right, my friend. Thanks for that.


ROMANS: In Georgia, a 1-year-old boy falls 20 feet down a storm drain. Firefighters are called to the scene, but they are too big to fit into this drain. That's when they called in their special weapon, 4'11" firefighter Rosa Tullis.

BANFIELD: Look at her.

ROMANS: Tullis removed her gear, squeezed into the one-foot opening and rescued that boy.

Earlier I asked her about the rescue.


ROSA TULLIS, EAST POINT, GA FIREFIGHTER: He was like Velcro, I'll 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 get him up to my shoulders and then like a military press over my head.


ROMANS: Rosa says she's claustrophobic. But once she saw the little boy, her fear went away. She's able to do her job, the training kicked in. The one-year-old boy Darnell escaped with only minor bruises and scrapes. He's home, he's fine.

BANFIELD: Look at him, so calm. Usually you'd expect to se --

ROMANS: His mom was pretty calm, too, she said he's fine, but it was not a pretty moment for him.

BANFIELD: No, but they don't get cuter than that little guy. Good luck, Darnell. Be safe.

Delta Airlines has a bold, new plan, to go where no airline has ever gone before and we're not talking about flying. We're talking about the oil business. And it's something Christine just happened to drop by a refinery and figured out how it's a risky move but it could pay off. You'll find out all about it.


RAMON DOMINGUEZ, RACEHORSE JOCKEY: Hi. I'm Ramon Dominguez. I'm a racehorse jockey. I have been able to participate in some of the biggest events like the Kentucky derby and all the Triple Crown races.

I remember times when out of the whole week, I'll be five days in five different states, riding five different horses. I have to try to pack light. I find it very helpful to have a checklist of all the things that I have to take with me. This is my upper body protection vest, two of my saddles and we have my helmet with the goggles, boots, and last but not least my whip.

I may be able to fit all of that in a carry-on, believe it or not. I should take the racing form which is a paper that I use to handicap my race. I take a magazine, a couple books, a little granola.

Flying a lot is taking years out of my life because it was very stressful. Ironically, making a living riding racehorses very dangerous.

I'm up for my next race, and I see on the track.



BANFIELD: It is 23 minutes now past 6:00 on the East Coast. We're minding your business, as we like to do on a regular basis.

And Delta Airlines is getting into the oil refinery business.

ROMANS: That's right.


BANFIELD: It didn't sound right. I didn't get it at first.

ROMANS: Trainer, Pennsylvania, is where this is sort of going down. This is where this refinery is. And I went there yesterday to check out firsthand this situation.

Delta Airlines, Delta, an airline, it runs on jet fuel, right? Forty percent of its cost, jet fuel. It needs to secure these supplies by buying an oil refinery, it has secured 80 percent of its jet fuel needs cutting out the middleman.

We've been hearing rumblings about this, Ashleigh. It sounded outlandish at first. But to analysts, it started to make sense.


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.


ROMANS: All right. So, what Delta has secured is the delivery network for the blood that runs its body, right? 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. They say they'll put another $100 million in there, Ashleigh, to upgrade it so they can maximize how much jet fuel they're getting out.

It's a lot of money. So, will it help Delta save money, $150 million? They think so.


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.


BANFIELD: What also they're do, they're going to take the jet fuel. They're going to take the other gasoline and diesel that they refine there. They're going to trade it to other places for more jet fuel. See? So they're just going to double down on the jet fuel.

And the Trainer facility is idle right now. It's idle. The fact that an airline would want an oil refinery underscores a drama unfolding in the Northeast.

Did you know that nearly half of the refining capacity on the East Coast is either shut down or could shut down later this year? So what they're doing is making sure that no matter what happens to the economics overall of the Northeast refining capacity, they have a refinery churning out jet fuel that they could put in their airplanes.

BANFIELD: But not more fuel-efficient airplanes which I found kind of fascinating.

Hey, you do this thing. We love tapping your financial wisdom, fantoism (ph), because you write all these books about it. So, we thought everyday, one thing -- if I could get one thing from Christine Romans about my finances, what would it be? One thing you need to know.

ROMANS: Today is May Day. It's the Occupy Wall Street movements. And other movements, the workers movements are telling you that this is an important day for workers rights. We love protests and we love this. This is the day that has really change the world for workers.

However, you are a job market of one and you are an education of one, right?

BANFIELD: An economy of one.

ROMANS: An economy of one and you're hearing calls from Occupy Wall Street supporters you should not go to work and you should not go to school. And I want to you think very carefully about that today because you, only you can get move up in your job, only you if you're out of work can get a job for yourself and only you can get the right education for yourself.

So, be careful about the calls to stay away from work. I'm not saying don't do it.

BANFIELD: Contemplate.

ROMANS: Contemplate carefully because if you want a better job and you want a better education, should you not go to work and not go to school to get that.

BANFIELD: And if you want the message to get out, how do you get the message out if you don't do what the Occupy Wall Streeters do? So, it's an excellent quandary I think for people to be in. But love having her here.

Twenty-six minutes now past 6:00. And ahead on EARLY START, got a big demolition job? How about this? I love it. Get yourself your own personal tank and tear down that wall. Or the home actually, just tear down your home.

Rent a tank and drive it through your house. We will tell you why these people did this to their house, why all of these people turned out and why you, did, could do the same thing.

I'm not kidding.

ROMANS: Just make sure it's your own house, please. Please.


ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans, in for Zoraida Sambolin this morning.

Here what's happening at half past the hour:

More than 100 internal al Qaeda documents that detail future terror targets are being described by intelligence officials as 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 the passengers.

May Day protests for workers' rights now happening all over the world. Labor strike has shut down the Golden Gate ferry this morning and other cities are bracing for more disruption as Occupy Wall Street plans to regroup.

And the wife of former John Edwards aide, Andrew Young, will be back on the witness stand this morning. Cheri Young broke down in tears yesterday and jurors had to be excused early after she testified the former senator asked her family to hide an affair he was having, to hide it for the good of the country -- Ashleigh.

BANFIELD: All right. Christine, thank you.

It's 31 minutes now past 6:00.

And nearly half dozen dangerous and exotic animals, including two leopards and a brown bear are on the verge of being shipped back to a farm where their owner mysteriously set them free into the community last year and then killed himself.

You may remember animal control officers scrambling to find the dangerous animals on the loose in their community, and then being forced to hunt down and shoot almost all of the 56 animals to prevent people from being attacked and killed. You can see the carnage in these pictures here on your screen.

And now the widow of the man who caused that crisis wants the animals back on her farm, and there may be nothing that anyone can do about this.

Tom Stalf of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium where the surviving leopards, and bears and primates have been housed since the tragedy joins us now live.

Tom, why is it that these the animals going back where that whole crisis emanated from?

TOM STALF, COO, COLUMBUS ZOO AND AQUARIUM: Well, unfortunately, Ohio is one of few states that do not have any type of standards of care or restrictions on restricted species or dangerous, wild animals, due to the fact that there isn't current laws, there's no choice for the state but, after quarantine, releasing them back to Maryann Thompson.

BANFIELD: And is Maryann Thompson equipped to handle these animals? Because we clearly know her husband was not after he released them and killed himself and put that community in such dire danger.

STALF: I was there on October 19th, part of the capture and recovery team, and it was a horrific day. What I saw as what you would consider their holding their cages were definitely not adequate. I haven't been back to Maryann Thompson's property, but the day that I was there, I saw the primates in small bird cages, the bear outside on an old pool deck in what I would consider a parrot cage, and the leopards in a chain-link fence with little to know shelter, feces, mud -- just no standards of care at all.

So, we are deeply concern at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium that officials will inspect the facility before the animals will leave our property.

BANFIELD: So, Tom, there's two issues here. Number one is the danger to the animals themselves in conditions that you're describing. And number two, the danger to people living nearby because it happened once, those animals got free, they were turned loose. And as I understand it, Ms. Thompson is not very communicative with authorities.

STALF: Well, I can also tell you that when we were there, we witnessed some of their holding areas holes cut into the sides of the cages, so yes it's a concern.


STALF: When we talk about the proper standards of care, we want to talk about proper holding facilities and having a perimeter fence, so if in an unfortunate incident an animal would leave its primary holding area, it would still be contained.

BANFIELD: I think the biggest question that our viewers who perhaps don't live in your state would be asking right about now is, aren't there laws in place at the very minimum just to keep people safe from others who would like to have pets like you're seeing on your screen who perhaps shouldn't be pets?

STALF: There are laws. They would be enforced by law enforcement. There would also be health officials and humane societies that could come in and ensure that there's proper care, and that it's safe for the general public.

BANFIELD: So we have to return the animals to Mrs. Thompson and then get a warrant of some kind to go and check the facility to make sure it's safe for the animals and safe for the surrounding neighbors?

STALF: Well, at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, we have been a resource for the state and also for Maryann Thompson. We are providing the information and have served on task forces to educate the senators and legislation to pass a bill.

Fortunately, the bill has passed the Senate and on to the house now, but in the meantime, it will be up to law enforcement and the state of Ohio and also local health officials, humane society, to ensure that the animals are cared for and that people are safe.

BANFIELD: Well, I certainly hope this story turns out well and I do appreciate you taking the time to talk us through it. Tom Stalf, chief operating officer with the Columbus Zoo, thanks so much for being with us today.

STALF: Thank you.

BANFIELD: Christine, over to you.

ROMANS: A year after Osama bin Laden was killed, we're beginning to learn more about the leader from al Qaeda months before he was killed. Bin Laden was worried about his legacy and al Qaeda's repetition.

"The Washington Post" reports bin Laden didn't like the proposed idea of using a killing machine dubbed the human lawnmower. It was widely talked about on al Qaeda linked Web sites revolved attaching rotating blades to the front of a pickup truck and driving it into crowds. Bin Laden was focused on bigger targets.

CNN's Peter Bergen traveled to the compound and had access to the documents found in the raid.


PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The picture that emerges from his documents is bin Laden is calling for big attacks, kill President Obama, kill General Petraeus. And his guys are pushing back and saying, we're, you know, we're under pressure from the drones. Attacking United States is not that easy.


ROMANS: Bergen says bin Laden knew that al Qaeda's reputation was tarnished and bin Laden was afraid with what the drone strikes were doing to the terrorist organization.

Two grandparents arrested for taking their granddaughter out on a dangerous ride, hitching her hot wheels toy car to the back of their SUV using dog leashes and taking her on a drive. Deputies in Sarasota County say both grandparents were drunk. They say they spotted the 7- year-old girl wearing only a bathing suit and no helmet. Thankfully, the little girl was not harmed.

Because sometimes it's cool to break stuff here's video of a British tank flattening a home in Midtown, Minnesota. The 150-year- old was slated for demolition anyway, so the owners decided they want to have a little fun.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody is going to do it with a piece of machinery away. So, we figure we'd have live entertainment and show you guys what tanks can do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only in Casota would they do something like this.

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


ROMANS: Through a barn, never a house. Oh, wow. Yes, that was a dog in a tank.

The tank was provided by a company called "Drive a Tank," which gives civilians ability to drive through a tank, in this case through a home. Yes.

BANFIELD: I want that for my birthday this year, I want to drive a tank. I do. I don't know if I want to drive it through a home.

ROMANS: What are you going to drive it through, is what I want to know.

BANFIELD: Well, I was thinking Central Park would be fun, but you know what? It's not going to work.

ROMANS: Are you kidding?


ROMANS: -- Bloomberg.

BANFIELD: Don't call Bloomberg.

All right. So, coming up, Osama bin Laden is still impacting America one year after his death. How the president and his top rival are turning the terrorists' demise into their very own talking points.

But, first, a quick check of your travel forecast with our friend, Rob Marciano.

Good morning, Rob.

MARCIANO: Hi again, guys.

We're looking at thunderstorms that are rolling through the Midwest. They brought severe weather yesterday. Now, St. Louis and eventually Memphis will be in the path of these thunderstorms as they roll off toward the East.

Speaking of the East, the Northeast will see showers as well, this is all ahead a warm front bringing warmer temperatures for you. You can see it's pumping up the heat, temperatures into the 90s and threat for severe across the Upper Midwest.

And here are your forecast highs for today. Some folks will touch 90, 85 degrees in D.C., 74 in New York.

That's quick on weather. It's 20 minutes to the hour.

EARLY START is coming right back.


ROMANS: Good morning, Washington. Hello, White House. Sixty- three degrees right now. Later, going up to 85 and thunderstorms.

BANFIELD: Is that fog blowing by the camera?

ROMANS: No, I think that's always -- some kind of --

BANFIELD: A cameraman smoking?

ROMANS: It's some sort of a vent.

BANFIELD: Just checking.

ROMANS: All right. He's been dead for a year but Osama bin Laden still has a big effect on American politics. The White House is using the anniversary of bin Laden's demise to pump up the president's re-election bid, questioning whether Mitt Romney would have ordered the raid that would have eliminated the world's most wanted terrorist. Let the politics begin.


REPORTER: Would you have gone after bin Laden?


REPORTER: Would have given the order, Governor?

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

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


ROMANS: All right. CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser, live in Washington.

Good morning, Paul.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: We've got a political fight here, don't we, Christine?

ROMANS: I think so.

STEINHAUSER: Yes. Those comments from Mitt Romney earlier yesterday on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, the president responding at a news conference, and he was referring to comments Romney made four years ago when he was first running for the White House, questioning whether it would be worth getting bin Laden and how much of an effect it would have on taking out al Qaeda's terrorist network.

The Romney campaign responding to the president's comments saying this, "It's unfortunate 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."

Christine, I guess you could say this all started last Thursday. The next day, a campaign video from the Obama campaign doing the exact same thing, questioning Romney and using President Clinton to praise President Obama's decision-making process. Listen, we've heard a lot of criticism from Republicans pushing back saying the president and his team is definitely making way too much of this and politicizing it.

Here is the conservative columnist and commentator, Jonah Goldberg, last night on "Piers Morgan." Take a listen.


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 HOST: You think it's reprehensible?

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


STEINHAUSER: The president's response to all that criticism in that news conference yesterday. He said, "I hardly think you've seen any excessive celebration taking place here." Christine, I'll tell you one thing, though, we've seen foreign policy, the president's foreign policy come under attack by Republicans and is definitely part of this campaign. It will continue to be straight through November.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The president, Paul, out with a new ad this morning. What's it say?

STEINHAUSER: Yes. This ad is interesting. It's playing in three states, Ohio, Virginia and Iowa. Of course, you know Iowa, all battleground states, of course. And the ad starts by pushing back against Republican ads that criticize the president and to call those ads part of big oil's interest.

It also touts the president's green energy program which, Christine, conservatives have heavily criticized, and then, take a listen to what it says about Governor Romney.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about Mitt Romney? As a corporate CEO, he shipped American jobs to places like Mexico and China. As governor, he outsourced state jobs to a call center in India. He's still pushing tax breaks for companies that shift jobs overseas. Just what you'd expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account.


STEINHAUSER: Yes. I guess, as a Romney campaign, Christine, will have the very strong response very quickly. Listen, this is all about defining your opponent right now, the Obama campaign trying to define Mitt Romney negatively, of course.

ROMANS: All right. And, six more months of this, can't wait.

STEINHAUSER: Yes. Stay tuned.

ROMANS: Paul Steinhauser, thanks.



All right. Forty-seven now minutes past 6:00. in the morning on the east coast. Soledad O'Brien joining us now with what's ahead on "Starting Point." Hello there.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. Just about 15 minutes on "Starting Point," we're going to talk about the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden. New York City Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, will join us and talk about the terror threat today and how handling al Qaeda has changed in the country.

Plus, baseball hall of famer, "The Ironman" Cal Ripken Jr. is going to joins us. He'll tell us how he's helping rebuild Joplin, Missouri, after that town was destroyed by tornadoes.

And for Michael Jordan, it all started with a dream when he was nine years old to be in the Olympics. Today, his mom is telling us how that dream turned him into one of the greatest athletes of all- time. Deloris Jordan (ph) has a new book. It's called "Dream Big." She'll join us as well. Much more ahead on "Starting Point" at the top of the hour. We'll see you then.



ROMANS (voice-over): Good morning. This just in to CNN. Rupert Murdoch and his media empire deliberately misled the British parliament about the scope of the phone hacking scandal at the now defunct "News of the World" tabloid. That, at least, is the conclusion of a committee of lawmakers in London.

Their report released moments ago concluded, quote, "the behavior of "News International" and certain witnesses in this affair demonstrated contempt for that system in the most blatant fashion."

Lawmakers went on to say Rupert Murdoch is, quote, "not a fit and proper person to run a major international company." The findings could prompt British regulators to force Murdoch to sell his controlling stake in BSkyB, British Sky Broadcasting.

BANFIELD (voice-over): That is hugely political, as well.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

BANFIELD: And that is not the end of that story, you can bet today.

May Day protests happening right now all over the world. Labor groups commemorating International Workers Day with marches and global demonstrations are calling for better working conditions, more jobs, and higher wages.

A workers strike in California is shutting down the Golden Gate Ferry, although, officials do say the service will restart at 2:15 this afternoon. And Occupy protests are set to kick off a little later on this morning.

ROMANS: Look at the surveillance video of two men setting fire to a bar in Houston, then barricading the door. The customers are still inside. One of the suspects surrendered after seeing himself on TV, but Houston police say he won't give them the name of his accomplice. Everyone managed to escape the April 19th fire through another exit.

BANFIELD: Former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is going to find out today whether a civil suit that was brought against him by a New York City hotel maid will, indeed, go forward or not. That maid accused him of sexual assault last year, but the criminal case was tossed out because of credibility issues.


ROMANS (on-camera): Forget the youth vote, coming out, Betty White rocks the vote with a brand new campaign ad. Betty White, love her.

BANFIELD (on-camera): Can't get enough of Betty.


BANFIELD: Hello, Columbus Circle in New York City. A little damp out there, but a beautiful day and beautiful greenery to see there as well. It is just four minutes now before the top of the hour. We've got a couple of cute stories for you here.

She's been involved in politics before and even President Obama asked to see her birth certificate once upon a time. And now, 90- year-old Betty White has made a decision to got her pick in California's 28th Congressional district race.

She appeared in an ad alongside her "Hot in Cleveland" co-star, Wendie Malick, for a long-time congressman name Howard Berman. Her love of animals is the deciding factor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Betty if you want a friend in Washington, do you know what you do?

BETTY WHITE, ACTRESS: Get a dog. That's what I've been told.


WHITE: Re-elect Congressman Howard Berman, the valley leader who fights for the humane treatment of all animals.



BANFIELD: I love Betty White.

ROMANS: All right. You get the Bible and a belt in the Bible belt. How about that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to hear you scream!


(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: It's a biker bar in Oklahoma. It's called the Drunk Monkey. And now, you can go to church there. It's now holding a Sunday service. The pastor of a local congregation raised $1,000 that he need to live stream his sermons right into the bar, making church. The bar's owner is also offering free brunch for people who come to worship.

BANFIELD: That's nice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 --


ROMANS: You know, Sunday best with your dreadlocks and your nose ring and martini and --

BANFIELD: Bloody Mary?

ROMANS: Bloody Mary and a hail Mary right there.

BANFIELD: You know, I got to give you the credit for that one --


BANFIELD: OK. We got another piece of video for you that you have got to see. If you're not going to see it on your computer today, you're going to see it right here, right now. This is bike lock. It's a cute little bike lock named Lili (ph). Lili guards the bike for the owner, and then, instead of running alongside the owner when they leave, this is how Lili rides with the owner.

Hello. Up you go and all right, dad, ready to go, and we're off. That is one of the best cuties and fuzzies of the day. Cutest bike lock ever. Lili on the back of the bike, apparently, known around town as the bike hugging dog. One word, adorable.

ROMANS: I love it.

BANFIELD: And how efficient.

ROMANS: Man's best friend and ballast for your bike.

BANFIELD: Ballast, nicely done. Hey, that's the news from "A" to "Z." It's nice to have you with us today. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Very nice to see you. "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now. Good morning, Soledad.