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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Terrorists Plot Against U.S. Foiled; Documentary Focuses on Religious Program to Convert Homosexuals into Heterosexuals; Manhunt For Tennessee Kidnap Suspect; Former Edwards Speech Writer To Testify; Beaten To Death; Obesity To Cost U.S. $550 Billion; Yogurt Makes Mice Sexier; Big Catch By Orioles Fan; Ex-Saint: Coaches Said "Play Dumb"; Santorum Backing Romney; A Navy SEAL's Story
Aired May 8, 2012 - 06:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN HOST: And good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning, another foiled al Qaeda bomb plot, the target, a U.S.-bound flight. New details on the device which was said to be more sophisticated and maybe even undetectable. We'll tell you who tipped off the feds? We're going to talk this morning with Congressman Peter king, point man on homeland security.
Also, hold on, I'm getting to it, no way, it's coming. Rick Santorum, took him about 13 paragraphs to finally get to it, but he did, eventually, endorse Mitt Romney in a late night e-mail. We'll tell you what he said.
And lies to cover cheap shots. The former New Orleans Saint swearing that he was ordered to play dumb about the bounty scandal.
It's Tuesday, May 8th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.
O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Our "Starting Point" this morning is the CIA stopping a terrorist plot to blow up an airplane. And new this morning, a source says it was the Saudis that were able to provide that tip. We're told the device is similar to that of the failed Christmas Day underwear bombing attempt that happened nearly three years ago.
The FBI says it's now testing and analyzing the device to see if it would have been able to pass through an airport metal detector, all of it a very sobering reminder of al Qaeda's threat. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The device did not appear to pose a threat to the public air service, but the plot itself indicates that these terrorists keep trying. They keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people. And it's a reminder as to why we have to remain vigilant at home and abroad and protecting our nation and in protecting friendly nations and peoples like India and others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: More details from Washington, D.C. We're talking to Republican congressman from New York, Peter King. He's the chairman of the homeland security committee. Also with us this morning, CNN national security contributor Frances Townsend. She's a former Bush homeland security adviser. Congressman King, give me some more details of this plot as you know this and the man at the center of the plot whom we haven't heard much information about.
REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: Soledad, I really can't give you all the details. This is an ongoing operation. I can tell you, as you said, it was a non-metallic device, I can tell you it involves a number of countries and that at no time did the bomb ever make it on to the plane but as far as even the country it originated from, all of that for various reasons is not being disclosed.
But it is ongoing, involved sophisticated intelligence and it's something where I don't think the government expected it to be coming out yesterday because it's ongoing and the device is being tested by the FBI, and as you raise the issue about whether or not our current level of detection is enough to be able to find this type of device. This seems to be a new level of sophistication by Al Qaeda, probably Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But again, it's an indication that the war unlike the president said is not going to end in Afghanistan. The war will go on for many years.
O'BRIEN: Where was the plot foiled? Was the individual found inside of Yemen, outside of Yemen?
KING: Soledad I can't go into any of that with you. This is sensitive information on the ground. I can just tell you that the person who actually had the bomb is no longer a threat.
O'BRIEN: Meaning he's dead? Or he's alive? Or being held somewhere?
KING: I can only tell you that the White House person I spoke to said the terminology they are use something he is no longer of concern.
O'BRIEN: Congressman King I'll have you stand by while I bring in Fran Townsend. So we're hearing a lot and yet there's not a lot of detail at this moment. Before I get to the device itself, let's talk about the person, the individual who has not been named yet. Peter Ling said he's no longer a threat as he's been told from the White House?
FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: I talked to a senior administration official yesterday using the same language. He's dead or in custody f he's not a threat he's got to be one of the two. Overnight we were steered away from the notion he was dead, sounds as though he's in custody but it might not be in the U.S. We understand they have possession of the device and logically, Soledad, what that says to me is wherever the device was seized probably so is the would-be suicide bomber. He's in custody wherever the device has been seized. O'BRIEN: What are the implications of where it's been seized if caught inside Yemen, outside Yemen, if he's been able to get on a plane successfully and transport the device, all would be relevant.
TOWNSEND: All of it would be relevant. But I can tell you the senior administration official who has direct knowledge assured me and others that this device never made it to an airport, much less never made it to a plane. One has to presume if this began in Yemen, it was U.S. forces working with foreign partners. It may have been the Saudis. We've heard information like that. The Saudis have the best insight to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Presumably the Saudis working with the U.S. disrupted this plot perhaps inside Yemen, seized the device, turned that over to the U.S. and the Yemenis or Saudis have custody of this guy.
O'BRIEN: Let's talk more about this guy before I get back to Congressman King. Non-metallic, which means it wouldn't set off the detectors as you walk through the airport.
TOWNSEND: That's right. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is known for PETN, the explosive very difficult to detect, it can be a putty type substance, and we saw the use of these types of components so no one concerned it's PETN but PETN is a non-metallic substance.
O'BRIEN: Congressman King, a drone attack was held to kill Al Qaeda leader al-Qusa. Was the drone attack was successful in foiling this plot?
KING: Yes, I was told by the White House they are connected, they're part of the same operation, and that's why I said this operation is still ongoing. Everything that Fran Townsend said is usual, makes a tremendous amount of sense. I'm not in a position to say all of the things that Fran does because of the restrictions that I have but if you listen to Fran Townsend you're getting a pretty good idea of what happened.
O'BRIEN: We fully understand, sir. I'll go back to Fran for a moment. Tell me the connection then. We know there is this connection between the drone attack that took out Qusa and this foiled plot.
TOWNSEND: Qusa was the head of external operations for Al Qaeda and the Arabian peninsula. As the head he would have been aware and directing any ongoing plotting so they have a target of opportunity over the weekend, take him out in a drone attack and you see the disruption of this plot also in time related. It was described as a one-two punch. You take out the external chief, operations chief, and you disrupt a plot and throw the organization into a little bit of chaos, which explains Congressman King's remark that this is really, remains an ongoing operation.
O'BRIEN: We could expect more information. Congressman King before I let you go, when we were talking about this treasure trove, for lack of a better word of information that was coming out after Osama bin Laden was killed and all that material had been vetted, and we talked a lot about the drones and the panic almost that bin Laden had about the drones, on the one hand it seemed there was a tremendous vulnerability and on the other hand we're seeing tremendous flexibility especially as Al Qaeda in this region continuing to come back hard and flexibly changing their plans and strategies. Where do we stand today in terms of safety and security?
KING: Well in many ways we're safer than we were on 9/11. However, Al Qaeda and its affiliates can metastasize and morph. They find a new method, they are very able scientists, and doctors working for them, these are sophisticated people, they never stop. That's why it's wrong when people in the national arena somehow say the war on terrorism is over or Al Qaeda is defeated. We can never let our guard down. People are not surprised, they can use all the drones they want and they are effective. Al Qaeda will find other ways and we have to constantly stay with them and ahead of them.
O'BRIEN: Congressman Peter King joining this morning, Fran Townsend, always nice to see you. Thank you.
We have other stories making news. Let's get to Christine Romans this morning.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. One month after dropping out of the GOP race Rick Santorum is now officially endorsing Mitt Romney. Santorum met with Romney last week and released a late night e-mail to supporters saying he has a better understanding of where his former rival stands on conservative issues. He writes, quote, "Above all else we both agree that President Obama must be defeated. The task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Governor Romney will be that nominee and he has my endorsement and support to win this, the most critical election of our lifetime."
Romney has the chance to pick up more delegates with primaries in Indiana, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Romney needs about 300 delegates to clinch the nomination. The focus in North Carolina is mainly on Amendment One. That measure aims to ban same-sex marriage. Evangelist Billy Graham has taken out full-page ads in 14 state newspapers supporting the amendment. Former President Bill Clinton recorded a robo-call denouncing it. In Indiana the main focus is focused on six-term senator Dick Lugar's. He's the Senate's longest serving Republican and may not survive the challenge from Tea Party backed state treasurer Richard Murdoch who is up by double digit in the polls. Coming up next hour Senator Lugar joins Soledad live.
New this morning the FBI redoubling efforts to track down the alleged kidnaper of a Tennessee family after the mother and one of her daughters were found dead. Authorities say 31-year-old Jo Ann Bain and her eldest daughter were buried in shallow graves in the backyard of the Mississippi suspect Adam Mayes. They say Mayes is considered armed and dangerous. They fear for the safety of the two other young daughters. Mayes, who is a family friend, is suspected of kidnapping them nearly two weeks ago.
"Minding your Business" this morning, U.S. stock futures are lower, indicating markets could open 75 points or so lower. Concerns about the future of Greece's government pushing markets down worldwide overnight.
New research out this morning about Congress and your money. The Center for Responsive Politics reports Democrats on Capitol Hill are worth on average $878,500, Median net worth for Republicans $957,500. The average American's net worth is about $96,000. Who are the richest lawmakers in Washington? Senator John Kerry is worth over $200 million, much of his money comes from his wife's fortune, car alarm tycoon Congressman Darrell Issa worth the most at $448 million. These are the people talking about fairness, equality and who pays what in taxes.
Is McDonald's bribing bloggers? The fast food chain is assembling an army of a million burger friendly bloggers to respond to its critics. Already some 400 bloggers are receiving gifts and party invites in exchange for positive posts. Last year McDonald compensated mommy bloggers, so-called, for writing about the new healthy meal happy meal offerings.
O'BRIEN: We get fries, sounds like a bit of a deal.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a new documentary on a teenager who is sent away, his parents trying to "pray away the gay," as they say. This as the debate over same-sex marriage heats up with President Obama under pressure from his own party.
And our "Get Real," a woman who just had surgery without anesthesia goes to pick up her pain killers in CVS ends up spending the night in jail. Our panel is walking in to talk about that and more. It's John Fugelsang, Abby Huntsman, and Will Cain. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment. Good morning. Welcome, guys.
O'BRIEN: A fascinating new documentary takes a look at the controversial practice of using religion to turn someone who is gay into what they call "ex-gay." The documentary focuses on the ministry group which is called Love and Action, and a 16-year-old boy whose name is Zach Stark. Zach's parents enrolled him in Love and Action's refuge program shortly after he came out to his parent. The movie documents what happens after Zach takes to MySpace and starts blogging about the refuge program and what he calls its "draconian practices." In it the founder talks about why he started the program. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN SMID, DIRECTOR, GRACE RIVERS MINISTRY: I started hearing a lot more stories and experiences of teenagers moving into homosexual promiscuity, homosexual behavior, homosexual pornography on the internet. We thought we could offer a day program where we could begin to kind of help these kids with some of the tools that we knew were valuable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: That founder, John Smid, joins us this morning. He has since left Love and Action. And also joining us is the director of the documentary, which is called "This is What Love and Action Looks Like." Nice to have you both.
SMID: Good morning.
O'BRIEN: You didn't start as the filmmaker. You started at a protest. A 16-year-old is blogging his friends go to refuge and start protesting outside of where he's being held, it's to dramatic but stuck inside at his parents' request. What was happening on the outside?
MORGAN JON FOX, DIRECTOR, "THIS IS WHAT LOVE AND ACTION LOOKS LIKE": It was a whirlwind. Luckily it was the summer so Zach's friends had a lot of time on their hands, and they looked at it as a friend being bullied into a situation. And they commend them for having the guts for something they thought was important.
O'BRIEN: This is back in 2005. You had just opened the doors for the teenage program refuge. What was your take on what was going on outside?
SMID: I got to the office that morning thinking this is a day as usual, we're going to start this program. And all of a sudden someone came into my office and said John there's a protest outside, and obviously it upset my applecart. I didn't know what to do. I heard all the mega phones outside barking my name, "John Smid, what are you doing in this there?" And I was just overwhelmed.
O'BRIEN: What were some of the measures, the kids, Zach called them "draconian"? What were you doing to get them to become ex-gay, not turning them straight but ex-gay.
SMID: There's a couple components, one was to give them opportunities to talk and share things that were going on in their heart and lives but the other was educational, as a conservative Christian ministry that it was, we wanted to teach the wrongs of homosexuality, why it was sin, why it was wrong, how it could harm their lives not realizing that stuff was going on in their hearts that we wouldn't really allow them to share.
O'BRIEN: A lot of this documentary is about the big changes that happened to you.
O'BRIEN: You eventually left the refuge and shut it down. When did you realize what you had been trying to teach kids was wrong?
SMID: I think it started with meeting Morgan, the protest. I want to say the protest was effective, not too many can see an effect from a protest like we did, but in Morgan's effect on my life I saw a man I really respected and appreciated and started to listen to his heart and through that started to evaluate what we were really doing.
O'BRIEN: You started having regular conversations. What I thought was interesting, you actually instead of screaming at each other which I think protests often have -- you sat down and had conversations, each realizing I'm not going to belittle the other person but hear them out and have that person hear me out. Was that the crux of the doc and what was successful?
FOX: Yes, I think our protest was important because it got a certain amount of attention that was required but at a certain point when I set face-to-face with John I decided as opposed to debate him, I told my story, where I came from, I told about my emotions and my struggles and how my life was better for having a partner who is now my fiance. You know, and I think what that did was allowed a certain amount of trust so when we started to discuss the issues we didn't have to yell at each other. We were able to not be defensive and listen to each other and that laid to some real change.
O'BRIEN: It took years and years and years. I'm making it sound like it happened over a two-week period but took many years.
SMID: We didn't talk about homosexuality or the program or probably about two years or more. We talked about one another's lives, what our passions are, what we're interested in, who we are as people. The issue of the documentary came up when we started talking about the program and it helped me a lot to evaluate what we had really done.
O'BRIEN: What had you really done?
SMID: I think for the teen program the main thing that we did, first of all, we didn't educate the parents so the kids were brought into the program and the parents weren't involved in the program.
O'BRIEN: Kept out.
SMID: They were spending time doing other things, and I saw that and realized we were setting these kids up for failure, because the home they left, which was very conflictive in many cases, became no different after the program so they went home to a place that was conflictive still.
And now as I look back there is no change in orientation, and yet at the same time we really believed that somehow we were going to rescue these kids from a life of homosexuality, but the truth is, they are gay, and they will be gay the rest of their life. And so we set them up really for a facade. We set them up for a false image of what we tried to help them think life would be like, but it never was going to be like that. I was in complete denial about that at the time.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Are you guys both Christian?
SMID: Yes, I am.
FOX: I consider myself Christian. I don't necessarily -- yes, I am Christian.
CAIN: Do you see a tension between that Christian belief many say is the genesis of seeing homosexuality as wrong and what was your purpose before of trying to turn people into ex-gay? I guess my question is this, it seems that's where the debate should lie, at the place of religion. It seems like this program you used to take part in, John, seems like a natural revolution if you believe homosexuality is wrong.
FOX: I don't believe it's wrong and I think in fact the Bible doesn't really say it's wrong.
O'BRIEN: I don't get your question. Back up, what? I'm sorry, I don't understand.
CAIN: It seems like the place the debate should be had is at the place of religion. Most people who believe in Christianity believe homosexuality is wrong.
O'BRIEN: I disagree.
JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: For the record, Christ never said anything about homosexual relationships. No one in this country follows all the rules of Leviticus. We'd be killing children for talking back to their parents if we did. It's picking and choosing parts of the bible to follow to justify being mean.
SMID: I'm not advocating. I'm not a believer and I believer in gay marriage.
CAIN: The majority of Americans identify as Christians and support marriage equality.
SMID: The majority of Americans do not support marriage equality. That's not the current statistics.
ABBY HUNTSMAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: What do you hope that Americans take from this? This is obviously a big issue now in politics.
O'BRIEN: What do you think of gay marriage? We know that was the reason we have this conversation. What do you think?
SMID: I think the worst thing to do where people can't talk about the lives and can't live authentically who they are.
O'BRIEN: Is that a support of gay marriage?
SMID: I think people must have the freedom to pursue relationships they feel convicted or desire for their lives, and I certainly believe that should be done with equality.
CAIN: And you see no tension between Christianity and homosexuality?
SMID: A tremendous tension, absolutely.
FUGELSANG: You see a difference between the teachings of Christ and homosexuality?
SMID: Jesus doesn't say anything about it.
FUGELSANG: Exactly. Thank you.
CAIN: What is that tension and how do you resolve it?
SMID: The tension is an unequaled base of the evaluation of other people's lives. In Christianity it's obvious people pick and choose what they want to say is wrong and don't want to say is wrong and both could be seen as wrong or not wrong.
CAIN: So you see the tension in the application of Christianity and not in the teachings.
SMID: Yes. I've definitely lived in that place for many years I would say I don't see hoe row sexuality as worse than any other sin. But yet an entire ministry and program and virtually everything I spoke publicly did communicate homosexuality was worse than any other sins.
CAIN: This is the place the debate should be had at the application of Christianity.
O'BRIEN: It has political implications so it can't be had at this level.
CAIN: You had conversion therapy, so maybe that's the place for your next focus.
O'BRIEN: I'm sure he appreciates your advice on that. Thank you, gentlemen, we appreciate you joining that.
FUGELSANG: Congratulations on being an ex-gay ministry.
O'BRIEN: Not many can say that.
FOX: For me what's most interesting is love and action and similar ministries promise change is possible. It turns out it is, but the change is different.
FUGELSANG: As a Christian I'm inspired by what you've done.
SMID: It's a huge process and I'm writing a book.
O'BRIEN: When your book is out we'll have you back.
SMID: It will be out soon.
O'BRIEN: I appreciate it.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, our "Get Real" talks about a woman who had a tough time. She had legitimate prescription, crutches to prove she wasn't faking it. So why did she end up behind bars when she went to CVS to grab her prescription? Don't forget, you're going to watch CNN live on a computer, mobile phone, go to CNN.com/live. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back right after this break.
O'BRIEN: That's Abby's playlist. Our "Get Freal" focuses on a woman named Ann Leinhart. She was hiking in Haiti doing humanitarian work when she fell 30 feet down a cliff. After a three and a half hour trip they had to walk her to the nearest hospital in Port-au- Prince. She underwent emergency reconstructive surgery but without general anesthesia. She returns home to Dallas, goes back to local CVS to refill prescription for pain so bad she has an IV stuck permanently in her arm. The cops meet her there and they say we believe you have a forged prescription, and they take her off to jail and she spends the night in jail. The pharmacy apparently tried to call her doctor and it didn't happen. Turns out they called the wrong doctor.
HUNTSMAN: How does that happen?
O'BRIEN: I don't know, but guess what? Her lawyers are going to find out when they sue, because she's now suing CVS pharmacy for false imprisonment and I'm sure somehow the Dallas P.D. will be roped into this as well. CVS says, "we are investigating how this unfortunate incident occurred." She also then had to get a note from her attorney, so she could go back to work because of course she spent the night in jail.
HUNTSMAN: I hope she was at least on the prescription drugs when she was in jail. I can't imagine --
O'BRIEN: Apparently not. They never filled it so she sat in jail no prescription, reconstructed knee, done in Haiti, after the earthquake, without any general anesthesia.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: She's a very tough woman, fell 30 feet, surgery without pain killers, sits in jail.
JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: I was Haiti four months after the quake performing for the U.S. there. Any American civilians who would go to do volunteer work in Haiti deserve anything good they get. Give this woman all the drugs she wants.
O'BRIEN: All's well that ends well and there will be a lawsuit I'm sure.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, obese nation, scary new numbers to talk about breaking down how fat we are as a country and how much fatter we're going to back.
And scarier still, we're going to tell you how much this will cost in health care.
Also coach's orders, play dumb apparently an ex-New Orleans Saint opening up about the bounty scandal, keeping it under wraps. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. Let's get right to Christine Romans. She's got a look at the day's top stories. Hi, Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad. The FBI is on an intense manhunt this morning for a man accused of murder and kidnapping. Police found the bodies of a missing Tennessee mother and daughter.
They say two other daughters may be in extreme danger this morning. Adam Mayes is considered armed and dangerous. He's a family friend who allegedly kidnapped the four nearly two weeks ago.
CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Atlanta following developments -- Martin.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, a horrific story here. As you just pointed out, the identities now have made clear that Joann Bain and her eldest daughter were found in a shallow grave that was on Adam Mayes' property, which is located in Mississippi.
The discovery of the graves made over the weekend, the identity of the mom and daughter released just last night by Tennessee officials, which is the neighboring state, part of this investigation here.
Adam Mayes, this is the person that authorities are trying desperately to find because in his possession right now are two other daughters, an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old. Adam Mayes is close family friend, 35 years of age, his whereabouts right now unknown.
However, authorities are closely focusing on the area of Western Tennessee and Northern Mississippi, and they are using heavily armed SWAT teams as they set up road blocks and check neighborhoods there.
But this is a family that went missing on April 27th, but it really became urgent when authorities checked out Mayes 'property, found the shallow graves and this is why they believe these two remaining daughters are in extreme danger, Christine. Authorities just cannot make it more clear. They need the public's help to find this man.
ROMANS: All right, Martin Savidge. Thank you, Martin, from Atlanta.
A former speechwriter for John Edwards is expected to testify later today in the former senator's corruption trial. She's expected to tell the court Edwards admitted mowing about nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy supporters was being used to cover up his extramarital affair.
Yesterday, the attorney for a 101-year-old billionaire donor at the center of the trial told jurors his client knew the $725,000 she gave the former presidential candidate was not being used as a campaign contribution. Two cops in Fullerton, California, face criminal charges this morning for the beating death of a homeless man, a beating death caught on camera. A warning, you may find this video hard to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground now! Get on the ground! Get on the ground!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, dude. I'm sorry, dude, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roll him over. Roll him --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: At a preliminary hearing yesterday spectators saw photos of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas before and after officers beat him last July. The mentally ill homeless man died five days after this incident.
The officers, 10-year veteran Manuel Ramos and Corporal Jay Cicinelli face charges ranging from second-degree murder to felony use of excessive force. Both of those officers have pleaded not guilty.
Your "A.M. House Call," shocking statistics in a new CDC report. America's obesity epidemic is expected to get worse and these new rates will send health care costs soaring by hundreds of billions of dollars.
Right now, 35 percent of Americans are considered obese. Experts predict 42 percent will be obese by the year 2030. That's 30 million more Americans in just 18 years that will tack on an additional $550 billion to American medical costs.
And get this, experts say that's a conservative estimate because it doesn't factor in childhood obesity.
It's been said yogurt helps in the fight against obesity. Researchers at MIT found yogurt not only made mice slimmer. It made them sexier.
The mice had thicker, shinier coats. They also mated faster and produced more offspring. Scientists believe the probiotics found in yogurt might be responsible for the extra sexiness.
A big catch an Orioles' fan during last night's game against the Texas Ranger at Camdon Yards. That Ranger's Josh Hamilton lost his bat, it flew into the stands. That's when the fan who caught the bat made a bigger gesture, handing Hamilton's bat over to a young fan -- Soledad.
O'BRIEN: Look, I like that.
ROMANS: I'm still back on the mouse -- mice and probiotics.
O'BRIEN: So disturbing this early in the morning.
O'BRIEN: Neither one of us needs any nor offspring between the two of us so stay away from that.
Former player for the New Orleans Saints is speaking out to say that coaches told him to hide the team's bounty program. Ex- defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove submitted a signed statement accusing coaches, Joe Vitt and Greg Williams of telling him to, quote, "Deny the existence of any bounty or bounty program to the NFL."
They told me that when the NFL asked me about any bounty or bounty program, I should just, quote, "play dumb." Hargrove says he did as he was instructed denying knowledge of the program to an NFL security officer back in 2010.
Vitt is denying the accusations. Larry Holder is a co-host of "The Sports Hangover" on WIST radio. He's also a writer for cbssports.com. It's nice to see you. Let's talk about the implications of this and does this change the investigation in any way?
LARRY HOLDER, CBSSPORTS.COM: I don't think it really does change the investigation, because we knew as of last week when the NFL came out with their findings and suspensions for the players that the NFL said that Anthony Hargrove did sign a letter of declaration.
I do think it does paint, of course, the Saints in a negative light once again. We know Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt, they have been suspended for their actions already. So I don't know if this is a major surprise.
But to see it in writing and to see Anthony Hargrove's signature on the bottom of this document just kind of brings home a little bit more that this whole thing existed.
And it is certainly sketchy to see that according to this player, the coaches told him to lie and he did originally but got caught and then came clean later.
O'BRIEN: And then you kind of have this I guess contrast between the players' association, right and the NFL as well because the declaration came out on the side of the players' association.
HOLDER: Yes, and that's really bizarre. I think the strategy for the players and the union are saying, look, Anthony Hargrove did just what the coaches told him to do.
He was quote/unquote, "following orders" and Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL had already come out and said he's not buying that because the players embraced the system, and so you could -- I think this may end up backfiring.
Because it shows the existence of the program, which some of Anthony Hargrove's former players say Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith, two other guys who were suspended really say didn't exist and another former player saying the same thing so it's a stark contrast, players versus players really.
CAIN: Larry, this is Will Cain. Couple weeks ago we had video we played, some audio clips of that locker room incident where Gregg Williams was saying go after the head, go after the knee of various players on the San Francisco 49ers.
That was videotaped and we learned later that Williams had actually been warned by the NFL several times before that videotape and now we have this story that Williams says to Hargrove that the NFL has been trying to get him for years.
How do you explain this defiance on the part of the New Orleans Saints coaches towards the NFL?
HOLDER: It's really curious and it kind of started around winning the Super Bowl. You feel like you're bullet proof and I know throughout this whole process you look at some of the coaches and the way they reacted and the way that the NFL saw them reacting say, Sean Payton.
He lied to the NFL to the bitter end about all of this bounty scandal and that's why you saw such harsh penalties and Gregg Williams also eventually came clean even though there are reports now saying he was misrepresented.
But still obviously the figureheads of authority did not tell the truth to the NFL. That's why so many of them saw harsh penalties. Gregg Williams is suspended indefinitely, so we don't know when his suspension will end and Sean Payton is out for at least this entire season.
O'BRIEN: Do you think this whole bounty issue has become much more relevant or even just sort of worse for those of us watching from the outside because of all these players now filing this lawsuit or even the Junior Seau, we try to figure what happened to him, why did he kill himself.
I mean, do you think it's kind of risen, raised, whatever the correct English grammar term is, sort of how people are watching this?
HOLDER: I think it has, because you have a thousand plus players who are suing the NFL currently because of concussion-related lawsuits and that sort of thing. And I feel like that's why the NFL is taking such a big stand.
And yet on the other end of this, a lot of the speculation and from people in New Orleans and from around the country are saying well, look, you haven't put out the evidence, NFL, and should we trust you at your own word.
The NFL is really hesitant to put out this evidence. You're curious why, maybe because they don't want to show some of the things they possibly knew and could get them in trouble and potential lawsuits down the line. So I think there's some mistrust on both ends and this story is far from over, unfortunately.
O'BRIEN: Yes, I would agree with you on that. Larry Holder for us this morning. It's nice to see you, thank you. Appreciate it.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, it was an endorsement, but it was certainly hidden, wasn't it? Rick Santorum made a slog through something like 16 paragraphs, 13 paragraphs in a late night e-mail to figure out, does he want to endorse Mitt Romney or not. We'll take a closer look at what he was really trying to say.
Also, the sole survivor of a Navy SEAL ambush in Afghanistan decides to go back to war. We'll tell you why Navy SEAL Marcus Latrell says revenge is a powerful motivator. He's going to share his story in a moment. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Rick Santorum is making Mitt Romney work for his support, that's for sure. Senator Santorum met with Governor Romney last week in Pittsburgh, but he didn't at that moment come out to endorse the governor.
Instead he sent an e-mail finally late last night talking about all kinds of things including his own victories and the role of the family, 16 total paragraphs, finally in paragraph number 13 he actually mentioned an official endorsement saying this above all else we've got to agree that President Obama must be defeated.
This task will not be easy. It will require all hands on deck if our nominee is to be victorious. Prompter, you're just killing me so I'm going to just ignore you and keep going. It's actually quite an interesting letter because he sort of walks his followers and his supporters through --
ABBY HUNTSMAN, DAUGHTER OF JON HUNTSMAN: His emotional journey.
O'BRIEN: Very much, absolutely. Emotional journey is a good word.
HUNTSMAN: What I found interesting at the very bottom, paragraph 18.
O'BRIEN: Probably 19, P.S.
HUNTSMAN: P.S., very soon I'll have my own announcement. I may be wrong, but almost sounds like he's moving toward 2016. Let's get this show over with and --
O'BRIEN: He says P.S., as promised very soon we'll be making another big announcement and I'll be asking to you join forces with me so it was burying the big lead. I ended that forgetting about the endorsement of Governor Romney, what is Rick Santorum going to tell us?
FUGELSANG: Exactly. It's really all about Santorum. These guys hate each other so much they could both sing lead in "Oasis." It's fun to see that, you know, senator man on dog finally endorsing governor dog on car.
But he buried it, as you said, in the 13th paragraph of this and I'm very sorry, but that's like Jeb Bush's non-endorsement in the editorial, like breaking up with someone via text.
O'BRIEN: As Abby pointed out what you really get through the first 13 paragraphs is the emotional journey to how I got to my idea that I will endorse Governor Romney. It's not a laundry list of other stuff and by the way, I will endorse him.
CAIN: Not true about the dog stuff because the dog thing is completely overused at this point. Jokes are endless and bipartisan at this point as well.
But this Santorum issue people say it's going to help Mitt Romney with his base and enthusiasm. I point to one thing in "The Wall Street Journal" this morning, there's an interesting poll, "Wall Street Journal"/NBC poll that talks about enthusiasm.
I wanted to blow this up, shows the number of voters highly interested in the election, 74 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Democrats. I don't think that Mitt Romney has an enthusiasm problem. I think Rick Santorum's support here was almost beside the point.
O'BRIEN: I think both numbers say they both have an enthusiasm problem.
FUGELSANG: I agree.
O'BRIEN: Really the people I want to hear from are the independents, how enthusiastic are they?
HUNTSMAN: Lower than both, here?
O'BRIEN: Come on, Will. You didn't put it on your chart. We have to take a short break.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT, he survived one of the deadliest days of the 10-year war in Afghanistan and then deployed to Iraq.
Retired Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell is going to join us to talk about how revenge played a role in his decision to go back to work. It's nice to see you, sir. Thanks for being with us. Welcome.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. He was the sole survivor when a Navy SEAL team was ambushed in Afghanistan. The day three SEALs were killed when the rescue chopper was downed an RPG killing eight more Navy SEALs, eight U.S. Army operation aviators.
Marcus Luttrell though survived. A year later, he went back to war. This time he went back to Iraq. He talks about his journey in his new book, which is called "Service, A Navy SEAL At War."
He joins us with his service dog this morning, Mr. Rugby, who's sacked out on the floor right there. It's nice to have you. I thought your book was fascinating. I wanted to understand.
You were injured that terrible day that you wrote about in your first book. But you decide to go back to war when you could have said I'm out. I'm done.
MARCUS LUTTRELL, RETIRED NAVY SEAL: Well, that's my job. No quit in any really. A firefighter doesn't stop being a fireman after he makes a bad fire and cop doesn't stop being a police officer after a bad incident on the street. Just because I was banged up, it doesn't mean I would stop doing what I loved. It was what I was born to do.
O'BRIEN: What was your state of mind at the time?
LUTTRELL: Going back in?
LUTTRELL: I was scared to death. I had to go. I couldn't let that beat me. That was one of the main things that pushed me back in there. We were talking earlier revenge is a solid motivator. I never acted on that.
Rape, revenge and robbery, three things you don't mess around with that, but it did get me back in the fight. Just the fact that the casualty that we sustained in Afghanistan and the casualties that we sustained in Iraq.
When you lose your buddies like that, it's a personal hit. You want to get back on the line and get back out there and fill the void.
O'BRIEN: Did you have survivor's guilt, too?
LUTTRELL: You know, I don't want to say it like that. As a medic, they were my best friends. It was my job to patch them up and keep them alive. So, yes, I took a heavy hit on that. I felt personally responsible for that.
But I know I did everything I could to make sure that they did survive. I just couldn't get it done. It was out of my control. It was in God's hand so to speak.
CAIN: Marcus, going back into Iraq you admitted that you were scared. Were you more scared going into Iraq after what you have been through in Afghanistan or first time you went to Afghanistan with the unknown ahead of you?
LUTTRELL: Yes, that's exactly right. It's that gun shy kind of thing. When I went back into Iraq after everything I had been through in Afghanistan, I remember the first time I went outside of the wire.
When bullets started flying, I caught myself just kind of holding for a second and then get over this. You need to get in there. And so I didn't have a problem after that, but I did. It was kind -- it was too tough. You know, it's a large pill to shallow.
O'BRIEN: Your book focuses on service and you really look at why people serve. I always find that so fascinating. I never served in the military. What is the thing that motivates you to go and serve your country? Because I know you really interviewed a lot of people to figure that out.
LUTTRELL: Yes, ma'am. You know, a lot of people gave us different answers and stuff like that. I went around to a lot of people.
O'BRIEN: How about for you?
LUTTRELL: For God and country. Bottom line, for my family, you know, it's just the way it is. And then every answer towards the end when everybody put it out there, just bottom line it boiled down to guys to the left and right of you. Men and women you serve with. It all came with that answer.
HUNTSMAN: Well, I have two brothers that are coming up in the Navy. You talk about revenge, but how you don't have a desire to avenge your dead comrades.
How do you get in that mindset and not let, you know, the fact that some of your closest friends have been taken down in combat? How do you separate the two and not let that control your actions?
LUTTRELL: That's a tough one to get over. I'm not going lie to you. It is. That's what the training is for. You know, our training pipeline and regimen is so long, so rigorous and stuff like that, it's just -- we're not murderers.
And when something like that -- you have one of your guys taken out. It's in your head. We have to get this guy. We have a job to do like everybody else. We're professionals at it. We make sure we stay that line.
O'BRIEN: The book is called "Service, A Navy SEAL At War." I understand that Mark Wilberg is going to play you in the movie version.
LUTTRELL: I understand that too.
O'BRIEN: No pressure there.
CAIN: Have you met yet?
LUTTRELL: I actually talked to him the other day for a little bit on the phone.
O'BRIEN: Here's notes on how you need to play me. It's great to have you.
LUTTRELL: Thanks for having me. O'BRIEN: Short break, we're back in just a little bit.