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Walker Survives Recall Election; Former NFL Player Reveals He's Gay; Major Al Qaeda Leader Killed; Author Discusses Obama's Use of American Military Power in War on Terror; Miss USA Rigged?; Sandusky Child Rape Trial

Aired June 6, 2012 - 08:00   ET



SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody.

Our STARTING POINT: is it a wake-up call for the White House out of what happened in Wisconsin?


GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions.


O'BRIEN: Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker survives his recall election. So what does it mean for Democrats come November?

And then, adding insult to injury, a woman slaps Milwaukee's mayor in the face after he concedes the race to Walker. Got the story behind that video you're looking at right there.

Also this morning, stealth drones, cyber attacks and a hit list. A book that takes us inside President Obama's secret wars.

And a former professional football player comes out and talks about the challenges of being gay in the locker room. Wade Davis will join us for a STARTING POINT exclusive.

It's Wednesday. It's D-Day. June 6th, D-Day?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Putting us on the spot here, Soledad. I'm not sure.

O'BRIEN: STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: We're sharing pens. No stealing. Just borrowing. That's Rihanna. "Please Don't Stop the Music." Yes, indeed. It is D-Day.

Thank you, Will Cain, for backing me up on that.

CAIN: I don't know if we can start with a quiz. I'm going with the host on that one.

RYAN LIZZA, NEW YORKER: Soledad says it's true.

O'BRIEN: Is that how it goes. That's why I like you, Ryan.

Our STARTING POINT team this morning: Margaret Hoover, the author of "American Individualism," Ryan Lizza is Washington correspondent for "The New Yorker," and Will Cain is columnist for

This morning, Governor Scott Walker must be celebrating his decisive victory in Wisconsin. The Republican defeated his Democratic challenger, the Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, in the state's recall election. Walker's win is a serious loss for big labor, for Democrats, too. It also means that Wisconsin could become a crucial battleground state come the presidential election.

Now, Walker becomes the first U.S. governor to survive a recall. North Dakota kicked out its governor, Lynn Frazier. That was back in 1921. (AUDIO GAP) Gray Davis in 2003. I was living in California at the time of that.

Last night, Walker's victory, he delivered a message not only to Wisconsin but also to the nation.


WALKER: Tonight -- tonight, we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country, and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions.


O'BRIEN: The best moment that probably captures the emotion of the night was probably this when a Barrett supporter slapped, literally, slapped the mayor across the face because he conceded before all the voters even finished going to the polls.

Democrat Jon Erpenbach is a Wisconsin state senator who spoke at the concession speech.

Did you see that slap? What happened? Can you walk me through it?

STATE SEN. JON ERPENBACH (D), WISCONSIN: No, I actually -- I didn't see it at all.

O'BRIEN: So we have video of it. I'll describe it for you if you haven't seen it. A woman standing in front of him, a crowd of supporters smiling. He's conceded. She slaps him and then she kind of grabs him sort of not in a bad way on the arm almost like rubbing his arm a little bit. I have to imagine a lot of this is tensions were very, very high.

What was that room like last night?

ERPENBACH: Well, the room was very passionate. In fact, feelings in Wisconsin for the past year and a half have been very, very strongly passionate on both sides. Emotions tend to run high in situations like that. Obviously, it was a tough night for Democrats.

But at the same time, I mean, Wisconsin Democrats in the state senate picked up a seat, so we have control in the state senate. So it's mixed messages last night. But there's no doubt, Soledad, the passion is very, very strong in Wisconsin on either side.

O'BRIEN: So, what do you think happens now? As you mention that state senate seat is picked up, a big victory for the governor. What does it mean moving forward for reforms he's trying to put in place?

ERPENBACH: Well, what we need to do is obviously work together as best as we can and the governor won last night and won decisively. But at the same time, exit polling shows President Obama leaving Governor Romney in Wisconsin by about the same percentage.

So, it's kind of a mixed message in the fact that last night Scott Walker won and if the presidential election was last night in Wisconsin, President Obama would have won.

But what the Senate Democrats need to do with Governor Walker is sit down and work him as best as we possibly can, find where we can agree, which is what we've been trying to do in the last year and a half, and move our state forward as the governor says.

O'BRIEN: So, what do you think happened? What would you tick off two reasons why, in fact, Governor Walker won? Was it just that it was a bad idea to go for a recall at all?

ERPENBACH: Well, I tell you what? In Wisconsin in the past 15 months, we've probably had 14 or 15 recalls. I think people are sick of recalls in Wisconsin.

The exit polling shows that people in Wisconsin support public employees strongly, they support the right of collective bargaining, and by sending Governor Walker back to the governor's residence, obviously I think what people are saying is not so much about the policies, just that they've had it with recalls and they feel very strongly that removing Governor Walker from office right now for what he's done isn't the right way to go.

O'BRIEN: Exit polls show that President Obama actually has a decent lead in the state and it is contradictory, of course, to how the vote went. Do you think that if, in fact, Obama hadn't just sent a tweet, but had gotten involved and really pushed for Mayor Barrett that results could have been different, significantly different? He would have won?

ERPENBACH: No, I don't -- I don't think so at all. Governor Walker to his credit really fired up the Democratic base in Wisconsin. There were volunteers all over the state, thousands of them, working hard to get out the vote. Had we got to 60 or 61 percent turnout, it may have been a different outcome, but we didn't.

And I don't think President Obama coming to Wisconsin would have made a difference. We are talking about at least 100,000 votes. But at the same time, if you take look at the exit polling that you just mentioned, President Obama right now is sitting pretty well in Wisconsin. So, definitely a mixed message.

O'BRIEN: Democratic strategist Paul Begala said it was the wrong call. He said that it was not only the wrong call. It's also a little disloyal. Here's what he said.


PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Barrett, when he was mayor of Milwaukee, endorsed Senator Obama against Senator Clinton in that primary. There's a loyalty thing here. This is an easy call. And I frankly think my friends in the White House made the wrong one.


O'BRIEN: He says wrong call. Give me a sense of what this means now in practical terms moving forward. What will happen in the state and what doesn't happen in the state now that you have, it looks Lehman has won, you got the Senate in hands of Democrats, and you got Governor Walker, you got a lot of anger. People clearly have a lot to get over before they can work together.

What's it going to look like?

ERPENBACH: Well, Democrats and Republicans have a responsibility, especially since Democrats control the state senate now, to sit down and find where we can agree and again find where we can agree and work together on particular issues and make sure we respect one another's opinions. That being said, getting back to the original comment, I'm not certain the White House or the campaign actually for the president made the right call or the wrong call. I don't think that's necessarily the issue.

Again, if you look at the margin that Governor Walker won by and then you take a look at exit polling, as far as president and Governor Romney are concerned, it's about the same. So, again, the White House and the campaign made its decision to do whatever. I'm not certain it would have made a difference.

But in the end, what we need to do in Wisconsin is we need to pick up the pieces and move forward and the Senate Democrats control the Senate and Governor Walker is back in the governor's mansion and we have a responsibility to work together.

CAIN: Senator, this is Will Cain. Soledad and you both have mentioned the numerous recalls, the 15 some odd recalls, the passion you talked about several times. You're talking about the politicians having to move on.

Tell me about the people of Wisconsin. I think for those of us who don't live there, we can't fully appreciate -- I mean, you really couldn't go to a bar, you couldn't go to a family reunion without having these conversations.

How do people of Wisconsin move on or do they? You got another one in November. What do people in Wisconsin do here?

ERPENBACH: Right. Well, they move on by watching how Governor Walker treats the Senate Democrats and how Senate Democrats treat Governor Walker and how well we can work together. There is absolutely no doubt that we still remain deeply divided in Wisconsin and family members can't talk about things right now and friendships have been lost over this, and it's irresponsible to govern the way he's governed and I think the governor admitted as much by saying he should have talked more about what he wanted to do.

All that being said, with the Senate Democrats in control in Wisconsin, and Governor Walker back in the governor's mansion, we have a responsibility to sit down and work together as best as we possibly can. And that's hopefully what we'll do.

O'BRIEN: Nice to have you with us. So, we certainly appreciate your time this morning, updating us on what's happening in the state of Wisconsin where emotions run very high.

CAIN: I'm not sure that voters in Wisconsin agree with the point that he just made that Governor Walker was irresponsible.

O'BRIEN: I think --

CAIN: I think we saw 50 some odd percentage of the vote that said something different.

O'BRIEN: I think again the big take away, one, Governor Walker keeps the job. Two, I think people are clearly sick of recalls as he's pointed out. Number three, the Obama support is an interesting thing in the exit polls. You have to see if that bears itself out when it comes to a general election and exit polling can be not necessarily, you know? So, there are lots of interesting messages that he --


LIZZA: He's also right that Obama could not have been the difference in this race, despite what Begala said about loyalty, if Obama campaigned, he wasn't going to make up that deficit for Barrett.

O'BRIEN: Well, and also, the truth is -- it seems like the White House was watching what was happening saying, there is not an upside to jumping in on something where people are angry about recalls, where the thing was a bit of a hot mess when you had a contested Democratic primary any way, weakening Barrett before he went into the election. So, I think it's a -- what they, multifactoral reasons for what happened and it will be interesting to see how it plays out come November.

Let's get a look at the headlines. Christine Romans has that for us.

Hey, Christine. Good morning.


A strange development in the Jerry Sandusky child rape trial. An ABC News report says he sent love letters to one of his victims and showered him with gifts. That victim who is now 28 is expected to be the prosecution's first witness at trial. The former Penn State football coach is charged with sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period.

So far, nine jurors have been seated. Both sides expect to complete jury selection today and begin opening statements Monday.

Just into CNN, a U.S. federal drug raid happening right now in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Two hundred agents swarming the international airport there, arresting dozens of airport employees. Officials say the airport had just installed a brand new system to check cargo for drugs. More arrests are happening in a metropolitan section of San Juan. The busts are part of an investigation of two different cases by the DEA and the Justice Department.

A U.S. drone strike taking out another top terrorist in Pakistan. The White House now confirming that Abu Yahya al-Libi, the number two man in al Qaeda and most public face of the terror group is dead. He was seen as a rock star in jihadist circles because of his viral videos. He was a key recruiter for al Qaeda. Al-Libi was captured in 2002 and locked up at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan but he escaped in 2005 and bragged about it on the web.

Minding your business: U.S. stock futures looking higher right now. Dow futures are up 85 points right now. Investors around the world are watching Europe very closely right now European central bank meeting.

Sarah Palin offering her analysis of the Wisconsin election on FOX News last night and mocking President Obama's no show in the state.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: I think that the Democrats understand that the president's no show represents the fact that Obama's goose is cooked as more and more Americans realize that what Wisconsin has just manifested via this vote, embracing austerity and fiscal responsibility is a complete opposite of what President Obama and the White House represents today.


ROMANS: Palin predicting that what happened in Wisconsin will not stay in Wisconsin, but will have big implications in November, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: How long are people going to stomp on that Vegas thing? What happens -- can we move past that.

CAIN: Can we also point out that once again it is proven true that the worst job in the world, with the least security, is al Qaeda's number two position?

O'BRIEN: And there seems to be a lot of number twos. We'll talk about that in a bit when we talk to David Sanger of "The New York Times". He's got a new book out.

Also ahead this morning, former NFL player admits he's gay. Wade Davis talks about the challenges of being closeted as he's playing professional ball. STARTING POINT exclusive coming up next.

And then guilty until you're proven innocent? High school seniors forced to path breathalyzers in order to graduate. This is like the two weeks of graduation insanity. I feel like --

CAIN: They are coming down hard on graduation.

O'BRIEN: I've done five graduation crazy stories.

LIZZA: I never would have graduated.

O'BRIEN: Margaret and I would have been just fine. We would have been just fine. We have to take a commercial break. We're back in a moment.


SOLEDAD: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everybody. Wade Davis, a well-respected football player, spent 15 years trying to crack an opening day roster in the NFL. He attended training camp and played preseason games with the Tennessee Titans, the Seattle Seahawks, the Washington Redskins, along with stints in NFL Europe, and all that time, he was keeping a secret, one that he says was eating him alive. He's gay.

When he left football, the first thing he did was to go work for an organization that helps lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Davis told his story to outsports, and quickly, it's gone viral. It's nice to have you with us. We certainly appreciate it. you really didn't tell your story for a long time. Why not?

WADE DAVIS, FORMER TENNESSEE TITANS PLAYER: I just didn't feel that I was ready, and also that me being a gay person wasn't really what I wanted to be known for. So, having an opportunity to work at the Hetrick-Martin Institute gives me a chance to really talk about lives that I'm able to affect in a real way.

O'BRIEN: When you were a football player and in the locker room, was this a secret that felt like a massive burden to you? I mean, is it one of those every minute of every day, you were trying to figure out how not to let anybody know your secret? DAVIS: While you're playing the actual game, no. But in the locker rooms when you're just hanging out and when you're offsite, you know, just being a regular guy, yes. You do think about like maybe sure that I should model the actions of other players.

O'BRIEN: So, it's interesting. If you ask other players, they'll often say, I won't have a problem, you know, if I had a teammate who was gay, and you described it as being much more nuance than that.

DAVIS: I don't believe most NFL players have a problem with having a gay teammate. I do believe that there's a sense that they have to protect who they are.

O'BRIEN: Their brand.


O'BRIEN: Their platform.

DAVIS: Exactly. Exactly. And at the end of the day, it's a job. So, all of these actual players have to make sure that they're seen in a certain type of light. So, maybe the fact that they associate with a gay player would lessen their chance of making that actual team or getting cut.

O'BRIEN: In 2002, you're playing at NFL Europe, and you had a boyfriend at the time.

DAVIS: I did.

O'BRIEN: And it was the first time that you were really dating someone and acting as if that boyfriend was a girlfriend, so you could talk about a personal life before then you said you had no life that was a personal life outside of football. What was that like?

DAVIS: That was very, very lonely. When you're an athlete, you're kind of in a bubble within a bubble. So, having an actual partner at that time gave me a sense of family and community.

O'BRIEN: And at the same time, you are now -- you've got a double life.


O'BRIEN: I mean, the pressure must have been -- you know, how much space does that take up in your head?

DAVIS: It takes up every bit of space trying to understand the game of football, you know, at the NFL level and then trying to just hide who I was for such a very long, long time. I became a great actor. I should get an Oscar for it, honestly.

O'BRIEN: You said, "I knew when football was over, my life would begin."


O'BRIEN: And that's what's really happened. Now, your life has begun, you've said, in the work that you're doing today.

DAVIS: The work that I'm allowed to do. I get to deal with real life heroes every single day.

O'BRIEN: Like for example?

DAVIS: So, I have youth that are the most amazing, thoughtful, heroic youth every day. They look at me as a hero, but I learn so much more from them than I could ever hope to learn from myself. They wake up, you know, not knowing where they're going to eat, sleep, or like how they're going to get their GED or high school diploma.

And Hetrick-Martin allows for that, like, it's -- we look at it as kind of youth that at promise so that these --

O'BRIEN: As opposed to at risk which everyone likes to say which is a phrase I hate.

DAVIS: These youth have potential. They have this fire that's burning inside of them to really make it, so Hetrick-Martin allows that.

O'BRIEN: The irony, of course, is that when you were first there, people thought you were straight, and they also thought that -- and you didn't want to tell them you were a football player because there were stereotypes that came along with that.

DAVIS: I don't think it was that. I just wanted to get to know the actual real me and to know that I was there to make a difference and to know that I'm no one special. I don't see myself as anyone special. I see myself as doing the work that needs to be done to make sure that these youth have a chance.

O'BRIEN: Do you think it would make a difference if an NFL player came out who's currently playing as opposed to after they stopped playing --

DAVIS: It would make a huge difference. It would make a difference because youth can actually watch someone on television who's just like them. I wish I had the courage back then to come out. If I could do it all over again --

O'BRIEN: Do you think that's going to happen?

DAVIS: I do think it will happen. It may not be the next five to ten years, but after the president made his big announcement, there's been a change. There's conversations happening now.

O'BRIEN: You mean the gay marriage. You said if I could do it over again and I kind of jumped over what you said.


O'BRIEN: What were you going to finish?

DAVIS: If I could do it all over again, I would come out --

O'BRIEN: While you're playing.

DAVIS: While I was playing because I now understand the impact that that would have had. And it can change the lives of so many youth with bullying that's going on and with this youth just not having a sense of family. You know, that's just why the job that I have is so important. It is the greatest job I've ever had. I wake up every day excited about going to Hetrick-Martin.

O'BRIEN: That's so great. Nice to have you, Wade Davis.

DAVIS: Thank you so much.

O'BRIEN: A real pleasure to talk with you.

DAVIS: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, high school seniors forced to pass a new test to graduate, a breathalyzer exam. Got that story coming up on STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: This is Sharon Van Etten, "We Are Fine." This is Ryan Lizza's playlist.



LIZZA: Just fantastic.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Pretty mellow for the morning.

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: let your hair down today, ryan, i noticed. no tie.

O'BRIEN: I know. I know.

LIZZA: Doing the Will Cain thing here.


O'BRIEN: This is the version of letting your hair down.



O'BRIEN: We had a guest like that once, remember? Who was it?


CAIN: The guy from the shows (ph) of Beverly Hills or --

O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. This has been done. A little buttoning your shirt down to your naval has been done on this show already.

Some parents in Minnesota are planning to sue their children's high school after the students were forced to take breathalyzer exams at a graduation rehearsal. Teachers at St. Charles High say they smelled alcohol on 20 or more seniors, so they tested the entire class.

Angry parents say it was a violation of their children's rights. Officials say they had probable cause, feared that some kids might drive home under the influence. The number of kids who tested positive for alcohol, by the way, was in the double digits.

LIZZA: Come on? This really gets my libertarian sensibilities.

O'BRIEN: Really, why?

LIZZA: You can't give high school kids breathalyzer tests. If they were going to drive drunk, get them on a bus, take them home, but --

CAIN: Obviously, we have a huge societal problem on our hands, because day after day, we've talked about high schools cracking down on this what is obviously criminal behavior of cheering too loudly at graduation, and perhaps, imbibing a little bit of celebratory liquids.

O'BRIEN: And there are some stories that I haven't shared about parents who cheered too loudly and also have gotten in trouble separately from the kids getting in trouble. Yes, you know, at the same time, it's interesting, right? The school said that they had the ability because it would be a big violation.

It can't just give people a breathalyzer without probable cause, and certainly, a bunch of the students, I think it's just under 80 students were going through the graduation exercises. So, 60 roughly did not have any probable cause at all. You would think they would be liable in a lawsuit.

LIZZA: What gives the school administrator the right to give a child a breathalyzer test?

HOOVER: Those kids are going to go get in cars, they're going to drive off. Do you really want double digits of drunk kids in cars after their graduation if you're the school administrator?

O'BRIEN: Call the parents.

HOOVER: Absolutely not.

O'BRIEN: Call their parents and say, come, pick them up. We have a suspicion that your child is drinking. HOOVER: Parents are less and less active in their kids schooling, and the schools have to take on more and more responsibility --

O'BRIEN: Call the cops.


CAIN: "Wall Street Journal," schools get tough on pranks, on graduation pranks. Don't chain lambs to the flagpole.


CAIN: There are more problems out there.

O'BRIEN: We haven't done that story yet. Maybe, that's tomorrow. We don't have time to get into that one, but we'll visit that one tomorrow.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, cyber warfare against Iran, missing nukes in Pakistan, how to deal with China? A new book goes inside the White House for a look at what it calls "President Obama's Secret Wars."

Plus, Sheryl Crow has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Is it making her forget the song lyrics? She says she thought it was. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Let's get right to the headlines. Christine Romans has a look at that. Hey, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again, Soledad. Mitt Romney's campaign confirming it is investigating whether Mitt Romney had his private e-mail account hacked. An anonymous hacker signed into Romney's old Hotmail account after guessing a question to a security question about one of his pets. Several e-mails from Romney's days as governor of Massachusetts appearing in yesterday's "Wall Street Journal."

The battle over same-sex marriage taking another step to the Supreme Court after a federal appeals court that struck down California's ban on same sex unions refused to reconsider this ruling. This comes on the heels of a new poll that shows Americans are more comfortable than ever with similar sex relationships. According to a brand new CNN poll, 54 percent say marriage between gay and lesbian couples should be recognized as valid by law. And in another survey, for the first time ever a majority of Americans, 60 percent, say they have gay friend or gay family member.

Singer Sheryl Crow, a breast cancer survivor, reveals she has a brain tumor. The good news is that it's benign and not cancerous. Crow was diagnosed with a common type of brain tumor that does not require surgery but she's getting periodic scans to monitor how quickly it's growing. A bold move by Disney to fight childhood obesity. The company is banning junk food advertising on programs aimed at kids and families. The new rules for food and drink ads on various networks take effect in 2015.

Pack as many friends into the trunk as you can and head down to Google's homepage. Today's Google Doodle, an animated tribute to the first drive-in movie theater opened in New Jersey on June 6th, 1933. The drive-in became the place to be in the '50s and '60s, with 4,000 drive-ins open in the U.S. at one point. Only a few hundred remain.

O'BRIEN: I have been to a drive-in once. It was more than enough. I like air conditioning.

ROMANS: Mosquitoes.

O'BRIEN: I like being indoors. Christine, thank you.

Another big blow to Al Qaeda to tell you about. The organization second in command has been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. His name is Abu Yahya al Libi. He was a public face of the terror network often appearing in Al Qaeda videos. The strike that killed al Libi was the third drone attack in Pakistan.

The drone strikes and how effective they are is the focus of a new book called "Confront and Conceal, Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power." The author is "The New York Times" chief Washington correspondent David Sanger. Nice to have you with us, appreciate it. Tell me about al Libi before we talk more about the book. This is an example of the confront strategy using the drone strikes. How big of a deal is it to get the number two?

DAVID SANGER, AUTHOR, "CONFRONT AND CONCEAL": You know, it's a really risky job to be number two or number three in Al Qaeda. Those are ones that have to carry cell phones. It's always a difficult thing.

This was big, but the most important thing about it is that the constant turmoil within the top leadership of Al Qaeda seems to have just kept them of their mark long enough that central Al Qaeda, what we think of as Al Qaeda that was located in Pakistan, seems to be in considerable disarray. In fact in many ways there's more concern now about Al Qaeda in Yemen, which is why you see so many of these other attacks.

On a broader scale, Soledad, the drone attacks, the cyber- attacks, and the use of special forces are all part of an Obama administration part of the Obama doctrine to use a light footprint, which is to say no more than 100,000 troops going in at a cost of $1 trillion total, occupying a country for years on end breeding resentment that comes with that.

O'BRIEN: Why is that?

SANGER: We can't afford it. Clearly the political mood of the country right now is after ten years we've had enough of those. The question is can you with a light footprint strategy accomplish your goals? You can go after some groups of terrorists. You can knock out some centrifuges in Iran. You can go after a target like bin Laden. But you can't change societies or attempt to the way the U.S. tried to during counterinsurgencies and the big issue is, are you simply beating back something that will grow over time.

O'BRIEN: Or shift to Yemen and change the face.

CAIN: I think that raises a second question. Not just the question of effectiveness but drone attacks that are countries we're not at war with. These cyber-attacks in Iran caused actual physical damage and caused centrifuges to self-destruct. The question is when are we at war? When is an act of war? When do you cross the line?

SANGER: The sovereignty question is in fact the key question. Pakistan is a good place to start. The United States always says it wants to support a democratically elected Pakistani government and not just deal with military. That democratically elected government a month and a half ago voted overwhelming in their parliament to ban all foreign drone attacks. There have been more than I can count since that vote took place including this apparently very successful one the other day, same thing for cyber-attacks which also don't respect national boundaries.

Here the issue that president Obama was most concerned about as he worked on Olympic Games which was the code name for this very broad four-year cyber-program that started in the Bush administration was does it set a precedent that ultimately other countries will use to justify their own attacks aimed at the United States.

O'BRIEN: How secure are we?

SANGER: We are the most vulnerable country around. I mean, just as you point out, what was different about the attacks on Iran was that this wasn't just computers attacking computers. This wasn't my laptop going after Ryan's laptop. This was a computer attack designed to attack infrastructure and accomplish something that until now in the history of warfare we've only accomplished by bombing something from the air or from the ground.

O'BRIEN: To destroy a centrifuge by having the worm make the thing stop.

SANGER: Made it speed up and slow down and then explode.

HOOVER: It was delivered to Iran on a thumb drive. Somehow it got into Iran and was inserted into the Iranian nuclear computer system and then basically tricked them into believing the centrifuges were working normally and heard damage in the infrastructure until they realized what happened. Your reporting on this caused the FBI to investigate into how that investigation got out.

O'BRIEN: Senator McCain asked for a similar thing. This is what he said just the other day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: I call on the president to take immediate and decisive action, including the appointment of a special council, to aggressively investigate the leak of any classified information on which the recent stories were based and, where appropriate, to prosecute those responsible.


O'BRIEN: They say the inside information was leaked to you and where appropriate they should hold those people responsible. What do you think of that?

SANGER: The first big break in the centrifuge story happened from a mistake that was made in the coding of the worm itself. And it was inside the Natanz facility. And because of a mistake that was made in the programming, Iranian engineer came into the facility and plugged in his laptop computer and the worm left abroad his laptop computer and when connected to the Internet later it propagated across the Internet. So how did we discover that Iran was the source of the cyber-attack? Because of a mistake that made the cyber-attack public.

LIZZA: This book is superb. One theme that comes up again and again in Afghanistan in 2009 fighting with the generals, the president is fighting with the generals, on Iran in 2009, engagement strategy report was seen as weakness by Iranian regime and then in China his engagement strategy in China in 2009 was seen as weakness, and there was a change in strategy on all three of those issues. What overall did president Obama learn from your reporting from 2009 to today?

SANGER: Very good question. You have written some on this in "The New Yorker." I think he went through a very big learning curve in which he started off depending on military advice and set his withdrawal strategy with a very small number of White House officials. I think he came to the conclusion that he was being dragged by the generals into a policy he didn't particularly want.

Different learning curve on Iran where he wanted to combine the engagement with the economic pressure and with the sabotage in the hopes that that combination would force the Iranians to change course. Now, so far they haven't changed course.

O'BRIEN: The book is called "Confront and Conceal, Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power.' David Sanger, nice to have you with us this morning. It's fascinating. Really also very scary to see all of this happening in secret wars we don't know a lot about until now. Appreciate it. Nice to see you.

SANGER: Thank you, Soledad. Great to be with you.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, was the Miss USA Pageant rigged? What? What? What? My goodness. Miss Pennsylvania, David Sanger has broken that Miss Pennsylvania says there's a fix and the finalists were chosen before the competition began. My goodness. I can't take it.

(LAUGHTER) HOOVER: All sorts of human intelligence.

O'BRIEN: Previewing the case also this morning against Jerry Sandusky, reports that the former Penn State coach sent love letters and gifts to some of his victims. A live report from Pennsylvania up next. You're watching STARTING POINT.


O'BRIEN: That is "Smashing Pumpkins" Today it's off of Will's playlist. You can check out our playlist by the way every day at and follow me on Twitter at @Soledad_OBrien. Tweet whatever you would like whenever you like. If I don't like it, I'll just unlike you.

HOOVER: Who won $5?

O'BRIEN: I've got to check. Because you know.

HOOVER: She offered $5 to the first person who would tweet her this morning with the answer.

O'BRIEN: I know, I know and I don't know. Because I've been doing other stuff.

Ok so Miss Pennsylvania, her name is Sheena Monnin, she's quit. She has quit Donald Trump's Miss Universe organization. She says the Miss USA Pageant was rigged. What? Yes pageant officials firing back saying she just disagrees with the organization's decision that allowed transgender contestants. A posting on Miss Monnin's Facebook page claims that another contestant saw the list of the top five contenders on Sunday morning hours before they were announced on the stage.

She says this. And this might be my favorite quote of the day. "Effective immediately I have voluntarily, completely and utterly" that she is quitting. She is not kidding.

CAIN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: "Voluntarily, completely and utterly removed myself from the Miss Universe organization. I cannot be affiliated in any way with an organization I consider to be fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent and in many ways trashy." She's out she says.

LIZZA: I first of all I refuse to believe that Donald Trump would be involved with anything that was trashy.

O'BRIEN: I hear you on that, Ryan.

CAIN: Classy, classy.

LIZZA: And thank -- and thank God that Trump is not a conspiracy theorist.

CAIN: Right. LIZZA: And would -- you know so -- I'm sure there will be a full accounting from Trump. I'm sure he will show all of the documents.

HOOVER: I'm sure. Yes, I'm sure --

LIZZA: And he will make this very clear in due time.

CAIN: That's right. I agree.

HOOVER: And he won't just name names. He'll host -- he'll specify who the people are. And have -- yes exactly clear documentation.

Look there is a big difference between Miss Universe --

LIZZA: The long form -- the long form version -- of who the winners were.

HOOVER: There's a -- there's a big difference between Miss Universe and Miss America. According to all the participants of the two contests. Some say that Miss America pageant has more emphasis on character development of the women and how to actually have talent and they have to have voluntary -- voluntary community service.

O'BRIEN: Will is like, yes blah, blah, blah.


O'BRIEN: It's like I hear, I see her lips moving but I'm not hearing a word she's saying. Blah, blah.

HOOVER: I know you think they are all gorgeous anyway but some of them actually have taken some time to cultivate who they are as people.


CAIN: How to toss a baton?

O'BRIEN: That's right, that's right. You know tomorrow we're going to talk to --

HOOVER: Play instrument.

O'BRIEN: -- tomorrow we'll talk to Miss USA Olivia Culpo the new Miss USA.

CAIN: See what she has to say about this.

O'BRIEN: About the rigging allegations.

HOOVER: Maybe it's just sour grapes.

O'BRIEN: There she is right there on the right-hand side the moment that she won.

CAIN: There is a little hint of knowledge there. She doesn't look totally surprised. Hey I didn't pick the story.

HOOVER: Stop. Body language.

O'BRIEN: We're going to reach out with her tomorrow not only about the contest and her victory but also about this rigging allegations as well.

All right, still ahead this morning, new evidence to talk about in the Jerry Sandusky trial. We'll tell you what prosecutors might unveil today. That's my accent coming out there. They are trying, of course, to convict the former Penn State coach. We'll tell you what the strategy is there.

You're watching STARTING POINT. We've got a short break and we are back right on the other side.


O'BRIEN: And welcome back to STARTING POINT.

Jury selection in the Jerry Sandusky child rape trial is moving along quickly and could even be finished today. Nine jurors have been seated. They need seven more. The former Penn State football coach is accused of sexually abusing ten boys over 14 years.

And a new report from ABC News says that Sandusky wrote love letters and sent gifts to one alleged victim. Prosecutors are planning to introduce that as evidence in the case.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is in Belfont, Florida this -- oh sorry, Florida, I mean, Pennsylvania. Forgive me Susan. Good morning to you.

First, let's talk a little bit about the seating --



O'BRIEN: -- before we get to those love letters which are really just sound -- talk to me about the seating. Nine seated many people thought actually they've never been able to seat the people that fast, what happened?

CANDIOTTI: It's going much quicker than anyone thought. You're right Soledad. So far nine people have been selected. That means they only have -- they only have altogether another I think it's seven to go.

And in talking with various experts and court observers with a direct role in this case, I'm told that they pretty much think that they will be able to finish up this process today. It is surprising given the fact that you know both sides only have a couple of strikes left to use but the judge has been saying very openly to both sides, look it's going to be nearly impossible to seat people who don't have some kind of a connection to Penn State. And as an example, we'll give you a couple. There's one woman whose husband works at the very same medical practice where the father of the key prosecution witness works. That's Mike McQueary who will be testifying for the prosecution.

There's also a Penn State alumnus who has been accepted to seat on the panel, a Penn State current student who works part time at the athletic department. He is on the jury as well as a retired Penn State professor.

So there you go. Clearly Penn State is far reaching permeates this community.

O'BRIEN: Yes I'm not surprised there. Let's talk a little bit about these "love letters". And I kind of use that word -- those words in quotes that apparently Jerry Sandusky sent to the person they have been referring to as victim number four for purposes of the case. What do you know about that?

CANDIOTTI: Well we can tell you according to our source that these letters do exist, that in fact they are expected to be entered into evidence. And certainly it would be no surprise there. ABC is describing these as love letters. And we can also tell you that according to a source that gifts that Jerry Sandusky allegedly gave to that same alleged victim accuser number four, gifts including golf clubs and football jerseys that were also mentioned in the grand jury report that those are -- it's possible that those will also be introduced into evidence. It could be powerful stuff.

O'BRIEN: Obviously everyone is going to watch this case very closely. Susan Candiotti for us this morning. Thanks Susan for the update on that.

We have to take a short break. "End Point" is up next. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: "End Point", who wants to start?

HOOVER: You know, I will. We've talked about Wisconsin today. The top of the story was Wisconsin. And what happens is Governor Walker has really resisted -- he's taken on a third rail issue; whether people, state employees, should pay into some of their own pensions and he resisted his ousting.

I think what's interesting here is 20 years ago in 1990, Tommy Thompson, also took on a third rail issue in Wisconsin. Welfare reform. Wisconsin has now been twice the petri dish potentially for reforms that could represent changes that need to happen nationwide.

So I wonder if Wisconsin isn't maybe a sign of things to come nationally and reforms that need to happen.

(CROSSTALK) O'BRIEN: And I think people would say that there's a long list of ways in which Wisconsin does not necessarily reflect or mirror what could happen nationally; certainly come November. But that's an interesting point.

Go ahead, Will is dying to jump in. Go ahead please. You're like literally like this on the table.

CAIN: I want to say this for Ryan --


CAIN: I'm trying to nonverbally communicate here.

O'BRIEN: Is that what that was. I couldn't figure that out. I want to bring up a story that we didn't talk about on the show but we did during the commercial break. And that's Bill Clinton becoming the biggest problem for the Obama campaign, the re-election.

First he did his Bain sell-out thing and now he's saying that all the tax cuts should be extended. The question we've been debating during the breaks is Bill Clinton, as Charles Krauthammer said, a double agent? Is he an agent for his wife, or is he an agent for himself as some have posited? I think the question stands.

O'BRIEN: What would be your answer?

CAIN: What is, you know, Clinton's motive.


CAIN: I'm with others at the table who believe he's an agent for himself.

O'BRIEN: Interesting.

LIZZA: You know, I agree with that. I mean the balance of power in the Obama/Clinton relationship has changed. Clinton is now much more important to Obama than he was previously. They need him for fund-raising. They're doing events with him.

O'BRIEN: They need him.

LIZA: And he can say what he wants.

O'BRIEN: That's where -- you can stop right there. They need him.

LIZZA: Yes, they need him. There you go.

O'BRIEN: Tomorrow we talk to actress Mandy Moore and also Jill Biden will be joining us as well.

Let's get right to "CNN NEWSROOM with Carol Costello. It begins right now. Hey Carol.