Return to Transcripts main page


Panetta's Surprise Visit; Interview with Senator John Cornyn; Miss USA Controversy; Former Boy Scout Den Leader Starts Petition for Scouts to Change Ban on Homosexual Membership; A Dad's Deployment, A Kid's View; Joe Torre, Champ & Survivor

Aired June 7, 2012 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Loose lips. The FBI now investigating the White House over leaks about crucial national security operations, from bin Laden, to a terror hit list to a cyber war against Iran. Senator John Cornyn is going to talk to us about who's talking and why.

And Miss USA live in our green room this morning, as an ugly fight erupts over whether the pageant was rigged.

It's Thursday, June 7th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.


O'BRIEN: You and Christine have the same taste in music.


O'BRIEN: Just about, but Christine's playlist that would be Georgia Satellite. "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." We all have your bag. Are you feeling vulnerable today?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We'll ask her if she likes his food.

JOHN FUGELSANG, COMEDIAN: This is an '80s song that does not sound like the '80s.


CAIN: People tweet me and say why do you wear green socks? I wear cowboy boots with green tops.

HOOVER: Green is not socks. That is part of the boot. They do this in Austin, Texas, folks.

O'BRIEN: I like them.


HOOVER: It doesn't matter.

O'BRIEN: Well, let's just move on, shall we?

All right. Our STARTING POINT team: John Fugelsang is back. He's a political comedian.

FUGELSANG: I'm wearing green heels today. Yes, I've been on the road quite a bit. It's great to be back and seeing real boots.

O'BRIEN: It is nice to have you.

Margaret Hoover is the author of "American Individualism."

And Will Cain is with us as well, from, with the green boots, not green socks. Just so everybody knows.

Our STARTING POINT this morning is breaking news about Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arriving in Afghanistan unannounced this morning. He has since left the country. But he Defense Secretary stopped there for a real time update from NATO's top commander to find out how prepared the allied troops and Afghanistan security forces are to confront the Taliban in the summer fighting season.

Just yesterday, a twin suicide bombing in a market in Kandahar killed 22 people and injured 50 others. The NATO is under scrutiny after an airstrike killed 18 people, a number that included women and children who are believed to be civilians.

The U.S. is also saying one of its armed helicopters were shot down by enemy fire and killed two crew members who are onboard.

All of that brings us right to CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom. He's live in Kabul, which is where Secretary Panetta also has some harsh words for neighboring Pakistan.

Mohammed, good morning.


This surprise visit by Secretary Panetta today, his fourth here in Afghanistan. Now, he did acknowledge the most recent attacks you just spoke of that happened yesterday. It was the deadliest day for civilians in Afghanistan that's caused a great deal of concern.

Secretary Panetta also met with U.S. He met with Afghan counterparts here as well, and issued a stern warning to Pakistan, neighboring Pakistan. He said they need to do more to rout out the al Qaeda link al Haqqani network. The al Haqqani network has been accused by the U.S. in the past of conducting cross border raids targeting U.S. soldiers here in Afghanistan.

Here is more of what Secretary Panetta had to say.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are reaching the limits of our patience here. And for that reason, it is extremely important that Pakistan take action to prevent this kind of safe haven from taking place and from allowing terrorists to use their country as a safety net in order to conduct their attacks on our forces.


JAMJOOM: Those remarks were made in a joint press conference Secretary Panetta held today with his counterpart, minister of defense here, Abdul Rahim Wardak.

Now, in their meeting today, they discussed areas of joint concern. It's a critical time here right now because of the security handover that's going on. More and more regions in Afghanistan are being turned over to Afghan security forces so that they can take the lead on responsibility for security in those regions. But in light of the attacks yesterday, there is more questioning as to whether or not the Afghan security forces are ready enough to take control of security in this country.

Now, Secretary Panetta did say the overall level of violence is down in Afghanistan but he acknowledged it is concerning about what happened yesterday and that there is an assessment that is currently being done -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Mohammed Jamjoom joining us, he's in Kabul this morning -- thank you for that update.

Let's get right to Christine. She's got a look at the rest of the day's top stories.

Hey, Christine.


More breaking news we are following this morning. Two cargo trains colliding in northeast Houston. Pictures just in from CNN affiliate KHOU. This happened just around 5:15 a.m. local time at the rail yard along Liberty and Wayside. Five cars and two engines went off the tracks, including a couple of cars that hit the concrete pillars that hold up the wayside overpass.

We are told that everything is now under control but Liberty will be shut down for a period of time. Again, that's in Houston.

The president waking up out west this morning, with another fundraising breakfast planned in L.A., before he heads to Las Vegas.

And a pilot is being questioned after he flew a small plane into the president's air space last night. NORAD says an F-16 fighter jet intercepted the plan and followed it until it landed without incident at an airfield in Camarillo, California.

President Obama was at the Beverly Hilton at that time for a fundraiser.

The Navy says a vacuum cleaner may be responsible for a fire on board a nuclear submarine that caused $400 million in damage. The USS Miami's nuclear was not operating when a forward compartment caught fire two weeks ago. Investigators believe the fire started in a vacuum used to clean work sites on the sub.

California prosecutors are releasing a 911 call in the beating of a San Francisco fan last year. It came during a court hearing of two men accused in the vicious attack on Bryan Stow.



CALLER: Is this dispatch?


CALLER: Hi. I'm an off duty paramedic. My partner here that's also a paramedic was punched from the side -- didn't see it coming.

He's unconscious. He's got snoring respirations at the moment, bleeding out of his left ear. No response to painful stimuli. We need an ambulance right now.


ROMANS: The 43-year-old Stow suffered serious head trauma. He remains in therapy. The hearing will determine if there is enough evidence for the suspects to stand trial on felony charges.

Markets look like they will open higher this morning. Across the board, the stocks had the biggest rally of the year yesterday. With the do-nothing Congress, investors are hoping the Federal Reserve and central banks will step in and continue to stimulate the economy. That's giving markets worldwide a boost today.

If you belong to the popular networking website LinkedIn or have tried to get a date on eHarmony, you might want to change your password right now. More than 8 million passwords have been posted on a Russian online forum. LinkedIn isn't saying how the pass words were stolen or the extent of the damage, but says it is investigating the security breach.

EHarmony also confirms some of its passwords were stolen, but won't say how many. The dating site has already reset the compromise pass words and sending users an e-mail on what to do next.

Both of these caches of accounts are very rich for people who are trying to steal identities, quite frankly.

O'BRIEN: Well, what a mess. It is amazing how often that happens, too. I mean, how often you get a letter that says, looks like some of your information has been compromised, at least three or four of those.

ROMANS: There are hundreds of thousands of people whose password is 123456. I'm not kidding. More people than you would think.

O'BRIEN: Should I change it? Why are you giving my password on the air?

ROMANS: O'Brien1 is not a good password.

O'BRIEN: Hold on.

FUGELSANG: Six million LinkedIn users had them stolen and only 25 remember what their passwords are.

O'BRIEN: Well, that's a problem.

All right. Christine, thank you.

The FBI is now trying to determine if the White House is leaking classified national security information for political gain. The leaks include details on a Yemen bomb plot designed to blow up a U.S. bound plane, that included details about a double agent and a new underwear bomb.

Reports about the administration's terrorist kill list and highly detailed account of U.S. cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear program.

Senator McCain wants a special council to lead the investigation. He told CNN he suspect leaks come from someone who's close to the president. Listen.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I would expect nothing else from the White House, but the fact is that betrayal of the president in these stories is obviously nothing short of heroic. I don't think there's any doubt, according to Mr. Sanger, that dozens of administration officials who were involved in this.


O'BRIEN: He is talking about David Sanger's new book. We had David Sanger on as a guest yesterday.

Now, the White House says it is grossly irresponsible to even suggest that the administration would leak classified information for political gain. And in a rare display of bipartisanship, leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees warned the leaks threaten to do imminent and irreparable damage to our national security.

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas is a member of the Judiciary Committee. He is also a member of the Armed Services Committee. And he joins us this morning.

It's nice to see you, sir. Thank you for talking with us.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: We know that the FBI already has launched an investigation into the leaks and Senator John McCain was telling CNN that he wants President Obama to appoint a special council to do its own investigation.

Do you think, in fact, a special council needs to be appointed?

CORNYN: I agree. Special counsel was created so that there should be a measure of independence in investigations like this where the natural tendency of the administration when it is the subject of the investigation, the natural tendency is to circle the wagons. And I don't believe that Attorney General Holder or his deputy are going to be able to do a truly independent investigation.

This is not a partisan issue. As you know, the chair of the intelligence committee, Senator Feinstein, said this is the worst leaking she's seen in her time here in Congress. And this is threatening not only the methods but also the sources and the cooperation of our allies when it comes to two of the most sensitive areas of national security, that is stopping the Iranian nuclear threat and fighting out and taking out al Qaeda through the drone program.

So, this is very serious stuff. I don't think we can just let the White House investigate itself or take its word for it that it is not the source of these leaks.

O'BRIEN: But I know when you had a conversation with the Deputy Attorney General James Cole, he wouldn't say whether or not they would do this investigation. Take a look at what he said.


JAMES COLE, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't mean to dodge the question but obviously we are talking about material that if it exists would be very classified and the existence of itself obviously would be classified. So, it's a difficult topic to talk about without treading into the areas of either confirming or denying that such information exists.


O'BRIEN: In a way, you are saying you could potentially make the problem worse by holding a hearing and compromise what you are trying to protect against, right?

CORNYN: What Deputy Attorney General Cole said is exactly the sort of defensive posture that we would expect when it is the administration itself which is expected to be the source of the leaks. An investigation into the leaks is not classified, maybe the subject matter of that leak.

Right now we have seen both of those displayed on the pages of the "New York Times". One story on the president's kill list on al Qaeda through the drone program, documents that David Axelrod, one of his closest political advisers was sitting in on meetings where those kill lists were compiled.

This is a serious matter. It's much bigger than party or politics. And that's why I think you are seeing such bipartisan concern into leaks into one of the most sensitive national security programs that exist.

O'BRIEN: Senator John Cornyn joining us this morning -- thank you, sir. We'll see how those investigations go, and be back to talk about that.

CORNYN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: We appreciate it.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a new campaign to get the Boy Scouts to end their ban on gays. We're going to talk to a den leader. She lost her job because she's a lesbian.

And also, Miss USA Olivia Culpo joins us. We'll ask her how it feels to where the crown, what it was like to win. Do they teach you to do the wave?


OLIVIA CULPO, MISS USA: They don't teach you but I can show you.

O'BRIEN: And I want to talk about the great state of Rhode Island.


O'BRIEN: Thank you for being with us.

CULPO: Thank you. Good morning.

O'BRIEN: This is off of her play list. She likes a little Nicky Minaj. All right. "Fly."

You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: We saw videos that -- this is what they show during Miss USA contest. Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo's playlist. It's Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe."

CAIN: Can I just say what Margaret just asked her? Because it's (INAUDIBLE) everything. Margaret asked Olivia, what is your Twitter handle because I want to tweet you, and she said, Miss USA.



CULPO: I have like three now, actually, I guess, but we can do Miss USA. I like that one better.

O'BRIEN: You are from the great state of Rhode Island, and we want to talk all about your win in just a moment. But I want to talk a little bit about this scandal that has erupted over one of the contestants, which is Miss Pennsylvania?


O'BRIEN: --says that the thing was rigged. She claims, Sheena Monnin, says the pageant was fixed. And on Facebook, she wrote, "In good conscience, I can no longer be affiliated in any way with an organization I consider to be fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent, and in many ways, trashy." And then, talked about sort of what was behind -- stop laughing when I said that.

"I witness another contestant who said she saw the list of the top five before the show even started." So, her allegation is the thing was rigged. Someone saw the list before the entire contest.

CULPO: Right.

O'BRIEN: Was it rigged?



CULPO: And actually, the thing is --

O'BRIEN: You're not just saying that because you're the winner.


CULPO: It has been confirmed that the list she saw was a rehearsal list. And it's, actually -- it was just kind of funny, because originally, Sheena had resigned because she didn't agree with the transgender community now being part of the Miss Universe organization community, and then, the story changed that it was rigged when she saw a rehearsal list.

So, it's kind of beefy. Who knows? I don't think that sounds rigged to me.

O'BRIEN: Donald Trump who owns the pageant says -- because some have said the pageant, itself, said listen, it was the transgendered person who joined -- woman who was taking part that she had sent an e- mail and she didn't -- wasn't happy with it. Donald Trump said, actually, she just wasn't pretty enough. Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESS TYCOON: I don't think that she had an issue with that. I think her primary issue was that she lost and she's angry about losing. And frankly, in my opinion, I saw her for, you know, barely a second, she didn't deserve to be in the top 15.


O'BRIEN: He says also, he's going to sue her for making false statements. Does all of this drama and hubbub like take away from your great night and your win, do you think? you seem cool as a cucumber. It doesn't bother you at all.

CULPO: I guess, I really don't get worked up. I'm not very dramatic. Things literally just roll off my back. So, I don't know -- I don't think that -- I know that it's not rigged, so, I mean, I'm happy, and it's not taking away anything for me.

HOOVER: You have a big year ahead of you. You are going to be devoting your time to a couple of causes that are important to you. You want to tell us about them?

CULPO: Absolutely. I'll be a spokesperson for breast and ovarian cancer awareness. And since I played the childhood my whole life, I'd really like to get involved with some music education in New York City, because I know there are tons of really great --

CAIN: Margaret asked you a moment ago, when was your first pageant? You said this cycle, becoming Miss Rhode Island, was your first time in the pageant? Is that rare? The most girls kind of move a life of pageantry before this?

CULPO: It's rare. I just started my first pageant in September of this past year.

O'BRIEN: Wow! And now, you're going to all the way to Miss Universe. I mean, that's pretty amazing.

CULPO: I know. Brazil.

JOHN FUGELSANG, POLITICAL COMEDIAN: You don't have that heir of crazy woman with crazy parents behind you. Yes, that set up on so many. Do you think that's why you're so granted? Do you think that the fact that you are sort of an outsider in this world just gave you an edge?

CULPO: I don't know. I guess, everybody else would have to decide.


HOOVER: Such a breath of fresh air.


CULPO: Oh, cool. I haven't met that many. So --

O'BRIEN: Question for you, when they announce your name and the moment happens, what's that like? When you know you're the winner, does it --

CULPO: It doesn't sink in fast. I still don't really even feel like I won, and I heard that you never really do fully grasp it. I like it like that. I think that I'm happy and that's all that matters.

O'BRIEN: Do you have to wear your sash and carry your crown everywhere? Is that a rule? I mean, how does it work? CULPO: Everywhere.

O'BRIEN: Really.



CULPO: I have to sleep with this on, actually. I can't go to bed without it.

O'BRIEN: If I won, I'll be like, yes, I will sleep with my sash, holding my crown.

CULPO: No, no. I don't sleep with it. I actually just take it off as soon as I'm done, and there's a little case, and we carry it, and we never leave it anywhere, right?

O'BRIEN: Is the crown heavy?

CULPO: It's pretty heavy.

O'BRIEN: Is it against rules if I try it on?



O'BRIEN: It is not heavy.

CULPO: That's right.

O'BRIEN: That's like three solid pounds.



O'BRIEN: Beautiful.

FUGELSANG: What is your plans to use the capital this gives you for the next ten years of your life?

CULPO: I really hope maybe something in communications. I'm a people's person.

O'BRIEN: Girl, I'm ready to take a vacation, come by whenever you'd like.

CULPO: I love that.

O'BRIEN: It's a deal.

CULPO: Yes, sure. But, something in communications definitely. I definitely want to finish my schooling and then see what happens. But, I'm just going to try and figure it out this year, so I guess, we'll see.

HOOVER: Are these real diamonds?

CULPO: I hope so.

HOOVER: They're massive.

CULPO: Let's just say yes.



O'BRIEN: It is so nice to have you. Congratulations.

CULPO: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: I'm glad to see that the scandal hasn't sort of influenced how you feel.

CULPO: No, because like you said before, there isn't scandal. It's kind of just little -- I don't know. It doesn't really add up. So, hey, let's just leave it at that.

O'BRIEN: Olivia Culpo, nice to have you. Congratulations.

CULPO: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Thanks for being with us.

Got to take a short break. Still ahead this morning, all you can eat sushi. Have you seen these pictures? That's a shark eating a giant squid. Yes, (INAUDIBLE) Miss USA, this absolutely, amazing -- a giant squid being eaten video.

And don't forget, you can catch us live on your computer or your mobile phone when you're at work. Just go to We'll be seeing you in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: Yes. It really does. Today is kind of 1990s day. Green Day "Basket Case." Will Cain's playlist this morning. I like that.

CAIN: A bit.

O'BRIEN: A bit of a (INAUDIBLE) for you.

This is a video you don't want to miss because it's an actual real life sea monster. And that, you see it being eaten by an eight- foot shark. It's feasting on this rare giant squid, happening off the Australian Coast, all caught on TV -- tape, rather, by a TV crew that happened to be shooting something else in the area.

The squid estimated to be longer than 12 feet but had been partially eaten, but they're kind of unclear on that. Tim Binder who's with the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago talked about just how rare a sight like this is. He was talking on "Early Start" this morning.


TIM BINDER, VICE PRESIDENT OF ANIMAL COLLECTION, SHEDD AQUARIUM: No one has ever seen a live squid face-to-face or live giant squid. We believe that there are eight different species. They live at very, very deep depths. We know that sperm whales have dived to a mile, mile and a half deep, will feed on these animals, but to see one face- to-face, no one has yet to see them.


O'BRIEN: Amazing.

FUGELSANG: look at that.

O'BRIEN: I wish there was audio to --


FUGELSANG: Jaws attacking Admiral Ackbar. They are very rarely seen. And, they do think that it was killed by a sperm whale. That's the only predator of this kind of --

O'BRIEN: Right. And just eaten by the random sharks.

FUGELSANG: Yes. So, Michael Bay is already buying the rights to calamari.


O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, the king lives. Have you heard this story? Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll, he is about to be resurrected in a way. We actually chatted about this happening.

FUGELSANG: Who called it, Soledad?

O'BRIEN: You did. I believe it was you, John.

Also, the boy scouts, will they soon allow gay scout leaders? New development this morning, and we'll talk to the lesbian den leader who really began the fight. She's going to join us live. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: And welcome back. Let's get right to Christine Romans. She has a look at the day's headlines. Hey, Christine.

ROMANS: Good morning. I have some amazing video for you, Soledad, coming from China. It was posted on YouTube. It happened last week. It is a toddler dangling by her head caught in the balcony railing of her parents four story building. Take a look at the guy trying to save the toddler. He is in danger. It appears he climbed up from the apartment below. He is holding on. The little girl has her head caught between the bars there. He gave the girl a boost. No word on where that child's parents are, but we're told everyone is OK.

Investigators searching for clues at the New Jersey home of Pedro Hernandez who confessed to killing Etan Patz in 1979. Hernandez told police he strangled Patz and disposed of his body in the trash. Hernandez's wife is speaking out and she says she doubts his confession because her husband has suffered from delusions for years.

The jury seated in the Jerry Sandusky trial. It is their job to decide whether the former Penn State football coach. This trial expected to begin Monday. The jury is made up of seven women, five men, and four alternatives named. Half of the 16 jurors have ties to Penn State.

Pretty cool time lapsed video of space shuttle Enterprise on its final voyage up the Hudson River by bars until it was lifted into the air one final time by a crane and on to its final resting place. The spacecraft exhibit is expected to open to the public in July. It sailed past the new World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty.

Elvis lives in hologram form. The company that brought us hologram Tupac is in partnership to resurrect Elvis Presley so Elvis can perform in film and TV production. The company digital domain media says it will release the first tour dates. I don't know. It's just not the same.

O'BRIEN: How are you feeling about that?

FUGELSANG: Just keep the hologram Elvis away from the hologram peanut butter and Demerol sandwiches.

O'BRIEN: That's terrible.

FUGELSANG: I would go. There was a nine foot Elvis on a projection screen concert and that sold out radio city.

O'BRIEN: You called it first. Who is next?

FUGELSANG: I agree with Dr. Dre that I would like to see something cool with Jimi Hendrix.

O'BRIEN: Our next story is about the Boy Scouts of America. They received a request to change their ban on gay adult leaders. At a national meeting last week in Orlando Scout leadership was presented with a petition with more than 275,000 signatures demanding that the group end its exclusive policy against homosexuals. A spokesperson for the Boy Scouts says they are going to review the resolution but absolutely no change for now. The petition calls for the reinstatement of a former Ohio den leader Jennifer Tyrrell ousted last month. Scouts say it is because of her sexual orientation and because she was finding financial inconsistencies. She started the petition on and joins us this morning. Are you feeling optimistic when you hear from the boy scouts that they are going to review the resolution but not actually do anything for the moment? JENNIFER TYRRELL, FORMER BOY SCOUT DEN LEADER: I feel somewhat optimistic, yes. Just the fact that they are publicly saying that they are going to review it whether or not it passes is unprecedented.

O'BRIEN: They say they have to send it to committee and then executive committee at next year's national meeting. What do you do between now and then? What kinds of steps do you take?

TYRRELL: For sure. The petition will be up and live until the actual policy is changed. It's We are going to keep pushing so they don't forget about us.

O'BRIEN: You want a new policy that would throw out the national ban and let the local charters decide. How likely do you think in a year from now if we are having this conversation again that they went to executive committee and made the decision to change the national ban?

TYRRELL: I'm unsure. They continue to say that they are not going to make changes, but do I feel that they will probably continue to say that until the day they do make the change. They are going to have to make it, I think. There are almost 300,000 signatures on my petition. A lot of local community leaders and scout leaders and celebrities are joining the list. I think America gets it that we are ready for this change, and I think that the Boy Scouts, they are making a huge stride. Let's not take that away from them along with president Obama they are evolving. Hopefully they will get there.

O'BRIEN: The Supreme Court back in 2000 upheld their ability to set the rules as stated as they wanted to. So when the Supreme Court has reviewed it and I think the Supreme Court's decision said even though we disagree with what they are deciding, we support their right to decide it. What gives you that hope?

TYRRELL: Well, I think it's a whole different world than it was in 2000. Right now we have made huge strides with equality in the community. That decision was a five-four decision. Even 12 years ago people were still undecided. But it was so close. Now I think if we went there today we would come out with a win.

O'BRIEN: You lost your position with the Boy Scouts. Your son is seven. The policy from their 2004 policy statement is this, "Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations of the Scout oath and Scout law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed." They say the reason that you were ousted from your position is that it is very clear in their policy handbook that you cannot be gay and be in the Scouts. Do you disagree with that?

TYRRELL: I know that was the policy, yes. I disagree with the fact that you can't be gay and be a Scout leader or a Scout. It has been proven time and time again. Locally a lot of people look the other way. I have been flooded with support from my community, saying that we thought she was a great leader and we want her back. There is no evidence to back up the statements that they are saying that the gay people can't be morally straight or can't raise a family. I had a hand in raising a beautiful family. We have a lot of kids. We are very active.

O'BRIEN: So why would you want your kids to be a Scout? If I read a policy that was exclusive to me that you are not allowed to be one of us, I might say I absolutely positively do not want my young son to be involved in this, because this goes against everything his family is. Why would you want to do that?

TYRRELL: You are absolutely right, Soledad. And I had those exact same reservations. He is seven, and it is hard to tell him when all his friends are joining the scouts and doing fun things, it is hard to explain to him that some people don't get it. So we went to the meeting. I expressed my reservations, and they said 100 percent you will not have problems, and I never did. Scouting -- the Boy Scouts of America is a huge cultural institution. Obtaining Eagle Scout rank is truly an amazing achievement. And I just think that my son should have every right to achieve that just like everybody else.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Jennifer, your son isn't the only Boy Scout to have lesbian parents or a lesbian mom raising him. There is an Eagle Scout in Iowa I'm curious if you have been in touch who has been quite active in the gay rights fight advocating on behalf of same-sex marriage. Have you been in touch with them? Do you really think we are at a critical turning point in the country with almost 300,000 signatures coming your way of support that we are at a tipping point on this issue?

TYRRELL: I think we are definitely at a tipping point. I have met Zach several times. We were just recently in San Francisco together at the GLAAD Awards. He is an amazing young man and I think proof that gays and lesbians can raise perfectly fine children, because they do.

Somebody brought up the point that my family is actually in the minority because they have two parents in the household. I think that's a good point to bring up. These kids have an amazing life. They have a lot of people that love them. They have fathers that love them and grandparents. They are not missing out. And Scouts -- kicking us out isn't going to change who we are. It is not going to change the foundation of our family. But I don't want my children to grow up in a world where they are constantly having to fight for equal rights because they have two moms. I just want them to have every opportunity afforded to every child in America.

O'BRIEN: Thank you for talking with us this morning. We will follow this story and see what happens in a year when they decide to take another look at it.

TYRRELL: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning we are back to our conversation with Jill Biden, the second lady of the United States talks about her family's experience when her son was deployed to Iraq in writing her new book. You are watching STARTING POINT. We're going to talk about that book right on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: The second lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden has written a new children's book. It's called "Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops." It tells the story of what it is like for kids in military families when a parent is deployed. The story was inspired by Biden's own family when her son Beau was sent to Iraq in 2008, and it's told through the eyes of Beau's daughter, Natalie, who was five- years-old at the time. Dr. Jill Biden is with us this morning, so nice to see you.


O'BRIEN: Thanks for being with us.

Was Natalie very much involved in the writing of this book which is really about her -- her dad's experience and sort of the bigger family experience when he had to go off to war?

BIDEN: Actually she was because before actually writing the book I interviewed Natalie and talked to her about the different experiences that she went through. And then when it came to picking the illustrator so I'm going to chose and gave me several choices. And I said you know this is Natalie's book let her choose.

O'BRIEN: She is seven years old negotiating.

BIDEN: So she chose Raul and -- and I think he was perfect -- just perfect for the book.

O'BRIEN: The goal was to get Natalie to really help other kids figure out how to navigate something that she had --

BIDEN: That's right. That's right.

O'BRIEN: -- was forced to navigate as well.


O'BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about that.

BIDEN: Well, I realize that being a military family ourselves -- the Bidens are military family -- that many Americans did not know a military family and didn't know the experience of a military family.

So I wanted to really educate Americans and then hopefully inspire them to commit to an act of kindness. So that's why I put in the back matter (ph) so that people -- once they read the books if the moms read it or the dads and say hey, what can I do. You know I want to help a military family that there are suggestions there for kids and for adults.

O'BRIEN: You're an educator.

BIDEN: I am.

O'BRIEN: But you've never done a children's book before. BIDEN: No.

O'BRIEN: Do you think that's a different or a better way of sort of getting the message out?

BIDEN: Well as a teacher I thought that it would be probably the best way because the adults are involved and the kids are involved. So -- and I love the fact that it will be in classrooms and libraries. And so as a teacher that meant a lot to me.

O'BRIEN: I thought it was a great read. And you know I have a zillion kids so I read a lot of children's books. And we're not a military family. So it's not something that I have a personal sort of take on.

What do you think was the hardest thing to explain to Natalie when her father was deployed? What was the toughest thing to have to say to a child who is five? Because they really don't get it.

BIDEN: Well you know it was tough for her for him to be away because he is there so much. And that was the toughest part. But because of Skype she could see him. And I think that was reassuring to her.

So just the fact of having a mom or dad -- you know they don't really know what a war zone is. But they know it's -- it's you know -- she does have anxiety. And I think probably Soledad that comes across in the book that these kids, every family, military families I mean have this sense of anxiety.

And look our family, our son was deployed once. Many military families --

O'BRIEN: Four, five, six.

BIDEN: -- four, five, six, seven times. I mean, it's a lot -- it's a lot of pressure on these families.

O'BRIEN: Is it a lot of pressure just to be a political family? You know I was talking yesterday to a Kennedy.



O'BRIEN: Yes and we talked about -- it's sort of like -- what it's like to sort of grow up with the glare of the spotlight on you in general. Have you had that conversations with -- with your kids. I mean, your daughter just got married.

BIDEN: Right.

O'BRIEN: Is it hard?

BIDEN: Well it is hard but you know it's a lifestyle. And our children have never known anything else because Joe's been a politician for -- since he was 29 years old.

So -- so the kids grew up with it. And I think they are kind of used to it.

O'BRIEN: Jill Biden with us.

Coming up next on STARTING POINT you probably know Joe Torre he's one of the greatest baseball managers of all time. But you know what's not so well known his experience off the field. He grew up in a violent home. I'll give you a rare glimpse into the baseball icon's personal life that's coming up next.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody.

This is just in to CNN the weekly jobless numbers 377,000 unemployment claims were filed for the first time last week fewer than expected. So that's down from the week before -- a revised figure of 389,000.

This week's "Human Factor" we profile survivors who have overcome the odds, confronting a life obstacle or an injury or an illness or some other hardships. And tapping into their inner strength they are able to find resilience that maybe they didn't know they had.

Well, today one of the most successful managers in baseball is Joe Torre and he opens up about growing up in an abusive home.

Here's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joe Torre, he is one of the most successful baseball managers in the past 40 years. And just as he was reaching the pinnacle of his career winning four World Series titles in five years he began opening up about his childhood and growing up with an abusive father.

JOE TORRE, FOUNDER, SAFE AT HOME FOUNDATION: And my older sister Ray came from the kitchen into the dining room and she had a knife protecting my mom. And my -- and my dad was going into the drawer in the dining room to get his revolver. And I did witness that. And I -- I still remember vividly going over to my sister and grabbing the knife and putting it on the -- on table.

GUPTA: For young Torre who grew up to be an all-star player and is expected to be inducted into the Hall of Fame baseball became his sanctuary.

TORRE: I had low self-esteem and I was just lucky I played baseball. I had an opportunity to go some place to hide.

GUPTA: And today he is giving back by providing a real sanctuary for other abused children. Torre and his wife Ali started the "Safe at Home Foundation" which funds dedicated spaces inside schools where kids can speak openly and get counseling about domestic violence.

Torre names each site Margaret's Place in honor of his mother who was physically abused by his father. Now retired from managing teams, Torre is still in the game overseeing operations for Major League Baseball and also giving his time to end violence.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


O'BRIEN: And "End Point" is up next. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: "End Point". Who wants to begin?

HOOVER: I'll go.

O'BRIEN: Margaret, again?

HOOVER: You know, I don't have to. I'll defer to Will Cain. He can't be contrarian though if he goes first.

CAIN: No, no. That's right.


O'BRIEN: Good point. You start so he can go completely against what you just said.

HOOVER: I just -- I challenge you to go against this. because I want to give a shout out to Mandy Moore. I think girls need good role models these days. And I specially love the Girl Scouts of America. There is a soft spot in my heart, I was a Brownie, too. And people don't know that is -- that organization is a seven --


CAIN: She's a tough one.

HOOVER: -- Girl Scout cookies -- is 700 million --

CAIN: Generally I think self-esteem is overrated.

O'BRIEN: He is kidding. Save it Will.

HOOVER: Girls who excel in Girl Scouts end up having an early transaction with sales and watching their pocketbooks. It is a $700 million business run by girls and it cultivates girls' leadership -- strongest organization in the United States for girls' leadership.

O'BRIEN: And I love the idea --

CAIN: I go to you John Fugelsang.

O'BRIEN: -- of real people for role models. You know people who actually have accomplished things and do things. I actually don't let fashion magazines in the house.

FUGELSANG: Right on.

HOOVER: I think it's so important because the messages girls get from fashion magazines.


FUGELSANG: Yes, they're designed to make you feel that way.

O'BRIEN: All right. What have you got? Will Cain clearly has something up his sleeves.


FUGELSANG: Will does --

CAIN: I have nothing on my sleeves.

HOOVER: I'm thinking though.

FUGELSANG: Honestly, I just came to meet Margaret Hoover today.

I want to say I will be performing in Boston with Aisha Tyler and Stephanie Miller this Saturday at the Wilbur. This is a week that is great to be in New York because my governor wants to legalize pot the same week my mayor wants to ban junk food.

O'BRIEN: It is a contradiction isn't it?

FUGELSANG: Just a bit.

O'BRIEN: All right. Will Cain, you get to wrap up for us.

CAIN: You know, I really don't have anything up my sleeve. During the giant squid story with the shark's eating the giant squid, it did remind me, I did have a fish funeral this week. Chewy -- that's right -- Chewy the -- the lesson in responsibility died this week for my four-year-old. We had him for two years.

O'BRIEN: Did it work?

CAIN: The responsibility? No, I fed the fish every night.


But it was fascinating to find out how he would respond to the finality of death. It was very sad to see him fight his sadness. But in the end he did not want to put Huey in the Hudson where the sharks might eat him so Huey's in a shallow grave in Riverside Park where we can go and visit Huey.

O'BRIEN: Is that legal?

CAIN: Long into the future.

HOOVER: They went in and turned him --

FUGELSANG: The finality of death -- there we go America.

O'BRIEN: We end on the finality of death today. That's a kind of a sharp turn for what is coming up tomorrow on STARTING POINT.

We are gearing up for the Belmont Stakes -- third leg of the horseracing's triple crown. The colt "I'll Have Another" is going for it all. We are going to talk to the owner; his name is Paul Reddam live tomorrow.

"CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now. I'll see everybody back here tomorrow morning starting at 7:00 a.m. Hey Carol, good morning.